Its been a tough time recently, the first trimester of pregnancy is usually the toughest and I have been exhausted and nauseous.
My daughter has been unwell and possibly will need grommets in her ears as she frequently suffers from ear infections and pain on and off. I’m tired as she wakes up the night often and is a restless sleeper. She came down with a viral disease and chickenpox and has had time off nursery. All in one hit! She clings on to me cuddling through the night and in the day wrapping her arms round me for comfort. Of course, also being pregnant so waves of absolute fatigue and nausea roll over me through out the day.
I try and find the energy to let her dad know what is going on as that is the requirement of co-parenting. I had always let him know as soon as she was unwell, but I felt an update was due and that possibly she wouldn’t make contact If she was still unwell. I manage to subdue the twisting I get in my stomach which I get every time I have to message him. Its always fraught with never knowing what response I will get and feel my anxiety flare slightly.
Of course, once again I’m faced with unreasonable messages – he insists on knowing everything immediately (it was 8am and I had told him already she was unwell) I try to explain to him I am keeping him informed as quickly as I can. He carries on though talking persistently about his needs. He never asked if she was ok or if there’s anything he can do just pushing what he’s needs are in this situation. This blatant act of control feels crushing to me putting back in a place where I feel as vulnerable as I did when I was in that abusive relationship with him.
Not long before this he had threatened to take me back to court claiming he would try to push for 50/50 custody. It was not long after Christmas – he had asked if he could see her over the holidays for extra contact. I agreed reluctantly as my daughter struggles at times going to him often stating she is unhappy with overnight visits mostly returning reticent and quiet, a fraction of the little girl she is. The days following will be her disclosing that she doesn’t like it and that daddy says bad thing about her family. Of course, I urge her to go as that is what is expected by the courts. So, I agree offering nearly 50% of the holiday just trying to avoid too much more overnight. But this isn’t good enough and her father seems aggmutated and writes messages of threats of court. I try to defuse the situation by explaining I cannot offer much more, and I understand how he’s feeling etc.
So here I am trying to sooth my abuser from exploding further unsure how he will react if he is not calmed. He did once threaten to stab me in a rage once. I dread sending my daughter and desperately try to keep things calm for her sake as I don’t want him to take anything out on her. Inside I am drowning in fear of ever having to return to court. I burst in to tears and call my partner who offers comfort as always.
I then get a message from her father saying he can’t have her at the set time, and could she come later as he is busy with work. Just as he cancelled 3 days of the contact over Christmas, of course as always, I reply with ‘Of course, no worries’,
After recent events and feeling very unsettled I decided to call Women’s Aid to get my self a support worker. If you can get a good support worker, they can be amazing. They are there to offer support and advise even organise therapy they are great especially if you’re going through the court process even if you have legal representation. If they are knowledgeable enough they will offer great advise and supporting letters.
I speak with a woman on the phone who decides to come in to have a face-to-face meeting. I am allocated a lovely women who automatically validates my concerns and understands every word I’m saying. Such a huge part of recovery for survivors of Domestic Abuse is feeling validated. Society still struggles to support victims in so many ways. I am constantly faced with victim blaming or shaming. Ludicrous questions of “So you didn’t know he was abusive before the abuse started” or “But why did he start abusing you, you must have done something”!!!! There are times I have to really bite my tongue at this level of ignorance.
My newly assigned support worker and I chat about my situation, and she does risk assessments. Sometimes when I speak out loud to another about the past events it hits home how much happened during those darkest moments. She suggests me taking part in a group therapy session called The Recovery Tool Kit. I am happy to sign up. It’s designed to help survivors for the now and how to navigate moving forward and deal with the after math of abuse. I am looking forward to it as I know I need some help with this process. Especially as parenting with someone who is abusive feels like a life sentence. Sometimes it’s exhausting and I envy those who don’t have to do all this. But I carry on because what other choice is there.
Its clear I will need the extra support as threats of court and 50/50 are something that a lot of perpetrators do. It’s a form of post separation abuse. When the abuser can no longer control in the relationship they often weaponise the courts or children. Litigation can become a means to silence, humiliate, control and intimidate. Most perpetrators have a sense of entitlement. You will see and hear it in the way they speak. The focus will always be on them and their wants or needs which makes parenting very difficult.
Getting the right support is vital to help you navigate through these unpredictable waters.
Of you would like more information on where to get help or more support please see below