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Needing advice about contact with ex

(7 Posts)
Burnshersmurfs Mon 15-Jun-15 10:49:32

I really need advice about what to do, so would be grateful if you would sit through the back story for a bit.....
I left my abusive ex 10 years ago when I was pregnant with 2nd DC, and moved back to the UK. The physical abuse had escalated (as, apparently, it often does in pregnancy) to the point that I was genuinely scared that he would kill me. Probably in front of my child. He wasn't there for the birth of my DD, but has been very attached to both our kids and pays maintenance most of the time.
Since I left him things have been pretty good for me and DC- I retrained and got a job that I love, the kids are doing really well and are happy souls, and I bought my house. Money continues to be really tight, though, as the morgage is a huge chunk of my salary. I have another part-time job to make ends meet, but am often a bit drained as a result- I think this is probably why I can't seem to work out what to do.
Contact with him is rare- he isn't English, and lives and works overseas still. He comes over to visit about 3 weeks of the year and I really struggle to cope during that time. I don't want to leave the kids alone with him, as he is very volatile- prone to really nasty controlling behaviour towards them. This is rare, but getting more pronounced (especially towards oldest DD) If I'm around, he'll go at me instead- not physically anymore. The kids are scared of him, but love him too. When Dr Jekyll is in place he is loving, fun and generous....certainly the younger would be devastated to lose contact. There is also a wider issue with his family- his parents are ageing, can't travel, and it would break their hearts if they weren't able to see the kids. For a whole variety of reasons it would be impossible to go and see them if contact with ex were finished. My mother blocked contact with (and didn't hold back from stating her opinion of) my father when they were divorced in my teens, which I found difficult to forgive at the time; I'm very cautious of blocking contact for that reason as well, until they are old enough to decide for themselves.
As a result I am stuck- he wants to spend as much time with them as possible (understandably) when he is over, but I have to be there too ( despite ft work, pt job on top and all the childcare). He is unpleasant and controlling- wants to stay in the house on the sofa, or in the caravan in my back garden, so he can see them all the time and refuses to pay any maintenance unless he gets his own way, as well as bombarding me with messages and abuse about how I am depriving him of his rights. I've told him that he has to stay elsewhere, which he's not happy about, but he still will come to the house and walk straight in as soon as the door is opened. Otherwise we have to go out all the time, which is proving difficult for all of us to cope with.
Please go easy on me......I do appreciate that this is a ridiculous situation, and I'm not sure I've even explained it properly but I just can't seem to see a clear way out. I would just like some perspective on what is likely to be the least-damaging solution for all. I suppose I am ok about all the shittiness and controlling crap when directed at me, as long as it is in the best interests of the kids, but I'm not sure if it is. Has anyone else been in a similar situation? What should I do?

Reginafalangie Mon 15-Jun-15 12:34:38

This is an awful situation but you do have options. Sometimes those options are about protecting yourself.

I suppose I am ok about all the shittiness and controlling crap when directed at me, as long as it is in the best interests of the kids, but I'm not sure if it is

NO a big fat NO!! You do not have to put up with this. The children's bests interests are NOT to see their father bully and abuse their mother please please see that.

He should not be staying at your house/garden at all in fact he should not be stepping foot in the house. You need to take back control of your life and your worry about the effect of the children not seeing their father is misplaced. You should be worried about how his abusive behaviour is affecting them. Yes they will love him because he is their father but that doesn't mean you have to put yourself or them at the mercy of his anger.

He is continuing to use and control you and YOU have to stop it.

Make the rule he sees the children with you in a public space or not at all. He can stop the money ( again he is controlling you with this) and he can take you to court but that should be the only way he sees them. If you can only do that twice a week then tough he should have behaved better then as it is his fault you are changing how and when contact happens.

QuiteLikely5 Mon 15-Jun-15 12:43:42

I think he has you backed into a corner because you need his maintenance, is that right?

The only way you can end this is to accept that he may not pay you any money if you issue new ground rules.

Alternatively if his behaviour is damaging to the children you could point blank refuse to let him have access.

If he wants it so badly let him go through the courts because he sounds like the sort of parent who needs to be supervised in a contact centre.

I know you say the kids love him but they're also scared of him you say.

This is how young children get mixed messages about life. They start to equate love and fear as a normal thing when it really isn't.

Once your children are at a certain age I think you ought to tell them the truth about their father in an age appropriate way.

He shouldn't be disrespecting you in their presence after all these years.

Take control of the situation.

Burnshersmurfs Mon 15-Jun-15 12:53:30

Thanks Reg- I did cry a bit at "you do have options". That is really what I needed to hear....
I do wonder sometimes whether the love he says he has for the kids is just a way of keeping his control over us....he can be quite casually cruel to them too. But then I think that I want to believe that he doesn't really love them, so that I can have an excuse make him go away forever.
I can't really be accused of under thinking the situation, can I? That's why I'm so tied up in knots. It was the same when we were together....I spent most of my time trying desperately to see things from his point of view so that I could understand it and fix it.
I really thought I'd moved on and escaped the horrible shadow he cast over my life- but I haven't really, have I? Bugger.

Reginafalangie Mon 15-Jun-15 13:00:43

No you haven't escaped him mentally even though you have physically. The mental escape is the hardest.

You can though at that is a positive thing. It is your home and you hold all the cards OP you need to remember that. He has no hold over you at all and frankly what you says goes if he doesn't like it then he needs to go to court. He can only treat you how you allow.

I know you feel you are doing right by the children but from what you have said you are not. I think your view is skewed because of your own father/daughter experience. You cannot let that dictate how you care for and protect yourself and your DC. They need you to do the best for them and keep them safe and allowing a cruel man to be in control of their life is not the right thing.

If he sends abusive/threatening texts keep them and report him to the police. Explain about the previous DV. They will take you seriously.

You need to protect your family and that first step is taking away the control he has.

NO he will not stay in your house or visit your house.
NO he will not see DC when and where he wants. It will be when YOU decide.
I know him keeping the money back may have a direct impact on you but is what he gives really worth what he puts you and the children through?

Burnshersmurfs Mon 15-Jun-15 13:01:28

Quite- that is a bit true about the maintenance. I do worry that our life could all go a bit pear shaped without it- and that the kids shouldn't have to be without because I can't 'manage' their father.

pocketsaviour Mon 15-Jun-15 14:53:01

If a father has to be "managed" then he is no father at all.

The more you normalise for them that it's okay to love someone who scares them, the more likely they are to grow up into abusive relationships of their own.

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