Justice is No Lady: Chapter 11: Jack, the One I Lost

by Tess Willoughby

When Jack was just a baby, Nate had rejected Jack’s personality, and had set out to beat and berate it out of him. When Jack reached middle school age, or perhaps a little bit before, the seeds that his father had planted suddenly sprouted. Jack began to come unraveled. “Something is wrong with me,” he said. “I’m messed up.”

Jack began to abuse his little sisters. His grades slipped. He had been my comedian, making jokes about everything all day. Now, he moped. He refused to play sports. He would not bathe.

If anyone touched Jack, even to restrain him or remove dangerous objects from his hands, Nate took Jack to magistrates to swear out warrants that Jack was being assaulted and battered. To get help for Jack, I went to the local mental health agency and enrolled us in youth case services as an at-risk family.

One day, I found Jack sitting on the old wooden porch holding a box of matches. “I’m going to burn this place down,” he said. I panicked, smacked Jack in the face, and grabbed the matches. When I was arrested, the judge took the matter under advisement and “sentenced” me to two years of counseling, upon completion of which the case would be dismissed. Nate has referred to me as a “convicted child abuser” in dozens of hearings since.

Nate took advantage of Jack’s growing instability to brainwash him, repeatedly telling him these things:

  • Jack needed strict discipline in order to learn to control himself.
  • I was weak and didn’t provide strict discipline, so if Jack misbehaved, it was my fault.
  • I was a “whore” and a “backslider” who had taken Jack away from his father.
  • Nate was Jack’s only hope for becoming a decent Christian man.

Jack repeated all this to me, and more. “You have lied to me about everything,” Jack declared. “Dad never hit me. He never hit you. He never cheated on you. You just wanted to break up the family.”

The counselors at the mental health agency believed in, documented, and testified in court about the brainwashing that was causing Jack’s steep decline. However, the judges refused to reinstitute supervised visitation because none of us had any hard proof that Nate was the culprit; not having directly heard Nate poisoning Jack’s mind. Instead, the judges expanded Nate’s visitation.

Jack ran off with Nate for a whole week after filing for a protective order against me. A few days after Jack was restored to my custody after the protective order hearing, Jack kicked Moriah into a corner for taking the television remote control. Jack went to a residential treatment facility where he was allowed one phone call a week. Jack chose to call Nate.
In order to get residential treatment for Jack, I had to file a Child in Need of Services petition with the juvenile court and turn him over to social services. Nate sued social services for custody and named me as a party to that suit, on top of the other two lawsuits he had in full swing.

The first time I visited Jack’s treatment facility, I tried to convince his treating therapist to keep Nate away from Jack. I told her about Nate’s narcissistic personality disorder. Instead of listening to me, the therapist invited Nate for joint counseling with Jack and gave Jack another weekly phone call to each parent. When Jack called me, he said “hello” followed by several seconds of silence and “goodbye.”

“Jack needs both of his parents in his life,” the therapist insisted. “Nate is totally in agreement with you coming to therapy too.” I could imagine how charming Nate had been in therapy. The father of the year.

When I sat down alone with Jack, he had only one thing to say. “You sent me away to get rid of me,” he spat. “You don’t love me.”

I told Jack I had no money, that I had a hard time traveling to see him, and that I loved him very much.

“You have all dad’s money,” he sneered. “You have stolen everything from my dad. You abused me and threw me in this place just to keep me and dad apart.”

The day Jack came out of treatment, my parents, the children, and I went to a remote island off the North Carolina coast. It was mid-September.

We built a huge sandcastle and proclaimed it Jack’s Castle, and put a seashell “J” on the front. The moat alone took us four hours to dig. We swam in the ocean and napped on the sand. Jack and Sam played hackey sack under the streetlamp outside our beach house until midnight, and they watched cartoons and funny movies with the younger kids until everyone was snorting and hooting.

But that glowing September couldn’t last. Rivalry sprung up between the boys, who were touchy teenagers, and Nate saw his opportunity.

In winter, during visitation with Nate, Moriah overheard her father telling Jack that if Sam insulted Jack, Jack needed to punch Sam in the face until he couldn’t talk. When Moriah told me this, I told everyone who would listen, including the guardian ad litem. A fistfight broke out between Sam and Jack. Sam went down, but Jack didn’t stop punching until Sam’s nose was fractured in two places and pouring blood.

Unless Moriah testified, however, it would only be hearsay that Nate put Jack up to beating up his older brother. I was not willing to put my little girl in that position. Jack got jail; I got the blame; Nate got away with it.

Jack went into his father’s custody when he got out of detention. Nate began bringing Jack to court: sometimes as a witness against me; sometimes with Jack having filed his own separate motions. One day, after Nate was sentenced to jail for nonpayment of child support, he handed Jack his cell phone on his way out of the courtroom to be taken to jail for one night (Nate’s wife always puts up a big bond so that he can appeal). I was on my way home from court when I got the call. My heart swelled at the sound of my son’s voice, whom I had not heard from in over a year. “Yes, Jack?” I said, breathlessly.

“Fuck you,” Jack screamed. I hate you. I hate you. Don’t ever contact me again.”

I haven’t contacted Jack. It has been two years of silence between us now.

Prologue | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10

Read all posts from Tess Willoughby

Comments open below

NLQ Recommended Reading …

Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment‘ by Janet Heimlich

Quivering Daughters‘ by Hillary McFarland

Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement‘ by Kathryn Joyce

About Suzanne Calulu
  • http://lotuslandfineart.com/velvetrope W. Lotus

    It is incredibly painful and sad when a person turns one’s own family against them. I am so sorry you are going through that!

  • Heidi

    I am so sorry Tess. This breaks my heart. My older boys wanted to live with their dad when they became teens (I have a similar background, but my ex was not aggressive like yours). I was incredibly sad, but let them make the choice. It meant watching my beautiful boys become the mirror images of their father. But they are in their 20s now, and on their own and in college, and we’re rebuilding our relationships. It’s tough going, but it is what is. I missed my boys when they were gone. And now that they are growing up they are starting to realize that their woman-hating father may have not been the man they thought he was. I do hope that Jack can grow up and see that someday too.

  • Phatchick

    Oh, Hon, I am so sorry to hear this. I can’t imagine what your family is going through because of this monster. I can only hope that Jack one day realizes what’s happening and is willing to get in touch with you again.

  • africaturtle

    oh Tess, i knew from the start of this installment that my heart would be aching …my boys are still little… i can only immagine the excrutiating pain of what you have gone through. I wish so bad i could hug you and know somehow, for your sake, that it will all work out. I do know one thing that i firmly believe is that the Truth always speaks for itself. I hope with all my heart there will be restoration of your relationship with your son.

  • http://atheismforpeace.blogspot.ca/ FormerChristianAtheist

    Somewhat similar to your situation, when I was a child my father took me away from my mother and taught me not to have anything to do with her. There was a long period of time while I was a teenager that I had nothing to do with my mother and I believed the things my father told me. As a young adult I had a hard time relating to and trusting my mother again. But, very gradually over years I realized that my mother had always been there for me, loving me and patiently waiting to relate to me. As I matured I realized that not everything my father told me was true, and in fact it was him who was abusive of me, not my mother.

    The reason I’m saying this is, the one thing that helped me get back to relating to my mother was the realization that she never gave up on relating to me or loving me and she never engaged in the negativity that my father did. So, it might be hard at the time, but keep loving your son unconditionally, always be there for him. One day he may recognize it and see you for who you are.

  • JetGirl

    Oh Tess. How awful.
    As someone who grew up with an abusive sibling, though, I’m glad you took action to protect your other children.
    I hope Jack realizes who his father really is someday.

  • http://krwordgazer.blogspot.com Kristen

    So incredibly sad. My heart hurts for you.

  • abba12

    No matter the situation, a family being torn apart like this is so wrong and painful. My youngest two siblings believe I, and the rest of our remaining family, are terrible, awful people set on hurting them. It’s been almost 3 years since I heard my mothers voice (her choice and her insistence, she cut us off, not the other way around, and for as long as she is with the abusive prick she calls her ‘boyfriend’ I don’t think he will allow either side to try and restart contact.) and it’s been 18 months since I saw the faces and heard the voices of my little brother and sister. 4 years since I lived in a home with them.

    I’m not their parent, but it makes me ache inside. I can only pray that they search for some truth when they’re 18 and find us again. Right now we cannot even attempt contact.

    I hope your son finds his way back to you as well.

  • Saraquill

    This is appalling. I really don’t like when kids are used as weapons between parents.

    It’s apparently a tradition in my family to try and alienate children from family members. According to others, X tried to turn her children against each other, and Y tried to do the same with me. For a while, whenever I was angry with Y, she would try and insist that she did nothing wring, and that it was all the fault of other family members. All this did was get me madder at Y.

  • quietlikesnow

    This Nate is one of the worst people I have ever had the displeasure of reading about. What a horrible, horrible man. I sincerely hope that as your son gets older, he’ll realize what his father was doing. A lot of us are unable to really grasp who our parents are when we’re growing up.

  • Angeline C

    I’ve followed this series for a while now, and with every installment, I felt too flabbergasted and speechless to even describe what a despicable horrid person Nate sounds like. In my head, I’ve a running commentary of really bad swear words directed at Nate that no young lady should really ever be thinking of tbh. =/

    I’m a 20+ year old Christian woman and I believe in equal submission in marriage. I dated a guy who while in no way extreme like Nate, was controlling my spiritual life, my theology, my topics of speech – when we broke up 3 years ago I was devastated. I believed him when he said I wasn’t a authentic Christian because I didn’t pray enough, read my bible enough, talked about God 24/7, and wouldn’t give up on Harry Potter. When I got out of that relationship, my theology was completely upside down i.e. what I believed was true, he said it was false; what I believed was false teaching, he said it was true.

    3 years on, countless of reading Christian articles from more reputable preachers, and 1.5 years on anti depressants, my theology is hopefully the right side up again and I am glad I got out of that controlling relationship which I know would have made me miserable… and especially now after reading your series I am even more grateful I have been spared. Still, sometimes it concerns me if I might be susceptible to abuses like that (again) if I’m not careful because I’m “primed” for it so to speak.

    Anyway, just know that you have people who believe in you and in the authenticity of your story… I pray that someday Nate will face eternal judgement and punishment far greater than he has put you and your family through… Much hugs and love from a stanger across the pond.

  • Lisa

    My heart breaks for you, for your other kids and for Jack. I hope one day he can see Nate for the abuser he is.

  • Lisa

    I’m sure it wasn’t your precise intention when writing it, but this has got to be one of the most depressing things I’ve ever read in my life. I had a pretty lousy childhood myself (though not even remotely close to what your kids have gone through) and now, nothing infuriates me more than this kind of situation. Where you have to just stand there and watch someone f**king up a kid, possibly for life, and there is NOTHING YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT. They have free reign to traumatize and damage that child as much as they want, for whatever selfish reasons they please, because it’s THEIR kid. Much as I hate to make blanket statements about other people’s fertility choices, I truly wish that narcissists like Nate could somehow be prevented from ever reproducing. Nothing is worse than having a parent who sees you as a thing, an extension of themselves, rather than a unique human being. I don’t know what to say, Tess. I guess some stories just don’t ever have happy endings. :’-(

  • Jessica

    Tess,
    My heart hurts for you and you are in my thoughts.

  • texcee

    If I had been in your position, I don’t think I would have made it even a fraction as far as you did. I’m sure I would have killed that bastard and then turned the gun on myself very early on.

  • Tapati

    Parental Alienation is only just beginning to be understood and documented by research. The advice I’ve read is that even with no response or angry responses, keep on writing to let them know you care. Some have come back as adults (though average length of time is 20 years from onset of estrangement). Don’t give up! http://www.amazon.com/Adult-Children-Parental-Alienation-Syndrome/dp/0393705196/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1364755930&sr=1-2&keywords=parental+alienation

  • FlowerGirl

    My mother is like your ex-husband. She turned my father and brother against me. She always wanted me out of the picture. Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Its no joke. My heart goes out to you and I hope Jack is able to see the truth about his father.


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