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New Partner - Domestic violence worries.

(50 Posts)
Jamie1981 Mon 16-Jun-14 13:23:34

Hi all,

I met a new partner about 3 years ago. We hit it off immediately and actually got married in July last year. A week or two back, he made a comment about Clare's Law that worried me, as he said his past could catch up with him as a consequence of this law being introduced. I asked him what he meant and he told me that in 2008, he was cautioned by the police and had to deal with social workers for 3 months because he had slapped one of his children, leaving a red "hand mark" on his face. He claims that at the time the boy concerned was trying to hit his sister with a piece of wood and that he didn't mean to slap his face. He went into some detail about the circumstances and didn't seem to mind my cross questioning. I asked him why he had never told me and he said he thought he had - he said he'd been open with most people he knew about it. I've since found out that most of the people we know are aware of it, so possibly it was an oversight. His cousin told me that he'd been very upset about it at the time, but she told me the same story that he told me.

In the time we have been together, he has never raised his hand to me or my son, or his own children when they stay and although from time to time we've "had words" as every couple does he has never, ever appeared threatening. He's never so much as grabbed my arm or shouted in my face. He has also told my son off once or twice, but again, there has never been even a slight suggestion that he would do anything more - it blows over in minutes and most of the time they get on like a house on fire.

If i'm honest, i am pretty sure that if he was a violent man, i'd have seen some evidence of this by now. But i am still worried because of the stories you hear. But he is a very sensitive man and i don't want him to think i don't trust him because he will be upset (as in devastated, rather than angry).

Deep down, i think that my worries are unfounded, but i've been in a violent relationship in the past and i am just so worried if he did suddenly flip one day, although i am being 100% truthful when i say i have never seen any sign of it. So to recap, he's never threatened me or anybody i know, he's got a good relationship with his own kids and mine. He rarely drinks and when he does, there has never been any sign of violence to me or to anybody else. He's never had a problem with me going out with friends and beyond "where did you go tonight" he's never really shown any interest in or jealousy of what i get up to.

Anyway,i came on here to ask a question. Is it common for fathers to find themselves on the wrong side of the law in this way? Or should i be worried about something more? I have been thinking about making an application under Clare's Law but i'm worried he will find out and it will harm what is actually a great relationship.

Sorry if these seems trivial, but its really got me worried.

LonnyVonnyWilsonFrickett Mon 16-Jun-14 13:30:11

I actually don't know what to say about this. The opening para would normally be enough to have me shrieking 'LTB' at the top of my voice, but then when you go onto explain it all sounds as if his story could be true.

Can I be blunt? Do you think being in a previously violent relationship has made you better or worse at picking up the signs? What do your friends think of him? Your parents?

I think I would be tempted to do the Clare's Law request purely to see if all the stories match up...

KlokkenErOl Mon 16-Jun-14 13:33:54

Well I can't speak for the OP, but being in an abusive relationship has made me better at picking up on signs. I think I always picked up on them on a gut level but now (thanks to mumsnet) I can articulate what it is precisely that has made me feel uneasyy.

In your shoes my concern would be that he's trying to get in there first with his side of the story ie, there is something he's alreadyy trying to explain away.

I've no idea what claire's law is mind you.

It doesn't seem at all trivial to me. Is there any way to corroborate his story? with one of his children?

KlokkenErOl Mon 16-Jun-14 13:37:05

question, did the children's mother report the incident, or did the hospital staff think it was serious enough that they reported it?

KlokkenErOl Mon 16-Jun-14 13:39:18

ps2, I'd hope that although he fears his "past could catch up with him" that as a father, he wouldn't be against this clare's law. It would unsettle me if he were (even with good personal reasons) against a law that is overall in the best interest of children. It MAY potentially count against him in some random as yet unspecified event in the future, but it will definitely protect children in the here and now, so I would be a bit upset in your shoes if he were against the law full stop because of a reason that was selfish and an uncertainty even at that.

MrsWolowitz Mon 16-Jun-14 13:39:37

Why not seek a Clare's Law disclosure?

Call 101 and they'll get the ball going.

If you have concerns you should ask.

canweseethebunnies Mon 16-Jun-14 13:42:14

Have your old him how you feel and that it's brought up concerns for you? Is that a conversation you could have? His reaction to to that might be telling.

Also, does he get on with his children's mother now? Is it something you could ask her about, and would he mind you doing that?

Matildathecat Mon 16-Jun-14 13:43:50

By all means check it out but actually sounds quite plausible. He still looks after his child so you can see their relationship.

Confession, I have, in the past slapped my kids. I know, shameful and not something I would do now. I bet that's true of a lot of other people, too.

My naughty little boys are now 22and 24 and love their mummy to bits slaps notwithstanding.smile

Jamie1981 Mon 16-Jun-14 13:44:02

Well, thats the funny thing. Since i've known them, they've said "we'll call social services" every time he tells them to eat their dinners, clean their teeth, etc. It was like a standing joke that i never really got. I know they think that he's a bit strict, and he himself says his views are a bit old fashioned, but there is no sign of anything dodgy. That's why i'm not running for the door.
I can't talk to his ex wife because the divorce was horrible and she is, frankly, a nasty woman but i did once see the divorce papers and letters between solicitors and there was never any mention of violence towards her or the children even though there was a long running argument over custody.
He's also shown me the police caution, so he definitely wasn't taken to court, which i assume means he didn't do anything too bad?

canweseethebunnies Mon 16-Jun-14 13:48:26

That's kind of odd, in that you'd think if she was that nasty she would definitely use it against him in a custody battle! She obviously didn't have major concerns about that then I guess?

KlokkenErOl Mon 16-Jun-14 13:51:12

so it's not something that his xw has used against him.

frankly if my x had been abusive to the children, no matter how acrimonious things were (and they were bad) i would have had to have brought that out in to the open.

CinnabarRed Mon 16-Jun-14 13:53:42

A caution is a formal warning that is given to a person who has admitted an offence. If the person refuses the caution then they will normally be prosecuted through the normal channels for the offence. Although it is not technically classed as a conviction (as only the Courts can convict someone) it can be taken into consideration by the Courts if the person is convicted of a further offence.

So your BF almost certainly would have been prosecuted if he hadn't accepted the caution. He might well have been convicted.

I'm amazed that he could have forgotten to mention it to you.

Jamie1981 Mon 16-Jun-14 13:58:27

So according to my husband, what happened was that his son and daughter were having a fight and he intervened, slapping his son on the face in the process. His wife noticed that the son had a red hand mark on his face and wanted to keep the son off school that day, however, he said there was nothing to worry about and told the son to tell the truth if he was asked. This does sound like my husband, to be honest. He has this naive faith in the justice system and human nature. He then had a call from the police and was asked to attend the police station, which he did. When he got there he was arrested and charged. I asked him whether he got a solicitor and he said he hadn't but wished he did. He didn't (and doesn't) see that he did anything wrong and thought that the police would see sense. He says that his father slapped him and never did him any harm and he still thinks that he needed to intervene harshly to stop his daughter coming to serious harm. The police kept him at the station for several hours, while, as he found out later, the social workers interviewed the kids and his ex wife. They then offered him a caution or a day in court and he took the caution because by that point he had realised things were not as simple as he thought they were, which he says he regrets because he doesn't think the law is fair - the caution was for "battery" (i've checked, and this is used for everything from a slap to a beating) and he feels that this was unfair, because battery is wounding with intent and he did not intend to wound. He says the idea that you can slap a child and it be deemed reasonable chastisement yet if you leave a mark, it is deemed to be battery is unfair, since he had no intention of leaving a mark.
So the hospital was never involved. The teachers reported the incident as they have a duty to. He also told me some things about the social worker that sound plausible. He says they made a note that his son appeared fearful when meeting the policeman, but he thought that was irrelevant because he had brought them up in this way. He was angry that she misrepresented a teacher who had said "son could do better", which appeared in the report as "failing to thrive". He was also angry because they referred to his seven year old daughter's occasional bed wetting as a possible indicator of more serious abuse, although they didn't follow this up (he thinks because this was an initial risk assessment). He also told me that he had a "bit of a breakdown" after this and resigned from a charity where he drove a minibus for disadvantaged kids. I know that this part is true as one of my friends said he did charity work when she found out i was seeing him.

Jamie1981 Mon 16-Jun-14 14:01:48

Actually, that's another point in his favour. He's actually very in favour of the law, and the comment about the past catching up with him was clearly intended to be a joke and as they say "it's all in the delivery" i wonder if he genuinely thought i knew. His beef is that he says that there is no risk assessment and it should have been obvious to anybody coming into his home that his kids were not in any way at risk.
Maybe as somebody else says, i should just ask him for some evidence.

CinnabarRed Mon 16-Jun-14 14:13:03

But it must have been one hell of a slap to still show as a hand mark at school.

Why were his children at the stage of beating each other with lumps of wood? That's concerning in and of itself surely?

Why didn't he grab the wood from his son, rather than slap him?

Could he have grabbed his son round the waist and pull it backwards?

And, surely, surely if you'd spent several hours in a police station, resigned from a charity and then had a breakdown - you would remember to mention it to your DP?

Jamie1981 Mon 16-Jun-14 14:16:50

Sorry, i missed your comment.
I know for a fact that my previous experience has made me very wary and that's why i wonder if i am being overly sensitive. He has been very good to both of us and we have a great life together in all other ways. My parents like him (which is unique based on previous partners) and it's not like he's gone on a charm offensive. My friends all seem to like him too - i've not specifically asked but everybody was thrilled when i told them i was getting married.

Keepithidden Mon 16-Jun-14 14:20:28

you would remember to mention it to your DP?

If it's common knowledge amongst friends and family, then I can see it would be easy to assume others knew. Or is that being naive? Not sure.

Jamie1981 Mon 16-Jun-14 14:25:23

That's what i keep coming back to as well. I'm not worried about the blocks of wood thing - his middle son has been a tearaway and is always getting himself in trouble which causes my husband a great deal of heartache (mostly because his ex wife seems to trivialise it and does nothing to punish him).
But as you say, he could have taken many other actions other than slap him and i asked him about that. But he said that he needed a short sharp shock to put a stop to what was happening. I know he has strong views about what he sees as his right as a father to keep his kids on the straight and narrow and he sees slapping as a part of that. I've never seen him slap any of his kids so it doesn't look like it is a regular thing (although granted he now knows the consequences).

LittlePeaPod Mon 16-Jun-14 14:26:09

I was brought up in a violent home. Watched my evil dead (grin whilst dancing on his grave) fuck wit of a step father beat my mother to a pulp. As a result I am probably more risk averse with regards these situations.

Seek disclosure using Claire's Law Op. If your DH has nothing to hide he won't mind. My advice if in any doubt (even a tiny but) then seek disclosure.

LonnyVonnyWilsonFrickett Mon 16-Jun-14 14:30:33

I can see how if one child was threatening another with a big lump of wood, a bigger stronger parent might slap them to shock them out of it. I'm not saying it's good parenting at all but I can see how it could happen in the heat of the moment.

I'm so on the fence with this one OP, sorry I'm probably not being very helpful! I think if you have 3 years experience of him and that experience is saying 'it's a one off' then you should listen to that gut reaction. But then I know you'd never forgive yourself if you felt you were putting your DCs in any danger. But there's also the fact that he has a good relationship with his DCs now... aaargh! I really don't know what to say!

I agree with hidden that sometimes when things are common knowledge you assume everyone knows...

CinnabarRed Mon 16-Jun-14 14:31:03

I'd expect it to come up not long after starting to date - and certainly on moving in together.

wannaBe Mon 16-Jun-14 14:38:02

iirc Clare's law has to do with violence against a partner. And even then the police will not disclose exactly what the convictions are - only if there is a risk.

Tbh his story sounds plausible to me. If he still sees his children then clearly there aren't worries on the part of their mother or ss (if he was deemed a risk to his dc then there would have been ss involvement too).

Three years is a long time esp if you have been living together for the majority of that time, something would have shown by now if he had a tendency towards being violent.

And some people believe in smacking. We may not all personally agree with that but that doesn't make them monsters prone to domestic violence.

I was initially thinking along the same lines as other posters - that this sort of thing can happen in the heat of the moment with an otherwise good parent. But the more you post, the more it starts sounding... not quite right, somehow. For one thing for a slap to leave a mark that's visible days later, it would have had to be a really, really hard one. Also, you mention more than once that he is 'strict' with the children. I wonder if he's a bit of a bully?

LittlePeaPod Mon 16-Jun-14 15:34:20

Seek the disclosure Op. At least you will know if he has ever been violent towards his previous partners. If his got nothing to hide he won't mind.

AnyFucker Mon 16-Jun-14 15:35:50

OP, you say he is a "sensitive man". What do you mean by that ? Are you able to bring anything up at any time? Or do you modify your behaviour because you fear (on some level) his reaction.

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