Sanctuary for the Abused
Saturday, September 24, 2016
Dealing With Your Abuser During the Divorce
Excerpts from: UNDERSTANDING THE BATTERER IN CUSTODY AND VISITATION DISPUTES by R. Lundy Bancroft
An abuser focuses on being charming and persuasive during a custody dispute, with an effect that can be highly misleading to Guardians ad Litem, court mediators, judges, police officers, therapists, family members, and friends. He can be skilled at discussing his hurt feelings and at characterizing the relationship as mutually destructive. He will often admit to some milder acts of violence, such as shoving or throwing things, in order to increase his own credibility and create the impression that the victim is exaggerating. He may discuss errors he has made in the past and emphasize the efforts he is making to change, in order to make his partner seem vindictive and unwilling to let go of the past.
An abuser's desire for control often intensifies as he senses the relationship slipping away from him. He tends to focus on the debt he feels his victim owes him, and his outrage at her growing independence. (This dynamic is often misread as evidence that batterers have an inordinate "fear of abandonment.") He is likely to increase his level of intimidation and manipulation at this point; he may, for example, promise to change while simultaneously frightening his victim, including using threats to take custody of the children legally or by kidnapping.
Excerpt: Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men, Author Lundy Bancroft--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
He is careful not to create the impression he's bad-mouthing her, while subtly planting his poisonous seeds. He might say, for example: "She's telling people now that I was abusive to her, and that really hurts me. It's gotten so I don't want to show my face places 'cause of what she' saying. I'm not keeping any secrets; I'll tell you right out that I did slap her one day, which I know is wrong. She has this thing about saying that my mother is a 'whore' cause she's been divorced twice, and that really gets to me, but I know I should have handled it differently."
When he leaves, her parents find themselves ruminating "Gee, she didn't mention anything about insulting his mother in that incident. That makes it a little different. She can have quite a mouth on her. I've noticed that myself. He shouldn't slap her, but he's obviously feeling guilt about it now. And he's willing to admit that it's partly his fault, while she blames it all on him. She does that in conflict with us sometimes, she doesn't realize it takes two to tango."
The part about the woman calling his mother a degrading name may never have even happened: my clients smoothly make up stories to cover their worst incident. But whether or not he's telling the truth is almost beside the point; he is playing to the societal value, still widely held, that a man's abuse toward a woman is significantly less serious if she has behaved rudely herself.
Abusers increasingly use a tactic I call "preemptive strike," where he accuses the victim of doing all the things that he has done.
When an abused mother does break up the relationship society tends to do an abrupt about-face. Suddenly she hears from court officials and from other people:
“Well, maybe he abused you, but that’s no reason to keep the children away from him. He is their father, after all.”
”Don’t you think your own resentments are clouding your judgement about your children?”
”Don’t you believe that people ever change? Why don’t you give him the benefit of the doubt?” In other words, a women can be punished for exposing children to a man in one situation, but then punished for refusing to expose them to the same man in another situation. And, the second case is potentially even more dangerous than the first, because she is no longer able to keep an eye on what he does with the children or to prevent the post-separation escalation that is so common in abusive fathers.
Batterers naturally strive to turn mediation and GAL processes to their advantage, through the use of various tactics. Perhaps the most common is to adopt the role of a hurt, sensitive man who doesn't understand how things got so bad and just wants to work it all out "for the good of the children." He may cry in front of the mediator or GAL and use language that demonstrates considerable insight into his own feelings. He is likely to be skilled at explaining how other people have turned the victim against him, and how she is denying him access to the children as a form of revenge, "even though she knows full well that I would never do anything to hurt them." He commonly accuses her of having mental health problems, and may state that her family and friends agree with him. The two most common negative characterizations he will use are that she is hysterical and that she is promiscuous. The abuser tends to be comfortable lying, having years of practice, and so can sound believable when making baseless statements. The abuser benefits to the detriment of his children if the court representative fails to look closely at the evidence - or ignores it - because of his charm. He also benefits when professionals believe that they can "just tell" who is lying and who is telling the truth, and so fail to adequately investigate.
Batterers may continue their harassment of the victim for years, through legal channels and other means, causing periodic re-traumatizing of the victim and children and destroying the family's financial position. Motions by abusers for custody or for increases in visitation are common forms of retaliation for things that he is angry about.
Excerpts from: SPLITTING – Protecting Yourself While Divorcing a Borderline or Narcissist by William A. Eddy, Attorney, Mediator and Clinical Social Worker
The best strategy for Targets of their Blame is to take a very Assertive Approach – to quickly provide credible factual information to the court and to try to be as perfect as possible in every way during the court process.
Ideally, all lawyers, judges, mediators and therapists will learn about the dynamics of Borderlines and Narcissists in court cases, and will be able to successfully handle their difficult behavior. However, it may be 5-10 years beore this occurs.
Taped Conversations: Andy made very effective use of taped conversations, phone calls and voice mail messages. This is one of the best ways to show that the Blamer has a different private personality from the public persona he or she is showing in court.
Do not tell others that you have diagnosed a personality disorder in your spouse. You are not qualified to do so, and this escalates resistance to any cooperation whatsoever. You may discuss “possible patterns” with a therapist or evaluator. But let the evaluator make the diagnosis or explain the pattern to the court without giving it a name.
In court, the goal is to make a decision. Once a decision is made, the issue is resolved and the court moves on. Decisions are based on persuasion in the adversary process. The more persuasive party (or their attorney) will prevail, and the least persuasive will lose.
(Remember abusers can be female or male!)
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