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Domestic violence and its effect on contact

(51 Posts)
ihavequestions Mon 11-Jul-11 22:28:54

I was in an abusive relationship for 5 years, and lived with my ex for another year afterwards until he moved out. Although obviously we weren't completely separated as our daughter was conceived (accidentally) during that year!

I would like to know what effect his behaviour will have if we go to court regarding access.

I worry that because I have hit him back in the past (never excusable, I know, but it's hard to tell yourself that at the time, with no other way to show your frustration at not being in control of your own life) that I will be honest about this and he will just deny everything I am accusing him of and I will look like the evil one. He even denies it when talking just to me - don't know if he genuinely believes this or if it's some kind of mind game. He is bipolar, so this may have an effect.

He is still being abusive now, hardly ever physical, but still controlling and critical. E.g. he said he wished I would die and they would get on fine together. Or tells me I feed her too much and to stop 'sticking your tit in her mouth' and 'put your breasts away'.

And I don't like the way he acts around our daughter. For instance, he often uses a loud and aggressive tone of voice around her, wakes her up on purpose so he can play with her (and often gets bored and hands her back after 5 minutes), made her cry on purpose once to get me to apologise for criticising him for not comforting her. And he often blocks her view/makes me leave the room if she is looking at me when she's with him as he seems to be jealous.

Every time we disagree on a parenting decision (or even if he's just annoyed with me about something not directly related to her) he threatens to feed her meat when she's older (exclusively breastfed at the moment). I'm vegan, and he was too when she was conceived, and it's very important to me to bring her up vegan (partly for health reasons). So he knows saying this will make me fall in line, and not do anything he doesn't want (like move to a different city near my family for support/contact with her cousins).

As well as the meat threat, he says if I screw him over (i.e. do anything he disagrees with), he will screw me over by hiring a good solicitor and getting as much contact/custody as possible. I think he doesn't necessarily have her interests at heart, and is at least partly using her against me.

I gave the information about DV in my housing application (when still living with him, so I had higher priority to move, but have lost this now he's moved out). And I have twice in the last week reported incidents to the police but said I don't want him charged (so he can't get cross with me as there are no consequences for him). I also have a photo of another bruise from a long time ago (it was too impressive not to take one!). But that is the only evidence of anything, as the time I went to hospital for a head injury we told them I'd fallen over the dog.

However, the vast majority of his abuse was non-physical, so I wouldn't have any evidence of that anyway. And his family seem to think his behaviour is normal. His mum said I was the controlling one (this may be because I have no social graces, so I appear brusque, but it's not possible to control him, he would just do the opposite if you tried). She was in an abusive relationship herself (may have something to do with his issues).

The recent incidents were regarding my flat keys. He wouldn't give his back (two came with the house, I had the other three cut myself, so he never owned them anyway) when he left. He lets himself in all the time, often without notice, sometimes when I am not in (and has used my washer/drier/eaten my food!). I got them back as he left his keyring by mistake, but then he demanded to come in to see the baby and took my set of keys from my bag (and didn't stay to see her). I followed him to get them back and held his arm/T-shirt to stop him leaving but he shoved me against the edge of the wall by the door (my back is bruised). He now claims he only took the gate key and doesn't have the others (untrue, unless he's dumped them somewhere).

I am aware that although Social Services like to be cautious about contact in cases involving DV, the courts will almost always give the NRP contact. I plan to breastfeed on demand for as long as she will do so (so could be up to 7 years) - can they force me to let him take her without me in this situation? And how likely is it that he will get contact with regard to the DV issue? And what kind of contact? E.g. supervised etc. I am worried they will say he's only a threat to me, so he can have her alone, but although I don't think he would hit her, he certainly has a short temper and may well verbally/emotionally abuse her if she annoys him.

I don't want to ask the NSPCC as they will have my contact details which identifies me and can then contact authorities as they see fit. And we have already been involved with Social Services (because I chose not to have a midwife at the birth) but no follow-up from that as they were satisfied. But I don't really want to involve them either as they will find out I omitted information by going along with lies he told them (e.g. never taking drugs, still being together).

Sorry for the excessively long post!

ihavequestions Mon 11-Jul-11 22:52:59

Oh, he is also always accusing me of denying him access, even though the only times I ask him not to come are for a good reason, like that it's nearly her bedtime (he's kept her up over an hour too late several times so she cries for ages as she's too tired to calm down), but he comes anyway. And the only times I don't hand her over immediately when he's here are also for good reasons, like that she is already sleeping in the sling, or she is hungry and needs to feed. But he'll then sometimes distract her anyway, so by the time she gets to eat she's so hungry she cries and won't latch.

PinkCarBlueCar Mon 11-Jul-11 22:56:10

Didn't want to read and run...

Well, DV makes people do strange things, and you admit that you've fought back (good for you), and that you haven't been fully honest with SS when they were involved (not so good, but can be explained and fixed).

I think the best thing for you to do is - get the locks changed, get some sort of contact set up that's supervised by a third party (either at a Dad's group or at a contact centre), do everything by email / text / letter, contact and engage with Women's Aid or similar DV support service, and tell the truth to any agency that gets involved.

That doesn't mean you have to volunteer information, but if you're asked, then tell the truth straight away to whichever agency. Then, that agency will know that you are fully and openly engaging with them, even if in the past you didn't.

HTH

ihavequestions Mon 11-Jul-11 23:19:49

Thanks PCBC.

I have thought of changing the locks, but it would be pretty expensive to change 5 locks and replace 3 full and 4 part sets of keys (the part sets are for my upstairs neighbours, as their electricity meter is in our hall and they would also need new front gate keys). And I expect he would be perfectly willing to just forcibly take my new set and get them copied before returning them. There is no way I could feasibly keep him out of the house, he would just wait outside for me and force his way in.

I don't want to start going the official route (e.g. the supervised contact you suggest, rather than allowing him in my home) because it will antagonise him and make him more likely to start something legal. I really want to know, if he does start that legal process at some point, how likely he is to succeed in getting e.g. overnight stays.

Sounds good about the way you advise engaging with agencies though.

cestlavielife Mon 11-Jul-11 23:23:54

welll if there is another incident then you ahve tor eport AND charge him. dont worry about him getting cross it is his problem.

change the locks so he cannot come in at will - is house in your name only?

obviously breastfeeding a 5, 6 ,or 7 year old is not going to prevent any contact - after six months a baby does not need only (breast) milk so there would be nothing to stop contact .

because you haveent been hosent about the extent of the DV you have little to go on really in say arguing supervised contact only - but you could informally offer supervised contact or contact in a group type setting , public place where other people would be around....

thing is you seem to be doing everything to avoid him getting cross - you have to cahnge that. how he acts is his problem - so long as you away from him and safe.

you have to be stronger about standing your ground, and being honest - womens aid conselling can help you maybe.

he is controlling you with his threats - which arent even immediate eg he will feed her meat when she is older. fact is, if he does eventually get shared care/visiting contact, you wont be able to control exactly what he does when with her - but he could just say that he giving her meat - even if he ahs no plans to - and you will run and do what he wants....

cestlavielife Mon 11-Jul-11 23:25:52

the longer you allow him n your home the longer he will control you.

"because it will antagonise him " - well so what? his problem so long as what you doign is in best interest of child...
you can get legal on him. if he gets violent - you call police and charge him.

cestlavielife Mon 11-Jul-11 23:27:21

"he would just wait outside for me and force his way in."

well if he has no rights to be in your hosue then when he is outside - you call police and have him removed.
you can exert control here and demand a peaceful life

pinkytheshrinky Mon 11-Jul-11 23:29:37

Do engage with agencies, they are fabulous and will be able to advice you properly. I have been in your situation and I would seriously advise you to go the legal route. Trying to control someone who is controlling will cause you and your daughter a lot of stress. You do need to keep a diary - you do need to make contact via email and text only (then you have evidence and takes the heat out of discussions. Please do not imagine that you can contain this yourself. Your fear of authorities is known to him and he will play on it - make no mistake carrying on like he is, is carrying on the abuse, pure and simple. And do change your locks - you only need to change the barrel inside.

He sounds like an abusive twat - just because he doesn't hit your child now doesn't mean that he wont (and I speak from experience)

Please stand up for yourself, take advice and please please take some action. I speak as a Mother of two girls (10 and 7) and they have been very affected by what their Father did.

pinkytheshrinky Mon 11-Jul-11 23:31:54

And call the fucking Police for goodness sakes when he does something again - you should start putting this behaviour on the record!

Tyr Mon 11-Jul-11 23:43:10

For a start, he doesn't have the right of access to your home so change the locks. If he tries to force entry, call the plod.
Before you do that, come to some arrangement whereby he sees the child regularly without any stress to you.
Secondly the DV isn't all one-sided as you have admitted hitting him. Both of you need to grow up and stop making accusations against each other.
The best thing is to organise contact with a third party, his mother for example?
Sorry to sound harsh but it sounds like the issues are between you and him and, unless there is reason to believe the child is at risk, the courts will grant him contact and rightly so. It may be on terms that will not suit either of you so best to arrange something between yourselves.

spongefingeranyone Tue 12-Jul-11 09:50:46

I'm a more than a little concerned about your post. You need to start being storng and not so wishy-washy. This man is a bully and the only way to deal with them is to stand strong. First and foremost, change the locks, all of them! As a previous poster said, you only need the inside barrel. Look up a local DIY person to do it rather than a national locksmith type company, it will be cheaper. And if he forces his way into your flat then call the police. For goodness sake stop trying to keep him sweet. You really do need to start taking control and this is the only way to stop him controlling you.

If you are adamant that you believe him having contact with your DD is the right thing then make sure it happens outside of your home, with a third party involved.

And stop hiding things and not telling the full story to the authorities. Doing so only worsens your situation and doesn't get you the help you need or deserve.

I'm a single mother who has to deal with the verbal and emotional bullshit of a controlling twunt and the only way to get some closure and peace is to do things by the book and NOT believe a single word that emits from their mouth. BE STRONG. BE SENSIBLE. BE INTELLIGENT.

ihavequestions Tue 12-Jul-11 20:06:06

Thanks for the info/advice so far.

Could anyone tell me if the way I've described him acting towards her (not me) would be considered abusive or not? As presumably this makes a difference as to whether contact would be ordered to be supervised or not.

And could someone with experience give the casting vote on whether PinkCarBlueCar or Tyr are right with regard to my response to his actions? Am I considered abusive for sometimes hitting him back, or not? I never did any of the other stuff he did to me, like threatening me, breaking my possessions, or turning my internet connection off etc etc. But sometimes I couldn't just curl up in a corner and be hurt, I wanted to show resistance (although I pulled my punches as I was scared of making him angrier if I actually hurt him).

I have asked my landlord (a housing association) to ask my ex for the keys back, and mentioned the expense of changing the locks, so maybe they will take pity on me and offer to do it. I forgot to say, he broke the door chain to get in last week as I had no other way of keeping him out (one of the things I reported). He said it was to see her, but he already had seen her for about 5 hours that day.

ihavequestions Tue 12-Jul-11 20:21:31

Also, he says when I tried to stop him leaving with the keys I assaulted him as he was in fear that I would hit him (no way was he worried about that, I hae
ve never struck the first blow, even if I was angry) and that grabbing his arm counts too. So if I tried to have him charged, would he succeed in a counter-charge?

jklikesrowing Tue 12-Jul-11 20:26:46

change the locks now op, and call womens aid, HE DOES NOT OWN YOU, you can do what you want he is controlling you by saying these things,

ihavequestions Tue 12-Jul-11 20:39:55

cestlavielife Yes, the flat tenancy is in my name now, it was transferred from him when he moved out. He's always had only his name on it because I moved into his council flat originally, but we have mutually exchanged together twice since then. He only let me stay because of the baby, otherwise I would have had to leave when we split up.

PinkCarBlueCar Tue 12-Jul-11 20:56:57

I would like to believe that the DV he subjected you to made you act in the way you did. Perhaps if he'd managed to subject you to a lower level of it for longer you wouldn't have had the fire in you to fight back.

But only you know if any of your past relationships have had you being abusive, or if I'm right and that your reaction was to his choosing to abuse you. And that is something to reflect on in the future, not in fog of the now.

That said, it's all somewhat moot. Right now, he's definitely abusive, controlling and really rather scary. Sorry to worry you, but he is. That's why everyone's saying change the locks, get on to WA, call the Police, etc.

Take it to court so that CAFCASS do a fact finding thingy or SS do a Section 7 to get all the info about the DV and so that residency and contact are clear. But meanwhile, set up some form of supervised contact - whether via a mutual friend, a contact centre, or a Dad's Group.

Get back onto your HA to request target hardening - WA should also be able to help.

I'm sorry to say this, and I don't wish to scare you, but from what you've said, you're high risk. You need to understand that because of that, you need to do all you can to protect yourself and your DD.

When (and given the DV you're talking about it is when) SS get involved, they will want to see a mother that is taking all reasonable precautions with regard to the contact your DD has with her father. And that will mean some form of supervised contact.

pickgo Tue 12-Jul-11 22:54:43

Pinkcar - your posts are incredibly unhelpful and judgemental - do shut up.

OP - counter-claims from an abuser are classic abuser tactics and anyone who's had any experience of abuse will recognise that this is what your X is doing.

What you have experienced, and continue to experience is abuse - and you need professional help and support to resolve the situation you are now in. If not for your own sake then for your baby's. This man should definitely not see the child unsupervised, if at all.

I think you should get in touch with WA who will help and signpost action.

You should not try to tackle this on your own but seek proper support and advice.

Good luck, let us know how you get on.

petitfromage Tue 12-Jul-11 23:19:12

Wow this takes me back. I was in an abusive relationship for 5 years before he left me at 3 months preg - of course I then begged him to come back so he then left me shortly after I had ds.

Some physical abuse (thrown on floor, kicked etc - memorably the last incident was just before 20 week scan) but mainly mental abuse - just drove me down over the years until I felt I was nothing.

I'm now a stupidly happy single mum with a fabulous ds age 3, a life, a business, a fabulous man I've been dating for a year (we have just had our first family holiday - never knew I could have so much fun) and most importantly a sense of self respect back.

Get out of your situation now. Whatever it takes, however you need to do it, just do it. I lived in rented houses and crap places for a while but I always kept us safe, clean and fed. DS is now one of the most well adjusted boys I know, I think mainly because I kept him away from the dangerous situation I put us in.

Think of your DD, your future and believe me that there are wonderful things out there just waiting for you. Just taking a picnic to the park and feeling safe and happy is the best feeling in the world. Don't worry about what you did, who was in the right - your dd deserves better as do you.

Good luck - your good times are coming.....

spongefingeranyone Wed 13-Jul-11 08:38:25

petitfromage just wanted to say that your post is beautiful and inspiring. OP, please listen to all this advice and contact all the above authorities to get the help you need for your daughter.

cestlavielife Wed 13-Jul-11 09:54:16

ok as tenancy in your name only is very clear - you dont let him in. full stop. if he tries to or breaks anything you call police.

take photos and keep recrods.

for CAFCASS/court re; contact eg trying to amke it supervised you need crime reference numbers and reports.

yes he might also counter-report you - that is why your records/photos are so important.

so it might be contact centre or third party handovers for the child.

what you have said so far doesnt imply he danger to your DD per se. but you ened ot keep careful records and be very clear that there is to be no contac tbetween you and him directly. so you can argue contact centre to protect you at handovers.

speak to powmens aid, keep good records, phtoogrpah anything, call police if he comes near your home and tries to get in.

and CHANGE LOCKS now
that is priority for today.

ihavequestions Wed 13-Jul-11 10:38:45

I haven't been able to get a good photo of the latest bruise, as it's on my lower back and not high enough to be taken in the mirror, but can't get it in shot/focus holding the camera behind my back. Any ideas how to get a better one (not involving someone else)?

I should point out that he automatically got parental responsibility as we are still married, so don't know if this complicates things.

cestlavielife Wed 13-Jul-11 11:11:18

you need to involve someone else - go to your GP and get it photographed and on record. at least GP will record the bruise and your statemetn of how it coccurred and can advise you of any counselling services attached to GP etc

sorry but not being honest with your GP or anyone wont help your case.
hiding this from "other people" wont help you in the long run.

GP records are confidential unless you agree for them to be released.

if you married issue divorce proceedings on unreasonable behaviour

Parental responsibility means he has a say in your Dd upbringing - but residence/contact etc can still be decided by court if needs be - if you cant agree in mediation

cestlavielife Wed 13-Jul-11 11:12:04

someone could photoshop a bruise -you need an independent person to witness and take the photo

ihavequestions Wed 13-Jul-11 21:01:26

Is there a consensus on the potential threat to my daughter? cestlavielife says she's not in danger, others say I need to protect her.

I am not bothered about doing all this stuff (changing locks, contact with third parties etc) for myself; I have put up with it for years already, and it's less bad since he moved out anyway. I am only going to do it if it is for her benefit.

The Women's Aid website says this: "All children witnessing domestic violence are being emotionally abused, and this is now recognised as 'significant harm' in recent legislation.", so surely this means he has already abused her, by abusing me in front of her?

But the courts almost always agree contact, often unsupervised, even with violent partners. So how can these two be reconciled - if he is an abusive father, why would they allow him unsupervised contact?

So if I take all these actions, antagonising him, and they still give him unsupervised contact (or even shared custody!), haven't I put her in more danger than she's in right now? As right now he has nothing specific to annoy him, so if the end result is the same whatever I do, I think it's worse if I do these things, for her, at least.

Do you see what I mean?

ihavequestions Wed 13-Jul-11 21:06:25

What I'm saying is, I want to be sure that he would only get supervised contact before even starting down this route, otherwise I think he would be more likely to harm her (and me).

But this seems far from sure, so I'm after other people's experiences in the same situation, to see if their ex partners (especially those with parental responsibility) were given unsupervised contact or not.

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