Dear Chump Lady,
I am a 40 year-old classic chump from India with a 14 year old son. I am a member of the Chump Nation since Feb 2013. Let me briefly outline the important facts of my case:
My serial cheater ex deserted us (thankfully) on 1st Jan, 2013 and we have had no contact ever since. But, prior to that, I spent nearly 1.5 years with him under the same roof after D-day. There were 3 reasons for the same – a) My son, b) the reconciliation industrial complex is strong in India and I am a people pleaser; and c) I was in the last leg of my doctoral dissertation and not entirely independent.
Initially, I did everything like a classic chump. But, then I employed my own PI skills (voice recorder, tracking device, emails etc.) and was increasingly made aware of the pathological creepiness of my ex (no sane person can hear those recordings without puking). Also, I had accidently chanced upon working for a voluntary organization, which took care of deserted women and their kids by giving them shelter in an orphanage and also imparted skill training for mothers to take up jobs. This activity kept me alive and kicking for life against the monster ex.
Eventually, I completed my dissertation and became a professor at a premier B-school of India. I moved. Then after settling down in the new place, I took my son along with me. My parents moved in our house to help and took care of my son in the interim 5-6 months.
Now some important facts about the Indian context:
1. Divorce is a very time-consuming process (it might take even 10 years, if contested). Judiciary is extremely slow and corruption is prevalent. However, if it is a mutual divorce with both parties consenting, then it can be concluded in 6 months.
2. It is an extremely patriarchal society.
3. Law is extremely favorable to women. Domestic violence etc. can land men into trouble, big time.
4. Child custody rules are very clumsy but unlike USA, the law enforcement agencies are slow and no one can do anything about single parent abduction.
5. The one, who has money, can buy law enforcement agencies in a big way. He has more money than me.
I want a divorce. However, I understand that my current status is the best I can have. I tried a mediator to this effect, but ex not only denied a mutual divorce (refer point 1 above) but also threatened that he would make my life hell, if I did anything. All my well-wishers, including my friends in police (I am involved in social work and so I have some connections), advised me against antagonizing him as that would take attention away from the good work I am doing to fighting a psychopath.
I have evidences of his abuse of domestic violence and about his conspiracy to get me killed (OMG!) and he won’t mind if my son gets killed in the process. I have evidences of his misbehavior with women at his workplace. And I feel “unauthentic” as a person to sit over these and do nothing for fear of antagonizing this man. It was okay to not do anything, till I wasn’t independent but now…I don’t know.
So, I am in a limbo.
I also wish to start a new life, with my dream of setting up and supporting another voluntary organization. I wish to help my son to embark upon a good career option by the time he is an adult (he is good at studies and I teach him at home). I also want to keep the option of remarriage open. I have nothing to do with my ex and don’t care a damn about what happens to him. Therefore, I wish to pressurize my ex for a mutual divorce, which would be beneficial for both of us to move on in life. I am too meh to spoil my life to punish him.
Now, my lawyers suggest that I make life difficult for him by filing police complaint for his criminal activities. They say that it is probably the only way to show to him that contesting is costly.
However, I wish to first meet his employer. I don’t know whether he would have morals enough to intervene (he knows already probably). However, my argument is that he would not support him, either. If he throws him out of the job, I am in for trouble as he would disturb me big time. But, that also means not having enough money to contest (refer point 1) or bribe his way through (refer point 5).
Please appreciate the fact that taking the high road for just filing for divorce means that I am in for a 5-10 year long legal battle with money draining out and mental tensions creeping in.
I know it is pretty complex as your context is very different. But, what should I do? I need to take a call in next few days.
I’m throwing this one out to Chump Nation, because honestly, I do not know enough about the particulars of Indian society to know how to advise you. But, my inclination would be to do exactly what your lawyers tell you to do. Press criminal charges. If India is tough on domestic abuse, as you say, I think that having a recorded death threat is pretty damning.
This would set off a domino effect of pressure on him and his employment situation, that would hopefully result in divorce. Either by mutual consent (he agrees to mutual divorce to avoid criminal charges) or going forward with the criminal charges will fast track the divorce.
I do NOT think you should speak with his employer. No, if there’s to be a heavy boot on his neck, it needs to be the boot of lawyers and police officers. Professional boots, not Anudi’s boot.
Here’s my problem, Anudi. From what you write, he seems inclined to vengeance and antagonism whatever path you take. I don’t want to give the wrong advice and get you killed or your son kidnapped. On the other hand, I don’t want the asshole to win and control your life either. You’ve already demonstrated incredible bravery and resiliency.
Whatever happens, I think you have to spend money. Personally, if it were a choice between hiring body guards for a few years while this fucker goes to jail or spending money a 10-year long divorce, I’d opt for the body guards.
It’s HORRIBLE that this person can keep you trapped in a marriage and the law is behind that.
Perhaps the safest thing to do is just kick the can down the street awhile. Are you in any hurry to remarry? Anyone on the horizon? Is this just a hypothetical? Let him focus on some other victim and stay off his radar until your son is out of school in four years. For all you know, he may wish to remarry and want to be rid of you, and then the divorce will be HIS idea.
With these creeps, anytime you indicate you want something, they dig their heels in to deny it to you.
Is there a statute of limitations on the domestic abuse charges? The death threats? How do your lawyers advise to keep you safe while this is going down?
All I know, Anudi, is that things don’t change until there are some fearless people who make it change. That’s easy to type, it’s much harder when it’s your life and your kid on the line. I’m wondering if there isn’t some larger women’s rights organization in India you could align yourself with that protests these conditions for women? I hate that you feel all alone in this.
Thank God you have your volunteer work with abandoned women (you are MIGHTY!!!) and your career. You have accomplished so much.
Chump Nation — any thoughts on what Anudi should do? Maybe we should start a kickstarter fund to get her body guards? I hate that there are probably thousands (hundreds of thousands?) of Anudis out there. (((Hugs))) Anudi. I wish I could offer you clear advice and snark. All I have is admiration for your courage and worry for your situation.