Protective Mom Heather Murdered 3 Years Ago Today
Denied TWO Restraining Orders Despite Abundant Evidence
Heather’s Story Included in Play: “Forbidden to Protect”
“GOD BLESS YOU HEATHER NEWMAN. YOU WILL ALWAYS BE MISSED, AND YOU WILL NEVER BE FORGOTTEN.”
“Heather’s young beautiful daughters must grow up without their amazing mother because a family court judge made the sole discretionary decision to keep this woman, and her children, in danger.”
Protective Mom and Activist Patrice Lenowitz
“There is a lump in my throat, and tears streaming down my face as I type this. I’ve been reading loving tributes from Heather Newman’s family and friends, and my chest hurts.
Heather, a beautiful mother, daughter, sister and friend, was brutally murdered on this day three years ago by her estranged husband.
As an abused woman seeking to get away and keep herself and her daughters safe, Heather did everything right. She worked two jobs to provide for her daughters, while her husband remained unemployed. She reached out and began to consult with family and friends about the abuse she was suffering. She attended a domestic violence support group.
As a loving protective parent, she filed for divorce and fled the marital home with the hopes that leaving an abusive marriage would benefit her and her two most precious little girls.
So WHY did our courts FAIL HER?
Even with indisputable evidence of the domestic violence she suffered, Heather was denied TWO restraining orders. To make matters worse, she was warned by her divorce lawyer that because the restraining orders were denied, she had to learn how to “co-parent” with her abuser, and he was to have unsupervised access to her daughters, for if she opposed, things would not go well for her in family court custody proceedings.
It is important for the public to know that Heathers attempts at getting a restraining order from a man that physically, verbally, emotionally, psychologically, and financially harmed, threatened, and harassed her– were met by judicial misconduct and gender bias. Judges and lawyers routinely state that women who file for restraining orders are trying to get a “leg up” on divorce and custody proceedings. How deadly this MYTH can be.
Domestic Violence is a CRIME, yet victims are re-victimized by our family court system every day. How many more of our women and children must be murdered before we do something about it?
Quick question: Does anyone know what happened to this judge? Is she being held accountable for failing to protect Heather, for failing to protect Heather’s daughters, and for failing to hold the criminal conduct of her violent estranged husband accountable?
The answer would be NO. Heather’s young beautiful daughters must grow up without their amazing mother because a family court judge made the sole discretionary decision to keep this woman, and her children, in danger.
The public cannot protest what it doesn’t know. WE NOW KNOW OUR COURTS ARE FAILING THE MOST VULNERABLE AMONG US. The very LIVES of our mothers, daughters, sisters, friends and co-workers are counting on our active participation to speak out and transform this conversation. It is up to us to inspire new domestic violence and child abuse laws and procedures that do everything in their power to keep our women and children safe.
My colleague Lundy Bancroft and I have worked for three years collaborating on a play project called “FORBIDDEN TO PROTECT.” Our play raises questions about legal responses to domestic violence and child abuse. Through extensive victim interviews, FORBIDDEN TO PROTECT tells the true stories of women and children who have been required by a family court judge to go into dangerous circumstances where they have been repeatedly harmed, separated, or ultimately murdered.
The play demonstrates how most contested custody cases are actually domestic violence or child abuse cases in which abusers have been allowed to use the courts to regain control over their victims and bankrupt the safe protective mom. In all of these stories, judges, lawyers and court appointed evaluators and therapists have chosen to ignore extensive evidence that the children and mothers were telling the truth, putting the victims in harm’s way, and leaving mothers FORBIDDEN TO PROTECT her children and herself.
We are honored that Heather’s loving mother and sister, Fran and Jamie Newman, kindly gave us Heather’s story to include in our play. Our hope is that through public awareness, peaceful protests, and an action plan for transparency and accountability within our courts, positive change will soon follow.
“I feel it is our new found reason to be Heather’s voice. It can not be done alone and I feel even as time goes by we need to continue what she started. She stood up for everything that was right … She would want change, she would want to make that difference. Heather’s friend Jeannine
GOD BLESS YOU HEATHER NEWMAN. YOU WILL ALWAYS BE MISSED, AND YOU WILL NEVER BE FORGOTTEN
12/15/11 RIP Heather
– Protective Mom Patrice Lenowitz
Forbidden to Protect
Co-sponsored by the Center for Peace Justice and Reconciliation at Bergen Community College and Produced by Jim Bumgardner of Bergen Stages, FORBIDDEN TO PROTECT will open to audiences in Spring 2015.
If you would be interested in producing FORBIDDEN TO PROTECT in your area, please send an e-mail request to: firstname.lastname@example.org
SHAME on Judge Andrea Carter Latimer for disregarding clear evidence of violence, denying restraining orders and forcing the children to live with the abuser. Heather’s blood is on YOUR hands.
[Pictured: Heather (left); Heather with friend (top right); CLA Judge Andrea Carter Latimer (bottom right)]