I can't protect the kids from him

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Whiteheron

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I can't protect the kids from him
« on: August 08, 2019, 09:09:33 AM »
We are entering a(nother) crisis here. DS's T said urgent action needs to be taken as stbx has continued to ask more of DS than he is physically capable, resulting in injuries to DS. It came out in a T session that DS is terrified to say no to his dad. T called me in after the session and told me that I need to get the word to stbx that his behavior is highly inappropriate and needs to stop.  She asked me what I can do. Mind went blank. I can't text him and tell him to stop - that would only make it worse. I suggested I could get word to stbx in a circular way through the lawyers, she agreed that might work. I told her I didn't know what avenues I could take - she said calling CPS would be useless because DS isn't being physically abused and that emotional abuse is impossible to prove, but that something needs to be done because DS is getting close to being in crisis again.

I suggested DS might talk openly to the GAL, which he's been reluctant to do in the past. DS actually agreed to open up to her this time. DS's T says this needs to happen before the kids' next long weekend with stbx. T is extremely concerned, I also brought up that if DS was feeling uncomfortable or being asked to do something he shouldn't be doing that he was old enough (15) and could call me and I would come get him. T agreed that was a good option. DS looked skeptical. T suggested to him that I could also pick his sister up at the same time, so that he wouldn't be leaving DD alone with an angry dad. But DS is terrified of making his dad angry. Any mention of me in stbx's house brings on the anger. So T suggested DS call 911. I supported this and told him the police would be more than happy to help if he needed it or didn't feel safe. I also offered to call the local police station ahead of time to give them a heads up. DS doesn't want me to because if his dad found out...

DS is so upset and says he's screwed no matter what. He sees no way out. He says even if he runs out of his dad's house, his dad could catch him before help arrives, and that there are no neighbors he could turn to for help (neighbors are very far away). I feel horrible. My son needs my help, and I can't help him. I left a message with the GAL and sent a long email to my L. I don't know what else I can do. This is horrible. I never imagined my son would be told calling the police on his dad would be one of his only options. I hate that I can't protect my kids from this man. I never in a million years imagined I would be in this place.
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athene1399

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Re: I can't protect the kids from him
« Reply #1 on: August 08, 2019, 09:34:57 AM »
OMG, WH. I am so sorry! This sounds just terrible.

I think you guys have a good plan for now. It addresses what to do if their imminent safety is at risk. I would maybe add taking DS to the doctor to assess the physical injuries and having the doctor write a note that excuses DS from helping stbx around the house for X amount of time so he can heal. Stbx may not listen, but you will just be adding to your evidence at the very least. A long term option could be trying to get more time with the kids by changing the current agreement. Maybe tell DS that for this to happen, he has to speak with the GAL. I would let the GAL know about stbx diagnosing the kids too. I think it should add to the evidence that emotional abuse is going on (Munchhausen's by proxy is child abuse).

Maybe if DS can't run, is there a good place he can hide until help arrives? Maybe try to come up with an exit strategy with him. Is there a friend who lives close he can call? Can he and DD leave without stbx knowing and then call the police once they are already safe? I know he feels stuck, but maybe open up to him that you feel the same way and together you will come up with a better solution and will make it through this. He needs to not feel alone IMO. If he feels supported by you and maybe DD that should hopefully help.

If the kids are that terrified of dad, I would hope the GAL can do a temporary order where they stay with you.  :bighug:

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Stepping lightly

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Re: I can't protect the kids from him
« Reply #2 on: August 08, 2019, 01:38:04 PM »
oh WH- my heart is breaking for you guys.  We too are faced with the impossible choices of not being able to protect a child that is begging for it.

He absolutely needs to talk to the GAL- that is his best option for getting something put in place.  We talk to DSS about this all the time, he is desperately afraid of ratting on BM and getting caught, I don't blame him.  Based on the past, even if he rats, nobody  can/will protect him, and he's exposed.  We are helpless to do anything, and he knows it.  It's horrendous!  But their only chance is to "speak truth to power".  I think the T should still report it to CPS so it is documented, even if it doesn't result in current action.  You need those reports..and if they build up...someone will need to pay attention.

A letter from the lawyers regarding the noted physical injuries would be good too- if you can get the doctor to document them for you.  As Athene mentioned, a note about DS' physical limits due to the injuries would be gold too.  Then, if he still forces the activities- you have a real leg to stand on.

Is there a court action considered?  That may help DS feel free to speak to the GAL if he knew a change could be imminent.


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Poison Ivy

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Re: I can't protect the kids from him
« Reply #3 on: August 08, 2019, 06:01:24 PM »
I'm sorry about this situation.  I'm also concerned about the therapist's refusal to report to CPS.  The therapist is probably a mandatory reporter of child abuse.  Here's a discussion (obviously, general) from Wikipedia about criteria for mandatory reporting.  Note that reporters are encouraged "not to wait for absolute proof."

Excerpt starts here:
There are four major categories of child abuse: neglect, physical abuse, psychological or emotional abuse, and sexual abuse. Neglect may include abandonment, denial of proper care and attention physically, emotionally, or morally, or living under conditions, circumstances or associations injurious to well-being. Typically, minimum requirements for what must be reported include:

A description of how the reporter learned of the injuries or neglect and of any actions taken to assist
Information on previous injuries, assaults, neglect or financial abuses (if known)
The date, time, nature, and extent of the abuse or neglect (if known)
The date of the report
The perpetrator's name, address, and relationship to the (possible) victim (if known)
The reporter's name, agency, position, address, telephone number, and signature.
Typically, reporters are encouraged to report their suspicions and not to investigate or wait for absolute proof, which can lead to further harm directed at the suspected victim, and allow for perpetrators to prepare their defence through intimidation. The investigation of the abuse is then left to professionals. Some jurisdictions allow clear protections for reports made in good faith, protecting the disclosure of the reporter's name. Innocence should be presumed unless and until evidence establishing guilt is obtained and it must be remembered that only suspicions are being reported

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athene1399

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Re: I can't protect the kids from him
« Reply #4 on: August 09, 2019, 09:00:35 AM »
I understand your point, Poison Ivy, but I'm a mandated reporter and the training I had to take for the state focused on injuries that show possible physical abuse. I know what emotional abuse is, but they didn't show what signs of that would be in the training. I personally think more attention needs to be given to emotional abuse as it is just as big a problem as physical. But it sounds like this emotional abuse led to physical injuries, so...IMO that should be more concrete evidence there's a problem here.  And as you said, it is not the reporter's job to confirm the abuse, just to report it. However, if this T isn't comfortable reporting this, I would hope she/he would at least write a letter to WH's L to use as evidence stating that the T feels that emotional abuse is occurring.

On the other hand, we tried to show Munchhausen's by proxy and our GAL tried to collect the evidence from the doctors and all she got was "BM just likes to argue with the doctors about the diagnoses or lack of diagnoses." So we couldn't prove a thing (also, it was mild. It wasn't like BM was giving SD drugs to look sick, but still. it's just as emotionally damaging IMO). That's the frustrating part. You know it's going on and sometimes have to think outside the box, or play the long game to get results.

But the best things you can do is support your kids emotionally (you are), have a worst case scenario plan (which it sounds like you do with DS), get as much evidence as you can, then see what your options are with the L. The L may even guide you as to what evidence you would need to change the custody agreement. Sometimes what is important is not what you think it would be and vice versa. Then organize your evidence by topic, maybe have bullet points with examples.  I know you and your kids are going through a hard time right now, but you guys will make it through. I hope you have enough evidence to get a temporary order in place, if not, find out what is missing to do that.

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Whiteheron

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Re: I can't protect the kids from him
« Reply #5 on: August 09, 2019, 09:28:30 AM »
Thanks everyone. His "injuries" this time are just extremely sore/pulled muscles. It's lasted about a week. We haven't gone to the doc, but DS has told his T and I told my L. DS has an appt with the GAL on Monday. I'm toying with the idea of sending her a quick summary email (maybe with those bullet points athene suggested) before she meets with him. I will ask my L first, because I don't want it to appear that I'm trying to taint the GAL's perspective. Or maybe my L can send a summary of the email I sent to her. I'll ask her if either of these are viable options.

stbx is usually very careful in not crossing the line with professionals, it's all behind the scenes. When challenged by a professional, he will quickly back down, having already made his point. This makes it near impossible to prove just about anything. The only time he overstepped the bounds was trying to "serve" DS's T with "papers" demanding she hand over her T notes. In that case he was so desperate to find out what was being said about him, he would have done just about anything.

I will ask my L about a temporary order - I have a feeling she'll say wait until after DS speak with the GAL, so we could have her input on whatever needs to take place. I gave the GAL my permission to talk to DS's T (not like she needs it, but as more of a hint). I also want to ask my L about a PO - since I am not able to monitor stbx myself, I have no idea what's going on with his mental state. If something temporary is put into place, I want a PO just in case. I have no idea what will happen - although stbx would probably just blow town to hang with one of his supplies.

Kids were with stbx for their one overnight last night. DS was on the verge of a panic attack before his job yesterday morning. I have no idea how their night went. I feel horrible sending him into that hell (I did tell DS he could go home with me instead of his dad, but he said no). It's my weekend with the kids, so at least DS won't have to worry about anything this weekend.



You can't destroy me if I don't care.

Being able to survive it doesn't mean it was ever ok.

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Poison Ivy

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Re: I can't protect the kids from him
« Reply #6 on: August 09, 2019, 10:14:28 AM »
Thank you for the corrections, athene1399.  As you can tell, I don't know much about how the system works in practice.  Whiteheron, I wish you the best.  The situation is scary. You are doing what you can to protect the children.

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athene1399

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Re: I can't protect the kids from him
« Reply #7 on: August 09, 2019, 02:02:55 PM »
Poison Ivy, it probably varies by state and I'm only certified. I actually don't have much experience or real life practice with it yet as I've only interned (so not an expert by any means). I could be totally off base, but I did feel the training we did (online. not even with real people) really only focused on physical abuse.  I'm an emotional abuse survivor and I feel that's crap. It's frustrating when you see this going on and you feel so helpless. I feel the system fails us a lot.

WH, I am so glad this is your weekend. That must be a small relief. I wish you luck with the L and GAL. I hope they have a solution that will help to ease your mind.

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hhaw

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Re: I can't protect the kids from him
« Reply #8 on: August 10, 2019, 08:36:28 PM »
Lordy, 15yo is about the age where kids get their own friend groups, and weekend plans that exclude both parents, IME.

Judges like it when kids are present for all their activities and social calendar dates. 

I wish your son could get SO SO busy, with groups and activities on his father's time, that he has no time for father at all.  Nothing to do with you having more time, or time with him on dad's time, kwim?  No hints at alenation, or blaming you. 

I really hate that your kids are suffering, and stuck in the middle, damned if they speak the truth, and damned if they don't.

GAL SHOULD be speaking with the kids' T, as a matter of business.   I dont' understand why GAL not in touch with T, esp with T alarmed ds going into crisis without intervention. 

Once Dad realizes son is speaking his truth, anything negative about father, son should have the option of refusing visitation with dad..... can children apply for an TRO against angry parents they fear?

I have no idea, but I can't imagine I could force my girls, at 15yo, to go to anyone's house they didn't want to visit, particularly an angry scary man, even one they're related to.

WOULD your ex send the police to your home if you son refused visitation out of fear of his father? 

WOULD the T stand behind your son's refusal? 

What does your L say about son's refusal, if he refuses visitation?

Does your son have a friend, or friend group, he can plan weekend long visits on his father's time?  Kids get lives.  They break away from their parents, and they go camping, hiking, have D & D gatherings, and they don't have to appear to be avoiding anything.  They can seek out activities they like, and that keep them occupied. 

Both your children can do that, IMO..... of course, I don't know all the details, but kids have activities, and everyone is expected to make sure those kids get to those activities consistently, without fail.

Does your son, and dd have friends, with helpful parents, that can help you arrange your children's activities to support this mission?

Dismiss whatever doesn't make sense, and good luck.
hhaw



What you are speaks so loudly in my ears.... I can't hear a word you're saying.

When someone tells you who they are... believe them.

"That which does not kill us, makes us stronger."
Nietchzsche

"It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness."
Eleanor Roosevelt

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Whiteheron

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Re: I can't protect the kids from him
« Reply #9 on: August 12, 2019, 05:37:29 PM »
Thanks everyone. Again.  :)
DS finally opened up to the GAL and told her everything that's been going on. She came out of the session and told me she was going to write a letter to both attorneys telling them she does not support the current custody agreement. I am not sure what this means, but stbx will not be happy.

I need to brace myself and the kids for the upcoming sh*tstorm. At least the GAL knows what's going on now.
You can't destroy me if I don't care.

Being able to survive it doesn't mean it was ever ok.

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Penny Lane

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Re: I can't protect the kids from him
« Reply #10 on: August 12, 2019, 05:46:04 PM »
This is a great step! I am so proud of your son from afar, and of you for raising such strong smart kids.

 :cheer:

They (and you) definitely have a hard road in the short term. But this is proof that you CAN protect the kids - by teaching them to protect themselves.

I really hope the GAL prevails. I think you're smart to brace the kids for what their dad will do next. But long term I think you will look back at this and see that it is a real turning point, and for the better.

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hhaw

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Re: I can't protect the kids from him
« Reply #11 on: August 13, 2019, 12:01:16 AM »
If YOU stay calm, and focused on the best interest of the children, and in helping the PD BE the best dad he can be...

if your son's T, and GAL are on the same page, advocating for your children with vigor.....
If your Judge cares at all........

maybe the sh*tstorm is the thing you document, well... maybe it's the thing that helps the Judge understand what these children are going through.

I really think I'd use the PD's words, and tell the kids their father is ill.... that he can't do better.
The kids need to pipe up, and help the GAL, T, and Judge put the best possible visitation/custody agreement in place FOR THEM, and everything's going to be OK.

Telling the truth might make things scarier.... for a little while, but it will help the Judge make things better in the long run.

The adults will be OK. 

The kids will be OK.

I pray for a good outcome, and I'm so sorry you and your children are going through this.




hhaw



What you are speaks so loudly in my ears.... I can't hear a word you're saying.

When someone tells you who they are... believe them.

"That which does not kill us, makes us stronger."
Nietchzsche

"It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness."
Eleanor Roosevelt

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Whiteheron

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Re: I can't protect the kids from him
« Reply #12 on: August 13, 2019, 09:10:40 AM »
I have planted the seed that their dad may not be able to x, y, z. Esp with DD when I told her that he may not be able to show he loves her. They get angry and see him as worrying about his needs only. In their minds, it's not that he's incapable, it's that he doesn't care because it's all about himself and what they can do for him.

I suggested a modified custody arrangement to my L (she asked), where stbx would not have the kids for more than two nights in a row. Right now it's 4, which seems to overwhelm him. stbx will fight for the kids like there's no tomorrow, but it's all for show. At home with them, they're more of a burden. So my L knows where I stand (I told her the less custody he has the better it will be for the kids - since stbx seems to be escalating and I have no idea if he's being monitored). We are holding off on anything until she speaks with the GAL and until after the kids' long weekend with stbx this coming weekend. I also strongly hinted to my L that the GAL needs to speak with DS's T. Hopefully she can bring this up when they speak.

DS was telling me this was so hard, and that it wasn't supposed to be this way, he shouldn't have to go through this. I found myself telling him that sometimes you need to go through something incredibly hard in order to have a new beginning. He just gave me that teenage boy look....At least I know deep down he's listening.
You can't destroy me if I don't care.

Being able to survive it doesn't mean it was ever ok.

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athene1399

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Re: I can't protect the kids from him
« Reply #13 on: August 13, 2019, 09:32:19 AM »
I am glad DS was able to open up to the GAL, even if it was difficult for him. I hope the storm blows over quickly and as hhaw said, document the crap out of it. I will be thinking of your family. Things will get tough for a bit, but there will be a light at the end of the tunnel. :) Hopefully you get there quickly.

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hhaw

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Re: I can't protect the kids from him
« Reply #14 on: August 15, 2019, 12:22:02 AM »
Unfortunately, anyone can have children.

People who have mental health issues, people with PDs, people with the maturity of young children, and that's something that can help children understand that it's NOT THEM.  Parents who're ill, have PDs, aren't capable of being mature beings are part of life, and your children will benefit from understanding this, IME.

My children, at 5 and 7yo, were told that their father was ill... sick, and that came from their T.  That's how I explained what he did.  It helped.  Later on my youngest wanted to know EXACTLY what he said... what he DID.... and I answered her with age appropriate responses. 

My kids and your kids are worthy of love, and care... of course they are.  It's unfortunate that they have a parent, and maybe extended family, that can't parent appropriately, or consistently or without chaos, and needless emotional upset that makes ZERO sense, and will never ever ever make any sense, bc they're ill. 

That's the hallmark of PD individuals... they DO things that are nonsensical, and they have reasons for harming those they love most, often at their own expense.  All the court costs over things you could agree on,  like normal people, if only the PD COULD be reasonable.  Could consider the children, and agree on something fair, that serves the children.

They can't, and the kids are going to have to make peace with that, and learn how to regulate their feelings around their father.  If they do that, it will serve them well their entire lives.

Sometimes the silver lining is lessons aren't lost.  I had no idea what a PD was until I was in my 40's.  My children understand so much, at 16yo and 18yo.  Things I had no exposure to, that I understood, they understand very well.

Your dd might have to make peace with the fact her father is broken, unable to be the kind of father she honestly deserves and is worthy of.  If he could do better, he would.  He hasn't, and it's unlikely he ever will.

That's a cold hard truth, but knowing the truth is often better than living in chaos and confusion, with the child trying to figure out what they did to MAKE the parent behave this way.

Your DD is fine as she is, and she needs to know her father can't be fixed, by anyone.  He's sick. 

DD has one good enough parent, and you're going to be her rock through all the chaos her father manufactures in her life.   Calm, consistent, steady mom, explaining what's what, so dd doesn't have to feel lost in her world. 

Dad will be OK.  Brother will be OK.  Mom will be OK, and so will DD.  Kids need reassurance the parents will handle their stuff so the kids can handle what's theirs... school, chores, and discovering their passions.

I hope your kids have good Ts who can work with trauma in kids. 

hhaw



What you are speaks so loudly in my ears.... I can't hear a word you're saying.

When someone tells you who they are... believe them.

"That which does not kill us, makes us stronger."
Nietchzsche

"It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness."
Eleanor Roosevelt