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proven child emotional abuse

(8 Posts)
somuchbetter Mon 12-Mar-18 23:05:51

Hi, I'm new to this forum so please be kind if I'm in the wrong subject board.
I'm hoping to answer some questions / receive some advice regarding options and outcomes in my situation.
I'm separated since 2015 , divorced for one year, two children 9 and 7 who spend about a third of time with dad (and new wife), there is a court order in place.
My children have long complained of how they are treated by their dad's wife (mostly) and their dad. Some things they said were worrying but I've always tried to not interfere with their parenting, so on the rare occasion when I protested about the children's treatment I was ignored, accused of just about anything under the sun or have been told my daughter, who is the oldest and more vocal is lying or manipulating me.
Immediately prior and following dad's wedding in December my daughter's complaints (and my son's but he's younger and softer) increased tenfold and I just couldn't handle the situation by myself. I ended up paying private therapy for my daughter. To cut the story short, two month on, the therapist (qualified and registered) gives me two phone numbers, Cafcass and MASH, she informed me that my daughter is being emotionally abused (no physical or sexual abuse suspected) by her dad and recommends that I should stop contact with their dad. Also, according to her I have a "duty to protect" my children therefore action should be taken.
Perhaps in a way it is is no surprise, but it is a huge shock none the less. I'm in overdrive trying to figure out what to do. What I have been able to find out is that I can't just stop the children visiting dad if there is a court order. I have asked the therapist for a written report, including her recommendations and I should receive it shortly.

The abuse would be emotional only, threats of oversized punishments and telling them they are worthless / bad and withholding affection.

Does anybody have any experience, knowledge of similar situations.

Should I go to Social Services or to Court or to both?
Does a psychologist's say so constitutes proof of abuse for the court or social services?
Do courts even stop visitation anymore? Last year, a presumption of contact with both parents was in place for all but the most drastic cases.
To be honest, from what I read, family courts are not exactly mother friendly at the moment and I am afraid of doing something in case my children end up in an even worse situation than to start with. On the other hand, it would appear that I have to "act to protect" my children or failure to protect could mean neither parent can provide suitable care in the eyes of the social services.
In any case, I have made up my mind that I will act to protect my children but as for how best to do that I am at a loss.

Thanks in advance if you reply,

anappleadaykeeps Mon 12-Mar-18 23:20:12

Sorry, I have no immediate advice, as I have tried and failed to protect my two children (similar ages at the time) to no avail.

I would be extremely careful. Can you make an appointment with the children's GP (without them there?) to ask their advice? Can you arrange a meeting with their school's Safeguarding Lead (often the Head Teacher) to find out their views and if they have any concerns.

It is pretty unhelpful for the counsellor to tell you to stop contact, just on her say-so, and if your Ex and your Judge are anything similar to
mine, the views of a privately funded expert will be disregarded, especially for Emotional Abuse. It would have been far more helpful for her to also flag her concerns with Children's Services.

I'm also really confused by the two. contact organisations she gave you. I thought neither MASH nor Cafcass could take self referrals or enquiries from parents?

anappleadaykeeps Mon 12-Mar-18 23:28:12

How hostile was the original court process to reach the Contact Order? What allegations were made on either side at the time?

You could phone NSPCC for advice, and give your name (ie don't do it confidentially). Keep a note and written record of all positive steps you take for action. NSPCC are able to pass their concerns on to Children's Services, as well as you contacting Children's Services directly.

somuchbetter Mon 12-Mar-18 23:36:30

Thanks for your reply,
my GP recommended the therapist and school doesn't have anything worth doing. In fact, my son tried to tell one of his teachers that his dad wasn't very nice (he came home very proud for telling someone but very confused with the answer) and the teacher told him she knows his dad and his dad is a nice person.
As for privately funded therapist - I tried to get their dad to participate but he tried to talk me out of it and postpone so I went ahead with it anyway.
The two organisations confuse me too but the way I see it either I report to social services or try to go to Court based on the report the therapist will give me. Don't even know if it's feasible, hence me being here.
Unfortunately, after paying for therapy, my financial resources don't stretch far enough for legal advice.

somuchbetter Mon 12-Mar-18 23:54:50

In the first Court process I made no allegations and was reached based on agreement and a promise we will take steps to prevent parental conflict. Dad refused to allow me to phone the children while they are with him and alleged to Cafcass that I was emotionally dependent on the children.
On the plus side I have him recorded as he tells my daughter that he doesn't like her (repeatedly), and confirmation of some of his threats (he was telling her she doesn't know how to take a joke, that he didn't act on the threat therefore she's making a big deal out of nothing, but in essence he confirmed that he made the threats).
Much depends on how the courts are, how willing they are to protect a child, yet I'm scared that I may put my children in more danger by going to them for protection. On the other hand, the therapist strongly insisted that I take legal advice regarding my obligation to protect my children based on her evaluation of abuse.
It really doesn't help that when you google child abuse and Cafcass the vast majority of results are about abuse by parental alienation and so little about how you can effectively protect your child from a genuine abuser.

anappleadaykeeps Tue 13-Mar-18 09:00:42

If you haven't already done so, start keeping a notebook or diary in which you write down anything of concern that the children say to you. Keep it very factual, and write the date down of each disclosure.

This gives you a clear record of specific individual aspects.

Take a look at the C1A, in particular the table on Page 3, and think how you would fill it in. (NB I needed more room than the table, so used a couple of extra sheets.). What did you do can include trying to talk to your Ex, talking to GP, talking to school, the therapist, etc. You could also phone the NSPCC for advice, and also there is a CORAMs Children's Law helpline.

Your biggest risk will be a counterclaim of Parental Alienation, but if you didn't make allegations initially, only later when problems arose, that will help show that you are not trying to alienate your children against your Ex.

You can (should?) ask for contact to be stopped or supervised until matters are investigated. Courts are very unlikely to stop contact because of Emotional Abuse, but once CAFCASS are involved (they would be appointed by Court to investigate your concerns) they will have quite a lot of influence.

Do you have money for a lawyer? If not, go in person to the Court to deliver your application and you should find the Court staff quite helpful once they realise you are a Litigant in Person.

You may be expected to try mediation first, unless you can claim it is urgent. (I don't know details exactly here.).

somuchbetter Tue 13-Mar-18 22:13:26

anappleadaykeeps - Thank you very much for the very useful information on the forms, it's certainly worth familiarizing myself with them.
I have tried all of the above except for CORAM, will definitely give them a try as well as I am in need of legal advice and there's not enough money to do therapy and lawyer.
You sound very well acquainted with the process, can I ask if you have attempted something similar? If you did, what was the outcome and was your experience a with the court / cafcass, hopefully a positive one?
Yes, I am afraid of accusations of parental alienation, the truth is that, because they make such a big fuss about alienation , I really struggle with what to say to my children when they come home with stories of abuse from their dad or his wife. I am afraid to say "no, what your dad is doing is not right" because that's criticizing the other parent, therefore it can be claimed to be alienation. That's really one of the main reasons I took them to a therapist, because I don't feel safe to talk to my children about what is really happening to them without falling into this politically incorrect category.

TheOrigBrave Wed 14-Mar-18 21:43:47

Doesn't the therapist have a duty of care to report the abuse herself?

Something sort of similar happened to me; I told a professional about a situation with my son and his dad (my ex) and she took it right out of my hands and reported it.

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