Authors: Jeanne D'Olivier
Like a canary with the golden bars around her, she stood at the open door of her cage staring at freedom and absolutely powerless to move.
This book is dedicated to all the brave little soldiers out there who are waiting for Mummy...Know that Mummy is still here and is waiting for you...
Please contact the author via Jeanne D'Olivier on Facebook. Please feel free to comment and review and help mothers everywhere hold hands across the world until we bring these little soldiers home.
A is for advocacy – where else can you turn?
A is for Anguish a deep crushing burn
A is for Autonomy of Courts and corruption
A is for Agony caused by disruption
A is for abuse from a man to his child
A is for Anger consuming and wild
A is for Activist fighting the wrong
A is for Action trying to be strong
A is Adversity one must withstand
A is for Attachment to a child’s hand
A is for Alienated from those we love
A is for Asking for help from Above
A is for Always the bond that we share
A is for All time a love that’s so rare
A is for Amen from women who pray
And this is the story of Charlotte – Miss A
Introduction by author
This story is based on the true story of Charlotte, not her real name, but a woman I met through researching the problems faced by so many women throughout Britain, the United States and other “civilised” countries around the globe.
The bond between mother and child is sacred. Cutting the cord between mother and child is sacrilege and born out of evil and cruelty. So many abuse their positions of power in this world.
Judges play God in the family court but nothing could be more cruel than to separate mother and child because it causes bereavement for both and is irreparably damaging. That this is happening to innocent women all over England is symptomatic of dis-ease in the family court judicial system.
It is a systemic problem of massive proportions that sees more and more mothers losing custody of their children to physically and sexually abusive fathers and leaves mothers in despair and living in fear of speaking out. Most are placed on injunctions by the court -but if we continue to live in fear of speaking the pain and suffering. If we allow ourselves to be oppressed then change cannot occur.
The veil of secrecy that protects the abuse of justice from scrutiny must be lifted for with every evil regime that has ever existed, good has eventually triumphed by the voices of the masses against the evil of the few.
And now to Charlotte's story - A story of courage, strength, determination and unfailing love in the face of anguish.
Charlotte is everywoman. She is fictional but real. She is the prototype to women taking back their lives. She is in every mother in this land. She is you and she is me. She is us all. Here is her story.
I met Charlotte when she had lost everything. She was a shell of her former self. Physically she had aged considerably and was thin and drawn. Her once golden locks, were now sparse scatterings of dirty blonde on her head and her eyes sank deep into a white clenched face that held the silent scream of Edward Munch’s famous painting. Charlotte was the epitome of what living hell would look like if you could draw it.
We met in a cafe in Soho. It was somehow fitting as what used to be the seat of under-life that passed through the streets and on the edge of Theatre land where life’s perversions had lain all around, was covered with the facade of all that was now trendy and glamorous - a fitting metaphor for the subversion of the most pure and good in women, distorted into a grotesque picture of motherhood.
Charlotte sat alone, her fingers wrapped around her cappuccino as if she was ice cold and trying to warm up. It was close to spring, still a chill in the air, but looking at Charlotte, I could see that the coldness went much deeper. She had a ghostly look. She was an outline of a human being that had had all the life sucked out of her. It was obvious she had been pretty, but there was blankness in her face, as if she had been frozen in time.
I am used to approaching strangers who might have a story. Isn’t that what journalists do? I had just come from interviewing an up and coming actor who had snared a leading role in a popular Webber musical – but I sensed there was a much more powerful story sitting at the table opposite. I sipped at my Espresso and wondered if I dare approach. The woman at the table in the corner had the fragility of a sparrow pecking at a crumb but ready to take flight at any sudden movement. Something told me that she needed a friend, more than I needed a story.
As I walked over to the table I noticed that on the other side of her was a small suitcase. I wondered if she had walked out on a boyfriend or was in transit somewhere.
I proffered a hand, “Hi, I’m Gemma. Fancy some company?”
The woman looked up and I could see that she was somewhere between thirty and forty but in her current condition, it was hard to tell.
“I’m just about to leave.” She said quietly, looking embarrassed. “I have to catch a train.”
Determined not to let the sparrow fly away so fast, I sat down. “Just for a moment.” I waved at the waiter to bring two more coffees and there was no resistance from the woman as she offered a weak smile.
“I guess I can get the next one.” She offered her hand. “I’m Charlotte.”
It was late afternoon by the time we left Soho. We moved to a bar near King’s Cross and talked endlessly. Dragging with us the small suitcase that I was to learn contained the reason for her pain in five large lever arch files. Charlotte was indeed in transit – from motherhood to hell.
Charlotte had just come from the Court of Appeal where she had been litigating her own case. She had lost, but as the case had been in open court for once, she was able to talk to me about it.
Initially, she was guarded, especially when I told her I was a freelance journalist. I assured her that nothing would go into print unless she herself wanted it to. I asked, however, if she would mind if I recorded what she was telling me. I have to admit, I was sceptical at first about whether it was true or whether she had lost her mind. Her story sounded like a Jodie Piccoult novel and at moments I wondered if it was and she was making this fascinating and horrific tale up. I vowed to check out the facts through my contacts but fact or fiction, I found myself compelled to hear her out and as her story unfolded, I realised more and more that this had to be the truth.
I am good at my job. I have a trained ear and a bloodhound instinct for the truth. I knew straight away that this was something different. What Charlotte was telling me in her experienced and intelligent way was remarkable but more than that, it was an education and one that I felt should be shared with the world.
I suddenly wanted more than anything to turn Charlotte’s silent scream into a strong powerful voice. I knew it would take time to persuade her to come out of the shadows, but I had time and more importantly I had one thing that Charlotte no longer had and that was my child. I am a single parent of an unruly thirteen year old boy called Samuel. He is my life, often my bane, but more than anything - my heart and it was by that incredible, invisible thread that I share with mothers of the world, a thread so thin you cannot see it, but so strong you cannot break it, that Charlotte and I joined our hearts and I opened my ears, as she opened her soul.
We shared many more coffees. We shared several Pinots and many more hours and now two years on from the day we met, Charlotte has finally allowed me to share with you, what she shared with me and is able to.
Here is her story as she told it to me that spring day in Soho and from this moment on the voice you will hear will be Charlotte’s and not mine. As she fills in the outline of her silhouette, painting in the darkest colours. I hope that in doing so, she will change those colours to bright vibrant purple and orange and that our silver thread of motherhood that joins us all to each other and our children, will reach across the world to reunite the innocent children with the innocent mothers whose lives have been broken. For nothing is stronger or braver than a mother’s love for her child.
Have you ever wished you could freeze time? Go back to a moment where life was bliss and press "hold" - How I wish I could return to the time before our lives turned on a moment - a decision, an injustice.
As we headed to the harbour, our baseball caps pulled down over our noses and our sunglasses covering the tears in our eyes, we prayed with all our might that we would not be recognised. For we were about to run from our home – the home we had known for the last five years, the place where I grew up and had returned to with my child as a refuge, a place of peace and happiness. I was a struggling single parent who had mistakenly thought that bringing my son to this unspoilt Island off the Scottish coast would be the perfect place to raise him. How wrong could I have been?
I was not unaware that the Island held some demons. After all this was the place I myself had run from in my late teens to pursue my dreams. Back then the Island had felt claustrophobic and oppressive and I wanted to venture forth into the “real” world. It had felt like a prison camp back then but time and years had lapsed and I now saw it through the rose coloured glasses that would allow me to call it home. How could I know that I was walking straight back into my childhood cell, but this time with higher security and a greater more powerful army to detain me – the Family Law Courts?
The FLC were a more powerful force than anyone might imagine, but there was one malevolent body even greater and that was the DHSS – otherwise known as Social Services – or the Red Army. A left-wing faction of society that had its own cleansing methods – a grudge against the rich, successful or anyone who went out on a limb – but there was one social group that they despised most and that was women within these categories. Couple any of the above factions of society with femininity and their need to crush would be magnified tenfold – and a woman who attempted to have a voice – must be silenced at all costs.
I was not rich, powerful or particularly successful in my chosen field. I was a struggling crime writer, a long-term ambition that I began to realise when my son was born. I had published one book so far and it had sold only a few thousand copies and then flopped. I was trying to come up with another idea but at that time I could not have imagined that my own life would become much more dramatic than any
I was no threat to anyone. I was merely a struggling single mum who had come home to be near family. Hoping some time in the future to exchange modest living for a better future for myself and my little boy who was then only a small baby.
With this in mind, having been abandoned by my boyfriend of some five years at the point of conception, I returned home to be close to my family, my childhood friends and to buy a small piece of heaven for my son and I to enjoy. This we found in a seaside cottage with whitewashed walls and a room of my own, a room with a view – a view of the ocean we were now about to cross. My little boy and I thrived on our new life, laughing into the breeze - but the world closing around me insisted upon our tears.
Now I found myself taking the biggest possible leap of faith across a relatively small stretch of water with a seven year old by my side, about to become fugitives, because I had dared to report child abuse to social services – dared to have a voice to protect my child and I had shouted louder and louder as they threatened to take my child from me and give him to his abuser – I had been impaled on the pinnacle of what was perpetrated as Justice. The reality was no freedom and slow death and when I would not co-operate by handing him over without a fight – I was told I would either be jailed or put in a mental hospital – for they were determined to silence me at all costs.
For some twelve years now I had been an actual prisoner, - although it was probably a lifetime – a prisoner of a system that allowed women to be placed not just in a second class citizen role, but right at the very bottom of the heap and yet I am not talking about a third world country with undeveloped attitudes and archaic culture, but a Westernised, supposedly civilized country considered to be a haven of idealistic values, almost zero crime and a polished Arian view from the outside that encouraged many to want to adopt it as their home.
For on this Idyllic Isle the government guaranteed freedom to be nurtured and even flourish and on the surface what better place to bring up children to be safe from all the outside influences of a multi-cultural well rounded and broadening life. One could relive Nazi Germany’s white, right wing “purifying” attitudes free from colour, the embarrassment of poverty or the acknowledgement of marginalized groups. For here one was guaranteed an ethnic group so lily white, so squeaky clean, so clinically pure that how could one do other than thrive? All you had to do was bring in your money and if that was in other less accepted forms such as drugs, fraud, embezzlement, stealing or activity of any dubious nature, it would not matter, for “we will, we will wash you.”
Who would not embrace the value systems of a promised land? This paradise offering quiet beaches, green country fields and lanes on which to roam - rock pools in which to dip a tentative toe where lurked crabs, shrimp and every kind of fauna so long as one stayed swimming with the tide and did not attempt to explore the murky depths that lay beneath, the swallowing sand that could suck you into oblivion and regurgitate you in an unrecognisable form that no one would even notice and none would ever hear.
Whose children could not fail to flourish in the promised land of Cub Scouts, cycling clubs, athletic societies, Girl Guides, crime free streets and white washed cottages overlooking silver-streaked waters with red-sailed dinghies bobbing on the bay and a shoreline studded by the occasional star setting the example of what could be achieved if you asked no questions and told many - many lies - An Enid Blyton childhood with
and nothing more contentious to deal with than Violet Elizabeth and the odd
Catcher in the Rye
Ask no questions please, for if you do you may find that behind the recreation of your favourite childhood novel, lies a viper's nest so venomous that it will infiltrate your very blood and slowly and painfully let you die from your inner soul outwards, until you are merely a shadow, a flicker of a reflection on the dark and angry waters that now hold you prisoner and on which you are thrown this way and that, beaten by the tide against a wall of hypocrisy, cruelty, a cleansing of the very worst kind – a cleansing of women and children who dared to ask the questions and found the answer was the resounding echo of a universal din of Misogyny of the worst order, the rubber stamp and iron fist of Patriarchy and a regime so harsh that if you lived through it at all you would be scarred so deeply for life that there could be no way back.
We shrank down into our seats in the back of the car, huddled together as my father openly and bravely handed the tickets to the woman in the kiosk for checking, praying that our passports would not be requested, knowing our names were false and that there was an order to imprison me and take my child if I dared to move from the refuge that had become our prison.
“Line three,” the woman handed the tickets back, barely glancing into the car, eyes no doubt bleary from the early morning start or just bored with the dull monotony of the relentless tedium of checking tickets.
The fear did not leave us as we lined up behind the other vehicles waiting to board – another half hour still to go of anxious waiting before we even mounted the vessel that would take us the forty miles to our freedom and on to a new promised land where at last there may be some hope to flourish – if indeed our souls could ever recover from the daily torture, threats and mental cruelty that the system had put us through for the last two years. The work they had begun in my teens and had been determined to finish in my forties, but this time with greater and more acute cruelty and pain than ever before as they tortured the ones I loved most before me, my innocent beautiful child and my loyal and kind father just as, after years of struggle we had at last begun to know each other.
I fingered the gift from my closest friend of two entwined hearts to represent our two small families – for she too was alone with her child and she had amazed me with her passion, her loyalty and her courage as she had quietly and without hesitation offered to help us prepare in the instant we had made the terrifying decision to leave our home, our loved ones and all that had once represented our security – and been replaced by social security – a high security prison that was surrounded by water.
“You cannot fight them. They operate behind a cloth of gold.” The lawyer had said – the one lawyer on the island that was outside the system and only because he did not work with the local Courts but accepted work from behind the scenes of criminal law. “I cannot help you because this is not crime.” But it was crime, it was crime of the worst order, it was crime against humanity, Man’s inhumanity to man – to woman, to child. And now here I was crossing the ocean with my child, turning myself into a vigilante as I breached every order, whilst innocent of anything other than loving and raising my precious son and wanting to keep him safe.
“You can only punch at the cloth, but you will not make a dent. They are all protected and will only protect each other.” He told me as I curled up inside knowing he was right. He had been my last hope of finding a “legal” way out of the intractability of a noose that grew ever tighter around my throat as my voice diminished further and further into a whisper. I had long since lost any colour in my pale outline but had carried on speaking our truth, turning this way and that, hopelessly trying to hold back the tide that rose higher each day – a cruel sea on which we were tossed endlessly, waves that threw us hard against the grey stone walls and smashed and crushed us until we were so weakened we could barely breathe any more.
My son’s cries to make it stop resounded without end – make them stop – make the Courts, Social Services, the so called officers, experts and Judge – all colluding in destroying an innocent child who had dared to break his silence to tell me his father had been abusing him and that he no longer wanted to see him. For that he was punished, accused of lying, bullied and denigrated by the system, by one so called expert after another, all who refused to listen to him. All who said that I and even my father had put words of filth in his mouth to alienate him from a man that had shown no interest in him from conception until he was six months old and then only as a pawn to keep his right to control and bully and hurt - A one or two-day-a-month visitor, a virtual stranger who had failed to win the love or respect of my little boy and had scared him on each visit with threats of punching him if he ever told the dark secrets of what his father did behind closed doors, until my son could bear no more the fear and broke his silence – turning to Mummy to make it stop. Mummy who could comfort, love and keep him safe – Mummy who made pain go away – and Mummy who could not make it stop.
And so the punching began. The punching of my son and Mummy – the punching by the system behind the cloth of gold and as we punched from the other side – the side of righteousness, love and truth, we made not a single dent.