After enduring years of post-separation abuse and coercive control, victim-survivor Catherine Youssef Kassenoff committed suicide yesterday. The mother’s closing remarks, which reflect the global experiences of moms and the family court system, are included below.
“A fellow survivor/advocate took her own life yesterday — dying with dignity in Switzerland. Her message was what I woke up to this morning, and it’s taken all day to find the appropriate words. Unfortunately, there are none. She was recently diagnosed with cancer — sadly, autoimmune diseases and cancer is something I’ve come to accept as part of the survivor community. The stress of battling an abuser, who is enabled by the family court industrial complex is too much. It was too much for Catherine. How do you find hope when fighting cancer — how do you find courage when you are constantly beaten down and left feeling defeated? Between her email today and her post on Facebook, she truly felt that she had nothing left to live for or, to fight for. My heart is broken for her and for anyone who is walking the same path. I cannot count the number of moms we’ve lost to suicide over the years.” — Tina Swithin, One Mom’s Battle
A letter from: Catherine Youssef Kassenoff via Facebook
“Dear Friends, Family and Supporters,
It is with a profound heartbreak, that I hope none of you ever experience, that I am writing my last post ever. Today, I will be ending my own life. I will be doing so in a dignified and idyllic setting in Europe. There are simply no other options left.
In the last four years of my life, I have woken up every day to a nightmare like no other.
I can no longer endure the abuse and terror of Allan Kassenoff, who has spent the last 4 years mercilessly trying to incarcerate me on false charges, as recently as March 2023. I have also endured the emotional devastation of being without my children for so long, homeless from Allan’s repeated ex parte evictions of me from the homes I own and rented, deprivation of my property and obliteration of my life savings, the loss of my two dogs, the loss of my career and reputation, and the concomitant humiliation and ostracism from all this.
Perhaps if I had the physical endurance to keep going, I would. But with a new, terminal health issue that will soon be severely limiting my physical strength as well, and with no protection from our courts, I cannot keep running from Allan. I was recently diagnosed with a virulent and life-ending cancer — after having had breast cancer twice in my life already. I cannot go through debilitating chemo, surgeries and radiation again, this time with a dire prognosis and with Allan fighting me “until he dies” and no court intervention whatsoever. Those were his exact words to me in an email he sent on March 19, 2023 . So please understand why I did not share this news widely: if Allan had known about my health issues, he surely would have tried that much harder to end my existence.
As many of you know, on January 26, 2022, I was falsely arrested on serial reports made by Allan Kassenoff in October 2021, December 2021 and then on January 25, 2022. After I proclaimed my innocence and fought these allegations, I won. On March 16, 2022, all his bogus charges were dropped and his bogus ex parte orders of protection were vacated. His claims for “contempt” — seeking my incarceration — were also dismissed with prejudice.
But history has shown that Allan will never stop until I am gone. As recently as March 18th, 2023, Allan again tried to have me arrested. On that day, while I was watching our 9 year old daughter skate, he got off the ice and came at me. I told him to “get away from me” four times. He wouldn’t. He taunted me instead. He then reported me to police, claiming falsely that he had a “restraining order” when he didn’t and when I had every right to see my daughter skate. I captured his confrontation of me on video, which I am posting in Dropbox, along with the 911 call and the police report in which he falsely told police I was capable of “killing” him or my own children.
Based on the false 911 call he initiated, police officers came to the rink. Allan stood in the background with our daughter, laughing and pointing at me while I was being questioned, waiting with her to see if I would be taken away in cuffs. See the photo. Fortunately, I wasn’t arrested; the police realized he was lying. But this is how I have been living for years: like a hunted animal, worried about when Allan will make the next false report. He sees all this as a game and the courts have not stopped him; they too are even scared of him or maybe they just don’t care. While they handed out ex parte TOPs against me like candy, on his say-say, they would not even enter a TOP against him after two days of testimony from police and the rink manager that he lied in order to try to procure my false arrest — again.
For a long time, I believed I could make my children’s lives better by fighting to stay in them, even if it was for just moments at a time. As time went on, the “in-between” of those moments became interminable, unbearable. I would long for the girls and try to think of all the things they might need, even though I was held at such a distance that I did not even know what those things might be. I imagined who their friends were, where they went, who they spent time with, what their dreams were. I had nothing more than my own imagination to work with because for the last 3 years, I was excised from being their mother. I could not tuck them into bed at night, take them to school, host their sleepovers, make their breakfasts, or take them on vacations. Allan wouldn’t allow any of that; the court gave him everything he wanted. I often shook from the pain of it.
In recent weeks, I came to realize that my presence in their lives only brings them pain and suffering. That is because they must answer to a father who does not view me as human.
He erased every element of their being that had anything to do with me: French, Christianity, tennis, e.g. They have learned to identify with him, in order to survive. So, they now declare how they “hate Christmas” and they call me “Catherine” instead of “mom.” For him. In the end, they must reject me. For him. I can see the pain on their little faces when they have to manage the unspeakable conflict that only my oldest seems strong enough to manage and fight through to see me. It is a look that has haunted me for a long time. I don’t want to see it anymore. I just want their and my pain to end.
Their father has spent years and millions of dollars — over $ 3 million — to eliminate me from our girls’ lives. He has liquidated savings to do so. He will never relent, he will spend their life savings, he will demonize me to them mercilessly, and he has made them suffer if they even just want to see me. They have been diagnosed with depression and worse. As long as I am alive and want to see them, they will be damaged over and over again with every attempt I make. What is the point of that? The last thing I want to do is make my own children suffer.
Even in death, Allan Kassenoff will never stop. After I am gone, he will falsely tell everyone that I am “mentally ill”, that I am a criminal and a liar. But I am none of these things and have proven it. I don’t have a criminal past; I am a former federal prosecutor and special counsel to the governor of NY; I showed the undeniable abuse he perpetrated on numerous videos, showing I did not lie about that; and I have the testimony and reports of various doctors to prove my mental health. See the link. Indeed, under Swiss law, a person wishing to end their life can only do so after meeting a very high bar and being found competent, not suffering from mental impairments. The Swiss doctor and my therapists, Dr. Anna Filova, MD and Dr. Stephanie Brandt, MD, confirmed this. See the dropbox link. Allan’s need to convince others otherwise comes from his shame about the truth: that he was a domestic abuser. By trying to cast me in these negative ways, he thinks he can clear his name. He cannot: the videos, audios and other materials will follow him forever. You will find police testimony about his abuse, medical records of his abuse, affidavits about his abuse, and more in the link. Shame on Greenberg Traurig, who knew all of this, and did nothing to stand up for the rights of domestic abuse survivors like me and my daughters.
My girls deserve so much better than the life they were given by their father and the court system that was supposed to — and miserably failed to — protect them and me. The court system favors the monied party and, if that party happens to be an angry litigator, God help the other parent. I was a good and loving mom who sacrificed my own career trajectory to have children, whom I finally conceived after many years of fertility treatments. I did not abuse alcohol, children or drugs. I never had so much as a brush with the law (until Allan tried to have me arrested). I put my kids before everything in life. I did not lose my entire life to a fair and just process. I exposed both a corrupt forensic evaluator named Marc Abrams and a corrupt attorney for the children, Carol Most, both of whom were removed in disgrace from my case. But the system did not fix what it broke after that came to light. It turned my custody battle into a money-making churn. Allan filed this divorce action in May 2019. Until just recently, there still was no final trial scheduled in this case. What a complete disgrace — to use the misery of a family so that the various court personnel involved can get rich: Dr. Adler, whose PsyD somehow qualified her to charge $600/hour to “reprogram” the girls; Dr. McGuffog, who charged $450/hour so that the father could sit in on my daughter’s sessions and who told my daughter she had to “pick between me or your mom”; Dr. Abrams, who made over $40,000 to testify for the father and was removed from the Panel of Forensic Custody Evaluators in disgrace; and Carol Most, who just billed a staggering $270,000 after being removed from the case for gross ethical misconduct.
I hope in death I will accomplish what I could not in life. I hope our legislators, judges, media and others will take notice of the price I am paying today, the horrors of family court, and how the court destroys families in order to profit. I hope the public will stand up and say “no more.” Your children deserve better. So did mine.
My primary contact is Wayne Baker ([email protected]), should you have anything to share with him and who has all my documents from the divorce case etc. Please don’t let my demise be in vain. Reach out to him to organize yourselves, use the facts of my case (which Wayne also has access to), and make change. Don’t let our children grow up to re-experience this trauma as adults.
All of my materials in support of what I write above are available at this link, which I urge you to share everywhere before Allan finds a way to shut down this Facebook page. Please don’t let the world or my children forget the real Allan who is on the dozens of videos I have posted here on Facebook — please preserve them for my children when they are ready to remember and learn the truth about him. Please stand up against abusers like this who enjoy tormenting others.
For the sake of my children and other mothers who live through this terror of domestic abuse, I ask that you please keep telling my story so that the truth is known far and wide.
Finally, a special thank you to those in my life who always put my children first and who supported me unfailingly: My Mother, Jennifer Culley, Keri Christ, Stephanie Brandt, Jonathan Davidoff, Wayne Baker, Katherine Klein, Katherine Sinsabaugh, Liz Kurtin, Lizzie Harding, Brian McQuillen, Rory Doyle, and my wonderful lawyers Andy Frisch and Evan Wiederkehr.”
Rest in the peace you deserved in life, Catherine.
Through additions to this site in the upcoming weeks, we will keep telling Catherine Youssef Kassenoff’s story and paying tribute to her legacy and contributions to the movement.
Call or text 988* to reach out to the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline if you need assistance. 24-hour availability. Languages: Spanish and English.
Please call the Domestic Violence Hotline, which is available around the clock, if you need emergency assistance and are experiencing domestic violence: Call 1800.799.SAFE (7233) or text “START” to 88788, or visit www.thehotline.org