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Manipulation from ex via children

(16 Posts)
Rumblingtummy Mon 31-Oct-16 14:30:21

Really need to get this off my chest and would appreciate some different perspectives on how to handle this as I just don't think I want to go on having to deal with this anymore.
I divorced my abusive, controlling ex a few years ago but his controlling ways are still affecting me and the kids.
I've listed some of the stuff that comes out of my primary school ages children in the past few months.

You should only see your friends when we are at daddy's house, you can see your friends then and you should spend your time with just us.
You can't put us in childcare for a week in half term whilst you work. You should take the week/weeks off and stay at home and look after us.
You shouldn't ask your friend to look after us whilst you go to work, you should take time off and not go to work.
You shouldn't spend your money on yourself, you should spend it on us.
(There has been a lot of questioning of money as ex hates paying maintainance as he believes I blow it all on clothes etc. for myself. He wanted me to provide receipts to prove what I'd spent on the kids and then give me half. He forgets about rent, water, heating, petrol etc as valid costs that are incurred raising a family)
You shouldn't be doing your college course you should be at home looking after us. ( I'm starting a college course to retrain and it's one weekend a month for a year)
I shouldn't be doing housework when they are at home with me. I should be doing stuff with them.

This half term, I took the week off as couldn't face rages over childcare and bullying and being made to feel bad. I took them out several times to park, day trips etc, but the last day I stayed in. Was reprimanded by my own kids for ruining their last day. They totally forgot all the stuff wed done in the week and concentrate don what I hadn't done. Same as the ex used to do.

Basically, I'm not allowed out, not allowed to spend any money, not allowed to see friends. Like it was before.

It's like he is still here controlling me, the kids have been turned into his attack dogs to manipulate and control me. One of my kids calls me stupid woman, and idiot. This child rages at me if I don't do exactly what they say when they say it. An overt version of ex who would ignore me for days as my punishment.

I try my bloody best but it's never enough. So fed up with this and don't actually want to be a mum anymore. I want my life back. I've explained about controlling behaviour and how damaging it is to treat people that way but it makes no difference. I'm so utterly fed up.

harrypoooter Mon 31-Oct-16 14:36:54

How old are your kids? Can you have a word with him? Can you tell your children that daddy shouldn't make any comments about you? What do you do when they call you names? You need to be strong, the strongest ever and not let them
See that they can manipulate you.

harrypoooter Mon 31-Oct-16 14:37:49

Ps names like they are calling you should be an instant punishment appropriate to their age. No excuse to call their mother that. X

ThatStewie Mon 31-Oct-16 14:40:25

You need to get your kids into therapy with someone who understands DV and can help them unpick the abuse they are still experiencing along with. You could probably do with a non-judgmental counsel or as well.

It's so fucking shit that he's still controlling you through your kids. I'm really sorry they aren't able to see it yet.

How old are they? Are we talking 4 or 10? If it's closer to ten, I would respond to 'why are you going to work' with 'I work to pay for your food and clothes and the rent'. Or, 'legally employees only have so many weeks holiday entitlement. I can't take off every school holiday.' Followed by 'Daddy is entitled to holidays from work. Maybe next half-term, he can take the week off work with you'. 'Everyone is entitled to see their friends'. If they ask why you don't go out to expensive places everyday, you simply respond with 'we went x yesterday. It's nice to just have some chill out time at home. How about we watch a video/ bake cakes/ play a board game' . They will eventually see what an asshole their father is.

It does get better x

ThatStewie Mon 31-Oct-16 14:41:29

(No idea what happened to that first paragraph!)

bibliomania Mon 31-Oct-16 14:41:32

I was also wondering how old the dc were.

Sadly, you can't control what your ex says, so all you control is the communication between your and the dcs. It might be helpful to read something like How to Talk so Children Will Listen. It has good advice about how to avoid getting stuck into unhelpful communication patterns with the dcs.

faffalotty Mon 31-Oct-16 14:41:42

Sorry to hear that you are struggling, but please don't think that they can control you. You are the adult and parent here.

Depends how old they are as to how you explain things to them. I wouldn't talk about controlling behaviour I would just address each issue as they bring it up. Ask them why they think that and then explain your POV.

How often do they see their dad?

Rumblingtummy Mon 31-Oct-16 14:50:26

Thank you for your helpful replies x
They are 9 and 10. The youngest is 7 but he is lovely and so sweet.
I'm self employed so can take the time off but that isn't the point. I have bills to pay. I explain that if I don't work we won't be able to go on holiday, have new clothes, days out etc.... But it's dismissed.
I've said about daddy taking time off but they just say he can't, his boss won't let him. They see him as some sort of God and home life with me is dull and boring as I make them do school work, and help with house chores ( I have a star chart for rewards and helping out)
I don't have contact with him as he is so manipulative it either leaves me confused or wanting to murder him so I keep away. Ive never met someone so manipulative in my life, he is an expert at it.
If I try to discipline the middle child, he goes off like a rocket and my youngets gets distressed.
I guess it's partly my fault as I'm still trying to scape myself back together after a decade of abuse and I constantly doubt myself. As soon as he gets wind of me doing something constructive with my life, he slams me back down via the children.

Trifleorbust Mon 31-Oct-16 15:04:14

I would just tell them: "Mum's the boss, so Mum makes the decisions in this house, thank you." Then do what you were going to do.

bibliomania Mon 31-Oct-16 15:10:35

My dd was asking me why I couldn't take time off over half-term, so I started singing the Bills song from LunchMoney Lewis ("I got bills, I gotta pay, I got to work work work every day"). Sometimes a bit of humour can help take the tension out of things.

It's hard at the moment because they're hitting you on a vulnerable spot, in that they bringing up memories of what your ex says. Can you access some support/counselling for yourself, so you don't feel so vulnerable to what they say?

ThatStewie Mon 31-Oct-16 15:15:30

It is not your fault. It is his fault and only his fault. He is emotionally abusing his children and continuing to emotionally abuse you through the children. If the world were a just place, the children should have absolutely no contact with him. Unfortunately, the family courts are too biased to recognise how damaging domestic violence is to children. It's worth contacting your local Women's Aid/ Refuge to see if they have any programs for children living with domestic violence or support workers that you can speak too. It's also worth making an appointment with the school to speak to whoever is responsible for child protection and explain the damage being done to your children by their father. See what the school can offer the children in terms of support. Some schools have a full time support worker who specifically deals with issues around child protection and support.

In terms of your job, all you can do is repeat breezily 'Mummy's job is as important as Daddy's job. The clients Mummy works for her are her boss and she can't say no either.'

In terms of school holidays, what about involving the children in decision making? We have X amount of money. What/ where would you like to go? Putting the responsibility on all three children to work together to decide where to go can be done in a 'because you are all so big/responsible I think its important that you also get to have a vote in where we go. We have to decide what would be fair based on everyone's favourite activities. That way you can give them back a little bit of the control that their father is stealing from them with his behaviour whilst getting them to recognise that activities cost money.

Children who've lived with domestic violence often struggle for control that they've been denied by the abusive parent. Thats why they are taking it out on you - because you won't hurt them unlike their father. Things like Mummy needs to do D number of hours of work and then this afternoon we can do a or b. Why don't you decide what you would rather do together whilst Mummy finishes D.

bibliomania Mon 31-Oct-16 16:03:26

Good post, ThatStewie

Rumblingtummy Mon 31-Oct-16 17:46:06

Thanks Stewie, he sees them twice a week after school, every other weekend for 24 hours over sat night sometimes one to one in rotation at the end of the week.
Whenever he wants something he quotes that the children said they wanted it ' it's what the children want' is his favourite quote (along with suggesting I'm unhinged and mentally unstable) he threatens me with court if I don't go alon with his demands but never carries his threats through. I'm not afraid of court, I'd welcome it.
If a friend collects the children after school for me cos I have a GP appt or similar, he intercepts her and tries to get the kids of her and asks the children infront of her what 'they want'. They always say go with him which puts my friend in a difficult position. She is aware of the situation ( she offered me a temp roof over my head so we wouldn't have to go into refuge) and she insists they go with her.
Any contact. Have with him is him either trying to manipulate me, denying he abused and manipulates me, questions my sanity or tries to totally annihilate me with insults. He knows my weak spots and he users them to his full advantage. He tells the children that if I say no to him, I'm only doing it to hurt them. There have been times when they have come home from seeing him and looked at me as if they've been told I'm a axe murderer or something.
The school is aware but they haven't a clue about domestic abuse. My friends think after all this time, it's all done and dusted, but it isn't, it's still going on. They have some nurture time once a week with school and I've had the DV worker support, freedom programme and unfortunately I also needed an ISVA and sexual abuse councelling. ( he lied to the police about the stuff he did to me and got away it)
He said that if I reduced contact with the kids the will hate me forever which they will.
They just seem to forgive and forget all the shit stuff they've seen him do to me but I get held to ransom over the stupidest things day to day.
I will never be free of his abuse, ever.

Rumblingtummy Mon 31-Oct-16 17:49:39

I do ask the kids for input on day trips etc which does work well, but it's the minute they don't get their way that the manipulation starts. Just like it was with him. I did everything but he totally overlooked that and would focus on the one thing I hadn't done and make me feel bad for it.

Pallisers Mon 31-Oct-16 17:54:41

I know it is easier said than done but you need to completely take the adult role in your relationship and put your children back into their roles as children.

If you children start telling you what you should and shouldn't be doing, interrupt them, say "I'm the parent, you are the child. You don't decide what I do. Now who wants an icecream". Simply don't entertain it. And if my children told me I spoiled the holiday because of one day in, they'd know exactly how I felt about their selfishness and rudeness.

I suspect you interact with your children on the basis that they will report back to your ex and you are afraid for that reason. I think you will just have to give up on that fear. Parent the way you want to. If they say "daddy says" tell them you don't tell Daddy what to do when they are with him and he shouldn't tell you what to do when they are with them."

The child who calls you idiot etc probably needs help. Likely has a lot of anger about his father and is taking it out on you.

Joysmum Mon 31-Oct-16 18:01:22

Personally I'd take a different tact and tackle the comments head on.

I'd retort along the lines of, 'I love you so much and loving someone means you want them to have a good life. Do you think telling someone that can't do xxx is being kind and lovin? How would you feel if your best friend told you you must not do xxx because as they don't want you to? Would that make them a good friend?'

It's raising questions like this which will make them question how kind their father is and what his motives are. You don't need to badmouthing him. Just get them to think beyond his statements as best they can.

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