Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Can A Man be A "Good Father" If He's a Batterer?

This is a serious question. And one that I've been asking myself over and over again the past few weeks. Some days, I'm all like, "Well, okay… maybe he can kinda sorta be a good-enough father." Other days, I'm all like, "No. Nope. Negative. Not even a little bit. Sorry, wrong number. I don't think so. N-o-p-e. Nope."

The reason for The Ask?

Aiden's estranged other parent came back into the picture after three years and started stalking and harassing me. Around the same time that I got a restraining order, he asked for visitation rights. Because I am who I am, I asked that the visits be supervised, and they've been having weekly supervised visits with Safe Horizon ever since. 

Now, we're at the next step, which would be unsupervised day visits in the community for a few hours. The step after that will be overnight visits. (And my heart will crumble into a million and one pieces because I won't be able to protect Aiden when he needs it the most.)

I get it. Kids need both parents. I've said this before. Over and over again. I know that having a positive relationship with both parents is ideal. 

But kids also need parents who are good role models for them. They need parents who are selfless and caring and loving and patient and understanding and nurturing. They need parents who are responsible. Especially my baby. (Color me biased. I'm cool with that.) 

They need parents who are financially dependable when circumstances are in their favor. (Let's not even talk about the fact that Aiden's other parent owes over $10,000 in back child support.)

And, know this: This is not about the money because I don't get down like that. I make a good salary, have a thriving side hustle, and, thankfully, I have always been able to provide for Aiden. We're far from rich, but Aiden's enjoyed private school in NYC, enriching summer camps, extracurricular activities, cultural outings and events all over the city, and both domestic and international vacations. 

It's not that I wouldn't want Aiden to have some type of positive relationship with his father. I'd actually prefer it to be that way. But, as time went by, I've come to terms with the kind of person he truly is: a batterer. Who needs help. Who won't stop until he kills someone. Ask me how I know. 

If it were just one incident of physical abuse, maybe — just maybe — I'd be on the side of "Well, okay… maybe he can kinda sorta be a good-enough father."

But it wasn't. 

The very last incident took place in my apartment. That's when he strangled me until I passed out... three times in one night. He was mad at me for getting mad at him for taking money from me without my permission. (In the real world, we call that stealing.)

The time before that took place in my bedroom. That's when he snatched my cellphone away from me while I was in the middle of a conversation and attempted to throw it. He was mad at me for not giving him the attention he wanted.

The time before that took place in my living room. That's when he strangled me until I passed out... twice in one night. He was mad at me for getting mad at him for arguing with two random guys during our date night at a bar. After I woke up, he took my keys and cellphone so that I wouldn't call anyone or try to leave my apartment. (In the real world, we call that holding someone hostage.)

The time before that took place by the foyer in my apartment. He dragged me across the floor. I still have the scar on my shoulder from the rug burn because of it.

The time before that took place in a hotel room while we were out of town celebrating my birthday. He threw me up against the wall and then body slammed me unto the bed. He was mad at me because I wouldn't give him my hard earned money to leave me alone in a hotel room and go to a strip club during my birthday weekend celebration.

The time before that took place in the bedroom. He handcuffed me to Aiden's crib because he was jealous after I received a phone call from a male friend. (He used to be a security guard so the handcuffs were from his job. And yes, Aiden was in the crib at the time.)

If it were just me, maybe — just maybe — I'd be on the side of "Well, okay… maybe he can kinda sorta be a good-enough father." 

But it wasn't. 

In an email exchange between his oldest daughters' mother and me, she mentioned that the day she decided to leave him for good was because he strangled her so hard that he left both his hand prints on her neck… that it was a near-death experience… and she that she was two months pregnant at the time. She said that she endure a lot of physical abuse before leaving. 

In the police report with his oldest son's mother, she mentioned that he tried to suffocate her by putting a plastic bag over her head on one occasion… put glue traps in her hair on another occasion… and took her keys and phone and held her hostage in his apartment (sound familiar?), just to name a few. She also endured a lot of emotional and physical abuse before leaving. 

In a phone conversation with his youngest daughter's mother and me, she mentioned that he physically assaulted her, and, as a result, spent two nights in jail. She also endured a lot of physical, financial, and emotional abuse. But at least she was brave enough to actually report it to the police. 

Yes, I've been in touch with all three of them over the years. Yes, we've talked about the abuse because I needed to attempt to understand the kind of person he truly was. Is. Yes, he has other children with other women. Five or six, to be exact. With four or five different women. 

And spare me the judgement and the "Why do victims stay?" kind of questions. Instead, click this link, let it marinate, ask "Why are folks batterers?", and then get back to me. 

Also, spare me the "Has he ever hit Aiden?" kind of questions because I'm not here for it. Children of batterers can be at just as much risk psychologically, sexually, and even physically after the parents split up as they were when the parents were still together. Matter of fact, many kids experience the most damaging victimization from the abuser at this point. (I obviously took that last point from a research article because I've been consumed with this for the past few weeks.)

I am responsible for what happens to Aiden. 

I am responsible for his well-being. 

I am responsible for shielding him from situations that are dangerous and unsafe. 

With his background, this batterer wouldn't be likely to get a job working with children. Most folks wouldn't even trust him to pet sit for them. Why trust him with the well-being of an actual child instead of holding him accountable and demanding that he gets the help that he actually needs?

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Brit + Co Stylish Moms Round-Up

Exciting news!

Brit+Co put together a list of stylish moms who inspire folks to spice up theirs -- and their children's -- wardrobes. And, although I'm being a teeny bit biased, I must admit, they've put together a pretty kick-ass list. 

Not only does the list include Aiden and yours truly, but also a group of other mom-and-kiddo duos who bring new meaning to the phrase "double-trouble." 

I may or may not have shed a tear when they referred to me as, "an inspirational mama who pulls together mommy-and-son looks that always make us smile. We've got one word for her: Ah-mazing."

Right back at ya, Brit+Co. Right back at ya!

Head on over to their website to check it out!


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