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Dealing with irrational accusations
I became separated from my de facto relationship of 20 years standing 3 months ago. Since that time my former partner has decided that she does not want to see me because she says she is scared of me, even though I have never been in any way aggressive, intimidating or threatening. Certainly not violent. Our two children are very comfortable in my company and come round to my temporary rental accommodation regularly.
I have honoured my former partners request that I not attempt to make any direct contact with her and have only gone round to our former shared abode to pick up my son to take him out. I have made it clear whenever I needed to do that.
I thought the passage of time would see her able to discuss with me an amicable settlement and have attempted to arrange some interaction through mediated communication with Relationships Australia, but she has refused to take part in that.
Last week I received an email that she compiled with the help of legal advice. This email suggested what was presented as an amicable agreement, but I found it anything but that for several reasons. It also suggested that I had committed family violence, which I found utterly ridiculous since I have always considered family violence abhorrent and can not see how any of my behaviour could possibly be interpreted as family violence.
So the question is - how do you deal with such an avalanche of false accusations? I have felt very betrayed and depressed because my former partner has a chronic illness, we survived on my income alone and I was essentially her carer for 20 years. None of anything that is happening makes sense to me.
I have thought very hard about it (obviously) and have come to the conclusion that I have absolutely nothing to feel guilty about. So I am comfortable in my own skin. It is still hard to deal with though. I got some very good advice from an old friend who told me that it is best to not get angry but to be firm about what I want. They seem to be good rules so I have followed them.
Irrationality is still hard to deal with though. Has anyone else had to deal with this sort of situation?
Hi Colt and welcome to the forums.
I'm sorry you feel so distressed right now. Separation with kids involved is hard enough let alone introducing accusations of abuse.
I think your friend has a good point to be calm and firm on what you need. Access to your children is the priority. Do you think it might be worth seeking legal advice so that you know what your rights are?
Although being accused of abuse is offensive and understandably upsets you please remember you have no idea what is or was going on in your wife's mind. I think along with calm and firm it is also very important that you show compassion. Do you think maybe she is unwell? Maybe she is frightened because of her mental illness you will try take the kids away? Maybe you being the sole income winner makes her scared you will argue she is incapable of providing? Who knows. Maybe she is lashing out because she is genuinely frightened but not for the reasons you think?
If you google the circle/wheel of power and control you will find an image which gives a larger view of what abuse can include. There are so many things that she may have seen as abusive (such as you being in control of the finances) which from your point of view are a non issue.
What I'm trying to say is do you know what you are specifically being accused of? Physical violence? Or of abuse? I think this is important to find out. Then to find out how this accusation can potential impact on your ability to see your children. That in my view is where a lawyer is vital.
I hope you can keep writing here to find support. I think also reading here might help you gain some understanding of the issues your wife is working through. Although you are understandably angry I hope you can remain calm and focus on taking care of yourself and your children.
I'm really sorry that you find yourself in such a difficult situation.
Quercus has given you some key direction. He has suggested that you put yourself in your wife's shoes, do some research into the wider definition of abuse and reflect on your relationship. It's really important that you honestly do this. Because, if at the end of the day after undertaking this work, you honestly reject your partner's assertions, then you need to seriously consider why she would make up such a story.
It could be that she's seriously unwell. It could be that she's seeking an advantage in the context of property settlements or access to the children. It could be that she just really wants to hurt you. It could be that she really believes domestic violence occurred despite the facts. Regardless of the reason, you still need to seek legal advice--particularly as she seems to one step ahead of you having already sought legal advice.
Couple of other suggestions for you ...
First and foremost, look after yourself. Perhaps pay a visit to your GP--a double appointment--to talk through how you are feeling and explore if you need additional psychological support. This will also start a paper trail to support your assertion that "none of anything that is happening makes sense to me."
Be very careful with regard to your future interactions with her. Do nothing that would scare her or cause her alarm, as she could seek an intervention order against you and this will potentially cause you harm now and down the track (if she does this you need to take this very seriously). You might like to start a little diary about your interactions, in case you ever need details (e.g. what was verbally agreed, when it was agreed, if there were any witnesses around, etc.).
Discuss none of this with your children. They need your total love and support and that means you must protect them, not draw them into the conflict. Hand in hand with this suggestion goes the notion that you should always behave with integrity--with the children and your ex-partner. Once upon a time, you loved this woman and you have two children to raise together--whether you like it or not.
Feel free to keep posting. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers.
Hi Colt, welcome
I wont repeat the good advice of the two responders above.
She can say anything she likes, claim this and that but it has no bearing on a court of law unless she has proof (police report for example) and it is relevant. Tales are a sign of desperation.
Your friends advice is good. Now, focus only on your children. Ex spouses can get really nasty for no reason. I mean, my ex wife stopped me patting my dog. It required me to walk 3 metres onto her front lawn after dropping our children off at her home. Quite nasty and for no good reason. This ex spousal rubbish attitude isn't in everyone but I suggest you be very prepared for some game playing on her part.
Make sure you have a family solicitor. Stay away from the false accusations- they are irrelevant just like how you were sole income earner- irrelevant. Make sure you have visitations/shared custody or other arrangement endorsed by the family court or she could do anything, go away for extended lengths of time and she wouldn't be breaking the law. . Unless absolutely necessary don't make direct contact eg allow your kids to walk to the car and to their home...no need to knock on the door. Take detailed notes if she talks to you and file them.
Be prepared for any actions like brainwashing of the children. If you need to discuss matters leave a note in the letterbox. All this until hopefully one day she realizes a friendly approach is best for the children. Essentially have as little to do with her as possible. It's what she wants, has a right to, so give that to her.
Fill your life with happy experiences. Be prepared for one or both children to one day come and live with you as its possible your ex's attitude will flow over to your kids and they will want out.
My ex even discouraged me from attending parent and teacher interviews claiming "there is no need, I'm the parent with sole custody"...I went anyway. You as a dad is as equally important as a parent not any way less equal.
You are right in having faith in yourself and no guilt. That's the way. What goes around comes around. My ex's second husband met me at the gate once. He ask me for advice. All the things he told me were the same issues I had with her. I told him "that's why I couldn't live with her, she's abusive". Then my eldest (12yo) came to live with me and never went back.
Stay strong, move on, leave legals to your lawyer,think of your kids and ....live a life of fun and love.
Thanks Nat, your suggestion of compassion is sensible. I do feel a sense of compassion for her, and we did see each other occasionally and our interaction was civil and pleasant. Then all of a sudden she emailed me insisting on no contact, which came as an extreme surprise. I don't have a great deal to base this conclusion on, but I suspect that her father is having a lot of input on proceedings.
I have arranged to see a lawyer and have spent the weekend preparing my responses to the accusations, suggestions etc so that I can brief the lawyer well when I see her on Wednesday. I got a good lawyer as well who was recommended by a friend of mine who go divorced about 10 years ago.
Thanks Summer Rose, what you write largely confirms that I have been doing things right, except I need to do the research on what can be interpreted as family violence - it is certainly not something obvious and I have definitely never, ever been violent. I did see my GP (really nice guy) and did not mean to talk in detail about it - just wanted some sleeping tablets and prescription renewal for other medication - but ended up doing so and in no time flat was sobbing uncontrollably.
I am concerned for my ex partner's mental health because so much of this seems so exceptionally irrational. But the nature of the interaction does not seem like her at all - so I suspect it is someone more aggressive, likely her father. I guess it will all come out in the wash.
Thanks Tony, reading your reply and those of the others has made me feel better. My children are older - a 19 yr old daughter who is therefore no longer a dependent, in fact she has done well to secure a good job, and a 14 yr old son, who is proving that he is dealing with it well. I do not talk to either of them about the separation - they are simply onlookers and I want the impact on them to be minimal. Anyway they are cool about it - took son out on Fri night and we had a great time at a local event, then had lunch with him the next day and discussed in detail one of his assignments, and my daughter came round to my place yesterday for a lunch I cooked, then fell asleep on the sofa for a couple of hours. They do not come across as people who are the least bit afraid of me.
I guess I'll just carry on doing what I think is right - no anger, compassion and firmness about what I want.