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I just found out my children have been physically abused by their father for all these years

(77 Posts)
Takeitallaway Sat 12-Mar-16 09:08:13

I've name changed for this and can't go into the whole background as the post will be ridiculously long so I'm sorry if there are big time gaps in my story.

I married my abusive ex husband 12!years ago when I was 18 and we had 3 sons now aged 11, 9 and 7. The abuse was unbearable but I was so young and desperate to keep the family together that I stayed for far too long, this is something I will always regret.

I left the marriage nearly 6 years ago and their father has been having weekly visitation overnight unsupervised. He was only ever abusive to me and appeared to love his children and I thought they loved him. They used to run up and greet him when he came to pick them up, defended him after arguments, cried for him if he ever got arrested (usually for threatening me, refusing to leave my house etc.), asked to see him or when he was coming, told me all about the things he has bought them, the places he takes them.

Even though I was desperate to get this man out of my life and I knew he often used pick up and drop off to be rude and vile to me, I thought my children loved him and that he was a good dad (in as far as he loved the boys and would never hurt them).

At the end of last month, their Dad was physically violent to me after a drop off (this has not happened for several years as he is more emotionally abusive) and the boys were present. I had to ring the police and informed school what happened as my eldest son was directly involved and they were all upset. As a result, I stopped all contact with his children and he has bail conditions not to contact me.

My eldest son began to open up to a school counsellor, the first time he has ever spoken to anyone about his dad. My relationship with my eldest son is very strained and has been since he was about 6 (when I left his father) and he never opens up to me about anything. He told her that his dad has been using visitation all of these years to interrogate them, find out information about me, get them to say horrible things about me, go over arguments we have had for an hour at a time so they can see 'his side' and try to convince them that I was wrong in every situation. He told the counsellor to tell me what he had told her and also pass the message on to his dad that he didn't want to have these conversations anymore and that it made him sad. He also said if anyone else ever asks about his dad, he will retract everything and tell them it was all lies.

That night when he returned home, I told him I was happy he had finally talked about what has been going on and that if he ever needed to talk about anything that I would be there but I could tell he didn't want to talk further so I didn't push him.

On Wednesday evening, we had just finished dinner and it was just me and my middle son left at the table. I asked him if his dad has also been saying these things to him and that I promised I wouldn't ever tell his dad what he tells me. He began telling me the same things as my eldest son but went on to say they get hit hard several times on the head in a knocking fashion if they don't comply with whatever their dad asks. They have been hit since they can remember and if they cry when getting hit, they get hit more until they stop.

My youngest son then came in the room and I again reassured him that his dad will never find out what he tells me. He confirmed the same and more. It was like a floodgate had been opened and they couldn't stop telling me all the awful things their dad has been doing to them for all these years. They had to act happy to see him or they got hit when he took them home, he told them never to tell anyone about what was happening. They said they have always hated their Dad and never wanted to see him again. I promised them I would never let him near them again.

I then spoke to my eldest son and he confirmed everything. He cried and said he felt torn, he wanted his dad but he didn't want to get hit anymore. My heart broke

I immediately rang the police and my children now have to give statements next week for their dad to get arrested. I also told school the next day

I am in absolute shock and devastated that I let this happen. How could I not know? Why didn't they tell me? I might as well have been the one doing it to them as I sent them every week. I looked forward to them going so I could have a break. I'm sat revelling in the peace and quiet at home or out with friends while they are getting beaten by their own father and they can't call for help, they can't tell anyone what's happening because they are so terrified of their dad. It haunts me to think of them trapped there at his house, too scared to move. I should have protected them.

He ruined my relationship with my eldest son, he's always kept his distance and I have taken him to CAMHS several times over the years thinking he has ODD. I thought he hated my and it was so hard to be his mum sometimes. Now I know the real reason, his dad was poisoning him against me. He was scared to love me.

My other two have had behavioural problems at school. This man has ruined my children's lives for all these years. It all seems so obvious now but I just thought it was because they had witnessed DV, I never thought they were being abused too. I always thought my younger 2 would tell me anything.

I need to know how likely it is that this man will get jail time and I want to know for how long. This bastard needs to pay for what he has done but I'm so scared CPS will not prosecute due to lack of evidence. My children are terrified what will happen once he finds out what they have said. Can I get a restraint order against him towards the children.

I have an appointment with a solicitor at the women's centre next week but surely this goes further than the civil courts. I want to know this man will never be allowed near my children again.

Rainbowqueeen Sat 12-Mar-16 09:18:21

You poor love.

Abusive men are experts at hiding what they are doing.

This is not your fault and your children will know that once you knew the truth you did everything you could to protect them.

Someone will come along soon with some practical advice but in the meantime be kind to yourself flowers for you

Rainbowlou1 Sat 12-Mar-16 09:22:35

How awful for you all...Please don't feel guilty, it's not your fault at all and you now have time to rebuild your relationship with your son.
What a vile manipulative man-I honestly hope he gets what he deserves x

Dolly80 Sat 12-Mar-16 09:26:11

Firstly, please don't be too hard on yourself. This man is abusive. Part of that abuse was ensuring he scared your children into not telling you (or any other adults) what he had been subjecting them too. Fear is a powerful motivator so your children, understandably, complied. Thankfully, it's now out in the open and you can work with them to make things better.

If the police are going to interview they may want to ABE the children. These are video recorded interviews by police which can be used in court as part of a prosecution. If they're going to do this they will discuss the process etc with you and the children prior to doing so. They would then need to present the case to the CPS to ascertain whether prosecution is going to be pursued. To be honest I wouldn't pin any hopes on prosecution/prison sentences until a lot further down the line, prosecution rates for child abuse are depressingly low.

With regard to contact, you should certainly pursue legal advice. I will warn you, it is unusual for contact to be completely removed from a parent unless there is a high risk to the children which cannot be mitigated against. So, in this case, supervised contact might be suggested, preferably in a contact centre, to ensure your ex is not alone with the children at any point, therefore not putting them at risk of physical harm during it.

I'm not sure if any of this is helpful, feel like I've rambled a bit so if anything doesn't make sense let me know.

pallasathena Sat 12-Mar-16 09:29:12

With your love and support they will come through this. You are their stability, you are the one person in their young lives they can trust and believe in. By opening up and confiding in you they have shown you they trust you to be on their side.
Now you have to throw the book at that vile excuse of an ex. You need the full force of the law on your side and you will get that. The rights of children are thankfully taken very seriously in this country, so get yourself a good solicitor who will advise which steps to take next.
Its not your fault o/p. He did this, not you so stop beating yourself up about it because you are sending the wrong signals to your boys by doing so. They've already been programmed to believe you are in the wrong - don't add to it by taking blame for something you had absolutely no control over. They need to see you behaving like a warrior not a doormat and blaming yourself is a victim style response. He's to blame. Repeat that to yourself several times...and breathe.

Dolly80 Sat 12-Mar-16 09:32:16

Forgot to add, gaining a legal order against him sounds worth exploring. You might also want to tell school that dad cannot collect/ attend meetings etc (if this isn't in place already) And perhaps enquire as to any pastoral care the children can access to support them.

Also, did the police say they'd referred to children's services? They have a duty to report issues pertaining to children to them so don't be alarmed if you get a call/letter. Remember, its with regard to their fathers actions, not yours.

ElsieMc Sat 12-Mar-16 09:33:53

Oh God how absolutely awful for you. Men like this never, ever change. No anger management, which the courts so believe in, will ever assist because it is not anger, this is the man that he is.

I fought for years to stop my gs1's dad having unsupervised contact and I lost a fact finding in court. Only a year later he was in crown court for attacking a disabled man then six months later nearly killing another young man. My sense of injustice has been awful and to know that others were seriously damaged because of my failure to be convincing stays with me.

My gs never ever stays overnight unsupervised with his father. His own parents, whilst supporting him, wont leave my gs alone with him. We only have two and a half years to go of the order and then he and our family are free. We all long for that day.

You cannot blame yourself. You have been a better person than me and to be honest no matter how hard you fought to protect your sons, the courts would have forced contact upon you because it is seen as the right of the child to see the non resident parent. I dont want to start a debate on that and derail your thread, I only say this to help you realise you tried your best.

I do hope your sons feel a sense of relief now and that they are protected from their dad. I wish you well.

Chillyegg Sat 12-Mar-16 09:34:30

This isn't your fault at all its their dads, who is an abuser amd a piece of shit.
flowers for you and your babies

givepeasachance Sat 12-Mar-16 09:34:34

I am so sorry. This is every woman's fear who has left an abusive man yet tries to do the right thing by their children.

I think everyone who has done that, me included, knows that this sort of thing goes on to some level....interrogations, twisting arguments, slating of you (mother) and we are powerless to stop it.

Have you engaged women's aid? Their campaign around keeping children away from dangerous fathers might be able to make sure you get the best advice and chance of getting this disgusting specimen out of all of your lives.

Takeitallaway Sat 12-Mar-16 09:39:50

Thank you everyone for your kind words. Trust me, I am strong in front of them. I have made it explicitly clear that what their dad has done is abuse and it's illegal. It's just hard to not feel guilty as their mother. I feel stupid for not piecing it all together for all this time.

Dolly, surely he has to go to prison for this? It's not just the physically impact but the emotional one. I'm scared he won't go to prison and we will all have to live looking over out shoulders.

School have been informed and a MAST referral was made after the incident against me as I wanted them all to have counselling for witnessing DV. Are there any counsellors which specialise in child abuse?

All three children have crime numbers which I've passed to the school and told them to ring the police and quote the number of he turns up at school. The police said this is what should be done.

They will be video interviewed so does this mean they won't have to testify if it goes to trial? I can't bear the thought of them having to go to court and testify against their father. I can't convey how terrified they are of him.

Surely a court can't force them to have contact if they don't want to? I promised them they would never have to see this man again. He only sees them to be abusive and gain information about me, he doesn't love them and isn't a father at all to them.

Dolly80 Sat 12-Mar-16 09:49:43

I wish I could tell you he will go to prison for this but I can't with any certainty. Unfortunately, it's difficult to gain successful convictions for neglect, physical or sexual abuse against children. Emotional abuse is even harder to prosecute against as its less tangible.

That doesn't mean the police don't try their hardest to put together a solid case with a view to going to court. Speak to the officers you meet next week and ask for a realistic view about it. I don't work for the police but have worked in children's services for 10 + years so understand how disheartening it can be if victims pin their hopes on a prosecution that never happens.

Just remember...this doesn't mean that courts won't grant you relevant orders to ensure he can't contact or harass the children/you in the future. It doesn't mean that you can't pursue no contact/ no unsupervised contact.
Get legal advice, find out your rights and the rights of your children. Focus your energies on what you can do and what you can control...sadly prosecution/sentencing isn't one of them.

something2say Sat 12-Mar-16 09:49:45

Courts will force contact because the children are old enough to speak for themselves.
However, what if they say we don't want to see him and the court social worker tells dad and then makes them see him? To an abuser this is the worst sort of disloyalty.
So they may not say that, out of fear.
I think your best shot is to gather together all of the evidence and present it to court.
No contact until court and then present the evidence.
Whether the police need to be involved, possibly yes, but that doesn't have to lead to a trial situation. Play that one by ear.
I highly doubt a court would force contact if you tell them the truth. He hits the children and they are too scared to tell him no. With the evidence from the counsellor it should be enough.
X I will write more later x

something2say Sat 12-Mar-16 09:51:23

Sorry, courts will not force contact!
Opening statement and all!! Sorry x

something2say Sat 12-Mar-16 09:52:45

Courts and social workers are increasingly saying no contact in cases like the because the realities of abuse are coming to light. Thank god.

Takeitallaway Sat 12-Mar-16 09:53:16

Elsie, I'm so sorry to hear what you and you GS have has to go through. I'm not a better person than you, it sounds like you did everything you could. Even the police woman taking my statement said the law favours the criminal and not the victim.

Givepea, you hit the nail on the head. I had my suspicions that he was saying bad things about me but I didn't realise it was to this extent. I couldn't prove it either and they have all been too scared to talk until now.

I still feel this should have been enough to stop contact. I'll admit I couldn't face the onslaught of abuse my family and I would have to suffer if I stopped contact. I didn't want to upset the children but ultimately I took the cowards way out.

I can't believe this man would be willing to damage his children so badly just to gain useless information about me. They told me they often had to make things up otherwise he would punish them for 'not paying attention'.

He's such a piece of shit!!!

Dolly80 Sat 12-Mar-16 09:55:36

I'm not sure about testifying at court. I have known older children to give evidence in person but you'd be best placed to check with the officers interviewing so you and the children can make informed choices.

Contact is a tricky one, I've known children who've been sexually/physically abused to continue having contact with their alleged perpetrators, subject to court orders stating this must be supervised (I was a contact supervisor for a while). However, these children were not necessarily saying they didn't want to see their parents. Speak to your children about what they want and then pursue the contact which would meet their needs. If they say they don't want any/never want to see him, tell your legal advisor and go from there.

PoundingTheStreets Sat 12-Mar-16 10:02:44

Takeitallaway I don't really have anything helpful to say, but just wanted to extend my sympathy and best wishes. This is not your fault and you are not responsible. Please don't waste energy feeling guilt; you and your DC need that energy to get past this. Wishing you well. flowers

Havingitall Sat 12-Mar-16 10:04:44

The children's interviews with the police will be recorded and if the matter goes to court the video-recordings will be used as their evidence-in-chief. In the event of a trial the advocate representing your exh would cross-examine over video link so your DSs would not have to see their F - they would be in a different room entirely. Also, the rules on cross-examining children have changed wholesale in the last 3 years - judge controls questions and nothing repetitive or confrontational is allowed to be asked. Good luck

Takeitallaway Sat 12-Mar-16 10:06:05

Dolly, thank you for the advise.

I have evidence that the emotional abuse has affected them. I've made several CAMHS referrals through the GP over the years for my eldest son. It's well documented that he's had a difficult time relating to me and problems with bed wetting. I've always told them my suspicions about their dad as he favours my eldest son openly and I felt he was trying to get him on side.

My middle son had to be transferred to a different school because of emotional violent outbursts last year. My youngest son is currently on reduced hours at school because of a violent attack in another child and calling staff members slags and bitches. He told them to put him in the bin, that he wants to get a knife and kill them. If this isn't evidence of emotional damage then I don't know what is!!

The police took consent to contact school and GP so they hopefully will be able to use this as evidence. There is also independent evidence of what my son has been telling the school support worker so surely social services can intervene and say this man is damaging his children??

fuzzywuzzy Sat 12-Mar-16 10:08:12

Are social services involved?

When I was fighting contact I presented evidence from school, and paediatricians which backed up my claims.
Make sure you have letters from every relevant official source who comes into contact with your children involving this.

I had a CAFCASS officer assigned to my children, first one was useless, second listened to my children and appeared in court to and was cross examined he totally defended my DC's position and gave expert evidence.

In my case the court also ordered a abuser programme fro ex & he failed three times to even get on the programme, he failed to bother to do it once and completed it second time but the programme managers and his case worker gave evidence against him stating he was still dangerous and the course had not worked for him.

Whilst he was doing the anger management course and everything he had supported contact, if the courts push it ask for supervise contact only to happen. He was still abusive in supported contact but he could say or do anything very bad.

My experience was that the courts are adamant that the child should have contact with both parents. They try to make out you're a bitter lying bitch who's husband left her to make you look unreasonable. I was not I left ex after years of abuse.

Speak to woman's aid, get as many people on side as possible. Always present the matter from your boys side, you are fighting for your boys.

I am so so so sorry you and your children are going through this. ☹️

Dolly80 Sat 12-Mar-16 10:17:26

I've no doubt the professionals involved will agree that your children have been subjected to emotional harm/trauma. However, if your ex pursues contact (he may not) and it goes through the courts the social workers/other professionals can only advise the judge what to decide. Sometimes judge make very strange decisions about contact (usually not without a fight from professionals/family members).

Hopefully you'll get the resolution you want but I'd rather you were prepared that it might be a bumpy and unfair road along the way (the police officer mentioning criminals rights and victims rights being unfairly weighted seemed to hit this nail on the head)

Dolly80 Sat 12-Mar-16 10:20:40

Fuzzy's case just highlights the unfairness of the system, evidence of emotional abuse from professionals and oral evidence about its impact in court from the social worker yet the courts maintain children should have contact with both parents under nearly all circumstances. It's so frustrating.

I'm sorry so many of you have had to go through this thanks

PoundingTheStreets Sat 12-Mar-16 10:26:47

Dolly I agree.

IMO any parent who has been found to be abusive towards the other parent or the child, should have their contact stopped. Full stop. No contact is better than unsafe or uncommitted contact.

It would also send a powerful message to society about how unacceptable abuse is.

NeedsAsockamnesty Sat 12-Mar-16 10:33:34

Dolly

The op cannot instruct the school to not hand the children over. If he holds PR without a court order OR him actually being abusive in order to force the children to go with him they cannot prevent him.

She could obtain an order and it is possible to obtain no contact orders (unusual but possible) but unlikely with a child who is saying they want the dad but not the violence or emotional abuse.

op by far your best bet is to see the solicitor at the womans center (I'm assuming it's a specialist abuse setting) and follow their instructions it may be useful to take a few notes with you of things you do not wish to forget to tell her, keep on track to make sure she has all the info and if you find it helpful make short notes of her advice to you (she would usually give you these in writing anyway but it can help you engage and stay on track if you do some yourself).

fuzzywuzzy Sat 12-Mar-16 10:50:57

I actually did finally manage to stoop all contact. He gets indirect contact once a month, which he doesn't take up.

I was very lucky I had a judge presiding who was an expert on DV. It did actually take me almost five years and a very expensive solicitor and barrister to achieve that.

I had no choice, my eldest especially was displaying very disturbed behaviour CAHMS wouldn't touch us with a barge pole as the reason for her disturbed behaviour ie her father would not be removed so they claimed they could not help, CAF ignored us, SS refused to get involved as they don't get involved with matters which are in court (altho they came knocking threatening to remove my DC from my care if I didn't leave ex, a couple of incidents ended up with police involvement and the flagged it up).

It was the most hard most stressful time of my life. I felt like I was screaming in a vacuum nobody gave a shit.

But I could not stand by and watch my poor little DC deteriorate mentally and physically from contact.

It's a distant memory now. But I don't like judges one bit. One actually dismissed the abuse I suffered stating it was what happened in a marriage (she had a broken leg and kept taking painkillers throughout the hearing, probably as a result of her normal marriage).

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