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.

Ex husband shouts and scares children. What to do?

(28 Posts)
Hope21 Mon 30-May-16 17:25:20


Any advice would be greatly appreciated - I've never used mumsnet before so pls bear with me!

Background: I divorced my husband last Sept. He has always had trouble controlling his anger and would sometimes shout at the top of his voice and over react to small issues e.g. when I lost a glove/if I put dishes in the
wrong place etc. He has been physically abusive occasionally too - not punching or hitting - but he has kicked me out of the bed/held my nose/slapped me once/spat at me. He would also follow me around the house if I disagreed with him - not giving up until I agreed with him or came to some sort of conclusion that he would be satisfied with. He is like a force of nature. He can appear v charming and is fully convinced that he doesn't have a problem (he occasionally admits to anger issues but then says he's ok) and that the problem is mine.

Separately, his son from his first marriage used to stay with us every weekend but when he was 12 he started sexually abusing my daughter (she was 6). I walked in on them. I called social services and they wanted to pursue it with the police but my husband was desperate to avoid it so I didn't as long as he had help via CAMHS (children mental health). The external agencies eventually decided that his son should start visiting us again under close supervision. I was v anti this but my husband was for it and he alongside the other agencies ensured the visits took place. Subsequently, his son (now aged 14) abused my daughter (aged 7) again. They sat on a couch next to each other whilst two grandparents were in the room and he used a cushion to hide what he was doing. When I found out I pursued it through the courts and his son hasn't seen my son (8 now) or daughter (10 now) since. He has since been diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome and my ex has admitted that he has some of those traits too. I really hand on heart think he does have a mental health issue - I would never say that lightly either because I work with children on the Autism Spectrum. I am mentioning the abuse because my daughter has already been through a v traumatic time and now I see the effect her dad is having on her....Social services were also involved at the time and said he was a v controlling person but the case is now closed. I'm at my wits end and don't know what to do or where to turn...

My ex sees his children one night in the week and one night at weekends. He loves his children very much and can be a loving, caring father. I really want him to have a loving and healthy relationship with his children because that benefits everyone...but my daughter says she doesn't like her dad now and both children are frightened of him. My daughter has said that her dad has never hit her but that he gets so angry and shouts in her face so that she feels frightened that one day he will hit her. I know people shout at their children - I've doen it myself - but I don't lose control and don't shout very often - I don't need to really as they're good kids. He shouts at them "all the time" according to my daughter. My son accidentally spilled some toast crumbs on the couch earlier this week, and my ex yelled at him. My daughter was upset for her brother because he was sobbing and my ex was shouting and calling him a "stupid boy". My son said he also threw his phone on the couch in anger. My daughter says he throws things in anger a lot. I have spoken to my ex on numerous occasions about his anger - my children came home traumatised one day because he'd been bad mouthing me in the car and told them I was in love with someone else (completely untrue). He brings them into arguments a lot i.e. "you need to know what your mother is like...".

The other day my son spilt some water in the living room in my house and immediately ran to the stairs to sit on the step, telling me he was a naughty boy. I was shocked. My ex has also been angry at pick up times recently - he wouldn't leave my hallway when I asked him to and when I eventually got him outside, he shoulder barged the door as I was trying to lock it. He's also shouted through the letter box to the children saying "look what your mum is doing to me...". I work at a school as a TA and I have spoken to my head (my children go to the same sch). My daughter also spoke to someone and a referral was made but S Services just told me to deal with it myself. I've spoken to my solicitor who told me to give him a warning but nothing is stopping this and whilst I don't want to over react I am desperately worried bout how this may be harming the kids. My son won't tell me what goes on at his dad's now because on one occasion I confronted my ex, and then he got angry with the kids for "telling tales" about him.

I'm so sorry for posting such a huge message. I really am at my wits end. I am worried about stopping contact because I know how much it would hurt my ex and also my son who still loves visiting him - I also don't want to do anything wrong in the eyes of the law...but I need what is happening to stop. My ex has also text today saying that he wants to take the kids away to Spain for a week in the Summer hols but I can't allow that to happen. Any advice would be truly appreciated. Thank you xxx

theoldtrout01876 Mon 30-May-16 17:57:52

My Exh used to do the same. i lost count of the time I had to go pick my oldest son up during his weekend with his father as he would call crying about his dad shouting at him and calling him names.He was 8 or 9 at the time. He was never good enough and weird according to his father, nothing he ever did was good enough He is now 23 and has very bad anxiety and ZERO self esteem.
I had to have the cops go rescue my then 11 year old daughter from his house after she pissed him off enough that she had to run and barricade herself in her room by pushing a dresser across the door. She called me for help and I could hear him screaming and pounding on her door. I was 30 miles away at work. She was just a girl and a total little bitch. She now has social anxiety and finds interacting with people difficult.
My younger son was the golden child. Could do no wrong, ever. He now has an arrogance problem and will NEVER admit to having any faults. Ive seen under the arrogance though and what lurks under there is a scared hurt little boy. This will never be admitted tho so its festering under the surface doing damage that cant be seen.
Their time with their father was court ordered and I had no choice but to send them.If id been jailed for not complying ( Ive seen it happen) then he would have had them full time. I tried very very hard to counteract what he was doing but obviously fell short. If it was up to me he would never have been left alone with them.
I have no advice, just sympathy. It is awful to see the damage being reeked on your children. Im also pretty sure, if my experience is anything to go by, your son is going out of fear, not love, and the only hurt your ex will suffer if you cut contact is loss of face as people will ask why and then word will get out hes an arse, not dad of the year.

Hope21 Mon 30-May-16 18:09:19

What an awful experience for you and your children. Thank you so much for responding as that probably brings up memories you'd rather forget xx That's my biggest worry - that they will be emotionally scarred by all this. What I don't understand is how people can love their children but not understand or care enough about them to see the damage they are doing. Do any of your children still have contact with their dad now? I am going to ring a couple of helplines tomorrow to see if I can go down the legal route. Ideally, I would like him assessed to see if he does have a mental health issue - and if so, that he is strongly encouraged to seek support for that. I'm not sure where I stand legally in regards to contact but your situation sounds horrific. I don't understand how the law can be manipulated into leaving children exposed to emotional harm like that. I agree that supervised contact seems like it should have been the best solution in your case and also in mine. Thank you again for sharing, I really appreciate it x

theoldtrout01876 Mon 30-May-16 18:42:38

My older children 23,22 and 20 still see him but its all very superficial. They all drive so only visit on their terms and leave when they want. They never discuss anything serious with him. My oldest just graduated college 2 weeks ago and "forgot" to invite his dad. My daughter just doesn't answer the phone if she cant be arsed with him. They very seldom call him, wait on him contacting them to shout " Im your father, have some respect". They just roll their eyes and laugh at him behind his back. The damage has been done though and they are dealing with it now, as adults. I watch them all struggle to deal with things and it breaks my heart. My oldest has been in therapy for years, hes been told its all down to his dad but just cant seem to cut contact. None of them can. Their dad was a master of the "guilt"
I gave up trying to get people to see what he was doing,, even after the cop thing, that was explained away and nothing happened to him. We had had a VERY acrimonious divorce and he did all kinds to me. He set the DSS on me and called the cops and all sorts. He has had me back in court 6 times in 13 years all for stupid shit and out of spite. Any complaint I raised about him was seen as tit for tat payback and got me no where. I felt it was better for the kids to just try my best to support them when they got back. Looking back iit obviously was a wrong decision. They are all damaged and as their mother I blame myself for not fighting harder for them.
If you can cut their contact or get supervised, fight for it. I thought my kids were doing Ok its only as they got older that the issues became more apparent. I wish Id done things different. I honestly thought I was strong enough to cancel out any negative effects from him. Thought that by loving them so much that that would be protection enough. It wasnt.

HoppingForward Mon 30-May-16 19:38:01

I give all the DC a choice whether they want to go or not and then I suffer the abuse when they don't want to see him. He doesn't help himself, he constantly bad mouths me to them, will take them out and buy them things but be moody and angry with them. DD1 hasnt been to see him for weeks now, she said he is too moody and grumpy.

I don't know if it's the right thing to do but I can't force them to spend time with him. They are 14, 12 and 8. The 8 yr old will happily go with him but she doesn't know/hasn't seen or heard half of what the older two did when he was here.

BungoWomble Mon 30-May-16 20:15:16

I was brought up with a dad like this, shouting at every little thing, throwing stuff around. It's borderline domestic violence basically. I was always scared worse was going to happen, never felt safe, never felt welcome, and have as little to dowith my parents now as possible. I am very glad you managed to cut out the abusive stepson - your poor daughter - and divorced your husband as well. These situations are complicated and immensely difficult, but I wish my mother had done the same. You have been through one hell of a difficult time yourself.

Since you're asking for opinions, I'd be inclined to take up the issue of anger with your ex again and urge him to get help before allowing children to stay with him. I'd be very reluctant to let him see the children alone if he can't control his anger, and if he is 'hurt' about that, point out that you have very real reasons not to trust him. He is not the only one who is involved and he has to recognise that others have equally valid feelings too. He is having a negative effect on your children, you have described your son's withdrawal.

Have you seen the support threads on here, one about surviving toxic families and there's also one about emotionally abusive relationships. I'll find it in a moment.

I'm sorry your life is made hard by these complications. You are doing so well by your kids already. flowers

BungoWomble Mon 30-May-16 20:27:53

Finally found other one though it is a bit quiet. The resources on it may help perhaps?

BungoWomble Mon 30-May-16 20:30:31

By the way, of he won't leave your house again on request and 'shoulder barges the door', get the police involved! It sounds like things are escalating. I'd definitely keep the kids safe out of it.

BusyNothings Mon 30-May-16 21:00:28

I haven't read all the PP but this is very similar to my childhood. My mum pushed for us to be interviewed by CAFCASS and they ordered that our "dad" wasn't allowed our contact details or contact with us unless we as kids decided. And the court backed it up despite numerous challenges. It's not ideal but if he isn't backing of or changing his behaviour? A friend of mine also works in a contact centre and sees a lot of this behaviour

ashmistress Mon 30-May-16 21:08:16

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

Hope21 Mon 30-May-16 22:38:13

Thank you for all your messages - it's given me a lot to think about. I think I was hoping that I could act as a counter balance to the children's dad's negative behaviour, but I think that's probably not going to work. I've dreaded taking things further, but I agree, my ex's 'hurt' needs to be weighed up against the equally valid feelings of my children. I would love to be able to speak to someone in a position to help e.g. CAFCASS and explain our situation and have someone speak to the children - I really want someone to take the decision out of my hands I suppose. Does that make me weak? I am terrified of the confrontation and the increased aggression the children will witness if I make a stand by myself. I don't know how to go about that though - but I am going to call a couple of helplines tomorrow to get more advice.

The links were hugely helpful - thank you BungoWomble for taking the time to paste them - I do feel his behaviour is emotionally abusive and he fits the narcissistic personality type to a tee pretty much. I also agree that his aggressive behaviour seems to be escalating again, which means I definitely need to act don't I. So sad to hear other people's painful experiences in childhood or with their ex's - but also it has helped give me the courage to keep pursuing this in order to protect my children. Thank you xx

Hope21 Mon 30-May-16 22:38:16

Thank you for all your messages - it's given me a lot to think about. I think I was hoping that I could act as a counter balance to the children's dad's negative behaviour, but I think that's probably not going to work. I've dreaded taking things further, but I agree, my ex's 'hurt' needs to be weighed up against the equally valid feelings of my children. I would love to be able to speak to someone in a position to help e.g. CAFCASS and explain our situation and have someone speak to the children - I really want someone to take the decision out of my hands I suppose. Does that make me weak? I am terrified of the confrontation and the increased aggression the children will witness if I make a stand by myself. I don't know how to go about that though - but I am going to call a couple of helplines tomorrow to get more advice.

The links were hugely helpful - thank you BungoWomble for taking the time to paste them - I do feel his behaviour is emotionally abusive and he fits the narcissistic personality type to a tee pretty much. I also agree that his aggressive behaviour seems to be escalating again, which means I definitely need to act don't I. So sad to hear other people's painful experiences in childhood or with their ex's - but also it has helped give me the courage to keep pursuing this in order to protect my children. Thank you xx

BlondieLoxie Tue 31-May-16 07:23:17

Gosh! I feel like I've read a post that I would have written! Minus the sexual abuse bit. I am so so sad to hear you are all going through this, but totally get it.

All pretty simillar. I have three kids. They love him, but fear him. Same issues of shouting, name calling, bad comments regarding me etc. I've been to hell and back. I've called the police, phoned social services three times, worked with Families First, seen solicitors, CAB, Schools, doctors, Family courts etc...not one organisation or person can do anything because according to them, although its wrong, he hasnt broken any laws as he has not Physically hurt the children!!

I've fought tyesly to protect my childrens emotional wellbeing. My daughter suffers with anxiety and is waiting on a referral from CAMHs. The really sad thing is, the kids have coping mechanisms (how sad.. emotional abuse at its worst!) And always feel sorry for their dad. I think they are always looking for his approval and to be loved by him.

Ive exhausted every option. Ive been told that even if I had shit loads of money, dragging this through the courts would not help. They will not refuse him access/custody unless there is physical or sexual abuse.

I'm fed up with people saying to me 'well if I was you I just wouldnt send them!' I have no choice! He has PR and WILL not back off if i tell him. I CANNOT reason with him or discuss the damage he is doing (he's in denile).

I have lost faith in the system to be honest. I work with child. I've done enough child protection courses to know how damaging emotional abuse and neglect can be. I dont know how I'll be able to sit through another course knowing what a load if bollocks it all is! So sad.

Sorry to hijack your thread. I guess it just shows you are not alone. I hope you find a resolve, I really do.

BlondieLoxie Tue 31-May-16 07:28:20

Just to add.. I left my ex because he was emotionally abusive, even resorting to physical towards the end.

He still has control over me because if I piss him off, he takes it out on the kids. So I am still singing to his tune just to make sure when he has the kids, they dont get as bad a time. Everytime I've stood up to him, his moods have intensified with the kids. The eldest has pleaded with me just to go along with what he says so their weekend isnt too bad. So wrong.

NapQueen Tue 31-May-16 07:40:19

If your daughter being abused twice by his son isn't enough for you to make him go I seriously do not know what will be enough.

It happened once and you allowed that boy to remain in your fucking house?

He did it again?

You have seriously failed your daughter.

Hope21 Tue 31-May-16 09:19:25

BlondieLoxie - your second post describes exactly what happens here swell. You're right, they still have the control because they just take it out on the kids. My son went to his dad's yesterday and my ex wanted to get into a discussion and said lots of things that I just sucked up because I was worried that he would take it out on my son as soon as he left. I'll let you know if I get anywhere (doesn't sound too hopeful though, based on your experience) ....would love to see your children out of their toxic situation also x

Hope21 Tue 31-May-16 09:19:35

Napqueen - please read my post again. I have divorced my husband. The son never lived with us. It happened once and I went to Social Services - they arranged a conference and put in measures to rehabilitate the boy. These external agencies deemed him fit to re-enter our lives albeit for a couple of hours a week under supervision. I was very anti this, but my hands were tied as my husband was very supportive of this and I was made to look like the one who hadn't moved on from what had happened. They told me to seek counselling - which I did - but the counsellor stopped seeing me after two visits because she agreed that my responses were entirely natural and protective. They told me he was a child too as he was just 12 and that they had worked with him intensively and that they thought it was just 'sexual play' and that he now understood how very wrong that was. He was only allowed to come once a fortnight for a couple of hours....but yes that was enough for it to happen again....and yes, I do feel like I have completely failed my whilst your post is innaccurate, I agree with your sentiments. Thanks for the reminder.

Dollius01 Tue 31-May-16 11:35:00

FFS NapQueen. Her OP couldn't be more clear. Where on earth did you get that load of rubbish from?

Hope21 - you have NOT failed your DC. You are on here and doing everything you can to support them. You sound like a fantastic mum.

bibliomania Tue 31-May-16 12:14:07

I'm fed up with people saying to me 'well if I was you I just wouldnt send them!' I have no choice! He has PR and WILL not back off if i tell him. I CANNOT reason with him or discuss the damage he is doing

I agree with you, Blondie about how infuriating this advice is.

OP, my experience is slightly more optimistic. Dd was spending about a third of her time with her dad up till this time last year. His behaviour had always been a concern (eg. lots and lots of false allegations about me to SS) but started to escalate. The school became worried about her and made a safeguarding referral. She was 7 at the time. Pending the outcome of the investigation, I asked for the existing contact arrangements to be suspended, and dd only to see her father with another adult of his choice present. SS agreed that this was appropriate as a temporary arrangement. SS did their investigation and agreed her father's behaviour was problematic. After a court hearing, she now has unsupervised contact with her father, but for much shorter periods than previously.

The lesson I took from it is that you need all the allies you can get - people who can objectively say that your dcs are being harmed by the situation. Third parties will be believed over and above you. Emotional harm does count, but it needs to be documented by a third party. The fact that dd's school repeatedly raised safeguarding concerns was the thing that made the difference in my case.

I self-represented in court as I no longer had any savings left. Maybe it's just a case that eventually I got lucky with the social worker and the judge (I had quite a few less helpful experiences with different social workers and judges), and then ex put on an ill-judged performance in court, which topped it all off.

YellowBricks Tue 31-May-16 12:31:45

I read your post last night op but it was too late to reply. Like other pp it very much resonated (minus the sexual abuse - I'm so very sorry that your family went through that ordeal flowers On the contrary, I don't think you have failed your DD, it's clear that you care and are doing your best).

I have posted about my XH before under a few different NNs, he was also EA towards me during our marriage. He has our two girls (7&5) EOW and twice overnight during the week but they really dislike going, at times refusing to go. He's now threatening to take me to court over this and I feel powerless since I know contact will not be stopped based on what's going on.

I've had a few concerns about the way he cares for them, I know he doesn't brush their teeth and my youngest has already suffered with tooth decay and had to have a tooth pulled, he dresses them in ill fitting and sometimes dirty clothes, he doesn't take them anywhere on his weekends except the local cricket club where he proceeds to get drunk while they do their own thing, he's had several new GFs since we split, none last longer than 6 months but all have been introduced very quickly, within a couple of weeks, etc. They also tell me that he shouts a lot for no reason and he's mean. This is probably something I haven't fully acknowledged because I also shout at times and my dad was the same, we were frightened of him growing up but I have managed to maintain a good relationship with him. I think your post had really hammered it home that this, of everything, is the most damaging to them.

He gets very angry when they don't want to go to his or refuse to go. I find it hard to know what to do. We don't have court ordered contact at the moment so if they are really adamant they don't want to go, I don't force them but then he gets angry at me. Other times, they seem happy to go so then I don't know what is going on. I try to support my DC in their wishes but I know that if it goes to court, my hands will be tied.

My DD(7) has been having some profound emotional problems, frequently threatening suicide and having very frequent, total meltdowns where she is violent and destructive, she is less frequently like this for XH but still occasionally behaves this way in his care. He blames me and says I'm not strict enough hmm. I'm now wondering if XH directing so much of his anger towards the DC and me, is exacerbating or causing these problems. In the meantime, it's falling entirely to me to find her help because he sees contact as for his emotional benefit and all the 'care' elements of raising DC are 'women's' work and therefore my responsibility. This thread has given me another avenue to explore.

So, no advice but I feel for your position op.

BlondieLoxie Tue 31-May-16 14:53:46

It's so sad reading all this. I too pushed my childrens school into making a refferal. They could see the effects it was having on my children. They agreed that action needed to be taken. They backed me up, and contacted social care twice (I've also contacted them three times). But Social services didn't consider my children to be in immediate harm. I appreciate that SS are over run, but sadnend that children are overlooked with regards to Emotional Abuse.

Families First have been supporting us, and my key worker has been amazing. But, they only hold so much power, which in theory..isnt much. My ex is un aware of their existence because I have made it clear to FF that unless someone can guarantee my childrens safety (assuming SS) then i do not want FF contacting him. He WILL refuse to cooperate and CAN wheras with SS he has no choice.

FF contacted me last week to say that her manager has intructed her to speak to my ex before they sign me off. I have said I do not give permission for this as it will escalate my ex behaviour towards the kids and there will be no one to protect them. She agrees with me but says she HAS to. I am in the process of writting an email to her manageer outlining my concerns and that if they go ahead with this, and my children are at risk, I will hold them fully responsible. I feel like they are doing it to cover their arse. Not giving thought to the impact it will have!

Sorry to go off on one. I'm fuming on all our behalfs. Its all so wrong.

Hope21 Tue 31-May-16 22:41:47

It's really sad to hear that my situation is not so uncommon. How can emotional abuse not be taken seriously when the long lasting impact of it has been so well documented. I know it's harder to prove than physical violence, but just a 10 minute chat with a child would probably be enough to ring alarm bells. I know my DD could reel off a number of occasions where my ex has acted abusively.

Yellowbricks, my heart goes out to you, having to send your children off knowing that they are not being properly cared for. Thankfully, I have yet to deal with GFs being introduced and my ex does seem to care for their physical needs...just not their emotional needs! I wonder if your DD probably feels safe enough with you to show the strong feelings she has inside. I imagine that she is probably too scared to show how she feels when she is with her dad and may bottle it up so that it spills out when she is with you. Thankfully that she has you as an outlet - and whilst I can't imagine how awful it must be to see your DD in that state - at least with you she is able to express some of her distress and anger instead of repressing it. Here's hoping you can find some solid support for you and your DD x

Just to give an update at this end - I spoke to Parentline today who put me on to a number of websites regarding child law and numbers for solicitors. She said that I ought to try to get CAFCASS involved too so I will ring them tomorrow. Bibliomania I think you are right (and it was so good to hear about your success!) - I need to get third parties to help me pursue this as their word holds more weight. Parentline advised me to contact the police re; recent incidents involving my ex. I rang them today and they were v supportive, explaining that they operate a zero policy on any form of abuse. Someone is visiting me tomorrow to talk to me in more detail. I'm aware that nothing may come of it, but it's a start, and I'm going to keep pushing until someone listens.

The comments on this thread also gave me the confidence to stand up to my ex today. The police advised me to call them if he refused to leave my home. True to form, at drop off tonight, my ex manoeuvred himself into the hallway and proceeded to try to 'discuss' adult matters in front of my DS. I asked him to stop. He wouldn't. So I told him to leave and he refused. I then told him that if he didn't leave I would call the police. He still refused (as I'm sure he didn't believe I would do it) soI did!!! I have never seen him move so fast. Within 20 seconds he was out of the house and driving off down the road. He has subsequently tried to call me at least 15 times and has sent over 12 loooong texts (that I've ignored). I know it's a small triumph, but I felt so empowered. So thank you all millions for helping me be brave today xxx

Blondeloxie you sound an amazing mum and are doing the very best you can for your children in such difficult circumstances. Keep fighting for your children and here's hoping that, like bibliomania, you might eventually get lucky.

SolidGoldBrass Wed 01-Jun-16 15:01:16

If there isn't court ordered contact then you can stop contact and tell these men to go fuck themselves. It will take them time and money to take you to court and they may give up - and you can use that time to compile evidence of their abuse and shitty parenting, and the harm done to DC in order to insist that contact must be supervised. Make the men jump through hoops until they get bored. The longer you can stall, the older your DC get and therefore the court will take their reluctance to spend time with shitty men into consideration.

BlondieLoxie Wed 01-Jun-16 19:41:14

Solid..while they may be true. If the other parent has PR there is nothing to stop them collecting them from school! This wasThis was the problem I faced

BlondieLoxie Wed 01-Jun-16 19:42:13

Hope21. Really happy with your break through. You should feel proud. How's it going now?

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