Her Safe Place


I need help protecting my daughter from her grandmother. My ex-husband doesn't want custody of his daughter, but his mom does. So much so that she's now trying to get me out of the picture, which isn't in my daughter's best interests. She's emotionally unstable, racist, physically abusive to my daughter, and has enough money to be able to keep filing legal suits against me.

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I need help for attorney fees, in addition to all the things I'd be able to handle myself if I didn't have to miss work to defend myself and my daughter. My goal is to totally remove her from my daughter's life so that my daughter no longer has to deal with the abuse. I need to buy groceries and pay bills in the mean time with out losing my lawyer, my home or my electricity.

Why 8000.00 ?
With a loan from a friend I was able to pay the 2,500 deposit it took to hire my lawyer. There will be 5 times in which we have to meet, be in front of a judge, go through mediation etc. Each meeting will be a minimum 1500.00 worth of my lawyers time who is able to bill me at only 75.00 an hour for her services based on my families low income. Thats 20 hours which in the legal world is a blink of an eye.

That 1500.00 per meeting and event does not include filing fees the court needs when you register and file responses, harassment suits etc. This also does not include having to pay for my daughters therapist to speak on our behalf, school members, an Ad-litem for my child and other necessary professionals to present my case. That is just 2000.00 of lawyer time. The last two cases have cost me my car, my furniture, my bills, my credit, and my sanity to the tune of over 10k. My family lives on 1,500 or so a month.

We have had to go with out every thing for over a year based on someones spite and ability to afford the legal game. The catch is that she USED to be a part of my daughters life. She was drunk and absent almost 80% of my daughters life until she found her current husband. She has sobered up in the last 4 years ( legal time included) and was able to see her pretty freely because she wasn't driving drunk, no longer yelled insults to me or my child, and was sober enough to be safe for my child to visit. . There was never an issue of grandma not seeing my daughter while she was sober, in fact I encouraged it. Even though she treated me horribly, removing her from my daughters life was not an option. Now, it is mandatory because she has abused her, and even abducted her from me and you can read the details of that below.

This is not my first law suit against me from the grandmother and you can read the details below as well. I am already behind in my rent and bills because in order to fund the last 2 law suits in less than 1 year, I have to bounce bills, pay them at only 50% or less of what is due. Over the course of the year, ALL bills have been paid late, and some not at all. The grandmother is fully aware of this, even being presented with financial outline of my family to only respond with the statement that she has enough money to bury me. Literally. That was her response. And right now, she is winning.

I can insure that the abuse we are getting from her will stop IF I can afford to keep a lawyer on my case. This grandmother has been investigated by CPS for abuse, has been in front of 2 judges who told her NO when trying to take my child and knows that I can no longer afford to go through with this so she is trying yet again. With everything she has done, I have a solid case of harassment in my hands, and now to defend my child and myself we HAVE TO get this in front of a judge which means, we need money.


I have been asked if this is a real situation.. and my response to that is I sure wish it wasn't. My daughter had to have a forensic exam, Im about to lose my home, my child now knows what abuse is.. I sure wish it were false. I cant name actual names for privacy and legal reasons, but if you read below, you will understand more of why this is so dire, and why I cant give specifics. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Do you know how it feels to have a court overlook the abuse of your child?

Even when you present photo documentation of that abuse?

Even when Child Protective Services has stated that they have cause for concern?
"‹
What about when the abuse is being done by a family member?
The court wants both sides of a family represented in most cases. That is honorable ... but not in a case like this.

I first realized that something was going wrong last year, in 2012, when my daughter started staying over for full weekends with her grandmother, something that hadn't been happening before. It only took 4 weekends for my daughter to start waking up in terror in the middle of the night, crying and sometimes wetting the bed.
"‹
My daughter is a very vivid dreamer. She told me once about a dream she had about a swimming pool that was in the middle of a cloud, overlooking the earth. She said she could hang over the side of the pool and see our house from the "pointy top, like a hat" (roof). She spoke of the grass, being able to see the sidewalks and the street lights that looked like the stars in the sky. Many, many vivid dreams followed, bringing out some interesting morning conversations while we were getting ready for school. When these fits first started I was almost convinced that it had to be nightmares plaguing my child, but I knew something was wrong. Even when she'd had scary dreams, I'd never had to sleep next to her to calm her, as I had to start doing then. After the second weekend she had stayed at her grandmother, the bed-wetting started. She was seven years old. She'd stopped wetting her bed three years ago.

After the third time she spent a full weekend at her grandmother's, the fits were horrible, the bed-wetting was almost constant, and my mama-bear brain was ready for slaughter.

At the same time, during those three weeks, over constant phone calls and visits, her grandma inundated my household with horrible stories about my daughter's father and his life choices. At this time, her father and I were finally going through the legal steps of divorce, after being separated for almost two years, and we were still able to be cordial and even friendly. But his mother started delivering news about how he was spiraling downhill. Drinking, depression, statements of suicide, threats to quit his job and moving out of state - those all became commonplace in my conversations with his mother, over those few weeks, as he tried to get out of having to pay possible child support. I became very worried, because what she was saying was in direct contrast to everything he and I had talked about for the past year, and I was not sure who or what to believe. He disappeared off the radar at that point too. No more calls, no texts and no emails.

I was told that my daughter was still able to see him on the weekends, and I figured that he and his mother were having these terrible conversations in earshot of my little girl, and that was why she was becoming so stressed. That would make perfect sense. No child needs or wants to hear how their parent is trying to get out of their lives. Considering the lack of boundaries that I knew from that side of the family, I thought I was certain that this was the reason my daughter was having such a hard time ... until, one day, I saw her duck as she walked by me in the hallway, as if I was going to strike her. I. Never. Hit. My. Child. ...

The next time my daughter was going to stay with her grandmother for the weekend, less than three days after I'd seen that reaction, I had a long conversation with her grandmother. It ended with me telling her that she would not be taking my daughter to her house again until she told me what was going on. I told her grandmother about how my girl was behaving and reacting, why I was concerned and that I would speak to her the following day. That was on a Saturday.
"‹
Three days later, the grandmother went to court and was granted a temporary restraining order against me that allowed her to take my child. She claimed she wanted custody. This order stated that she "knew" I was a heroin addict, I had schizophrenia, I was delusional, a murderer and a plethora of other extremely wild claims. Right there in black and white was my ex-husband's name, backing up every one of those lies.
"‹
It took a month to get to court. A month without my daughter. A sick grief that felt like flu rendered me immobile. A fear I have never known broke my bones. I felt insane. I closed her bedroom door so I wouldn't see her toys, I wouldn't smell her, I wouldn't see her hair brush. I felt dead. My baby, my daughter, my body was gone ... taken from me by the state based on things that were absolutely not true. Just like that, a man showed up at my door and had me sign a paper saying I was not to see my child. I can not explain the fear that comes with having to defend yourself against something that isn't true, because if you do not, you may never see your child again. Not to mention that the ONLY way you can defend yourself takes money, and lots of it. My household lives on about $1,500-1,800 a month.

Without money, how do you prove you didn't kill someone? Supposedly I did it while WORKING, and their claim was that all someone needed to do was look at my work file, and it would show that I killed people. So what they were saying was that a company somewhere allowed their employee to kill, and didn't charge them with murder ...

I'm no drug addict, and proving that was simple. A hair follicle test showed that there had been no drugs in my system for the last six months, and six years of back employment and other drug test showed a clean record as well.

I don't do drugs. I'm not schizophrenic, nor am I delusional. How do I prove that? How do I afford tests to prove I don't have schizophrenia? How do I prove this was a contrived restraining order? Will my daughter come back? Ever? Will I live if she doesn't?
"‹
I was granted one supervised visit. My child was covered in bruises, her hair was matted, she had a broken arm, black sunken eyes, and her dress seemed so big, it draped around her like a curtain. She was so terrified she wouldn't leave my lap. My emotions ran wild and it was all I could do to not throw up the moment I saw her. My feelings of rage, fury, pain, embarrassment, protection and the overwhelming desire to race to my car with my baby in my arms and run away were so powerful, my whole body lurched and i walked like a drunk woman to her table.

The supervisor who performed the visit notified CPS immediately afterwards, after she asked me how long my child had been away from me. I told her it had been three and a half weeks. My daughter looked like she was a child from a horror movie who had been living in a basement. After the court hearing, my daughter was returned to me with all claims proven untrue and all rights removed from the extended family ... except regular visitations. Even with the supervisor's statement of her condition, somehow, some way, removing visitation rights was still in question.

"‹Fast forward 7 months ...

My 'duckling' is back home ... The bed-wetting is back ... and her pleas to stay home are escalating and deafening. I think she is being hurt again. I have reported it, but it is falling on deaf ears. I have called CPS, I have told the guardian ad litem, I have told my lawyer and I have told my daughter's therapist. Her therapist told me about a meeting she had with my daughter and her grandmother, where my daughter TOLD her grandmother that if she would not stop being MEAN to her, she was going to tell on her ... And that grandmother is still allowed in my child's life.

My daughter's safety can not wait. I must find legal representation. Unfortunately at this point, however, my bills can no longer wait either. I have sold my furniture, clothes, dishes, appliances and anything else my short brown fingers can get my hands on, but I can not keep up. Ramen noodles litter our cabinets where there once were containers of grains, rice and beans. All bills took a back seat in order to pay for the lawyer, and my only working, paid-for vehicle is sitting on a corner with a "for sale" sign like a red beacon.

My embarrassment about asking for help is all-encompassing, but my mama-bear brain is ruling the roost, and she is telling me to scream before we get the overdue eviction notice for being a constant five weeks behind on rent.

***

Today is August 15, 2013.

She has sued me again. It started in April. This time, the grandmother's claim is that I have not taken my daughter to therapy the way SHE thinks I should, and that I am not taking my child's education seriously.

My daughter has seen the same therapist for over a year. Bills, phone records and the therapist herself can prove that her grandmother's allegation is wrong.

My daughter is an A B honor roll student, up from D's at the beginning of the year. Despite what my daughter has been through, she has won an award from her school this year. She works hard, both at school and at home. These grades are all her doing, but her grandmother has gone so far as to say that I and her 2nd grade teacher may have altered her grades and falsified things to 'skate her through second grade' .

My daughter had to repeat second grade last year. With everything that went on then, she could not focus and it made perfect sense. She went into a deep depression and was so anxious she couldn't see straight. She was afraid to go back to her grandmother's, afraid for me to go to work, and afraid of what was going to happen. When she was with her grandmother for those weeks I could not see her, no one told her what was happening. All she ever heard was that her mother was 'at work' -- nothing more. A seven-year old child can not hear such a thing, after the disappearance of their parent, and NOT have problems. For months afterwards, anytime I would go to work I was met with little chubby arms around my waist, tears in her brown eyes and requests that I would come right back home after. Mommy always came right back home. My daughter suffered from separation anxiety for 6-8 months afterwards. And during that time, she was forced to still see her grandmother.

Her grandmother has never liked me. From the beginning, her opinion of me was that I was trying to trap her son by becoming pregnant. Once she found out that I was pregnant, she became livid, because I "was supposed to tell her," so she could "DO something about it". I guess she thought she could make me have an abortion...

Over the course of my pregnancy she became somewhat polite. Dinners went OK, visiting her and her husband was not too bad and the anger seemed to have subsided, on the surface. But her husband died a few weeks before I gave birth, and all hell broke loose. She was going through a lot ... but that is all the defense I will give her. The name calling started first. I was fat, I was dumb, I was lazy (this was when I was eight months pregnant), and I was going to bring down her son.

After my daughter was born, my ex-husband made the decision that we should live with her. I threw up from stress and anger at his decision but, in the big picture, it was necessary. He was now the only one working and I was having many health problems from the pregnancy -- so we moved in. But when we did, I went from being the fat lazy woman to the fat lazy nigger. I was yelled at for feeding my daughter avocado because "I was going to make her fat and sick like me" ... "I was going to kill her with fat" ... "I didnt know how to feed my baby because I was stupid". And so on. This while I made her baby food every day. This while I made sure to only feed her fruits and veggies that were fresh and not canned or bottled. This while I drowned myself in nutrition, vitamin and nutrient education, learned what helped the body absorb things from foods faster like fat to vitamin ratios etc.

Everything that went wrong in the house was my fault. From a broken fridge to a bad contractor job, somehow in her mind I was always to blame. She was drinking about two-three bottles of wine a day. She had spent her life as an anorexic, and it had taken a huge toll on her health. But I was told that I was the reason she was drinking, I was what was wrong with her life, and even her only friend felt comfortable with calling me a nigger. My husband did not stand up for me. This was the reason we divorced a few years later, because he allowed it to continue and told me "to just get over it", because "my mom's a bitch and you know it".

She would lock me out of the house at odd hours of the night or day with my daughter in hand. She would take things from me and call them "payments". She would pile her trash in the living room and forget, only to scream at me later when she saw it, calling me a fat pig. Early morning phone calls plagued my ex-husband's phone when she'd gotten too drunk to drive anymore and had pulled over somewhere. We either had to go get her, pay for the taxi that was bringing her, or come out to help her walk. Our evenings ranged from checking in her room to see if she was alive to defending ourselves physically from her; and yet my ex-husband never stood up for me.

We finally moved out of her house after a few months and got our own place. Her attacks on me grew less frequent, but the undertone of hate and judgment never left. She thinks I should have made her sober. She thinks I'm the reason her life is bad and to this day, she thinks I'm going to hurt my daughter. Considering the tone her hate to me has always taken and the words she used, I know that if I were a different color, this wouldn't be happening.

This second law suit cost me $4,000. . I can no longer afford to defend myself, so I had to give in to her requirements: she is demanding that I move into another school district, where rents are at least twice as high as what I pay now ... and that I do this by December 1st, IF however, I can not get my daughter transferred into that preferred school first. If I can not afford to move, I will be taken to court and face contempt of court costs. To help "offset" them, she will pay the first month's rent and deposit so I can get help moving which is of NO help if I can not afford the rent in the first place. This was made very clear during the mediation , to the point of making what was supposed to be a 2 hour ordeal into a 4 hour ordeal because she wouldnt listen to the absurdities of her request. Basically, if I don't move into a neighborhood that has an average rent of $1,800 a month or higher from my $890 a month duplex, she will go for my daughter and try to get custody.

These are people who themselves are sitting on tens of thousands of dollars. Going on two-three overseas vacations a year.

I can't even afford to take my child to Six Flags ...

***

Now it is December 2013, and I am facing lawsuit number 3.

The basis for this one is that a) I can't afford to move, and b) I missed 1 appointment with her therapist. Yes, 1.

I. Can not. Stop. I have to fight. If this does not get in front of a judge, this abuse will continue ...

So here I am, having to make an embarrassing plea for money again. I can not afford to pay off the bills that are behind because of these law suits. I can not afford to maintain a payment TO a lawyer and pay rent, bills and fees. I am at a cross roads of possibly abandoning my rental and living with friends because it has gotten to be too much.
We are 1000 in debt in fees + rent to our landlord
My electric bill is behind over 1000 because of having to pay half a bill several times over the year to keep funding a lawyer.
My lawyer is only charging me 75 an hour, but even with that my bill is 2550 and that is JUST to get started. All together she will need another deposit of that size to finish the case.

And some where in here we need to have rent paid every month, electric paid, little kids need socks and shoes, oh yeah.. and christmas is a week away. No , presents are not mandatory.. its just another painful point .

Donations

  • Perry Dorrell 
    • $100 
    • 69 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $50 
    • 70 mos
  • Katrina Hanson 
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    • 72 mos
  • Lynn W 
    • $60 
    • 72 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $50 
    • 72 mos
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Organizer

Anona Mous 
Organizer
Austin, TX
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