For those who are undergoing a divorce or bitter custody dispute with an abusive ex-partner, or thinking about leaving him, I really recommend you read Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men by Lundy Bancroft. She acknowledges that many abusive ex-partners can be women, but in her studies, the abusers are overwhelmingly male.
Some of her most salient points on the tactics abuser’s use to manipulate and control during post-separation and visitation include (paraphrased):
- Pumping for information about the mother’s life, especially about new partners.
- Returning children dirty, unfed or sleep-deprived.
- Discussing the possibility of the children living with him instead, even though he doesn’t have the means or time to support the children or the change is unfounded.
- Continuing to drive relationship wedges with unnecessary conflict.
- Undermining her authority by making his house a place where there are no rules or limits so that the children chafe against the normal discipline of the mother’s home when they return.
- Threatening to take the children away.
- Seeking unfounded or unreasonable modification to existing custody or visitation orders.
- Insisting on visitation, only to leave the child in the care of another family member, friend or partner.
I really recommend this book. It has a rich account of her case studies and burrows deep into the different forms of abuse/abusive types and deconstructs how they tick. It’s worth the money, as I still use it as reference and a refresher from time-to-time. It has really been a source of strength for me during the last two years.
Knowledge is power.