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Not sure what to do:((15 Posts)
I left my stbxh nearly a year ago - he was a bully and emotionally abusive. It's been hard, we have 3 dcs and I am still looking for somewhere to live(with relatives atm) I have learnt allsorts and received some nasty solicitors letters. However, I am happier now and doing things I wouldn't have done if still with him, my life has moved on because I have had to - I have been upset and I still have bad days but ultimately life is quite ok for me nowWhat I am finding hard is that he says things to the children that he shouldn't be saying, they find this upsetting, especially the eldest and last week I had enough and (very bravely!)asked stbx not to question the children on my life, it took a lot for me to do this, I don't have any contact with him unless it's dropping off/collecting the children or emailing to see when he having them. Although we are apart I am still frightened,I am doubting myself all over again which is how he used to make me feel before - like everything was my fault. He has told the eldest he is not happy with 'what mummy said' this is unfair on the dcs and that's why I said something - in an attempt to protect them. Now I am afraid to see him next, he will certainly have something to say after this and he has had time to think up something any advice appreciated, thank you
When you've been bullied it takes a huge amount of guts to stand up for yourself and be assertive towards your bully. So you've done a terrific thing and the right thing but it's shaken you short-term because it's new for you... hence the doubts and fears.
My advice would be to stick to your guns. You say he will have had time to think up something - so do you.. Before you next see him be prepared and have a few short responses ready anticipating what he might say. I would suggest at least one of those statements is that if he carries on pumping the DCs for information you'll advise your solicitor. Above all don't engage in conversation or let him turn it into an argument.
Also practise looking calm, confident and defiant. Very seriously, stand in front of a mirror and arrange your face convincingly like you're an actor. However frightened or apprehensive you are, however much your stomach is churning or your mouth is dry, if you look calm and confident on the outside, that's how he will think you are feeling.
Finally, talk to your DCs and reassure them that they don't have to listen to what he says and that if he upsets them, they can tell him to stop.
Thank you, my next step was to be contacting solicitor, it's not the first time it's happened and I have let it go but this time I just couldn't, my dcs was quite upset and I found that hard because it wasn't necessary I have been practising what to say and as you said my main aim is not to get into an argument or any sort of discussion, that's when I am likely to lose my composure. I am trying to do all you have said which is reassuring-I am not wrong in what I am doing I am just so frightened of seeing him - sounds so ridiculous and I know it does!
Emotional abuse and bullying depends on creating an atmosphere of fear in order to control. I'm guessing you were together for quite a while and you've only been split up a year? So, even though you have clearly come a long way, old habits and old feelings die hard.
One way to dispel the fear is to act & speak confidently as I said earlier. Having back-up from a solicitor will give you strength. Another way is to see the bully's behaviour not as frightening but as laughable. I don't know if you remember how Harry Potter has to deal with Boggarts - the nasty creature that takes the shape of the thing they most fear? They charm required is 'Riddikulus' Your ex is ridiculous, not you.
Thank you I have just read that Harry Potter book to my son - I will take that idea and use it when I see him next yes, I was with him for 15 years
For context only and you don't have to be specific ... when your exH upsets the children what type of things is he saying? There is such a thing as 'parental alienation' which is seen as a form of child abuse and your solicitor would be able to advise. In the meantime, here's an article on Parental Alienation that you might find useful
I haven't been in this position but if what the DCs repeat to you about what ex is saying is obviously upsetting you, winding you up, then they will start to keep it to themselves. Which is unhealthy for them.
Is there some counseling/ advice you could get to help you handle what he is doing. Advice on how to discuss it with the DCs, eg 'Dad is very angry that we have separated which makes him say nasty things' which might allow them to open up about it but without you slagging him off too much.
Maybe Relate could advise.
Kids aren't daft and probably know what is going on, but better they can have support to deal with it than handle it on their own.
I am fortunate in that my children are honest with me,I say nothing about him to their face and make it clear I am not cross,I have somehow managed to keep calm when taking to the children and don't show how I feel,I just ty to reassure them. They do receive help to talk if needed
Then even more reason to keep calm with your ex and demonstrate that you are personally unruffled by his behaviour but are prepared to stop him from upsetting the children legally if necessary.
Bullies thrive on knowing they have pierced your armour. Show them a chink of exposed flesh and they'll keep needling away at it because they are nasty inadequate bastards. Close that opportunity down and they quickly move onto another target.
He has said lots including Santa won't find them at Christmas,details about the divorce etc that they don't need to hear,he brings up the past which we are all trying to move on from,he asks questions about my family and friends and it's all nothing to do with him,it sounds silly now and there is more,but he shouldn't be quizzing his children,they go there to see him not to be pumped for information thank you for your replies
Avoid contact with him. Don't let yourself get in a situation where he might say anything to you alone. Make third parties or do handover in public places.
Re the inappropriate stuff to the kids, I think a solicitors letter to start with and then withold contact if he doesn't stop. Force the issue to court and then tell the judge x
You have done well. Remember it's ok to stay away and that nothing he says is true x
Thank you - hand overs are in public and I only say what's essential. Solicitors letter was going to be next and you have just confirmed that for me - my future steps were to force it to court and I know he won't want that. I don't want anything to do with him which is why I stay away - he seems to think we should be chatting as if nothing has happened
How sad for DCs, sounds like you are doing the absolute best for them. Hopefully he will lose interest in pestering them once he realizes it is having no effect on you.
I second what the posters above are saying and I have been in this situation myself, so I know how frustrating it is when you're trying to keep contact going for the DC's sake. In any 'discussion', various things I was doing re work, family, activities, DC, would be thrown back at me with some sort of insult. My DC are older now and know very well what sort of person he is. I was also able to point out to him some time ago that they were only telling him what I chose to share, so my plans, finances, work situation, relationships etc were not going to be discussed. That seemed to come as quite a shock. These bullies really can't see beyond their own egos sometimes.
It's reassuring I am not the only one. I feel so much for my dcs, everything I am doing and have done is for them and what's best for them, he has done the complete opposite. What I may or may not do is none of his business, I am building myself up to tell him that at some point, the children tell him things (which I accept) but he questions them after,my eldest actually said to me that it was none of daddy's business!bless him! but he can't go and tell him that! I have just advised him to say ask mummy or I don't know. Thank you for your replies, much appreciated
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