Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Chrissie's account:

I had split from my ex partner in 1997 due to his behaviour towards me when I found out I was pregnant. I took the decision to tell him as I thought it was only fair. It was a shock to me as I had 3 older children and was not intending on increasing the size of my family, after my last child was born my ex husband had a vasectomy due to the problems I encountered during labour.

Once my ex partner found out I was pregnant he didn’t leave me alone or give me time to think. I did go to discuss my options with my GP, it is unlikely that I would have terminated the pregnancy as I have fairly strong feelings about this, however he constantly badgered me about my decision, including letting himself into my house in the early hours of the morning and sitting on the side of my bed watching me, until I became aware he was there before begging me to go through with the pregnancy.

I had my baby son in 1998 and Carl was ecstatic although he desperately wanted a little girl. He eventually moved back into my home in the September of that year, although our relationship was still volatile. He would use every opportunity he could to belittle me or undermine me in front of my older children.

Throughout the course of our relationship he didn’t work as he claimed to be disabled, he would instead come up with ‘business ideas’ that would end up costing us money that we could ill afford. I was working part time until 2003 when our son started school. Carl was never satisfied with anything that we had or did, he always wanted better, during the course of our relationship he owned 9 cars, 3 caravans and started numerous hobbies (including photography and fishing) which cost a fortune as he always had to have the best. As I was the only one working the majority of credit obtained was in my name only and I have been left with significant debts from the relationship.

I didn’t want to work full time as I wished to spend more time with my children but I felt forced into a corner. I have subsequently found out by chance that Carl has told our son that I wasn’t there for him as a baby as I was always working, this is totally untrue but it has been placed in his mind along with other things.

Friends and neighbours were told that I was moody and that I believed I was too good for them and I wondered why they treated me strangely at the time.

He would take my eldest son with him to take rubbish to the local skip etc and whilst they were alone he would try to blame me for the lack of money and the fact that I didn’t want to go out at weekends.He would make the children do chores around the house and then take the credit for it. We would go shopping and he would hide certain items of food etc away from the children as they were ‘his’

He sexually abused me by convincing me I was a prude and not normal and he raped me: This was one of my lowest points. He had pornographic material in the house just lying around. When I asked him to put it away from the children’s reach, he said it was normal for boys to grow up and see such things.

While I was working he would telephone me up to 6 times a day and also call into my place of work. If I was asked out by friends he would cause an argument as I was getting ready so that I would phone my friends, making an excuse not to go or I would be worried all the time I was out.
If any of us did something he didn’t like he would sulk for days and not speak to us, he was like a ticking time bomb.
Early on in the relationship he told me how he had grabbed his ex wife around the throat and held her against the wall during a row, an action he said he regretted. He also told me about beating someone up so severely they ended up in hospital. He held a shotgun licence and was in possession of a shotgun, he also had a fascination for knives and had a police baton.
Our relationship finally broke down in 2005 when he had an affair with a family friend. The split was extremely acrimonious; I took him back several times before deciding enough was enough. In the October of that year during an argument, my eldest son who was 18 at the time stood between us as he was worried for my safety, Carl grabbed him round the throat and pulled back his arm to punch him. My son managed to get out of the way and the police were called. They were anxious to press charges but we had had enough and couldn’t face going through with it, although with hindsight of course we should have.

During the course of the next 2 years he continued to pester me by phone and text. He also sent presents for Christmas, my birthday and Valentines Day; all the time begging me to take him back and telling our son that he still loved me and that I wouldn’t talk to him. He told us that he had no knowledge where the woman he had an affair was and that he was sorry, this was despite the fact that he was actually living with her and her 2 young children and he in fact got her pregnant.

I facilitated contact although I was extremely unhappy about my son being involved with his new partner as she had actively stated while they were having their affair that if the only reason he was staying was because of our son she would fight with him through the courts for residence. He would continually try to change arrangements or have excuses for being late picking up and dropping off.
In 2007 he refused to return our son from a weekend contact saying he was ill. An emergency application was made to the court and he was returned to me 3 days later. The result of this was that we had to attend dispute resolution interviews with Cafcass.
He constantly tried to change arrangements but if our son wanted to attend something he would make it very difficult to swap, necessitating several solicitor's letters to resolve issues. (He receives public funding. I have to pay and this adds to my costs.)

He then made another application for residency which meant yet more intervention from Cafcass. He spoke to them and arranged for our son to see them whilst in his care without my knowledge.

When I was called in I was told that our son (then age 9) had said he was scared of me and his eldest brother and that he wanted to live with his dad. I explained my circumstances to the Cafcass Officer. She then decided to do more follow up work. Until speaking to me she was just going to recommend that he go to live with Carl. After seeing us separately and with our son (her comment when he was with me was that he seemed far more relaxed than when he was with dad), she filed her report, her recommendations were that my son should live with me and have contact with Carl and that there should be no further applications made without the court’s leave until he was 16. We actually ended up with shared residence which works very badly.

I seem to be living my life almost through an interview mirror, My son discloses nothing from when he goes to his dad’s, yet Carl is extremely well informed about my life. However I am constantly accused of ‘grilling’ my son about their life, something I have never done as I’m not interested. It was also apparent that when going for extended contact during the holidays my son would get quite withdrawn before going and claim he had tummy aches etc but I was always advised I had to send him, I believe he was receiving so much emotional pressure from Carl in phone calls and during contact about how much he missed him and how he really couldn’t be happy unless he was with his dad that he dreaded going even though he did want to see his dad.

In 2009 Carl applied for residence yet again. At this time I was suffering from ill health. My son told me that he wanted to go and live with his father and nothing I could say would dissuade him. He wasn’t bothered about not seeing me regularly or his older siblings, or leaving his school and friends. All he was interested in was spending more time with his dad: He said he needed to. It wasn’t that he never saw his dad: He had contact alternate weekends from Thursday until Monday and half the holidays, with telephone calls in between.

I emailed my solicitor and told her that I had let my son go as I couldn’t face the court process or any more bullying. However I ended up deeply regretting my decision and realised I had done exactly what he wanted. Within a week he had changed my son's school without my knowledge or consent.

The first weekend I had contact with my son was horrendous. It was so clear he had been told even more negative things about me and I just couldn’t get through to him. To my deep regret I did lose my temper and say I didn’t think he wanted to be with me at all.
I have had periods of up to a month when I wasn’t allowed to see my son and contact visits have been cancelled. My son will not switch on his mobile phone when he is at his dad’s so I am unable to speak to him. It is my choice not to call him on their landline at a certain time each week as I believed this was incredibly controlling behaviour by my son's father and I have no wish to repeat that behaviour. Sharing residence of your child with your abuser is the worst of all worlds.

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