Advanced search

Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.

Separating from controlling H... who is stalling about telling the dcs

(58 Posts)
CharlotteCollinsismovingon Wed 20-Mar-13 03:58:11

Thanks in large part to the support and patience of some wonderful people on MN, I am coming to terms with the fact that my H of over ten years is EA. And probably narcissistic, too or a good liar or perhaps I'm just gullible: he doesn't seem to have any empathy, or internal self, or memory of the nastiest things he has said.

Anyway, ten days ago I told him that I want us to separate. After initial shock and upset, and a few days away to start processing, he has come back and is drowning me in words. On the surface, he is accepting it and very, very reasonable, but (thanks to my MN training!) I'm suspicious. Already he has got me talking for hours about the things that he did - and 24 hours later, the justifications and rewriting of history have begun. Did me no good, in any case: he still "doesn't understand," although he is "broken" and "devastated" that he has unintentionally hurt me... (Part of me does feel guilty for my suspiciousness!)

And (to get to the most immediate problem) he still seem to be trying to control the process in his usual ways. From being almost totally uninvolved with the dcs, he has morphed into Superdad and wants to stay at home looking after them while I go back to work. Or split the care 50:50 at least and both not work, since I don't want to return to work for another year. He is more likely than not to lose his job in around two months and is unlikely to find another one round here, so is talking about how I hold all the cards - if I refuse to move, he can't find work, because he has to stay near to see the dcs regularly.

Because of all this uncertainty in the future, and his inability to understand why I've made the decision to separate, he doesn't want us to tell the dcs yet (he naturally wants us to tell them together). Maybe, despite his hope that we can do all this amicably and informally suits him, I need to get myself a solicitor.

I'm starting to wonder if I should just tell the dcs myself when he's away next week - is this a really bad idea?

minkembra Sun 24-Mar-13 21:12:35


postmanpatscat Sun 24-Mar-13 11:50:35

SGB, it's good to hear that, I've had to undermine by abusive ex many times in the last three years. At least now the girls are in their teens they see him as he is.

Charlotte, wishing you all the best. I had to be the bearer of bad news too (he wouldn't tell them because it was my decision to split, and he wouldn't tell anyone else either) and it sounds like you did the right thing.

SolidGoldBrass Sun 24-Mar-13 11:42:42

Also, when the man you are leaving is a shit, it's actually better to tell the DC by yourself, and get in first so that he doesn't have the opportunity to tell them lies. Once you have assured them that they are loved, that their lives will not change much etc then any crap he comes out with will make him look stupid - and you can just tell them that 'Daddy's being a bit silly' if he does say anything troublesome. Remember it's OK to 'undermine' an abusive parent. You don't have to show loyalty to someone who isn't reasonable.

Anniegetyourgun Sun 24-Mar-13 11:08:30

XH got the news in first with our divorce. He told them I was leaving them all to go and live in Sweden with a younger man. They, er, weren't that happy about it. Took them ages to work out which one of us was lying through their rotten teeth, poor souls.

ponygirlcurtis Sun 24-Mar-13 10:56:48

So glad you've done it and it went ok Charlotte. ((hugs))

CharlotteCollinsismovingon Sat 23-Mar-13 23:49:07

Thanks, Leclerc. Their first (second and third) question was "why?" Didn't see it coming at all. Why would they? It's all they've ever known, and he comes across as so reasonable.

I told them he doesn't treat me as I want to be treated. That's ok, isn't it? I mean, I feel uncomfortable saying, "It's all his fault!" which is basically what I did say... but how else to phrase it, really?

TisILeclerc Sat 23-Mar-13 23:27:31

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

CharlotteCollinsismovingon Sat 23-Mar-13 23:25:20

Well, today I told the dcs. Immediate loud tears from dd1 and dd2; an awful first 5 minutes in which I thoroughly regretted everything.

And since then, they have gradually realised that for the most part, it'll be life as normal for them: Daddy not around, living with Mummy, school, friends, life - just now, when Daddy's around there's a chance he'll be more attentive to them than before...

Phew. Just glad to have it over with - and with that initial reaction, so glad H wasn't here too, as I think that's all he'd've talked about and tried to recreate for a long time. Thanks for your support, lovely people. thanks

CharlotteCollinsismovingon Thu 21-Mar-13 19:58:48

That all sounds quite believable, attila, but he is usually more reasonable in front of a third party and I wouldn't describe myself as terrorised by him.

Maybe I just have a lot still to learn about what he's capable of. Well, it'll all strengthen my resolve, at least!

foolonthehill Thu 21-Mar-13 13:31:31

atilla you are right..but with even quite obvious and well documented abuse (as in my case) people still get ordered to go to mediation....often lawyers advise you to "get it out of the way" as they think the petitioner will have to go down that route anyway.

PS my mediator thinks my ex is "mentally unstable" and reminds me every session that I shouldn't share anything sensitive with her, or him......

still, the system stinks!

TisILeclerc Thu 21-Mar-13 13:19:42

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

AttilaTheMeerkat Thu 21-Mar-13 13:02:07

To use mediation is to subscribe to the mistaken idea that abuse is related to "misunderstandings" or lack of communication. If discussion and compromise, the mainstay of mediation, could help in any way most domestic violence situations would be long ago resolved because victims of abuse "discuss and compromise" constantly. Mediation assumes both parties will cooperate to make agreements work; the victim has always 'cooperated' with the abuser; the abuser never cooperates.

Mediation can be and is ordered by judges/courts, as can counselling and mental health evaluations. They are tools in the abuser's arsenal to be used against the victim as often as he chooses. In order for mediation to work and to not make situations worse the parties involved must have equal power and must share some common vision of resolution. This is clearly not present when domestic violence has taken place in a relationship.

Mediation practitioners must be alert to the need to interview partners separately with specially designed questions in order to determine if abuse is or has been present. Many domestic violence professionals can train others to screen safely for domestic violence. To not do so risks unsuccessful mediations, at best, and increasing the victim's danger by colluding with the abuser, at worst.

A person who has been terrorized by an abuser is not free to participate in a mediation process with him, even if the mediator(s) assume or believe that they "understand". Being truthful about any of her needs or experiences in the abuser's presence or proximity practically ensures that she is in more danger later.

The mediator is left with a no win: either the victim's danger is increased, or she is not fully or truthfully participating, or both. The well meaning mediator may actually encourage the victim to feel safe enough to share information that could seriously compromise her safety. In any case the whole intent of mediation is lost.

To engage an abuser and a victim in a process that implies equal responsibility is damaging to both. The victim is once again made to feel responsible for the abuser's behavior, and the abuser is allowed to continue to not accept full responsibility for his behaviour choices.

Therefore mediation is a complete non starter here. He will not be at all reasonable because he just cannot be.

CharlotteCollinsismovingon Thu 21-Mar-13 12:54:12

I went to the solicitor this morning. She seems on the ball and I feel comfortable with her, so that's good as I don't have much time to scout more options.

I asked her about legal aid and she said I'm not eligible while I have access to the joint account. I'm away from next Wednesday, so basically have 3 working days in which to split our finances, with him not here. I think that could lose me more than I save, so I think I'll have to pay the costs.

She suggested mediation and I hope that, having to appear more reasonable in front of a third party, he'll agree to totally reasonable things like: the dcs will live with me; we will stay in the house; he will get fair but not 50/50 contact.

Given all that, and having spoken with my WA contact too, I feel more comfortable about telling the dcs. They will live with me: whatever he might think, noone is going to give him much credence, so they can be assured of that. We will stay in this area, so they can go to the same school, because even if he makes it impossible financially to stay in the house, I will rent somewhere small nearby to make it possible.

That way, they won't find out on the holiday, which could blight the whole trip for them. And the holiday will be a happy distraction and valuable processing time. <crosses fingers>

SGB, I always like your attitude, and I like it especially in relation to my situation! I'm starting to think like that more naturally - but what's that saying? "Keep your friends close and your enemies closer"?

NicknameTaken Thu 21-Mar-13 11:55:16

Has nobody mentioned yet that legal aid is being removed from family law cases in April (except in cases of demonstrated abuse - and EA is going to be hard to demonstrate)? I actually wonder whether he is deliberately stalling you for this reason. Get yourself set up with a solictor IMMEDIATELY before it's too late.

SolidGoldBrass Thu 21-Mar-13 11:27:54

Basically, you have to accept that this man is your enemy who means you harm, because he is, and he does. Once you accept that then it becomes easier to make your plans to get rid and to implement them, because you can stop feeling so guilty about hurting his feelings. He doesn't deserve reasonable consideration and kindness, because he's a shit: you do whatever's necessary to get you and DC free of hiim.

foolonthehill Thu 21-Mar-13 10:31:52

...exit strategy...and I would add a stay out strategy too....make it real, make it last and you will be able to rebuild a much better more fulfilling life. So will your DCs

sassy34264 Wed 20-Mar-13 21:35:39

No, the good thing will be when you stop trying.

It's all relative charlotte My ex didn't do half as many as those things on that list. But he did like to punch, kick, spit, smash things over my head. hmm

You will never be better off with someone who is a complete mind fuck...........purposefully. shock than on your own.

You just need a carefully conducted exit strategy. Good luck x

CharlotteCollinsismovingon Wed 20-Mar-13 21:07:41

It makes perfect sense now I've seen it happen - I just couldn't predict it.

That's probably a good thing that I can't work out how his mind works!

ThreeTomatoes Wed 20-Mar-13 21:05:15

Of course not 'thick' Charlotte! I understand now. Thing is, it's highly unlikely someone like him will leave quietly/reasonably, isn't it? sad

CharlotteCollinsismovingon Wed 20-Mar-13 20:59:30

Thanks for looking through and picking all those out. Yes, I guess he does all those. So not abuser-lite after all, are you saying?

CharlotteCollinsismovingon Wed 20-Mar-13 20:57:10


sassy34264 Wed 20-Mar-13 20:48:08

Took the liberty of looking through the 100 traits for you, and picked out the ones that i think are coming through from just your few posts on here.

See what you think.

Abusive Cycle - This is the name for the ongoing rotation between destructive and constructive behavior which is typical of many dysfunctional relationships and families.

Anger - People who suffer from personality disorders often feel a sense of unresolved anger and a heightened or exaggerated perception that they have been wronged, invalidated, neglected or abused.

Chaos Manufacture - Unnecessarily creating or maintaining an environment of risk, destruction, confusion or mess.

Chronic Broken Promises - Repeatedly making and then breaking commitments and promises is a common trait among people who suffer from personality disorders.

Circular Conversations - Arguments which go on almost endlessly, repeating the same patterns with no resolution.

Confirmation Bias - The tendency to pay more attention to things which reinforce your beliefs than to things which contradict them.

Denial - Believing or imagining that some painful or traumatic circumstance, event or memory does not exist or did not happen.

Emotional Abuse - Any pattern of behavior directed at one individual by another which promotes in them a destructive sense of Fear, Obligation or Guilt (FOG).

Emotional Blackmail - The use of a system of threats and punishments on a person by someone close to them in an attempt to control their behaviors.

Engulfment - An unhealthy and overwhelming level of attention and dependency on a family member or partner, which comes from imagining or believing one exists only within the context of that relationship.

Entitlement - A "Sense of Entitlement" is an unrealistic, unmerited or inappropriate expectation of favorable living conditions and favorable treatment at the hands of others.

False Accusations - False accusations, distortion campaigns and smear campaigns are patterns of unwarranted or exaggerated criticisms which occur when a personality disordered individual tries to feel better about themselves by putting down someone else - usually a family member, spouse, partner, friend or colleague.

Fear of Abandonment - A pattern of irrational thought exhibited by some personality-disordered individuals, which causes them to occasionally think they are in imminent danger of being rejected, discarded or replaced by someone close to them.

Frivolous Litigation - Use of unmerited legal proceedings to hurt, harass or gain an economic advantage over an individual or organization.

Gaslighting - Falsely convincing an individual that they are losing their mind. From the 1944 MGM movie “Gaslight”.

Grooming - Grooming is the predatory act of maneuvering another individual into a position that makes them more isolated, dependent, likely to trust, and more vulnerable to abusive behavior.

Hoovers & Hoovering - A Hoover is a metaphor, taken from the popular brand of vacuum cleaners, to describe how an abuse victim, trying to assert their own rights by leaving or limiting contact in a dysfunctional relationship gets "sucked back in" when the perpetrator temporarily exhibits improved or desirable behavior.

Imposed Isolation - Actions taken by an abuser to discourage a victim from developing supportive, external relationships.

Intimidation - Any form of veiled, hidden, indirect or non-verbal threat.

Invalidation - The creation or promotion of an environment which encourages an individual to believe that their thoughts, beliefs, values or physical presence are inferior, flawed, problematic or worthless.

Lack of Conscience - Individuals who suffer from personality disorders are often preoccupied with their own agendas, sometimes to the exclusion of the needs and concerns of others. This is sometimes interpreted by others as a lack of moral conscience.

Manipulation - The practice of baiting an individual or group of individuals into a certain response or reaction pattern for the purpose of achieving a hidden personal goal.

Moments of Clarity - Spontaneous, temporary periods when a person with a personality disorder is able to see beyond their own world view and can acknowledge and begin to make amends for their dysfunctional behavior.

Neglect - A passive form of abuse in which the physical or emotional needs of a dependent are disregarded or ignored by the person responsible for them.

Normalizing - Normalizing is a tactic used to desensitize an individual to abusive, coercive or inappropriate behaviors. In essence, normalizing is the manipulation of another human being to get them to agree to, or accept something that is in conflict with the law, social norms or their own basic code of behavior.

"Not My Fault" Syndrome - The practice of avoiding personal responsibility for one's own words and actions.

No-Win Scenarios - No-Win Scenarios and Lose-Lose Scenarios are situations commonly created by people who suffer from personality disorders where they present two bad options to someone close to them and pressure them into choosing between the two. This usually leaves the non-personality-disordered person with a 'damned if I do and damned if I don't' feeling.

Passive-Aggressive Behavior - The expression of negative feelings, resentment, and aggression in an unassertive, passive way (for example, through procrastination and stubbornness).

Projection - The act of attributing one's own feelings or traits to another person and imagining or believing that the other person has those same feelings or traits.

Verbal Abuse - Any kind of repeated pattern of inappropriate, derogatory or threatening speech directed at one individual by another.

CharlotteCollinsismovingon Wed 20-Mar-13 20:14:42

Plus I was sick of the pretence that all was ok and wanted to move towards moving him out. I guess I expected him to go. I don't know what I expected really. Gosh, I sound thick.

sassy, I find that website really hard to read and follow. From other reading I've done, I think he at least displays narcissistic tendencies. But he doesn't do things that people described as malevolent narcissists do.

CharlotteCollinsismovingon Wed 20-Mar-13 20:09:23

ThreeTomatoes - because I wanted to stay in the house. And I phoned CAB for advice and they basically said that I can't make him leave and we should try to make as many arrangements between ourselves as possible. I also spoke to my WA adviser and she just talked through precautions if he became dangerous.

I didn't expect him to be violent as passive aggression is more his way if anything, so thought the suggestion to leave without warning didn't apply to me. Plus I guess I thought he was abuser-lite - probably unintentional and something stronger women would just stay with and complain about more.

Have I been a bit dumb? sad

foolonthehill Wed 20-Mar-13 19:54:57

ideally tell the DC together, but more importantly don;t tell them anything much until you actually know what is going to happen...
something like "Dad and i are going to get divorced but I don;t know when, how, where we will live, when you will see him " will unsettle and upset them...these are the things that they will need to know to understand what is going on and to be calm.

tell them concrete facts

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now