Tina's Story

The Custody Evaluation and the Enabling Mother

The Enabling Mother and a Broken Family Court Systemby Tina Swithin

Yesterday, I discussed the 2010 Custody Evaluation that placed my daughters in the “family home” of my ex-brother-in-law, Jason Porter, despite my concerns about him which were expressed in great detail during the evaluation. This ex brother-in-law is currently being housed in San Luis Obispo County jail on an unprecedented seven million dollar bail facing 31 charges of child molestation and child abuse. I was told that this may be the largest child sex abuse case in our county in 15-years. I am heartbroken because this was preventable.

During the 2010 custody evaluation, I was hopeful. The evaluator, Noelia de la Torre of Family Court Services in San Luis Obispo, seemed to see the issues at hand. At one point she even called Child Welfare Services on my ex-husband during the investigation when he left my (then) three-year old daughter in a car unattended for 45 minutes immediately after a hospitalization for a complex seizure. There were strict orders in place that our daughter could not be unattended – even for a moment.

At hopeful as I was about the evaluation uncovering the truth, my heart sank when the evaluator mentioned that she would be interviewing my ex-husband’s mother in person. At the time, she was teaching overseas (home for summers and holidays) but she was well aware of all of the issues because she had either witnessed them in person or was told about each issue by phone or email. She was the only one Seth would listen to so I tried for years to get her to help. Initially, my pleas were for her to get both of her sons into therapy. As my marriage came to an end, my pleas changed to begging. I didn’t feel safe and I knew my children weren’t safe. While I knew she was the most knowledgeable person when it came to the issues I was facing with her sons, she was also the most dangerous because she was so skilled at enabling their behaviors and doing damage control for her family. She was as skilled as Mel Gibson’s PR firm when it came to spit-shining her family’s public image due to years of practice with her own husband.

I sat down and wrote a letter to the evaluator expressing my concerns – this is a snippet of that letter:

Noelia, I am very confused about the relevance of interviewing my mother-in-law and I hope you can help me to understand the importance of the interview.  My concern lies in the fact that she has had very limited interaction with my daughters– limited to a couple of weeks during Christmas and summers which her time is divided between her sons in Northern California and Southern California.  I think she saw the girls for a total of four days in December of 2009 and prior to that once or twice a week in July and August of 2009.  As you know, she lives overseas and while their family appears very healthy on the outside (degrees in education, long marriage, extremely personable, etc), she is one of the most dysfunctional people that I know. 

Does she love the girls- yes. She has played a large part in our marital problems due to her inability to recognize the problems in her sons (Jason and Seth both) and is very manipulative.  This is a woman who sat in Applebees listening to her eldest son, Jason talk about raping and murdering a woman in Texas without flinching.  I accompanied her son Jason to counseling when they tried to brush the issues under the table. This is also a woman who watched as I grabbed my daughter and fled Jason‘s home as he systematically beat 8 tiny puppies (10 weeks old) one at a time until they were screaming in pain.     

As you can see by many of the emails in your possession, I have reached out to my mother-in-law for help on many occasions to no avail.  She is very much in denial about problems that exist within her family.  I am concerned because I think it would be more helpful (and relevant) to interview people who have been a part of our family (mine, Seth’s and the girls) on an ongoing basis.  People who have seen my parenting up close and personal– the girls’ Godmother who has been in our family since Piper was five months old on a monthly (weekly and daily) basis consistently.

Your email through me off a bit as I am trying to find the relevance in an interview with my mother-in-law.  She is very good at painting a rosy picture; regardless if there is truth in it.  I hope that you can help me to understand and once again, I greatly appreciate your time.   

Sincerely, Tina

My aunt then wrote the evaluator because she was equally concerned about this interview:

Seth and his family live in a fake world that has been very well constructed by educated, intelligent, sick people.  They seem to operate in a world where calm denial is the motto. If you pretend something didn’t happen, if you do not talk about it, if you hide it well enough everything is fine. Go ahead and lie, cheat, deceive, commit crimes, hurt people……it’s all OK if no one admits to it, doesn’t talk about it, and if you drive a BMW.  If you have a degree, a good job, and a nice smile, all is well in their world.  Well, from what I see, their world is a sick place ruled by Seth’s mother.  Tina has tried over and over again to get her to help Seth and help their situation–to no avail. Tina is more than capable of speaking for herself so I have not needed to take action nor has Tina asked me to speak on her behalf except on rare occasions. I have tried through emails and the one phone discussion with Seth’s mom –with Tina’s approval.  Tina has felt that she is the only person in that family that may be able to influence Seth to get help.  I feel that she has an extreme need to be perfect and to avoid conflict at all cost.  Even though I do not believe Seth will ever get help or change I had to try.

My plea to Seth’s mom was not professionally based. It came from Tina’s Auntie Bev. (I serve her in a mother-like role.  She is my girl in my heart.)  It was a plea that came from one mom to another.  I hoped if I just let my raw emotions talk for me that it may bust through her iron mask and have an effect.  It evoked some emotion from her……but obviously not the emotion I had hoped.  In fact, her response unfortunately confirmed to me that she is not willing/able to be honest with this situation.  I will never contact her again for help.  I will respond to her email at some point…. mom to mom. – Aunt Bev

The evaluator bought Seth’s mom’s well-oiled, family sales pitch and all of the sudden, all of the evidence I had presented about Jason Porter and this family was brushed aside. On the SLO Family Court website, it states that their goal is “a healthy relationship with both parents.” That goal needs to change. Parental rights once again seem to supersede children’s rights. Acting in the best interest of the child should be the goal. In high-conflict divorces such as mine, the common denominator is typically a Cluster B personality disordered individual which means that both parents are not capable of having a healthy relationship with the child. The disordered parent has a goal of winning and controlling at all costs.

I tried for so long to break through to Seth’s mom — in voicing my frustrations to Seth’s Aunt about the issues, she responded with this:

Re ..the family keeping things “hush hush..”  I think my sister (Seth’s mom) is overly discrete… about how she tries to keep major family problems quiet.  I guess,  in her heart,  she is trying to protect people’s privacy and to guard the person against any possible embarrassment.

She did a fantastic job of covering major family problems and keeping them quiet. She protected their privacy and she guarded the family from embarrassment at the expense of many children. The reality is, Seth’s mom is a mandated reporter and has been since I met the family. She had a legal obligation (and a court order) to protect my children, your children and any children in her care. She brushed everything under the rug and not only that, went above and beyond to cover and lie for her sons. While her sons may have been beyond help, she had an obligation to protect children and she failed miserable. When I first heard about the arrest, I was distraught and beside myself — and I sent her a message. Her response: to shift the blame and tell me how “heartsick” SHE was — what about these nine victims (and counting)?! Here are some snippets of her response:

NO, I DID NOT KNOW about Jason, contrary to your accusations.  I also did not know that you had received an advanced degree in behavioral psychology which apparently qualifies you to label Seth as a narcissist and Jason as ‘sick.’ I am heartsick and physically ill…not that that matters to you.

What I do know: I know that since your and Seth’s painful, ugly divorce nine years ago, you have taken every opportunity to slander, defame, and gossip about our family in a thinly disguised as ‘anonymous’ yet very public blog and among your circle of friends and community. I know that you have profited personally and financially from dragging our personal lives into your ‘fame.’  What kind of person gloats and celebrates and makes public the pain of another? What kind of person continues to do so for nine years? You are divorced. You have sole custody of the girls. What happens in my family is no longer a concern of yours.

I know that your self-righteous compulsion to drag our family name and reputation through the dirt in your thinly disguised ‘anonymous’ blog  – which anyone with half a brain can trace to us – is destructive, malicious, and deliberately hurtful with no regard for the consequences to me. I know that at one point we were close and you were extremely helpful to my son and I during his serious depression.

I know that I love and will always love Piper and Sarah.

I know that filing a restraining order against our family is an absurd publicity stunt. We HAVE HAD no contact. I have NOT initiated any further contact since you asked me not to months ago. Trust me, we are not going to reach out so what possible purpose would you have in doing so except to create more sensationalist material for your blog?

I know that my personal compassion and principles would never allow me to wish upon you, nor upon any person, the public humiliation and sadness that your ongoing attacks, “your battle” as you call it, have caused me and our family. I have never attacked you back; I have never intimated about your boat/bikini girl days, or your failed child care business and money owed.

I know that you are continuing to google, and email, and incite people against Jason and against our family.  Example from your earlier slander: “three men living alone in a home with a Thai bought bride.” How vindictive. How hateful. I know that you have leaked the connection between Jason’s arrest, and my job, and that there is a very real possibility I will lose my job because of what you have done to make this even more public.

Despite all this, and only for the sake of Piper and Sarah, I will honestly consider your text request from yesterday (for Seth to terminate his parental rights). But only if the blogging and emailing to incite against Jason stops, only if your harassment of our family ceases  – by you and anyone affiliated with you. – Seth’s mom

All of her hard work…all of these years of spit-shining the family image gone…her son’s true colors have been revealed by HIS doing. Yet somehow, I am to blame for the publicity this case has received? No compassion for his victims…only concern about her job. As much as I know about this family, you would think I would stop being shocked by their actions.

To the families who have been affected by this sick, evil monster: my heart breaks for you. My heart breaks for all of us. This tragedy was preventable. It didn’t have to happen. These issues should not have been minimized or brushed under the rug — these issues have been glaring for years and they were ignored and covered up. Everyone who has been affected is in my daily prayers. I give you my word that I will not stop until the people who have allowed this to happen are held accountable. — Tina Swithin

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One Mom’s Battle is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Our mission at One Mom’s Battle is to increase awareness of Cluster B personality disorders (Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Antisocial Personality Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder) and their impact upon shared parenting and the Family Court System which includes Judges, CPS workers, Guardian ad Litems (GAL), Parenting Coordinators (PC), therapists and attorneys. Education on Cluster B disorders will allow these professionals to truly act in the best interest of the children. Please consider a donation to help with our efforts.

History of One Mom’s Battle: In 2011, One Mom’s Battle began with one mother (Tina Swithin) navigating the choppy waters of a high-conflict divorce in the Family Court System. Since then, it has turned into a grassroots movement reaching the far corners of the Earth with over 100-chapters in five different countries. In 2014, One Mom’s Battle achieved non-profit status which will allow the group to take their mission to the next level.

Divorcing a Narcissist: Tina Swithin’s books are available online at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.