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My name is Cynthia; I have recently separated from my mentally abusive husband. At the age of 30 I have never been on my own, so leaving the home was a drastic step for me, but my love and the need to protect my sons motivated me to leave. My two sons, 8 and 4, are my life. After the first year of marriage, my husband made it clear that he had made a mistake in marrying me.

We are an interracial couple and I was expected to endure inappropriate jokes about black people, some of which involved my children, when I spoke up, my husband didn't defend me instead he ridiculed me and took the side of the family member that made the joke. It started with my husband's father, educating me on facts about Africa every time we were invited to a family gathering. On another occasion before my oldest son was born, my husband  asked his brothers to come over and help him put a Winnie the Pooh border in my son's room, while working I could here them talking, one brother suggested putting the border vertically and give my son a cup so he can run it across the bars of his crib, then they would laugh. When I confronted my husband I was told I was too sensitive, I then asked would such jokes have been made if his wife were white? Of course he had no answer. Just recently my husband told a joke in front of my children and family friends (who are African American) about a funeral home that one of his brothers lives near, the joke was about the whole block smelling like barbeque when cremations are done, he made it a point to emphasize especially during black funerals.

My husband's form of abuse was not physical, he like to tear you down with words, eroding away at the mind and spirit. Prior to our union I maintained a relatively normal life. After being married for a couple of years, I was diagnosed with severe depression. I call my sons my life, because it was them who kept me going in this tumultuous relationship. He  tried to isolate me from my family, the first step was moving from NY city, then he began telling me my family didn't care about me because they could not visit often, it went from them not caring to him not caring for me, he said it was easier to stay together than to start all over on someone else, he had almost had me broken in. After third year of our marriage, he would not touch me, the periods went from a month or two, and finally the longest was a full year, 12months.

At one time we lived in Virginia, he says to get me closer to my family, but I later found out he had a friend that wanted him to come and try to start a construction business with him. While in Virginia, I met a man that would later become the father to my youngest son. He made me feel like a person again, he asked me on several occasions to leave my husband and be with him, but I was afraid to leave my master and an environment that felt secure, but not safe.

Our last night together, was the night my youngest was conceived. Upon finding out I was pregnant, the man asked me again to leave and start a family with him and again I declined, but this time I did leave my husband and moved with my sister in NJ. After the constant calls and threats to take my youngest, I felt as if I was on the verge of a break down, so I checked myself into a hospital.

My husband immediately came and got our son from my sister later he came back for me, I found out later, he did so because he did not believe any court would separate the two children, since his effort to talk me into giving my youngest up for adoption failed, so he took us both in, only to later take both of my children from me.

I have never been on drugs, nor have I abused my children, mentally or physically. I have no criminal record or anything would deem me an unfit parent. I am now on my second Lawyer, I have been in contact with NC senators, I have emailed judges and congressmen, every news anchor in NC has received 1 or 2 emails from me.

 My concern is not for me, but for my sons especially the eldest... my husband is taking all of his anger out on the children, my ultimate decision to leave the home came when my husband said that he had gotten so mad that he wanted to punch our 7 year old in the face, on another occasion I had to step in front of him to keep him from going into my sons room and giving them a spanking because they were playing too loudly and he could not hear his program on TV.

 It has become a common occurrence to watch the news and see where a child has been killed by a parent or someone that is supposed to protect them. When it's the mother we also want to blame the father for not paying attention to the signs. It has been recommended that my husband seek anger management, but he refuses to see that he has a problem. He says he does not connect with our older son because he is too much like me.

 I have recognized a potential problem and alerted my husband and others, his anger and aggression towards my sons go way beyond normal discipline, if left unchecked I feel will result in disaster. I took what I felt to be the necessary steps to protect my children and I am now being penalized for this. I am actively trying to prevent a serious situation by seeking help from whatever source I can to make sure my children's faces are not the next ones on the 7 o'clock news. I am not asking for financial or legal help. A Senator told me he was not saying what happened to me wasn't unjust, but he can't help me. I have been told by everyone that hears my story, that something wrong was done, but no one wants to help.

 During the temporary hearing I requested help with daycare/after school which was $350 a month, the judge said that was too much and since my husband family was offering free daycare then he was given the children. I make $13.00 an hour; I live on my own and pay all of my own expenses. My husband makes $16.50 an hour, lives with his parents and has no overhead, but I was ordered to pay $444 a month in child support. The judge also question my mental health, but never question the fact my children are in a home with a man that suffers from PTSD, is often withdrawn and short tempered. My husband was taking Wellbutrin, which made him more aggressive than normal.

June of this year I put my eldest son in therapy, he has now been told by his father that he is not to talk about anything that goes on in their home. So my son is afraid to speak to anyone.

My sons receive more mental and verbal abuse than physical; they now live in a household where they are being told they are stupid and useless. I at onetime was told the be relieved that my husband is living with his family so maybe they will monitor what he does, now that is not comforting me any more since the one calling him stupid is his grandmother.

I grow more desperate as the days go by, wondering what kind of condition my babies will be in when I get them back.



Dear Cynthia,

On the one hand, I'm very sorry about your situation -- sorry that you have to endure that pain and verbal abuse -- and on the other hand, I'm very happy for you, that you left and took matters into your own hands.

Often times people are motivated not solely for their benefit, but for their children and while I'm glad you finally came to that conclusion -- you, too, deserve it. In terms of what to do....you obviously need to get a lawyer whom you trust, one who hears your perspective and more importantly values the children's perspective.

I'm not sure if their is a guardian ad litem in this case, but your children are old enough that they should have some say in the matter, they are old enough to have their own perspective considered.

Also, I think that you will face a lot of road blocks from the court system. They are use to men asking for custody and rights and when there is the occasional man who does ask, they pay attention. I know that it will be a long hard journey, but I'm certain that you will find a point of resolution.

Good luck to you,

-- Amy