Read before burning

Minnesotan campfire. Image by The Paltry Sum

I suppose I’m sitting here with missing pieces of puzzle and presuming that everyone reading understands the Hague Convention with regards to international marriage. So this is a bit of an explanatory post.

I guess I had better introduce myself and the people I write about. I feel like I’m dragging unwilling ghosts onto a stage

Me, The Paltry Sum of my experiences.

James. My son.

Rosie. My daughter.

Mr Charming – husband. Not a drunk. Hyper violent. Abusive.

Billy – Old friend. Sober when we first reconnected, drunk at various points in our relationship. Currently drunk somewhere that I am not. He helped get us out, hide us and saved our lives.

Beastie. A 26 foot, 25 year old RV with a personality all of her own. I like to think of her as an ornery old female buffalo. Wooooah Beastie!

Homelessness is often blamed and attributed to substance abuse. I do not drink, I am absolutely teetotal. I do not do any kind of drug, ever. Not even marijuana. I am absolutely clean and totally sober.

I am deaf in one ear, I have brain damage that was confirmed by a scan after I had some seizures, I have sight issues on the right after recovering from a partially detached retina, I’ve a leg that was broken and healed poorly, pain from a shoulder and wrist that was dislocated, the wrist broken, I’ve a knee injury which was never treated and causes a lot of pain. I hurt all over all the time due to the immense amount of physical damage I took over an extended period of time. I did not escape unscathed.

Nor am I co-dependent. I simply could not leave without triggering legal proceedings under the Hague Convention on parental child abduction. This is international law for all the signatories of the Hague. A parent can not take their own children out of the jurisdiction of their habitual residence ( i.e where they have spent the last continuous block of time), without the permission of the other parent. Domestic violence is not a defense. So if I had gone with my children I would be subject to charges. I would have gone to jail. The only person to recently successfully beat Hague charges was a man. It is a law that keeps women who are being abused by their husbands, in the abuse. If you leave within the country, women are then left struggling with their visa and right to remain, they get thrown out without their children. I recommend reading the Hague Domestic violence project for more information. I was trapped not by my own choice, but by laws and circumstances. There were NO DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SHELTERS OPEN TO ME IN THE COUNTRY I WAS IN, AND IF I HAD LEFT WITHIN THE COUNTRY, I HAD NOWHERE TO LIVE, NO MONEY AND NO FUCKING WAY TO STAY SINCE MY VISA DEMANDED I STAY WITH MY DAMN HUSBAND. IF I LEFT I HAD TO LEAVE MY CHILDREN BEHIND OR ELSE BE SUBJECT TO CHARGES UNDER THE HAGUE CONVENTION. Or do what I did. Run and risk. I am not the only woman to marry internationally and fall foul of these laws that help abusive men to continue their abuse of their victims , not to protect women and children.

I was refused a divorce, and my husband blocked all attempts to divorce. I was DENIED A DIVORCE. When I tried to divorce him from another country, because it was an international issue and he refused to respond, I was also denied a divorce from that country too. I will not divorce him without being given some kind of financial settlement for the 20 plus years of marriage.

Currently living in a homeless shelter in large US city and trying to untangle things. We spent five years camping and running. This is my sixth year since I left.

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