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Can I intervene?

  • Braybrook
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08 Aug 12 #348285 by Braybrook
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Hi all,

It''s been several years since I last posted. Happily divorced and life is great...however...

My ex-wife beats my son up. Not often, but about once every two months and with increasing severity. She hits and kicks him, usually shouting "I hate you" and "you bastard" at him while doing it. He has bruises and, in the most recent incident, cuts. It usually follows pretty challenging behaviour on his part.

I know his complaints are true because that is what she used to do to me, and she would be really angry and wild while doing it.

So, what to do. I have no relationship with my ex-wife and a complaint to children''s services have resulted in no action. "Mrs X at times find X''s behaviour challenging, however she is seeking support with this". In my experience, they are largely incompetent and tend to dislike fathers.

I am at a dead end - he is desparately asking me for help but there seems to me nothing I can do, except to wait for an incident to be so severe that a doctor refers him.

I should add that she is normally a sweet and calm person - occasionally Mrs Hyde comes out and the impact is grave. Can anyone help?

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08 Aug 12 #348289 by zonked
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Taking your post at face value; your son is being physically and emotionally abused.

If there are visible bruises on him, the school should be taking the lead in making a social services referal. Also, the police would be involved.

My advice would be to contact social services directly and make a referal.

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08 Aug 12 #348296 by Braybrook
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Thanks zonked.

I am afraid children''s services are no help. While they have to investigate, my ex runs rings around them. I have advised him in the past to complain to a teacher - but it''s the school holidays and, in any case, he doesn''t want to.

I agree with you that he is being abused - on the other hand it is only occasionallly and I do wonder whether it is better to leave it and hope things get better on their own. It is all too easy for authorities (probably with some justification) to see such complaints from an ex-partner as exaggerated or fabricated. In this case, they happen not to be. I need to think through what to do. Any ideas from anyone greatly appreciated.

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08 Aug 12 #348303 by zonked
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I appreciate this must a hellish situation for both you and your son.

My feeling is that if you are aware of abuse then you have a duty to report this to the authorities and if you do not it reflects a failure to protect. Those are easy words for me to type. I know the reality is very different. However, even if the response is not what you would wish from ss, at least you would know you had done your parental duty.

If there is existing ss involvement it may be an idea to ask to meet the sw and put your concerns to him/her directly. It may be that behind the scenes, unknown to you, there is some intevention or support being provided. Your feedback on what your son is saying might be very important to how they plan their safegaurding work.

Does your school have a councillor or anyone designated to do pastoral care? When school starts perhaps arrange a meeting and ask that they keep an eye out for your son, try and engage him, see if they''re able to win his trust and get him to talk.

Final point, I ought to mention im a sw, i say this not to big myself up but to let you know where im coming from.

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09 Aug 12 #348353 by Braybrook
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Hi zonked, that''s really helpful thank you.

I''ve been here before - during the divorce, I raised the issue. I wish I hadn''t. My ex made counter claims and children''s services believed her and not me, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

I''m sorry to write off a whole profession, but it seemed to me at the time that social workers'' starting point is that the father is the abuser - I have never before been a victim of such blind prejudice and zealous bullying and I was shocked by the sense of defensiveness and denial right the way up the management hierarchy as they began to realise they had got it wrong.

It took a year of severe stress and two successful Stage 2 complaints processes finally to exonerate me, but meanwhile my son got not help and, even then, no action was taken to help my ex deal with her anger. In this context, I could never be legitimately accused of failing in my duty to protect if I hesitated to report.

I very much doubt there is intervention going on behind the scenes, but I think getting the school councillor involved next year is a good idea - he starts secondary school next month, so it would be a difficult first conversation with the school, but as I expect things to deteriorate as he gets stronger and starts to fight back.

It''s a difficult choice - if I raise the issue again, I will certainly have to endure another major smear campaign from my ex. I wish she could see that she has a problem and that honest acceptance is the first step to dealing with it. It''s just that I am not the right person to tell her that!!

Thank you very much for helping me with this!

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09 Aug 12 #348362 by happyagain
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As a secondary teacher, I would agree that informing the school would be a good idea. It may be an awkward situation, and school seem to react in a range of ways to the nrp, but schools have a responsibility to children in their care that extends to external matters. Once the school are aware of this, they would be failing in their duty of care if they go on to notice any bruises/cuts and do not take the matter further.

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09 Aug 12 #348384 by Braybrook
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Thanks both!

I have decided to get in touch with Children''s Services to try to ask for help. I am hopeful, but apprehensive of the backlash. Let''s see.

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