Dear “And You Will Have Kids”,
I read that you are an abuse survivor. My soon to be ex is also abusive. I suspect that he is now abusing the children during his visitation periods. I don’t know what to do or how to protect my children. Please help!
I am so sorry to hear about your situation. You don’t mention the type of abuse you suspect. Is it emotional, physical, or sexual? I’m going to give a general overview of these situations.
If you have any reason to be concerned about your children, and you suspect abuse, you can make a call to your local child protective agency. You don’t have to leave your name, and you can inquire about your concerns. If they feel that your concerns are of merit, they may decide to open a case.
If your child is in extreme physical pain, or seriously hurt, you should take him or her to the emergency room. Mention your concerns and ask that the doctor’s document them. If your child mentions sexual abuse to you, it’s important that you take him or her to the emergency room to see if any evidence can be gathered.
Before going off to the ER, I’d call your child’s physician as well to ask for advice and to again document the incident. Your child’s doctor may ask to see the child in the office, or they may suggest taking him or her to the ER.
If you suspect that your child is being emotionally abused, I’d suggest documenting it with her physician. The doctor should be able to give you more advice from there.
It’s very important to get your children into counseling of some sort. The counselor should discern if there is abuse going on. They will also document any signs of abuse that they see. If your child becomes very anxious or very depressed, the counselor can also recommend coping skills.
In addition, a good counselor should be able to help you to “abuse proof” your child. This means that the counselor will give your child techniques and ideas to stay safe. He will also help your child with strategies for keeping safe if the situation becomes unsafe. This is so important to discuss safety concerns, but it’s also important to discuss these things with someone who is a trained professional. The idea is to prepare your children without scaring them.
I wish you and your children the very best during this difficult time.