Weaving Webs…

My September plans for this blog got blown away by Hurricane Irma, then the most wicked, rib straining bronchitis I have ever experienced. So I was even more determined to make up for it in October with Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

DVAM is important to me because I am sick of the narrative, “No breaks, no bruises, no PROBLEM.” This simply is not true, people can and are brought to their knees every day by soul sucking emotional abuse, never ending legal abuse through the family court system, and financial abuse.

Studies show that 99% of DV victims are also victims of financial abuse as a method of control in the relationship. Financial abuse continues in the aftermath of a relationship in the form of unpaid child support to financially cripple the escapee.

This is especially abhorrent to me as children are the collateral damage.

This should never be tolerated in any society.

So I wrote a short story, Webs, to raise money this month for three charities close to my heart: National Coalition Against DV, National Network to end DV and Allstate’s Purple Purse.

But I though you may enjoy hearing how Web’s came together, because few projects like this are woven quietly or alone!

Last summer I had asked one of my oldest friends, Zan Phillips, an award-winning photographer, if she had some old photo’s I could have and use for blog illustrations.

Zan’s amazing photograph of the web!

She kindly responded by emailing me some of her work. In the batch was an AMAZING photograph of a large garden spider web, dripping with dew and sparkling against a clear sky.

I was mesmerized by this picture but I didn’t have anything in cue that would go with it so I held on to the picture. I knew I had to use that picture for something special as soon as possible.

Fast forward to this summer: I am thinking of what I can do for DVAM, in between runs to the store for bottled water, batteries and other hurricane supplies. I walk outside and from my back porch to the side of the house and see an enormous wagon wheel web. I stopped in awe of the biggest garden spider I have ever seen sitting smack dab in the middle of this work of art and eased my phone out of my pocket to try to get a picture.

I was thinking of Zan’s photo and how she may enjoy another web, but this one with Ms. Spider appearing in all her grandeur. At the very moment I am trying to get the picture, the screen door bangs and my 15-year-old Diva bounces out. She spots the web and the spider and starts screaming…. I feel quite sure her voice was heard three counties away…

“MOM! DO SOMETHING! OH MY GOSH LOOK AT THAT THING!” She goes on and on… She slams the door to my jeep so hard I was sure it was going to fall off and continues her ranting about the spider.

I noticed that Ms. Spider was not fond of all this racket and had disappeared up her web and was in hiding. I wanted to join her, but instead joined the screaming teenager in my jeep and told her that garden spiders EAT the bad bugs and she is to stay away, leave this spider alone!

Baby Diva pouts all the way to the store.

We come back and I am again trying to get a picture of this magnificent web without luck. I am a TERRIBLE photographer.

So I decided to get up early the next morning and see if I could get the picture like Zan did, with dew on the web. Hopefully the spider would be on the web.

Next morning I go outside, phone in hand, and the entire web is gone! I do not know if the winds picking up had blown the web away or if the drop in pressure made Ms. Spider decide to move or if all the racket had scared her off… But web and spider were gone.

A few days go by, I get a text message from my friend, fellow author and editor, Christy Mann. It’s a picture of a spider… in her bedroom! Christy is almost as hysterical as my Baby Diva.

I go through my speech, spiders eat bad bugs, maybe you should leave it alone! NOT HAPPENING at Christy’s house! And to be honest, I do not think Christy appreciated my “save the spiders” speech one damn bit!

I do understand. Some spiders are poisonous and people rightly have arachnophobia.  My son, for instance, if he woke up to a king cobra hooded up beside his bed or a spider on his nightstand… Well the snake would be ignored as he crashed through the wall to get away from the spider. That is just how it is for some folks!

All of this is churning in my mind as I am up several nights with the most awful wracking, rib shattering coughing wondering what I am going to do for DVAM?

Maybe it was the cough medicine, or the insomnia…But Webs came out of one of those nights in between coughing spells, cough medicine and zinc lozenges.

Next thing you know I am calling Christy and asking her if she would consider donating her time as editor. And oh, by the way, the story contains a spider!

HAHAHAHA! Christy is a good sport and a great editor! I can show you the rough draft and you will see what I mean. Web’s is 110% better for her participation in its creation.

Now it’s on to the cover. It remains true, you do judge a book by the cover even an e-book short story!

Zan agreed for her image to be used for the cover and then the last critical piece fell into place.

Sharon Lipman of Fantasia Covers by Design agreed to donate her time and considerable talent to the cause and made the e-book cover for Webs.

Before…
After!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then it was on to upload to Amazon so you can enjoy!

 

All proceeds during DVAM will be split between NCADV, NNEDV and Purple Purse to raise awareness of DV in all it’s forms and provide assistance to victims.

I hope you enjoy Webs and if you ever find yourself caught in one these webs I hope you will reach out for the help that is available due to these amazing organizations.

http://www.NACADV.org          http://www.NNEDV.org  and http://www.purplepurse.com

 

https://www.patreon.com/christymannauthor

https://www.facebook.com/zan.martin

http://www.fantasiacoverdesigns.com/

Is Non-Payment of Child Support, Child Abuse?

22k in arrears in a Texas case…

This question is sure to raise eyebrows and start arguments but let’s take a minute to look at the FACTS.  With child support arrears in America at an astounding 116, 360,701.209.00 BILLION dollars nationally according the Office of Child Support Enforcement, this is something that requires a closer look.

WebMD.com summarizes it as: “child abuse means doing something that hurts a child. Neglect means not giving or doing something that a child needs.”  The article goes on to further break down abuse into categories of physical, sexual and emotional abuse. Then goes on to add that “Neglect happens when a child does not get shelter, schooling, clothing, medical care or protection that he or she needs. Child neglect is just as serious as abuse and is more common.”

Federal law as defined by CAPTA 2010, defines child abuse as: “Any recent act or FAILURE to act, on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation; or an act or FAILURE to act that which presents an imminent risk of serious harm.”

Legal Dictionary defines child abuse as: “Physical, sexual, or emotional mistreatment, or neglect of a child”

The vision of the Administration of Children and Family’s is; “Children, youth, families, individuals and communities who are resilient, safe, healthy and economically secure” The ACF oversees the Office of Child Support Enforcement so is this vision being met?

over 20k in arrears…

We have over $116 Billion dollars on the books in unpaid child support on 11,020,324 cases across our great nation. Over the past 25 years the arrears owed has increased by almost 90 Billion dollars. So something is wrong, something is not working and we need to fix it.

In a previous article, http://momsfightback.org/money-weapon-using-child-support-tool-abuse/ ,I told the story of a mother, D. whose son played on an elite soccer team. As any parent knows, extracurricular activities don’t come cheap and D. placed the costs of her boy playing soccer on credit cards for over three years while trying to collect the court ordered child support from her ex husband. He did not pay and D. was unable to keep up and her son had to give up the team he had played on for 8 years. The boy became very depressed, starting getting in trouble at school and smoking…

“neglect means NOT GIVING OR DOING SOMETHING A CHILD NEEDS.”

Does a child ‘need’ to play soccer? You can debate that all day long, but this boy who now didn’t have a dad at home still had a positive male role model in his coach. This boy had friends who were all into the same thing– a sport that requires discipline, team work, responsibility, good healthy habits to play at an elite level– all very good things, we can agree. Not to mention the possibility of higher education as scholarships are involved with sports at this level….

“Failure to act which presents imminent risk of serious harm.”

Unpaid child support was the DIRECT cause of this boy not being able to play soccer. Not being able to play soccer was the DIRECT cause of this child’s depression, acting out smoking.

In this same article I also told how in 2010 my own daughter needed surgery for an angioma on her face. She had been picked on mercilessly at school over this and the surgeon wanted to take it off on the first day of Christmas break so any bruising would be faded by the time school started back. I notified my soon to be ex husband and his attorney of the surgery and date. When I went by the outpatient center a few days prior to the surgery to fill out her paperwork I found out that he had canceled the insurance on the kids.

The next example from that article was from a mother in Utah. Her ex was made aware that one of their son’s was going to travel to California to perform at a special event with the school orchestra. He quit paying his child support and there was no way to pay for the trip.

Before you make a call on that one, think: Do you want to be the kid who could not afford to go? Do you think this boy was made fun of at school for suddenly not being able to go? Do you want it to be YOUR child who was the only child unable to participate?

Please re-read the definitions above of abuse vs neglect. What is your opinion on this? I would like to know in the comments.

183k owed in Wisconsin….

The Federal Office of Child Support is overseen by the Department of Health and Human Services and the ACF,  HHS has a very interesting article still available on their website that was published in 1989: A Partial Listing of Problems Facing American Children, Youth and Families.

This article gives those problems as:

  • Child Health
  • Adolescents in Trouble (drug use, teen pregnancy, runaways)
  • Child welfare
  • Lack of child care
  • Lack of early childhood education
  • Lack of Child Support and
  • Homelessness
  • This article goes on to cite a study done in 1986 by Bumpas that states: “Studies done show that 1 out of 2 female head families live below the poverty line and a significant factor in this impoverishment is failure to provide child support.”
  • Things have not changed that much since this study. In a 2012 study in the state of Texas the stats were 48% of single mothers and 17% of single fathers were living below the poverty line due to unpaid child support. And if you read the entire article the expenditures made on behalf of the Federal government to “attempt” to collect child support are astounding. I simply do not believe that in the United States of America we can not do a better job of enforcing court orders.

The ACES study available on CDC.gov shows the direct correlation between adverse childhood experiences and low life potential, risky health behaviors, chronic health conditions and early death…..  Childhood poverty or even financial strain is no laughing matter. A survey done by Moms Fight Back in Colorado listed in 2016 “financial strain” as top issue keeping Moms “up at night”.

9k owed in Michigan…

 

There is a church in my area that yearly does a back to school program to provide needed items for a successful start to the school year: new backpack, school supplies, new sneakers and a haircut. Every year the number of parents applying for this blessing increases, and the parents bringing kids to this event are not in pairs.

As a single mother, I can promise you that the only thing more stressful than August’s back to school, is December and holiday expenses. Paper and plastic only stretch so far…

So we have the facts– the latest Report to Congress from the Federal Office of Child Support in 2016 shows an arrearage of 116,360.701,209.00 Billion dollars on 11,020,324 cases owed unpaid child support. Millions of children doing without needs and wants, experiencing lack and often worse. This is scientifically proven to lead to deleterious outcomes in life.

What is YOUR take? Abuse? Not abuse? Neglect or not? Please comment. 

27k owed in Florida…

What are we going to do about it? Make no mistake, whether you are a struggling single parent, a parent paying support, a grandparent chipping in for “extra’s” or a TAXPAYER with no children: this is everyone’s problem.

2018 is an election year for our Congress. I urge you to find your Representative and call for appointments, bring your arrears statements along with your concerns. Ask your congress man or woman if they even READ the Report and looked at the tables showing these disgraceful figures? Let them know you are watching, expecting action, and you VOTE. I for one, am tired of empty words out of Washington. I plan to vote for the candidates who will fight for our children.

https://www.house.gov/representatives/find/

 

All arrears statements shown were previously posted online and used with permission of the custodial parent. 

https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/can/defining/

https://aspe.hhs.gov/basic-report/partial-listing-problems-facing-american-children-youth-and-families#childsupport

https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/acestudy/index.html

The True Cost of Unpaid Child Support

https://www.webmd.com/parenting/tc/child-maltreatment-topic-overview#1