I left my xh in 2007 due to emotional, verbal and sometimes physical abuse. My DS was 3.5 at the time. DS is now 8. XH has been in and out of our lives since then. After a year long period of being out of our lives, I filed for full custody and attempted to get supervised visitation due to the chaos in xh's life (he was homeless at times, his wife was kicking him out every other week and lots of fighting). That prompted xh to start exercising his visitation again much to my dismay. My attorney talked me into settling for sole custody before our court date so xh still has EOW visitation and 30 days in the summer. I regret that big time now that my DS came home this past Sunday from xh's in tears. DS broke down and told me that all xh does is yell at him when they are together. I asked him how long this has been going on and he said since he was 4 yrs old. I asked why he didn't tell me sooner and he said because xh told him not to tell me and he was scared. :( I always suspected that he was mistreating DS but DS would never tell me anything about their visits. I even took him to a play therapist when he was 4 and 5 but still nothing came out of that other than DS is much more at ease when xh hasn't been coming around for visits. Do you think this new information is enough to get supervised visits? DS is scared and doesn't want to go back. He says xh keeps a rifle propped up against the wall in the bedroom that DS has to share with him when they visit. DS is frightened of xh and the gun. DS doesn't want to go back to visit xh. For the last couple of years when DS comes home from visiting xh, he goes straight to his room to cry. Since he would never tell me anything, I just assumed that DS was crying about leaving xh and us being split up. Now I'm certain that's not the case and I'm determined to do whatever it takes to protect my sweet boy. Advice needed!!! WWYD?
DS has been keeping a secret ... advice needed now
Your poor boy! It's awful to think how long he's held it in - I hate your ex for scaring him that way. But most definitely take action. Do you have a lawyer? And... if you take him to a therapist now, that will help to document what's going on. PLUS I would go to your local police station (I don't mean calling 911) in person to tell them that your ex has a firearm out in the open around your child, and ask them if they have advice. And ask to file a police report about it, since your child has openly stated that he finds that scary and threatening. It doesn't mean the police will rush off to your ex's (I'm not sure if they'll ask you if you'd like action taken - even if it's in the form of "talking to" your ex) but it will get this documented and filed. I know there are some cruddy judges out there but I can't think of many who would be cool with knowing that was out in the open. There might even be laws in your area about that! (something to ask the police about while you document this). So yes, I'd see a lawyer ASAP to see what you can do to make supervised visitation happen (I agree it's TOTALLY necessary) - I'd take your son back to a therapist - and I'd speak to the police and file a report immediately.
Perhaps you can reassure him that right now, you aren't going to say anything to his father (and don't) until a professional person tells you how to handle it - so at least he won't fear getting into trouble. I think it's going to make your son feel better that he finally told you, and to know that you're going to help him however you can - that he doesn't have to be alone in dealing with this problem anymore.
1. GET AN ATTORNEY
2. GET A THERAPIST (child and family both)
While your DS is only 8 kids at this age are old enough to start having a say in how much time they spend where and WHY. I would start to get something set up where DS has visitation not overnights for awhile and when he has visits they must be 'out in the open', either at a park, playland etc. I would also bring up that DS does not have his own 'space'. While I have no issue with co-sleeping I think each child needs to have the option available to them of having a bed available. If you have an attorney they should be able to file an emergency hearing before the next EOW visit.
Thanks for the advice! I appreciate it so much!!! I do have an attorney who I like but I don't feel is very aggressive. I've called both my current attorney and a new one that seems to get good results with cases like mine. I'm waiting to hear back from both of them. I'm anxious to get the ball rolling on this.
GET A LAWYER!!! consider it seconded, thirded, whatever. GET A LAWYER - like yesterday. Call around, SPEND THE MONEY for a good one. Go into debt if you have to.
Document the disclosure. Visit the PD (or call the non-emergency line - you should be able to find it online rather easily). Get your son a therapist (make sure he knows that his dad will not know what is said to the therapist, and that his dad won't know about it).
Then, file IMMEDIATELY for supervised visits, and for NO overnights (your lawyer can help you with this!)
Thanks! I called last night and got the therapist ball rolling. I should be getting a call back today to setup an appointment. I should also be getting a call from a new attorney today who I hope will take my case. We have a little bit of time to get this all worked out. We've got the financial resources to get a great attorney. I *thought* I had a great attorney previously but my parents and I both agree its time find a new one. Prayers and positive thoughts needed. I'm nervous that the attorney will tell me this isn't enough to pursue supervised visits.
So glad things are in motion! If this lawyer doesn't think your ex's atrocious, threatening, emotionally damaging behavior isn't enough for supervised visits, fire his/her butt immediately and find one who will - or file yourself - anything! But your poor boy can't go back there the way things are now.
And still file a police report. I have filed a couple about my ex's stalker-like behavior. It wasn't physically harmful, but caused unnerving scenes that my child didn't need to see - and was certainly inappropriate. So while it might not make enough for a restraining order, it is indeed documented and filed. They just hand you a form to fill out and ask you some questions. I did not request that any action to be taken at the moment, and ex doesn't even know about it (so you'd have to ask the officers in your area if your ex would know if you filed the report). Still I'm glad it's there, and in your case, it might help. Having a firearm out in the open, along with your ex's emotional abuse, is very threatening to your child and to you.
Posting a quick update while I have a minute --
We met with the new lawyer on Tues and retained her. She's awesome and aggressive. I have no doubt she is the right choice. She directed me to a counselor that she was familiar with and my son met with her yesterday. I'm not certain at this point if we can get an emergency protection order but there is certainly enough that has happened to warrant supervised visits once we do get in front of the judge. The counselor will meet with my son again soon and go more in depth with him. Then she will decide about the protection order. Prayers and positive thoughts needed.