On my way home from being a Matthew West groupie this weekend, I found my ex-husband’s new fiancee on my heart. Over the past year or so that they have been together, I have struggled with the desire to warn her. But I have resigned myself to the fact that she needs to be the one to figure it out, as did I. She may enlist my help or someone else’s at some point in time, and she may not. I have done my best to let go of any responsibility I feel for her. However, as I thought of her on my drive back to Chicago-land, I wondered what I would say to her if ever given the opportunity. Never did I dream that the opportunity would come much closer to being reality as I learned of the events that transpired over the weekend while I was away.
It took less than 2 minutes in the car with the boys after picking them up from their father on Sunday to know that something was wrong. I will not go in to details as they are not necessary, but I find myself with a stronger desire than ever to reach out to the fiancee. This is my letter to her.
I know you do not want to hear anything I might have to say. But this is not about me or you. It is about those two beautiful boys, that I hope you have come to care about over the past year or so. What they went through on Saturday night is not something any child should have to go through. The worst part is it’s not the first time they have been subjected to such an event, and that is a burden I get to live with everyday.
Hearing the commotion and certainly seeing their father in that state was most certainly frightening But what truly scared them was the thought that their father might be taken away that night. They did not know what was happening; whether they would simply be left alone; or if they too would be taken by the police. I cannot imagine how scary that was for them to go through.
The following day brought about all the uncertainty their father’s actions had created. They didn’t know if daddy was still getting married. They didn’t know if daddy still had a place to live. Furthermore, they were asked to withhold the events of the prior night from their mother, a burden a child should not be expected to bear.
I have been through this. I have been where you are standing. I do not fault you for wanting to defend him or for choosing to stay with him. I stayed for 13 years; 10 after the first time he hit me; 3 after he struck me in the head with a lamp and was arrested for battery. Even though I was terrified enough to call for help, I didn’t press charges. In fact, I begged the police not to take him. I did not appear in court for the hearing, allowing the state filed charges to be dropped.
They see their therapist tomorrow. If he recommends what I believe he will recommend, then I will file a motion to modify the custody agreement. You don’t have to support my decision. But I am asking you to be stronger than I was. I need you to be honest; to tell the truth when asked about what happened Saturday night; to be willing to tell that to whoever it may be when the time comes. If you don’t, the boys will be forced to testify.
Most likely you do not think what happened was domestic violence, but it was.
Any person who physically assaults (which includes but is not limited to; hitting, choking, kicking, shoving, raping, destruction of personal property), threatens, harasses, exploits, neglects, deprives, intimidates dependents, stalks, or interferes with the personal liberty of another family or household member has broken Illinois Domestic Violence law.
Illinois also recognizes the impact to children who witness acts of domestic violence.
The witnessing of domestic violence can be auditory, visual, or inferred, including cases in which the child perceives the aftermath of violence, such as physical injuries to family members or damage to property. Children who witness domestic violence can suffer severe emotional and developmental difficulties that are similar to those of children who are direct victims of abuse.
I left <my ex> not for me, but for the boys. I need you to do this for them. They can not continue to be subjected to such trauma. As easy as it might be to dismiss, it truly has a detrimental effect on them. No child should live in fear of their father.
That is all I ask.