Survivor Story: My Abusive Ex-Husband Destroyed My Relationships with Our Children

Written by: *Carol, Survivor

When a victim leaves an abusive partner and children are involved, those children are often used to control, manipulate, and cause emotional distress to the abused parent. Some abusers may interfere with custody arrangements, get custody of the children, or hurt the children to punish or retaliate against their victim for leaving. In some cases, they may slowly manipulate the children and turn them against the abuse survivor. The latter of these often results in cases of parental alienation, whereby the survivor loses custody and contact with their children, and sometimes also, unfortunately, loses any hope of remaining connected with the children who decide to sever all ties with them.

Carol endured 21 years in an abusive marriage with an abuser whom she describes as a narcissist. Although she was a loving mother, she regrets not taking the opportunity to explain why the way their father treated her was abusive and why she stayed so long, hoping that he would change. She shares how his manipulation of their children destroyed her relationship with them and how that loss affected her.

I am a survivor of domestic violence and a victim of narcissistic abuse who has been alienated from my children. Even though it has been several years since I left, losing my relationships with my children has been painful, and I still struggle with the aftershock. When I decided to leave my narcissistic husband after 21 years of marriage, we had two children, ages 15 and 18 years old.

My regret? I worry I waited too long to leave and may not have done it in the right way. I should have let my kids know all along that the abusive things he did to me were not right, and the reason I stayed as long as I did was that I was trying to get him to change. Had I done it that way when I left, they hopefully would have been supportive of my decision.

Starting in 2005, my abusive ex started to turn our children against me and has continued to do so throughout the years. Our children have finally severed ties with me because he constantly defames me by making up bad things about me and misrepresenting situations in a way that puts me in a bad light. After the court awarded me spousal maintenance, he was angry and told our children that I took all his money. I feel that he wants them to view him as a victim who has no fault for anything that has happened.

There was a stark difference between how he treated me and how he treated his kids. In his eyes, they were royalty deserving of only the finest luxuries his money could buy. He turned our friends against me and sabotaged any chance for me to have a relationship with the families of my daughter-in-law and son-in-law. I do not know what he said or did, but even though I did nothing to mistreat them, they show no interest in being friendly to me. They are, however, friendly with him.

I have faced so much loss in my life. During my marriage, I was a stay at home mom and had difficulty finding a job. The energy I invested in that consumed a great deal of my time. Instead of getting out and doing things that would allow me to make new friends, I was in a constant state of survival – and depression.

There have been times in my life where I have been so low that I did not want to live. I was alone and overwhelmed by depression over my children. Before I finally left my abusive husband, I had a loving, close relationship with them and was an outstanding mother. I now have no way of contacting them, and anyone who could provide me any information about them has been told not to engage with me.

Besides the fact that I left him, there was nothing that I did to deserve being treated the way I am. Still, he continues to tell people things that are untrue, and they believe him. In general, people are often not compassionate to those of us who suffer this type of abuse. Even when there is documentation, anyone from law enforcement, the court system, friends, and strangers who could offer support are often dismissive.

It is very difficult when you have no support left and are emotionally dying from the abuse and completely alone. You reach a point where you just want to die. I am now looking for ways to raise awareness about this type of abuse. We must come together and do something to stop this from happening to others.

*Name(s) have been changed – and in some cases omitted – to protect the identity of the survivor and others affected by the abuse.

**If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, there is help. You can visit the Break the Silence website at, chat with one of our helpline advocates at 855-287-1777, or send a private message through our Facebook page. For crisis services, you can contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233.


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