So many survivors are requested to parent with their abusers.
When people say ‘At least you get break’ – no trust me its not a break its exhausting. The worry you feel with your child going after witnessing what that person is capable of round children and even to them Safe parents have to worry about that child when they are there. Will he relapse while they are in his care or lose his temper and threaten them with violence. What was more horrifying to me is that often when these concerns are brought up in family court they aren’t interested neither were the police prior to that. Not only is it a worry that this may happen but if it did happen there is no protection for that child.
On the way to dropping her off my dad who does all the handovers was 5 minutes late. As we sat there waiting, I felt the anxiety rise in my stomach and chest. Panic takes over. I know I will feel this at some point from my ex. All this time we do all the running around all the handovers, pick ups and drop offs. We are never late only once before by two minutes, and it was brought up in a message by him, demanding I never be late again. So, I know I will feel repercussions of this at some point. It will be used as another way to flex control to have a dig at me. My daughter gets out the car and I say goodbye. Once she is out of sight and after fretfully explaining this to my partner who always comes with me. I can’t help but burst out crying. The pressure is sometimes too much. This is how coercive control insidiously remains in your being.
I recently completed my DASH training. It is training used by most women’s charity’s, the police, social services etc. Advocate’s, police, social services and other charity’s use it to determine the risk there is to a victim from the perpetrator. Its an insightful, carefully planned set of questions to evaluate the situation. I am familiar with it and know most the questions already as I have had to answer these same questions regarding my ex every time, I had to call the police and every time he was considered a high risk. I walked away from the course well informed but couldn’t help but feel annoyed. My case was high risk going through the questions myself on the course and understanding it in more depth knowing what the police should have done in a case like mine reinforces my anger towards the system that failed me and my daughter terribly. Coercive control is the most dangerous type of abuse because it is the domination of the other person that then erodes away at every piece of them and stays sometimes forever. Every domestic abuser who kills their victim would have used coercive control even above physical violence. As a society we owe it to all victims/survivors to educate ourselves on this issue and the system owes it to society and victims to do the same to ensure that those who need it are kept safe.
As a survivor I feel a strong duty to speak out about my experiences to make sure my story is heard.
‘Abuse thrives in silence’
After a week spent in the sun on holiday I am reminded how different my life is during this pregnancy compared with the last. Being on holiday has always been a major way to self-care. Giving me a feeling of being free for a while. Until the last night before we must leave, I sleep restlessly knowing I must go back to life parenting with my ex. Knowing that I had told him about the pregnancy a few weeks before and waiting for the punishment to start.
Of course, as expected the repercussions from him began on our return. Barely off the plane he messaged saying he didn’t have work the next day so could he have her. I explained and apologised that he couldn’t as I had plans already for that day. The threats of court proceedings start again with the extra threat of how he will try to get 50/50 custody. An onslaught of messages designed to cause stress and intimidate.
I sit there and cry. This situation can feel hopeless. I moved on with my life and rebuilt it, I met someone who I share a lovely life with my daughter is settled with us and happy. I am now pregnant believing that this time everything will be different. When I was pregnant before and then had a newborn baby, the abuse was at its worst, it felt nightmarish. But I was determined to leave and keep my daughter safe to work hard for more and for better. I made a vow to my daughter that this would not be our life. I still had hope. I kept that vow and escaped and rebuilt a life successfully. But recently I have felt that hope slide away. Here I am all these years down the line still suffering from his control emotional abuse and what has now become very clear resentment, jealousy and using my daughter and the courts to punish me. Punish me for leaving, for moving on, for living.
It’s devastating to me that I can’t escape this fully. I will always be punished by him in this way no matter what. This time he is using the judiciary system as weapon against me.
As a mother you can feel hopeless in this situation. What if I can’t protect her like I promised years ago?
Parenting with someone who has abused you can feel like a life sentence, and it can often leave survivor’s open to further abuse and therefore have a negative effect on the children involved. Its an unnatural set up handing your child over to someone who is abusive, who even the police and courts state have been abusive. Somehow, we must manage this, while wishing we had the freedom to breath.
We have the information out there to be better educated instead the courts choose to use outdated frame work which leaves victims and children in unmanageable situations.
I am just grateful I am not going through it alone. I have people around me to support me not just my partner and family but all the other survivors that have the same experiences who manage to pull through despite all that has been endured and still find it in them to speak out, to show kindness to fellow survivors and to always offer advice.
“Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor. It must be demanded by the oppressed”- Martin Luther King