(Narrative of History of Abuse and Trauma up to Allegations of Criminal Behavior)
My name is Felicia. I am a survivor of domestic abuse, working to end the cycle of systemic domestic abuse. My journey with domestic abuse began in 1992. My journey with systemic domestic abuse begins in 2011. To give appropriate background Information, I begin retelling my journey in the Fall of 1989.
Note: If you would like to learn more about my current work, please visit my website at www.feliciachew.com. Thank you for learning more about myself and my journey. It is #TheSameButDifferent as others who have experienced domestic abuse.
It should be noted that while this journey has been so terrifying, I still believe in restorative justice and generational sin. I believe that narcissists and sociopaths exist; however, I also believe that they are created not only through genetics, but also through learned behavior. I believe what was learned can be unlearned. I believe that systems can create criminals. I also believe that systems can help the world be less ugly. I believe that we are each a piece of the puzzle of life… without each of us, our picture is incomplete. #StopTheShame #StopTheBlame #OurChildrenAreWatching #OurChildrenAreSuffering #ListenBelieveBeKind
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In the Fall of 1989, I was off to the big new world of the University. It was the first time that I, the youngest daughter of three children, was going to be living away from my parents. It was going to be quite an adventure.
It was at the University that I met my ex-husband. I felt alone at the school. He was in a Christian band when I first met him, and I thought that was pretty cool. I had just “found God” the year before, and I considered this to be evidence that God existed. We didn’t see one another much during University years — only in passing. Fast forward past the first three University years, and my ex and I found ourselves in a summer class together, where students spent a minimum of four hours together, learning a foreign language. On the first day of the class, the instructors said: “Watch out! Last year, two students got married because you all spend so much time together!”
I remember giggling when the instructors told their story that someone might end up getting married. It turned out that my ex-husband had a crush on the woman who became the bride from the previous class.
I remember the time when my ex-husband and I were dating, and his roommate’s younger brother (approximately age 9) was hanging out with my ex and me in the kitchen. The boy was trying to play with my ex, who horse kicked the boy in the stomach. The boy slammed into the wall, and ran off in tears, looking for his older sister.
The next year, we became pregnant with our first son, and we married. During those early years, we stayed with my ex-mother in law. For a while, it was a fun little adventure. But then ex-mother in law started pulling out family photos and every time a photo of my ex husband’s ex was “discovered”, ex-mother in law praised ex-girlfriend inordinately.
So, we left. And we found our own place. I remember the time when my ex-husband and I had a disagreement. He grabbed me by the arm and shoved me. He sprained my shoulder. He pleaded with me to not go to the doctor. He said he would take care of me. I let him, because he was so sad, so afraid, and he was training to work in the medical field.
Over the course of the next couple of years, he worked in entry level positions in the medical field, but was unable to maintain employment. We continued to argue, and law enforcement would be called in, and I would say it was “just an argument”.
When our second son was a month old, I had plans to see my dance teacher and my family. My dance teacher and I were close. She had survived an abusive partner. The day that I was to leave for my short trip,my ex-husband hit our one-month old son so hard that he turned purple. Again, my ex pleaded with me to not go. He said my parents would see the injuries, and DCS would take our children. So, I did not go. And I felt incredible guilt for not going to see my dance teacher, and did not contact her for many years. I lied to my parents and made up an excuse for not going to visit.
Our children began running away from home to escape the yelling and the arguing. I remember a time when my ex smashed our son’s Gameboy, and he told our son that he should not have left his Gameboy on the floor. Years passed, and the second son “misbehaved” and my ex put him into the freezing cold shower. I remember that I had spoken with my son before the punishment, and told him to be strong. When it was time for the punishment, my ex put our son naked into the shower, told me to leave the room, and blasted the cold water. I watched from the doorway. My ex was yelling at our son, and not a sound came from him until he began to try to climb out of the tub, terror in his eyes, and he began to scream: “I’m stwong!!! I’m stwong!!!”
My ex told me that he had a vision that an angel was seated on the roof of our home. Around that same time, he met an individual online who stated that the end of the world was coming, and it was necessary to move east of the Mississippi.
So we moved… to the middle of the forest. Not quite east of the Mississippi, but to Box S Canyon, near Ramah, New Mexico. It was there that when our children were misbehaving, they were instructed to find a switch, lie down on the floor, pull their bottoms below their ankles, and their tops above their heads, and my ex would beat them with the switch. There came a time when my ex told me that he was afraid he would kill them, so I needed to take over the punishment.
We witnessed my ex kicking our pregnant goat; tying our dog to a pole and kicking, beating, and yelling at our boxer mastiff; my ex shot at our oldest son’s dog, and continued shooting at him and yelling at him when he tried to return, and we later found a trail of blood; and he locked us all with our dog and cat who had been fighting with one another in a room, while they “sorted things out”. The cat found its way on top of our dog’s head, that low guttural growl emerging from it, while its claws dig into the head of our dog, dangerously close to gouging out one of its eyes.
We were isolated from my parents and my brothers, their wives, and their children.
I remember the time my ex called my dad early in the morning, to yell at him on the phone. My dad later called me, confused as to what had happened.
I was sent into town alone, and told to lie, and say that I was alone because our son was not feeling well, when I knew that he lie bleeding and unable to walk because of the “punishment” which was “his fault.”
I learned to micromanage our sons’ behaviors so they would not upset their Father. We walked on eggshells.
Being that we had adopted the lifestyle of Doomsdayers, we all learned to shoot. My favorite was my pump action double barrel shotgun. No one was going to mess with my family. We had rifles, semi automatic weapons, and a .45 (because that was what was needed to stop a crazed assailant).
Our oldest started to run away. He would hitchhike from the middle of the forest 50 miles into town, where he would stay with my friend, who was a social worker, and her kids.
One day, one of my sons stole from one of the families in what I was then calling the “Home Church” (the Doomsday group that we ended up joining). As a teacher of middle school and elementary school students, I recognized that this was a cry for attention. I attempted to explain that to my ex; however, the decision was made that I would be charged with taking our 17 year old son to Tucson or Phoenix, teaching him how to “survive”, and then returning to the Home Church. I was told that because our youngest son was only 4 and attached to me, I was to take him as well. Our second son wanted to go too, but my ex began crying, saying that he would not be able to survive alone. So, I left my second son in his father’s care.
It was shortly before I left for Tucson, that my ex came at me in a rage. The .45 was lying next to me. I picked it up, held it steady and pointed it at my ex, and in a deadpan voice told him not to come any closer.
As punishment, he took the stick which he was coming at toward me, and smashed my guitar.
I remember the kids asking when I was packing for travel to Tucson if I was going to take my guitar. I said “no” and when they asked why I responded “it’s broken,” and when they asked what happened I said “ask Dad” and when they did, he became very sad and responded quietly that he had smashed it.
My oldest, my youngest, and I arrived in Tucson on February 1, 2011. In April 2011, my older son and I had an argument. He verbally assaulted me, smashed my cello, destroyed our kitchen, took a knife to our couch and slashed it. He returned later with a “love letter”, an apology… so much like the “love letters” and apologies that had followed the arguments and fights I had with my ex-husband.
I called law enforcement. They arrived. A victim advocate arrived. They gave me information about a program called Open Inn, a place where my son could stay for 30 days, and he and my family could receive support.
Things were going well in the treatment program. My son said it was helping him, and I let my ex-husband know about it. My ex contacted the program and spoke with our son. It was shortly thereafter that my son’s attitude toward the program did a 180-degree change. My son complained about what a waste of time the program was, and how all he was learning was how to roll a joint and steal.
I secured an Order of Protection. My ex violated it numerous times. On one occasion, he drove one of my sons to my friend’s apartment. My son and my friend got into a physical altercation, and my son was charged with assault, and my ex was charged with violating the Order.
I learned about Emerge!, and started attending and receiving support services.
I asked the Courts for a divorce, and the process for determining custody began. I went to Legal Aid, and got some really bad legal advice. My ex secured an attorney.
My ex brought in a letter from a young man who stated that I had sex with him in front of my youngest son. I told the Judge it was a lie. She asked if I would admit it into evidence. I said meekly “as evidence that he lies”. I did not know the proper answer was “NO”. The Judge entered an Order of “No men in Mother’s bedroom.”
For the next 9 years, we experienced continued traumatic events. We had been Ordered to have supervised exchanges. On one occasion, the Supervisor was late. Although my ex husband sat in a vehicle two parking spaces away, he refused to allow our son to come to me. He drove away, with our son screaming and crying in the backseat.
On other occasions, my ex forcibly removed our son from school events when my ex discovered I was in attendance at the event. At this time there was no longer an Order of Protection in effect, as I did not renew it since my ex was using it as a shield against returning our son to me for custody time.
Another Court Order existed that our son was to call me every night. In Court, my ex-husband opposed that Order. The Judge said that he could have the same Order. He said he didn’t want it. So the Judge Ordered that I could receive nightly phone calls and our son would call his dad a couple times a week There were many occasions, my ex-husband did not have our son phone me, and because I feared for our son’s safety, I called for a Check Welfare. My ex would tell officers that he forgot, or they couldn’t find the phone, or the battery was dead in the phone.
My son told me that he was forced to call me from the bathroom or the closet, and that his dad, step-mom, and step-sister would become agitated when they heard him speaking to me.
I remember the time when my son called me crying and afraid, telling me he had been left alone with his step sister because his dad and step mom had left the house in their car to buy flowers for his step-mother’s relatives who had just died in a car accident.
Our son started to “act out”, and tried to hurt himself. He tried to jump out of moving vehicles, run into traffic, and threatened to cut himself and jump off of buildings to kill himself. I filed many Rule 48’s (emergency requests regarding custody), which were granted, where our son stayed with me instead of his dad, until the next custody hearing.
We attended Court hearing after Court hearing. I was represented by an attorney who became frustrated with the system when the Judge who Ordered a Custody Evaluation and had to recuse himself/herself. My attorney later admitted that they should not have taken my case, because the Judge understood domestic abuse.
After my attorney left, I was left alone in the Courtroom with my ex, who when self-represented, was allowed to cross examine me.
When he was represented, his attorney twisted my words and evidence. The Judge yelled at me from the bench. I was not believed. I was abused by the officers of the law. They laughed at me. Opposing counsel said I was a vexatious litigant. I panicked, froze, and I was unable to present any of my evidence.
As time passed, my son revealed to me that he was being bullied in school. I worked with the Principal to resolve the bullying. Time continued to pass, and my son entered Grade 6, and a new school, where one of the administrators informed me when I expressed concern about my son’s situation that “boys will be boys”. The school did not help to resolve the bullying.
On October 30, 2018, my son ran away from my ex-husband’s home. On November 9, 2018, I filed for a change in legal decision making and parenting time. On December 17, 2018, my then 11-year-old son tried to kill himself. I notified his dad, who did not come to see our son.
It should be noted that my ex had been trying to end therapy services for our son, while I fought to keep them.
We were discharged, and a new therapist was assigned for our son. He was initially resistant in engaging with the new therapist, but eventually became comfortable enough to have individual visits with his new therapist.
On January 23, 2019, I was to appear in Family Court to address custodial interference. A second hearing was scheduled for February 1, 2019. On January 31, 2019, the day before the hearing, our two older sons wrote notarized letters stating that they did not believe the Order for parenting time should be enforced, and that their younger brother was not safe with their Father. My ex did not appear at the hearing, the Judge refused to hear the new information, and a new hearing was scheduled for April 1, 2019.
The next part of Felicia’s Journey can be found at: “Response to Allegations of Custodial Interference” https://docs.google.com/document/d/1RSxW29eWlpfxcfYcMKUEvyPAu5IBaduMxYvCr0cpm0g/edit?usp=drivesdk
This page is hosted by Felicia Chew Community Projects, working to end systemic abuse through education, advocacy, and outreach. http://www.feliciachew.com. 917 E Pastime Road, Tucson, Arizona. 520.909.3888 firstname.lastname@example.org
#StopTheShame #StopTheBlame #OurChildrenAreWatching #OurChildrenAreSuffering