There are many different types of Domestic Violence. When speaking of Domestic Violence, most people think of physical violence. While physical abuse is horrifying and damaging, it is also obvious and easy to recognize. Many other types of Domestic Violence such as financial and legal abuse is much harder to recognize. Lauren experienced both physical and legal abuse in her fight. Lauren is a strong woman who endured so much and survived different types of abuse starting in her teens. While barely learning how to make your own decision as a teen and a young adult, Lauren had to learn how to survive and stay strong. She is definitely a survivor and she continues to fight to this day. This is her story.
Most people grow up without knowing severe abuse or violence. For Lauren, it started when she was only 15. She first experienced harsh reality of abuse when she was sexually and physically assaulted & videotaped while she was intoxicated at her first drinking party at her best friend’s house. Too add insult to injury, Lauren was not only completely victimized but also ridiculed as classmates shared the video of her being beaten and tumbling to make fun of her.
Lauren is a 34 year old Domestic Violence Survivor. Unfortunately, her struggle doesn’t end in her childhood. While Lauren dreams of one day finding justice for what happened when she was 15 years old, she’s been caught up in dealing with Domestic Violence abuse and defending herself in our complicated legal system.
During her college years at the University of Connecticut, Lauren had a boyfriend, Chad who decided to break up with her after she got pregnant. She decided to keep the child despite of the fact she was alone and raised her son, Bobby. Things were going good for Lauren who got a job in New York doing trade operation and met Charlie who eventually became her husband and they had a daughter together, Erin.
In 2007 when her son Bobby was almost three years old, Chad decided that he wanted to be a part of Bobby’s life. Lauren welcomed this gesture with open arms as she thought it’d be good for Bobby. However, this soon turned ugly when Chad decided to start making accusations that she was abusing Bobby after mediator has completed an arrangement that was ready to be submitted to the court. Lauren decided pull out and stop mediation in order to protect herself and Bobby. Chad quickly disappeared again and didn’t show up again until 2011 when he started filing motions against Lauren to amend child support arrangement. As you can imagine, while raising two children and working full time, this was not an easy task for Lauren. However she did succeed in keeping full custody for Bobby with only visitation rights to Chad.
Little did Lauren know, this small victory was just the opening salvo of long legal battles and harassment to come.
Chad started acting hostile by showing up at baseball games uninvited to make a scene, sending 300 texts a day, bothering Lauren’s family and friends. And Chad continued to file frivolous lawsuits that forced Lauren to miss days of work which started to add tolls at her job. This also started to strain her relationship with her husband Charlie who is a big drinker with two DUI charges. Charlie wasn’t happy about the fact that Chad was developing a relationship with Bobby and this frustration resulted in multiple physical altercations with Lauren. Lauren decided to divorce Charlie in 2012 to end the physical abuse that was increasing.
As anyone could understand, these proceedings and life changing events were not easy for Lauren. In order to recover from all the stress, she decided to take some time off to get mental treatment and peace for three weeks. Arrangements were made for Erin to live in France with Charlie’s family and Bobby to stay with Chad for three weeks. Unfortunately, this was the last time Lauren was able to have Bobby under her full care.
It was later discovered that Chad had contacted Charlie requesting help in ‘getting Lauren since she’s the one at fault for everything’. So prior to going on her three week treatment, Chad and Lauren’s father put a piece of paper in front of Lauren giving temporary custody to Chad during Lauren’s sabbatical. But little did Lauren know, this temporary custody agreement did not contain the word ‘Temporary’. We live in a society where people are negatively branded for having a mental condition, whether it’s severe or not. And when Lauren was diagnosed with PTSD during treatment, Chad decided to use that against her and prevented her from even visiting Bobby. While Lauren was waiting for a custody hearing court date, she was cut off from Bobby besides 5 minute calls Chad allowed, watching the clock and hanging up the phone promptly. Imagine how a child would feel not being able to see his mother, who he spent his whole life with, now only being able to talk for 5 minutes at a time.
During discovery, Lauren found out that Chad submitted a recommendation from a therapist who advised Bobby to stay with Chad, away from his primary caregiver Lauren for his entire life until now. Interestingly enough, the therapist never reached out to Lauren and when Lauren reached out to the therapist, she was told that all information is confidential. Chad also decided to file a request for child support from Lauren using fake income documents and somehow managed to get a court hearing date on the same day as Lauren’s divorce court date with Charlie. Even Charlie tried to help Lauren by asking Chad to change the court date but Chad responded ‘I know she can’t come but I’m going forward’. Out of option and out of money, Lauren filed an appeal herself which was struck down by Chad’s lawyer who found a loophole. Since child support was created based on fake income, Lauren obviously could not pay it, which lead Chad to filing for contempt and Lauren ending up in jail.
It’s amazing what you can do when you’re familiar with our legal system (or have a brother-in-law who works at a law firm) and have a vendetta against someone. Chad continued his legal assaults by filing a $200 suit in small claims court for over-payment from his child support to Lauren previously. Lauren then heard from Chad’s lawyers who wanted to recover their service fee to Chad from Lauren. To make matters worse, the judge who wasn’t happy that she didn’t show up at the child support hearing (on the day of her divorce) ruled the case jurisdiction to New Jersey where Chad lives. Lauren who lives in Stamford, CT had to fight this battle with help of her grandmother who hired an attorney on her behalf for $3,500. However, Lauren lost the case and was denied of all her requests against Chad and somehow ended up with $10,000 in service fees from the attorney hired by her grandmother.
During these proceedings, Bobby said on multiple occasions that he wants to go home and be with mommy. It seems like Chad is also trying to turn Bobby against his own mom. And when this effort fails, Chad seems to get angry which results in Bobby being scared of his own dad.
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Last Christmas (2013), Lauren was allowed to have Bobby as a standing order gives her custody every other weekend and Christmas. The day after Christmas, Lauren called Chad to let him know that she’ll be bringing Bobby the next day because she discovered a broken headlight in her car. Knowing Chad’s tactics, Lauren called the city police and gave them an update on the situation and that Chad might be calling in. Sure enough, around 1am, the police came to her home in response to Chad’s report of custody interference. They did a wellness check on Bobby who was already sleeping by then and left. However, at 4am, Chad showed up with the police and an order from the New Jersey court to take a sleeping child with him.
As Lauren prepares for what might come next, she’s now a seasoned defender of the law thanks to Chad’s relentless legal battles and training. She’s been on a tough road and she knows this is far from being over. But Lauren knows that she must endure the stress and countless battles hoping that one day, the truth will finally come out and she’ll finally be reunited with Bobby. As Lauren waits for that day, she puts on a smile every time she sees Bobby to make sure he knows that mommy will always be there for him.
By request of Lauren, alias was used for everyone except for Lauren.