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Amanda Robinette, Fargo, Published March 11 2014

Letter: Monster is legal system

The legal system in North Dakota is an abusive man’s dream and a mother’s nightmare.

Many people might ask, “Why would a woman, especially a mother, stay with an abusive man?” The reality of it is, because she has to. Some women are able to get out of abusive relationships, but odds that she gets her children out with her are not great, especially if the abuser is charming, friendly and funny, has a well-paying job, and lives in nice neighborhood. If a woman is able to get out, she may face a greater monster than that which she lived with – the legal system.

On Feb. 4, a news story regarding slavery in small towns was aired. A woman spoke of such horrid acts against her it would make any victim of lesser violence rationalize things could be worse. On Feb. 6, another story was aired where police urged everyone to get involved if they witness domestic violence.

While such stories help awareness, there are many other cases of abuse that go unreported or unnoticed because the abused may not have broken ribs or black eyes. The abused in cases of where there is less physical damage minimize what is going on and so does the legal system.

A mother who is told by an abusive man not to work so she can better care for their family will later be told by the legal system she is not stable due to lack of employment. A mother who refuses to argue with an abusive man because of physical and mental anguish it inflicts will later be told by the legal system that she is a perpetrator of violence. A mother who grudgingly stays with an abusive man to keep her children together and safe will later be told by the legal system she is demeaning and manipulative.

Children are ripped from their main source of love and nurture, often left to be abused and neglected, because abusive men and their lawyers know how to work the system with minimal effort, no evidence required. A mother who remains silent for too long because of guilt and shame of what happened behind closed doors will further be controlled by the abusive man through the legal system.

While a mother grapples for the best way to protect and care for her children, the abusive man already has the legal system on his side, and there is no one left to hear her roar.