Fighting for my Kids
by Latriesha Shields
I have always heard things happen for a reason… lately, I must say I’ve been struggling to find meaning in the all the events leading up to where I stand today living in a Domestic Violence Shelter, separated from my children and harassed by my extremely mentally abusive estranged husband and his entire LDS family. I’ve lived in Utah away from my immediate family in Arizona for the last 12 years, over the course of those 12 years my husband became progressively jealous and often physical when alcohol was involved. He would accuse me of many ridiculous things and often would involve the children and his family in his paranoid delusions of me cheating or lying to him. At one point going so far as to secretly paternity test all three of our children – All of which came back that he is without a doubt the father. I was hopeful that this would all get better and prayed that God would save our marriage, but over time amidst the continuous mental abuse it became obvious he had no intentions of getting help and would only continue the vicious cycle abuse. Although, it is obvious that what he does and continues to put the family through is clearly wrong, his family fully supports and stands by his every word and action which only fuels his fire of telling me that I have no one and will always need him to survive.
During the pregnancy of our last child (just 1 year ago), I experienced complications and needed to go on early FMLA. My husband said that it would be easier for me to quit my job and just stay home with the new baby and our other two older children. Throughout that time his drinking and late nights out of the home increased to the point where he stopped coming home and eventually stayed gone for weeks at a time until he just stopped coming home altogether. After reaching out to him endless times to get answers on where he was and why he’d leave his wife (a stay at home mother) and his children took the only household income and provided no understanding of when/if he was coming home? Finally I was able to get communication from him on what he was doing and why. He told me that the marriage was over and he would not be coming back home and I would have to figure it out, find a job and also an apartment. He told me the only way he would come back home would be if I terminated the pregnancy of our fourth child. When I strongly told him I would not compromise my faith and go through with the termination he told me “fine have it your way… I’m not coming back”. At this time it was two weeks prior to April 1st and he was refusing to pay the rent in order for myself and the children to continue to have a home. Feeling like I had no other option I fled to Phoenix, AZ with my children to receive help from the only family I have that was willing to shelter us.
Upset that I was able to make a decision independently; my husband filed court paperwork and demanded that I return the children Utah in an attempt to punish me. Devastated that my children were torn away from me just 11-days into my escape, I decided to return to Utah in effort to fight for the right to see my children. During the last two-weeks life in the shelter has been tough without my children’s smiling faces to see me through. The preliminary hearing stated that we both have equal rights and as such can both spend equal time with the children however, he and his family have done everything to prevent me from spending hardly any time with them. Their non—compliance with the court orders are extremely frustrating and becoming tough to navigate without proper legal counsel. This entire situation is deeply devastating, that one day I was a stay at home mom who trusted her husband and now I’m unable to go back to the residence we once lived in for 5 years and also hardly able to see my children all while carrying our fourth child. Since coming back to Utah in effort to fight for and remain near my children, I was able to obtain minimum wage employment, waking up at 5am and catching two buses from the DV shelter. So I write this with a very heavy heart, asking for anyone that can understand my desperate situation and urgent need for legal representation to please help by donating any amount and also prayers. I thank you very much for taking the time to read my story and may God Bless you!
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