Beatrix E Eaton
The courtroom was a large cold space I felt lost in. I felt lost, but I was the center of everyone’s attention in the room. It was my turn to be on the stand and explain how my husband hurt me physically and emotionally. For years I wanted to tell people how Ben would drink too much and take out every bad decision he made in his life out on me. But I was isolated in the Maine woods with no phone and no transportation. The only people I ever saw was Ben and our two adorable children.
Ben and his family have joined forces and money to fight me for custody of the children after I was finally able to get away and file for divorce. They want my children and although they don’t have a lot of money, they have more than me. I’ve been home with the children breastfeeding and raising them while Ben was working, which in his eyes, justified him to carry on with whoever he chose to be with.
His family doesn’t believe a word I told them about the abuse and the cheating. If they did think Ben did anything, they thought I deserved it. Everyone in his family was there, they were all glaring at me. They hired an attorney, not to help Ben, but to take my children. I have no family left. I have no one on my side. I can not afford an attorney, I can not afford afford a place to live. Ben made sure I had nothing and he succeeded.
I was called to the stand in the courtroom, I swore to God to tell the truth and I sat about ten feet from the judge. I was alone to tell my story. I was alone and the courtroom was cold and quiet.
Ben’s attorney approached me and began to ask me questions.
“Why do you lie about Ben’s drinking?” He starts right in.
“Why would you try to damage your husband’s character by lying about him hitting you?”
“Why would you try to drug your husband”
Wiping tears from my eyes, I never lied to anyone.
“Ben has a drinking problem and no one seems to care. Ben punched me in the face one night when I asked him where he was when he came home at 4am one morning smelling like sex. I never drugged Ben, Ben has a problem with painkillers. He takes them while drinking his whiskey. I warn him what will happen because I am concerned he will hurt himself by mixing pills and alcohol. Ben doesn’t like being told something he doesn’t want to hear. When I tell him something he doesn’t want to hear, he punches me in the face.”
“More lies!” His attorney went on, “you only say these things because you don’t want Ben to have custody of his children. You will stop at nothing to ensure that Ben and his family do not have custody of his children.”
“I am not lying! Everything I have said is true. Ben is a drunk and self medicates with pain killers. He has made sure I have no relationships with anyone and I can not tell anyone what is going on. Ben tells his family what Ben wants them to know. I have no proof because I was not able to call the police after he would hurt me. Then the next morning he would be sweet and make me breakfast in bed, and really seemed sincere with his apology. I wanted so much to forgive him and for us to be happy , that I would forgive him. Then, it would go back to where it was again. His family want our children. Pam, Ben’s mother told me that the children would be better with her.”
“And would they?” Ben”s attorney asked.
“No, I don’t believe so. She raised Ben and his twin brother, Stephen. They both have anger issues, commitment issues, drug and alcohol issues, and they both have a problem with authority. Ben’s mom sweeps problems under the rug. For example, when we go to Sunday dinner at Ben’s parent’s house, and I have makeup on to cover my bruised eye that Ben caused, when I never wear makeup, Pam says I’m ‘wearing too much makeup for a mother’ and she dotes all over Ben making sure he has everything he needs while I am making sure the children are not getting into danger because their home is not baby proof. And, when a neighbor stops by, she grabs the children to show them off and takes credit for them. She likes the children around when it benefits her socially. She is all about image, It makes her look better if her sons don’t have drinking or drug problems and that if they get divorced like poor Ben is today, that it is his terrible wife’s fault and she shouldn’t raise her grandchildren.”
“So Ben is against you, Ben’s mother, Pam, is agains you, is there anyone with you?” Ben’s attorney asks.
“I have no one. I love my children, but I have no one.” I say, tears running down my face. I look over and see Ben smirking at my answer. I turn to the judge and begin to speak to him, I plead with him to listen, “I have no one, my parents passed away a few years ago in a car accident and I am an only child. I grew up with very loving parents who taught me right from wrong and I see a huge difference from how I was raised to how Ben was raised. I don’t think he cares what’s right or what wrong and I want our children growing up to be loving, responsible adults and good citizens. I’m very sad to say, If Ben and his mother and his family,” I gesture to the fifteen plus aunts aunts and cousins sitting on Ben’s side, “I feel that my children won’t have a chance, they won’t finish school because Ben didn’t finish school, they will be alcoholics and drug users because Ben is and his mother turns her cheek, His mother is an enabler. The kid will grow up and will be abusive to their spouses like Ben is. I can give them so many more tools to grow up health and happy. I love my children please don’t let Ben and his mother take them from me.”
“Thank you Ms. Carpenter. You may take your seat.” The judge directed me to my empty side of the courtroom.
“I would like to call Ben Carpenter to the stand.” Ben’s attorney announced and I watched Ben get up and get sworn in and take a seat in the seat I was just in.
“Ben, do you love your children?” Ben’s attorney asked him.
“Yes, very much. I love Isa too, I don’t understand why she turned on me the way she did.” He lied.
“What do you mean turned on you?” His attorney asked.
“Her lies. She lies to make me look bad. I would never lay a finger on her let alone punch her in the face.”
“You didn’t punch her? How did she get the bruises she says she had to cover with makeup?”
“I never punched her, she never had bruises she needed to cover up. When she said we went to my parents’ house for dinner and she had to wear makeup to cover bruises, there were no bruises, she just put make up on to look like she was covering bruises. There were no bruises, I never touched her, she is lying.” Ben answered.
That is not true! My eye was so swollen and bruised when he hit me that time. There were several other times, they were progressively getting worse!
“Why would she lie?”
“I don’t know exactly why, but I’m guessing that she wanted to get out of our marriage, she wants the kids, the house and the car, and a weekly paycheck from me. It would be easier for her to get these things if she painted a picture of me being an abusive drunk.”
“Mr. Carpenter, did you ever have an extra marital affair?”
“Never! I would never cheat on Isa!”
That’s a lie! He told me about many of the women he had been with since we have been married. He likes to see how much he hurts me.
“Why would you want to divorce Ms Carpenter?”
“I’m scared for myself and for our children. A few months ago, I was drugged. I blacked out after dinner. A bottle of pills that was prescribed to me for a back injury was empty in the kitchen. I remember having dinner with Isa and the kids. Isa and I had a glass of wine and that’s all I remember. I woke up at 10am the next morning. When I got up I noticed the empty bottle of pills in the trash. I put two and two together and If I didn’t take them, Isa must have put them in my wine.”
That is not what happened! We did not have wine! He drank almost a half gallon of Black Velvet and took his pills. I tried to stop him!
I am looking at him lie on the stand and then I look at the judge judging the he said /she said of a case. I’m crying. I know no one believes me, including the judge. I know I’m going to loose my children, my sweet Luke and Cole. They are so young at 3 and 4, they need their mother. They need their mother to protect them from a very dysfunctional family who I know will be taking control. I know I have lost.
The lies that Ben is telling on the stand are not penetrating my tears and thoughts of my children, my babies.
“Thank you Mr Carpenter, you may step down. We will take a short recess and I will return with a decision.” The Judge stated and we all stood up at the same time as he left the courtroom.
I looked over at Ben and he was smiling and his Clan was patting him on his back saying things like “We’ve got this” and “it will be over soon and we can all go home.”
I sat by myself, my eyes were puffy and my throat was dry. I felt like I was drifting somewhere overhead watching myself sit by myself waiting for this judgement. I was cold and alone. The laughing from the other side of the courtroom was echoing. I love my babies.
“All rise.” The bailiff spoke in a loud voice to be heard over the laughing.
I stood unsteady, not ready to loose my babies.
“Thank you for your patience while I went over Mr and Ms Carpenter’s testimonies. Usually I am unyielded to split a family up when they parents decide to end their marriage. But in this case, I feel that the safety of Mr Carpenter and the minor children are in question.” I feel weak, tear start to flow again and a lump forms in my throat that threatens to cut off my airway. “I feel that I must give sole custody of Cole Carpenter and Luke Carpenter to Mr Carpenter with supervised monthly visitation with Ms Carpenter.”
The cheers from his side are muffled as the lump in my throat moves into my head causing my head to spin. I am broken.
I can’t listen to the judge give everything to Ben, I can’t bare knowing my children’s lives are going to be ruined. I am broken.