dilemma - past threats from father of child affect everything(7 Posts)
I have what feels like a fairly significant dilemma. Excuse the length of the message. While pregnant 3 years ago, my partner with whom I was very much in love, left me, threatened to kill us all, and his entire grown-up family also threatened me, one with death threats, the others with - at best - a silent hostility. My pregnancy was horrendous and I was completely abandoned. I ended up having huge panic attacks and going to A and E twice thinking I was losing the baby. As I was facing being a mother entirely alone, at that point I just felt horrendous. My building was attacked in the London riots and I ended up climbing out of the 2nd floor window at 6 months pregnant. It was a well known fact that my street was being attacked but he didn't even call despite being only two miles away.
I was so grateful to be well looked after by a specialist midwife team. Wonderful, but it still meant I had to visit the psychiatric ward of a local hospital for counselling each week which felt entirely depressing somehow, for my unborn child.
I moved my baby and I away and have been living 200 miles away for a year now, and finally feel better in most ways, although very lonely and desirous of adult conversation. I am entirely devoted to my beautiful child and am eternally grateful for him being in my life. The father apologised profusely for his actions and one of his grown-up children tried to make amends too. He apologised but never ever offered to start again or try again. He is from a very different background to mine. I probably grew up with less money, but he grew up in a semi-criminal environment, I suppose. He has also never offered any regularised financial support, so I am living in near-poverty until the time my son goes to school. My parents have both passed away so there is no childcare apart from a couple of short days at nursery. For the first few months of my son's life the father did visit, and I tried to make things work with them all. But his behaviour deteriorated and the fact he was - to all intents and purposes - not 'allowed' to be with me and my baby, was blindingly obvious. It's a very tight environment and all the women seem jealous of all the men.
I started to feel entirely allergic to his presence and felt that the false smiles and my nerves in his presence could only have been doing my child indirect damage. There was then nearly a year where he accepted that I needed to get on with the job of bringing up my son alone as I still felt hostility from his wider family and he just expected to take my breastfeeding baby away for the day. There was never a question of me being invited. Breastfeeding was scorned. Enormous clashes of culture.
He was very sad but he did accept it. Recently he was in touch again and I have allowed him to visit again but felt the sanctity of my new home was utterly ruined each time, (about a visit a month for a year), and the fact my child doesn't really know who he is was also upsetting. All of my small requests that the visit was conditional upon were ignored. Expensive presents did not and cannot mitigate the situation. In fact they make it worse in the light of a lack of regularised support. I cannot sleep in the face of looming bills but am left with a pile of flashy presents. I ebay them or give them to charity.
Now I feel like I am at a crossroads, faute de mieux. As my child is beginning to talk about daddies, I feel that I will be doing him a disservice by not allowing him to know the father. But I just cannot have the visits without feeling like I am almost howling in pain. I know that sounds extreme, but I can't seem to feel any different. I am a practical person and show my son a good life of fun and learning and love, but I just cannot get over what happened, because, essentially, I don't feel safe. It is not that I feel I or my baby would be in physical danger, but I just feel unsafe, in my bones, as it were. As if there may be an unintentional accident. I end up on my bed curled in a foetal position just praying to the wall that the day will come when the man has to go home. (Obviously I don't let my son see me doing this). It is not only what happened in the past that affects my feelings; it is a fear, that if I have to let them all back in to my life, of my child picking up terrible speaking habits, being taken to fast food outlets, seeing the father and his family smoking, covered in tattoos etc. Maybe it is horribly snobbish of me but i want to protect my child from seeing that until he has to in life. There are other fears too. A myriad of fears - in the context of my child - that whatever I do regarding the father, will go wrong.
I also don't know how I could possibly drop my child off with him as the father would take the child to his adult offspring and their offspring, an environment that I just would not want my child to be in, especially without me being there. It goes, (and it goes screaming) against all my instincts. I start physically shaking and feel like I am going to faint or am unable to breathe when I start to consider it.
If I suggested a third way, meeting in a controlled environment like a play area with supervision, as legal friends have suggested, the father would hit the roof (emotionally) and refuse any institutionalising of the visits. It just wouldn't happen. He would then, I imagine, start legal proceedings and my son could get taken away from me overnight. I cannot go through the legal route, not only because I have no money but because I feel I don't have the mental strength to fight in that way. A fourth way of meeting in the middle is just too exhausting and expensive and weird. Going to a hotel where your father goes to sleep in one room, and you and mummy sleep in another is just too confusing for a child. I have tried to do this a few times and it is in a way worse as I have to take so much stuff and drive a long way. I am in no way more relaxed by being in a hotel, no matter how 'nice' it is. Also it is just too alienating an experience for a toddler.
Can I just move and disappear in another new home? I have been offered a lovely new place to rent on the sea which is in a town ideal for my child. Is that morally reprehensible, to just stop contact, change my phone number and block email? Maybe write a letter to say that is what I am doing and to please respect this? Will I damage my child's psyche in the long run? Of course when he is older he can do as he chooses and I will facilitate him seeing his father, when I feel he is old enough to rationalise and understand things better.
I am almost at the end of my tether with the three years of sleeplessness that this dilemma brings me. I have tried to explain my feelings a number of times but he is desperate to see the child. I know he had a breakdown of sorts, but it still cannot seem to change my feelings toward him. Largely because of the threats from his grown up children, but also because of his behaviour and his very unsavoury lifestyle. I am exhausted with anxiety.
Thankyou in advance for your thoughts. If I don't reply immediately I will as soon as I can.x
" I suggested a third way, meeting in a controlled environment like a play area with supervision, as legal friends have suggested, the father would hit the roof (emotionally) and refuse any institutionalising of the visits. It just wouldn't happen. He would then, I imagine, start legal proceedings and my son could get taken away from me overnight. "
this isnt going to happen.
you need to offer contact centre.
it is then HIS problem if he doesnt like it, not yours.
please go get some counselling and help, go to GP ask for NHS counselling etc.
you do not need to facilitate the contact other than turning up to a contact centre if this is court ordered.
did you report the death threats etc?
is the re a police record?
is there police record of his criminal actvity?
i can't go down the contact centre route. it would be somewhere in the middle of us both. i am not putting my child through the clinical nature of it all. he wouldn't accept it anyway you're right but then he would try other ways. i have evidence of stuff that happened from his children but not him, other than notes from midwife psychiaitric team. he has police record but nothing to do with me and how he treated me. also 3 years after the awful treatment, i worry a judge would say 'get over it'??
It doesn't sound like your DC will benefit from seeing his father. However I worry about the moonlight flit idea. You need a support network around you - local friends have been a lifeline for me. Can you reduce contact in a less dramatic way?
thanks. i will be ok where i intend to go. there are a lot of people fairly close who've gone down from the city or already live there anyway. x
"Can I just move and disappear in another new home?"
Not really if you want to avoid legal proceedings. The father could apply to court for contact and a seek and find order ordering friends, relatives, DWP to disclose the whereabouts of the child to the court. OF course if there is evidence of harassment or pestering the court may decide not disclose the information to the father, but contact could still be ordered and you may be expected to do some of the travelling.
That means you may be in no better position and you could be in a worse position if the courts find you have deliberately moved to frustrate contact. Supervised contact and/or contact in a contact centre could be safe and may be the lesser of all the evils.
thankyou for that balanced response. it is as i expected really. i think the 'hiding' would slightly tip the balance into more distress than i am when in sight - i think i will have to arrange getting a train to london every 6 or 8 weeks and letting dc go for 6 or 8 hours then being dropped back to me in early evening
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