For a long time, I let this story define me, but as I am pushing through boundaries for myself and my son, I will no longer let “his” actions define me. I met my ex-husband, Jared, when I was 18. Jared desperately wanted to date me and eventually I caved in, but soon after I knew something wasn’t right. He always had to be with me and I had little alone time. He was overbearing and I had just started college. After I broke it off with him, the incessant phone calls and messages came flooding in. Then an incident occurred where he grabbed me from behind on my way to class. He grabbed me and lifted me off the ground all from behind. I had no idea he was coming and he wanted to “surprise” me. I was scared and didn’t receive his attempt to surprise me very well. After he grabbed me, I went no contact with him.
My next year at school I saw him often and eventually started hanging out again and then dating. I felt guilty that I broke his heart the first time that we had dated. He had let me know many times that I hurt him immensely. He soon began showering me with love. He told me he loved me only after 6 weeks, but understood I could not tell him that I loved him so early on. He was constantly at my side. I ignored the drinking and he initially avoided me when he was on hard drugs.
Eventually, between being called fat and him telling me that his friends were more important I found the strength to leave him. I thought that I could help him and then he went suicidal. He told me if I left he may not be here tomorrow. He was depressed and needed help so I continued our relationship.
Looking back there were so many red flags, but the biggest one I repressed for 13 years until I told him I was done. I almost called off our wedding the day before, but that memory was the changing point in everything and the wake-up that I needed.
We got married after 7 years of dating and have one child together who had a lot of complex medical issues. Jared was never present and was drinking most of the time during our son’s medical challenges. Many times, I had no idea Jared was drinking until he later testified that he had been. My pregnancy was difficult and I was admitted at 24 weeks pregnant and then discharged a week later with preterm labor. I was taking around the clock medicines and placed on strict bed rest. Jared had started to work at my business with me at this point and the plan was to train him so I could have a decent maternity leave.
Jared could never accept that I did not abandon him and always accused me of leaving him with no support. I was still very involved with the business operations, our employees and I made sure he had plenty of external resources to help him. Once our son was born, he kept asking when I was coming back to work. I had a C-section and he wanted me back at 5 weeks. At this point we knew something was not right with our son and he began medical testing at 4 weeks and had a trip to the ER for dehydration from his reflux. At 7 weeks, he had his first admission and then 9 weeks his first apparent life threatening event and a second admission.
We learned that our son had a floppy airway and with his previously diagnosed reflux this exasperated his airway. He went home on an apnea monitor and special medical grade formula to help with his reflux. Jared kept insisting that I come back to work even with our son’s two recent admissions. I soon relented and our son, Jared and I shared an office together. I noticed things were off with Jared and our son, but could never place my finger on it.
Jared would constantly insist I do the face to face sales and he would sit with our son. Jared would never feed him a bottle or tend to his needs when I was meeting with someone. Jared could be a great father if front of others, but if no one was watching Jared; our son was left to fend for himself. For the next year, our son choked multiple times, required the Heimlich Maneuver and was on thickened formula and had more medical needs. He was kept in a figurative bubble due to his airway and Jared could never accept this.
If our son required the Heimlich Maneuver and I was not near, Jared would call for me. Jared would immediately hand him over to me after he performed the Heimlich Maneuver and cleared his airway. Sometimes he would hand him over in process. It didn’t matter if our son turned blue, went limp and was scared. Jared needed his time alone to process what had just happened. Jared needed “his” time.
I was on constant high alert for our child and then the first major incident happened at home. Our child’s medical IV snapped. I was upstairs doing laundry and came downstairs to find blood flowing into his diaper. He was holding the other half of his IV line and he said “Ut Oh”. He had just turned 2. Meanwhile, I look over and Jared is laying on the couch watching football with beer in hand. The IV went directly to our son’s heart so he could have bled out, had I not been there. It was his source of food and life. I will never forget hurdling over the railing on our stairs’ landing and grabbing our son. I immediately clamped his line off and started the process of what needed to happen next. I ran frantically around grabbing medical supplies. Meanwhile, Jared continued to lay on the couch.
As our son’s needs became more complex, Jared began to drink more and the abuse started again. The verbal, emotional, physical and sexual assaults. I was overwhelmed between working and owning a business, taking care of our child and him. I woke up 2 hours before my son and him to prepare all his bottles for the day and his medicines and stayed up 2 hours later to refill our son’s feeding bag. I was supposed to keep the house clean and everything that went along with the house. I woke up every four hours to give our son his formula for his feeding bag. On the rare night, Jared made his formula for the night or did the night shift for his feeding bag, it was known to the world and to me.
I felt like I was constantly walking on eggshells. If I did not make the bed before he got home there was Hell to pay. It didn’t matter if I had been at the hospital all day with our son or was at work and only left a few minutes before him or that he was the last to get out of bed. If the bed were not made before Jared got home; there was Hell to pay. Eventually, our child was recommended by his care team for medical services out of state and we left with Jared’s blessing. It was a fight to get him the medical care that he needed, but in the end, Jared agreed.
We bought the tickets and our son had another medical emergency. I woke one morning and was getting things ready for his biweekly nurse’s visit. He received sterile dressing changes twice a week for his IV line. I didn’t think much of him sleeping in because he sometimes did that. Then I woke him and he was listless. He just laid there. His eyes were opening and closing and he didn’t want to wake up. Then I noticed what Jared didn’t do. Jared didn’t reset his IV pump so he had gone about 12 hours without any of his nutrition, vitamins, minerals or fluids. His IV was his lifeline.
The nurse did a quick examination and we both felt he needed to go to the emergency room. I had reset the pump and it was now running, but he was still extremely lethargic. I rushed him there and they immediately rushed him back and started IV fluids. The hospital bolused the first bag of fluids and he still slept. They took several vitals and drew blood. They gave him potassium and another bag of fluids, but nothing. He still was sleeping. After being there for about 6 hours and no change in him they recommended he be admitted for observation.
Jared still to this day testifies that it was not an emergency and he was fine. That he made an honest mistake and nothing happened to our son, yet, his potassium levels were dangerously low, he was hypoglycemic and dehydrated. He slept for 20 hours with little activity and then finally he woke up and was close to being back to himself. We left on a plane within 48 hours to go transfer his care to a specialty hospital that his doctor’s recommended.
Jared would visit us when he felt like it, but the time apart let me know I could do this. I was constantly reminded how much I needed him and that I couldn’t do anything without him. Once we left, I felt a relief. I couldn’t explain it because our child still had medical issues and was recommended again for a surgery that had already failed him.
The phone calls from Jared became less and he became even less interested in his medical care. Everything fell on me with the guidance of his doctors and care team. Our son had countless therapies: feeding and speech therapy, physical therapy and occupational therapy, weekly nurse visits and many specialty doctors involved. I was alone, exhausted and had no breaks. My family and a good friend tried to help us as much as they could, but I was starting over with a child who had medical needs.
As time went on our son grew stronger and so did I. He was weaned off his IV nutrition and was back on his regular feeding tube that went directly into this stomach. His surgery was successful the second time around so he could now drink non-thickened drinks and eat regular food. He worked extremely hard and made huge strides. He was gaining weight and height and his doctors began to start weening him off his feeding tube.
Meanwhile, Jared was having an affair and the women was close to both our son and me. She had visited him in the hospital, wanted to come to our son’s Birthday party and facetimed our son. Eventually, they were caught and I learned that this affair wasn’t the first. We tried to reconcile and I even agreed to marriage therapy. Jared made me feel as though everything was my fault even the affair. Our marriage therapist on the first visit said that we needed to stay together because of everything we have been through. I sat their silently as he agreed with everything she said. Soon the abuse started again.
Jared attempted rape and tried to suffocate me the day after Halloween on a visit. He held my face and laid on top of me. Our son lay next to me in the toddler bed beside us. I fought him and screamed. He later passed out and I lay between him and our son afraid to sleep and afraid to leave.
I brought it up the next morning and he said something to the effect of, oh I don’t remember it and the gaslighting would begin. This wasn’t the first time this happened, but I was changing and had broken free from some of his gaslighting. The next visit the memory of my rape from college resurfaced; it was traumatic and I was reliving a horrible event in my life. Jared sternly grabbed my wrists and said we’ll get through this. He never apologized, he just grabbed my wrists as he often did and said it was in the past and we’ll get through this. Again, our son lay next to us in his bed as I screamed for him to get out and sobbed. I asked him to leave the room, but he would not. He insisted on being right next to me.
I wanted to call for help, but I was so scared and our son was attached to medical equipment. I was afraid to call and he would not leave. Looking back this is one of my biggest regrets. I never realized that I was a victim of domestic violence nor did I know what it meant. Within two weeks it was over. I told him I was done and that I could not be married to a man that has hurt me, raped me and hurt our son. I thought we could be civil and asked to talk about it after the Holidays.
We were civil in the beginning of that visit and then the light switch went off, as it had done so many times before when Jared attempted an assault on me. Jared immediately started demanding alone time with our son in writing. Jared refused the hospital training for my son’s medical needs and I was advised by medical staff prior to not let him be alone. Jared then tried to serve me out of state and I was advised by three attorneys to get out of that state as they feared Jared was trying to deny our son medical care and force us back to the state we left with his permission. He had never talked to me about filing so we had no idea what his intentions were. I left Christmas Eve night and flew through Christmas morning with our son.
Jared returned to our state and I was terrified. We lived in a hotel while Jared was there. He originally told his lawyer that he would be staying in the other state, but within 6 months he moved to the state we lived in, but 4 hours away. The “high conflict” divorce began. He wanted the business. Finances were the least of my worries, but then the sexual harassment letters, calls and conversations began with our employees. I started to realize I was not the only women that was harmed by him. I realized that I wasn’t crazy. I eventually would be threatened with an immediate shut down of my business if I did not ask him to leave. That is when he light switch really went off.
Soon after he accused me of Munchausen’s by Proxy. At one point, he even started getting highly involved with the hospital and started convincing them. It was dropped within 6 weeks of him suggesting it to the hospital. He then convinced the courts to appoint a psychiatrist that wrote a report that suggested I may or may not have this disorder and that our son did have serious medical issues. He convinced the GAL to believe his side even though he refused to participate in most of our son’s medical care. He then took it to CPS and I have since been able to get the case permanently closed, unsubstantiated and CPS went as far as denouncing the psychiatrist, apologizing to me and thanking me for taking my case through the appeals process with them.
I never met the psychiatrist nor spoke to her and her report was full of inaccuracies and even wrong medical tests. She never contacted any of our son’s doctors. These doctors were the same doctors that Jared tried to convince I was harming our son. The doctors and our son’s prior doctors from out of out of state, testified on my behalf. They wrote letters on my behalf. They were instrumental in our son overcoming his medical needs, but never once did the psychiatrist contact any provider. Later, a medical child abuse expert testified on my behalf to CPS and said that he did not know if our son would be here had he not received the care he did. That moment put everything into perspective for me.
Our son has started to refuse to want to go to Jared’s and disclosed multiple things to multiple therapists and adults. He is in primary school now and physically runs, hides and hurts anyone who tries to force him to go to Jared’s house. The GAL continues to support Jared, but she is no longer on our case. Jared has just filed again and this is the 4th time since 2014 that he is alleging Munchausen by Proxy, Medical Child Abuse or Factitious Disorder (by Proxy) and requesting sole custody. He is now also adding Parental Alienation.
During an investigation of Jared, Jared voluntarily gave up parenting time and our son started to thrive. He was attentive, doing well in school and happy. He was at peace. Then visits resumed and our son changed. He became suicidal and was placed on a suicide plan by his trauma therapist. He threatens to harm others during exchanges including pets. He calls himself stupid or says he isn’t good enough. I just want our son to be happy and to thrive. I just want peace for our son.
Jared told me when our son was three that he never wanted children, even though we had undergone fertility treatment. He also said that he had harmed us too much and that he would leave us alone.
I just want peace.
I want our son to have a childhood that he deserves and I want the abuse to stop. I never thought that after leaving him the abuse would continue. I never thought that our son would not be okay and that Jared would not parent him appropriately. I never thought that Jared would not try to be a good father to our son. I pray for our son’s safety, his strength and resilience daily. I pray that he doesn’t lose his spirit anymore and that his words mean something to someone who can help him.
I want to wake up and for this nightmare to be over.
I want to know what peace feels like.
I want our son to know what peace is.
I want to wake up and not be fearful of his next move and not have to pray for our son’s safety.
I just want peace.