SpeakOutLoud

About Coercive Control and Psychological Abuse

Language women should use in the Family Court

– Posted in: Child custody, Children's exposure to abuse, Social Institutions & Abuse

Speakoutloud.net mother child protection Clare Murphy PhDMany women feel like failures because they have not stopped the man they love from psychologically abusing and controlling them

Most women who attend counselling – to come to terms with their partner’s psychologically abusive and controlling behaviours – often beat up on themselves saying: “I let it happen” and “I feel like I’ve failed”.

Women talk about the effects and impact of abuse and control

Women describe feeling emotionally beaten down, shame, guilt, anger, sadness, depression, lack of confidence, insecure, discouraged, defeated, desperate, fearful, anxious and full of dread. They talk about being codependent, having self-doubt, a low belief in their abilities, confused, a feeling of going insane and an inability to concentrate. This brief list can lead Family Court Judges, lawyers, psychologists and other supporters of female victims to interpret the effects and impacts of abuse as equivalent to passivity, incompetence, and poor mental health. So what can women and their supporters do to combat this social problem?

It is necessary to uncover ways women actively resist abuse

Women continually use multiple strategies to resist being controlled and psychologically abused by male partners.

Women seek advice and help from others, they strategically subordinate or silence themselves, purposefully choose not to state their beliefs and opinions, consciously choose when to stay quiet and when to assert themselves – all to avoid further abuse.

If a man who persistently attempts to control his partner pressures her not to work, and she defies this by going to work, regardless of abusive repercussions, this act of resistance shows that the woman does not “let abuse happen”.

Women may do things to please their partner that they might not ordinarily do, they may ignore his behaviour, or they may cry as a way of showing they refuse to be content with being verbally abused and emotionally manipulated. Yet other women refuse to cry with the aim of not giving the abusive man the pleasure.

These acts of resistance prove women do not have low self-esteem, rather women resist abuse because they do esteem themselves. Women who defiantly talk to a male colleague at a party, despite their partner badgering them to stay away from all men, and women who refuse to obey their partner’s rigid rule that dinner should be on the table at 5 o’clock sharp every night, are refusing to be dictated to. These acts of resistance do not entail letting abuse happen. The abuse happens because, the man who is hell bent on controlling his partner, is violating her needs and boundaries.

Many women resist being controlled by lying about where they’re going, by sneaking out, by not telling their husband where they are going, or who they are having coffee with. These are acts aimed at preserving autonomy, independence and freedom.

Canadian Family Therapist, Dr Allan Wade, along with his colleagues, have researched and written some splendid articles that give an empowering spin to the language women use to describe the impact of being abused . . .

“Despair” is usually considered to be a negative effect of abuse. However, Wade and colleagues suggest that “despair” actually suggests that the victim of abuse is hoping for, or calling for, change.

“Sleeplessness” is generally labelled the problem to be solved. However, lying awake at night worrying about the crazy-making mind-games her partner is playing, is actually a strategy of resistance. In other words this kind of “wakefulness” is refusing to be content with being emotionally abused and controlled.

Using the “language of resistance” in the Family Court

When women write affidavits aimed at helping them win custody of their children, it is common to write the negative effects, or impacts, resulting from the man’s psychologically abusive and controlling behaviours. However, Allan Wade and his colleagues’s research shows that, by women saying they have low-self esteem, depression, anxiety, stress, etc., this language can feed into stereotypes that women victims of abuse are not capable of resisting abuse, or of maintaining custody of their children.

Allan Wade PhD, and his colleagues, strongly suggest that women and their supporters include information in written court documents about all the ways the woman has resisted, and continues to resist, each and every form of abuse by their partner. Rather than asking the woman how the abuse impacted, or effected her, instead ask how she responded when her partner did xyz. Ask her what she did when he said, or did, xyz. The woman’s answers to this will represent her as active and competent.

How women resist abuse depends on the context

Women do not use the same strategy of resistance in response to abuse and control every time. Rather women decide which situation best suits which kind of resistance – always with the aim of keeping herself safe and sane, and with the aim of reducing or stopping the abuse and control.

Any small act of resistance is a sign of success

Just because a woman has not been able to stop the man’s abusive and controlling behaviours does not mean she has “let the abuse happen”. The fact that she has engaged in hours, months and years of subtle, and not-so-subtle, strategies of resistance, means she has successfully mustered up chunks of control over her own life – no matter how tiny that sense of control may feel. It means she has succeeded at not allowing her partner to have 100% control over her decisions, her actions, her secret thoughts, hopes and dreams. It means she has grabbed some form of self-preservation that she has refused to allow him to steal from her. What women do to resist abuse is a sign that they are capable of maintaining custody of their children.

References:

  • Campbell, Jacquelyn C., Rose, Linda E., Kub, Joan, & Nedd, Daphne. (1998). Voices of strength and resistance: A contextual and longitudinal analysis of women’s responses to battering. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 13, 743-762.
  • Coates, Linda, & Ridley, Penny. (2009). Representing victims of sexualized assault. In E. Faulkner & G. MacDonald (Eds.), Victim no more: Women’s resistance to law, culture and power. Halifax & Winnipeg: Fernwood Publishing.
  • Coates, Linda, & Wade, Allan. (2004). Telling it like it isn’t: Obscuring perpetrator responsibility for violent crime. Discourse & Society, 15, 499-526.
  • Coates, Linda, & Wade, Allan. (2007). Language and violence: Analysis of four discursive operations. Journal of Family Violence, 22, 511-522.
  • Renoux, Martine, & Wade, Allan. (2008). Resistance to violence: A key symptom of chronic mental wellness. Context, June, 2-4.
  • Todd, Nick, Wade, Allan, & Renoux, Martine. (2007). Coming to terms with violence and resistance.
Like this? Share SpeakOutLoud ~ Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Pin on PinterestDigg thisShare on RedditShare on StumbleUponShare on LinkedInShare on TumblrBuffer this pageEmail this to someonePrint this page

70 Comments… add one

karen June 20 2015, 1:11 am

I feel so traumatised by the court system..the NZ family court judge called me a compulsive manipulative liar and praised my ex husband’s honesty …and gave him sympathy for his ordeal that my so-called false allegations caused him. He also reversed a previous ruling. I have to return my property and land leaving me with nothing…this is called justice….

Vicky May 24 2015, 2:10 pm

I struggled with a manipulative, controlling, abusive and alcoholic for 18 years. Many times I tried to leave him, he never left me. Using my children, telling me that I could never find a decent job, to win enough money to keep my children because I was not capable of anything without it. He used to say that I was a parasite and that he was the perfect partner, even saying these things in front of my children, friends, relatives etc.

He threatened to beat me if I did not shut up, in front of friends and told me to shut up in front of my children.
He sent me to clean and taught my children that I was the one who had to clean and they did not have to do anything, that’s why I was there.
He demanded to have sex, “was required” even though I did not want to.
He hit me when I was pregnant with my son. When I finally managed to separate, this began the worst hell I ever imagined . . . calls, texts, harassment, threats, watching me, coercion, playing psychological games constantly using my children, not giving money to the children. I hope, and I pray to God, this will end soon. e.g. he kicked my car in a public place, with me in the car, and my children watching.

Mona Lisa June 3 2015, 11:36 pm

Do you have full custody or does he still have visitation rights? If you have full custody: move, live elsewhere and preferably far away, do not tell him where you are going.

Another option is to make sure you document, everything that happens with him. If he kicked your car, did you write down the time and place of the incident? Keep an agenda. If you can record what happens with your cell phone, even better. You must treat any contact with him as documentation for court. You must also do your very best to never be alone while anywhere near him, have a friend with you at all times if you must have contact with him. A friend is a witness and priceless in court.

Once you have enough evidence against him, talk to an aggressive lawyer, make sure you have enough evidence. Go to court and file for a restraining order and or full custody. I do not know what your situation is exactly, but you definitely need to minimize contact with him as much as possible and when you do, make sure you have a friend with you as a witness. The court will never take our word for it against theirs unfortunately, that’s what I experienced.

Anita May 21 2015, 5:24 am

Hi, I need some opinions. I recently was arrested for assaulting my boyfriend of 11 years. We have a 9 year old son. While I was in jail he got a restraining order against me and got temporary custody of our son. I filed a petition to speak to the judge to have my son back. We both had to appear. The judge allowed him to keep my son till we go back to court on June 3 for full custody. Please help what can I do to get my child back.

Mona Lisa June 3 2015, 11:37 pm

Hire yourself an aggressive lawyer. Your going to need one. You must do all you can to prevent him having the upper hand in court and only a good lawyer can do this.

Amanda April 28 2015, 1:10 am

If anyone who is going through this in Melbourne, perhaps we can start a support group because no one understands.
I can’t imagine ever having the police or judge or anyone listen and support me. I don’t think I will ever recover from the last few months.

I don’t have the answers, but perhaps if we start a support group we can fund Dr Clare Murphy to attend for a talk.

Clare Murphy PhD April 28 2015, 9:55 pm

Amanda, I would welcome this suggestion. Clare

Gemma April 7 2015, 8:00 am

I’m going to court tomorrow, my ex is a sex offender, has a daughter with one of the victims who is not allowed to see. Over the past 4 years I have been through due to my relationship with him my two daughters from a previous relationship do not live with me. My ex and I have a son together he is 2yrs old. My ex has been violent to me and emotionally abusive at times in front of our son.

In February this year we had an argument, my ex took our son to his parents, he came back and was still argumentative, going through my phone, telling me no one likes me, that I should kill myself. He said this several times. He kept saying it so in a stupid moment I got a razor and cut myself, it was like I was someone else. He then left shouting I should carry on and that he was going to keep our son.

He had left and within half an hour police turned up shouting I had a knife which was not true and then an ambulance turned up. I went into hospital as I had high blood pressure, my wounds where superficial. Anyway he refused for me to see my son, we went to court on the 9th February where the judge ordered my ex temporary custody of my son ignoring he was on the sex offenders’ register.

He ordered that I have supervised visits at our local children’s centre, which my son knows as we go there regularly. It took my ex 3 weeks to organise contact. When I eventually got contact it was an hour on a Monday and 2 hours on a Friday. He told the ladies at the children’s centre in a very hostile way that my mum and his sisters are not allowed to attend otherwise he would not bring our son. Contact with my son went well. All written reports are positive stating he obviously misses me and we are very close. Social services, were disorganised and at the last minute have done a section 7 report. Not happy about it she states I need a mental assessment and my son stays with my ex and I still have supervised contact, even though she has seen reports of positive contact from children’s centre and my health visitor wrote a letter of how often I’ve seen her. My GP and my contact with parklands who have put me at high risk, MARAC are involved. We are finally at court tomorrow (7th April).

It’s been an emotional long many weeks. I am so nervous and anxious as to what is going to happen. I do have a solicitor so at least I may not have to speak, we have a different judge as the judge we had back in February was one of the judges that got sacked for watching porn at work. I’m hoping for a decent understanding judge tomorrow. Does anyone know how much the judge will take into account what the section 7 report says as I feel it’s very unfair? …. Gemma x

Mona Lisa March 26 2015, 1:14 am

To all you mothers who’ve suffered, are suffering or battling for the right to keep your children, there are things you can do to better your chances. I am one of you, I re-read my post from 3 years ago and the pain, tears, still are felt to this day. I remember how extremely depressed I was, how I felt there was no light at the end of the tunnel, how I wanted to die.

After an almost 3 year court battle, I finally won. My daughter is now living with me. I had to sacrifice many things in order to win, there are strings attached via a totally one sided -geared towards my ex’s whims -Joint Stipulation I had to sign and agree to. Anything to save my child who had become a mere shell of herself being denied her mother’s every day care.

Firstly: Do not do anything rash. Do not kidnap your kids or you’ll never see them again. Do not try to commit suicide, your children love you, miss you and will come back to you one day, they need you, even if you cannot be a part of their life for now, they need to know you are there for when they can be with you again. The separation my ex caused between my child and I only strengthened the bond between us. The alienation he was desperately working at, wasn’t successful, quite the opposite happened, unwittingly, he managed to make sure our daughter/mother bond was so much stronger.

Do not give up, do not stop believing you are a good mother, do not stop believing your children love you, even if he is manipulating them against you. Here is a very useful link for you to go to in order to understand what you are dealing with: http://www.lovefraud.com
There is only one type of man who takes babies away from mothers.
Know what you are dealing with.

Do not stop fighting for your children. I wasted years and thousands of dollars on dangerously useless lawyers. Lawyers who didn’t fight for my child. Find yourself THE BEST lawyer you can. Make sure they have an excellent reputation. This lawyer will be more expensive than your average lawyer. What I found in the end however was that I spent more over 2/12 years on the average lawyers (80k) than I did on the Super Lawyer (10k). He ended up costing his retainer amount. He turned things around in a matter of weeks and in the end saved my child’s life. He insisted on meeting with my child and wanted to talk to her directly to get a feel for what she wanted. He understood right away she needed and wanted to be with her mother. That I was not manipulating her to want to be with me as my ex was claiming.

Borrow the money if you have to. Put your house up for sale if you have to. Your child is worth it. Your children would rather be with you living in a tent than not be with you. Your ex will fight and win in court with lies against you unless you find yourself the best possible lawyer. A lawyer who deals in criminal cases I believe is best, one who deals with heavy handed, notorious cases, life or death sentences.

My first two lawyers were family lawyers and what a waste of time and money! They just took all my money and gave nothing in return. They didn’t care about my child. They certainly didn’t care about me, my ex’s lies had probably brainwashed them into believing I was not deserving of my child. I am a wonderful mother, I did nothing wrong. My ex painted me in court as a horrible person, using email communication between us post divorce. This was enough to convince the court I didn’t deserve to keep my child, why? Because they decided they didn’t like the person my ex was painting me out to be. Of course, he was never able to prove I was a bad mother, but that didn’t matter to the court.

My mistake was even taking his bait. You need to stop all communication with him until you read the link on LoveFraud.com. Do not give him anything to use against you. Leave all emotion out of your communications with him. You need an AGGRESSIVE competent lawyer. I went and googled and found the BEST in the area. Some wouldn’t even take my case because of the fact that I’d relocated! If I’d found this lawyer to begin with, my child and I never would have been separated. You want a lawyer who is not afraid of the system and not afraid to stand up aggressively against the opposing lawyer and even the Judge if need be in order to protect your children. Your ex will hire an extremely aggressive lawyer who will fight for his poor father rights. You will find yourself not being able to say anything against him. You have to be so very careful how you portray and represent yourself in court. You have to fight smart and keep emotion out of it.

Even once you’ve won. If your children are minors, he will be keeping record of any missteps you make. You must continue to live as though he is getting ready to take you back to court. If an ex can do it once, he’ll do it again if he believes he can. In my case, it’s his reason for living, he needs revenge against me at all cost and my child is the pawn he uses.

Whether you are struggling with deep depression or battling for your children, I’d be happy to help any mother who wishes to reach out to me. My heart goes out to you, I’ve been there.

The courts are corrupt and criminally not placing the best interest of the children first as they are supposed to be. Fathers (who work full time) are winning against full time mothers because they have the finances and know how to manipulate the system. They play martyr, while we display emotion. We are then punished for trying to get away from these abusive, manipulating men. We are punished by taking our children away from us. What the courts do not realize is that by doing so, they are punishing our children also. Criminal!

Michelle June 2 2015, 4:00 am

Mona~ I am currently in a battle for my 3 children. I’ve been a stay at home mom for 16 years and I feel like my world is crumbling in around me! I have so much proof of his abuse, but it seems like the courts don’t even want to hear it! My children are terrified of him! He’s never physically hurt us, but the emotional, mental and verbal abuse toward me has been done in front of them. He also loves to tell them that mom is crazy. I’m at a loss.

Mona Lisa June 3 2015, 11:50 pm

Hi Michelle,

I feel for you with all my heart. I was in the same boat, the court turned a deaf ear towards me and had selective hearing. I know only too well how these men abuse mentally, they are very clever at hiding their abusive personalities as everyone else thinks they are ‘great guys’ They are also very good at turning it around on us mothers and making us look like the ‘crazy one’ or ‘unstable’.

First of all, your lawyer should defend you, if he/she is not, find another right away, they MUST have the children’s best interest at heart and they must fight for you. You must do your very best to get emotion out of any contact with him. You will also have to simply ignore his efforts to manipulate your children. The kids will see through him as they get older. So don’t fret. Children are extremely astute, much more than we give them credit for. The best thing you can do is keep your chin up, be positive and think of everything he does like ‘water off a ducks back’. Certainly don’t let it get you and definitely don’t react! Because a reaction is what he wants! Document all of what he does to alienate your children. Document any interactions with him. Never face him alone, have a friend with you as a witness. Keep a diary as documentation is your only defense in court if you even have to go to court.
He will not stop, but, if you no longer react to his behavior, he won’t get the reward he wants anymore and eventually will find another victim. You are only the victim as long as you continue to play it. Harder said than done, trust me I know, but you will get better and better at it, not responding to him unless you absolutely must, never over the phone, always in writing so that you can document. Always stay very calm and calculated. Never say anything bad about him towards your children, they’ve already figured him out. But if you say anything against him towards your children, this will be used against you in court.
Your children know you aren’t crazy so don’t worry. You must take care of yourself and not allow him to control how you feel everyday.
I hope this helps, keep your chin up knowing you are not crazy and are a great mother :)

Sofia June 6 2015, 4:20 pm

Thank you. Please contact me.

Mona Lisa June 7 2015, 1:52 am

Hi Sofia, I’d love to contact you but not sure how. I don’t want to leave my contact details on a public site. Have any ideas?

Sofia June 15 2015, 8:56 am

Mona Lisa – to ensure your safety and privacy, rather than provide your email address on this website, we can both contact — Clare Murphy — via her contact page: http://speakoutloud.net/contact-me and She will put you in touch with each other

Mona Lisa June 7 2015, 3:31 am

Hi again Sofia, I have contacted the website owner and asked her how we can get each other’s contact details without posting them on the public site. I am more than happy to offer you support, I know that when I was going through hell, I had no one and sure would have appreciated being able to talk to someone who understood what I was going through. Hang in there, we’ll find a way to get a hold of each other. By the way, where are you based? I’m in VA.

Candice June 20 2015, 1:32 pm

Hi, I just read your post … I am in need of advice. My ex, who I currently had arrested for assaulting me, is now taking me to court for custody of our 5 month old daughter. He has money and leverage. He has been emotionally abusive also …. Please any advice you could give me.

heather June 25 2015, 1:19 pm

Hi,
I am going through the same things just a little different. My ex husband is being verbally abusive towards our son and I. I don’t know what I can do from here. I had full custody when he was in prison for running me off the road while I was in my vehicle. When he was released from prison three years later, he took me back to court and got visitation two days a month during school and four days a month during summer vacation.

heather June 26 2015, 4:25 am

I read your post a couple of days ago, I could really use your advice. My ex husband is putting our child in harm’s way. He picks fights with people when our son is in his care, including with me and my current husband. He is very manipulative, controlling, etc. It got worse when I divorced him. I have tried everything, I think. I am at a dead end road and don’t know where to turn. My son is terrified to go to his house, but there’s nothing I can do, please help, any advice I will take. Thank you.

Amy March 17 2015, 3:40 am

I am in a battle for custody and relocation. My husband of a little over 4 years has been controlling, verbally/emotionally abusive and has become physically abusive toward myself and 2/3 children. His lies and way of manipulation have carried him through life, which is also how he got me to marry him. He did all of this to his first wife and her kids too. He denies that any of this happened. CYS has investigated him biting our 3 year old and it was “unfounded” because there was no physical proof; however, there are 4 witnesses (me, my 2 older children and his daughter.) Any advice on how to ensure his lies aren’t believed and my truth is seen? I can’t lose my son to an abuser.

Yvonne April 1 2015, 5:47 am

I know your pain. What state/country are you in??

annonymous April 28 2015, 6:25 am

Study this please, parental alienation. Your ex will claim that your attempts at freeing yourself from his abuse are a means of distancing him from his children. Thanks to the fathers’ rights movement, wonderful mothers are losing custody to abusers. Many men who win contested cases are abusers. Block him from being able to accuse you! Please trust me!

Michelle June 2 2015, 4:02 am

How do you block them from accusing us? This is exactly what he’s doing.. accusing me of alienation. It’s truly sick!

Mona Lisa June 4 2015, 12:34 am

Unfortunately the more we try and protect our children from these men, the more ammunition he will have against you by claiming parental alienation. You must follow the parenting plan to a tea and never withhold the children from him if he has visitation rights, this will be used against you in court and the results could be devastating. Never put him down towards your children, this can be used against you. Always keep emotion out of any interaction you have with him, keep communication at a minimum, always in writing and pretend you are dealing with a business partner. Let less you say, the better. If you loose your cool, this will be used against you. Always have a friend with you if you have to be anywhere near him, you will need a witness as he will lie as I’m sure he already has. Always talk in court for the best interest of the children, claiming you follow visitation through. You must come across as a stable mother who is doing all she can to support her children’s relationship with their father, not a defensive mother who comes across as not wanting her children to have anything to do with their father, the courts will see this in a very negative light and you’ll ‘shoot yourself in the foot’. Do not accuse him, leave that part to your lawyer. Just document all of his lies and document proof they are lies. For example, keep a record of the Birthday cards you ask your children to give him, the calls you ask them to make with him. Document every contact you encourage between him and your children. I know that your instinct is to fight and keep your children away from him and in a normal world, this is the best thing you can do but you are dealing with a corrupt system and fathers have more rights than mothers in this day and age -remember this. Every time you put him down or prevent him from seeing his children or talking to them, this will only give him the ammunition he needs to use against you. Fight smart, not with emotion.

Mona Lisa June 7 2015, 4:05 am

Amy, I really feel for you, this is a terrible situation to go through. You must hire yourself a good attorney, I repeat this over and over as it’s the difference between losing custody and being able to see your children or winning custody. You are in an even worse situation as you are relocating. This is what I went through – I was granted mere visitation after being a full time mother for years…and just because I needed to relocate. The courts do not support mothers relocating for any reason so be very very careful! Even many attorneys don’t support mothers relocating and won’t represent you. This is a ridiculous standpoint in our modern society. In my case, my new husband lost his job and in order to continue to put food on the table we needed to relocate for his new job! The court decided that even though I was married, I should remain behind in the original State, and not join my husband in his new location. How ridiculous is that!

If your attorney is a good one, he/she will explain to you that the court will not consider minor children as witnesses. You also need to understand that the court doesn’t want to listen to what us mothers have to say. They certainly will not consider you a witness even though you were there, they will be happier to believe you are not telling the truth. The only way you can prove he is an abuser is with EVIDENCE. This is the only thing the court will take into consideration – and only through a good attorney – not through you. I hate to say this as it should not be so, but we as mothers, have very little stance in a court room in this day and age. So hiring a top notch attorney is our only hope. When he abuses, you must document everything and by that I mean: contact the police, take the child to a doctor to document the incident, take the child to a therapist, whatever you need to do to put the incident down on record with a professional. See a therapist yourself to document the mental abuse. If your husband is physically abusive towards you, go to a doctor.

Always have a friend, or family member (friend is better as it’s a 3rd less biased party) accompany you and be with you at all times when you are in contact with him if you need to do so. It also sounds to me like you need to keep your distance from him unless you have absolutely no choice. You are in a very precarious time where things can go very well or really badly for you. He sounds like he will put up a fight, so be very very careful of your decisions and definitely get legal advice before even relocating. You might be better off filing for divorce first but I am not sure, so ask for advice on this issue. What I can see however is that you must document all interactions he has with the children and with yourself. Keep a diary – for legal purposes.

Laura March 6 2015, 4:27 pm

I’ve been dealing with abuse for years, in one form or another, from the same man. 13 years ago, I met, then got pregnant, then stupidly married the man, we were only married for a year, while I was pregnant, he beat me severely, and continued to do so after I gave birth. After I gave birth he included our baby in it, by trying to push me down the stairs while I held our baby, slammed my face first into walls while our baby was in our arms, he once grabbed our baby and held him by his feet and shook him until I complied with his wishes.

One day, when we were at my parents’ house, (and I had secretly been planning my escape with our baby, this was unexpected) he flipped out, and almost went at me while my Dad was in the house. He up and drove off, abandoning both me and our baby at my parents’ house.

After that, I saw a chance and took it, and filed for divorce. While I did not really want the divorce, I knew for my life, it needed to happen, (plus my lawyer told me that my best chance at getting custody was to seriously advocate that I did not want the divorce, so I did) after almost two years in court, I was finally not only granted the divorce, but custody, however, it was joint custody. I got domiciliary custody, and he got visitation. It worked, for 8 years. For 8 years he had almost nothing to do with both my son and I. His parents picked up our child for visitation, and brought him back. His parents called, to talk to our child, his parents paid child support. (Which at that point, the state decided to claim it was not considered child support, especially since his parents adamantly claimed they DID NOT PAY child support, even though they sent me the check once a month).

Then, after 8 years of him not being in my life, 8 years of peace, not living in fear, of a feeling of freedom, and relief. My fiancé got a DUI, and all of a sudden I find myself back in court fighting for custody of my child, the same child that this man had nothing to do with pretty much for 8 years. The attorney I hired was incompetent, and decided that because I am deaf, I am not fit to be a mother. Once I found out about that I fired her, but at that point it was too late, I had one week to be in court, and there was NO WAY I could find an attorney in time, and the Judge would not allow a continuance, since thanks to my ex, one had been granted twice already (requested by his side, not mine). So I was forced to sign a settlement, which gave him custody of our child, gave me supervised visitation (his wishes, luckily my parents were the ones granted to supervise my visitations with my child) along with two phone calls a week to our child, and visitation, every other holiday, except Spring Break, which I have our child every year.

The court order also granted, that for visitation, I don’t have to consult with my ex on it, I can just get the tickets, and then I have to let him know the travel arrangements at least 30 days in advance.

However, my ex doesn’t follow any of the court order, I’m extremely lucky if I get to talk to our child 3 or 4 times a MONTH, IF that. I am too kind, I always contact my ex and find out if certain days are good for traveling for visitation, and he always, always makes it difficult. For almost 3 years, he absolutely REFUSED to talk to ME about ANYTHING having to do with our child, and would only talk to my Mom, and when I say talk, I mean yell, scream, cuss and threaten. (We have all those phone calls recorded.)

He tells our child (who is 11 now, and has ALWAYS been very, very close to me) all kinds of lies, and horrible things about me. He tells me, and my Mom that he’ll make sure I’ll have nothing to ever do with our child ever again, and that if he wanted to, he could just up and disappear with our child so I would never see him again. Then the most recent, my Mom and I contacted him about Spring Break Visitation which is coming up, he then said he wanted our child for Spring Break, seeing as how I barely get to see our child now, I said no, I would like my Spring Break Visitation, then, my Mom and I tried contacting him for a month and a half trying to set up travel arrangements for that visitation, to no avail, so we finally went ahead and got the tickets, after we did, he contacted us and said that there was absolutely NO ONE who could take our child to the airport. That someone would have to come to his DOOR to pick him up. So my Dad said he would. He then told my Dad he could not, unless I went with him. So then, we had to change all the travel arrangements, then purchase two EXTRA plane tickets, one for me, and one for my Dad.

Then, two weeks ago, on the same day my Mom found out she has Ovarian cancer, he called her up, and screamed, yelled and cussed her out about the fact that I want our child for my Spring Break Visitation. Today, I had to not only break the news to our child that his MawMaw has cancer, and just had major surgery to remove the tumors, and now has to go through several months of Chemo, but that it looks like he may not be able to come out for Spring Break because his Dad refuses to take him to the airport.

I am stuck, I cannot afford an attorney, Legal Aid does not do Family Law, and have now hesitantly decided, to go to court, and represent myself, in spite of the fact that I know that in doing this, my ex can, and WILL come after me, not only psychologically, but physically as well, and not having money, I have no way to hide, or defend myself. I have no idea where to go for help, how to defend myself, or my child. I am terrified. I am fed up. I need help.

ginacares85 March 16 2015, 4:26 pm

My name is Gina. I hear you clearly and feel your pain ..if you are in Los Angeles California I will be more than glad to make a difference or suggest a couple of things to you that might help, or maybe don’t know is there. It was a touching story and the dates are so recent…so sad for you I just want to see how I can help. Does the judge make careless decisions? Does your attorney keep you informed? Do you read your court papers? or understand them? If not, highlight words you don’t understand. And learn them. Your child depends on you!! Don’t give up. It is not in your vocabulary!! Positive thinking! My son is my prize!! Only you love him the way no one can.

R June 4 2015, 9:32 am

Gina- I just saw your post. I’m in Los Angeles. Can we speak?

Ann April 7 2015, 1:16 pm

File a bar complaint against the attorney that claimed you were incompetent because of being deaf. Put on it: EMERGENCY SITUATION. CC the attorney and any organization associated with ADA (disability association). This attorney broke a federal law. Attach a copy of the bar complaint to a motion for whatever you want – a continuance maybe? BE SURE the judge sees it. Your state bar website should have information on bar complaints. But if not, just google bar complaint and the name of your state. You might want to also cc opposing counsel to let them know; I am back in the game and I mean business so stop messing with me. You are always free to file a bar complaint against opposing counsel also – the object is to expose corrupt acts, if the Bar acts, fine. If not, so what. You need to be heard and a bar complaint is a voice that scares attorneys and others into ethical action a lot of the time. Good luck. Cut to the chase, no drama, use facts. But a fact could be: “Damage to our family from attorney incompetence and failure to properly represent me and ignoring the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) is the basis of this complaint.”

Mona Lisa June 7 2015, 1:56 am

I was and am dealing with the same kind of man. They don’t quit. I can offer you some really good advice on how to deal with your situation, contact me if you would like to talk. I feel for you as I was where you are. First and foremost, remember to take care of yourself, I know it’s so hard to do but your well being is critical with what you are going through.

Laura"2" June 7 2015, 9:41 am

Can we talk?? I’m located in Montreal, Canada and deaf too. I have court coming up soon and your story is soooo similar to mine and the irony? I’m Laura too!!!!! Make sure to have a VERY good INTERPRETER as well as a VERY good lawyer. We stay strong.

Clare Murphy PhD June 14 2015, 2:07 pm

Laura – to ensure your safety and privacy, rather than provide your email address on this website, you can both contact me — Clare Murphy — via my contact page: http://speakoutloud.net/contact-me and I will put you in touch with each other. Clare

vicky February 17 2015, 11:27 pm

It looks like the same guy. I’ve been married for 18 years, and it’s all the same. Now I am taking him to the court, and he keeps on saying , “You will do things my way or you will lose”. Calling me when he is with my kids, insulting me, and the kids have to listen to all those insults, like “you are a good for nothing”, “you will never find a job”, “no one is gonna help you”. As he realized he is losing the control over me, he started saying “if you keep going with the court, I will take the kids away from you I have two real good lawyers, and they will destroy you in court”. For him all this is “good and normal”, but i will not give up, I won’t let my kids close to him, he is hurting our feelings so badly.

Paula February 14 2015, 1:51 pm

A movement is arising….it may help some of us….it’s awareness of PA Parental Alienation. Unfortunately they have added Syndrome to it in some cases and we are supposed to recognize that the abuser is disabled. I guess for some it is a reaction to pain….but for others it is a well placed manipulation of children’s minds to get back at the other parent. I think we need to spread awareness that this is child abuse, as well as the long arm of an abuser. Courts are starting to recognize it I think. Every case is different but there are so many of us out there, I bet a lot of them resemble our stories.

Lioness1213 January 3 2015, 5:54 pm

Wow, are we all dealing with the same guy here?? Too many of these posts are describing my ex fiancé (never married, thank God!) and the hell I have gone through… And continue to go through, now, in court.
With help from family, I woke up enough to leave my emotionally/verbally/mentally (sometimes sexually) abusive manipulator… Looking back at the past 4 years of my life, I feel completely baffled and humiliated for ever staying with him. We created 2 amazing children, 1.5 and 2.5, and they are my life.
I will spare the gritty detail of the ridiculous counts of abuse, but ultimately he showed up drunk at my house to take my kids (with no car seats), was arrested and has an order for protection against him…. He is contesting that. I am worried it will be lifted because of mistakes that were made by law enforcement. None of his charges stuck and they failed to give him a dwi! IF it is lifted, he is going for full custody!!!! And has promised/threatened me several times that “he will win or we both will lose”! He is a ticking time bomb and I am afraid for our safety and our lives.

Anyone who has MAINTAINED custody of their children, please share your tips!!
I believe I have more than enough on him to keep the OFP in place, but reading some of these stories discourages me a bit…
I am a great, protective, nurturing and loving mom.. He is unstable. I could not handle having my sweet children taken away!!! They are too young..

C January 17 2015, 8:33 am

Hi,
This is a couple of weeks old but I felt the need to respond to you to share tips. After going through ten years of all forms of abuse and my children being exposed to it all I left and spent two years fighting for my children. My ex was charged with everything from criminal harassment, forcible confinement, sexual assault, death threats, assault 14 charges. I have death threats on video and 200 pages of text messages. We are still in criminal court but just wrapped up family court. Sadly none of the charges really had an impact on his parenting because they viewed me as a trigger and he would be fine with the kids if I wasn’t around. He does have supervised visitation until he completes a program but his visitation is done by his family and never actually supervised.

I believed the threats, he threatened to destroy my life, my relationships, my everything so it took me two years to take it to court to file custody papers. He promised if I opened up about abuse he would make sure neither of us had the kids and he would take me down with him and I would be in jail too. He told me he would prove me mentally unfit, he would do the whole game of your typical control to get things his way. We had a separation agreement with me having custody, but it wasn’t a formal one. After he was charged, it was crazy for my kids and that’s when I filed for custody. Learn from my mistakes, mind you I have custody but I think had I had my ducks in a row I could of had a better outcome.

Firstly be careful in lawyer selection. Ask around use someone who won’t back down. My ex had a great lawyer and my lawyer was very visibly intimidated by him.

Secondly don’t hide anything. Talk to a counsellor if needed about your feelings. I had fears that they would see me as weak and child protection would take my kids. They don’t see you that way. If they see you presenting your feelings while trying to promote a safe environment for your kids at both homes it is great to have that on paper. If the courts know you are doing what is needed for you and your kids it is a positive thing not negative. Say you are afraid, he is a ticking time bomb and all your concerns. It is such a big help to be able to prove you’ve seen outside help about your feelings of safety because they are real fears and not just ammo for custody.

DOCUMENT everything. If you have them, give exact details and dates it’s much more believable in court than just one weekend in July this happened.

My best advice came from the police I was afraid to contact for years. Call them. Those little notes they add to your file about it creates the big picture. Like police said to me once don’t be afraid to call and look stupid when I said I felt stupid he said this is your kids and you’ll do what you have to do to keep them safe who cares what anybody says and thinks.

Don’t be afraid if you are so oberwhelmed and think you are losing your mind he could use that against you. Maintain an open line of communication and support from people around you. It’s very hard to prove anyone being unfit under circumstances of abuse when they have multiple people they can reach out to for help if they need it. Courts always look at people with strong support systems as people who will be strong and protect kids.

Use the authorities, local shelters, child protection workers, the police that’s what ultimately saved me in my case. The reports of the craziness, having the support of a woman’s shelter and help for my children if they needed it strongly impacted my case.

Finally as hard as it is. Don’t paint him out to be bad as it looks like you are trying to alienate him from your kids. All you need to argue is you want your children to have a safe relationship with their father and their safety and wellbeing is your primary concern. It boiled down to my ex doing a lot of trash talking about me and I sat back and let him and it looked like he was just an angry person and it played in my favour. Stress that the kids need to be safe. Give examples but leave the small and petty stuff out. Judges feel like sadly children are better off with both parents whether it is supervised access or not but very rarely will they keep visitation suspended. So I can’t stress this point enough, stress that you want a relationship for your children with their father but it needs to be safe and he needs to prove himself that he can provide that. If a judge feels for any reason you are trying to push the dad away from the kids it will backfire huge in your face.

Keep those tips in mind, always be calm to police and in court. Be open and honest and you will be fine and keep custody.

Just please remember stay calm, if you get worked up he will use the idea that you are crazy and easily worked up, and of that’s what they see, is you worked up, it’s going to play out bad. Stay calm instead of getting worked up and crazy.

It’s a stressful road, I spent thousands and cried many tears but I have full custody of my kids.

Miriam February 4 2015, 11:23 am

Don’t pay attention to what he says (I’ll win or we’ll both lose). He’s continuing his mental abuse over you, don’t even bother in engaging in an adult conversation with him, at least not alone, but with witnesses. Him abusing you means you’re stronger than him and he’s been trying to break you down. Remember, you did set yourself free, so don’t let his empty threats affect you, it’s just hopelessness speaking out to him.

Mom77 December 16 2014, 4:47 pm

As I read all the posts it is comforting to know I am not alone.
My husband of 16 years is an emotional, mental, sexual and spiritual abuser. I am frustrated because all the warning signs were there right from the beginning but I stayed. Not only did I stay I have 4 children!!! Beautiful amazing gifts from God.
I kept thinking it will get better, or I will stay until the kids are grown.
What made me snap and say no more? His abuse was making me hurt myself. I began drinking secretly at night to numb my sadness and anger towards him. I told him I am unhappy so much so that I have begun to drink.
Right there first and worst mistake I have ever made in my timeline with him.
At first, therapy through the church, this did not go well. When I asked the pastor ‘so should a woman stay with her husband even of she is being abused?’ and his first response was NOT No. I immediately knew I could not see this man for counseling.
Next, husband contacts social services. Then the police. Refuses to let me drive the children, be alone with them and today we had mediation. He wants the children and I can visit them.
I have given my life to my children and been put down controlled manipulated and degraded for years. I have literally saved my children from their father’s temper. I know this will go to court.
I know I am a great mother. I know God is with me. And yet I am terrified. I have three girls and one boy. My son sides with his dad, but I know he is brainwashed from his father.
I again am grateful for this site. I will keep resisting him. I will remember to not listen to his voice inside my head. I once was strong. I will be again for my children.

Jennifer December 4 2014, 1:12 am

I am so glad to have found this site. I am going through the same with my ex and I have also thought I was alone and he was the most manipulative abusive but extremely smart and believable sociopath on earth. I am so scared I am going to lose my baby boy. I know a lot of these posts are old but if anyone is reading this and has any advice for me. He is making me look like I am crazy and he is doing a pretty good job at it. I can’t figure out how he manipulates so well! I can’t take it anymore. I don’t want to give up but going through daily torment and what feels like torture is exhausting and I am not getting anywhere with my case but more depressed. I at least have to continue to try so my son knows I didn’t abandon him. If anyone has anything at all to say that could help or inspire or even relate. Nobody I know really truly understands what he is doing or why I am “letting” him. And I am not letting him they just don’t understand.

jill January 14 2015, 1:50 pm

Jennifer, this is almost identical to what I am currently going through! Exactly! I got blindsided by a vindictive abusive smart manipulative sociopath who is trying to make out I have mental health issues. I don’t! He cut me off financially. Canceled my phone, stopped me from using the landline, threatened to cancel the health insurance, tried to sell my van in an attempt to ‘starve’ me out of the home. He threatened to get sole custody of my son. Why would any parent want to take a loving mother away from a child?
He took the only money we had. I can’t afford legal advice.

Holly January 28 2015, 2:27 am

I too am going through this with a sociopath ex boyfriend that took our two boys. He filed a false restraining order and has managed to bully me into agreeing to HIS terms on a temp parenting plan… I wouldn’t have been able to see my children if I didn’t agree to his ridiculous terms… One term being that he can have my chilren stay the night at his new girlfriend’s house (which I vehemently disagreed with). He has found a new girlfriend and wants to “set up house” with her… While getting rid of me! His parents are beyond wealthy and he can continue to slam me with court papers to bury me in confusion knowing I don’t have money for a lawyer. He is taking me to court next week to try to get $1000.00 a month in child support… My veteran disability check is only $1880.00 a month!!! Having his whole sleazy family lie for him. He sets up situations where he will leave work to take care of the kids without telling me, or have his family pick them up without letting me know, then use it against me saying I have “grown distant” from the boys and that he does everything for them and I don’t take care of them when they’re sick blah blah blah. He does this manipulation technique frequently with other situations. Manipulating the situation to make me look like a don’t care and don’t want to be apart of my children’s life! A dead beat mom… Using past mental problems (1 1/2 year ago!) to paint me as unstable…most of which was due to him cheating, lying and not being apart of my pregnancy and first 6 months of our first child’s life! And he went through depression a couple yesrs ago too! I know this sounds rambling but I’m so upset and feel hopeless. His family knows the judges and commissioners as well. He is trying to push me out of my children’s lives by alienating me! I also feel he is trying to financially/mentally break me to make it impossible for me to fight back. Why does life favor the evil… I don’t even know how to fight an evil fight, and I’m at a complete disadvantage because of this.

Michelle June 2 2015, 4:12 am

OMG Jill!!! 17 yrs together, 15.5 married. He cut me off financially, I had to get emergency food stamps to feed me and the three children. I’ve been a stay at home mom for 16 years. He’s painting me to be “mentally ill”. He cut off my cell phone, quit paying some bills and is holding every little thing he does over my head. There ARE attorneys out there that will take cases based on getting paid by the defendant in the end. That’s what I had to do. We go to court June 2. I’m scared. He’s accusing me of brainwashing the children and alienation. I just want to protect them from his manipulation and abuse!

fran December 1 2014, 7:08 am

I’m so glad to have found this site. My ex got granted custody of my 2 boys after all the lies he said about me. He doesn’t care for them he just doesn’t want to pay child support and wants power. I can’t get a hold of my boys because his phone is off, or unless he blocked me. I am fighting for them and keeping records of how many times I do try and call though. It’s so hard to be home without them. Everything reminds me of them. I feel like half my soul got ripped out. My mind is going in all kinds of directions. I’m so scared I don’t know what’s going to happen next. The system is messed up in so many ways. I hope I get the courage to stand up and be stronger. We have court next year in February. I don’t want to wait that long to see my kids. I need advice anyone please. Thanks.

Carol October 26 2014, 2:10 am

Thank you for your enlightening perspective. My daughter lost custody of her child this year to her creepy, abusive ex husband. A stripper is now my Granddaughter’s major caretaker! How messed up is that? I have forwarded a copy of this to my daughter in order to help her better prepare for her upcoming child custody battle to get her daughter back!
My daughter is a survivor, and her daughter needs to be home with her loving, caring mom!

Marlene October 6 2013, 5:58 pm

Hi everyone,
I left my 20 year marriage from my verbal/emotional abuser. I lived ten years walking on eggshells and afraid of his reactions to every little thing I did for 10 years. I had a wonderful business the first ten years and things were ok. The business started to fail due to changing industry and from then on things deteriorated. Suddenly it was “his” money. “His” time at work that paid the bills, even though I tried hard to make extra and take care of our sons. It was a never ending battle of me being worthless or stupid or not making best use of my time.
One day I woke up and realized that I had lost all my drive and all my dreams. Friends stopped wanting to come over because he was such a grump and I couldn’t fix anything. I always wanted to fix things. Wanted peace and I wanted my sons to feel loved. Things turned physical on a few occasions and I blamed myself once again. It was an awful life. Next thing I knew I started lying to him all the time to keep peace. I was afraid of my husband. And I missed myself because she was now gone. Omg.

I left that hell 6 months ago. He lost his cool and intimidated me so much I couldn’t go home. I went to the ATM to get money and he caught me and flipped a lid and screamed, “Where is the money bitch? You are nothing. You have nothing. You don’t have a car. You don’t have a phone. NOTHING WITHOUT ME”. I had a massive panic attack and I was rescued by my best friend who is a male. (That I have had an affair with).

Now he has hacked into my phone and kept my teenage sons from me. He had told the kids all kinds of lies and told them about the affair. Needless to say my sons hate me. I was a wonderful mother to them until I had to leave that day and not go home. I read about how women deal with all the stresses make people like me lie over and over. I felt like I was a survivor by lying and by being with my childhood best friend.

I am so afraid of court and what he will do now. Please, advice anyone?

stella January 21 2015, 9:08 am

Sorry this is old but I felt compelled to answer. My ex of 10 years, never married, we have a 2.5 year old beautiful daughter. He did the same thing with the money the car the phone all of it. Called me a loser everyday. When you hear these things on an ongoing basis you believe it. It took me almost a year to pull myself up. I find him texting me saying “it hurts because I see what I could of had.” Well I couldn’t be who I am, not unless I left him. He gave me no room to be myself. These men need to get real and see we are not property, are not low-lifes. Being a mother is a 24/7 job, harder then what they do. All they do is complain about us and nothing I did was good enough. I wasn’t who I thought I’d be March 2014 when I left a day after our anniversary he kicked me out of our home at 12am only to drop off our daughter the next day to “a drug addicted incompetent loser with no job no money no phone nothing”. All lies if I’m all these things why would you leave our child with me? I used to lock myself in our room while he would be loudly telling our daughter I love you and laugh and play trying to make me jealous of my own daughter and his relationship. I am nowhere near perfect, but I know I’m a good mom. He severly depressed me. He had parties in our home and we never had one while I was there. His lease was up Feb 28th and 6 days later kicked me out and kept my car that I paid 20,000 on and had 6,000 left. You’re not alone. We need to support each other. I don’t know why these men think they’re so much better then us we are going to court because he filed for custody because he owes me almost a year in back child support he just doesn’t want to pay. It’s always been about money, that’s all he’s cared about … He’s trying to “get to know each other again” but he makes my stomach turn. There are good men out there. For some reason alot of us like the ass holes. We gave them these children, they act like they were pregnant and had them. It’s weird. I’d like to meet one man who knows what child birth feels like or grew a healthy happy baby!

Tonia March 23 2015, 10:20 am

Sure do wish I could give you some advice. I am trying to get out of an abusive (mental, emotional, manipulative) 20 year marriage. When I read your story, it shocked me because our stories are soooo much a like! I have tried to leave him several times within those 21 years and now I am finally trying to get rid of him and find myself again. He has manipulated my 20 year old son so that he has nothing to do with me now. The last text I got from him said “WTF ever”. Sure does hurt and make you feel very alone, isolated and broken. I already told him he could have the house and everything but he is following me around with a camera to try and “catch” me messing around so now he is TRYING to get money!! I’m afraid of court also and what he will try to do. The only thing I have figured out so far is that u have to Pray and stay strong and focused. Please be safe and get you some mace my friend.

RCFWOOD May 11 2013, 4:11 am

To Marie, I understand.
It is called domestic abuse by proxy, and more and more men are doing it against women. All the years the court systems gave custody to the mothers, is changing and many men have learned to manipulate the court systems and the mother’s emotions (which make her look in court like she is an unfit mother).

Here is what you can do and it is hard choices for you, not easy or you just stay in the same pattern, hoping they will change something, or the legal system will help you and they will learn their lesson. This is unlikely to happen. Read “The Art of War”. There is a time to fight and a time not to fight. Men are versed at the art of war, grow up mock fighting with their friends, women are totally naïve, ignorant and stupid in this area; thinking that nurturing, more love, enabling will change things.

Let go of all interaction with him, no texting, no e-mailing. Do it through a third person if necessary who will concise and relay the messages.
They will push your buttons through texting, calls or e-mail. You reward them by becoming upset, talking about it to anyone in the community or family. They can never see you react in any emotional way and never say anything–it will be fodder for future harm.

Smile, only, point instead of talking. Do not even mention the name of the father when you have the children. Perhaps move, your kids may come back one day, let go of the visitations if the children are old enough. The best thing you can be for your children is not to act out and set the best example—by refusing to react on his level. You have become his negative power puppet. He knows exactly how he is hurting you, which string to pull to create which pain, wake up and see the pattern.

Spirituality of some form helps. Meditation, volunteering, getting involved with other people, positive types. They cannot be your world anymore, otherwise you are walking down the road of self-pity and destruction. The legal system will only drain you and there are plenty of incompetants and predators who will suck you of all life when you are most injured and hurt; telling you they will help you and be your “savior”. Things can get worse, you are hurt and injured and vulnerable. Time to heal, protect your wounds.

Get on with your life, this is all you get! Your life is not an unlimited resource of time. Do you want to waste it, engaging with such people,
and then feeling bad after engaging with such people? The best thing is No contact with the father, only through a third party. An effective means would be that they have to text or call the lawyer, who will then relay the message to you. This will stop the manipulation.

Sometimes retreating, the rule of retreat, sometimes advancing is retreating in the opposite direction. Ask yourself questions, why you got involved with someone like this, childhood patterns, for his money? Give yourself a limit, persistence is not always the right thing, but starting over is. You are still here and alive and have value as a human being. You will never have value or respect from them. Depending on the age of the children, it might be best to relinquish visitation. This is the only way they keep you engaged, using the children as tools. You will not win, the outcome is not certain, but your only chance is to strategize your own actions to your health and life.

Vitality shows in not only the ability to persist but the ability to start over — F. Scott Fitzgerald

. . . Might be time to start over perhaps?? At least, time to ask yourself questions . . .

Dani May 10 2013, 4:21 pm

I left my abusive ex-husband nearly six years ago. From the beginning he set out on a multi tiered campaign to try to break me, emotionally and financially, and the rest. I managed to get residency of our one child back in 2009, but only because my ex has to travel abroad a lot. He then spent the next five years dragging me to court, attempting to take our son off me, making false allegations of all sorts, even though I’ve been a doting, loving mum to our son, now aged 9. It wasn’t just the courts, who by the way refused to hear about his behaviour. He manipulated everyone. School heads, staff, my own solicitor at the time, neighbours, parents of our son’s friends, police, and anyone else he needed to manipulate. I became isolated. Nobody talked to me. He had people thinking I was mental. It was me, trying to raise our son, best I could, being frozen out by everyone else. Then, my ex, with his new partner, who helped him continue to harass and pester, and abuse me, managed to axe our son’s child maintenance, which is what was keeping us afloat. (I had jobs, but every time, he’d sabotage it.) He axed our son’s maintenance by having his partner rent out her own home, and move in with him, to claim for her daughter even though she only lived with them half time and even though my ex doesn’t look after her. I finally got a Circuit Judge to issue him with an ex parte Non Molestation Order last December after he escalated his pestering of me. We went to court just last week. I was literally gutted by both his barrister, and all 3 magistrates, and the absolute c**t of a female court clerk, who didn’t believe me in spite of pages and pages of evidence including police reports, emails written by my ex, and witness statements. They not only discharged the order, but they told me I needed ‘no’ protection at all, and said that all of my ex’s behaviour, which was stalking and harassing in nature, was nothing but normal.
The day after, I dropped my son off at school, and then went to Heathrow, and flew home to California. I could take no more. I told my son what was happening although for some time he’s known that I was struggling with his father and things were getting worse. Told him that we were going to lose our rented home because of the cut in maintenance, told him that it couldn’t go on the way it was, with him being caught in the middle of this nightmare with constant harassment off his father. How can you fight someone who makes 70k a year with a PHD, who is a master at manipulation and a sociopath who fools everyone into thinking he’s nothing but reasonable? He got away with it ALL.

I want to die. I could leave, and I finally did, to avoid homelessness and to try to stop the cycle. But I want my son with me — desperately. But I have no money. No power. Nothing. I couldn’t save my son. He is now stuck with someone he never even wanted much contact with. Had I taken him with me to the States, my ex would have had me done for ‘abduction.’

I need a friend. I need support. Please help me. My email is barbawhiskey at yahoo dot com

Thank you anyone who tries to help me. I cannot believe my fate with this monster.

Lilvin January 30 2013, 6:00 am

2012 my son’s father and I broke up because I couldn’t live the way we were living. He wasn’t motivated to get a job, he was aggressive, verbally and physically abusive and once drove off (without having a license, and highly intoxicated) with our son. He took him for 5 days and I went from police stations, family court and on the 5th day I got appointed a lawyer. The mobile phone he was using was in my name so I could access the records. To my horror he had taken my baby to Brisbane. The next day (day 6) I got a court date in August. After countless times he tried to assure me he was still in Sydney, his mum confirmed to my lawyer that he had taken my son to Brisbane. On my 28th birthday my ex requested, through my lawyer, to let me see my son on a skype call. He had grown from a baby to a little boy so quickly. Heartbreaking to have to see my baby on a video call, not to mention a white sheet behind him to hide where the call was being made from.

Court day came and, because I had no family in Brisbane, it was ordered that my son return to live in Sydney. My ex tried to convince me that he still loved me and wanted to make another go and tried to convince me to spend the night in a hotel to talk. I didn’t. Since then we barely spoke, we bickered and fought. He was the first person I ever held a grudge against because of what he did to me.

Then a death in his family happened and my anger quickly turned to sadness for him. As quickly my love returned and we started spending time together. He explained that his reason for doing what he did was because he was fearful I’d not let him see our son. He even tried to get me to transfer my parenting payment over to him to give him time to get a job. I didn’t.

The court date has been adjourned twice and the orders were that he spend Saturday 5pm till Tuesday 10am. But I don’t get a weekend to spend with my son. I had suggested it because I wanted our son to spend time with our [other] son. However, my new lawyer thinks the orders are ridiculous and they shouldn’t have been ruled for what they have been for 7 months. She will be seeking to do a rotating “roster”.

I’m a good person with a good heart, I just don’t know how to do this, how to be firm in what I want. My son is 17 months and I found out he just puts our son watching tv, movies while he sits and plays games on his phone. He gives my son take-outs, doesn’t take him out or to the park…

My ex is still not working, doesn’t have to pay child support because it’s shared custody. Even if I did get child support I’d just save it for my boy. I have yet to start a group next month for women suffering from domestic violence. I am fearful of the judge – he once took a boy away from his mother because she took off his shoes in a busy shopping centre and cut his toenails. Please tell me your opinions, or advice, I’d really love to hear it please. Sorry for it being so long!

Mona Lisa December 21 2012, 6:00 pm

I’m in shock, depression has filled my life. I was a full time mom, involved in everyway in my little girl’s life. I was told ‘there’s no way they can take your child away your such a great mom’. I sought to relocate, to live with my new husband. My ex tried to prevent this from happening, wanting to keep me within his control. What I was not prepared for, was that a judge, a male judge, would support my ex in court. My vindictive, vengeful ex-husband fought and won. They claim to put the interests of the children first and foremost. They don’t. Separating children from mothers is one of the most terrible crimes someone can commit on little ones, our children will suffer so. We as mothers suffer also, we feel as though our hearts have been ripped out. I lost my baby 1 year ago and am struggling to survive. I’m at a loss. I see her during the holidays. My appeal was denied of course, and the language prevented me from going to the Supreme Court. How do I get my baby back? She misses her mother so and wants to live with me, no one will listen to her :( She’s only 12, and legally has no voice apparently. No matter what the ex does wrong, they ignore it. He neglected to take her to a Dr after 5 days of a high fever. He threatened not to put her on a plane to see her mother 5 times…he once didn’t. Yet, no matter how delinquent he is, it seems fine according to the court. It’s simply unthinkable that our children are growing up without their mothers for no good reason.

Elaine January 14 2013, 1:51 pm

I’m so sorry to hear your pain. Just know that you are not alone. There are many good mothers like you and children who have had to deal with the family court’s dysfunctional system. Find peace and know that you and your daughter will be ok.

KidsNoVoice August 16 2012, 1:01 am

I was lucky that my abusive ex gave me custody of my children 20 years ago, so now they are adults. During their access time they displayed fear of going to their Dad’s. So, in Australia, I followed correct procedure and notified the school, doctors and police, and showed their bruises. And the children told their story. I was told nothing could be done and as per court ordered I had to send the children. Dissatisfied with the response I stopped access and next a letter came in the mail for breaching the Family Law Act. If I didn’t agree to continue access I would lose custody and it would be given to him. We went to a Contact Centre for 6 months, then things were a lot better. They are adults now and have a strained relationship with their dad. I encourage it because he is sick and may only have a few years to go.

Now I am trying to rescue my 4 year old grandson from his abusive mother. She has custody despite being charged at different times for unlicenced driving, unregistered vehicle, drugs, abusive to medical staff, stealing, history of violence and verbal abuse known to police, arrested for court evasion, her witnesses caught lying in court, no permanent home. Plus, as she is a single parent and has free lawyers, legal aid closed her case twice due to her being difficult to deal with.

It’s over 8 months since the orders and she has stopped access as she is now claiming we are pedophiles. And as I am not entitled to free lawyers, like her, it costs me a minimum $1000 each time I turn up at court and it gets adjourned because she doesn’t show. She did not show up 14 times during parenting agreement – and only finally after she was arrested.

My grandson’s lips quivering whilst he tells me his mum tells him he is a c___. He doesn’t understand the word but he knows it’s a bad word and he said he feels sad.

With the lack of Law, the best thing I can do is not give up and show my grandson that not everyone lives in a cruel environment.

It happens both ways … kids need a voice … but not from the mouths of CRUEL parents.

MichelleL July 3 2012, 12:57 am

It’s the greatest joy in life to have a child and the greatest tragedy to have them taken from you.
I’m so glad I found this website too. My heart goes out to all of you.
I know the pain well and the feeling that you are going to die from a broken heart, while your health is deteriorating from the stress and trauma and heartbreak. I live in Australia. I am experiencing this hell. Hell on earth!
The other day I went to the movies by myself (never done that) to see Snow White and Huntsman to give my head a rest from the constant thoughts – thinking, thinking, thinking, and feeling so alone. When I arrived at the theatre I purchased my ticket and some lollies. As I was waiting in the line to go in, I read on the lolly container that it had traces of nuts in it. I thought to myself god I wish I had a nut allergy and I could eat these lollies and just die and go to heaven. I don’t want to die. The pain has been unbearable. I want to open up and write more but I have trained my brain to shut off in some way from talking about it. Hopefully, if I start blogging it can help me do that. I thought I was the only one. Before this happened to me I thought only junkies had their kids taken from them.

Elaine September 9 2012, 11:02 pm

Michelle I feel your pain and am living it now myself fighting for my two beautiful boys.

Louise September 11 2012, 9:27 am

Michelle & Elaine. I am sorry to have read about the troubles you are facing. I am about to go to court in the next couple of weeks. My ex has managed to successfully lie and turn family members against me. All my material possessions except my clothes are all I had left from that relationship. My childhood photographs, my degree and even my teddy from when I was a baby he has destroyed. This is a continuation of the emotional abuse and controllung nature I had to put up with. The only person I can thank for support and helping me through this dreadful period of my life is the Almighty. I have felt his love and support and he has lead me to a church full of genuine kind hearted people and so I have managed to make new friends. Michelle please do not despair. Easier said then done I know. I believe in Christ, and although I do question why do evil men seem to ‘turn anything into gold’ I strongly believe that these people will not benefit later on. What goes around comes around. You may not believe in going to Church. You may not believe in a God but I do and this and the smile of my little girl keeps me going. I pray every day for my sanity. It looks like I’m Bible bashing someone’s got to do it!. I’m trying to say. Have faith, have hope. Get on your knees and pray. I’m in the LDS church now. I have converted and I don’t regret it. I feel I can face my ex in court and look him in the eye and I just hope and pray that God gives my strength on the day.
You are strong. You made the decision to leave. Well done! Your emotionally abusing ex will push away your children and you must stay strong to welcome them with open arms. Write a journal. Write them letters, photo copy them and send them to your children. So in years to come when they come back to you, you will have proof that you didn’t turn your back on them because no doubt letters will get intercepted and not delivered to the addressee.
Stay strong Sisters. You have fought a big battle and won. That was the battle with yourself in weighing up the options on leaving him. You can overcome this. It may take weeks, months, years but do not give up. There is light at the end of the tunnel.

PS January 11 2014, 9:05 pm

Dear Michelle,

I am also in Australia and just about to go through a major custody battle with my ex-partner. I’m completely lost already, and have started to shut down (feel slightly numb and helpless reading all the laws I’m up against). I have no income and my ex is very wealthy and connected. I know that I need to be stronger seeing as this is just the beginning but it’s hard!! If I could talk to you (email) or get any advice from you I would be forever grateful.
Thank you for your story!

Jennifer June 14 2012, 3:41 pm

I have been going through all of these same stories for the last decade too! Each day I learn more and more and I pray for the wisdom and God’s guidance to get my daughter home. We’ve just got to rise above it all and never give up. It’s very very hard but i know I’m not going to let the ex/abuser keep me from doing what’s right. I’ve learned to stay a lot calmer and I have more patience. I still remain focused on my daughter regardless of the outcome of our 10 th time in court and I believe she will see it for what it is very soon. My advice to anyone who is living in this type of hell is to seek support either through a domestic violence center or some type of women’s advocacy program. Don’t get caught up in the ‘ex bashing’ and negative energy. Just try to start doing things that make you feel better. Volunteer at a womens’ shelter and learn as much as possible about this violence against women. And by the way, it doesn’t have to be physical in order for it to be domestic violence. It can be legal, emotional, financial or physical. I’m tired of being a victim in my ex’s games and I’m fighting for my daughter’s future! I think ‘awareness’ is key in order to stop the cycle of abuse and if anyone has more input please let me know on here.

michelle April 28 2012, 6:04 pm

I am so glad that I have come across this website. I thought that I was the only one in this whole world going through my own personal hell. I am the mother of 4 children who were taken from me by my ex husband through an emergency ex parts order after I left him and rented a home. While I drove 3 hours to go pick up the kids from his house I was served with this order and all hell has broke out since. He has lied in court documents..destroyed my credit..and continues to reek havac because I wanted a divorce. I’m paying 1202 dollars a month in child support..bringing home 255 dollars now every two weeks. I can’t afford an attorney and legal aide says I make too much money. I have no visitation and every court motion costs 150. I am so discouraged..desperate and taunted with contempt of court if my payments of support are not made. I wish I had someone to be my voice.. Every day my children suffer thinking I left them and don’t love them. I’m praying for help and asking God to help me before too much damage is done. My email is mlmmccrackin [at] yahoo.com if you have any suggestions. I live in SC.

Barbara Roberts March 6 2012, 1:17 am

Dear hurting ones. I did not lose my child to the abuser, but I know of women who have. There is a group called the Protective Mothers Alliance, they can provide support if nothing else. You can find them on the web.
The sheer fact that almost every comment on this post is from a survivor of domestic abuse is illustrative of how many of us are out there, and how much we yearn for empathy and kindness from others who GET IT.
If any of you are Christians dealing with domestic abuse, you may find some useful stuff on my website and also my blog and Facebook page.

Alison October 28 2011, 12:55 am

Muted by agony…I want to become an advocate as well … I feel drained … the endless txts … I have to turn my phone off sometimes … I haven’t lost her yet but I might next month … me against him and his holier than thou family … the fact that I have another daughter who is nearly 18 and both girls are healthy, happy and loved by everyone who meets them won’t matter … the fact that they are my reason for living won’t matter … I’m so afraid they won’t be the happy children they are today, if I get to the point where I can’t stand upright anymore and be positive for them … because they love me as much as I love them … I just need to make it happen … never give up.

muted by agony August 23 2011, 5:48 pm

I have completed all of my classes to become a paralegal. I am about to start my internship. I want to become an attorney. I want to fight this. I want to bring attention to this problem in my small town. I don’t have custody of my children. My ex husband’s parents are wealthy. My ex husband has a top secret clearance. I am scared but I feel God calling me to do this. I feel like my ex husband is powerful and I am a strong woman but I don’t know where to begin. I can’t talk to anyone because he always finds out. My ex husband is highly intelligent and finds better ways to manipulate things as we go along. I start to reveal him in new ways and he just learns a new trick. What do I do? If I stand up and fight I could lose the small amount of visitation I have. I actually feel as though my mind is going to shatter from the pain yet I have made it this far. Who can I trust? Do I trust? I feel mute from the agony. There are times that I am in conversation with people and I cannot respond to them. My mouth just shuts because I have no answer to their whys. I don’t know why. I can’t explain how I could look and seem normal and not have my kids. Does it seem to anyone else out there that mothers who have lost their children are treated like they belong with the lowest of human life? Like we are the abusers, like we are infected, judged so harshly by anyone who knows, doors closed at the mention of your name… and all the while I am trying to pick myself back up he still abuses me through texts and phone calls and now his wife is joining him. The insults and endless fighting in text messages between us not only takes up my time but my mental strength. My children are starting to feel the effects of all of this. Does anyone know anything at all that could help me?

marie December 26 2011, 10:59 am

Dear muted by agony.
Please keep up your courage. I am not in a similar situation, however I am being emotionally tormented by a husband of 31 years, who has a son who sexually abused my daughter over ten years.
My husband will not discuss it with me and expects me to “forget about it because it happened twenty years ago”.
The family dynamics you talk about are always there for me as well because I feel my daughter has no rights nor do I.
I think you have to keep believing in yourself by getting help from a women’s group who know about abuse you will find support.
I have gained personal strength by reading about abusive men and how they keep control over you even if you have or have lost custody or left.
I am in the process of leaving I am 67 years old and have had many long sleepless nights wondering why.
I hope you keep looking at your own worth and keep strong because there could come a time that it will help you.
I would keep a copy of his text messages and any from his wife especially if there is a pattern of abuse and you keep your responses very objective.
I think he is still controlling you just as he did when you were together and this is a deliberate ploy to weaken you.
Please keep reading about these type of ploys.
The woman I see has warned me about this controlling even after I leave because there will be tactics to keep me in his loop of control. He has threatened to sue for money because we had payouts and he had more so he wants that money back when we sell the house.
She said that if this dispute goes to court it take years to resolve. She said it is his way of keeping his control over me.
So I hope you see this as a total lack of empathy on your ex’s part and he’s out to totally suck up your emotional strength so you do not see the obvious he is out to destroy your mind. I wonder what will happen if you decide to ignore his text messages and only operate on the level of having contact with your children when you can and start separating yourself from powerful controlling ways by ignoring him and his little helper the wife. And I think some day his wife will find herself in your shoes because she has not woken up to the fact that he is the problem not you.
I wish luck and sanity on the side of the hell you have gone through.
Please keep researching how these men manage to play such mind games.
Marie xxx

Sharon April 25 2011, 6:17 am

Lisa, my kids were taken from me ten years ago. They have finally, in the past month, turned 18 and have moved back with me. They were telling me they won’t be talking to their father anymore, and refuse to have any further relationship with him. I know very well the hell you are going through. When it happened to me in 2001 I thought I was totally alone, and that this didn’t happen to anyone but me.

Please give me your email. I don’t have international calling. My email is peacebabies [at] yahoo.com. Anyone else who wants to talk about custody is welcome to email me as well.

Elaine September 9 2012, 10:59 pm

Sharon, I need help. I am afraid the same thing will happen to me. I have been fighting with family court to see my ex husband’s emotional abuse now and it is a losing battle. I feel alone and your post is the first time I am responding to anything I have read on line. Would you be willing to email me or speak to me?

Clare Murphy PhD September 10 2012, 9:06 am

Hi Elaine. Sharon cannot contact you directly as your email address provided to the SpeakOutLoud comment box is not made public. Sharon has already provided her email address in her comment for people to respond. It is peacebabies[at]yahoo.com – just substitute @ for [at]. Clare

Lisa March 29 2011, 11:56 pm

I would love to hear from other women that have or are going through hell in relation to their ex and the fact that the court system in this country is not good. I have had my children taken from me through my ex and am getting beyond desperate. Some of you may call me if you feel the need. My name is Lisa +44-1568 611483

Autism Custody Battles July 26 2010, 4:04 am

Men who threaten to take away the kids are engaging in post separation violence. It is common for batterers to threaten to take children away from the battered woman by proving her to be an unfit mother. For this reason, some lawyers advise women not to tell courts or mediators about child abuse or domestic abuse because, by doing so, they risk losing custody to the alleged abuser!

Misty December 31 2014, 2:42 am

Can you provide more info on this? I am going through a court battle right now with my ex and he is, and has before, thrown the statement “If you do not stop being unreasonable in this, I will have no choice but to take you to court and win physical custody and only provide you with visitation.” in my face. He constantly tells me that I am an unstable parent and he is the only one that provides stability for the kids. I am preparing for court and am trying everything I can to be prepared as he has a lawyer and I do not.

christine January 6 2015, 2:04 pm

I’ve been through hell and back with my ex for the past five years and it’s never going to end. He’s trashed my reputation in the courts I’ve had 8 different attorneys for my case. I’ve come to the conclusion that he will always get his way. My best advice to you is to watch your body language when you go before the judge, and keep the emotions out of the court room. Treat your case as a business transaction. No emotion that’s what fuels the abuser/ manipulator. Concentrate on the state statues, that’s what the judges rule on. I wish I could help you more, but I’m at a loss and still fighting for my rights and beliefs. You have to find a way to beat him at the manipulation game, because once they trash you in the courts you’ll never get your way. I refuse to give up. I’m tired of the psychological abuse, and my ex controlling me through the system. His famous statement is follow the court order, which was forced filed by the court when I was in between attorneys. I’m tired of all the litigation, but I refuse to let him control me. I truly believe money buys everything even the judicial system. I wish you the best, and remember knowledge is power.

Marlene May 20 2010, 3:39 pm

I have had a significant amount of experience writing and teaching community members about domestic violence and continually encounter a difficulty getting people to understand the dynamics and impact of psychological abuse. One way I am dealing with that is giving out a book of poetry I wrote on psychological abuse. It is available free (I have a grant) on my website. You can get to my website by clicking on my name above. If you’d like a hard copy you can contact me through my website.

Leave a Comment