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In the News (Again): When It Gets Overwhelming

When I was first creating this blog space, I was thinking about the categories that I'd likely need to include. What would I be writing about? "In the News" seemed an appropriate place to share about current events in the Family Court Reform world. My first post was about a case in Utah that involved siblings who had barricaded themselves in their bedrooms to protect themselves from being taken to a "reunification camp" and forced to go with their abusive father. You can check it out here if you want more info about that case, but the point is that my intention was to spread stories like this, that shed light on the ways that our very broken Family Court system is failing to protect children, or update on important legislation like Kayden's Law, which marks the first time in history that the federal government has so plainly acknowledged the need for improved child safety measures in the private family court system all across the United States.

It's extremely important work and it needs to be shared and people need to be educated. But... since that first post, my "In the News" blog posts have been about the indictment and arraignment of the 45th President, another school shooting, and the death of Tina Turner. It's not that there hasn't been other newsworthy happenings in the Family Court Reform world--there have been quite a few actually. But how do I share news articles about children being murdered by their fathers during divorce or custody "disputes" that turned out to be just another case where there was credible and even documented abuse that was ignored by the Family Courts, with an audience that is very likely in similar circumstances? How do you work with a mom one day who is terrified of sending her young child across the country for a whole month of unsupervised visits with the person that has threatened to kill her if she ever left and took the child, and then share story after story where the "that won't happen" or "he would never do that to his child" happens all too often?

My short answer is that I don't. There are spaces for that (OMB and Custody Peace) and I've decided that I can't live too much in that space right now. My ex was a sales rep for a large gun manufacturer and when I say our house was full of guns, I mean our house was full of guns. My ex was not a physical abuser through our marriage, but in the end, when it was clear that he was losing control, he did get physical. More than once. He never hit me, but he was physically imposing himself on me--attempting to push me out of the house, pushing me down into chairs, screaming in my face. He was doing things he'd never done before and it was escalating.

I don't think I ever spoke these words at the time, because I was terrified of speaking it into reality. He traveled a lot for work and at times would come home in the wee hours of the night. I honestly believed at that point it was possible he could come home one night and shoot me in the head while I was sleeping. He was behaving irrationally, increasingly violent, and very, very angry at me. He didn't "believe" in divorce. I want to put this into perspective--I wasn't sleeping with a gun under my pillow or obsessing about this. The fear and the thoughts were very real, but there wasn't time to get swallowed by it. If I was honest with you about what was going on in my life at the time, I would have told you I was starting to think about a plan to leave, and that divorce was imminent, but I wouldn't have told you about that small fear that had wiggled its way into my consciousness.

But imagine now that every time I turned on the news I saw a report about a husband killing his wife, only to find out that she was about to file for divorce. Or about a father who killed his children and himself to "punish" his wife who had left and filed for divorce. It would have been debilitating and left me frozen in fear.

So what's the balance? How do I continue to educate people about the brokenness of our Family Court system, without overwhelming or traumatizing the very people I am trying to help through my coaching business? This weighs on me every time I see another article about a child lost to a system that prioritized an abuser's rights over the child's rights to be safe and protected. I think where I've landed is that for the most part, I will not share those stories here. They will not be part of my "In the News" blog category. I will focus on sharing news about important legislation being introduced or passed, or other newsworthy events that have a connection to the work I'm doing to support my clients.

If you are someone who is anywhere in the process of divorcing or considering divorcing an abusive partner, please be careful. It can be so easy to get overwhelmed with the amount of information out there. I left in 2008. There has been a lot of progress and it is wonderful to see how much more information and how many more resources there are compared to then, but I'm also a little bit grateful that I didn't have to deal with the overwhelm of knowing too much.

I am grateful for the path that my life has taken. I am grateful for the experiences that have positioned me to understand and to get to be someone that walks with others who find themselves here. I am grateful to groups like One Mom's Battle and Tina Swithin for the work that she is doing to advocate for change. Her voice is powerful, and it is making a difference. My voice is going to be a little quieter for a bit, at least in this space.

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