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Dear Chump Lady, How do I leave without him getting violent?

cheater_pollyannaDear Chump Lady,

How do I tell a (potentially) violent cheater I want a divorce without getting the shit kicked out of me?

My DDay was a few weeks ago, after finding Facebook posts from my husband openly addressing his “girlfriend” and expressing joy at how he took our pre-teen son away for a weekend with the OW and her daughter. (Son knows he’s a douchbag and not doing the right thing — he’s making son lie that we’re divorced.) Also, in his Facebook posts, he thanked OW for taking care of him after surgery at “home” (her house). This was surgery he got thanks to MY employment/insurance. He told me to leave the hospital so his “friends” could visit — didn’t want me there because I had never met them and might cause drama…of course, one of the friends was the OW that he insists is “just a friend.”

I met with a lawyer and am getting ready to file. Problem — he’s been physically violent toward me in the past, although not in the last four years or so. He did punch some walls in our home and called me the “c-word” during a fight a few months ago (in front of our son). The lawyer I talked to has a rep as a pitbull and knows her shit. But when I told her none of the violent incidents in the past had been reported, she didn’t have a lot to offer, other than “call 911 if he gets violent.”

I can’t get a restraining order on him because there’s no history of violence on record. A friend suggested I get some pepper spray and a taser and be prepared to use both during the conversation I want to have with him about the divorce. I thought about having someone with me when I have the conversation but what good will that do ultimately? That person won’t be with me 24/7…H could knock the phone, pepper spray, whatever out of my hand if I’m not fast enough and really hurt me.

Any ideas on how to deal with this??


Dear ChumpedALot,

Someone reading your letter might think, “He wants the OW! Why would he ever stand in the way of a divorce? Let alone violently oppose it?” But chumps know very well that cheaters can get ugly with the threat of cake loss. Mustn’t let the chump get out there with a narrative that could damage the impression management. Chumps also know how cheaters will be oppositional just for shits and giggles because you want something. Doesn’t matter if they purport to want a divorce themselves. You want it? You must be stopped.

These are dangerous days, ChumpedALot, and you’re right to be cautious. You’re clearly still of use to this asshole. You raise his kid (no support for him!) and provide his insurance. He’s not going to let a valuable chump get away if he can help it. As I point out here a lot, the disordered have three channels — self-pity, charm, and rage. You, unfortunately, got a guy stuck on rage as his control tactic of choice.

So let’s make a plan, ChumpedALot and get out of there, okay? Please know you’re not the first person to escape a scary wing nut. I’m sure other chumps will chime in how they left too. It can be done! Chin up.

Sometimes I hesitate to run letters like this because the Esther Perel’s of the world tut-tut “Oh, what you experienced goes beyond infidelity.” Domestic abuse being so beyond the pale of Facebook Girlfriends Who Just Happen phenomena. A guy who calls you a cunt and slams his fist through a wall is clearly abusive. Unlike someone who just had a fling with a co-worker and gave you an STD. Or spent your retirement savings on their affair partners. Or who buys prostitutes. Or falls in lust (it’s a force bigger than us both) and abandons his children. Folks, it’s all abusive. The gaslighting, the blameshifting, the risking your health and finances, the obliviousness to responsibilities. Your husband abuses you because he feels entitled to do it. He doesn’t see you as an equal deserving of respect. He doesn’t give one shit about your welfare or that of your son’s.

Speaking of your son, he is an accessory in the See I’m a Normal Guy! ruse your husband is pulling on the OW. He is abusing him as well. Making him keep his secrets, physically intimidating him by threatening you. (See what happens when You Make Me Mad?) No coincidence he witnessed the abuse. It was intended for him too. Submit to me, or you’ll pay.

I’m so glad you’re on board with leaving this motherfucker and have already seen an attorney.

Here’s the thing, ChumpedALot, you need more than an attorney — you need a TEAM. You’ve been keeping his abuse to yourself for years (totally typical, and understandable if you’ve ever been on the receiving end of that kind of abuse) — but now it’s time to reach out and TELL people who can help you. Surround yourself with them. Your lawyer can help you get a divorce, she’s not a protection from abuse lawyer. And while her opinion is that you can’t get an order because you didn’t report immediately, you need to run this past a domestic abuse counselor, who may have a different opinion.

I’m not a professional, ChumpedALot, but there are people who are trained to help people in exactly your situation — call the National Domestic Abuse Hotline 1-800-799-7233. While this is a U.S. site, they have live chat features where you talk to someone online and scads of resources.

I can also tell you what I did to get away — although I was very foolish and chumpy and dropped as many protection from abuse (PFA) orders as I took out. (In part to get a divorce settlement off him and in part because I was scared of what would happen if one stuck and he lost his job.)  My divorce lawyer put me in touch with MidPenn Legal Services (a huge shout out to those saints), who gave me a free court-appointed lawyer for my PFA, and directed me to free counseling.

When I first threw him out, I did it with a temporary PFA.  (You get a court date for the permanent one later. But a temporary one can be enough so you can escape.) That meant a police escort while he was given 10 minutes to pack a bag. If you can go this route, that would address your concern of having someone there. Also, in some states you can hire a police constable by the hour. You might want to look into that as you inform him of your intent to divorce.

The other thing I did, and you can work out a plan with your divorce lawyer to see if this could work for you,  is I moved out on him and left no forwarding address. My lawyer had him served divorce papers at work.

All to say, make a very calculated safety plan with the help of professionals, and then go utterly NO CONTACT. Once he knows you’re making an escape, he will do everything to attack your boundaries so he can manipulate you again. Don’t let him. I can’t stress that enough.

Nothing is as important as getting away from him safely. You might be walking away from some assets, your home, the house your kid grew up in, some valuables — but NOTHING is more important than your safety. Stuff can be replaced. You and your son cannot.

While you’re plotting your escape, be an actress. Let him believe you are his compliant chump.

When the reality is you are a revolutionary — and his ass is about to be overthrown.

Do it, ChumpedALot — but do it with the boot of the law pressed firmly on his neck. Do it with a good therapist, a domestic violence crack team, and your pit bull lawyer. But DO IT. Chump Nation’s got your back. Godspeed.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Oh, and ChumpedALot — check out my resources page and get the book by Lundy Bancroft “Why Does He Do That?” Excellent book.

  • ChumpedALot – I have been in your shoes, and I really feel for you. Follow CL’s advice and once the ball has dropped continue to be vigilant and protect yourself. Even after numerous times of my ex calling me names and physically attacking me because I questioned his fidelity, I stayed. The violence will continue to escalate. My ex threw my into the bathroom cabinets and destroyed our walk-in closet two weeks before he grabbed me by the neck and choked me on our bed. That time I ran out of my home and called 911. I knew that he must be cheating again, and that he would continue to attack me. This was his pattern – cheating and verbal/physical abuse always went hand in hand.

    This behavior is not your fault (even if he tries to tell you it is), and you will never be able to “fix” him. This is who he is. BELIEVE THAT. You only have control over yourself. Protect yourself and get away! You deserve love and respect. May the new year bring you the peace that you deserve.

  • I would not have a conversation with him at all. If you’re moving out, get the new place lined up, a truck, help to move and as soon as he leaves for work, empty the house and leave no forwarding address.

    If you’re staying in the house, I think the lawyer will have a way to get him out. I think if she doesn’t, have someone else close by or in the house and have a taser and pepper spray is the way to go. Or put an extra lock on the door and when he tries to break it down, call the police.

    And please, put your son into counseling. He needs it after all the manipulation. Don’t let your son go to visitation unless temporary orders are in place.

    Bottom line, you don’t owe him an explanation. You owe him nothing.

    • I entirely agree with Kelly. DO NOT risk having the conversation face to face. I did, and paid the price. At the risk of boring fellow chumps by repeating my experience once again, here goes.

      I informed my seemingly mild-mannered Cheater that I had discovered his infidelity and asked him to pack up and move out of the house I owned. He became overcome with rage, went in the kitchen, grabbed a four inch knife, held it to my throat and raged for SIX HOURS. I have the scars on my neck to this day. He terrified me, he threatened me with death, with his suicide, with killing me and making it look like suicide….and so on. It went on through the night. It was only when I heard a neighbour come out of his house early in the morning (close his garage door) that I started screaming loudly. Fortunately neighbour was a paramedic and not afraid to investigate a scream. He came and looked in our front window, saw me being held down and called in the cops. The rest is a longer and sad story, but I learned that ANYONE can turn violent when they are cornered.

      I urge you to establish an alternate place to live, slowly prepare it so the transition is easy, move as much as possible without him knowing, and play compliant Chump to the last moment. Then move when he is out for the day, and do not ever come back. Getting in the last word is not possible with these jokers.

      Think of your safety and that of your son.

      • Oh, Marci, not even in my worst nightmares can I imagine what you lived through. I’m sorry.

        • Tempest, it did teach me one thing…always exercise common sense in such situations, and avoid confrontation with cheaters. It is dangerously simplistic to assume they think and reason with the compassion of normal people.

          • Jedi hugs Marci.

            One thing, abusive people do not lose their shit, they are not overcome with rage, they use it for control. Read Lundy, I know it’s triggering but if you could tell us; did he become very calm when the cops came? I learned far too late that ex’ rages and tears were “on demand” and calculated.

            • Ddw, oh yes, he was all “poor me” when the cops came. He tried to convince them he was attempting to prevent MY suicide. (Sorry never had a suicidal feeling…just wanted the creep out the door and off my payroll!)

              The paramedic neighbout however had briefed them with what he heard and saw. Ex was run off my property and warned to stay off. I did eventually have to get a restraining order against both him and the OW since they continued to harass me by email afterward. I used that against them – she was fired for using her work email address to threaten me. I had never even met the deluded beotch, but she had delusions of assuming my life I think. Oh, ever so dramatic and complicated. These two are yhe same ones who also were found to have been trying to poison me.

              I’m fine now, and thanks to good people like yourselves, I see the world’s evil people for what they are, and constantlt remind myself to remain vigilant.. They don’t come anywhere near me now.

              • Could you talk about the poisoning. I have been wondering about different food and drink my husband fixes for me but then does not eat or drink

      • Marci, you won’t bore us chumps w/ your story. On the contrary, you might be saving lives by sharing. xox

      • Dear, dear Marci,

        Never a ‘bore’ to hear that a precious, loyal, faithful, loving human is still alive after dealing with that unbelievable nightmare! (Besides, I do not remember ever hearing your account)

        So good you shared. Even if it was ‘again’……..

        {{{{HUGS HUGS HUGS}}}}

        SOOOOOO glad you are still here to be part of this family!

        And as ML pointed out, your sharing could save lives! New chumps find CL every day, just as I did only 11 months ago…….They need to hear……

        Love you all so much!

        ForgeOn, Beloved ones…..

  • Dear ChumpedALot–I agree entirely with CL. You need a team. You also need to realize that unless he initiates violence (in which case you walk out that moment, just as you would with a house fire), the last thing you do in this process is initiate the conversation. First, you will be getting legal ducks in a row, and collecting and copying all documents that you might need (making sure that you have copies in a place outside of the home that you will continue to have access to), and making a Plan B so that you and your son have somewhere to go if you have to leave the home.

    My lawyer told me a condition of continuing to work with me was that I see a domestic abuse counselor (she was a little more clear-eyed about what constituted abuse than I was at that point). Like you, I had no clear documented history of abuse–though I also had the holes in the drywall, etc. I was embarrassed to see the counselor, but even the one meeting we had was helpful. I didn’t want a protection order (probably for stupid reasons), but she worked with me from the position that I knew my own situation best and helped me plan for all kinds of contingencies. Your options will vary with the laws in the area you live in, so having some help from someone who knows the range of ways you can use to protect yourself is important.

    I think loading up on pepper spray and a taser is probably the worst thing you can do. When you have the conversation, have it in public, have it with a friend in the home, have it with a hired security person available, have it via served papers–but don’t have it alone, one-on-one. Any self-defense teacher will tell you that the first and best defense is removing yourself from a dangerous situation–preparing to fight only makes it more likely that he will have weapons to turn on you (and may claim in court later that you were the aggressor and come armed to hurt him).

  • Precious ChumpedALot,

    Never actually been that crazy for me, but I did have to leave on the sly, during a calm time.

    NO CONVERSATION about your plans what-so-ever!!! NONE / NADA / ZILCH!!! Not even any ‘hints’!

    ‘Act as if’ all is well, you are good, easy, no probs with him, life is going on merrily! Ya gotta ‘act as if’ to keep yourself & your child safe & sane while you plot your escape. Act like you are trying for an ‘Oscar’!
    Do as best you can to create a calm, subdued, peaceful demeanor.

    If you were being held by someone as a hostage, would you describe your escape plans to them, or even hint you were not happy to just stay put with them?! What you are dealing with is just as dangerous!

    Seek out superior advice and direction on this. Tracy has been in your shoes & so have many of the other chumps here. They can help you find the best resources in your local community.

    Remember, when you try to leave / tell them you are leaving, that is when these types become the MOST volatile, irrational, violent and unpredictable. That is when many spouses have been murdered, even by spouses who were never violent previously.

    Prayers for you…..

    ForgeOn, Chumped….ForgeOn, Nation…..

  • I would add that it’s worthwhile to tell your friends and family about your concerns. Narcissists care very deeply about how they are perceived. I found that once I let my friends and family in on my ex’s behavior, he wouldn’t dare act up. And he couldn’t make me think everyone thought I was crazy once I knew they had my back.

    You don’t need to shout it to the rooftops, but if you have people you know are in your corner, let them help you. You’ll need all the support you can get.

    • LilyBart–because narcs are unpredictable, though, having him know that other people know can escalate violence. Tell other people, ChumpedALot, but don’t tell him yet that you’ve done so until you’re safe.

  • I wouldn’t have a conversation with him about the divorce. That’s why you have a lawyer. I’d just have him served, and I’d make sure to have a safety plan involving where you will be when he is served if you are that worried.

  • Thiis post hit home in a lot of ways and I hope I can offer some help. My Idiot was never violent or abusive until I started standing up for myself… Then the demons came out. It was a shock to myself and everyone who knew’ us’ the transformation in him was mind blowing… Seriously Dr Jeckell/Mr Hyde. To make matters worse he is a cop In a high ranking position. I believed and he had me believe any report would fall on deaf ears and ‘ vanish’ Idiot started with verbal threats that escalated to posturing, holding me down preventing me from leaving to entering the home at different hours and threatening me with his fists. Later escalting to him breaking a bike helmet on mmy arm and dragging me thru the house, bouncing me off a few walls and screaming he was going to kill me. All witnessed by our child.
    Why did this all start? Because I wouldnt lie on the divorce papers. He was concerned about his debt/income ratio if he had to pay child support so he wanted me to lie and sign that we shared 50/50 custody and no child support but he would pay me under the table.
    When I didnt agree to do that … Thats when Mr Hyde came out. And it persisted and escalated into full blown violence. He refused to have me served and instead wanted to have the settlement noterized and filed with the state so he would not have it reflected that he pay child support.
    I made a lot of mistakes because i was afraid… And i should have had his ass locked up… Shoulda , woulda, coulda. My friends begged me to report him. All I could think about was’ oh my god, imagine if he loses his job… He will kill me’ dont make that mistake. It sends the wrong message to your child… That Daddy can be forgiven. It was my biggest mistake.
    Once he did file I was able to get an emergency temporary domestic order in place( under the guise to prevent him from accessing the marital home) it was enough to keep him at least from entering the home. And i later petition for an emergengency custody order so we could establish some ground rules. He pushed every boundary and continued to be verbally abusive and extremely threatening despite our court date. And the big bad cop assumed the temporary court date was that ‘ temporary’ he was grossly unprepared thinking he knew the court system, when the judge made his motion final.Idiot arrived at court with no documents, no plan and no settlement papers. Idiot approached the hearing like it was a murder trial and pissed the judge off with his demeanor. I was LUCKY. I was lucky. I was lucky to have a judge sympathetic to my case and did see the urgency. I know a lot of people are not lucky. Dont be one of them.
    And despite the settlement and the custody order the Idiot continues to harass me and challenge evey sentence of the agreement. Its a constant. Dont think u are out of the woods because u get the order. All the orders do is give u a legal recourse if he chose to do something. And with the way the court system works… My emergency hearing took 2 1/2 months.
    Play nice for now… But not too nice to alert him. As CL says… Get a team… And a plan well before u leave. If he is like most cheaters/ beaters he will content to sit on the couch flippin thru the channels for many months … This is yr planning time. Make sure anything u clear anything u look up on the computer and be vigilant… No vm on your phone from lawyers. If u have to get a cricket phone… Pay as u go. No bills sent to the house. Talk with a domestic abuse group… They will give u tips. You are going to have to be a great actress for a bit. U can do it. U need to for yr child.
    U need to use your smarticle particles….. Not yr emotions. Its hard. But u can do it. U can be brave.
    Please be safe. We are here.

    • TheClip–I’m not sure I’d ever read your whole story before. Sorry you lived through that (and continue to do so).

      ChumpedALot–TheClip is right; a court order for protection is only a first step. It doesn’t guarantee your safety (many spouses are murdered after having obtained a protective order).

    • I echo what Tempest said. I admire your wit and humor even more for knowing what you’ve been through.

    • Jedi Hugs TheClip, glad you made it out and hoping things get better, I too was lucky, I wish for that luck for every person finding themselves in a terrible place. Don’t woulda, shoulda, coulda yourself, anything different you did could made things worse.

  • Where I come from, self defense is never a good move. It can be turned against you and you can be the one charged with abuse. I second everyone who says act as if everything is fine. Go for that Oscar while you get your ducks in a row. If you are moving out, do it without him knowing. Your situation is dangerous and it is important to act with you and your son’s safety as top priority. Be prepared for major gaslighting after. In my case, my STBX, after I left him by stealth, played the role that he would never hurt me and why would I think that. Next thing I knew, after he knew where I was living, he was trying to arrange all kinds of accidents like running me down with the car (twice, and he failed both times). Think about long term safety as much as you can. Go no contact and let the lawyers do the talking. Peace be with you.

    • That is how my ex set me up, would not have worked except that the cop wanted to arrest the woman, he falsified the pole report, he took no pics, my ex is very manipulative but that cop helped him big time, he also treated me like an animal. I used to trust cops, not anymore

      • Dat–your story haunts me. Your X takes manipulation to new heightes. Were you able to get your arrest record expunged?

        • Although my charges were dismissed, there I s no way to have a DV arrest expunged, it will never go away. One more trigger for me, I wanted to run for state office, there is now no way I will ever try it, I’d be hung out to dry.

  • Wow! Let me first say that Lundy Bancroft, as Chumplady mentioned is an excellent resource book and one we use often. Name calling, humiliation AND cheating are all part of domestic abuse. Let me also say that hitting you 4 minutes ago, 4 months ago or 4 years ago, in addition to destroying property are violent acts of abuse and attempts to control and manipulate you. Never doubt that it WILL continue to happen. Domestic Violence is a private crime and abusers count on this to keep you in line. The key here is getting out safely, so even though it makes you feel uncomfortable, saving money, seeking a place to stay temporarily, speaking to attorneys and other people you trust is required. As Lilybart has stated, a narcissist gaslights all the time to maintain an image of perfection making you look like the bad guy, and an abusive narcissist can be potentially dangerous. The people at the Domestic Violence Hotline can counsel you, but when you can safely, also seek a domestic violence shelter that is local to guide you. They can provide you with legal counsel regarding restraining orders and other things to keep you safe and sane. I pray that you can get out of this horrific nightmare as soon as possible, and so glad that you found Chumplady’s Blog. Hugs…

  • ChumpedALot, there is a lot I want to say to you, mostly I want you to err on the side of caution and safety! D

    I’ll post again as soon as I am able. PLEASE, do NOT confront him, do NOT tell him you want a divorce, and be nice to him while you figure a way out. Make sure you hide anything that might alert him to your wanting a divorce. Obviously your gut is telling you he is dangerous, TRUST it. I didn’t trust mine and it was a horror show. He WILL hurt you AGAIN, he might KILL you. I’ll write some advice so far as I can to you without knowing more about your husband. I have been in your position, and no matter what he did I could not believe he would really hurt me or kill me, I was so WRONG.

    Find the local Women’s shelter and see if they have any therapists or lawyers available to talk to. The attorneys who volunteer there know way more about protective orders than your pitbull divorce attorney.

    Please go fill this survey out, see what score you get – be entirely honest:

    If you read this before I post again, tell me this; do you believe your husband is afraid of going to jail? It’s important when considering a protective order. Did you have any witnesses to his previous abuse who would testify HONESTLY if subpoena’d?

    • I would definitely suggest the Mosaic quiz, but I’d also like to mention that there’s a way you can do it without him seeing it in an inbox. You can use a fake name at There’s even a throwaway email address you can use for it. She’ll probably want to do this at a library or on an incognito/inprivate browser window when he’s not home.

    • What an amazing organization, TCMFYP! I volunteer at a place that serves children who have been sexually abused and I can see why some children might really feel protected and empowered by a group like that.

  • “… and be prepared to use both during the conversation I want to have with him about the divorce. I thought about having someone with me when I have the conversation…”

    ChumpedALot, do you believe this ‘conversation’ will make your spouse realize what a dick he is? What you are really planning is the process of informing him the marriage is over. If you have not quite accepted that yourself yet, he will pull out all the stops to give you hope. Get a therapist as protection against his manipulations and tears.

  • VERY good advice. What most people don’t understand is that once a disordered person has been violent, the unspoken threat of more violence remains as a control device. That threat is very real, so a well thought out escape plan is important. The most dangerous time for a person subjected to domestic abuse is when they leave, so keep yourself safe.

  • ChumpedaLot–Apologies if this repeats things that have already been said (dashing & don’t have time to read everything above yet):
    1–GET A court-ordered protection. I’m sorry your son will have to be a witness, but you NEED that protection order. Your son can tell a court officer what he saw & heard; bring a cell phone picture of the smashed wall. Your H is very likely to escalate once he’s about to lose his marriage and possibly son.

    If there is any further threat, get a $50 storage unit–shove everything of value or sentimental value in there, and have a suitcase or two packed, with some cash hidden, so that you can leave in 60 seconds flat. Have several people on speed dial that you can call in an emergency (including the local domestic abuse hotline–but put it under an assumed name that starts with an A so that it’s at the top of the list–say, “Andrea.”

    3-He does not deserve a conversation that you are divorcing him. Fucking around, being violent, and bragging about OW on facebook negates any civility that you owe him. Have him served, and (if you can) be out of town for the next week. Block his phone calls, and warn friends/family that he may come looking for you & to call 911 if he does. If he owns a gun, this is very important. Abusers have been known to hurt family members.

    If this sounds like overkill, it is, until it’s not. Abusers are predictable in that they WILL use physical violence to solve their problems, but unpredictable in WHEN they will escalate to horrible (and even fatal) violence.

    • Its not overkill. Its necessary. Necessary and smart. Be smart. You have time to make an exit plan… U can do all of this over a few weeks/ months. And mums the word. Your personal documents are extremely important here… Including your childs. ( your tax returns, insurance papers, mortgage, credit card numbers, his and yrs, any debt, insurance papers, car titles… You get the picture) make a plan… And stick to it.
      I am so sorry that you have to endure this. I wish I had stumbled across this site well before my divorce preceedings started. Heed the words of people here… They have lived it.
      Be safe.

    • I was going to recommend the storage locker. Great idea, or, better? Keep things stored safely in a box at a friend or family member’s house or, if safe, at work. Remove things slowly, not all at once. Remove anything of EXTREMELY high sentimental value only, and only if it’s not going to be obvious. He might steal your laptop, family photos, your grandma’s silver, your aunt’s wedding ring. Whatever. Anything that can reasonably be replaced? Leave it. Even the sentimental stuff, though, is not worth your safety–it’s just stuff. Remove thumb drives, photo CDs. Do you have a safety deposit box at the bank that he can access? Consider emptying it of anything you need.

      He is distracted by a couple of things, including his new love, and the fact that he thinks he is brilliant and you are stupid. Capitalize on that. But also realize that you’re in the unique situation of being under the control of a violent person who believes you exist to serve him. You do not. Pretend for now that you do.

      Use the cash-back feature at the grocery store to amass a small emergency fund, if need be. Or, pay for items with an ATM card, and return them unused for cash, if possible.

      Run a credit report now. You need to find out if he is financially abusing you. This is common with entitled, narcissistic jerks of both sexes. DO NOT CONFRONT HIM ABOUT ANYTHING surprising you find on the credit report. You can vent to someone you trust. Yes, he’s an asshole. They’re all assholes.

      FInd out how to protect your financial assets. Consider opening a checking/savings account in a totally different bank, and immediately after BD, transfer half of what you have in joint savings over to your new account, and change any direct deposit you have to the new account, as well–either RIGHT before BD or immediately upon BD when you are somewhere safe. Obviously, this will NOT be a joint account. Use your work address as your home address for the account, just for now. Have your attorney send all correspondence to your work address. (Make sure nobody at work will spill the beans to your STBX.)

      Print out all savings, checking, retirement, credit account statements.

      I am of the opinion that you should NOT share your plans with your son, for two reasons:
      1) He is not your confidante, and this knowledge could be temporarily devastating or otherwise extremely stressful for him to keep. In fact, this whole situation is just too much for a kid, and that is WHY you need to get out of it. I can’t see a way for a child to thrive under constant threat and stress.
      2) He is used to being manipulated by his father, and could spill the information at any time, jeopardizing your plans, your safety, and his emotional well-being. Imagine the life-long guilt he would suffer if he “blew it.” This is a situation that is just such an enormous burden for even experienced adults to bear. He, too, has been abused. I would work to keep his life as safe and secure as possible, both physically and emotionally.

      Sometimes we are chumps because people who should have given us guidance as models of strength did not, or they did or still do sabotage us. This is not always true, but sometimes true. Please please please do not tell any of these such people in your life of your plans, as they are not to be trusted. Do not tell anyone who impulsively gossips or accidentally/not accidentally has a habit of verbal slip-ups. Do not tell anyone well-meaning but stupid (anyone who would, for example, leave a telling voice mail on your answering machine by accident or thinking they were being secretive when they weren’t at all.) Please start distancing yourself from people who make you feel guilty (unless they have a habit of building you up and helping you do better or expecting better from you–there IS a difference), and from people who disappoint you over and over, or who hurt you or undermine you. Think about this. Ther is no rule that you HAVE to serve toxic people, even if they are family members or “best friends,” people whose roles have traditionally been revered. Not everyone’s mother or sister or father is wonderful.

      When you do leave–and not until then–please convey to your son that you are finally in charge, and that he and you are going to be ok. He will be so scared and guilty and depressed. He needs a source of strength. That can be you, or someone else that you trust. You may need the support of another family that you trust, especially if you feel that he or you is in danger. Can he stay with friend who has one or more strong parents for a while–preferably someone near his school if it’s not summer break?

      Good luck, my dear. I think that for a chump in a violent situation, you’ve made a really big first step, and that is this: realizing you DO deserve better and that YOU can MAKE your life better. Abuse makes you small and does really crazy things to your mind. Realizing it isn’t right is a tremendous breakthrough. You will find your strength in peace. Life will get SO much better. You will earn some battle wounds. You will, in turn, be able to help another man or woman who will benefit from your experience.

      You got this. Big hugs, best wishes.

      • This post should be given to every person leaving an abusive situation. The absolutely most dangerous time for an abused partner is when they leave. That’s when the rage explodes. Do not under-estimate the potential for violence.

  • P.S. CL–Esther Perel can kiss my ass. I was not physically abused, my H’s infidelity was 8 years ago and he left her to return to me (unbeknownst to me until 3 months ago). It was still the WORST experience of my life (and trust me, my past includes some seriously traumatic events). I had horrific panic attacks for 2 months, and the experience has forever shaped me because betrayal is a life-changing event. It destroys one’s personal history. (I’m preaching to the choir–this is in case Esther shows up on this thread. Dear Esther–develop some personal integrity and stop encouraging deception as a way of life. You’re not “sophisticated,” you’re selfish.)

    I’m personally going to launch a campaign to have you give a Ted Talk as a wonderful antidote to Esther’s selfish, pro-emotional abuse viewpoint. It starts here, fellow chumps. Nominate Tracy Schorn:

    • Five. I just spent an hour on the form. It may take a while to get her a talk because she hasn’t done a lot of public speaking YET. But I know she’d be great at it. Typically the TED folks like to see samples of you talking about your issue. But that’s something she can work on with her agent and friends. Also she deserves to be on the talk show circuit. Someone needs to speak up for us and change the narrative on infidelity.

  • I haven’t read through CL’s response yet, nor the responses.

    My divorce became final recently, from a man who was abusive. I did see CL say that even if the abusive spouse says he wants the divorce too, he will do everything to stop it. Mine did exactly this. He is now paying the price (literally) for draggggggggggggging it out.


    Please go visit your police station. Tell them the current situation (along with your intent to file for divorce), including the prior physical abuse, and you are afraid it may happen again. You may be able to file a restraining order anyway, even if no abuse has taken place.

    • ETA

      A friend of mine who is a patrolman in another town told me to go on record at the local police station. Very important.

      • Sorry to hear about this predicament, which sounds like mine involving a dangerous, cheating, narc husband. Consider staying in a room in safe house as soon as the divorce summons is delivered. Horns, fangs, and claws that may have been veiled from the public may become visible to the public now–or not. Either way, malevolent narcissists are very dangerous at this stage.
        Try to move half of any joint assets to an account you do not share with him less than one day before your husband is served. If you are like some people in abusive situations, financially dependent on an abusive spouse and suffering the effects of multiple forms of abuse for years, you and any dependents will very likely need this money to rent a place to live, buy food, and hire a good attorney or two. Unless you are an attorney, try not to go pro per (represent yourself). Anticipate defending yourself and your child and maybe even your allies from an extremely hostile, enraged STBX–even though he was the one who broke his vows and abused you–probably for several years.

        Also, regarding OnTheHill’s advice about talking to the police, I have found in my interactions with police on domestic violence and family law-related issues, that one should be very careful in one’s interactions with the police, even if one is (you are) innocent. After an incident that I did not cause, i was told by police to go to the police station. I went to the police seeking protection and told the police my concerns as clearly and accurately as possible. After they recorded me, they told me that they had to tell my husband what I had told them because ‘there are always two sides of a story.’ They did not tell me beforehand that they would relate my account to my husband. They offered me no protection. I was afraid to go home. If you talk to police, try to do so in the presence of YOUR attorney.

        I hope that life improves soon. We chumps support you!

    • I’m all for calling the police. My attorney is really great, but the courts don’t look at your great attorney and how great and knowable he is. The courts want police documented documentation. If you son is in fear, bring in Child Protective Services as well. They have a lot of power in the court system. But bring them in AFTER you have filed as they have a responsibility to contact the other parent to let them know of the call they received. I have had 4 CPS filed and investigated. All stays in the system. All documentation. And they will talk to your child.

      • Agreed about CPS. The courts can’t always protect us, but exposing children to abuse is taken seriously by CPS. Often they are the only ones who can put things into place to get the abuser away from the family.

  • One more thing–start keeping a calendar of abuse, both toward you and your son. Keep this at work.

    I read of a case in the US where a woman’s manager documented abuse she witnessed, and this was used successfully in court to convict the woman’s partner.

    Document how much time your ex spent with your son and under what circumstances.

  • ChumpedAlot-

    I don’t have a lot to add here since the ex never actually laid a hand on me. He was abusive (like his affair) in other ways but I never feared for my safety and I guess that’s a gamble that’s worked out Okay so far.

    I would tend to agree that if you can have him served, that’s a better option than having a conversation with him especially if he has been physical with you in the past. I like the advice to seek out help from a shelter and getting your ducks lined up while potentially moving out in a stealth like manor.

    Other than that I can only hope and pray you get out of that situation safely with your son.

    Sending jedi hugs your way.

  • First of all, we chumps think we have to have these conversations with them smucks. There is no rule for this. They didn’t tell you about the affair or what their strategy is.

    Move out. File. Have him served. You owe him no explanation.

    Move out to your parents, a friend’s, etc. Move out with the intent of where you are going is safe and it’s only temporary.

    Unfortunately the courts can’t do much without a hospital report or police reports. It’s very, very important to document everything with the police. I was scared to this at the beginning. And I don’t call them for everything, but also, my attorney had a GREAT mediator who deals with male assholes. In our state once you file, you have to go to mediation to see if things can be worked out.

    I will tell what my mediator (who was a former commissioner) did for me – and I think you should ask this for you:

    Mutual restraining order – the courts won’t just give it to him – it has to be mutual. That way if he is in violation, he can be arrest because there is a restraining order in place. Restraining order meant for us that we can’t go to each other’s door steps to drop off kids – we drop off kids curbside at each other’s homes. I had a journal and emails and texts I was able to show the mediator how awful, bullying and abusive he is. He (we, because it has to be mutual) can’t do that anymore or else he will be in violation of the court.

    He can only email you or text you about the kids. He can’t call you. You’ll want this because if he gets violent in an email or text, he can be arrested due to the restraining order.

    Don’t put up with his shitty bullying attitude. History always repeats itself. He’ll be done with the OW in time and be a jack ass to her too, then he’ll find a fresh new love. Trust me – the cycle is so predictable.

    Don’t put yourself in danger. Call the police. They even put phone calls on their record. But, and your attorney will advise you of this as well, you don’t want to call them on everything. But keep a daily log. I have mine on Google Calendar. I log in and make notes – I don’t have to do it daily anymore. But note everything. When he takes your child on trips and who they go with and has your marriage been finalized yet. That sort of stuff. Note when when your soon to be ex doen’t take your kid. Keep a notebook full of emails and print out texts. It is work to do this, but this is what the court needs.

    My ex hasn’t paid child support in MONTHS! I knew he was developing a new product and found him on one of those crowdfunding sites and print out his comments every time he writes ‘I’ve put all my money into this’, etc. I’m saying all of this to explain how smart you need to be.

    Don’t trust him. Don’t trust anything he says. Don’t agree to anything he says. He won’t follow through – promise. Even with a court document – mine doesn’t even follow through and there would be no way I can bring him to court with my journals, texts and emails.

    Please take care of you. He is a major fucktard. Leave now. Run like your hair is on fire.

  • Another thing – if he is a complete ass, you can do the kid drop off in front of the police station. My police department said it’s done all the time – they have camera’s rolling and lots of policeman out and about so if he does anything he is fucking stupid. You can also do the drop off at child visitation facility, which will cost money. He drops your child off and then in 10 minutes your child up after his car is gone. But the police station is free – just ask your police department where the cameras are so that’s where you park your car.

    I hate men like this – fucking bully. You know you can’t take his shit personally. It’s how he feels about himself. He’s a dick. And a coward. AHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!

  • After he has been served and he does ONE thing, call the courts and see if you can get a child protection order. That way you are protected too. They last for 2 weeks. They say VERY loudly to your fucktard-soon-to-be-ex that you mean fucking business. You’ll have a court hearing after 2 weeks to see if the protection order needs to be extended. This will stay on their police record but not on his personal record, unless the protection order has been ordered as permanent (but there has to be major evidence for that and that would be taking away the rights of the parent, which is near to impossible). It could also mean the court orders therapy for your ex. That’s the protocol in my state anyway (UT).

  • I suggest you read Gavin de Becker’s book, “The Gift of Fear,” which should be linked at the top of the blog. DeBecker is a prominent security expert who understands disordered people and their obsessions and rages. DeBecker, however, is not all that big on restraining orders, which can set off some abusive, disordered people and escalate the violence.

    I agree with everyone who has said don’t talk to him about the divorce. He’s already representing you to the world as divorced so just have him served or set up a “mediation” session in the attorney’s office so the response can be observed and hopefully contained. But make sure you are prepared for his response. Have a security alarm installed as soon as you can, one that has voice link monitoring and runs on cell phone, not landline. I can arm and disarm mine from my phone. Make sure you change the password if you get it before he leaves. My suggestion is to get those ducks in a row, secure your most precious non-living possessions (photos on cloud service, cd or USB drive; portable heirlooms and all key original documents in a safe place). You might also be able to hire an off-duty police officer to watch your home for a few days; many of them do private security gigs.

    There are a number of chumps here who can tell you that disordered people are capable of horrific things. You won’t really know for sure about your H until he is served. They don’t take well to chumps standing up for themselves. I wish there was some way to tell you it will go smoothly for you–but trust your instincts that he will not respond like a normal adult.

    • “They don’t take well to chumps standing up for themselves.”

      And they are confident that they can put an end to it–they’re absolutely used to getting their way, and this will be no exception, by their thinking. Be prepared for many escalating attempts to reign you back in via all SORTS of manipulation. Immunize yourself with NO (ZERO) contact.

      I like the idea given previously of having an intermediary read and filter all correspondence from him, and proofreading anything you send back or sending it for you if you MUST communicate with him. This should be someone emotionally stable and mature, who supports you.

  • Backstory/disclaimer: For those of you who don’t know my story, my stbx has not had a physical affair. Our issue was abuse. There was a long-term thing going on with someone who I suspect had a major crush on my husband, but I think his reciprocation was more because it made me uncomfortable than anything else, and he found that amusing and kind of an ego-kick. I wandered in here looking for information about divorce, and found this to be the most useful information I’d found. Tracy has been kind enough to let me stay, and I’ve learned so much and been strengthened so much by what’s here. So sometimes what I have experienced is relevant to other people’s stories, and sometimes I just stay the heck out of conversations where I have nothing to offer. This thread, though, I think I can contribute.

    It took me a long time to figure out that I couldn’t fix this situation, and when I finally recognized that this was not going to get better, I rented a storage unit. I started moving stuff out over a long period of time, and what astonished me is that he never noticed. You may be able to pull something like this off. Decide not to worry about it if you can’t. The other thing that you might want to do is start copying papers that are pertinent, and email them to yourself on the cloud somewhere, then delete your sent emails.

    The TEAM part of this is so important. Another member you’ll want on your team is a counselor for your son that specializes in adolescent boys and young men. You won’t want to get him into counseling until you get him out of that situation, but you can make an appointment with the counselor and talk to him about the situation, and have an appointment set up for him to talk to this guy. This way, you’ve laid the groundwork and you have to try to think this out when you’re in the thick of removing yourself. Your brain won’t work as well in an emergency situation, so you have to plan for that in advance.

    I bought a house without his knowing about it, and planned my departure for when he had surgery. Dropped him off at the hospital, told my son we were moving, and my team and the kids and I swung into action. I feel sickish just thinking about that day–uuughh. Anyway, I moved our gear out, and then told husband after he was home from the hospital. Told him we’d stay long enough to get him to where he could function independently, and we did. It was tough. Really, really tough. But the long recuperation gave him time to cool off and get used to the idea. He doesn’t remember it like that. He believes that we dropped him off at the house to recuperate on his own, instead of moving out several weeks later. Makes a better victim story.

    After I found this website, I made the decision that it was time finally to file for divorce. I was concerned about him escalating, and lawyer suggested that I use the local shelter to develop an emergency plan. I tried, but honestly, the young woman I spoke with was not very helpful. Reading off of a list of things that didn’t really apply to me. At some point, I just let go of the fear. I recognized that something might happen, but fear wasn’t helping me deal with anything that might happen down the road. I did purchase (through the link above) The Gift of Fear, and found that very helpful and pertinent. It helped me understand the difference between situation-appropriate fear, and the chronic, paralyzing fear that is disabling rather than survival-helpful .

    I also made the decision to have him served rather than tell him. He is currently trying the charm thing rather than anger to control, but is still definitely trying to control the situation. Even years later, he still knows how to push the buttons. Some of my wires have been cut, and some are still predictably functional, so I’ve been clinging tight to this website (esp. over in the forums) while some of this plays out. If church friends and judgment issues are part of your story, you might find Divorce Minister’s site and cryforjustice helpful as well.

    Okay, I’m starting to trigger, so I’ll wrap this up, at least for now. Hope that some of this added to the compendium of useful suggestions.

    • I had a plan in place to move out. I had 4 friends and family come and help me. As soon as my ex went to work, they had me packed up and out of the house in 5 hours. I had 2 storage units prepaid for the first month – had locks for them and totally ready to go. I also had a moving van. And it was a lot of work as all the furniture, dishes, linens, wall art, etc was mine. I left him the TV (for my kids when they came to his house), the bar stools and the mattress (God forbid what he had on that thing). My friends and fam took the day off to help me.

      Pre plan. You don’t have to tell him squat. We had already talked about breaking up. A few days before I moved out, he said to me ‘why are we breaking up again?’. I was STUNNED! I said ‘because you sleep with men – you are bi, gay or whatever and it’s not what I signed up for?’ And he laughed.

      After I moved out, I came back a few days later to get a few personal things I left behind. He followed me out to my car laughing. I got in my car and closed the door. He was still laughing. I did something he had never seen me do before because I had mastered no reaction. I got out of my car and walked up to him. In his face I asked him what the fuck his problem was, why he continues to laugh and what was so fucking funny, He backed down and stopped laughing. He said he laughs when he is nervous.

      If I would have known that years ago, I would have totally played on that. Not really, I’m way kind-er of a person than that. But it’s just to show you what a coward and a bully these assholes are.

      I’ll get off my soap box for the day.

  • In my state, you can record a phone call conversation or anyone without them knowing. When I am dropping off kids or picking them up, I can record on my smart phone, so I use that. There are a lot of online spy websites – so pens that record, cameras to record, etc., at pretty reasonable prices. My court won’t accept any pictures or voice recordings if I do it, and its a 50/50 chance they’ll accept them with a hired Private Investigator. I’m in UT. However, there was an incident that has been occurring over and over again with my daughter and my ex has told my daughter that is she tells on him, he’ll go to jail. She is 5. He is sick. I was able to record what he has done to her. Because I have had child protective orders, police reports, etc., the police were able to call Crime Lab to my house and record my recordings and submit them to the DA’s office. The DA’s office has a lot of power.

    I’m saying all of this because there are ways around a lot of things. And no one told me any of this – I had to find this out on my own by asking questions, etc. So I wanted to share this with you as something you can ask your attorney or police about.

    But if you understand he does this out of bullying, and being an asshole, it’s easier to be one step ahead.

    What my attorney told me was my ex was going to do whatever he was going to do. That’s why I put the police on speed dial.

    The police will not respond to domestic disputes. If he is throwing punches into the wall, you call the police so it can be documented and ask if they will take pictures, because if you take pictures, the courts more than likely won’t allow it.

    Court and protection are dicey. And that sucks.

    The courts won’t do anything for stupid parenting either. My attorney told me name calling in front of the kids (which my ex did) wouldn’t hold up in court.

    You can get a new phone for your soon to be ex through Google Voice and keep your same number. You and he can text with this number through your phone or you can text online. His voice mails are kept online and very easy to send to your attorney if needed. The texts are kept online and very easy to keep this way. Google Voice will also ring through your phone as well. It’s free. I ran into a few bugs with it, but was just fine for the 2 years I used it until my ex settled down.

  • “You also need to realize that unless he initiates violence (in which case you walk out that moment, just as you would with a house fire)…” Yes, I love this comment!

    I would also urge you to read that recommended book: “Why Does He Do That?” by Lundy Bancroft. He is brilliant and accurate on the subject.

    • Yes, regarding the pets. Get preregistered at a pet daycare/boarding place if you haven’t already. It’s way better to plan ahead.

    • I was given an additional charger that I could plug anything to – phone, tablet, etc just in case I wasn’t around an outlet to charge my phone in. I don’t have it on me right now, and for the life of me, can’t think of the name of what these are called. You charge them, then you can take them with you (they are a small box and don’t need to be connected to an outlet once they are charged).

  • Also, consider talking to a supervisor at your workplace. Avoid panicking them, but let them know what’s going on, be realistic about the possibility that he could turn up there and things could get ugly.

  • I also alerted all my in town relatives as to what was going on and to let me know if at moment’s notice I could spend the night or drop off my son. I never needed to use this, but it was so reassuring to have all this in place.

    • Myexisanutjob–You are a rainbow of awesomeness, with the psychological strength of Atlas! Thanks for spreading wisdom–you may have saved a few lives on this page.

      • I have never been a victim of domestic abuse, nor do I know any women who have suffered physically at the hands of their spouses. I am not a social worker, psychologist, physician, nor a member of a police force. I have no advice to give, either from a personal or professional perspective. I can only say that I read your alarming story and my heart goes out to you. What a tough, tough burden to carry – to enforce your own personal safety as well as that of your child. I am thinking of you, Chumpedalot, and hoping you have the strength to carry on. It is not an easy journey; not for the faint of heart. Best wishes to you, at the beginning of a new year.

        • Highly unlikely that you don’t know anyone that has been abused by their spouse, abusers do what they do in private and the abused are silenced.

          • Hi Datdamwuf: I thought long and hard about your comment. I still come back to my original position – in my circle of female friends, I honestly don’t know of anyone who has been physically abused or threatened by their spouse. Most are happily married, in long term relationships (30+ years). A few others divorced amicably; two had high conflict divorces, but not because of violence in the relationship. Interestingly however, I had an friend years ago, who falsely accused her husband of abuse and their case dragged through the courts for a decade, decimating the man, (and the family) who was ultimately found to be innocent of all charges.


            • What I said is that you know someone, not necessarily a close friend. However, I’m an intelligent, successful woman in a male dominated field where I’m known for being outspoken and strong in my opinions. When I told my manager about the PO, he did not at first believe this could happen to me, he thought I was too confident and too strong to allow such a thing to happen. The abuse was mostly emotional until it escalated upon asking for divorce.

              Lastly, although I became isolated over time, even the two friends I had left when things went crazy had no idea what was going on.

  • Hats off to the Chump nation…..we are a courageous bunch. I have not heard everyone’s story until now and I have to say..l.ots and lots of chutzpa here.

    Many of you have heard my story. I did a lot of things that were advised here. After he (cheater ex) told me right to my face he felt like killing me and my children and then himself, when he felt depressed…. I chose to believe him and start laying plans to get me and my kids safely out. .Before that I had been in denial about his possibly harming us until a couple months before when one morning, when the kids were in school, he used rape to settle an argument. After that I knew that he was capable of just about anything.

    Went to a woman’s center for counselling within a few weeks. They hooked me up with a woman’s advocate. I got as many ducks in a row as I could. Worked extra hours and set money aside telling ex that I was saving for Xmas. Once I had enough saved I rented an apartment, and when he left for work a bunch of my friends swooped in and packed and moved me, my kids, and our kitty. Good thing we got out when we did, because in packing I found the brand new box of bullets he had bought. I left everything that was his or that his family had given us. I took all the important papers, and most of the photographs. He was served with a restraining order at work that day.

    We had to go to court a week later to make the restraining order good for a year. He brought a lawyer, I had my women’s advocate. He made a complete ass of himself in front of the judge when he tried to convince the judge I deserved to be abused by him because I dared to argue with him. Did NOT fly with that judge, she not only granted the restraining order but dinged him for child support too.

    Did all these things prevent his eventual actions? No I could not protect my kids fully because I could not convince the judge who presided over our divorce that ex was dangerous, so I did not get supervised visitation for my kids. That is a bitter pill to swallow, particularly today as it is my youngest son’s birthday. He would have been 38 today. It is a bit of comfort that because I was proactive, that my David got an extra 2 years of life that he would not have had, and that my eldest son and I survived. Today, though, the pain of losing my precious son is sitting in my lap, and the tears are flowing.

    It took ex 2 years to strike back. Do not underestimate the capability of the disordered abuser to exact revenge. Please do whatever you can to keep yourself and your precious child safe……

    My prayers go out to you…..keep Chump Nation informed….we have your back.

    • Oh Tessie, you are the mightiest of the mighty. I cannot believe i answered this letter on your son’s birthday. Hugest of ((((HUGS))). I really have no words for how incredibly strong and compassionate you are. You’re an inspiration.

      Now I have to have a good sob. You guys are all so awesome the way you help each other out. Just wow.

    • Tessie,

      I wept for your family (again) when I read your post today. I fear for my young children. I hope against hope that I can convince the Court to order that my husband’s visitation be supervised. For the last few years, due to his statements and actions, I have thought that my husband might do something lethal. Unfortunately, I think that a lot of people take a ‘let’s wait and see’ approach–until it’s too late. I hope that you are given much support.

    • Yes, dearest Tessie. So glad to ‘know’ you. Ditto what the others said……

      You are so precious!

      Hugs / Love / Prayers for you and for BOTH your sons! Hold your living son extra close & give him a hug from all of us!

      ForgeOn, Momma Tessie….

    • So, so, so sorry Tessie. Blessings to you every day but especially today.

    • Thank you Tessie for warning about how abusers can wait years to strike. I am so sorry for your loss and admire your strength. Jedi hugs and wishing you the healing you so deserve.

    • There are so many things I admire about you, dear Tessie, but you are so kind and generous to tell this story to the chumps who need to read it. Wishing you a blessed and peaceful new year, with love.

  • The nuts and bolts are this: Never, ever think he won’t try the worst possible thing. If he’s been physically abusive in the past, he will be again.

    1. Make sure ANYTHING that you’re doing is kept on the down-low. Any court/legal things? Keep the documentation out of the house. Any evidence/bank statements/other stuff like this? Out of the house. Anything of sentimental value that you really can’t lose? Out of the house. And so forth. Either hire a storage locker, or keep these at someone else’s house that is trustworthy – someone who WON’T tell him whats going on. Another thing is to secure your computer and make sure he doesn’t realise you’re browsing here, or anything relating to getting your ducks lined up. Clear the internet history on all your browsers before you log out.
    2. You need your support team to be knowledgeable about whats going on. Just reporting on the previous domestic violence to your therapist, while there might not be anything that can be done for it now – if something happens again it can be used to show a pattern of violence.
    3. You need to keep an EXTREMELY tight lid on this. That means telling NO-ONE that could possibly spill the beans. Don’t want someone out of ignorance/arrogance/blackmail completely decimating your plans.

    Once you get the plan in place and get to the point where its time to drop the hammer – you tell him of your intent to divorce by going non-contact and serving him with the papers. And watch out for the manipulation/threats. Make sure your loved ones are safe, especially if he has weapons.
    Hoping this advice is at least somewhat useful for you.

    • Yes to all of the above. I took a picture of his driver’s license and his social security card and emailed it to myself. Sign up for Drop Box if you don’t have an account. You get so much space for free and it only takes a second to upload important files so if something happens to your computer, you have the documentation needed.

  • Get your drivers license,birth cert, kids birth cert, shot records,school records,marriage license, health ins card, credit card,and any other documents you need. Get spending money and emergency food! Extra clothes for all of you. Either ask CPS or the cops to help you get to a women’s shelter if you need to. If you can get your computer erased on your own do so. If not it is worth the money to get an expert to do it. Line up EVERYTHING first. This man already has his next “victim” picked out but that does not mean he wants you gone. Also, you have a son old enough to tell his father what is going on so you need to take that into consideration. Make copies of everything you can find on him. If he has a phone then try to copy while he is asleep. If it puts you in danger don’t. And, sadly, always, always expect the worst. I think you are dealing with a sociopath.

  • Hearing about the violent and/or emotional abuse you have suffered hurts and huge kudos go out to all of the much needed love and support from this group. Fear while in an abusive relationship causes us to stay and deal with it, when our lives can often be in danger. A car key gouged across my face as I struggled to leave in my own vehicle, two black eyes, being cheated on in my bed in a house I owned, being stalked at my job, choked, phones ripped out of the wall so couldn’t seek help, hit in the head with a phone, left in the hospital with no clothing after surgery, discharged in a hospital robe with my butt cheeks hanging out while I waited for a friend to come get me. Once I was able to call the police and they locked him up for one day while his mother who refused to believe what was happening, bailed him out. Once he came home, it started all over again. At the time I was a Customer Service Director having to hide bruises, scars and tears from my staff. The list is endless, and I called myself stupid again and again. But domestic violence reaches out to those who are rich, have no money, or any race/ sex with no prejudice. I packed some books, took what clothes I could and left everything! I was homeless with no money and no job, but I got away, and now I spend my days giving back and working with victims and survivors of domestic violence by working at shelters, being on boards, maintaining a Blog and having group meetings. This is a private crime that’s not addressed nearly enough, being swept under the carpet. However, the key to getting out and starting over is always SAFETY first. For you and for your family. For those who are on this blog talking about it because you got away, you are making a difference. If you’re still there, working through the emotional trauma of what to do next – safely, continue to share here for guidance, or to seek the expert advice of a domestic violence counselor. They are in almost every state and usually open 24 hours a day, even on holidays. Also, be sure to erase your history from the computer when seeking info on the Internet. Remember domestic violence is all about control and manipulation and includes financial withholding, sexual assault, verbal degradation, being cheated on, keeping you from your family, physical violence, threats to harm your kids, gaslighting and emotional trauma. No matter how you’ve been mistreated, continue to hold your head up knowing you’ve done nothing wrong and that YOU are important. Hang in There and know that 2015 is your year! Hugs…

    • I just want to say this one more thing to any of you who are suffering.

      My Ex was verbally and emotionally abusive for a long time. In 2007, we got in an argument and he got into inappropriate name-calling along with his other gas-lighting bullshit. The argument had to do with an autoimmune disease I was developing, and at that time, my doctors could not figure out what kind it was. The Ex of course said it was in my head – and I was probably causing my symptoms. It was during one of those months that I could do or say nothing right.

      That particular day I felt so broken. I called a local women’s abuse help line. I was told basically the same thing many of you were told, to secretly pack mine and my child’s suitcases for a couple of days and basically disappear. I was not able to do this, because I could not leave my elderly mother. We have no other family.

      At this point, I basically gave up. I knew the Ex would NEVER go to counselling – he had already refused quite vehemently in the past. So I figured this was my lot in life and tried to cope and help my son cope the best we could.

      6 years later I had had enough and decided to throw him out. It was a struggle. My mother almost had to formally evict him. Long story short – CPS got involved.


      They are taking my Ex to court on emotional abuse.

      Things are changing. My therapist said to me that even 7 years ago, this kind of abuse rarely made it into court.

      Now it has to have a significant affect on your child, like causing things like panic attacks or failing school, but, your abuser will have his/her feet held to the fire if they are abusive enough to cause emotional damage.

      Do NOT feel shy about doing something! There are protections in place. Get your ducks in a row and do your homework before you act – but ACT.

  • “I can’t get a restraining order on him because there’s no history of violence on record. A friend suggested I get some pepper spray and a taser and be prepared to use both during the conversation I want to have with him about the divorce. I thought about having someone with me when I have the conversation but what good will that do ultimately? That person won’t be with me 24/7…H could knock the phone, pepper spray, whatever out of my hand if I’m not fast enough and really hurt me.”

    I’m reading between the lines here, so if what I’m seeing doesn’t apply, kindly ignore= there were reportable incidences in the past, but either fear, embarrassment, or the hope that it will all just go away have kept me silent. When this happens, hard as it is to face, we begin to move into this murky soup of unreality, denial, rationalizations.

    A friend suggested I get some pepper spray and a taser and be prepared to use both during the conversation I want to have with him about the divorce. Naïve and dangerous advice. Underlying message? You can keep yourself safe, you can control his actions. Maybe. Maybe not.

    I thought about having someone with me when I have the conversation but what good will that do ultimately? That person won’t be with me 24/7…H could knock the phone, pepper spray, whatever out of my hand if I’m not fast enough and really hurt me.
    That sounds to me like fear talking. Our fear can create a prison in which we lock ourselves away. Transparency is your friend. He’s not going to want others to know that he’s been abusive, in most cases. And a friend that is there for backup can try to de-escalate the situation by minimizing and allowing your stb to have a voice, rationalize. Rent-a-thug might be more appropriate, someone who is not bamboozled by him, someone who doesn’t think, “There’s two sides to this story,” someone who can exude the notion that if he ever lays a hand on you or your son again that he (she) would enjoy taking him apart molecule by molecule.

    Do not underestimate the power that abuse has. The most effective abuse only has to happen once, and then it maintains control by threat alone. It can change us, weaken us, freeze us with fear. I’m not saying that this has happened to you, or describes you, I’m saying be aware of this possibility. If you haven’t done so, it may be a good idea to educate yourself on the concept of trauma bonding. We get comfortable minimizing, making mole-hills out of mountains, asking ourselves, “But does he really suck? Or am I making the whole thing up? Can he really be that bad?” He does, you’re not, he can.

    Also, self-care is incredibly important right now. Prioritize sleep, exercise, nutrition, a peaceful mind. Seeing a counselor/therapist to help you through this, especially one trained in EMDR/brainspotting to help with the PTSD aspects of abuse.

    Sorry for the errors of spelling, omitted words in my posts today. Looked back at them and saw a lot of errors. This is kind of emotional for me to write about, and it’s affecting my coherence.

    I have a friend who had an abusive husband, three young sons (one with a severe birth defect), no education beyond HS, and limited options. She started saving money out of the grocery fund, and squirreled it away, rented an apartment on top of a garage, only ground floor entrance was the garage door. She waited until her son got the surgery he needed to correct the defect, and started packing. His best friend came over, and asked what she was doing. She said she was moving out, and asked him what he was going to do about it. He said, “I’m going to help you pack.” She moved into the apartment, and her car was hidden in the garage. She only left the apartment when she knew he was at work, and only when necessary. She said she would see him driving up and down the streets outside, and his gun was in the front seat beside him. He calmed down after awhile, and she got a divorce. (Also ended up marrying his best friend later, but that’s another story.) She was about 22 at the time. One of my heroes.

    Why am I telling you this? Just to say, Okay is out there. It’s down the road. Keep putting one foot in front of the other. As Churchill said, “When you’re going through hell, keep going.”

  • Hey, I want to warn you about how abusers can use the legal system to trap you and hurt you. They don’t just use their fists or guns or psychological conditioning. If your abuser is smart, don’t assume the only way he can hurt you is with his fists or weapons.

    Not able to relive this shit right now, here are some very abbreviated bits about what happened to me because I *really* didn’t believe ex would hurt me despite the fact my intuition was screaming so hard I was having nightmares of him attacking me, and he did;

    When I asked for divorce he already lived in a separate apartment because he said he was trying to “work on his issues”. Hours after the divorce discussion he drove drunk to my home, burst in the door and attacked me. When police came I didn’t tell them what he’d done, and I was hysterical in asking they remove him. But I was protecting him from arrest because of his mental health issues and despite my firm resolve to divorce him I still cared about him (17 years together). The cops said they could NOT make him leave because we were married. Unknown to me he told the cops I had attacked him, and later I found out he knew there were mandatory arrest laws regarding DV. I was arrested, he immediately told me he’d done all he could to stop the arrest, he loved me, he insisted on marriage counseling. Then I heard the 911 tape and realized he’d lied to the police and gotten me arrested, he set me up. He’d done everything he could to get me arrested, he did what he did to get me arrested. So, he moved back into the home as soon as court was over where I got a deferred dismissal that put me on a probation. He knew his rights to the marital home, he would not leave, nor would he pay any bills and I stupidly, stupidly stayed because I didn’t want to lose my house. I didn’t believe I could lose my life, not at first. He proceeded to escalate his abuse, raging at me with implicit physical threat, threatening to get me arrested again, and worse. He punched himself in the face at one point intending to get me arrested for DV again, he wasn’t just posturing to scare me. Fortunately he bruised his fist so badly he didn’t call the cops, I should have (hindsight sucks) but I was tharn, truly felt hopeless. The whole time he was drinking from morning to night while also taking antidepressants and Xanax. I felt trapped, in many ways I was trapped. Trapped by my own fallacies, trapped by the so called “justice system”, trapped by him.

    After months of insanity, part of which he spent in rehab and then walked out saying staff was trying to kill him he pulled his last control card. He came into my office and agreed to mediation. An hour later he brought his father’s gun in the house. It was a Sig Sauer, P226, a double-action semi-automatic pistol, it does not have a safety. He chambered a bullet and put the gun in his mouth after telling me he had no reason to live. But he didn’t pull the trigger. I spent a very long time with him while he was alternately crying/suicide talking, and then raging/pointing the gun at me with a look of pure hatred and calculation in his eyes. I know that if he thought he could get away with killing me, he would have done it. I can’t forget how he looked, I have never forgotten his final words when I ran “You fucking bitch, you have destroyed me, what more do you want”.

    The last time I saw him (outside a courtroom) he was chasing me to my car with the gun in his hand.

    IF YOUR HUSBAND IS NOT AFRAID OF JAIL A PO IS JUST A PIECE OF PAPER. I’ve said this many times, I am lucky, very lucky, you see my ex is very afraid of jail. I have a protective order that was incredibly hard to get. Getting a temp order is super easy, getting it extended is NOT, don’t let the MRA assholes make you think it is.

    Be safe, take advice but also trust yourself. Jedi Hugs x10,000.

  • My cheater is like Datdamwuf’s, except mine does scary, mean things when he’s SOBER. Documenting may be a hassle, but document dates, times, places, even quotes of all the outrageous events. Dangerous, personality-disordered people we’ve described here often do (their twisted version, of course). (Mine did daily.) You will feel better and possibly save time and money if you can defend yourself with accurate, detailed rebuttals. Your attorney might want to read and present your journal and correspondence as evidence.

    • Mine did it sober or drunk, I sometimes think the only reason I got away was because the drinking made him to sure of himself.

  • To anyone considering a PO. Very important info on obtaining a protective order if you choose to do so. I fucked it up because I was scared and going full ninja without research, oh, and I thought we had a justice system, we don’t.

    Include every episode of abuse as far back as it goes and use dates, I suggest you type it up before you go. WHY? Because to extend the PO you have to prove to the judge you are in danger. BUT, BIG PROBLEM IF YOU ONLY WRITE UP THE CURRENT INCIDENT, OR ONE INCIDENT. Why? Because what you write, THAT IS THE ONLY THING THE COURT WILL CONSIDER. Translation, I only wrote down about the gun when I filed for the PO, so when I went to court I could not introduce any evidence unless It directly related to when he threatened me with the gun. his lawyer objected to anything outside of that and mostly the judge barred what was objected to.

    Bottom line, write every single incident of abuse, I don’t care how long it takes or how freaked out you are. You need to be able to use any evidence you have and you can only do that if the info is in your initial temp PO request.

  • “How do I leave without him getting violent?”

    You have no control over whether he gets violent. As some he will.

  • Dear ChumpedALot: ADT has a free program in many communities that allows you to trigger a silent alarm to police via a neck pendant in the event of a violence emergency. As noted in their link below, the domestic-abuse authorities in your area would set the criteria you’d have to meet to qualify (including whether or not a restraining order must be in place):

    Hugs a-plenty to you.

  • No to things like tazers and pepper spray. Bad idea.
    Yes to legal advice, serious financial planning, beginning to take all appropriate measures to guarantee your financial well being, separate bank accounts, and most importantly developing plan B. What is plan B? Figure out where you are going to live and who you are going to live with, and how you are going to feed yourself now. How are you going to get your things out of the house?
    It is also not a bad idea to have at least temporarily a place of safety you can move to. Remember you do not necessarily have to “have the conversation”. In most cases I would recommend that, but in your case I might not You could chose to simply have him served the papers, after you have gotten everything of yours out of your home. However do make sure to do absolutely everything within the letter of the law. Good luck.

  • My ex was not violent but my good friends husband turned violent for the first time in the fall out from his affair/leaving and this is not uncommon.
    My daughters husband was gaslighting her, cheating, and running up large debts. He also stole her credit card and she found it hidden in his room.
    These guys are unpredictable and dangerous. You need a well thought out plan and a back up plan. Confide in people you trust. Keep a diary of events…record everything. Get some money and important papers and DO NOT LET HIM KNOW you are doing it.
    I agree with the others that pepper, mace etc could backfire on you. Act a little dumb.
    If he even threatens or intimidates you report it and keep evidence…record/film with your phone in a discreet way…most of all trust your gut. You and your son are all that matters.

  • Thank you all for the great insight and suggestions! You have given me a lot to think about as I look forward and make solid plans for a better year ahead for me and my son.

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