The judge heard your case and it was your little boy’s testimony on tape that moved the judge and spared you the worst penalty. Thereafter, your ex was permitted only supervised visits and you only had to pay a small fine for violating a court order. He stopped seeing the kids.
Your parents bought you a small home nearby so you could move on with your life and raise the children with their support, as necessary. Your safety and that of the children was paramount, so everyone agreed not to share your address and you maintained a low profile.
The ex was nevertheless legally required by law to pay child support, but didn’t, except once, when you took court action. A detective helped track him down and his wages were attached, but only for a brief moment. He soon fell off the radar completely.
Your youngest is now fifteen. She has questions, she knows something isn’t right. She and her brother always sense the hush when they enter the space at family gatherings. Your son finds his videotape testimony in the attic and they both watch it. Your son, who barely graduated from high school, is floundering, drinking, and plunging into despair, talking about killing himself. Your daughter does online detective work, finds her father, and tells you.
She calls this latest wife and learns he now has two additional children, a two and four year old, also a boy and a girl. The woman tells your daughter she is estranged from her husband, after discovering he’d abused their children and videotaped it. Your daughter speaks with her grandmother – your mother – and she answers your daughter’s questions about what really happened to her when she was a baby.
To your daughter’s horror, you take up correspondence with your ex.
It gets heated – romantic.
You invite him to see you and meet your children after all these years.
Your daughter feels you are imposing this on her – she’s adamant she doesn’t want to see him. Your son is ambivalent – worried about you alone with him and wanting to protect you, feeling like he has to be the man in the situation. You choose to go through with this plan.
Your daughter has come to stay with my husband and I during this scheduled visit of your ex. We have two little ones, six months and four years old. She relays to us what she learns, what she suspects about this re-emerging relationship of her mother and father. She stays with us for the next few weeks where she receives psychological help, learns her rights, and makes a plan for legal emancipation, ongoing counseling, and a move to the home of one of our sisters.
So, your ex comes to town and you have him stay in the house that your parents bought you. The same parents who paid for all of the medical visits, court costs, children’s tuition, and living allowance. You send a letter to all of your siblings – evidently penned by the ex – denying there was ever any abuse, that nothing ever happened. You and your ex both sign this letter. Your father, were he not already deceased, would have come and killed one or both of you.
We are baffled and disturbed.
I make the call on the day of his scheduled departure.
I call the police department and they find his record.
They apprehend him at the airport. He is placed under arrest for non-payment of child support. His name and photo are plastered all over the local TV and newspapers as the biggest deadbeat dad in that part of the state, owing tens of thousands of dollars in child support. Calls start coming in –
“Did you hear about her ex?!”
“I wonder who tipped them off?”
You bail him out.
The ex dies some time shortly thereafter, has a heart attack while videotaping. You go down to Florida to claim his body from the morgue and bury him. Your drinking accelerates. I organize an intervention not long after that, but it’s ten more years before you finally choose to get sober.
Now, it’s been five years you’ve been clean. We’re slowly rebuilding our relationship.
You ask me two questions almost every time we speak that I cannot, that I will not answer:
Do you know who called the police and had my ex arrested?
Do you know who set up the intervention when I was drinking?
You always ask these questions in a tone of suspicion and bitterness. Will I ever be able to tell you the truth? Would you ever understand my actions?
[Please note, the author’s name has been changed to ensure anonymity.]