There is a growing problem in society with courts putting parents’ “rights” ahead of kids’ rights and safety. There is also a common societal problem with the public attacking those who speak out and try to protect their children by calling them “crazy.” (It’s usually women being called crazy.) You can see both in the sickening and extreme case of actress Kelly Rutherford. I honestly don’t know what she is famous for, but I’ve been casually following her public custody battle for a few years now since a judge make a horrifying decision in her case. Lately, her story just gets worse and worse. It’s every mother’s worst nightmare, especially an abused mother’s. She has lost her kids for a crazy reason, and is now being severely alienated while her ex seeks to abuse the court system to get rid of her completely.
I’ll give the short version, but here’s a link to a longer explanation. Rutherford and her ex husband have two children together and they separated when she was pregnant with the second because he was cheating on her. I have also read accusations that he was an abusive narcissist, although I haven’t gotten that much into the story. I have only watched the legal side and the way people have attacked her. Rutherford reported her ex for illegal weapons dealings, and he lost his Visa and rights to enter the United States. He was not found guilty. And for that reason, many people accuse Rutherford of making false accusations. That I don’t know, but I know for a fact that it’s perfectly possible that someone can be committing a crime even if there is no proof. And I know from first-hand experience that someone can terrorize you at home in a way that you can’t prove it. That doesn’t mean it isn’t true, though. Rutherford was never deemed an unfit parent and she originally had custody of her children. However, because her ex was no longer allowed to enter the United States, a California judge decided he should have custody because if Rutherford did, it was impossible for him to visit the kids. The judge decided it was easier for Rutherford to fly to visit her children…who were moved to Europe! This is when the case started making the news, because it is incredibly insane to so many of us. The guy’s a potential crook who can’t enter the US, so the court is accommodating him by taking kids away from their home and their mother?! This happened about three years ago when the children were around 2 and 5, which means the younger child–a girl–never really got to bond much with her mother before being forced to leave half a world away.
Rutherford was allowed to fly to visit her children, and her ex was ordered to pay…for a while. Now Rutherford is expected to pay, which means she is running out of money to go as often as she wants to go. It is a 12-13 hour flight when I search on Google…and it’s not cheap. That kind of expense adds up when a mother wants to see her children regularly but also has to earn a living. She might be an actress, but she’s not a highly-paid movie star. In recent months, her visits have been getting farther apart and she has declared bankruptcy. Most recently, her ex refused her visit because he was trying to blackmail her to get her children’s US passports. He has appealed to have the jurisdiction for the case changed to Monaco…where Kelly will have very few rights and he has the advantage. This is a very severe case of parental alienation. Rutherford has fought and fought and fought, and so far, only one appeals court has awarded her return of her custody and ordered that the children be allowed to come home. That was just over-ruled. Some people say that the original judge made this cruel decision out of hatred for Rutherford.
What’s a mother to do when her rights to see her children–who were very young when they were sent away to live in Europe–are in the hands of a judge who hates her? After she was trying to avoid a man that cheated on her, possibly abused her and is potential a criminal? I can say I’d feel helpless, desperate and victimized by the court system. The whole case is horrifying to me. I take it personally because, while my therapist and my divorce judge saw through my sociopath abuser, I had trouble with public opinion and the police who were not trained to recognize abuse or sociopathy.
If you read the comments on many of the news articles about Rutherford, they are cruel. Men and women alike are calling her a crazy liar who is getting what she deserved because she falsely accused her ex of illegal dealings. Maybe that is the case. But, I don’t think it is. As someone who has experienced a sociopath, I see red flags in all of her ex-husband’s moves. I also see red flags and vengeance in the judge’s rulings. Narcissism is rampant in the legal world, unfortunately. If that judge is a narcissist, she can do whatever she wants to her targets. Scary.
When I read the story and the comments about Rutherford, my first realization is that the victim is often called crazy. Victims are pushed and pushed and pushed until they react. Of course she’s emotional! It is truly a nightmare for one’s precious children to be so far away and so out of reach. Plus, this was done to them at such a young age, that even if she did get her rights back, they don’t know her as their custodial mother. Every day, they are more and more alienated. Her ex and the courts are pulling her strings and running her life, and she can’t do a thing about it.
Furthermore, just because there was no evidence of the ex’s illegal dealings does not mean she lied. People keep commenting that she shouldn’t have hated her ex so much, but hardly any wonder why a woman would get to that point where she wanted to get away from her ex and keep her children away. In my case, it’s because I saw my ex almost kill my children more than once. If I fight to keep his visits supervised, people will call me an evil woman who is trying to get back at her ex. Only the few who “get” it will realize that I am protecting my children. I wish they had a father that could love them and protect them, but they don’t.
There are also comments that Rutherford is not a fit parent because she’s gone public while her ex has stayed quiet. Funny thing about that…the abuser/narcissist, (assuming he is one,) usually does stay quiet. They claim to take the high road while harassing their victims with cold, calm, cruelty. And the victim crying out for help is the one who is called the “bad guy” for talking. Been there, done that!
Again, who knows. Maybe Rutherford really is causing the trouble here, but the reactions she is getting from the public and the courts are not unlike the reactions that true victims of narcissists deal with all the time. So many of us tried to get help but couldn’t prove the abuse. So many of us showed emotions and were labeled “crazy” for speaking or “vindictive” for trying to protect our children. So many of us are libeled and slandered because our abusive exes play victim so well. Either Rutherford really is a troublemaker who got what she deserved, or she’s a victimized woman dealing with a clever sociopath. I live the latter, so I’m open-minded to believing Rutherford’s story. No matter if or what she did wrong, having her children banished half way around the world truly is a nightmare. I hope she gets justice soon.
2 thoughts on “An extreme example of courts and public opinion abusing a woman for speaking up”
Bill, I bought your books Splitting and It’s Not Your Fault and have been trinyg to apply your recommendations to my divorce and custody situation as it evolves. But right now I could use some guidance from you.Negotiations have pretty much stalled. My Narcissist husband insists on having sole legal custody and has “offered” me 50/50 shared physical custody though I’ve been the primary caregiver and these are two little girls aged 6 and 3.I am very concerned that conceding sole legal custody to him will “cement” his thinking that he can do anything he pleases. He is a naturalized US citizen and has a lot of wealth in his home country. He’s already started an alienation campaign with the 6yo (i went out for groceries the other day and he told her he wasn’t sure I was ever coming back, and that I love my job and my parents more than my kids). He has threatened that if he wins in court, he’ll see to it that I only get supervised visitation. He’s been physically and verbally abusive, but I have yet to involve authorities because of my own sense of denial and that reasonable part of me that doesn’t want to see a successful professional and a loving (if a bit disordered) father throw it all away with criminal charges against him. As you point out in your books, sometimes giving the narcissist a little “win” is enough to get them on-board. I feel like my narcissist will never be satisfied until I am destroyed financially and emotionally. I’ve given in on the property and money fronts already as much as I can realistically afford to hoping that I can still retain my right to make decisions on my children’s future. Long story short, do I give in and give him sole legal to avoid a court battle that I cannot afford? Another tidbit that concerns me is that he is a child of divorce himself and his mother was really “kicked to the curb” in the divorce and has always been treated as an idiotic outsider and not respected as his mother (and an educated professional).Do I fight like blazes for full custody or can i hope to keep the dragon happy with morsels like sole legal? I cannot thank you enough for the favor of a reply!
Please could read this and comment. Interesting to know your opinion.