By Rachel Watson
Injustice is a strong word, particularly when you claim to be on the receiving end of it following court proceedings. Shout the word injustice in the wrong tone, at the wrong pitch on social media, and you run the risk of being considered disgruntled, hostile or vengeful.
When your family court experience starts to cause immense pain; when it tortures you and your child emotionally, you seek answers. You must understand why your experience has been so cruel. In the 21st century, we head to the internet for explanations. When you find hundreds of other women, globally, who have experienced the same pattern of harm, shouting not only injustice but ‘collusion’, at first, you are hesitant.
You see the placards at marches.
“Stop stealing our children.” “Stop killing our kids.” “Stop child abuse.”
Article continues below image
Once again, one questions and seeks answers. You can’t entirely dismiss the possibility of collusion, yet you can’t quite believe it to be true. You become an investigative journalist to get to the core reason for your harrowing lived experience of the justice system. You often shudder at what lays beneath the murky waters on your journey of discovery.
When the dots are all joined, and you realise collusion has taken place within the family courts, you are shocked at first, and then angered. You discover that self-serving interest, immorality, and patriarchal beliefs are the reasons children are being removed from safe homes, sent into dangerous ones, being harmed, and sometimes being killed.
Governments in the UK are working hard to radically reform their justice systems to make them a fairer, kinder and safer environment for victims of domestic abuse.
Mothers of the family court crisis were tricked by those who’s ideology and beliefs were extreme, outdated, and biased. Some mothers are still faced with draconian treatment in UK courtrooms today. They are silenced with threats, engulfed in fear and are desperately worried about the fate of their child. Governments have acknowledged the harm; however, governments must consider, and take prompt action for those children stuck in unsafe contact arrangements right now; they desperately need help.
The scoundrels in the system were not prepared for the 21st century, the era of social media. No wonder they consider it to be problematic. They never expected silenced, scared mothers from around the world to break through their fear, band together, share their experiences and raise their voices.
To survivors of the family court crisis, whose human rights have often been breached, the word injustice means betrayal. Studies on institutional betrayal prove that inflicting malpractice and wrongdoing on those who depend on a system has damaging psychological effects. Survivors are brought up to treat others with kindness and fairness, and to apologise and make amends if they cause someone harm; this is our shared belief system.
The tide is changing in the world, and a new consciousness is developing across nations; a kinder nation, one that lacks blame and judgment, promotes wellbeing and deals with the problem of abuse at its core. Collusion, to profit from family’s trauma, does not fit into this new consciousness.
When a government responds appropriately to a crisis; makes amends, deals with misconduct, and prevents harm from happening to others, it does several things. It restores faith in our leaders; it helps to heal those the system harmed, and it restores confidence; confidence for the domestic abuse victims currently embroiled in the system and confidence for those victims following in the wake of the brave warriors, and their children, who survived it.
Rachel discovered the challenges a victim of domestic abuse faces in the courtroom during her own fourteen-year court case in Scotland. She has helped victims of domestic abuse following in her wake, ever since. When Rachel discovered that harmful misconduct was happening within the system, she felt a need to raise her voice and bring attention to the matter. She could not sit by and watch the system harm more children.
She heads #thecourtsaid (Scotland) campaign and hopes to help bring about robust legislation to protect victims of domestic abuse in the family justice system in the future. Rachel is the author of ‘How To Annihilate A Narcissist In The Family Court’, a survival guide, written to help victims safely navigate their family court journey in the meantime.