Being Forced to Co-Parent With an Abuser Means a Survivor is Never Truly Free
My recent realization that I may never ride off into the sunset
Recently, when I met the abuser to drop off our children he approached me to give me something and talk. In our years of drop-offs, he has never tried to talk to me and I have been the one to initiate any type of interaction.
Instead of staying in my car and ignoring him, I got out so he could talk to me. It was just a handover of a few items and his explanation of each. I spoke to him about recent appointments for the children and one of our children joined the conversation. It was fine. He was not rude, manipulative, or impolite but I was glad when it was over.
After I got back in my car and he had driven away I became angry and cried a little. I felt disappointed in myself for talking to him. I felt abused all over again. I felt the unfairness of having to see and interact with someone who abused me. Someone who would have been charged with a crime if he had been a stranger but has never faced any consequences because he was my husband.
Being forced to co-parent with an abuser means a survivor is never truly free.
I prayed and asked God what I was supposed to do with the situation, what I was supposed to learn. I still don’t have an answer to that prayer but I do know I want my children to feel loved. I will do my best to make sure they do.
I forgive the abuser for what he did and I hope he comes to a place where he can get help. I don’t think I will ever be okay being around him. It feels like a great injustice every time I have to see or hear him.
I wish judges, lawyers, and anyone else involved in how the family court handles divorce and custody cases complicated by domestic violence and narcissistic abuse would have to understand what this is like. The court needs to change so survivors are not forced to be around abusers.
Abusers use the system to keep track of and control their victims. This should not be allowed.
Can you imagine being forced to text or email someone who had been verbally and emotionally abusive to you for years? Do you think they stop just because their words can be used in court? We are under court-sanctioned and ordered abuse every time an abuser gets angry and lashes out via text, email, or even in person. We are not allowed to cut off all contact and are left to learn how to navigate the ongoing insults, name-calling, and manipulation on our own. This is considered co-parenting and we are forced to comply.
We have both taken co-parenting classes as part of our parenting plan. My class barely covered toxic co-parents and abuse. At the very least the court could offer further education for survivors who have to co-parent(what a joke) with an abuser. I think having someone who has navigated a similar situation as a mentor would be a good first step on this journey.
I used to panic when I saw a text or email from the abuser. Now I am okay most of the time but I still dread checking my email. His written words still bother me sometimes and make me doubt who I am.
I have many years left before my youngest child is 18 and I can cut my ex-husband from my life. I know I will grow stronger and it will become easier to navigate this insanity.
I hope that at the very least my experience can help someone else as they begin to navigate their post-separation relationship(gag) with an abuser.
As you keep moving forward into healing your strength builds and you can stand strong for your children. Be blessed brave and beautiful survivors.