In 2012 I fled the West Coast and an abusive marriage. I filed for divorce in secrecy and the next day I waited for my then husband to leave for work. When he left I packed my car with the essentials, my children and the dog and headed East. I left for the right reasons but in the wrong way. I didn't have a court order, I didn't know I needed one. All I knew is that things were escalating, I was scared and it was time to go. I fully admit that I was wrong for the way I left. If I could go back and do it differently I would. We have paid a high price for my mistake. In the last 5 years I have spent over $40,000 in lawyer fees and court related travel expenses. Going into debt a couple times over. And, here we go again. Another battle coming.
My daughter, now 9 is at the center of the storm. No child should be a tool for punishing the other parent but that's what Ava is to her father. As the third woman to leave her father (all in similar fashion) he set out to make an example of me. He knows no limits in his effort of doing just that either. His strategy has been to outspend me in court so that I'll be bullied into giving up. His income is SUBSTANTIALLY greater than mine and will file in court so that I have to spend money, that would otherwise go to my children, to fight back. "I won't stop until you're on welfare" he said. We are finally at a place where I can see the light and I'm focusing on the positive.
My heart breaks for my children. At the last custody swap Ava begged me to pretend I didn't know what day it was and forget to drop her off... her crying and telling me her life would be so much better if she didn't have to leave. What do you say to your baby when they're broken? When you helped break them? All I know to tell her is that I'll never give up. I'm so blessed that her response is always "I know". Her little heart has so much hope and it keeps me going. I will never give up on bringing my family back together.
Again, I am here before the whole world (via the internet) asking for help in my fight.
- Jim Johnson
- Francina Veurink
- Lindsay Brown
- Christine Campbell
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