One really difficult thing about leaving a batterer—for me, anyway—is that I never really got to leave. I’m still here, and he’s still doing the same things. Meaning living out an abusive dynamic on a daily basis. Except now he uses the kids more to get at me. Tells them things that they should say to me. Encourages them to wish out loud that I was never a part of their lives.

And when I ask people for help for them or for me or for any of us, they say there’s nothing they can do.

And when I look for books on how to heal and recover, I realize that there aren’t any.

There’s no healing program for people who can’t stop the abuse.

You only get to heal after.

And for me, and for my children, there is no after. We still live with and around him every day.

He still lights bonfires and gets them excited about burning special mementos I’ve given them. Or he might burn my daughter’s clothes to teach her a lesson when he wants her to spend more time at his house. He tells her that if she won’t stay with him, then she doesn’t need those clothes anymore, anyway.

And there’s no help for her. Because when I tell the professionals who have been assigned to help us, they tell me that I need to back off the man and let him parent his own way. I get to parent my way. So I need to stop talking bad about him.

He’s a really nice guy when he’s in session, so I think they must assume that he’s nice all the time. That I’m exaggerating. Or crazy or something.

That’s how they treat me, anyway.

But I have a photo my son took of a charred shirt. And videos of the fires from their phones.

Maybe they want me to mind my own business.

But I’m not making anything up.

And I’d really love to give my family a chance to heal.


11 thoughts on “Recovery”

  1. I can’t understand how PhD professionals can be so easily manipulated, conned. In my case, the counselor was completely unethical. She hid my hard evidence (photos, letters, email, witnesses with no financial ties…) from her associates who were part of the custody recommendation group. She told my lawyer I had not called her, when my phone records proved otherwise. She bullied me & accused me in the interview. She did not recommend my daughter help, and when my daughter wound up in ER & a behavioral health hospital six months after moving in with her dad & his 5th wife (there’s your sign, Ms. PhD) & being completely cut off from me, she didn’t even offer condolences. She worsened a traumatic situation & put my daughter in the hands of an abuser. She somehow missed the signs of enmeshment that are characteristic of parental alienation. She didn’t clue in when learning of how my ex’s dad alienated him & his siblings when he was my daughter’s age. She didn’t clue in that two of his daughters from previous marriages did not have a relationship with him. She didn’t clue in that my daughter showed symptoms of a kind of abuse that never came into question, except to ask him & report he vehemently denied it. She didn’t question the fact that he’d drop my daughter off at 13 at a bar called Smokehouse Grill and allow strangers to drive her home after 11pm. (Manipulation & corruption & neglect are forms of abuse, Ms. Phd.) I wanted my daughter to have counseling — she did not support it. She only wanted me to confess to something I didn’t do. One of her partners apologized to me. I hope that teachers, mentors, neighbors, etc., will read this so they can intervene when they see a minor out all hours & they see a child crying out through help with her behavior when a mother is prevented from protecting her precious one! Others do not seem to understand the alienated parent’s dilemma, the alienated parent’s no-win situation, or the alienated child’s predicament. May the truth be heard. May are hearts be heard. May others have enough compassion to help instead of judge. Like you, I too, plan to write a book about my nightmare. I want to include other mom’s stories.

    1. You’re right. Others do not understand how to see what’s happening or that “programming” is, indeed, as possible with children as it is with adults. I have been amazed to hear professionals consistently speak out against even the possibility in children… while it’s so widely accepted in society that adults can be brainwashed in cults, etc… (I believe you pointed this out in another comment, so I know we’re experiencing something similar around that topic.) And so then I wonder whether there’s some REASON or personal payoff or personal protection that comes from NOT believing in the possibility… but I can’t think of any. I don’t know why some people immediately throw up a wall and refuse to consider that children are also vulnerable to brainwashing. I don’t know why. But I’m glad you’re talking about it. Write that book! Your voice is inspiring me to share more… to amplify our community of voices. Thank you.

      1. A DA once told me therapists are naive. I think they also want to believe they have the answer or that they want to hear the perfect story that fits into their point of reference or their sensibilities. And some are just bullies in disguise. What a bad message my daughter got from the whole family court process: to lie is to win & it’s acceptable to hurt others to “win” So many things I didn’t talk about because it sounded too unbelievable. Thank goodness you & others are speaking up so I can.

      2. You know, I was shocked by the lies, too. And I have to say that I’m a therapist myself… and that my training program did not prepare me in any way to deal with alienation or alienating parents. Even though I earned endowed scholarships for my work in domestic violence and child welfare. Very frankly, there was zero preparation in my program for dealing with these issues. Zero preparation for detecting deception. I recommend Anna Salter’s book, Predators, if for nothing more than to read her research on how inadequate we are—even in the FBI and CIA—in knowing when someone’s lying to us. Sure, there are training programs out there that can add to our basic education. But the problem is that most of the professionals you encounter will not have completed any of these programs and will have no idea how to deal with your situation.

      3. Yes, I noticed this & one therapist told me that the sickest people won’t seek help, so there is little if any actual experience. I expressed concerns to more than one marriage counselor and none of them saw the possible signs. I would say they were helpful in some aspects, but they didn’t seem to think about how an emotionally abused & gas lighted spouse has become tolerant and already tends to downplay things. I understand that — therapists can’t be expected to see and know everything in an hour or two session, but much MUCH of what Ms PhD had as far as information could have easily been seen as red flags even by a teen. I am thankful for therapists who genuinely care, & I think most do. I hope they will listen to our stories.

      4. Yes, I was blessed to have a wonderful counselor even though she had never heard of Parental Alienation. She encouraged me to write.

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