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New Partner - Domestic violence worries.(50 Posts)
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.
Hi, to be clear (at least what he's told me) this happened almost as the kids were leaving for school, so i guess it would have had to have been visible for an hour or more, but certainly (at least based on what he's told me) for much longer. I certainly wouldn't describe him as a bully. He just tends to expect the kids to do things i wouldn't personally worry about (clean bedrooms, chores, etc) but he doesn't bully. He'll just say "if you don't tidy your room by x time, then i'm turning the internet off" and then do it if they haven't. His kids iron some of their own clothes and are made to clean their shoes, whereas i think kids shouldn't need to do any of these things. It caused some issues when we first moved in together, but he respects my views and i respect his and i have to say that his kids are lovely, respectful kids, even the middle one, whose major problem is that he is easily led and doesn't get enough attention at home (my husband's ex wife works part time, her boyfriend doesn't work at all, the kids are left to fend for themselves and are variously told that their dad either doesn't pay "enough" maintenance or has "paid it late" - i think most parents with care would be happy with £970 a month, with no deductions for the 100 nights a year they spend with their dads, but not these two).
To be honest, we both wish the middle son lived with us. He's been in trouble with the police now for shoplifting and attacking another child in full view of the CCTV. His mum's reaction to the latter - she phoned my husband to berate him for being a bad father, then told her son that it was "no big deal" and allowed him to go to a sports event that he had been looking forward to. It seems a strange thing to say, but he is actually a really polite kid, but where they live he is mixing with the wrong crowd and is a bit too willing to behave badly to get attention. Sadly, they moved nearly 2 hours away so its difficult for my husband to intervene.
Sorry, off topic, i just want to give some context. I wouldn't describe him as a bully at all.
tbh I don't think expecting children to clean their own bedrooms and shoes or even learning to iron is strict - it's normal parenting.
He slapped the child before school and the child went to school and still had a red mark - or perhaps he mentioned to the school that he'd had a slap - given that his dad had said that if he was asked he should be honest.
It's not something I would have thought to mention either tbh even though there was a caution involved because it sounds so trivial as to be irrelevant. School will presumably have followed normal cp procedures and especially if the child had been honest when asked it would have been normal for them to report.
I mean he is sensitive in a good way. He carries a lot of guilt and tends to blame himself for things that are clearly not his fault. We had a bottle of wine at the weekend and after he'd had a couple of glasses he got quite emotional about where his life has led him and said that he felt that guilt about his kids was eating away inside him like a cancer. That's what i mean by sensitive - he's introspective, worries a lot about the past. A good example would be the problems that we had when we first moved in together. Everything was fine for a few weeks but then i found he was getting a bit snappy with my son. I confronted him about it and he initially got quite defensive and disappeared out for a couple of hours (he doesn't really do confrontation). When he came back he apologised and said that he was really struggling with spending time with my child, taking my son out for cakes, etc, when he is unable to see his as often as he likes. That's how he is. I take him to task on something, he disappears, then comes back having thought about it and apologises. I've seen the toll that his ex wife has taken on him over the last 4 or 5 years - honestly, you wouldn't believe the depths she has sunk to in that time. And i've also noticed that the times that we fall out generally correlate with incoming calls from a certain number on his mobile phone.....
3 years and not a sign of it??
I'm gonna stick my neck out and say its not a problem. Remain aware of it, talk to your DC about the importance of being able to tell you anything and that no one is allowed to strike them in any way. Tell fella that its made you a bit uneasy, and that you find any form of violence at all completely unacceptable and any hint of it will be the instant end to your relationship.
Crack on and have a happy life with your bloke.
The thing that worries me a little bit is that you say he doesn't think he did anything wrong. Slapping a child across the face hard enough to leave a mark is abusive. If he is sorry for what he did I would be less concerned, but if he doesn't think he did anything wrong then what's to stop him doing it again.
My dp slapped my dd's face once. She was 15 and had just got in his face and said "fuck you" he did a sort of controlled slap but caught her in the lip by accident and I think she bit her lip. Around that time we were having problems with dd and her boyfriend. Long story short dds bf's mother interfered and said dd could stay there. Inappropriate as dd was 15 her bf 17. We called police etc and actually phoned social services ourselves. I was worried but open. They spoke to dd and never took things any further. That makes me wonder if there was more than he is telling you
Well, i popped around to my mother's tonight and mentioned what my husband had said. She reacted with some surprise - because apparently they were talking about some social services scandal when we were on holiday last year and he quite openly told them what had happened. She thought i knew too! She thinks i am making a mountain out of a molehill, although she did ask and seemed quite worried that something had happened between us, which it hasn't. I'm going to talk to him again tonight. I feel so bad questioning him about this.
To answer happyhev, my husband has said that hitting his son so hard was wrong, but it was unintentional. It is the act of slapping that he has a bee in his bonnet about - he says that fathers should have the right to discipline their children as they did thirty years ago when he was a child. He told me (i don't know if he's right) that there is a direct correlation between youth crime and general delinquency and the removal of the rights of parents in this regard. It does kind of make sense. As i say, personally i don't agree with slapping, but i was slapped, he was slapped and his kids were slapped - and none of us seem to have suffered as a consequence.
Now you have doubts about your new husband will you ever be able to get those doubts out of your mind.
My post is going to echo SGB's. The more you post the more unease I'm feeling. I think it's because it isn't about the one incident. It's the surrounding information offered.
If he got on well with his ex; if he wasn't over emotional about his past; if there hadn't been a custody battle; if you hadn't asked if it was common for fathers to be on the wrong side of the law....etc..I'd perhaps be less uneasy. But something feels off key here. Not least that he forgot to tell you about this episode before you got married.
I don't know what to advise you, Jamie, except that more could be going on here than a simple failure to tell you something. So if you want to find out more under Clare's law, do so.
So if you criticize him he runs off crying, stays away long enough for you to be worried then comes home and 'apologises'... but somehow it becomes a matter of you having made him feel bad...
He talks quite a lot about how he ought to have the right to assault his children...
At least one of his children alternates between terrified appeasement and acting out...
I am liking the sound of this man less and less, OP.
I wouldn't usually post on threads like these. However, I would strongly disagree that parents should be able to "discipline" their children (meaning hitting) because otherwise there "is a direct correlation between the rise of youth crime, general delinquency and the removal of the rights of parents in this regard".
I grew up in a time when it was common to hit your kids and there was a lot of corporal punishment in schools. I can remember at junior school the whole school being gathered in the hall to watch a boy being beaten with a slipper by the headmaster for taking some money from a teacher's handbag. The boy was sobbing and trying to get away while he was being whacked in front of all of us for what seemed like a very long time. It was so "good" for him he ended up in prison. It was distressing to watch and has stayed with me for 40 years.
So those kind of sentiments tend to make my blood run cold, and I wouldn't want to share my home and my kids with someone who thought like that.
I was also hit by my parents and it did me a lot of psychological harm. That kind of discipline, behind closed doors, is enormously open to abuse.
Punish by all means, but not with violence. There are other ways of making your point and "disciplining" children and we should be intelligent enough to find them.
Do you normally believe what he tells you, by which I mean adopt opinions which he presents as fact? Like that there is a direct correlation between youth crime and general delinquency and the removal of the rights of parents in this regard. Because that isn't fact, it's his opinion and I personally think it's a load of old bollocks.
If you challenged him with an opinion of your own wrt this, how would he react?
I agree entirely with SGB - something is off key here.
Depends on how you read it. You could equally say that rather than let an argument escalate further and unreasonably (on his part) he takes a time out, thinks things through in detail and then acts completely appropriately.
I confronted my husband last night. I'm glad i did. Anyway, he let me read the social services report and it says pretty much exactly what he told me. I think i can understand why he was so angry with social services from some of the statements contained in there. It says, for example, that the family is not well integrated into the local community. It also says his son was failing to thrive, but the school report (that he also showed me) from the same period says nothing of the sort. But as he says (and i know this to be true) they had a wide circle of friends and he was involved with several community charities as was his ex wife. I feel reassured by this, because he doesn't appear to have embellished anything and the report does say that the mark on his son's face had faded by the time the social worker arrived at the school, and that the incident happened between 8am and 8.30, while the kids were waiting to leave for school. He also said he genuinely thought he'd told me and that everyone he knows is also aware of what happened.
We also talked about some of the concerns raised on here (i told him i'd sought advice). He was ok with this until he read some of your comments, then he got pretty angry and said that this was precisely why he'd made the comment about his past catching up with him, because people twist facts and choose to see only what they want to see. He says he doesn't "run away crying" but just doesn't like arguing in front of my son, because he and his ex wife used to have what he described as "violent" arguments which upset his kids. I asked what he meant by "violent" but he said "i mean shouting, not hitting". He also said that he has never said that beating a child is ok, but he thinks that slapping is ok, and says it is also presently legal and it is just the fact that he slipped up once, did no lasting harm, yet now has something on his record that he is worried will come up and yet people who properly abuse their kids are overlooked despite overwhelming evidence. He also explained that it was fear of this that prevented him from applying for a job with the local council last year, which i couldn't understand at the time.
He's told me to go ahead with the Clare's Law application and said he is actually curious to see how the police respond to the request. He also said his biggest regret was not getting a solicitor, because one of the policemen that interviewed told him that they had no option but to give him a caution since he'd admitted that he had slapped his son and left the mark. The policemen were apparently quite impressed by his honesty, which also comes across in the social worker's report, which made mention of the fact that his son had volunteered the information that his dad had told him to tell the truth.
After he went to work today i sat reading all of the comments and i do think some of them are wide of the mark. For example, he's never had a problem with me expressing my opinions and that's why it surprised me that this event happened, because he is normally very calm and measured about everything. When we talked about it last night he said that his relationship with his ex wife, who he finally left in 2006, 4 years after he found out about an affair she was having in 2002 (i knew about this - his ex now lies with the man concerned) had just deteriorated to the point where every discussion turned into a nasty argument and a lot of things were said that he was deeply ashamed off. He said he "felt like he became somebody else" and finally realised that it was best for everybody that he left.
Anyway, i realise that people are suspicious of his opinions, so i will just say what i know about his ex wife. Firstly, she had an affair with a guy she now lives with. He doesn't work, and she only works part time. They get nearly £1000 a month in maintenance from him, but wear clothes that don't fit and seem to exist on takeaway meals. Whenever he spends money on me she makes sure to tell everybody that he is not doing enough for her, but when he gets his annual bonus and she gets her share - actually the kids share - (normally around £1000) it gets spent on a foreign holiday for her and her boyfriend while the kids stay with us. When they first separated, she took £6,000 from his business bank account, which meant he got into trouble for not paying his VAT on time. She also took out a mobile phone contract and bought an expensive computer in his name, after he left. Why he didn't have her charged with fraud is beyond me, but it definitely happened because i've seen the emails between them. The house was sold and by prior agreement she got 75% of the sale value - what he was left with was used to clear his company debts (i.e., the VAT debt) and pay down debts that they had taken up to upgrade their house, but she claimed to be destitute when they eventually went to court (again, he had just decided to let her sell the house and take the money, because she told him she wouldn't ask for spousal maintenance if he did - a promise that she reneged on). Within 8 weeks of him moving out, she had moved the new boyfriend in, and they spent 9 months living in the house at his expense with neither of them working. He had a lucky escape on the spousal maintenance though - she moved with her boyfriend to his council house, which only had two bedrooms and although she claimed she and the boys were just lodgers, the judge didn't believe her (mainly because there was no regular payment of rent leaving her bank account). The custody battle came about because she wanted to move them 100 miles away to a town with a very poor reputation (where her new fella had a council house), which my husband felt was a bad choice. At the time, my husband was working away from home each week and only home at weekends, but was actively seeking work locally so that he could have them live with him. I think in that context, if she could have made a claim about violence she would have done. Since i've had the "pleasure" of knowing her, she has proven that she is virtually incapable of telling the truth about anything.
I know all of this to be true because i've seen the paperwork (probably shouldn't have read it, because i came across it by accident, but i had a need to know whether he was being truthful due to issues in my own past).
Oh and PS, the troubled son is not living in a state of "terrified appeasement". He's actually a really nice kid and gets on well with his dad, but there is a streak in him. I wouldn't even call it malice, even though it plays out that way. My husband says he sees a lot of himself in him at that age - low self confidence playing out as a need to play the big man. I think there is some truth in that. I've noticed that he (the son, not my hubby) flies off the deep end if he is embarrassed by anything. I know my hubby worries about him a lot, not least because his mother doesn't. Example: he punched a black child in front of a supermarket cctv camera. The black child's mother said she thought it was a race attack. The police visited my hubby's ex wife and said to her that they didn't think the race element was "a big deal" as there was no suggestion that this was the case. His mother told the boy, and my hubby, that the police said that the attack itself was "no big deal". On this basis, she did absolutely nothing to reprimand him. When my hubby rang her to talk through things, she appeared to agree that she would take action, but then told the son that my hubby was really angry with the son and she thought it was completely unwarranted. She cannot help herself.
It sounds good and I hope he continues to be the husband you have been with so far.
Regarding the slap, I can see how he could have reacted like that if a child was about to seriously hit another.
Regarding the slap, even the other day one of DS's school mate's mother was telling us how she once left a mark on her son's back. (and she is a teacher) Although I do think it's unacceptable, many people still see physical punishment as valid.
His attitude sounds right, in admitting to it and it seems he has checked himself not to do it again.
Physical chastisement which leaves a mark isn't actually legal. I just wanted to point that out.
I honestly think your DP sounds like a good guy who has been damaged by a toxic relationship with his XP and who could probably use a little bit of help managing his emotions better. Getting angry at a bunch of mainly supportive comments on the internet, for example, seems like an over-reaction. We're not judging him - we don't know him. Posters here give a view, usually based on their own experience, that's all.
I think in his desire to not get into 'angry' arguments like he did with XP, he's maybe lost sight of how to deal with disagreements and anger in a healthy way.
But anyway. It sounds like you are comfortable with his explanation of the incident which is the main thing and I wish you all well.
Yes, and he would agree with you that its not legal or desirable. I think his anger is because it was a mistake and he thinks that the system should have investigated and then dismissed it as one, rather than him having a potentially career limiting mark on his record. And i do kind of agree with him because making the law dependent on the existence of a mark is completely ineffectual, because you can do a lot of harm to a child without leaving a single mark. That, i think, is why he is so angry about the whole thing. He was involved with a charity that worked with kids from poor backgrounds and saw real abuse first hand, but those abusers seemed to get away with it. In one case he told me about, a girl with learning disabilities was suspected of being abused by her father, but because she couldn't articulate this, nothing was done. It's not like he's some ogre. Which i guess is why i started to wonder if everything i thought i knew about him was a lie.
OK, you know him much better than us internet sprites, and given that you seem to have confirmation of his version of events from other sources, then things probably are going to be fine.
It's just that, to someone who doesn't know either of you, what you were initially describing did sound like it could have been something more potentially damaging. For instance, the views on corporal punishment and 'respect', coupled with the 'my ex wife is a nasty mad cow' are the sort of thing you often get with abusive men. Not always, but sometimes.
ANyway, good luck OP.
I think if it had been more than a one off then it would have come out by now. Parents aren't perfect. My own mother - who is a borderline saint as far as patience is concerned - has slapped my sister square in the face on at least one occasion because she was being so godamn horrific.
Summary - don't forget about the incident, but accept it for what the evidence shows it to be. A one off moment where he made a judgement of error and did something wrong.
Two things bother me:
1) he must've known he hadnt told you about it before- a bit of a big issue to 'think' you've told somebody isn't it???
2) he slapped a child do hard it left a red mark which was seen at school hours (a day?) after.
I don't think I could get past these things tbh
Well, he does seem to have told everybody else that we know, including my parents. I've confirmed this with several people now.
And from the timings in the social workers report, the mark was only visible for an hour at most.
It's bothered me, but then he is a wonderful man and in three years, i've seen no signs of any aggression. Quite the opposite in fact.
Did your parents not think to mention it to you?!
Haha! No, they thought i knew. The thing is, they know his family, so i suppose they know (at least superficially) that he is fundamentally a decent guy.
To be fair to hubby, it would not be the first time that he's forgotten to tell me something fairly important (like when my sister rang to tell me she was pregnant. They chatted for an hour but i only found a month later when my mum asked why i hadn't gone to the baby shower)!
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