With divorce rates as high as 2.3 for every 1000 people in the United States, it is common for divorced parents to share physical custody of their children. Whatever their custody arrangement is, the time that divorced parents spend with their children is often alone.
Finding out that your former spouse is abusing your child is devastating, especially if you have concrete evidence. These problematic situations can bring up feelings of intense anger, a sense of protectiveness over the child and feelings of helplessness. You should know that you are not helpless.
There are steps you can take if you suspect that your former spouse is abusing your child, such as:
- Try to confirm your suspicions as much as possible before you bring a claim against the abuser.
- If the child is unable to describe what happened, a doctor should examine the child for possible evidence of injuries and abuse.
- After gathering evidence to confirm that your child’s other parent is abusing your child, contact the police to file a report and, if possible, seek the assistance of a legal expert in these matters.
- If the abuse is severe and the police determine that an arrest must is appropriate, allow them to do their job and handle the matter.
- Get a protective order to protect your child from your former spouse as soon as possible. Allegations of child abuse are serious, and the courts know this.
In many cases, a child who has been physically abused will also be emotionally manipulated so that the child does not expose the abuse. Keep this in mind when you speak with your child.
Parents often have a keen instinct. If you believe that your former spouse is abusing your child, do as much as you can to stop this from happening. It is very unusual for children to lie about these things.