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"A FATHER'S
BETRAYAL"
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My Son, age 9
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OUR STORY


 

My name is Jodi Walsh.  Mother of two children, and a victim of domestic violence.

As a single mother, my two children are also victims of domestic violence therefore scared for life.  The severe emotional and psychological trauma that my children have endured at their father’s expense has robbed them of their innocence and forced them to live in fear at their father’s expense.  The trauma we all went through and are still encountering is hard to re-live, but to re-live is to recover and that is the road we must travel now as a family.

For eight years I was involved with a man, Edward Munao, who was addicted to pain medication, recreational drugs, and anabolic steroids.  My life was ruled by his constant mood swings and abusive nature.  Initially I was not strong enough to distance myself from the man I loved; however, finally I was able to end our relationship, or at least so I thought.  After children become involved in a relationship characterized by domestic violence the abuse continues and so does the insanity.  Therefore we were never "really” able to get away and the abuse would continue.

My son was three years old when he first told me “Mommy has to die then I can live with Daddy”.  Those words never left my mind.  That’s when it all started...the emotional torment, the mind games at the expense of our beautiful little boy.  His dad would encourage him to be aggressive towards me ....kick, punch, pull my hair, throw objects, and swear at me. The outbursts became so bad that I sought professional help. A psychologist diagnosed my son with oppositional defiant disorder characterized by extreme violent behavior. I began to question why my son, now six, was acting this way toward his mother.   He did not have these outbursts at school, with the babysitter, other family members, or his father.  All of his anger was directed towards me.  Why?

I explained too many....case workers from Department of Children & Families, judges from St. Lucie County, the police, and doctors but no one listened.... no one!!  There was even an abuse call to DCF in 2001 stating my son’s father was causing emotional harm to our son teaching him to throw things and hit his mom.  A  DCF investigation followed and I was asked to take a drug test.  Even though DCF had documented that Munao was a drug user, he declined to take a test but I complied in order to keep my children and prove that my son was not living with a drug user.  Once again, my concerns regarding my son’s well being were expressed, but his father was still allowed visitation rights and the insanity continued on..........

In July 2003, I received an injunction for Domestic Violence against my children’s father.    It clearly stated what was happening to the children, but despite my insistence the judge denied supervised visitation.   My hands were tied and I needed to comply.

A few days after the injunction, Munao called me in an enraged state.  He continually threatened to put a bullet through my head saying “no cop, no judge, can keep you safe.”   I went to the police but they only filed a report. Four months later the abuse culminated in a conversation between Munao and my son where he told my son to get a knife and kill me and if my son couldn’t do it, he would come over and do it for him.  This was not the first call but I recorded it.   This is when the criminal proceedings with the State of Florida started against my children’s father.

Edward Munao is now serving 10 years in prison.  He was convicted of two lesser charges; Solicitation to commit aggravated battery, and child abuse.    Even though he was convicted of child abuse, the State of Florida and the Department of Children & Families did not see it necessary to terminate his parental rights.

Too many children are victims of abuse each year and numbers continue to climb.  Last year, almost one million children were affected by some form of child abuse. No matter what type of abuse a child encounters, each child suffers on many levels, mentally, physically, and emotionally.  It is a parent’s worst nightmare to helplessly watch their child suffer from a pain than cannot be fully described or understood.

A child may experience post traumatic stress, significant dates, holidays, or reminders of the traumatic event may trigger the unsuppressed emotions to reoccur.   My son’s post traumatic stress is characterized by nightmares, self-blame (It’s my entire fault), powerlessness, aggression, loss and betrayal, stigmatization, low self-esteem, fear, sleepless nights, destructiveness, anger and sadness.   

Everyday we live the roller coaster of emotions and what a scary ride it is.  Sometimes I want to think that this whole experience was nothing but a bad dream, but each day I am reminded that it is not a dream but our life.  Waking up I know this is our reality.  As my son says “This is my life.”

 

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