Jakob Letkemann faced the biggest challenge of her–or maybe anyone’s–life: The battle for custody of her three-year-old son, Darian. She struggled through exhausting and heartrending court battles, during which time the 40-year old resident of Salt Spring Island, located off the west coast of British Columbia, found herself on an emotional roller-coaster ride, falsely accused of various abuses as she sought to prevail against a system biased against mothers.
But none of this mattered after the verdict came in. Jakob fell to her knees, victorious when the male judge announced she was granting her request for custody of Darian. Initially unaware of just how stacked the deck was against moms in such situations, as well as the fact that they were notorious for bringing out the worst in others, her eyes welled up. She was grateful it was over and happy she had overcome the feelings of betrayal and rage that had enveloped her amid false allegations by her ex-boyfriend and his relatives. Her heart was bursting as she savored the moment.
In Canada, it is uncommon for courts to find in favor of mothers. In fact, statistics indicate that fathers are awarded custody more than three times as often as women. For the most part, this appears to reflect an institutional bias against women, though there are those who would argue otherwise. Regardless, while Jakob comes from a family of men’s right’s supporters, her eyes have been opened up to a new reality. She witnessed first-hand the lopsided skirmishes between the sexes that occur when the lives of children are involved.
But she also understood why so many women feel compelled to crawl through the barbwire-laden battleground of Canadian family court proceedings. She was shocked to see how women are shortchanged, lacking the sorts of protections that men have long argued for. “I’ve had more sleepless nights than a bee searching for nectar,” she said. “I was subjugated to daily events of discrimination ‘cause of my gender, and I became ill and got ulcers. So I studied and learned and showed the court that the allegations his family made against me were false, and I won. I’ve learned how to fight and present my case,” she added.
Nowadays, Jakob has become a fervent supporter of equal rights–for all. She understands that there is much to be done for women regarding social and legal issues. Her lengthy experience dealing with the courts and custody advisors has earned her a degree in navigating paperwork, stumbling blocks and frustrations that seem to have been purposely put in place to stymie mothers. “I never thought women would need to have their privileges protected until I sat across from a committee of six men–I was the only gal–and watched their unmoving and pensive demeanor and expressions. My gut wrenched,” she said.
The sad reality is that after decades of indoctrination by men’s and gender studies propagandists, Canadian society has a thoroughly distorted image of females. Subconsciously, at least, women are viewed as violent and aggressive, perpetrators of domestic abuse. That said, some are beginning to reject such stereotypes; among other things, questions are being raised about the Canadian family court system’s bias against females. A growing consensus believes that the gender-biased lens is like a one-way looking glass, identifying any woman in its sights as a perpetrator of violence against men.
Making matters worse for struggling mothers is that any sign of frustration or anger on their part apparently confirms the stereotype, convincing even those who might be a bit more open-minded to take a harder line. Few take the time to understand why biased and seemingly perfunctory proceedings could push even the most passive of individuals into a state of despair. And then, all of a sudden, those who are in the position to pass judgment are no longer interested in what the woman has to say.
Fortunately, advisors cautioned Jakob about this relatively early on, spurring her to take whatever steps were necessary to avoid being on the wrong side of others preconceived beliefs. Jakob explained, “My hurt feelings turned into searching on the Internet. I took an anger management course and the times I was in court I was able to be calm. I was strong and believed in the truth–and it worked!”
Others have not been so lucky. Many mothers endure accusations of the most hideous kind from spouses and in-laws who escalate charges without any real sense of moral limits. In a great many custody cases, wives face accusations of domestic violence, often inflated to charges of daily battering and relentless emotional abuse. Naturally, the words paint an ugly picture of someone who is unfit to be a parent. If the “accused” flinches, perspires or bursts out under pressure, she can only lose.
In Jakob’s case, she couldn’t believe her ears when she heard the preposterous charges being leveled against her. “They made claims of how I hurt my family, but I wasn’t prepared for the accusation that I was too close to my own little boy–essentially, they said we fear a sexual relationship will evolve. Goddess, that destroyed me. It twisted my gut. It felt like my insides were ripped out. I ached and was defeated, cried a lot and didn’t think I could continue. I wanted to end it all.”
But her case is not the exception; others have shared a similar fate. There have been numerous reports about court sessions and private negotiations, comprised of individuals with unconcerned faces who simply ignore what the wives and mothers say, leading to a deep sense of having been defeated before the hearings actually begin. While it is only natural for people to feel like lashing out in such circumstances, Jakob quickly learned what was necessary to avoid getting caught in a trap.
In fact, her recurring struggles with the Canadian family court system eventually inspired a perseverance in her that she regularly shares with other women in the throes of divorce to assist them in their efforts to gain rightful access to their children. Among her recommendations:
- Prepare for the emotional battle, read up on the court process, and take any course, such as one oriented towards anger management, that can help you control your emotions.
- Take Parenting and Parenting after Separation classes.
- Remember that people will slander you with the worst things that can be said. NEVER get angry or aggressive, or respond in what is considered to be a distinctly feminine fashion.
- Always be on time for everything. Never miss a class, meeting, or court appointment.
- If you can talk to people involved in the process, do it. Communication is how you win!
- Make sure you have people supporting you. Jakob had her mom and dad and others by her side all the time. They talked, discussed and strategized. They went with her to any and every meeting.
The Next Phase
Now that she has succeeded in gaining custody of Darian, Jakob feels energized and motivated to take additional action on behalf of herself and others. She has collected thousands of items of evidence and is seeking justice against an anti-female regime. “I love my life with my son. I’m grateful, so I’ve decided to sue key governmental agencies for false removal and gender bias to ensure more justice for females. I want to share my experiences with as many people as possible. I am dedicated to changing the system.”
Jakob intends to file suit against ten parties in all, ranging from social welfare agencies to hospital and health nurses to counselors from the Island Man Against Violence (IWAV). She hopes to level the field by winning landmark cases that become roadmaps or legal footprints for others to follow, helping to reduce baseless, false reporting, harassment, and threats. If she succeeds in winning any damages, she will support efforts that assist low-income families, including the development of parent school centers with support training programs.
In doing what she thought was best for her family, Jakob has also been waging a larger fight against the war on single mothers. She has been burned by legal advisers who line their pockets at struggling families’ expense; like the millions who have also battled through custody proceedings, she has found herself financially depleted. Sadly, many so-called experts seem more interested in bleeding desperate mothers who are angry and frustrated than in helping them get the justice they deserve.
But that is not right. As Jakob explained, “My family and I are fully involved, and we are reaching out for help. I’m asking for the smallest donation at my GoFundMe page. Follow my updates and me so we can all work to reduce or eliminate the biases in the Canadian system.”
On behalf of the innumerable women who have experienced the subjugation of divorce and the custody courts, it is time to change this narrative–to join forces and assist her in her quest. In fact, as someone who believes in advocating for other women, I have made a donation and urge others to follow suit by visiting https://www.gofundme.com/5gnn2b6c and giving as little as $5 for the benefit of Jakob Letkemann’s very worthy cause.
By coming together in this way, we can not only wish her the best, but we can help transform a system distorted by sexism, systematic oppression, and discrimination against women.