Everyday Victim Blaming

challenging institutional disbelief around domestic & sexual violence and abuse

Parent Alienation after Domestic Abuse

This year my daughter will reach her 16th birthday.

I don't know if I will see her for her birthday I don't know if I will even get a reply if I text 'happy birthday' or even much of a thank you for the gift I will send her from afar.

You see, my beautiful daughter won't talk to me. She's so angry with what I have done, she cannot bring herself to text me, meet for coffee, or even come and see me over last Christmas.

Obviously, this pains me more than you can ever imagine. I have, for 17 years, been a hands on Mum, a stay-at-home Mum - I home educated my three children for four years - I was always the main parent that did all the crappy jobs, hugged them at night, picked them up when they fell over, took the time to get to know them as people, giggled, joked. It was always 'Mum' they would call for first, for such a long time.

Last year I split up with their father. He was emotionally and verbally abusive and alcohol dependent for many years and, despite trying counselling and many other ways to resolve it and try to support him, I had had enough. When I told the two older children that their father and I were splitting up, the first words out of my daughter's mouth were, 'It's about time!'

The children had witnessed the abuse, they had witnessed that it had made me into a different person, anxious, exhausted, hurt and depressed. Both of our older kids were initially relieved at the prospect of there not being a house full of conflict, fear and tears.

Unfortunately it doesn't work like that. Unfortunately, my ex, perceiving the ultimate rejection, acted more and more in abusive ways, even though he wasn't living with us. I asked him to not involve the kids, we went to mediation sessions where I expressed concern for the children's well-being and asked that he back off and allow them to settle for a while before we start divorcing, battling finances and selling their home. But he wouldn't. He started divorce proceedings almost immediately, and pushed and pushed for us to sell the house as quickly as possible, so that he could 'move on' and have his share of the finances. He wanted 'his' money and he wanted it now. My requests for patience and a calm, structured method of dealing with it all were met with anger and hatred and further damage to an already broken family.

For a long time, our daughter wouldn't talk to him, she felt fiercely protective of me and of her little brother, who didn't understand what was happening and was devastatingly upset with all of the changes and the ongoing conflict whenever his Dad picked him up to see him or came into the home.

I tried to move on. I made friends, new friends, some really close friends. Some female, some male. I tried to do things to help set us up in our new lives, so that once the house was sold we could still have an income, a secure future. All of this enraged my ex. He would be watching my every move. Watching my every move and telling the entire world around him what a terrible person I am, a terrible mother, an awful human being who had left him out in the cold and discarded him like it was nothing. Of course, this wasn't the truth, I tried to remain civil, at the very least, I was even happy to remain friends for the sake of our children, I wanted to get divorced, yes, but I wanted the kids to see it as something that was handled as best as we could and that they didn't suffer any more because of it.

That didn't happen either.

I had my privacy compromised by him on more than one occasion. He rifled through all of my personal belongings and held up to our children what he considered 'evidence' of me seeing another man. He told them how 'immoral' their mother is, how disgusting it is to split up with your husband and meet another person. He told them I lied to them. He told our youngest child, who was 6 at the time, that he was going to call social services because I was 'a bad mother'. He got drunk. He called and screamed at me down the phone, sent abusive text messages. He moved back into 'his house' with us and got drunk there too, scared me so much on two of those occasions I turned to the police for help, to friends, to his family. He destroyed the King size bed we had slept in when we were married because he thought I was sleeping with someone else in there. I wasn't. His jealously turned everything I did into something sordid and ugly and he was telling everyone about his version of events.

However, I encouraged my daughter to try and repair her relationship with him. She didn't want to, but I genuinely thought it was for best for her, so I encouraged them to go to London for the day to attempt to rebuild their relationship on different terms.

This was a big mistake.

They went to London and she she returned that night, but she would not talk to me. He dropped her home with an air of arrogance that I couldn't quite work out. For two weeks she wouldn't speak to me. She wouldn't explain why, she just wouldn't have anything to do with me at all, all the while secretly texting her Dad and telling him what I was doing. He used her as his spy on the inside, gathering information so he could twist it and use it against me.

Then he messed up. Again. He got drunk, started being abusive to me, to her, to us all and she broke down to me,

"I'm sorry Mum, I'm so sorry that I've been mean to you. When we went to London ALL he did was talk about you, about how bad it had been for him, about how awful you are, how wrong you are. I'm so sorry. I believed him! He just wouldn't stop, he went on and on, over and over until I had no choice but to believe what he was saying."

I held my not so little girl, sobbing in my arms, I told her not to worry. That's she's a child and children shouldn't be subjected to that and it isn't her fault for believing him. That if he was insisting so much that I can see and understand that she really had little choice. I told her I wasn't angry with her, I told her that I love her, as I always have and I always will. And we cried together, hugging for a long, long time.

I was furious, of course, because then I knew what I was dealing with. That this man had no boundaries in his hatred, that he will even hurt our children to get to me. I was furious, but I was also suddenly very afraid, how can I stop someone so hell bent on destruction?

I couldn't, it would seem. A few months went by, my ex back on his best behaviour (for now), our daughter, forgiving as she was then, rebuilding her relationship with her dad once more. And he did it again, this time preying upon her fear. This time I actually had met someone else, she was afraid, as they all were, that my ex would react with jealousy and anger, causing untold hurt and damage along the way. So my daughter, I assume by way of protecting herself, instantly rejected my partner, without even bothering to get to know him. Her father, of course, encouraged this, used her 15 year old mind against her, used the time she was angry at me and afraid of him to get into her head and poison her against her mother... Again.

She didn't speak to me for weeks. She was living with me and her brothers. She was increasingly rude, argumentative and disrespectful. She'd be sullen, unhelpful and deliberately negative. She'd shout and scream if she was picked up on it, which would scare her little brother (who I was trying to create a calm home for after the upset of the last few years) and then text or call her father, who would reinforce her negative behaviour, not telling her to stop or ask her to be reasonable in any way.

She invaded my privacy too, she went through my messages on my iPad, apparently finding evidence again of how terrible I was as a person. Private conversations, that were none of hers or anyone else's business. She felt that she had a right to go right through them without my knowledge or consent and even more of a right to damn me for them. Her father loved this bit. He didn't respect my right to privacy, so nor did she have to. He told her she could live with him, if she didn't want to live with me and 'yer Mum's new bloke', who wasn't living with us at the time anyway. In the whole time of our divorce he has also told our oldest son he could live with him, and later he told and confused the hell out of our youngest by saying he also could live with him. I have told him that separating the children from each other is a very bad thing to encourage, for their sakes, but that doesn't stop him.

Her behaviour caused a huge tension in the home. She, metaphorically, brought her father home with her each day. He wasn't physically there, but he was there in her mind, speaking his words from her mouth. It became intolerable for me and for her brothers, I felt I was having to protect my youngest son from her, when once upon a time she was such a loving caring big sister. Her anger, fuelled and stoked and encouraged by her father was obscuring her mind and after ignoring it for several weeks I finally snapped. We argued, she shouted the same insults at me as her father had before her, she said things she shouldn't have know anything about, and untruths that he had told her to further poison her mind against me. Things got heated, I got angry, frustrated, hurt and desperate. I tried to 'make' her listen to me, but it was too late, he'd got in before me and there was little I could do. I was losing my daughter, my child, I was feeling desperate and I behaved in a way that I am sorry for now, though I know that it wouldn't have mattered what I had done, it was already in motion. So, in defeat, I agreed with her request that she go to her Dad's house for a while. I instantly got accused of 'kicking her out' despite the fact that it is what she wanted and the argument before this was because I didn't want her to leave.

So she left. I haven't seen her since and the only words she has spoken to me are her father's words, full of disdain and hatred and cruelty. He shows her the emails and text messages that I send him, she knows the figures in the financial settlement we are trying to agree on. She knows so much more than a 15 year old girl should about her parents divorce.

She says it is her choice not to talk to me. Her father shrugs and says 'what can I do?'. But he knows he's laid the poison, though he will deny it, and now he can leave it to her to take the reigns of what he began. He knows what he has done, he tried hard enough with all three of them to do it, thankfully our oldest boy can see this now, and our youngest is too young to make those kinds of decisions.

I am a good, dedicated Mum to my children, I have never felt that I am not. I have, for many years now, been confident in my parenting and even more confident that I show my children so much love. I'm not perfect by any stretch but, like any mother, my children mean the world to me. My daughter and I were always so close, best friends, so alike and we had so much that we shared just between us, as mothers and daughters do. We were closer than she was to her dad for many years. He was often detached and aloof from us all, regularly preferring to have a beer on his own than watch a film with me and the kids. He would often be too hard on her, more so than the boys, and I'd console her, reassure her and be as strong a foundation as I was able to be for them, beneath his changing moods and outbursts.

I didn't see this coming. It has ripped out a piece of my heart that won't repair until I am with my beautiful daughter again. It is like a gaping wound, weeping and bleeding and it is hard not to fall, not to break and give up.

But I won't give up, I will fight until my last breath. I haven't done anything so wrong that I deserve to lose one of the three most wonderful things in my entire life.

I do not deserve to lose my child because I left an abusive marriage and found happiness again.

My daughter does not deserve to lose her Mother because her Father cannot let go of his anger.

I am fighting a narcissist in her father, and my biggest fear is that she will become his next target. I will be there for her no matter what, she knows that, I text her and tell her regularly. I know she won't reply and even on the occasions she does it is to berate me. To tell me stories her father has told her, to use his words to hurt me because she's been told time and time again that I deserve it.

I want her to know that we have a good life here, it is happy, fun, relaxed and calm. There's a lot of giggling that goes on in our new home, there's a lot of love. I want her to know that she'd love it here. I want her to know that she is welcome anytime. By all of us.

On her 16th birthday I will be in such emotional pain, even I am having trouble imagining it's extent.

I will remember the many, many good times over those 16 years, that I could never forget. I will remember the love, the fun, the good times. Her beautiful, big blue/green eyes, her tendency to knock things over, her ability to make funny euphemism's without even trying, her art, her kindness, her hugs and the smell of her soft hair. I will remember when I gave birth to her, all pink and chubby, and those precious first few days of just me and her. Her cry, her infectious laugh, the same immature sense of humour as her mother. Her messiness, her dreaminess, her interest in the spiritual, her fascination with Buddhism, our in depth talks about the human mind and spirit. Singing like loons in the car, getting the words wrong and not caring. Making cupcakes. Dancing for no reason. Her ability to see both sides of a story. Her ability to not get sucked into peer pressure. Her strength.

I will remember ALL of her. Every part of my wonderful little girl who is growing into a beautiful young woman. And I miss her every day.


We do NOT give permission for posts published as personal experiences to be reproduced, translated or otherwise published elsewhere. We will not contact people who submit their personal experiences on behalf of journalists, bloggers or other third sector organisations. These testimonies remain the intellectual copyright of their authors and must be treated with the ethical guidelines used by academics for research involving human subjects. Our full guidelines can be read here.

Comments are currently closed.

5 thoughts on “Parent Alienation after Domestic Abuse

  • Tracey McMahon says:

    I was so moved by this post. I too lost my children nine years ago at the age of 12&9. Everyday is like being stabbed and I so feel your pain.

    My then husband told me he was going to destroy me. He took my home and everything I had and he then took the two most precious to me. My children and I have not seen or heard from them since 2004 in a car park on a cold wet January day.

    But you will go on. It hurts, there is no law in place that can address this hidden problem. Loving relationships are eroded and we can do nothing whatsoever about it. We cannot fight – we are made out to be crazy/emotional/unbalanced. There is nowhere for us to go only inwards. The pain becomes less visible on the outside and turns inwards and it is us, as mothers who have to live with the pain. It is not often I write about this time of my life today. I find it too painful. From one mother to another, I felt I had to respond to you. Across cyberspace, I so feel your pain and if nothing else I can offer you a hand of support and say “I understand” Don’t give up, don’t give in and stand tall. You have done nothing wrong and your daughter will, in time, recognise this. But you have to be strong in order that when she comes back, she has her beautiful mother waiting with her heart and arms open to welcome her back.

    Please keep it together.

    With warmest wishes,

    Tracey McMahon.

  • JaneO says:

    Ah, this is an awful situation that you are in. I too nearly lost my son aged 16, and the only advice I can give you is to text regularly and not expect anything back. Eventually my son came back to me. But I had to hold my nerve, take the punches and wait. She will come back.

  • portiasmart says:

    Hi Anon.
    firstly I want to thank you for sharing your experience with us. I am so sorry that you are hurting x Your post is incredibly powerful for me. You see, I was once exactly like your daughter.
    I can’t share the details in order to respect my Mum’s privacy but after being protected by her from as much as she could, when I was about your daughter’s age, I eventually turned on her. All of my anger, resentment & pain came boiling out onto the one person I felt safe with. On reflection (years down the line)I realised that my anger was misplaced. That I needed someone to blame and that she was the person I felt able to “put” that on to.
    Of course she was not perfect! At times, she behaved in a way that hurt, said things that were painful. But she did not deserve the anger that I held towards every man that had ever harmed me. She reacted in anger, then hurt, and then guilt, which has never left her.
    Amazingly, after years of hurt and bloody hard work, she is NOW the centre of my life. I know now just how hard she tried to protect me, how much she loved me and how strong she is. I love her – she saved my life many times over.
    The point of my comment is to say, I believe that your daughter will come back to you. It may be hard, and painful and will be a back and forth process but I believe she will return. The love that you have for your daughter is powerful, feels very familiar and I think you are a wonderful woman. And your daughter is very lucky xxx

  • Cat says:

    Hi, I found your post deeply moving-it must have been very hard to write and I can only imagine how hard to go through.

    Your daughter will come back to you, I’m certain of it-you are loving and supportive abd keeping ghat door open and dialogue going (even only in one direction) is very important.

    You’re doing all you can and I hope so much that you’re reunited soon.

    Much love to you Cx

  • karen says:

    I’m so sorry to hear about your pain . I had a similar story and have been estranged from my son for the past 4 years. He is now 26 but does not have the thinking processes of a 26 year old . I left an abusive relationship with his father after 24 years of marriage. The pain is unbearable but does not define you…a woman’s spirit is stronger than this and I agree with the comments above. When you feel that pain take it as a sign to reach out…send that text..leave a message..write and keep making contact…no matter what. X x x