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??
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.