Keeping Your Child Safe With an Abusive Spouse
When going through a divorce, you may feel lost on how to protect your child from your abusive partner.
Unfortunately, getting the complete picture of everything your child may be experiencing can be challenging, especially in a different household. Here are some ways to minimize the risk of abuse.
Keeping your child safe
Dealing with an abusive partner or ex-partner can be draining. Wanting to keep your child safe can feel helpless. Here are some things to look for if you feel like your child may be a victim of abuse:
Behavioral issues- Seeing extreme behavior outside your child’s usual behavioral pattern. (examples: anger issues, large outbursts, or your child shutting down).
Physical signs- New marks, bruises, cuts, burns, or anything that becomes a repeating pattern outside of ordinary accidents.
Fear of adults or fear of seeing the other parent- If your child is flinching or pulling away, or negatively reacting to what would otherwise be typical physical touch (such as placing a hand on their shoulder). Fear of going to the other parent’s house or expressing concerns about being physically harmed.
Emotional signs of abuse- Your child may say they are called names or being put down. Your child may also start belittling themselves or repeating names the parent may have started calling them.
Physical self-harm- Hitting their head with their body parts such as hands, banging their head on items or walls, pulling out hair, or digging into their skin.
What else can you do to assist your child?
First and foremost, staying involved in your child’s life is crucial. Stay in communication with their other parent, and know what’s going on in their life. If possible, try to stay close to them physically as well. The more involved you are in their life, the less opportunity an abusive parent will have to harm them.
You must remain calm and levelheaded during the divorce process. Abusive parents often try to take advantage of the situation by provoking their ex into an argument. If you can avoid getting drawn into disputes and conflict, it will help to protect your child from being caught in the middle of a nasty divorce battle. Another helpful tip is to write down or save any information that is said by the ex. Save any text messages or pieces of information where they may admit to things they are doing/have done. Additionally, write down the date to keep an accurate timeline of information. Your child may feel safe confiding in you or a family member, so make sure your family documents what your child says.
Finally, make sure you have a solid support system in place. Whether it’s family, friends, or a professional therapist, having people you can rely on will help you stay strong during this challenging time. A therapist can also help your child have a safe space to talk about what is happening.
If you’re concerned about your child’s safety during a divorce, talk to a lawyer or other professional for advice on how to protect them best. Remember, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to this problem, but by taking some proactive steps, you can help to reduce the risk of your child being harmed during a divorce.
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