It’s day 6 of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Today’s In His Own Words features “Thom” — yet another father and child casualty of the family court meat grinder.
Thom could no longer take his Borderline Personality Disordered wife’s abuse and filed for divorce. Even though Thom had overwhelming evidence proving he is the better parent and that his wife is incredibly troubled, it didn’t matter. The freshly divorced custody evaluator, his former sister-in-law (a social worker), his lying ex-wife and an impotent family court judge saw to that.
A BPD Mom and a Recently Divorced Custody Evaluator Walk into a Courtroom . . .
I always knew something wasn’t quite right with my ex-wife. I had a visceral reaction to her comments and interactions almost daily. For example, “Men are scum. I don’t believe in monogamy. I can take care of myself.” In hindsight, she exhibited most, if not all, of the borderline personality disorder traits from early on.
She played the victim role to a “T.” I am a people pleaser-hero-rescuer type, so I foolishly felt a need to help, protect and love her since she was misunderstood and treated so unkindly by all the men before me, or so I was told. I also grew up with high expectations to follow in my very accomplished father’s footsteps. I was always trying to be perfect, to make others happy and that’s what I did with my ex. I continually made excuses for her and purposefully didn’t tell my friends and family what she was saying and doing behind closed doors.
I felt trapped because we had a child on the way. A few of my friends (who are counselors) mentioned they thought my then wife exhibited many borderline characteristics. I talked her into going to couples counseling, but she lied at every session and tried to recruit the counselor as a negative advocate.
During our time together she:
- Systematically isolated me from my friends/family.
- Took control of our finances, set a budget for us and then didn’t follow it putting us $10,000 in debt.
- Called me all kinds of names.
- Accused me of wanting to sleep with her sister if we hung out without her.
- Accused me of cheating on her.
- Slapped me.
- Threatened to leave and take our child away from me after every disagreement, no matter how small the disagreement.
- Our marriage counselor asked her not to threaten divorce for 6 months. Once we left the session, she yelled at me and stated that she didn’t want to be married to me any more.
- Moved my belongings into the guest room numerous times after a disagreement – saying we should just be friends.
- Called me evil, said she hated me, said I made her pregnancy unbearable, that I was a terrible husband and father and that she would never have a second child with me.
- Told me I was not the man she fell in love with almost daily.
- Secretly maintained contact with her exes, yet cried and made threats and ultimatums if I hung out with a completely platonic female friend.
- She grew up poor, so I went into debt buying her a Tiffany’s engagement ring
- We had the wedding she wanted. It was a small ceremony – none of my family and friends were allowed to attend.
- We had the birth she wanted – a home birth with all her family in the room. I wanted an intimate/private symbolic birth of our new beginning free of her family’s constant intrusions.
- I traded my car in because she couldn’t drive a stick shift to get something we could both drive.
- At the end of our marriage, she claimed there was no reason for her to stay because I “did nothing” for her.
When she slapped me, I stopped, sat back, and said in a very calm, but direct tone, “Please never touch my face or hit me like that ever again.” I explained that I had been blindsided in a bar once and had my nose broken and that I had a girlfriend shove me in the face once and her ring scratched my eye.
My ex said that I couldn’t hold her accountable for the events that happened earlier in my life and now that I asked her to stop, she was going to slap me more whenever she had the chance.
She had sexual hang ups from day one. She cried when I touched her, said it hurt when I stimulated her, that her nipples were too sensitive to touch, etc. Through all the weirdness, somehow we got pregnant.
We had no sex for 9 months, and she used the pregnancy as an excuse not to be intimate and to explain her drastic and violent mood swings. If I tried to be physical she said I was being insensitive. If I didn’t touch her then I was told, “You don’t find me attractive” or “You think I’m gross” or “You think I’m ugly.” After an argument, she would run off with no discussion with our child to live with her sister.
I finally had enough and filed for divorce.
We had comprehensive psychological evaluations done. We both took the MMPI and the MCMI. She was found to be clinically histrionic (96th percentile), to be “incapable of sustaining interpersonal relationships” and “overly dramatic to a point that her behavior causes severe problems with family, friends, and ultimately our marriage.” Our marriage counselor reported that my ex exhibited traits from all the cluster B disorders (Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder and Histrionic Personality Disorder) and also believes she was sexually abused. All of this information was presented to a custody evaluator along with 200+ emails and 43 recorded voicemails that included all of the above abuse.
The judge initially ruled that I was to have “temporary legal custody” since I was the “more fit parent to make medical decisions.” My ex failed to bring our child to the doctor when she was throwing up for 2 days straight, refused to get her vaccinations, refused to give eye drops for a severe case of bacterial conjunctivitis, etc.
I am an educator and have impeccable relationships with my colleagues, students and their families. During our custody evaluation, the following people spoke to the custody evaluator on my behalf:
- My school’s principal;
- My school’s two vice-principals;
- 15 teachers from my school;
- Our pediatrician (my ex didn’t believe in modern medicine or vaccinations and caused scenes at numerous baby check ups and shots);
- The behavior specialist at my school;
- Two special education teachers at my school;
- Two ESL teachers at my school;
- Three groups of parents of former students;
- Two marriage counselors; and
- Two school counselors.
All of them told the custody evaluator about their concerns regarding my ex and described my positive attributes. In sharp contrast, my ex had her younger sister (a social worker) and a family friend speak to the evaluator. That’s it. She has no one else. And I discussed that fact with the evaluator.
The custody evaluator, freshly out of her own divorce, dismissed all the information and claimed there was “absolutely no sign of emotional abuse in our relationship.”
All of my character witnesses got a 2-sentence paragraph in a 29-page evaluation document. It read, “XXXXXXX is a well respected professional. He has numerous friends and coworkers that confirm he is an excellent teacher and friend.”
The custody evaluator also said that I have “little to no understanding of early childhood development” and that having “limited time” with me was in our daughter’s “best interests.” I found this quite odd since I have a Masters Degree in Education with 12 credit hours of undergrad course work, 10 hours of graduate course work and almost 10 years of teaching experience.
My ex even lied on the witness stand in front of the judge and had her sister (the social worker) lie to the custody evaluator. She faked tears and told an hour’s worth of BS stories claiming I was the abuser and that I did all of the things she was guilty of and what we had talked about her doing to me at our numerous counseling sessions. She stopped just short of accusing me of child abuse, using the words “neglectful” and “uncaring” in regards to my daughter and me.
In the end, the custody evaluator overturned the judge’s ruling and cleared my ex of any wrongdoing. She said that she is “fine” and that I “made everything up.” The psych evaluator suggested that my ex get into an intensive counseling program, but my ex refuses saying, “I’m fine. You are the one who is f***ed up.”
She now has full legal and physical custody.
Towards the end of our time together, she would cry during intercourse or oral sex, so I stopped trying. My body shut down and for the first time I experienced impotence and premature ejaculation. Since the divorce, she has asked for back rubs and has sent me sexually explicit texts/pictures. She is back to her old ways dating numerous guys simultaneously. She drops hints about her “friends” or tells stories about her latest guy. Last week at the custody exchange she mentioned that all she wants to do lately is have lots of sex.
Recently, our 3-year old daughter was on the toilet and was patting her legs. She looked up at me and said, “Mommy says I have big fat legs.” When my ex picked her up that evening she said, “Hurry up and get in the car. We need to get home since mommy hasn’t eaten all day.” I wrote my ex a very factual, polite email about eating disorders (ex had both anorexia and bulimia when she was a teen) and suggested that she choose her words a bit more carefully around our daughter. In response I got a page long email about how it’s none of my business, how I don’t support my ex’s vegan lifestyle and that she was “only teasing” our daughter, etc.
My daughter has also said that mommy cries in the bathroom a lot and yells and puts her in time out all the time. I get her for 2 hours on Wednesday evenings and from 7:45am on Saturdays until 5:30pm on Sundays. When it’s time to hand her back over, she refuses to go out to meet her mother every single time. She throws her shoes behind the couch and runs upstairs and hides in her room. She grabs my clothes and cries and verbalizes that she doesn’t want to go to mommy’s house.
I will just have to wait it out until my daughter is old enough. Maybe the courts will listen to her about what is going on in her mother’s home. Hopefully, her mental/emotional state will not be irreparably damaged by then.
Divorcing my BPD ex and trying to exercise my parental rights has been a 3-year, $30,000 battle. A battle in which all I wanted was 50% of the time with my daughter and for my ex to assume 50% of our marital debt (we were married less than a year and she managed to rack up $10,000 in credit card debt), which is generous seeing as she took every piece of baby furniture, clothes, accessory, etc., and I am forced to pay $700 a month in child support.
I guess I am just lost in all this. I am stuck here and will need to interact with this woman for the next 15 years. I don’t want anything to do with her and don’t know how to successfully deal with her when she tries to instigate a fight or sex. I know I don’t want our daughter to grow up to be like my ex and her family. They are all divorced, on welfare, bankrupt, have removed children from their fathers and are completely enmeshed.
It kills me. But there is nothing I can do.
In His Own Words is an effort to help raise awareness about the invisible victims of domestic violence, men. If you would like to submit your story, please follow the guidelines at the end of this article.
Counseling with Dr. Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD
Dr. Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD helps individuals work through their relationship and codependency issues via telephone or Skype. She specializes in helping men and women trying to break free of an abusive relationship, cope with the stress of an abusive relationship or heal from an abusive relationship. Coaching individuals through high-conflict divorce and custody cases is also an area of expertise. She combines practical advice, emotional support and goal-oriented outcomes. Please visit the Schedule a Session page for more information.
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It always blows me away how NOT unique my own experiences with having a BPD wife were. I never used to talk about it because I thought no one would believe me, then I come here and in almost every story… Its like the guy was married to the same crazy I was, doing and saying the exact same things. Its just uncanny. It freaks me out sometimes.
Thanks for posting this series.
It’s funny how all borderlines almost frantically claim: don’t make generalizations, we are not all the same.
Yeah its like alcoholism. Lots of shame, guilt, fog…secrets. You don’t want to be the only one living with or suffering from alcoholism. In our case, we don’t want people to know that as men, we have been taken advantaged of and ‘bested’ by a woman. Its socially unacceptable for a man to be considered ‘weaker’ than a woman. Granted, we now know it has nothing to do with weakness per se, but the rest of society doesn’t know that.
BPD/NPD/Sociopaths will do anything in their power not to be exposed, including maiming or killing. Exposure is worse than death for these people…and our shame, mostly as men married to these kind of women, keeps us silent and suffering. This and other websites helping get the word out on these crazies, and giving us a platform to vent and recover.
Cuatezon, and everybody, how do you deal with those feelings, with shame and losses, and the fact that you were abused?
Cicak, reading & sharing is therapeutic. I read & see that I’m not the only man to go through this; and sharing is cathartic and hopefully helps others see they are not the only one being victimized, that its not us, but rather our sociopathic partners who are the problem. I think for many of us men, we don’t ‘group well’ like women do, i.e., we don’t network as well and so we get isolated, and the society/culture again, automatically considers men as the victimizers. So its easy to get discouraged.
I don’t say this lightly, but its like rape. We’re never the same again, but, hopefully we can somehow find meaning & cope. Dr T’s articles and website are phenomenal, really a life saver. Dr T gets it and she is unwavering in her assessments of these sociopaths. Many of the members on this site we understand each other and find solace in not being alone.
I’m not sure that I always deal well with the feelings, and I’m still living a nightmare but at least I’m out of the marriage and not under that enormous stress. I also think seeing a counselor or therapist helps. This is a trauma we’ve undergone and shouldn’t underestimate whats happened/happening to us. Try to take as good of care of yourself as you can.
Every time I read someone else’s story of woe, my hear sinks into my stomach, and I get angry for you guys on your behalf. I know what you are feeling and have been through, and are still going through.
It’s horrible how the courts marginalized fathers as necessary parental care givers. I’m fortunate in the fact that I have 50/50 custody of my daughter, and my son (14) is living with me, because He figured out his mothers crazy behavior years ago, and wanted out.
So there is a caveat for you. Your daughter will figure it out on her own. It sounds like , even at her age she knows. Just be consistent with her, which I’m sure you are. You sound very grounded in an earthquake of crazy.
My sons mother is nuts, and my boy wants me to fight for full custody with very little visitation rights from her. I told him I would do what I can. She invested poorly in him and It cost her. It’s really sad.
My daughters mom. She scares me. I waited 8 years after I left my sons mother to get get into a relationship, only to find out she was almost exactly like my first ex. Now I have two crazies to deal with. She showed up on my doorstep a few days ago, wanting to talk, she constantly interrupts my visitation with phone calls and texts. I swear one day she will stab me.
Anyway, I know how you feel, men don’t getting he same support, it’s not fair, it sucks, it makes us jaded and angry, but your kid/kids are your mutual fund, invest while you have them and you will reap the greatest rewards later, while these sad high conflict Abusive women will be alone and miserable the rest of their life, or making someone else miserable for theirs.
It will happen my friend, at some point the child is allowed to make their own decision,so Be consistent!
I just pretend my ex is a ghost that comes and haunts me every two weeks, and sometimes shows up and constantly calls and texts…I try to distance her like that crazy professor in A Beautiful Mind. and I crack the door. I gotta be able to slam that really quick in case she tries to bust through. She very attractive and charismatic, and everyone loves her. Scary stuff. But that is not what he is like behind the scenes.
Hang in there bro, I’m rooting for you all the wAy
Just Want Normal says
Again, this could have been written by my partner about his Ex. I am so sad for you and your little girl. There are women like me out here who are standing strong to help these kids when they meet a decent man so wronged by a screwed up system. I have been in a relationship for over 4 years and my step-kid,8, is doing great on our 50% of the year, but I know his poor, little life is terrible on the wicked “mother’s” time. Like you, we wait until he is a bit older and we just play and hope that the good example he sees in our home takes him to a place where he knows life should operate as! STAY STRONG! And be proud you got out and didn’t allow your child to see that your ex was doing something that is acceptable or that should be tolerated.
Dave Gordon says
Studying all of these comments does help us feel not alone. And the post traumatic stress still hits me once in awhile over two years removed. I wish I could help. This is as serious as any cancer research – how do we organize? T-shirts? Code words? So that we all recognize each other in public and beyond our computer screens? Any imposters would soon be smoked out and recognized. I can spot real BPDs now with pretty good accuracy. We all have to fight the abuse, believe in our true selves again (It took me over a year I think to begin to genuinely laugh again after taking a couple of years of hearing everyday that I was a worthless piece of @#$%.) It hurts until you believe it – seemed to take the pain away. But no more. Don’t doubt down deep who you know you are.
Yes, I have been reading this blog a few times now. It has helped me realise the last serious relationship I was abusive.(I didn’t realise it until about 6 months after it ended)
I have had a few light bulb moments when reading it and thinking to myself ‘ oh that happened to me’.
While I won’t list all the incidents, but the moment I realised that something was very wrong was when I received a text message from her when I was on a night out with colleagues. She had enough of me, she couldn’t take any more of my lazy, inconsiderate and nonchalant attitude around the house. I raced straight back to the house and saw her in floods of tears, screaming that she couldn’t take it anymore. All because I forgot to take the bins out (trash cans).
I will never forget that moment standing in the kitchen, her screaming at me like she had caught me in bed with the neighbours’ wife. The relationship had come to an end and I realised that I had to get out.
There no doubt that she had BPD, and she developed it due to her father who himself was probably BPD as well. What’s worse is that her two brothers have also got it. One of them is married with children unfortunately.
The relationship only last 18 months, and I am fortunate for that. I feel sorry for the rest of you who have to put up with it. I do wonder, now and again, how things would have turn out if I had stayed. I shudder to think.
Yeah, I looking at the abusive relationship I had I can now be better be able to spot BPD traits. Hindsight is a wonderful thing though!
I remember she once told me ‘compromise is another way to say you’ve lost’. That was one red flag…
I actually ran across this site by accident. I was looking for something that had nothing to do with high conflict personalities. But, I too was married to a HCP. It was the most insane and surreal experience I ever could have imagined. In many ways it got to the point where it reflected the movie Fatal Attraction. She was the most manipulative, cunning, deceitful predator I could have ever imagined. That was about half the time. Especially when she quit taking her medication. Which was often. The only way she was ever on medication was that I approached her psychiatrist through a letter and found out she was manipulating the psychiatrist too.
I really had no idea what I was getting in to. It was a shotgun wedding after a rebound romance. I was not emotionally centered and still grieving the relationship I had just ended with someone I cared about very much. I now recognize that in myself. ie, We attract those who are a reflection of ourselves. Now, I certainly was capable of being in an emotionally healthy relationship beyond the grieving but if I am honest, it was ego that drove my attraction to my wife. She was stunningly beautiful and a handful. Men crashed on the rocky beaches of trying to get her to go out with them by the dozens. I was chosen by her. That was a huge ego boost. There were signs. But, I didn’t understand anything about mental illness. Nothing. I had never seen it before. I guess I was very naive. But our ego can deceive us. It certainly deceived me.
It has been many years now since that experience. It was so traumatizing that I will spend a lifetime recovering emotionally. I have no doubt I had PTSD. May still have it to a small degree with certain triggers if she were to show up. I proposed divorce within a year and left numerous times, including for good after three. My divorce was final after about four and one half years. The insanity of her violence, cunning and attempts to literally destroy my life were akin to being in a war zone. Truly. I was in a war zone. I moved from hotel to hotel to live. And, she would often find that hotel and make a huge scene that could have involved the cops. Even if I never opened the hotel door. So, I slept with my keys and clothes right where I knew I could get to them so I could leave on a moment’s notice. I eventually moved so far away that she couldn’t hunt me down. It was literally insane.
I just have to say that I really feel for all of the men who are dealing with high conflict women whether they are BPD, Histrionics PD, Narcissistic PD or whatever. There are a lot of them out there. They are abusive and incredibly unstable. She destroyed my life. Or, at least the life I knew.
Even though you may have married a woman because of your instinctive desire to protect women and because she lied about how she was abused and mistreated, even raped, mine was a con game. HCP can sense victims. I know this beyond any doubt. They are men who are protective and caring. All I can say is it is NEVER going to get better because they won’t take responsibility for their behavior or emotions. I had a psychologist tell me I was going to have to move because mental illness didn’t understand a restraining order. You have to take responsibility for the mess you are in. It may be someone else’s mess but it is now yours. That means you have to do what is counter to your beliefs. That is, abandon someone who says they are going to kill themselves if you leave or take your children or get you fired or whatever. You have to get out and save yourself. It is a mess that will only get worse over time.
The women’s rights movement has been hijacked by man haters and there is no one in the legal system to help you. The laws are stacked against you helping yourself. All of the advocates in the court system are there for women. No one seems to believe men can be so substantially abused. But, I know the truth. And so do you.
Just wanted to say hey, came across this site. Wasn’t married to her but grateful to be out of it. I had some totally insane moments, blamed me for everything, lied about a ton of things, cheating, took me to court, said I was stalking her, made up stories about fake dead husbands, fake dead babies, faked cancer, told her new boyfriend that I raped her which of course, was a total lie.
ANyways, you can read about some of my experiences on here:
it’s my story, pretty long but anyways, just wanted to say that it’s nice to see I’m not alone and also how much I feel for the children caught up in this, hope you all can get out of it!
Please, Please, Please: Do not wait for your daughter to reach an age where her opinions will be taken as court admissible. By that time, she WILL be irrepairably damaged and, her childhood will almost be over. I am so bitterly angry with this mis-treatment you’ve experienced but, you mustn’t give up. You Must Not: You owe it to yourself and your daughter to keep this game (which is what your ex-wife’s made it) in play, because this isn’t over for your daughter; it’s just beginning!!
I just Thank God that my Dad was able to get full residential custody of me when I was 10, after my Mum divorced him. I shudder to think how twisted and damaged I’d be psychologically if my mother had somehow managed to get custody. From what you say, you’re lucky to have an awful lot of people on the right side. Use their support – you’re going to need it. Maybe begin with some sort of judicial review?
Your child really needs you right now. It’s clear that her mother’s already begun the process of poisoning the child against you. I wish you all the good will and positive energy you need. Good Luck.
I agree don’t wait , my dad waited till I was 12 and I moved there on my own and he said it would be ok. During a visit to my moms within about a week of moving she told me if I did not move home she was going to go to court and tell them about how she caught me (trying) masturbating with a “toy” I had found. Even writing this I feel the same shame how disgusting how horrible. So I moved my ass back home and obviously could NOT tell my poor dad why. At that age i did t really understand I was not very exposed to sexuality and cannot even remember if I really understood what it was I was trying to do. Do not wait and do not let her have any visitations steal your daughter and run away I wish my dad would have. If he had it may have saved me from the millions of events like this maybe I wouldn’t struggle as an adult woman trying to fix what my mother fucked while accepting responsibly for my own actions. I do not speak to my mother and my dad and I are so very close I talk to him daily if not more. I am my mother now and that shame is horrible. Save your daughter or die trying. She is your responsibility.
My soon to be ex has unbelievable power and mind control over people. Every person she encounters has a short grace period, then she starts to work her mind control on them. She operates by threatening to destroy something you emotionally value, and then blackmails you with it. You don’t even realize that you are slipping under her power. I have seen her ruin many relationships, where people are able to escape her before she controls them. Then she isolates them to destroy their power over her, and they people she does have power over. And she’s so sick, she has no idea what she’s doing.
I am working for my kids…but sometimes I have to step back, and just be grateful that I was able to escape her. 16 years.
Think of it like a slave escaping to the North. It is the most difficult thing to ever do…but you can’t go back to the South to rescue your kids from slavery until you are recovered and strong.
I am going through, almost verbatim, what is described in this article.
I was kicked out last week and am in the process of finding a place.
She is constantly barraging me with threats and telling me I will never see my daughter, that I am an unfit father, cheating on her with whatever female name you choose, and just so many insults, very nasty stuff I can not grasp how anyone can think like that.
I am desperately seeking support and direction in dealing right now, my emotional state is a roller coaster, I break down randomly. I find I break down the most when I am talking with family and they offer support, it is so much to bare. I apologize to my family for being in the situation because I feel I have created it.
Is there any support groups for this, are there options I have?