Sanctuary for the Abused

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Dealing With Your Abuser During the Divorce


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!)

for support, information and help with coparenting, the divorce process, custody, child support etc visit:

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shared by Barbara at 12:03 AM



wish I had found this site earlier...

4:48 AM  

"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."...

this is and has been my biggest worry where myself or my kids are concerned and any possible action I might consider again. The system is not ready for the grey areas.

11:26 AM  

Great post. You described both my X spouses exactly. Last year I read that book and it helped me alot understand their sick, sick behavior. I am still guarded although it is final. He was a man who wanted money and that was about it. He lied, cheated, stole, watched porn, knocked things off the wall, ripped out phones and planned to kill me. It's sick. sick. sick. Funny, because they always project their faults on the victim. Will they ever see that they had a huge part in it?

8:44 AM  

Again I ask, what if we had systems set up to check for psychopathy FIRST! Mri's set up to check for psychopathy BEFORE starting a relationship, BEFORE putting an abuser into a therapy program for "anger management" or "issues from his childhood". And once an individual has been diagnosed as having the brain functioning of a psychopath, forewarning the potential partner of the dangers of a relationship with an abuser and the consequences of such a relationship. And if it is only AFTER the fact that an abuser has been diagnosed, taking action to keep the children and ex-partner safe.

See, once you know a person has the brain functioning of a psychopath you realize that this is quite simply, the way that they are. They will ALWAYS be the same way as it is "simply" the way that their brain functions. But we can let the world KNOW about psychopathy through education. And then give the rest of us a chance to protect ourselves and our children and thus preventing another gerneration from horrific, soul-destroying abuse.

Over and over we see slogans like "break the cycle" and "stop abuse before it starts." I can't think of a better way to do this then letting all know about the birth effect of psychopathy. People who have the brain functioning of a psychopath are ALWAYS abusive, and it is a genetic, possibly even chromosonal, so breaking this cycle could truly change the next generation.

11:09 AM  

Jennifer - no they never ever will. Continue to read up on Narcissists. They aren't like us, they are incapable of getting it.

10:55 PM  

These are very helpful to me while I go through divorce. I see similar coincidences in your article that happened to me. At times, I almost lose hope and it seems the tables are being turned on me. Your advice will help me show more confidence in court, knowing that I am the abused. Thank you very much.

10:37 PM  

theres also another group of women your helping with this abuse issue!the womem that use all this information you give to play the legal system bye screaming abuse and useing it to gain a upper hand in divorce cases and in child custody.not every man is abusive and should not have to pay the price for the women who cry wolf!this site is great for the women who are truely being abused but not all use it for what it is truely ment for.

11:22 AM  

Me too.

5:10 AM  

I am about to start the divorce process. I have two babies and he is threatening to take them when we go to court. I dont have any physical evidence of his abuse because he is careful not to leave bruises. Every time i call the police he turns the tables on me because he has scratches and bruises from me defending myself. I got read my rights more than once. I dont know what to do. Any of you ever feel like you may have made a mistake leaving? Will i ever get over this feeling? I felt secure with him. Now I am starting my life all over and i am truly nervous.

7:44 AM  

I cannot seem to get this website to work correctly. (Any Advice)?
I may not be able to even finish this post, I was unable to finish the two previous posts. I was married to what seemed to be the ideal husband, & was very happy, until such time I was in a bad car accident, then gave birth to his child. Nothing
could have ever prepared me for what was coming. After he knew he was in complete control of me, & my life, he became a poster boy for "Siciopathic Personality Disorder, in every way. I was sure that he had a Brian tumor, until he beat the hell out of me, just because he could, in front if our 2 1/2 toddler. (She's 16 now, & remembers every bit of it. Id do anything I found to make her forget, but know it won't happen. His realization that he had complete, total control over me freed him to act in the manner h had been repressing for so long. I was disabled, had no money, & nowhere I could go. The beginning of the end, right there. A week after the beating, without even consciously doing it, I went into the garage, picked up the biggest sledge hammer we had, & went out in front, & smashed every piece of glass out of the windshield of his brand new truck. Whenwas done, as I walked back I to the house,

4:54 AM  

i need help ,, im a mum and i divorced my ex who likes to verberly abuse me by phone and when im seen at the kids school etc now hes married has been for year his wife likes to get on the act to now this has left my young childrean very affaid of leaving me as all they see is me get threathened etc my daughter is 9 for the past few years all she has seen is a war and now my ex and his wife have contuined to send me to court for resdiance etc everyyear last yr they did she had a baby so it made a nice change but this year 23rd dec im due bk in court , now my girls i have two are living in fear on fact things have been happening behind closed doors when they go for there weekend contact my oldest come bk with lice etc and smelling really bad that she needs more than two baths and my other daughter for the past year has been come bk with blood and slime in your underwear ive tried to get a explantion but i get crap down the phone and my other childrean get volently attacked that are in care they do have other childrean and they are in a shamfull state ive rang child services more than enough times and every report says they are fine going to school with moulded tops etc and not wearing his father clothes inst on they are on enough money they hardly work and get boosted by tax credits ,, im living utter hell as i have a mentally ill little boy who is all subjected to crulerty sorry for spelling ,, how can i get them to stop thease madness and hope they will get on with own lives or do i need to let her attack me so much that it could cost me my life as they keep threatening to do so ,, i dont see any other option

8:07 AM  

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