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Dave was married to Marion and they had a daughter, Helen, in 1994. Dave and Marion were freelance professionals and they lived in a cottage in pleasant surroundings. Life seemed good.
Dave and Marion had their ups and downs but overall they got on. But almost out of the blue when Dave refused to move abroad with Marion she embarked on a ferocious and ruthless assault. First she took out an application for an Occupation Order requesting the courts to expel Dave from the family home claiming he was alcoholic, violent and dangerous to the child. Now the details of this particular event could be elucidated, investigated and discussed but it is sufficient to note what the judge said. With only the statement made by Marion on the application available to her the judge said, rather severely, that were it not required that she dealt with the case because a child was involved she would throw the application out of court and charge Marion with wasting the court's time. It was self evidently a vicious and fictitious claim.
Marion later wrote to her solicitor saying that she supposed she had no choice now but to file for divorce. She did and so began a most cruel, ruthless, vindictive and extraordinarily complex divorce. It seems that there were dark secrets in Marion's childhood. Her mother was judgemental and domineering and her father became depressed and an alcoholic. From Marion's behaviour it appears there were suspicions of sexual abuse and violence in the family home. Both her parents were in the upper echelons of the social hierarchy and her mother was very rich. But the effects of a vindictive and prolonged divorce where Marion was forced to live with her mother seems to have cause some psychological issues for Marion. What ensued in the Marion versus Dave divorce was, in part, a classic case of living out one's own childhood through one's own child. The strange psychology of the events that followed are interesting in their own right but the effects were that Marion used Helen as a hostage to do as much damage to Dave as possible.
When Helen was born Marion wanted little to do with her exclaiming "I have no interest in a small child that only demands food and shits." She went on to say that her interest in the child would be when they could have intellectually stimulating conversations and travel the world as companions. Not a good start. Dave, on the other hand, was delighted to have a daughter and could even be accused of being a besotted father. It was Dave who basically looked after the child with the mother refusing to ever bath the child and even going to the lengths of expressing her milk into a bottle so that she didn't have to breast feed the baby. The irony of this was that Dave was the mother even to the point of breast feeding the child by proxy. Dave was also the one without money. Marion was wealthy and, as it transpired, with good reason. She was calculating and devious in her financial affairs and ensured that she kept all the money and power. Poor naive Dave suffered disastrously as a consequence. And the collateral damage was heaped on Helen.
First of all Marion refused to resolve any issues and continued to psychologically and emotionally assault and abuse both Dave and Helen. Frequently using Helen to control Dave. She was reported to have said to an au pair "See, you can get him to do anything if you threaten what he cares about most." Helen wanted to live with her father and was frightened of her mother. Marion evidently did not want the situation resolved and she worked hard at prolonging the situation such that Dave was trapped in the house for Helen's sake. The simple fact was that if Dave left with Helen the police would have arrested him for abduction and placed the child with the mother. Unfortunately this is one very real prejudice that exists in British culture. Marion knew this and repeatedly postponed mediation and court cases in an attempt to maintain her control of these people. She embarked on a number of complex strategies to cause as much confusion and pain as possible. She would call the police when Dave was out with Helen and say that Dave was abusing her. But when the police arrived she would claim that he had run away when she called the police. She would weep and say she didn't want to bring charges because it would distress her daughter. These events were clearly enacted to create an image of a dangerous father when it came to her residence application in the courts. She also manipulated a doctor and a psychologist to get Helen referred to a psychological unit because this is another key issue in residence cases. Marion was an extremely clever individual. On another occasion she even self harmed in order to convince the police she had been physically assaulted by Dave. As time progressed she began to allude to sexual abuse too.
Needless to say with all this trouble the Police Child Protection Unit was involved as were CAFCASS (Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service), solicitors, mediators and the Social Services. There was no doubt that both Helen and Dave were trapped in a terrifying and inescapable emotional and psychological hostage situation. There was no escape and they were both subject to constant investigation, interrogation and threats. The senior officer of the Child Protection Unit even threatened Dave with taking his "lovely daughter" into police custody for 48 hours if he didn't stop causing trouble. It was clearly an overt threat to the well being of the child in order to control what he assumed to be a troublesome father.
One and a half years of living hell ended when the courts recognised that Helen should live with the father. That was a victory for justice of sorts. But there was never any compensation for the severe damage caused. And unfortunately there are two main aspects to the legal issues in a divorce. There is the family matters and the financial matters. Where Dave and Helen were clearly genuine and the courts ruled that the child should live with the father, Dave was no match for Marion when it came to the more sophisticated matters of finance. Dave lost nearly everything and was effectively evicted from the family home with Helen. They had enough money to rent for a few years and as is typical in divorce cases the ejected man moves for an average of five times before settling down. What is not typical and should not have been allowed to have happened is that the child was cast adrift too. The private renting market is ruthless and they were forced to move several times until eventually Dave managed to get a good job in another town.
Helen's life had been seriously disrupted but she had begun to rebuild it when the decision to move wrenched her from her new friends and her new life. The new situation turned into a disaster. Dave had rented a house from an unscrupulous landlady in a not to salubrious neighbourhood. His new job situation proved to be rigid and intransigent and life was almost intolerable for the pair of them. They would probably have survived and started to rebuild yet again but they were not only burgled but on another occasion they were physically attacked by the returning burglar who transpired to be the landlady's son and lived with her next door. Needless to say the distress caused Dave to take a few days off to look after Helen and he immediately lost his job. The police in their inimitable way could do nothing about the burglary or the assault. They seemed to think it was good enough that they had locked the individual up for the night.
Given that the landlady was evidently mad and her son was dangerous there was no way that Dave felt he could continue to live in this expensive house, with no job, next door to a pair of dangerous criminals with his 14 year old daughter. It was at this point that perhaps Dave lost his senses because he took up an offer from his father to go and reside temporarily in the family home rent free. It is worth noting here that Dave was carrying a £70,000 debt. Mostly a result of the court cases which he foolishly believed would result in a settlement which would pay for the solicitors and barristers. But it didn't. The other bit of debt was simply the result of his ex-wife's deliberate attempt to financially soften him up before the divorce.
Now Helen and Dave find themselves in yet another town with no social contacts and financially desperate. Dave is getting ill at this point. Psychologists suggest that most people actually marry their fathers. This is from a psychological profile point of view. The reason being that the most powerful figure that was at the head of the family unit which survived proves to be the blueprint for survival. (One of God's less clever little inventions.) So to keep things uncomplicated it transpired that Dave's father exhibited all the worst judgemental controlling and abusive behaviour of his ex-wife. This was a double whammy because the psychological profile was also a threat to Helen's vulnerabilities. Dave describes the experience as an inescapable tar pit. Helen started at yet another school and in this part of the world they proved to be as judgemental and authoritarian as they come. Helen was finding it difficult and was eventually intimidated and bullied out of the school by the headmistress who was evidently more concerned with an impending OFSTED inspection and told Dave to take her away. The Education Authority then moved in and took a very judgemental attitude. Dave was threatened with fines and imprisonment. In practical terms he felt he had no option but to remove Helen from school officially and to home educate her simply to stop the threats and the damage. The only help that was offered was a special school in the local hospital for children who were finding it difficult to cope at school and amazingly they transpired to be even more austere and controlling to the point of stating they would act illegally by preventing Helen from phoning home if she got scared. At this point Helen gave up. She retreated to her attic bedroom and spent more and more time in bed. As the years went by she developed scoliosis and suffered several bouts of illness. One of these bouts resulted in her being admitted to the local hospital with suspected appendicitis. It was during this stay in hospital that the Children Services were called in.
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