wow, sometimes it's so hard to take the high road. I mean really. someone walked up to me and said, "i know your ex husband, i see him at [[random leisure activity]]" in front of other people who know about the divorce, but don't know me very well.
the first thing I wanted to do was explain. such a powerful knee-jerk reaction. to say: actually, no, you don't "know" him. for example, the person you "know," pushed and shoved his small children around, kicked our baby in her mouth, and threatened to put a bullet through my head.
the second thing I did was bite my tongue. And smile. and say, 'uh huh.' i wasn't satisfied with this response either. perhaps it was taking the eff-ing high road, because i was not bad mouthing my children's father in front of people who are familiar (but seriously fuzzy on the details) with our situation, who know my children because they've seen them.
after considering this for a while and consulting with a trusted friend (also a veteran of an abusive relationship), i found a different way to respond. there's no reason to explain, but there's no reason to agree, either. there's no reason to bad-mouth or say anything negative. simply respond with something that's noncommittal, but one that doesn't make you a pushover, either, i.e. oh, that's nice, that's one aspect that you know. and then leave it at that. keep emotion out of it, keep explanation out of it.
because the people who matter to you, KNOW. the people who don't, don't need to know.
one day, i know my children will ask me. and i need to write this down so i don't forget. I can respond in a way that will not affect them negatively but that will not lie: i.e. i don't want to say anything negative about your father. there are aspects about him that you don't know about and were not in the best interests of you as young children, nor me as an adult woman. however, he is your father and i wish nothing more than that you have a loving, positive relationship with him.
something like that. i hope that will do. i hope that will be enough.