Tag Archive | abusive men

Parental Alienation – Parental Alienation Stories

In this post, I am going to discuss what Parental Alienation is and how it affected my family. In my personal experience, there have been three separate situations where it exists and in all three stories men did it.

Parental alienation is the process, and the result, of psychological manipulation of a child into showing unwarranted fear, disrespect or hostility towards a parent and/or other family members.

Recently, I have spent hours listening to Amy Baker, Ryan Thomas, and Jennifer Harman discuss in depth about parental alienation. Richard Gardner wrote about this in 1987 and coined the the phrase Parental Alienation Syndrome. He believed that this syndrome was used during divorce by on parent in child custody disputes to the child(ren) against the other parent. In those days, he typically found this to be something that was done by mothers against the fathers. This would make sense, since in early days of divorce; children typically resided with their mothers. However, Amy Baker said that in her research about 75% of the cases were done by the mothers and the other 25% by the fathers.

Gardner also mentions that abuse was not present in his cases. In my situation, verbal and emotional abuse was present in all three situations. I also have strong reasons to suspect sexual abuse may have also occurred. Additionally, all the men I describe below also exhibit Narcissistic behaviors. Plus, I recognize that each of these men are also extremely controlling and emotionally abusive.

Additionally, there were many cases where PAS was legally misused to get custody of the child from mothers who simply had ‘normal parenting’ rules. Anyway, regardless of the criticism attached to this ‘syndrome’. my personal accounts show evidence that it is very much a strategy used to influence children to turn against one parent.

Child of Parental Alienation Syndrome

My first experiences with Parental Alienation Syndrome would have to be my own experiences. My father spent my entire childhood speaking awful things about my mother. In fact, his parents often said horrible things about my mother too. Their primary goal was for me to side with my father or to turn me against my mother for her perceived wrongdoings.

My parents divorced when I was four years old and I began visiting my father twice a year every year from that age forward. During every visit I would hear awful things said about my mother by almost all members of the family. My father called her promiscuous and often said that she was the reason we didn’t have a happy family. He even wrote a poem with cartoon unicorn illustrations telling a story about an unfaithful wife cheating on the husband. This started when I was absolutely too young to even comprehend what he was saying. He often used bible scriptures to justify his comments.

His constantly tearing her down was very hurtful to me as a child. It created so much confusion and I grew into a very angry teenager. Additionally, I was an only child and so there was no one to talk to about this adult business I was hearing. My mother was often not at home because she was a single working mother and dating. So, as you can imagine, leaving an angry teenager alone with very little supervision was a recipe for problems. During those days, I was skipping school, drinking, and hanging out with other troubled teenagers. Then I grew up to marry an abusive man who did the same thing to our daughter.

My father’s comments did two different things. First, they probably created some challenges between my mother and myself. I was very disrespectful and angry. Plus, looking back, I believe most of my rebellious behavior was meant to get attention. That saying that ‘bad attention is better than no attention’ is probably exactly the truth. Another thing, I ended up making many of the same mistakes as my mother throughout my life. So, if my mother were a bad person for those things, then would I be a bad person too?

My aunt discussed how uncomfortable this made her feel when witnessing them doing this to me as a child and my cousins. She told my cousin, “I always liked your mom.” She said she really wanted to make sure my cousin new this about her mother. My aunt definitely believes all of us experienced PAS by our fathers. She also agrees that my grandfather also contributed. My grandfather was extremely controlling towards his wife and children.

My mother told me once that my dad and grandfather drove across several states after their divorce and stole her car. Then they called her up and asked her to meet with them at a restaurant. They told her if she gave back the stocks she had been awarded in the divorce, then they would give her the vehicle back. She said she didn’t know what else to do and gave them back. A decade later, my grand parents were forced filed bankruptcy and so the company was worth nothing today anyway.

Witnessing Parental Alienation

My second experience was witnessing my Uncle turn his kids against his ex-wife. He promised one of my cousins his dream vehicle if he moved in with him. My cousin so badly wanted this vehicle that he agreed to move out of his mothers house to live with this father. My grandfather fully participated in this maneuver and may have helped pay for the vehicle too. In my experiences, Parental Alienation is a family business. So, my Uncle was successful at turning all three of his children against my Aunt. As children, they didn’t dare say anything because he provided a roof over their head and food to eat. So they went along with everything and didn’t visit their mom.

In my experiences, Parental Alienation is a family business.

Now, all my cousins are in the 30s, married with kids of their own. Now, they realize that the problem wasn’t with their mother and that 90% of the problems were because of their father. However, you do not get to make up that lost time they missed with their mother. I spoke to my aunt about this very thing and she said, “I have forgiven their father, but my children have not.” Now his kids have moved away and rarely visit their father. Whenever they visit, they will not stay in his house. It does not seem like the damage of lost time has been repaired with their mother, but they are no longer estranged from her.

Becoming the Targeted Parent

My third experience was dealing with my ex-husband working to manipulate our daughter for all these years. In my daughter’s journal, at the age of 9-10 she wrote all the time about how she couldn’t sleep, her stomach hurt, and her V hurt. I wrote a blog post in 2011 about Journal Entries by my Daughter. V stands for vagina and one pediatrician said to stop using nicknames. I guess if she said that “XXX touched her TT’ may not be as powerful as ‘X touched her vagina.’

My daughter used to complain about her vagina hurting from the age of 4 – 9 and despite our frequent visits to the doctor we were never able to prevent. The first complain happened at the age of 4 and was one year before we divorced. The one common denominator was that every complaint preceded with a visit with her father. All the red flags are present, but we never had an admission from our daughter, and the doctors never discovered medical explanation. My daughter does not remember and there was not medical proof. I have written about this topic over the years.

My ex-husband would continuously put our daughter in the middle of situations or under-mine my authority. Our daughter was subjected to his subtle, but continuous manipulation. This often created confusion for our daughter. Plus, she would become anxious right before a visit with him and then whenever she returned home she was a different child. It would take days before she would start behaving like her normal self. Then we would have to do it all over again the next week.

I never understood exactly what he was telling her. However, I know my ex-husband all too well and his subtle manipulations discussed as ‘helpful suggestions’ from someone who cares. At the age of 5 or 6, I remember her coming home from her father’s house and saying “Mommy, you scared me.” I remember being completely surprised by her comment since it seemed to come out of nowhere. Later on, I asked her “Honey, earlier you said I scared you. What did I do that scared you?” She replied, “I don’t want to talk about it.” To this day, I have no idea what he might have said to her to make her say that.

This blog is full of stories about what my daughter would say or what my ex-husband had told her. The crazy situation where her school was no longer a neutral ground. In one conversation when she was around 16 years old, I told her that I was really sorry she was in the middle of our divorce. She told me that it wasn’t my fault. I agreed, but my response was that I am sure I could have done a better job in my responses. She said that she understood and how hard it was to not feel angry with some people. One year later, she barely speaking with me and we were being sued for custody by my ex-husband of our 17 1/2 year old.

Amy Baker describes the challenges of dealing with teenagers and how they can be difficult all by themselves. How an Alienator can ride on the coattails of those difficult teen years by promising the children more freedom, less rules, or in our case a car. Initially, when my daughter first left, she wouldn’t give me her phone number for months. I wrote about it in my blog post in 2016 titled Parental Alienation Syndrome – Courts Deny It Exists. It was like I had been completely rejected.

Plus, over the past two years, many people have advised me to tell my daughter the truth. However, in almost every one of the articles and videos I have watched, they say the exact opposite. They often advise to listen, love them unconditionally, and ask questions to help them develop critical thinking skills. They say the child really needs this because the alienator is not going to love them without conditions. Another thing Amy Baker said was that you shouldn’t take what the child says personally because they are only repeating what the Alienator told them. We were definitely guilty of taking her attitude and hateful words very personally.

Life After Parental Alienation

So, right now my daughter is still reaching out to me. Over the past few months we have gotten together many times for dinner or met at coffee shops. Often she will sit with me for 2-3 hours at a time. My new approach is to just listen, be supportive, and ask her questions when appropriate. I might say, “Oh, how did that make you feel.” Last week, she said her father told her to pay attention to how boys treat their mom. He told her if they treat their mom bad they would treat you bad. My response was, “Oh, I am not sure I completely agree. Men can often treat their mothers wonderfully and treat wife or girlfriend badly.”

Anyway, I am not going to talk about our past or my experiences with her father. It doesn’t matter. It does, but telling her the truth is not going to help our present situation. She needs more time and life experiences to figure this all out. Plus, she still lives under my ex-husband’s roof and she will have to live by his rules. His rules are controlling and not appropriate for a 19-year-old adult. However, this is something our daughter needs to figure out for herself.

My Parental Alienation Blog Posts in Order

Hopefully this helps someone else going through a similar experience. I would love to hear your thoughts and comments about this topic as well.

Other Resources:

One Way Relationships with an Abuser

Hard to believe it was 9 years ago when I made the difficult decision to get divorced from my verbally abusive husband.  Although there were so many things wrong with the relationships, it was a very difficult decision to make.  My relationship with my ex-husband as very one-sided and I always felt drained with him.

My biggest complaints would have to have been:

  • He was a married man behaving like a bachelor
    • My expectations were that we were a family and would spend more time together
  • He was not much for being a father to our daughter
    • My expectations were that he would contribute and help me raise our daughter
  • He was very emotionally disconnected for my husband
    • My expectations were that we were married and would need to compromise on more decisions
  • He drank too much and too often
    • This became a very big focus for me and I mistakenly believed his drinking was why he was so nasty
  • When he drank he was often very belligerent
    • One of my mistakes was belligerence was because of his drinking rather than the fact he was verbally abusive
  • His mood swings were very extreme and I never knew what to expect
    • This was the ‘walking on eggshells’ times, when I mistakenly believed I could make/prevent him from getting angry
  • He often ignored me as punishment
    • My expectations were that we would talk like adults and work on a solution we could both live with
  • He was extremely lazy
    • It is my belief that he felt he worked and that entitled him to do nothing when he was home
  • He watched sports all the time (no exaggeration here)
    • My expectations were now that we were married, he couldn’t continue watching sports like a single guy could
  • He used our daughter as a weapon
    • Threats to retain custody of our daughter if I left was a method of control to keep me in line

My ex-husband was rarely emotionally connected and it always seemed intimacy made him uncomfortable.    He was often stay out after work and hanging out at bars with his friends or co-workers.  His excuse was always because it was ‘work related’.  However, he had a family and a little daughter and he usually arrived home after she was in bed.

During those years I remember having very strong mixed feelings about his being out.  On one hand it made me feel physically better when he was away from home, like I could breathe.  On the other hand I was left to be a single parent and he was often playing bachelor instead of married man.  I never understood that because when I had my daughter it became easy to sacrifice these things to be a mother and raise her.

There are many times I told friends that I think he was perfectly happy with the way things were back then.  If I had just stopped complaining and been okay with his doing whatever he wanted… we might have made it.  However, being okay with all those things would have been asking myself to simply discard all my personal emotions and feelings.  I guess I really expected him to grow up and start acting like a husband and a father.

Actually, I think most of our fights were about my criticizing that behavior and he did like to be challenged.  Although he never really stated what exactly he wanted or didn’t want.  He just simply did what he wanted to do and I had better have been okay with it.  There were no questions about what would be a healthy compromise to make both of us happy.

Now there were plenty of times when he was home and we would get into fights about his not being home.  Then he would just use that as an excuse to not come home again and stay out drinking with his buddies.  I remember one he said that most of his friends were divorced.   I honestly cannot remember if I responded to statement,  but if there behavior matched my ex-husband’s behavior it wouldn’t be a surprise.

When my ex-husband was home he was usually exhausted or had a hang-over.  So usually it was like being on egg-shells when he was home and realizing if I said anything it would lead to a fight.  I use to believe I could prevent or make him angry.  It took me a long time to realize I had no control over his emotions.

When my daughter was younger she would say, “Daddy isn’t angry, he is just very serious.”   Now that same thing has become a bit of a joke to her because she knows that is not true.  So she sees people on TV who are angry and says they are just really serious.

I just ran into an old friend yesterday who I have not seen for at least 10 years.  It was nice to see her and we exchanged information again.  She had a very healthy marriage and a healthier life than what I had.  I asked her, “What did it look like from your perspective?”  She said, “You always seemed very isolated, and it seemed as though he wanted you that way.”  That was interesting because I think that was exactly what was going on that made it so hard for me to get away from him.

Family History of Abuse

Broken FamilyWell, many things have transpired recently with my father.  It turns out my father was diagnosed with Bi-Polar Disorder many years ago.   In previous posts, Abusive Email Traps, I had listed some of the bizarre interactions I had with my father and how much they reminded me of my abusive ex-husband’s behavior.   When I was married, my ex-husband’s behavior was so unpredictable irrational and he would exhibit extreme mood swings.   There were times I truly questioned if he was possibly Bi-Polar and using drugs and alcohol to self-medicate.

Since October 15th my father has become increasingly harder to have a relationship with.  One moment he is extremely pleasant and then an instant later he is yelling at me about something.  Then he follows by sending some email that contains distortion of the facts an twists the entire conversation around to where it is my fault.   This is the same types of twisted emotional encounters I had with my ex-husband during many conversations or emails I received.

Over the weekend they were able to obtain a court order to force my father to get a medical evaluation which is was so against.   Apparently he spent a great deal of time shouting at my Aunt about the entire situation.  Although, as she listened to his words she realized he was really angry at the doctor, not really at her.   He was just taking his emotions out on her.  I guess my father would not want to display this behavior in front of the doctors.  The doctor called me late Friday night to ask my thoughts about his behavior.  She asked if I was afraid of him, and I had to tell her that I did not want him to come and visit me because I was fearful of my family’s safety.  Especially after all his ‘God will Judge You’ emails that seemed so much like a religious zealot.

My Aunt and I talked on the phone for over 5 hours yesterday about all sorts of things.  One of her comments really gave me a change of mind about my grandmother and her relationship with my grandfather.  See, I had always believed my grandmother had lost herself or was broken to continue to live with my grandfather and tolerate his abuse.  Although, to hear my Aunt describe it sounds quite different than what I had pictured.

Apparently when my Aunt was in her mid-thirties she asked my grandmother why she stayed all those years.  I think my Aunt wanted to know why my grandmother didn’t leave to protect her children.

My grandmother said, ” Things were very different in those days.  There were no women’s shelters at that time.  Besides, where would I go and how would I have been able to support my children.”

“Why would you continue to allow dad to call you ‘stupid’ or all the names he called you?  He was so horrible to you, how could you tolerate that?”  my Aunt replied.

“Look, I graduated in the top 10% of my class.  I knew I wasn’t stupid even if he said I was.  I would just ignore his outbursts and let them roll off my back.” my grandma stated.

Apparently, my great-grandmother had told my grandma that she was welcomed to come visit her, but if she was fighting with her husband not to bother.  During this time the divorce rate was pretty low at only 10-15%.   During these years a women would have to have proof of the cruelty to even have grounds for divorce.   Then if she had proof, she would have to figure out where to go and how to support her children if she had any.

During the late 70’s when my mother wanted a divorce from my father.  She was not working and as a Catholic a divorce was really frowned upon.  However, when things got so bad between my father and mother she finally made the decision to divorce.  She wanted to get as far away from his as possible and moved several states away to live with her mother.

When I was making the decision to get divorced in the early 2000s, I never made the decision lightly.  I took was a stay-at-home mother and was very worried about where I could go and how I would support my daughter.  When things continued to get worse and my ex-husbands behavior became increasingly erratic I finally made the decision to go forward with it.

At that time, he was so difficult to live with I didn’t care if I had to live in my car I was not going to stay with him.  Of course, my attorney filed a ‘no fault’ divorce.  The bad part about this is he could continue to mentally abuse our daughter… although if we are entirely honest about it none of this has to do with our daughter as it has to do with his desire to punish me.  She was always just a pawn in his games.

To be honest, I really wanted to avoid divorce because I had been a child of divorce.  However, living with an abusive man began to take such a toll on my health I am not sure how good of a mother I could have been.  I still worry that my daughter may one day pick an abusive man.

It does seem we have a family history of picking abusive men.  I have told my daughter she really has a choice to make.  I told her about my Aunt and how she purposely picked a man that was completely unlike her father.  My Aunt said my Uncle is very calm and rarely loses his temper.  One thing I realized is my mother never met a man that didn’t treat her badly so I guess she probably couldn’t tell me other types of men even existed.

Awareness… people cannot make another choice without awareness.  How can you know abuse if you are not aware of what is abusive? How can you choose a non-abusive man to marry if you are not aware of what that picture looks like?  How can you choose a different life than what you have always know unless you are aware of what behavior is acceptable or unacceptable?

I remember questioning to myself… What if all men were just like my ex-husband?  What if I left him, met someone else and they were just the same?  Odds are I would have picked the same because I was very familiar with abusive men.  I had always known  men who were abusive and that would have felt ‘normal’ to me.  I was also very aware how many women leave one relationship only to pick someone who is the same, slightly better or even worse.  I really had to work hard on myself because I really did not want to make that same mistake again.

After all… People tend to repeat what they know.

Sources:

 

Abusive Email Traps – Abusive Men

Abusive Email Traps

Watch Out for Abusive Email Traps

So I am having problems with my father again after I made the decision to call him and he blasted me.   You can read one of the first abusive emails from my father. Then good God, okay so he called me again and I pick up the phone.  What is wrong with me?  Now I feel all frustrated and angry.  My father is not going to change, I guess that makes me sad, he is going to continue being weird and impossible to talk to.  Perhaps, I need to find peace within myself should we never talk again.  Making the decision to discontinue the relationship with my father has been something I have been struggling with my whole life.  Over a period of time, I would not call my father, then I would eventually feel guilty and call him.  I guess I worry if he died I would feel bad for the rest of my life.

Abusive Email From My Father

To Me,

If all you want to do every time we communicate is insist on cramming your bitter, unforgiving hatred and judgmentalism down my throat, don’t bother calling or emailing me at all.   If you can act like a mature adult and show some common decency (without constantly interrupting). I will listen to you, but I expect you to listen to me too!.

Very sincerely,

Your Dad

Candid Thoughts

Whatever, I am tired of these conversations with my father.  This one started when he said my Aunt and Uncle said his wife was just using him and I said I agreed.  She has been living in another house for four years and has collected over $50,000 from him in four years.  Although I do not agree with what she is doing I certainly can sympathize with her desire to not deal with him and if he is going to give her a check each month why wouldn’t she take it.  Then I told him, “Okay go back to her and give her all your money, nobody can stop you.”  He didn’t like that response either.  So I asked him, “Dad, what do you want me to say, do you want me to lie and tell you something I do not believe?”  My Aunt said it seems as if he is looking for someone to blame for his failed marriage.   I also asked him if his wife had called him at all and he told me that was none of my business.  My Aunt said she is not returning his calls or emails.

Moving Forward

My goals… I do need to accept is okay if do not talk to my father anymore.  I do not need to feel guilty for not talking to him.  It is not my fault he behaves the way he does.  He has had a temper problem and been rather abusive for most of my life.  We had a few good years of communication recently but it seems like those days are gone.  Maybe this was not the best thing to say but I did say ‘I’ a lot and not one ‘You’.   I need to let him go and this is what I wrote:

Goodbye Dad, I wish you luck.  I forgive you and I am sorry we are unable to get along.

My Name

Then my father sends me this response.

Seriously, My Name, I really do not need your ugly hatred!

Dad

Abusive Father – Abusive Ex-Husband

Wow, this reminds me of emails with my ex-husband.  Where you say something and they respond by twisting it around by saying something that is untrue to make you feel guilty.  My Aunt said he is doing the same things with her and she has gotten to the point she doesn’t want to email him.  I guess he is just really mad right now and trying not to accept his wife does not want to be with him anymore.  It is sad but I will bet he was okay with paying her all that money each month because it kept her attached to him.

Closing Thoughts

My father has always been an abusive man  but he never really took it directly out on me until recently.  It makes me wonder if the same thing will happen with my ex-husband and our daughter.

Accepting Unacceptable Behavior

Okay, so after all the problems I had with my father I decided to give him a call this morning.  In this past post, Abusive and Controlling Email Trap, I explained how my father blew up at me because he believed I was writing a divorce column and advising women to get divorced.  Well as it turns out there was a very Soap Opera like story going on under the surface that he was not being very honest about.

So my father was remarried 8 years ago to a women he had gone to high school with.  She contacted my father at that time, they talked for a few weeks, she went to visit him and they were married 2 weeks later.  Then he packed up and moved to another state to live in her house.

During the first few years I talked to her a few times and I really liked her.  It seemed like they were doing good from what my father was telling me.  Although over the past few years he kept saying she was staying at her parents house and I started thinking that was a bit odd over time.  I wondered why she was never there anymore.  Then when he blew up at me I figured he probably did that to his wife and she left.  Perhaps that is partially the truth but then it sounds like she took advantage after that.

Last Christmas my father had planned on visiting my Aunt and then coming to see us for a few weeks.  After he blew up on me I decided against allowing him to come visit us.   I also avoided his phone calls for quite some time.  However, after a period of cooling off time I decided to contact him again.

In one of our phone conversations he said his wife had moved out four years ago.  I think I simply repeated his statement back to him in surprise.  Then he continued to explain how he was giving her half his income each month.  Apparently she refused to accept any of his phone calls unless she was collecting a check from him.  I told him, “Dad, this kind of sounds like you are divorced but she has the financial support as if you were married.”  I asked if she had any other income and he said she had her retirement pension.  So she was getting her own retirement income, half of his income, not accepting his phone calls, not spending any time with him and living in a separate house.  If this marriage was not working, I suppose this would be an ideal arrangement for his wife.

So I made the recommendation that he should file for separation so he would have a particular amount he was obligated to give her so he could support himself.  Apparently he and my Aunt had a plan and he told me to call her.   He said, “The walls have ears here.”  So I called my Aunt to figure out what in  the world was going on.

So after having a long conversation with my Aunt she filled in all the blanks.  Apparently during their first four years of marriage they wracked up more than $50,000 in debt that was all in my father’s name.  It sounded like he and his wife were just out buying furniture, eating out and shopping.  Turns out she kept all the stuff they bought and he was living in her house which was pretty much a shack.  He was spending the other half of his income paying those debts, some of his living expenses and he couldn’t afford much else.  She was telling him that the money he was giving her was for renting her house.  My Aunt asked me if I had seen the television show Horders before because this was what the house was like.

So my Aunt was able to get my dad to move to his own apartment, down the street from her house but in another state.  While they were packing up his things to move him, his wife showed up with separation papers, this was two days after I recommended my father file for the very same thing.  In the separation papers she requested he continue giving her a large sum of money each month and keep her name on his life insurance.  I guess she wanted to get divorced right away but in their state you have to be separated for a full year before you can file for a divorce.

So he moved and sounded rather happy at first, but now I guess he is having second thoughts.  He believes his wife can change and God would require him to forgive her.   So I just got off the phone with him where he blew up at me again because I disagreed with his belief.  He kept asking me if I was perfect and how can I judge other people.  I told him I was not judging her but simply stating a fact.  I did not say this but she sure seems like a Gold-digger to me.  I did say she was using him.  He used a lot of God to try to get his point across.   I did ask him if he wanted me to lie to him and tell him something he wanted to hear.

Anyway, why I continue to try to talk to my father is beyond me?   I have truly accepted my ex-husband will not change and have really distanced myself from any communication.  However, with my father I continue to try to keep communication open.  For the longest time with my ex-husband I believed his words and not his actions.

His words said he wanted us to have a good marriage and get along… but his actions were that of a bachelor, not coming home to spend time with me and our family and laying on his ass watching football for the entire weekend when he was home.  His words said he loved me very much and wanted me to be happy… but his actions showed that he did not love me and could care less how I felt.  He told me that our daughter and I were the most important people in his life… but his actions said work, football, drinking and himself were the most important things to him.

Now, his words tell our daughter she is the most important person in his life… but again his actions tell her football and tv are the most important things to him.  My father wants to believe people can change.  Sure, they can change, but only if they want to and intend to work very hard at making that happen.  I wanted so desperately to believe that my ex-husband would wake up one day and we would be a happy family.  However, that was just fantasy thinking on my part.  Also, as long as I accepted his unacceptable behavior, he had no reason to do anything different.

Today, I soft of view my ex-husband as a teenager.  He is a 45 year old man who still watches college & pro football all weekend long, hangs out with his friends and just wants to do whatever he wants to do.  He has not changed his behaviors at all since the day I met him.   He lets our daughter do whatever she wants and never tells her no.  She gets what he is doing but of course she take advantage of that.  Not that I approve of this movie at all but this part of the preview clip is almost too true of parents trying to be the ‘good parent’ to their children.  Kinds of reminds me of that movie preview clip from That’s My Boy movie with Adam Sandler and the adult kids says, ”

[from trailer]

Todd: You were basically the worst parent ever!
Donny: I was awesome!
Todd: You let me eat cake and lollipops for breakfast every day!
Donny: That’s what you asked for!
Todd: You’re supposed to say no!
Todd: I didn’t know what I was doing! I was 13,14 years old!
Todd: You know, what I remember is ME having to drive YOU home from the beach that time, because you were too drunk!
Donny: Somebody else’s dad would have had another guy drive home!
Todd: I was eight!
Donny: And you drove like a fucking champ too.

Sorry this post is primarily venting I think.

One of the biggest changes for me was when I finally gained my own self-confidence and self-worth.  Learned how to create Boundaries of what I would and would not accept.  Basically, “You can continue to lay around, watch football, drink with your friends and not come home.  But I am not okay or willing to live like that anymore.”  I had to stop making idle threats and follow through with what I said.  I think I said “I want a divorce” so often it had no impact what-so-ever on him.  At that time, my words “I want a divorce” really meant I want you to hear that I am unhappy and change your behavior.  Obviously, my words had no effect.  So I eventually did get divorced and still he didn’t change.

Verbal Abuse is Worse than Physical Abuse

Verbal AbuseFirst, let me begin by saying that I am not discounting physical abuse at all.  If someone is physically abusive it highly unlikely they are not emotionally & verbally abusive too.  If someone feels it is their right to physically abuse their partner or child they must be manipulative, controlling and use some methods of justification for their ‘reasons’ for physical abuse.

“If he ever hits me, I will be out the door.” I said to myself, but with my own believe of what ‘abuse’ was I was giving him permission to do anything else, including; verbal abuse, sexual abuse, psychological abuse and financial abuse.

Society really paints a picture of abuse as being physical in nature.  Abuse is Verbal, Mental, Sexual, Economical, Emotional as well as Physical.  I also read from a source that abuse can also be Digital and I agree with that too.

  • I cannot recall anyone ever telling me if someone makes you feel like less of a person you know yourself to be, that is abuse!
  • If someone uses words as their weapons to hurt you, that is abuse.
  • If someone uses finances as a way to control you, that is abuse.
  • If your husband is determined to have sex with you even after you say ‘No’, that is rape.
  • If your husband uses your children against you as a weapon, that is abuse!

The problem I have found with verbal abuse was that I did not recognize it was happening.  The damage was internal, causing bruises nobody could see and causing other forms of external physical illness as my only signs of abuse.  All of the symptoms I had could be explained away by doctors as stress, IBS or depression.  I had no idea my physical illnesses were being caused by my relationship with my husband and my toxic home environment.

When my daughter was about 6 months old I took a vacation and my husband decided not to go with me.  I was on vacation for an entire week.   I felt much better during that week than I had in a long time.  When I returned home I began feeling bad again.  So I started thinking I was allergic to something in the house, perhaps it was mold, pollen or dust.  I really did not get it that my husband had created such anxiety in me that his physical presence actually caused reactions in my body.

Three years later I left him and filed for divorce.  I drove to my parents house and the further away I got from him the better I felt.  When my cell phone would ring and I saw that it was him calling my head would start hurting, my chest would tighten up, and my stomach would start to hurt.  At one point I remember my chest releasing for the first time in years and I could finally breathe a true deep breath.  I had no idea how tight my chest had been for so long.  I use to have difficulty breathing and I felt like someone was sitting my chest and this was anxiety.

I remember my chest releasing for the first time in years and I could finally breathe a true deep breath.  I had been dealing with chronic anxiety and did not know it.

After a couple months separation I decided to give him one last chance.  Thankfully I am still here to this day because when you are dealing with abusers I truly believe it is not a matter if they will hit you, but when they will hit you.  In fact, studies say that women often make decisions to go back to their abuser based on what has not happened.  There are awful stories about women returning to their abusers for the last time and they are murdered.  They say it takes women an average of 7 times to leave your abuser, before they finally leave for good.  I think that is about the number of times I left my ex-husband while we were dating and married.

While I was married to my abuser I could not understand why other women stayed.  I really wanted our marriage to work, I did not want to get divorced, I was worried if I could financially support my child and I was afraid to leave my ex-husband.  The truth is my abusive ex-husband is far worse in his behavior to me now than he was when we were married.  The good thing is I do not have to live with him every day and I feel safe in my home.

My ex-husband is not allowed to come into my house ever.  That is the rule because I have a right to feel safe in my own home.  The first year I left him I was afraid.  I remember keeping the doors locked, blinds closed, garage closed and I was so afraid of him.  Then I began to find myself again and my personal strength.  I could not control if he wanted to kill me when I walked outside my house.  I had to start living my life.

I believe part of the reason he continues to abuse me (often through our child) is because he wants to see me suffer.  My best guess is he can’t stand that I am doing okay without him, that I am happier without him and that I don’t want to have any sort of relationship with him.  He is no longer in control of me or my life and I know that is killing him.  He is remarried and should be focusing on his wife and yet he continues to commit ‘Separation Abuse’ by obsessing about me and constantly pumping our child for the information.

Sources:

Manipulation of the Children – Abusive Fathers

Manipulating our Daughter

I think I am getting better at not reacting so quickly.  It seems crazy to me that we have been divorced for over 7 years and he still carries on like he does.  Throughout the entire school year he seemed to be rather quiet.  We found a lot of peace in that.

Recently my husband and I noticed my daughter was not acting like herself.  She was at her father’s house for a week and a half during Spring break.  We noticed she was texting on her phone constantly and mentioned a few times it was her father.  My husband decided to look at her phone to see what conversations were taking place and noticed she had deleted all her texts.  I do not blame him for looking and in light of all that was taking place I am glad he did.

When I checked our history on our cell phone carrier it turns out she was sending over 1700 text messages each month.  Just last year she rarely turned her phone on and clearly figured out texting very quickly.  At least 300 of the messages were between my ex-husband and her.  All these text messages had taken place in four days from early in the morning until right before she went to bed.

I showed my daughter the number of text messages she was sending and we discussed that 1700 was very excessive.  So she and I came up with a 200 text message limit per month which gave her probably less than 100 she could send with incoming texts factored in.

She told us that her dad, step-mother, grandmother and aunt have been telling her for the past few months when she turns 13 she can choose where she wants to live.  It sounds like they have been harassing her pretty good about this for a few months.  Plus they probably combined it with the ‘Disneyland’ visitation whenever she was there.  So my husband and I told her she did not have to worry about it because that law went away.

You do not get to choose where you want to live when you turn 13, so you do not have anything to worry about.

First of all, the law that allowed children at the age of 12 to choose where they wanted to live went away years ago.  Apparently it was putting children in the middle of litigation all the time being pulled from one or both parents.  Her father has really made his household one of ‘no rules’ what-so-ever.  So that might seem like an excellent idea to a 13 year old to do whatever you want with no consequences.

I sent a message to my ex-husband telling him she had gotten the idea that she could pick where she wanted to live and wanted it to remain exactly the same.  My attorney recommended I mention that in the email for his family to stop harassing her.

Good Afternoon,

I hope you are doing well.

Recently, our daughter was under the assumption that she gets to choose where she wants to live at age 13.  She has told me she wanted things to stay exactly as they are.  However, I have informed her that the law that allowed children to decide where they wanted to live at age 12 went away a long time ago.  I know she feels peace knowing that fact.

I asked her where she heard that and she told me you, your wife, grandma & aunt keep telling her that.  So I thought you might want to know the information is incorrect as well.

Thank you for all your support, have a great day!

His confrontation came through another path a few days later with his summer visitation request:

I will have our daughter for summer visitation on June 29th and returning her on July 13th.  I will also be picking her up on July 27th and returning her on August 10th.  Please note that we will be doing some traveling this year so that may or may not affect your decision to pick your weekend during these dates.  As I am sure you are aware if we are out of town during that weekend you will have to pick her up and drop her off where we are at.

Every year he tries to make this difficult.  He has even sent me emails telling him I cannot select my weekend (which is in the decree) after he has already picked his summer visitation.  So I sent my reply:

Good Afternoon,

Please tell me which weekend you will be traveling so we can schedule accordingly.  If you do not have plans at this point I will let you know which weekend now so you can schedule your travel around that time.

Thank you for the notice.

He replies:

I’m not scheduling my summer visitation around you so pick your weekend.

This is getting ridiculous, so I reply:

Good Evening ,

I would like July 6th -8th  or August 3rd -5th.  Please let me know which one works better with your travel plans.

Thanks,

He replies with this, stating he is ‘not trying to make this complicated’… um yeah…

I’m not trying to make this complicated but its way to early to plan the details for our trips and I can’t pick a weekend for you so choose one.

So I decided I am not going to keep dragging this on and it is clear he is being difficult.  Plus our daughter is visiting with him during this time and I do not see any reason to carrying on while she is there.  Besides I have two weeks to give him my answer, my reply:

Good Morning,

Why don’t we table this issue for another time.  Enjoy your weekend with our daughter while she is there.

Amazing how he tries to drag on conversations like he does.

 

I would rather be Healthy than Normal – Abuse Recovery

Communication with Abusers

One thing I have learned over the years is any amount of communication I have with my abusive ex-husband just keeps him going.  I also learned that everything I say to him comes back to bite our daughter.  We have been divorced for 7 years now and you would truly think my abusive ex  would have gotten over some of his bitterness.

Seriously, why is he mad anyway.  In fact if anyone should be angry still it should be me.  While I was married he did more cheating, spending all our money, getting DUIs, not helping raise our children and more….

Cookie Dough Incident (lol, does that sound silly or what?)

So our daughter came home this weekend and she said her father would not buy any cookie dough from her ever again because last year I gave his cookie dough away.  Do you think he holds grudges? The true story is my step-daughter did not realize it was his cookie dough and gave it to her grandma (who baked them).  So I gave him a check to return the money they paid and I made him a batch of cookies from scratch to make up for our error.  The truth is I had completely forgotten all of this happened last year until my daughter reminded me.  So I said, “He isn’t buying cookie dough from you because of an accident that happened a year ago and wasn’t your fault?”  Anyway, what a dumb thing to go on about.  Plus, he is just punishing our daughter for something she did not do.

Joys of Co-Parenting with Abusive Men

You would think after all this time I would no longer be surprised that he acts like that.  He is a controlling, abusive and entitled man what would I expect?  My twelve year old daughter says, “it is what it is.”  She has already accepted that he is like he is and although I know she dislikes it she also repeats what my husband says to her, “If i said something, he wouldn’t hear me anyway.”  Smart girl!  Just maybe she knows enough not to pick an abusive man to marry some day.

I have repeatedly told her she should love her dad, but she should also understand him and how he behaves sometimes is not acceptable behavior.  I told her she should pay attention to how her father treats his wife and how my husband treats me.   I am so grateful she has a better example of what a ‘real’ pretty healthy man acts like.  I never had that growing up and picked a really unhealthy men and relationship.  I doubt I would have know what a healthy relationship looked like 15 years ago.

Normal Person vs. a Healthy Person

I use to say, “I just want to be normal.”  Then I realized what I knew was normal to me once.  So I changed my words to say, “I want to be healthy.”  I knew there was a big difference between normal and healthy.  I also knew I couldn’t have been healthy and picking relationships like that.  Healthy people just do not run around picking bad relationships like I was.  I believe a healthy person has a better idea of who they are and their personal self worth… and I’d like to believe a healthy person would leave a relationship like that rather quickly. Does this sound more healthy? I think so.

As I said before I left him many times because he was not treating me right, but I kept going back.  I can honestly tell you I would rather have been with him unhappy then alone and miserable.  Just before I met my current husband I would rather have been happy and alone than in any dysfunctional relationship.

 

Abusive Men – Why Does He Do That?

Okay so I have been reading a very captivating book called ‘Why Does He Do That’ written by Lundy Bancroft.   It is not the most current book, but I will say it is extremely relevant.  This book is very well written as it gets inside the minds of these abusive men.  At many times throughout reading this book I will find myself both disturbed and relieved at the same time.  I am disturbed because I can see so much of my life written in every chapter in this book.  I am relieved because so many of my experiences are exactly what I thought they were… unacceptable behavior!

He really blows all the misconceptions and excuses, this book shows psychological abuse for what it is.  I use to believe because my ex-husband grew up with a controlling and abusive mother made him the person he is today.  However after reading this book I have such a completely different view.   I will no longer accept that my ex-husband’s abusive, controlling and manipulative behavior is because of… his controlling abusive mother, his big ego combined with a low self esteem, his possibly bi-polar metal illness, his drinking or even his temper he cannot control.   No, it is quite simply a man who desires control, gets angry, and manipulates situations and people to remain in control.

As Bancroft points out, if it were really about him being out of control, why is he able to control himself when he has an audience or after I have called the police on him.  At that point he is able to maintain his composure perfectly and act as if I am the one out of control.  If it were mental illness, as I use to believe, why is he able to sit there and stay perfectly calm why he points out that I am the one who is carrying on or making a scene.  Never-mind the fact that the entire reason I was so boiling over is from years of his not helping with our child, staying out and rarely coming home at a decent hour, his unwillingness to consider my feelings, his constant put downs and his unwanted sexual advances when he was drunk and I was trying to sleep.  I did eventually learn not to boil over because I knew that was exactly what he wanted me to do which would help him make me feel crazy.  The real issue was not even any of the issues I spoke above, the bigger issue is that he never treated me like a human being.

I remember when I met my ex-husband, more than 15 years ago, and I thought he was so handsome and wondered why he picked me.   That was one of my biggest problems is I somehow believed I deserved whatever I got.  Over the next decade I eventually wondered why in the world I picked him.  I also realized that he was never going to be the man I wanted to spend my life with, I realized for him to become that person would require that he changed completely… which made me realize it was impossible unless I found a completely new man.

He was always able to be nice to his mother, his sister, his co-workers, his friend’s wives and almost any stranger we came in contact with.  Yet behind closed doors he would become this very dark person.  As long as I kept my mouth shut and never complained, he was happy.  If I didn’t complain that he was never home, or why we were constantly bouncing checks, that he rarely came home when he said, or when he did he was drunk, that he did not sleep in the same bedroom with me, and that he would constantly put me down because I did not have a college degree… life would have been fine.  Actually, life was set up pretty well for him.  He had a wife to take care of our child, clean the house, cook the dinner, go shopping, run most of the errands, often do the yard and would be the body he would make sexual advances on in a completely degrading way and never bothered to please me once.  Why would he complain about something like that, what a great set-up that must have been.

During the time I felt like my life was draining away, my physical illnesses were growing, my energy depleted, my anger constantly growing, my constant state of fear, my constantly feeling like I was trapped and had no choices.  All the very same things that kept me feeling so stuck were eventually the same things that helped me regain my personal strength to get away.  Everything he said I could never do I have done.  I have accomplished the very things he said I could never do.

I have a successful job, a wonderful daughter, my own business, a devoted husband, we live in a great neighborhood and I have people who support me.  I did not have to have a college decree to build my own business, get approved for my own house, work from my home as a single parent, and regain my physical health along with my mental health.  I was able to survive without him and he was not able to get custody of our child.  As much as he has tried to turn her, I have been able to counter with tools to help her learn.

I rarely ramble on like this today because I really believe these things and I am no longer trying to convince myself his truth is not so.  I am just hear to challenge whatever you have heard that may be false.  All those comment false myths women think about men, ones I would frequently here…

Said by others…

* Oh that is just men being men, they are all the same (not true)
* Marriages just require work, that is all (yes but not to the point of draining)

Said by him…

* You will never be able to get a good job and survive without me (not true)
* Everyone has problems, you don’t know what goes on behind closed doors (somewhat true but very distorted)
* My co-worker just got divorced at work and he got custody of the kids (it could happen but not that often)
* You need a degree, without a degree , no one will hire you (not true)
* I am talking to my attorney because he is clear our child should be in my custody (still hasn’t happened)
* You can’t believe what those people say at church, they are full of religious freaks (not true, most of the time)

There is probably more I just can’t think of off hand.  What I do know is I am a abuse survivor and I have the strength to make it through anything.

There were so many red flags along the way that might have given me some insight into the abusive man he truly was.  The biggest reason I could not see those things is because of my own insecurity and low self worth.  I knew early on that he was not treating me the way he should have been treating me, and I broke up with him often, but he would come back and make promises and I would go back.  Sometimes I think that the reason I went back is because he wouldn’t go away, he would harass me constantly, knocking at my door and calling me obsessively.  None of that is okay.  Today, he is really the same man I met so long ago.

Now he is just 50lbs heavier, not in good shape anymore, angry all the time and just not that impressive of a person at all.  He is the same person though, I really can’t see anything different in him.  His irrational behavior still bothers my rational mind even today.  Not so sure why I bother questioning the strange things he does anymore.  He still gives me quite a challenge with our daughter but she is older now and I think she can see who he is even if she isn’t ready to accept that just yet.

Abusive Ex-Husband Give Our 12 Year Old Some Alcohol

I have learned to be strong every year and I can truly thank my abusive ex-husband for that gift.   It is quite frustrating often the inappropriate and abusive parenting things he does and he somehow manages to stay just inside the boundaries of the law so that nothing can be done.

This weekend I found out he gave our 12 year old daughter a taste of beer.  I personally have a huge problem with that as I can’t see any good reason to give a child of that age alcohol of any kind.  She said he put a straw into his beer and gave her some.  She said she was quite surprised by it and didn’t know what to do.  She also said she made a face and he said “There is your lesson” but that she did not know what the lesson was.

Of course my husband and I were puzzled and tried to figure out what he could have possibly been thinking or what lesson he was trying to get at.  My husband commented, “Is the lesson to increase her tolerance?”  I said maybe he wanted it to taste bad, however he is sitting there drinking beers in front of her.  So it is what, beer tastes bad which is why I am sitting here having several? Why we try to rationalize what an abusive alcoholic does while parenting is beyond me.  There just is no good explanation for an abusive alcoholic man’s behavior.  I am thinking it shows how impaired or distorted his thinking is.

Worse, there is really nothing I can do about him giving her alcohol.   In fact, in my State it is legal for the parent to give  child alcohol, provided they do not get intoxicated, drive a car, or get in trouble.  The only action I can take is to modify our decree to include something about him not being allowed to serve her alcohol.  I guess I should extend that to drugs and whatever other possibility I can think up.

You know I have had conversations with her about kids or friends possibly offering her drugs one day and how she is going to have to be strong and just say no.   Never really occurred to me that her own father would give her beer.  Of course, by now, I really shouldn’t be shocked about anything he does that puts our child in bad situations.

My ex-husband is controlling, manipulative and his actions often show he really doesn’t care about our child.  His actions prove time and time again that she is just a pawn in his bizarre controlling games.  He is constantly putting our child in the middle of adult business, manipulating her and trying to assert his control through our child.  The courts do not want to get involved with parenting and it is disturbing that you cannot protect children from verbal and emotional abuse.

I do have our daughter seeing a abuse counselor and we are consistently working on building her up so she will be able to find her voice.  My abusive ex-husband has so much power of her right now.  She really has been unable to say no to him for even the smallest things.  Although, she has a great deal of knowledge of what she is in the middle of, understands many of the tools it would take to deal with him, she hasn’t quite found the strength to stand up to him.

I went through the same thing when I was a child.  It was not until I was 16 that I decided I no longer wanted to visit my dad and flat out refused to go see him.  It wasn’t until I was 22 that I really yelled at him for his constant negative comments about my mother.  It wasn’t until I was 26 until it really hit me on exactly why I picked the husband I did.  It wasn’t until I was in my 30s that I poured this all out on my father and actually received a very sincere apology.  He also continues to make amends to this day.

Someday I hope she will find her voice and I pray she will not pick an abusive man like her father.