The GAL’s Report

When we’d last gone to court, the Guardian ad Litem (GAL) had a report all typed up and she presented her findings to the judge – even though I was not allowed to be in this hearing.

I could tell from the tone of her report that she believed Bubba.  He openly admitted to her that he had “issues” and stated that he was in counseling for them.

When the GAL spoke of me in her report, the language she used was different from the language she used when describing Bubba.  With Bubba, she stated things as if he spoke the truth, “Bubba is,” “Bubba did,” or “Bubba is doing”.  She reported that he was in therapy and working on his issues, even though she did not even have the name of Bubba’s therapist on her witness list.  She reported that he admitted to yelling at us, losing his temper,  breaking promises, and joining an online dating website.  She reported that he had never used the dating website as though she knew with certainty that he hadn’t.

The concerns Bubba told the GAL included me not telling him about the children’s appointments in a timely manner and that I had withdrawn from my family and old friends.

When she talked about her conversations with me, she used words like, “Hope states.”   I stated that I was a victim in my marriage.  I said that I was going to counseling.  I said I was concerned about Bubba taking the children to see my family for vacation.  GAL didn’t mention that I was concerned because Nancy had told Serenity about the sexual abuse!  She just said I had been concerned about it but they had gone on the visit and it had been fine because all the adults involved reported it had been fine.

The most confusing part to me is that the GAL reported that Serenity knew too much about the situation from listening to my conversations with my friends, yet glossed over the fact that Serenity had found horrible things on Bubba’s computer herself and heard too much from Nancy.  Somehow she turned it around to be all my fault that Serenity knew too much of what was going on.

The language used was a very subtle difference but it clearly showed who she believed.  There was a definite bias present in the entire report, and in fact, through every dealing with the GAL.

Each time I would report something that Bubba had done to the children, she would say, “I’ll talk to him about it.”  I would never heard back from her again about any resolution.  She did one of two things when Bubba reported concerns about me.  She would either ask me about it, then put in her report that Bubba had a concern but not mention the fact that I had a reasonable explanation or she would not even ask me about it and put it in her report anyway – always against me and always for Bubba.

The biggest part of the GAL’s report was about how the children talked with her about Bubba.  When they were with her and I was there, they opened up and talked to her a bit about how they felt.  When they were alone with her, they would clam up and tell her things were fine.  She put in her report that this was due to the fact that they were afraid of admitting that they loved their father and wanted to spend time with him because they knew I wouldn’t approve.  When they were alone with her, they were fine with being with their dad because they didn’t have to worry about what I’d think.

The GAL actually had this completely backward.  The children spoke openly around me because I am their safe person.  I’ve worked for their entire lives to have a good relationship with each of them and they know my job is to keep them safe.  They spoke openly around her when I was there because they felt protected.  When they were alone with her, they’d already decided she couldn’t be trusted based on how she spoke of Bubba so they refused to speak to her.  Serenity and Liam were both terrified that if they talked to her, she’d report what they’d said to Bubba and that he would retaliate accordingly.

The children felt that the GAL’s agenda was to support their relationship with Bubba.  She was constantly telling them that they needed to talk to him, that he was their father and always would be, and that they needed to maintain their relationship with him.  She obviously didn’t believe that Bubba had abused us and was therefore pushing the children to have a relationship with their abuser.  Her words didn’t engender trust or confidence from the children.  They viewed her as siding with Bubba – their abuser – and she was not to be trusted or confided in.

After that report, it was even harder for me to involve the GAL with anything that Bubba did.  I knew it would be twisted around by Bubba and she’d believe him.  I determined to only contact GAL if it was something huge.  I would continue to live my life.  I didn’t need to keep banging my head against the wall trying to convince GAL that I was a good mother.  I hoped that if I just sat back and lived my life and raised my children, she would see the truth.

Once again, I was wrong.

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6 Comments

  1. Sorry, I wish she had been able to see it, but it seems there are a lot of things people looking from the outside of a situation fail to see.

    • If you aren’t educated about abuse, you will NOT be able to recognize an abuser because they are generally VERY accomplished at hiding it. They are the most charming people and know how to use it to their advantage. Meanwhile, the abused woman appears irrational, depressed, and paranoid. I wish it was mandatory that GALs and anyone who works with families in this way have training and education in the abuse dynamic and what to watch out for. Instead, they take everything at face value and re-traumatize the victims.

      • Another Friend

        That is the worst of abuse. The victims are isolated and are afraid to reach out for help because so many do not believe them. After a few times of being brushed off and even paying for the attempt to get help, they give up. It is simply not safe or worth it. It hurts too much and you are shown yet again, you are on your own. I wish that everyone who works with families had to do intense continuing ed on abuse.

      • Abuse Education is horrible. We don’t teach our sons and daughters about it then turn around and blame them when they are abused. Our society, as a whole, just doesn’t understand how the abuse dynamic works and that only serves to continue to hurt abuse victims. My own family didn’t believe, why did I think that the GAL or the judge would?

        Guardians, judges, lawyers, psych evaluators, and anyone else dealing with the family court system should have extensive abuse education. Until this is mandatory, they will be allowed to continue to re-traumatize victims.

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