Please help I don't know what I can do
31 August 2018 at 8:29 pm #15269
I’m not much of a sharer but I really need some guidance and opinions on what I can do in my current situation.
The story of my separation with my husband is complex and long winded but in short he psychologically, financially and emotionally abused me for almost our entire relationship. Other than punching walls and aggressive behaviour he didn’t ever abuse me physically. He left me but then over the course of 10 months used and abused me worse than every before, I was an idiot who put up with it because he had made me feel worthless and that I needed him to survive.
Anyway through all this I have never (even against my instinct) stopped him seeing our son. Who was only 9 months old when this started. My ex however always had an excuse or wanted us to all spend time together. Even when we were together he very very rarely looked after or did anything with our son. Not even fees or change his nappy.
In February enough was enough and we were 100% over because I found out he had been on and off with someone else for quite a few months and it was someone he had been friends with for most of our relationship. I still promoted him seeing our son but over time the amount of time he was seeing him got less and less. Last week was only 2 hours.
In pick up and drop off he would try to have long drawn out conversations. When I would try to go or say bye he would have something else he needed to discuss. He would say things to try and make me happy and suck up to me. I kept all of this at arms length but it is hard when you have been with someone most of your adult life to not fall into old habits.
Then the odd occasion would arise when he would try to pick a fight with me or be really negative. Make little digs or say something he knows would upset me. Calling me an abuser and trying to use a letter I wrote him about how he had abused me against me, making me out to be a monster. Constantly lying and making thing up.
I can see the abuse taking over again and my anxiety levels before pick ups and drop offs are sky high. The last straw for me was finding out he had been introducing our two year old son to a girlfriend he has been seeing on and off for just a couple of months. She smokes and my son comes home smelling of cigarettes. I asked on numerous occasions if in his 2-4 hours a week with our son if he was on his own with him and everytime he said yes. We have a written agreement that before a new partner meets our son we have to be in a long term relationship and the other parent will be told. Him and his girlfriend have been posting lies abort me in the Internet and playing victims calling me crazy etc.
I don’t know what to do. I don’t want to stop my son seeing his dad as he loves him but I cannot keep putting myself through this. I have asked that he finds an alternative way to pick up and drop off our son that does not involve me. Contact centre or something. He is refusing and trying to blame it on me again thay he can’t see our son. He can, I just don’t want to have any contact with him at all. Personally due to suicide attempts, anger and other mental health issues I would like him to be supervised but I know it doesnt work like that.
So I have a few questions…
Am I being unreasonable? Surely my anxiety will be picked up by my son and I don’t want that for him. As his primary caregiver I want to be strong and be able to be the best parent I can.
Does anyone have any ideas for alternative arrangements? Family is not an option in afraid.
Finally if he ends up taking me to court over this will they take the abuse into consideration? I have never reported to the police, inky women’s aid. I have very little evidence but a fair few witnesses. He has emails I sent during the break up which don’t show me in the best light but surely that is just normal behaviour. When I have discussed the abuse with him before he has flipped it on me and called me the abuser… Which I know is a trait of an abuser but I am terrified they will agree. He has a very high up managerial job in the NHS working in psychiatric care so they will think I am lying.
I just don’t know what the best course of action is. Any advice will be greatly appreciated.
Thank you1 September 2018 at 3:01 am #15281
My ex-partner has been dreadful to deal with also, I have nothing to do with him now, we commuincate through email only about arrangements only, nothing else, no concerns, and the child support agency collect his maintenance.
You don’t say how old your son is? But he sounds like he’s still quite young? My daugher now leaves on her own and meets her dad in his car at the end of the drive, then lets herself back in on the return. We have an agreement that he is to never come to my door. Maybe have a think about how you could minimise contact with him? You might not be able to not see him at all, but is there a way to reduce how long you have to spend with him? Can he pip and wait until you bring your son to him, say your goodbyes to your son in the house then literally just hand him over at the car?
Have you tried mediation? Do you have a parental agreement? Mediation could help you to discuss a parental agreement – help you to both come up with how to operate, how things will run and work, who is responsible for what and when his access is – if this is all set out then there’s much less need for any further discussions.
At the moment he can just say no to you and then you feel there’s nothing I can do; might be better to have a third party involved so that your concerns can be discussed properly and an agreement made. This doc could then later be referred to in court if needed.
Unless you have any evidence of the abuse you are going to find that a court will dismiss it – it’s all about the evidence in court and in family court what CAFCASS recommend. The Judge is only interested in trying to establish a suitable access pattern for the child really. Yes you can put forward what you would like as terms, like no smoking in my child’s presence – doesn’t mean it will go how you would like though.
Your partner could get alot more access than he currently has and if you have a child arrangements order you will both need to adhere to it. Court needs to be the last resort, but that said some people find an order such as this a godsend, as it stops him messing about – its like having very strict, clear rules to follow – for the both of you – zero flexibilty – but there are consequences if either party break it.
As sad as it is for your son that he only gets a few hours with his dad, from where I’m standing it sounds like you only need to deal with him once a week, means you and your son can live the rest of the week pretty much problem free. I wouldn’t stir things with him if it were me, I’d leave him to get on with what he’s doing, then focus on me and my child for the rest of the time.
Maybe start keeping a diary, record what your son says and the facts only, ‘came home smelling of cigarettes’, late, spent x amount of hours with him etc.
Unless he is sexually or physically abusing your son he will get access, he can pretty much do as he likes with him during this time, unless you have any serious safeguarding concerns. I understand you don’t want anyone smoking near your son, and I’m pretty sure if you went to court you may get this term agreed – but at what cost? Because where you gain in some areas you will lose in others.
Maybe if you can get it into a parental agreement then he would ensure the no smoking? If a mediator is present he might take it seriously, maybe you could even say that if we did ever go to court I would be asking the Judge this term, he may or may not agree to it, but chances are he will, so why can’t we just agree it now between the two of us? Surely we can agree that no smoking near our son is best for him?
Abusive partners do have parental rights – and if he’s anything like my ex, he will only really exercise these to further his abuse, never for the reason they are intended – to benefit the child. Maybe spend some time researching online what are your rights, his and your childs.
Womens Aid is a fantastic resource for advice and support – do call them – they really can help you to navigate the best way possible through this.1 September 2018 at 1:45 pm #15302
Thought I should add, you don’t have to be face to face for mediation, you can have what they call shuffle mediation, where you are in seperate rooms and the mediator moves between you.
Yes, the parental agreement is not legally binding, but it is often enough, perhaps better to try this way first before court, as you have far less ability to influence the outcome in court.
I think you have made a great decison reaching out on here; acknowledge that you can not deal with this alone and access all the support that is available to you.1 September 2018 at 4:15 pm #15307
Thank you all so much for your help and advice. I am getting a parental agreement written up and asking him to sign. I have also contacted the local contact centre who can help with handovers. It is up to him if he wants to do that or not. If not then I guess he will take me to court.
My son is two so I know it will be easier as he gets older and he can just take himself out to his dad’s car. He doesn’t go to his Dad’s overnight as he used to sleep through him crying right next to him, he also used to fall asleep when I left him to look after our son for as little as ten minutes so we both agreed overnights are a long way off. For that reason and my son is very young still and has only really got one constant in his life and that is me. Not fair to confuse him further.
Thanks again for all your advice and hopefully it will get less tense and a bit easier going forward.