Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.

Family therapy with abusive ex.

(95 Posts)
Offred Thu 02-May-13 07:27:14

Relationship broke up 7 years ago.

Ex is having difficulty relating to the children and them to him. DD (6) is often wetting the bed, having biting/kicking tantrums and going a little anorexic because of stress.

Most recent incident ex had dc to sleep over. DD had brought her new clothes to show off. Ex tried to cancel but only the day before and so I wouldn't allow that. We brought them after tea instead of at 3pm because he said he had to work.

Next day DC said his gf was lying in bed a long time and he was grumpy and told them he couldn't take them out because DD's clothes were "inappropriate". It was sunny and 13 degrees and she had a maxi dress, thick woollen tights, a faux fur coat and mittens so not inappropriate at all.

He also told them he couldn't give them lunch because he had no food (supermarket is less than half a mile away and there were two of them there). He brought them back at 2pm and I heard them ask why they had to come home and he said "mummy wanted you back" which is not true at all, he could have kept them as long as he wanted.

I suspect that he wanted to cancel because they had been invited out and that they went out anyway and he was too hungover to deal with them so instead blamed DD and me.

DS was bullying DD because of this when they came back and when I heard the story from them I explained that I didn't think DD was wearing inappropriate clothes at all and it wasn't DD's fault. She then cried solidly for half an hour because she'd worn the clothes specially for him and thought it was her fault the whole thing was ruined. sad

DS then also felt terribly guilty for being whipped up to be mean to her. sad

They have both been upset since and he has not broached the subject with them and is now asking for another overnight.

In the past he has said he doesn't feel able to communicate with them because of what I did to him, apparently taking them away from him.

Plus, DD was conceived when he raped me and he has always denied paternity of her when he could even after DNA. I suspect he doesn't want her sad

If they are going to continue seeing him they need a greater level of emotional support than I can give and it would be a bonus if someone other than me could help XP relate to them. He is willing to go. Is it going to be a bad idea?

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 02-May-13 07:30:45

I think you have to put your DD first here and just stop the overnight stays. He sounds very selfish and uncaring, she's stressed... why keep forcing the poor kid to have to endure his company for long periods?

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 02-May-13 07:33:35

BTW... I don't think any amount of 'therapy' is going to help a man that doesn't want to acknowledge or accommodate his own child. She has an eating disorder? Keep her home, safe and with people that actually love her i.e. just you.

mummytime Thu 02-May-13 07:36:44

I think you need to get some counselling for the children, which may or may not lead on to family therapy for them and him. BUT any such therapy needs to be focussed primarily on the children's needs.

To be honest, as he is abusive; rape is abusive behaviour, as is his treatment of your DD, I would be checking how much contact is really of benefit for them and how much you have to legally allow.

I would also talk to the school (and your GP), and ask for help for your children, is there a home-school link worker they could see? Have you seen the GP about the bed-wetting? If it is linked to stress then I would definitely start the conversation.

RooneyMara Thu 02-May-13 07:38:42

I agree with CES. Therapy is a waste of time unless someone wants to be different. He clearly doesn't.

I would be stopping contact. Seriously he sounds like he is really capable of doing some awful damage, if it's not already been done - poor little things sad and poor you.

Please try your best to stop this. He doesn't give a shit.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 02-May-13 07:39:54

Definitely the GP. You need to get it on record that your DD is incontinent at night and has disordered eating due to stress directly linked to contact with this man. Who is pushing for her to have contact incidentally? You, him or your DD herself?

RooneyMara Thu 02-May-13 07:40:16

btw is this contact ordered by court? If not he has no right to it. He would have to take you to court to get it - and if he has form for raping you then honestly I don't think he'd get unsupervised, nor should he.

I don't know how you bear to send them to someone so horrible - but you don't have to, you can put a stop to this

munchkinmaster Thu 02-May-13 07:42:59

I have to say I think most family therapists wouldn't take this on as they wouldn't feel ethically it was appropriate. If one did agree is be dubious about them.

You say your daughter is a little anorexic. She is 6. She should not be so stressed she is off her food. Why do you think contact benefits them? I think a good idea to seek help for the three of you but leave ex p out while you get yourselves straight.

Offred Thu 02-May-13 07:43:28

I have spoken to the school numerous times over the last two years. They look blank and say "ok, we'll keep an eye on her".

When I spoke to the GP yesterday he gave me a massive lecture about "is this about stopping him seeing them?" Errrr no fuckhead, if I was trying to do that I wouldn't be calling you at all.

Services are not being particularly supportive.

Yy my aim is that they need some emotional support for them primarily (GP) was so angry he wouldn't listen to this and demanded that Xp and I come in together to ask for a referral otherwise he wouldn't do it as he wanted to make sure I wasn't trying to use services to exclude xp hmm

I was pretty shocked and upset!

Offred Thu 02-May-13 07:45:45

I have not reported any abuse or rape. It is entirely my word against his.

The DC live him very much and want to see him. I am in two minds about whether it is actually my responsibility to stop it or to make it safer.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 02-May-13 07:47:25

Talk to a different GP, get a second opinion and then complain about your existing GP to NHS England (assuming you're in England) here for his total lack of attention to your DD's mental health problems. How dare he accuse you of - what? - pretending your child has an illness just to influence contact? There are huge numbers of really crappy GPs in circulation IME and they deserve to be reprimanded.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 02-May-13 07:49:10

Your DCs are kids. Kids want to do all kinds of potentially harmful things 'very much' like eating ice-cream for breakfast or walking on ice-covered lakes.... Our responsibility as parents is to decide what is best for them, not simply go along with their wishes. He is harming your DCs.

Offred Thu 02-May-13 07:52:18

I understand that but I also think if I step in to stop him coming they will idealise him in his absence and when he tries to contact them in their teens or twenties it will be really disruptive.

Offred Thu 02-May-13 07:53:35

He knows he can say what he likes about me because I cannot tell DD the circs of her conception.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 02-May-13 07:59:42

Idolising him in his absence is just a chance you'll have to take. They are at a vulnerable stage in their lives, your DD is suffering quite serious behavioural/MH problems already and sorry to say this but, if those eating problems really take hold, she might not even make it to her teens..... sad You don't have to tell them about the rape and you don't have to justify it. You're the adult here and what you say goes.

redskynight Thu 02-May-13 08:00:17

Definitely complain about the GP, and find another one. That was inappropriate behaviour and the GP needs reprimanding. Find out how best to complain and spell out what the GP said inappropriately and send copies to as many people you need to to get a response.

I think that you do need to not force your x to see the children when he is trying to cancel. He sounds like he is being neglectful and irresponsible towards them through his behaviour, but in the situation you describe the children would have been better off with being disappointed than being neglected and discarded back to you. Some men just should not be allowed to be parents, and he sounds like one of them.

If you are worried about your DD being stressed and bedwetting, talk to the school and find out what primary services you can access through them. My understanding is once the child is of school age, the HV role is taken over by the 'school nurse' and you can access services through them (for bed wetting assessment etc). That might just be in the area I am now. However I was in a different area before and I know that when I raised concerns about stress in my child when her father abandoned her the school did have processes in place to help me, through art therapy etc. (child is infant school age).

Dahlen Thu 02-May-13 08:00:25

I know it's not as easy when you're the one in the middle of it and trying to desperately do the right thing, but if it were me in your situation, i'd stop all contact altogether.

If you split before your DD was born and yet she still has an eating disorder and significant anxiety issues, contact is actively harming her.

Think about how vulnerable, disorientated and hurt you feel as your Xs partner. That's with the benefit of an adult's level of experience and understanding. For a child, who can't make sense of what's going on, it's a million times worse.

Children often have a strong bond with an abusive parent - it's because they do the only thing they can to minimise the fallout on themselves - appease (try to be good, better, say they love them, etc).

If you're worried about how to stop contact without falling foul of the authorities, a few things you can do is get all your concerns documented. Go back to SS and insist they put your concerns on file even if they don't action anything. Find another GP. Make your own diary of your children's problems and document anything said after contact or any change in behaviour, evidence of anxiety, etc. Insist on contact being supervised. This would be best at a contact centre, but offer it at your house if you think you are strong enough to deal with it. It will show you are not stopping contact but that you have concerns about your DC's safety. It will be a matter of weeks I should think before your X behaves abusively towards you, at which point you have been given carte blanche to stop contact completely unless he takes you to court for it. If it goes to court you don't necessarily need legal representation and there are free advocates available for people in your situation. And remember, now that there is no legal aid for family law cases, how likely is a man who would prefer to get drunk than look after his DC properly to go to court?

Hope you resolve things.

redskynight Thu 02-May-13 08:02:39

They will idolise the most crappy parent and you will not hear the end of the adolation. However, you can only give them the best childhood you can and hope that in the future you have given them all the ammunition they need to be able to cope on an emotional level. And you don't need to do it completely alone, make sure they have other adult role models in their lives (be it teachers, aunts, GPs, your friends).

Offred Thu 02-May-13 08:12:28

They will not allow supervised contact at a centre, he will not come to my house because he is afraid. They only begrudgingly allowed it when he was under investigation by the police many years ago (didnt come to anything).

I do think they wouldn't have been less upset by me allowing him to cancel. I didn't think he would behave how he did.

I think it would be vastly worse for him to come in when they are 14/15/16 and could potential ruin their whole lives with running away and drugs/alcohol.

Dahlen Thu 02-May-13 08:17:30

Who is they? The courts or your X and his GF?

Dahlen Thu 02-May-13 08:17:54

If he doesn't want to come to your house, then he misses out. He doesn't have the trump card anymore than you do.

Dahlen Thu 02-May-13 08:18:32

The trouble is, the more contact they have with him and the more they try to appease him, the more it is going to undermine the relationship they have with you. sad

Offred Thu 02-May-13 08:20:29

Courts and therefore the services, although there is no contact order because they determined his suit was vexatious.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 02-May-13 08:35:44

You're projecting what 'might' happen eight, nine, ten years down the track and ignoring what you know to be true today ie.. they lives are being ruined 'now'.

If they are in your care from now on, get good parenting, and are not subjected to a bad parent that rejects them, upsets them, causes conflict and is making your daughter physically and mentally disturbed, why would that mean they are likely to run away or start doing drugs? Surely the opposite is true?

mummytime Thu 02-May-13 08:46:23

Go to see a different GP!
Go to the school, and ask to speak to the SENCO. Tell them (the SENCO) that you are worried about your daughter's emotional state and eating, as she seems to be taking your break up hard. Ask them if they can refer her for any support. I would probably also put it in writing that you are concerned about your daughter's eating and please could they monitor this as a "safeguarding issue".
I was recently called into school because my DD refused to eat at lunch time; the reason I was called was that as I had previously raised concerns they took it to be a "safeguarding issue" so had to treat it very seriously.

I would also suggest that you get some proper legal advice. It is not too late to call Women's aid or Rights of Women.

The children may seem briefly upset at not seeing him, but if it is doing them long term harm, it is much better that they don't see him.

I believe you and your children do need counselling. So does your ex, but he is never going to be totally truthful with a counsellor is he?

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now