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Separating from controlling H... who is stalling about telling the dcs

(58 Posts)
CharlotteCollinsismovingon Wed 20-Mar-13 03:58:11

Thanks in large part to the support and patience of some wonderful people on MN, I am coming to terms with the fact that my H of over ten years is EA. And probably narcissistic, too or a good liar or perhaps I'm just gullible: he doesn't seem to have any empathy, or internal self, or memory of the nastiest things he has said.

Anyway, ten days ago I told him that I want us to separate. After initial shock and upset, and a few days away to start processing, he has come back and is drowning me in words. On the surface, he is accepting it and very, very reasonable, but (thanks to my MN training!) I'm suspicious. Already he has got me talking for hours about the things that he did - and 24 hours later, the justifications and rewriting of history have begun. Did me no good, in any case: he still "doesn't understand," although he is "broken" and "devastated" that he has unintentionally hurt me... (Part of me does feel guilty for my suspiciousness!)

And (to get to the most immediate problem) he still seem to be trying to control the process in his usual ways. From being almost totally uninvolved with the dcs, he has morphed into Superdad and wants to stay at home looking after them while I go back to work. Or split the care 50:50 at least and both not work, since I don't want to return to work for another year. He is more likely than not to lose his job in around two months and is unlikely to find another one round here, so is talking about how I hold all the cards - if I refuse to move, he can't find work, because he has to stay near to see the dcs regularly.

Because of all this uncertainty in the future, and his inability to understand why I've made the decision to separate, he doesn't want us to tell the dcs yet (he naturally wants us to tell them together). Maybe, despite his hope that we can do all this amicably and informally suits him, I need to get myself a solicitor.

I'm starting to wonder if I should just tell the dcs myself when he's away next week - is this a really bad idea?

Tortoiseonthehalfshell Wed 20-Mar-13 04:34:20

Well done you, Charlotte! You don't know me, but I've been following your posts a bit (& on other posters' threads) and I'm so pleased for you.

Get a solicitor. Of course you can't split amicably and informally from an EA narcissist. That's your old desire to believe that just as long as you're reasonable, he'll be reasonable, speaking. Get a sol.

Now, how old are the children? And you're currently a SAHP? What do you want to happen in terms of custody and access? Are you hoping to go back to working fulltime?

CharlotteCollinsismovingon Wed 20-Mar-13 04:46:37

Thanks, Tortoise!

The dcs are 9 (oldest) to 3 (youngest). I'm currently a SAHP, yes, and was hoping to be at home for one more year until the youngest is in school full time. Then would like to return to work, which in my line of work means full time, as there is almost nothing else available.

I was expecting him to continue as normal, seeing the dcs occasionally as and when it suited him and fitted into his other commitments. He has not been a great dad up to now: will spend maybe 5 minutes a day with them despite working from home - always too busy to be involved reliably in bedtime, for example. And will often tell them to think of his needs rather than engage with theirs. And he has no appreciation of routine for them and has been rather scathing of my insistence on it in the past. So I'd rather he didn't spend a huge amount of time with them, although this new Superdad would be welcome if he doesn't disappear as quickly as he arrived. I definitely definitely want them to live with me.

snowshapes Wed 20-Mar-13 06:35:47

I don't think seeing a solicitor means you have to be adversarial, but it does mean you are informed of your legal rights and can make informed decisions. It also means you have clear lines in your head about what is acceptable and where you stand when he tries to drown you in verbiage.
Look for one experienced in family law with testimonials and a decent website which shows you what they offer and also Resolution, I think it is, if you are in England. He does not need to know you have consulted a solicitor, but, as he is making unreasonable demands and is controlling and manipulative, you need an experienced professional on side.

snowshapes Wed 20-Mar-13 06:36:35

Sorry, meant to say look on Resolution.

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 20-Mar-13 06:43:02

Makes perfect sense that a controlling man, given that he's lost the game, wants to control the exit, the information and the children at the same time. The challenge for you is to take the initiative, take the lead and not allow his tricks to cause problems.

Second the ideas to get legal advice about what you do with the house, other assets or access and would extend it to other practical advice... mostly financial but also thinking about ways to increase your indepedence such as child-care arrangements so that you can get back into employment sooner rather than later

Can you make him leave?

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 20-Mar-13 06:46:08

BTW.... do you have any RL support from family and friends? I think you should probably hold off telling the DCs until he's actually going but use the week he is away to pack his stuff, do your research and make his exit too difficult for him to turn down.

Moanranger Wed 20-Mar-13 06:52:45

I am in early stages of splitting up, so I kind of recognise your H's behaviour. Speak to a solicitor & get a good understanding of the process. Then when your STBXH comes up with all these weird & wonderful ideas, such as DIY divorce - which is what mine did - you will know how to respond. Know your rights & the facts & stand firm. When the DW calls it a day, the control- freakery really comes out, so be on guard. Personally, I would tell DCs so they get the right story. Good luck.

Anniegetyourgun Wed 20-Mar-13 07:03:33

Yes, absolutely get a solicitor. Interview two or three and find one you are comfortable with. You want one who knows their stuff and is 100% on your side, you, the paying customer. They do not need to be aggressive, indeed that causes more trouble and expense than necessary, but they do need to be firm. They will be representing you against a man who is up to any dirty trick in the Fuckwit's Handbook; but fortunately, unlike you, will have no emotional investment in the proceedings. They will be able to tell you what the law says, not your H's interpretation of what the law says, not what he thinks it ought to say, but The Facts. This is invaluable when you start to doubt your own sanity.

Like the man said, it's the art of walking softly while carrying a big stick.

CharlotteCollinsismovingon Wed 20-Mar-13 07:30:11

I shall speak to my WA contact about it when I see her tomorrow.

Don't know how I'm going to pay for it, though, especially if he's not going to work and therefore contribute any maintenance. Any ideas? I'm not eligible for Legal Aid, CAB said, because we own a house together that's rented out, so have significant (if inaccessible) savings.

CharlotteCollinsismovingon Wed 20-Mar-13 07:32:49

He won't leave till the end of June, he says. He'll be away a lot of that time, though, on business. So I can count him as having left. Again, so he says...

Unfortunately, in a week we are off on a pre-planned family holiday to see family across the world from us. I have to go to be there for the dcs and they have to go because it would be really unkind of me to deprive them of that chance to see beloved family. It's going to involve lots more horrible but on-the-surface-pleasant conversations, I'm sure.

jenny99 Wed 20-Mar-13 07:52:39 is a very hard situation. I am in a similar one, told my H I want to separate over half term and he still can't accept it and doesn't want to tell the kids and won't make plans. I am a sahm and have been for 15 yrs. I'm actually not quite sure what to do 2.5 weeks my eldest ds goes on a school trip for a week so I don't want to rock the boat for him now so soon to that and to being away from us...I had hoped to get the ball rolling end Feb!

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 20-Mar-13 07:52:54

"He won't leave till the end of June, he says"

You'll have to force the pace here. Use the opportunity of the holiday to prepare the ground that 'when we get back, you're leaving'. It will mean a lot of unpleasant conversations but you can't afford to be pleasant, even 'on the surface', even if it means other people pick up that there's a problem.

In the meantime, make his life less comfortable.... anything you currently do for him just stop doing it. He sleeps on the sofa, washes his own dishes.... whatever. Mentally designate him as being outside of the family and treat him accordingly.

sassy34264 Wed 20-Mar-13 07:57:55

Hi. Not read any of y our previous threads (sorry)

Was just wondering why you need to have deep and meaningful conversations with him?

I would be inclined to say, that as far as you are concerned you are separated and you do not wish to dissect/analyse what went wrong, as you are not trying to fix it. Tell him you will talk about the dc's, what's for lunch, etc but you do not want to continue with the conversations about your relationship, as there is no longer one.

I found that to deal with personality disorders you really need to dis engage. Any attempt to get them to see your point of view, feelings etc, is wasted breath.

Mantras help.

I'm not prepared to discuss it.

This is no longer relevant.

If it isn't about the dc's i've got nothing to say.

Do not fall for any manipulative techniques he will try to use to get you to talk. He will probably randomly try, sympathy, guilt, anger, reasonablness to get through to you.

Stick with the mantras.

CharlotteCollinsismovingon Wed 20-Mar-13 09:42:46

Yes, you're probably all right. I guess I'm just doing the normal thing of waiting for him to set the agenda. But also trying to keep things feeling normal so that the dcs don't question it and force the issue of telling them.

CharlotteCollinsismovingon Wed 20-Mar-13 09:48:37

There will be lots of discussion about it during this holiday, as we're visiting his siblings.

We'll also have separate beds.

I have to tell them what's going on before the holiday, don't I?

Even if he's not around to "tell them with me" (whatever that means, as he doesn't get why I'm doing it).

Wtf am I going to tell them, though? Everything is so uncertain.

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 20-Mar-13 09:56:26

You tell them that Mum & Dad are not happy together any more so Dad's going to be living somewhere else. You make it really plain that it's nothing they have done or said, their lives won't change negatively, they'll go to the same school and have the same friends, they'll be able to see and talk to Dad as much as ever, it'll be fun to have two bedrooms .... whatever it takes to make this sound like a positive thing. They are bound to be upset and they'll have questions which you must answer as honestly as you are able.

But you have to be certain about what's going to happen next. No ambivalence because telling the kids is a bridge-burning moment and you can't do it unless you're 100% sure that he's out of there.

CharlotteCollinsismovingon Wed 20-Mar-13 10:30:13

Which takes us back to seeing the solicitor! He's now saying again that he should stay with the dcs. Or we should all move somewhere new. Argh!!

CharlotteCollinsismovingon Wed 20-Mar-13 10:32:28

Is it really chiefly me making the decisions about how it'll be? It feels like it (and he says it is!) - isn't that unfair?

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 20-Mar-13 10:37:51

It's your life, of course you make the decisions. Who else should do that? Him? Do you think he makes the best decisions for you?... hmm

It is not 'unfair', when you are presented with an uncooperative person that isn't taking you seriously, to take the initiative. It is necessary.

sassy34264 Wed 20-Mar-13 11:17:38

But you're not making the decisions. You suggest something and he convinces you to make an alternative. confused

You don't sound 100 % convinced you want to split.

If you want to split, then he can't control that.

He is stalling for time, to convince you to stay in the status quo.

If it was me, i would tell him the kids are being told on such a date and the relatives are being told on such a date. Then it is up to him if he wants to be there or not.

You are wavering too much. He can smell it, i'm afraid.

jenny99 Wed 20-Mar-13 12:01:25

I like the idea about setting a husband was stalling and kept saying we will tell our parents and he didnt so I just told mine anyway. Then he told his. I will set a date then to tell the kids. But how do we decide what happens next?....

OP does your OH want to all move somewhere new to improve things?

CharlotteCollinsismovingon Wed 20-Mar-13 12:40:56

I'm 100% convinced I want to split. At least, when he's not in the house I am. When he's here, he muddles me. I hate him. I see the little things he's doing - rewriting history, making out this is all my fault, crying about how this could be devastating for one dd in particular (ironically, the one he treats worst - maybe the one he notices most). And yet, I'm hearing all his words, feeling the guilt, being told how well he has treated me, feeling my confidence sapping away.

I'm sorry - I am just dithering, I know. I'm talking fairly pointlessly, just because I can't get out to talk to other people irl till tomorrow and that seems too far away.

He wants to move so he can get a new job. The job he's got at the moment is a special deal where he can live here - there wouldn't be much chance of a new job round here, unfortunately. He really wants (for his career) to move overseas, so wants us to move too so he can still see the dcs. Not going to happen!

foolonthehill Wed 20-Mar-13 12:57:10

Hi C.

You know he won't make this easy, you know you cannot rely on him to either be or act reasonably. I am afraid as you have worked out who he is (and let's face it you've stayed with him for a long time!) you do have to be the one to go out and get the life you want/need/deserve. For you and for the DC. believe me there are plenty of things you won't be able to control or you make all the running that you can:

Legal advice
Dates and times for change
Where will you live
Where will DC go to school

You have to have your ducks in a row and do it, especially now you have told him (and if any one is lurking I would say it is better to get the practicalities sorted before talking to an abusive person...even if it feels mean) Remember he is not reasonable...he is emotionally abusive...he will not be reasonable. only you can make the process happen.

good luck

CharlotteCollinsismovingon Wed 20-Mar-13 13:13:29

Keep forgetting that - he is not reasonable! Thought I'd thought through the practicalities, just it turns out I had no idea how he'd be. I thought he'd be reasonable - that was my downfall!

He knows he doesn't have to move out, though. It's his home as much as it is mine. More in fact - his name on the deeds, not mine. I wish I could just tell him to go, but I can't.

Solicitors closed today but will make appointment tomorrow. Seeing WA woman tomorrow as well.

ponygirlcurtis Wed 20-Mar-13 13:22:02

Got nothing more to add that hasn't already been said Charlotte, just wanted to offer you a big hug. smile You are doing great.

Anniegetyourgun Wed 20-Mar-13 13:22:18

Charlotte... if he was reasonable you wouldn't be leaving him, would you?

LadyMercy Wed 20-Mar-13 13:58:23

Charlotte, you are doing really well.

Next time he spouts 'it's not fair' at you, ignore him. What is not fair is someone living with a partner who makes their life shit!

You are finally taking control back, repeat after me - this is not my fault!

Bookwolf32 Wed 20-Mar-13 14:14:18

I don't mean to be harsh or antagonistic, but from reading this thread there isn't a lot of mention of the children's current emotional state, it's all about you and H. As a child I had parents who separated and divorced in a very acrimonious way - I was aware long before that things were unhappy. It seems highly likely that if your children are 4+ then they know things aren't good and all this dithering about when to tell them simply makes it worse. They are quite possibly imagining all sorts and the sooner you sit down with them and explain things in a straightforward manner that they can process the better.
Good luck.

CharlotteCollinsismovingon Wed 20-Mar-13 14:34:47

Ok, fair point - they haven't been mentioned here. Currently, they are benefitting from the new Superdad, although there are holes in the disguise and ds asked this morning when he'd be going away again.

Actually, the reason I started the thread is that I want to tell them and don't know if it's the right thing to do. Is it best to be straight with them as soon as possible, or better to wait until we can present something definite? I don't know if I can insist they live with me yet. I don't know if I can afford to stay in the area if H is unemployed next year. And so on.

sassy34264 Wed 20-Mar-13 16:09:04

charlotte My exdp wouldn't let me leave. Slightly different in that, he put his hands around my throat, pinned me to the bed and threatened to kill me if i took dd away from him.

So i did it all behind his back. It was the only way.

I know you may not be in any physical danger, but you may have to get things sorted without telling him. He is going to make it difficult otherwise. We are not taking about a normal reasonable split with a person of normal disposition are we?

I would find somewhere to live, sort out benefits/finances, see a solictor and then move with the kids. (without informing him, or at the very least, inform him at the last minute) I would then let him see them every other weekend and one day a week (was the standard) and then let him go to court for more access if he wants.

I would probably inform the kids myself, as i would be unsure what spin he might put on it. But it's ultimately your decision.

There will be lots of differing opinions, you should find one that you think suits your situation, is best for you and the children.

sassy34264 Wed 20-Mar-13 16:17:49

top 100 traits of personality disorders

A link to see if he displays any of these.

ThreeTomatoes Wed 20-Mar-13 18:27:12

I agree with sassy. TBH Charlotte, having seen a few of your posts on another thread so knowing a little about your situation, I was surprised to read here that you've actually revealed your desire to split to him. Can I ask why you decided to do so?

foolonthehill Wed 20-Mar-13 19:54:57

ideally tell the DC together, but more importantly don;t tell them anything much until you actually know what is going to happen...
something like "Dad and i are going to get divorced but I don;t know when, how, where we will live, when you will see him " will unsettle and upset them...these are the things that they will need to know to understand what is going on and to be calm.

tell them concrete facts

CharlotteCollinsismovingon Wed 20-Mar-13 20:09:23

ThreeTomatoes - because I wanted to stay in the house. And I phoned CAB for advice and they basically said that I can't make him leave and we should try to make as many arrangements between ourselves as possible. I also spoke to my WA adviser and she just talked through precautions if he became dangerous.

I didn't expect him to be violent as passive aggression is more his way if anything, so thought the suggestion to leave without warning didn't apply to me. Plus I guess I thought he was abuser-lite - probably unintentional and something stronger women would just stay with and complain about more.

Have I been a bit dumb? sad

CharlotteCollinsismovingon Wed 20-Mar-13 20:14:42

Plus I was sick of the pretence that all was ok and wanted to move towards moving him out. I guess I expected him to go. I don't know what I expected really. Gosh, I sound thick.

sassy, I find that website really hard to read and follow. From other reading I've done, I think he at least displays narcissistic tendencies. But he doesn't do things that people described as malevolent narcissists do.

sassy34264 Wed 20-Mar-13 20:48:08

Took the liberty of looking through the 100 traits for you, and picked out the ones that i think are coming through from just your few posts on here.

See what you think.

Abusive Cycle - This is the name for the ongoing rotation between destructive and constructive behavior which is typical of many dysfunctional relationships and families.

Anger - People who suffer from personality disorders often feel a sense of unresolved anger and a heightened or exaggerated perception that they have been wronged, invalidated, neglected or abused.

Chaos Manufacture - Unnecessarily creating or maintaining an environment of risk, destruction, confusion or mess.

Chronic Broken Promises - Repeatedly making and then breaking commitments and promises is a common trait among people who suffer from personality disorders.

Circular Conversations - Arguments which go on almost endlessly, repeating the same patterns with no resolution.

Confirmation Bias - The tendency to pay more attention to things which reinforce your beliefs than to things which contradict them.

Denial - Believing or imagining that some painful or traumatic circumstance, event or memory does not exist or did not happen.

Emotional Abuse - Any pattern of behavior directed at one individual by another which promotes in them a destructive sense of Fear, Obligation or Guilt (FOG).

Emotional Blackmail - The use of a system of threats and punishments on a person by someone close to them in an attempt to control their behaviors.

Engulfment - An unhealthy and overwhelming level of attention and dependency on a family member or partner, which comes from imagining or believing one exists only within the context of that relationship.

Entitlement - A "Sense of Entitlement" is an unrealistic, unmerited or inappropriate expectation of favorable living conditions and favorable treatment at the hands of others.

False Accusations - False accusations, distortion campaigns and smear campaigns are patterns of unwarranted or exaggerated criticisms which occur when a personality disordered individual tries to feel better about themselves by putting down someone else - usually a family member, spouse, partner, friend or colleague.

Fear of Abandonment - A pattern of irrational thought exhibited by some personality-disordered individuals, which causes them to occasionally think they are in imminent danger of being rejected, discarded or replaced by someone close to them.

Frivolous Litigation - Use of unmerited legal proceedings to hurt, harass or gain an economic advantage over an individual or organization.

Gaslighting - Falsely convincing an individual that they are losing their mind. From the 1944 MGM movie “Gaslight”.

Grooming - Grooming is the predatory act of maneuvering another individual into a position that makes them more isolated, dependent, likely to trust, and more vulnerable to abusive behavior.

Hoovers & Hoovering - A Hoover is a metaphor, taken from the popular brand of vacuum cleaners, to describe how an abuse victim, trying to assert their own rights by leaving or limiting contact in a dysfunctional relationship gets "sucked back in" when the perpetrator temporarily exhibits improved or desirable behavior.

Imposed Isolation - Actions taken by an abuser to discourage a victim from developing supportive, external relationships.

Intimidation - Any form of veiled, hidden, indirect or non-verbal threat.

Invalidation - The creation or promotion of an environment which encourages an individual to believe that their thoughts, beliefs, values or physical presence are inferior, flawed, problematic or worthless.

Lack of Conscience - Individuals who suffer from personality disorders are often preoccupied with their own agendas, sometimes to the exclusion of the needs and concerns of others. This is sometimes interpreted by others as a lack of moral conscience.

Manipulation - The practice of baiting an individual or group of individuals into a certain response or reaction pattern for the purpose of achieving a hidden personal goal.

Moments of Clarity - Spontaneous, temporary periods when a person with a personality disorder is able to see beyond their own world view and can acknowledge and begin to make amends for their dysfunctional behavior.

Neglect - A passive form of abuse in which the physical or emotional needs of a dependent are disregarded or ignored by the person responsible for them.

Normalizing - Normalizing is a tactic used to desensitize an individual to abusive, coercive or inappropriate behaviors. In essence, normalizing is the manipulation of another human being to get them to agree to, or accept something that is in conflict with the law, social norms or their own basic code of behavior.

"Not My Fault" Syndrome - The practice of avoiding personal responsibility for one's own words and actions.

No-Win Scenarios - No-Win Scenarios and Lose-Lose Scenarios are situations commonly created by people who suffer from personality disorders where they present two bad options to someone close to them and pressure them into choosing between the two. This usually leaves the non-personality-disordered person with a 'damned if I do and damned if I don't' feeling.

Passive-Aggressive Behavior - The expression of negative feelings, resentment, and aggression in an unassertive, passive way (for example, through procrastination and stubbornness).

Projection - The act of attributing one's own feelings or traits to another person and imagining or believing that the other person has those same feelings or traits.

Verbal Abuse - Any kind of repeated pattern of inappropriate, derogatory or threatening speech directed at one individual by another.

CharlotteCollinsismovingon Wed 20-Mar-13 20:57:10


CharlotteCollinsismovingon Wed 20-Mar-13 20:59:30

Thanks for looking through and picking all those out. Yes, I guess he does all those. So not abuser-lite after all, are you saying?

ThreeTomatoes Wed 20-Mar-13 21:05:15

Of course not 'thick' Charlotte! I understand now. Thing is, it's highly unlikely someone like him will leave quietly/reasonably, isn't it? sad

CharlotteCollinsismovingon Wed 20-Mar-13 21:07:41

It makes perfect sense now I've seen it happen - I just couldn't predict it.

That's probably a good thing that I can't work out how his mind works!

sassy34264 Wed 20-Mar-13 21:35:39

No, the good thing will be when you stop trying.

It's all relative charlotte My ex didn't do half as many as those things on that list. But he did like to punch, kick, spit, smash things over my head. hmm

You will never be better off with someone who is a complete mind fuck...........purposefully. shock than on your own.

You just need a carefully conducted exit strategy. Good luck x

foolonthehill Thu 21-Mar-13 10:31:52

...exit strategy...and I would add a stay out strategy too....make it real, make it last and you will be able to rebuild a much better more fulfilling life. So will your DCs

Basically, you have to accept that this man is your enemy who means you harm, because he is, and he does. Once you accept that then it becomes easier to make your plans to get rid and to implement them, because you can stop feeling so guilty about hurting his feelings. He doesn't deserve reasonable consideration and kindness, because he's a shit: you do whatever's necessary to get you and DC free of hiim.

NicknameTaken Thu 21-Mar-13 11:55:16

Has nobody mentioned yet that legal aid is being removed from family law cases in April (except in cases of demonstrated abuse - and EA is going to be hard to demonstrate)? I actually wonder whether he is deliberately stalling you for this reason. Get yourself set up with a solictor IMMEDIATELY before it's too late.

CharlotteCollinsismovingon Thu 21-Mar-13 12:54:12

I went to the solicitor this morning. She seems on the ball and I feel comfortable with her, so that's good as I don't have much time to scout more options.

I asked her about legal aid and she said I'm not eligible while I have access to the joint account. I'm away from next Wednesday, so basically have 3 working days in which to split our finances, with him not here. I think that could lose me more than I save, so I think I'll have to pay the costs.

She suggested mediation and I hope that, having to appear more reasonable in front of a third party, he'll agree to totally reasonable things like: the dcs will live with me; we will stay in the house; he will get fair but not 50/50 contact.

Given all that, and having spoken with my WA contact too, I feel more comfortable about telling the dcs. They will live with me: whatever he might think, noone is going to give him much credence, so they can be assured of that. We will stay in this area, so they can go to the same school, because even if he makes it impossible financially to stay in the house, I will rent somewhere small nearby to make it possible.

That way, they won't find out on the holiday, which could blight the whole trip for them. And the holiday will be a happy distraction and valuable processing time. <crosses fingers>

SGB, I always like your attitude, and I like it especially in relation to my situation! I'm starting to think like that more naturally - but what's that saying? "Keep your friends close and your enemies closer"?

To use mediation is to subscribe to the mistaken idea that abuse is related to "misunderstandings" or lack of communication. If discussion and compromise, the mainstay of mediation, could help in any way most domestic violence situations would be long ago resolved because victims of abuse "discuss and compromise" constantly. Mediation assumes both parties will cooperate to make agreements work; the victim has always 'cooperated' with the abuser; the abuser never cooperates.

Mediation can be and is ordered by judges/courts, as can counselling and mental health evaluations. They are tools in the abuser's arsenal to be used against the victim as often as he chooses. In order for mediation to work and to not make situations worse the parties involved must have equal power and must share some common vision of resolution. This is clearly not present when domestic violence has taken place in a relationship.

Mediation practitioners must be alert to the need to interview partners separately with specially designed questions in order to determine if abuse is or has been present. Many domestic violence professionals can train others to screen safely for domestic violence. To not do so risks unsuccessful mediations, at best, and increasing the victim's danger by colluding with the abuser, at worst.

A person who has been terrorized by an abuser is not free to participate in a mediation process with him, even if the mediator(s) assume or believe that they "understand". Being truthful about any of her needs or experiences in the abuser's presence or proximity practically ensures that she is in more danger later.

The mediator is left with a no win: either the victim's danger is increased, or she is not fully or truthfully participating, or both. The well meaning mediator may actually encourage the victim to feel safe enough to share information that could seriously compromise her safety. In any case the whole intent of mediation is lost.

To engage an abuser and a victim in a process that implies equal responsibility is damaging to both. The victim is once again made to feel responsible for the abuser's behavior, and the abuser is allowed to continue to not accept full responsibility for his behaviour choices.

Therefore mediation is a complete non starter here. He will not be at all reasonable because he just cannot be.

TisILeclerc Thu 21-Mar-13 13:19:42

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

foolonthehill Thu 21-Mar-13 13:31:31

atilla you are right..but with even quite obvious and well documented abuse (as in my case) people still get ordered to go to mediation....often lawyers advise you to "get it out of the way" as they think the petitioner will have to go down that route anyway.

PS my mediator thinks my ex is "mentally unstable" and reminds me every session that I shouldn't share anything sensitive with her, or him......

still, the system stinks!

CharlotteCollinsismovingon Thu 21-Mar-13 19:58:48

That all sounds quite believable, attila, but he is usually more reasonable in front of a third party and I wouldn't describe myself as terrorised by him.

Maybe I just have a lot still to learn about what he's capable of. Well, it'll all strengthen my resolve, at least!

CharlotteCollinsismovingon Sat 23-Mar-13 23:25:20

Well, today I told the dcs. Immediate loud tears from dd1 and dd2; an awful first 5 minutes in which I thoroughly regretted everything.

And since then, they have gradually realised that for the most part, it'll be life as normal for them: Daddy not around, living with Mummy, school, friends, life - just now, when Daddy's around there's a chance he'll be more attentive to them than before...

Phew. Just glad to have it over with - and with that initial reaction, so glad H wasn't here too, as I think that's all he'd've talked about and tried to recreate for a long time. Thanks for your support, lovely people. thanks

TisILeclerc Sat 23-Mar-13 23:27:31

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

CharlotteCollinsismovingon Sat 23-Mar-13 23:49:07

Thanks, Leclerc. Their first (second and third) question was "why?" Didn't see it coming at all. Why would they? It's all they've ever known, and he comes across as so reasonable.

I told them he doesn't treat me as I want to be treated. That's ok, isn't it? I mean, I feel uncomfortable saying, "It's all his fault!" which is basically what I did say... but how else to phrase it, really?

ponygirlcurtis Sun 24-Mar-13 10:56:48

So glad you've done it and it went ok Charlotte. ((hugs))

Anniegetyourgun Sun 24-Mar-13 11:08:30

XH got the news in first with our divorce. He told them I was leaving them all to go and live in Sweden with a younger man. They, er, weren't that happy about it. Took them ages to work out which one of us was lying through their rotten teeth, poor souls.

Also, when the man you are leaving is a shit, it's actually better to tell the DC by yourself, and get in first so that he doesn't have the opportunity to tell them lies. Once you have assured them that they are loved, that their lives will not change much etc then any crap he comes out with will make him look stupid - and you can just tell them that 'Daddy's being a bit silly' if he does say anything troublesome. Remember it's OK to 'undermine' an abusive parent. You don't have to show loyalty to someone who isn't reasonable.

SGB, it's good to hear that, I've had to undermine by abusive ex many times in the last three years. At least now the girls are in their teens they see him as he is.

Charlotte, wishing you all the best. I had to be the bearer of bad news too (he wouldn't tell them because it was my decision to split, and he wouldn't tell anyone else either) and it sounds like you did the right thing.

minkembra Sun 24-Mar-13 21:12:35


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