Thank you to all the parents who have shared their stories so far!
We hope that by sharing stories, awareness will be raised and we can help prevent this happening to other families.
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All details are kept anonymous to protect families.
Emma’s Story: Towards Acceptance
If you had told me three years ago I’d be writing about acceptance, gratitude and happiness as a ‘stuck’ mum, half a world away from my family, I wouldn’t have believed you. I’m English, living in Australia with my two children. I came out here seven years ago with my partner on the understanding that it would be temporary – three to five years. In Australia, he pushed for us to stay permanently. The gulf between us grew. So did his control and the emotional abuse started – I was a terrible person for wanting to go back, a bad partner. I was lucky he wanted me because no one else would. I started to believe it and with no support network I started to feel isolated. We separated. In hindsight I ask myself why I didn’t pack up then and go home but I was in survival mode and I had a job I loved. Plus, I didn’t know that going home wouldn’t be an option in future. Then I lost my job. Alone with primary care of two small children, I was broke and struggling with no support. After four years in Aus it was time to go home. My ex said he was happy for me to go back to England first then he would send the kids. I found a house to rent, a school, but something felt wrong. A family lawyer told me about the Hague Convention and told me straight: Do not return without your children. I confronted my ex – he admitted he had no intention of sending the children to England. He said he had never intended to return to England once we moved to Australia. He thought he could convince me to stay, that this was my fault for not seeing that Australia is the better home for us. I spiralled into depression then he used my mental health to file for sole custody of the children. My lawyer told him there were no legal grounds. I learned court action to take the kids home would take four years, $250k plus and I would have no chance of winning. I was stuck. Depressed, broke, lonely, resentful and in open war with my ex and his partner, I believed ending it would be the best thing for everyone. But something stopped me. My doctor put me on anti depressants and arranged subsidised counselling sessions. It was hard work wanting to exist again. I made myself write a list each day with headings: REASONS TO LIVE. THINGS I’VE DONE TODAY TO BE PROUD OF. THINGS I CAN DO TODAY TO FEEL BETTER. Sometimes I could only write one thing: my children. I walked, swam in the ocean. I gave my body good nutrition (I had put on 20kg.) The shift was gradual – my mindset became healthier but I was still rejecting life in Australia because my longing to go home was so acute. I was wasting my beautiful life. I realised to move forward I had to accept that my life and home are now in Australia. This realisation meant a fundamental […]
Steph’s Hague Journey
In Autumn 2018 I moved back home to the UK from Australia with my two children. Things had gone badly wrong in Australia after my husband had had an affair. I had been left with nothing: no money, no job, no home. Within months, the father of the children made an application to The Hague Convention on International Child Abduction.I contacted GlobalARRK before Xmas to get some additional support because the whole process was extremely stressful, you need plenty of support.GlobalARRK offered support, information, the opportunity to speak to others in a similar situation and face to face support with Becka, a GlobalARRK volunteer, on video call. I found the volunteers very understanding not pushy or over bearing and given that you feel so utterly lost during these sorts of proceedings to just have someone to talk to or cry with was a great help. I can’t remember the name of the Judge but he was extremely good had read all the paperwork and it was clear he had read everything as he could comment on things within the proceedings from memory. Again, there is no guarantee about the Judge that is allocated I understand there are only 9 high court judges who specialise in these applications here in the UK.When you provide your statement in response to the application which I wished to defend that you must be succinct. The Judge wants to know why you wish to defend the proceedings.In my case initially I relied on three defences, consent/acquiescence by my husband, the children’s objections and refusal to return and psychological risk/grave harm.I was advised to withdraw my defence based on consent because this must be unequivocal and valid on the date that you leave the country and although the Judge found that there had been consent at some point and clearly there had been a number of discussions about my return to the UK with the children I was very wise to withdraw that defence as it would not have stood up. Essentially, I had to accept that I had done the wrong thing and that I did not have consent – which I believe definitely went in my favour.My two defences were supported by a CAFCASS Officers report which clearly indicated objections by the children that were not influenced by me at all and a psychological report on myself that determined that I was suffering severe depression and anxiety and I was also psychologically damaged by the events that had led to us leaving Australia.My report was also supported by statements from my parents who were present in Australia when the whole problem started so they were direct witnesses, a statement from my employer in Australia supporting the suffering I had undergone and medical records from counsellors and my GP in Australia and my GP here including a report from my GP here that fully supported the findings in the Psychologists report.The fact that my husband had not provided any evidence to show that he could financially support me and the children upon our return or made any offer of financial support given that the house […]
I arranged to speak with Ellie on a Friday morning, at 9 am – a FaceTime call. As soon as she answered the call, she politely apologised for being in her dressing gown still. Rosy-cheeked, with tired eyes, she was having a day off work, a lazy day at home. But with a busy toddler behind her, I knew there was nothing lazy about this day. With her little one settled and keeping busy, we started to chat. Her story began in February 2010 in Wales a typical university grad, eager to see the world, she set off for Australia. A popular destination for many twenty-somethings. This is a story that begins like many – a young, bright girl, full of life, ready to discover the world. A Bright Future Ellie left for Australia, taking up an offer from a guy she had met at Uni, “If you ever want to come over to Australia, let me know. You’ve got a place to stay and everything.” Off she went, and he picked her up at the airport. Ellie settled in, living with housemates and after a few years, she met Charlie. “When I met Charlie, it was kind of this whirlwind and he was just … it was exciting. He was really nice, charming and funny, wanting to spend all his time with me. Suddenly, after only a few months, I found out I was pregnant. At that point, it all just went downhill. He had me move in with him, to a different area of town and it was further away from people that I already knew. At this point, I realised I wanted to go home. I wanted my Mum. But he started shouting at me, shouting that they were no longer my family, I didn’t need them, that he was my family now.” Feelings of Isolation Ellie began to feel isolated, finding life hard – far from friends and family, having to take herself to the hospital when she was ill and experiencing issues from pregnancy. She needed help, but Charlie was never around. He was always working and was drinking heavily every day. It became more and more apparent that things weren’t quite right, but at the same time, she didn’t acknowledge it. “His outbursts of rage started to get worse. But I was always thinking that it was okay – that maybe it wasn’t as bad as I thought. I knew he smoked a lot of weed, I had an inkling that things weren’t right.” As she explained the story, I could hear her rationalise the details from the past, knowing she had seen the signs of an abusive man – yet feeling she didn’t do enough at the time to see them for what they were. One day, Ellie received an unexpected and unsettling email telling her that she needed to run for her life. It said, ‘He will steal from you and he will use you. He strangled the mother of his daughter. He has drug issues.’ When she asked Charlie about it, he simply denied it. He said it was just […]
Far From Canada – Kim’s story
There are occasions when only a hug from your mom will do. But when you are a Stuck Parent, getting a hug from mom when you need one most, isn’t an option. My name is Kim. I’m Canadian and have been living in the UK for 20 years now. I married an Englishman in 1999. We have 2 beautiful children. But life simply did not turn out the way I thought it would. This is my story. Hopes & Dreams of Life Abroad In February 1998 at the age of 27, full of ambition and hope, I travelled from my home in Canada to England, to live with the man I loved. It was decided that I was more adaptable, so I would be the one to relocate. I had packed all my favourite possessions into an old battered trunk, the things I couldn’t leave behind, kissed my family goodbye and set off for a new life. Tears were shed and there were lingering hugs at the airport, but my heart was filled with hopes and dreams for the future. Life was amazing. I was a lucky girl because he chose me. His family welcomed me with open arms and open hearts. Their love and laughter helped me to forget about all the nerves and uncertainty I felt around leaving home. I had a new life and a new family – and my past, in a trunk. Moving across the world, swept off my feet by a whirlwind romance. He loved me like I’d never known possible. His smile and scent made my heart flutter. This was a modern-day fairy tale. And I was the princess. He certainly made me feel like one. We married in July of 1999. The first few years of marriage were wonderful, full of love and laughter. The cracks began to show Life unfolded, as it always does. My son was born in 2002, then my daughter in 2006. Life had slowly started to change. I just hadn’t noticed. The foundations picked at, crumbling. I didn’t see it. I was too busy being the glue that held our little family together. I had found hidden little vodka bottles here and there. I gently placed them in the open, so he knew that I knew. That was how we dealt with the problem. In 2009, life started to fall apart, crashing down – rapidly. My love, my husband, was a chronic alcoholic. I just didn’t know it. Neither did he. The rapid descent into chaos started with a phone call from a hospital in London. He didn’t come home that night. He was missing. He turned up at A&E but no-one knew how he got there. The nurse continued to explain that he had left without being discharged. No one knew where he was. And I was panicking. That’s when life started to spiral out of control. I thought he’d stop drinking if he loved me. That’s how naive I was to think I could influence or even control his drinking – mostly hiding the problems from the world, especially the children. My own battle of […]