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Hello I don't know exactly where to start. But, I will just jump right in I guess. I have a friend that has left her husband and now the real trouble is starting. I belong to a support group called New Beginnings. The group helped her escape her abusive husband. She was hidden in different locations for a bit then set up in an apartment of her own with her children. Just before she left New York her daughter told the teachers at her school of the families circumstances at home. The abuse that her mother was receiving and the rapes by her father of her mother. Now the state of New York is investigating her to see if she was negligent in sending her children to school. Also they want to physically examine the kids to check for bruises etc.

I personally think the husband is behind this. The woman is totally petrified that she is going to lose these children to him now. He has gotten the phone number and knows she lives somewhere in Maryland. But Thank God nothing more than that. He has been playing head games with her because she asked him to provide for his children but he refuses to do so. He states quite clearly that if she attempts to get him through the courts he will just quit his job. I was wondering if there is any way that you could help her? It is hard enough making the break like she has without all this indignity on top of it. As far as I am concerned she has done nothing except to try to keep her children safe while he has done much damage by his actions. Please help this wonderful woman. Her name is Rhonda her screen name is XXXX. I thank you for any information you can give her and also any advice. Sincerely, Patrice

Dear Rhonda:

I am writing to you in response to a note that your friend, Patrice sent to FEMINIST.COM. I'm so sorry to hear about your situation--and even sorrier that I have taken so long to respond. The only good thing to have come by this delay is that you may have found a solution--at least temporarily--to your situation.

I have friends who had to suffer at the hands of the New York Family Court system because of their ignorance and I hope that wasn't your situation. In this instance, the mother was charged with neglect because her children smelled and their cloethes were dirty. No attention was given to the fact that the mother was illiterate so she couldn't get a job. She was trying to become literate, but the system made it impossible to work and study--and, therefore, no way to dig yourself out of poverty.

I share this story with you for a specific reason, which is to illustrate that the system is wrong, not you. And I think when going up against what you are potentially going to go up against, you have to keep this in mind.

It sounds like you have done everything that you should--you protected your children and yourself. And hopefully the courts will respect these choices. I'm assuming that you have already received a restraining order--or something that can keep your husband from seeing your children. I think this is especially important until a final decision is made. Mostly because he sounds like a controlling, angry person and I would hate for him to take that out on the children. I'm also assuming that you have filed for seperation and/or divorce or at least begun to do so. Once you do this, the court will hopefully look at fully enforce him to pay something toward his child's development.

What is most important is that you and your children are safe. What is next important is for you to take care of yourself. Like the group your friend is invovled with, I hope you get involved in a similiar group. To find one near you, you could look at resources we offer here at FEMINIST.COM.

I hope that helps and I hope you will write directly should you need further help, clarification or have further questions. Good luck to you-- and I hope you and your children find the "new beginnings" you need.


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