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On the last track, we discussed Helping Them to Cope. These will include infants, toddlers, five to nine-year-olds and adolescents.
On this track, we will discuss Divorce After Violence. This will include explaining the violence, maintaining connection, getting back to a normal relationship with the abuser and life without the abuser. As you listen, think of your clients. What advice do you give them, and how does it compare with the suggestions on this track?
I stated, “It might be necessary to limit the contact between your children and your husband, for any length of time. However, striving to maintain a connection with your ex is about helping your children see their father as a whole person. They will probably want and even need to hear about his good traits, as well as his bad traits.” Do you agree? Maria stated, “It’s been so long since there has been anything positive to say about him…I don’t even know if I can remember them anymore…”
I stated, “Think hard. You must have seen good traits in him at sometime, or else you would not have married him. Try to think about the goodness underneath the violence. As difficult as this may be, your children will need to know that their father is not all bad, even though he is a person who has made poor choices.” Maria stated, “And those are not choices my children need to repeat!” I stated, “You’re absolutely right. But your children will need to learn that they can take the good traits they may have inherited and choose to make good decisions with them.”
I stated, “It might take a long time before any semblance of a normal relationship between your children and your ex can begin, if it does at all. The violence is not likely to stop until the abuser is willing to take full responsibility for what he has done and acknowledge that he was solely responsible for his own abusive behaviors.” Maria stated, “I don’t know if that will ever happen…he does love his children…but he would have to swallow a lot of pride to do that…”
I stated, “If Emmanuel does take the necessary steps to recovery, it could be possible to develop a peaceful co-parenting plan in two separate homes. In order for this to happen, as you are aware, you and your children will need to be out of the violent relationship and out of harm’s way. Emmanuel will need to ‘fix himself first’ before attempting what would be a new kind of relationship for all of you. You might want to work through your own grief and pain related to your experiences as well.”
I stated, “I very much believe you. However, to condemn Emmanuel can cause you to get caught in the negative cycle of condemnation. This can use up your own energy and optimism. This lack of energy could inhibit your life.” Maria stated, “You’re right…that would be like giving him or my memories a kind of power…and I don’t want that!” I stated, “Then you can deny your husband the power he could have in his absence by not condemning him in front of your children.”
On this track, we discussed Divorce After Violence. This included explaining the violence to the children, maintaining connection after the abuser has left, getting back to normal relationship with the abuser, and life without the abuser.
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