My friend went to her ex-husband’s home to pick up their 1 year old son at the end of his scheduled visitation. When she arrived, he refused to give her their son so she started arguing with him. This made him upset so he started hitting her. My friend is a very strong willed person who will not take that kind of abuse from anyone so she pushed him. Unfortunate for her, he had their son in his arms. So when she called the police to try to get help getting her son back, they charged her with domestic violence rather than him.
Sounds like injustice but I want you to stand back and think about something. The real victim here is not the mother or the father. The real victim is the little boy. He doesn’t need to see his parents fighting over him or fighting period for that matter. Granted, he is only a year old and he will not remember this incident but if they do not straighten up, he will remember others. The authorities understand this all too well. They see thousands of children every year that come from broken homes. It is there job to protect the children as much as possible. Therefore, if you are hit in the presence of your children and you hit back, it is highly likely that you too will be charged with domestic violence. So don’t be stupid. If someone hits you, do NOT hit them back.
Now you are likely asking, what do you do? Here is the best advice I can possibly give you. Fight back with your will and not your might. Your will is your brain, your might is your body. That means, if someone hits you, don’t hit them back especially in the presence of a child. Instead, yell out, retreat, and get help.
Yelling out will get the attention of anyone around you. In court you need proof of abuse in order to get a restraining order or any other kind of help from the authorities. Believe me; it is not easy to get a restraining order. You can make it easier if you have proof of what they did. Make sure you get that proof by attracting the attention of anyone in the area. An eyewitness is great proof if they are willing to speak on your behalf. If they leave a bruise, document when the bruise showed up (it may be hours or days later) and take pictures.
Next, retreat. Backing up a few feet may be all that is needed to get out of range. However, I have seen abusive men in their rage and backing up a few feet is not always enough. I know that it is hard as a mother to walk (or run) away from an abuser that has your child in their arms but you may have to. I know that the only thing going through your head at that moment is the safety of your child. But if you are not safe, how will you keep your child safe? Take care of yourself first and get out of the situation. As soon as you are safely in your car or the home of a neighbor or in a public location, call the authorities. Let them go in after your child. This is the hardest part because you have to trust in someone else to help you. I have been there, I know how hard it is.
I am a very strong willed person and I thought that I could protect my children on my own just by leaving my ex-husband. I was wrong. After years of failing to prove in court what my ex is really like and the seriousness of the situation, I finally handed the situation over to God. There were multiple times that I felt my children were not safe with their father and I wanted to run right over to his house and take them away. But I knew that doing so would only work against me in court. Instead I had to call on the police to help me. Luckily, each time I did, they clearly saw that my children were not safe and they documented the situation and removed my children for me. That documentation is what finally helped me to protect my children. It took the police removing my children from their father’s home a couple of time before the courts could see for themselves the seriousness of the situation. The point is that they finally realize that they are not safe with him and have put them under permanent supervised visitation (or until he gets help which will be never).
What pulled me though was patience and the love of my friends and family. I had to endure years of the courts believing his lies but I knew that the only way to fight a liar is with the truth. I had to collect evidence of the truth and so will you. Gathering enough evidence does not happen overnight and you are going to get discouraged. Just don’t give up. Patience will pull you through.
If you continue to feel threatened each time you go to pick up your children, petition the courts to order the exchange with a third party. My Ex-husband and I went through a local company for about a year that we paid to do the exchanges. He would walk into the building on one side and I would drop the children off with a responsible adult on the other side. We never had to speak to each other or even see each other. Although I felt sick each time I had to let me children go with him, I at least felt safe and my children could sense it. This made them feel more at ease and made the situation livable for the time.
One last bit of advice I can give you is to carry with you everywhere any court orders showing who has custody of your children and the visitation schedule. That way, if you find yourself in my friend’s shoes, the police will be able to help you more. Without that, you may not get your children back that day. The police would simply document the incident and let the courts make a decision about what to do at your next court hearing.
Good luck and God bless.