How to deal with family and friends sudden change in point of view

Avatar for happyasme
iVillage Member
Registered: 01-11-2012
How to deal with family and friends sudden change in point of view
3
Sun, 08-26-2012 - 3:47pm

I've recently filed for D. 

My mom's first reaction was that STBX would take the kids away or worse kill both myself and the children.  My brother at first congratulated me on taking this very first step in getting away from him.  He wanted me to make false accusation of physical abuse and threats with the police in order to get an RO and then I could change the locks.  He was afraid he would take the kids away and insisted I remove even their expired passports from the home.

And now that STBX got the D papers and his response was attempting to have flowers delivered, and painting the house...

My mom told him he needs to control his anger and we should go to marriage counseling.  My brother told him to leave for 2 weeks, let school start and then sit with a common friend or counselor to work things out.  He repeated this to me profusely.  I am being portrayed as mean and cold, because they think I am divorcing for money.  Money is part of it, because with the emotional abuse came heavy economical abuse, which I want to stop because I want to give my children a future and not be forced to follow him in his destructive ways...

How has anyone dealt with this?  What do I tell them?   I look like the bad guy, because I want what's best for my children.  He has never been physically abusive with me or the kids, and somehow, that makes him OK in their eyes, and all the broken items and heirloom they see as just anger episodes.  It's strange that strangers, and acquaintances and work collages that don't know him have a better understanding and more empathy than my closest family. For example the work colleague who told the flower delivery guy to send the flowers back ask me afterwards what's up?  I told her I had asked for a divorce and my H wasn't taking it well.  She immediately got a sense of what kind of situation I was in and has been very supportive. 

I almost feel like not talking to my family until all is said and done.  I feel betrayed.

Avatar for cajunharmony
iVillage Member
Registered: 02-28-2001

Hi Happy, I truly wish I could say this is a first for this board, but, unfortunately, it isn't.  This is one of the most frustrating things to deal with when leaving an abusive relationship.  Our family and friends, who never saw the abuse, only the "public" persona of the abuser, just can't understand why.  They  have no idea of the subtle and many ways abusers operate.  And it's especially hard for them if we never gave them any hint in the past of what was going on, and many of us DON'T because we feel so ashamed about what is happening to us.  This is one of the reasons DV happens so frequently.  Domestic violence thrives in secrecy.  So many of us have been raised not to "put our business out there"  because "family business is FAMILY business".  I have to admit this was not the case for me.  My family and friends recognized the abuser in my life for what he was and confronted me on many occasions about it.  But if you've read my story, you know what it took for me to finally leave. 

It sounds like your STBX has been in contact with your family members and feeding them "his side of the story", and they have bought it, hook, line and sinker.  Of course the abuser portrayed you as being "mean and cold", after all, in his eyes, he hasn't done anything wrong and he just can't understand why you're being so mean to him.  If this is the case, it's yet another example of his manipulations.  Only this time he's got new victims, your own family, to plead his case for him.  Our families love us and sometimes they do things like this because they just don't have a clue.  Perhaps you could print out  your original posts here and hand them to your family members and tell them to read them.  Then, once they have done so, tell them those are YOUR posts and this is why you have chosen to divorce your abusive STBX. 

(The following is what I would do if it were me.  I'm not telling you that you NEED to or SHOULD do this, it's simply a suggestion and a scenario.  It's up to you whether you use it, toss it out completely, or choose another path.) 

Now comes the hard part.  Then it will be up to you to set some boundaries with your family members regarding the divorce proceedings.  Select a time and place where everyone can comfortably meet that is private and peaceful.  Tell them that you appreciate their concern for you and the children but that they haven't been living your life and that you have made what you consider to be the best decision for yourself and your children.  Explain that you are going to be sharing what you consider your boundaries and then ask that they respect them.  Also tell them beforehand that there will be no interruptions, comments or questions from them until you have finished speaking. Then explain to them how things are going to be, what your next steps are, how you plan to effect this change in you and your children's lives, and how you plan to keep yourself and your kids safe, clearly and concisely, simply and honestly.  I would then tell them that now that I have explained myself completely, I EXPECT their full support and cooperation in respecting your boundaries and plan for your new life.  I would then explain the consequences of them NOT following your wishes and respecting your boundaries.  Be prepared to answer their questions, minimize their fears, acknowledge their concerns, but most of all, be prepared to STICK TO YOUR PLAN.  Also, explain to them why the two of attending marriage counseling together is a very bad idea and that you have already attempted that route, but STBX refused to participate.  

I'm sure he's filled their heads with so much BS they're looking at the world in many shades of brown.  If, at the end of all that, they are still pressuring you to "work things out", they truly DO NOT have your best interests at heart and you would be perfectly justified in cutting them out of your lives until they are ready to accept what has happened, why it happened, and have come to respect the choices that you have made.  In a sense, it IS a betrayal, because they are YOUR family, but I'll bet he got to them and fed them a line of crap.  Good luck, you are doing great.  Be sure to keep reading and posting as you go along this path to your personal freedom.  Don't wait for a crisis to post or update us.  We love to hear when you're having a good day too.  Learning to deal with what you're experiencing and rebuilding your life is hard work, it doesn't happen overnight and you aren't "healed" in just a few weeks time.  The members here have so much wisdom and strength to share with you, but we also have laughs, encouragement and incredible support, even on off-topic subjects. That's part of reclaiming our lives that the abusers took away.  Hugs, do what you have to do, Happy.  It is YOUR life and the life of YOUR children.  NO ONE else has the right to tell you what is best for you and your children.  My best to you.  

Mama Harmony

Avatar for happyasme
iVillage Member
Registered: 01-11-2012

Cajun,

Thank you for your response.  I am not surprised by their 180, its the suddenness and insistence part of it.

A quiet family meeting isn't going to work, it's practically impossible , when we are together there are always my children and/or my brother's present.  I also don't want to set-up a big thing and feel like I'm on trial to have to explain myself. 

I spoke to my mother earlier today, she was away on vacation so missed the last few weeks of drama (or lack off).  I reiterated that I have made the decision in the best interest of my children and the future I want them to have and it's MY decision.  She never really liked my husband and he never became part of the family.  My brother has always been the I am always right type, which my mother recognizes, so she did not consider too much my brother's account of what has recently transpired.   As for the friend I mentioned before, he texted me to call him the night before we went to court.  I called him, he was very upset by my not backing down.  I told him, I sincerely hope that STBX would act like a grown-up.  In hindsight, I wish I hadn't called him and it's probably better for me not to until all is said and done and over.

I think my best plan is if anyone wishes to challenge or say I am making a bad decision to simply say: "I have taken what I believe is the best decision for myself and especially my children and please respect my decision" 

STBX has moved his bullying to the court system and made it such that if I would go to a judge for an urgent order for him to leave he would make it a loose-loose situation, by doing everything possible to make the rest of the process as difficult as possible, basically he acted like a spoiled entitled child.  So I did not get to see a judge (at this stage, only written affidavits are allowed and my lawyer advised that the judge's decision is often like a roll of the dice).  I am now stuck with a living situation where he agrees to stay in the basement and only can use the kitchen if I'm not in it.  It actually is not too bad, there has been no more harassment, or arguments or anything else. 

I do feel that it is like snow accumulating and the avalanche, when it happens, will be big, bigger than any I have and to survive.  My therapist has said that STBX is the type of man who's public image and feeding his ego are very important.  He is proud and shows off that he is friend with local TV and sports personalities, preferring to spend his time with his important friends that do boring stuff with little people like his wife and kids, we are there as trophy wife and kids to be shown off when required.  With this in mind, my T thinks that calling 911 was the best thing I ever did.  That has shown someone outside the home, what is happening, and has sent a warning to him, that I will call 911 again if violence re-ignites.  My T also thinks, he wont do anything stupid, like try and take the kids and leave the country, or put the house on fire, because that would damage his perfectly crafted public persona and he would lose all credibility in the eyes of his friends. 

I feel somewhat safe, and slightly comforted my my T's analysis and the fact that the dynamics of DA are such that he has no control over me as long as I am sticking to my path and also that he has never been physically violent.  I am still not letting my guard down.

I do want this over with (the divorce and custody), but I know I must be patient so I don't get screwed in the process.

Happy xo

ps: I will pray for calm skies over your head and those of your loved ones as the storm passes.

 

Avatar for cajunharmony
iVillage Member
Registered: 02-28-2001

Wow, Happy, you're doing great!  I'm so sorry the jerk still gets to stay in the home, but it sounds like you're making the best of a bad situation and doing all the right things.  I'm glad your mom is back in your corner.  The most important thing is that you and the kids have a safety plan in place should things escalate.  Given his need to have a positive public image is a good thing and I hope your T is spot on in her assessment of him.  Still, best to be prepared because you never know when they will snap and go completely stupid.  Keep us posted.

Thanks for the prayers.  We are expecting TS strength winds and heavy rain here, which is no big deal.  I think the fact that this storm is going to be making landfall on the anniversary of Katrina has a lot of folks freaked out (and rightfully so).  Hopefully, if told to evacuate,they will do so.  Keep us posted and check in often so we know you're safe.

Mama Harmony