I want to dedicate this article to women everywhere, but most importantly, I want to dedicate it to women who have passed on to us, a message of hope and healing through their courage and dedication; women who have shown us that nothing and no one can stop one from ‘walking the walk’.
I know of five of these ‘ordinary’ women, whom I believe are extraordinary; Robin Karr, Michelle Geyer[Massey], Valerie Carlton, Velvet Martin, and Jessica Snyder.
These women have one thing in common; they all experienced tragedy and trauma-tremendous amounts of trauma-which many of us could not even begin to imagine, yet somehow, all these five women, found the strength not only to go on, but to transform these tragedies from their own lives into something positive that will help others, who are, or have been in similar situations.
Robin Karr lost her two younger children-Mathew and Laura-in a custody battle, after divorcing her abusing husband. Her ex-husband had used his family connections to manipulate the judicial system. A judge had declared her border-line retarded-despite her being a college graduate-threw her in jail because she cried in court, and issued a restraining order against her and supervised visitations.
Robin does not know her own children, she has not seen them since 2004, because the supervised visitations came to an end, when the judge threatened to put her back in jail if she sets foot in Rockwall TX.
“In an instant, my world and my children’s world was shattered.” Robin said.
“If I were not living this nightmare, I’m not sure I would believe it… a web of lies was spun and it took a lot for me to uncover it all – to connect the dots… there were days when all I could do, was get up, get dressed, and get to work. I told myself that it was okay to not be able to do more…It was always a struggle – always…Christopher gave me a reason to live though. He needed a mother.” Robin said referring to her older son from her first marriage.
To date Robin never gave up on her children; she continues to speak up about the injustice that has been done to her and her children.
“I want others who have had their children unjustly taken to know that they are not alone and that there are others who know the gut-wrenching pain they live with every day. I also want my children to know that I love them more than anything and that I did not abandon them. I want them to know that we were caught up in a justice system incapable of delivering justice. And most of all, I want them to know that I did not remain silent.” said Robin.
Valerie Carlton lost custody of her daughter-Winnifer-under similar circumstances. She says that she was unlawfully incarcerated for over 13 months, isolated in continual confinement, and committed to a psychiatric state institution for five days.
“A legal, and state media war was launched against me. My home was searched and seized, our door battered down, media cameras, incarceration, torture…I never imagined that it could actually be as Holocaustic as what did engulf us…much happened and continues because of his unrelenting false allegations against me.” she said.
Valerie also lost her son who was born while she was incarcerated, and was taken from her and placed in foster care where he suffocated face down between a mattress and a wall.
To date she was not able to visit her son’s grave because she said that, though all charges against her were dropped, one still stands-for attacking a prison guard-which she states it’s a bogus charge meant to keep her away.
While there is nothing more she can do for her son, she continues to fight for her daughter, and to speak up against what she believes is un unjust family court system.
Jessica Snyder-not her real name for her security-also lost her two children after divorcing her abusive husband.
There were numerous cross allegations, but after Jessica was labeled as ‘high risk’ by the CPS computer, despite the fact that everyone at the shelter knew that the children were safe with her, they were still placed back with their abusive father.
“My son was plotting for me to just not take them back, to just leave with them. He wanted to know how much it cost to take his father back to court. He was going to give me his $11.” Jessica said.
Despite the fact that she has very little money, she continues her fight for custody in a system that is not designed to work for people who don’t have money.
Michelle Geyer[Massey] lost her daughter-Jessie-to medical malpractice-an unfortunate situation which could have been easily prevented. Her daughter was misdiagnosed with a viral cold; Jessie in fact had a bacterial infection that could have been treated with antibiotics.
“ I screamed “NO!”… fear gripped me…I will never forget how we looked at each other that night and how I just kept telling her how much I love her and how proud I am of her. Then Jessie closed her eyes and flat lined…I don’t remember much after that.” Michelle remembers the last moments of her child’s life.
When Michelle tried suing for damages, she was blocked by a law that was passed in 1975, but never adjusted for inflation or fairness. The loss of her little girl, and fighting an unjust system, took a toll on Michelle Geyer.
“By 2007, I could not function anymore…I can’t tell you how many times…would have me on my knees begging for mercy; God help me please!”
Michelle Geyer became a Consumer Advocate for Jessie’s Law, and in 2005, received the Consumer Advocate of the Year’s award. She disappeared from the media for a while trying to battle her depression, but she is now back, and more determined than ever.
Her business called-Shelly Beenze-is helping others who are or have been in the same situation. She also wrote a book-‘Like Shattered Glass’-which will be available soon in bookstores near you.
Last, but certainly not least, is Velvet Martin. She lost her daughter-Samantha Lauren Martin-in 2006 at the age of 13. Samantha, who was born with severe disabilities, was taken away by the provincial government and put into foster care. It was that moment that Velvet began her fight for the rights of disabled children and their parents.
The life and circumstances surrounding Samantha Lauren Martin, led her mother, to challenge archaic laws inhibiting the rights of persons with disability and their families.
In 2007, the provincial government passed “Samantha’s Law,” which gave parents of a disabled child the right to raise that child themselves and have access to the government services they need. This law has gained the attention of other provinces and countries, who wish to model their own laws after it.
Velvet won a service award from Edmonton mayor, for her tireless efforts. She continues to fight for the rights of people with disabilities.
“I feel very strongly that silence is deadly and the only way to remove barriers and ignorance to better protect vulnerable lives comes through education as people reveal their stories.” Velvet said.
All five women, candidly speak about the hardships they have been through, and the transforming power of the grace of God to restore lives.
Nothing can compare to the loss of a child, in my opinion. Under different circumstances all of these five mothers have experienced tremendous loss-the loss of their children-yet in spite all that pain, that never goes away, they found the strength to go on, and continue to inspire us in our own battles.