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My Abusive Ex Is Dating My Abusive Ex and It Makes My Anxiety Terrible

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I divorced my ex 5 years ago. In the end, he was physically abusive and would flip between apologetic and complete denial. A year and a half ago he started dating a different ex of mine who was a pathological liar and would gaslight me. I had a hard time out of each relationship getting myself back after the abuses. The divorce was amicable and without lawyers and the 3 1/2 years after went fine co-parenting with the exception of his occasional outbursts that I “ruined his family and won’t be his friend”.
We have a now 6-year-old together and he is constantly pushing my ex to attend things she shouldn’t be attending, like having her daughter join a scout pack outside of her school that I am a leader of after my son had already been in the pack. I always express how anxious the situations make me and how I do not plan to be around either of them if there is no need to. We already have a no-contact drop-off and pick up arrangement, and he won’t agree to any more physical restrictions. I’ve always been worried about my son’s safety when visiting his father as he was abusive towards me but also because he comes back so dirty he’s gotten infections specifically caused by poor hygiene and he doesn’t give consideration to my son’s cancer when he’s sick. My ex-husband now lives with my ex-girlfriend. My ex-girlfriend is currently married to her live-in husband with their three children.
My ex’s had a baby together a few months ago. Last year my son needed to be hospitalized because his kidneys and liver were failing. Someone gave him way too much of his oral chemo at that household and they are now only given the amount they need for each visitation block, and there have been no new issues.
My ex-husband thinks I’m being a child every time he tries to force my ex-girlfriend’s presence on me and I pull away.
My son has come home and told me that SHE is his mother, not me and that ‘daddy said so’.
My ex-girlfriend has told me that my son isn’t my responsibility, but he is her’s.
She has a drug habit, and he has an alcohol habit.
This whole situation which can’t be totally explained here gives me MASSIVE ANXIETY. What do I do? (From the USA)

My Abusive Ex Is Dating My Abusive Ex and It Makes My Anxiety Terrible

Answered by on -


There is a lot here and the fact that there has been abuse and boundary issues leads me to think this may be more of a legal issue than psychological. The reason I am stating this is that the only legal thing has been the divorce decree. It may be time to get the opinion of a divorce attorney because the lack of having legal counsel during the divorce process means that you may have agreed to something then that seemed okay at the moment, but not okay in the long run. I would think that the “no-contact” drop-off arrangement is a good place to begin your discussion with a qualified attorney.

The fact that you fear for your son’s safety is of utmost importance. As we wrestle with Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) the poor hygiene, lack of attention to necessary cancer medication and risk of infections means that your son’s safety is at risk. The fact that your ex-girlfriend has a drug habit and is living with your ex-husband while still married with three of her own children makes her statement that your son is ‘her responsibility’ not your’s deeply troubling. You need to take every measure you can to protect your son — and the best way to do this is by getting a legal opinion.

I believe this will also be the most direct way to help your anxiety. More often than not anxiety peaks when we feel we do not have control in a situation. By examining your best options legally you are taking control of what you can in the circumstance. This will give you focus and a good idea of what you can expect going forward. Your son needs you to do what you can do to protect him.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

My Abusive Ex Is Dating My Abusive Ex and It Makes My Anxiety Terrible

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2020). My Abusive Ex Is Dating My Abusive Ex and It Makes My Anxiety Terrible. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 1, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 1 Apr 2020 (Originally: 2 Apr 2020)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 1 Apr 2020
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