Your life - Their life

Admitting there is a problem is the first step to recovery.
— Thomas Hodge

One of the most common and insidious forms of family violence is the unwanted attention of an ex. You have separated but they believe they are entitled to have a say in your life and this is especially the case if there are children involved.

There are a range of signs that abuse is happening and I’ll write these from victim’s perspective.

  • Your ex appears suddenly in a manner that coincidence simply cannot explain. It may be that they know your patterns or, more sinisterly, that they have followed you.
  • You see them outside or near your house commonly despite the fact that it is clearly out of their way.
  • You receive regular, negative calls, texts and emails.
  • They use money as a way to engage in conversations or withhold money unreasonably. They will have justified their actions but it won’t stack up to independent scrutiny.
  • Their behaviour occurs primarily when there are no witnesses leaving it a “he said, she said” situation.
  • Each situation is used as a way of threatening or bullying.
  • They threaten legal action (and the associated cost) as a way of getting their way.

There are bound to be more (please feel free to add to the list) but those above paint the general picture of a bully and a coward.

In New Zealand the Police have become far more concerned with this type of psychological abuse and are keen to become involved. This is how they see family violence:

The law says that 'domestic violence' can be physical, sexual or psychological.

  • Nobody has the right to assault another person.
  • Nobody is allowed to have sexual contact with another person without permission.
  • Nobody has the right to use intimidation, threats or mind games to gain power over another person.

If you are a victim of family violence or in a relationship that makes you fearful about your own or anyone else's safety, seek help as soon as possible. You have the right to be safe.

Of course it is still very difficult to prove as the actions of the bully tend to be subtle but if you are in this sort of position then I think approaching the police is a good start. They even can just pop around for a chat with your ex and that may be all that is needed to curb the behaviour or at least lessen it.

And, most importantly, if you recognise that YOU are engaging in these type of activities then now is the time to stop. You must recognise and respect where your life stops and their life starts. Ideally you’ll also apologise but that takes a very big man/woman and requires a level of humanity that may take some time to emerge.

If you do stop you free two people at the same time. Your victim and you. Life’s simply too short!