Helping Pregnant Single Mom of 5

My husband and I would have been married 18 years in January.  We have 5 children- 15, 13, 10, 8, 2 and one on the way.  

We've had our financial struggles up and down but I've always had a side business to help out and allow me to stay at home with the kids.  In July we found out that our lease would be up at the end of September and we needed to move. We always had a dream of moving to TX and started to look there.  It was getting down to the wire and we still had not found anything when 2 weeks before our move out date, my husbands cousin called with an offer he thought we couldn't refuse.  If we would move to Oklahoma, he would pay our rent for 6 months and mentor Karl to put us in a better financial position and hook him up with recruiters to find a job in TX.  That was the plan, or so I thought.

The more my husband started talking to his cousin, the more he started changing. I did not want to move to OK and he got angry and said: Well, we don't have any other options right now so you can either come with me and the kids or you can run home to mommy and daddy. This should have been a warning sign but I chalked it up to stress and reluctantly went along with the plan. It happened so quickly and within less than two weeks we were headed to Oklahoma. He had quit his job with great benefits and health insurance for my pregnancy, we lost our life insurance, everything, so that we could move to another state, live off the charity of his cousin and sign up for welfare.

The first week was busy getting kids enrolled in school and setting things up.  By the second week, my husband was hanging out with his cousin every day and his cousin's inner circle of influential friends (real estate investor, attorney, financial planner and oil consultant).  This prosperity teaching started taking over and he would come home saying weird catch phrases and changing into a completely different person.  

He became very controlling and aggressive in his behavior toward me and would yell a lot.  He would be gone all day running around with his cousin, then coming home for a quick bite to eat and heading out to a part time side job which he wouldn't return from until after midnight.  I was isolated in a tiny apartment all day, no phone, no credit cards/money, no car and no one to talk to, 2000 miles away from home.  He made me feel trapped and he started making all the decisions and said I had to comply with no say in the matter or he would get very hostile and threaten with divorce.  He told me that since he was the man of the house and I was the wife, it was my job to obey him and do whatever he said like the Bible says.  He said he was pulling out our retirement to invest in the stock market.  He was meeting with a realtor and looking at buying a house in OK when that was never the plan.  He started siphoning money out of our joint checking account and opening up another account under just his name.  He started a new business without telling me and the list goes on and on. I was starting to feel trapped and lonely with no one to talk to.  One day (longing for adult conversation) I asked him how his day was and what he had done that day.  He got all defensive and yelled at me. "What should it matter as long as I am getting stuff done?!"  I confided in him once telling him that I was starting to feel depressed and trapped.  He laughed and said "What do you have to be depressed about?!!" Then the next day, I noticed there were papers on the apartment door that were needing my signature for our lease to be extended from 6 months to one year. 

Long story short, he very coldly told me that I needed to either sign these papers or I could leave, we would get divorced and that he had already contacted a divorce attorney.  We argued, I left with my 2 year old son for the night to head to my cousin's in TX and get some perspective.  When I came back the next day the locks had been changed, I was locked out and he had attempted to remove me from the lease.  Since no one was home, I drove to my in laws where they took my son, yelled at me, pretended to listen to my side of the story for 15 minutes after they had already heard my husbands lies and half truths for a day and a half.  They then had me hug the kids and say good bye before my husband and his father dropped me off at a hotel for the night.  I did not know that that would be the last time I would see my children for 2 months.  I would have held them longer, tighter and done things a lot differently.

Isolated in a hotel room with no communication, no credit cards, no vehicle, my husband then shut down my etsy business permanently against my will.  (A side business I had to run since his income didn't cover all our expenses.)  He locked me out of emails, changed passwords, and cut off all communication with our children.  The next morning he called the hotel phone and said he wasn't going to pick me up until Monday (it was Saturday at that point). I went to the hotel lobby and used the computer to contact my cousin who drove up with her husband to be with me so that I wouldn't be alone.  Karl and his father met us the next day at the hotel and said I could either stay at an extended stay or could go with my cousin until he could arrange counseling for us. The plan was he would pick me up that week in TX once he had arranged counseling.  

We spoke on the phone on Monday and he said he would come on Saturday for me.  I was to look at it like a vacation and just relax.  He stopped answering texts on Wednesday, blocked my number on Thursday and changed his phone number on Friday.  He left me there 6 ½ months pregnant and abandoned. I tried calling our pastor back home who reached out to him and was willing to come speak with him but Karl blocked him as well and would not speak to anyone- friends/family from our old life.  My cousins drove me back up on Saturday so that I could find out what was going on and upon the advice of the police lieutenant (and a locksmith) I was able to get into the apartment and wait for Karl to come home. (I sent my cousins home and prayerfully waited for Karl to come back home.)

The apartment was strange and it looked like someone was moving out.  There were boxes and notes about finding child care for our son.  I also saw all of our kids electronic devices piled up with cords wrapped around them.  My husband came back after 1am with his father and uncle.  He wouldn't have a private conversation with me.  (Not one since this whole thing started)  He basically dumped me in front of everyone and said he was seeking separation, divorce and it was over.  He then got some stuff and they left.  I spent the night in the apartment in a total state of shock.  

The next morning he came back with family members as I am in the bed and crying talking to a friend (I now had a phone at this point- thanks to my family who purchased me one remotely).  Karl stood in the doorway while his aunt was recording me on her phone and he says Oh, you're still here!?!  I said, yes, where else am I supposed to go.  He said well, I can't make you leave, but if you stay, the kids and I are moving into my parents and you're not welcome there.  And also, rent is due on the 1st and I don't know how you'll pay. Also, all this furniture belongs to my family and they will come to take it back. He was so cruel and hateful.  I took a quick shower and gathered my belongings in a duffel bag.  We hadn't fully unpacked yet, so all I had were 2 pairs of shorts, some tanks a couple tees, and my nikes, no socks.  He wouldn't get me any of my clothes or belongings out of the garage unit.  (His family was removing the food from the apartment as we spoke).  Thankfully my parents had flown in upon the advice of my cousins who did not have a good feeling about this.  Karl and his aunt were just sitting at the table waiting for me to leave.  I was basically kicked out, 6 ½ months pregnant and left for homeless. 

My parents took me immediately to the doctor since I had not received any medical care since I had been there.  I was severly dehydrated and hadn't felt the baby move.  I had also lost 11 pounds within that week.  I stayed at the hospital most of the day and they sent social workers, a chaplain and many people to talk to me. I didn't know what I was going to do but I couldn't leave my babies 2000 miles away and head back home anytime soon, so if I had to go to one of the shelters they were recommending for abused women, I was going to do what I had to do.  

I also got counseling and we sought legal help.  My son was about to have his 15th birthday and I could not leave without seeing him and giving him his gift.  But they kept my children out of school and moved them from house to house so that we could not find them. We even went to their pastor to seek reconciliation or to at the very least, see the kids before we headed out, but the answer was "see you in court".  It became clear that the battle had to be fought in California and the only way to see my kids would be to file first for divorce and then everything could start after that.  I did not know that my husband would evade service for a month.  Keep my kids out of school for 10 days and then withdraw them and homeschool them.  I had no communication or way to contact them.  They were also told horrible things about me I suspected but would not know the full extent of until later.  I missed out on Halloween, my son's 15th birthday and Thanksgiving. 

I now have my children temporarily but the battle has only begun.  My husbands lies are getting very expensive to fight and I risk loosing the children as of January 2nd.  He is trying to gain full custody of all 5 children, plus our unborn son due in about 4 weeks.  I am having to jump through a lot of hoops this week and am needing more money to fight this.  I specifically need $950 by this Thursday for an evaluation. There are also transportation costs involved (We do not have a vehicle) and expenses for the children. If anyone can help, we would greatly appreciate it.
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Jennifer Johnson Schroeder 
Fair Oaks, CA
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