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Social services / family conference DV related - advice please

(23 Posts)
gingerrapunzel Mon 27-Jun-11 22:56:04

I have posted on here before about abuse ex p and hoping for some advice from those who have more experience of system than me.

I called police on my exp a number of times - pre and post splitting - mainly verbal abuse and threats to kill.

The SS are involved and done a full assessment and classified my kids 3 and 5 are Children in Need.

SS are fully on board that my exp is aggressive and had serious anger issues and supportive of my suspending contact.

I am finding it massively stressful that SS are involved however as they are not communicating to me clearly about what is going on and I feel blaming me for putting kids in situation where dad has kicked off occasionally (not to minimise this behaviour but to explain why i had facilitated contact).

Next steps is a family group conference and my children school head has been invited as well as child physch (older son has emotional and social problems) and health visitor as well as me (not dad).

I am not sure what i need to do or say in the meeting - basically i was dealing with this with my solicitor and suspending contact until dad did something to sort himself out.

I am not sure what ss can add and I really don?t like their attitude on the one hand (they think all women fall into a pattern of returning to their exp, but i do not fall into thei category and we have been separated for 2 years - i only saw him to facilitate childrens contact) so very wary of their being involved. They think I was too nice to him and my lack of boundaries lead to DV [hmmm].

However, on the other hand I guess they might be useful (or is that just naive??). Anyway I know i need to engage with them and co-operate.

Any ideas / suggestions what I should be pointed out to them or what goes on in these meetings?

scurryfunge Mon 27-Jun-11 23:02:31

You must not facilitate contact if he is angry and aggressive. If he is using contact with them to get to you (and so put them at risk) then you need to be able to be firm and resist (and be seen to be doing so).

SS will look at whether you are able to protect your children from him and nothing else.

PinkCarBlueCar Mon 27-Jun-11 23:12:07

First off - there's two levels for SS - in need (your DC) and at risk.

Second - you've got it pretty much spot on - SS just want to be sure you can arrange matters so that your twunt ex cannot be in a situation where his DV affects your DC.

I suggest that you go there with the attitude that you did your best to facilitate contact as you believed that would be in DC's best interest, but it turned out otherwise. You realise now that he cannot be trusted in such circumstances, and that whilst you would like him to still have contact, you would like it to be via a contact centre and for him to show commitment to that.

GypsyMoth Mon 27-Jun-11 23:12:51

Ask them to arrange a contact centre to facilitate contact instead?

Has it been to court?

PinkCarBlueCar Mon 27-Jun-11 23:18:11

to clarify - since they're saying your DC are in need, that translates as you and your DC could do with a bit of help or perhaps support of some kind. They do not expect it to be long term or complicated, iyswim.

In short, there's nothing to worry about. SS say next to nothing during the assessment phase, and it's very stressful. Be open, honest and show a willingness to work with them, and you should be ok.

gingerrapunzel Mon 27-Jun-11 23:21:41

n0 not been to court = i have undisputed residence since two years and so its up to my exp to take responsibility (spend money) and invoke he court system.

they are anti contact centre saying that not in best interests of the children as its an unnatural and stressful surrounding. I hadnt thought of that angle but makes sense.

Also I am now veering towards the route of getting dad out of our lives. i am not sure would be so adamant in front of SS but i dont think hell change, His issues stem form childhood and run deep and i do believe that although he loves the kids there is a risk that his anger might be against them when they are older. He also does not acknowledge this problem so we are stuck.

I am just sad as this has had an effect on my son I believe and he is missing his crappy dad who has been a bad role model for him ...

cestlavielife Tue 28-Jun-11 11:23:27

ahve you visited local contact centres? i suspect they saying they cost money!
our local one was very pleasant, much like local library large room toys bal pool books games etc. certainly for younfer children like yours is ideal safe environment.

stressful? well depends on you /him - you and DC would go into waiting room then staff would take Dc thru to rrom where dad awaits. there is no reason why it cant be positive/fun epxerience if he tries to make it so.

cestlavielife Tue 28-Jun-11 11:25:29

www.naccc.org.uk go visit lcaol contact centres and insist on using them - it means you can eb sure Dc are safe. my DC didnt suffer from using contact centre - it was best envoirnment o restart contact - it went very well in fact so well it moved on - which is where it all fell aprt again. hey ho.

but no contact centres do not ahve to be stressful and unnatural - they can be much like any other play centre/library /drop in play group type place

cestlavielife Tue 28-Jun-11 11:26:57

www.naccc.org.uk/ -but the properly supervised ones cost money.
some voluntary run andlow fees/no fees.

if you dont ahve third aprty who can do handovers then frankly contact centre is your only option to get that distance between you and ex at handovers

cestlavielife Tue 28-Jun-11 11:27:37

what is streessful /unnatural is Dc seeing dad shout at mum and vice versa ...

Curiousmama Tue 28-Jun-11 11:32:33

Am so sorry you're going through this. I hope it gets sorted soon and that your DS gets help. You've done good by them for leaving so give yourself a pat on the back.

sunshineandbooks Tue 28-Jun-11 12:16:27

I can understand why you feel caught here. There is a yawning chasm between court/society and SS when it comes to DV. The former seem to insist that contact is pretty much always desirable even in cases of quite extreme DV whereas the latter are very much in favour of stopping contact. If you're a parent in the middle it feels like you're between a rock and a hard place.

It's worth remembering that Lundy Bancroft's research suggest that less than 5% of DV offenders ever change. Reoffending stats would seem to support that. Children are being abused if they see/hear one parent abusing another even if it does not involve them directly. IMO unless an abuser changes his behaviour immediately on being called on it, he is not going to ever and so forfeits the right to expect the other parent to put herself potentially in harm's way to facilitate contact. If he cared that much about his DC he would stop abusing their mother!

I can understand why you feel reluctant about this. You are probably worried about your children experiencing abandonment issues and worried that there may be repercussions from your XP. But you also need to be concerned about the effect even minimal involvement could have on your DC if your XP is that abusive.

I personally found that the only way I could get my XP to start behaving was to play hardball and demand everything on my terms, with the backup to mean it. Trying to be accommodating and reasonable was simply interpreted by him as a green light to carry on behaving like an abusive, manipulative idiot.

If you plead too hard to continue contact between your XP and DC, SS may well consider you incapable of protecting your DC (even though none of this is your fault, it is all the fault of your XP for being abusive and putting you all in this situation). I would go along with what they want, while also recognising that if it goes to court SS may well be overruled and the court could insist on supervised contact at a contact centre. However, at least you will have protected yourself and your own relationship with your DC. Your XPs relationship with them is for him to fight for, not you.

I think it may be worth you talking to some advice groups about this as I am not a legal expert, nor do I have any involvement with child services. All I can offer is my own experience and personal opinion, which is worth not a lot really.

Good luck.

cestlavielife Tue 28-Jun-11 12:40:00

the thing to do is to ask SS for help in arranging contact (if dad is inisitng onc ontact /DC want conctact).
if they dont agree with contact centre (which is most logical step) tehn what?
fact is SS wont provide such services - the logical option is contact centre unless you can come up with third party person eg relative/friend - but is big commitment from that person.

currently - my dd are no contact (dds choice after i stopped contact in october folllowing various issues)

DS visiting ex with a family friend once per fortnight -she comes to home, ex comes to otuside house, they go with him to his place (round corner), she come with to bring back hands over on door step.

gingerrapunzel Wed 29-Jun-11 00:39:19

Thanks all very useful information and appreciate kind words.

Thats hitting a nail on the head about courts being pro contact even with violent dads vs social services being cautious and really putting kids welfare first.

I guess part of me is hoping dad will give up contact as its going to be too hard. I kind of want him to leave us all alone for a few years so we cna get some emotional atability back and i can help my kids who are showing signs potentially of the ill effect of whta has happned (anxious and behavioral problems).

I just worry dad has too many of his own issues to support the kids.

I wonder if the only way I am going to achieve this is to physically relocate. I am resisting this as love my house/friends and my work is only possible where I live now so upping would be a real disruption to our now comfortable life.

Thanks too fo suggestion to visit contact centres - i should do that rather than relying on ss word.

Tyr Wed 29-Jun-11 00:47:28

The courts want children to have contact unless there are compelling reasons to the contrary. The issues are between you and him and that is an argument for a third party to manage handovers. If the children want to see their father, that should be managed.

cestlavielife Wed 29-Jun-11 09:59:06

you could also go to GP and get referral to family therapist, in some areas you might be able to get some kind of supported cotact with family therapist/psychologist.

in fact if Dc showing signs eg anxiety emotional issues etc definitely go to GP -if it goes to court you will need that back up that you have sought help for their problems which have arisen due to his behaviour

gingerrapunzel Wed 13-Jul-11 21:58:01

We had family conference and was stressful - by virtue of everyone sitting around and talking about me and my family - but like everyone said just a formal look at what had happened and who was who.

A number of bullet points came out of the meeting one of which is for childrens services to explore the possibility of dad seeing kids with extended family supervising.

not sure now why they included this when i stopped contact and they agreed with thsi. I certainly dont want to put it on my family to do this espe when he threatened to beat up my dad a while back.

Also dont trust his family, his mum lived and stayed with a man who was physically and sexually abusive to his children inc my ex. His sisters are awful - one deals ina nd one smokes weed non stop, jot sure if i tell ss about drugs if its going to open up a cna of worms???

so happy to explore this but not sure where we can go with this, i just dont want them to push me in a corner. plus feel kids better off without dad involved for a bit,.....

will it look bad if i dimss this option and make me look like not facilitating contact? not sure why they would want this when he refuses to engage with them and wont go on the mens prgramme for DV perpetartors

PinkCarBlueCar Wed 13-Jul-11 23:22:07

if you have reasons why you don't want extended family to facilitate the supervised contact, and from what you say you have good reason, then you need to tell SS.

Remember, you're telling them in the spirit of protecting your DC. Tell them you're open to the idea of contact, but it is clear to you and you believe clear to them that contact needs to be supervised or at very least at a contact centre. If they seem to waver, then you need to tell them your concerns - tell them what you'd like them to do / not do with the information before you say it if you want some re-assurance from them, but make sure you tell them.

I don't think it's too cynical to think that the SS don't want to spend money on supervised (ie one to one) contact when they've classed you as "in need". That said, the NACCC do free contact sessions, but that form of contact will be in a room with volunteers and other contactees, and the only records kept will be the times of arrivals and departures.

I was classed as "in need", and I managed to get four supervised contact sessions. Once I got the notes from the sessions SS did, I was surprised they were happy for them to move to unsupervised. Looking back I see that they saw there was minimal risk of neglect or physical abuse, and so they moved it on.

cestlavielife Thu 14-Jul-11 09:44:46

yes you need to ask for confidential meeting with SS to express your cncerns - pointing out you not against the idea but you wanted to be sure that there would be no drugs around the children.

agree that contact centre as neutral location may be better but you could make sure that you putting it in ahnds of SS to decide that the extended family is ok - that you will go along with their decision.

you need to be making it clear in polite calm way that if they happy to take repsonsibility for the children while with the extended family - because it is their suggestion and decision - then you happy to go along with this.

go along with what is being suggested with extended family and see how it goes over a few contact sessions.

gingerrapunzel Thu 14-Jul-11 20:23:11

I guess the long and short of it for me is that i am not happy with dad's behaviour and so i am not happy for contact until he can change (if that happens) as he will have a negative affect on son.

i know if he went to court then he could get contact but not keen to accelerate this process beacuse of ss involvement

my fear is that if contact starts up again it needs to be consistent - i really dont want to have 4 contact centres to be left in the lurch after taht with son expecting to see his dad and not having arrangements set up in place

Do you think they will close case if dad not seen kids? isnt their concern safety of kids and so as long as he is kept away they are safe?

Really be helpful if anyone has any experience how to get ss un-involed that would be great....i just feel that they may ironically in the way of keeping my family safe and are just creating a stressful atmosphere.

PinkCarBlueCar Thu 14-Jul-11 21:36:38

I think that their idea of a contact centre being an unnatural environment is either their bias, or more likely they don't want to have to fund it. Which is silly, as the group contact sessions as described above are free. Even cups of tea were a mere 25p... Only the variations of supervised contact cost.

Maybe they're thinking you want supervised contact while they're pushing for unsupervised? Maybe you just need to get them to clarify what they mean.

As an aside / possible other option, some people used the contact centre as a place purely to do the hand over using the volunteers to handle that part - ie the NRP took the kids wherever else away from the centre for the allotted time, then handed them back at the contact centre. So that's another option that gets away from the "unnatural" environment of what is essentially a kids group in a church hall.

I very much agree with cestlavie - raise your concerns confidentially with SS, then make it clear in polite calm way that if they happy to take repsonsibility for the children while with the extended family - because it is their suggestion and decision - then you happy to go along with this.

cestlavielife Thu 14-Jul-11 23:07:23

what contact does dad actually want with his son?
what does he envisage?
would he turn up to regular contact?

yes it would be bad for DS if you get regular contact for few weeks and then it goes pear shaped - but you cannotcontrol that.youc ant control what he does really. if he is saying he wants contct tehn you ahve to find a way for that to happen because ultimately a court would order it anyway...
if goes to court you need to show you been willing.

SS will butt out once you have establshed contact and its fine -but put the ball in their court - have them take the responsibility and put in writing what they proposing....

cestlavielife Thu 14-Jul-11 23:11:21

but - keep records of what happens because you could get a court order for very specific conditions set on contact say supervised contact which is what i have - it says "and any other contact as agreed" which allows for unsupervised if hings going well...it does end up wih me havnig the respnsibility to decide. right now i am saying supervised as per court order and as per court order that the person supervising collects the children from my place and brings them back - which means i dont have to go to his...

contact did progress in summer 2010 and i was dropping them at his - but as he went weird again i have reverted and SS supported that decision .
(i ahve SS invovlement from disabled childrens team which is slightly different)

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