Note: The following story is inspired by true events in Connecticut, as recounted by a mother to Frank Report. To protect the identities of the individuals involved, some names and details have been altered. The illustrations aim to depict the cruelty and injustice in this situation.
By Jenn, a mother – as told to Frank Report
In our Connecticut home, I believed my son Randy and I had finally found refuge from my abusive ex, Draven Magnus Wilester.
We nicknamed him “Ironfists” for a reason. Every time he’d lose his temper, or down too many drinks, his fists would find their mark.
A restraining order had, for a while, kept us safe.
Then, the heavy doors of the Connecticut Family Court swung open.
And the gavel came down.
First, it had been Ironfists’ physical blows. Now, it was his calculated strategy of parental alienation.
The initial judge granted me custody. Somehow he was replaced, and Judge #2 emerged, wiping clean a decade of protections, blind to the scars and expert warnings that cautioned the court about my son’s safety.
He granted Draven ample visitation. And he abused my son, while setting up claims of parental alienation. Clever Draven did everything in his power to torment his son and make it appear my son’s aversion was my fault, not his own bullying actions.
As if mocking our pleas, the title of “parental alienation” was stamped upon us, turning my son’s heart-wrenching accounts to CT Family Services on their head. The system seemed to say, “Your love for your mother? It’s manipulation.”
The emotional toll on Randy and I was enormous. Randy, though only 13, carried the weight of the world on his shoulders. His eyes were constant mirrors of worry and fear every time he had to go to his dad’s for a visit.
My heart ached at his anguish, my fears amplified by my dwindling resources. Draven could outspent me by 10 to one.
The court battle heated up. Draven filed motion after motion, accusing me of causing his bad relationship with his son.
Despite Connecticut’s laws letting older children voice their residence choice, it was as if a gag order was placed on Randy.
Then, a hammer blow: Judge #3, without having met my son, flipped custody to Draven. He ignored my expert witnesses in psychology and fact witnesses who saw the true Draven Wilester AKA Ironfists.
He ordered Randy to pack off from his happy home within an hour and go across the state to live with the man he feared, leaving behind his mother, his family, his friends and every comfort he knew.
For 85 days, I was under a no contact order. I was stunned. I felt helpless, powerless and defeated. How could this be happening?
But life, in its irony, intervened. The very judge who’d torn us apart left this world. His heart attacked back at him.
I’d like to think his spirit was transported to a realm more fitting, one where he can no longer traumatize children and hand them to their abusers.
Yet his legacy was our nightmare.
Randy’s father was angry that he would not abandon hope to live with me now that he had custody. He tormented him. He beat him. He even threatened to kill him.
When news reached me through a police report of Randy’s confrontation with his father, a baseball bat in hand, my heart shattered into fragments. This might end tragically.
I turned to the court again.
A brief shimmer of hope, Judge #4, seemed to hear us. He said a 14 year old should have some say in where he wants to live, and that he must be in a safe environment.
In the shadows, Ironfists plotted, tightening his financial stranglehold. He had gone too far. There were visible bruises. There was police and a psychologist report from the school involved.
But Draven was clever. Twisting truths, bending rules, always hiding behind his lawyer’s slick words.
Our glimmer of hope was snuffed out, as Judge #4 was replaced with Judge #5. He ignored the reports, called it normal for a father and a boy to fight, and he reasoned the cause was exactly as Draven said it — it was the long-term result of parental alienation.
He thought the mother should be locked up, not the poor victim Draven.
Smiling in cruelness, Judge #5 was aware of his duty.
So it went on for another year. My occasional legally permitted visits with my son were the time for his relating the horrors his father forced him to endure.
One summer day, when I returned Randy to his father at the police station where we always exchanged custody, my son, almost 16, stood his ground, refusing to enter his car. His father tried to have him arrested. The police refused. He tried to physically take him,
But Randy was ready to fight. My son returned home with me.
A momentary victory, but the system clawed back, threatening me.
Judge #6 commanded Randy’s return. He ruled that I would lose all visitation if I did not immediately return him to the home he did not want to live in.
Randy wanted to speak in court. But Judge #6 said his father would do the speaking for his custodial charge.
As the calendar pages turn, my son nears 17. He has another year of suffering under the CT family court system, where clever fathers hire cleverer attorneys to forum shop for the cleverest pro-parental alienation judges to mute children’s voices.
But soon, Randy will turn 18, and the chains will snap. We dream of that day, praying for the healing that will come. God willing, we will rebuild.