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DS9 copying aggresive EA ExH behaviour

(11 Posts)
SunshineHQ Tue 13-Oct-15 23:10:11

I would really appreciate some advice. Apologies this is long.

My two children (DS aged 9 and DD aged 6) and I moved out from the family home last November. I had tried for as long as I could to work on things with my STBX, but eventually it was too much.

Everything in our household was totally dependent on STBXs emotions. If he was upset, anxious, angry, annoyed, he would lash out, both verbally and emotionally at me, and physically at the children, particularly DS. STBX had minimal consideration or understanding for other people�s feelings. He could be charming and very kind, but only when he chose to be. In between he would be extremely rude, dismissive and offensive. He seemed to alternate between these two characters, but could switch more quickly than you would expect if it had been something like Bipolar.

DS (aged 9) has Aspergers and ADHD. His condition was part of the reason he seemed to trigger such anger in ExH regularly.

I spent a year trying to persuade STBX to stop the physical abuse against DS. It only eventually stopped when Social Services became involved briefly. I spent the next year trying to cope with the anger and emotional abuse, which remained, but just couldn�t get my ex to understand the impact his behaviour was having on us. If it doesn�t sound strange, I felt extremely guilty that I wanted to leave, yet he had stopped hitting our son, so surely I had to give him a second chance. So in the end, after numerous �last chances�, plus some counselling, and specialist advice, I gave up trying and planned our exit.

So many people have criticised the fact I left. �Surely if only I realised how upset STBX was, then I would move back�. I�ve lost friends everywhere. Neighbours have offered to mediate or look after the kids so we could talk and resolve things. Joint friends have tried to persuade me to get back with Ex. His parents corner me aggressively whenever that have the chance (handovers of the children, etc) to tell me how upset they are, and how I must come back and try again. It is only a small handful of friends, my immediate family, and the school�s headteacher who seem to really understand how bad things were, and are supportive of the fact I�m pushing ahead now with a Divorce.

I�m currently doing the Freedom programme which is helping. I�m on medicine for anxiety which is helping. 10 months after leaving, I�m actually quite surprised I�m coping OK, although at times feel absolutely overwhelmed still: keeping a job going, coping with the stress of the divorce process and uncertainty over our future. In particular we are still in the �temporary� two bedroom flat we moved to last November, with no idea of when we might be able to move somewhere more permanent, which is causing strain.

Since we moved out, my husband had been seeing the children 24 hours each weekend (on legal advice that I couldn�t stop access, if the physical abuse had ceased). However, after two more incidents of physical abuse in the summer, it has now gone to zero access. At the moment, I don�t know whether this is permanent or temporary. I�m getting a lot of help from my lawyer, but I am really nervous trying to make sure I do the right thing, without completely throwing away �10,000s of legal fees. We are formally going to pre Court mediation in the next few weeks. I�m trying to keep things as calm and steady for the children as possible.

So, on to the children....

DD (aged 6) is doing OK. I really feel things have turned a corner. There was lots of concern about her from school earlier this year, being very quiet and withdrawn and anxious, but with help from Play Therapy and quite a lot of TLC, she has in the last few months really seemed to recover. She is more confident, happier, more able to talk about her feelings. Generally a fab little girl, and both the school and I are really delighted by the improvement. She only recently talked about previously undisclosed physical abuse, but seems much calmer having been able to open up about it. She seems to be thriving at present on the zero contact.

But my worry and my main concern is about DS (aged 9). So much of what he does when he is anxious or angry is so similar to his father. When he is calm, he is coping much better with empathy and behaviour. When he is calm, and just in the flat with me and DD6, he is doing a lot better. School is going relatively OK. But when he is anxious or angry, he becomes like a mini version of his father. And I don�t know whether it is something hereditary or �learnt� or �post trauma� or what?

I have googled everything I can find. I have read so many books. I am confident it isn�t just the Aspergers/ADHD. It really seems to be something else on top.

I have tried to get help from so many sources. No one seems able to help with 'abuse' and Aspergers. He has Social Skills at school. He has been to 2 years worth of Social Skills groups for Aspergers outside of school, but these didn�t really work, as they just seemed to encourage worse behaviour, so in the end I stopped. We�ve had a specialist family consultant involved for a few formal workshops earlier this year, but again just from an Aspergers perspective; it has helped on Empathy and some day to day issues, but not the core problem of post-abuse. CAMHS won�t help on the abuse side, because of the Aspergers. The Play Therapist who worked with DD won't get involved, because of the Aspergers.

So if you have managed to read this far, my question is this? What can I do to help DS �unlearn� the aggression he has learnt? Or if it might be early Borderline Personality Disorder, on top of the Aspergers and ADHD, what can I do?

Any advice really welcome.

Phoenix0x0 Wed 14-Oct-15 07:34:49

Have you spoken to your GP?

hesterton Wed 14-Oct-15 07:43:09

I feel enormously for you and you ds. This is a classic case where proper investment into the right kind of support at this stage could save years and years of pain for you ds and his future dcs.

And I feel so sad that this sort of investment isn't being made adequately by our government.

I don't have the answer but it is great that you are fighting for help for him. Don't give up and don't underestimate how powerful you can be in rebuilding his self-esteem and self-worth.

SunshineHQ Wed 14-Oct-15 11:14:11

Thank you for the replies and kind words hesterton.

You asked about the GP. Yes, I have seen her regularly on this ... Probably 2-3 times a year, for the last 4 years or so. Generally when either DS or Ex's behaviour flared up. She was the one who tried to get us referred to CAMHS. She is kind, but it just seems like there is nothing else she can suggest.

DS is seen by a Consultant Paed at the hospital on the Aspergers and ADHD generally every 9 months. However, Ex has always insisted on attending these appointments too, so it is actually really difficult to talk about broader issues. You can't say "I am sure DS's behaviour is being made worse by his father threatening him" when his father is sitting in the room next to you.

I did manage to have a phone consultation on my own with the Consultant Paed briefly last January, post the split. However it was only 10 minutes, and the Consultant just took the line that anyone with Aspergers would find their parents splitting up difficult to handle, so no wonder DS was struggling. And that for a father to have difficulties relating to an Aspergers son was just normal.

There is a good ADHD nurse who runs a monthly support group I often go to ... I might try having another chat with her.

Hissy Wed 14-Oct-15 17:17:52

Now do you see why your ex goes to the meetings/appointments? Because he has abused your child and wants the truth hidden.

talk to your gp asap, tell your adhd nurse and everyone you can. You have to get help for your son and fast.

The behaviour will lessen, but he has to have contact with his abuser reduced to as little as possible for now.

You have not lost friends and family through this, you have lose t abuse enablers, not one of them is going to help you, they are only there to pull you back under.

Ditch everyone who makes you feel weak, unsure, or bad about yourself. No mercy. None what so ever.

Only allow those who actively help you and support you.

Victims of abuse are usually conditioned by their own families, so it maybe that you have to prune back your own family too.

It'll be worth it, trust me.

You are at the beginning of your journey, life will get so very much better I promise!

Hissy Wed 14-Oct-15 17:39:26

From now on, your ex doesn't attend another appointment. Your son needs to be in a free and supportive environment, not brainwashed by some inferior, insignificant little prick.

laughingatweather Wed 14-Oct-15 17:58:51

Your ex shouldn't attend any appointments and you should see your GP and ask for a referral to CAMHS and I think you might benefit from family therapy (without your ex obviously).

Your DS won't just be struggling with the trauma of abuse but with your response to it. You said in your OP you tried to persuade your ex to stop physically abusing your DS for a year before SS became involved.

So you were aware of and possibly witnessing the abuse. I understand the complexities of being in an abusive relationship but your DS doesn't and is very likely wondering (and if he isn't now, he certainly will be in the future) why you didn't leave earlier.

I think while trying to get your DS help, you yourself need more help than the freedom project and would likely benefit from your own counselling.

SunshineHQ Thu 15-Oct-15 19:30:41

Ive just been at the GPs again today, to log and talk through the latest developments.

A good suggestion about the counselling for me ... I'll look into it but it will have to be once the Freedom Course ends, as I just can't fit anything else in at the moment.

Someone mentioned Family Therapy ... What is that?

SunshineHQ Sat 14-Jan-17 14:44:08

Hi, just a quick update if anyone is interested. And some 'pointers' if anyone else is in a similar situation.

We spent from December 2015 to November 2016 in the Family Court system.

My ex's lawyers insisted on using a specialist "independent Social Worker" (ISW) who would have experience of DS's condition. I was given a choice of 2 CVs in Court, and chose the one who seemed most suitable. With hindsight this seems to have helped keep matters off the radar of the local LA Social Services team.

The ISW was good initially - including insisting after her work, that supervised access needed to continue for a further 6 months, whilst EA Ex underwent intensive parenting coaching. No-one would agree that he needed help for abuse or anger management, despite the children both clearly expressing their concerns.

By the autumn however the ISW was adament that access needed to move to unsupervised and overnights, on a fast time frame. The children were already not coping with the summer holiday access, but the ISW ignored anything that was not helpful to her report and recommendations.

Also by the autumn, our local Social Services were beginning to get concerned (referrals from CAMHS, local DA outreach team and schools, plus a further incident of physical abuse towards DS, but from the family member supervising, not ExH). They initially put the children on Children in Need, then undertaking full Section 47 enquiries, but this was ignored.

End of November, a Final Order was made giving extensive overnight unsupervised access to ex. (A few months of building slowly, then equivalent of 2.5 nights per week from mid spring.) All the children's and Social Services concerns were brushed aside, and only the ISW was called to give evidence. Ex's lawyers put in clauses that any breach or variation needed to be brought back to same judge (rather than another judge, who might be more prepared to listen to concerns), and wording that I was to ensure the children attended contact, not just "make them available". In effect just making it watertight, regardless of what the children thought or felt.

Children fell to pieces, and could not cope with even the first overnight.
DS school attendance performance collapsed, not eating, not sleeping. DD also struggling. Social Services (now doing Section 47 enquiry) formally asked if Ex would step back from overnights for the time being, but this was declined. Social Services then called an Initial Child Protection Conference for mid December. Children now on child protection.

New social worker is being great, and very supportive. Contact is still going ahead on Final Order schedule, despite ongoing impact on children, and I understand that Social Services are formally looking at legal action.

I am exhausted by all of it though. GP, School, .

Ex has restarted insisting on coming to Doctors appointments, and is in complete denial that he has ever done anything wrong (although he does admit hitting and kicking DS regularly in the past). I raised the Doctors appointment question in the first Core Group meeting, but Children's Services didn't seem able to help. So it is a bit crazy, that I need to take DS to an urgent appointment on anxiety issues, but can't do that without the cause of the anxiety sitting next to us in the room. I am going to challenge this with the new social worker though.

Goldenhedgehogs Sat 14-Jan-17 15:39:01

Just wanted to give you these flowers and send you a big hug. It sounds so hard you are doing so well to keep on going. I have no answers but I wonder about accessing local domestic abuse services and talking about his insistence to attend appointments as a form of coercive control and see if they have any suggestions.

SunshineHQ Sat 14-Jan-17 18:00:54

Thank you hedgehog.

I just feel really low about it at the moment. I've tried SO hard to do the right thing, and still feel as though we have got absolutely nowhere. I'm trying to stay positive, but it just feels as though there has been a series of bad news on just about every part of our life, AND I've got a nasty cold bug that I just can't get rid of. Nothing on its own at the moment is too bad, but it is all just everything together, and now needing to be on standby for "unannounced" Social Worker visits at any time of day. I WILL feel better again soon though - I normally bounce back.

Your suggestion about the local domestic abuse service is really sensible. I did call them last week on this, but I think I may just have got a junior volunteer (who was lovely, but not much help) so I came away not really feeling any further forwards. I might try again this coming week, to see if someone else answers the call, or try emailling the children's worker there directly.

Its weird - I can't see anything on google that says Ex has right to insist on attending every appointment due to PR - it seems to be less clear cut. He has the right to know about medical treatment, and input into major decisions, but attending eg counselling sessions for DS to deal with his stress over what has happened? That seems less clear. However, during the Court process, Ex's lawyers were adamant that it was his 'right' to attend and be fully involved in every detail, no matter how small. The ISW also backed him up on this.

There is every chance that DS will refuse to attend if he knows that Ex is going to be there. I don't know how it works in that case. I presume at that stage I phone our Social Worker's mobile and let her try to deal with it.

Thanks for the flowers!

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