MINORS EXPOSED TO DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

1 in 15 children are exposed to intimate partner violence each year, and 90% of these children are eyewitnesses to this violence according to NCADV. Children exposed to violence are more likely to have difficulty in school, abuse drugs or alcohol, act aggressively, suffer from depression or other mental health problems and engage in criminal behavior as adults according to the National Institute of Justice.

I was strangled by my husband’s ex-wife with our children present. I suffered multiple brain traumas, spinal damage, and nervous system injury. All of which are permanent injuries so far that I have had to manage on some level since. I have healed so much but still have pain. I am here to help others and change laws to help better protect families who experience domestic violence. If you have experienced Domestic Violence, you are not alone. It is brutally common. 

We are almost eight years post-trauma. We are still learning what impact their exposure to domestic violence has had. Life is very different now.  

What the mother of my stepdaughter did that day runs deep through our collective kids, it’s like the family’s dark secret on that side because “nothing happened”. She still maintains that she did not do anything but what she did imprinted in her daughter that the world is not safe and that she can be attacked at any moment. It makes sense. If your mom can attack your stepmom it has the potential to destroy the sense of safety on every level.  

I’ve said it before, expect them to lie. All she did was lie. These chronicles are part of my healing process and it’s not all out yet. I am still cleaning up the mess she caused. Thanks for listening. 

Picking up where I left off dissecting the declaration to the court. Why do I need to dissect this? Because it gets it out of our lives. Journaling is such a part of my healing process. 

MY DAUGHTER DID NOT WITNESS THE APRIL 12, 2015 INCIDENT

PG 6, sentence 34

No children witnessed the April 12, 2015 incident. The girls were upstairs in the house. Our son was not present at all. 

Reality: 

Our daughter was (4) and big sister (12) were upstairs, and big sister was frightened enough to call Dr. Lerach her therapist. There are text messages to the therapist saying Amy is bleeding my mom hurt Amy!!! Our daughter asked me “momma, did you hear that lady screaming???!!” Little sister was easy to distract but big sister had a different levle of awareness being older and she knew it was me. When my stepdaughter found me I was shaking uncontrollably; the scratches and bruises on my neck were already visible, and my ear was bleeding as her mother’s grip was around my neck and ear which bent my stud earring drawing blood. The injuries were photographed by the police. These kids were partially exposed to her violence. You can hear me talking to my stepdaughter on the 911 call. Declaring to the court that her daughter did not witness the event is psychotically not based in reality. The court saw this and ruled in our favor charging her with Domestic Violence. 

PG 6, sentence 35

Our daughter told the police she had not seen anything and she also later told her brother she had been wearing headphones during the incident, so did not hear anything either. 

Reality: 

She never spoke to the police this is a lie. She put headphones on her little sister, and both she and my daughter to this day can recall what happened in detail of what they were exposed to. She never told her brother that she was wearing headphones. Lie. 

PG 7, sentence 36

While she apparently called her therapist immediately following the incident, she only came out of the house after I had already left. Amy was behaving completely irrationally given I did not “attack” her at all, so I doubt AMY was truthful with her regarding what occurred. 

Reality: 

Classic narcissist. Of course, after she attacks and strangles me I am the one behaving completely irrationally. Of course she declares she did not attack me at all. I have a voice recording of her attacking me. She is out of her mind guilty. It really makes me laugh today almost eight years after but there was a time this was really upsetting. My stepdaughter didn’t apparently call she did call the therapist asking for help and guidance about what she should do because she was scared out of her mind and I was really hurt. This exists in phone records as an outgoing call that was submitted to the court to counter her lies. This was a life-threatening event that day. I was nearly murdered in our garage in front of my husband that he could not stop with our daughters in the house. 

HISTORY OF FATHER’S ABUSE

PG 7, sentence 37

Father has a long history of verbal and emotional abuse, not only to me but also to a prior girlfriend who obtained restraining orders against him. Father shoved me while I was pregnant with our daughter and he controlled, manipulated, bullied, and belittle me throughout our relationship. Our children and I were intimated by him and continue to be. He has made many inconsistent statements to family and friends of which I will present evidence at trail. 

Reality:

My husband does not have any history of abuse. There were never any restraining orders. He never shoved his ex-wife while pregnant. The children are not and never have been intimated by their Papa. There were no statements of inconsistency brought up in court. All a lie. If anything she was abusive and even struck my husband once. She strangled me and bashed my head into a car and cement floor so if anyone is capable of abuse it is her. 

PG 7, sentence 38

Furthermore, Father and Amy have harassed and abused me for many years now. Father and Amy repeatedly criticize and “correct” my parenting, blame me for everything and tell me what to do and refuse to listen to my input or opinions on raising our children. 

Reality:

Harassed and abused her, really? That’s why we have DVTRO and CPO? We have pages of emails that speak to the contrary. We never “corrected” her parenting, we confronted her parenting on specific incidents that her daughter brought up. There are three different psychologists also trying to help this kid in the dynamic of her parenting. What we did was share how her daughter was feeling and her response was always she is doing it for attention and would invalidate her feelings. It always turned into how can you say that to me or do that to me? Your daughter is suffering emotionally was received as an attack against her. We were so naive to think we could change this dynamic by trying to talk with her. There is no changing this. I’ve learned since that it’s like touching a spider web. Once you touch it you can’t get it off you.  

CONCERNS WITH FATHER’S PARENTING / HISTORY OF PARENTING

PG 7, sentence 39

For three years after our separation Father was entirely uninvolved in our daughter’s life. I not only cared for her but I was primarily responsible for paying her living expenses. I paid all her medical expenses, school supplies, camps, and extracurricular activities, and I took care of driving her to and from everywhere. However, now Amy is involved Father had made it his “mission” to obtain custody of her no matter what it takes. 

Reality:

Not true. Jonathan saw the kids every weekend and supported them she didn’t work and has never worked a real tax-paying job. Stating that now that Amy is involved and making it his mission to take her children? We have worked to preserve and repair her relationship with her mother when she was with us. All our communications worked towards that until my stepdaughter started showing a preference for where she wanted to live just like her brother did. Don’t all kids in split homes go through a version of this? Looking back what a waste of time we would have been better off not caring about her relationship with her daughter. It was really not our responsibility and if I had a do-over my advice would be only to focus on what we an control.  

Pg 7, sentence 40

It is not true that prior to the April 2015 incident, Father and I had “agreed” for her to live with her father. We had not. In fact, after Christmas 2014 she had asked if she could live with me. I advised Father of this but he ignored my communication. 

Reality:

Not true we did discuss in fact it was discussed in emails so there is a trail of it. Once we talked about it the mom got a kitten to sway her daughter’s decision hoping she would choose her. First it was a hamster then a cat then a dog. It was always a competition. For her to say in fact she choose me shows this. Yes, she chooses you to have freedom and no rules. She choose her because she could just go to her friends all the time. She didn’t want her daughter to actually spend time with her she wanted her daughter to prove her innocence. 

Pg 7, sentence 41 (email lice Feb)

Father and Amy flip-flop back and forth concerning her living arrangements according to what suits them. When they decide they want her with me, they send me a text message informing me she is not being returned to my care. When they decided they have had enough of her being with them, for example, after she got lice (for which they blamed me) they return her to live with me. It is this conduct that had been disruptive and unsettling for her, not my behavior. 

Reality:

My stepdaughter and stepson had lice from September to January. My stepson’s live-in girlfriend at his Mom’s house got lice in that house, Aurelia got lice, and their son got lice. The stepdad is bald so he did not get it. Every time the kids came back from the house after being there for a week the lice would come back. We would wash sheets every day, bag up the pillows and stuffies, and comb out the nits nightly. We did not get lice. We got a letter from a lice salon to confirm my stepdaughter had lice and her mom said that place only says you do it to make money. While this was happening we were desperate to not continue spreading lice and asked if she could stay at one house until it is all gone so we don’t have to keep combing. Her mother and stepdad were telling her that we were rejecting her because of the lice because we said they can’t go back and forth until this is gone it wasn’t good hygine. This went on for months, I was exhausted working a full time job and having all my evenings dedicated to combing out lice. 

Pg. 8, sentence 42

My daughter does not exhibit anxiety in my care. On the contrary, with the exception of the first couple of days when she takes time to get back to her normal self after being in her Father’s care. She has NEVER advised me she is afraid of me or concerned for safety because I do not believe she is. 

Reality:

She was diagnosed with anxiety. She bit her fingers raw. This mother was completely blind to her daughter’s symptoms. 

Pg. 8 sentence 43

The only time I see anxiety is a few days before she has to return to her father. At that time, she starts biting her nails and appearing stressed out. 

Reality:

But in the previous sentence she says she doesn’t exhibit any anxiety so which is it? Oh only when she comes back from us. Of course. That’s right she’s perfect, classic narcissist. 

Pg. 8, sentence 44

The greatest “problem” she has in my home is that father undermines my parenting at every turn, which is teaching her how to manipulate us all. My husband and I have standards of behavior that we expect, which are not enforced in Father’s home. If she is disrespectful or badly behaved, she is sent to her room or we confiscate her iPad, which she does not like. Father makes this situation worse because as soon as she is punished she calls father who immediately shows up at my door to take her home with him. Father says “oh poor her” and tells her how mean I am, rather than supporting me, and father’s indulgent behavior is teaching her to play us off against each other to get what she wants. 

Reality:

Not once has Aurelia shared things that they do in their house that we don’t do in our house. How is Aurelia prevented by us from parenting her daughter while in her care? We are not there and cannot undermine her if we are not even present. Yes, our stepdaughter would call us and yes we would pick her up, and yes we would try and get them to talk. But there is no talking to people like this. They can’t hear you. 

Pg 8, sentence 45

This has been an ongoing problem. She has learned that she gets attention from him if she says what he wants to hear. That means she frequently says one thing to me when she’s in my care, then says the complete opposite to Father when she is with him. She is also prone to exaggerate for effect because she knows father will take any opportunity to side with her against me. For example, on one occasion, she told father she had been in time out “all day” and had to eat in time out when in reality she was in time out for no more than ten minutes. 

Reality:

This same response is what we have gotten for 99% of the issues we bring up. That her daughter exaggerates and does it for attention. Her feelings were always ignored and the focal point was put on herself. Anything we brought to her attention she would say how could you do that to me? Not how can we help a child? Her stepdad used to lock her in the bathroom for extended periods of time, we learned this via her therapist. How she was disciplined was over the top by the stepdad. It hurt my stepdaughter how she was treated by him. A lot of therapy was required. 

Pg 9, sentence 46

Father and Amy “brainwash” her. When I see her albeit in a very limited capacity due to Father’s lies, she appears happy and content. On the last visit, she was very happy to see her grandmother. However, it was apparent from what she told me that father continues to disparage me and to “buy” her affection with a “Disneyland dad” attitude – lots of”fun” activities and playdates that he has not always cared to do and which I do not believe he will continue to do if he modification request is granted. 

Reality:

Brainwash? Another classic narcissistic parenting statement. My stepdaughter had diarrhea after visitation with mom. For the majority of the visitations, Aurelia was actually shopping or talking with the supervisor. We were not having any more activities than we normally would. My stepdaughter spent a lot of time with her friends while she was at her mother’s. While she was in high school she spent 53 nights in one semester sleeping at her friend’s houses. 

FATHER’S INVOLVEMENT OF OUR DAUGHTER IN ADULT MATTERS

Pg 9, sentence 47

I am very concerned that Amy and father discussed, and continue to discuss the April 12, 2014 incident with her. She has clearly and understandably, been traumatized by what happened and although I try to reassure her whenever I am allowed visitation with her she tells me constantly “hears really bad stuff” about me from Father and Amy. By involving her in such serious adult matters, Father and Amy are making a bad situation far worse for our daughter. She did not witness the April 12, 2015 incident so her exposure/trauma is from what she has been told by Father and Amy. 

Reality:

The day of the attack both the girls were up in their room. Our daughter asked if we heard the woman screaming, it was so loud. The woman was her mother screaming for her life. Big sister was trying to reassure her and we told her a neighbor stepped on a nail. My stepdaughter however is hypervigilant and has been prior to this trauma because of adverse experiences at her mother’s house. She is still hypervigilant. 

She immediately saw even before I did that my ear was bleeding as my earring was torn from my ear and I had quickly developed deep

bruising from scratches on my neck. I was also shaking very badly. When she hugged me and came close (we were the same size at the time) she immediately knew that what I told her little sister was untrue and insisted on knowing what happened of which I told her not to worry and that everything was ok and I was fine. We have been in therapy and got guidance on how and what to speak to her about and specifically how to answer her questions. The first week she spent six hours

with her therapist and has been saw her weeks after. In this sentence, it says that she had clearly and understandably been traumatized by what has happened but also says that nothing happened. Also, it would be interesting to get the truth from my stepdaughter on how often she told her mom that we said really bad things happened. I believe most of what this woman says is a lie. 

Pg 9, sentence 48 

Sind the April 12, 2015 incident, Father has been disparaging me to her, despite the damage, it is doing to our daughter. It is apparent to me that father reengineered the entire April 12, 2015 incident as a means of “getting rid of me” from our daughter’s life, as he has often threatened to do. Father has used my arrest and the criminal proceedings to paint such a bad picture of me that she feels guilty for loving me or wanting to spend time with me (which she tells me she does love me). 

Reality:

Never has Jonathan threatened to “get rid” of her. When? Where? How? Of course, my stepdaughter loves her mother, every child will always love their mother. Parents can abuse their kids and do horrible things to them and they still love and want to please them. The truth is though that my stepdaughter has been requesting to live at our house since she was 8.

Pg 9, sentence 49 

Father disparaged me to our daughter long before the incident. Our son who lived with his father and Amy for a period has told me that Father and Amy speak badly of me constantly. They blame me for everyone’s problems. 

Reality:

We did speak to my stepson and he says this is not true. His mother has for a long time been trying to put him in the middle. We did at one point try to use the family wizard because there was so much tension surrounding his decision at 15 to live with us and his sister was really struggling in school and as a result, acting out more and more due to her emotional challenges and anxiety getting in the way of her learning. Blaming everyone’s (really everyone’s?) problems on her? That’s not

blowing things out of proportion at all. My stepson showed the same pattern that his sister did and Aurelia is not in tune with what is happening with her children’s schooling.

Pg 9, sentence 50

Father does not appear to realize the damage he is causing to our daughter by disparaging me all the time. She loves both of us and does not want to disappoint either of us and she is clearly confused by Father’s conduct. When she returns to my care after visits with Father she is different and she looks at me suspiciously for a few days before she settles in and is her normal affectionate self. 

Reality:

In this sentence, it states that my stepdaughter is returning to Aurelia’s care after “visiting” with her Father. Let us not forget that during this period of time that Father has 100% temporary legal and physical custody. Therefore she is not having visits with her Dad but rather having visits with her mom. But in sentence 47 she says “…whenever I am allowed visitation” her story is just crazy making behavior even to the court. 

FATHER’S REFUSAL TO CO-PARENT 

PG 10, sentence 51

Although Father and I have managed to co-parent and at leave interact somewhat civilly with each other for several years after our divorce was finalized, this changed when father began seeing Amy. I have grave concerns regarding the father’s parenting of her especially since Amy is not a permanent fixture in my daughter’s life. 

Reality:

BINGO! She confessed without even knowing it. I am a threat in her world for some reason. It’s her that wants to get rid of me. A permanent fixture, give me a freaking break. We have a year’s worth of communication that show that Aurelia and her husband Jose were thrilled that I was part of the family dynamic. She speaks as if I am just now a permanent fixture in their lives and suddenly now she has grave concerns that she not once has communicated. I had been involved in her daughter’s life since she just turned 7 years old. In fact, we met in September 2009, before we made the decision for him to be the stay-at-home parent to raise our daughter his work caused him to be away for an extended period of time over the holidays and he was away in Saudi Arabia for a month. Aurelia felt so instantly comfortable with me that she agreed to continue to share the children while Jonathan was away for a month over Christmas returning on Christmas Eve. Can you imagine? Your ex has a new girlfriend and you are okay with your kids staying with her while their Dad is away for a month? Never in 1 million years would I agree to that. This woman valued her time over time with her kids and it is so clear. Both the kids requested that the schedule remain while their Dad was away. Me having fallen in love with all of them so fast agreed. I was in very close contact with their mom during this period which led me to think this was a very pleasant start to a co-parenting relationship. She was more than happy to relinquish her kids to me. 

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