Can you imagine being asked to help someone who has fallen on hard times? Yes, of course.
But what if you helped that person and they betrayed you? It uncomfortable, but life happens.
Bear with me – this gets a bit more intense and strange.
What if the person you helped actually staged photos of your home, without your permission, and posted them online to use in promoting their cleaning services?
Doesn’t feel good, does it?
Now – imagine this person saw an opportunity to better their position in life and in business by using photos of your home to help someone else. Think betrayal – as in the photos are given to your opponent in a court case while you are kept in the dark, unaware that this relationship has formed and that this person who made you believe she is here to help you is actually acting to cause you harm.
Where would you start? How do you address such unscrupulous behavior?
Of course you turn first to how you can keep things peaceful for your children; the less drama the better, right?
But what if the person you trusted to help you at home decides to become involved in taking your children from you? What do you do then?
Do you expose the situation publicly, or do you let karma take care of it?
The last few years have been like playing hide and seek in getting to know the truth about what happens to parents and children when they have to go through our court system.
Too late, many parents caught in a Family Court matter realize the truth just doesn’t matter, and by then they are turned upside down wondering what happened, and how.
WHY was my evidence not used to protect me or my kids? WHY did they tell me we would be “just fine” because the truth was on our side?
The numbers of children who are NOT fine is staggering, whether they are remaining with abusive or addicted parents, cut off from healthy parents, or if they are watching parents lose their homes because the “divorce got really ugly.” The reality of the “ugly” is that legal fees are ratcheted up so high that parents too often cannot afford to keep homes, or cannot pay for college or medical/psychological treatment.
This is what it feels like to these children and parents: it is like being on the inside of a pinball machine, but you can’t get out and you have no control over what will happen next. This breeds uncertainty and makes decision-making nearly impossible. You react…really are just knocked around, until you can’t tell which way is up…or out. To those certain professionals managing these confused parents, they are looked at as pawns, and to some it seems this is entertainment, not just a way of earning an income. When parents are treated this way – intentionally – it is certainly not advocacy.
Most people can’t relate to what this family is experiencing, and the professionals tell their clients not to talk about what is happening, and then they seal reports so that the truth never comes out.
For so many mothers and fathers, and for children who are being hurt in the process in some way or another, it boils down to the fact that our judges and custody “experts” do NOT have to consider the evidence we present to help us get through conflict safely.
It’s unfortunate but true that for certainFamily Law professionals it is just too profitable for them when they keep evidence hidden — evidence that if used in Court might have otherwise put your case to rest and allowed you to get through it safely, and without losing your children and everything else you cherish.
The worst is when they cooperate – attorneys, custody experts and the judge – to suppress evidence of child abuse rather than using it to protect and uplift a child. The same thing applies when they put an innocent parent in jail, or cause them to lose their job in addition to their children and property.
In the process of suppressing evidence – to manipulate the outcomes of cases for their financial gain – they are severing relationships with nurturing parents who want to protect the child and end the fighting. The damages to children are staggering, and many of these children never recover. Parents who are blocked from caring for and protecting their own children…are also having a hard time managing and recovering. Some do not.
The opposite of what should happen – based on the available evidence – is what is occurring on far too many cases all over Georgia.
Please write your legislators and simply say that we want our Georgia statute to say that Judges and court appointed professionals “shall” consider evidence, rather than “may” consider evidence. This is just one point for reform, and it may take time but it’s important.
It is time to end this suffering and to address the cycles of abuse, addiction and dysfunction where it is possible for our Courts to use evidence to intervene properly. Where evidence and testimony are available to help put protections in place for children, and to support good parents, these should be secured on the record and used to protect.
Family Court practices that lead to ignoring evidence are worsening the situation. The professionals who work this way are worsening mental health, stability and productivity; they are increasing the cycles of abuse and addiction.
Where you are seeing certain professionals cooperate with each other to block, suppress or ignore evidence – evidence of real abuse, or evidence that would exonerate an innocent parent who is falsely accused – please visit MyAdvocateCenter.com to report this data.
This post is being updated in October of 2015 as we acknowledge Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Please see this note shared on the MAC Facebook page that was written by a former family law attorney, and also read what I shared myself directly onto the page:
After many years of researching & working to understand why abused mothers, fathers & children are not receiving the…
In all situations where evidence is ignored and the truth does not count, this leads to more loss, stress and trauma for the children and parents involved. Please let us know how you can help address this, and how you can help involve our healthcare community so that these families can recover while we work on reforming bad practices.
If you see me around the Capitol, you know why I’m there. Get involved.
Have you heard the saying, “It takes a Village to raise a child?”
If you’re a kid then maybe you have not heard this – but I’d like for you to think about it for a minute:
This is an idea that many people believe to be true. This is because we all believe that you – our children – are our most important purpose in life.
NOTHING is more important than your well-being. You matter, and you matter BIG time!
We adults have to work together to help you grow up strong, healthy and able to enjoy life and all that is wonderful about you, and about our world. You deserve to feel safe and secure, and to be peaceful in your surroundings, and you deserve the best that your parents and family can give you.
I really believe this is true, and this is my commitment to YOU. I say this for my children, for their friends and for all of you who are reading this on my website and blog.
If you are reading this, chances are that you are struggling with some challenge in your life that is really hard for you to overcome by yourself. And you shouldn’t feel like you have to do this on your own…we adults have responsibility for helping you through these things.
You need people to believe you, believe in your right to be free and healthy, and you need people who will speak up on your behalf. So here goes:
If someone is getting in the way of your rights, we adults and advocates and especially parents need to know about it. If someone is hurting you in ANY way, we need you to be strong and tell us. It’s the only way we can handle the people who are hurting you – and it is the only way we can help you.
You are very brave. So know that I and our “village” recognize that, and are here to support you. You are NOT alone.
And even if someone has disappointed you in the past when you’ve asked for help, please know that it is ok to feel disappointed and to even be angry at someone who didn’t follow through and help you. Even though that felt bad, and you may be worried that someone else will disappoint you, I want you to try this again.
I do know that this is hard, and that when you’ve been hurt it is easier to stay quiet and to give in to shame and fear than it is to speak up and ask for help. Just know that we can work through that, ok?
It is your right to be supported and helped through this. So please ask your parent or another adult you trust to let me know how I can help you and them.
Who am I?
I am a Mother – one who has worked hard to help my own children overcome fear, worry and sadness. There were people who got in my way and caused my children to hurt a lot. So we know how you feel, and how your parents feel. My children are healthy and happy now, so if I can help them…then I can help YOU. (No, I don’t do this alone; there are lots of great people here who want to help you! It’s important to know I do this because I’m a good PARENT. I work with both mothers and fathers to help kids get what they need. Sometimes parents need help…so let’s see what we can do for them, too, ok?)
I am an Advocate – this means I work in our community to help others see what they need to do, helping them to do it BETTER, so that you can get what you need. Does that make sense?
I am a COACH! This is my JOB. I lift other people up and make them stronger, so that we can all make things better for you – our kids. If you have P.E. at school, or know about sports, you know about coaches, right? I love coaching kids! It’s my favorite thing to do…so think of me as someone who can help you do better in this challenging “game” that you want to win.
Did you know … there are many people here who want to help you? Leaders in our business community, in our schools, at our hospitals and in our neighborhoods…all who want to work to see you get what you need!
So if this feels right to you – and you can help me help YOU – ask an adult to help you get in touch with me.
Why do I do much of what I do as an advocate and mother?
Because decisions and actions in our community are having a negative impact on the health of children.
How do I know? Because I lived through watching my own children suffer unnecessarily while having the right help withheld from them – intentionally and with dishonesty – by certain members of our family court system.
The best gift we can give children this holiday season would be to step up and help resolve the confusion and uncertainty for them as their parents transition through conflict. There are several reasonable ways to do this, which we’ll be addressing in the coming months on our radio show.
As a parent can you imagine much worse than seeing that your children need help, and not being able to give it to them?
Having your hands tied…while being lied to and made to believe that you have no choice but to let your own child suffer…when you could be providing needed care, nurturing, and psychological or medical treatment — things are ARE within your reach. You don’t have to be a parent to imagine how terrifying or traumatic this might be… You just have to be human and breathing… And, YES, this is happening a lot, right in your own backyard.
Please ask WHY anyone would intentionally prevent a loving parent from protecting or providing treatment for their child. Does this make any sense?
Since resolving my own conflict and gaining perspective on the family court arena, I’ve seen countless numbers of children having their health needs – including physical and emotional health – ignored and have even seen treatment withheld and denied when the diagnosis and financial resources were available.
This is child abuse and neglect, goes against the law, and in too many cases it is happening simply because of greed… and to reward foul play in a legal setting. I’m asking you to look at this and decide where and when you can help. It’s time.
This issue is like a cancer in our society, only we don’t know until it happens to us, and usually by the time we realize what has happened and what or why it is being done, it is too late to stop it from happening.
If you are offended by this notion, that this is going on, then I’ve done my job with this post. But the bigger need is for you not to turn away from it but rather decide where you can lend your voice or resources or connections to help #MakeaDifference.
I’d appreciate your support – and these kids really need you. Let’s see what we can do to ensure that your kids, your grandchildren, or your friends’ and neighbors’ kids don’t feel the impact of this problem. It “takes a village,” remember?
There is more to what I do than challenging certain professionals around their poor judgment and lack of loyalty and honesty; this is about challenging more parents to recover faster from conflict, to take a look around and to really see how you can use what you’ve learned – and what you’ve earned. Get out of your own situation, and find someone else to help.
If you’ve followed me in social media you know that I sometimes serve as a voice for families dealing with pediatric cancer. My own children are involved because we are all so thankful that we are healthy and have the lives and privileges that we do, so we give back by uplifting other families and raising awareness for this issue. We need greater funding for #PediatricCancer. We need more heroes! #YoungHeroes4KidsCancer (Stay tuned as we head toward March 2015 and the next St. Baldrick’s event in Atlanta/SandySprings.)
More success stories are needed to show what happens when we rally behind kids and give them what they need to overcome challenges. Check out Briana Hudson on Facebook to see what I mean! #YoungHeroesLeague This girl and her family are making big things happen. She is one of my heroes!
Follow My Advocate Center to support us as we work to help families transition through and out of conflict, and as we advocate for policy changes that will make the legal process safer for families. If we can #ImproveFamilyLaw then we have a better chance of letting kids receive the best that BOTH parents have to offer. There is just no valid reason to do anything different and our laws support this mission.
Follow People Against Childhood Cancer if you want to learn more about how to help children that way. Cancer in every form is AWFUL and deserves your attention, commitment, resources and your voice. Please do what you can while praying this doesn’t touch your own family, neighborhood, church, business or school.
Above all, be grateful and be inspired to do more with what you have.
It is beautiful but cold outside here. Hopefully warm & beautiful in your home and in your heart.
My heart is sad today as it is Donna Kristofak’s funeral…
My only thought today is to share what a teacher put in my son’s school folder:
“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”
Believe in God or in the Bible as the Word of God or not, but regardless, please heed these words and ACT on them.
Leaders in law enforcement, policy, community, business, healthcare:
I ask you to join along with family court professionals and press in asking the right questions around this tragedy. This did not have to turn out this way, but the foreshadowing of this is what led to the creation of My Advocate Center. There are currently other cases heading down this same path, and we need your help in intervening…for the sake of the children involved.
Thank you in advance. If you are not sure what YOU can do, please email and ask.
This IS personal for me, as I knew Donna and John – as neighbors and parents and members of the same church. I saw in Donna’s face and eyes how she felt, and now it is too late for her, but not for others. Today is a HARD day. But tomorrow is a new day and the work begins. This “story” is far from over.
If you know someone like John, or think someone you know is like Donna, and are reacting to a gut level alarm going off, now is the time to reach out for help on what to do. Just do something. Either way, you can help THIS family – their sons – by donating to the fund set up by friends of the family.
This is my Tough Love message for now to those of you around me in East Cobb, Marietta, Atlanta, Georgia… More to follow.
Few words are needed. Dismay, shock, horror…those about cover it. Unnecessary loss for so many. I wish I didn’t feel the need to write in response to school shootings or to reference other situations in which children are damaging themselves or others.
As a parent and human being your heart and mind reach out to the parents who lost their precious young children, the ones who deserved no harm and who deserved to be able to grow up and live out their lives.
This tragedy appears to be bringing many together, as well as firing up debate over causes and preventions.
It is making me even more determined to help a few understand how their decisions, or a lack of appropriate decision-making around how “high conflict” personalities are managed, are affecting children.
Much of what I write is geared toward a few — some who want ideas, support, tools & resources with which to help awaken and drive change – and to others who are curious but haven’t yet accepted that they are a part of the problem…and that I am asking of all: please become a part of the Solution.
The mental state of the shooter of these young children reminds me of another disturbed young adult – really a child in so many ways – and the process during which his mental and emotional state declined to where he is now. Where he is now is sad. Angry at the world, lacking in self-worth, and lacking in regard for how his behavior and addictions affect others. Coping skills learned when support and nurturing and accountability and structure were removed from his life. (Of course that is the consolidated explanation.)
This young adult who started out as a sweet child caught in a very high-stress conflict, is now a raging addict with an arrest record that would make you cringe. There isn’t much hope for him to turn it around, but I hope I’m wrong. I believe it could have been prevented – if proper legal and psychological counsel had been provided.
Legal counsel is invaluable where it recognizes the Needs of Children and works accordingly, upholding laws, rules as well as Fiduciary Duty. When those things are lacking, more children are left unsupported and exposed – left to their own devices in the wake of a crisis, and that doesn’t always work out so well.
If you are uncertain and want to know more about a real life example of how poor case management, and withholding proper counseling and support can all play out for a child caught between dysfunctional parents, please email via My Advocate Center. Connecting the dots for you is simple.
My point in expressing grief and anger is to explain what I know, and that is that certain professionals are aware that how they are treating families is leading to more dysfunction, addiction and abuse in teens and young adults. We just have to decide that it’s not “fine” and to face the issues like we would face faulty wiring or plumbing that could lead to worse trouble and expense.
Since I wrote this post originally more lives have been lost, including that of the boy described above. Other teens have gone missing, and some are being held in lockdown facilities – not because they need to be there for treatment, but because that is how they can be silenced, and because it is profitable for certain court professionals to send them there.
This is real, it IS close to Home; and there IS something YOU can do about it. Just ask.