How I Manage My 157 Hour Work Week

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By Teresa G. D’vall

Dear Absent Parent,

Raising six children means that nothing is ever quiet, clean, or routine. We always need milk, the lemonade pitcher empties in minutes and a box of cereal only lasts 3 days if I hide it before going to bed.

Our children are 3, 7, 9, 10, 17 and even though the 23 year old mostly visits, my house is always chaotic.

You said I need to do my share since I don’t work. Here’s what I do on a typical day during the 157 hours of the week you don’t have them:

6:50-7:45am:

Awake to tormented wails:

“He’s copying me!”

“She spilled Cheerios on me!”

“I have nothing to wear!”

“There’s nothing eat!”

Vacuum Cheerios from everywhere while my coffee gets cold. Start the laundry. Clean up after the dog who was just let in but prefers to pee inside. Clean…

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The Secret Life of Wyatt Colman: Realtor, Fish Whisperer, Liar

via The Secret Life of Wyatt Colman: Realtor, Fish Whisperer, Liar

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How to Kill Your Ex and Get Away With It

image By Teresa G  D’vall

Domestic Violence Awareness month is in October which means spouse killers, beatings & disfigurement will once again get all of the attention while those of us being slaughtered on the installment plan continue to die slowly, unnoticed.

“Help! Someone’s trying to kill me!”
Usually doesn’t fall on deaf ears, but if you are a victim of emotional and mental abuse, you’re better off shouting:

“Fire!”

“Hate Crime!”

“Animal Rights!”

“#me too!”

“Trump is the best president Ever!”

Any of the above will gather more attention than this story.

I’m going to tell it anyway though, because somewhere out there in social media land there is a person who’ll get it.

If one male, female, or gender neutral person reads this and it resonates…if it helps you hang on for one more round of the game…then score one for Silent Domestic Violence, the interminable abuse no one ever thinks about.

Earlier this year I wrote “Why I’m Raising Your Next School Shooters” a story about the long term effects of domestic violence on children.

Five years ago, I wrote “How I Almost Became a Convicted Felon” the story of how I escaped my abusive marriage with 6 kids and no source of income.

Both were written to send one simple message:

Never give up, because things always get better.

For the past 5 years, I’ve clinged to the notion they couldn’t get worse.

They can.

My most recent story,

“Dear Suicidal, Die Trying Instead” was a happy one, a tale of suffering and torment finally laid to rest.

I proudly announced to all you readers I will never know that I had finally reached the end of my Domestic Violence nightmare.

Here’s the Epilogue to that story:

On June 21, 2018 I bought my first house; a foreclosure that sat vacant for 6 years with a defunct heating system & not one single working light bulb.

On June 23rd, I surprised my kids with it & saw my 12 year old smile at me for the first time in almost a year.

“I remember this house mommy. We’ve been here before.”

He was right. I had the contract on it in 2015, then I lost my job.

It was the happiest moment of my life, driving my kids up to our new front lawn decorated with a sign I made myself that said:

Dear Kids,

Surprise! We have a home.

Love,

Mom

The next day, I dropped them off to visit their Dad.

They came back home late June 25th.

On the morning of June 26, my 12 year old, who had been happy enough to smile just 2 days prior, threw me into a wall & punched me in the face.

My 11 year old committed grand larceny, stealing a USB device that contained over $15k from his older brother. He’d stolen cash, an Iphone replacement screen and an Amazon package over the previous 2 months.

I called school when the iPhone screen disappeared and asked if the in house policeman could give him a lecture but it did nothing to deter him against felony theft.

I told both boys that there would be no electronics, no TV, nothing until the USB was found.

Instead of looking for it, my 12 year old decided to fight me for his phone. I struggled to pry it out of his hands with no success at all. Moments later, I was knocked into a wall & then the floor by him. Shortly after that, he punched me in the jaw.

My 25 year old son had been yelling at the 11 year old to find his “missing” USB, which contained a year’s worth of work, for almost a half hour by then.

Until that day, I’d never heard my oldest son raise his voice or swear.

Anthony was my babysitter so I could work. He earned his accounting degree in 2015 but put off getting a ‘real job’ because childcare for 4 young children costs more than any job I could get.

Instead, he had a home office where he programmed computers that mined cryptocurrency. His income was stored on the USB.

Anthony changed diapers, made dinners, did homework & played ball in the yard with his siblings. Every few weeks, he’d host a “boys night” during which they were allowed to eat snacks, (that he bought for them) & play on his xbox.

After I fell to the floor, Anthony managed to get the phone away from my 12 year old.

Suddenly, my 11 year old appeared with a crow bar and came towards him. As he turned to disarm the crow bar wielder, my 12 year old hit him with a wooden birdhouse, causing him to bleed heavily because that’s what head wounds do.

As my 9 year old son stood watching his oldest brother bleed, the mom puncher & thief left out the front door, refusing to look for anything or clean up the blood.

I called Warwick Police for help that day.

Again.

For the last 6 months, I have needed to call Warwick PD almost every week after they returned from a visitation. The last time an officer left he said,

“I don’t know what to tell you anymore, they don’t respect anyone.”

Again, there was nothing they could do to help except make a report. The report stated that no harm had been done to the boys and that there had been an alleged theft of a USB device. Anyone can FOIL it and read every detail.

During the birdhouse scuffle, my 12 year old’s track phone broke.

About an hour or so later, he asked to use my phone to call his dad. While on the phone with him, he announced:

“Daddy says he wants $80 for my phone or he’s pressing charges against Anthony.”

Not a word about our 12 year punching me. Not a word about our 11 year old stealing.

My 12 year old asked if they could go with his father that day.

The prospect of moving, making the house livable and breaking up fights between my mom puncher & thief was overwhelming, so I said that they could go with him until I got the house ready.

The next day, police arrived at my door and arrested my 25 year old son. The charges were:

Harassment; for yelling too loud about his stolen property.
And criminal mischief for the broken phone.

The day after that, Child Protective Services showed up to investigate me & my oldest son for about the 10th time this year. That’s almost 2 reports for every month since January.

I have not seen or heard from either of my younger boys since, even though I’ve sent texts and made phone calls to them. Even when our dog died unexpectedly, their father would not let them come back. They got to be in the house I worked so hard to buy for them less than half a day. Their room sits empty. Their summer clothes, never used. The last image I have of my 12 year old is of him in the tree outside our new home, smiling.

My ex didn’t bring them to their counselors all summer, even though I obtained a court order in March that prohibited him from interfering with their mental health.

Anthony’s “harrassment trial” was scheduled for August 21 but was adjourned. The judge noted, for the second time, that there appeared to be more going on than what was written by his accuser, my ex husband.

On August 22nd, my ex husband walked into Sussex County NJ Family Court and tried telling our long suffering judge, Franzblau, that the boys were afraid of me & didn’t want to come home Labor Day Weekend as planned.

His request was denied.

Later that day, he went to Orange County NY and told better lies.

On August 23rd, a sheriff showed up in my driveway and told me that my ex husband had retained a stay away order. I wasn’t allowed within 1,000 feet of either boy because I was a danger to them and they were afraid to come home.

On October 18, 2018, I’ll get to tell a NY judge the story I just wrote after which my mom puncher & thief will be returned to me. Until then, I am a mom who has done nothing wrong who can not see her children. I’m exaggerating a little, I have my youngest 2 kids. Apparently I’m not a danger to the 5 or 9 year old.

It would be easier for me to let my ex keep them. My family and 3 police officers have all said I should give up, turn them loose and move on because they are ruined; hopeless.

And they may be. Even inmates on death row frown upon punching their Mom in the face.

No one has damaged property all summer, called me a whore or tried stabbing a younger sibling since they have been gone.

My boys have been poisoned by an accomplished domestic abuser.  He has spent the last 5 years manipulating the police, child protective services, the courts and now, his own children, to circumvent my order of protection and torment me for divorcing him. I am the only person on this earth who knows what he is capable of. I survived 15 years of hell with him.

I’ll never give up and sentence my children to that same hell.

This latest stunt, however, has convinced me that I was wrong, reader I will never know.

Things do not always get better.

I am trapped between jurisdictions, having lived in NJ for 20 years and divorced there, NY says it doesn’t have the authority to make decisions in my case. Safehomes, the Orange County Domestic Violence Advocates in my area have tried, twice, to have their attorney transfer my case to NY.

Both times the judge said our NJ judge retained jurisdiction.

This means NY Child Protective Services can’t order a psych evaluation or supervised visits for my ex. Neither can NJ because my kids live in NY.

The NY judge who issued my ex a temporary stay away order to keep my kids away from me doesn’t know that I have been to court 6 times over the last year begging my ex to take the kids for an extra hour on Sundays. Each time he refused saying he had laundry to do & errands to run. That hearing is also a matter of public record.

Judge Klein of NY isn’t aware that I spent 6 months fighting to get my kids counseling back after he removed them, arguing my case, pro se, all the way to the Supreme Court in NJ.

She has not seen the court order I won that prohibits my ex from sending police to my house every week for nonsense .

All she knows is that my ex husband signed a sworn statement claiming my boys;  who punched me & stole $15k from their brother, were afraid of me and didn’t want to come home.

My ex did mention the incident that occurred June 26, but only to illustrate the danger my oldest son was. He forgot to mention that our 12 year old punched me. Or that our 11 year old stole $15,000.

Yes, it is possible to lie in court, embellish half a story, and temporarily take children from their mother.

I spoke to an attorney who actually told me that.

Any man or woman can walk into their local family court & claim their children are afraid to go home.

If you are narcissistic enough and can cherry pick the information that will get what you want, it is shockingly easy to wreak havoc on an ex.

If you’re reading this and thinking:

“WTH??”

Or

There must more to this story??

There has to be??

Nope. There’s not.

The truth never changes, even if we wish we could change it.

I left my marriage 5 years ago and not one single day has gone by that I haven’t been punished for it.

Yesterday I found out he managed to register them in the Vernon Township School System, despite the fact that I sent them our custody agreement showing that I have primary residential custody, & we reside in NY, where they are already registered at Warwick Central School District.

They were supposed to start receiving counseling again at school in NY this week.

Today, I have left work to file yet another order to show cause so I can explain to our NJ judge what he’s done this time. I am finishing this story on a bench outside family court where I have wasted countless hours since 2013.

My ex husband is killing me.

Every day, I die a little more and no one, not the court system, child protective services or the police can stop him.

So you see, reader I will never know,
It gets REALLY worse before it gets better.

Or maybe it just keeps getting worse until you’re dead and not keeping track anymore.

Until there are better safeguards in place, Silent Domestic Violence is losing.

Vindictiveness and revenge is winning.

It won’t get better for me. All I can do is hang on for worse, because it will always be coming.

In about 2 hours a law clerk will emerge from chambers and tell me my request to have the boys put back into their schools was denied.

She’ll instruct me to file a motion and I will tell her I already have, that it was scheduled for 9/14, then postponed till 9/28, & postponed again until 10/29/18.

I’ll cry all the way back home.

I’ll ask myself how much longer I can keep doing this.

If you know anyone being tormented by emotional and verbal abuse, share this. Tell that person to hang on and fight. Don’t waste time waiting for things to get better. Just keep fighting.

Shatter the silence.

Win the war.

 

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Dear Suicidal, Die Trying Instead

By Teresa G. D’vall

hope4

Thinking about driving into that tree, swallowing those pills or using the blade vertically?

Read this first.

About two weeks ago, they carved a dark spot out of my foot to biopsy for melanoma and during my 10 day wait to find out if I’d live or die, the thought crossed my mind that death might be the better option.

Believing you’d be better off dead is different than wanting to kill yourself. It’s worse.

Currently, my very young children have pottty mouths that would make an inmate blush. My ex husband has become such an accomplished domestic abuser that he actually has the police helping him, 5 (FIVE!!) years after I was granted a permanent order of protection.

AND, I still can’t find gainful employment that will support my emotionally traumatized children, even though I have a Bachelor’s Degree in business management.

Yet, I am still here.

Five years ago, I was married with 6 children, lived in an upscale neighborhood, owned a profitable business and a 3300 square foot colonial with an inground pool.

In 2013 I lost “my husband’s” business, the house (which was my husband’s and NOT mine!!) went into foreclosure and my marriage ended. Then, neighbors in a town where everyone knew me because we owned a restaurant, found out that my picture perfect life was a complete sham. A lie. Fake.

For 15 years I lived with a man who called me names, said I was worthless and terrorized my children. Then one day, I found the courage to leave, but that’s an old story and you already know “How I Almost Became A Convicted Felon.” if you follow me.

Usually, escaping domestic violence is the hard part but I have experienced every setback imaginable since.

My long journey ends tonight.

Even though my kids do not value or respect me and remind me daily that my tax job is only seasonal and therefore doesn’t matter…

(Who gave them that idea???)

Even though all these things and a few I haven’t mentioned because I want to publish this before midnight-

I am about to close on my first home tomorrow. My kids don’t even know yet. I’m going to surprise them. I even made a sign that boasts:

Dear Kids,

Surprise! We have a home.

Love,
Mom

I’m doing this because they’ve already seen this house. I took them there the first time I was going to buy it in 2015. Then I lost my full time job.

(The one that is seasonal now and doesn’t really matter.)

I cried all the way home that day. I didn’t want to disappoint them again so I waited this time.

Tomorrow, I finally get to give my kids a home.

So you see, Suicidal,

It really does get better.

But sometimes it gets worse first.

Hang on for better.

P.S. Thank you Chris Happyness Gardner.
I protected my dream.

(Thank you for the inspiration Mom.)

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Dad’s Greatest Gift was Free

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Suicide by Default

Rest in peace Anthony Bourdain. Stop. Look. And Listen.
You may save someone’s life.

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By Teresa G. D’vall

http://linkedin.com/in/teresa-g-d-vall-b5019472

This is a story about the time depression killed my mother and not one you should read if you’re in a good mood. Chances are, you’re not aware that suicide can be committed by neglect. I made this discovery three years ago, on a chilly gray morning drenched in November Rain.

September was Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, so this tale is belated but remains pertinent, even though it’s October, the month we’re supposed to be aware of Domestic Violence, Breast Cancer and Bullying Prevention.

Shortly after 7am, on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving in 2014, I threw my favorite red coat and Coach purse onto a hospital floor without hesitation.

My ex niece-in-law offered the purse in lieu of rent when I let her stay with us. I could barely afford to feed my 6 kids, let alone hers, but I was 21 with a baby…

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Why I’m Raising Your Next School Shooters

By Teresa G. D’vall

While the country heaves a collective sigh of grief over the Parkland tragedy in Florida, know this:

School shooters are created over a lifetime, not in a single instance.

As a survivor of domestic violence and Mom of six I warn you, with dreadful certainty, that one of my kids may end up killing yours because violence in the home gives impetus to apathy; and is contagious.

I have been trying to get counseling for my aggressive children since August of 2017 and have encountered one roadblock after another. The reason why should incite you.

A recent article by CNN describing the Florida shooter’s history of violence as a youth and failed attempts to get help infuriated me.

I currently have an active, permanent order of protection against my ex husband. There is a clear and present history of violence in our home. Still, the schools, police, and NY State Child Protective Services are failing my family too.

Followers of my blog may recall reading “How I Almost Became A Convicted Felon” the story of how I escaped my abusive marriage. That piece focused on the difficulty of leaving and the battles I overcame to do so. Nearly FIVE years later, we are still struggling in aftermath. Despite efforts to convey the gravity of my circumstances; our newly assigned judge has done more to hinder than help.

I filed four pro se motions in 2017 and four orders to show cause; requests for emergent assistance. All were denied, almost in their entirety.

The only victory I achieved was after my second motion in April. The judge agreed to prohibit my ex from bringing the children to the station when he filed police reports. I hold the dubious distinction in The Town of Warwick for most domestic incident reports. There was a point during the summer when the police were literally at my house every week, sent there by my ex husband. It is not unusual for an officer to stop me as I attempt to explain and say:

“I already know this story.”

Each time I interact with the Warwick, NY police I am told there’s nothing they can do. After almost 40 calls in 2017 alone, only three police officers offered any type of help or hope. Officer Serviss offered to speak to my son & did. Officer Pascal spoke to both of my sons and told me about the PINS program that helps youth in peril. Officer Kearns listened to me & gave me hope.

Twice in November of 2017 & again in January of this year I filed orders to show cause seeking help to resume the counseling my children have been getting for the last three years.

All three motions were denied by Judge Franzblau of Sussex County NJ Family Court. Then, shockingly, my pending motion, asking for the same help, returnable 12/15/17 was adjourned; Indefinitely!

I appealed that decision to the Supreme Court of NJ begging for my case to be heard.

My ex husband was able to remove the counselors that my kids were seeing for three years in August of 2017 due to a loophole in ‘joint custody’ that allows him to participate in decisions about the children’s healthcare. Their behavior has deteriorated exponentially since, including severe disruption at school.

Students who are compromised emotionally suffer consequences few would expect. They are more susceptible to bullying and prone to outward displays of inappropriate or negative behavior. I am shocked and dismayed almost daily as I listen to the horror stories of middle school. If the general public knew how prevalent bullying remains in schools despite the fact we are 20 years ‘wiser’ after Columbine; they would be horrified. Bullying has also mutated in its severity. I have heard tales of physical violence going unchecked while innattentive lunch monitors play around on their cell phones. Today’s middle schoolers are more ruthless than when my older children went through school just a few years ago.

Recently, one son, who hasn’t wanted to leave the house with me in months asked if I’d bring him to Walmart so he could buy Valentine’s treats for a few girl friends he had at school. That night when I asked how candy giving went I was flabbergasted to hear that a girl took the bag he gave her and threw it on the floor.

Imagine how devastating such an act can feel when you are 12. The cruelty of adolescence remains incomprehensible to me. Middle school stress combined with the long term effects of domestic violence can devastate a young mind.

During a particularly bad episode of misbehavior my sons revealed that they were being exposed to details they were incapable of processing.

“You’re trying to declare me ‘mental’ so you can get more child support.”

To their older brother:

“You’re not our real brother, you don’t even have a father. Your father left because mommy is crazy.”

Judge Franzblau stated in his last decision that “there was no clear evidence or danger of irreparable harm”, even though I submitted violent drawings my son made of ways to kill himself. He stated that I had a remedy in law; filing a motion.

It shouldn’t take this long or be this difficult to get help. My children are in peril, drowning in a system that does not recognize the long term effects of domestic violence.

I am watching helplessly as my children display increasingly alarming apathy. They are beginning to lie about the smallest indiscretions and refuse to take ownership of their actions. I have a 5 year old little girl who laments she wants to kill herself if I won’t buy her candy at the supermarket. When questioned by a police officer about why he called me a name, my 11 year old replied that he wouldn’t use such language if he didn’t hear it from his “Fucking Fat Ass Father.” I looked on helplessly, shocked by both his words and lack of accountability.

I emphatically believe that both parents in domestic violence situations should be required to undergo mandatory psych evaluations. A parent who repeatedly exhibits inappropriate behavior in the presence of minors should have supervised visitation until it can be determined that the children are no longer at risk to exposure of negative influence. When necessary, joint custody should not be granted if a parent has a history of serious mental illness.

School shooters aren’t born, they are created by a series of missed opportunities for help.

Perhaps tragedies like Parkland can be avoided in the future if the mentally ill receive adequate intervention. Gun control will only resolve part of the issue. It is imperative that we create a system that does not fail the most vulnerable members of society.

Call your state representative, or anyone who will listen and demand change.

Epilogue

Nearly seven months after my children lost the right to have counselng, I had my day in court on March 9, 2018.
During the course of a thirty minute dissertation I sprawled 45 police reports, a dozen closing letters sent by Child Protective Services and six denied court orders across the table in front of me. I implored the judge to look at them with scrutiny; then closed with this:

“These are the documents that an investigative reporter will dig up after one of my children commits a violent crime.
This is my family falling though the cracks.
And the paper trail will lead back here, to this court, where I have pleaded before you for the 6th time in a year’s span to help my family.”

Less than a week later I received Judge Franzblau’s decision by mail.

He signed an order permitting the children to receive counseling and prohibited my ex from sending police to our home unless there is a life threatening emergency.

A week after that, another “anonymous caller” made a report alleging child abuse, and this time the state ploice were sent to my house.

I envy the woman who gets punched in the face. Society and the Courts recognize physical abuse. If they don’t, eventually, her abuser will kill her and she’ll finally have an end to the game. There is no end for me.

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