Power and Control - One Woman's Story

Power and Control - One Woman's Story
Guest Author - Name withheld to protect the identity

When I was pregnant I left an abusive relationship. I never intended to
collect child support. I never intended my child to be a pawn used to hurt
me. I never intended to get really sick. I never intended to have a child
with special needs who also needs to have intense therapy and an
environment that is extremely structured and unchanging. I never thought I
would be a welfare mom.

Domestic violence is about power and control. Power and control, remember
that it’s important and the basis for everything going on.

A year after my son was born I got sick and went on welfare. I didn’t stop
working because I was lazy. I didn’t stop working to leech off of society.
I stopped working because I could barely walk. I was fainting every week
or so. I was in constant pain. I tried working against medical advice. My
health got worse. When I went in to the welfare office and filled out
paper work I was concerned with them going after my ex and mentioned it to
them. I was given another sheet that exempted me from that process.

I can assure you that the $234 dollars a month is far less then I made
working even part-time. I can assure you that I was not thrilled with having
to give up my car in a city where public transportation is non-existent.
The food stamps go towards buying healthier food for my son and myself.
The cash goes for basic needs like clothes and shoes. Every once in a
while I have a bit extra and we can go do something my son enjoys like
hitting a small bucket of golf balls at the driving range or we can go up
to one of the indoor play areas when it’s too cold to do anything else.
That money also goes to buy a few gifts for my son for his birthday and
Christmas. Both fall in the month of December.

So two years after I started all of this I get a letter stating that my
son and I had to report for DNA testing or I would be sanctioned.
Apparently new policies are in place that no longer assure protection for
victims of domestic violence. I was told not to go. I didn’t go. I lost my
medical coverage and I had no medicine. I had no choice but to go in and
get the testing done. Thank you the state I live in for removing one
more obstacle from my ex’s path so he could resume abusing my son and I.
Thank you to the state I live in for your wonderful laws that automaticly put someone on the birth certificate. Thank you for that interesting law that states that since there is no parenting plan in place a parent can bring a copy of the birth certificate and a police officer and if I’m not there, take the child.

I have no money to fight a court battle. I can’t afford an attorny. Legal
aid is a joke. They will not go with you to court. They will not do
anything. A paralegal tells you what you need to do and it is up to you do
everything. The thought of making the phone calls and doing all that sends
me into a panic attack.

My mom is afraid of what he will do. She cashed in her IRA to hire an
attorney to work this out. Well it appears that the Domestic Abuse shelter
I went to after I left my ex gave me bad legal advice. They assured me
that I could insist that he only contact me via e-mail or IM and that I
could refuse to allow him to calling me. This is to protect myself.
Calling him puts myself at risk for being verbally abused, and
manipulated. I have the right to be safe. I have the right to protect my
well being. My ex says he doesn’t like to type and he insists that he can
only talk to me on the phone. I informed him that he was to contact me via
e-mail or IM to set up custody of the child. I check me e-mail multiple
times a day. I haven’t checked my voice mail in months. I answer the phone
once or twice a week at most.

My attorney says that by saying he can only contact me via e-mail or IM
limits my ex’s rights to his child. Shall I summarize?

I have to allow myself to be verbally abused and manipulated or else I am
interfering with his rights to his child. That’s a hell of a choice. I set
aside my safety or risk losing my son.

I’m not finished yet.

My attorney talked with my ex on the phone. He said he wants what’s best
for the child. He said if he has to pay child support he wants to have a
say in the child’s life and he wants visitation. If he doesn’t have to pay
he doesn’t want to see the child. Remember that comment about power and

I have major problems with communication. When I am stressed verbal
communication is the first go. My attorney told me that if I can not
communicate on the stand the judge will take my son away and automatically
give my ex full custody and if I’m lucky, I will get visitation. That made
things worse.

My ex told my attorney that he would be willing to give up his rights if
my parents would adopt the child and he never had to pay any child
support, except what he owes to the state.

I have to give up my child to keep my child. Where is the logic in that???

I’m not only giving up my child. My parents adopting him means he will
lose his medicaid and SSI because they make too much money. This means
good-bye therapy because my parents insurance does NOT pay for anything.
This means good-bye to my health insurance. My medication will cost $260
each month, I should add that none of these are a part of the $4
prescription plan offered at places like Wal-Mart and Target. This means
good-bye to the little bit of money I receive now and good-bye to my son’s
Christmas and birthday. Good-bye food stamps. Good-bye school that has
made such a huge difference in my son’s life. Hello asking my parents to
spend what I lost so I can get medications so that I can live.

Working is not an option for me. Even though I will have no way to pay for
my medication that I need to live, I am not the one who is going to suffer
the most by this.

Guess what he won. I can not risk my son’s future. He is high functioning,
yes. (He has autism) But his current level of functioning is not guaranteed. Even a small
change can permanently affect his future for the worse. Imagine if you
will, having your preschooler crossing a raging river of isolation and
disability, on a log. His future depends on his crossing that river. His
footing is not steady. A mild gust of wind or a small distraction is
enough to knock him off the log. He is too old to be able to make up the
distance. In short, that gust of wind will cost him his future. That
distraction is enough to rob him of a full life. Keeping him on his log
and building a wind block and removing distractions is costing a lot more
then just money. Though the dollar cost alone is enough to make most
financially secure families cringe. What is at risk is a family. My

Now, my question to you is this; Does my ex really want what’s best for
the child or does he want to not live up to his responsibilities and if he
has to he is going to use that as a means to gain power and control?

If you would like to contact the author, please send me an email and I will pass along your comments. If you would like to share your story, please email me.

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