There is an unsettling battle that is currently being fought by a small number of individuals within the suspension community; the right to have children if you take part in body suspension. I know many people might regard this as an issue that doesn’t impact their part of the world, but keep in mind this is something that is not solely occurring in the United States right now. Even for those of us who don’t have children we must consider the message that these court decisions are relaying to the world. We are being called deviants and, in the words of one judge, compared to child molesters and criminals for our participation in this beautiful act. Every time an action like this takes place, it sets up one more piece of ammunition for the next case and the next.
One woman facing this horrible treatment from the courts, who must remain anonymous to prevent further consequences, has taken the time to tell us a little about the fight she is in to get her child back after losing custody due to her involvement with body suspension.
In an email from her, she explained how this ordeal started earlier this year: “Back in ******* my ex filed a motion to modify our temporary custody orders. He claimed I was showing a lack of proper parental judgment by engaging in irresponsible behaviors and exposing the child to people that could adversely affect her development. His evidence consisted of photographs of me suspending. When we went to court in ******** the Judge looked only once at the pictures and with no regard for my views or opinions and immediately said this is very wrong and must be stopped immediately and the children should not be in this home. I had to endure many derogatory comments during this hearing. Such as crazy people and child molesters get involved in such activities. She said I was in a “dark place” and because I was in this “dark place” I have no right to raise a child. The judge said this would only lead to worse things and also made derogatory indications to my family, friends and co-workers because they have allowed my participation in these activities.
My lawyer at the time did not defend me; he actually agreed with the judge and quelled me from presenting any reproach to the judge’s accusations. He also said he would be calling CPS as I also have another child not involved in the custody dispute and he didn’t want to get into trouble if he didn’t. The judge gave my ex temporary custody, and ruled me to have supervised visits. Even though my daughter had no knowledge of my suspension training as I judged her to still to be too young to understand everything.”
She hasn’t taken the treatment lightly Since the abusive treatment she endured in court, she has contacted the Texas State Board, ACLU, and the Better Business Bureau; unfortunately, none of these organizations have chosen to even respond to her. She has also found a new attorney to represent her in court, and although he believes in what she is fighting for, her choices were limited financially on the quality of legal representation she could afford. She has said that, although passionate, he backs down to intimidation in the court room. With this type of case, the last thing she needs is an attorney that can’t hold his ground and stand up for her; good intentions go nowhere in the legal system.
Since the court’s decision was made in the early part of this year, she has only had supervised visits which cost $110 per week for the 2 hours she is allowed to visit with her child. Along with this she is given 3 times a week to speak on the phone. Any parent, or even those who aren’t, knows that is a heartbreakingly limited amount of time to see and speak to your child. As a small ray of light in this whole ordeal, her other child has remained in her care, and with any luck the threat of CPS intervention will not become a reality.
In preparation for her second court appearance, she had to remove herself from all activity involving suspension. I am sure many of you who know how much love and caring there is in this community can appreciate the loss that would come from not being allowed to seek out comfort from the people in your life that you consider family. Along with that sacrifice, she sought treatment from a therapist who has stated in writing that she is in the right state of mind to be raising her children, and that there is no sign of any harm to herself or her children.
After the second hearing, the judge’s attitude slightly shifted, and she stated that if both parties were okay with suspension, they wouldn’t be in this position. This has hopefully provided her with some grounds to present new evidence to help her case, and again have her child back in her arms.
****Update – August 13th, 2013 – Huge Win!
Today a jury has decided to grant the mother joint custody of her daughter and is now the primary conservator. Its’ not over yet though. Now the opposing side has petitioned the judge to overrule the jury. If that doesn’t work they have said they will petition for a retrial. We will keep everyone updated.