Originally from Kailua-Kona, Mom was just a 17 year-old coffee barista in a small Imperial Beach, CA coffee shop in 1997 when she met her ex-husband. An avid surfer, he won her heart by showing up at her favorite surfing spot and at the coffee shop where she worked. Married in 1999, she ended up fleeing for her life and her infant daughter's life in 2007.
Realizing I was a victim of Domestic Violence wasn't too hard for me. Six months into our marriage, he punched me in the mouth so hard I literally had no idea what hit me. One minute, I was in the kitchen talking to him and the next, I was on the floor. I was so shocked and stunned I couldn't wrap my mind around it. The physical abuse was bad enough but the psychological abuse was worse. People always ask "Why didn't you just leave?" but I DID - 5 or 6 different times! Each time I sought help from authorities, NO ONE would help me so I'd have no choice but go back to him. One time, I spoke to his commanding officer and was told to "Go home, don't cause any more trouble and make him a nice dinner" and this is looking at him with black eyes and a split lip! I suffered a miscarriage following a particularly bad beating so when I became pregnant the second time, I knew the child I was carrying was not going to be safe from him either.
Because mom’s ex is considered to be “high lethality” (or highly dangerous) to her and her daughter, she went through something called the "New Numbers For Victims of Domestic Violence" - a program administered by the Social Security Administration that helps to conceal DV survivors from abusers who relentlessly stalk their victims. This is NOT an easy program to get into; you need VOLUMES of verified third party documented abuse to prove your victimization and risk to get in so if you're accepted, you ARE a "bona fide victim of domestic violence". A condition of this program, however, is erasing your former identity - ALL of it: mom was instructed to destroy all evidence tying her to her former identity so the only physical evidence mom has left of her abuse are the scars, memory loss resulting from head injuries she sustained by her ex during beatings and a single piece of paper that says that her social security number was changed due to extreme violence and abuse.
A year and a half later with a new name, a new life and a new marriage, mom found herself at Tripler Emergency Room with her toddler (Child 1) after she developed a high fever in reaction to 7 immunizations (4 of which were live viruses) that were given to her at the same time. The stress related to this triggered mom’s Cataplexy – a then undiagnosed lifelong pre-existing condition that in tandem with Narcolepsy http://www.sleepfoundation.org/article/ask-the-expert/narcolepsy-and-cataplexy had been misdiagnosed all mom’s life as epileptic seizures. Mom was hospitalized for “a seizure” and given medication by Tripler staff that she’s essentially allergic to despite dad’s vehement objections to the administration of this medication; dad’s behavior was inaccurately portrayed as "hostile and belligerent" towards hospital staff.
After mother and child were better, they were discharged home TOGETHER but 5 nights later, CPS took her sleeping daughter from her crib with no explanation as to why. The CPS Investigator and GAL then CONTACTED MOM’S ABUSER - the man mom had successfully escaped from with the help of the Identity & Relocation program - effectively undoing every protective measure that had been put into place to keep her and her daughter safe from him!
Then Executive Director of the Hawaii State Coalition Against DV, Carol Lee, who was involved in mom’s case from the beginning DID ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to verify mom’s status as a DV survivor - nor did she advocate for mom or do anything to stop the over-zealous efforts of the GAL and CPS from dismantling the very safety precautions that she herself had helped put into place!
Lee never took a stand for mom with CPS or the family court, although she signed an agreement with the Department of Human Services in 2004 to collaborate on DV/CPS cases to avoid such costly professional mistakes such as this one! Mom's case was no secret in the "DV community" yet NONE of the "DV professionals" on Oahu who knew the truth of mom's case came forward to acknowledge their involvement with mom or to right the many wrongs being committed in her case. Thanks to those "DV professionals" placing their own best interests over mom's, this twisted tale of domestic violence that SHOULD have ended in 2008/2009 has been allowed to blossom into what it's become now in 2013.
By the end of the 2008 case, the personal tab for mom's DHS and family court-related expenses totaled over $68,000 – a sum accumulated in a period of only a year and a half!
The total amount of money spent by DV services to keep mom and Child 1 safe, all of which were completely compromised by Tripler, CPS and the GAL (who are SUPPOSED to be the “good guys” in support of victims) plus the expense to TAXPAYERS that helped to fuel mom’s case we can’t even begin to fathom.
So that’s mom’s story in a nutshell but I thought you should get to know mom more personally: Mom is a devoted mother and wife whose life is completely dedicated to her family. She’s most concerned about raising good, intelligent, compassionate, respectful and well—mannered children. Her Catholic faith is important to her and she promotes a love for God and Christ in her kids as well. Mom enjoys sewing, crocheting, gardening, crafts, cooking (she’s an AWESOME cook!!!) being outdoors – especially by the sea – and has a real love for nature and animals.
Committed to raising her family in the healthiest way possible mom is big into nutrition and homeopathy making her own coconut-based skin care cream for her kids. I was actually impressed (and surprised) when in Germany, Child 3 developed a cough and mom gave her her own homemade cough syrup that stopped the cough instantly. Mom is generally a quiet, humble and friendly individual but when it comes to her children, she can really turn into a fierce lioness who stands her ground and will not back down when push comes to shove.
Like the other DV survivor moms I am proud to know, mom may get knocked down but keeps getting back up because the love for her children drives her. That kind of perseverance and courage is addicting to me, which is why it’s my honor to be able to work with these moms – like this mom – as I do.