Many of us have faced condemnation by strangers, friends and family members for having been romantically involved with someone who turned out to be a sociopath. It takes a very strong person not to allow this condemnation to turn to self-doubt; we may blame ourselves as much as others blame us. I have been lucky because the experience of getting to know other victims has taught me that many fine people have been conned.
Furthermore, many of the conned tried to do their homework, they tried to protect themselves. Although highly intelligent, they were simply out maneuvered by an individual who was a professional con artist, a criminal who earns a living by preying on others.
To all those who blame victims I ask, “What price should victims have to pay for this mistake?” When will we recognize that relationship fraud is a crime and punish it as a crime? I also ask whether the children of these relationships should pay a price for their parent’s mistake. Isn’t every child entitled to the best upbringing the least disordered, most moral parent can offer?”
There is a painful side to trying to support other victims and the past month has been especially difficult. A woman victim I came to know, admire, like and respect paid what is really the ultimate price for her mistake. Normally we think of “the ultimate price” as being death of self, I disagree. The ultimate price is the death of a child.
You all know her as Cappuccino Queen but I know her as Hera, a beautiful, brilliant and brave woman who fought the system trying to save her son from what was his fate. For months I have wanted to write about her but I could just not get the words out as the story is just too painful and shocking to discuss.
It all became personal for me, because the last Sunday in October I planned a trip to Washington DC to join “the Mothers of Lost Children” in a protest outside the White House. Hera lived a short distance from there so we were to meet up, and perhaps she would join me at the protest. She purchased 4 tickets to “Boo at the National Zoo” and the two of us were going to take our sons Prince (14 months) and Ari (age 10) in costume. The Saturday before the trip my best friend, Ari and I were at a pumpkin farm close to my Connecticut home celebrating the arrival of fall when Hera called to tell me that Prince was being transported by helicopter to the hospital and was not expected to live. She brought him as commanded by the court for visitation and “something” happened.
Time froze for me the moment of her call. I forgot where I was, who I was with and was oblivious to everything and everyone. My son and companion heard it all, that a baby was likely going to die or was already dead.
That week was unsettling for Ari who struggled to make sense of how this could have happened. He knew we planned to go to DC to see Hera and Prince at the zoo and to “protest” out in front of the White House. Instead Prince’s funeral was to be that Thursday and I questioned the wisdom of exposing Ari to the cold truths here. On Wednesday morning, I sat him down and said, “I’m sorry you had to hear about this terrible story. Everyone in Washington is going to be very sad, and I question whether we should still go.” He said, “Mamma, I think what you do is very important, you help people. I want to go to Washington DC.” We did go, and the trip is its own story.
We still do not know why that Saturday Prince did not survive the visit with his father. I am teaching statistics this semester, and so got to wondering, “What is the probability that some random terrible event would happen when Prince was with his father versus some other time?” I realized it is actually possible to calculate this probability as follows:
1) The first unsupervised Saturday visit was August 25th for 7 hours, since that time Prince was with his father a total of about 22 hours.
2) From 10AM August 25th when the visits began, until about 1 PM October 20th when Prince stopped breathing, there were 1347 hrs. (56 days + 3hrs.).
The probability that this event randomly occurred on the father’s visitation time is 22/1347 or 16 in 1000.
To read more about Hera’s story see today’s Washington Post.