Reporting My Husband to CPS Not Once – But Twice


When my husband would not quit hitting our girls, I had to find a way to stop him myself.

By Jackie Saulmon Ramirez | May 23, 2013

Parenting differences often pop up when moms and dads do not agree on different issues. Do we spank, do we not? Do we raise children with my religion or his? Ideally, parents would decide on various parenting points and calmly discuss any problems when they arise, then present a unified front to children with their decision. Many parents will disagree and one will overrule the other or they compromise.

And then you will have parents like Mr. Ramirez and me.

We began to lock horns over spanking; he was strongly for and I was stubbornly against.

From the time Chelsey was about five, we began to lock horns over spanking; he was strongly for and I was stubbornly against. An occasional pop on the behind might not be so bad but he always punished in anger and that is a huge red flag. He did not realize how heavy his hands were, compared to our small daughters. As they grew he began to use objects to hit like belts and anything he could grab. There was no reasoning with Mr. Ramirez— he truly believed that if you didn’t whip them they would be “ruined.”

My Parents Anonymous group has had many parents over the years who disagreed with their partner about discipline issues and I knew what to expect. Most of the time, the group member would work those problems out with their partner, sometimes not. Reporting to the child protective services was always an option.

Arlene said abuse was “anything that left a mark on a child or injured the child in any way.”

Arlene, our facilitator, would briefly explain what the law considers as child abuse and that every citizen here in New Jersey is required to report suspected abuse. Abuse was defined by Arlene as “anything that left a mark on a child or injured the child in any way.” That was pretty simple but it was not easy to think about and that made our futures unclear.

There were several occasions where Mr. Ramirez swatted or smacked Chelsey for not understanding a math function after he had explained it for the third time or when she had not put things away or a less than perfect grade on a test. Katie would rarely be his target because she was able at a young age to stop him from picking on her. Chelsey was not as lucky.

“Chelsey is lazy,” he’d say, “What she does is Mickey Mouse!”

“You don’t know anything!” he would tell her.

We would usually end up in an argument with the girls and me on one side and him on the other. I thought about taking Chelsey and Katie and just leaving but I knew he loved them deep down and they loved him too. I was struggling with our situation and was unsure what to do. I thought much of his problem was due to the difference in our cultures; he came from a Latin American country after being juggled between relatives for most of his life. He finally mastered English, then came here as an engineering student and once he graduated he married me and then our girls arrived.

When I tried to report Elizabeth said, “Do you have any idea the kind of trouble you could cause for your husband where he works?”

Then came the day of reckoning we waited for— he left a handprint on Chelsey. I went to my Parents Anonymous meeting the next day and told Arlene I needed to make a report to DYFS (Department of Youth and Family Services), that Mr. Ramirez left a handprint. She had her hands full getting ready for the meeting and asked the co-facilitator, Elizabeth, to assess the information and if needed, to make the report. We headed down the long hallway and I was anxious as to what would happen next.

Elizabeth was middle-aged, spoke pretty good English and smiled a lot. It turned out that she was from the same country as my husband; and in fact, her husband was friends and worked with Mr. Ramirez’s cousin. What a small world! Elizabeth sat across from me with her fingers interlaced and she paused, smiling. She took no notes and there were no forms as I expected.

“Do you have any idea the kind of trouble you could cause for your husband where he works?” she asked.

“Why? I am reporting abuse; what does this have to with his work?” I asked.

Mr. Ramirez and Elizabeth emigrated from the same town in Latin America.

Elizabeth asked me about the marks he put on Chelsey the day before and if I had looked at them that day. I had not but I assured her they must still be there. I felt as if I was in an argument and I left the abuse assessment puzzled. If marks left on our daughter were not considered abuse, then how bad did he have to hurt them before we got help?

On the drive home I felt confounded and deflated; I expected to be getting help with the abuse but the tables mysteriously turned. Unsure of what to do next I called Develyn, another member who had been at the meeting that day. I told her what Elizabeth had said in our abuse assessment and told her I was upset and not knowing to do, I asked for her thoughts on the matter. Develyn was also the group comedienne and could always cheer me up. I felt much better after talking with her but she had a serious side and I could count on her opinion.

“Elizabeth was protecting her countryman.” She said.

“Her countryman? You mean because they are from the same foreign country?” I asked.

It was as if the fog lifted; it must be true, she was protecting my husband by misleading me or putting down what I said. She was a mandated reporter and she was covering up abuse. I had been too trusting and naïve but I cared more for my girls than a mere income, the focus for Elizabeth.

I told my husband point-blank I would report him to DYFS if he laid another finger on either daughter.

When Chelsey came home from school I checked the marks he left with his hand. They had faded somewhat and there were no bruises but you could see clearly where the print was. I made mental notes for the next instance of abuse.

When my husband came home that day I was calm and I told him point-blank I would report him to DYFS if he laid another finger on either daughter. This was not a threat— it was a promise. I was tired of pleading and trying to talk sense into somebody that obviously had no heart and no conscience.

Talking with the children was easy; I explained what happened with Elizabeth and the confrontation I had with their father. They understood I was doing all I could to end the abuse. I took it a step further and told Chelsey and Katie that they did not have to wait for me— they could report to a teacher at school if they did not feel safe, were afraid or if he threatened them.

Within a short time we were put to the test. Mr. Ramirez was upset with Katie this time; he yelled and picked up her plastic recorder (a musical instrument) and hit her on the leg by the time I reached them. As soon as he saw me coming he left Katie and walked out of the room without even looking at me. Katie had the exact shape of the recorder on her leg, there was no mistake. That was the trigger for me to make the next report.

I went to Mr. Ramirez first and told him I was calling to making the report and went to the kitchen. I called Arlene to make the report because she knew my family and the information needed to make the report to DYFS. The wheels were set into motion.

Mrs. Cornblatt recommended anger management then abruptly closed the case and left us hanging.

I went back to Mr. Ramirez and told him the report was made and an intake worker would arrive within 24 hours. He did not even look at me; I could feel his anger and it gave me a chill. The next day a man came to the front door. Mr. Ramirez went to open the door and spoke his first words to me.

“You better hope everything turns out alright.” he declared under his breath.

The man came in and was very respectful, asking questions and telling us what to expect. He asked to talk privately with the girls and they giggled as girls do. They showed the man the mark on Katie’s leg and they talked a while.

A couple of days later a woman came to the house, Mrs. Cornblatt, was to be our caseworker. She talked with us at length about our problems and especially Mr. Ramirez’s anger. My husband was very charming as he talked to Mrs. Cornblatt with his major complaint about me— he claims I cannot cook to please him. (Nobody can!) Mrs. Cormblatt set up weekly anger management classes for him that would start the next week.

After his first anger management class he came home in an unexpected good mood. He told me about some of the other men there, evidently with the same anger problems as he had. He handed me the printed materials and seemed to actually enjoy being there! I was thrilled; this could be a new beginning.

The next day Mrs. Cornblatt phoned to inquire if Mr. Ramirez went to the anger management class. I told her happily that he had attended the class and actually seemed to get a lot from the meeting. I told her I was thrilled with the progress so far.

The next week I brought in the mail and put things with his name on his desk. That night he came from his room laughing. He chuckled and strutted into the kitchen.

“This is what your fancy DYFS does? They are a joke!” he said and dropped the letter on the kitchen table smirking as he left.

“This is to inform you….” I read the letter addressed to my husband; Mrs. Cornblatt was evidently so impressed by him that she closed the case without any warning or input from us— the people affected by her action. He never attended another meeting and that closed the door on any ‘new beginning.’

My last option was to call the police to remove him from the home.

At my Parents Anonymous group – with Elizabeth present – I told them that I felt punched in the stomach by what happened, I considered it an extreme failure of DYFS. I told the group that I drew a line in the sand that day and I looked Elizabeth in the eye as I explained. Even though we experienced a bad outcome this time, it was still very productive. Mr. Ramirez knows now that I do not make empty threats and I always follow through. If there ever was a next time I was not waiting around for CPS, I planned to call the police department directly. I had learned if they come out, they will remove Mr. Ramirez from the house and it would go to court from there.

Mr. Ramirez might have won a battle but he still lost the war. Katie and Chelsey understood they had my blessing to call DYFS or report at school any time they felt the need. As they turned eighteen, Mr. Ramirez thought he had leverage since they were now considered to be adults and not under the DYFS umbrella.

Once the girls turned 18 it changed from “child abuse” to “assault on a female.”

“Not so fast, Mr. Ramirez,” I said, “Now it’s not child abuse; the new term is ‘assault on a female.’”

In the years since the abuse and dealing with the effects of an impotent DYFS case we have managed to survive. We have also learned a few critical pieces of information about Mr. Ramirez. He has undiagnosed Asperger’s Syndrome and that has played a major role in how he treats us and others. He may never get a formal diagnosis because it has no medical repercussions, only social consequences.

Bringing a lawsuit against Elizabeth could have jeopardized other Parents Anonymous groups statewide and the groups were too important.

Elizabeth broke confidentiality by telling Mr. Ramirez’s family members about my attempt to report him for child abuse. As a state employee she could have faced penalties or reprimands for disclosing the information I gave her. The fact that she protected a child abuser rather than the victim is reprehensible. I chose not to go further with a lawsuit after she lied about the abuse assessment because of my relationship to her – a relative to a friend – and I did not believe she would do that to any other Parents Anonymous members. Also, bringing a lawsuit could jeopardize other Parents Anonymous groups statewide and the groups were too important. The only we thing we lost that we truly missed was family connections in New Jersey so I guess I will leave it to karma to get Elizabeth in the end.

How would you have handled an abusive spouse or partner differently? If you have other suggestion, please use the contact or reply form below to let me know.  Many other parents may be struggling with this very issue and your tip may be right for them. –Thank you.

Copyright © 2014 Jackie Saulmon Ramirez. All Rights Reserved.

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About Jackie Saulmon Ramirez

Jackie has volunteered for more than twenty years for children and family issues. Currently she writes for parents in the "Reminder" and "Parent Rap" Facebook page. If you are interested in receiving the "Reminder," send her a message.
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10 Responses to Reporting My Husband to CPS Not Once – But Twice

  1. Pingback: #Violence Reporting My Husband to CPS Not Once – But Twice #Children | johndwmacdonald

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  4. Lucia Maya says:

    Your story is captivating and troubling. It’s not clear what happened in the end however. It sounds like you simply lived with his verbal abuse and the threat of physical abuse until your daughters moved out? I hope your family is doing well! blessings, Lucia

    Like

    • Jackie Saulmon Ramirez says:

      Hi Lucia,

      I look back now at my much younger self, I was not sure at the time what to do. Growing up abused as I was, you are often confused about people and events and how to react to them. I went to Parents Anonymous to stop myself from potentially hurting my daughters because of my anger/rage issues. As the girls grew, the problem became my husband; he was from another culture who embraces hitting and whipping. My husband also had many wonderful qualities; he loved all of us, he was very morally upright, honest, a good provider, etc. Because he loved us and we loved him, I decided to stay. The goal then became ending the abuse; verbal, emotional and physical. Through the support of Parents Anonymous members I was able to get courageous enough to draw the line in the sand, so to speak. Once I knew Elizabeth had misled me and covered up his abuse, it became easier to state my intentions to him and then follow through. For him, the fact that I did what I said, it showed I would not tolerate his behavior and would not allow him to abuse our daughters. I also empowered the girls not to tolerate his behavior and to tell me or a school staff person. When the girls turned eighteen, I reminded him it was no longer merely child abuse, but became assault on a woman.

      Those events happened several years ago– hindsight is truly 20/20. I write this blog because I still volunteer with Parents Anonymous. This “blog” was a “Reminder” for the parents who attend the live online groups Wednesdays and Thursdays at http://www.PA-of-NJ.org. I send the Reminder to hundreds of parents as well as many professionals who work with parents, counsel parents or work in some capacity on family and children’s issues.

      Why do I do this Reminder and blog? I do all that I do to educate parents and to show parents who may be in a similar situation as I was, that they can stop the abuse, that there are options out there. I also try to give parents what I needed all those years ago. When you grow up abused as I was, you often accept abuse as “your lot in life.”

      I would love to send you the Reminder so you could see what it is. I have over 6,000 articles I send to parents on a myriad of parenting issues. I also add “Fun” activities and games and such for parents to enjoy with their children. If you would like to see the Reminder you can send me an e-mail: ParentRap@gmail.com

      Chelsey and Katie are now 30 and 26 respectively and are building lives in healthy relationships. I am very proud of them and I think one of the things that make them such wonderful human beings is how they grew up in our household. They are both college educated and that might not have happened if I had left their dad. In all likelihood, I would have moved back to NC and without any financial support or assistance I feel we would have fared much worse. I could envision a life with poverty and teen pregnancies as a possible outcome for Chelsey and Katie– they do not have Parents Anonymous where I would have moved to.

      As for Mr. Ramirez, we learned late last year that he has Asperger’s. Partly because he feels no empathy and grew up being abused and neglected in a South American country, I contribute much of his physical and verbal abuse to having Asperger’s. I have come to know many wonderful people who have Asperger’s who do not behave the way he did, probably because they were not abused and neglected the way he was. Mr. Ramirez still has anger/rage issues but he knows that we will face consequences should he ever step over the line. Also, I do focus more on his negative behaviors than the positive ones so I am looking into bringing out both sides for the Reminder as well as the blog. As it looks to readers now, he is a horrible ogre 24/7 and it’s not true. He can be funny beyond belief, partly because of his ESL status. One example would be the idiom he tried to use, “I don’t beat in the bushes around!”

      Thinking about my husband and the thousands of people like him I would ask you to think about this; we do not simply discard people who might be hurt or damaged. Our goals for people like this should be to rehabilitate or help them if possible. Life could be infinitely better for them if only people cared enough to help. I believe both our daughters agree that they are much better off because they had their father in their lives. Knowing he has Asperger’s has made it easier on all of us because we interact with him in a way that is acceptable for him and us. As an example, Chelsey was having an out-of-state visitor about a month ago. We began making him aware of the visit about six weeks prior in order to prepare him for the stranger coming into our home. We mentioned it several times and explained the schedule and things that would happen. Unplanned or unexpected changes would normally send him through the roof, this time everything went as planned and because he knew what to expect, he behaved well and did not embarrass anyone.

      I hope I have answered any questions for you. If you have other questions I will be happy to answer them. Thank you for taking the time to ask. I now know I need to further develop Mr. Ramirez on this blog. *smiling* You’ve got my wheels are turning…

      By the way, I do not get a salary or any kind of pay for the work I do. I volunteer my time and efforts for the benefit of parents. I want to thank you, Lucia, for your thoughtful comments and questions.

      Sincerely,

      Jackie

      Like

      • Jackie Saulmon Ramirez says:

        PS: Our daughters both live with us temporarily until their careers are established and they are able to financially afford moving.

        Like

      • Lucia Maya says:

        Thank you for taking the time to write such a thoughtful response! It does help to fill in some of the gaps that were confusing for me as a new reader. I appreciate your devotion to educating and supporting others and breaking the cycles of abuse. Many blessings!

        Like

      • Jackie Saulmon Ramirez says:

        You are very welcome! Thank you Lucia, I am grateful for your comments. They helped me see where I need to flesh-out Mr. Ramirez’s personality a little more. [?]

        *Jackie Saulmon Ramirez, MCC* E-mail: ParentRap@gmail.com Website: http://www.JackieSaulmonRamirez.com Facebook: “Parent Rap – Soup to Nuts” WordPress: “Soup to Nuts”

        “Because NICE matters.” ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” ~Maya Angelou ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ “Be careful how you speak to your children. One day it will become their inner voice.” ~ Peggy O’Mara

        On Wed, Jun 12, 2013 at 6:22 PM, Soup to Nuts

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  5. cv says:

    Why didn’t you just leave him? If my husband layed a hand on my son like that I’d divorce his sorry ass….

    Like

    • Jackie Saulmon Ramirez says:

      “Just leave” might be over-simplifying the situation, but there are many reasons why I did not leave, the main being that I know how much he loves his daughters. Rather than skip out and abandon them, he has stayed and supported them and paid for their college educations. Being in a Parents Anonymous group I have been able to see both sides; those that stay and those that end up in single-parent families. My husband has Asperger’s and now that we know what the problem is, we are better able to communicate and interact with him in a way that works for all of us. In hindsight, I think I made the best decision for us at the time. We all wish we knew of Asperger’s sooner rather than later. I do know things from a spectator’s point of view seem easy… for me the decision to leave or stay was not an easy one but one I considered very carefully, sometimes daily. There was one time I drove around with tax and account documents and clothing in the back of my car. I hear you though, and I still wish it were that easy. Thank you for taking the time to ask.

      Like

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