My good friend is a family lawyer, and she often represents men in divorce and custody cases. She has provided counsel to a great number of emotionally abusive women and men. She has witnessed the damaging effects of parental alienation, toxic and abusive behavior, the manipulation of children at the hands of parents and siblings, and how all parties in divorce and custody cases can fall victim to unfair court systems.
She has consulted with people who have been subjected to repeated harassment from ex-partners. When a couple separates and children are involved, too often, one partner continues to harass and intimidate their ex-partner out of spite. Nearly every divorced/separated parent, between the beginning of proceedings and the final judgment, will experience harassment at the hands of their ex-partner.
Trust me — if it hasn’t happened to you yet, it is likely to occur. There will be many vicious messages about the child’s clothing and appearance when visiting the other parent. There will be arguments about the pickup locations.
What Does The Alienating Parent Do?
The alienating parent might try to completely erase you from the child’s life by:
- withholding communication about the child’s school;
- withholding information about the child’s medical issues;
- making arrangements for the child during the other parent’s visitation timeslots;
- stopping the child from communicating with the other parent;
- badmouthing the other parent in front of the child; and/or
- creating false-negative memories about the child’s other parent.
There can be times when the people associated with the alienating parent might talk poorly about the alienated parent in front of the child and/or contacting the parent to whom they are allied to pressure the alienated parent when the two are in a disagreement.
There may be a stream of phone calls and texts from the alienating parent about what needs to happen and who is around the child(ren) during your parenting time, whether the two of you agree on vacation time, and so forth.
For some parents, these things constitute minor annoyances that they can deal with quietly to keep the peace. Usually, the alienated parent would ignore unwanted messages and try to keep the communication only about the essential things in the hope that the stream of threatening and controlling messages would cease.
When the Harassment Worsens
Unfortunately, there are cases where the ex-partner’s behavior worsens, and alienated parents will feel harassed and intimidated. This behavior may include:
- repeated and unwanted emails and phone calls when you have stated that these bother you;
- unwanted and unannounced visits from your ex-partner;
- aggression and threats towards you;
- belittling and spreading lies about you in front of the child’s teachers;
- spying on you; and/or
- property destruction (i.e., damaging or destroying gifts that you have given to the child).
What can you do?
Many alienated parents fear reporting their ex-partner for harassment, dreading that if they do so, that might somehow affect their visitation rights.
- Don’t excuse the abuse. Your relationship with your children will suffer more if you allow your ex-partner to harass you.
- Consider this to stop your ex-partner from harassing you. Obtain a new court order that limits the communication between you and your ex-partner and between you and his/her allies. This way, you can eliminate the repeated phone calls, evening text messages, unwanted emails, and calls/texts from your ex-partner’s extended family and friends over irrelevant issues that are none of their business.
These are excellent options to consider when your ex-partner interrupts your parenting time and is trying to wreak havoc in your life. Endure, endure, and endure – until it’s no longer necessary.
When your co-parent is bombarding you with inappropriate messages, you may want to do the same. Please don’t — you must resist the urge to retaliate this way.
If your ex-partner is sending you spiteful messages, don’t respond.
This is important – keep a record of these messages; you will need them later to document the harassment complaints with your attorney and the police.
I would advise you to delete and deactivate your social media accounts for some time. Taking yourself off social media will remove the path for the harasser (and their accomplices, the “lying monkeys”) to reach you and learn about things you are doing in your free time.
Unfortunately, your toxic ex-partner will use and abuse every piece of information they find about you.
Harassment between co-parents is incredibly inappropriate, no matter which way you look at it. You must focus on protecting yourself and your children from this damaging and toxic behavior.
Speak up and stand up for yourself and your children.
Alienated parents tend not to complain. Unfortunately, it is essential for parents (primarily silent men) to get over their pride and speak about this abuse because it is the right thing to do.
So please, do not wait to talk to someone about what you are experiencing, especially someone who can help you to stop it healthily.
Experiencing harassment is very stressful and will affect all areas of your life. Opening yourself up to supportive family members, trusted friends, and helping professionals will give you the strength and support to develop the coping skills and strategies to protect yourself from harassment and raise your children in a loving environment.
Just because you have a child together doesn’t mean you can’t report abuse and harassment from the other parent to the police. Your ex-partner will use the child(ren) as their reason to harass you; you mustn’t use the kids as an excuse to tolerate your ex-partner’s behavior. Keep a record of all the messages; you can even re-send the messages back as a warning to your ex-partner. Make sure your behavior and how you talk to your co-parent is civil so they can’t justify incivility with you.
Tell your ex-partner that you will file charges if the harassment and abuse don’t stop. Before you do that, go to the police or to your attorney and tell them your situation so they can give you more information on how to handle it.
You should always keep the focus on your children, and reporting harassment and abuse is the right thing to do, even when it comes from the mother of your child.
If your ex’s behavior is unbearable and intimidating, you must report matters to the police – especially if you have obtained a restraining or protective order. The police have the ability to issue warnings about behavior, which is sometimes enough to bring it to an end. If the police find that the behavior is seriously concerning, they find cause to arrest your ex.
Even if no action is taken, it would be logged into a system. This might help, in the long term, to show a pattern of inappropriate behavior and a history to your situation.
Also, work on your own issues. Seek help from professionals and therapists who specialize in Parental Alienation. Additional support is available from our partners at the CPTSD Foundation. Through the Resources page, you can join their Daily Recovery Support Program at a 50% discount off the monthly membership rate.
You don’t want your child(ren) to grow up and either become an abuser or tolerate abuse from others. You must set the examples for your child’s future. Show them that you love them and have the confidence and ability to stand up for them to anyone, including their other parent.