Families, caught.

Today, in court 3,

a judge stole my son.

He knew nothing about me,

or our lives, and how far we’d come.

All he had were some pieces of paper,

written by a couple of women,

both named Claire.

About how I’d been beaten

and tried not to show it;

diminished with words;

and although I knew it,

I hadn’t the voice

to articulate pain;

easier to keep the peace,

to people-please, like a good woman should,

to let him bring me to my knees,

weighed down by gaudy gifts

and promises he’d never keep.

Somewhere in those years,

where I wasn’t free,

just a poor, peroxide, imitation of me;

high flying trophy-wife;

I watched myself glide by

as I stood,

a passive observer

of my own life.

And in those pages

All that was missing.

Distilled down

To a few brutal, sordid sentences

Of victim-blaming shame.

That I failed to protect

from a thing I could not see,

as if it was so easy-

it was bigger than me.

That I ignored the severity

and played down the rows;

encouraged my children

to accept his abuse;

they said

I had no insight;

failed, they said.

And although he took my life,

my job, my home and self-belief,

it didn’t stop there,

because I had left – 

I had to be punished

and hung out to dry;

and so, he enlisted the powers-that-be

to enable more beatings

Without touching me.

They blindly accepted his crocodile smile;

he bought them with Gucci-the watches and suits,

and the sweet stale scent of money.

He is an abuser, they stated clearly;

but you are the cause by failing to see

how bad he could be.

And complaints and letters

and all your whining

about the injustice,

well, it makes it so obvious-

you are an hysterical, chaotic mess.

And so our conclusion:

it’s all for the best

that he takes his son

away from you too

with full power

to do what he likes to you.

The same judge has history

of sound decisions.

A thirteen-year-old girl,

based on our information,

had asked to be raped

in that short skirt, at night.

The judge and the social workers

are always right.

So they said he’d be fair;

that he’d changed his ways;

that I needed to see that,

and be his best friend,

for the sake of the child

I would not see again.

But it is not just my voice

crying out in the dark;

hundreds of mothers, and fathers too;

broken hearts bleeding and crushed

in the dust;

trying to do our best

in this witch-hunting,

broken system;

failing our children,

and failing us.

This poem is written on behalf of all those who have experienced the inept chaos that is the family court system. It is a fictional account, but taken from factual sources. Something must be done; something needs to change. In some small way, the power of poetry is all I can contribute.

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