My DD is 2 and has been spending the night only once every other week with her dad for about a year, now, and not too long after this started, behavioral issues began and, now, ridiculous amounts of either nightmares or night terrors have begun within the last 6 months.
Dd has really well-developed expressive and even more-so receptive language skills for her age. The dreams are happening about 11-12 days out of every 14, which to me, the counselor, and the pediatrician, is rather excessive. She's stated things, while wide awake...before bed, upon waking up, and after the dreams the following in the following order:
When it began and her language was early, it was pointing to the window, saying, "Hurts!"
It then graduated to, "The man's gonna get me, Momma."
Next, it was, "Daddy hurt me."
Lately, for awhile it was, "Daddy's out there. Gonna get me."
All of it centers around her window, whether it's open or closed and whether the blinds/curtains are open or closed. She gets absolutely hysterical and backs into/cowers in a corner or under her easel, or behind her door. She will not let me touch her and won't take ANYthing that would normally comfort her. It honestly makes me feel powerless. She has no signs of physical abuse, but her father is more of an emotional/psychological abuser.
The family counselor we go to (my dd and I), has viewed communication between the father and me, as well as other things he's written to the general public, and has heard my side of things. Telling the father would be pointless and make things more stressful for both my dd and myself. Based on what the counselor has seen with the child on videos of the episodes and her behavior, which is normal in my presence, along with these following concerns that her father has repeatedly expressed that are shared by no one else but him and his mother with whom he resides: dd gets a blank look, does not follow his movements at times, and has speech issues, the counselor is beginning to come to the conclusion that Dd is experiencing Reactive Attachment Disorder symptoms, which are rarely seen in my presence, aside from the nightly issues. She says dd's reactions to these dreams (i/e not letting me touch her, etc.) are her way of coping with things and trying to learn how to console herself on her own because she has found that Momma can't always console her and she is apparently not getting enough of such behaviors at her father's. She has also concluded that Dd's reaction to her father's picture (excitement, then yelling at it and hitting the screen, to then cowering, whimpering, and backing away) is her reenactment of her father's behavior (which makes 100% sense since this is the way he acts privately and now increasingly publicly).
Any suggestions on what to do? Has anyone had to go through something similar? The counselor said keep doing what I'm doing with her, especially where I'm sitting arms-length away from her during these episodes at night so that when she's ready I'm right there for her and in the mean time, my presence is there to somewhat comfort her. We already also have a nightly ritual where she has to touch the curtains and yell RAWR at the window to scare away whatever she is afraid of. It's just that we're all exhausted. 1-2 nights of decent sleep a week just isn't enough.