WEST ORANGE, NJ - Julie Levine has been an exuberant resident of the West Orange Community for the past several years. You can often find her around town, taking photographs and marveling at the kindness and friendships she has built in West Orange. She is also an artist, and a very talented one, with an exhibit called 'Facialations' currently showing at the Livingston Municipal Building.
Julie has been writing a blog for the past few years, called 'Until You Say Uncle,' detailing her domestic violence experiences over twenty five years of marriage to her now ex-husband, Robert Levine. Julie and her husband Robert had two sons, who work with their father in the family business, and they have chosen to stop associating with their mother in a process described as 'parental alienation.' Jason, now 30, and Jared, 27, will no longer speak with or communicate with their mother, and she has never met her grandchildren.
Wikipedia describes parental alienation as "a social dynamic, generally occurring due to divorce or separation, when a child expresses unjustified hatred or unreasonably strong dislike of one parent, making access by the rejected parent difficult or impossible. These feelings may be influenced by negative comments by the other parent and by the characteristics, such as lack of empathy and warmth, of the rejected parent. The term does not apply in cases of actual child abuse, when the child rejects the abusing parent to protect themselves. Parental alienation is controversial in legal and mental health professions, both generally and in specific situations. Terms related to parental alienation include child alienation, pathological alignments, visitation refusal, pathological alienation,the toxic parent and parental alienation syndrome though the last term is a specific formulation of a medical syndrome proposed by psychiatrist Richard Gardner that is not well accepted.
After years of physical and mental abuse beginning in 1980, she left the marriage in 1999, and a contentious divorce proceeding ensued which culminated in 2005. Julie was granted her divorce in 2005 on the grounds of 'cruel and unusual punishment'.
In 2008, Julie Levine began her blog, entitled "Until You Say Uncle," chronicling y the alleged abuse of her ex-husband, Robert. The abuse ranged from sexual, to emotional, to physical. In fact, much of her multi-textural art work, which has achieved critical success, is an expression of Ms. Levine's struggle to regain her 'voice'. She has alleged that her ex-husband did not allow her to paint, or express herself, in any venue, during their marriage.
Although granted a divorce in 2005, Julie Levine lost custody of her sons to her ex-husband Robert, owner of a wholesale food distributorship called "Foodirect" in Bronx, New York, and basically left the marriage with nothing. She appealed to the New York courts for more of a share in the marriage, but without financial backing to pay for lawyers, Levine has continued to suffer economic, and also, physical hardship due to the physical violence she claims to have endured throughout her marriage. Robert Levine also took her to court to fight her Order of Protection in 2012, and the judge dismissed it. She credits the West Orange Police Department, saying "I love our police here in West Orange so much - they are protecting me.'
Additionally, Robert Levine, currently living in Bedford, NY, filed a libel suit on December 3, 2012, in Federal Court against Julie Levine, for $10 million dollars for her 'Until You Say Uncle' blog, claiming it was "false and defamatory.' “He absolutely denies all the claims,” said Robert Levine’s attorney, Mona D. Shapiro of Mount Kisco.
Julie Levine's attorney, Robert Leino, would not comment, though Ms. Levine has stated 'I do not want to lose my voice, my blog. As you probably already know, my ex-husband is suing me for $10 million, but I am fighting it in court. I already had the case transferred from the Westchester county court to Federal court. Problem is that legal fees are killing me.”
Facebook, You Tube, Twitter, and the internet have been a forum for angry ex-spouses in recent years, and it appears that Mr. Levine's attorney plans to approach his lawsuit from that angle. Articles in local news sources have appeared in New York regarding the lawsuit, and the case seems to be gaining a level of notoriety.
The Alternative Press of West Orange will continue to monitor the lawsuit and keep residents apprised of developments.
For more information on Julie Levine and her blog, please go to: untilyousayuncle.blogspot.com
For more information on Julie Levine's show at Livingston Muncipal Building, which runs through the end of the month, go to: http://thealternativepress.com/towns/west-orange/articles/west-orange-artist-facialations-exhibit-on-disp. The Livingston Municipal Building is open M-F, 10:00-4:00.