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past threats from father affect everything

(5 Posts)
linklight Wed 21-Jan-15 20:21:04

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

CultureSucksDownWords Wed 21-Jan-15 21:03:17

I'm sorry for your situation, it sounds very stressful for you and I wish I had some advice for you but I have no experience to draw on. I would suggest though, posting in the Lone Parents section on here as I know that lots of people have good advice to give there.

I would think that it is very unlikely that your small child would ever be taken from you and even partial custody given to your ex. Your DS doesn't really know him, he hasn't been regularly and consistently involved as a parent. I would imagine that any court order would have to start with (maybe supervised) contact for short period, rather than any sort of shared custody.

I would also suggest that you keep a record or log of any threatening behaviour, eg keep any texts, emails etc.

linklight Wed 21-Jan-15 21:33:21

Thankyou. I hadn't seen lone parents. I appreciate your thoughtful response a great deal x

Katekoom Thu 22-Jan-15 00:51:15

Hi, firstly it sounds as though you've been through so much, so huge congratulations for coming so far, it takes real strength of character to deal with such things and doing it alone makes it all the more challenging.

It sounds very complex, and the only experience i can pull on is that of a controlling ex. Even now after nearly 10yrs apart id hate for him to know where i live.

only you can protect your child, no one else will do it for you, so if you're not happy with his dad or dads families influence then don't think twice about moving away. It sounds as though you may need that. You could leave an explanatory letter.

once your boy is old enough then introduce dad back in to his life.

moving may be one of the hardest things you do, but also one of the most empowering.

good luck to you xx

linklight Thu 22-Jan-15 12:22:21

thankyou. does anyone know if a mobile phone can be traced. he has the resources to hire a p.i, or use old contacts to find me i imagine. as my phone would be registered to my new address if i move. my friend seems to think it is very easy to find someone through mobile phone records and also child benefit records? xx

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