Year: 2009

accountability, child, corruption, cps, families, financial, funding, government, health, kids, medicaid, medicaid fraud, medical, medication
“Forgotten Children: A True Story of How Politicians Endanger Children.”

By Jason P. Olivarri – Contributing Writer/Southside Reporter02f58cf42f2ebde2

Robert Treviño, a prominent physician and researcher, has fought an uphill battle against the healthcare industry’s ugly side. He tries to expose it in his new book, “Forgotten Children: A True Story of How Politicians Endanger Children.”

Treviño, 58, is president of the South Alamo Medical Group, which operates five clinics in some of San Antonio’s poorest communities.

Treviño said he felt compelled to write “Forgotten Children” to expose the greed, corruption, and favoritism he witnessed at the state and federal levels of the healthcare industry.

“Refraining treatment from an individual to profit is the most unethical greed that I’ve ever seen,” said Treviño, who grew up on San Antonio’s South Side in the Lavaca neighborhood.

Around 10 years ago, Treviño developed the Bienestar/NEEMA school health program with a goal of lowering the odds x of Hispanic children developing Type 2 diabetes.

Treviño’s work has been funded by the National Institute of Health, and he’s published studies that show the benefits of the Bienestar/ NEEMA program.

But Treviño fought for years against state agencies and political forces that he said unfairly favored another school-based program called Coordinated Approach to Child Health (CATCH).

The CATCH program was developed and marketed by physicians from the University of Texas Health Science Center-Houston.
Using blood sugar testing, physical education, and informational literature, the Bienestar/NEEMA program strived to show school children, parents and school cafeteria programs the importance of healthy-eating and portion control.

Despite positive results, Treviño said he would have to face and overcome several opponents between 1997 and 2004 before Bienestar/ NEEEMA was instituted in many South Texas school districts.

The Texas Department of Health was the first obstacle. They wouldn’t fund Bienestar/NEEMA’s curriculum.

According to Treviño, they were already leaning toward the University of Texas Health Science Center-Houston’s CATCH program.

Though grant review committees are supposed to be non-biased in their decision-making, Treviño said many were already favoring CATCH to where they not only funded it, but also protected it from competition.

Former Texas Department of Health Commissioner Dr. William Archer told Treviño he would never have the Bienestar/NEEMA program in Texas, Treviño said.

Ironically, Archer was also from the Houston area.

“So it was just a very muddy grant process,” Treviño said.

Following a series of remarks Archer made regarding race and letters sent by Treviño questioning his support of CATCH, he eventually resigned, leaving the door open for Dr. Eduardo Sanchez, appointed by Gov. Rick Perry, to take his place.

Sanchez, like Archer, did not last long, resigning after only three years though he gave $4 million to the CATCH program during his tenure.

Shortly thereafter, Sanchez emerged again, this time with a job with the UT-Houston School of Public Health that introduced the CATCH program. As to why CATCH was given such high precedence over Bienestar/NEEMA, Treviño said in his book that much of it had to do with the greed of a $174 billion diabetes healthcare industry.

“So can you imagine if a program (like Bienestar/NEEMA) came that was able to impact and decrease and stop the disease, what would happen to the industry?” Treviño asked.

The Texas Educational Agency (TEA) review board and even the federal Center for Disease Control both influenced the funneling of the annual $17 million for health curriculums to CATCH. They also denied Bienestar/NEEMA and other programs grant funding.

Eventually, the TEA finally gave Treviño permission in 2004 to put Bienestar/NEEMA within Texas school districts.

Above all, Treviño hopes his first-hand account will convince people to take control of their own health as well as their children’s, and not lay that responsibility on the government or pharmaceutical companies.

And in the discovery process, hopefully shed more light on why certain healthcare curriculums were given preference over others.

“I’m hoping the readers, the audience, the new cabinet, our new administration comes into Texas and investigates these events (between Benestar/NEEMA and CATCH),” Treviño said.

For information on purchasing a copy of “Forgotten Children: A True Story of How Politicians Endanger Children,” visit Presa Publishing at 1103 S. Presa St. or call 531-1414. There will also be a book signing from 6-9 p.m. on Saturday at Azuca Nuevo Latino Restaurant, second floor, 713 S. Alamo St.

accountability, cps, domestic violence, system failure children
We Were Voted in Top 100 for Domestic Violence Blogs!

Top 100 Blogs Award

It’s Almost Tuesday was voted in the Top 100 for Domestic Violence Blogs!  This is a wonderful accomplishment for the work we’re trying to do for our children in foster care and for survivors of domestic violence.

A victim recently reached out to the newly appointed White House VAWA Advisor, Lynn Rosenthal and during the conversation, Rosenthal stated, “I can’t do nothing to help your situation.” Rosenthal continued by saying, “the Vice President is very concerned on this topic and I relay your situation to him.”

The Womens Legal Resource Blog reports the same sentiments as we feel about it, concern and a diminished faith in the system.

We invite you to read the comment placed by this victim, Heather Thompson at the article titled Working with the White House to keep victims from falling through the cracks by Alexis A. Moore, another advocate who is the owner of Survivors in Action, and an expert in cyberstalking, stalking, and domestic violence.

When domestic violence resources fail, victims die. Family law and criminal courts are failing victims nationwide.

When a victim of domestic violence has to write a letter like the following letter – something is wrong:

I know that when I went through it—I had no support from friends or family—nor from the law—I had nowhere to go, nowhere to turn and I felt it was my fault and that I deserved it. When you are not valued as a child, when you are abused physically, emotionally, sexually and mentally you have no basis to believe it should or could be any other way. I felt it was my lot in life. Where do you go with 4 small babies at 19 years old, without an education, without any money, without any help or support, coming from an abusive family and where he will not find you? How did a 19 year old get into a fix like that in the first place?
It’s always about how little she is worth compared to how valuable he is and she has been born and bred to believe she is less valuable then he!

There is the whole thing in a nutshell.

Some of us make it out alive—some of us don’t—but none of us make it out without deep scars. Can’t we put aside everything else to stop this now? We are at epidemic proportions- they are killing us figuratively and physically- violence against women is a hate crime. Both my daughters were victims of violence. The cases are pending and I am not able to discuss these issues at present. Two sons-in-law are in jail. My oldest daughter Denise 45 passed 3/7/09. My youngest, Louisa 41 , remains hospitalized to date. It’s cyclical—daughters raised in these households go on to be abused—sons go on to abuse. From birth to death women must be valued.

—BJ, mother of domestic violence homicide victim
When resources fail, victims die.

Or when a woman makes a video documentary “just in case something happens to her” – something is very wrong.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ek37imbFbIA&feature=player_embedded]

I pleaded for help before my son was taken.  I took a stack of police reports proving numerous violations of my protective order into the victims/witness office at my State Attorneys office, and was told my case was too complicated and escorted out.

I haven’t seen my son in 4 years.

Something is very wrong.

accountability, child, child custody, cps, custody, false allegations, parental alienation syndrome
Parental Alienation & Grief

The parental alienation syndrome (PAS) is a disorder that arises primarily in the context of child-custody disputes. Its primary manifestation is the child’s campaign of denigration against a parent, a campaign that has no justification. It results from the combination of a programming (brainwashing) parent’s indoctrinations and the child’s own contributions to the vilification of the target parent.

The primary person responsible for the induction of a parental alienation syndrome (PAS) in a child is the litigating parent who hopes to gain leverage in a court of law by programming in the child a campaign of denigration directed against a target parent.

In most cases alienated parents are relatively helpless to protect themselves from the indoctrinations and the destruction of what was once a good, loving bond. They turn to the courts for help and, in most cases in my experience, have suffered even greater frustration and despair because of the court’s failure to meaningfully provide them with assistance.

It is the author’s hope that increasing recognition by the judiciary of its failures to deal effectively with PAS families will play a role in the rectification of this serious problem.

(Excerpted from: Gardner, R.A. (1998). The Parental Alienation Syndrome, Second Edition, Cresskill, NJ: Creative Therapeutics, Inc.)

by Dr. Barbara Steinberg

Q: A parent who has been alienated from his or her child’s life experiences extreme loss. Often we are asked by a targeted parent, “How do I deal with his on-going pain?”

A: First, know that you are not alone. There are others, both mothers and fathers, who have similar experiences, and who are in deep agony over the loss of contact and meaningful relationship with their children.

Second, know that you are not crazy. In our culture we are not encouraged to experience our grief. We are taught to be strong, to rise above it, to tough it out, to get over it and get on with life. Sometimes that is wise counsel if we linger in our pain, and our outrage becomes the complete focus of our life affecting our work, our social life and our spirit. However, the loss of a child whether by death or by exclusion from that child’s life is beyond the realm of most parents’ ability to cope.

In the beginning of an alienation process, we believe, as parents, this is not really happening. We deny that the other parent of our child is capable of these vengeful acts, and we choose not to believe our child, whom we love deeply, would ever treat us in such a hurtful ways.

Denial is the strongest emotional defense mechanism we have at our disposal, and it is the one on which we rely the most. For most parents, because they truly want contact and relationship with their child, their denial does not hold up under time or with the reality of the disconnection they experience.

Third, many parents feel confusion, which suggests they are not able to identify and process the bunch of emotions; they are experiencing in their gut. Usually, these can be separated into feelings of deep sadness, intense anger, extreme outrage, and desperate blame.

To keep from being overwhelmed by this internal “bucket of worms,” many parents detach from the situation that they believe is an act of self-preservation. Some bargain with them using the following logic, “My child will get what’s happened when he/she turns eighteen so I’ll just wait.” Both strategies are akin to whistling in the dark.

Fourth, targeted parents want to know how to deal with these strong emotions in healthy ways because if allowed to remain unreleased, they often gain a life of their own and emerge at inappropriate and inopportune times toward others who do not understand or deserve the depth and intensity of the feeling.

Sometimes, these emotions are held internally. In an attempt to self-medicate the resulting pain, the targeted parent turns to addictive behaviors or substances. Eventually, if strong emotions are held internally for a long period of time, they can convert into physical problems, which plague the individual for the remainder of his/her life.

So the dilemma remains, what do I do with my pain? Keeping a journal or diary is helpful, but strong emotions require active self-interventions. Many parents report feeling relief from their deep sadness by allowing themselves to cry and scream.

If you believe this might assist you in your process, to avoid embarrassment, it is wise to isolate yourself perhaps in a quiet, natural place so you can grieve in an unrestrained and unobserved way. It is also helpful to take a sequence of your child’s pictures so you can activate your feelings of loss.

Intense anger is a physical activator so you will need to participate in a focused activity such as bowling, driving golf balls at a range or hitting balls in a batting cage. A less expensive approach is throwing ice cubes at a sturdy wall, an activity, that parents report, gives a sense of relief and release from ever tightening bands of anger.

Outrage describes a parent who feels misunderstood so there needs to be some attention paid to “telling your story.” The problem is finding a receptive listener who has the patience and energy to hear the saga of hurt, frustration and humiliation more than once. Targeted parents can tell their story into a small tape recorder; they can write their story by hand into a journal, a loose-leaf notebook or a diary. They can use a word processor and store it on computer disc, or if they are creatively inclined, they can write poems to their children. Some parents have already published their story in books and poetry.

Of importance here is the intention to alleviate the outrage of misunderstanding that, as a parent, you are unimportant, even nonessential in your child’s life. Also, it is important that you be heard, and that you remind yourself that you are still a parent by keeping your child’s pictures around you. Another approach is to involve yourself in the parenting role with other children as a Godparent, as an involved uncle or aunt, as a Big Brother or Big Sister. Validating yourself as a parent can go a long way to heal feelings of outrage.

Finally, desperate blame is probably the most difficult bereavement issue to process. Some blame is justifiable: the other parent, the other parent’s family, the legal and social services system, your child, yourself. However, the only one under your jurisdiction of control is yourself so this is the part that you work with in three separate ways. First, it is critical, regardless of the attitude and reception from the other parent, from the other parent’s family and from your child that you stay in positive contact with them. Civility and cordiality in face-to-face contact is essential regardless of what is said in your presence or behind your back. In addition, sending your child cards, letters and little packages on unimportant days is appropriate. Also, communicating with your child by telephone, by e-mail and by facsimile can be effective. If you have completely lost contact with your child, then set your priority to find him/her and restore contact at least by distance. If this is impossible, then collect items and memorabilia in a special box or trunk reserved for your child and the possibility of future contact.

Second, become active as a citizen for positive change, and learn about the strengths and weaknesses of the system you blame for preventing you from having parenting opportunities with your child. This action may not change the disposition of your situation, but you may make the system a better place for other targeted parents and their children.

Third, for your sake and for the sake of your relationship with your child, it is imperative that you forgive the other parent. Notice there was no mention of forgetting what has happened, or how you have been treated, but again, for restoring your emotional balance and your ability to cope with life challenges in healthy ways, you will need to forgive the alienator.

For some, this is a spiritual journey, and for others the path is a secular one. What is important is that you go about this process in a unique way that you believe will work for you so the specter of losing your child is diminished, and your health and well being are in restoration.

child, child welfare reform, foster care abuse, cps, divorce, domestic violence, families, family, fear, General, kids, law, lawsuits, legal, murder
Help! I fell in love with the boogeyman!

(c) Forever May, 2009

The boogeyman.

Everybody knows the boogeyman isn’t real. Right?

Well, to some, the boogeyman is very real and he is the one you love.  How does someone fall in love with the boogeyman?  What makes the boogeyman become what or who he is? A monster – an abuser…

Abuse at its worst is when the one person you look to as your life partner hurts you.  That’s the person you should trust, confide in, turn to, and be there for…. til death do us part does not mean a death because of the very relationship the wedding vows refer to.  The pain is ten-fold, the emotions run especially high, the betrayal, and bitterness is raw, and in the end – the wounds & scars run deep. Very deep.

I have been an advocate against domestic abuse for years. I know the cycle of abuse. I know the pain. I know the scars. I lost my son to domestic abuse.  So, I would know better than to involve myself into another abusive relationship. I would never mean to get in a relationship with a man who would hit me or take my freedom and will away from me. I know the signs, the symptoms, the who gamet.

If you have noticed my blog has been slow posting over the last year or so, this is the reason.  I somehow managed to get myself into a relationship, again, with an abuser. Its taken me a year and 1/2 and several dozen attempts to get away.  I did, finally, get out.

*I* fell into the cycle again knowing better…. I know SO WELL what to look for, what to avoid, and what to do – I’ve been through this before. I couldn’t believe where I found myself again.  I asked “why did this happen” each time I would be swallowing my tears, hiding in my dark room, or  sneaking past his sleeping quieted body to the fridge to grab a piece of bread and scurry away to eat it without waking him or his rage…How did *I* get trapped by another monster?

He was the boogeyman, you see, wearing a disguise.  He offered me a helping hand when I needed it badly, and he was so beautifully charming.  He had a good paying job, a nice house, car, he worked hard, he was kind, sensitive, good looking, a good listener, we had fun times together.  We had so much in common on our views, opinions, passions, and goals. It was perfect…too perfect.  He even got me a puppy.

Sure, I thought “this is too good to be true” and was waiting for the other shoe to drop.  I was expecting another shoe to drop.

I didn’t expect it to be a boot …( a steel-toed boot).

I had plenty of space, as his job took him out of town for weeks at a time too. While he was away, I would have plenty of time to myself, to do my thing.  It was my time to recharge my inner batteries so-to-speak.

The weekends when he was home we’d have a great time together.  Then I told him I wanted to get a job.  Instantly, he changed into the boogeyman.  He quit going to work, became extremely possessive, and if I had a job interview, he would subversively sabotage any chance I had of getting it.  A job meant indepedence.  A job meant I would leave.  He lost his job then his car, and eventually his house.  He moved us into an old house that had once been scheduled for demolition and every other week I was running away from home, but with my dog by my side, it was difficult to find anywhere to go for any period of time.  I went to the shelter. I wanted to work, but the inconsistency of my life couldn’t allow me to keep a job.  I went back after I would run out of options, just to leave again within the next few weeks.

For the first year and 1/2, no matter how abusive it got, he hadn’t “hit” me.  The abuse was mental, verbal, emotional, psychological, financial.  Intimidation tactics, threats, but he always promised he’d never hit me.  I lost all my friends, one by one, who got tired of the “drama” or who were afraid of him coming over there.

Then he hit me for the first time.  It was an “accident” he said, a “freak accident.” Right.

I was so afraid and in shock I stood frozen in the corner he’d backed me into and then played possom all night until I had the chance to run. I went into a shelter, but was kicked out of the shelter for eating yogurt after 9pm. I was starving – food had been a special commodity with him. 

Back I went with the utmost of apprehension… the second time he hit me, a week later, he didn’t just hit me, it was an all out brawl, and my dog bit him… the puppy he’d gotten me… protecting me.  He threatened her.  I left that day and never went back.  I had the good fortune of some of his friends who were nearby, picked my dog and I up from the corner gas station, and had a feeling the abuse had been going on, but weren’t sure.  He kept me too isolated to know. 

Now they knew, and his secret was out.  Finally, I was out too.

He still tries, and thinks I’m his, and will be home. I received roses yesterday.  I won’t budge.  My things are still at his house, in my bedroom there that has notes he painted for me all over the walls and ceiling.  His obsession with me hasn’t diminished, & he can’t control me anymore.  So far he’s had the desire to save face in front of his friends enough to leave me be.  So far.

What happened to him that made him this way?  If you ask him he’ll say it was all my fault, an accident, or a result of my “craziness”.  He’ll never admit he’s a monster.  He doesn’t seem that way at first of course.  He has a good side, a good heart, a generous nature, but the flip side is a controlling abusive man.

Whats going on in his mind?  Why is he abusive?  Thats why this topic is particularly involving my focus right now.  Why did I fall into it again, even knowing so well what to avoid and look for.

It goes to show one can never have too much knowledge. Thank goodness I’m away and safe.  I thought he was going to kill me one day. He might have. I am sad for the way things turned out, but knew it was the only choice, for me to leave. 

I want to reunite with my son one day, and I want to have a close relationship with my daughter and granddaughter, and my son too, which I could never have with an abuser around me.  He didn’t see himself as an abuser, so he didn’t see things the way I did.  He has the mind of an abuser, fits exactly the profile in the article to follow.  So exact in fact, its spooky, like it was written about him.

There’s some very useful information about domestic violence and abusers in the following articles, how abusers’ minds work how their loved ones can deal with them, and where to find help.

Thank you for your patience and loyalty over the past year while I was dealing with this.  As for me, I’m okay, a little traumatized again, with my PTSD acting up. Hypervigilence at its best… or worst, I guess.  

I’m making new friends, finding support of wonderful people around me, and enjoying the peace. I’m starting to feel happy again, and hope again.

For anyone out there involved in an abusive relationship, take it from me, its not your fault, stay strong, and there is a light out there somewhere – keep trying to find it.  I know its hard and frustrating and often times hopeless.

You can make it, and you don’t deserve to stay.  Its hard getting out. I know.  Have faith in yourself and keep trying to find a way out.

I think I’ll stay single for a while though.

Thanks again for your support!

 _________________________________

For More Information read:  Exploring the Mind of An Abuser

cps, domestic violence, kidnapping, sexual abuse
Abuse By Proxy and Abuse by Stalking

By: Dr. Sam Vaknin

If all else fails, the abuser recruits friends, colleagues, mates, family members, the authorities, institutions, neighbours, the media, teachers – in short, third parties – to do his bidding. He uses them to cajole, coerce, threaten, stalk, offer, retreat, tempt, convince, harass, communicate and otherwise manipulate his target. He controls these unaware instruments exactly as he plans to control his ultimate prey. He employs the same mechanisms and devices. And he dumps his props unceremoniously when the job is done.

One form of control by proxy is to engineer situations in which abuse is inflicted upon another person. Such carefully crafted scenarios of embarrassment and humiliation provoke social sanctions (condemnation, opprobrium, or even physical punishment) against the victim. Society, or a social group become the instruments of the abuser.

 

Abusers often use other people to do their dirty work for them. These – sometimes unwitting – accomplices belong to three groups:

 I. The abuser’s social milieu

Some offenders – mainly in patriarchal and misogynist societies – co-opt other family members, friends, and colleagues into aiding and abetting their abusive conduct. In extreme cases, the victim is held “hostage” – isolated and with little or no access to funds or transportation. Often, the couple’s children are used as bargaining chips or leverage.

Ambient abuse by the abuser’s clan, kin, kith, and village or neighborhood is rampant.

II. The victim’s social milieu

Even the victim’s relatives, friends, and colleagues are amenable to the considerable charm, persuasiveness, and manipulativeness of the abuser and to his impressive thespian skills. The abuser offers a plausible rendition of the events and interprets them to his favor. Others rarely have a chance to witness an abusive exchange first hand and at close quarters. In contrast, the victims are often on the verge of a nervous breakdown: harassed, unkempt, irritable, impatient, abrasive, and hysterical.

Confronted with this contrast between a polished, self-controlled, and suave abuser and his harried casualties – it is easy to reach the conclusion that the real victim is the abuser, or that both parties abuse each other equally. The prey’s acts of self-defense, assertiveness, or insistence on her rights are interpreted as aggression, lability, or a mental health problem.

III. The System

The abuser perverts the system – therapists, marriage counselors, mediators, court-appointed guardians, police officers, and judges. He uses them to pathologize the victim and to separate her from her sources of emotional sustenance – notably, from her children.

Forms of Abuse by Proxy

  • Socially isolating and excluding the victim by discrediting her through a campaign of malicious rumors.
  • Harassing the victim by using others to stalk her or by charging her with offenses she did not commit.
  • Provoking the victim into aggressive or even antisocial conduct by having others threaten her or her loved ones.
  • Colluding with others to render the victim dependent on the abuser.
  • But, by far, her children are the abuser’s greatest source of leverage over his abused spouse or mate.

Abuse by proxy continues long after the relationship is officially over (at least as far as you are concerned). The majority of abusers get the message, however belatedly and reluctantly. Others – more vindictive and obsessed – continue to haunt their ex-spouses for years to come.

These are the stalkers.

Stalkers

Most stalkers are what Zona (1993) and Geberth (1992) call “Simple Obsessional” or, as Mullen and Pathe put it (1999) – “Rejected”. They stalk their prey as a way of maintaining the dissolved relationship (at least in their diseased minds). They seek to “punish” their quarry for refusing to collaborate in the charade and for resisting their unwanted and ominous attentions.

Such stalkers come from all walks of life and cut across social, racial, gender, and cultural barriers. They usually suffer from one or more (comorbid) personality disorders. They may have anger management or emotional problems and they usually abuse drugs or alcohol. Stalkers are typically lonely, violent, and intermittently unemployed – but they are rarely full fledged criminals.

Contrary to myths perpetrated by the mass media, studies show that most stalkers are men, have high IQ’s, advanced degrees, and are middle aged (Meloy and Gothard, 1995; and Morrison, 2001).

Rejected stalkers are intrusive and inordinately persistent. They recognize no boundaries – personal or legal. They honor to “contracts” and they pursue their target for years. They interpret rejection as a sign of the victim’s continued interest and obsession with them. They are, therefore, impossible to get rid of. Many of them are narcissists and, thus, lack empathy, feel omnipotent and immune to the consequences of their actions.

Even so, some stalkers are possessed of an uncanny ability to psychologically penetrate others. Often, this gift is abused and put at the service of their control freakery and sadism. Stalking – and the ability to “mete out justice” makes them feel powerful and vindicated. When arrested, they often act the victim and attribute their actions to self-defense and “righting wrongs”.

Stalkers are emotionally labile and present with rigid and infantile (primitive) defense mechanisms: splitting, projection, projective identification, denial, intellectualization, and narcissism. They devalue and dehumanize their victims and thus “justify” the harassment or diminish it. From here, it is only one step to violent conduct.

Domestic Violence and Abuse statistics – Click here

Before we proceed to outline the psychological profile of the stalker, it is important to try and gauge the extent of the problem by quantifying its different manifestations. More plainly, studying the available statistics is both enlightening and useful. Contrary to common opinion, there has been a marked decline in domestic violence in the last decade. Moreover, rates of domestic violence and intimate partner abuse in various societies and cultures – vary widely.

It is, therefore, safe to conclude that abusive conduct is not inevitable and is only loosely connected to the prevalence of mental illness (which is stable across ethnic, social, cultural, national, and economic barriers). There is no denying that the mental problems of some offenders do play a part – but it is smaller than we intuit. Cultural, social, and even historical factors are the decisive determinants of spousal abuse and domestic violence.

The United States The National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) reported 691,710 nonfatal violent victimization committed by current or former spouses, boyfriends, or girlfriends of the victims during 2001.

About 588,490, or 85% of intimate partner violence incidents, involved women.

The offender in one fifth of the totality of crimes committed against women was an intimate partner – compared to only 3% of crimes committed against men. Still, this type of offences against women declined by half between 1993 (1.1 million nonfatal cases) and 2001 (588,490) – from 9.8 to 5 per thousand women.

Intimate partner violence against men also declined from 162,870 (1993) to 103,220 (2001) – from 1.6 to 0.9 per 1000 males.

Overall, the incidence of such crimes dropped from 5.8 to 3.0 per thousand.

Even so, the price in lost lives was and remains high. In the year 2000, 1247 women and 440 men were murdered by an intimate partner in the United States – compared to 1357 men and 1600 women in 1976 and around 1300 women in 1993.

This reveals an interesting and worrying trend: The number overall intimate partner offences against women declined sharply – but not so the number of fatal incidents.

These remained more or less the same since 1993!

The cumulative figures are even more chilling: One in four to one in three women have been assaulted or raped at a given point in her lifetime (Commonwealth Fund survey, 1998).

The Mental Health Journal says:

“The precise incidence of domestic violence in America is difficult to determine for several reasons: it often goes unreported, even on surveys; there is no nationwide organisation that gathers information from local police departments about the number of substantiated reports and calls; and there is disagreement about what should be included in the definition of domestic violence.”

Using a different methodology (counting separately multiple incidents perpetrated on the same woman), a report titled “Extent, Nature and Consequences of Intimate Partner Violence: Findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey”, compiled by Patricia Tjaden and Nancy Thoennes for the National Institute of Justice and the Centres for Disease Control and published in 1998, came up with a figure of 5.9 million physical assaults against 1.5 million targets in the USA annually.

Profile of a Stalker

Stalkers have narcissistic traits. Many of them suffer from personality disorders. The vindictive stalker is usually a psychopath (has Antisocial Personality Disorder). They all conform to the classic definition of a bully.

Before we proceed to delineate coping strategies, it is helpful to review the characteristics of each of these mental health problems and dysfunctional behaviors.

I. The Narcissistic Stalker

The dramatic and erotomaniac stalker is likely to show one or more of these narcissistic traits:

  • Feels grandiose and self-important (e.g., exaggerates accomplishments, talents, skills, contacts, and personality traits to the point of lying, demands to be recognised as superior without commensurate achievements);
  • Is obsessed with fantasies of unlimited success, fame, fearsome power or omnipotence, unequalled brilliance (the cerebral narcissist), bodily beauty or sexual performance (the somatic narcissist), or ideal, everlasting, all-conquering love or passion;
  • Firmly convinced that he or she is unique and, being special, can only be understood by, should only be treated by, or associate with, other special or unique, or high-status people (or institutions);
  • Requires excessive admiration, adulation, attention and affirmation – or, failing that, wishes to be feared and to be notorious (Narcissistic Supply);
  • Feels entitled. Demands automatic and full compliance with his or her unreasonable expectations for special and favourable priority treatment;
  • Is “interpersonally exploitative”, i.e., uses others to achieve his or her own ends;
  • Devoid of empathy. Is unable or unwilling to identify with, acknowledge, or accept the feelings, needs, preferences, priorities, and choices of others;
  • Constantly envious of others and seeks to hurt or destroy the objects of his or her frustration. Suffers from persecutory (paranoid) delusions as he or she believes that they feel the same about him or her and are likely to act similarly;
  • Behaves arrogantly and haughtily. Feels superior, omnipotent, omniscient, invincible, immune, “above the law”, and omnipresent (magical thinking). Rages when frustrated, contradicted, or confronted by people he or she considers inferior to him or her and unworthy.

II. The Antisocial (Psychopathic) Stalker

APD or AsPD was formerly called “psychopathy” or, more colloquially, “sociopathy”. Some scholars, such as Robert Hare, still distinguish psychopathy from mere antisocial behaviour. The disorder appears in early adolescence but criminal behaviour and substance abuse often abate with age, usually by the fourth or fifth decade of life. It may have a genetic or hereditary determinant and afflicts mainly men. The diagnosis is controversial and regarded by some scholar as scientifically unfounded.

Psychopaths regard other people as objects to be manipulated and instruments of gratification and utility. They have no discernible conscience, are devoid of empathy and find it difficult to perceive other people’s nonverbal cues, needs, emotions, and preferences. Consequently, the psychopath rejects other people’s rights and his commensurate obligations. He is impulsive, reckless, irresponsible and unable to postpone gratification. He often rationalises his behaviour showing an utter absence of remorse for hurting or defrauding others.

Their (primitive) defence mechanisms include splitting (they view the world – and people in it – as “all good” or “all evil”), projection (attribute their own shortcomings unto others) and Projective Identification (force others to behave the way they expect them to).

The psychopath fails to comply with social norms. Hence the criminal acts, the deceitfulness and identity theft, the use of aliases, the constant lying, and the conning of even his nearest and dearest for gain or pleasure. Psychopaths are unreliable and do not honour their undertakings, obligations, contracts, and responsibilities. They rarely hold a job for long or repay their debts. They are vindictive, remorseless, ruthless, driven, dangerous, aggressive, violent, irritable, and, sometimes, prone to magical thinking. They seldom plan for the long and medium terms, believing themselves to be immune to the consequences of their own actions.

III. The Stalker as a Bully

Bullies feel inadequate and compensates for it by being violent – verbally, psychologically, or physically. Some bullies suffer from personality and other mental health disorders. They feel entitled to special treatment, seek attention, lack empathy, are rageful and envious, and exploit and then discard their co-workers.

Bullies are insincere, haughty, unreliable, and lack empathy and sensitivity to the emotions, needs, and preferences of others whom they regard and treat as objects or instruments of gratification.

Bullies are ruthless, cold, and have alloplastic defences (and outside locus of control) – they blame others for their failures, defeats, or misfortunes. Bullies have low frustration and tolerance thresholds, get bored and anxious easily, are violently impatient, emotionally labile, unstable, erratic, and untrustworthy. They lack self-discipline, are egotistic, exploitative, rapacious, opportunistic, driven, reckless, and callous.

Bullies are emotionally immature and control freaks. They are consummate liars and deceivingly charming. Bullies dress, talk, and behave normally. Many of them are persuasive, manipulative, or even charismatic. They are socially adept, liked, and often fun to be around and the centre of attention. Only a prolonged and intensive interaction with them – sometimes as a victim – exposes their dysfunctions.

Zona M.A., Sharma K.K., and Lane J.: A Comparative Study of Erotomanic and Obsessional Subjects in a Forensic Sample, Journal of Forensic Sciences, July 1993, 38(4):894-903.
Vernon Geberth: Stalkers, Law and Order, October 1992, 40: 138-140
Mullen P.E., Pathé M., Purcell R., and Stuart G.W.: Study of Stalkers, American Journal of Psychiatry, August 1999, 156(8):1244-9
Meloy J.R., Gothard S.: Demographic and Clinical Comparison of Obsessional Followers and Offenders with Mental Disorders, American Journal of Psychiatry, February 1995, 152(2):258-63.
Morrison K.A.: Predicting Violent Behavior in Stalkers – A Preliminary Investigation of Canadian Cases in Criminal Harassment, Journal of Forensic Sciences, November 2001, 46(6):1403-10.
accountability, amber alert, child, child death, child welfare reform, foster care abuse, crime, custody, domestic violence
Violent Relationships in Family Court
Duncan Connolly
Duncan Connolly

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Clear and Present Danger by SusanMurphy Milano

Like most of us I am deeply disturbed by the escalating number of parents murdering their own families. This past weekend was no exception as police discovered 9-year-old Duncan Connolly

(left) and 7-year-old Jack Connolly (right) were found murdered in rural Putnam County, IL. Their father was found dead not far from where his car was left.

Jack Connolly
Jack Connolly

According to police sources, the boys’ father had a rope around his neck when he was found. The discovery brought to a close a national three-week search for the man and the boys, precipitated by Michael Connolly’s abduction of his sons following a weekend visitation.

The last time Amy saw her two boys alive, something was not right. Connolly was acting strange when they met at the police station.

Amy refused to hand over her boys on March 7th, an officer threatened her if she didn’t give them to their father, she would be arrested according to her lawyer.

Amy Leichtenberg filed orders of protection against Michael Connolly more than once after his repeated physical and emotional abuse in the later years of their marriage. Amy filed for divorce that year and moved out of their home. In a 2006, a petition for a protective order against her husband was filed, saying that his “controlling and obsessive behavior” included threats to kill himself and others along with a series of bizarre demands he made of her. Within a 15-month period, Connolly violated the orders of protection 57 times.

In 2007, Amy was awarded full custody of the boys with Connolly given supervised visitation. According to court reports from the family visitation center, Connolly’s behavior was dangerous enough to temporarily cease all visits with the boys.

In my experience, when a family visitation center terminates interaction between parent and child, it sends a red flag of danger. Connolly, the ever witty and clever abuser, was able to resume visits when his psychiatrist sent a “sympathy letter” to the judge “if my client is able to spend more time with his sons, Mr. Connolly’s depression and outbursts would lessen.” The judge responded by setting a series of “behavioral guidelines.” This included obtaining employment, housing and continued therapy. “

(He) tells me if I ever take the boys away he will hunt me and my parents down and cut us open,” Amy Leichtenberg, then known as Amy Connolly, stated in the 2006 petition seeking an order of protection. Amy said during their marriage Connolly had tried to isolate her from her family. A common characteristic among abusers.

Despite the 57 violations of the protection orders, dangerous behavior and deadly threats, McLean County Judge James Souk “rewarded” Connolly unsupervised visitation with his sons. Connolly filed numerous motions with the court, basically wearing the judge down. Despite pleas from Amy and her lawyer, which were ignored.

This mother’s plea for supervised visitation was dismissed without regard to serious safety concerns.

There is an automatic presumption that it is in the best interest of a child “regardless of court orders”, prior violence or threats, to maintain visitation with both parents.

Victims of domestic violence face a double edged sword. Either expose their children to imminent danger, or defy the court system refusing to allow visitation.

Like so many others before her, Amy tried to deal with a violent relationship in a family court environment. In family court the two parties are presumed to be on a level playing field–law abiding individuals who have a disagreement over a private family matter.

A core assumption of family law is that family disputes are not criminal disputes. As such, there are few safeguards built into the family court system to protect against the criminal dynamics that dominate family disputes in cases of family violence. In addition, the accusations the victim makes in family court, no matter how serious, carry no more authority than one person’s say so.

One of the most serious consequences is that when a family violence victim opens a case in family court against her abuser, the abuser is given equal opportunity to fight back against the victim’s accusations, often because the abusers past is not an issue.

Unless, of course, he is brought in from county or state prison sporting an orange jump suit and leg shackles.

There are lawyers and men’s groups who argue using domestic violence with a broad brush is not a reason to deny fathers visitation with their children. Accusing mothers of lying or making up stories to keep fathers’ from their children. Under the current laws, a parent without custody is entitled “reasonable visitation.”

There is a high burden of proof as evidenced in this case when a court refuses to take into account dangerous abusers pose to their children. Until we place the issue of labeling these cases as a “private matter” or an isolated incident, expect the death toll among children to rise.

Expect the courts to continue to ignore clear and present danger signs when a victim of violence seeks a divorce.

arrest, awareness, child custody, child welfare reform, foster care abuse, cps, crime, domestic violence, false allegations, families
CPS Used My Decision to Home School I Was Charged with Truancy

One of the reasons my child was taken into foster care4 was an allegation against me of neglecting my son’s education, and not sending him to school.  This is how they managed to pull it off.

Early on in the new semester after winter break, I received a call from the school that my ex husband was calling the district trying to find out what school my son was going to.  This was a problem because my ex was under a domestic violence protective order requiring no contact with the child.  However, it did not tell the school not to disclose the name of the child’s school he was attending; and did not specify anything else on release of records.  If he came to the school and requested a copy of the file, they would have to give it to him, and/or telling my ex the name of the school might risk my child’s safety.

I decided to home school after having heard my ex threaten to “kidnap” my son, and fearing the worst I wanted to take no chances.  I kept my son home.

I used the Abeka Books Curriculum which is a very good program that had been used at my son’s private school in Florida, based on Christian teachings.  The curriculum is highly recommended, and is more than  competent to meet standards of home schooling in Texas.

Looking back

My first mistake was not withdrawing my son from school before removing him from attendance. That created the opportunity to be counted absent, and not for medical reasons.  Although the school had been made aware, especially since they first contacted me, that there was a problem, the custody issues involved in my situation came forth when my ex had begun to dispute the legal papers I had given the school. So the school decided to hold off on allowing me to withdraw my son until the “legal team” could review my legal papers at the district level.

We went back and forth for a period of time, my son missing  several weeks of school, technically, during all of this.  Although I was teaching my son at home the school district never sent a truancy officer to visit, and they never asked for documentation.  I did inform them in writing, and kept the copies of the correspondence in my files though.

After a couple of weeks, one week being spring break, there was much confusion as to my custody status and whether I was allowed to withdraw my son, since the separate custody battle had begun with a temporary restraining order placed on me, customary when suit is filed, so that the parent doesn’t remove the child from school.  The timing had just perfectly overlapped and caused enough confusion such that the school disallowed the withdrawal until they figured it all out.

Unfortunately in my case, I had unseen forces at work, being two other parties, the child’s father and grandmother, working together, to fool the outsiders, into removing my child from my care under the guise of I was not a good mother.  This opportunity came about when I removed him from school (out of fear he would be kidnapped) that they could say I didn’t care about his education and didn’t get him to school.  Of course if you compare it to her allegation that he lived with her at the same time (for the six months prior) you start to see the holes in the story, but with so many cases in the family courts who has time to truly look at the big picture when the immediate case can be stamped and moved along.

Another mishap that I didn’t realise had occured was when the school then sent a notice by certified mail to me  that they would be filing charges against me if I did not blah blah blah since I never got the letter, I don’t exactly know what it said.  The address they had on file had been my child’s grandmother’s address & not mine.   BIG MISTAKE.

I had recently moved to Texas on what was possibly meant to be a temporary basis, and was not sure where my son and I would stay for any length of time, so initially, in order to get my son back in school expeditiously, we used her address when I moved out of my brother’s house where we had been staying.

I forgot to change it or clarify anything regarding the address in the midst of the chaos at the time that caused me to fear sending my son to school in the first place; I should have done that immediately when I moved.

Again, in hindsight, that turned into another problem that played a huge role in my nightmare.  The other huge mistake of mine was relying on the deal I had worked out with the child’s grandmother, that he was picked up in the afternoons by her from school.  Normally, a grandmother picking up a child to keep until Mom or Dad get home seems perfectly acceptable; except when the grandmother has malicious intent. Although my son was brought to me once I returned home from work in the early evenings, it opened up for another opportunity for nefarious behavior on the grandmother’s part in order to secure her standing against me in court.

Since my son carpooled to school with his cousin, usually driven by my sister-in-law, I was rarely seen at the school on either morning dropoff or afternoon pickup.  This ultimately hurt my standing in court when it had been alleged that my son lived with the grandmother for six months prior to the filing of the case (a requirement by law before bringing suit against me in court for custody) in order to prove he lived with her, she could then used the schools’ familiarity with her being there with my son as proof, or evidence via witnesses and the teachers and school staff were easily fooled because they saw her with my son in the afternoons and not me.  This created ample collateral witnesses, and since CPS loves to use the public school as a place to interview and take children, it was very convenient for them as well in building a case.  I was working at a flower shop in the afternoons but my son was living with me even though the school thought he didn’t (unbeknownst to me).  I didn’t realise at the time that there was any such misunderstanding.  That’s the way they wanted it to be.

I was charged with four counts of Failure to Abide By Compulsory Attendance Laws which pretty much means pay a fine and get your child’s butt to school.

That’s when the worst doesn’t happen. In my case, it did.

So having sent my notice to the wrong address it allowed for the opportunity for the child’s grandmother to then sign for it but not tell me about it. Thus, i didn’t find out until too late, and I was charged after I missed the deadline to do whatever the letter  said – I believe it was to return my son to school in full attendance or face charges.  I missed the deadline, unknowingly, as my arch enemy and my exhusband both chuckled quietly at the sinister mail follies in their diabolical plan that was coming together beautifully.

According to school files, they had a signed certified letter  that I received notice from the school notifying me of the deadline to act in compliance or else.  It appeared that I ignored the notice after receiving it and signing for it, and thus, did not care about my child’s education.  Perfect for CPS to grab hold and run.

Prior to being adjudicated in court on the charges CPS used the fact that I had been CHARGED with truancy related accusations (not convicted when they did this, mind you…)  in order to justify removing my child from my home.

I wrote many letters to the school during this entire process.  Although my charges were ultimately dropped, the fact remained my son was taken away from me and the mere allegations allowed them one of several doors to walk through when coming up with ways to justify the removal of my son.

Remember – neglectful supervision is very elastic of a term, and almost anything can fit it.  If CPS wants a child, they can use neglectful supervision to take that child, then, if the facts don’t match the theory, change the fact.

Several years later, looking at the records online, I found the name of the charges they filed against me actually are listed as something else – Parent Contributing to Nonattendance.  Sounds a little more derogatory in my opinion.  How they can just change what the person is charged with years later on record is beyond my comprehension, but disposition states Dismissed due to bad identification.  Anyone know what that means? Email me and let me know.

So I hope this serves to at least warn you to be careful with your decision to home school and make sure you document all contact and dealings, follow the law and all procedures, and document it all.  That was if you do find yourself in a nightmare situation, you may be able to overturn it, or hopefully avoid it all together.

Good luck!

accountability, awareness, child, children, cps, education, families, family, foster care, government, home, law, legal, social workers
CPS v. Home Schoolers… FAQ on Dealing With School District

HOME SCHOOLING PARENTS v. CPS

Truancy laws are very often used by CPS so its a good idea to be familiar with what could happen.

If you are homeschooling in Texas, it might be a good idea to be familiar with what you could be up against when it comes to CPS and your child’s education.  Many home schoolers find themselves being accused of truancy when they are being schooled at home.

So before you find yourself being charged with Parental Failure to Abide by the Compulsory Attendance Laws, followed by Neglectful Supervision, here’s a FAQ sheet on DEALING WITH THE SCHOOL DISTRICT.

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This article is reprinted from the Handbook for Texas Home Schoolers published by the Texas Home School Coalition Association and may be copied only in its entirety, including this paragraph of credit and information. The Handbook for Texas Home Schoolers is a manual for home educators in Texas that includes information about where to find curricula; the laws in Texas; the how-to’s of home schooling; graduation; national, state, regional, and local organizations; and samples of letters referenced in this article. It can be purchased from the Texas Home School Coalition Association at PO Box 6747, Lubbock, TX 79493, for $20 (includes tax and shipping). For more information, contact the THSC Association at (806) 744-4441, staff@thsc.org, or www.thsc.org.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS when dealing with the school district.

  • I have decided to home school. What do I need to do? My child is enrolled in public school.

The first thing you need to do is obtain a curriculum. It is wise to find a local support group to help you set up your school.

Although you are not legally required to contact the school district, chances are very high that you will receive a visit from an attendance officer if you simply remove your child. Therefore, once you have a curriculum in hand, write the principal of the school your child attends and tell him that you are withdrawing your child to teach him at home. If the school contacts you and says that you must do more (come to the central office, fill out a form, or something else along those lines), do not go to the school. Your reply should be that if they will provide their request to you in writing, you will be glad to respond. If you receive a request of any kind, you are only required to give them a simple letter of assurance.

  • How many days per year must we have school?

The Texas Education Code requires that public schools meet 180 days per year; public school students must attend 170 days/year. This applies to public schools only. Home schools in Texas are private schools and the state of Texas does not regulate the number of days per year that private schools must be in session or the number of days a student must attend.

  • How many hours a day must we conduct school?

Home schools in Texas are private schools and are not regulated by the state. No minimum hours are required. You will probably find that your student can accomplish more work in the same period of time than public school child if for no other reason than because of not having to stand in line, wait for roll call, and the like.

  • May someone else homeschool my child?

Yes. Home schools in Texas have been determined by the Texas Supreme Court to be private schools. Private schools are not regulated by the state of Texas. There are no requirements such as teacher certification or curriculum approval. The ruling of the Leeper case states that a parent “or one standing in parental authority” may educate a child. However, if a person is teaching more than three students outside her family, she may encounter problems with local zoning ordinances, and the state may require that she be licensed for childcare.

  • May my child participate in classes at the public school?

That is a local school decision. It is possible for a public school to allow this, but it is not likely at this time. The rules are somewhat different for special needs students; check with your local district.

  • May my child participate in extracurricular activities at the public school?

At this time, a local public school could allow your child to play in the band or other such activities; however, he would not be able to take part in events sponsored by the University Interscholastic League (UIL) such as athletic competitions or band and choir contests.

  • What is the compulsory school age requirement?

A child who is age six as of September 1 of the current school year must be enrolled in school until his eighteenth birthday, unless he has graduated. 16. What about testing my child? Although the state of Texas does not require testing of private school students, many home school parents do give their children annual tests using nationally-normed achievement tests.

  • May my child go out in public during the day? What if someone questions him about why he is not in school?

Home schools in Texas are private schools. Home school parents are law-abiding citizens and should not feel the need to hide their children during the day. If someone asks you or your child why he is not in school, you should respond that you home educate and that you have already accomplished your work for the day or that you are on a school field trip. You should be aware that if your children are seen during public school hours you will generate questions. If your child is in public without you and your city has a daytime curfew, you could encounter difficulties.

  • What happens if my child wants to enter or re-enter public school?

School districts set the requirements for enrollment in their schools. This is a local decision–not one made by the state of Texas. You should check with the local school district concerning its policy regarding accepting unaccredited private school students.

  • What is required for graduation?

Home schools in Texas are private schools and not regulated by the state; therefore, just as with other private schools, home schools set their own graduation standards. There is no minimum age requirement for graduation.

  • How can my child receive a diploma?

When a student meets the requirements set by his school for graduation (see question #19), he may receive a diploma. Diplomas may be ordered from the Texas Home School Coalition Association and other sources.

  • What if I work?

Remember that home schools are private schools and there is no requirement for hours or the time when education must take place. The only requirement is that a written curriculum covering the basic areas (see question #3) must be pursued in a bona fide (not a sham) manner. Consequently, one could work and teach his child as well. While this would be difficult and take some discipline, it is certainly possible and legal.

  • Is there a recurring theme here?

The answer is “yes”! Home schools in Texas are private schools. Private schools in Texas are not regulated. Therefore, home schools in Texas are not regulated. Keep this thought central in your mind when dealing with those who want to regulate or restrict your freedom to teach your children.

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cps
My “Heart Hurts” says 4-Year Old About Her Abusive Mother

I read an article the other day about another unfortunate and sickening incident of child abuse that really touched me.  I haven’t been online to update lately, because of a lack of internet connection, and many apologies.  Please keep checking back as I hope to get online again by middle to the end of March.

The article I read was about a four-year old girl who was abused by her mother, forced into an oven to “cook like a turkey” and she was tortured with a screwdriver by her mother as well.  It was horrible abuse; and yet, when CPS and the police seized the little girl, and talked to her about what she had endured, the police stated

“She said that her heart’s hurt and broke,” the 4-year-old told police, Bielecki said.

The girl also said: “Mommy doesn’t love me anymore.”

That was about the most pure form of innocence from a mouth of a child, innocence, instead of conveying hatred or anger, her heart “hurt” for her abusive mother and how she no longer loves her.

How anyone could do that to a child I’ll never understand.

My heart hurts too for this and all other children who suffer abuse.