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Ask The Band: When Can A Child Decide Not To See The Other Parent?

Welcome, one and all to our semi-weekly event where YOU get to be bossy! 

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ask the band afraid of daughter

Hello The Band!

This is my first post ever here, I’m very private about personal things, especially having to do with my daughter, but I really need some input or suggestions as my daughter is afraid of her father.

My daughter is a nine-year old, straight A student who has received honor of the Principal’s Scholar Award. Smart cookie; so smart that she is afraid of her father – for really good reason.

We’ve got issues with the people on her father’s side of the family, that make me and my daughter afraid of her father. When I told his family that he was abusing me, it was assumed that I was lying because their Golden Boy would never!

I left him when my daughter was a baby by sneaking out one night through an open window, leaving a note behind suggesting that my ex get help – I was tired of the emotional abuse and domestic physical abuse. 

Now, he’s got a new wife and stepson and still has an every other weekend arrangement to see my daughter. Rather than do anything with her, he most often picks her up and takes her to his parent’s house – he actually sees our daughter very infrequently, but boy when he does, she’s afraid of her father.

See, he  treats her like she’s in boot camp or something. She told me she was terrified of him and he [alcoholic] drinks in the car. His wife isn’t much better, not only is she unstable like he is, but they fight and scream around my daughter. She’ll frequently use her as a pawn “Get your kid out of here!” He doesn’t spank our daughter since I established a no-spanking rule but she’s scared of her father nonetheless.

daughter afraid of father

She hates the environment they put her in: her supposed protectors spend their time with her swearing, fighting, throwing things at each other, and kicking each other out of the house on the regular.

His parents try to bribe my daughter with money, toys, and clothes if she agrees to live with them full-time, though they have no rights to custody. My daughter is really smart and she’s picked up on the fact that her father and his parents liked to say mean and ugly things about my family – especially me. I refuse to speak ill of her paternal side because I knew she’d see it when she was old enough and formed her own opinion.

She has.

My daughter is scared of her father, his temper, and the unhealthy environment where those who are supposed to protect her are abusing each other. She’s explained that she doesn’t want to see his side of the family or go to their houses any more; she’s just too scared of the volatility and is afraid of her father.

I’ve made an appointment with the magistrate to discuss our options; while I am the primary parent, legally I can’t keep her from seeing her father and their abusive family every other weekend. Most adults are afraid to speak in public but my daughter announced she would speak to a courtroom of people about how and why she never wants to be around them again – she’s so scared of them.

I guess I’m just wondering if anyone has been in a similar situation -what do you do when your child is afraid of the other parent

Do any of you have opinions on this?

What age is old enough to be able to tell them how she feels and for her to say NO I don’t want to see you?

What should I do?

Thank you for reading this, The Band.

13 Is My Happy Number

We at The Band do understand that a lot of our subject matter can be very dark and dense. This, however, is not a story of sadness, but of rebirth, finding a place in the world, and knowing just how valuable you are. 
We encourage each of you to tell us one of your stories – happy or not.
This is her incredible journey:

13 has always been my happy number.

Today is no different.

13 years ago today I left my first, abusive marriage. I didn’t know where I was going, what I was doing, or how I was going to survive or take care of my two boys (and their sister who was due in five months. But I did know this: the best place for all of us was NOT with their father.

Leaving was the first hard decision I’ve made as an adult, the first time I felt like an adult, the first time I ever felt like I had the ABILITY to make a decision for myself or my children.

a photo of carnival people on swings

Life after his abuse was not an easy time. it was easily one of the three hardest times I’ve ever experienced in my life.

I am so thankful that a support system came out of the woodwork when I needed it and helped us get through the transition and helped me feel secure enough in my choice to leave that I didn’t end up going back.

I can’t imagine where my children or I would be today if we hadn’t had that.

Mike and I met shortly after that fateful day, in a chatroom. Two years later on August 20th we found out we were having a baby! Baby Eliza blessed us with her presence on April 21st.

I know that it’s no coincidence that today would also have been my father-in-law’s birthday, may he rest in peace. I wish I’d had the chance to meet him.

Today has so many memories, meanings and significance for all of us. This is truly a day we will all cherish forever.

a crowd of people hands shaped into a heart

13 happy years of freedom, 12 years knowing my true love, and so many other memories. Amazing memories.

Before, After, and Between.

Today is a good day every year, and always will be.

How about you? Do YOU have a happy or lucky number or thing?

Ask The Band: Control

Sometimes, we find ourselves stuck in a domestically abusive relationship and don’t see a way out.

Can you please help her figure out what to do next? 

I’m in a controlling relationship.

Funny thing, though: we are not a couple.

We haven’t been “together” since I was three months pregnant with his daughter. That was when he decided to back me into a corner and scream in my face over something silly. That was after he broke my phone in half. My two older kids were asleep in the other room, and he refused to leave MY house. The next day, I took my kids to my aunt’s house with me. He got pissed and started screaming at me again.

I called my aunt behind his back and he tried to slap me, with my terrified children at my feet. I moved out in three hours, after he went to work one Saturday, with the help of some amazing friends.

exhausted from abuse

I missed grabbing some things in the shuffle and he refused to give them back. After I told the landlord I’d moved, he finally moved out; then he moved in with a mutual friend. The friend called me one day so I could get my things from his room while he was gone.

You should have heard that fight: What right did I have going into his house and taking his things? He never did understand that it was NOT his house, and I was invited by the homeowners AND didn’t touch his stuff. I only took mine.

Shortly after that, he amazingly made up with one of his “mortal enemies” and moved in with them. The best part? The house was three houses away from my grandma’s – where I’d moved with my children. He’d call every time I left the house or returned home – every time there was a car in the driveway. Sometimes, he’d call over 10 times in one minute.

One night, I called the police. The next day I got: “I don’t know which of your boyfriends you had call me, but I know you’re a liar and that was not a cop. A cop wouldn’t have restricted their number.” That is the level of stupid I deal with.

Our daughter – who is now four – was born and things are just as bad. If he even THINKS I am seeing someone he says, “We need to talk.”  One time, after he found out I was dating someone, he refused to give my daughter back after a scheduled visitation.

I called the police.

They showed up and he said, “Oh I’m sorry officer. I never told her she couldn’t take the baby. I was just going to get her when she called.”

Mind you, he pushed me out of his way because I was just going to go in the house and take her. My other kids again, right there, saw it all.

If I make plans, he wants to know with whom, where, and when. And if he can watch the kids, which he doesn’t seem to understand will NEVER happen.

The one time I allowed him to watch all the kids, he decided to take a bath with my daughter – my daughter from a previous marriage. During this (naked) bath, he talked to her about his flaccid penis floating in the water. The detectives couldn’t prove anything, other than suspicions that he was “grooming” her, so everything was dropped.

This is the ONE thing I said would never happen to my kids, and I just handed it to him. Let the courts handle it instead of letting every single person I know kick his ass. And in the end, I should have just let them. Maybe then he’d understand.

It KILLS me that I have to leave my youngest daughter with him. It is sad that I had to teach my (then) not-even-two-year-old about good touch and bad touch. No one should have to do that.

The controlling goes on and on. I’ve told him to leave me alone. He always threatens custody, which, okay, I know I can’t afford that fight. He can because his mom always backs him up. no. matter. what. So, I stay quiet.

He makes sure our daughter has what she needs and I’m grateful for that.

But part of me wonders if it’s another way to control me – every time I refuse to tell him what I’m doing, he asks our daughter about me. Every time. Never fails.

He will buy me underwear or swimsuits, and he won’t take “no” for an answer. When we drop off or pick up our daughter, he backs me into a corner and kisses my neck. He makes inappropriate comments. I absolutely know this tactic. But I’m so tired of fighting – I simply don’t say anything.

Pervert is sometimes easier to deal with than asshole. In doing this, I know I’m letting him win. My depression will never get better with his behavior – I simply don’t know how to stop it.

He’s been blowing up my phone for two days because I didn’t tell him good morning or answer a rhetorical text he sent.

I love my daughter to pieces – don’t get me wrong…but sometimes…nope, can’t even write it. I love her too much.

I just want to take my children and run far, far away.

I don’t know what to do, The Band, and I don’t know how much longer I can keep doing this.

How do you get out of a controlling, possessive relationship when you have children together, but you aren’t even “together” anymore?

I Forgive

Forgiveness is an interesting concept.

In order to fully live my life in the ways I’d like, I must forgive myself and others. I must be grateful for being forgiven.

Thank you for forgiving me for:

Being mean to you.

Taking our friendship for granted.

My snot-nosed-brat behavior.

My poor choice in friends at the time.

When I used you.

Leading you on.

I forgive you for:

Telling me that I wasn’t cool enough to be your friend, but only at school.

Bullying me.

Treating me as an inferior being.

Slamming my hand in my eighth grade locker.

Not keeping your word.

Not being there when I needed you most.

Giving up on our friendship.

Emotionally and verbally abusing me.

Cheating on me, and continually lying to my face.

Coming way too close to hitting me.

Using me and leeching off of me.

Making me let myself feel like a crazy, clingy girlfriend.

But. Most of all, I forgive myself.

In my lifetime, I’ve been far worse to myself than anyone else has been to me. I’ve bullied and hated myself. I’ve clung to anger. I’ve ignored my instincts. I’ve verbally and emotionally assaulted myself.

No more.

I forgive myself. It’s time to heal and let go. It’s time to be kinder and gentler with myself and others.

And so, I forgive and let go. I float on, always remembering to be grateful, to forgive, and to love.

PTSD and Childhood Bullying – A Silent Suffering

I always thought that PTSD was something soldiers developed – I was naïve; had no idea anyone could develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. After my teenage son began to get into trouble, I assumed we’d become another statistic – a family with an out-of-control teen.

After we started family counseling, my therapist suggested that I try private therapy. About a week into it, I was diagnosed with PTSD. The therapist said were several things that led to PTSD.

PTSD, or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, can occur when something horrible or traumatic has happened in. It causes stress every time you encounter a situation is similar to the previously-experienced traumatic events.

I’ve had a few types of traumatic events. I had a rocky relationship with my father growing up and then his death was both very sudden and very traumatic. An abusive relationship with my ex. I’ve experienced abuse from my son. Lastly, I was bullied by a girl from second grade all the way through high school.

My reactions to everyday situations can be more intense than they need to be – but whenever I am in a stressful or threatening situation, I relive past experiences. It’s hell, reliving the same horrible day over and over.

Once, when I saw my grade school bully in the grocery store, while I was there with my kids and we were checking out. The sound drained out of the store. My heart began to race. Blood pumped in my ears. My face got hot. As soon as I was able, I grabbed my kids and ran for the car. I must’ve driven break-necking speeds home, but I don’t remember getting there.

I had a panic attack after seeing this woman! We live in a small town and the odds of running into her are probably higher than in other areas, but I never see her. When I did, I hit fight or flight mode, and flew! That was six years ago.

Since I began therapy, I’ve seen her again. My daughters were with me, and this time I made sure to make eye contact with her as I turned to my daughters and said, “Girls, let’s go check out. I think we’ve got all we need now!” I turned and went to check out. As we left I felt so proud of myself for facing her, and not fleeing like a chicken facing slaughter!

Thanks to the ways she traumatized me, I always tell my kids, “Don’t take anyone’s crap at school!” Recently my daughter was getting harassed by a staff member at her middle school. I contacted the principal and reported her. This woman has not bothered my daughter since I reported her; threatened to file a sexual harassment suit against the school.

Since starting therapy, I stand up more than I used to. Despite all the reasons my therapist thought that I was traumatized, I think the bully and my father’s sudden death were the two that really affected me.

I was a victim of domestic abuse, but I came to terms with it, and took a stand. I left my then-husband and married the man responsible for making me feel like I was worth more. I call him my White Knight because I was considering suicide when we met – he saved me.

My son and I have resolved many of our issues and are working on our relationship; things are getting better.

I still have issues with my dad’s death.

See, I was blamed for him dying. He died from cancer 14 years ago and afterward, I was told that being around stressed him out – caused his cancer to return after it had been in remission.

Being blamed for his death is a hard thing to overcome. But this year, I was able to make it past his birthday and the anniversary of his death (exactly a month apart) without being a total mess!

To all those out there who have been bullied, abused, or lost a loved one, don’t assume you are strong enough to deal with it on your own.

PTSD snuck up and took over my life. I’d been miserable for years because I didn’t know what I was trying to cope with on my own. I suffered for years without understanding why, until I didn’t want to live any more.

Now, I cannot imagine having missed one day of my kids lives. Good or bad, I want to be there for it all. When they graduate from high school, when they get married, go off to college, when they start their own families. I want to be there, protect them from the problems I had. To tell them, “You’re better than this!” Or smile for them after they avoid bad situations entirely!

Don’t hesitate to get help for PTSD. It really does make a difference.

I never wanted to go to therapy every week, but I am, and I am doing much better. My therapist told me last week that he thinks I am nearly ready to be done. I think that’s a remarkable thing to hear – I am better, I can do it.

My therapist told me recently that I’m a remarkable person for dealing with what I’ve experienced, and still managing to smile. I told him that despite any issues I’ve had, I have great kids and a loving husband.

That’s all I could ask for!

This Is Why We’re Not

This, tonight, is why were not married yet, Love.

I tell people it’s because we both want to finish school first and don’t want to risk a long-distance marriage, but that’s not the whole truth.

It’s your temper.

I rarely see it, but when I do, it’s explosive. I can’t handle that after living with my mother.

Every few months or so we get into a disagreement about something and you explode in anger, yelling at me. Usually after your outburst I just sit there in silence, scared that it’s going to escalate like it always did with her. It never does, it’s just an awkward silent time.

After every fight, I apologize first, because I know I’m very opinionated and sometimes I talk over you, which means you feel like I don’t respect your opinion. I’m trying to fix that, prefacing my statements with “in my opinion” or, after you’ve told me your opinion, I’ll say “I see where you’re coming from” to let you know that I do hear and respect your thoughts, even as I keep my own.

Tonight, you hit my cat for scratching you. I warned you that if you started playing with him you’d probably get scratched because he’s still a baby; apparently you ignored me. When he did scratch you, you hit him, and I grabbed him away from you and got onto you. I had warned you about him several times and then you exploded, yelling at me about how the cat should know better. A few moments of silence ensued, we started talking about other things, and as you left, I apologized.

I always apologize.

You. Never. Do.

This is why we’re not married yet: you’ve never learned to swallow your pride and apologize, even when you know you’re wrong.

I hope in the next couple of years you get better at expressing yourself so you don’t get frustrated and yell at me out of nowhere. So you can let me know when you feel slighted before it ends up exploding out. I know you have issues communicating your thoughts and that’s why I still happily wear this ring on my finger. I hope you learn to apologize, not necessarily for your actions, but for what your actions caused.

We’re young; we’ve got some growing up left to do. I know I’m to blame in this, too. But I’m not going to marry you when your temper explodes like that. I lived 19 years with that, and I’m not doing it again. You may think it was just a little hit to teach the cat that was wrong, but you did it in anger; if you hit a cat in anger, who’s to say you won’t hit a child in anger?

This is why we’re not.

I love you.

I can’t wait to walk down the aisle and finally take your name as my own. But I will wait. I can wait as long as it takes for you to realize that this is a problem that we’ve discussed before, and maybe now is the time to figure out some strategies to deal with this.

Because, let me tell you, I will NEVER live in a house where I am afraid of outbursts again. I’ve lived through the bruises from my mother when she exploded in anger. I’ve lived through locking myself in the bathroom as my brother exploded, punching through the wall, and breaking the windows out of his car, and I will NOT do it again.
You’ve never hit me, and you probably never will. But every time your anger explodes out of nowhere like that, I’m taken right back to those days living in fear that the yelling is just the first step. I’m not going back.

I love you. Ninety-nine percent of the time you are the greatest guy I could ever ask for, but this has to stop.