Co-parenting with an Abuser
Most courts will allow you to request supervised visitations for your children. My abuser happened to be homeless so the only place he had to go with them was a park in the heart of the city I lived in. We had to set up a schedule just like you would have to at a divorce hearing.
I can tell you from experience that this can and probably will lead to more abuse. Make sure you document any instances of abuse or call the police if things get out of hand. At first I would keep my distance while he visited with the kids because my son was scared of his father. I tried to tell the judge this but there are laws that had to be enforced. After a week of me keeping my distance, he tried harder and harder to get me to talk to him. I had to stop taking the kids to him after he had a meltdown in the park in front of about 20 people and my son. I had to have a friend take the kids to visit.
When he realized I had cut myself off from him, he stopped coming to see the kids. As of this writing, he has not had contact with either child in five years. I am grateful because co-parenting with that man would have been extremely difficult. I have talked to many people who have been dragged through the court system over custody and almost all of them feel like giving up the fight because the judge and other court people trigger the same buttons their abuser seemed to be able to push. I lost count of how many times I heard “It was like my abuser was up there grilling me, judging me, and making me feel worthless.”
It may seem like it is nearly impossible to find a lawyer to go to court with you but there are ways to find one who will work with you and I highly recommend seeking one out! I wished I would have back them. A lawyer may help remind the judge just how abusive the relationship was and help get the right visitation your child needs.
Child psychologist are concerned with what is called parental alienation syndrome. This is when a child has thoughts and displays behavior that the custodial parent reinforces against the parent who has been the abuser. Often times the victim of the abuse is so furious and upset about the abuse, she or he may inadvertently turn the children against the parent who was being abusive. Of course, the victim may deliberately turn the child against the abusive parent as a way to punish the abuser for what happened. Unfortunately for children who have lived through a domestic violence relationship do go through this and it is a shame that parents put innocent children through this.
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