Her ex, reconciled with kids, is a threat
DEAR AMY: My first husband was abusive to me during our marriage, to the point that even after he was escorted from our home by the police and given a restraining order, he continued to stalk and threaten me. I remarried a wonderful man who adopted and raised my children. My (now-adult) children recently reconciled with their biological father. They say that unless he is drinking, he is OK. They admit he is an alcoholic but claim he "only gets drunk a few times a year." I have not seen him in 20 years and am still afraid of him. They want to invite him to their family events, stating that they can keep us on opposite sides of the room. I still have nightmares about him and would prefer to absent myself from these occasions rather than risk a confrontation with him. Am I wrong?
DEAR FEARFUL: Given the circumstances, nothing you choose to do is "wrong." It is not only logical, but an important, potentially lifesaving human response to stay away from an individual who is dangerous to you.
There is an argument to be made that you may reclaim your power in some way by confronting this fear, but this choice is not for anyone but you to make. The opposite side of this argument is that you are plenty powerful by choosing to stay away from someone who has abused and stalked you. I give you credit for reclaiming and rebuilding your life.
Your kids are in no position to gauge this man's behavior or the effect of his alcohol use. The idea that you would somehow be safe if he is kept on the other side of the room is bunk. It simply discounts the very rational fear response toward danger.
Your children have every right to have a relationship with their father, but you have a right to keep your distance.
Let them know that you expect them to notify you if their father will be present at a family event.