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When Is It Okay to Tell Someone STOP?

Hi Chump Lady!

The question I have for you is, when is it okay to tell someone to stop with their hurtful behavior and when should you stay silent?

The other day, my ex cheater sent me a video he made with my son for the school virtual talent show. The video features my son, his father and his father’s ho-worker. (On a side-note, why his dad and his side-piece needed cameos in my son’s performance is a question I’ll save for another day).

For me the main concern was the thoughtlessness and inconsideration on the part of my ex to send this video to me thinking I would even want to see it. He’s basically saying, “Here’s a cute little home movie the three of us made, which we wanted to share with you. It stars your least favorite person and the woman who helped obliterate your family life. Enjoy!”

I broke grey-rock and my response to him was this:

“Do not send me ANYTHING that even remotely involves that person. That includes videos of our children such as this one.

You demonstrate you absolutely have no common sense or sensitivity to why I may find that triggering to watch.
This demonstrates you continue to have no empathy, and that you lack self-actualization and awareness of the acute and long-lasting harm you have both done with your actions despite the fact I vocalize this often.

I am convinced you do this on purpose to distress me. No one in their right mind would do this unless they were intentionally trying to harm someone for their own amusement. As you both have a track record of having a good laugh at my expense, I should not be surprised at your behavior. But I am stating this now: STOP.”

A few fellow chumps on this forum point out that it was a mistake for me to send this, because it only serves him a heaping plate of kibbles. They do make a valid point. But here’s the thing ChumpLady. I’m a brown person. I’m a woman. I’ve been forever told to just stay silent when someone does something that has resulted in harm or hurt to me. When I liberated from my ex, I learned that I am not doing any service to myself – or my kids – by staying silent. I look at the recent story in New York of Amy Cooper the dog walker and Christian Cooper the bird watcher. Amy didn’t like it much when Christian Cooper called her out on having her dog off-leash. She didn’t like being told to stop letting her dog run around loose in the ramble. So much so that she decided to call the police on Christian and report she was being “threatened” by a “black man” in Central Park.

Christian Cooper could have said nothing. He could have ignored her and her off-leash dog. But it bothered him. Her dog off-leash could have been threatening to him – a birder just trying to take in some nature. He felt it was important for her to know that her actions were not right. So he said something. He told her to stop.

Maybe this boils down to how many racialized people such as myself respond to shitty behavior. We call it out. When dealing with cheaters it is hard to reconcile this idea of not feeding perpetrators kibble, and also standing up for ourselves.

How do you navigate this?


Dear Iris,

I am A-Okay with calling out abhorrent behavior. I can’t speak to the “racialized people” aspect of this, as I wasn’t born into that particular shit sandwich buffet. What I imagine that feels like is a lot of built-up “I am SO SICK OF YOUR SHIT” that wants not just an outlet, but a goddamn resolution.

You have a right to call your ex out. If it makes you feel better, terrific. If you’re looking for a resolution? Like, he stops sending you cutesy Schmoopie videos using your child as their triangulation hostage? Then I’d suggest a different strategy — no contact.

The thing about assholes is they get off on our pain. Your ex was trying to provoke you. He absolutely knew that sending a video of the Other Woman and your child to you would torque you. Of course he did. It’s the power move of every cheater — trying to goad chumps back into the pick me dance. To make you their hypotenuse. To get off on how much you CARE, how much this upsets you. Then, they can cloak the whole thing in “Don’t you want to see a cute video of your son?” and tut-tut about your bitterness.

My advice to you is deny them that.

Does that feel like choking down yet another shit sandwich? Yes. I absolutely get that. You were essentially saying, “I see what you’re doing here!” But denying them the pleasure of your pain is you serving THEM a shit sandwich. It’s giving them the accountability they so richly deserve. “No response here. Go live with yourselves. I won’t play your games.”

Let’s look at your reaction to the fuckwits.

“Do not send me ANYTHING that even remotely involves that person. That includes videos of our children such as this one.

You have tipped your hand that That Person upsets you. Exactly the reaction they wanted. CENTRALITY! Kibbles!

Asking him to NOT do something is asking him for consensus. To consider your feelings and to abstain from hurtful behavior.

Iris, if you had that sort of person, you wouldn’t be divorced. He doesn’t give a shit.

Time to trot out the Dr. Simon axiom — “It’s not that they don’t see, it’s that they disagree.”

It’s not that your ex lacks insight that this is hurtful, it’s that he disagrees he should change his behavior. He gets off on the power trip.

You demonstrate you absolutely have no common sense or sensitivity to why I may find that triggering to watch.

I promise you, he is sniggering at “triggering.”

This demonstrates you continue to have no empathy, and that you lack self-actualization and awareness of the acute and long-lasting harm you have both done with your actions despite the fact I vocalize this often.

What are you trying to accomplish by vocalizing pain to a person you describe as having NO EMPATHY?

You may as well express your pain to a tree stump. Or rail against squirrels. Or tilt at highway cones.

He. Has. No. Empathy.

I am convinced you do this on purpose to distress me.

Yes. And you’ve just confirmed to him that this distresses you.

No one in their right mind would do this unless they were intentionally trying to harm someone for their own amusement.

Bingo. He’s not in his right mind. Chances of permeating his noggin with good sense are nil to none.

As you both have a track record of having a good laugh at my expense, I should not be surprised at your behavior. But I am stating this now: STOP.”

He got a reaction, which means you’ve reinforced the feedback loop for abuse. It’s utterly unfair, but the person who needs to STOP is you. STOP engaging with him! He. Is. A. Fuckwit. She is his co-conspirator.

They cannot laugh at your expense if you’re not there providing material. NO MORE SHARING OF MATERIAL. It amuses them and PAINS you.

Time to reframe. No contact is not silence in the face of oppression. It’s FIGHTING oppression with consequences.

The consequence of his affair and the resulting divorce is that you share NOTHING with one another. He is not deserving of your vulnerability and feelings. He’s demonstrated he cannot be trusted. So, act on that. The consequence is cutting him out, not calling him out.

By doing so, you’ve thwarted his manipulations. You’ve stopped giving him a look inside your head. And you’re trusting the Laws of Natural Consequences that life with Schmoopie is not a happy talent show. Leave him ALONE with that shit.

There are other forms of comeuppance.

Christian Cooper did not appeal to dog walker Amy Cooper about his hurt feelings. He didn’t share that her racist threat was deeply upsetting to him. No, he videoed the encounter. He held her accountable. Appealing to her shared humanity was NOT a winning strategy. She demonstrated very quickly that she was impervious. So he let the exposure and resulting social opprobrium deliver the consequences. She lost her job. She sniveled her hollow apologies.

Your ex and Schmoopie want an audience. Deny them. That’s power.

Sane parent your son, and treat them like the irrelevant hairballs under the sofa they are. Ick.

Next time he triangulates? DELETE.

Nothings says “fuck you” like silence.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Iris, not responding to the video would have been better than anything and it was not “speaking out”!

    Keeping silent would have had absolute control over fuckwit. He WANTED to be sure you saw the video and that it bothered you. And that is what you gave him.

    Not responding to the video is not the same as to “stay silent when someone does something that has resulted in harm or hurt to me”.

    And about the Amy Coopers of the world, all because Christian Cooper chose his battles well and used the right weapons, Amy lost her job, she’s plastered all over as a blame-shifting moron.

    Keep well, Iris, and never again let that jackass get your serenity

    • Iris, you responding to the fucktard’s video in the way you did, is *not* the same as minority ethnicity people standing up against racist remarks/behaviour. Although I *totally* understand your anger and hurt, and your response.

      It’s the reaction most of us have had to the way these scumbags have treated us, the natural human feeling that if we only grab them by the scruff and force them to see how much they’ve hurt us, they will understand, and stop doing it. It’s our ultimately naive belief that most people are basically good, and don’t want to hurt others. Nope, nopety nope. There *are* people in this world who simply get off on inflicting pain on others, or who see others as obstacles to their power, etc etc. As CL says, these creeps have no empathy, or emotional intelligence. As Dr. Simon says, “it’s not that they don’t see, it’s that they disagree”. Or, (as I myself think is the case, it’s not that they don’t see, it’s that they *don’t fucking care*.

      So yes, by replying in the vein you did, you’ve given both the fuckwit and his whore a delicious plate of kibbles. Which they will use in the future, because you’ve shown them where you hurt. Yum yum.

      So please, don’t let them twist you up again. Ignore and delete. Which as CL notes, will infuriate and frustrate them. ((hugs)) to you. I know how devastatingly hurtful it was, so do they, the difference is your fellow chump’s and all decent people, care about your hurt, they don’t. Let them stew in frustration because they can’t get a reaction from you. ❤️

    • Thanks ChumpLady and ChumpNation. Your support, your encouragement and your straight-talk is just what I need to hear.
      How I often fall into the trap of thinking there is one small ounce of humanity in these narcissists. There is not. There is just void. I just need to practice being void back.

      • It’s difficult, I totally get it. When I get a random text from my ex whore about the kids (who are adults now) my heart still skips a beat, 6 years later. I think she’ll always have some hold on me like that, but NC is the ticket. I never ever reach out to her. Been years. I’ve lost count.

      • Iris, yes sweetie, I am sure they laughed when they read your message. They are cruel and what is more disgusting is they used your child to do it. Shut them down and only discuss in writing the child. Use a parenting app like family wizard.

        • Also, unfortunately, in addition to chortling they will also assume Naugahyde indignation and smug concern: “Such a shame she’s so bitter that she can’t just celebrate her own child’s achievements. If only she could move forward positively like we have!”

          You know what will make it/him STOP? Definitely not asking him to. Nope.

          He will stop when he’s not getting anything out of his efforts (cos that’s how they roll …) Zero response from you, denial of drama, denial of kibbles. He’ll stop because it will be pointless and dull for him to keep doing that shit.

          • He may never stop, but ChumpLady’s advice is still the best thing you can do. These fuckers manufacturer drama and your non reaction is the last thing they expect.

            Silence is golden and it’s much less waste of your precious energy than composing the perfectly worded response to their bullshit. Set yourself free from this crap fest and move on step by step to your better life. I’m here to tell you that it’s worth it.

            For a long time I would write out my most angry responses for myself in my notes app to the absurd stuff he would send. It helped me get that shit out of my head to say it all, but never give him the satisfaction of stirring up drama.

            Much love and healing to you all. I promise it gets better. ❤️❤️❤️

      • Iris,

        I think you get a free pass on breaking gray rock for a moment if unleashing a bit might have defibrillated your passion for social justice or helped crystallize your thoughts. You’re on fire.

        I don’t know about you but for a period of months after the “traumatic brain injury” (as someone here put it) of D-Day, I lost all interest in the things that formerly interested me and it took some time to come out of deep freeze.

        I had been writing as a media watchdog for more than a decade. I used to wake up editing in my head and stay up all night researching at times.

        My kids were really into it too. Instead of bedtime stories, I started getting requests like “Define fascism, Mom,” or “What’s Utopianism?” They’re not robots. They tell fart jokes and fight over who got the bigger serving of ice cream. But the social justice bug is really strong.

        Then came D-Day. I not only stopped writing and talking, I just didn’t see the point in taking an interest in anything. People I work with expressed concern. I made excuses. But kids are deaf to excuses and it was my kids who kicked me out of the virtual coma.

        It started with me seeing the political aspects of what happened to my family. Gaslighting, abuse of power, dehumanization, double standards, blameshifting, silencing, objectification. It all has wider parallels.

        The other day we were sitting around the kitchen with a friend of the family when one of my sons burst in asking about the murder of George Floyd. He was fit to be tied, demanded to know why this happened, why the bad guys aren’t given life in prison, etc. We got into a long discussion about it, covering the history of prison privatization which led to questions about modern slave labor, arrest quotas. Then the conversation dredged into the Ku Klux Klan being cynically created in order to destroy labor and agrarian movements by dividing them along racial lines. After all the “But why?” questions came questions of what to do about it, methods of resistance and on and on following tangent after tangent.

        When I found myself rambling on about James Baldwin’s concept of the politics of “sexual despair” ( “When the loveless come to power, or when sexual despair comes to power, the sexuality of the object is either a threat or a fantasy…”) and the role of sexual objectification in racism, I realized, “Holy fuck, I’m back.”

        Surprisingly the kids didn’t glaze over. Once you utter the word “sexual” to tweens and teens, they can keep you up till 2AM.

        It seems I wasn’t dead after all and hadn’t stopped caring. My possum phase was like the swirly icon on the computer when it’s “thinking” or retrieving data. I’d just been absorbing new information, folding it into my previous perspective and reordering everything.

        The personal is political and vice versa. The wife of Derek Chauvin, the officer who killed George Floyd, is divorcing her husband and changing her name. By some reports, she was a victim of domestic violence. Many abuse survivors could have guessed this on first glance at the photo of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck. Gaslighting, abuse of power, dehumanization, double standards, blameshifting, silencing, objectification.

        So I think it’s brilliant that you find yourself sharpening your political teeth. We’re like the Omnidroid from The Incredibles. If you tangle with us, we adjust our programs.

        • Hell of a Chump, you win the sane parent of the day award! Rock on!

          • Well thank you kindly, Citiest. We aim for well-organized, constructive craziness. 😉

        • So I’m not the only one who’s first thought when I watched the video of George Floyd was- “I bet he abuses women as well.”
          But then again I am also an abuse survivor. Watching that video was a visceral reminder of the abuse I suffered from my ex husband (the body language and facial expressions are the same). Abuse is abuse and it’s all repulsive.

          • You’re certainly not alone.

            I was stalked and assaulted years ago. I cooperated with the prosecution and then, because I wasn’t happy with the fact that cases that resolve in nolo contendre pleas can be expunged from the perp’s public record, I sued the psycho in superior court and won. The jury ruled for malice.

            Part of the reason the perp lost the case was because his mask kept slipping during the trial. I was astounded because the guy had seamlessly fooled everyone for so long. This was also part of the reason I sued. Merely by denying he’d committed the crime, he was assassinating my character, casting me as someone who “framed” innocent people. The trial cleared that up. We had the guy confessing on tape. Justice matters.

            The worse they are, the better they are at gaslighting and image managing. But faced with the evidence of what he did in a situation where he couldn’t use reflexive intimidation or coercion to shut it down, his true self began leaking out all over the pace. The jury got to see glimpses of the same face I had during an assault.

            It’s something you can’t unsee. Remember the Agatha Christie character Miss Marple who solves crimes by comparing suspects and witnesses to the various characters she grew up with in her tiny English hamlet? Certain experiences endow us with Miss Marple vision.

            The expression on Chauvin’s face in that infamous photo was halfway between surprise at being caught on camera and primal glee at having taken power over another human being.

            My second thought on seeing the picture was “I hope his wife gets combat pay.” My first thought was wondering how harrowingly lonely it must feel to die surrounded by callous bystanders. The bystanders and collaborators are just as heinous as the perps.

      • Hugs Iris – I hate them for you. I’ve got the same type of NarcX and OWife. They delight in rubbing it in your face and truly enjoy seeing you upset. That’s why they sent it. With these sick fucks, your pain and suffering is something they get off on. Makes them feel powerful, to know you’re over there stewing about their “Twu Luv”. Makes them feel like they won something. It’s sick and twisted shit- be GLAD that you don’t understand this type of thinking. (Thank GOD you weren’t raised by wolves, like they were.)

        This took me many circular arguments where I was going to “tell them off” or “give them a piece of my mind” to learn how these types operate. See, they like any type of attention/ reaction from you. Good, Bad, doesn’t matter. All the same. They delight in knowing they can still poke you and rile you up. It shows you still care. They will never care, show any type of remorse or be sorry. Sometimes they get away with the destruction they’ve caused, move on happily in life with no consequences and actually thrive. I’m convinced that karma simply doesn’t exist for Narcissists.

        After years of wanting to strangle these two entitled idiots (boy, do they LOVE to go out of their way to push my buttons), I realized the only way to hurt them was to COMPLETELY FUCKING IGNORE THEM….TOTALLY KILLS THEM.

        Actually, my friends and I have a game at how short of a message I can respond with – “No”, “Okay”, “Got it” – and I only respond to legitimate communication about the kids, I just read rants on the parenting app and don’t respond at all to those.

        I took my power back by not engaging in thre circuits. By expecting them to have zero class and would anticipate the worst behavior from them before an exchange – I expect the bar to perpetually be lowered and I was NEVER disappointed in their shitshow. Expecting tacky shit ensured I could keep my cool in their presence.

        Really, all you can do is laugh at them and roll your eyes. Justice will never come, they may get away with everything they’ve done.

        It drives my ex absolutely INSANE when I read unnecessary messages meant to provoke me and don’t even bother even responding.

        No response is actually a HUGE response. It means that you think so little of these two idiots that you can’t be bothered to care. It makes them feel small and unimportant when you ignore them. ESPECIALLY when they purposefully (no doubt) made this video to rub it in your face then laugh with smug superiority when you call them out, that you’re “just jealous” and reinforces the twisted narrative that “she won”.

        Did I mention I hate them for you? Mine did the same shit to me for years.

        It’s very powerful tut o ignore them. Imagine if they made this stupid video and were waiting around for days for your painful reaction (that they get off on) for days… and nothing. Then they’re left wondering, “Did she get the video?”, they can’t figure out WHY you don’t give a fuck. Left scratching their heads for days frantically checking the inbox everyday for your upset message that they can laugh at.

        But it never comes and they are crushed to learn that they’re not the center of your universe anymore. Takes all the fun out of everything if you’re not participating.

        I’m sorry you’re having to share children with two diabolical assholes. You got this, keep your head up!

  • Iris,

    Maybe think of it this way: YOU are AWESOME. Don’t give away and waste your AWESOME on people who don’t deserve it. Starve them of your AWESOME. Save your AWESOME for good people, including YOURSELF.

    I think this hard to do for many of us chumps, whether for issues of race, gender, culture, sexual orientation, being adult children of alcoholics, how we were raised, how we are wired—whatever. But valuing yourself properly is crucial to healing and it has to start with you. As the old saying goes, “Set a low value on yourself, and rest assured the world will never raise the price.”

    You rock, they suck. Speak truth to power, absolutely, but don’t waste your AWESOME speaking truth to suck. ((Iris))

    • Thank you so much for these words NoMar. I still have a very reflexive response to his bullshit. I need to retrain my brain to not respond at all. Don’t flinch. Nothing. Just send it straight to the email trash bin like I would scammers trying to phish me.

      • Yep. You are mighty and deserve so much better. When you internalize how beneath you that guy is, you will no longer feel the need to engage with him in any way. Like many of us chumps, you will look back and wonder why you accepted the cheater in your life as long as you did. ((Iris))

      • Iris, learning about the 4 trauma responses of fight flight freeze and fawn helped me stop reacting. Complex PTSD by Pete Walker an excellent read to reprogram the stress responses. It totally makes sense to fight injustice, but it’s a stronger message to just not bite. I treat every foul move of his as a gift. Often that gift was “evidence” I may or may not need to use in court. To beat a narc you have to think like a narc. What’s he trying to do here? Power- controlling you with your reactions. How do you counter his control over you? Don’t react

  • Different perspective here.

    First the disclaimer. I’m a middle-aged white guy living in a prosperous country so my experience with discrimination is pretty much zero other than the every-day bullying that kids get and that was a loooong time ago.

    What I do believe though is that silence to someone who is abusing you is implicit permission for them to continue and implicit acceptance of their actions as legitimate.

    I also am somewhat familiar with the “seen but not heard” attitude in many cultures including my own.

    The surface reading of this piece reminded me in part of an earlier post here where the “let’s all be friends” message is being sent. One thing that could have been worming it’s way through the ooze of the cheater’s mind was “Let’s show Iris that we can all be friends and she can revel in my happiness too”.

    Her smack-down was in my mind a beautiful thing. Clear, pointed, aimed and delivered. Whether it will actually penetrate “ooze for brains” or not is open to debate. BUT, she stood up for herself, her electric fence of a boundary sparked and firmly said “You Shall Not Pass”. (both a nerd and grew up on a farm)

    To carry the farm analogy waaay too far, some critters when they get zapped by an electric fence keep away and won’t go near it even if it is off. Some constantly test to see if it is still active. One rather dim bull I saw lick it and then drop to his knees in shock. And of course there are the ones that just ignore it and the zaps and wander right on through.

    In all cases, they were looking at the grass on the other side of the fence. How lush, green and so much better than the grass on their side.

    So good on you Iris – let’s hope that he’s one of the smarter of the cattle out there.


    • .BowTie Ignoring people is not giving permission to them, it is giving them all the attention they deserve which is NONE. Parenting software can be used to arrange custody and anything to do with the childrens arrangements. Other than that, NO CONTACT. So you block all communication. If you have blocked him, he can’t send cutesie videos designed to cut you to the heart, you won’t see them, and you won’t be hurt. Triangle broken, manipulation failed, attention denied. Letting them in to hurt you, that’s not a boundary. No longer playing. THAT’S a boundary. I learned that through experience and I wish I had understood the wonder that is NO CONTACT 18 months before I did.

      • If you HAVE to smack down, how about “Wow–you’ve really aged!” or “I see that gut is coming along nicely. When’s your due-date?”

        I realize it is very hard to move to *crickets*. Most of us struggled with it because we are used to normal human interactions, which involve honesty and sharing of feelings. At some point we realize we are simply handing someone a knife, turning around, and pointing to the most vulnerable place on our backs. And then we stop.

        But if you are not quite there yet, then at least show no vulnerability. Deploy humor. Later you may realize that they do not deserve even that shred of your humanity but it might be a bridge to get to crickets.

        Or write it all down and don’t send it.

        • I agree. Just a short, snarky sentence will do well. Something like what was said above:

          “1977 called and would like its pants back”
          “Sorry, I did not catch the end. I had to turn it off because of all the neighborhood dogs howling.”
          “Should you be doing those dance moves? You’re liable to break a hip!”

          When Wasband lets out a torrent of abuse, telling me what I’ve supposedly done wrong, I bat my eyelashes innocently. I say, “well why ever did you marry me?” Or “what can anyone expect from an incompetent mother such as myself?”

          That shuts him up real quick. I can just imagine him seething because his attempt to bait me didn’t work.

          • I forgot to say, Iris, please do not beat yourself up for the letter already sent. It probably gave him kibbles. But I sense you had to do it for YOU. For your personal growth or to turn a corner in your thought process. Plus there’s nothing you can do to unsend it. Everyone falls off the No Contact wagon from time to time.

            The hardest thing for me was realizing he just did not care. Like CL said, there’s an empty elevator shaft where his soul should be. Once you truly see that, it gets easier. Hang in there.

            Sorry if this is a duplicate post. My phone just erased a bunch of paragraphs. IDK what happened.

      • My ex of over 30 years ago STILL circles back around from time to time. He finds my address and send me letters which go immediately into the trash. The last time, he sent me a registered letter saying he needed a copy of our divorce decree so he could renew his passport, with an enclosed stamped postcard for my benefit. Right. He thinks I’m that stupid, and apparently he couldn’t pay to have the court run a copy? Whatever. I sent the postcard back with a terse note stating where I had filed, that I couldn’t be bothered to search for anything on his behalf, and that it was HIS problem, not mine, and not to contact me again.

        Kibbles!! I paid attention! Here came even more letters pleading poverty, acknowledging he was trying to manipulate me, he was so, so sorry, blah, blah, he was trying to immigrate to Israel so he could live out his golden years on the Israeli taxpayer’s back (he is, of course, broke).

        I have an attorney friend who kindly wrote him a letter on the firm’s letterhead, telling him where he could find a copy of the decree, the case number, etc., the restating my desire for ex to not contact me again, and that the lawyer was certain ex would abide by my wishes.

        That appeared to have done the trick. I have heard nothing since (about 6 years), but keep an uneasy eye on his whereabouts from time to time. He has some serious mental health issues. At last check, either Israeli wasn’t interested in supporting his splendid self, OR he was hoping to find some reason our divorce was invalid (to better access whatever perceived funds I have). He is still living in CO. It speaks volumes about my fear of even driving through that beautiful state, knowing that he lives there still.

      • The problem is that he can use the parenting software to send videos and photos. You can’t fully block him. You can’t fully go no contact.

        I’m going to request a clause in my divorce decree that he can not send me any information or photos about future romantic partners. But I may not get that clause approved, and most people don’t have it. I’ve already gotten trade requests through the parenting software specifying schedule conflicts that the mistress has (we are still married).

        Parenting software does not protect you from many of the things that they can send. If anything, it makes it harder for you to shut it down. They can send you things to upset you under the pretense of positive co-parenting and sharing information. There isn’t a good way to ask to not receive videos of your child. It is a trap.

        I think you should say something about the content being inappropriate and ask them to stop, but keep all the emotions out of it. If you end up trying to get a court order modification or file a harassment claim later, you will need documentation that you told them to stop. Unfortunately the best way to deal with a narcissist and what you need to do for the legal system are often contradictory.

        • Just don’t open them.

          I have 3 communications from my ex in OFW that I will never read.

          I know what they say and I refuse to engage in that conversation anymore.

          Btw my ex asked if I would like him to send me videos or pics of special events or occasions. This was after I refused to even look at the video he tried to share of our daughters pre k play.

          I didnt respond to that request.

          I didnt open the emails that I knew were just trying to fight for no reason.

          Modified NC can be done.

    • I don’t object to the smackdown, I object to sharing her vulnerability with him. He’ll weaponize it.

      • Nothing says “Fuck You”like silence.

        Tracy, you gotta title a chapter in your next book with that one!! BRAVO ????

      • I agree. Don’t feed the beast. When I have replied it just encourages my XW to further abuse me.

      • That’s the big danger–to show the vulnerability so that X can use it.

    • Disclosure: I’m white female (not always the right shade of white, meaning that there can be and often is prejudice against my ethnicity). I decided some time ago that I’d always call out obnoxious behavior when faced with it (Spare me your anti-semitic claptrap. Are you aware that what you’re saying is racist? Of course I can imagine new James Bond being Asian. That gorgeous Korean actor YY would be ideal!)

      However, even if the ex (and/or his OW) is white, this isn’t about being collective prejudice (unless thy did say something racist, then it’s different and needs to be called out). It’s personal and I agree that the best way to deal with it is to ignore or (politely) mock. The video? I must admit I just deleted. (Even this is probably too much to add) I was too busy for your attention seeking clowning.

      For sure, telling such people where and how much they hurt you is just counter-productive. All you achieve is tell them not only that they hurt you but also where hurts you a lot or the most so that the next time know where and how to hit. I realized this with my narcissistic father.

    • Except this will not be conveyed as a “smack-down” by the ex. Most of these idiots LOVE to see you get all worked up. It’s not standing up for yourself. It’s exposing what makes you angry, and is now a button to push. And you better believe the OW was delighted to know Iris is still pissed off.

      Also, I don’t think you understand the beauty of going Grey rock. Grey rock means you ignore, and it’s not a big battle to do so. You ignore because you just don’t give a fuck. There’s infinite power in that.

      Iris, next time scream into your pillow, take it out on a wall you want to remove, go for a run, I don’t know. But don’t give away your power.

      • I have a hard time with staying silent…but I was able to on the text message below. I did write a response to my brother because I was so mad. But XH did not receive any kibbles from me, this time.

        “You hate me don’t you? I’m sorry for what I’ve done. I wish I could take it all back. Everyday I wish I hadn’t made the decision that hurt are family”.

        In reflection I think AP #3 must of broken up or was busy that night. What is it called when XH is cheating on AP #2 with AP#3?

        • “…for what I’ve done.” Typical usage of vague words rather than naming what actually happened.

          • Thanks for the feedback. I think so often I should be over this. I am about to hit the 2 year mark and tonight the tears are flowing again. I am doing what is “suppose” to make me feel better. I am no contact as much as possible, only business like conversations. I am doing self care, going to massage therapy, working with a nutritionist, have an exercise program, have a support group, taking care of the kids, working, staying busy, but still I am sad.

            Shutterfly sends me old photos and that is a whole other set of feelings.
            There is such a loss inside of me, I hurt still, I cry at night, I can’t sleep and all I want to do it eat. I know I should be be content with myself and my kids but I miss being married. Not necessarily to him, but just being married. I am alone even when I am with others. Plus, will I every have intimate relations again?

            Then there is the whole it is so not fair! He get to sleep with whoever he wants, no responsibilities and pay his minimum child support which is no where close to what it costs to take care of the children. He under employs himself on purpose…I have not figured that one out yet.

            But I am still the one mowing the grass and figuring out the bills.

            Then on top of all that I feel more sad or guilty or whatever it is because I feel this way and I think I should be happier. I got rid of a cheater, got full custody, was able to purchase a home and I have a job. But I ache inside and want to just shut out the world but know I can’t and try to keep moving forward and make it through one more day.

            Please let Tuesday come soon.

            He has NEVER said the word “affair” ever! I guess it isn’t real if he doesn’t say it.

            • It’s hard not to feel sad. It’s hard not to resent all the adulting you have to do while he just plays around.

              Please be aware, however, that he is miserable. I promise. Always chasing the ghost, living in fear of anyone finding out his true character. That takes a lot of energy and time. So does denial.

              Essentially, him being himself is enough punishment.

              Another pill that is HARD to swallow: you can do everything you were “supposed to do” in life and still get royally screwed over.

              I made up for wasted youth by getting together with guys who showed me what it could be like. I found out I was actually desirable, despite having been told otherwise for years.

              In the words of Thelma and Louise, I suggest you go out and “get laid proper.”

              It sure did me a world of good.

            • I think two years is still fairly recent, especially if it took a year after D-Day to get a divorce.

              One thing that helped me was a therapist who helped me find happiness in everyday life. It’s fine and normal to miss being married! But you can’t rebuild in THAT area until you finish grieving the old life. For me, a therapist helped me not just feel content with life as it is for me now, but happy in general.

              I will say that the COVID-19 isolation amplifies lots of loneliness. I live alone (not kids) but single chumps with kids are living without another adults to provide comfort and support. I spend most of the last week binge-watchin “Hart of Dixie” on Netflix and couldn’t figure out why I cried (even while I was laughing) through most of it. It’s a tough time for many of us. So even if you love your life, it’s normal to feel sad sometimes or aware of loneliness. It’s normal to experience grief after loss. You’re doing great on so many fronts. And maybe the tears and sadness are just part of going through this experience. A good therapist might help you sort out the difference between “this is part of the process” vs. being stuck at a stage vs. COVID loneliness vs. depression (or some combination of the above).

    • BowTie
      57 year old white woman in the U.S. here; sadly my experience with standing up to bullies in personal situations has been it only results in more bullying behavior because it feeds the beast and empowers them and their toadies (poor me, just sharing a cute video of the kid- doing my best to for the sake of the kid and this is how she responds- told you she is crazy). My ex always escalated when I stood up for myself, NC was the only way to slay the beast. In fact, I still have the email he sent were he lamented the fact that he was no longer in control (of me and the kids). His exact words.

      • Oh yeah- this reminds me of the first few times I tentatively tried grey rock. I just nodded half heartedly and ignored him (instead of arguing with him, or defending myself- because really, what he says doesn’t matter) which resulted in him literally screaming in my face “WHY DON’T YOU LISTEN TO ME ANYMORE?!?!!!”
        And then I knew, for the first time, that not interacting with him IS power. It was perfectly obvious to me that by “listen” he meant “obey”. I just looked at him and didn’t react. He was so angry and unnerved he started to cry. It’s like watching a 2 year old’s temper tantrum. It is designed to provoke a reaction. If you give them a reaction then they will increase that behavior.
        Of course, for years now I’ve gotten much better at grey rock and would never be alone with him again or have a conversation that isn’t through text. That way I can design the perfect grey rock answer every time.

    • I think she should have just sent the first sentence. That one was telling him to stop. Why is irrelevant because he won’t care. That way he isn’t being given permission but doesn’t get a full view into her pain, maybe a glimpse but not the full picture. He may try to goad her by doing it again later, but that’s when she blocks him and doesn’t respond. Then the message will be clear. I told you not to do that, you did it anyway, now you will be blocked so that you can’t do it again. Also, if he responds to the text telling him to stop, then he gets ignored (or blocked) also.

      • Yes. If you are going to send anything, the one sentence is the best idea but I’d take the heat out of it. “Do not send videos or photos that include ———-.”

    • For me, swallowing that shit sandwhich leaves a nasty taste in my mouth that I cannot brush away. I need to spit it out and get it out of my system.

      If I just ignore it, I feel like I’m allowing the abuse to continue, which will just eat me alive. I just can’t do it. I’d rather say my peace and be freed, even if it means he gets some satisfaction out of my reaction.

      In my personal situation, I’ve unleashed a couple of times over the past 4 years, so it’s an infrequent occurance. I say what I have to say and acknowledge that I expect my words to fall on deaf ears because he has no empathy or guilt.

      I do make myself review what I’ve written before I send it, but I still send it. When he does not respond, I know I’ve hit the target. Or he may just be dismissing it, but I prefer to feel like I’ve made my point and I can get back to my new life.

      • Yep guilty over here. He is blocked all round but when he really pisses me off I will leave him vicious v mails. I don’t care anymore. It’s not often and it’s nothing compared to the shit he put me through. Im not playing nice to abusers, but NC is the path to emotional freedom. Block and delete.

    • BowTie, I always love reading your wise and insightful comments, but in this particular case, I believe you’ve called it wrong. Zero Contact works precisely because I’m rescinding my permission for others to abuse me.

      When it comes to my serial cheater XH and his Married Howorker, all I see are cancerous malignancies. The more attention I gave to them — even if it was perfectly and righteously appropriate — the more I fed their blood supply. And when it comes to cancer, we all know that the greater the blood supply, the more virulent the tumor’s growth trajectory.

      Unfortunately, I didn’t cut off contact soon enough, and all I was doing was feeding the tumor! So, while he was absorbed in his own awesomeness, I quietly turned the tables and went Zero Contact; that stands head and shoulders above every other decision I’ve made with regards to my XH and our divorce. Now, without saying a word, I’m demonstrating that I’m the one who doesn’t care… Sorry, no BFFs, no triangulation, no food for your tumor.

      I’ve been at this for 6 years now, and I don’t envision a time when I will ever welcome him back into my life, in any form or fashion. Zero contact has never been my attempt to punish him; rather, it’s a choice I’ve made to protect my mental and emotional health, and it’s been my compass back to my freedom.

      • There’s something to be said for blocking access to abusers. No contact except for rigidly maintained professional emails involving only necessary communication about kids doesn’t give abusers an opportunity to abuse.

    • I agree. Although it is giving them kibbles, it was an extremely well worded and mature letter to those idiots.

  • With all due respect to Iris, there is a world of difference between expectation of behavior among strangers (Amy Cooper/Christian Cooper) than among partners. The expectation is that partners, whether ex or not, would be respectful given a past once together, kids, etc. – which is why this is particularly hurtful.

    Anyone can run into a nut job like Amy Cooper. But to have chosen to live with a nut job is embarrassing (speaking from experience).

    Iris, please, don’t let him keep playing you. He wins every time.

    The thing that irritates my ex to no end is not only apathy, but laughing in a subtle, twinkle-in-my-eye kind of way. Narcissists do not have a sense of humor.

    • Yes! They take themselves Very Seriously. They hate when you chuckle at them with a slightly amused look on your face.

  • The Fuckwit Jukebox has to go back a ways for this one

    (music by The Vogues, lyrics by Iris’ ex)

    There is someone needing attention
    I’m a dick, look at me
    There is someone shitting on boundaries
    I’m a prick, look at me
    There is someone who really gets off
    On the thrill of your pain
    Watch this clip, see my life
    Cuz I’m vain, Cuz I’m vain . . .

    I am someone who knows it’s hurtful
    But I don’t really care
    I am someone cold and disdainful
    I won’t stop, so beware
    Oh, I’ll goad you
    I do it on purpose
    So you will notice me
    I’m pathetic, antagonistic
    I’m a dick, look at me . . .
    I insist . . . LOOK AT ME!!!!!!

    • Uxworld,
      I’d never even heard of the Vogues but I just listened to them sing their (inferior) version of this on YouTube–I sang along with your lyrics and they’re perfect! Outstanding job.

  • Iris, I hear you. Loud and clear. And I get that no person who hasn’t lived your lived experience can really get what your lived experience is like or how important it is for you to have and use your voice. So, I don’t feel comfortable suggesting that you don’t use it.

    It may be that there’s a Venn diagram to it all. Yes use your voice to say no because it’s important to live in the world with your authentic voice, but maybe say a less descriptive no, to Cal’s point about how abusers love our pain.

    Maybe even if it makes you lose some things you like, it’s worth it to limit communications to text only and only about your shared child? Short, simple, straightforward, and eliminating hair-splitting BS about selecting what to send.

    Maybe you could address the inappropriateness without sharing so much of your inner experience. Like “Your personal choices aren’t a relevant part of our co-parenting arrangement. Including additional people in our discussions only complicates an already challenging arrangement. Therefore, please keep all communications about our child specific and relevant to you, me, and our child.”

    In short, maybe if you are more direct and less vulnerable, you can engage your voice without feeding the kibble monster very much. Then call a friend and say the rest, because that voice still needs to come out!

    Just some thoughts. Hope they are able to spark something that feels right. I am sad you are being treated this way and glad you reached out for support. ????

    • Thank you Amiisfree. I might have just copied your exact words to use as my concise response next time the fuckwit attempts to pull a similar stunt.

      • I am very happy I was helpful. I totally support you and feel for you and wish all the best for you. It takes a lot of energy to reach out about this stuff. ⭐

      • A small addition to Amy’s suggestion, save that message. Send the exact same one every time. Don’t change so much as a comma. In that way you say bit “I am defending my boundaries” AND “you are not important enough for me to put much effort into this” at the same time. Works well w my ex.

        • And eventually the jackass gets the point that you are not replying to him or actually responding but rather restating something he already knows.

  • Iris… you’re human and the person your promised your life to turned out to be a steaming turd. Your righteous anger is justified, but it is your skein to untangle… you’ll never change HIS (or understand it).

    Over time (I’m six years out from the final D-day, 4 years post-divorce, co-parenting a 14yo), I have come to find strength in No Contact. Ever time I chose to not engage with Mr. Sparkles attempts to triangulate or gaslight or basically anything post-discard, I always felt better about myself and my future when I didn’t respond back. You can’t win with these fuckwits #noempathy.

    The nice thing, in my experience, is that these people get bored easily… thus, why they cheat. So if you don’t give them kibble and keep them engaged, they will eventually scamper away to an active audience. I’m at a place now where I have almost zero contact and the peace is blissful. It did take a while to get here, for some time I thought some contact (no matter how or what kind) was better than silence (aka feeling ignored or invisible, that I didn’t matter)… now I see it for the gift it is… freedom.

    And guess what, if you slip from time to time… you can always start again 🙂 #resilienceisstrengthtoo

  • Iris,
    I get the incredible frustration of not being able to use your voice in all its angry authenticity. Your anger is justified; of course it is! We need validation. It feels very validating when people respond with outrage on our behalf, are shocked by his behavior, and feel terrible for the pain he has caused you. Find people like that to share your anger with – good friend, therapist, journaling, (I’ve done Gestalt therapy – the chair switching) When you work your anger through words with safe people, you don’t feel so silenced. The key word is “safe” people. Also reframe the narrative in your head from “I feel like I have duct tape over my mouth” to “I speak the truth all the time with safe people”.

  • Personally, I wouldn’t have gone any further than, “Don’t send me videos”. Trust that the asswipe posted it to YouTube so if you really wanted to see it, you could.

    Divorcing the jerk was a big statement. Stiff-arming him and refusing to acknowledge any further attempts to goad you is a big Fuck You to kibble-hounds.

    Consider setting up your mailbox such that anything that is too big (like a video from FuckWit) can’t even land in your inbox.

    What’s done is done. Back to being grey rock or no contact (if possible).

    • I wouldn’t have even opened the video or responded.

      My ex sent me a text a few weeks back asking about a song I love, he wanted to know the name of it since he didn’t know.

      I didn’t respond, it was clearly a trap. I ended up making myself a yummy margarita while listening to the song and thinking to myself “yea I’m not that dumb to fall for that, he’s such a tool”.

      My point is, ex’s will do anything to produce a reaction, ANYTHING. Don’t give them that power. I’d rather just ghost them consistently, it’s what works for me anyway.

      • Yep. Grey Rock/Ghosting is the best. These assholes are begging for interaction. When you deny them that, they realize they don’t have the same power over you anymore. It gives them sadz. 🙂

      • Nor would I, but she what’s done is done. She can’t unsee it or unsend the email.

  • Exactly as CL puts it, “don’t give them an audience”. They won’t want to drag you into their miserable lives if they don’t have an audience in you (essentially if they know they can’t produce a reaction out of you).

    Iris, never let’em see you sweat! You’re speaking up for yourself is Silence as weird as that sounds. The funny thing is, should you ever be in a situation where your ex bring up the video to you, it could be as simple as “what video?” and then “yea didn’t notice it” and end the conversation. It might take time but eventually these things will stop when they don’t see reactions from you.

    If anything it will make them start to feel dumb because they are sending texts, emails, etc to nowhere. It’s time to ghost your ex! ghost the heck outta him!

  • Iris, it’s ok…

    Although I’m trying my hardest to go Grey rock, every now and then I have also reacted when the fuckwit brings up that bitchface, mostly because it’s still recent and my divorce is not finalized. Usually I am a master of calmness, not reacting to fuckwit at all. I’m sure it will take time and practice for chumps like us.

    I am also a brown person. We have to fight most battles in life by not remaining silent so I get you 100 percent. However when it comes to a person you loved with your whole heart that hurt you so badly, the truth is that they deserve NOTHING from you… Not a facial expression, a message, a fucking smoke signal or anything else at all, unless its an urgent matter relating to the kids if you have (which most people advise to communicate through an app or 3rd party).

    Silence is definitely the best form of ‘fuck you’ to a narcissist because they get aroused by our reactions. Channel that energy into other battles for the greater good of mankind. Cheaters are not good, nor are they worthy of your time or battle.

  • Like so many chumps, I was the fixer. I fixed things when people were unhappy or needed something. You know what I neglected to fix for a long time? Me. My picker. I didnt realise I wasnt obligated to fix everything for everyone. You are still trying to fix his broken whatever. Not your job. As chump lady always says “you have nothing to work with here”. Stop trying to fix him. Stop wasting your energy on him. Your time on him. Your sanity on him. Fix you. You have vast potential. You are already awesome, but imagine how magnificently awesome you could be if you spent all that energy and mental real estate on yourself. Wow! Boy would your son be modelled a truly incredible momma.

  • Amen!
    Good for you for finding your voice! I had to do the same thing.
    But with that is recognizing when, as chump lady says, nothing says fuck you like silence.

    Do go no contact. Put your ex in your contacts as caution, toxic and read necessary emails only.

    There is freedom in independence! It’s awesome.

  • I needed this today. I feel exactly the same way. Maybe the guy didn’t cheat but he treated me terribly, so I left. Now he does everything he can to triangulate. I should have never dated anyone in a small town as what recourse do I have?

    Anyway, thank you for this, I needed it today.

  • I would have done exactly like you did Iris and I have done this repeatedly …… my first ex has a personality disorder and the amount of energy I’ve lost to him over the years is unbelievable.
    We share children together, and there are still things to deal with that can’t be handled by software.
    All I know, is trying to be rational and sane with somebody who isn’t is just a recipe for exasperation.
    My exasperation…. he’s pretty clueless .
    You do what’s best for you.
    But if you find that explaining the obvious to such a moron is taking away your energy and keeping you in that understandably unsettled emotional space, maybe you’ll find that it doesn’t serve you.
    The problem is, you’re sharing yourself with someone who’s not on your level and never will be.
    You can’t teach a toddler how to drive a car.

  • I would have been tempted to reply ‘WOW, you look like shit, don’t send me any more of your stupid videos, I am not interested in them in any way.’ But then go no contact moving forward. It is a tough road, they get off on provoking us and rubbing our noses in their supposed winning. But you can’t polish a turd, and they will always be turds.

  • Here’s my latest situation along this line, KK is once again using our daughters as a justification for getting a triangulation fix . . .

    E the Elder will be a high school senior next year, and is now getting serious about the college application process (well, as serious as any non-Type A teenager ever gets about such things).

    KK sent me this on Monday, it’s the second time she’s sent me something on this general theme:

    “Let’s try to find a time for you, E, and me to all get together to go over all the college application things we need to consider for her applying to schools. Let’s be cordial and mature about it. It will benefit us all.”

    (note the obvious dig at me about being ‘cordial’ and ‘mature’ — this is the effect of 4+ years practicing gray rock)

    I’m willing to concede that there might be a good amount of coordination and collaboration needed for this process, and thought about agreeing to a 1:1 to discuss particulars, as long as (a) E the Elder was not involved, and (b) any discussion takes place in a public place, away from anyone’s ‘home turf.’

    But I reached out to my CN support system and have decided to gray rock at all costs, unless there really and truly is no other way. After 4 years of my daughter’s ‘normal’ being parents that do not meet, it will likely be far more stressful for her to think about navigating a session with both of us present than it would be to just work everything out via OFW or email.

    The last time KK tried to force a face-to-face with me, standing at my doorstep and demanding to speak with me, my daughter was in tears over it.

    • “Let’s try to find a time for you, E, and me to all get together to go over all the college application things we need to consider for her applying to schools. Let’s be cordial and mature about it. It will benefit us all.”

      Oh, vomit. ????

      This slag never gives up, does she?

      I’m not in America, so am not au fait with how the process works there, but from this side of the pond I can see absolutely no reason why the two of you would have to be involved *together* with this.

      You are divorced, you are no longer a family, this is just another attempt at trampling over your boundaries so she can feel good about herself and her ‘maturity’. Blech.

      I wouldn’t even respond.

    • I realize I am ancient, but why do parents need to be involved in the “college application process”? Unless KK is wanting to send E to a ridiculously over-priced college that you will then be expected to cover the costs of?

      There are truly only a handful of colleges that a degree from will carry extra impact, depending on the degree. I’m a fan of Community College to get the crap courses out of the way, then transferring to a State or private college for the last two years. You will save a TON of money. You certainly don’t need to meet with KK for that.

      Shame on KK for using E in such a blatant way.

      • Me too, ILC. I’ve pushed that very idea from the beginning. And maybe, given the current uncertain climate, it will end up working out that way.

        But KK took E to visit a private college in upper NY state in February, and that’s what E is aiming for ever since.

        Would it surprise you at all to know that KK went to a (different) private college in upper NY state, paid for in full by her parents, and never had any student loan debt? Like most narcs, she grew up in a world of “I want what I want, and someone else will take care of it.”

        • I have a rising senior, there is no college conversation that can’t be had over email or text. She’s an ass. (I think you’ve figured that out. )

        • The only things you need to be clear about:

          1. The limit of your financial contribution. What KK will contribute.
          2. Who fills out FAFSA
          3. Who takes the tax deductions for the kids
          4. Whether E wants to avoid taking on crippling student loan debt.

          You can do all of this via email or OFW. You should sit down and run financial scenarios with E, once you know what KK is going to contribute. But be firm on your limit.

          My sib’s granddaughter has another year of college. She did the first 2 years at a community college, tuition free, and lived at home. (As her sister did). She finished the last 2 years as a commuter, the last year living in a house she and her fiancé had bought. (He went to a union trade program and was paid to go to school.) So the decisions E makes will have major consequences for her financial future.

      • I found myself in a similar circumstance a couple years ago. I would advise that E actually IS included in the “meeting” or email conversations and here’s why. KK is a proven pathological liar. KK will lie to her. At best E will doubt KK’s version, but it will mess with her head and make her exasperated at you both.
        You and KK may make some arrangement or game plan (that clearly effects E.) Do you really have the confidence that the message will be relayed truthfully and completely by KK?

        Example 1- X wanted to talk (aka bully, threaten, etc.) about college living expenses and plans After one phone call and then a follow up inquiry to son it became glaringly obvious that X was lying out his ass about the plans and conversation. From that point forward we met once all 3 of us, then emailed about it. The in person meeting was kind of funny, because X had to contain himself from raging because it was at Starbucks and right there in front of son. You should have seen him twitching and red faced-ha! (The deal is made that we each give $500 month for expenses and son gets loans for tuition. He makes 5 times what I do, but I agreed, because no one knows like I do how much that fucker loves money and I was happy that he’d help son at all without strings. The only way he finally cooperated and quit the threats and BS was to have it all out there in front of son. Classic narcissist obsessed with appearances, but running a behind-the-scene side show of lies, bullying and threats.

        Example 2. – X was jerking me around about taxes and dependent college-related tax issues.
        Decree clearly laid out a tax plan based on its date in 2016. Major tax reform in 2018 changed dependent exemptions so they are no longer applicable to kids over 16 (both of ours are.) He is pissy that he doesn’t get a tax break so he wants to claim the college credit every single year because that is “fair” because tax reform left him without an added exemption. (Never mind that it did the exact same thing to me.) Decree clearly states that we rotate back and forth every year.

        He was trying to sell son a totally different story. That I was being unfair and not splitting tax benefits. That I just wouldn’t work with him and was being greedy and therefore he would no longer give him $500 a month for rent. I also give son $500/month despite our income disparity of annual salary of my 40k to his 200k.

        I wanted to rotate back and forth each year, as the fucking decree says. College son is the only kid that gives anyone a tax advantage. So, as an alternative, I suggested we let son claim himself as he is ultimately the one with the tuition debt and loans. (I thought that perhaps X would leave it alone if he thought that I wasn’t getting any money.) Alas, he also didn’t like that because he wanted the money. He continued to intimidate, word salad, condescend that I didn’t know what I was talking about….

        Boom, I started cc’ing son on all my email replies. Son could see for himself and read the entire conversation as well as the attached divorce decree. X fucking exploded. (I was honestly scared for my life.) But he dropped the BS and went dead silent on the subject….. Until two years later at tax time that is, when he tried the Same. Fucking. Thing. because it was my year again. Ugh, they are exhausting.

        (I’m the idiot on here who walked away from fair loads of money because I thought I wouldn’t survive the divorce, had no attorney, and was threatened by X with my life so I signed a really bad deal out of fear.)

        • If you’re an idiot because of that, then I am too.
          Neither of us are idiots. Fair loads of money are no good to us if we are dead.

    • Hello UX. I have a daughter who just graduated high school, class of 2020, so I just went through all this stuff.
      You absolutely do not need to “get together to go over college applications things” with that liar.

      My daughter also did not (and still does not) want to be in the same room with both me and fuckwit. I think she has figured out he cheated and she knows I do not want to be around him, so she avoids putting me in that predicament. I guess it is easier for her to compartmentaize if we are not in the same room.

      Most high school guidance departments in our state use Naviance college search software. The student uses this very powerful software to select and screen for potential colleges. The search parameters are vast. You can search by school size, location, cost, majors offered, etc. The students can compare schools and generate a list of let’s say 10-15 they’re interested in.

      Cost, test scores, field of study, location, school size, etc will determine which schools are on daughter’s list. Kk has nothing to do with what schools go on E’s list, except maybe suggesting them, and you can suggest some too.

      When our child wanted to go tour college campuses, she chose which parent would attend which college tour with her. And with covid, maybe real life tours won’t even be a thing. I took her to most of the tours. And while we were gone, unbeknownst to me, cheater was fucking Schmoopie in our bed. Disgusting piece of shit… but I digress…

      Our guidance department wanted the students to have agency, and run the application process for themselves. Of course the parent will check in now and then to see how things are progressing, to suggest schools to investigate, and supervise, but the student should be doing 80-90% of this stuff themselves.

      The guidance department will also have a timeline of what tests need to be taken and help student submit the test scores to the schools the student chooses on Naviance.

      If your daughter’s school uses this software, you could spend time with her and have her show you how it works, or figure it out together with her soon. It’s a good way to have some bonding time.

      You can talk with daughter yourself about her school list. You do not need to talk to KK about your daughter’s list.
      You can go online and plan college tours for schools daughter wants to see with you.
      You can talk to daughter about money budgeted for schools.
      When you fill out the FAFSA and the CSC, you to submit your info directly online to your daughter’s college board account without kk seeing that info.
      Hint: have your financial stuff ready to submit right away ASAP, especially if E will be applying early decision or early action.

      There is absolutely no reason to be in the same room as the cheater. She just wants triangulation, centrality, and attention. Keep doing gray rock and being a good dad.

    • UXworld, you’ve spent the last 4 years getting your PhD in Grey Rock. And that’s exactly what you should be practicing during this college application situation. Under no circumstance is KK’s suggestion a good idea. Besides, it’s totally unnecessary; as E’s parents, anything that you would need to discuss could easily be accomplished via email or text. There is zero value in setting up and sitting through a threesome. So if you even choose to respond, be sure your response is Grey Rock worthy… calm, clear, cryptic. Leave no room for confusion. Employ very liberal use of the word “No”.

  • I believe in speaking out against oppression — to people who will listen and can change it. You waste your breath speaking to the oppressor. The oppressor feels entitled to the behavior.

    It did no good to appeal to the man who calmly put his knee on George Floyd’s neck and put his hands in his pocket, and waited for George to die. The bird watcher asked the woman to put her dog on a leash. She had a leash. She did not care to do what was asked, she wanted to change the narrative to “an african-american man is threatening me.” If you have just been raped, the rapist is not going to see the error of his ways. If your boss steals your ideas at work, he is not going to tell his boss.

    I understand following the chain of command as an ideal. However, if the chain is corrupt, it must be broken. What is happening now, with the protests and the media coverage about racism is an appeal to the collective conscience. Racism and sexism and bully’s must be examined in public. There is a brutal truth in evidence. If there were no videos of the event, no supporting evidence, the truth can be denied. The story can be spun.

    I watched a story about privilege on the news recently. There was a comment about the examples provided to describe privilege making people uncomfortable. That’s the point. If you are uncomfortable, you are probably privileged. People who abuse like to do so in private, or with a lynching party of their peers. One woman’s voice didn’t start the Me, Too movement The March on Washington was not done by one marcher. Bully’s will not be banned from the playground until they are called out in front of the whole school, the whole community. I learned (the hard way) you cannot change another person, but that does not mean there cannot be social change.

    Choose your battles wisely. Do not appeal to someone who has no empathy. The appeal will not be heard, and you are wasting your resource of breath and energy. It might make you feel good for a moment, but it is not true change. Sometimes you have to retreat to survive, so you live to fight another day.

    • Portia – I always find your comments thoughtful. Is there any legislative change that would discourage cheating? Do we need a galvanzing moment?

      • I think it will become a part of legislation to stop crimes and hatred against women. I find it ironic that even in the social change movements of the 60’s that women, whose work and dedication are essential to any movement, are still treated the worst. I know there are women cheaters, too, of course, and that cheaters are entitled, regardless of their sex. But you can be both a racist and a sexist. Often times people talk about color, but do not see that prejudice is wrong for race, or sex, or religious belief, equally.

        I do believe that the no fault laws may speed up divorce, but do not punish the offending party. Some couples may indeed grow apart, and divorce without cheating. But those who choose to cheat sexually and/or economically should be punished for the crimes against the family. As long as women make less money than men, are less likely to be promoted to better jobs than men, have less assistance raising children, the economic disparity will always make it harder to fairly divide assets and money in a divorce. Until women and men are more equal under the law, and have more equal power under the law, there will be disparity. Even if you made more money than your spouse, or if you were same sex partners, economic disparity does not work well for you under the law. A crime is a crime, whether or not you are married, or male or female.

        When someone steals from their spouse and children, when the cheater exposes the spouse to disease, or economic ruin, that should be a crime, with criminal penalties. Our court system does not work well in these cases. It may be difficult to calculate the worth of crimes of the heart, but a 50/50 split of assets is not fair, either. Cheaters should not be able to benefit from being a crook.

  • Iris. It is so hard to not respond to abusive behavior. I totally get it. It feels good to speak “your truth”. it feels like your being righteous and standing up for yourself and your son. I used to do that too -we all have. I learned that by doing so offered #noempathy an opportunity to attack me again. The last time I did that he responded with “thanks for reminding me why I left you followed with other name calling.” Knife to the heart. So the N.C. policy of LACGAL serves to protect your heart from further abuse. We know they are incorrigible in their Abuse -it is part of their shitty character. They cannot be reasoned with, they are not caring people. Take care of your heart, it wants to heal and this is part of the process. Try the communication software, Block, NC. As far as son, don’t discuss what he does with HIM and HER—it’s bummer, cool, wow and change the subject. Hugs!!!

  • I’ve received 2 communications with my white trash, trailer park x since dDay,
    Neither of which I responded to.

    The first one. “I done you wrong will you take me back “. Guffaw! ????. Blocked.

    The second occurred two No Contact years later when I thought it safe to reorganize my phone contacts and delete the block on her.

    It’s eerie because within a few days I got a text and duplicate email from her asking for two hard drives containing pictures from a trip she’d made to a basic training graduation.

    It was almost like she was monitoring my phone or got signaled that she was unblocked.

    Both attacks (attempts) were met with laughter on my part. The block was reinstated afterwards.

    Closing All portals of contact is Silent Control.

  • On a positive note she stated her case clearly, saying that she isn’t falling for his BS “good intentions” and actually used the word “STOP”. Might be useful if harassment ever became an issue. Good luck Iris!

  • Having to eat and swallow shit sandwiches sucks. To have to swallow them in your personal life when you are “a brown person” in America requires you to eat them daily in your public life must be excruciating. Your marriage should shield and succor you, not be the source of more shit sandwiches, so it’s no wonder you feel unbearably put upon. You are unbearably put upon.

    You stood up for yourself, and your anger was righteous anger, but unfortunately, not only did it fall on deaf ears, it gave him satisfaction. Why feed that troll.

    I like Chump Lady’s reframing:
    “No contact is not silence in the face of oppression. It’s FIGHTING oppression with consequences.”

    Take your righteous anger and use it to cut him out of your life. Somewhere on the site I saw something that said, “Nothing says ‘fuck you’ like silence.”


  • I can’t blame you for responding, but I would have kept it to 2 sentences. Stop sending me shit with you and your side piece. if it continues I will block you from communication by phone. All the extra only feeds his ego. CL is right, he did this shit completely on purpose because he wanted to set you up.

  • Him: Did you see the video?
    You: what video?
    Him: the video I emailed you
    You: No, unopened and deleted
    Him: It was of our child performing! Don’t you want to see him/her performance?!
    You: He/She can show me when we get home. There is no need for your assistance. See you next weekend. *exit stage left*

  • “Negative attention is still attention. It lets him know he has you – right where he wants you.”
    Sherry Argov in “Why Men Love Bitches”
    No Contact Rules!

  • Iris, there are times when enough is enough and you have to speak out.
    I agree that you shouldn’t show your vulnerability but you should get your message through loud and clear.
    So keep it short and repeat it over and over, via email, until it sinks in.
    This worked for me.
    “Do not contact me unless there is an emergency with one of our sons”
    Took five times of copying and pasting.

  • As a white woman from the south please let me apologize to anyone who has felt the sting of racism. I am the proud grandparent of two brown skin kids. One was hassled because he and his father were fishing and they vaguely resembled two men who had robbed a store. This went on for 40 minutes. Please, anyone, tell your friends who aren’t able to understand this rage that I heard a Black man say he looked in the mirror every morning wondering what the color of his skin was going do to him that day. I don’t think any white men have EVER had that thought. That’s white privilege.

    I suggest you send that video on to family, friends and previous friends with the note that his pot of shit must be low so he is filling it up with harassing you.

  • I thought her message stopped after the first sentence. I think it would have been fine ending it there 😉

    “No” is a complete sentence, and so is “Stop”.

  • I’d have been tempted to write “have you got a new partner or has Schmoopie packed on the lbs since I last saw her?” And the laughing emoji. Narcs hate being laughed at. Schmoops won’t ever play leading lady again.

    • Oooh love it! No, they do not like being made fun of or laughed at. That is their Achilles heel.

  • Iris, I get what you mean. AND there is a time
    to be Gray Rock (silent) and a time to be the little boy in The Emperor’s New Clothes (speak up). It takes time and practice, trial and error to learn how to navigate the hours of fun that are provided by the psycho dynamics of infidelity.

    XH letting himself into the garage when I am not home to take tools out of the garage and the garden shed? And he has not lived here for 2.8 years?
    Time to SPEAK UP! With legal backup if necessary. Danno.

    He makes a critical comment about the invoice from the tutor I hired to help our daughter who is failing school, directly related to the trauma he inflicted, after he spent twice that in one month on hotel rooms, just ONE expense I know of out of an ocean of money he spent over 20 years on his sportfucking hobby? Time to Gray Rock. I called my FRIEND to vent.

    He sent you a video with a big cameo by Creepella? Well, if he texted it, he’d get an email from me, lawyer CC’d, stating that communication by text is no longer an option due to his failure to respect my previous express requests about texting, and that any further communication is email only, on the subjects of X, Y, and Z, and that any other emails would be deleted.

    I am EMAIL ONLY with the XH….occasional phone interaction, NO TEXTING, on the subjects of child, business, money, divorce. THAT IS IT.
    I keep it Brief Informative Friendly Firm (BIFF….his nickname too).

    One hallmark quality of a cheater, and you will probably find this in your marriage going back to the beginning, is that WHEN YOU SPEAK UP THEY ACT AS IF YOU DIDN’T SAY ANYTHING. Knowing that, it’s MY control issue to get him to change when he has made crystal clear he is unwilling to do so…..


    • PS….when I email him, I put CHILD MONEY BUSINESS or DIVORCE in the subject line.

      If I leave a phone message, I simply say I am calling about CHILD. When he returns my call, I KEEP IT SIMPLE and STICK TO THE POINT.

      I ONLY communicate during BUSINESS HOURS
      (9-5). Unless it’s a true emergency. Fights begin and escalate when people are tired, hungry. If you’ve ever watched Cops, it’s usually dark and the people are in their leisure wear….

      Pretend each word you utter is A GOLD COIN. The object of the game is to give the traitor as FEW of them as possible.

      Some religions believe we are assigned a number of breaths at birth and we die when we use them up. In case that’s true, don’t use any more than absolutely necessary on the traitor.

  • You rose to the bait there Iris. Now they get to be all smug about how bitter and touchy you are..and isn’t it time you thought of your kids happiness? OW is part of his life now and all that.
    We have all done it Iris. I went totally apeshit a few years ago on Christmas day when ex and OW came through live on Web cam to our adult kids who were at my house.
    It was supposed to be just him but they done a sort of double act and beamed it into my home live.
    Anyway I learned from it and so must you. They miss the drama, the kibbles, the triangle so don’t take on the job.
    It’s sent now so let it go and say nothing else even if he responds.
    You only get to control you here and that is what the delete button is for.

  • My longstanding rule is to never send an email asking for my XW to actually do anything. If you ask for anything (even something as simple as “stop sending me these things”) then you’ve given the other person the power to refuse to do it. You’ve also tipped your hand that it causes you pain, so you’ve given them an incentive to refuse to do it.

    If you want to tell the other person off because it makes you feel better, then fine. Just don’t expect that you’ll achieve any change in behavior, or that you’ll receive any acknowledgment that your feeling are valid. I was in a similar situation to yours some years or so ago – XW sent some email that referenced personal details about her life with AP-now-husband; I replied telling her it was too painful for me to know these things and asking her to stick to only minimal logistical details about kids. XW’s answer was “no, you cannot silence me”. In other words, she not only refused to comply, she told me my feelings were invalid and implied that my behavior is abusive. This disregard is pretty much universal on the part of cheaters – if you look around enough on this site you’ll soon find it transcends race, gender, age, sexual identity, economic status, educational level, … It sounds like you’re feeling it particularly keenly because it overlaps with other events in your personal (and our national) life, which sucks for sure but I don’t think really affects how your ex will react to your attempt to get him to treat you humanely.


    Why just the other day, I screwed up responded when I shouldn’t have. These are weird days.., its all messed up.

    Just keep going.

  • My concern with responding to jackasses is that no matter what you say it may be weaponized. If I told my EX I didn’t want videos of my child with the AP, then my EX would run around telling people I am a terrible mom who has said I never want a video of my kid again. If I were to tell the EX, “Thanks,I am glad Junior’s piano lessons are paying off,” then I’d get daily videos of Junior playing duets with the AP. Every response feels dangerous–at least to me.

    Silence is harder to misrepresent. They will try, but, “You won’t believe it . . . my EX never responds to me at all,” is just a lot less interesting and much harder to damn me with than any version of “You won’t believe what my EX texted me today . . . . ”

    But as others here have said, there is not a “right” answer to this problem. If telling your EX to cease and desist gives you a bit of power and freedom, then that may be the strategy that is best for you at this point. I think most all of us experiment as we craft new lives.

    And, as you said, the long history in the US of telling victims and the oppressed to be quiet and suffer in silence complicates things–your “divorced mom” goals and your “person of color” goals may sometimes be hard to pursue in tandem. I hope this site is a place where you are listened to in your wholeness. It is one thing we can do for each other here.

  • Hi Iris ❤
    I did what you did one time. Sent my ex an email letting him know exactly what I thought of him, what a horrible person he must be to do all the things he’s done, how disgusted I was to discover who he really is…I said IT ALL!! And then I went very strict no contact and never spoke to him again. Did my email give him kibbles? Yes. Do I regret it? Not once have I ever regretted it. I needed to say those things for ME! I knew my words wouldn’t make a difference to him and that he’ll never change. But I needed to know that I said what I needed to say to him…for me. And the fact that I blocked all communication with him after felt good. And it drove him nuts. In the years since, when he has tried to instigate communication, he has referenced things I said in that email. I’m actually very proud of myself that I sent it…I had no voice in my marriage and now my voice (and no contact) is the final thing that stands between me and him.

  • Sending you hugs.

    It’s a catch 22, isn’t it? On one hand it feels good to let them have it with both barrels. On the other hand, it lets then see the spots that are tender. Oh, they love torturing us, especially going for those tender spots. It gives them the illusion of power, and they love that. They also love our pain.

    I am a person who’s rage is arctic cold. When cheater ex decided to go the torture route, I met him with silence and ice. First, I needed to be in complete control of myself. So silence until I could get my serenity back. Then it occurred to me that he was looking to steal my energy and my attention when he had absolutely no right to either. No contact said to him….. He had no power over me. That I was stronger than him. That his ideas, his thoughts, his pathetic attempts at making me notice anything connected to his craziness had absolutely no chance at disturbing me. In other words his existence didn’t even register as far as I’m concerned. No anger, no reaction, you are an inconsequential being, I am not going to even pay you any notice. You get no energy at all.

    Yep it will miss them off. You may get increased attempts to sabotage your serenity, up to an extinction burst. And then, being the lazy assholes that they are, they will give up. Eventually they will circle back to see if you can’t be provoked one more time, but there will come a time they will quit.

    To me that is the best revenge.

  • The way I see it, while acknowledging the validity of your feelings, you need to treat those two as the immature, idiot teenagers that they are (no disrespect to teenagers). They’re laughing about how they’re gonna get you, and you prick their clowning balloon with no attention, no response. They’ve been prancing about like show ponies, making all that effort to dig at you and their antics fall flat. Just hear a sad trombone every time they try. Maybe even make it Xs dial tone, or a clown car horn. You’ve got better things to get on with, you take the business of living seriously, and you’ve got parenting to do. Leave them where they stand, still trying to get validation for their actions from your attention, and get on with being your excellent self. Next!

  • Iris, most cheaters are addicted to the drama. The sneaking around, the lying, planning covert operations and the thrill of stolen moments. Well now the cat is out of the bag, you divorced his ass and they now live together. No more drama. Cheaters need drama. So your ex sends a video knowing it will get a rise out of you and for a minute they had a little drama. I hope you take some joy or pleasure in knowing the only way they are going to sustain a relationship is creating/causing this type of pathetic nonsense. Sucks to be cheaters.

    • I’m going to look at this from a position of power.
      Your child was in a school sponsored talent show. Every school that I know of has policies on sharing photos, videos, and social media. This includes field trips and talent shows. Parents need to give permission on all of these ‘shared’ school events.
      Check on the school’s policy. If there isn’t one there needs to be a discussion. You can write a letter stating that the school needs to have your written permission as a parent prior to submission of videos and or pictures submitted via virtual events.

  • I was saddened when I saw what lengths Christian had to go to against Amy. She was definitely putting on an act for phone call. I saw the coverage on Twitter. We haven’t gotten very far have we?? I still try but I’m only one old female.

    Try to treat you and your words like gold, Iris. They don’t value you. Enforce your boundaries. It’s incredibly difficult. I know you think there’s some shred of compassion or empathy inside them. NOPE!!! I tried to do it too. Please, I beg you to save yourself from this torment. It just leads to more pain as they know more places/buttons to pursue. ((Iris))

    • The dog lady video was quite disturbing. Glad she got her just desserts. Unfortunately there are far too many dog ladies or “Karens” as they are now labeled out in society. Sorry for the women named Karen, I think another label should be used but in any case, I’ve had dealings with these sorts throughout the years. I believe they are extremely angry opportunists that seek to Lord it over whoever or whomever possible. Store managers, wait staff and retail clerks seem to be their favorite target. If Christian had been white I think she still would have caused as much trouble as possible. Racists to me are like “Karens”. They need to target, hate and do their best to make people feel like crap. I’m sorry that Christian had to endure this nonsense but grateful he took video, she was called out and maybe now she’ll think twice before causing problems.

  • Iris, I don’t have a lot to add to what CL and the rest of Chump Nation has offered. But there is one principle to put at the top of your “dealing with CheaterX” toolbox: The fewer words the better when you deal with him.

    You write about X: You “lack self-actualization and awareness of the acute and long-lasting harm you have both done with your actions despite the fact I vocalize this often.” This says you “vocalize” your anger, frustration, triggering to him “often.”

    Look, sometimes you absolutely have to speak up. For example, if X has custody time and brings your child back with an untreated sore throat and fever, you have to speak up. In an email, as short as possible:
    “Fuckwit: When you brought DS back after your custody time, he had a fever of 102 degrees and a sore throat. He said he had been sick for 3 days. I took him to the doctor and he has strep throat. He is on ————- for the next 5 days. Attached you will find PDFs of the bills from the doctor visit, the tests, and the pharmacy.”

    What this does is 1) document what he did and did NOT do; 2) document your adult and appropriate reaction; 3) give him the documents regarding his financial obligation; 4) point out (without saying so) that he what he did was shitty.

    So triage your responses:

    1. Respond to anything the court order requires you to deal with (drop off and pick up times, child health issues) with as few sentences as you need. See above–4 sentences.
    2. Respond to anything you want to document via email for the court, e.g., “You have been late dropping off Kiddo for the past three weeks. The court order requires you to drop him off by 6 pm.” Again, use email and as few sentences as possible.
    3. You may get literal mixed messages, with one small necessary issues (again, drop off/pick up, illness or money) but larded up with provocations for you to pick-me dance. Address ONLY the necessary point. Ignore the rest.
    4. Then there are things like this video, in which you are being baited to reply with anger or heartbreak, as everyone points out, just ignore.

    So: Is a response required by court? If no, save it in an email file.

    If yes: What information must you provide? How short an answer can you craft? Did you remove all the heat from your response, as if you were replying to a someone you don’t know but have business with?

    And if you are texting, block him when the kiddo is with you. Texting is a pipeline to your brain and a continuing temptation to reply.

  • I liked Iris’ reply, except for the sentence about triggering, knowing that gross fuckwits enjoy hurting that way. But it reminded me of Gavin de Becker’s book “The Gift of Fear”, which said a stalker is only learning how to push your buttons. How many phone calls before they break no contact?

  • Im sorry Iris. It’s okay to speak your truth and I understand completely why you’re done. But now that you have it out of your system, do exactly what the others on here do. You don’t have to play nice. Just ignore, it goes through you. Don’t let him hurt you. I’m brown just like you and trust me your silence in this context is the biggest insult you can deliver and honestly better for your piece of mind. He doesn’t deserve a glimpse into your life. Don’t open the door even a crack for him.

  • There is an old saying – silence is deadly. When used correctly, it’s more powerful, empowering and downright scary to your opponent than any words could ever be. Silence unnerves people, especially when they are trying to needle you into a reaction.

    To use your own NYC example, the guy asked, but when the woman reacted like total psycho, he kept his composure, he kept his cool, he didn’t react, he stayed calm and silent, filming her crazy. What made him a hero is his absolute composure in the face of crazy provocation. He didn’t get pulled down to her level. Quite the opposite – he stayed well above her by staying composed.

    When dealing with a fuckwit, you need to think of it more like being at war. Have you ever heard of a war where the party attacked just says, “no, stop it.” and the enemy walks away? No. It doesn’t work like that. You spoke out, but what you said was basically “dear fuckwit, your actions hurt me and I want you to take care of my emotions, stop hurting me and enforce my boundaries for me.” It doesn’t work like that. It’s not being strong, it’s showing weakness.

    Your war will end when your enemy, fuckwit, becomes so demoralized and exhausted that he doesn’t want to carry on anymore and walks away in defeat. Only way to demoralize him is you showing your agency, meaning complete composure on your end. YOU enforce your boundaries. YOU take care of your emotional health. YOU don’t give an inch. YOU don’t show anything to fuckwit. He tries to hurt you and he gets…NOTHING…silence…crickets… didn’t affect you or so he thinks…why…..what else can he do…are you really over him? Oh the torment, the questions…

    Silence is power in this case…and it’s deadly. It murders fuckwit’s ego because your silence is a potent message that he no longer matters to you, that he is beneath you, that his attacks on your sanity and life are impotent, that he is nothing to you.

  • I’m so very sorry you have to go through this, you sound like a very strong person. I respect your effort. I asked my counselor this very question, the only thing my ex held dear was his position in our small community. I wanted to out him because he had the 15 year affair on his employer’s time. My counselor’s advise was, if your really feel like you need to do this then do it but DO NOT DO ANYTHING THAT WILL HARM YOU MORE. It took all my effort to remain silent (so far). I think her answer was the right one along with Chump Lady. “For the great majority of mankind are satisfied with appearances, as though they were realities, and are often more influenced by the things that seem than by those that are.”

    ~ Niccolo Machiavelli

  • You have every right to respond to that nonsense, but responding won’t necessarily help you. If you do feel the need to respond rather than ignore, you might try keeping it super brief and terse. “Do not send me this stuff.” No explanation needed. He’s already shown through his life choices that he doesn’t care what’s right, kind, or not horribly shameful.

    I don’t know how well the parallel works, but with Christian Cooper what made his response effective was that the entire country saw it and took his side. If he’d just had that interaction with Amy without filming it and receiving support from people who weren’t there, things would have gone much differently and she would have kept her job. It doesn’t matter how right you are when you’re arguing with these people. There is no justice to be had, just distance and freedom. You probably don’t have much choice whether you live in a society with white and/or racist people, but you can choose to limit your interaction with your POS ex.

  • Having someone to vent to is invaluable. The long-habitual reflex to ask how high? when ex said jump was very hard to overcome. My patient and clever sister talked me down many times from the heights of anxiety, fear, anger and upset that ex’s communications would send me to. She helped me learn to dissect them, and only answer what was necessary in the briefest, most businesslike way possible. I got so good at editing that this reply started off at 1000 words!

    Sharing parenting with an abusive f*ckwit is a tough gig. Knowing their MO (that hurting you is a win for them, just like it was when you were together) and your vulnerability to it can help you lessen that vulnerability.

    “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” (Sun Tzu)

  • Fuck him and his fuckedupness. You had to state your piece about his bullshit. Sometimes you have to vocalize but not expect anything positive to come out of it. Yeah he might think ‘ohh I got reaction kibbles,’ but I can think of nothing better than one last fuck-off send-off before grey rock.

  • Yea, CL’s right. Don’t let them into your emotional world. I’m a fan of no contact/no response, but if you’re gonna respond at least sanitize the feelings from it…cause that’s like feeding a baboon (no offense to baboons). Or flip the script on him.

    Response: “Please cease producing and distributing videos of our underage son with unrelated adult women. These videos are inappropriate, exploitative, and may violate laws or other agreements we have. I’ll be sharing this with my attorney and exploring my legal options. My son’s safety is my priority.”

  • Iris,
    I’m sorry I missed this last week. I completely understand what you are saying, and while CN is right about not giving your ex an audience, you are also right about the cumulative effects of white supremacy and racialized abuse, and how they show up in this experience. I’m a woman of color from an immigrant family–I was cheated on and abandoned by my wealthy white ex, who leveraged all his privilege and power in the divorce (and in the marriage, too, I now see). His devaluation and discard of me are part of a lifelong cascade of violation, which, obviously, is ongoing. I’m currently working with a therapist who has deep experience with diverse forms of oppression and intergenerational trauma; this aligns with my own antiracist activism and is helping me bring my outer and inner work together. As with Amy Cooper, your ex cannot be shamed into proper treatment of you, but *you* can speak out about his abuse and the way it is shaped by inequity. As you and I know, we have to choose the right venues for this, but that, I am finding, is one of the gifts of being released from a FW–the ability be in community with people who share my values and commitments, not simply about marriage, but about justice in the world.

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