I have three children with my ex partner, we separated five years ago after ten years together. During those years I was subjected to physical, mental and sexual abuse at the hands of the man I loved. I finally left him after he physically threw our son who was 3 years old at that time, across a room.
The children were quite young when I left their father, but they did witness the mental abuse most of their lives. I shielded them as much as I could from the abuse. They were aware our relationship was not stable, he broke things, smashed items, punched walls, broke their toys and mummy was never allowed to go far alone.
They witnessed the police escorting him out of our home on a few occasions. They never witnessed the physical at its full extent, but saw and heard things no child should. They understood that sometimes daddy was naughty. They were not surprised when daddy had to go and live somewhere else. In reality I feel they were relieved.
The children have always had contact with their father but recently have started to question why we separated and why I do not wish to be friends with their dad. He tells the children he still loves me, I have remarried and they know he should not be talking about me on their visits, they get angry as they love their step father.
I do try for their sake to be sociable and will speak on the telephone with their father if its in regards to the children, he has attended birthday parties and school performances, I refuse to sit next to him, but will make small talk in the children’s company.
I find it difficult to be in the same room as him as I still feel sheer terror when in his company. He frightens me, I feel the sweat, my body starts to shake, the pit of my stomach turns and my face turns white. This is fear, not something I can hide.
The children remember snippets, have flash backs and question why they are afraid of certain things. For example my eldest is terrified of fire. This fear comes from the times her father placed her as a small baby in front of an open roaring spitting fire. The sparks would fly out and come close to the bouncer chair she sat in, I would race to move her, to receive a kick or punch to the face. This was a favourite game of his at the time. He also threatened to burn down our home while the children and I slept if I ever left him.
I am in turmoil over the future. Do I explain to the children, now that they are asking questions what my life was like with their dad or do I carry on protecting them from the past?
Would I hurt my children by telling them the truth?
When they are older am I damaging them more by not informing them of what their father is really capable of?
I fear others who know me, who perhaps have children would let something slip. Would I want someone else telling the children?
If I were to begin to explain where would I start? It is still their father, the man they love despite them not liking him very much. He has not changed, he is still very angry. He speaks disrespectfully about me and the children know he is “not a nice person”. But they love him.
The children are no longer having contact, due to a recent court ruling. In time and with correct safety measures in place, contact will resume. The children understand why contact has stopped. They spoke out against their fathers behaviour while they were in his care. They hope he will become a better person, a better daddy. I smile and say I hope that too.
Yes I feel they should be nowhere near him, yes this keeps me awake at night and yes this turns my life upside down and inside out. He is their father, they love him and they want to see him, but they want to feel safe. I want to keep them away from him, shield them and protect them, but they are of the age to voice their opinion. This has been noted and given in court reports by the professionals who interviewed the children.
I still to this day protect him
I still make excuses for him
I hold the children as they cry and assure them I will help find help for their dad
Would I break their hearts if I told them the truth about their dad?
A man who beat and raped their mother.
A man who threatened to kill his children if I ever left him.
A man who made their mum have two nervous breakdowns.
A man who controlled, bullied and ruled his wife with his fists.
What about the times he made me go without food.
Banned me from using the toilet for days and was given a plastic bucket.
A man who fastened a dog collar around my neck and made me bark like a dog while he raped me.
Where would I start? Yes your dad was naughty!
I fear my girls will look for abusive partners, I fear my son will become a abuser.
The children know “something bad” happened. They see they trembled lips as I try to speak his name. They see the fear in my eyes. They know I am hiding something.
When and how would I ever explain why I fear their father and would I be wrong to believe I should never tell them the truth?