Wednesday, June 13, 2018


My love,
I thought of you today when I read Mary Oliver. She wrote, "LISTEN, ARE YOU BREATHING JUST A LITTLE, AND CALLING IT A LIFE? "
I immediately remember gasping as I woke in someone's arms. I had to be two years old. I don't know if I told you all about this, and with time, all of the horrors of my child-war have emerged, leaving me feeling hopeless, helpless to change the stains that remain, ashamed of who I am. I held my breath at the ages of two, three, probably four, just with the quiet wish that I'd go away. I wanted to be out of there and had no other method to escape but my mind and my mind wanted me to cease to exist, to stop breathing. I'd inevitably wake up in someone's arms, surely a fish washed up on a foreign beach, completely disoriented and void of memory. Memory has been an unreliable source of information as to why...what would make a small child want to go away from leave. Somehow I chose purgatory, neither staying nor going but dissociating throughout my life, living as a numb observer. I tried to wake up by going back to the hurt, to see if I could re-know what I knew once by associating with hurtful people, with people who actually enjoyed my pain. I didn't consciously choose to do this.
At some point I came to understand deep within that it didn't matter what had happened, but it mattered that I was so threatened and unsafe that I wanted to go away from life. And I was continually going away from Life by putting myself in same situations, different life eras.
My grief today is strong and welcome. I have been breathing just a little, making myself small again. I live as a rivulet but my heart bears a flood. I place gentle words on my anger but it has no tolerance for that kind of self betrayal. I make myself the smallest whisper but my mind constantly screams. My hands grasp the concept of rhythm but my dance is frenetic and uncoordinated. I am worried  and uncertain of my future. I am disappointed and not angry, just so very sad. I am told my mind is sharp and fast but it works against me. I find myself attracted to the places where I am not loved, or the purgatory places where I float in numbness. My childhood echoes down every hall I tread and I have to listen. No choice in the matter.  I feel utterly alone in those rooms and halls. Not many people in my life have sought to understand, to withhold judgement, to witness my pain.
But you have.
Who else could know these things but you? Who else could I tell it to?
When the world says to me, "you're too intense. You're intimidating. Your words are too quick. You think too much. You feel too much. Why are you with THAT guy? Why don't you do this do that change now?", it is trying to fix something it doesn't understand. It is trying to use its biases and platitudes to change something it is completely ignorant of.
The world-the world of "they"- doesn't know how many times I have died and gasped for breath only to return to a half-assed life, or worse, a harmful one. They don't know anything about that so they should let me stumble my way across the unknown geographies of my grief, they should let me try to wake up and have my lovers who won't love me and my feelings and my love for my children and my heart of compassion and my anger at injustice and my frustration with forced poverty and good Lord, some sense of agency over my own life.  They should let me leave behind all the times I've died and they should not, under any circumstances, ask me to willingly die again. They should let me have the flesh of my own life, and allow me to hungrily devour it and suck the pit and let the sweet juice drip down my chin.
To know such depths of love and pain, sometimes at the same time...I wonder, do others feel this too? Am I the only one? To search for a solid landing place only to become a fly on someone's coldhearted others see that, too? The parts of me that scream out that I'm not good enough, that believe I'm empty and can't be valuable...I hold my breath...then, I am seen, heard, and welcomed into life....I sigh. You love. You, love. You: Love.
I remember waking up in this way in your arms, feeling so alive I could be a pitcher and pour myself on to the floor and walls if I so willed myself. Or I could be the stars come down to light the room. I fall apart easily in your arms, soft and malleable, utterly safe. I can be the most vulnerable, sad, broken version of myself and you will take me in and love all that pain and hurt and brokenness until I am just me, beloved of you, and you are you, beloved of me.
I wake up again, and again I will gasp for breath, for you to fill my lungs.
for all the homecomings, I thank you, me

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Daughters of Misogyny


"One of the more telling aspects of the GOP’s ongoing implosion over Donald Trump’s “pussy tape” is the succession of men (mostly Republican, i.e. white) expressing their outrage solely as it relates to their daughters or wives.

Framing the matter this way treats a woman as a possession. She’s protected because she’s in a family AND because she’s owned by the man in that family.

This attitude implies that only to the extent that she happens to be a man’s wife or daughter does a woman deserve to not be sexually assaulted. Not because she’s, you know, a human being who doesn’t deserve to be sexually assaulted."


I sat at the dinner table, ten years old, and my newly-single father had made me breakfast. It was unclear in my memory if he was living with his new girlfriend, but I sat at the table with him and my brother. He had decided that I needed to lose weight and so had placed sliced tomato and onion on my breakfast plate. I cried at the coldness of this gesture, at wanting my father's love so desperately, and all he could offer was ways for me to change and improve myself. When I went back to my mother, I was literally starving and I was so happy I got to eat.

The key phrase in what I just wrote is, "He had decided."

My dad was a very vocal opponent of my grandfather, the pedophile. The women in my family protected the younger girls in this strange, intuitive choreography, so I was safe from my grandfather. My dad SHOULD have been outraged at my grandfather.

Yet my dad could never show me how to really be respected and loved by a man. And controlling what I ate so I could become model-thin and pleasing to him objectified me in keeping with the religion of misogyny.

As Danilo Alfaro wrote above, there can be a disconnect between a man posturing to protect his own family, which can include wives, yet have no clue about how to create health in the family. In other words, the absence of a thing, like sexual assault, does not equate to health, and is not synonymous with the absence of misogyny.

The sickness of misogyny is that HE decides. Whatever he happens to be in our lives, he decides for us. This gives the message that men will decide what is abusive to a woman, and which women deserve to be abused. A man is then never required to dig deeper into his own fears, insecurities, and considerable biases.

One other dimension of this thinking affects daughters through their mothers. My dad making the decisions for me was only a small part of what he modeled for me. It wasn't like my dad consistently liked or worshiped me like some misogynistic men do with their daughters. Even in that case, as "For Harriet" writes, "How he treated his daughter didn’t always transfer to how he treated women." And this is the aspect that hurt a lot. I never got to see my own mother being loved and respected by my father. He never modeled for me, by treating my mother well, that a woman deserves to be treated as a human being with equal rights and responsibilities to his. Instead, he modeled that some women were good enough for him and some were not, some women were to wait on him and voluntarily be exploited, and even within our relationship, sometimes I was good enough for him and sometimes I was not.

My own daughter has seen this dynamic as I've replayed the same situation in her life. The fact that she will never see her mother be treated as a human being by her father creates a loss for her, creates a confusion about her value and worth, for if he can turn his love off and on like that, surely she is next. It makes her distrust herself, for again, he decides who and what is worthy for everyone.

I know from experience that watching your mother be dehumanized by someone you love and look up to for modeling is devastating. It's disorganizing in the ripples of mixed messages it creates. It's utterly heartbreaking- watching someone you are deeply attached to be hurt by your other attachment figure. What about that part of daughters that identifies with their mothers? They are taught by their father that the parts of them that identifies with "mother" is less than, is unworthy, is contemptible, is hated by him, and therefore, must be subjugated and controlled. Or worse, snuffed out of his own daughter.

It sets you up for a sense of powerlessness in life, for an unstable sense of your worth and value-you just aren't ever sure that as long as your dad is playing by the rules of misogyny, that you have any value or worth as a woman in this world. It doesn't matter if he's all about supporting #metoo. He hasn't supported his own path out of misogyny and into treating a woman like a human being.

The pain misogyny causes is widespread. Anxiety in adolescent girls is at an all-time high. Fibromyalgia, certain cancers, and other autoimmune disorders have been linked to childhood trauma. Racism is a cause of miscarriages in African-American women.

There are many parts to the pain, one being that at some point, you give up on your loved one. They become hopeless in that they won't change, and they won't ever fully be able to see you as a human being as long as they select their personal elite to be treated as human beings. They will constantly follow the rules of misogyny, which is the same as the rules of traumatizing another: don't see that person, don't hear that person, don't take them into account. Allowing a daughter, especially, to bear constant witness to that is to add to the misogyny culture places on her through advertising, movies, music, and religion.

It literally goes deep into her bones.

My therapist told me that we are here to deal with pain. she said she doesn't know why, but that she trusts God and that there is certainly a higher purpose. When one of your loved ones has a part of him that will always hate and denigrate you for being a woman, and demonstrates that through how he treats your mother, that is painful. It requires a heroine's path to walk away from that toxic confusion and into the light of a woman's worth- your own worth.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

When other people support your abuser

Pro tip: Having your feelings hurt by those who disagree with you isn’t morally equivalent to having your life or livelihood threatened by people who hate you. -Derek Penwell

As I wrote, it's hard enough to navigate the tricky waters of knowing your child has one parent who has decided that the person they made children with is somehow their enemy.  It's difficult for a child to understand the psychological concepts or disorders behind enemy-making. This kind of "divide and conquer" mindset by a parent can be awful for a child to experience, and is "normal" in a system of abuse.
It is undeniable that a woman finally being able to flee her abusive situation is of benefit. However, if narcissism is involved, she is faced not just with the fact that her children understandably lack the capacity to assess their disordered parent's character and ability to model psychological health. She is faced with a group of people who side against her and support her abuser.
It feels surreal. Didn't she just leave her therapist's office where she spent a whole hour healing from narcissistic abuse? Didn't her therapist and other professionals she consulted educate her about NPD, coercive control, passive-aggression, gaslighting, and emotional blackmail? Wasn't she armed with solid research and finally being able to validate her own perception? Yet here she was, facing a group of people who blamed her for his emotional abuse, for the stonewalling, for the manipulation, for his lies. This group treats her as if she is a liar, too stupid to see the "truth", and as an inherently flawed human being who deserves oppression and abuse.
She has been successfully scapegoated.
"Scapegoating" is too mild a word for what it really is: hatred. It's a mindset of hatred and a lifestyle of hatred; a modeling of other-ism. It doesn't matter if someone is not a racist, if they scapegoat a woman who's been abused, they are filled with hatred and become accessories to abuse. They actually enjoy seeing a contrived enemy suffer and refuse to dig deeper to see the base, primitive motivations for their behavior.
Why? I ask myself constantly, why would people who profess love, live hatred? On social media, I watch as Trump supporters defend his lies and dysfunction. I watch as they take the good things he might do and inflate those to overshadow the distorted thinking that underscores what he does, and his inability to accept the opinions of others, or see himself as anything less than perfect and epic.
It could be that people grow up with a certain mythology. Story is powerful. Story could also be called confirmation bias. If you are given a certain mythology growing up, you are likely to seek identical mythologies in adulthood that contextualize your life the same way. Unless you adopt a stance of critical thinking, you are going to be unable to leave your myth.
Abusers create powerful mythologies that certain people seem to really lob on to and wholeheartedly swallow as truth. They are skilled narrators of the story. In an abuser's mythologies, certain themes are stable. He is a victim. He is always the right one. It has to be his way because any other way is unfair. He has done nothing wrong, or even human. He has never made a mistake. He should never be questioned, brought to account, or be required to do the work of relationship. He is the hero who conquers the enemy without doing the deep journeying required to be a hero, and lacking the courage to tackle a real enemy of humanity. The truth is, an abuser is relatively mediocre in life. He might be irretrievably enmeshed in family. His whole existence is reactive. He has nothing to bring to the table and runs away when something real is required of him, and becomes abusive when you dare to bring up his mistakes or hurtful behavior. His enemy is fictional.  He lies, manipulates, and gaslights. He is completely unaware of himself and so constructs himself in the moment. He has no clue that living life as a victim who must control limits his choices and keeps him powerless in his own life.
He gets off on your pain and he will do everything he can to make sure you suffer, no matter how low he goes, and disregards how he affects family, friends, or his own children.
Again, this is hatred. Hatred you did not ask for. Hatred you do not deserve. Hatred that works through very successful shaming strategies. Hatred that other people naively support, because who doesn't love a good victim story? Doesn't matter that it ends up blaming the real victim...hatred is contagious.
When you lose a family, a friend group, a church, or children to someone dedicated to seeing you suffer, that makes you question your whole life. You can then relate to anyone who has been scapegoated because of their race, sex, accent, clothing,house, etc. We are told to believe the good in people, yet here are these people who are using their religion, their money, their social connections, and their time, to ensure your suffering. We are talking people who, when walking down the street, seem like good people. But they aren't, really. They have chosen a lifestyle of selective hatred to cause suffering in their fellow humans.
Nothing can sway them. They are literally unfeeling walls.

So what can you do when you are hated?

1. Consider the source.
People are hateful because you represent something to them. It could be truth, emotional expression, success, etc. We don't know. People trigger each other all the time. So if you are representing something to them that they are unwilling to see or work through within themselves, that already makes them very different from you. They may just be assholes and who cares if an asshole hates you. That's actually a compliment. The more they hate you and come after you, the more of an asshole that makes them. It means you care about truth and morality and they don't. Haters gonna hate. You aren't a hater.

2. Let them stay in their GroupThink.
Part of the reason it hurts to be rejected and attacked by a group of haters that support abuse is that you are still in abuser mindset and haven't shaken off the shame. Once you've gone through a lot of re-educating your perceptions and validating your perspective, you aren't as affected by the hate and realize they are harmful people who won't leave their dysfunction and you have to find healthful people.

3. Grieve
You still have to grieve. Even though they are hateful and want to hurt you, you still loved them and have a shared history of real, good human moments. Those moments do not excuse their hatred in any way, which means you have lost something that was important to you and you have to grieve it. There is no shame in grieving people who are hateful. You held a lot of hope for them and for you.

4. Rebuild your perspective
When you've lived in a system of shame, you have this unshakable feeling that something really is wrong with you. It is a valid struggle to come to terms with the value of your own perceptions and perspective. Where before, your personhood was negated through unmitigated shame and blame, your personhood can be validated through love and grace for yourself. This is going to take a lot of therapy with a therapist who deeply understands personality disorders, trauma, and systems of abuse.

5. Get all the help you can
Unfortunately, there are many different types of abuse, but only one type gets street cred in our culture and that is physical abuse. But an abuser can wreck your finances, your relationships, your career, your spirituality, your sexual health, etc. etc. They want to see you be very small and meaningless in life, which is a reflection of how they see themselves and their own self-hatred. Hating another person is an act of self-hatred, because you cannot build any integrity to respect yourself when you hate another human being. Even if your moral code gives permission to do this, or takes pleasure in seeing the pain of others, it is not in our human nature. We are built to cooperate, to empower each other.
So you have to get all the help you can get. Build your community of people who see your certain gifts and who will show you true love.

6. Take care of yourself
Life as the hated one is taxing because it is so untruthful. There are going to be lots of triggers to work through...lots and lots of anger at the utter bullshit and injustice of it all, lots and lots of sadness and crying over what is lost, lots of disappointment, mounds of fear about finances and safety, and plenty of uncertainty. Abuse and scapegoating are designed to cause instability in their targets. It's like a hurricane keeps coming through your life. So you have to find a way to be an anchor while there is a war being waged against you. This involves keeping your life on track, even as someone and his supporters try to ram your life-engine off the tracks. Set your goals and live your life as a person of value. This situation caused you to question that, and now you are stronger and have a bigger heart for healing the world from the effects of racism and sexism. You know what it feels like to be ostracized for some made-up flaw. Narcissistic scapegoating is not as cut-and-dried as targeting your skin color or your sex, although narcissists are huge misogynists. Narcissists take something you revealed to them in a vulnerable moment and target you for that. Or they intuit a weakness in you and target that. They find things to criticize and create their mythology around it to get others on board. They will always paint you in a negative light. None of that is your fault, and you have to walk out of that story to be the epic heroine of your own myth, a myth based on truth.

7. Resist the urge to reason with them, or even have contact with them.
I've learned over the years that fact, education, and critical thinking are not tools one can use to influence others about abuse, ESPECIALLY when they are actively abusing and wholeheartedly supporting abuse. Either they have a moral compass that allows them to be aware of power-over dynamics or they don't. Either they are people who engage in hatred or they aren't. They are too locked in to their superiority they aren't going to hear what you say. You could be a doctor and they'd tell you and everyone else that you don't know about medicine. They'd draw upon examples of doctors who are fake or "quacks" to gain support for their case. They'll manipulate the perceptions of others and suddenly a doctor with a respected, thriving practice is an uneducated hack. Confirmation bias is catching and a huge tool abusers use, for themselves and with others. Survivors could use a bit of confirmation bias each time they are tempted to try and reason with unreasonable people. Why would you want to speak to a group of people who hate you and who unapologetically help a man be unproductive, hateful, and immoral in his life?
Speaking of apologies, that is something you will never get from an abuser. It's so hard to hear that over and over and acknowledge that, but it's true. Apologizing would mean he and his group have to accept you as a human being, and it means they would have to admit their flaws, which would cause THEM to suffer greatly. They avoid the suffering of their own humanity to the point of diminishing yours.

8. Find grace
Abusers live under the letter of the law. Grace comes when shame and blame are removed. Growth and healing happen in grace. Harm and hurt happen with law. You can never be wrong when you are under grace. Live your love. Find things that give you pleasure and joy. Connect with the spirit of life...experience people who are kind and warm. We heal through connected love.

It is a difficult situation, one that is senseless and wasteful. Using others' hatred of you to serve the greater good of the world helps redeem a horrible situation. It makes you a better person, even when filled with grief to the point of not walking on. We can do this.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Staying With

“to love is to stay with.”
This was told to me by a man who could not “stay with” to save his life.  Although he ended up as a contradiction, he gave me that phrase, and I thoughtfully mulled it over through many years. "To love is to be present" was a platitude-I wanted more. And in watching myself and others as we've moved about our lives in constant relationship with each other, I came to understand that “staying with” is quite simple. It is putting aside anger and hurt and things you don't understand to make a real effort to see, hear, and feel clear-hearted responsibility for the people you love. It is as much about staying with yourself, for when we neglect, blame, abandon, shame and hurt others, we ultimately betray ourselves.
My mom and I have done all of that with each other. Many times, because I'm almost fifty and that's a lot of history between a mother and a daughter.

Still, my mother and I found our way through exile, abuse, brokenness, and pain, to restitution and deepest love. She taught me that when life gives you a pile of utter bullshit, you use it for compost and grow your life. My intention in telling our story was to highlight what a kickass woman my mother is. Seriously. She is a truthful example of what it means to “stay with." There is hope in transformation and always a path to healing.

My mom is awesome, y'all. I hope our story inspires you to perform feats of courageous love, for yourself and others.

Friday, May 4, 2018

bottling grief

Ten-years-old, my face was illuminated by the television screen. I sat, staring, completely immersed in some cartoon program. Behind me, I heard the snap of the bottle that meant my mother was taking valium. I had asked her once what that was, and remember her face often glistening, reddened with tears. I didn't really understand what valium was, but I remember seeing my mother in pain, I, the child of her grief.
In telling my mother's story, I am often in awe of her. Her own father was an alcoholic and an extremely selfish, perverted man. My grandmother often muttered under her breath, "I hate that man." I'm quite certain he gave many people reasons to hate him. In the stories told of my grandfather and his exploits, there is most certainly a whore in the story. He had a drawer where he kept gifts for his "whores", in the words of my mother and mostly my grandmother. He'd give my grandmother's hard-earned money to "whores". He'd  buy cars for whores and woo them at the racetrack. My grandmother was so embittered around my grandfather that the habitual pursing of her lips in scorn towards him had caused her mouth to form angry wrinkles.
We lived, of course, in Appalachia, where Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette most certainly taught us well about men and whores. Loretta writes in complete strength and total deference to patriarchy; the mediocre, straying man becomes some sort of prize in this story:

"Women like you they're a dime a dozen you can buy 'em anywhere

For you to get to him I'd have to move over and I'm gonna stand right here
It'll be over my dead body so get out while you can
Cause you ain't woman enough to take my man

Sometimes a man start lookin' at things that he don't need
He took a second to look at you but he's in love with me
Well I don't know where that leaves you oh but I know where I stand
And you ain't woman enough to take my man"

The women in this pervasive mythology become responsible, and a man is repeatedly cast as someone to compete for. A mediocre man, I must repeat, bearing little by way of morals. In an impoverished region, people staying together most certainly meant the next best level of stability, for it is always cheaper to live together than apart. My mother, therefore had no choice but to stay inside of the desperate jail of an abusive childhood. Marriage was the only way out for her, and she married into yet another abusive relationship. 
When my mother followed my dad to catch him in the act of cheating on her, she finally, and possibly for the first time in her life, felt enraged. She felt enraged enough to stop being a victim and start to play an active part in her story. She sold the cattle, the farm, and lost 60 pounds. She was given a concealed carry permit since the judge told her, "I can't do anything unless he kills you." That statement is true of family courts to this day, and my own experience has shown me family court is a system that is largely ineffectual in protecting women and children from the fallout of abusive relationships. The judge dealt with my abusive father by exiling my mother, my brother, and myself. 
Where there is abuse, there is most certainly an exile, I learned. An abuser is never adequately dealt with, and he most certainly won't deal with himself to become morally upright and of use.
In my mind, my mother looms larger than life. In my mind, there is this arc, one fell swoop, in which she was exiled to Ohio and took charge. She went from being a farm wife and hairdresser, to being a foreman on the line at General Motors. She went from being demeaned and abused by a man to bossing men around. 
Still, there is the other side of the story-that soft, nearly imperceptible snap of the valium bottle. With the strength to overcome, comes the inevitable river of grief. Abuse of any kind breaks apart everything you know about life and people, and about yourself. It's a severe disturbance, an irreparable wounding. 
I hold to Bessel Van der Kolk's definition of trauma, or abuse if you will. It involves not being seen, not being heard, and not being taken into account. I feel so strongly my mother's pain at encountering a wall of a person, an empty hardened shell who lashed out in a compulsion to control. I have sought similar figures in my own life, not being able to stay away from men who are so walled off as to be abusive. I have literally had misogyny beaten into my body, my head, my bank account, and my children. In this, my mother and I share a similar path and we both grieve for this.
The loss of trust in people is deep. The loss of believing the good in people, the loss of financial stability, the loss of picturing men as kind protectors and supporters, the loss of family when that is what you value above all's devastating. And when an abuser won't stop his control, your path becomes one of trying to find peace in the middle of a war. Our culture expects women to act peaceful towards warmongering men. 
My mother did not act peaceful. Instead, she rightly found her anger, and had to also find her grief. Grief and sadness were harder for her, since, as a single mother, she had to figure out how to re-make a life for her two children, a life completely different from the one she'd established. Her anger empowered her to make good of a horrid situation, and that is the surface of the story I hold to.
But the grief is always there, just behind us.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

City States

You and your slow plans
Which are not really plans at all, only an avoidance of
 the inevitable mess of concrete being poured
and the work of digging it out only to frame it in
Wood is chosen, and some sort of metallic taste to hang it on
Like the larynx honeyed with bourbon,
you have tools in your hands and have laid out the papers, pens, what to say.

And you, being so abstract,
could not pour out the words needed to build the foundation
they don't come to you to be poured, but rather to
settle on moonlight, on a white couch
Spell out soft blue rainstorms where your hands grow night forests in my hair
You build cities in my skin, all the way in, where
tiny figures walk between buildings
Naturally, organically, designing passages
between insecurity and bliss
between perfect angles and wolfish curves
Their feet rustle as they walk, they mumble
We understand this, as our language
I listen until I am built into you, a neural pathway

Your beautiful hands can hold anything: the wood, the moon,  metal, me.
Beat of drum, skin in translation, unspoken, felt sense - they can hold.
Still, I would rather be a crack in your sidewalk-
a path in your city
than to never have been planned.

Phyllis Chessler

I had started a post but realized someone had done more extensive research and was more articulate in presenting gender bias in family court:

“In Mothers on Trial: The Battle for Children and Custody I first challenged the myth that fit mothers always win custody — indeed, I found that when fathers fight they win custody 70 percent of the time, whether or not they have been absentee or violent fathers. Since then, other studies, including ten State Supreme Court reports on Gender Bias in the Courts, have appeared that support most of what I say and the Massachusetts report confirms my statistic of 70 percent (Maged & Frankel, 1990; Abrams & Greaney, 1989). My thesis in Mothers on Trial: The Battle for Children and Custody has been widely supported for example by the evidence of the American Judges Association (n.d.), Bemiller (2008) Hannah & Goldstein (2010), Neustein & Lesher (2005), Polikoff (1992), Stahly et al. (2004), Smart & Sevenhuijsen (1989), Winner (1996) and Neustein & Goetting (1999). Goldstein (2010) for The National Organisation for Men Against Sexism (NOMAS), claims that 90% of the cases referred to by the courts as 'high conflict cases' are cases involving abusive men."
"Today more and more mothers, as well as the leadership of the shelter movement for battered women, have realized that battered women risk losing custody if they seek child support or if they attempt to limit visitation. Incredibly, mothers also risk losing custody if they accuse fathers of beating or sexually abusing them or their children — even or especially if these allegations are supported by experts (Chesler, 2011). Indeed as I observed earlier, "Mothers who allege paternal incest during a custody battle usually lose custody" (Chesler, 1997-8:3), a finding also confirmed by the 1000 cases studied by Neustein & Goetting (1999).
Today the same experts who once tyrannized women with their advice about the importance of the mother-child bond are, in the context of a custody battle, ready to ignore it or refer to it, if at all, as of only temporary importance. They view the mother-child bond as expendable if it is less than ideal or if another woman is available. Mothers are commodified; they are viewed as interchangeable with a paternal grandmother or a second wife."
"The mothers of raped children, who are also described as "protective" mothers, are seen as guilty of "Parental Alienation Syndrome." The fact that this theory, first pioneered by Dr. Richard Gardner has been dismissed as "junk science," on multiple fronts for example by Wood (1994) Brown (2008) and Bruch (2001), does not seem to have brought about an end to the use of the theory. Many guardian ad litems, parenting counsellors, mediators, lawyers, mental health professionals, and judges still act as if this is a real syndrome and that mothers, not fathers, are mainly guilty in this regard. Yet use of Gardner's work has been linked to serious adverse consequences as for example in the suicide of sixteen-year old Nathan Grieco. (Morrison, 2009:49). Increasingly, the children themselves are now coming forward to tell their stories through organisations such as The Courageous Kids Network and Children Underground."
"A custody battle can take a very long time and may range from several years to as many as twenty. A custody battle may have profound legal, economic, social, psychological, and even medical consequences for years afterwards; perhaps forever. Going through a custody battle is like going through a war. One does not emerge unscathed. Yes, one may learn important lessons, but one may also be left broken, incapable of trusting others, including our so-called justice system, ever again."
"With a few exceptions, most of my 2010 mother-interviewees said that the system was "corrupt;" that lawyers and judges don't care about "justice," are "very biased" or can be "bought and sold," a finding that is empirically supported by the Texas Courtwatch project (Ford, 2006) and by Bemiller (2008). These mothers said that social workers, mental health professionals, guardians ad litem, and parent co-ordinators, especially if they were women, actively "disliked" and were "cruel and hostile" to them as women. Perhaps they expected women to be more compassionate towards other women; in this, they were sadly mistaken. Also, many mothers found that female professionals were often completely taken in by charming, sociopathic men and by men who were dangerously violent and who sexually abused their children."
"Some mothers are still risking jail and an outlaw life in order to save their children from being beaten and raped. This began in the mid-1980's. Most mothers are caught and imprisoned; their children are given to their abusers. What is new is this: Mothers are also fighting back in new ways. They are forming support groups, going public in the media, launching websites which document their stories and having politicians raise their cases. American mothers are considering what kind of legislation will help them protect their children."