I was going to a wait a few days before running this post, since I’ve already run a couple this week — but the story is changing so rapidly I decided to get it now before it takes more turns.
In case you just returned from Siberia, you may not know that actress Halle Berry has been locked in a hellacious custody battle with Gabriel Aubry, the absurdly good-looking babydaddy of her daughter Nahla.
Halle petitioned the court to let her move Nahla to France where her fiance, actor Olivier Martinez, lives. Halle stated that she needed to do this to protect Nahla from paparazzi; according to her, French paparazzi are friendlier.
Halle’s petition was denied and the judge ruled Nahla must remain in Los Angeles so she could see her father. Shortly after this decision, Aubry got in a brawl with Martinez during the Thanksgiving drop-off of Nahla. The fight was so vicious (Martinez is a former boxer) that both were sent to the emergency room. Halle is now seeking a restraining order against Aubry so he will be unable to come within 100 yards of her, Martinez, and Nahla.
However, Aubry has already won a restraining order against Martinez, who, he says, threatened to kill him. And if you look at the photos here, you may surmise that Aubry is telling the truth. His face is shockingly battered, while Martinez has suffered only a swollen hand, apparently from pummeling Aubry.
Admission: I know none of these people. I base my wildly subjective reactions on esteemed publications such as TMZ and Radar Online AND my understanding of how adults’ childhood mishigas seeps into divorce.
All of which makes me feel really, really bad for Halle’s babydaddy. And for Nahla, of course. Because she is now stuck in the vortex of her parents’ unresolved childhood traumas which are apparently driving the custody train.
The Babydaddy was a Foster Child
One of nine children that his mother was unable to care for, Aubry reportedly bounced around FIVE different foster homes before becoming a model at age 20. I work with foster children and I have seen first-hand the damage that comes from repeated disruptions and failed attachments. I don’t care how rich, famous and smouldery Aubry is, on some level he is still that kid who got tossed around like a football, getting close to, and then losing, attachment figure after attachment figure.
Now. Imagine a father with that level of abandonment issues having to hand off his only child to her richer, more famous, more powerful mother AND the fiance with whom she wants to traipse off to France…on Thanksgiving, one of the most Rockwellian of all family holidays.
Can you feel his pain? I can.
Halle Watched her Father Beat Up Her Mother
Apparently young Halle watched her father beat up her mother before the couple split and the father dropped out of her life. Um, hello? The father dropped out of her life! Do we see any parallels to her current situation? Halle still has no contact with her dad and has not responded to contact from his relatives, according to her half-sister.
Imagine. Your earliest memories involve your dad hitting your mom. You remember what that violence looked like, what it sounded like, and how powerless you were to stop it. Your mom leaves your dad and you spend the bulk of your childhood poor, being raised by a single mother who never remarries.
Given all this, does it not make sense that Halle might lack the psychological capacity to make room for a man in her life? And that becoming rich and famous enables her to do what she couldn’t do when she was little: have power over a father figure? And avenge her mother?
And that maybe, maybe, if you buy into Freud’s theory of repetition compulsion, it’s possible that both Gabriel and Halle subconsciously recreated their childhood traumas in an attempt to resolve them. But as is often the case, the resolving went awry.
Gabriel’s Repetition Compulsion
Gabriel was abandoned by his mother. He has a child with Halle, but never marries her, making it easier for the relationship to dissolve. As a former foster child who never had parents he could count on, Gabriel probably grew up with a lack of healthy entitlement. Then he chooses a babymama who appears to be something of a diva, and takes him to court to prove that he is a bad father, thus not entitled to parent his own child.
Gabriel has to relive the pain of his childhood disruptions every time he hands over his child to Halle during timeshare transitions. He has to fight to keep his ex from moving Nahla to another country — and essentially cutting her out of his life.
With the present-day drama stirring up his childhood trauma, how could Gabriel not be angry? How could he not feel triggered dropping off his daughter to his ex and her new partner who is edging him out of his father role?
Is it really a surprise that this inner turmoil exploded into a physical altercation? A physical altercation which manifested in…
Halle’s Repetition Compulsion
Halle felt scared and powerless watching her father beat up her mother. She grows up to be a powerhouse Hollywood player but never gets over the anger at her father and the lack of control she felt as a child. She chooses a man over whom she feels she has power (he’s younger, not as rich, she keeps him at a distance by not marrying him), and assumes she will have even more power if she is able to raise her daughter solo.
But Gabriel has his own control issues. He’s triggered by Halle’s attempts to control him. Halle has accused him of having an anger management problem. But what does that mean? Does he have anger management problems in a vacuum? Or does he react in anger to the mother of his child telling him he has no rights as a parent?
Is Halle’s perception that Gabriel is dangerous at all colored by a hypervigilance common to most adults who witnessed abuse?
The irony is that Halle appears to have picked a new love who appears to be far more violent than Gabriel.
Whatever the case — and is it ever a complicated case — Halle has recapitulated her childhood trauma. She has co-created a physically violent scene that her daughter witnessed. Nahla will grow up with a template of high-conflict parenting. She will grow up with the imprint of violence and its outcome of estranged parents and a possible estrangement from her father.
Nothing has been resolved. The trauma will just repeat itself. One can only hope that Nahla will figure out how to have a mutually respectful relationship in which she and her future partner can co-parent effectively.
Nothing I have written should be construed as support of violence. I am not saying that Halle “made” her babydaddy hit anyone. However, it’s worth pointing out that Aubry did not hit his babymama. He hit Martinez, his gender and physical equal. And some reports state that Martineze provoked the fight, tackling Aubry from behind.
I will own that I am biased in Aubry’s favor. As an adult adoptee with my own entitlement and attachment issues who married a mega-powerful man with whom I had a custody battle, I am probably over-identified with Halle’s babydaddy.
Any kind of abuse of power makes me angry. It doesn’t matter if a man or a woman is wielding the power. Trying to take away the other parent’s right to be part of a child’s life, unless that parent is the spawn of Satan, is just flat out wrong.
I hope that Aubry’s altercation with Martinez does not cause him to lose custody of Nahla. I hope that all players in the family law posse attached to this case are educated in family systems and psychological issues that are driving both parties in this high-conflict custody battle. (Dream on, Pauline).
Aubry may need anger management classes, but it appears that Halle could use conflict-resolution classes. Both of them could benefit from reading In the Name of the Child, an excellent, if dense, book designed to help people understand how high-conflict divorce damages children.
And in the meantime, I really hope that Aubry does not get deported. I don’t know this guy, but I feel strongly that he deserves to raise his daughter — and she deserves to have him in her life.
Great insight, beautifully reasoned and so well written. You’ve made me consider this sit
Great insight, beautifully reasoned and so well written. You’ve made me consider this situation in a whole new light and have more compassion for all parties.
lisa thomson says
Excellent analysis, Pauline. The courts rarely allow a parent in a shared parenting arrangement to move a small child out of country or even state or province. Halle would have to prove she had no choice but to relocate for career, sick family memeber etc. She can’t just move her child to be closer to her new man. The courts would definitely respect the father’s rights there. As for the repeated patterns, you have nailed that so clearly. When one of the parents has a history of not bonding with their own parent, they are more likely to alienate the child of the marriage from the ex spouse. Great post, Pauline you’ve brought up important issues.
Lezlie Bishop says
Hi, it’s L in the Southeast. I need to get something out of the way so I can stop thinking about it. I really object to the use of the term “babydaddy.” I’m not sure if it’s because it is so severely grammatically incorrect or if it feels like, when I read it, the writer is making fun of a segment of our society who hasn’t been taught the use of possessives.
I concur with just about everything you’ve reasoned out so well in this piece. However, I think all the people involved are deserving of pity, most especially that gorgeous little girl. There is far too much we don’t know about the details of the Aubrey/Berry relationship. We don’t know, for instance, which of them was reluctant to get married. We assume it was Halle because she has not been successful in two high-profile marriages, but we don’t KNOW that.
Halle seems like a very sweet-natured woman. I have reason to believe, however, that her public persona might be different from her relationship persona. She has involved herself with men who are in “the business” in one way or another. It is not unusual for couples like that to get into insecurity issues, especially if one is far more rich and famous than the other.
Aubrey absolutely should have an equal say in his child’s upbringing and Nahla will be harmed if she is denied her father’s input. I know that from personal experience because I was denied my own father’s presence.
I think we need to give Halle the benefit of the doubt when she says she thinks living in France will be easier for Nahla because of the paparazzi. I think she’s wrong, given the fact that Princess Diana was pursued to her death in Paris. I am more inclined to think of her desire to leave as selfish, but I don’t really KNOW that.
Martinez should be prosecuted for assault with a deadly weapon if he is an ex-boxer. And Halle should look long and hard at her new fiance’ before going ahead with that relationship on any level, much less marriage.
ALL of them should be ashamed of themselves for allowing Nahla to witness the basest manifestations of their individual dysfunction. That incident will scar her for life, just as Halle’s was scarred by her own parents’ violence.
It’s complicated. I honestly cannot feel anymore sorry for Aubrey than I do for Nahla. And Halle? Imagine how difficult it must be to be so successful professionally and so miserably unsuccessful in personal relationships. I feel sorry for her, too.
Hi Lezlie — I’m sorry if I offended you by the term “babydaddy” — I wasn’t intending to make fun of anyone, but I can understand if it came off that way. I said up front that I don’t know these people and was really writing from a subjective POV. I am sure there are many things we don’t know. I also didn’t mean to say I don’t feel compassion for Halle, because her childhood sounds like complete hell. And, yes, Nahla has the worst of all of this, no question.
I love your point of view on this. The judge or whoever decided that she could not move with her daughter did the right thing. When people live in the limelight, on whatever level of fame, there is a very good chance that their public persona is completely different from their private persona. You can never be sure that the story you are hearing is fact or fiction. As you know from other comments I’ve made on your posts, my ex got permission to move to another state with our son. It’s something that seems so simple to me, never in a million years did I think that a court could decide something like that. When I remarried a man from Norway, we considered moving to Norway, going to court and getting permission to move my son with us, but I ultimately backed down and said, no, not until after high school. I made a commitment to his father that we are going to stay here and co-parent. I need to keep my promise, and I want my son to have both of his parents. When my ex dropped his bomb on me that he intended to move away with our son and that I better lawyer up, I was utterly confused. Huh? My lawyer told me that more and more judges are deciding to let divorced parents relocate for a specified amount of time with liberal visitation to the other parent. She claimed it’s the economic times we live in, the convenience of skype and the internet, and the ease of travel that will help drive judges to these horrible decisions. She also told me that some judges in our area are known to let children relocate for a specified amount of time overseas with a parent for cultural enrichment and educational opportunities. To me, this is all just a bunch of bullshit. I tend to think that it boils down to; the kid goes where the money is, but that’s just because of my personal experience. Cultural enrichment and education are extremely important, but not even close to as important as it is for a child to have access to both of their living parents.
You make an excellent argument. I would also add that the poor daughter has a lot to contend with. I wish mom and dad would both realize that she is half of each of them, and will grow up with self-loathing knowing both parents hate each other. Because that means they’d both hate her, since she’s half of each, right? Sigh. There are no winners here. The kid deserves both mom and dad if they are both wanting to be part of her life.
Absolutely, Kelly — this poor kid is starting life with a terrible amount of baggage. I really hope they all can get some help from mental health professionals savvy about high-conflict divorce.
Hello Pauline, As always, your post is well written , insightful, and informative. I’m not one to give my opinion until I know more about a case, but you have raised some excellent points. For instance, Freud’s repetition compulsion theory make sense to me and certainly happens in divorced families everyday. Without self-awareness and insight, I believe people often repeat past relationship patterns and I’ve observed this tendency in myself and others!
Thank you, Terry! Yes, I know I made a lot of assumptions in this piece, but given the players’ backgrounds it seems likely that Freud’s theory was in play.
It’s such a sad situation. I feel terrible for Nahla, and your analysis is probably spot-on. Halle unfortunately has a history of making bad romantic choices. (As for the person who said she was sweet, I know someone who did pageants with her long ago, and always said she was not very nice. I always gave her the benefit of the doubt–because she was like 19 at the time–but now, I’m not so sure. Maybe she is nice, but there’s no doubt she seems exceptionally unaware.)
Regardless of who started it, Martinez went way over the top with the beating he inflicted. I can even see losing your temper and swinging (although, obviously, that’s still wrong), but to have someone down, beating their head into the ground, shows you were out of control.
I hope Nahla has no idea any of this is going on, but she has to pick up on some of it.
I have a feeling Nahla was aware of a lot of it — it must have been loud and she had to have sensed the tension from the adults.
I find it all terribly sad. We are capable of breaking cycles, but it isn’t easy. Our children pay the price… and their children all too often as well.
And so, that is why, in the best interest of the child, the court system needs to adapt to the needs of a special population of parents and high conflict divorce and have a panel of three, (not one GAL) address, consider, research, interview, and make recommendations to the court of what is in the best interest of the child. A panel should be made up of counselors and social workers who are trained in understanding the various forms and complexities of high conflict divorce ie. abuse, narcissism, domestic violence. (The reason for a panel of three is only one GAL, often an attorney, can take sides of one parent not good when you are dealing with money, high conflict, and disorders) Like a Judge the panel can be selected, or elected.
While you can never be %100 sure of what’s really going on, especially when TMZ is involved, it certainly seems like a mess. I know it’s got to be hard, but both parties need to just put what’s best for Nahla ahead of their own insecurities. Martinez and Aubry need to stop fighting, if not for Nahla’s sake, for Aubry’s.
if he does get deported then I wonder if Halle may be free to move – possible some ulterior motives at play here….
I was wondering if you still feel the same way after reports by the LAPD that Aubrey actually started the fight ans Martinez was defending himself and did not even throw the first or second punch? You seem very keen on wanting the under dog to be right, just my opinion.
Well, it’s hard to know exactly what happened because we weren’t there. But from what I’ve read Martinez was baiting him and humiliating him and being pretty sadistic, taunting him, taking on the father role and rubbing it in his face, etc — especially the day of the drop-off. I can understand how Aubry would have snapped. It’s a dysfunctional and really tragic triangle, that’s for sure.
I just found your article and I really appreciated all that you said. I thought you had very good insight. I too feel bad for Gabriel Aubry. I was raised by a controlling abusive parent and so I get really compassionate for another who is dealing with someone with control issues. So controlling as a matter of fact, that Halle would air the dirty laundry of their arguments to the public…Remember when she said he referred to her in a derogatory term and said that he was a borderline racist? People say things in anger, but that doesn’t make them a racist. If he had been a racist, he wouldn’t have ever had a relationship with her, let alone have a child with her. He wouldn’t love this little girl so much if he were. The whole thing is a mess and I hope that their eyes will open to see where they need to grow and change. She cannot take away his rights from being a father by trying to move their daughter away from him and bad mouthing him before all to hear… and Martinez needs to mind his own business and let his future wife take care of the dealings with Gabriel. I know that Gabriel needs to grow as well, but he is much more discreet concerning their personal lives so I really can’t comment so much on where he needs to grow, though from what you brought up about his childhood there is definitely a lot of hurt there. Notice how I used the word discreet?? Discretion sure lacks today!!
Anyway, thank you again for the article…keep writing,you’re very articulate.