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Do abusive husbands ever mend their ways?

(63 Posts)
shellshockedmumof2 Wed 10-Oct-12 09:33:18

In your experience? Have you ever kicked them out, had them successfully attend therapy/medical treatment/whatever they need and then seen them go back to being the loving, caring, non-abusive husband they once were?

I posted a few days ago. Background is I got occupation order and non-molestation order against DH last Friday, he has been out of the house since then. DH has been suffering from depression and possibly worse for last months and became verbally and physically abusive with me, in front of the DCs. We have two tiny DCs and I am a full-time working mum. Am now trying to decide - do I give the relationship another chance if he goes gets medical help and recovers? Or do I file for a divorce now because abusers never mend their ways and there is a high chance that he will fall back into old patterns?

What is your experience? Many thanks for any answers/opinions/views.

SeveredEdMcDunnough Wed 10-Oct-12 09:36:34

I think you don't have to decide yet. Wait and see what happens.

If he does recover it will probably be a long term thing, it won't happen immediately. And it might not happen at all.

You can keep him ta a safe distance while you explore your relationship again, if that is what you want to do, but tbh it partly depends on whether you still have strong feelings for him - I know when I have experienced abuse my feelings have gone off like a switch, and never come back again.

Don't rush. You have the control now - keep it that way for as long as you can.

SeveredEdMcDunnough Wed 10-Oct-12 09:39:05

Btw lots of men suffer from depression and don't become abusive in any way because of it, so this suggests he had some leaning towards that sort of behaviour already.

Depression is also often used as an excuse for abuse.

To overcome what it is that makes him behave abusively, will take a very long time and hard work - counselling, therapy and so on. It is up to you how close you let him get while he is going through this process, that is if he decides to do it - and if he doesn't decide to do it then that says everything you need to know, he's not ready to be in a decent relationship and you should file for divorce asap.

Revengefantasiesrus Wed 10-Oct-12 09:41:12

Watching with interest...

MrsjREwing Wed 10-Oct-12 09:41:50

Give him time to get treatment for his health problems, if he doesn't seek treatment forget it.

MrsjREwing Wed 10-Oct-12 09:46:29

I just want to add, I was considered to have mh problems by my gp and the treatment didn't help as the depressiin was caused by a physical problem in my case no sleep or adequate oxygen, I had undiagnosed sleep apnea. In ladies it doesn't show as it does in Men, so if your H is a snorer get him a sleep study as you will kick yourself if that was the cause and he later gets treatment and feels better, then tells you where to go.

SeveredEdMcDunnough Wed 10-Oct-12 09:51:50

I still maintain that physical problems and the resultant depression are not justified excuses for abuse.

They can be linked, obviously, but it doesn't make it alright nor does it make it something anyone should accept or live with.

NicknameTaken Wed 10-Oct-12 09:52:55

No, they don't.

The good thing is, one day you'll finally give up that hope, and frankly, it's a great relief.

ScaryBOOAlot Wed 10-Oct-12 09:58:18

Normally - no, an abuser is always an abuser.

However, if you're saying he's only done this for the last two months (not that that makes it okay) and that he's been diagnosed with depression, then getting the right treatment may well help him recover.

I am a vile bitch whenever I am have a depressive episode. I control it better than I used to because of DS, but when he's not around, if someone - especially if its someone I love - says something that gets to me, I can be utterly foul.

Given the circumstances, I'd encourage him - and you - to reach out and get some professional support. Hopefully he will come out the other side of it.

fuzzywuzzy Wed 10-Oct-12 09:59:02

My experience is that once your partner has hit you that's it. The first time is the hardest after that it's easy.

For me there'd always be the knowledge in the back of my mind that he can and has hit me & he can do it again.

Plus as another poster said, I honestly can't muster up any like let alone love for someone who's beaten me up.
I still remember the humiliation if trying to cover my bruised face to go to work.....

Snorbs Wed 10-Oct-12 09:59:06

What SeveredEdMcDunnough says. If he goes for treatment and if he's found the right treatment for his problems and if he puts his heart and soul into it and if he sees the light and if he can change pretty much his entire inner self and if he can then keep it up long-term, then that might be the time to consider re-establishing a relationship. But not a minute before.

While you're waiting for all those "if"s to come off, though, I recommend you start building a life without him. Start the divorce rolling. If, a couple of years down the line (because that's how long it will take) he's a new man then you could always re-marry.

MrsjREwing Wed 10-Oct-12 10:00:44

I just feel sorry for people who see their GP and say Dr I am depressed, GP hands out tablets and if it goes on for ages as it did with me, eventually you get talking therapy, well you can do those two till tge cows come home it is pointless if you are suffering a physical problem.

I went from being spoken to like a "normal" person to be spoken to like a "loon" and when by chance in a pre op test it was found I had sleep apnea and how bad it was I was spoken to like I was "normal" again by my GP.

Do please get your H a health MOT as you don't want your dc with an ill man, if he won't get treatment bin him, it has to come from him.

I know someone who forgave after treatment and counseling. He is no longer physically abusive. Emotionally however, I think they both are. There is much fear and resentment in that relationship, she uses the past to beat him with, and yet remains afraid of him physically, he resents her false forgiveness and still attacks her verbally. It's very sad and I'm glad to say there are no dc to witness their mistake of staying together.
In your case I think you have to decide can you truly forgive and forget? Can he go back, in your eyes, tjo the man he was? Will he always be tainted? Give him the time to change, its more his actions than yours that need to be the deciding factor, what is he doubt to make amends? Not what he is saying because its very easy to make promises of change, but what actions he's taking to that effect?

SeveredEdMcDunnough Wed 10-Oct-12 10:03:16

I agree with Snorbs. (except it will likely take more than two years!)

I would start building your life on the premise that he will not be in it - or at least he will be only on the peripheries of it. You can do this without ruling out a future re-ignition of things if he recovers and you find yourself able to be confident that he will never be abusive again.

You'll also find yourself in a stronger position to have that relationship, and successfully, if you have sorted your life out to be how you want it, without relying on him in any way. It cannot do any harm.

thetrackisback Wed 10-Oct-12 10:06:39

I believe that anybody can change but they've got to want to. External factors can't do this it is internal factors that are the driver. You have no control over this. I would stand back and get on with my life personally. You might be missing out on something amazing.

Apocalypto Wed 10-Oct-12 10:30:03

My own guess would be no, they don't, because people who misbehave in relationships generally see their behaviour as either trivial or justified.

People are I think logical to that extent. "I had an affair because she neglected me"; "I pissed the housekeeping away on shoes because I needed them"; whatever.

The person who thinks "I'm going to act like a selfish twunt because I just am" may exist, but must be very rare. It must be much commoner for people to think "I'm going to have an affair because it's on the rocks anyway", or "I'm going to hit her because she's annoyed me". Few people are prepared to be evil so they tell themselves they're not being evil.

Relationship history is always highly relevant. You would be wary in your 30s of hooking up with anyone who was your age or older but had never had an LTR. The best guide to someone's behaviour in the future is how they treat you now, except that it will get a bit worse as they feel able to take you more for granted; LTRs get worse over time IME, not better.

cestlavielife Wed 10-Oct-12 10:31:15

go to counselling yourself first and explore whether he really was "the loving, caring, non-abusive husband"

if he truly has had personality transplant due to depressive illness then yes there could be hope if he seeks treatment. but that is down to him. (and his therapists)

i know a couple where things got difficult due to h depression etc she gave him ultimatum get help or leave, he got help and things have got back to normal... but he had had a stroke i think that was a trigger factor.

if however he has displayed controlling behaviours previously and these have really maybe got worse since DC came along, well then it will take a lot of work on his part.

and recognition and self awareness on his part.

but you need to be thinking in terms of what happens over next 12 months - not what miracle occurs in next two weeks or three.

by all means give ourself a year to consider divorce, but dont move him back in before then.

struwelpeter Wed 10-Oct-12 13:08:04

No decisions for quite a while. Find out your options re divorce but also this is the time to concentrate on yourself, work out who you are, what you want in life and also your self-esteem. No one deserves abuse or caused it, but often there can be background reasons why someone settles for less than they deserve or keeps stuck in a situation that is going from bad to worse.
His business is to work on himself, you deserve time to work on yourself.

Dryjuice25 Wed 10-Oct-12 13:24:49

Ex horribly abused me on the night I discovered he was cheating. He never apologized and when I left him, he booked himself for counselling and swore he'd never do it again. I didn't take him back but years later I thank my stars for never looking back there(he begged for 4years).

Now he sleeps around " because I married young" and never lets her have access to money and thinks himself as god's gift to women. He has since made someone else pregnant whilst married, paid for sex and boast about fucking an ex who cheated on him before me and said "The bitch travelled 10 000 miles just to come suck my d***"

And he said his wife loves him unconditionally..WTF. Poor woman. Anyway my point is that he had therapy and counselling but that was a waste of time. He doesn't seem to understand how he is hurting her. He has got chillingly worse and views women as existing for men's benefit. I'm glad I dodged the bullet

Totally agree with Apocalypto. Ex seems to justify his vices and is highly entitled too.

shellshockedmumof2 Wed 10-Oct-12 14:05:06

Thank you for all of the responses. This is very helpful and food for thought.

SeveredEd I do feel like my feelings have gone off like a switch, both emotionally and physically - right now don't feel like I could ever be with him again physically and there is no love left there. When I think about him, I just think about all the awful things he has done and said. Also feel like I have lost the trust and might forever be suspicious and worried that he might become abusive again.

MrsJREwing that is very interesting, DH also snores, but also does have MH issues - suffers from OCD for example - and this time around the few times I managed to get health professionals to see him or discussed his behaviour with them they did diagnose mental illness. But does mental illness drive a man to be abusive or does it have to be in him already...

Unfortunately DH has refused to seek medical treatment until now, refused to have any medical tests (blood or other) to see if there is a physical cause, refused to take any medication (including anti-psychotic drugs) that was prescribed him. And even now via our lawyers has offered to go to marriage counselling with me and now to jointly go to see a psychiatrist who specialises in marital/relationship issues - but only if I come with him. So I think he still doesn't get it.

DH never precisely hit me (no black eyes) but possibly worse - he has pushed me, grabbed me by arms and shaken me, kicked me in the shins while in bed, deliberately woken me at multiple times in the night and kept me awake by things like yanking pillow from under my head (every night), hitting me with pillow repeatedly, poking me in ribs or back, groping and harrassing me physically, episodes of trying to push me out of my bed, very extreme verbal abuse (every single day for hours on end), shouting at me, physically threatening me (shaking fist etc.), trying to physically overpower me to get hold of my mobile phone on one occasion -- and all this in front of the children. Oh, and all of this went on for nearly 4 months. So not just physical but emotional and verbal too.

cestlavielife he has displayed controlling behaviour previously, mainly since DC were on the way or came along, and that is what I am worried about - I had always taken them as rare one-offs that I put down to stress or something - but now thinking maybe they weren't (although there was never, ever any physical violence until some 3.5 months ago). And he had started to isolate himself - and us - both socially and from family starting some 3 years ago (around when first DC was born), so well before the horrendous events of last few months.

And I am seeing no signs of him accepting that what he did was wrong and that he needs to do tremendous amount of work if he values his family and children. I think he still thinks this is a "marital spat" and I just did this to play hardball with him.

Reading back all that I have just written it doesn't sound very hopeful does it?

SeveredEdMcDunnough Wed 10-Oct-12 14:08:49

Shell, this sounds more like unhinged behaviour than deliberately abusive - it's very very sad. When you mention anti psychotic drugs that alters my perception of the situation.

If he's seriously lost the plot, that isn't just depression - that's proper job mental illness which needs to be controlled, not that depression isn't proper, but it's totally different.

In this case I do think that once his psychotic behaviour has been controlled he might well become non abusive - however depending on what the assessment is, it might require drugs that will also make him fairly unresponsive and unable to sustain a relationship anyway.

Has he got a formal diagnosis?

CharlotteCollinsislost Wed 10-Oct-12 14:17:05

DO NOT go to couples counselling with an abusive partner. Just don't. It doesn't help.

As for the question of is it mental illness - I don't think mental illness makes everyone abusive, just those who have the right attitudes. And if it's shown to be mental illness, you'll still be left wondering what if he stops taking his medication?

Doesn't look good, does it?

shellshockedmumof2 Wed 10-Oct-12 14:23:13

because people who misbehave in relationships generally see their behaviour as either trivial or justified

Apocalypto you seem to have hit the nail on the head - that is DH's attitude.

Only possible acceptable justification would be if he is so mentally ill that it has transformed him into a different person (and at least maybe I can forgive him if not forget) but anything else and not a chance for him.

SeveredEdMcDunnough Wed 10-Oct-12 14:24:35

You have to be quite severely ill to be given anti psychotic medication.

cestlavielife Wed 10-Oct-12 14:43:02

given that you got non mol and occupation order you have clearly reported this and ahve it recored.
i think he is a dangerous man (regardless of whethre he can eb treated or not) and you need to keep yourself away from him;

and also DC - please do go for supervised contact only at this stage.

he may well ge even angrier/out of control when he twigs that you not going to le him back in.

4.5 years since i phsycially moved from flat pvsly shared with ex (he had his a major psychotic-ish breakdown a year before that, left for five months to be with his family and "get better", came back for a "visit" and refused to leave...) he is not i would say a normal sane individual and can be very scary still. has had more depressive episodes despite being now under doctors etc. i was told by someone else he had "felt better" and stopped medication... interestingly, each time he has latched onto different individuals who have supported him, picked him up, sometimes tried to get involved in restoring contact with DC etc.

here is a lot of research on the damage lviving with parents with MH issues if there is not enough support etc; i would say even more so if there is risk of violence. that jsut isnt worth it.

yes there are depressive parents who manage just fine and are good aprents -but they are the ones with a lot of insight into their condition, know when to ask for help and who to get it from.

this book has some good info in it on effects on children read chapter 12

you should also read why does he do that by lundy bancroft - reading both can help you have insight in to what you can attribute to MH issues pure and simple and what goes beyond that to controling /abusive behaviour . some chapters wont apply but i found some of the anecdotes cited scarily familiar.

regardless of if is MH or "criminal" behaviour really does not matter at this stage because you are at risk from his behaviour and you need to protect yourself and your DC. that means follwing thru on the orders you have, only allowing supervised contact for DC until you are persuaded by medical profressionals (not by him!!) that his MH issues are under control....

cestlavielife Wed 10-Oct-12 14:44:41

oh yeh and ex still justifies everything - it was "because i was so ill"

or still "because you drove me to it"

ha ha

shellshockedmumof2 Wed 10-Oct-12 15:55:18

SeveredEd a psychiatrist prescribed anti-psychotic drugs explaining to me it was a very low dose, which is also used to treat severe anxiety and related disorders - but there were also a few psychotic episodes

cestlavie thanks for the advice, yes I have said only supervised contact with the DCs, and I think I will get those books. Very sadly my in-laws despite being very loving and caring parents for DH have also been on the receiving end of his abuse, but they also seem to have just been trying to justify his behaviour to me and to themselves, rather than trying to make him stop.

cestlavielife Wed 10-Oct-12 16:03:00

yeh my ex used to be nasty to his parents....

who would supervise contact?
can you arrange with third party you know or will it need to go thru contact centre ?

it is hard to get joined up approaches when you mixing adult services for him and childrens services / family support - but if informal arrangements fail or are not feasible get the adult mh team to talk to childrens services or CAFCASS to set something up .

or mabe child andfamily therapy services - can arrange supervised sessions and observe what ahappens. it all depends how it works locally .

are dc asking to see dad ?

is there an automiatic follow up in the courts further to the no mol order ? does that end up in family and child division? or are you waiting til he takes it to court for access/until divorce?

you can take it to court yourself to get a contact order formalised and residency in your sole name for now, given his instability - but you would need to speak to solicitor about this. eg residency in your name would mean you could take kids off for holiday aborad for a week to majorca to get a break -without having to get his permission... given his mh issues it might be appropriate to get an interim residency order in your name with review nin six months ? not sure how feasible that will be legeally... or if relevant.

janelikesjam Wed 10-Oct-12 16:21:23

I do not feel qualified to talk about mental health issues, anti-psychotic drugs, etc. But if, OP, your husband is receiving them from a doctor/psychiatrist, perhaps you should have a discussion with them. Though you would still have to make a decision independant of their opinion, IYSWIM.

As regards generally abusive behaviour, this thread reminds me how "hard-wired" many abusers probably are. They do not - almost by definition - have the kind of mental and emotional flexibiltity that ordinary folk have e.g. to see the bigger picture, or another person's perspective, for example. So, I think you have to have a real clarity about this that it in such a case. If it is kind of hard-wired it is very hard to reverse, unless the person has great commitment to change ...

GockandJuice Wed 10-Oct-12 16:43:34

People can change but it's a long process and it doesn't happen over night. I do believe some people can't change though to.

I knew my partner had some issues when we met, he admitted he had always got to a year with a girl then realised he never loved them chucked them and been sleeping around within days. Not normal behaviour. He also got into fights a lot, had various criminal record cautions for affray, assault and GBH. I realised that him being "close" to someone bought out his worst side, i.e, living with his mum if they argued he'd go bat shit crazy, apparentely he smashed her front door down with a shovel, literally destroyed the house and she threw him out when he was 18, he had real difficulty in loving someone but having to accept that arguing and disagreeing happens.

Anyway months in he told me he loved me and knew he'd never loved a girl before, by the year point when he'd walk away he knew he couldn't as he loved me and wanted to marry me and be with me forever but that also meant, dealing with every couples ups and downs! He became violent like he did with his mum, smashing things up in rages, occasionally hitting me, emotionally abusive. Thanks to my experience in nursing I saw that he wasn't "right" me and his mum had a long chat where she told me all these things and I put it across that he needed to get help, I stayed away for a week letting him decide what he was going to do.

Long and short of it is he had counselling for anger management, was put on a 6 month course of citalopram. I think it was more the counselling and "acceptance" of his issues that helped, he had an underlying and chronicly huge self esteem problem but he has changed and had no slip ups for 2 years now. Defintely a different man, he has relationship with his mum and his step dad now and he is just changed. The fighting has stopped, obviously the skittling from relationship to relationship has stopped and I'm glad I was there to help, obviously, I suffered along the way but even if we split up now i can honestly say i'd feel happy that I'd helped him get his life on track as I think if it wasn't for me (or any one he truly fell in love with, think any person he fell in love with would of been enough for him) i honestly would put money on him being in prison no was he was a violent person.

People can change and people can't. I'm a firm believer in one chance and if they blow it, that's it though.

shellshockedmumof2 Wed 10-Oct-12 17:07:09

cestlavie contact would probably be supervised by in-laws. they are desperate to see their grandchildren too as DH has stopped them from seeing them for last 3 months... DCs are not yet 3.5 and 21 months, they love their daddy a lot and talk about him (in particular older DC), not specifically asking for him as maybe too young but I can tell that they miss him and would love to see him. I want to encourage them to have a relationship with their father (so long as they are safe), despite his awful behaviour with me he has always been loving with the DCs (other than behaving badly towards me in front of them). Don't have any return to court anymore, have the orders for 1 year and not sure what happens thereafter. I may well end up filing for divorce by then in any case when all child matters would be sorted out.

Offred Wed 10-Oct-12 18:34:59

Possibly, but only because nothing is impossible but I think very unlikely and even less likely they would be able to be non abusive with a person they had previously abused.

Offred Wed 10-Oct-12 19:57:50

And if it is the honest truth that he hasn't put the dc at risk during bouts of mental illness the mental illness cannot be the cause of him abusing you.

Istonightthenight Wed 10-Oct-12 20:01:11

I have a thread on here from the other night. My h was abusive for a long time now he is ok.
Yes he seems better but the impact on me is taking awhile to get over if I ever do.
Sorry cant link my thread as on iPad.
My h has alcohol issues not depression though.

Apocalypto Wed 10-Oct-12 20:47:58

I think I'd want to know whether the meds or the condition were known to give rise to this sort of behaviour. If they do, then perhaps that would explain it, but unless this is well documented I'd suspect it to be a convenient excuse.

A propensity towards DV would be something you couldn't reasonably be expected to foresee or tolerate, so if it materialises I think you've fair grounds for an exit.

Apocalypto Wed 10-Oct-12 20:49:45

Sorry, meant to add that alcohol wouldn't be an excuse, because if a bloke gets violent when lagered up, the adult, responsible and respectful thing to do is not get lagered up in the first place.

Offred Wed 10-Oct-12 20:55:12

If it was meds or mental illness why can he control himself round dc?

ladyWordy Wed 10-Oct-12 21:25:34

Depressive illness doesn't drive a man to be abusive.
Nor does drink: childhood abuse; feeling inadequate; drug addiction; anger management issues, or anything similar we're sometimes told 'causes' it.

BTW I didn't pluck that out of the air, it comes from DV specialist Lundy Bancroft, who has the research data to back it up. Cestlavielife has linked to his book, which is very enlightening - it shows clearly why abusive men behave as they do, and why you cannot change them or love them into being different (sadly).

Your question was 'can they recover?'.... Well, the statistics are not encouraging. There seems to be a serious failure of empathy with them (hence you can never 'make them see'). Janelikesjam uses the same term I do for the behaviour - ie, hardwired... and if it is hard wired, recovery would be tough.

Having said that, there are abuser programmes and a very small number do recover. It's quite rare though.

I believe a two year clean slate is suggested before you even think of restarting the relationship, if ever.

It' good that you made the break OP, your life will get better from here.... Though it may be up and down for a while. brew

olgaga Wed 10-Oct-12 21:32:38

shellshock you asked for experience/answers/opinions/views.

I have all four.

No they don't ever mend their ways. You and your children are at serious risk from this man.

Stay well away. Don't give him any chance at all to harm you again, or to harm your children. Just witnessing him behave like this towards you is harmful for your children - let alone if they get in the way, or become his target.

Stay away from him.

shellshockedmumof2 Wed 10-Oct-12 21:39:52

Yes my worry is that the mental illness may be a convenient excuse for the behaviour ("because he couldn't possibly be that bad"), def not meds as he has always refused to take any.

He doesn't drink or take drugs, had no childhood abuse (privileged background and only child with very loving, caring and overly-coddling parents) - could well be feeling inadequate or anger management issues - or mental illness, personality disorder, depression or just his personality... I suppose it doesn't really matter in a way and not my problem anymore (other than he is still the father of my children).

Offred he can't control himself around the kids, but I am the target, not them (because things somehow are "my fault", at least he is not blaming kids for anything)

But seems like the consensus here aside from Gock is that they don't change or it may take a very long time and the moon and the stars all aligned for change to be possible

CharlotteCollinsislost Wed 10-Oct-12 22:09:55

Seeing things as "your fault" is (one of) the attitude(s) he carries with him that makes him abusive. Because, as the great Lundy Bancroft says, abuse is all about attitudes, not anger management (or lack of), not anything else.

And it's that attitude that would be hardest for him to change. He can modify his behaviour to an extent, if he thinks it's worth it. But if that attitude's still there, you've got trouble, haven't you?

olgaga Wed 10-Oct-12 22:45:55

he can't control himself around the kids, but I am the target, not them

You're their mum. They need you. They love you and it will be so damaging for them to see you hurt. Which they will.

And they may not be the target now, but they are your fault? So what happens when they get older? Will they also be "legitimate targets"?

Blimey shellshock, I think you know what you have to do. What in all honesty would you advise a friend - or a sister - to do in this situation? Strike while the iron is hot. Don't leave it for a few months so that he can argue that he's a changed man. I would be filing for divorce at the first opportunity. For all your sakes.

Not all of this will apply to you, but you might find it helpful. Don't forget that if you have suffered domestic violence you will qualify for Legal Aid:

Relationship Breakdown and Divorce – Advice and Links

It is useful if you can get to grips with the language of family law and procedure, and get an understanding of your rights, BEFORE you see a solicitor. If you are well prepared you will save time and money.


If there are children involved, their welfare, needs and interests are paramount. Parents have responsibilities, not rights, in this regard. Shared residence means both parties having an equal interest in the upbringing of the children. It does not mean equal (50/50) parenting time - children are not possessions to be “fairly” divided between separating parents.

A divorce will not be granted where children are involved unless there are agreed arrangements for finance, and care of the children (“Statement of Arrangements for Children”). It is obviously quicker and cheaper if this can be agreed but if there is no agreement, the Court will make an Order - “Residence and Contact” regarding children, “Financial Order” or “Ancillary Relief” in the case of Finance. Information and links to these can be found in the Directgov link below. Residence and Contact Orders are likely to be renamed Child Arrangements Orders in future.

Always see a specialist family lawyer!

Get word of mouth recommendations for family lawyers in your area if possible. If you have children at school, ask mums you are friendly with if they know of anyone who can make a recommendation in your area. These days there are few people who don’t know of anyone who has been through a divorce or separation – there’s a lot of knowledge and support out there!

Many family lawyers will offer the first half hour consultation free. Make use of this. Don’t just stick with the first lawyer you find – shop around and find someone you feel comfortable with. You may be in for a long haul, so it helps if you can find a solicitor you’re happy with.

If you can’t find any local recommendations, always see a solicitor who specialises in Family Law.

You can also find out about Legal Aid and get advice on the Community Legal Advice Helpline on 08345 345 4 345

Co-operative Legal Services offer DIY/Self-Help Divorce packages, as well as a Managed Divorce service. Their fee structure is more transparent and they have a telephone advice line as well as offering really good advice on their website:

You can read advice and search by area for a family lawyer here:

You will also read good advice and find a family lawyer here:

Some family law solicitors publish online feedback from clients – Google solicitors to see if you can find any recommendations or feedback.


You will be encouraged to attend mediation. This can help by encouraging discussion about arrangements for children and finance in a structured way in a neutral setting. However, it only works if both parties are willing to reach agreement.

If there has been violence or emotional abuse, discuss this with your solicitor first. Always get legal advice, or at the very least make sure you are aware of your legal rights, before you begin mediation. This is important because while a Mediator should have knowledge of family law, and will often explain family law, they are not there to give tailored legal advice to either party - so it’s important to have that first.

Married or Living Together?

This is a key question, because if you are married, generally speaking you have greater protection when a relationship breaks down.

Legal Issues around marriage/cohabitation and relationship breakdown are explained here:

DirectGov advice on divorce, separation and relationship breakdown:

Legal Rights and issues around contact are further explained here:

I found these guides from law firms quite informative and easy to read – there are others of course:


Before you see a family law solicitor, get hold of every single piece of financial information you have access to, and take copies or make notes. Wage slips, P60s, tax returns, employment contracts, pensions and other statements – savings, current account and mortgages, deeds, rental leases, utility bills, council tax bills, credit statements. Are there joint assets such as a home, pensions, savings, shares?

If you have no access to financial information, or you are aware that assets are being hidden from you, then obviously you will not be able to reach agreement on finances. If there are children, as you cannot divorce without adequate arrangements being agreed on finance and children, you will have to apply for a financial order anyway. If there are no children, and you are unable to agree on finances, you will also have to apply for a financial order (follow the links below). This seeks financial information from both parties going back 12 months. So it is in your interests to act quickly once you have made the decision to divorce.

If you are married, the main considerations of the Family Courts where parties are unable to agree a settlement are (in no particular order of priority):

1.The welfare of any minor children from the marriage.
2.The value of jointly and individually owned property and other assets and the financial needs, obligation and responsibilities of each party.
3.Any debts or liabilities of the parties.
4.Pension arrangements for each of the parties, including future pension values and any value to each of the parties of any benefit they may lose as a result of the divorce.
5.The earnings and earning potential of each of the parties.
6.Standard of living enjoyed during the marriage.
7.The age of the parties and duration of the marriage.
8.Any physical or mental disability of either of the parties.
9.Contributions that each party may have made to the marriage, either financially or by looking after the house and/or caring for the family.

CSA maintenance calculator:

Handy tax credits calculator:

Handy 5 Minute benefit check, tax and housing benefit calculators:

Parenting issues:

Other Support for Women – Children, Housing, Domestic Violence and - Helpline 0808 2000 247 - Helpline 0844 8044 999 - Helpline 0808 802 0925
(Note that there is usually an appropriate link on these websites for England, Wales and Scotland where the law, advice and contact information may differ.

He is a raving arsehole. Don't waste any time or energy giving him another chance; you've got him out so keep him out, prioritize your wellbeing and that of DCs. From what you've posted, the core problem is not actually his MH issues, it's his conviction that women are inferior to men and exist for men's use and benefit.
Best of luck, life is going to improve steadily now you are not having to tiptoe round his ego.

Feckbox Wed 10-Oct-12 23:05:48

yes, of course some do.
I wouldn't give yours the chance though

Oh by the way Gock - A man who is aggressive and unpredictable and even dangerous to everyone, which it sounds like your H was, is actually far more 'fixable' than a man who is only abusive towards his female partner. The sort of men with long records of fighting, assault, petty crime, being unable to hold down jobs because they hit their employers and smash up the work place.... they are actually the ones who can be helped because their problems are more to do with poor impulse control and bad backgrounds (having grown up believing that violence and tantrumming are the only possible options when you feel angry or scared). Men who only abuse their female partners are men who have justified this abuse to themselves, who do it because they like it and feel entitled to do it to someone they have decided is their possession and their inferior.

cestlavielife Wed 10-Oct-12 23:18:27

One of the things Lundy talks about is how much control the person has. How he refrained from giving you a black eye or didn't harm the children.
So he was controlled enough to direct it at you and restrict himself to certain levels of physical abuse but certainly not so out of control he killed you.

Directing the agGression only at those closest. but you can't assume that the anger won't be turned on the dc if he doesn't really address his issues...

Eg exp completely manic in the Home smashing things attacking ds, me etc. but when admitted to psych unit docile as a lamb.... I. Ve not yet got to grips with that .... Other than to accept what lundy says that there is a lot more control and directing of the agression and awarenes Of who the agression is aimed at and the need or desire to control the other person.., eg his anger at me leaving him led to him being violent and aggressive towards me .

cestlavielife Wed 10-Oct-12 23:22:18

Entitlement is the buzz word.

Ponyofdoom Wed 10-Oct-12 23:26:42

I was going to start a thread about this subject. STBX is unhappy that I have had enough after many years of abuse, he keeps coming round, being extra nice, cooking meals (yes I have read the Why Does He.. book; everything ties in..). I have said I would only consider getting together again if he had abuse counselling and it worked but; a, he has had counselling for another issue and it didn't work at all and b, he agrees he has a problem but still insists it's my behaviour that triggers him, so I need counselling too..which is b*llocks as my 'behaviour' is normal human stuff like not doing housework, not reading maps well etc! My gut feeling is its pointless and it still wouldn't be a 'proper' relationship afterwards because the power dynamics would always be out of kilter IYSWIM. Reading your posts it doesn't sound promising.

deliasmithy Thu 11-Oct-12 01:22:57

Shell shocked:

Here are some points, from someone with a little knowledge in this area in RL:
1. Yes, of course people can change, even abusers. The consideration here is more 'what is the likelihood that he will change?' You've indicated that he is not yet interested in admitting his behaviour and getting help. Well, unless he gets a sprinkling of fairy dust, there's little change on the cards at this rate.
2. You and others made a good point, in that even if he did change, can the relationship recover from the damage?
3. As said earlier, it's not at all helpful to engage in joint counselling before he has got help for his behaviour. It allows abusers to apportion blame and stops them taking responsibility.
4. He needs specific help if he wants to change before you consider taking him back. As in a healthy relationships course, which targets abusive behaviour. Standard nicey nicey counselling will not cut it. Many local councils have such courses.

I wish you all the best, and strength.

Offred Thu 11-Oct-12 06:55:43

"I'm the target not them" don't buy this. Ok you are the target, what's the best way to get at your separated wife who isn't speaking to you anymore? Through the children. If he cares about them enough not to hurt them he is more in control than you give him credit for isn't he?

NicknameTaken Thu 11-Oct-12 09:55:38

To be blunt, stop agonising over him. Your focus needs to be your dcs. They need to feel safe, calm and loved. He is not currently conducive to their wellbeing. If he goes away, goes on meds and does the work and eventually demonstrates that he is such a person, fine. He is nowhere near doing this. So put the dcs first and let him look after himself. He's a big boy.

Pony, listen to your instincts. Your STBX is still following the standard abuser's script. He hasn't really changed at all, still saying that his abuse of you is his fault. Frankly, you can go through the motions of getting back together, being abused some more, then making the difficult decision to split, or you can save yourself time, heartache and bruises (physical or emotional) and end it now.

shellshockedmumof2 Thu 11-Oct-12 10:59:44

Thanks everyone. I think what I am hearing from you confirms what I have been suspecting - that chance of him changing is next to nil. And doesn't really matter if it's due to mental illness or something else.

solidbrassgold I do think that is his attitude - women inferior to men and I was just there for his use and benefit (and I'm the wrong person to treat like that as fairly gung-ho feminist and women's equality and very independent) - he is the type of father who almost never helped out with the kids, esp after DC2 born, other than playing with them and doing fun things with the older DC. However he has also directed his anger at his parents, so not just me (but luckily not DCs)

cestlavie entitlement is exactly his attitude - he is so far superior to everyone else in his view. I have read things about narcissitic personality disorder and sadly that sounds exactly like DH in so many ways.

I suppose I have to stop analysing his behaviour and just get over it and move on with my life (without him).

Shellshocked: unfortunately, men like this often target 'feminist, feisty' women, because they see us as more of a challenge, and it's more of a compulsion to crush and destroy us just to 'prove' to themselves that no woman is stronger than the Mighty Penis.

Best of luck with keeping him away and moving on.

shellshockedmumof2 Thu 11-Oct-12 16:00:37

DH now desperately trying to see me and making overtures via in-laws to try see me this weekend. Still thinks this is a marital spat. Makes me feel sick...

Snorbs Thu 11-Oct-12 16:22:00

Obviously he thinks the non-mol order doesn't apply to him hmm

What a self-entitled twunt.

cestlavielife Thu 11-Oct-12 16:27:12

just say no !

supervised contact with Dc only, not with you; dont engage (and inform solicitor)

Yes, tell your solicitor, keep doors and windows locked, don't answer the phone or any texts or emails; and if this bellend turns up on the doorstep, call the police and explain that there is a court order in place and they will come and remove him. By force if he won't go quietly.

Ponyofdoom Thu 11-Oct-12 20:16:09

This is a very helpful, informative thread. Thanks for the support Nickname, I do know that really, but sometimes it helps to have another's viewpoint. Good luck shellshocked; I have found it hard enough with no children/commitments, it must be much harder for you, but you sound very grounded and switched on so I am sure you will look after yourself. I find the fact that they all follow a blueprint pattern of behaviour so weird!

JennaLemon Thu 11-Oct-12 20:17:45

NO. I left. And was talked/bullied into coming back with persuasive arguments, chocolates, flowers and veiled threats in equal measure.

Everything was going to change. I wrote a list of all the things that were wrong/unfair/abusive and he agreed to reform and be less abusive. Yeah. Right. biscuit two months later he was back to his old ways, and all I'd shown him by leaving and coming back was that I@d put up with anything, and still go back. He refered to my 'tin pot parade' ie, leaving him the first time.

The second time I left I left for good. He thought he could talk me in to coming back.

JennaLemon Thu 11-Oct-12 20:30:17

SGB, this strikes such a chord

"Oh by the way Gock - A man who is aggressive and unpredictable and even dangerous to everyone, which it sounds like your H was, is actually far more 'fixable' than a man who is only abusive towards his female partner. The sort of men with long records of fighting, assault, petty crime, being unable to hold down jobs because they hit their employers and smash up the work place.... they are actually the ones who can be helped because their problems are more to do with poor impulse control and bad backgrounds (having grown up believing that violence and tantrumming are the only possible options when you feel angry or scared). Men who only abuse their female partners are men who have justified this abuse to themselves, who do it because they like it and feel entitled to do it to someone they have decided is their possession and their inferior."

five years down the line, after leaving bullyboy x, I have the courage to go to court to get maintenance (he is in a different country). I thought that after all this time, he might not fight paying the minimum amount of maintenance. NO!!! five years after I left him he's still trying to hide his money, stalling for time, making up some bullshit about me having agreed he did not have to pay maintenance in return for him not pressing charges against me confused So in five years, he's still treating me like dirt. He still goes into work every day and charms colleagues and clients.

GockandJuice Fri 12-Oct-12 12:55:57

solidgoldbrass - you are very right i think! He had a terrible childhood, he never knew his real dad and his mum and step-dad were alcoholics who would have violent fights, I won't say too much as might out me but I do think it made him very "angry" with the world in general.

Men like that (Gock's partner) - they're sort of not really domestic abusers. Their behaviour isn't really rooted in the idea that a man is entitled to bully and control his wife. (WHich of course doesn't mean that any woman should put up with abuse from such a man: he either gets help or he can fuck off). Anger management and better coping strategies quite often work on these men because they can see clear benefits: no more prison, no more losing jobs/friends/family members etc.

Whereas the true DV perpetrator, who only hurts his wife and family, is motivated by ideas of ownership and power (just like the rapist/serial killer - other peope aren't 'real').

JennaLemon Sat 13-Oct-12 20:06:16

Yes, and my x was the other type, he believed that I was his dog/chattel and he could treat me like shit if he damn well wanted.

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