Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Writhing in agony

A truly international post today, with three stories involving four different countries, but each could be from any of those four.

First, Sandra Horley, chief executive of Refuge, a British domestic violence charity for the protection of women only (by the website), takes exception to the transfer of two children from the mothers' custody to the fathers' in an distressingly uncommon effort to redress years of alienation by the mothers against the fathers. While she accepts that "this is not an ideal world", she sees it as flawed in only one way that matters - mothers having to protect their children from abusive fathers. She says that the mothers she sees "are not bitter exes vengefully preventing separated fathers from seeing their children" and that is all she has to say about such women, that she doesn't see them. This should make her entire letter a thorough non sequitur because, from the article concerned, these two mothers who have, for once, been disciplined by the court manifestly are such vengeful harpies.

Nevertheless, Ms. Horley proceeds to forcefully suggest that the judges hadn't looked into these cases closely enough. Normally, and over that specific, unadorned point, I'd agree with her, the judges don't look closely enough nine times out of ten - it's very much the exception when they do and finally, after much hemming and hawing, find for the father.

She goes on to demand that court personnel should "receive training to dispel misconceptions about domestic violence" and likewise, I would agree with her. But not in the way should would imagine, not that all mothers claiming abuse must inevitably be telling telling the truth, nor that the facts of domestic violence is as one sided as she clearly believes, but that the courts themselves do cause considerable pain and anguish through their unwillingness to see the father in any terms besides those declared by the mother, often taking years to figure out what they want to do while children grow and fathers wither and die.

I find a third point in Ms. Horley's letter to which I can nod an assent, and again with a quick twist of which she would doubtless disapprove. She says "an automatic presumption that it is in 'the best interests of the child' to have contact with both parents, ignores the courts' responsibility to protect that child". Superficially, yes, she is correct, but she misrepresents the court by suggesting that the presumption implies the court shirks its duty in protecting the child in such a way. She would have done better to use the word "requirement" instead of "presumption" to retain some integrity to the assertion. But anyway, the whole meaning is undermined by the vacuousness of the phrase "the best interests of the child", no one has the least idea what that means any more.

What raised my jaded eyebrow, however, was her claim: "Defying the courts may well be a mother's 'last-ditch option' to keep her child safe." and here we have the chief executive of a major charity in a first world country advocating violation of the law. But only under certain conditions, I'm sure. I very much doubt that she would advocate a father kidnapping a child to protect his relationship with him or her, but it's clear she'd defend a mother doing so to keep the child away from the father, provided, of course, that the mother said he's dangerous.

A quick flit across the ocean to Texas and we discover precisely such an example of a father breaking the law to, he says, protect his relationship with his child. Daniel Pavon Cuellar has done a bunk across the border to Mexico with his infant son. Now this is clearly wrong and at best foolish because both Mexico and the USA are signatories to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, the only complicating factor being that the mother is not American, but British (it's not clear to me what the two of them were doing in Texas when the child was born). Of course, they have to find the child first, and it is trite but true of me to say that we all hope that this resolves without lasting harm to anyone, especially the boy, but it isn't hard to see that the father, ultimately, is doomed pretty much no matter what he does.

That said, you'll be unsurprised to hear that I think reflex condemnation in all respects is too pat and that the father's motivation, for all the stupidity of the act, is quite significant. He fled for fear of a custody action which he would inevitably lose anyway and, one presumes, a move of the child to the UK. It wouldn't be hard to see that he'd have unsurmountable problems in remaining any part of the child's life, especially given the UK's track record in such things. On her webpage, baby Sebastion's mother, Samantha, asserts that "Daniel is violent and shows signs of been [sic] unstable, and mentally ill", although there is no supporting evidence provided, besides the kidnapping, and Daniel, by newspaper reports, insists that she is lying.

Now some might think it crass and insensitive of me to even show shades of taking the father's side, but I am sure that even Sandra Horley would be pleased to join me in disapproving of his behavior, although doubtless with somewhat more vehemence and hypocrisy than I. Nevertheless, I urge you to look at his position right now, which is pretty tight, run to ground somewhere in Mexico City. Somehow, I doubt that calling him "violent", "unstable" and "mentally ill" is helping matters and causes me to look a little askance at the hysterical press who have already tried and condemned Daniel forever. In fact, the whole thing reminds me of another incident not long ago which resolved itself quite cleanly hopefully to the embarrassment (but I doubt it) to all the gung ho rescuing "heroes" involved.

Finally, over to Australia, and a graphic description of what can happen to dads who put their trust in the system, even when it is supposed to have laws which protect their relationships with their children. The director of the Shared Parenting Council of Australia, Edward Dabrowski, says
"I have seen fathers writhing in agony outside the doors of the Family Court. I will challenge any parent that is having their children wrenched away from them to say that they can remain totally sane and totally impassionate about what is happening to them."
I know that agony, and it does indeed test any normal person's sanity (hang in there, Samantha), it leads me to understand Daniel's behavior (but not, you idiot, to condone it!), and makes me realize that the Sandra Horleys of this world and their simplistic thinking are a disease of prejudice and ignorance which must be cured.


Anonymous said...

There is nothing "equal" about anything that many of these "women" espouse JADF. They speak from a purely female standpoint. In many of their statements Men are either:

A. Disregarded basic civil liberties/disregarded

B. Viewed as a subhuman lifeform, capable of putting Men on the moon, but somehow completely clueless as to how to raise a child.

C. A malevolent being, that can only destroy, rape, or kill women and children.

The simple hypocrisy of her statements proves at least one of my points. Mind you all, these women are funded with the tax dollars that you work hard for. You are all paying into a system that inherently hates you, and disregards you as a human being, with basic rights and liberties.

Should all Men raise their children? Sadly no, just as there are mothers that seem to be biologically or mentally incapable of raising offspring, so there are Men as well. However Men are at such a disadvantage, one wonders how some even GET to be in their childs life, and others have the gall to wonder why a Man would "kidnap" his child in such a manner.

While I don't condone such actions, I notice that no one EVER asks WHY a Man would do such a thing? In my view its because much of society is gyno-centric. They don't CARE why, or how, or who for that matter as long as they have another Man to blame the "problem" on. God forbid that we actually get to the root of the problem itself, lets just find another man/scapegoat and hang him high.

J.Rhoades said...

I'm a father currently being alienated from my 13 month old son. The alienation/nightmare has lasted for 10 months and will last at least 3 more months. So I know first hand about trying to remain sane during such a troubling time. Let's just say it is very difficult! But you remain sane because your child is depending upon you.

My son was born during a lengthy extramarital affair, and the mother's lawyer husband, Jonathan Ricketts, decided to remain married. Of course the husband only agreed to stay if my son's mother cut me out of our child's life, which I consider intentional alienation. And because they have money, influence, and the husband's father is a prominent Louisville, Ky attorney, Charlie Ricketts, the case has made it to the Ky Supreme Court to be heard September 12, 2007. They are arguing, despite 3 DNA tests (2 court ordered) and the mother's sworn testimony, that I'm not the father because they are married. In addition, they say even if I am the biological father I have no right to be in my son's life, and this is even after being in my son's life for the first 3 months of his life (before the mother told her husband).

I'm so afraid and very worried about the long term effects on my son. As my son's father I should be able to participate in my child's life regardless of his mother being married.

More info: http://www.letmeseemyson.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

I have already been through much of what you are experiencing right now. What I have to say you will learn the hard way.

We live in a Matriarchal society Mr. Roades. We also live in a Republic as well, this republic is controlled by legislators, which are in turn elected by the votes of the People. The current majority of people, or voting bloc if you prefer, on a gender basis is:

1. Women: 52 %
2. Men: 48 %

However for some reason, women are considered a "minority" and an "oppressed class". Research these terms, and find their roots.

John Doe said...

Hey abaddon_fff give him a break, he needs support, not hard lessons from his own side. He is fighting, at least, and deserves our admiration for that.

Anonymous said...

j.rhoades: hang in there! Just try to be as strong as you can, and don't give up even for a second. I went a year without seeing my son while going through my divorce, but now it's just a horrible memory. I see my son regularly now, 11 years later. Don't be discouraged though, after not seeing him for a year, (he was 1 1/2 when he was taken and 2 1/2 when I finally saw him again)it took only one visitation for him to feel comfortable with me again. It was the hardest thing I've ever gone through, and there were times I just wanted to die, but I just want you to know that others have been through what you're experiencing, and we survived. Don't ever give up, and you will be rewarded! My son and I only see each other every other weekend, but we're very close now. Maybe that will give you something to look forward to and fight for. You'll both be fine, just stay strong!

Anonymous said...

To all,
It wasn't my intention to seem harsh in my earlier comment. Indeed it is a good thing to see Men standing up and fighting this injustice. The point of the whole comment was to illustrate WHY you have to fight in the first place.

I truly do hope that things turn out well for you Mr. Rhoades. Although from what I have seen and heard, this is a rarity. I haven't seen my children in almost 2 years now, and the future doesn't look so bright for me either.

Good luck Mr. Rhoades, I hope that things turn out well for you in the future.

Anonymous said...

i just want you to know, my exhusband chose to leave me after 7 years and 2 kids. hurt, angry and scorn.. i bent over backwards to ensure our children have a good relationship with him. here we are, 6 years later, both having moved on with our lives, yet working together to raise these boys. they're almost teenagers now and quite well rounded. they spent a week in canada with their dad this summer for vacation. all of us arent bad...

Anonymous said...

I often wonder why women in general seem to take offense at statements that don't picture women in the best of lights. It's as if you all operate from a herd mentality, where when someone points out something wrong with the "herd" itself, or a part of it, then the whole "herd" jumps to it's defense instead of examining the statement itself. I seriously doubt that JADF or I for that matter have said, that all women are bad or evil.

However I (and many Men for that matter) do object to many of the things that go on in the supposed "family" courts. I am sure that you "bent over backwards" to accomadate your children and their father. However thats not the point of this conversation. The point is that if you so CHOSE, you could take away his children with very little evidence, charge him for it while maintaining the property that you both used to live on. The point is that if you where of a mind to, you could do all these things and he could do nothing about it. The point, I would think is that you have all the POWER in such a situation, and that power is derived from the simple fact of your gender. The fact that you chose to use that power in a sane, fair and just manner is not up for debate. However YOU are NOT all women Anon.