When a romantic relationship ends, especially when it was an abusive one, it can be difficult to maintain a healthy co-parenting relationship with your ex. The romantic relationship may have ended, but you retain a connection with your ex because of the child you share. Christine Hammond, a Licensed Mental Health Counselor by the State of Florida, provides some much-needed advice about how to set boundaries with a dangerous ex in an article published on PsychCentral. Below, we highlight three of those methods.
1. Separate the different roles of the relationship
According to Christine Hammond, a Licensed Mental Health Counselour by the State of Florida, it is crucial to deal with each role of the relationship differently and set different boundaries for each; including the roles of being co-parents, former lovers, partners, and for the abusive side to the relationship. Setting different boundaries for each also requires different communication methods for each.
2. Protect yourself from the abuse
The abuser will abuse. To protect yourself, you must accept this fact. The abuser will say and do whatever he thinks is necessary to hurt you. You must be able to separate truth from their need to abuse and control you. The only way to do this to understand why they are saying the things they say and never accept it as fact. Understand why they are doing or saying it.
3. Plan communication
Think carefully about how you communicate with your ex, plan the communication carefully and, as advised by Hammond, slow down. Slow down “by setting time limits for conversations and discussions, planning the co-parent calls and exchanges in advance, and having another person with when engag[ing] with [your] ex in person.” Avoid “being available at the drop of a hat, responding to messages immediately, and making quick decisions.”
Coping with an abusive ex when you share a child can be emotionally draining and it can make things a lot more complicated because the abuser will always be part of your life. However, it is a process and if you can master the process of coping with an abusive ex, then you can manage the relationship positively to benefit your child and stay safe.
For more ways to set boundaries, read Hammonds’ full article here.