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An Anonymous story
After three physical assaults on me, I went to the Domestic Violence unit at the local police. I explained that I was terrified that if I ended the relationship I'd never see my daughter again as my ex had threatened this. They told me that if I called the police in case of another attack I would be able to decide if my ex was prosecuted - they wouldn't normally prosecute if I didn't agree to testify in court. I decided to call the police next time in the hope that it would be a final warning and the violence and threats would stop.
The next incident was a frenzied episode with a hammer but luckily it wasn't used on me - just to smash up the house around me to intimidate me. She spent a night at the police station. The final warning didn't do the trick though. When there was another assault on me I was terrified that she would take our daughter and leave if I supported a prosecution so I got the police to record it as a 'misunderstanding'.
I saw a divorce lawyer but couldn't get any advice as to how to end the marriage but not lose my daughter. Over a period of time I'd become her main carer but I was worried that no one would believe this. In the end I filed for divorce and an emergency interim residence order for our daughter but before it came to court my ex moved out, took our daughter and denied me contact with her.
In court a CAFCASS officer spent 15 minutes with me and then 15 minutes with my ex. My ex played the 'mother card', turned on tears and claimed that everything I said was lies. On the basis of his utterly unprofessional assessment the CAFCASS officer decided that our daughter wasn't at risk.
I've been struggling in the family courts for two years now. In some ways I've done really well. I didn't find myself homeless like some men do and I'm getting to see my daughter quite a lot now. It's a dreadful and isolating experience though. Hardly anyone seems to realise how much it affects you and the extent of the bias there is in the family courts. Domestic violence by men is taken seriously and rightly so. Domestic violence by women is treated as unimportant, is minimised, excused and blamed on the victims.
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