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When Your Ex is Abusive and Intimidating, Know This:

February 8, 2022

Like so many other meetings, this was a separated person terrified and intimidated by an abusive former partner.

The person’s main source of information about their position and responsibilities was the former abusive partner.

The separated person was being exploited and was fearful to rock the boat.

Sometimes what is therapeutic is not dwelling on how the person in this situation feels.

What is really therapeutic is offering appropriate information to the situation and direct guidance for how to address the misinformation and abuse.

What the separated person didn’t realize was that all those demanding, insulting, threatening and name calling texts were evidence of abuse and harassment.

All those messages where the other declined to see the kids, where they never asked to see them except as a threat to hold the other financially hostage demonstrated no interest in the kids other than as bargaining chips.

Truth is, the separated parent was in the legitimately stronger position should this matter go to court. However, they never realized it due to fear.

Straight up information. That and a referral to a competent and reasonable family law lawyer.

That was the therapy.

That was empowering.

We also discussed how one responds to abusive messages without seeking to be inflammatory or disrespectful, yet still assert a boundary.

Such ways of responding in text also provides evidence, evidence that in the midst of abuse, one is still cool, calm and reasonable in reply.

Such methods of reply and communication heighten the differences between their messages causing the other to stand out more abusive in comparison.

This in turn also improves one position in the event matters go to court. This is all evidence and speaks to the credibility of each person.

If you are separated and fearful, seek help from people who understand the dynamics and implications of abuse as well as the dynamics and implications of such behavior in a family law context.

This is typically beyond the training and experience of most therapists and is a specialty area of practice.

Make sure your therapist or counselor has training and experience with regard to the intersection of abuse and family law.

Lastly, never accept the advice of those who would abuse and exploit you. It will always be delivered in their interest, not yours. It will be biased.

Do not be afraid to at least seek professional help and information. It still remains your decision what you want to do with appropriate information obtained.

Lovely person. Good meeting.

Now, less frightened.

Will be seeing and choosing between a few lawyers.

Knows how to better manage and respond to those nasty messages.


Never once did we discuss feelings except to say that despite whatever was felt…. this was what was going on and how to address it.

Are you following me on Facebook yet? If not, you are missing many more posts!

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker. Check out all my services and then call me if you need help with a personal issue, mental health concern, child behavior or relationship, divorce or separation issue or even help growing your practice. I am available in person and by video conferencing.

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW for counseling and support – to build your successful practice

Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, former parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Georgina Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America. He consults to mental health professionals as well as to mediators and collaborative law professionals about good practice as well as building their practice.

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