"One time, about six years ago, my now-former stepdaughter, 'Ashley,' called me out of the blue to tell me about a new guy she’d met. He was handsome and he made her laugh.
After three years of back and forth with her son’s father, I was glad she’d met someone. At the same time, though...
I called her father, my then-husband, and told him about the conversation but also that something didn’t feel right. Of all his faults, he knew to trust my gut. I asked for his permission to look into this guy and he agreed.
What I found out was that the guy had a long history of arrests for substances. Most recently, he’d served two years in the prison system for domestic violence. This one really bothered me. You don’t get two years unless it’s really serious.
I told my now ex what I’d found and neither of us liked it.
We both tried to talk to Ashley about it and she wouldn’t listen. At one point, I’d said to her, 'Ash, if it was just you, I’d tell you to go with God and always remember I can be there in 12 hours by car to help you if you need me. But you have a two-year-old who depends on you to keep him safe and this guy isn’t safe. With his history of substances and getting arrested, what if he has your son with him when he’s arrested and child services think you’re a bad mom for being with the guy? What if he uses and, God forbid, hurts, or even kills your son?'
She went through the roof, calling me a drama queen, telling me he paid his debt to society and that she trusted him.
I mulled this over for a couple of days before contacting the son's dad. I shared my fears and told him he needed to do something to get their son out of that house. No judge in the world is going to let a mother keep custody of her child with a monster like that in the household. He, too, ignored me.
Ashley stopped talking to us because we checked this guy’s background. We didn’t hear from her for six months. She convinced everyone else what a great guy he was and what an interfering person I was.
And then the phone rang at 2AM. It was Ashley, crying uncontrollably. Her boyfriend beat her son so badly the doctors were telling her he wouldn’t make it and she needed us.
We live on a small farm so I stayed behind, but my husband made it to Colorado after many pitfalls.
Both the boy's father and his grandmother called me. His father blamed me for not doing more to convince him to do something. His grandmother called to tell me she wished she’d done more. She said she didn’t know what to do. When I told her I’d strongly suggested to the father that he file for custody, she grew quiet. She knew I was right. He had never told her I’d recommended this course.
In the end, just a couple of weeks before his third birthday, the son is gone and Ashley's boyfriend got life in prison. He was offered a plea for 30 years, out in 15, but he refused it. He didn’t believe he’d done anything wrong."