He showed up early for his weekend with your son.
You’d told him to call from the train. That way you could have your son dressed. That way, he wouldn’t see the crying, the begging, the pleading of your son not to have to go with his dad.
You know what is happening there. You see the bruises on your son. You take photos before and after.
You have your own bruises, now healed, and missing teeth, and carvings. But the court insists on the visitation, so you lie, you lie so well to convince your son, to convince yourself, that it’s not so bad and when he gets older, he’ll see, his dad will realize how wrong he was and he’ll be so sorry. So very sorry for what he’s done.
This is what it’s like to have your son abused by his father.
Hell, his father has bragged about beating your son; how he lets his girlfriends beat on your son.
But two liars are more believable than one telling the truth. They say you are jealous; that you are upset about the “break up”. Explaining that you ended it, and never loved him in the first place falls on deaf ears. And now he’s here early.
This is what it’s like to be scared of your son’s father.
You stand in the doorway and urge your son to hurry. Your son is 6, and is crying he doesn’t want to go. In the hallway, his father hears and, maybe, for the first time…
You hear, from behind you, “Fuck this,” and then an arm around your throat pulling you down, down, it’s all so slow, and then the *crack* as your lower spine hits his knee and there’s this blast of pain your spine is on fire and then everything goes black.
This is what it’s like to be crippled by your son’s dad, in front of your son.
When you come to, you are lying in the public hallway of your building with your son standing at your head as if he is blocking you, protecting you, and he is screaming, “I hate you! I hate you, dad! I never want to see you again!” And his dad is standing there, silent, holding up his phone to record the entire thing.
You know you have to get up but your whole body is Pain and there is a terrifying numbness below your waist but you need to get up you have to protect your son so you roll onto your stomach and fight your body and force yourself to stand and you pull your child into the apartment and you call the police.
The police come and cuff both you and your son’s father and they bring you downstairs and your baby, your only child is clinging to you, shaking and crying and they crowd all of you into the same small elevator and your body is trying to collapse under you but you must stand, you have to stay up for your son.
Downstairs they let you sit on a stoop, with your son, while they watch the video. The sound is muffled, but you hear the crack, the snap that was your spine.
As they put him in the police car, he tells you, “Your lucky I’m so nice or else I’d have them arrest you, too.” Three police officers laugh. They laugh so hard, two have to lean on the hood of the car. They remove your cuffs, and your son begins crying anew when he sees the marks they’ve left and you comfort him, and you watch your arms hold your son, and rub his back, but there’s this strange mix of pain and numbness.
This is what it’s like to lie to your son.
You now have your son for the weekend, so you refuse the ambulance that is scaring your son, everything is scaring him and you want to tell him that you can’t hold him up, you can barely hold yourself up, but you are his Mother and you hold him even as you are barely holding on yourself.
You tell your son you’re fine, that it was nothing, that the sound he heard was something, anything, but not your spine. You suggest a “Lazy Weekend” in bed so that your son won’t notice that you can barely walk, that you have to lean on furniture, hold onto the walls. But he sees, and he knows.
You get tests done: CT scans, MRI’s, electric pulses that check for nerve damage.
You are told you now have three herniated and two bulging discs in your lower spine. The pain will be a constant companion to your recently diagnosed Fibromyalgia.
You bring the medical and police records to court. But there is no restraining order issued. No end to the visitation. Instead, the court decides your son should be picked up by his father st school giving him an extra three hours.
Your son regresses, again.
This is what it’s like when the court doesn’t care about your son.
This is what it’s like when your son’s dad abuses your son to get back at you because you “didn’t love [him] enough.”
This is what it’s like for many single parents.
If you have been or currently are in an abusive relationship, get help. My biggest fear growing up was being in a homeless shelter. But I did it. So can you. Remember: the people in a Domestic Violence shelter are there to help you; if I’d listened to them, and cut off contact with my son’s dad back then, I wouldn’t be permanently crippled and, most importantly, my son would never have been so horribly abused.
If you’re in NYC, contact Safe Horizon.. Nationally, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
YOU ARE NOT ALONE!!