Forgive me, DV agencies need to improve

August 8, 2013 _ I am very grateful for the services offered by my local domestic abuse agency and the support I have received, but, um, I think the agency needs to make a dramatic change.

And, I think that most agencies need to do the same _ that is, completely reevaluate the goal, the services and the approach. As I write this, I want the hit the delete key and erase all of this and just accept the services that are provided for free! But, to do so would be to deny the feelings I feel and continue the “just shut up and accept it” mentality that got me into this mess in the first place.

So, I’m going to point out a few things that I see and how we can improve services for the victims of domestic abuse.

  1. Do not hold support groups that are lead by young, unmarried college kids who have never experienced abuse. I sat last night in such a group meeting with four other victims. The leader, a nice enough young women, more or less “taught” us how to set boundaries off a printed sheet that included how we women need to give ourselves 30 minutes to meditate or read and stand up to friends who ask too much. Yep, she is right, but the frozen daze on these women’s faces told me something really important _ these women are suffering big time and lessons in self-care is like trying to cure cancer with aspirin. Our group leader was trying her best, but she doesn’t understand. She doesn’t get what is going on. She set up one more voice in the heads of these women that they need to “do” something to make the abuse stop. Really? Victims are victims are victims. It sucks. The only thing a victim can “do” to make it stop is leave. The only thing a young therapist should be teaching a victim of abuse is that it is OK to leave.
  2. Don’t treat women like second class citizens. I love that my local agency hands out free stuff for women of abuse, but frankly the free bread and hygiene products getting handed out sure make me feel like they see me as a victim of life instead of a victim of abuse. I really appreciate the gift of the bread, but I don’t need bread, I need help in protecting my children from their abusive father. I need help understanding a legal system that doesn’t understand domestic violence. I need help recovering from abuse and how it made me feel. I need help dealing with PTSD. Your loaves of bread, make me feel like you see me as incapable. Wow, did I really write that .. Yes, I did. But frankly, treating domestic abuse victims like they are charity cases just keeps the shame alive.
  3. Create programs that help women navigate their way out beyond the emergency shelter. I was financially beholding to my abuser, unemployed, and so on, but I would never have left him if all I had was a temporary shelter. I left because I figured out how to get out without having to go to a shelter. Why do you think so many women stay? This is the alternative? Community living with strangers in a temporary setup with your kids? Who wants that? I learned how to take a blow from my husband. I had some piece of normalcy with my abuser. And hey, I paid the price and got what I got. I’m not saying the shelter wouldn’t have been better for us, but if your agency is saying it wants to help, then maybe you should think about what really will.

Look, I’m not trying to push aside all that agencies do. I use them after all. But, I am saying that there is a mindset that needs changing. Victims are just that, victims of someone’s criminal abuse. They are not stupid for staying with an abuser. They are hurt. And hurt people need help, but the right kind. They need to process the trauma they have experienced.

They need to know that they are NOT the reason they have been abused. They need to know that they can get through this and find joy on the other side. They need to know that there are people, in this crazy evolving world, who understand.

The do not need lessons in life any more or any less than any of us. Think of it this way, imagine what you would say to a person who lost their leg in a car accident in which they were the passenger. Gee, let me teach you how to drive a car so this won’t happen again.

Umm, may be helpful, but that is not what that victim is thinking about.

It’s time to listen to those who have been through it and understand how much it sucks. And if you want to help, well then, ask a victim, “How can I help you?” or simply say, “I’m here.”

I’ll write more about this because there is so much more to say, including, thank you to all those who help and give to victim agencies.

Accepting my journey, my abuser and who I am

Aug. 4, 2013 _ Today, I’m sitting on my sunny back porch, tapping away on my laptop and enjoying the birds flying around my back yard.

My children are with me, safe and sound. My abuser is no where near me.

I am content today and not afraid and when I am feeling this way, I’m grateful.

I don’t always feel this way.

As you know, my ex-husband and the father of my children is an abuser and likely a narcissist, who has spent years and years lashing out at me in so many horrible ways. The worst experience by far, even worse than being strangled, was a frivolous custody suit he filed against me 5 years after our divorce. I was never so scared as I was in those months during that suit.

I had to imagine a future that sent my innocent boys to live the majority of the time with my abusive ex-husband, who has never done anything solely for the sake of his children unless it also suits his needs, narcissistic supply or was some necessary variable in some fabricated plot he was spinning.

But, all of that is past me now, or I should say FOR now. Who knows when he will strike against me or my children again.

I’ve learned, after 20 some years of life with an abuser, that I don’t control his actions in the slightest and therefore, I never know when he will attack again.

I accept that there is nothing I can do to alter my ex-husband’s choices, though for years I believed that I could. He is who is he is, a very dysfunctional and dangerous man, to himself and others and the best I can do is avoid him at all costs.

I used to try to “get back” my life before abuse and get back on the path I wanted to be on … marriage, grandchildren, growing old together …. yada yada yada.

I know now that my path is different than that. And finally, I’m OK with that.

I am grateful.

My path today includes lawyers, counselors, parenting plans, and careful walks with children who are confused by their family.

My path today includes learning to live well despite having PTSD. My path today includes feeling the feelings I have tried to stuff for so many years.

My path today is more about acceptance than I’ve ever had before.

I am a strong woman who is a survivor and I continue to find the good twisted up on this journey.

God, thank you for my children. Wow, I’m glad they are here. The abuse I took from their father sucked, but is so outweighed by the delight of these kids.

I set out today, with new resolve to work hard on this issue that faces our country. I want to spread the word, with other victims today, that domestic abuse needs to stop.

It starts with legislation that prevents abusers to have custody of their kids and prevents forced contact with victim and abuser. It includes shaming the abuser by his or her peers so that they don’t believe they can get away with it any more.

The path I am on now is one that includes pulling together as many people as I can to help end this horrible crime and put families back together.

Together, we can make a difference. Together our voices matter. Together, we victims of abuse, we survivors, can let others know that domestic abuse should not be tolerated anymore.

 

How to stay discounted when the narcissist falls

Aug. 2, 2013_ For years I have worked to find emotion health, recover from domestic violence and abuse and live with the challenges of parenting with my abuser and narcissist.

It hasn’t been easy, as any of my posts show.

Now, I am moving through another turn of events. My abuser, who has spent the last 20 some years manipulating me in one way or another, has lost his very large, high-paying, status job and he has been deflated for the time being.

And today, I am struggling to stay discounted and emotionally flat about the news. Much to my surprise, it isn’t easy.

I had hoped that news of my abuser’s ups and downs in live would have no effect on my life, because I was so healthy that I would have only a small reaction, if at all, to his news.

Unfortunately, I’ve had more than that. I have decided to write about that which I wish wasn’t true about my feelings.

First, when I heard that my abuser, who has flaunted his “fame” and wealth over me and my children for years and projected a false degree of entitlement, had been fired, I felt a faint sense of relief and anger.

And here, I want to thank and apologize to those who are reading this. Thank you for taking the time to read about my life and I’m sorry for then next few graphs that probably won’t help any of you in your struggles.

But, I am mad as hell and I want to feel it so I’m going to try to write it.

My ex-husband has spent most of his years as a nationally known sports writer using his fortune to harass me with law suits, accusatory emails, undermining actions with our children, involving his wife in our business, hiring teams of lawyers to attack me, and worst of all, fucking with our children’s minds.

My ex told my 18-year-old that he had to go to an expensive, private status college and that he would pay for it. Now, as our child is about to head off to school, my ex is without a job and we have a bill for almost $30,000 that has yet to be paid.

I think he will pay for the first semester, but I doubt he will pay for the second. And that leaves my child twisting in the wind.

I’m mad because I knew this was coming and spoke up to my ex, my child and our parent coordinator about this and wanted a plan B. But, I was demised _ even by the trained parent coordinator.

I’m mad because my child is about to learn a very difficult lesson in life and I can only hope that he comes out OK.

I’m mad because my ex is a terrible father who puts his own need for attention and status ahead of what makes the best sense for our child.

I’m mad because that asshole spent $30,000 on legal fees to sue me for custody and for all that trouble, we ultimately came to a settlement, just the two of us at a table, alone, no lawyers, that gave him two extra nights a MONTH with the kids. Had he not wanted the fight in order to feed his ego, he would have a second semester paid for.

I’m mad at a stupid system that allows a bonehead father to play around with children’s lives for no reason other than to feed his narcissist supply and a legal system’s false sense that it is helping families.

I’m mad because my ex sucks.

I’m also relieved. How? Because my ex has been more focused on his own crisis than me and that he has left me alone. I haven’t gotten the weekly angry emails from him. And I am pretty sure he is leaving my kids alone, too. At least he has left our minor child alone.

As a typical victim of longterm abuse, I think about how this will effect my future. I spend time, maybe too much time, looking ahead and trying to figure out how events could play out so that I’m emotionally, legally, financially prepared.

My prediction here is that two outcomes are most likely: 1. My ex gets another job in a different town, likely far away and leaves or 2. He stays unemployed and stays living 3 miles away from me, but without the means to harass me.

In any case, my ex will likely stop harassing me for at least a while. His actions are likely to flip now, as he tries for sympathy.

But, all of this to say, I am upset because I have spent any time thinking about this, writing about it, talking about it. I hate that I am still connected to the ups and downs of my abusive ex-husband.

Obviously, I still have a ways to go to be healed.

I so want to focus on my own life and not his. I want no contact for real. But, trying to anticipate what he will do next has been a part of my life for so long, it is hard to break.

I am grateful that I have this blog and for Google! I have Googled more than a dozen times in the last few days, how to deal with this. As I read about narcissists, domestic abuse and PTSD, I know that I am not alone and I know that I can get there.

So, as I end, I’m feeling better. I will push away from my laptop and go take a walk and try to think about my life, and what I want to do with my current, if only temporary, freedom from my abuser.

If you think you might be in an abusive relationship …

If you are reading this and your thoughts keep pulling you in one direction _ that something is truly wrong with your relationship beyond your understanding, then please keep reading.

Click here to read the signs of an abusive relationship.

No one wants to believe they are in an abusive relationship. No one wants to face this horrible pain. You might be in denial about the quality and state of your relationship.

I’m writing to you women (and of course male victims) this morning to tell you that you must work to face the truth, your life is at stake.

Here are somethings you might be telling yourself in order to stay in denial and hold out hope that your partner is not an abuser:

  • You love him
  • He is fine most of the time
  • He only gets mad when I get upset with him
  • He only gets physical when I yell at him
  • We have a difficult relationship and it is both of our faults
  • I need him
  • I don’t want to loose our life together
  • He can’t be an abuser …  he doesn’t drink or look the part or is too smart or … fill in the blank
  • If I were ….. fill in the blank … he wouldn’t abuse
  • We need more therapy
  • I need to follow the advice of my friends, pastor, family, my partner, self-help book, or … fill in the the blank
  • He is my children’s father
  • My children need him
  • This is as good as it gets

I ask you to read through my blog and if you can relate to any of it, then you most likely are with an abuser. The hard truth is that you will need to get out of it. There is no way, or magic therapy that will change him or the abuse.

You can’t change yourself, your behavior, your choices or anything that will make him stop abusing you. He is not abusing you because of your choices no matter what he is telling you. He is abusing you because of his choices.

And a person, man or woman, who will abuse another is not a person who understands or wants to give love. And you deserve a shot at finding someone who will really love you and knows how.

Unfortunately, there are many, many people in this world who do not have the capability to love. Capability is different that ability. Ability means that one may acquire the skill with training. Capability means that they have the capacity to learn it. Abusers do not. For a variety of reasons within their own souls, abusers have shut down or never had the capability to love you or anyone.

You have found a person who will hurt you without blinking, even if he is telling you he is sorry. The next time he has a choice to abuse or not to, he will be more likely to abuse. He is addicted to the quick fix of abuse and there is no 12-step treatment for this addition.

You have to ask yourself if you can continue living with this, because the abuse won’t stop, ever.

You have to ask yourself if this is want you signed up for and if not, can you accept this union knowing that you are  very vulnerable within this relationship.

If you are ready to face the truth that leaving is the only way out, then breath. It is going to be OK. Hard, but OK. And you can do this.

You need to focus your energies in getting out safely and setting up your future in the best way available to you.

First, if you are married, call an attorney, a good one who understands domestic abuse. Then call your domestic abuse crisis center, if your community has one. Tell your story to each and listen to their advice.

If you share the same home, secretly begin to collect things that can help you get out. Money, clothes, paperwork, documents, etc. Start to quietly create independence. Enroll in school. Buy a car. Get a job if you can.

Get documentation of the abuse if you can. Keep a diary, hidden of course. Tell a friend about the abuse. This is hard, but it will help you in the future. Tell your family.

Get into therapy and talk about the abuse.

Read a lot about abuse. It will help you understand what is happening and calm your fears that you are alone. You are not. And you are not crazy. Abuse is real, common, and devastating. You are a victim of something as if you were in a car accident or got ill.

Realize that your journey out will take effort, be bumpy and will take time. It is a process to emotional health after living in an abusive relationship, but you can do it and on the other side, it is so much better. And without a doubt, you need help. There are people who can help you. Once you start to tell what is happening, look for people who respond with love, understanding, a compassion. Stay away from those who ask you “why did you stay for so long?” or “maybe you should give it another try.”

If you have children with your abuser, then you must be very careful in what you say and do. And your first step of this process is to seek TRAINED domestic abuse counselors. Your crisis center is the most likely place to find proper help.

Most state courts do not understand domestic abuse and treat it as if it is the result of high conflict in the relationship and therefore, won’t want to take sides. Of course, that is wrong, but it is the way it is in court.

So you must find your inner peace and quiet your mothering instinct to protect your children at all costs. We have all said at one time or another “I would never let my children get hurt by….” Unfortunately, you will not have control over a lot of normal parenting responsibilities if your abuser decides to use the kids as a way to abuse you further.

Simply by filing a custody suit, your abuser has abused you again. The court will inadvertently begin to abuse you by taking matters into their own hands and require that all parenting decisions you make be weighed against laws and rules it imposes. This is unnatural to most mothers and hurtful and traumatic to all victims. But, you will need to accept this so you can find the path and strength to get you and your children through it.

The good news about the court is that it is predictable, unlike your abuser. So the quicker you learn about how family court works, the quicker you will see the pitfalls and avoid them. This is how you can really protect your children.

It is very unfair that you are now parenting with the court, lawyers, judges, parent coordinators, and so on, simply because your partner is an abuser. But, until the family laws change, this is the playing field.

Hang in there and keep moving forward. You are going to be OK and so are you children. I’m sorry for your tears and fears, but you deserve a real shot at a peaceful life. You deserve to live and to used a coined phrase, it gets better.

It really does.

You can recover from abuse, not without scars, but you can find peace and joy again. Please try to get there. You are worth it and you are special just the way you are. My prayers are with you.

Who wants to name their bad relationship “abusive”?

There are thousands of women, and men, out there living a silent hell in horribly abusive relationships, marriages and unions who haven’t let go of the hope for a happy life with their abuser.

These victims don’t want to face the truth about their partners because they don’t want to give up the hope for a loving relationship and for remarkably simple reasons, they believe their abusers are their only chance.

Victims tell themselves a variety of excuses for the abuse that keep them in the relationship. They believe:

  • Their partner has some sort of illness or condition like bi-polar or aneurism that is causing the Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde behavior;
  • They themselves are the cause, by putting high expectations or unreasonable demands on their abuser;
  • That couples counseling will solve the problem;
  • That circumstances are the cause, such as a negative job or difficult childhood;
  • That there is something they can do to heal, fix or make better the relationship/abuser.

And more subconsciously;

  • They are not good enough for better;
  • They are too demanding;
  • They will take any kind of love, no matter how unhealthy or diminished.

The dynamic of abuser and victim is not really complicated but is very misunderstood and is only now being investigated. Here is a great article that sheds light on the dance.

In order for the dance to stop and the dynamic to end, the victim must realize that these are not truths or causes and that the abuser will not change, not without a lot of self-sought help.

Abusers are of course broken human beings who are in their own dance within their thoughts to handle a very deep fear and insecurity. They make the choice to abuse as a way to deal with fear. Victims may see through to the heart of the abuser and have compassion, sympathy, even pity. So, the victim believes that there is something out there that can “cure” those dark and broken feelings within their abuser and they will try to find it.

Victims I know, myself included, decide not to throw away the abuser simply because they abuse. Instead, we held out in the hope that they would and could change.

I spent many years trying to find the trick or answer that would change my ex-husband so that we could have a normal life and raise our children in peace.

I didn’t give up for a very long time, because so much was at stake.

And with each year of failure, my self-esteem, already so damaged, slipped more and more.

My relationship was no where near what I had hoped for and was beginning to believe was impossible no matter what.

I lived in a delusion that controlled nearly every thought I had all because I thought this was my only shot at my dreams and didn’t want to loose it.

I paid a very high price to cling to something that never was. My ex-husband may have been able to fake the part of a husband and partner in love, but he never, not from day one, ever was.

Finally, I began to accept it and the truths about him. That he was completely self-centered and was never going to be a partner. That he would do anything, including hurt me in anyway, to get what he wanted or vend off his deeply inner pain. His fear and desire drove him every minute of his day and there would never be any room for others.

My ex-husband still lives this way, from the bits and pieces of his life that I see through co-parenting. He still abuses me, too, though not physically. I am not a person to him, but no one is. I am a tool that he uses to make himself feel better in the moment.

He doesn’t really care about the future, as much as he cares about himself in the moment.

I left him after 15 years together, 10 years of physical abuse and emotional abuse beyond comprehension. I struggled in disbelieve that anyone could care so little about their wife, mother of their children, another person. I was in shock and denial for a very long time, even after I divorced him.

Finally, I accept the simplicity of the situation: I married an abuser, who likely has a personality disorder that will never be “cured” and I don’t want to spend the rest of my life in that dance. I want peace in my life more than the fantasy of the white picket fence life I had in my head. I want peace in my life more than I want a husband. I want peace in my life even more than I want food on my table.

Finally, I accept that there is nothing I can do for my abusive ex-husband except pray for him and those in his path. And it is best that I stay away from him in every way.

Finally, I accept that there is nothing I did to deserve this fate. I tried to make it work with a man who said he loved me and I gave it a very good try. I did my best, that was the choice I made. Then, I made another one. I couldn’t give anymore of my self to this person who would never give back. I didn’t want to be with someone who was so careless about my vulnerabilities. I longed for something real and better, but it was never going to be with this man.

I accept that leaving is messy and has a lot of hurdles. Unfortunately, the courts in most states don’t understand domestic abuse and so therefore add trauma to the already traumatic situation. Unfortunately, I was a stay-at-home mother, years out of the work force, so I had to make my way through the economic hardships that it caused.

I accept that I have traumatic stress from the years of anxiety he put me through and I need to continue to work with excellent therapy to heal from that and I accept that I have to co-parent with my abuser because the family court says I must.

I accept that our society is learning too slowly about domestic abuse and how it works and damages children, families, and even the fabric of our communities.

And, I accept that I am OK despite all the bad stuff. In fact, I am grateful for the life I have, my children, my friends and my successes. I am grateful to have a journey to travel and I am grateful that I have stopped putting energy into trying to get back on some path I thought I was walking.

If you are reading this and think that you might be in an abusive relationship, please get help. You need it and it will be better. If you are reading this and think you know someone who is being abuse, please reach out to them. It will be very bumpy if you do, but you are saving a life, maybe the lives of children. If you are reading this, and you are a lawmaker, please learn about what really does prevent domestic abuse and bring it to your state legislature.

And if you are reading this, and know an abuser, please help by letting them know you know and you don’t condone it. Abusers abuse because they can and have very little backlash for the choice. When they realize that their avenues of abuse are shutting down, that’s when they stop.

Abusers can be “shamed” into stopping. They can not be “loved” into it. It’s that simple.

What does domestic abuse look like ….

Did you have these men in mind?

Chris Brown, singer

Sean Penn, actor, director, Haiti fund-raiser and advocate

Charlie Sheen, actor

Aaron Hernandez, NFL football player

Sean Connery, actor

Eminem, singer

Roman Polanksi, director,

Woody Allen, director, actor

Ike Turner, singer

Mike Tyson, boxer

Harry Morgan, actor

Glenn Campbell, singer

Tommy Lee, singer

Bobby Brown, singer

O.J. Simpson, football player, actor

Wesley Snipes, actor

Darryl Strawberry, baseball player

Jason Kidd, NBA star

John Daley, golfer

Mel Gibson, actor

Yanni, musician

Floyd Mayweather Jr., boxer

Tommy Mottola, music executive

Pete Doherty, rocker

Chad Johnson, NFL football player

Terrence Howard, actor

Deion Sanders, NFL football player

Dennis Rodman, NBA player

50 cent, singer

Josh Brolin, actor

Gary Busey, actor

Nicolas Cage, actor

Jose Canseco, baseball player

Randy Moss, NFL football player,

Eric Roberts, actor

Micky Rourke, actor

Christian Slator, actor

Rob Morrison, TV News anchor

 

 

 

 

 

What does an abuser look like

July 6, 2013 _ If there is one thing I could do to help victims of domestic abuse, of course it would be to pull them away from the abuse … but, that really wouldn’t prevent further abuse, believe it or not.

Abuse is in the control of the abuser, not the victim or anyone else. But, I have learned from my own experience and others’ that abusers abuse because they can get away with it.

Studies show that most abusers are interested in maintaining control and power over someone for whatever reason that makes sense to them …. usually related to the fears created by a twisted sort of low self-esteem/sense of entitlement. Abusers believe that they are entitled to power all the time, but they suspect that they don’t have power because of some short-coming in their actions. Therefore, they are motivated to get power at any cost, including the sinking to moral and ethical lows such as abuse.

They may know that abuse is “wrong” in the eyes of society, but that conflicts with their deep feeling that they can do anything to gain the upper hand in a relationship and should. So, they only physically abuse those who won’t expose it or who will tolerate it. If an abuser hit their boss, they would not get the upper hand in that relationship. They’d get fired and they know that. If he hits his wife, she is not likely to expose it, because she has a vested interest in maintaining the relationship, especially if there are kids or financial dependency.

Abusers are so driven to maintain power and control over others, that they have many, many tricks to do so. Physical abuse is just one way.

It is so important that we understand abusers in our society because in doing so, we have the best chance of stopping it. Our society has the wrong picture in its head about who are abusers. We seem to think that abusers stand out, are poor, are uneducated, are mean and unhappy all the time, and don’t know that abuse is wrong.

But, the facts don’t support that. Most of the people in my life were shocked beyond belief to learn that my ex-husband was abusing me. He is a successfully, nationally known sports writer who is married, pays (mostly) his child support, is on television, radio, knows famous people and can be charming.

He is like that in public. In private, he is shallow, detached, lacks empathy, is self-centered and self-serving, closed and arrogant on his best days. On his worse, he is so deeply offended that his opinions, desires, wishes are not being completely honored that he will yell, hit, insult, and hate his family member.

This is so horrible and confusing for anyone who wants the intimacy of a family relationship. Family members of an abuser struggle with this behavior. We want something difference from him. Me and my children didn’t want to throw away our husband and father. We just didn’t want to be abused.

Abusers are everywhere and we all just keep trying to keep them in the box where we had them. As a wife, I didn’t want a divorce. I wanted a happy family and couple life … so despite the in-my-face evidence that my husband didn’t want the same thing, I kept forcing the facts into compartments that allowed for my fantasy. I wanted a happy marriage with the father of my children … so I had to find a way to make this work with my abuser. I tried years of therapy, relationship books, couples seminars, anger management, abusers intervention group, and on and on…. Until finally, I realized my fate. I wasn’t going to have a happy marriage with the father of my children and every day I pretended that, I was a day closer to death.

My abuser looked normal to everyone, albeit a bit opinionated. My friends and even some of my family want a fantasy too. They want to be free of conflict. Domestic abuse doesn’t allow for that. Holding an abuser accountable, means that you must force yourself out of the fantasy of peacefully co-existing with this person.

My hope is that abuser will find it harder and harder to get away with abusing. That when an abuser is exposed, that we shun him, charge him, offer painful consequences, call him out and hold him and him alone responsible. Only then, will it stop. Today, unfortunately, an abuser can talk his way out of that responsibility and a lot of people buy it.

My ex-husband’s wife bought his story that he only hit me because I was such a bitch that he was driven to hit me and he is so ashamed. She has a vested interested in him being correct. My children want their dad to be great, so they try to sort through the pain of the truth. It pains me to watch it. Our friends who know want to believe that the person they know who is charming and fun and a great dad and husband, only abused because of some dynamic problem that brought out uncharacteristic behavior.

And most people still believe that domestic abuser are crazed monsters who looks and sounds the part. Hollywood paints the picture of this and we believe it. What a disservice to the victims of real domestic abuse.

 

 

How to co-parent with an abusive, narcissist ex-husband

April 13, 2013 _ If you are reading this, you are most likely trying to figure out how to stay sane and keep your children safe because you are co-parenting with an abusive man.

I know that most of my readers stop by either because they know me, or because they have found me searching for help. I am going to speak to the latter today.

Dear Mothers of children of an abuser, I understand your anxiety. I’ve been there. I have two children with a narcissist abuser and have been trying to co-parent with him post divorce for 8 years. It isn’t fun. In fact, it has been the most difficult experience of my life. Worse than loosing my mother to cancer. Worse than anything I’ve ever been through and it has taken years of therapy, support from friends and family, journaling, courtroom battles, lawyers and so on to get where I am today _ finally finding acceptance and inner peace. You can get there too.

If you want to learn more about my personal story, please read through this blog site, email me or comment. I am happy to help you in anyway I can beyond this site. But today, I’m going to give you some quick tips on how to handle this challenge in your life.

Part I

Understand what you are dealing with. An abusive man will not change, ever. Period. So stop trying to help him, make him, figure him out. You must come to terms with this as quickly as you can. Denial is very dangerous in this dynamic. I know you believe that he has some good in him and that good, if nurtured by you, will come out. It won’t. I have been researching domestic abuse and narcissism for more than a year now and I have yet to find one story about an abuser who has changed their spots and lived happily ever after with their mate. You must let go of this pipe dream, albeit noble.

Letting go of the denial is the first step to grieving the loss of your dreams of a happy family, hope of a better future with your husband and the father of your children. But you must and time is of the essence.  As you begin to accept the truth that you will never be able to control your ex from stopping his horrible behavior toward you or your children. Basically, you can’t. You can set boundaries and involve the authorities on a small scale, but abusers are very good, better than you, can manipulating the system in their favor. So this is a fight you will likely loose.

And that realization leads to anger and depression. But, that too is part of the process of finding inner peace and a better life.

Once you have given your chance to feel all of these feelings, you will be on a much stronger road to recovery. You must allow yourself to cry and shout and basically wonder how you got into this mess. This stage is horrible. Talk to a trusted friend. Watch sad movies that cause you to cry. Listen to sad music. Feel it. It will help in the long run.

You need to get to acceptance as quickly as possible and the only way to get there is through the fire so to speak. Avoiding the pain will do you and your children no good.

Your ex-husband is a dangerous man and you need to be healthy to deal with him and help your children handle their father. Look at it this way, some people have to cope with chronic illness. Some people are born into devastating poverty. There are tragedies abound. I turn to God to cope with this fact. God promised us each a life to live, but not without challenges. He promises to walk with us as we faced those challenges. This is ours. We must walk with an abuser as we raise our children. I have a dear friend who’s child has autism. Another friend who’s child passed away when he was 2. Another friend who’s child has Asberge’s. My nephew has type 1 diabetes. These are all challenges they have had no choice in but have to face. Denial hurts their walk. It doesn’t help. They must accept their circumstance quickly in order to navigate it the best way possible. Our children have an abusive, narcissistic father. The best help you can give them, is to let go of the fantasy that he will change, or that the legal system will change, or that fairness will win out. Your life and your children’s lives matter more than maintaining a fantasy. Get over it and get real.

Part II

Get a great attorney and a wonderful understanding therapist. You need to get as much in the court system as possible. Do not try to be forgiving, kind, noble or understanding of your ex-husband plight. He wants you to believe that he is the victim, not you. Don’t feel guilty. That is your co-dependancy talking. Ignore advice or comments encouraging you to find ways to get along. It is not possible for any length of time. Instead, figure out ways to get as much covered by parenting plans, court order, etc. Don’t settle for anything that makes you feel uncomfortable. Hang in there. You won’t win everything, but fight hard for what you think is right for your children. Think always of them and what will give them the best shot at a normal childhood. But always remember, they will have to deal with the challenges of their father. You won’t be successful in protecting them from that.

With a very, very detailed parenting plan you will be on the road to a peaceful life. Your ex will not likely violate a court order. Or if he does, you will have the court behind you and there are serious consequences to the violation. If he does violate, seek legal help immediately. Don’t hesitate. Remember the first time he hit you? Did you call the police? Mostly likely not and look how that worked out. Learn from the mistakes of our past. Involving the legal system whenever you can will cut down the episodes of violations because most abusers are wimps at heart and don’t want to get in trouble.

Also, you must follow the plan at all times. Do not make “an executive decision” for the sake of your kids. If you do, you will be seen as the problem and the courts will act accordingly. I know this is hard, because who knows their kids better than you. But, you must remember that once the courts are involved in custody of your children, you are not the final say over their upbringing. When this gets you down or angry, then reread Part I! Grieve and move on. Remember, we all have challenges.

Part III

If your ex-husband is a narcissist, like mine, then you need to understand his personality disorder or you may continue to be a victim of it. Abusers will abuse whomever they want. You are not the reason for their abuse, no matter what you have been told. Abusers want to dominate others at all times. They will never learn from their own experience. They will always spin events in their lives so that they are the winner. Read about narcism. Read about the dynamic. Read about your role in the relationship. It will help you know how to react.

I have found that limited contact is the best course. I am not able to eliminate contact with my ex because of court ordered communication. But, I have the “permission” to stay away from him as much as possible. And after years of trying to find a way to “get along” with him, I have finally found it is best to steer clear. I had to mourn a lot over this decision. Early on, I wanted contact so that I could watch over my children while they were with him. Later, I was sad that there was a part of my children’s family lives that didn’t include me. I had to realize that that was part of life. Not fair, but accurate. And the sooner I accepted the truths, the better I and my children would be.

Today, my 18 year old has to deal with his father, not me. The more I let that happen, the better for my son, who needs to learn the skills in dealing with a narcissist. He will have one in his life for as long as my ex is alive. My younger child has to handle it as well. My job for my children is to provide a listening ear and an understanding heart, but not to meddle in their relationship. It is hard, but it is best.

I do whatever I can to remain detached from my ex. Here are a few things I did that you might find helpful:

  • I got a new email address that I use for friends and family. My old email is just for my ex and spam! I check it only every few days or so and only when I’m emotionally ready.
  • I find ways to do exchange of children without seeing my ex. I ask friends or plan for school pickups, etc.
  • If I do have to pick up my children at their father’s house, I get on the phone while I’m in his driveway. I don’t make eye contact and I move as quickly as possible.
  • When my kids are with their dad, I communicate with them directly using their cell phones.
  • I don’t lie about the abuse I experienced when we were married. I share with people when necessary why I don’t want contact with my ex.

If I never have contact with my ex again, I am OK with that and I do think that is best.

Wanted: 50 stories of survival

April 1, 2013_ I’ve decided to write a book about survival. 50 stories of life after abuse from 50 survivors. No joke.

Writing has been my therapy as I live my life forever connected to a narcissistic abuser. I have be able to process here on this blog a lot of the pain and trauma caused by my ex-husband’s actions.

But, this problem of domestic abuse seems to be growing and that troubles me. I also struggle with the hopelessness of domestic abuse and the legal systems around the country that allow it.

So, I’ve decided to collect stories of abuse and survival from others and interview at least 10 lawmakers around the country about domestic abuse and try to figure out why so much of this is still a large problem.

If you would like me to consider your story or you would like to nominate someone else, please comment here. I need the person’s email address. Your comments will remain confidential. I will not publish anyone’s identifying information.

Also, if you know of a lawmaker who you think should be included in this project, please pass the name on.

Let’s work together to begin to understand this horrible issue and finally put an end to the abuse that dominates so many relationships.

If you can help by donating some funds to allow me to do this work, please consider making a contribution by clicking on the bottom at the top of the page.

Thank you.