because my ex has a horribly abusive temper, which resulted in frequent name calling and shouting.
For years he was in therapy, but it never helped in any significant way. Now, we have joint custody of our 7 year old daughter. She often complains about having to go to his house and repeatedly tells me he is "mean." I know that she is right because I experienced it myself. Just today I witnessed him saying something cruel to her because she refused to thankfully acknowledge a gift he'd gotten for her.
Legally, there is little I can do. The court system is jammed with parents who neglect
their children in atrocious ways, who physically abuse them and fail to take care of their basic needs. It will have no effect whatsoever if I go to court and say "He is sometimes verbally abusive," when my child is so well taken care of in other ways--by all accounts she has a great life financially speaking.
I have tried to talk to him over the past 5 years about the way he talks to her and treats her; he is generally hostile and unresponsive to any criticism of his parenting whatsoever (responding much the same way he did
when we were married to my complaints about his abuse). I grew up in a verbally abusive household and repeated that pattern in my relationship with him. When I made those connections after my daughter was born, it became clear to me that I had to get out of the relationship and provide my daughter with an alternative space as well as an alternative domestic model. I'm happy to say that I am in a healthy, loving relationship now and my daughter experiences the peace, calm, and stability of a functional home life at my house. But then she returns to her father's house, which is often a tense and angry space (especially when he is stressed out, which is frequent).
My daughter is beginning to manifest many of her father's personality traits. She already, she has shared with me, feels incapable of controlling her anger at times. She has lamented that she picked up his personality traits but not mine (I am unusually calm and unflappable) and is having difficulty forming friendships at school because of her difficulty getting along with others. She is in art therapy to help her process her father's temper and verbally abusive speech. This adjustment issue is one that is being addressed in therapy; but I am wondering how effective therapy can be if she is continually re-traumatized at her father's house through his verbal abuse.
I am wondering what I can do. How can I negotiate this situation? What is the right and honorable way to handle this? What actions can I take to best protect my daughter? In the absence of legal possibilities, how can I address this problem?