When you have children with an abusive ex, it is very likely that you will have some sort of custody arrangement where they will still get to spend some time with the children, especially during the holidays. This can mean revisiting your trauma and reopening old wounds time and time again. Read on for tips on how to keep yourself safe and sane during what can be a very trying time.
- Prioritize your safety. Meeting your ex in a public place when dropping off the children can mitigate the risk of an altercation and keep both you and your children shielded from further trauma.
- If necessary, have a semi-neutral party (a friend or family member) either do drop off and pick up with you, or even make the drop off and pick up without you.
- Document everything. If your ex is abusive to you when you meet, write it down. Keep a log of all intimidating or inappropriate behavior just in case you need it in the future.
- Limit communication to specifics of drop off and pick up if possible.
- Communicate only in writing (via text or email). This way everything will be documented.
- Set your boundaries and expectations. Setting up designated times for phone calls with the children can help limit unwanted intrusions into your time with your children by your ex, and that’s not just limited to the holidays. If necessary, these terms can be put in writing in divorce or custody paperwork.
- Use a coparenting app to track expenses. Not only does this provide documentation of any holiday related expenses, which lessens the chance of arguing over them, many apps also help you track child support and other payments between you and your ex throughout the year.
- Try not to deviate from the agreed upon custody schedule if possible.
- It may be hard, but not responding to emotional reactions to any bullying, taunting or other forms of abuse inflicted by your ex if you do have to meet during the exchange will go a long way to protecting your peace and that of your children.
It’s also important to practice self-care when your children are with your ex. Try to focus on your well-being and do things that make you feel happy and peaceful.
Through all of this, please remember that you are not alone. We are here to help whenever you need us.
The Greene County Family Justice Center is a non-profit collaborative of local agencies offering comprehensive services to survivors of domestic, sexual, and family violence. Our services are trauma-informed, survivor-centered, and we welcome survivors at any point in their process. We partner with local non-profit service providers as well as local law enforcement, the Prosecutor’s office, and Children’s Division to make victim services more accessible and completely voluntary. If you do not want to participate in the criminal justice process, we support you.
Our vision is a future where we all work together to meet the needs of domestic violence and human trafficking survivors through comprehensive and accessible services, education, and perpetrator accountability. Through a coordinated framework and co-located response, we strive to break the vicious generational cycle and community impact of domestic violence and resulting victimizations.
We can help you plan for your safety whether you plan to stay in the relationship, or you are actively trying to escape. All our services are free, confidential and survivor centered. Have questions about what services are available? Visit us at 1418 E. Pythian Street or give us a call at 417-874-2600. We are open 8:30 AM to 4:00 PM, Monday through Friday. For after-hours assistance, call the Harmony House/Victim Center’s 24-hour safe line at 417-864-SAFE (7233). If you are in immediate danger, please call 911.