What can I do about emotional abuse (of ex-husband to me and son)

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    I have a 15-yr old son, my ex and I divorced 14 years ago. From the beginning, my ex learned that the only way he can hurt me is by using/hurting our son, and he has done so over the years. The past 1-2 years have been very stressful to me. I see my ex emotionally abusing our son. Because of the past, my ex is under a court order to not badmouth me, or discuss our divorce to our son. He does this all the time, and it’s turning our son against me.
    I thought by now that my son would see his dad for who he really is. I’ve tried to explain to my son that there are always two sides to every story; he tells me he already knows the truth because his dad has told him.
    My son has told me twice in the past 8-9 months that he wants to live with his dad. I struggle with this thought so much because I don’t believe him when he says this. I have sole custody, and my ex has our son every other weekend and every Wed evening. My sons actions prove to me otherwise; he lies to his dad to come home early on weekends, and to either not have a Wed night visitation, or come home very early on these nights. I’m really looking at our sons actions, rather than his words. (my ex took me to court just last month to get additional time iwth our son in the summer — our son kept telling me “I want what dad wants”, but when I asked him what exactly he wanted, he couldn’t tell me, it was always just “what dad wants”)..
    For many years, my son came home and told me “don’t tell dad I told you this, or he’ll ground me for 2 weeks, but . . .”, and then he’d tell me something.
    With all this emotional/mental abuse, my question is HOW do I prove it? I believe that if I pursued this and went to court, our son would lie because he’s also living in fear of his dad bullying/intimidating him.
    My attorney told me that I can pursue the phone calls to me from my ex (he’s under a court order to not call me, but he never obeys the court orders) – in 19 days in May, my ex called me 62 times (I have caller id and don’t answer the phones when he calls). I’m debating pursuing the calls, as well as his lengthy bashing letters to me, and my attorney said it’d be “jail time”, but we didn’t get into a discussion on how much jail time, etc. My main concern that’s holding me back is that our son would view his dads jail time as “look what my mom did to my dad”, he would not think of it as “my dads bad choices and actions is what caused my dad to get himself into jail”.
    I’m so afraid that anything I do to pursue pressing charges against my ex, would only turn our son against me even more, playing right into my ex’s hands. What can I do??



    Oh wow, that’s tough.

    Your attorney has given you good advice. It appears that the phone calls qualify as harassment and, in a round about way, actually prove some mental abuse. You can take pics of the caller ID to document in addition to having a notebook. Record any threats left on your voicemail. (tape recorder held to phone while playing message is easiest)

    As far as son goes, I see your point. Court actions may be used against you and your ex could convince him that you are “bad” in some way shape or form for asserrting yourself. (had it done to me) Personally, I would want a no contact order on son’s behalf. (as well as yourself due to the harassment, he is probably stalking you too and you don’t know it.) If you can prove degeneration and breaking of court orders, from the suggestion of your attorney, this might get you that. But again, it may not. Courts are fickle on preventing parental contact. However, it might get you supervised visitation, or limitations, which would help prevent former spouse from saying such things and discussing court and trying to alienate your son.

    Other than that, get counseling for yourself and your son. Do your research and find someone that might know how to handle this type of abuse. I have found a good resource to be is The Center for Women and Families. It is in the front of the phone book with the emergency listings. They have groups that may help you and take the mental pressure off you. Get an advocate so you can unload and decide the best way to handle this.

    Good luck.

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