It is quite common for a male abuser to claim to be the perfect father and accuse his ex-partner of trying to alienate the children. In reality he is only interested in continuing to control his ex-partner and uses the children to abuse by proxy [my own opinions and experience, always take legal advice]
When you break up with a man with psychopathic traits, especially if you initiate the breakup, in the words of Profesor Dr. Iñaki Piñuel, an expert on relationships with psychopaths, you need to prepare for a “nuclear winter” that lasts for years.
Psychopaths see the breakdown of the relationship as a challenge to their dominance. You belong to them and you have their stuff (the kids). They would rather destroy you than allow you to escape their control.
The following is based on my own experience of leaving a man with psychopathic traits but I have heard many similar stories from other women. These men will try to destroy you using any means at their disposal unless you agree to come back to them. You are at a high risk of being seriously injured or killed. Unfortunately the family court system is ill-equipped to help you and in fact a psychopath in many cases easily manages to turn the system against you and obtains custody of the children.
- You have to leave the family home with nothing. He refuses to pay child support. He demands huge sums of money he says you owe him for living expenses from the relationship. He taunts you that he will run you out of money
- He was abusive towards the children during the relationship and refused to pull his weight but now he wants full control. He denies any allegations you make and says that you were abusive not him.
- He tells people you were happy with him. He shows them photographs of you together and tells them he can’t understand what has happened.
- He will not accept seeing the children half the time. You attempting to place any boundary whatsoever is portrayed as you trying to stop the children from seeing him altogether. It is not about the children he wants to force you back into the relationship but he pretends otherwise.
- He is extremely abusive towards you in private. He intimidates you during handovers. He threatens to take the children away, tells you that you are an unfit mother, tells you he will make you pay, that he will destroy you, that he will make sure the children forget about you, demeans you, pressures you for sex and sexually assaults you, degrades and humiliates you, tells you no-one will believe you, denies his wrongdoing and blames you, and threatens suicide. He becomes physically aggressive.
- This is interspersed with episodes of more normal behaviour where he tries to get you to drop your guard to increase access to the children. You can’t predict how he will act each time you see him for handover. His demeanour and behaviour shift drastically. You are easily confused and doubt yourself. You go over and over in your mind whether or not you are being reasonable. He tells you that everything is your fault and that he is being reasonable and you are causing all the problems.
- In front of others he will act extremely sweet and overly polite as if everything is fine and you are on the best terms in the world with one another so that no-one would believe you if you were to tell them what was really going on. His demeanour transforms drastically in an instant leaving you stunned and confused. You feel ashamed to tell mutual acquaintances how he is really behaving.
- He pretends to be the perfect father in front of others.
- He abuses you then sets you up in front of others so that they see you agitated, afraid and volatile while he remains calm. It is very intimidating to experience someone behaving so incongruently and menacingly knowing only you can see it.
- He tells everyone you know that you have gone mad and are mentally deficient.
- He makes out you are trying to set him up with false allegations of domestic abuse, police reports, and social services involvement.
- He tells the children “Mummy doesn’t want to be with you any more”, “Don’t worry you’ll be with me forever soon” knowing the children are terrified of this outcome.
- If the children are screaming and crying and trying to get away from him in front of others he says “Oh my poor baby what has she done to you? Why are you crying? I know you want to see Daddy” whilst turning to look in mock concern and surprise at bystanders.
- When the kids are crying being handed over to him he says in their ear “Yes I know you don’t want to be with mummy any more” making them cry even more looking at you to see your response.
- If you try to stop him from taking the kids, he calls the police and claims you are abducting them.
- He refuses to meet in safe public places or at a contact centre.
- He plays brinksmanship refusing to do handovers on your terms then complains that you are withholding the children.
- He instigates repeated court action and tries to run you out of money with legal proceedings.
- He hits and verbally abuses the children. He neglects their needs.
- He undermines your parenting. He tells the children you are harming them. He tells you that you are harming them. He wants to make sure you have no confidence in your own parenting. He tells you that you are damaging the children by keeping them from their father.
- He tells the children it is all your fault they cannot be with you. He tells them “Mummy broke up the family”. He tells them Daddy wants us to be together but Mummy won’t let him.
- He uses contact to headwork the children against you; not to spend quality time with them. He brainwashes them. He tells them what they are thinking and feeling. He tells them that everything is terrible. He tells them he doesn’t understand how they can cope being there with Mummy. He drums it into them that they miss Daddy. If you pull him up on this he denies it and says you do not want him to have a relationship with his children. He accuses you of being controlling when you ask him to stop.
- He continually demands more access and more contact. When you reassert boundaries he accuses you of withholding the children.
- He calls the police if you are late.
- He turns up uninvited then accuses you of trying to isolate him from the children if you place any boundary with him.
- He threatens to abduct the children abroad then calls the police when you won’t hand them over. He tries to get a court order saying he can take them out of the country pretending you are trying to stop him from taking a holiday with the children when he has told you he intends to abduct them. He tells the court you are lying.
- He asks people to help him to get the children away from you because you are crazy and they believe him.
- You are mobbed by people he has recruited to further gaslight you and put pressure on you.
- They write in support to the court. You are confused, traumatised and he has isolated you from anyone you could have gone to for support.
- In court, he pretends that he is the best Dad in the world. He is composed. He makes out he is dealing with an emotionally unstable and vindictive ex who is making it all up. He pretends that your motivation is that you do not want him to see the children. He claims that you are trying to alienate the children from him.
- He easily talks people into supporting him by playing the victim and pretending he is a poor alienated father who has done nothing wrong.
- He deliberately harms the children because he knows that is what will hurt you the most.
- He taunts you that no-one will believe you.
- He taunts you that he will run you out of money and you will lose the children because you will not be able to provide.
- You find anyone who doesn’t know you inside out is reluctant to believe you. This is so awful it is beyond belief for most people that a man could behave that way and be so two-faced. The idea that you are trying to keep the children from him is more believable to many. They don’t bother to speak to you to get your side of the story.
Perhaps if you have been through something similar with a man like this you have other examples.
For more information on the extremely serious problems women encounter when leaving abusive men with kids see http://lundybancroft.com/articles/understanding-the-batterer-in-custody-and-visitation-disputes/