NZ'S INDEPENDENT RESPONSE-SYSTEM WATCHDOG
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News and views from The Backbone Collective which advocates for women and children who have experienced violence or abuse and who are enduring further harm from New Zealand's Family Court. 

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True Story: The Family Court Is Ruining My Life

 A mother says she is still chained to her violent ex-partner by the Family Court despite leaving him a number of years ago. She appeals to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for help as she says the Family Court forces her and her young child to subvert their own rights for her ex's right to see his child. She worries that her child is unsafe during visits with him, and because the supervisor seems unreliable.  (For reasons of anonymity, this photo does not show the real mother and child in this story.)

A mother says she is still chained to her violent ex-partner by the Family Court despite leaving him a number of years ago. She appeals to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for help as she says the Family Court forces her and her young child to subvert their own rights for her ex's right to see his child. She worries that her child is unsafe during visits with him, and because the supervisor seems unreliable. (For reasons of anonymity, this photo does not show the real mother and child in this story.)

 

In this email to New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, a member of The Backbone Collective pleads for her family's freedom from Family Court demands, which she says are dangerous and severely limit their life chances. The email was sent on Mon, Feb 19, 2018 and the sender remains hopeful she will hear from Prime Minister Ardern soon. Some details have been changed to protect her identity.

 

THE FAMILY COURT IS RUINING MY LIFE

Hi Jacinda

I am emailing you today because basically I am fed up. I am a grown woman and I feel like I am living like a 12 year old. My whole life is dictated by the Family Court. 

I left my abusive relationship a number of years ago. My child was nearly one year old at the time. I wanted to leave as soon as I had my child but I could not due to health reasons. Once I got stronger I left.

I thought by leaving, that my child and I would be safe, but I was so wrong. I have been dealing with the Family Court for well over five years and I am now drained and feeling depressed. I feel like I am in an abusive relationship all over again.

I thought by leaving, that my child and I would be safe...but...I feel like I am in an abusive relationship all over again.
— member of The backbone Collective writing to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern

The system is so terrible. I feel like they throw us all in the same boat. The term 'parental alienation' is thrown around far too much. There is a huge difference between protection and alienation.

While I realise there are in fact parents who do parenting alienation; I am most definitely not one of them.

When I left my abuser, the Family Court said: "Now that you two aren't together, there will be no violence and he can focus on being a good father."

But not long later he was arrested for violence against another woman. He was in prison for quite a while for that. As soon as he got out, I am back in court. They gave him supervised contact of our child but before the contact happened, he broke the law again and went back to prison.

I take my child to supervised contact with him and get threatened with:  ‘If you don’t comply you could face prison.’  I have never done anything bad in my life.

Now I am having to go out of my way to take my child to supervised contact with her 'father'.  I get threatened that "if you don't comply you could face prison time."  Please keep in mind I have never done anything bad in my life. I am scared to do it.

The supervisor lies about me.  He tells my child I am horrible and mean to their father. My child comes home angry and upset from most visits. I take my child to every single one. 

I hate the term "every child needs a mother {and} a father." No! Every child needs at least one stable parent. I am the stable parent. I don't leave my child. I don't hurt my child.  I do my very best to give my child such a good life. It blows my mind how I am treated in the system. He's treated like a victim because he hasn't seen his child. It makes me sick. 

He’s allowed to move wherever he wants, not show up to a visit, and no one bats an eyelid. God forbid I do that. They would arrest me or uplift my child.

How is it that he's allowed to move wherever he wants, then not show up to a visit, and no one bats an eyelid? But God forbid I do that. They would arrest me or uplift my child from our loving, safe home. 

I have had job opportunities lost because I am stuck in a New Zealand town catering to my abuser.

His record is very long and most of it is violence towards women. He associates with gangs and he is a heavy drug user. My child would never be safe in his care, so why does the Family Court let our children into such terrible situations?

His record is very long and most of it is violence towards women...My child would never be safe in his care, so why does the Family Court let children into such terrible situations?

I am reaching out to you to help me. I can't live like this. I want my life back. I would never ever trust my abuser with the care of my child. He would emotionally ruin that child and I fear what else could happen.

Please Jacinda, help keep my child safe. Don't let the Family Court push my child into an unsafe environment. I beg you. Please look into the system. Our children need you.

Kind regards

(anonymous member of The Backbone Collective)

 

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about the backbone collective

New Zealand has the highest rate of women experiencing violence and abuse in the developed world, which is due in part to our broken response system.
 
The Backbone Collective is an independent body taking action to change New Zealand's dire statistics by examining the response system through the eyes of its users - women who have experienced violence and abuse.
 
Please join us as either a woman who has experienced violence or abuse, or as a volunteer who wants to help by volunteering your time, services or expertise.
 
Many reports have been written about where the system is broken but they have fallen on deaf ears. We think that Government and others in a position of power will start listening when hundreds, and potentially thousands, of women speak up about what needs to change.