“Heartbroken” asked for some escape tips. Fair enough. It’s not a life skill most people are born with — how to flee a toxic relationship. This stuff is learned through trial and error and domestic violence websites. Without further ado, I’ll post some tips I learned. There are also pointers at How to Leave a Cheater elsewhere on this blog.
1.) If you’re in danger, don’t wait for the perfect moment. Just get the hell out. Seriously, if your cheater threatens you or is in any way violent, call a domestic abuse hotline, get professional help, a protective order and get OUT. None of your possessions are worth risking your life over.
2.) Don’t tip your hand. Don’t threaten, just decide and act. Don’t try to build consensus with your cheater about how this relationship is going to end. This person demonstrably does not have your best interests at heart. Cheaters want cake. Telling them you’re leaving, or threatening to leave is putting them on high alert that kibble supply is ending. That’s going to up their manipulation and mindfuckery. They’ll try to fuck you over first, guarantee it. So — keep your mouth zipped. Just make a plan and execute it. You are enforcing a major boundary — you must let go of the consequences, like how your cheater feels about it.
3.) Start moving things out on the sly. Financial papers, family heirlooms, winter sweaters. Anything important to you, or that will not be obviously missed, that you want — get it out of the house and store it in a trusted friend’s basement or a storage locker.
4.) Consult a lawyer. There may be legal ramifications if you leave the home. But also consider — what’s more important — your sanity or a house? You will divide property equally in a divorce, usually — so you’ll get something. But make sure you act legally in terms of what you take, and monies that you move.
For me, when I moved out — I made a spreadsheet of all of my possessions and joint purchased possessions. (This would be impossible in a long-term marriage, but mine was a short-term relationship.) I assigned value to joint property, and had some receipts. I photographed everything I took and everything I left — so there could be no arguments later like “you took my diamond encrusted fishing rod!”
Cover your butt and get legal help to anticipate the sort of things a disordered person will go after you for. Think strategically.
5.) You’re in crisis. Act accordingly. Don’t wait for the stars to align, to leave when things will be more comfortable financially. There is never going to be a perfect time to go, when it will feel right. It WILL feel scary. You have to face that fear. What if a tornado blew your house down? What if this was a hurricane? You would react to a natural disaster — you’d seek shelter, move in with relatives, accept your losses. This is a disaster — man-made and not your fault, but a disaster all the same. Accept it as such.
6.) Put everything on the table. Don’t say to yourself, well, I could NEVER… Nope, it just might have to happen. Consider that you may lose significant income, you may have to humiliate yourself and ask your family for a loan until you get on your feet, you may have to sell something to afford your legal retainer (like your wedding ring — hey, it had bad mojo anyway). Maybe you need to go on public assistance or move in with family for awhile. Accept it — give yourself those options. These things are temporary.
Losses can be regained. In fact, you have much better odds of recouping your losses when you are captaining your own financial ship. You control YOU. You are no longer subject to the whims of a crazy person. Put more faith in YOURSELF, that you can navigate your own life, than faith in that failing, toxic relationship. Your cheater is not your friend. They are not going to help you, unless legally forced to do so. Start advocating for yourself and bust a move.
Your better life is here waiting for you.