Our expert says:
As physical and mental abuse is involved, try calling POWA or some similar local group that specially works with this type of problem. But from the sound of it, she urgently needs to see a good local shrink (at least a good GP) for assessment of her depression and suicidal thoughts, and to start receiving help with that, which may include medication but should also include CBT style counselling. Maybe also, discuss this with her, and make an arrangement that she has no need to speak to the abusive rat at all, and when he needs to call about anything genuinely affecting the kids, he should speak to you or your husband, not to her, and he will probably not have the guts to try to be abusive towards people who WOULD be prepared to tell him what he ought to do with himself.
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