Listen to the voices of children and keep them at the heart of any judgement made within the family court system
By Claire Throssell, Survivor Ambassador for Women’s Aid
Thursday 22nd October 2020
In October 2014 it took just 15 minutes for my life to end and my existence to begin.
At 6.15 on the 22nd October my two precious sons, Jack aged 12 and Paul aged 9, were collected by their father for an unsupervised access visit for just two hours at our former home.
I had taken them to school that morning and as they got out of the car I told them I loved them and they responded “to infinity and beyond”. Just as they did every morning. These were the last words we said to each other in this life.
As events that day unfolded my ex-husband, a known perpetrator of domestic abuse, convinced Jack and Paul as they entered the house that they had two new trains set up in the attic. He then barricaded the property, set fourteen separate fires within the house and joined the boys in the attic. Jack, a gentle boy with the heart and courage of a lion, tried to rescue his brother. It was his hands Paul held last and his strength that pulled his brother to the hatch of the attic where he fell through the hatchway into the flames.
“As Jack was cradled in the arms of a firefighter, he told the firefighter along with a police officer and a consultant that “my dad did this and he did it on purpose”. This was taken as his dying testimony.”
Throughout the whole humiliating and barbaric family court experience and despite Cafcass and the involvement of social services, Jack’s voice was never heard. The only time his voice was heard was amidst the flames, the day he fell eternally asleep in my arms.
I held both my sons in my arms as they died five days apart and I promised them that no more children would die at the hands of someone who should love and protect them the most.
“No more children should have to say they’ve been hurt by a parent and no other parent should have to hold their children in their arms as they die knowing it’s at the hands of someone they once loved.”
There is a deadly culture within the family court system of parental rights and parental alienation which lead to child contact being granted before vital reports and recommendations have been carried out. Unsafe rulings are made far too often in a hostile and intimidating room with the voices of children like Jack and Paul being lost, their wishes unheard and their feelings ignored. They have their human right to a safe and happy childhood violated. Their lives and futures taken away.
Now is the time to stop this culture of fear and oppression, now is the time for authorities to ensure that the only words a perpetrator hears is “You can’t” and this must echo across the country, across society, religion and creed. We must do this for Jack and for Paul and every other child who were murdered at the hands of known perpetrators of abuse – the hidden monsters.
Tragically these children are merely names on serious case reviews but their lives, however short, must be recognised and remembered for who they were – innocent children let down and harmed by governments who didn’t do enough to protect them.
Together, Women’s Aid and myself urge everyone to sign the #ChildFirst Petition to give children a voice and keep them at the heart of any judgement made within the family court system. Your signature can make a difference and help keep children safe.
Thank you.Sign the #ChildFirst petition