domestic violence, Duggars, sex

A whole lot can change in a week’s time…

Howdy folks… it’s a beautiful, cool, sunny Sunday morning in Germany, and I’m sitting here thinking about the crazy events of the past week. A week ago, Bill’s daughter was still pregnant, awaiting the birth of her son. A week ago, twenty-one citizens of Uvalde, Texas were still alive and presumably well. And a week ago, we still didn’t know Josh Duggar’s fate. Much has happened since May 22, 2022. Although I know it could be said at any time, a lot of lives began, changed, or ended in the past week.

As usual, I have a bunch of things on my mind. Some of it is pretty ludicrous and probably shouldn’t be shared. But, because I’m an inappropriate person who enjoys saying and writing shocking things, I’m going to share a ridiculous thought I had the other day as I watched Jim Bob Duggar storm out of the courthouse to his vehicle. Jim Bob was wearing a mask on his face, but it was pretty obvious that he was flaming pissed. Just watching the man walk, completely ignoring the press who peppered him with questions, I got the sense that Boob was seething. How dare the judge sentence Josh to 151 months in prison, when so many people had “vouched” for his quality as a human? /sarcasm

And it’s very inappropriate that I thought about this… as a masked Anna came out after Jim Bob, flanked by members of the legal team representing Josh Duggar. Man… the Duggars sure seem to have embraced the masks, haven’t they? It helps hide the wholly inappropriate facial expressions a number of them have made in the wake of this legal scandal. I thought about the obvious anger expressed in Jim Bob’s walk, and the energy that was emanating from it. And I wondered if he was going to go home to his wife and demand that she be “joyfully available” to him, so he might get out some of that energy…

Anna Duggar comes out after her father-in-law, who looked as mad as a wet rooster.

Yeah, I know… it’s inappropriate as hell. But this family wrote the book on being inappropriate, didn’t they? And based on what Danica Dillon said about Josh Duggar, and their alleged rough encounter in a hotel room, I figure the apple probably doesn’t fall far from the tree. Did Josh learn his technique from a book? Was it only from the videos he watched? Or did he learn from watching dear old dad?

Michelle is probably pretty pissed, too.

I think about Michelle Duggar’s speech to her daughter Jill, just before she married her husband, Derick Dillard. In her advice, she remembered being a young bride, preparing to marry Jim Bob. A friend gave her what she thought was very sage advice about being a good wife. The story goes:

She told me: “Michelle, I know you’re so excited. You’re a bride-to-be, but some day you’ll be at this point. I’ve been married three years and I’m still happily married. I have one child, we’re expecting our second and I’m big pregnant. You’ve got to remember this. Anyone can iron Jim Bob’s shirt, anybody can make lunch for him. He can get his lunch somewhere else. But you are the only one who can meet that special need that he has in his life for intimacy. You’re it. You’re the only one. So don’t forget that, that he needs you. So when you are exhausted at the end of the day, maybe from dealing with little ones, and you fall into bed so exhausted at night, don’t forget about him because you and he are the only ones who can have that time together. No one else in the world can meet that need.”

“And so be available, and not just available, but be joyfully available for him. Smile and be willing to say, ‘Yes, sweetie I am here for you,’ no matter what, even though you may be exhausted and big pregnant and you may not feel like he feels. ‘I’m still here for you and I’m going to meet that need because I know it’s a need for you.’ ”

Michelle went on to say that Jim Bob would “lay down his life for her”. That seems to be an unfortunate choice of words. He would lay down his life for the only woman he can lay in his life… or so he tells us, anyway. I don’t know if Jim Bob is a faithful husband. I’ve never seen any indication that he isn’t faithful to Michelle, so I’ll assume he is. But obviously, he has a very strong sex drive… just look at all of the kids he’s fathered. And obviously, since Michelle was so free about giving the “joyfully available” advice to her daughter, and the rest of the women of the world, it’s something that is probably expected of her in her marriage. So I wonder, when Jim Bob came storming out of the courthouse, obviously looking like he was mad enough to spit nails, did he go home and work off that energy by splitting logs, stacking cinder blocks, or playing basketball, like LDS missionaries do? Or did he request his wife’s availability in the bedroom for a joyfully available power fuck? I mean, what soothes the savage beast more than a willing helpmeet, ready to do her duty?

I guess the attention isn’t such a good thing after all…

Personally, I don’t think it’s much of a stretch. I think Jim Bob is an angry person. To me, he comes across as very narcissistic. Narcissistic people are often full of rage and shame. They hide behind charming, attractive facades that can fool people. I think Jim Bob is good at presenting that friendly, “Christian” image, at least at first. But over the years, I’ve read a bunch of stories about people and their dealings with him… and what tends to happen when things go south. Also, he seems to have some pretty tone deaf ideas about women and sex. He supposedly told his daughter, Jessa, before she married Ben Seewald:

“Both of you’ll like the physical relationship, but the guy, that’ll be kinda the main focus. But, for a woman, communicating is the most important thing.”

He also said:

“Be careful what you’re good at doing, because you’ll probably do a lot of it.”

And…

“If a woman is raped, the rapist should be executed instead of the innocent unborn baby. Rape and incest represent heinous crimes and as such should be treated as capital crimes.”

Obviously, he can’t see that his son, Josh, is a monster who would hurt women, AND innocent babies. And he clearly doesn’t think Josh should be executed for what he’s done. Josh got some of that stuff from somewhere… and based on what we’ve been hearing about the Southern Baptists lately, it stands to reason that the Duggars probably have similar views. I know they aren’t “Southern Baptists”– they have even more fundamentalist beliefs. They clearly live in a world where abuse is rampant and tolerated. So it’s not hard for me to imagine that when Jim Bob got home after seeing his eldest son sentenced to over 12 years in a federal prison, he had some anger to process. Hopefully, he processed it in an appropriate way, and there wasn’t any abuse. But frankly, my guess is that he’s probably pretty miserable to live with, especially when he’s angry. And he was clearly VERY ANGRY after the sentencing hearing.

No, the Duggars technically aren’t Southern Baptists, but they do come from a similar, and more secretive, world.

I hope that Michelle Duggar is okay… and I especially hope the other girls who are still under Jim Bob’s roof are okay. I hope Anna will be okay, and somehow she can be helped out of the situation she’s in… but unfortunately, she’s going to have to wise up and ask for assistance. Most of all, I hope the children are safer than they were. Unfortunately, I don’t think Jim Bob is a whole lot better than Josh is. Having grown up with a father who wasn’t a sex pest, but did take out his anger on me, I do worry that the people under Jim Bob’s control might be at risk.

Moving on to a more pleasant subject…

Now that Bill’s third grandchild has been born, my status as “granny” has come up again. I mentioned that Bill has a new grandson, and someone questioned my wording, wondering why I wasn’t claiming the child as my grandchild. This person explained that as Bill’s wife, what’s his is mine, too. And he tried to tell me that because younger daughter and her family need love, I should think of myself in a grandmotherly role as I offer that love to them. Bear in mind, I have never met this guy, and he knows nothing about our story.

Once again, I found myself briefly explaining the odd circumstances regarding my relationship with Bill’s daughters. I have only met them in person once in almost twenty years of marriage. It’s only been a few years since Bill and his younger daughter have been talking to each other. And, although I grow to like and trust her more and more as time passes, I don’t feel comfortable with the designation of “granny”. In fact, I don’t even know if she’d want me to make that claim. I would be very honored if she did, but I’m not about to make that presumption, especially since her mother is trying to pass #3 off as her “dad” and grandfather to her children. It’s clear that younger daughter doesn’t see #3 as her dad at all, but Ex is still apparently entertaining the fantasy. So I don’t want to stir the pot by referring to myself as a “granny”… especially since I barely feel like a stepmother, even in the technical sense.

I do hope, though, that I can get to know younger daughter and her family better. Bill is very happy to have them in his life again. And he couldn’t be more overjoyed about having another grandchild.

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bad TV, domestic violence, LDS, mental health, Military, poor judgment, psychology, true crime

You’re gonna have to face it; you’re addicted to DRAMA!

This post is potentially triggering, as it involves discussion of child abuse and death. Proceed with caution.

Over the past few days, and much to my chagrin, I have fallen down the Dr. Phil rabbit hole. I am not proud of myself for this habit. When we last lived in the States, I would watch Dr. Phil on TV, feeling a little dirty as the entertainer with expired and surrendered counseling credentials brought on one trainwreck after another. And I’d sit there and watch, as the people told their stories, and Dr. Phil would lob witticisms at them and, at times, bully, berate, and humiliate them with his overbearing Texas style. A lot of people genuinely like Dr. Phil McGraw. I really don’t like him, but I will admit sometimes he brings interesting stories to his show… interesting in terms of personal drama. And it’s easier to watch that show than try to read a book, as my eyesight gets less acute.

Someone on YouTube uploaded a bunch of episodes from 2014, and I started binge watching them earlier this week. Some of the shows have been downright ridiculous. A few have been sad. One or two were funny, but in a tragic way… like the woman who was married to a very dramatic and controlling man with anxiety issues. I made Bill watch an episode that featured a guy who treated his wife like a child, right down to shaming and scolding her as if one would lecture a six year old. But we saw an episode yesterday that actually made Bill cry… (not that it’s hard to do that… he’s a very kind and sympathetic person, and this episode was sad on multiple levels)

This show, which I think might have been taped in late 2013, was the story about Matt, his ex wife Mindy, and to a lesser extent, his second wife, Heidi. They’re all members of the LDS church, which of course drew in my attention even more, since Bill is an ex Mormon. You might think that Mormonism isn’t relevant in this situation, and maybe it isn’t in the grand scheme of things. However, at the beginning of the program, Mindy talks about texting her bishop as Matt held her and their four young children hostage. Then they showed a couple of typically Mormon-esque picture perfect family photos that were classic “families can be forever together” propaganda. I’ve gotten to the point at which I suspect a family is LDS simply by how they look in photos. Most of the time, I turn out to be right. Some of my ex Mormon friends refer to this special knack as “Modar”.

This episode of Dr. Phil was a real humdinger…

This episode was dramatic and, frankly, very sad. Matt was a member of the Utah National Guard and had deployed to Iraq. He was also, at one time, a sniper in the Marines. It’s very possible he suffers from PTSD and possibly, a traumatic brain injury, and that was brought up on the show. Maybe that could explain the sheer craziness of his life that, unfortunately, was visited on his four children with Mindy, and at least one child with Heidi. Here’s a quick and dirty list of the things their family faced in 12 years of marriage, before Mindy divorced Matt while he was incarcerated:

  • On January 31, 2008, Matt held Mindy and their children hostage inside their Eagle Mountain, Utah home at gunpoint. A SWAT team was dispatched to end the crisis. He had two pistols, two rifles, and a shotgun, as well as plenty of ammunition. Matt would spend 490 days in jail for this stunt.
  • The hostage situation arose that morning in 2008 because Mindy had “refused” intimacy.
  • Matt made his daughter lick the floor around the toilet to prove that she had cleaned it properly.
  • Their five year old son had gone through many surgeries due to kidney stones. One time, the boy was in so much pain, he told Matt he wanted to die. Matt handed the boy a knife and told him that if he wanted to die, he should just stab himself in the chest. Matt claimed he was trying to find out if the boy was “serious”, and assess “where he was mentally.” Then Matt told Dr. Phil that he would have stopped his son from harming himself if the boy– five years old, mind you– had tried to harm himself.
  • Matt whipped his children with a belt.
  • Matt duct taped his son to a bench when he was two. At the time of the Dr. Phil taping, that boy was 15 years old and in foster care. Mindy says she put him in foster care because he assaulted her. Matt said he wanted to take the boy home after his treatment.
  • Matt took the family dog, and his young son, out to the desert, where he shot the dog 15 times, because he deemed her a “danger” to the family. The young son was forced to bury her.
  • One of the couple’s daughters died of osteosarcoma just three weeks before this episode was taped.
  • Matt remarried, and his second wife “hates” Mindy, because she thinks Mindy is a controlling and manipulative liar who “pushes Matt’s buttons”.

I guess they had to stop at just these incidents, since each episode only runs for about an hour. Obviously, the most dramatic incident, of quite a few dramatic situations that occurred within this family, was the one involving the SWAT team. On the morning of January 31, 2008, they had an argument, and somehow, Matt decided he needed to hold Mindy and their children hostage. According to Dr. Phil, there were fifty police officers involved in that situation, thirty of whom were SWAT team members. Fortunately, Mindy was able to text their bishop, who called the police. Otherwise, there might have been some fatalities that day.

This particular true crime incident is well documented in the press, and it’s pretty easy to find news articles about it, even though fourteen years have passed. According to Deseret News in 2008, Matt “was arrested after refusing to come out and talk with police officers for nearly four hours. He has since been charged with aggravated kidnapping, domestic violence in the presence of a child and making a terroristic threat.

But the worst part of the story for both Bill and me, was the part about how he took the family dog to the desert and shot her in the head fifteen times, in front of his son, who was then forced to help bury the pieces of her that he could recover. I can’t abide animal cruelty, especially when it’s coupled with child abuse. According to Matt, the dog had escaped the yard and knocked over a child, then ran to a neighbor’s house where she attacked another dog. The story is kind of vague. I got the sense that Matt was just overcome with rage and wanted to kill something. So he took the defenseless dog and his son, claiming that his young son wanted to be a part of executing the family pet in an egregiously cruel and violent way. Personally, I think he should have gone to jail for doing that, but I prefer pets to most people.

Shockingly, in spite of the well-publicized violent crime perpetrated by Matt, he managed to remarry. His second wife, a woman named Heidi, also said that Matt had been violent in their home. However, at the time the show was aired, he hadn’t yet held her at gunpoint. She said he had destroyed pottery by throwing it at the fireplace.

Close to the end of the episode, the family shares part of the story about the daughter who died of cancer. Matt complained that Mindy would not allow him to see their daughter, who was hospitalized with cancer and immunocompromised. Matt complains that Mindy withheld visitation, and kept him from seeing their children. Personally, I can’t blame her for withholding visitation, given Matt’s violent nature, BUT… she also had four children with this man, and stayed with him for twelve years. And I get the sense that she enjoys being a victim and the drama that goes along with that. I can plainly see that that while Matt is obviously the worse parent in this scenario, Mindy is definitely no great shakes herself.

I got so invested in this story that I went looking for more information on the people who appeared on it. Sure enough, it didn’t take me long to find Matt’s ex wife. Much to my surprise, I discovered that Mindy was apparently later involved with yet another dangerous and violent man. I found a news article about how her ex boyfriend had burned down their home in 2019. At first, I wondered if maybe it wasn’t someone else who had the same name as hers, but the physical resemblance was right. And then I found Matt’s second wife on Facebook, and saw that she “liked” a Facebook page that was dedicated to Matt’s and Mindy’s daughter, who died of cancer in 2013. I did some digging on that page and discovered a couple of posts about the house fire. The GoFundMe that was set up to help Mindy and her family recover did not mention arson. I was thinking to myself… what in the hell? Was it not enough for her to be married to a violent man? She also got involved with another violent man who resorted to arson? Those poor kids!

I paged through the Facebook page for Mindy’s and Matt’s late daughter. I was a bit shocked to see that several times, Mindy had posted one particularly traumatic photo of her daughter being held down for a painful cancer treatment. The girl is in obvious distress, mouth open, eyes wide in fear, and there are several pairs of gloved hands holding her down. One person commented that she thought it was wrong to post that photo of the girl being traumatized like that. She wrote, “What on earth??? Who would think to take a picture…. not me that’s for sure.” Others wrote that Mindy was just trying to show everyone how terrible childhood cancer is. People shamed the woman who expressed shock at the photo and said it reminded her of taking pictures of child abuse.

I noticed that Mindy posted that horrifying photo of her daughter in distress several times, not just once, which makes me think that maybe the drama and the attention Mindy still gets by proxy is attractive to her. The more I looked at the page dedicated to the girl, the more I was reminded of Bill’s ex wife, who posts the same kinds of stuff. If you don’t know Ex, you might think she’s the mother of the year who is all about her kids. She’s constantly posting platitudes about what a caring person she is. In fact, Ex recently publicly posted the below photos on social media. But behind the scenes, the truth lies. In Ex’s case, it’s been affirmed by at least two of her adult children. She puts this stuff out there for strangers to see, obviously hoping to impress them and bask in the dramatic glory, while she alternately ignores and exploits her children, and other supposed loved ones in her life.

Sadly, Ex, in your own children’s lives, that’s not you… But keep posting these public platitudes. Maybe someone will believe your bullshit.
Could she be markedly different today than she was a few years ago? Maybe… but I really doubt it.

On the Dr. Phil episode, Dr. Phil says that Mindy’s and Matt’s eldest daughter wrote him a letter. In that letter, she wrote about the way her father treated her, and why she didn’t want to have anything to do with him. Below are a few screenshots from the letter the girl wrote:

At the end of Dr. Phil’s recitation of the excerpts of the daughter’s letter, Matt almost sounds like he’s going to cry, as he says he’s repeatedly apologized, but his daughter won’t accept his apologies. And there’s nothing more he can do; his therapist said that it was “all on his daughter”. I would agree with that.

Next, Dr. Phil talks to Heidi, who says she has a lot of animosity toward Mindy and she “hates” her. As I listen to Heidi, I can kind of empathize with her, on one level. She sounds a lot like I do, when I talk about Ex. However, the big difference is, my husband is NOT abusive or dangerous at all. He doesn’t even raise his voice, let alone resort to violence. I actually can’t blame Mindy for keeping their children from her ex husband. He is clearly a very violent and abusive man. On the other hand, I can also see why Heidi dislikes Mindy, because she does seem to be very egocentric, attention-seeking, and manipulative.

I don’t know if Heidi is still with Matt today, but I was really taken aback at around 29:00 into the video, during which she describes one of Matt’s violent outbursts toward her. She says he’s called her filthy names and threatened to beat the shit out of her if she called the police. He said he was not going to jail again unless he “deserved it”. At the time of that threat, she was holding their infant daughter. He took the baby from her, not because he was concerned for the baby’s welfare, but because he didn’t want her to take the baby from him. Heidi says she loves Matt, though, in spite of his obviously dangerous and violent nature.

Below are screenshots of Matt confronting Mindy about “stealing” his time with the children. You can see he’s on the verge of exploding. But Mindy looks dispassionate as she responds, “You stole my son’s childhood.” I would say that they both stole their children’s childhoods. She made a choice to stay with this man and have four children with him. Did this violent nature arise only at the end of their marriage? Maybe if he became violent only after going to Iraq, I could see it. I still definitely would have left after he killed the dog.

This story was quite the colossal trainwreck. I almost felt bad for watching it, because it was just so horrifying on so many levels. Yes, I know Dr. Phil brings people on his show that are trainwrecks, and he makes a living out of presenting cases of people who are in fucked up situations to be judged by the masses. It’s pretty terrible that this family’s drama was turned into entertainment… and I am slightly ashamed that I watched this episode, even though the drama was very compelling and, frankly, fascinating. But then, these folks agreed to go on the show, which they didn’t have to do. And the fact that they went on the show, apparently thinking that Dr. Phil would take a side, just shows that they’re all pretty delusional. I also found a recent Facebook post by Heidi that indicates she’s an anti-vaxxer who enjoys watching Tucker Carlson and Fox News.

There wasn’t any talk about Mormonism on this program, except for when Mindy says she contacted the bishop, who thankfully called the police when Matt was holding her and the kids hostage in their home. I do wonder, though, if people in the church noticed how completely crazy that couple was together. I doubt Mormonism helped them much, as bishops aren’t always qualified to counsel people in their wards, not that counseling would have helped this couple. I also notice that Mindy still uses her ex husband’s last name. I don’t know if they were endowed members of the church, but according to LDS beliefs, if they were “sealed” in the temple, she will be with him after they’re all dead. Comforting thought… NOT.

Dr. Phil ends this episode by telling the adults that the children did not “buy a ticket for this trainwreck” and they need to “declare peace.” I’m sure Dr. Phil knows that declaring peace is much easier said than done. It sounds to me like Matt does have a medical problem. It probably was brought on by neurological issues, perhaps due to his time in Iraq. But I also think his ex wife has some serious problems, and those problems existed even before the tragic death of their daughter. And while I can sympathize with Heidi, having been a second wife to a man with a dramatic, attention-seeking ex wife, I think our situations are very different. My husband is not violent at all, and thank God for that.

Maybe it’s wrong for me to write about this. I was a bit triggered, though, and I write when I’m triggered. I think people who go on reality TV or talk shows are kind of fair game, particularly when they augment their stuff by being in the news and posting public social media posts that are designed to get attention from the masses. Unfortunately, as we have learned from watching families like the Duggars go down in flames, going viral, seeking widespread attention, and being famous is a mixed bag. You can’t always control public perception. I think Mindy, like Ex, wants to portray herself in a certain way, but it’s pretty obvious to me that she’s playing a role. And while I might be able to excuse her for marrying one very violent and abusive man, the fact that she got involved with another violent person– one who apparently tried to burn down her house– and then she went on the news to complain about it– tells me that she enjoys being portrayed as a victim/saintly mother type. I would be a lot more impressed with her if she took some responsibility for herself and her children and focused on making sure they are safe, even though I’m sure her surviving kids are adults by now.

I guess today, it might be good if I went back to watching dog grooming videos.

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book reviews, divorce, domestic violence, family, marriage, mental health, psychology

Repost: A review of Bullied to Death: Chris Mackney’s Kafkaesque Divorce…

This is an as/is repost of a book I reviewed on September 26, 2015.

In April 2014, I blogged about a man who apparently committed suicide after being “broken down” by the family court system.  Chris Mackney was married to northern Virginia jewelry designer Dina Mackney.  He had two kids with her, a boy and a girl.  They split up and Mackney was both separated from his children and obligated to pay an oppressive amount of child support.  He spent time in jail when he couldn’t come up with the money.  He was repeatedly hauled into court and harassed by child support enforcement officials trying to get “blood from a stone”.  He lost job after job and finally sank into an abyss of pennilessness and despair.

Like me, Mackney was a blogger.  On his now defunct blog, Good Men Did Nothing, he posted about his situation as it became more and more dire.  Finally, on December 29, 2013, Chris Mackney had reached the end of his proverbial rope.  He sat in his car and placed a rifle under his chin, and pulled the trigger.  In the wake of his suicide, his ex wife became executor of his estate, which basically consisted of his car and his computer.  He had lost everything in his divorce, including his grip on his sanity.  Mackney’s ex wife then sicced lawyers on everyone who posted about Mackney’s suicide and managed to get his blog taken down.  Dina Mackney’s lawyers also supposedly had every comment Chris Mackney ever posted on the Internet wiped out.  It was as if his presence on the Internet was being systematically erased.

Not long ago, Michael Volpe, author of Bullied to Death: Chris Mackney’s Kafkaesque Divorce, left me a comment on my blog post about this case.  I usually erase comments that consist of sales pitches, but I was interested in Mackney’s case.  So I went ahead and downloaded Volpe’s book and just finished it last night.  I mostly thought Volpe’s book was a very interesting read.

Volpe explains that decades ago in Texas, Dina Mackney’s father, Pete Scamardo, hired a hitman to kill a former business partner and friend named Sam Degelia, Jr.  The hitman, who was paid $2000, was none other than Charles Harrelson, actor Woody Harrelson’s father.  Once Degelia was successfully offed, Scamardo moved to Virginia where he proceeded to make a fortune in building.  Apparently, Dina Scamardo grew up privileged in northern Virginia.  She married Chris Macknij and then got him to legally change his name to Mackney, because it was a better name for her jewelry design business.

Volpe writes that Dina Mackney came from a family with ruthless and criminal tendencies, which may have made her especially likely to go after her ex husband with zeal.  According to Volpe’s book, there was little left of Chris Mackney when she and the Fairfax County family court were finished with him.  He saw no way to salvage his life or climb out of the bottomless financial hellhole he was in.  So he decided to kill himself.

Volpe’s book is perhaps misnamed.  I purchased it thinking it would be only about Chris and Dina Mackney and their relationship.  That was probably a naive assumption on my part, since Dina Mackney seems clearly against getting her late ex husband’s story out to the masses.  In fact, I think Volpe may be pretty brave to have written this book, since Dina Mackney has established herself as willing to litigate.  Bullied to Death doesn’t include a lot about Chris and Dina Mackney’s marriage; it’s more about what happened after the marriage and what led up to Chris Mackney’s decision to kill himself.  I’d say that makes up a good third of the book.

Another third of the book consists of Volpe’s thoughts on the family court system and how it’s unfair to non-custodial parents, usually fathers.  Volpe has some rather radical ideas about how post divorce parenting and child support should be handled.  At times, the writing is a bit emotional and disjointed and I spotted more than a couple of places where some editing would have been beneficial.  On the other hand, I appreciated that Volpe was gutsy enough to write Mackney’s story to the best of his ability.

While I didn’t always agree with some of Volpe’s ideas, as someone who watched her husband get screwed over by an ex wife and saw him lose contact with his kids, I had some empathy for Volpe’s viewpoint.  While Bill was not hounded by child support enforcement or lawyers, he did pay out the nose in child support for kids who eventually dumped him.  Attentive fathers should not be treated like sperm donors with open wallets.      

Something does need to be done about how divorcing couples with children are handled in the United States.  While I am not at the point at which I’d say child support needs to be abolished, I do think that the system should be more equitable and flexible.  Chris Mackney’s child support was established when he was employed in real estate and had made a lot of money.  Not long after his divorce, Mackney’s business took a downturn and he could not pay the child support ordered by the court.  He quickly went into arrears and was soon completely buried in debt he’d never be able to repay.  He had no contact with his children, whom he dearly loved.  It’s no wonder he became so desperate.

The last third of the book consists of notes, appendices, and citations.  They are useful for those who want to do some follow up research on this sad case and others involving men’s rights in divorce situations.

Volpe’s book was apparently self-published, so it lacks the polish one might expect in something published by a big name outfit.  Moreover, I think it would have been a stronger book had it included more information about Chris and Dina Mackney’s relationship and why their divorce was so acrimonious.  Volpe seems to infer that Dina Mackney came from a family accustomed to resorting to criminal behavior, but everyone knows there are always at least three sides to every breakup story: his, hers, and the truth.

I’m not sure we quite get the whole truth about the Mackneys in Bullied to Death.  However, I do think Volpe basically did a good job writing about this case as much as he was able to.  I doubt he got much cooperation from the other interested parties, so naturally that affected how much of the story he was able to share.  I also think this is a case that needs to be publicized.  While I’m not sure what happened to Chris Mackney or even my own husband is the norm, there are men going through divorce becoming so hopeless that they turn to suicide or other drastic measures.  Their lives matter, too.  

For those who are interested, here is a video of Victor Zen reading Chris Mackney’s suicide note.

This note was originally posted on Chris Mackney’s blog, but his former wife had the blog taken down.

Mike Volpe later left me this comment on my original review:

mike volpe September 27, 2015 at 2:16 PM

This is a fair review of my book. I’m glad you liked and I wish you loved it. I only have two small points to make 1) I never suggested mostly men get screwed and in fact, I was careful in the book to show stories from all angles and 2) while Chris’s ex-wife wanted to remove even all his comments from the internet that failed miserably and most of what Chris has written has remained intact. You are correct that the marriage was not described in too much detail and that’s because one person was dead and the other one didn’t share any of their details. While divorce is he said/she said by nature, I feel comfortable that I presented an accurate description of what happened and not simply choosing Chris’s side. I presented his flaws, including his adultery, but committing adultery compared to covering up a murder are not, in my opinion, in the same league.

A few other people also left useful comments.

See Lo December 10, 2016 at 1:57 AM

I will soon be reading this book. The corruption and child support extortion needs to stop. #ChrisMackney will live on and his story is only the beginning.

Walter Singleton January 3, 2017 at 8:28 PM

Chris Mackney’s story is an extreme example of what happens to fathers (and sometimes mothers) in family courts EVERY SINGLE DAY. Family Court is a place where corruption reigns supreme – malicious spouses, dirty lawyers, and apathetic judges often join forces to destroy one of the parties. Once they decide which parent is on the losing side, there is often no recovery. This is a system that NEEDS to be fixed.

Those of you who have been regular readers of my blog may know why this subject interests me, although I don’t have the same level of interest in it as I once had. I do think domestic violence against men is an often overlooked and ignored problem. I applaud any author who is brave enough to take it on, even if they self-publish their work.

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divorce, domestic violence, marriage, mental health, psychology

Repost: Man commits suicide after being broken down by family court system…

I am reposting this entry from April 24, 2014 because I am going to repost a book review I later wrote about this case.

Today, I heard the tragic story of Chris Mackney, a father of two who split from his ex wife and then got financially raped by the family court system in Fairfax, Virginia.  He posted a suicide note, which was then posted to a number of Web sites, including A Voice For Men.  After Mr. Mackney’s death, his ex wife Dina sicced lawyers on the Web sites who dared to post her ex’s suicide note and discuss his demise.  If you follow the link to A Voice For Men, you can read the note in question, since at this writing the site is refusing to take it down.  You can also listen to today’s edition of Going Mental, which is a show hosted by Paul Elam of A Voice For Men and Dr. Tara Palmatier.

A discussion about this tragic case of domestic violence allegedly perpetrated against a man.

I have to say, I’m not nearly as jaded about women or marriage as Elam and Dr. T. are.  However, I do agree with a lot of their advice and if I had a son, I would advise him in much the same way they advise men who are listening.  Unfortunately, a lot of the men who are listening are nice guys who have already been burned by extremely vindictive women who make it their mission to screw over their exes.  I think it’s a very sad state of affairs… even as I also understand that women get screwed by their ex husbands, too.  I can understand why they offer advice against marriage or even having kids.

I feel lucky that Bill trusted me after his experience with his ex wife.  If I were him, I’d have probably stayed single.

The author of the book I reviewed about left a comment on the original post, alerting me to his work. See the next post for my reposted review.

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book reviews, domestic violence, modern problems, true crime

Reposted book review: Social Taboo: A Male Victim of Domestic Violence Speaks…

Here’s another reposted book review from the original Overeducated Housewife blog. This one was written in July 2017 and appears as/is. I had completely forgotten about this book, but it’s definitely one that belongs on my blog.

Sad story plus wretched writing equals missed opportunities…

Ever since I started reading it, I have been itching to write my review of Social Taboo: A Male Victim of Domestic Violence Speaks.  I finally finished reading Richard Cassalata’s 2016 book about twenty minutes ago after struggling with it and thinking it would never end.  I didn’t realize it when I started reading this book, but Social Taboo is 578 painful pages in length.  I would guess at least 150 of those pages could have been omitted.  Add in the fact that Mr. Cassalata apparently never had this book edited or even read by a literate friend before he published it, and you have a recipe for a former English major’s nightmare.   

As you might guess from this book’s title, Social Taboo is a non-fiction account of a man’s experience with an abusive woman. The author, who refers to himself as Rick, writes that in early January 2011, he had been looking online for a relationship with a woman. Rick is a divorced father of three boys, and as of 2016, he lives in Arizona. He has not had much luck with online personal ads. Evidently, many of the responses he gets are porn solicitations.

One night, Rick gets an email from an attractive woman named Amy.  Amy lives in Eloy, which is evidently a crime infested, yet very rural, area.  She’s a teacher in her mid to late 30s at the time, having earned teaching certifications in Ohio and Arizona.  She invites Rick over and asks him to bring with him a bottle of Grey Goose vodka.

Although Rick is not much of a drinker, he complies with Amy’s request and drives out to Eloy.  He and Amy hit it off immediately, although Rick is slightly alarmed when Amy pours herself a generous measure of vodka mixed with cranberry juice.  Although he says nothing to her at the time, it soon becomes apparent that Amy has a serious drinking problem.    

Rick, who is in the midst of earning his teaching credentials, finds that he and Amy are able to talk shop.  However, besides talking about their work, Amy also talks about her past relationships.  If you know anything about women with cluster B personality disorders, you know that there are already a couple of red flags popping up during this couple’s first meeting.  

Rick describes Amy as witty, charming, sweet, friendly, and very attractive.  He writes that they “clicked” from the get go.  And while it may not be the smartest thing for him to have done, during that first date, Rick and Amy are consummating their brand new relationship between the sheets on Amy’s bed.  Unfortunately, Amy neglects to tell Rick that she has contracted oral herpes, which Rick incorrectly identifies as a sexually transmitted disease.  Yes, it can be transmitted sexually, but what Rick is referring to is the same virus that causes cold sores.  In truth, most people have been exposed to the virus that causes oral herpes by the time they are adults.

Things move quickly, as they often do in relationships with women who have cluster B personality disorders.  Pretty soon, Rick and Amy are inseparable.  Rick gets approval to work with Amy– she actually becomes his supervisor as he’s picking up training hours at Amy’s school.  Yet another red flag is raised, but Rick is apparently oblivious to it.  Soon, they’re talking about marriage and it’s not long before Rick moves in to Amy’s home.  When he’s living with her, Rick discovers that Amy’s drinking problem is a lot more serious than he’d first realized.  Aside from that, she is extremely possessive and resents it when Rick plays racquetball with his buddies on Saturday mornings.  He comes back from the court to find Amy completely obliterated after she’s consumed way too much Grey Goose vodka.

Rick soon finds himself deeply entrenched in his relationship with Amy, who seems to be having a hard time letting go of her ex husband, Jim.  She claims that they need to see each other because they are filing their taxes.  Rick isn’t happy about Amy’s continued visits with her ex, but he tolerates it until it becomes clear that Amy is doing a lot more than discussing taxes with Jim.  But when Rick confronts Amy, she goes batshit crazy.  It’s not long before Amy enlists local law enforcement in her bid to control Rick.  She even talks him into handing over his paychecks to her.  Again… a classic red flag of an abuser.  

It turns out that Amy is also kinky.  She has a collection of sex toys and wants Rick to use them on her and be her “Dom”, that is, sexual dominant.  She uses sex to make up with Rick after their epic fights.  All I can say is that Amy must have been one hell of a lover.  Rick falls for her tricks over and over again, just like Charlie Brown does when Lucy Van Pelt offers to hold the football for him.  I don’t actually have anything against kink.  However, it’s pretty clear that Amy uses kink as a means to control her men.

Throughout the book, Rick refers to the interesting array of jobs he’s held in the helping profession.  He claims to have been a law enforcement officer, a social worker, and a teacher, both at the college and school levels.  However, Rick doesn’t really give readers a full accounting of his academic pedigree.  This was one of my many complaints about Social Taboo.  As I was reading Rick’s story, he would mention his academic background, but in vague terms.  I myself have master’s degrees in social work and public health, so he caught my attention when he wrote about his sociology degree, but then referred to himself as a “former social worker”.  

First off, social work and sociology are not the same thing.  Secondly, while Rick may have worked for child protective services at one point, that would not make him a social worker.  Social work is not synonymous with child welfare work.  Moreover, having earned my degree in social work, I know what goes into getting that education.  I was perplexed by Rick’s vast array of careers.  He’s supposedly only 35 years old at one point in this book.  It takes time and money to become a qualified social worker or teacher, particularly at the college level.  And yet, Rick has apparently been a social worker, a teacher, a professor, and a law enforcement officer.  I question how much experience he would have had in those fields and how he managed to earn the appropriate credentials.  I’m not saying he’s outright lying, but it would have been helpful if he had explained that a bit more.

My next complaint about this book is that it is way too long.  I see an earlier paperback version of this book comes in at over 700 pages.  This edition, which has a different title, is almost 600 pages.  A lot of those pages should have been edited out because much of it is repetitive minutiae.  At one point in the book, I was sure I had to be at least halfway through it.  I was dismayed to see I had only read about 25%.  I eventually found myself skimming because it was very repetitive and taking much too long to finish.

And finally, my biggest complaint about this book is the shitty writing.  Cassalata has a rather conversational style that could be engaging if not for all of the typographical errors, awkward sentence constructions, dangling participles, and wrong word choices.  Seriously, there were some errors that were almost laughable.  For the sake of this review, I’m going to find a few of the more memorable ones.

“After leaving my house, I purchased a big cup of coffee at a nearby convince store.”

“They’re just did not seem to be a happy medium in any decision concerning her in weeks.”

“Ferrous, I walked out of the classroom without acknowledging Amy’s existence.”

“I fucking hate you for that… you sun of a bitch!”

“Since you are freeloading off me and living in my house you will respect me you sorry sun of a bitch.”

“Arriving home, Amy was gone and it was a welcome relief.”

“Noticing the sun setting we walked out of the restaurant and Amy held my hand out the door.”

The book is absolutely saturated with mistakes like the ones I’ve posted.  When you have to get through 600 pages, it becomes very tiresome to run across so many errors.  More than once, I contemplated giving up on the book.  I also had to fight the urge to rant about it before I managed to finish.  Imagine… this man, like his psycho ex, Amy, are teachers.  No wonder so many people homeschool.

Don’t get me wrong.  I think it’s good that Mr. Cassalata was willing to share his story.  I wish more male victims of relationship abuse would speak out; that way, people like Bill’s ex wife might brought to justice for the havoc they wreak.  I just think that if you’re going to go to the trouble of writing a book about your experiences, particularly the very personal experiences the author writes of, you should make sure the writing is of good quality.  It’s asking a lot to ask readers to wade through almost 600 pages of explicit writing about abuse.  The least that author could do is make the writing worth the effort and as easy as possible for the reader– particularly given that readers often have paid for the book.  I see Cassalata’s paperback version is selling for about $25.  I would be pissed if I’d spent $25 on this book as it’s written.

Anyway, make no mistake about it.  Rick Cassalata got himself entangled with a psycho.  I empathize with him.  A lot of what he wrote about Amy is eerily similar to stories I’ve heard about Bill’s ex wife, right down to the weird sex, financial abuse, and irrational rages.  Bill was fortunate in that his ex wife had a fear of government interference, so she never called the police on him.  However, she did do a lot of the other things Amy did… and, oddly enough, Bill’s ex used to live in Arizona.  I hope things are better for Rick now.  I see at the end of his book, he’s got links to men’s rights organizations.  I, personally, have no issue with that, but I would imagine that if a lot of women read this book, they might.

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