Originally Posted by RandomActofMuse
Jeannine: He did get violent with me a few times when we fought near the end of our relationship. He was angry. He never left marks, but he hit me, pushed me, shoved me into things, and in one memorable instance tried to strangle me. But again, no marks or witnesses, so it would be my word against his.
His broken promises: "I'll never hurt the kids." He got rough with my son when J woke up with night terrors in December 2010 - hit his face, held him down, covered his mouth, cussed him out and yelled in his ear - and wouldn't let me take J back to try to soothe him in a calmer manner. I had to forcibly remove my 5-year-old from his arms. He claims he was drunk, and he had been drinking that night (movie night with friends at our place, alcohol was usually involved as everyone was over 21, but no one ever got drunk), but he didn't appear drunk to me. I was the only witness and there was no point in going to court because J is disabled and can't speak, he left no marks, and no one else saw it happen. I was pregnant at the time. J and I moved out, but R and I both said we were still together, just not living together, until he took parenting classes and we got into counseling. He did get into classes and counseling and we never had another incident like that again after I moved back in February 2011.
I think both things are significant. Children cause stress and if he cannot control his physically aggressive reactions - especially with someone else's disabled, non-verbal child!? - then I'd say children shouldn't be alone with him.
Do you feel the counseling and classes created change? Or have there been no other incidents because you've instinctively protected yourself and the children by limiting stress in your home? Do you believe R has trouble handling your special-needs child, but that he is probably safe around his own, (presumably neurotypical) child and can handle the "normal" stresses of parenting?
Perhaps you don't know this, so I'll tell you. Police do not need "proof", to write a report. An incident report merely records whatever statement you give police. Incident reports are usually not admissible in criminal trials (because - rightly - "proof" is required, to convict someone of a crime and restrict their liberties). But incident reports can be used in requesting a protective order. You also do not need "proof", to get one of those. They're generally issued on "the preponderance of evidence" - basically, whether you or your ex seems more believable, to the judge. Many people represent themselves, in protective order courts. Many courts almost rubber-stamp protective order requests. The basic thinking? "If I err by giving a PO to a woman who's making things up because she's mad at her ex-BF, then he's still not being convicted of anything. If he's not actually abusive and he leaves her alone, the PO will eventually expire. No harm, no foul. But if I deny a PO to a woman who says she needs one... and then her ex kills her, I'll have to answer for why I failed to protect her."
Now, a police report and/or PO will not necessarily convince a family-court judge to limit visitation. BUT family court judges usually have broad discretion, to custom-tailor custody orders to a family's individual needs and they are certainly allowed to consider things like police reports and POs.
So, if you've hesitated reporting abuse because you didn't have proof, don't hesitate in the future.
"I'll never cheat on you." This was the first thing he did after J and I left. After telling me he wanted to work things out and after we started speaking with a counselor but before I moved back in, he started having an affair. That affair was ultimately the cause of our relationship's end - it led to all the fights and the violence I mentioned in my first paragraph. Kids and I moved out when the baby was three months old.
"I'll never lie to you." Well, that kinda goes without saying that he broke this one.
Plus a host of other little promises he broke, all after breaking that first one to not hurt the kids.
The various things you're dealing with would be upsetting, to anyone. But since you will wind up in court, sooner or later, you need to sort out more clearly, in your own mind, what you want and why. Right now you have some weak spots/inconsistencies:
#1- You need to mentally separate the risk of physical abuse and/or abduction, from resentment about your ex breaking promises to you.
Physical abuse is a reason to restrict a person's access to children. So is a credible threat of child abduction (especially coupled with a credible risk of flight to a non-HC country). But they're both legitimate concerns in their own right and have nothing to do with breaking promises. Here's what I mean:
> If your ex had the self-knowledge and foresight to warn you: "In all honesty, I might get violent with your son someday, if I'm under sufficient stress"...would that have made it any better, when he did? ("What a relief! At least he didn't lie about it!"...sounds ridiculous, right?) Any abuser - when they're NOT feeling enraged at a child - would promise, "I'd never hurt a child", because no one wants to believe they're abusive. And a person who has been abusive wants to believe they'll never do it again (or they'd never do it to the kids). Your ex was probably as surprised and disappointed in himself as you were, when he got rough with your son. But who cares? You had to get your son away from him because your son is not safe with him - not because he broke a promise. (Quite frankly, it's the same thing with cheating. A guy capable of cheating is not going to tell you that, up front. And once he's cheating, he'll hide it as long as he can. But ultimately the relationship ends because he's a cheater. That he also lied adds insult to injury, but it is to be expected, with cheating and it's not the issue.)
> If you asked your ex, he would promise you that he'll never embezzle millions of dollars, assassinate a head of state, or graduate from Yale. And he won't. That he broke some promises does not mean he will always do the opposite of anything he promises. You will come across as rigid, unreasonable and unable to get past your hurt feelings, if you cling to the argument that, "He promised not to kidnap or abuse our daughter...but he's a promise-breaker...so he should be treated like an abuser and a kidnapper, even though he hasn't actually done either thing to our daughter, yet." If he's abusive, break out your evidence and protect your daughter. If you truly believe he'll abduct her, bring it up in court and ask for protection. But don't cloud those issues, by linking them to him cheating on you, lying to you, etc. That is your personal heartache with him. It does not support that he's a threat to your daughter. It makes you sound bitter. (I'm not criticizing you! You have every right to feel that way. But you don't want a judge to think bitterness is coloring your assessment of what's best for your daughter.)
#2- What do you want? (Take that as a genuine question, not pushiness. Your situation is hard and it might take a while to determine what's right for your daughter.)
> You say you don't want to keep your ex away from your her, yet you're afraid he'd "hurt" or "abscond with" her? If those are reasonable fears, you should want to keep him away from her.
> If I understand correctly, although you describe abuse, the last incident was a year ago. He voluntarily went to counseling and parenting classes. You felt safe moving back in with him, while pregnant, and bringing along your son - the same child he abused. And there haven't been more incidents. And the reason you've broken up is because he cheated, not because of abuse.
> Despite all that, are you legitimately concerned he'll hurt your daughter? Have you concluded you made a risky decision, moving back in with an abuser and it's dumb luck that there haven't been new incidents, in the last year? If so, you can't protect your daughter and hesitate using your evidence to keep him away from her. You must choose.
> OR, if he hadn't cheated, would you have continued believing you made a sound decision, moving back in with him - i.e., you didn't put the kids at risk? Is the real problem that you're so upset with him about the cheating and lying that you just don't feel he deserves to be trusted with anything? In that case, you need to ask yourself whether you're punishing him for breaking your heart, by limiting his access to his child? As understandable as your feelings would be, that wouldn't be right for your daughter.
> How real is the risk of kidnapping? Can you envision him actually dumping his job, cutting ties with his family and/or friends in your community, uprooting his whole life, being responsible for a baby 100% of the time and living "on the lam" forever? Does he have the financial resources to accomplish it? It's a pretty extreme lifestyle sacrifice, to abduct a child! But if you really think he was dead serious and could do all of that, you need to fight tooth and nail to keep him away from her, not be wishy-washy about it.
Or was his statement about running off with the baby similar to his stupid, impulsive comment about seeking joint custody to save money on child-rearing expenses? Does he say a lot of dumb things off the cuff? It would not be right to make your daughter's relationship with her father hinge on a stupid comment he made, but didn't really mean.
But no one in this forum can tell you whether it was a dire or idle threat. Are you treating it as dire because you know he's capable of doing it? Or are you treating it as dire because you're hurt and you feel he deserves to have you think the worst of him, at every turn? Only you know.
But in the long run (when you're so over him that you're GLAD he cheated, so you didn't wind up stuck with a jerk and could go on to find your true love...), you will feel better about yourself if you acted in your daughter's best interest and not out of your own hurt and confused feelings. Does she need to be protected from her father...regardless what you'll have to suffer, to protect her? Or does she need to ease into a relationship with him, imperfect as he is, spending a bit of time with him now and more, as she gets older? Focus on doing the truly right and selfless thing for her and not on what a promise-breaking jerk he is, and you'll come through this alright.