Unhinged

Happy Saturday! My morning started late, I can’t believe I actually slept in till’ 11:30 a.m. I haven’t done that in years, probably about 14-years to be exact; in the same bedroom where I grew up. Back then, it was decorated in Disney- Mickey and Minnie Mouse characters. I shared the bedroom with my twin sister. I’ve always loved the walls- they were, and still are made of wooden paneling, absolutely beautiful. We had a big red carpet rug and bunk beds. So many memories. Our white bookshelf held all of our favorite stories. We would listen to music on our big red stereo system as well. The home that I’m describing sits on six acres of property. It’s been called an “Oasis” by some. My favorite part about the yard is the gorgeous assortment of flowers. The “Florida Room”, is a room that was added on to the original house- it includes a fireplace. It is where we spend most of our time. Instead of walls, there is glass that surrounds us. It’s cozy, and makes me feel closer to nature. ❤

It was 14-years ago I left the only home I’d really known. I was young, 16-years-old. I was expecting my first baby, a girl. I had no idea what the next several years of my life would look like. It’s a scary world we live in, I know that much.

So this morning, I received a message from the District Attorney’s Advocate who has been working my case for over a year. She’s awesome. She was there for me yesterday, when I had court. She is always so bubbly and has such a kind spirit. I gave her a hug and was so happy to see her.

The message read, “I’m so proud of you! I can’t even describe how good you look and how confident you sounded yesterday. Everything will definitely work out.” “It was also pretty awesome to hear the judge say that she felt like Dominick was exhibiting controlling behavior by saying he was ‘prepared to hire a lawyer for you’; everything definitely worked in your favor yesterday.”

I responded (in disbelief), “he said that!?”

She said, “Yep”. I asked how he acted, and stated, “He’s crazy. I’m so glad everyone sees that. I don’t need a lawyer! I have God and everyone on my side. To me, he’s already lost this battle. Just wait till he’s hit with divorce papers next week!”

She said, “His lawyer for the hearing was completely freaked out by him. He was acting calm, but when he addressed the judge, everyone could tell he was trying to manipulate the system. He just doesn’t get that he’s not in control. It’s over for him. The judge directly told him ‘you don’t need to worry about her. We are taking care of her. You just need to be concerned about yourself.'”

I told her, “He’s always been that way. It feels so good to be free from him!”
She said, “And I am so proud of you. You did that. You decided to free yourself which means you are in control.”

I said, “I’m so excited for my new life with the boys. It’s only going to keep getting better and better.”

She agreed. I told her I was still confused about his thought process on trying to plea out to the aggravated stalking charges, and the motion to withdrawal his guilty plea on the simple assault charge. I told her, “I just want him to sign away his parental rights. I’m sure he will fight me on that.”

She said, “If he withdrawals his plea, I think everything would change. But I don’t know, that’s something I’ll have to ask the D.A. about. The last I talked to him, he still didn’t have confirmation from Dominick’s attorney that he was going to plea.” “I’m sure he will fight you on the parental rights, but Juvenile Court is fighting to make him take a psychological evaluation because they know he’s completely unhinged.” “Depending on his evaluation, he may not have a choice.”

For those who don’t know, my ex was diagnosed as a teenager with “Antisocial Personality Disorder”. Look it up, it will explain everything.

He really thinks we are still together. In his mind, he just really will not let go. That’s a dangerous thought.

This time, my FAITH will override my FEAR.

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A Mother’s Intuition

Today, I went to court at the Athens-Clarke County Courthouse at 9:00 a.m. for a hearing with DFCS regarding my two boys. I’m happy to announce that it couldn’t have gone any better! With my attorney, I signed a consent agreement where I will continue to receive help with the boys from the state. They will temporarily remain in foster care, while I get back on my feet. I already have a job, and now I am in a position where I can save my paychecks to get a vehicle, home, etc. I’m considering saving up enough for a SUV.

Most know, I have 5 children; three girls, two boys. I’m working on repairing broken relationships, and I know I need space for future trips! Not only that, but also that was the first thing of mine taken by my soon to be ex. I remember that day so clearly. I cried like a baby! I had a 98′ white Chevy Blazer. It was my first vehicle, but I was SO PROUD. I worked hard and bought it with cash. It was also the very first thing to be taken away from me.

Okay, so back to court. I spoke with my court appointed attorney who secured two hearings (the boys dad was escorted from jail to the hearing). I sat in an office until it was time for me to enter the courtroom. Everyone there- right down to the Judge, was SO nice! She even smiled at me and said that she wishes me the best on my journey! She told me that I have a LOT of support- and I do. I am so very thankful for each and every one of you!

I believe they had my ex in a holding cell. (I don’t even want to write his name). Due to the nature of my case, there were security concerns so we did not have to see each other. I can’t really explain it any other way; I didn’t feel sad, angry, or even upset- not scared, just- content.

I am SO confident that I KNOW everything is working out just as it’s meant to. I prayed for God’s protection and thanked Him all morning long for getting me as far as He has. I met with the District Attorney’s Advocate that I love so much! She is such a sweetheart. She’s been dealing with me for over a year now. 🙂

I was informed that my ex had filed a motion to withdraw his guilty plea for the simple assault that he originally pled guilty to back in April of 2017. The criminal case is kind of confusing. He’s charged with two counts of aggravated stalking in Athens-Clarke, and one count of aggravated stalking in Madison County, GA. So now I’m being told that he wants to plea out to the aggravated stalking (felonies) next week, but there’s a motion to take the case back to trial for simple assault? By the way, the simple assault charge was originally a felony false imprisonment charge.

So, yeah. I’m confused. Tuesday, July 11th, 2017 at 9:00 a.m. will be the status conference hearing, and Friday, July 14th, 2017 at 1:30 p.m. is his probation revocation hearing. Apparently he’s been in the law library at the jail, because he filed a handwritten motion for bond himself. Let’s see how well that goes.

Well, I’ve made it pretty clear to everyone that if anything ever happens to me, you know who is responsible. At this point, I realize that no matter what happens to him- if he’s in jail, or released- I can’t stop doing ME. I have to be STRONG. && I am. I refuse to RUN, I refuse to HIDE. I am ready to face him down. I got this. I’m to the point now, where I’ve already been through the back and fourth stage. I just want PEACE.

(Sorry folks, I can get kind of passionate at times I guess- but who wouldn’t? I lost 7-years of my life!) But gained SO much more, Thank you, Jesus! 🙂

So… after court, I made a phone call to my attorney at the UGA Family Violence Law Clinic in Athens. I scheduled an appointment for Wednesday, July 12th, 2017 to come in and FILE FOR MY DIVORCE! I couldn’t be HAPPIER! #freedom

I’m already making goals and plans for my children and I. Of course the obvious- purchase a vehicle, home, obtain custody of my boys back, reestablish relationships with my three daughters; but also for once, I would like to do something for myself. I want to exercise (I LOVE walking… maybe I can even start running)- and a big one- I would like to get my teeth worked on at the dentist. I never considered it before, because all of my time and money were invested into others- mainly my ex. But I believe doing this will significantly increase my confidence. 🙂

After coming home, my twin sister stopped by for a few minutes- && can you believe we were matching!?! Completely coincidental! #greyshirts #khakis #crossnecklaces  #sistersbybirthbestfriendsbychoice

At 1:30 p.m., my new therapist from Pathways Counseling came to visit me. We discussed my goals and got to know each other a little bit. I will be receiving therapy once a week. This is something I have AVOIDED like the plague because of how uncomfortable it is. I mean, how do I explain the traumas. I was a missing person last summer. Detectives in Athens thought they were investigating my homicide. That’s a lot for me to even comprehend!

The deep psychological abuse… the woman he moved into my house… There’s just so much. Overtime, I will be able to go into more detail. But today has been a good day, so there’s no point in going there right now.

I’m learning to listen to my inner self. She’s right almost ALL of the time. My gut tells me I’m going down the right road. I’m doing this, I am really doing this! Empowering feeling. There’s just something about a mother’s intuition. She just knows. She knows what to do, when to do it, and how to do it. Sit back, relax, and watch me show you what I can do! But not on my own- the Good Lord above has my back. He has been there the entire time.

Happy Friday, Friends!

P.S. :&& I wish my first-born sweetheart, Aubrey, a HAPPY 13th BIRTHDAY! I was SO young when I gave birth to her. She makes me so proud. I can’t believe- I HAVE A TEENAGER. Also, please continue to pray for the children and I! The boys were transitioned into a new foster home in a different county- but they are STILL TOGETHER! & hopefully they will remain in the same household for the duration of my case.

I love my children with every beat in me. I miss them more than they will ever know. All of them. I’m doing this for them- but also for me. I’m doing this for all of us.

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Tough Decisions

Forgive me if I seem a bit all over the place, but this is my very first blog. Today, I picked up my contract as an educator for the 2017-2018 school year. Very exciting! Then, I went and picked out a few pairs of work pants and found some adorable brown boots that I fell in love with! My aunt, nephew, and I then went to Chick-fil-a for lunch. Overall, it was a good day.

I’m beginning to have some anxiety about court tomorrow. I’m appearing before the Juvenile Court in Athens-Clarke County in the morning for my DFCS case. How did I get here? I was strong for so long. Well, I’m still strong. I just needed help, and I asked for it. I did what was in the best interest of my two youngest sons at the time. And that my friends, is the true meaning of strength. I set my own feelings aside to make the heartbreaking decision based on their need.

Fathers Day, 2017. I felt it coming. For days, I knew that something wasn’t right. I knew I was at my breaking point. Depression doesn’t even begin to explain how I felt. I had no strength. There was nothing left in me. I remember my counselor being worried about me, she reached me over the weekend by text and phone calls to make sure I was okay. I suffer from PTSD and Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). I went back and forth about what I should do. I was on my feet, with my four-year-old and five-year-old little boys. I had no job. I was unable to function, literally. I finally came to terms with what the right thing was to do. I had been suffering with severe dissociative episodes for days at this point.

I told my boys that “Mommy is very sick right now, but I’m going to make sure that you are going to be taken care of while I get help.” I let them know that they would be safe and that they would be back home with me as soon as possible. We walked from our apartment to the Athens-Clarke County Police Station. It was a Sunday, so of course they were closed. I had just walked that same route two days before. I had no idea that I would be back under these circumstances.

I held a hand full of prescription medication in my hand tightly. (I had just had my medicine refilled the day before). I didn’t want to die, I have so much to live for! But the hurt of what I was about to do, weighed heavily on my heart. I pressed the button on the wall, where you could speak to an officer and have one dispatched to the station. I told the officer that I needed help.

Sir, I have my babies here with me. I need you to send an officer and an ambulance. I need mental help. I can’t stop the thoughts that are going through my mind, and they are strong. Please.”

Mam, are you thinking about hurting yourself? I’m sending help right now. Please stay right there. Have you been thinking about ways of hurting yourself, if so, how?”

Yes, I have sir, but I can’t give you that information right now.”

Fair enough, stay put, I have officers and an ambulance on their way.”

I debated for the longest time. Running out into traffic, stabbing myself in the gut with the butcher knife that I had carried with me in my bag. I had hit my rock bottom. At one point, when I saw the police car pull up, I held the knife towards me, turned with my back facing away from the boys. I looked over at them, and I couldn’t do it. I put the knife back in my bag.

I hugged the boys tightly. I told them to be strong and that everything would be okay. I waited until officers arrived and I knew the boys would be in safe hands. I then took the entire bottle of sleeping medication. I was coherent and able to speak with the officer who I immediately recognized. He was the one who responded to my home on one occasion. He looked at me and asked if he could have my bag. He noticed the butcher knife. I remember reluctantly handing over my bag.

I talked to him briefly and looking up to see a domestic violence advocate from Project Safe run up to me. She was my angel. I felt at peace. I knew we would all be okay. She held my hand, as the police made phone calls to see if we could find a place for the boys. After awhile, the ambulance pulled up. I informed them about the medication I had taken. It didn’t take long, before I felt dizzy. My words began to slur, and I couldn’t walk. I became extremely sick. The paramedics told the officers that arrived, (at this point several officers surrounded me), that they needed to get me to the hospital.

The domestic violence advocate promised to stay with the boys and see that they were taken care of while I received help. She kept saying, “Jennifer- your safe now.” I was extremely tired and couldn’t keep my eyes open. That was one of the longest rides I have ever had. I barely remember much after that. The paramedics did everything they could to keep me awake. Not long after arriving at the hospital, I began to have seizures. I could hear everyone, but I couldn’t speak. I drank the charcoal, which is used to absorb the medications that I had taken. I spent one night in the Athens-Clarke County Hospital, until I was later transferred the next day to Peachford Behavioral and Mental Health Hospital, where I stayed for a week. I was notified that the boys were in state custody with a foster family.

While at Peachford in Atlanta, my caseworker came on a Saturday to visit me. Not typical, but I was very thankful. My gut says that everything is going to be fine. I know the boys will come home. I know that everything will work out the way it’s supposed to. I was able to visit with the boys the same week I was discharged from the hospital. They looked fantastic! I’m looking forward to my next visit.

I tried, with everything in me- to make it work on my own. I am confident that I will get there. I know I will. It just takes a little time.

That was my second trip to Peachford Behavioral and Mental Hospital within a year and a half. The boys and I had been living at a Domestic Violence Shelter four times within one year, moving to nine different counties in Georgia within a year- out of state to Bryson City, North Carolina at one point. That’s enough to make anyone’s head spin!

I will never publically state my location or the children’s for our safety, but I will say that I am surrounded by a wonderful support system.

Each time I tell my personal story, I have to re-live the painful and traumatic experiences. If your reading this, please know how extremely difficult it is for me to write the most intimate details of my life. Overtime, I hope to give insight into how domestic violence has impacted my family and I.

Please pray for the children and I tomorrow.

We have a long road ahead of us, but we will make it. I know that this is just a thing. It’s a season in my life.

It’s only going to get better, and I can’t wait.

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What is “Domestic Violence”?

do·mes·tic vi·o·lence
noun
noun: domestic violence
violent or aggressive behavior within the home, typically involving the violent abuse of a spouse or partner.

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), Domestic violence is: “the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. It includes physical violence, sexual violence, psychological violence, and emotional abuse. The frequency and severity of domestic violence can vary dramatically; however, the one constant component of domestic violence is one partner’s consistent efforts to maintain power and control over the other“.

untitledResources:

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) 

The Abusive Cycle

Recognizing the Signs of an Abusive Relationship

Georgia Commission on Family Violence

Domestic Violence Shelters & Programs

 

Welcome!

I’ve decided to write a personal blog about the impact domestic violence has had on my life and those around me. As uncomfortable as it may be, I feel that it is something that I have become very passionate about.

My hope is that it may inspire someone trapped in the vicious cycle of abuse to breakaway. It could get someone thinking, possibly saving a life. You never know.
Because as I was told by a good friend; “You are enough, never settle. Love yourself, find yourself, and everything else will fall into place.”

There’s a purpose behind every struggle that we face. I never realized my own strength, until now. My faith has been restored, and it is more powerful than ever before.

I’ve got a long way to go. I’m just beginning my journey. I’m placing one foot in front of the other, and I’m going. That’s all that matters.

I want to thank everyone for your continued support, thoughts, prayers, donations (furniture, toys, clothing, hygiene, etc.) and the groceries brought to our door.

Just know that one day when I am able, I will pay that generosity forward. I cannot thank you all enough.

This has been one of the most humbling experiences I have ever had. I’ve literally been knocked down to my knees. 🙏🏻

A big shout out to my family && friends, including my GGC family- the Athens-Clarke Police Department, District Attorneys Office and Victim Advocates, Project Safe, UGA Family Law Clinic, Clarke County DFCS, Clarke County Probation Services, Advantage Behavioral Health, Pathways Counseling, and Peachford Hospital, Atlanta; for your support. 🍃🌻

These are some of the people who fought for me, when I had given up. They saw something in me, that I didn’t know existed.

I’ll never forget the statement made over the phone from the investigator on my case. I was living out of a tent in North Carolina, in the National Forest. He said, “Jennifer, you’re at a crossroad now. You have to make a choice, and your the only one who can make it. Just know that the decision you make will impact the lives of the two little men you’re raising now; who they will grow up to be one day.

I’ll never forget that. My heart.

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