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My Gun Story… Or That Time I Found a Loaded Handgun Under My Bed

Esther Perel once infamously tweeted at me that my chump story “went beyond infidelity.” I’d fed some execrable article of hers through the Universal Bullshit Translator, got cheeky, tweeted it at her, and she essentially gave me a nice pat on my head.

Apparently, I can’t pawn myself off as an expert at chumpdom, because my ex was a psycho — not one of those enlightened cheaters on a quest for aliveness, who Perel writes about. Mine wasn’t JUST a serial cheater, He Went Beyond. An overachiever douchebag, he threatened to kill me.

My blog isn’t much about me. This isn’t a first person confessional where I tell you all the breathy details of my failed marriage. I tend to prefer supporting others with snark and cartoons. But today I’m making an exception — I’m going to tell you about the guns.

I hesitated to write about this (because, fuck, who wants to prove Esther Perel right?) But I feel emboldened after participating Saturday in Washington D.C.’s #MarchForOurLives. I do try to mostly keep my politics out of my blog (if you follow me on Twitter or Facebook however, all bets are off). I might vehemently disagree with you on everything from Betsy DeVos to organic butter, but if you’ve been chumped, I want to help you. I don’t care what political stripe you are. Heck, I’ve found my site recommended on gun lover forums.

“I just walked in to find my wife fucking some other guy.” 

“Dude, check out Chump Lady.”

All to say, we’re family here. Meaning you probably have Fox News on and would like me to know that if I stood up straight, I’d lose 10 pounds. I love you too.

Anyway… guns. I was so impressed with these badass young people marching on Saturday and telling their stories. (Only one puked! I SO would’ve puked in front of a crowd that size! Heck, I would’ve peed my pants too!) They reminded me of you. They’re changing the narrative. They’re telling their painful stories. THIS is what THIS feels like. This is what THIS IS LIKE to be on the RECEIVING END of this bullshit. They refuse to sit down and shut up.

And I thought if they can stand there and tell their scary stories, well, I can too. Nearly six years of blogging and I haven’t talked about the guns. I’ve talked around them in code, like “Protection From Abuse order.” I haven’t cast my chump story as a domestic violence story, because I’m so hip and educated and can draw unicorns. Who’s a victim? Not me. No sir.

So, some caveats, before I puke and overshare all over your shoes.

1.) I’m not anti-gun. My Texas husband was a gun owner. My father has a rifle. My grandfather was an avid hunter and was a proud member of Fur, Fin, and Feathers, of Elmira, New York. This post is not going to devolve into some diatribe about the Second Amendment. I marched for common sense gun reform and background checks.

2.) I’m still embarrassed about what I’m going to relate. I shouldn’t be, I’d tell you not to be, but I am. In the grand scheme of things, this relationship was a blip. A brief period of insanity that has scabbed over. It takes a woman on average 7 tries before she leaves an abuser. It didn’t take 7, but I’m still mortified that it took more than one. The only thing I can say in my defense is that my brain was fogged with his manipulation and my hopium. I had sunk costs and I was exhausted.

If you wonder why I still run this support site, why I wake up every morning and write an 800 word essay before I go work — it’s because I remember the mindfuckery. It kept me stuck. If I can decode it for you, maybe I can help unstick you.


I’ll start with the nightmares. I still have them occasionally. In my dreams, I’m married to my husband and my cheating, abusive ex has bought the house next door. It’s a grand house, with turrets and white clapboard. But its windows can see into my house and he’s spying on me. I know he’s going to kill me.

Sometimes the dream is just the anxiety that he’s going to kill me. Other times he’s chasing me with a gun.


He had a lot of guns. A dozen? 20? They were spread over three locations (our home, his former house he still owned, plus a cabin) and his cars. I didn’t have an exact count, but I had to specifically request that they be confiscated when I got the protection from abuse order.

I got the PFA when he threatened to kill me. That was after the quick succession of D-Days 1 and 2, when his double life was revealed 6 months after our marriage. I’d spoken to his ex-wife and he was furious. He wished her dead. He wished her baby dead. He said he was going to piss on the baby’s grave. He said if I told anyone what he did, he would hunt me down and burn down my house.

I told.

I told the marriage counselor we saw that week. I told him about the threats, the dead baby, everything. He told us we needed to “learn to dialogue.”


Let me back up — I didn’t know I needed a PFA. Even though he had threatened me, I was scared of what he might do in a rage… to himself. I called the police. The dispatcher told me to get a PFA.  I went to the courthouse.

I sat in a room next to an Amishman who was paying his taxes with all his receipts in a shoe box, a Puerto Rican gang member, and another woman there for a PFA. Apparently she was an old hand at PFAs. She brought her toddler son with her and he was playing with the Thomas the Tank engines in the waiting room. I know my Thomas the Tank Engines, so we were chatting. “This is Percy! Oh, is that Diesel? Where’s Sir Toppenhat?”

At some point during this wait, the grief and the absurdity broke me and I started to ugly cry. I went into the Ladies room and that mother — a very haggard looking, poor woman — comforted me. “Don’t let the bastard get you down!” I felt so grateful to her. Whatever my lot, hers looked a million times worse. She had bruises on her face. And she was comforting ME?

Next, the gang kid asked me why I was there. I told him. And I will NEVER forget his kind sincerity — “Do you want me to push him out of a window for you? I could do that.”

I politely declined. A few hours later, I got the order and went home to wait for a constable to serve my abuser.


He got home before the constable. He must’ve suspected something was up. I had my useless, non-enforceable order (because he hadn’t been served yet). He flew into a towering rage. I ran. He chased me.

There were guns in the house. There was a gun in his car.

I grabbed the phone and called 911 and as I was on the phone with the dispatcher, he tore up the PFA in front of me. I ran outside to the driveway, scared out of my wits. He followed me, screaming “HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO ME?!”

By the time the cops arrived, I was hysterical, hyperventilating trying to choke out the words that he destroyed the court order.

The cops looked at me with something like amusement. Like I was overreacting. They did their job, however. They told him he had 5 minutes to collect his stuff in a duffle bag and get in the back of the cop car. One guy escorted him through the house, another stayed with me.

His rage abruptly ended as soon as the cops showed up. The channel flipped to charm. This was all a misunderstanding and I was being ridiculous. He made sure they knew he was a lawyer.

“There’s a handgun in the wheel hub of his car!” I told an officer. “GET THE GUN! Please GET THE GUN.”

I only knew this detail because the gun was unregistered in the state we’d just moved to, so he hid it.

Sure enough, the cops found the gun in the wheel hub. They asked him if he had a registration for it. He did not.

I asked the cop if they were going to report my abuser for having an unregistered handgun. The cop declined.

“I think he has enough problems on his plate today.”


During the relationship, I excused the gun collection. He’s from a part of the country that hunts. (I never saw him hunt.) He’s outdoorsy. Okay, it’s not my thing, but I should be accepting. Just because someone has a pile of guns, cross-bows, and knives doesn’t mean he’s abusive… right?

He wasn’t a thug. He was a guy with three advanced degrees — two in engineering and one in law.

How can you say I’m abusive? I never hit you. I never pointed a gun at you.

No, he never did. He “joked” once and put a belt around my neck. He’d get an inch from my face and scream at me. But no, he never pointed a gun at me. He didn’t have to.

I had zero guns. He had an entire arsenal of guns. Nothing was ever a fair fight. Every rage came with an unspoken threat — there’s a gun here. In the closet, hidden above the acoustic ceiling tiles, in the car.

Under my bed.


We were separated and I had a fervent desire to burn all the linens on our marital bed. I went and got all new ones, replacing even the dust ruffle.

As I was lifting the mattress, I saw it. Another handgun. I’d been sleeping on top of a loaded handgun for months. How long had it been there? Since we were married? Did this mean every time we’d had sex, I’d fucked literally INCHES away from a loaded gun? WTF?!

I called my mother and told her what I found. She said: “Tracy, what are you doing spending money on new sheets?”


Now the embarrassing part. I took him back. He broke the temporary order. He had his sister call me, until I had the cops call her and tell her to stop. Even with the threat of jail, he did not stop trying to contact me. He judged me well — chump.

He was sorry. So, so sorry. He was getting therapy. He’d give me a postnup, if I’d only try again. I totally had it wrong about him and the other woman, that was over. He never should’ve done it. She’s a horrible person. A bipolar alcoholic and she just couldn’t let him go. He was weak, but now he realized everything he had lost.

Those rages? How could I believe for a second that he would ever hurt me? Those threats? He didn’t recall. Let’s not dwell on it. Did he mention he’s in therapy? Really, you can call the therapist and check. We could meet on neutral ground, at the therapist’s.

Tears. Sobbing. Regrets.

Perhaps I had overreacted.


I know, how could I be so stupid?

Well, what would you rather believe? That he was sorry — or that he was a con? That you were loved —  or that you were in danger?

Yeah, Tracy, but the GUNS. It’s one thing to fall for his reconciliation bullshit, but you did it with loaded GUNS around! How could you ignore their DANGER?

How does anyone? How does my living with an arsenal make me different than millions of other American households? If I was fucked up, I was in good company.

Why should I take the threat of domestic violence seriously when a therapist didn’t take it seriously, cops didn’t take it seriously, and my own mother didn’t take it seriously?

Some sobering statistics. A gun in a domestic violence situation makes it five times more likely that the woman will be killed. American women are 16 times more likely to be killed by a gun than women in other developed nations. Domestic abuser background checks save lives. States that require background checks on all handgun sales see 47 percent fewer women shot to death by intimate partners than states that do not have this requirement.

I’m lucky I wasn’t killed. And I’m lucky that in my darkest moments I didn’t kill him or myself.

Even as I type this sentence, I can hear my ex defend himself. That I’m crazy. That I’m painting him as some sort of monster. That I’m an idiot to believe he’d ever hurt me. I still half believe I’m that idiot. Who stays with such a person? Maybe that’s why I didn’t write about the guns for 6 years. I wonder what kind of self doubts all those dead women had.


Here are my regrets:

That I didn’t call the cops when he broke that first no contact order. The consequence would’ve been immediate jail time. Which could’ve eventually meant disbarment for him. Same with a permanent PFA and domestic abuse charges.

It could’ve gone on his record and spared some other woman. But I did a cold calculus. I dropped the PFA to get my divorce settlement. I figured an unemployed, armed psycho with a grudge was more dangerous than me eating the zero-legal-consequences shit sandwich.

Here is where I’m kidding myself that it would’ve mattered:

These assholes get hired anyway.

Rob Porter, case in point. Colbie Holderness and Jennifer Willoughby both testified to the FBI that Porter was a wife beater. Porter got his plum White House gig anyway.

I wasn’t surprised by this. I was surprised that the government talked to them at all.

Where’s my ex these days? In a high-level government job with a Q-level security clearance. I was his last ex-wife and no one interviewed me on his background check.


So, Esther, were you right? Does my story go “beyond infidelity”? Well yes, I don’t think every cheater is a  psychopath with a gun collection.

I do think infidelity is a power trip, however.

One set of rules for you, another for me. I get an arsenal. You get zero. I get a smorgasbord of pussy. You get fealty to me.

There are so many ways to threaten and intimidate. Hide a gun under your bed, or tell your partner Schmoopie fucks better than they do. You love them, but you’re not in love with them. Do you want to keep this family together? Do you want to see your children again? You’ll go along….

Until you don’t. And that’s when things get dangerous.

800,000 fed up people marched on Washington last Saturday, armed not with guns, but with stories. Who knows how this ends? Maybe all the tiny-dicked gun nuts get to keep their arsenals, but it sure looks like they’re losing the narrative.

That’s when things get dangerous. That’s when things change.

Tell your stories. End the silence.

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.
  • Tracy – I think many of us keep a little chewed-up-but-not-yet-digested piece of the shit sandwich locked up somewhere waiting for the right time to talk about it. What you’ve done so eloquently once again is share that corner and embolden us to to tell the rest of the story. Thank you.

    • ^^truth. I know exactly what little piece of shit sandwich I still have tucked away like a squirrel storing nuts for winter. Friends and family tell me I’m strong, but this reminds me of how weak I was. It’s embarrassing and demeaning, but I have to own it and realize that it reveals more about my ex than it does about me. And that I can decide whether I ever share it or not.

      • Me too. Someday I may reveal the depths of my ex-husband’s depravity, and how he made his inability to deal with shortcomings my problem.

        We stay silent and go along because owning the truth is not only terrifying; it’s also putting a big spotlight on our inability to see when we’re being abused for sport.

        • Chutes, “inability to see when we’re being used for sport,” exactly my experience.
          I can feel my face becoming flushed as I’m typing, and thinking about it.
          Looking back I see it so clearly now.
          A reflection on who they are to cruelly use our feelings for their entertainment.

    • Definitely. I actually have a whole mouldering cabinet of those, triple locked, encased in steel, and triple locked again, but I know the damned combination all too well.

  • Your blog may be the first time a victim of an NPD, sociopath and/or disordered individual sees themselves in your words. That intial glimpse beyond the narcissistic fog, the cognitive dissonance and utter confusion and desperation of months or years on hopium is a life line there for the grabbing. Providing this safe space filled with information, emotional support and practical tips for survivors to take those first tentative steps forward is tantamount to saving lives. I can imagine it’s tempting to leave the trenches months or years after you yourself have climbed out of the depths of hell, but your commitment to shining this light for newly identified victims is incredibly inspiring and a testament to your strength. I am an attorney, a former prosecutor in the domestic violence and sexual assault bureau and an advocate for women now in private practice-I am also a survivor of narcissistic abuse. Every single week a new client stumbles into my office with her unique story, which she doesn’t realize is connected to the chorus of thousands of others who have encountered one of these monsters masked as a human being. When I shine the light on his (or her) behaviors and reframe it as abuse, inevitably the person breaks down in tears that even one person has recognized and validated their pain and experiences. Leaving these disordered people requires enormous strength, but it also requires the support of professionals in the legal profession, the court system, law enforcement and mental health to recognize victims of narcissistic abuse and to support the victims and their children. As your experience (unfortunately) confirms, too many times the system fails victims. I applaud you for sharing your whole story because if one woman reads it and realizes she is a victim of domestic violence you may have saved a life today. When women finally find the strength to leave their abusers is when they are most vulnerable because it’s the losing control over the victim which often pushes the abuser over the edge to perpetrate physical violence, even if the abuse prior to that point has “only” been emotional and mental abuse. When I realize I’m dealing with a disordered person on the other side I will not commence a divorce action without a safety plan in place. I insist on it, because I too experienced the escalation of a previously non violent abuser to aggressive and threatening, stalking and unstable behaviors when I finally had the courage to leave him.
    Keep doing what you’re doing it’s an invaluable public service.

    • Agree. Separation violence is real and documented. Hence why more attention needs to be paid to emotional and psychological abuse by the courts. Many of us stayed because we knew our cheater would assault us.

      As Gavin de Becker says, intuition is the strongest and most reliable predictor of potential violence. I had that intuition, did MOSAIC and got an 8. I immediately started volunteering at a woman’s shelter to learn the system. Sure enough that and escape planning paid off. I got lucky though, he never acted out his rage physically, the other women did not as I learned when I filed.

      If only the therapeutic and legal professions took separation violence more seriously, more women can escape their abusive relationships safely and securely

    • “… that even one person has recognised and validated their experience.” Exactly. So well expressed, Hope.

      That’s how Tracy and Chump Nation saves lives. Giving chumps the recognition and validation that it’s NOT US, it’s them, what they do is not ok. If we don’t come across humans in our physical orbit that will do that (hello ” unconditional positive regard we all bring issues to the marriage” counsellors) – or when online we find a stream of Perelesque bullshit – THAT’S when our cheater’s “narrative” wins the day. The narrative that says WE are crazy, faulty, worthless … ignorable.

      #changethenarrative #infidelityisabuse #metoo

    • I will say that I am very fortunate to live in a rural county where the sheriffs department was very serious about prosecuting my first husband. I had NO problem getting protective orders, anti stalking notices, having the cops drive by my house and check in on me on a fairly regular basis. My community got my kids Christmas presents that first year.

      Not to say it was perfect, but there was no “walk him around the block and cool him off and send him home” bullshit. For that, I was grateful.

    • Well said, Hope! These services also need to be put in place for male victims of narcissistic abuse and domestic violence. There are many male victims, and they have nowhere to go, no one to support them, and no one to advocate on their behalf. I am a woman who fled infidelity, narcissistic abuse, and domestic violence. I am so grateful for the services tbat were available to me because I am a woman. I believe we can offer support to men without diminishing the need or capacity to support women. I have a friend whose ex-wife is extremely violent, and manipulative. She is a female batterer who thinks nothing of beating her men in front of her sons. Counsellors failed to report, even when she admitted it to them; lawyers refused to bring her to book; and child protection services are slow to act – at least in part because she is a woman. She knows this, too: one day she beat my friend, then told him, “Go ahead! Call the police. Who do you think they will believe? I’M the woman.”

  • Tracy,

    Yes, you have left bread crumbs in your blog that when I read your story I was not surprised. What is heartwarming is that you trust us, members of CN with your story and your political views. Thank you! You had a crap therapist there, I am a therapist and there were some cardinal ethical rules broken.

    My ex was cruel, subtly cruel and controlling, the rules did not (and still do not) apply to him. I was only hit or slugged a few times in over 26 years with him and boy did I feel like it was my fault. The last time he slugged me I had an ovarian cyst. He slugged me in the gut. A 6’5″ guy slugging his 5′ wife. I left in a daze, came back later and he wrapped his arms around my weeping body and said “Did you call the cops? Tell them I’m a wife beater”? Chilling. Guns, he had been starting to collect guns. The first one he bought two days before the Brady Bill went into effect. He still has it, unregistered, transported across state lines. We never had a gun safe. I took him to court and argued in front of the judge that he needed to verify to me (it was in the JOD) that he had a gun safe, to ensure the safety of my kids and their friends. I paid for that hearing, he did not have to prove he has a gun safe.

    We don’t often talk about guns and DV in polite society. The darkest moments of infidelity for me where when my mind was racing and I could understand the power of evil, of hatred, and that I felt that. I wished him dead. I don’t wish him dead now I’m in that middle ground, I wish that he has a better relationship with his kids, and continues to pay me the money awarded.

    Thank you for the raw, authentic post of your experience. Like the students from Parkland, they advocate to not cover up gun violence, not to use euphemisms, no excuses. They call bullshit. Chump Lady calls bullshit on infidelity.

    • No one should ever have to say “I was only hit or slugged a few times.” OMG.

  • I grew up on a ranch, hunting and fishing, then became a cop. Guns have always been in my life. I don’t fear guns, I fear bad people with guns.

    When I kicked the fuckwit out for serial lying and cheating, I had a fleeting thought that he was so angry and upset that I’d seen him for who he is, that he might use his gun to harm me. He threatened suicide, which wouldn’t have been funny, but I knew he was such a narcissistic psychopath that he would never harm himself.

    Do guns in volatile, emotional situations raise the risk of violence bar? Absolutely. Does that mean we should abolish gun ownership? Absolutely not.

    • “I don’t fear guns, I fear bad people with guns.” This – exactly.

      I grew up with an Army officer and Airborne Ranger. He has a collection of weapons that he cleaned and cared for almost as often as he shined his military shoes and brass. Fear? Never. He taught me to respect the weapon and what is has the potential to do when used incorrectly. They were also locked in a safe.

      After I discovered the dbag’s extensive searial cheating, the thing he threatened? Suicide. Funny though, as I sensed something increasingly wrong in the weeks before discovery, I had hidden the one pistol and shotgun that we had had in the house for over 15 years. I couldn’t put my finger on why I did that until DDay, as he tore the closet apart screaming at me while looking for the shotgun.

      I didn’t fear that the dbag would do anything to me or our daughter, but after just 7 months of the divorce being finalized, he got caught cheating on the soulmate ho he left us for, who kicked him out of her house, too. Weeks later, he broke into her house and almost killed some new married random soulmate that she had in her bed. He has a professional boxing license and, I discovered, a love of illegal steroids.

      I didn’t know this person at all anymore. I had a PO in place within 48 hours of finding out he was in jail with three felonies, made sure my daughter had an emergency PO for zero visitation, and I drove to my parents house. My Dad brought out his weapons that were small enough for my hand, yet could drop a crazed 6’3”, 200 lb idiot, if needed. He never approached my home, but I knew (and he likely did, too) that I was not going to live in fear, and that my father would help ensure that for me and my daughter.

      Some months after his arrest, I heard something or someone in my backyard at about 2 am and it woke me up. Zero hesitation. Got up, got the weapon, went by the backyard door and cocked it. That sound alone would stop many in their tracks. It ended up being a raccoon, but I knew, felt, and experienced in that moment that if necessary, I wasn’t going down or letting anyone in my home or near me or my daughter easily, or mearly because I was unprotected.

      I do think there could be more strict policies and various age limitations in place for types of weapons, tougher background checks, and honestly, just some basic mental assessments combined with background checks, to include social media accounts. But seriously, when drunk drivers kill, we blame the person and don’t move to ban vehicles or alcohol. When a bomber kills, we blame the person and don’t move to ban all potentially explosive materials.

      When unstable gunmen kill, we blame…the guns and the Second Amendment? It’s still about the wrong people getting them, and how. We can policy ourselves into oblivion, but there’s always someone selling. When police or FBI are notified about the same person – what was it? 39 times? – and they still manage to kill with weapons, the focus might be off.

      • The problem is, “bad people with guns” were GOOD people with guns…until the day they weren’t.

        • Right you are!

          Yep. Everyone can lose their right to drive. If they don’t pass TWO tests, they can’t drive. If they have certain medical problems, they can’t drive. Two many moving violations, can’t drive. Too many unpaid parking tickets, can’t drive. Cars have to be regularly inspected. In fact, driving and cars are the most regulated thing in most countries. I never understand why someone would want to even bring them up in favor of no gun control.

          Alcohol is regulated by age. Where and when it can be sold. There are dry towns where it can’t be sold at all. Their are towns where you can’t advertise you are selling alcohol. Anyone who sells alcohol as a right, just on suspicion, to not sell you alcohol. And, in some states, a bartender who over-serves a visibly intoxicated patron can be held criminally liable for that patrons. Do we hold the person who sold the gun reasonable?

          • Yes. Gun manufacturers and firearms dealers are sued all the time. In some cities, laws keep them from selling firearms at all.

            • Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA): manufacturing industry could not be held liable in civil court for crimes “resulting from the criminal or unlawful misuse” of firearms or ammunition.

              They can be sued it they KNOWINGLY sold it to someone who they KNEW would commit a crime after the sale of the gun. OR if they broke the law making or selling the product.

              And what’s all the time? Please cite all of these cases where they are sued “all the time’?

      • I’m glad we can have a conversation about it. No one is going to get 100 % compliance with bad actors not getting guns. But that’s not an argument for having no net at all.

        • My ex is afraid of guns and never laid a hand on me, but I recently discovered a piece of writing he posted online that describes his fantasy of kidnapping, torturing, raping and humiliating me, then leaving me for dead. So God only knows what he is capable of. I’ll sure as hell shoot him dead if he comes near me. And he knows it. He is a public defender who once had to defend a woman who shot her abusive husband in the head, so I imagine that gives him pause. I was raised inTexas with a “give ’em an an inch, they’ll take a mile” gun-loving father. I got a second amemendment primer and a membership to the NRA for my 18th birthday. He taught me responsibility through his many lessons on how to be a respectful and safe gun owner. He is teaching my children the sane. He is the kindest, most gentle man I know. Not everybody has a guide like that in life. He certainly didn’t, yet he came out a principled, faithful spouse, and a caring, supportive father to two girls. When Columbine happened, I asked him what I should tell my “yankee” friends at my East Coast college. He said, “tell them it’s the price of liberty.” That rationale fell as flat on me then as it does now. My dad has a large collection of guns he treats with loving attention. He hasn’t bought an AR-15 (yet) but if he did, I wouldn’t begrudge him of it. But that’s because he has passed my 49 year long background test. So no, this debate is not about taking away all your guns. It’s about living in a society where individuals need to prove some level of fitness to own and operate dangerous machinery. No, you shouldn’t need a license for a hammer, but you do to operate a forklift. It’s about voting in a democracy where a powerful lobbying organization is able to leverage enormous amounts of money to shout down voters and frame an all or nothing non-debate. I appreciate the role the NRA plays in safeguarding our right to bear arms, and all the good it does educating owners and their offspring. But I sure as hell don’t appreciate them leading the charge to attack young victims of violence speaking up for their constitutionally-protected right to a safe school environment.

          • There was a report [cant remember source]saying a person who creates a lot of violent art,writing, sketches and conceals it is more of an indication of violent behavior than video games. You are right to be concerned to find his “fantasies”

      • Explain why any civilian needs to own a weapon that was designed for use by soldiers in an active war zone. One that can mow down a roomful of people without reloading. That’s the issue.

        • Because there are civilians in other parts of the world who are under military rule precisely because they are not equipped to resist.

          But this is not what this particular discussion is about.

          • exactly: that is not what this discussion is about. if our house is on fire, do we need to compare it to the neighbors house, also burning.. ? there is no logical answer to the question of why a civilian needs a military grade weapon in this country. so many levels of fuckery. and it is not music, video games, or lack of parenting that is creating monsters with guns. its entitlement, mental illness, psychopathic tendencies and pure selfishness. look at the history of the NRA and gun laws in the US.
            reeks of fear, discrimination, racism, and intolerance.
            in view of recent and historical events, every gun owner should submit their guns for a holding period and mental health checks should be done. we need new rules and new ways asap.

  • The biggest regret I have with my divorce is not coming clean regarding the abuse. My ex owns guns and I knew if I did not get him out of the home, I was going to be seriously hurt. My family and friends suspected but I denied it.

    Due to the abuse that he says never occurred, I still have PTSD flashbacks even with years of therapy. He is still abusing, now using the children as pawns in his sicko game.

    What the general public does not realize, the infidelity is a small part of the abuse that is occurring inside the home.

    Thank you for sharing your story CL, you are mighty!

  • Same. Same. Same!!!! The similarities are astounding … and yes, my ex is a psycho as well. He assaulted me, in front of the kids. The police were called, they told me to get a civil protective order. So I marched myself to court & went through the process. In Ohio I received it ex parte (without him being there) but a hearing was set. Apparently he didn’t injure me badly enough, and he was in danger of losing his job (he is a “public servant”. I put that in quotes because it’s laughable). When the hearing came up, my attorney argued with me that I needed to drop the order … he would lose his job, I would have no money for support, and I would have to argue that he intended to hurt me and KNEW that his actions would result in harm to me. Even though he had pushed me down, and then (because I was able to get him out of the house & get the door shut) he slammed his shoulder into the door, which slammed into me and then slammed me into the wall, all the while screaming profanities at me that involved threats & saying “it’s my fucking house you cunt!” In front of the children, who were terrified. Thankfully I was in the back hallway & was able to get my feet against the wall to push the door closed & get it locked. I still have nightmares about what would have happened if I weren’t in that hallway and he had been able to get to me. He had to relinquish all of his guns when the order went into effect, which sent him into a rage of calling my family & our friends to rail about my audacity & clear level of insanity. He would NEVER hurt me. By the way, when the assault happened I called my mother and told her I was calling the police, and she said to just “let it go”. The police did nothing, and later in the divorce proceedings I was informed (by the magistrates office) that the police should have arrested him immediately & prosecuted. But since none of that happened, and there was no police report, I was left to argue that I had been injured intentionally and there was a threat. Nobody else saw it as anything more than anger & “typical” divorce drama. I dropped the order and lived in fear for years that he would hurt me. He did stupid things just above breaking the law to let me know that he was watching … he used our joint checking account for years, and would cross my name out & write “dead” next to it. Be seen driving through my neighborhood & pulling into my driveway. Follow me into gas stations & watch me. All of which I called & reported, but none of which was illegal. The cops would call him & tell him to stop. Which didn’t work. The ex had a concealed carry permit, so he had a gun in his car at all times. We are far out enough from the process being finalized that I’m not too worried for my safety anymore. All professionals (my counselor, the kids counselor, the police) feel that if he were going to come after me, he would have done so already. His MO is to just try & scare me, and he still lets me know that he’s watching. But it’s vecoming much less frequent than before. My kids are a nervous wreck any time the ex & I are in the same room because they think he’s going to hurt me. I make sure it is a RARE occurrence that we are together, and when we are that it is in a public place. Which still doesn’t stop him from harassing me. I’m sure that’s a valid fear for them based upon the things that he says when they are with him. Last visit he told the youngest that our oldest had told him that I beat them & abuse them & he wanted details. Trying to turn the kids against each other is a typical narc tactic. Also during the last visit he took my 10 year old to the gun range to shoot his arsenal of weapons (which included his 45 … etf?). He’s already taken the 12 year old, but I had no idea 10 was old enough. I have sole custody so he should NOT be doing this, but it’s impossible to try & enforce that.

    The court system is an absolute nightmare & a joke. They fail to recognize & protect victims, and it is so frustrating. I have also read it takes an abused woman on the average 7 attempts to leave the abuser before she actually gets out. But when she does (or he, not being sexist here) there is no support and limited resources. The legal branch (police, attorneys, magistrates, judges) typically don’t believe the abused, or don’t follow proper protocol to make sure that the abused is protected. I was even told that my situation wasn’t bad at all, I should see what they dealt with yesterday!!!! My take away was to make sure that I was bleeding the next time an incident occurred, which I feared for a long time would happen and thankfully never did. Having to live like that is insane.

    • You are right. The court system is a joke. I had the pleasure of attending domestic violence court because of my exes antics and it was eye opening.

      My ex and his family was involved in a shady business deal. The loser was mad and followed my kids around, making pictures and my ex and his OW went and tried to get a protection order against him. I found out because I have friends that work at the courthouse and they were smart enough to call me and let me know what was going on. Bless them because my kids have been conditioned to not tell me things and hide things just like their “father”.

    • I’m so sorry you are going through this. And yes so much is excused as “divorce drama.”

      As for the justice system — I think we should be careful, myself included, not to damn the system. There are flaws, there is systemic injustice, but there are also people who CARE.

      I got that PFA and the women lawyers in that courthouse were very courteous to me. I’ll tell you who else helped me — MidPenn Legal Services. I paid ZERO legal costs for those PFAs. Years later, when I inherited some money, I donated back to them what I estimated I cost them.

      Michael Goldberg was my lawyer. The guy’s a saint. Last year, I went to visit him to say thank you. Told him about CL, even gave him a book.

      There are GOOD PEOPLE out there. There is HELP. We just need to know we’re not alone.

      Anyone in this situation should check out who in the US can put you in touch with resources, legal clinics near you. Also, it’s a data base of divorce, custody, and DV law.

    • It’s because it’s men who do it and other men let them get away with it.

  • So many guns- parts to automate guns I did not know he owned. I didn’t have the will to leave- until he
    “ accidentally”. Shot one off in the house, Another gun I did not know he had.
    He was supposed to be putting our 4 yr old to bed. I was below one floor in kitchen putting dishes in dishwasher. The gun was “accidentally” aimed at kitchen by the dishwasher. Bullet lodged in floor – to this day.
    My son came downstairs wide eyed and said “ don’t be mad mommy…. it was an accident”….. then the x comes down stairs yelling it was an accident ….. I was so defeated, spent, I knew this was no accident….kid normalized these constant “strange” no abusive episodes…. I fear everyday this is how my sons life is being controlled today….. NO one thought a thing of it…… just my response to said action was “ crazy” “overblown”……. shit sand which I eat every day.

    • OMG, I hope you’re out of this situation. No one should live with this kind of instability and fear.

      • I am out, took me 4 mos to file- 18mos. divorce- back in court for another almost 3 yrs. After having me arrested several times for DV – I was the problem in the courts eyes. He has my now 13 yr . 70% of the time. Uses his $$$ to control. Thing is per lawyers; they can’t do anything until he fucks up with child in major way…. but then I feel it will be to late.

  • Wow, Tracy. I am sitting here with tears streaming down my face… because I am so sorry that you went through that… and because I can so relate to many aspects of what you experienced. I still cannot comprehend WHY we Chumps feel ashamed and embarrassed when WE are not the guilty party. I still struggle with this albeit not as bad as before…

    “I’m lucky I wasn’t killed. And I’m lucky that in my darkest moments I didn’t kill him or myself.”

    • Wow, Tracy is right.

      Tears were streaming down my face too ~ unbelievable that you went through that ~ but believable that you did.

      Thank God for you Tracy. Thank you for all you do.

    • Guns give me the heebie-jeebies which is why during Cheater’s series of D-days I brought any household weaponry to my mother’s home. Passions were running high and I didn’t trust cheater or myself. That being said, I worry that these school children in all their despair are being used. The system and individuals failed them big time. Many of the laws and processes that could prevent these tragedies are already on the books…Some of them for decades. They were worthless. What’s different? Make the laws broader, harden the schools, stiffen the penalties if you must but address the issues that evidently make it easy to devalue human life. Lack of connection, community, violence in video games, movies, exaltation of thuggery and disrespect in music and other media, lack of fathers, untreated mental illness, erosion of the rule of law?
      The recent bomber psychopath in the news evilly demonstrated once again that you can do horrific damage resulting in loss of life without shooting a fire arm. And he of an allegedly stable family. No easy solution.

    • So… having had more time to read the responses and reflect on this very important post, I would like to share a story. Not about me, but about a family friend.

      She was (is) a nurse. She and my Mom worked together and were friends. I grew up with her kids. We were all in Girl Scouts together.

      He was apparently physically and psychologically abusive for years but, of course, no one knew that… There was always an explanation for the bruises. In hindsight, they didn’t necessarily make any sense but… you know how it goes. In the words of @outwest, we don’t discuss these things in “polite society.”

      Long and short: they moved to North Carolina. He had an (one? more than one?) affair. She confronted him. They argued. She shot and killed him. She can’t remember the details.

      He is dead. She is serving a life sentence in prison. Her daughter is alone in the world. Her son committed suicide while she was incarcerated.

    • Yasss! Sing it, woman!! Thank you for your bravery and willingness to share this with us ????????

  • As a gun owner, I take my hat off to those who marched and let their voices be heard.

    When I was 18, I got robbed at gunpoint of $17.00 that was in my wallet….but it wasn’t the money. This piece of trash enjoyed the control he held over me with a cheap Hi Point pistol. When this deadbeat got caught, he went back to prison for the 4th time. He was a convicted felon who actually bought it at a store because the system had failed.

    I own 3 guns. A .38 Revolver that is concealed carry, a .22 rifle that I used to teach my daughters firearm safety, and a 12 gauge sawed off pump shotgun under my truck seat. Ten years ago, as I was changing a flat tire on the side of the highway, a car load of punks stopped and said they needed money. When I pulled my shotgun from under the seat….they took off. This is the only reason I own guns:


    I don’t know what the answer to all this senseless violence and tragedy is…. but I admire these young people for pressuring and forcing it to become an issue. Something has got to be done.

    • I totally agree.

      I get having a gun for protection. I don’t get AR-15s.

      • This story has just made me realise that my whole family lived with the threat of guns for many many years.
        I live in Australia. We lived on a large farming property. My dad had lots of guns. Many rifles and a hand gun. All registered and used on the farm at times. I grew up shooting. My first gun was a pellet rifle when I was 7 or 8. Then got a 22 handed down to me when I was about 10 or 11… I used it to shoot rabbits ( don’t remember ever getting one). I was allowed to access it whenever I liked and trailed around the farm, often with my little sisters in tow.
        My dad was an alcoholic. Some times when he was drunk he would get out the hand gun and threaten to kill himself, it was always loaded.
        Sometimes he would threaten to kill others, I’m guessing my mother was one of them.
        We were all terrified he would either shoot himself or us. Nobody ever spoke of it after the event.
        My dad was also very friendly with the police. They loved him and would often drive him the 45 miles home when he was too drunk to drive.
        I can remember so clearly the day our Prime Minister announced the gun reform in our country. My dad complained, but handed them all in.
        I remember feeling relief… like a great burden had been lifted from my shoulders, feeling safe.
        I found out a little while later that he had been given special licence by the police to keep the hand gun…
        It was like ok…on guard again.
        After my parents divorced I spent a year at home “looking after” my dad.
        He would go missing for days at a time ( pre mobile phones) and I would be left on the property on my own ( I was 17). I would get so scared that I would sleep with the loaded handgun under my pillow!
        One night my dad turned up at about 2am and snuck into the house. I woke up to a noise and would have shot him if I hadn’t realised at the last minute it was him.
        Eventually the farm was sold and my dad had no reason to have the gun so under the law he had to hand it in. A great relief to us all.
        I guess my point is… guns are bloody dangerous. Our laws HAVE made a huge difference. Sure, people still get hold of them but very few ever kill anyone. Farmers are still allowed to have them and there have been a lot who have killed themselves and occasionally their families with them. ( due to depression, another story). Most of these people would have been considered sane, good members of the community. Not all mental illness is obvious.
        Your story reminded me of all this.
        Long forgotten till now.
        Thank you.

      • Tracy – thank you.I needed to read this today. After the Florida shooting, my adult son, who went to the gun range regularly with his father, asked, “Where do they get these AR-15s?” I said, “Are you kidding me? There is one 3 feet from me as I’m speaking to you. Along with the other 49 firearms that I catalogued and reported to my attorney. Sweet cheaterman loves his guns! He would “joke” that he was preparing for when the government goes overboard, but the amount of ammo he stashes belies his “sense of humor.”
        I’ve got all the classic minimizing statements down: “It’s a collection.” “They each do different things.” “They have sentimental value.” (The same guy who had the ’emotional’ affair & gifted ’emotional’ vibrators & thongs likes ‘sentimental’ weapons. LOTS of them.) He has dozens of scopes, sites, and a silencer or two (very useful on the range, right?). I have them locked up, but he knows where they are and if he really wanted to get to them, I’m sure he could. He’s a handyman. When I made the police report when he was searching traceless poisons online last fall, the officer who came to take the report asked to see the collection. Even he was surprised at the sheer number. You can’t mistake surprise on a jaded cop’s face.
        I marched in our small town. The teens – 2 who I am fortunate enough to know – were eloquent and passionate. It was heartening and I was proud to be in the number. I used to be anti-gun. I learned how to handle a gun safely when it was clear my spouse & child were going to be sport shooting. I get the laws, but there has to be some sanity on the part of those of us who claim to be sane. Unfettered access to anything that lethal isn’t healthy.
        And there’s still an AR-15 far too close to me.

        • Emotional… vibrators. I know this is a serious column, but I still need to clean my monitor from the spit take.

      • The only difference between an AR-15 and any semi-automatic rifle is cosmetic. It is no more deadly than any other semi-automatic weapon…or a pistol… or a shotgun… or any other firearm.

        • I’d agree with you with respect to purpose. Guns are designed to kill, after all, but much of what’s used for homeowner defense and for hunting fire significantly lower velocity ammo. This makes a difference in the effective lethality of the weapon. For a lower velocity weapon, the bullet has to hit an organ, go through a major blood vessel. The high velocity weapons don’t need to hit a specific area. They’re designed to create shock waves that damage nearby tissue. In other words, you need only to hit the general target, not a specific part of the target.

          In my opinion, these high velocity weapons should fall under the same restrictions as fully automatic weapons: restricted to military use only.

    • My husbands loaded gun went off by accident he got mad and put order protection on me but gun was taken away he got gun charge. How can I sue him. I told him many times to get rid of gun. He was not home when gun went off and he got gun charge fro having illegal gun

  • Thank you for sharing your story. It makes my heart ache. I think it is extremely important for chumps to realize that they are at the greatest physical risk once they leave their cheater. During five years and roughly $100k in marriage and individual therapy, this was never mentioned to me. I had been with cheater-ex for 28 years and not one violent incident. Three days after finding yet another escort site on his phone and kicking him out for good, he came home and tried to kill me. I would have never expected that kind of reaction. Once they lose control over the chump, they will do whatever they need to gain that control back. Safety needs to be discussed when considering leaving a cheater.

    • Absolutely. No one told me either. Part of my book has a section on “How to Leave a Scary Wingnut.” People need to know. It’s ugly when they lose control.

  • Great big hugs to you Tracy. You are indeed the mightiest of the mighty. You came out of that scary place and put together a site that has not only saved the sanity of thousands of chumps, but no doubt has saved many, many lives.

    Hats off to you, Girlfriend.

    I am a gun owner, and I agree with you on registration and background checks.

    The gun in my story was cheater ex’s. He told me that he was thinking about doing a murderer/suicide. Quote “When I feel depressed, I feel like getting my gun and killing you and the kids, and then killing myself.” That’s when I started to make preparations to get my kids and I out. I took that gun apart and hid the pieces in different areas of the house. I took the ammo down to the basement and poured water over it. There was no extra money, so I started working extra shifts and saving the money, telling the ex it was for Xmas. Eventually I made him take the gun to his parents house.

    When I had enough saved, my kids and I moved out to an apartment. We moved in one afternoon, with the help of friends. During the move, I found the new box of ammo he had bought.

    With the help of a women’s advocate, I was able to get an order for protection for myself, but not my kids. When we divorced, the judge refused to grant supervised visitation, which gave cheater ex access to my boys. I had no way to protect them.

    You all know the rest of the story. Cheater ex self destructed and took my youngest son with him. Cheater ex left behind his equally crazy nest of narcs family who hate my guts. So I own a gun. I like to continue to breathe.

    Even in this “enlightened” age, protection from an abuser is a crap shoot.

    • Oh, my dear Tessie… (((hug)))

      Every time I talk about Chump Nation to anyone, which is fairly frequent, I always include your story to demonstrate the “seriousness” of the blog.

    • Oh Tessie … I’m pretty new on here, so I had no idea. I’m so sorry for everything you have gone through. My heart aches for you!! {{hugs}}

    • Love you, Tessie, and your willingness to share this terrible story, over and over.

    • I had no idea you were through somethimg so horrible. Hugs to you and your strength for sharing.

    • Tessie I am so sad for you. I’ve lost a child too – sending love.

      I wonder if the Time’s Up movement, which had its moment at the Golden Globes with female actors from Big Little Lies, will do anything to change things?

      That was really hard to watch – triggers galore – but it is making the chump/psychopath story very public. Unless people don’t get that truth is stranger – and crueller – than fiction.

      • Hugs MamaMeh, I don’t believe there is any greater pain than losing a child. So sorry.

        • You may find it hard to believe Tessie – but for me this pain is greater.

          My three year old daughter died suddenly in an accident – didn’t feel a thing. She was happy and knew she was loved, and she loved us. And then she was gone, and we just had to get used to the hole in our lives. And the heartache.

          There was no mindfuckery, no destruction of identity and memories, no blaming me. No nightmarish existential crisis for me and my kids. Just simple, raw grief.

          But this … over ten years of lies and betrayal, revealed in a late night phone call. Sex with hundreds of people. Of course there’s no need to be sorry because, yep, i wasn’t meeting his needs. Uses the dead daughter story to add an extra layer of poignancy to his sad sausage poor me narc narrative.

          I can’t imagine your pain though Tessie, certainly not simple grief in your case. All mixed up for you in a big hellish mess. I’m so sorry for what you’ve suffered.

    • Tessie, YOU are the mightiest of the mighty. I thought of you as I wrote this. No one should ever have to endure what you’ve endured.

      • Hugs everyone. I thank you for your kind words. If telling my story can help save even one life, it helps to give my child’s death some meaning.

        Sociopaths don’t come with “dangerous” tattooed across their forehead, unfortunately. Don’t underestimate just how evil they can be. Please, do whatever you need to do to keep you and your kids safe.

  • Thank you again for common sense talk – on guns, domestic violence and the mindfuckery of infidelity. I appreciate some more insight into the scourge on American women – as a Canadian, I was not aware of some of the statistics you provided particularly in light of yesterday’s march.

  • Tracy. Thank you for that.
    I am a 2nd amendment supporter and I do not support the present narrative of gun control. However, I also survived a marriage where at the end (I was 15 1/2 years in) my husband beat the living shit out of me and threatened to kill me in front of our five kids and the county attorney told me I was going end up in a body bag if I didn’t get out.

    He wasn’t my cheater, he was my beater. I finally got my divorce, after making that mistake 18 years and 2 days before, and went on to marry my cheater after that. Yay me.

    And…. I asked the county attorney to drop the 2 felonies because I knew I’d need child support and didn’t think he’d be able to pay it with Two felonies.

    • I totally get this. I totally understand why you chose that. I’m sorry you were ever put in that position. It’s not right..

      • I am glad that you are bringing up the gun issue in relation to domestic violence Tracy. Selfishly it has been on my mind a lot lately. What your story and many others show is that while people fervently debate the guns, “professionals” don’t seem to take the people using them seriously. I am struck dumb by the police just brushing off your husband and not enforcing laws on the books for having an unregistered firearm because he speaks well.

        My fuckwit is one with an Arsenal. I have never been afraid because he never hit me. He does have a temper but it is usually directed at kicking inanimate objects or yelling although he did hit our teenage sons a few times.

        So after a recent murder suicide of a couple in the local news, I started posting on the forums wondering if I should be concerned. A few chumps said I should do things like contact local police and talk to domestic violence counselors but I am still hesitant because I think I will look crazy.

        I have been told that statistically the odds are low. The odds that I have breast cancer are low, but my doctor still wants to remove a lesion discovered in a mammogram because it would be bad if I were one of the 8 %.

        I don’t feel afraid even though fuckwit is well versed in guns and has a permit to carry but I do wonder if I am naive. I hope he wouldn’t risk his freedom and he wouldn’t jeopardize his right to own guns in the future. But can I ignore that never in a million years did I think he would commit adultery and abandon us?

        I read your story Tracy and see how yeah, you thought your fuckwit’s guns were normal. Me too. And he didn’t shoot you but he could have and you should have been listened too.

        I think the real issue we need to address is enforcing the laws on the books and treating mental issues. We need professionals to take our concerns seriously. Even if their was a law saying people with personality disorders can’t own guns, how do you get a narc diagnosed? They are clever and can avoid it. My narc has plenty of guns and he lies so a ban wouldn’t do much good if he did want to shoot someone.

        Even in the case of the recent murder suicide of the couple divorcing, there was no history of violence, no restraining order, the husband was an FBI agent and he stabbed his wife then shot himself. What are you going to do- ban knives?

        How do we understand the disordered and deal with them? No easy answer.

        • The threat is real. I knew a woman who was beaten to death by her spouse; Forensic Files did a show on it. Another woman I knew was shot to death by her boyfriend; a book was written about this one. A third friend died of leukemia before she could die from the arsenic her boyfriend was giving her in her water bottle. And I have a very small social circle.

      • And I totally get your end too.

        Thing is that I’m not stupid. Defiant and rebellious and stubborn, yes, but not stupid… yet BOTH times, I felt very stupid. My mom and my aunties saw my beater a mile away… but I was 19 and knew everything.

        I briefly considered getting a handgun, but knew my options would be dead or jail for killing him. He had a couple of hunting rifles. I never slept with a loaded gun under my mattress. I’d just be awakened at 5:00 a.m. with him screaming at me about where in the fuck was his comb??!! And my mother telling me to make sure it was always in the bathroom if I wanted peace.

  • OMG Tracy… I am so sorry. What you went through, what so many women went through and still go through. Ugh…
    I personally will be forever grateful that you started this blog. You made an awful situation bearable, shorter and with a better outcome. There were no guns in my situation and no physical abuse but boy was there other kind of abuse: mostly emotional and financial. I think the new narrative needs to state that cheaters are abusers and they might be on the lower spectrum of abuse but they are definitely on that spectrum. In my case, his mother got physically abusive towards me when I shone a bright light on who her son (and family) really was. Then it was him, just once, I got that protective order so quick he didn’t know what hit him, pun intended. Then like you I had to drop it to get something in return. He’s also a high powered asshole in DC. And to think that some of those disordered characters have guns…
    With this new narrative however, I truly believe victims will come sooner to the realization that there is abuse in their relationship and will accept less and less.
    I am also disgusted by the lack of concern by so many in these situations: the cops, your mother!
    I was in DC yesterday too, helping my daughter registering voters and I agree, we’re moving in the right direction.
    Thank you for sharing your story (again) You have NO idea how many people you’re helping. Sending hugs and love to you (and Paul)

    • I read the comment on the sheets as being, “use your money to get the hell out…not to buy new sheets”

      • I did too but it still did not address the gun issue 🙁
        Money to get out, yes of course… I’m in clear danger, and no reaction? I hope I’m wrong.

        • That struck me too, and I hope that Tracy will write to clarify it. Something like “Well, of course my mother meant why try to save your sunk costs… get OUT, not get new sheets.”

          • No, my mother delivered that line exactly as I reported it — why are you spending money on new sheets? Zero comment about the gun.

            I don’t think it registered with her. That said, she was not a big fan of his, and my parents were supportive during the divorce.

            My parents have been married for 50+ years. I don’t think my mother understood divorce, or DV, or what I was living. And I wouldn’t expect her to.

            Frankly, I find the gallows humor in this now. It was SUCH an off-base thing to say. (And I’m good with money. I wasn’t going to go crazy at Bed Bath and Beyond.) Sure, I needed money for a divorce — I also needed to get rid of those goddamn sheets — which is something only someone going through a divorce can understand.

            • Exactly what I did too but went further. When I found out the King (asshole/bed) was faulty, I got myself a queen (bed/me). Brand new bed, mattress,sheets, cover, duvet… It feels sooooo good but you’re right, very few people understood.

            • The sheets the linens, everything from the bathroom. In the end I got rid of the bed too as soon as I could afford to. Didn’t want any of his putrid stuff anywhere in the vicinity. I totally get it

              • I cannot wait to replace that bed – UGH! I get this, totally!

                My mom has a blind eye, but a lot of what I’m going through has triggered her issues with my own father. She told the cops who arrested him for battery that if they didn’t take him that night they would need to bring a body bag later. She meant it, too – I watched her fight back.

              • Oh yes, I got rid of the king size four poster bed that needed steps to get into as soon as I could. It originally came from my parents’ guest room but they wanted to get rid of it after my grandma fell out of it one night (it was a loooong drop). When I told my mom I was giving it to a charity and getting a new cheater free bed she grumbled since the bed had come from her. I told her I would drop the bed frame off at her house (she had no need of it and no place to put it) or the charity I had selected could come and get it as planned but it was NOT staying in my house! She wasn’t being mean, she and my dad had a great marriage and she just didn’t understand the need to take back my bedroom and make it my own cheater-free safe place.

  • Pope Francis, who is so kind as to seem out of place in the Vatican, encouraged young people yesterday to keep shouting. Tracy, keep singing.

    • Pope Francis is the leader of a festering, morally bankrupt organisation that is very good at platitudes and keeps millions under psychological lock and key. He can smile and be super-sweet and make the right noises, but zero has changed other than excellent PR.

      • I’m Catholic and wish we could limit the bashing of my faith. The Pope has made major changes by opening the doors to gays and check with the Dignity movement if you’re unsure. The few but infamous molesters are being outed and jailed as they should be, and far more than the rich powerful politicians, coaches and ministers of less famous denominations. I come to CL for help, not to feel defensive about my faith.

        This is hard enough as it is.

        • DOCTOR’s1stWife&Kids,

          I hear you.
          I was raised Catholic and I am now Mormon.

          It sucks when you go to a place for support and find contempt for your faith – sometimes it’s the only thing pulling you through.

          I was told that I shouldn’t have an issue with my husband’s cheating because I should expect him to have multiple wives. :eyeroll:

          1. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints hasn’t practiced polygamy in over 100 years.
          2. He wasn’t married to any of these women.
          3. He could have been excommunicated for this if he had been through the temple.
          4. Piss off anyone who wants to be a jerk to me.

          • I saw the same treatment of a Muslim woman on a spouses of sex addicts support group too.

            Seriously. This shit sucks enough.

  • Much love to you for going through this and writing about it.

    My Narcopath went off the deep end after the Marysville, WA school shooting. He started talking about understanding the shooter (meaning his girlfriend breaking up with him) and was talking about getting a gun. Never a direct threat that I could call the police for. Always two separate conversations. Always. He was that crafty.

    He was an old High school friend who, while on the charm channel, put me back together after I left a guy who was likely bipolar. He knew I couldn’t take rage and unpredictability anymore. He knew the guy had spent all my money and made me do everything while he was unemployed and played video games 80 hours a week. He knew all my vulnerable spots.

    He managed to stay mostly on the charm and pity channels until I moved across the state to be with him, giving up my lovely new apartment, and spent my small inheritance which had allowed me to escape my previous relationship.

    At that point he had me working full time, taking care of his special needs son, doing every single stitch of the housework and cooking and enduring “Mommie Dearest” style rages if I did it wrong. Even if I did precisely what he asked. WhIle I was doing all this he was sending 15000 texts per year to multiple women, many of whom were good friends with each other. I knew because he’d throw them in my face–“see all the other women who want me?”

    Any perceived transgression would have him threatening to kick me out which would have been a disaster as he kept me broke. After the death threats I did as generations of women have done before me, that is, put my head down, save my money, and tell him I was broke. I had to endure tirades about how badly I managed my money, but it worked. He kicked me out the same day I found a new place.

    Thank you Chump Lady and all the commenters for telling your stories. Knowing that all these people do the same bizzaro things has made me feel not so chumpy and stupid. Love to you all!

    • Please PLEASE tell me you are NO CONTACT with this guy. NC NC NC.

      That shooter comment is recent and terrifying.

    • I support gun control. I also think more needs to be addressed that most of these shootings caused by man unable to handle a breakup (parkland) marriage/divorce (the tx church where 22 were killed) or hates women (Santa barbara). To name a few. I’m tired of cavemen with a gun ruining all our safety. I’m tired of reading it’s feminisms fault men feel so powerless. We don’t control men. Or that she left and he felt abandoned so people wonder “what she did to him.” Read more about Nicole Brown Simpson and what she endured.

      Men need to do their own work on their emotional lives. I’m not gonna preach what that is cause I think men need their own emotionally healthy leader to inspire them.

  • My. Ex and his ap are suing myself and my daughter. All lies. But I’ve spent all my $$ defending myself in court. Almost three years. He was so successful that the judge cannot comprehend his violence or that the whole case is lies. They aren’t winning what they wanted which was money. But they’ve won I’m broke and emotionally and physically destroyed. I had TRO but the judge changed it to a no harmful contact order which means nothing. I can not believe how society believes these narcs and they literally get away with murder !

  • Jesus, Boss – I have chills. I wish I could be more eloquent, but just know you’ve struck me in the heart.

  • Mine has the arsenal. Has been violent. Has made the threats. Has been suicidal. Has self-admitted to the psych ward. Has assaulted my 8-yr old daughter. Has lost his jobs, security clearance, and mind and NOONE GIVES A FUCK no matter what I do.
    Maybe it’s like Tracy says – they don’t believe me? Making my life pure hell with no end in sight.

  • Thanks for sharing that Tracy. Honesty is liberating and it takes trust to be honest. Thanks for trusting us. I think you’ve hit on something here. I think at the heart of it all is a need for power and control. If you look deeper you find at the heart of that need for power and control is fear. Guns provide their owners with that illusion of control and power. Control over their safety and futures in the case of “responsible” gun owners and power & control over others in the case of those who abuse guns. The common element is fear. I also think if you dig deeper into the past of most of these cheaters you will also find fear and/or some early trauma that has never been diagnosed or otherwise dealt with. It’s not an excuse for their behaviour in any way. But I do find that hurt people hurt other people. I know this about guns and abuse but there is something going on here much deeper…

    • I think it’s malignant entitlement.

      I was struck by the Parkland shooter, really all these mass murdering assholes — whatever their pain (I’m a Texas, homeschooled virgin or WTFever) — they feel OTHER people deserve to be punished.

      I’m special and shouldn’t have to suffer and carry pain — ergo I’m allowed to compound pain upon pain, and be the Pain Master.

      Abusers feel entitled to abuse. Cheaters to cheat. Shooters to shoot.

  • All I can say is that I am so sorry. I read these words and the stories of others and there is nothing I can say. I am so sorry.

    • Thanks, but weirdly I don’t regret the experience. I mean, I do and I do not. It’s gotten me here, to this life, to this good place. I have a great life, a loving partner, my son is thriving.

      I think it’s important to anyone who’s struggling, whether it’s infidelity, or divorce, or DV, or the whole crap combo platter, to know that a GOOD LIFE is possible after this shit. PROBABLE. The worst day of my life now, is a bazillion times better than the best day I had with a psycho.

      As I said, it was a blip, a spot, a blemish in my life’s record. Sure it was traumatic, but it didn’t break me. And I have not suffered real tragedy. CN folks like Tessie have had real tragedy. I got out.


  • Every time in your story you got yo who was culturally mindfucked and couldn’t stand with you, I was just struck. Because that is what happens.
    Thank you every single day for who you have chosen to be.
    Thank you for your self honesty and your brace and courageous commitment to your life and others.
    Thank you for being sharp as a tack.
    Thank you for one more crystal clear sharpshooting article, that cuts through the bullshit, brings us together, and calls scrap out when you see it.
    Forever indebted to you waking upand writing every single article.

    • I love this TED talk. Many women stay in abusive relationships because they’re strong and think they can handle it, not because they’re weak.

      • I think many stay because they are afraid of being physically abused or killed. Separation violence is real and documented.

        • Yes, there are a multitude of reasons, but the one I mentioned was the most surprising to me, and the one that is most absent from the usual narrative.

          • I completely agree. I’ve seen this TED talk too and I totally related to the “I’m a strong woman married to a broken man” mindfuck. The RIC *is* that mindfuck.

              • I’ve just realised I’m a rainbow, or I was a rainbow. Many colours, many holes. My light and colour covered for him. I thought I was doing good, being strong, yes, holding it together. Like rowing a boat one handed. I can see it now. I couldn’t at the time as there was always lame excuses (lies) avoidance and denial from him. I expected too much of him? No he was just inadequate yet cast his net of blame far and wide.

  • Wow!…WOW!! This just ups your authority on this domestic abuse issue and the fact that the cheating is always accompanied by other controlling behaviours.

    Make no apologies! These cheaters never make any.

    “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. ” Frederick Douglass

    We spend too much time believing that others have our best interest at heart. The truth is that the only person who has your best interest at heart is you.

  • I love you, Tracy, and what you do for those of us who need a lifeline while they figure out that what they are experiencing is abuse. What a powerful story. And my disclaimer: I’ve got an antique handgun and a shotgun, both willed to me by my dad.

    My XH the substance abuser had a pistol he kept in his nightstand, loaded. And he was drunk every single night when he went to bed. As his addiction progressed, as he got angrier, as he started to forget things, as I started to find oxy pills in strange bottles, the gun worried me more and more. What finally tipped the balance for me was when a trio of junkies got on our property and stole stuff out of our vehicles. They came at 1 in the morning, setting off the motion alarm on the driveway. It didn’t sound like the usual alarms that were deer walking across the property; it was three beeps in sequence like someone walking up the driveway. Or three someones. I was awake, working in my basement office. I was scared, but I told myself it was deer. Then the next morning we noticed the the vehicles had been ransacked.

    XH was upset but didn’t want to do anything about it. I’m the one who called the police, and took my vehicle to the PD, where they collected items that might have fingerprints on them. turned out that 3 junkies had been robbing cars, garages and houses in the area. I told XH that he should start bringing the TV from the unlocked screen porch at night because we didn’t want to attract junkies deeper into our property. He refused, even after I explained that I was scared, shaken up, worried. He had a gun, after all. Even though he was 100% incapable of stopping a burglar if he woke up drunk in the middle of the night. Then there was the question of whether he would wake up and shoot me or one of the pets, mistaking us for intruders. This was the incident that pretty much ended the marriage because I could no longer ignore the face that he didn’t care about how I felt or whether his choices put me in danger. and of course, he would not stop drinking and using.

    Jackass carried a gun in the car and brought it in to his house every night. Just another red flag I ignored, figuring at least he was sober. Somewhere between low standards and no standards. But what I’ve come to see, given some years away from abusive men with guns, is the way that some people see guns as an extension of their personal space, their personal sphere of control A friend of mine had a cute cairn terrier that was attacked by a pack of dogs whose owners were “walking” them off-leash in the park. The dog was OK, but I’ve never forgotten what my friend said when I asked him why these people put others at risk by breaking the leash law: “A dog is an extension of their terrority. The leash limits that territory. The dog off the leash is about control.”

    That’s applicable to guns. A gun controls everything and everyone in range of the bullets. It’s an extension of power.

    • Sorry about typos…my laptop was having trouble, running slow while I typed. Tried to clean it all up but missed some stuff.

    • That’s a powerful observation. Yes, guns expand the control. I suppose that’s true of history of too, conquering heroes and all.

  • I’m sickened by the lip-service of all the ‘help’ there supposedly is for victims. It doesn’t exist. There is no help. Ask Tamara Seidle who was shot up the road from me in broad daylight in front of several police officers while her 9-yr old watched from inside her vehicle. He unloaded his gun, reloaded, walked around to the drivers side and shot her in the forehead. While they watched. It’s all on video.
    Her husband’s internal affairs file was over 600 pages long.
    This stuff happens every day and that’s NOT exaggeration.

  • I was threatened. I still cant really even comprehend it. I made a comment yesterday here that he was going to get rid of me anyway necessary. I know that now, but at the time i didn’t think too much of the incident with the gun. But somehow inside of me i knew something was wrong. When things started to get really crazy ( even before i knew anything about the affair)somehow i had the presence of mind to say something to someone. I really cant remember a lot still. The trauma has really messed with my memory. And im still very vague about things that happened on here because i …don’t really know why? Trauma. It is all just meant to terrorize you. But damn it i refuse to give up.

  • My stbxh has a concealed carry permit and a secret security clearance…there is a gun In his jacket pocket glove box under the mattress and a knife strapped to the leg of the bed. I sleep very little in a recliner in the living room with my .380 semi automatic in reach. I think when he gets the reality that half his shit belongs to me and he has to disclose and give up half…and there is no way around it…things are going to get real bad real fast.

  • Nothing like the horror of realising one could be one moment or a cross word away from instant death!
    A milder form in my case, but my ex said to me in a most cold and evil way as he was going out the door fuming, after I confronted him with yet more lies, that “people kill over stuff like this.” At first I thought it was because it was an explosive argument and confrontation, then I thought he might have meant me being the one to want to kill coz I was so angry, then I turned it round and thought he meant himself as he was about to lose everything and was giving me a veiled threat not to go digging or find out more about his deception, lies and untruths. I found our way more. I just didn’t tell anyone as his underlying psychopathic character was showing itself even before I immersed my self in research. I’m glad I stayed a step ahead. He shocked me to my core. I’d been living with a guy whose head was in constant fantasy land, who was using my respectability as veneer. He scared me. I held fast.

  • This is a powerful post, Tracy. And the therapist who told you needed to learn to “dialogue” in response to threats is a stain on humanity. This site and the first therapist who told me that I was experiencing abusive behavior are the things that pulled me out of my rage. That was the skein that I needed to untangle.

    I grew up in a military and hunting family and have been (safely) shooting since I was a kid. I owned a handgun when I met my ex. He’s in law enforcement and also has guns. I never felt threatened by them. And I never really felt threatened by him, even though he pretended to kill me on a regular basis. We’d be doing something normal together, like cooking dinner, and his demeanor would shift and he’d pretend to hit me (usually without making contact). He said he was running through work scenarios and practicing what he’d do if I was a bad guy who was trying to hurt him. He did this constantly, and I laughed it off. “Are you trying to kill me again?” I never felt comfortable with it, because shouldn’t he be treating me like I was on his side instead of viewing me through the lens of the enemy? Shouldn’t he be thinking about protecting me instead of harming me? Shouldn’t it turn his stomach to think about breaking my arm? But I’m a tough chick, I thought. I can take his “play” and show him that I’m not afraid. I was so focused on showing that I wasn’t afraid that it didn’t occur to me that I probably should be, at least a little.

    I never thought he’d actually hurt me, and I still don’t think he’d hurt me directly. He’s far too passive aggressive for that. But I’ve also learned his penchant for punishment and revenge, and it’s always in the back of my mind that he’s the type of person who would arrange a way for something tragic to happen to me. “What a horrible accident,” they’d say. I’m 98% sure that wouldn’t happen. But I was also that sure that what did happen between us wouldn’t take place, either. I will never be with someone else again unless I’m 100% sure they would never even pretend to hurt me.

    Cheaters are the kind of people who are OK with hurting us. How that manifests spans the gamut from heartbreak to murder, even among our own Chump Nation. I’ll never be able to wrap my head around how someone I loved viewed me as the enemy even as I viewed him as my partner. It was OK with him to emotionally hurt me. It was OK with him to psychologically hurt me. It was OK with him to pretend to kill me. It was OK with him to punish me. It was OK with him to withhold what I needed. It was OK with him to leverage advantage over me and manipulate me and lie to me. I don’t know if it would be OK with him to kill me, and not knowing is confusing and destabilizing when you’re with someone like that.

    Tracy, you didn’t have someone who was that unusual. He’s not a one-off, and neither are you. He’s a predictable point on a sliding scale of fucked up, which very frequently manifests with cheating. I briefly participated in a group for women who had experienced partner abuse. I thought I’d be the odd one out as well-educated white woman who was never physically hit. But I fit right in. And every single woman in the group had been cheated on as part of the pattern of abuse. Every. One. This isn’t a joke, and the “quest for aliveness” bullshit is the minority. It’s very often a quest for advantage, power, and punishment. Esther Perel, I hope you’re reading this, because I want you to know that you’re guilty of gaslighting a hell of a lot of people who fall somewhere within the spectrum of abuse, which is most people who have been cheated on repeatedly. Those one-off quests for aliveness? They probably exist, but they’re in the minority. I urge you to consider how many people are sticking with abusive partners today because you gaslighted them into reframing abuse into a tidy little package called “fun.”

    • I should also clarify what I meant when I said that I did not feel threatened by having guns in my home. I have learned that just because I do not perceive a threat doesn’t mean it’s not there. This turned out to be true in so many aspects of my marriage.

    • Free Vix, this is a really powerful post. YES, they are okay with hurting you. It does not hurt them to hurt you. Moreover, they get off on it.

      “he pretended to kill me on a regular basis.”

      Until you wrote that, I didn’t know it was a thing. That belt he “joked” about killing me with — ha ha. It was a threat. Yours was threatening you too. Okay, and isn’t it such a disordered, fucking lazy thing to do — all the chaos, uncertainty and control — none of the calorie-burning effort of actual violence. PLUS plausible deniability. Hey, it was a joke!

      Well, JC’s ex gets the pleasure of all his feigned executions now. Lucky girl.

      • A lucky girl indeed. I’d make a joke about karma, but I don’t think anyone deserves that kind of treatment, not even her.

    • So do you think that a spouse who has Never laid a finger on you, but who jokes around that he can make you disappear as you are supposed to take a trip together soon is really to be feared?

      • Yes. Absolutely. I would bet that most men who hurt or murder their partner or loved ones “joke” about it first. They dip their toe in the water to see what kind of reaction they get. If they can keep you in line with covert threats that don’t require any real legal risk, as Tracy mentions above, then maybe that’s all they’ll do. If they can’t keep you in line that way, then they might continue upping the ante until they achieve their desired level of control. My ex started out with pretending to kill me, then escalated to cheating, then escalated to intentionally getting me to dismantle my support system and independence so that I would be totally powerless when he treated me like garbage and when he voluntarily revealed D-day for maximum effect. That was the end of our marriage, but I fully believe that had I stayed with him (and I considered it), he would have just escalated to the next level on an attempt to control me and the situation. I have no idea what it would have been, but what I do know is that it would have been designed to hurt and punish me to an even greater extent.

        Stillhere, at best you’re married to a man who thinks of you in a way that he would joke about murdering you. At worst he does it. The most likely is that he escalates his behavior when covert threats don’t give him the intended results. Even your best case scenario is still pretty grim. I would urge you to work with a local women’s organization that can help you devise a safety plan and leave. You are most vulnerable when you leave. Think of a safety plan like a seatbelt, which you wear with the intention of not getting into a car wreck, but you’d damn well better have it on just in case.

      • Also, I do know of situations where a husband murdered his wife or girlfriend on vacation to make it look like an accident. There was the man who killed his pregnant wife in a boat in CA (it was all over the news about 15 years ago), and this horrid human who pushed his wife off of a rock at a national park:

        Trust your instincts. If your spidey senses are going off enough to post about it here, then I’d say you know something isn’t right. TRUST THAT. I would urge you not to go on the trip. He said he could make you disappear on the trip. You should believe him.

        • I just read that. Was married 33 years honestly to what I thought was a really good man. I thought he was going thru a depression for about a year. He was working with this woman… never thought a thing about it until I had his phone and he got a text message on a Sat. night- of course professional- but it rubbed me the wrong way so I asked about it. Didn’t imply anything. Spent the next 10 months uncovering circumstantial evidence that was crazy.

          10 months later I discovered he was hiding our savings and left.

          Came home after he groveled big time and showed me all the money. He won’t go back to counseling after 2 disastrous ones.

          It’s been almost 2 years now. We are supposed to take this trip in May to look at land. Another state. That comment comes up in a joking sort of way and yes I noticed and wondered.

          I know I’m probably just paranoid. I know just the fact that I have to wonder is telling me something. The trip would be in 5 weeks.

          • I convinced myself for years that I was just paranoid. I wasn’t. He CAN make you disappear in Mexico, and he said so. What about that says paranoia instead of justified fear? I recommend that you read the book “The Gift of Fear” by Gavin de Becker.

            DO NOT go to Mexico with someone who said he could make you disappear there. Establish some personal boundaries that say you won’t travel to a foreign country with someone who said he would kill you there. I would not. You should not. Please, PLEASE don’t go. Call the National Domestic Violence hotline: 1-800-799-7233. Tell them what he said. Do it right now. Don’t think about it, just do it.

            • It’s not Mexico but I suppose it doesn’t really matter. The trip is not supposed to be for a few more weeks so I have some time. On top of this, I’ve lost my phone and am about to get a new one.

              Apparently I can’t sign into email on my iPod. I might do another email.

              On top of everything else, someone from my old church hacked into my fb account. The number was literally under my general settings under my number. I had never called her on my cell. I called it, heard her voice mail and you better believe I called her. People are nuts!

              My youngest son is home today. I’ll have him help me do a new email on here. He is the sweetest kid and basically what’s kept me here. I know… I know…

              Tempest…. have your new email down and will write you as soon as I set it up.

          • I left another comment that was auto-flagged for moderation, probably because I included a phone number. Check back for it once CL or Tempest approve it.

            • I will. Also my email Tempest had…. I’m unable to get back on. I don’t know why. Will the number be under these comments?

          • Please, please don’t go on this trip! Your situation is actually very dire.

            Joking about making you disappear is very evil. He is tipping his hand. He is thinking about it. How it would solve his problems. He had an affair, hid money, then came back. He doesn’t want to divide the martial assets. If YOU disappear or die “accidently” he will inherit all and no divorce will be necessary. Easy peasy. This kind of crime is featured on Dateline, 20/20 and 48 hours… All. Of. The. Time.

            I would not spend another moment married to this man. And TELL your friends and family what he said. Don’t keep this a secret.

  • My fuckwit had a bunch of guns and decided to buy an AK47 in 2016 in the shadow of a looming Hillary presidential administration. Because no one is the boss of him.

    I wish I still had his Remington 870. That asshat took all the guns with him when he poofed and I have not replaced any. I am not sure I will. I am practicing no contact which should keep me from being any sort of angry target to him in the future; I simply will not engage to allow him to have any growing hate. Hopefully he will find new scapegoats to blame and won’t see me as the one who ruined his wittle stoopid life. I don’t think he means me any harm and he is by nature a blubbering coward.

    Being alone can be frightening and when the moron was working overseas for years it was very reassuring to have a weapon available. We lived in a neighborhood on a view bluff with dozens of walkers and solicitors and also lots of burglaries. Someone actually tried to open the door one night when I didn’t answer it. They were so persistent that I was standing just hidden from view in my hall with that gun, and had they come through the door they would be dead, no mistake about it. And I would have been glad to have done it. I am a small woman and would have had no defense of any kind without that blaster.

  • The ex is a felon and has an arsenol which actually included some in my name. I got some that I could remember back in the agreement along with one gun safe. He kept a large safe at his parents. His criminal lawyer cloyingly said,” Guns. What guns? You know he can’t own one.” He had no less than six loaded beside the bed, loaded AR between the matress, and always a pistol in his pocket. He does not hunt but shot at targets acouple of times over 33yrs. He thought of it as something that never loses value which is true.
    He did pick one up once in a rage and I was sure he was going to kill me. Instead, he waved it around until he threatened to blow his brains out rather than live with us. Then he raped me. Things got more complicated in my brain through the manuplitaion, lies, and implied threats and I stayed 18 more years.
    Once toward the end after hours of raging, I decided I would sleep in the bed as opposed to the couch. Kind of a message that he couldn’t control me. I got in bed and he immediately began rustling beside the bed. I was terrified to move and terrified not to move. Thankfully he left with rocks flying from his wheels. I threw clothes in a bag, woke the kids and went to a hotel with little money and the guy gave us a reduced rate without asking a question. I’m sure we looked terrified. Yep, I went back for 9 months. At this time I was already going to an abuse shelter and had spoken to a lawyer. We left in the middle of the night with things in garbage bags and a rented truck while he was gone for the weekend and stayed out of sight for about three weeks.
    I got my carry and concel liscense after we left. My DS began seeing him after two years of NC and comes home with various knives and guns that he gives him. He gave him a new gun for Christmas and son goes to gun ranges with friends. I made sure he had a safety course when he was younger. I do not worry about my DS and guns. I am scared AF that the ex has them. I realized that a PO would never work because it would piss him off more and he could get one from any thug he knows. I do however have a notorized Evidentiary Abuse Affiidavit filed with every physician and my lawyer so they have a starting point if anything did happen to me. He is a true clusterB.

  • I love those Parkland teenagers and their unwillingness to be silent victims. There are plenty of parallels to ChumpLady and CN.

    Do not be silent. Tell your story, the whole ugly story, to as many people who will listen. And when people say stupid things about “it takes two to ruin a marriage,” challenge them. We can change minds, we can create change in the courts if we are vocal en masse. Silence always helps the oppressors.

    For those of you tempted by reconciliation–someone who cheats on you, and devalues you while doing so DOES NOT LOVE YOU. They can cry all the crocodile tears available to them, promise to change, apologize. It means NOTHING except that they want to continue to manipulate you and abuse you. Do not attempt reconciliation 7 times. Or 6, or 5, or 4, or….

    Nearly half of all murdered women are murdered by their romantic partners, often after they have gone back one or two or three… times. Women of color are in even more danger:

    If you haven’t seen the video of 11-year old Naomi Wadler, it’s worth a watch (and have tissues nearby):

    Be a voice. Be a face. Do not be a statistic. Infidelity is emotional abuse, and emotional abuse alarmingly segues into physical violence all too often. With guns and without.

    • (message is for men who have been cheated on, or are with Cluster B women, too. )

      • I am divoring a covert narc who is emotionally, finically, psychology, and physically abusive. She even claims that women CANNOT physically abuse men. I have had to go to my friends houses to get away to a safe place. If I defended myself from the onslaught of blows, etc she would say to everyone I am the abusive one. Some people do not believe that men can suffer from DV. Some automatically believe her because of that erroneous belief. Because I have/had Suicidal thoughts and attempts (PTSD, abuse, some disabilities) I didn’t allow guns in the house. She has gone off the deap end because I discarded her instead of her divorcing me. I never realized the danger I was in. This article has been an eye opener!

  • It is sad but I don’t think the laws ‘re guns will change in the US. (I am in australia)
    Many Americans seem to have a unique attachment to guns because it is in the constitution and I think has something to do with their fight for independence from the English.
    The problem is that guns are a lot more deadly now and there are so many that even if tighter controls were introduced it wouldn’t make much difference.
    I feel for those passionate high schoolers and others marching.
    Even in Australia there are people lobbying for a relaxation of our gun laws. More to do with companies wanting to sell guns I think.
    ps I loved the US the one time I was there and only saw one person carrying a gun.

  • This happened just this week to a friend of a friend on fb.
    “He’s from Romania and she’s from Florida but they were living in Germany.
    While he was on a business trip she left with the children and flew to Florida where she has family and her 2 oldest sons are in college. He showed up in Florida a couple days ago and they talked and he said he was flying back to Germany yesterday but then showed up where she was staying and kidnapped her at gunpoint then shot and killed her and put her body in the car trunk. He called his college sons and they talked him
    Into turning himself in to the police”

    Funny how they can never follow through and off themselves. Cowards.
    He’s been charged with 1st degree premeditated murder

  • Thank you for sharing that story, Tracy!

    I wish that you had one of those guns hidden just where you could have gotten to it on that fateful day. After he ripped up the protection order and was coming on with the abuse– hard to imagine a judge seeing it as anything less than self defense in those circumstances. Maybe there would be no nightmares now, and you certainly do not deserve to have that lingering in your mind and subconscious. And the world would be less one freak.

    But I wonder if you would have created this blog in those circumstances, which would have been a loss for the millions you have surely helped here. For whatever reason these things have happened I hope that your platform continues to lift up those that are suffering.

    • Actually society and the legal system treats women who murder abusive husbands more harshly than men who murder their wives. “Oh you should’ve fired a warning shot! You should’ve called the police! Why didn’t you aim for his leg?” vs “He was mentally ill, people missed the warning signs, why didn’t she leave, he thought he’d never see his kids again, he just lost his temper.”

  • Tracy, I’m so sorry.

    I too am a survivor of DV. I’m a high powered attorney. A partner in a firm. And yet, I too was attacked physically and verbally but two cheating husbands. The first time while I was a teenager and pregnant with my first child, who, BTW, marched yesterday in D.C. — shes in her 30s now and very politically active and an executive working in NYC.

    XH #2, is a high powered, 7-figure salaried attorney. Our 10 year old saw the Cyberdust app and the cheating emojis during our “false reconciliation” three years ago. She was a marriage police cadet (so sickening that you all know what I mean) and she grabbed the phone and screamed for me to see the evidence that the cheating was continuing. This happened in a crowded elevator of dance families. X lunged over babe’s head and attacked me to get the iphone and prevent me from knowing what he was up to. I screamed in pain. Not one person in that elevator interceded. The attack seemed to suspend time. Second later, though, the doors opened and our friends were waiting. I was mortified. I was terrified to be left with 4 kids, mortgages, businesses, 26 years of sunk costs, loss of hopeium, etc. etc. etc. I pretended everything was OK. I didn’t say a word. We went to dinner with those friends immediately therafter. I pretended while my mind buzzed and my stomache ached and my arm ached and bruised and my hand ached and bruised. I couldn’t see my baby girl doing the exact same thing: quickly drying her tears and shoving her terror inside herself to later manifest in panic attacks that left her gasping for breath.

    I didn’t leave. I didn’t make him leave. I begged him to stay. He wouldn’t. I read CL and I was sick — I wanted him to do the 180 and come out of the fog. He refused. The gig was finally up but not for months later and I continued even then to beg him back. In a weak moment, even now, I can subtly play pick me dance games. WTF is wrong with me!!!!!?????? I divorced him a year ago and got everything! Full custody and all our assets practically. . . he still lives with this whore and fucks many others. And yet. . . . . I reminice about seemingly sweeter times….. I tell myself he has FOO issues, it wasn’t that bad, he didn’t break my arm, he didn’t have GUNS. . . .

    I’m the one with FOO issues, mom and dad were severely abusive cheater alcholic narc abandoners. . .

    So, I get this. I really truly do. Thank you Tracy. You are amazing!

    • You’re modeling mightiness to those daughters of yours. Stay strong. It’s really normal to miss the lie of who you thought they were, and what you thought it was going to be.

      If you “won” that lie back? That elevator scene would be the rest of your life. And you would eat that pain endlessly.

  • Thank you, Tracy, for courageously telling your story. In a butterfly effect, were you not here, I might not be here, either. Your blog literally saved my life, not just once but many times. I suppose it’s not surprising that you offer such sage advice because you lived the ugly details yourself.

    There’s a new book out “Look What You Made Me Do” by Helen Walmsley-Johnson
    I heard interviewed on the Standard Issue podcast (generally excellent and funny bunch of birds from England talking about all things women) about domestic abuse. The statistics are horrifying. Throw guns into the mix (on this side of the Pond) and it’s a disaster waiting to happen. Sorry: happening.

    I personally wouldn’t trust a guy who has too many of anything — root beer bottles, Matchbox cars, Hummel figurines, so a stockpile of guns for any reason just seems a sign of an unhealthy mind. Here’s hoping the wave of change these young people started continues to carry us forward into a more sane perspective on this thing..

    • I agree after the last 15 years. It’s not enough to own 30 weapons, you have to start building them as well. After that he joined the NGuard, for extra attention at age 55: then volunteered to go to Afghanistan for 4 months, so now he’s a “hero“(no battle experience). I agree it’s a side of a not healthy mind when just having a hand gun or hunting rifle is not enough. (humorous side to this was one of the justifications for cheating was that “you never let me buy anything I wanted”), delusional, just delusional. We will never know the rest, just let it fucking go.

  • How many police officers have been wounded or killed answering domestic violence calls? Any policeman will tell you that these are VERY dangerous calls and then you add a weapon to this mess and there is no doubt somebody is going to be hurt! We did own a gun which my Ex took with him and kept in his car. I was very paranoid and I made sure I covered all my windows and even changed where I usually sat in the house because I was so afraid he may try to hurt me. I lived in a house on an acre of land that backed to woods in a rather rural area. Most people were used to hearing gunshots so they wouldn’t be alarmed. I was scared he would take a shot st me through the window and I would be dead for days before being found! His Schmoopie is a gun enthusiast too and I really didn’t trust her.

  • Tracy, we have similar stories!

    My highly educated, corporate executive X started collecting guns when his professional life went down the tubes during the great recession. Somehow, a Chemical Engineer MBA felt vulnerable to the fictitious criminals in our super safe gated community in Orange County.
    He started drinking constantly. He suffered a few other set backs and before I knew it, he was deeply mentally ill from his drinking (Clinical Depression). The gun collection grew as his condition worsened. He spent his days in bars picking up the bar women. He met strangers for sex via craigslist.

    Eventually he became very aggressive with me. I was certain he planned a murder/suicide “for us”. One day he chased me around the house and went in search for his gun while I called 911. I turned all of his guns and ammo over to the cops. It was quite the pile, including long guns and an assault rifle, several in his vehicle. The cops were disgusted with him. X was served with a restraining order while I stayed with a friend.
    The night he was forced to leave by the sheriff, he let himself into the house while I was there and proceeded to make himself at home! Another 911 call.
    I eventually moved far away and went into hiding and divorced him.

    For me, the cheating was a symptom of his insecurity and need to control his narrative with strangers.

    Running for your life is a whole other deal than cheating. Cheating is a personal attack on our value as a partner. Threatening our lives is a threat against our very existence.

    I’m extremely grateful to have this space that you provide us. The sharing and support have helped me get past both horrors.

    I’m glad we’re both safe now.

    • Me too! That was really brave of you to get out, and turn in his fucking arsenal.

  • Just a thought on Ester Perel – this site proves that there are many times when cheating goes “beyond infidelity.”

    • I’ve read a gazillion infidelity stories online and learned of a few too many in real life and I think 99.99% of the infidelity stories go “beyond infidelity” and have extreme overtones of mind-fuckery, abusive emotional control, destructive selfishness and self-absorption, lack of reciprocity, unilateral decision making, child-impacting family dysfunction and potential physical abuse (STDs, introducing stalkers to the family) introduced BY THE CHEATER.

      The 0.01% story of the cheater being the primary force for good in the marriage and the family and being continuously rejected and neglected by the chump, then slipping up one time on a business trip, then immediately feeling horrible and remorseful basically NEVER happens.

  • My X was never violent with me, but he owned more guns than an armory. Part of his financial infidelity, I recently learned, involved spending thousands and thousands of dollars each month on expensive weapons, ammunition, and related items. It was why, despite his high six figure salary, he was always short of cash. There were loaded weapons everywhere in our house, not locked up, and he refused to buy a gun safe. His increasingly erratic behavior during his discard of me is another reason I won’t go back to get my belongings, nor allow any family or friends to do so either. In reading Tracy’s story, I realize that is still the correct decision.

    • He sounds scary as fuck!

      Not sure where you are, but it’s possible to hire constables. Perhaps your lawyer can help direct you to some paid help, protection, so you can get your things? OTOH you’re worth more than stuff.

  • One of the things that is so helpful about Tracy’s posts and CN’s comments is that it brings up so much that we have stuffed deep down inside. XH did not own guns, but an X fiancé did. He had a safe the size of a refrigerator full of guns during the time I lived with him. One time a drunk business acquaintance of his waved his own gun around in our living room; I called the police from our bedroom and the swat team came out. The X fiance was angry that I called the cops and told me that I wasn’t loyal and that the gun wasn’t loaded. It turned out the gun was loaded. The cops suggested I not stay there that night; the boyfriend left on a business trip the next day and I moved out while he was gone. But still, we got back together many times until I finally stopped. He continued for years to stalk me, sue my husband, and generally harass me – until he committed suicide with one of his guns.

    I was raised to cater to a man and told that my needs were not important. I would doubt myself in situations that hurt me. I still have work to do. Thank you, Chump Lady, for bringing this important issue to light.

  • Thank you for sharing your story, Tracy. When I started teaching over 20 years ago, school shootings weren’t even part of our vocabulary. Since Columbine, I have been terrified that we will one day experience the same loss and violence. I agree that the more people who share their stories (about anything– domestic violence that is brushed off by law enforcement and family, cheating, gun violence, etc.), the more people will realize that these are systemic problems that need to be addressed rather than isolated incidents that don’t happen often.

    You have saved many lives with this site, including mine. I am glad that this site is still available to me all these years later since there are still times when I question myself or need some encouragement.

  • I love this country! And I love breathing and watching my children grow up. I cannot tell my story bc my ex cheater troll is a LEO and they all stick together, maybe when he is dead….

  • Thank you Tracy! I have faced similar circumstances. I don’t share those memories with people. I didn’t think folks would accept me if I told. So I am grateful that you shared. Maybe there should be a Chump version of a Me Too movement.

    • Well, now that I’ve emotionally vomited my DV story, others can puke in my footsteps!

      I’m kind of joking, but anyone who won’t accept you for something like this is a fuckwit you don’t need in your life anyway.

      I get the shame. I’m mortified that I reconciled, or attempted it. But that very mortification, whatever drives it, is what writes this blog every day.

      • I appreciate and admire your courage to be so vulnerable in this day and age. Inspirational to many. Thank you.

      • I should add that he cheated on and abused three wives that I *know* of, so odds are pretty good that he’s still the same old sociopath he’s always been.

  • Thank you, Tracy and fellow CN friends for bravely telling your stories. It is time to talk.
    Marched here in Los Angeles yesterday and the energy of the crowd was stronger than a thousand lion’s roaring. It was pure focused passion. It is happening.

  • I’ll add that when I got permission to inventory the house ( with two investigators I had to hire) , there were loaded guns on the bed as a warning. They unloaded and recorded it. Such an asshole.

  • Tracy —

    I — just —

    Thank you, Mighty Woman.

    I am so glad you are here.


  • Thank you, Tracy. For everything you do, for your willingness to share, for the hard earned knowledge you impart to us. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

  • The Traitor was never physically violent, but the threat of physical harm always hovered over me, because he used violence to animals, about once a year, to intimidate me. Not because I was afraid he would harm me, but because I was afraid to get him angry and he would hurt an innocent animal. I felt the animal copped it for me, that he really wished he could strike me, so would lash out at a lamb, or a dog. Most of the time he just lashed out at objects, occasionally injuring himself. But by hurting animals, he kept me under control because I felt if I had behaved “properly”, no animal would have suffered. That was guaranteed to keep me walking on egg shells. The rest of the time he was very caring with animals, almost too sentimental. So I was convinced that when he lashed out at them, it was my fault for being difficult, for asking questions. I believe if he had ever hit me, I would have hit him back and left the relationship. Once a previous partner almost tried, and I immediately grabbed a carving knife (we were in the kitchen at the time) and made him leave. He was stunned. So I foolishly believed I was strong and no one controlled me. The Traitor is much more clever than my other ex. Hurting animals was his most effective control tactic.

      • It is the gateway act to harming humans. Anyone who harms or tortures animals is a sociopath. They may stop there, or they may go on to more brazen acts. Best not to wait to find out.

  • Thank you, Tracy. I absolutely believe you, and I relate to your story on so many levels. My ex just had one gun — an air gun — that I found in our attic. I had always insisted that I did not want to live in a house with a gun. We lived in the Boston area, so it’s not as if we had to trap and shoot to survive. And it’s hardly the most dangerous gun out there, but he had been taking potshots at squirrels from the attic when I wasn’t home, which was creepy.

    His scary behavior, however kept me frozen in place for far too long. He would threaten to kill himself, punch himself in the head, stand inches from my face, screaming. He would hurl things like plates, glasses, chairs, anything available across the room. He would chase me if I tried to leave and block my car with his body. He’d disappear for days. He drank, used cocaine, maybe other drugs.

    I was so exhausted from all of the drama, fear (of his death, of being hurt, of ruining his reputation and falling into poverty) kept me in place. I had no idea what I was supposed to do. He didn’t beat me, but he was terrifying. Do you call the cops? What would be the ramifications? When he was arrested for his second DUI (wrecked his own truck), the cop ripped up the ticket. Everyone seemed to be on his side, including his girlfriend. I felt sure that any move I made would only escalate his behavior.

    It took me 2.5 years to gather the courage to tell my parents that the marriage was on the rocks. Another year and a half to get the house sold and the divorce final. I tapped into strength I never knew I had to get myself away from him, safe. I had to do it. Not the neighbors, who surely must have heard him screaming and breaking things. Not the cops who treated him with kid gloves (just a nice white, clean cut college guy who had a bad day, right?). Not his parents, who I’m sure knew about at least some of his behavior.

    My current boyfriend owns a gun, but here’s the difference: He told me about it before I ever came to his place, he keeps it safely locked away in a safe, I’ve lived here a year now and never have seen the gun. He’s not keeping a secret gun, he doesn’t intimidate me, and he has never made me feel unsafe. It makes all the difference in the world.

    I will never judge anybody’s reaction to domestic violence, physical abuse, or emotional abuse. Until you’ve touched on the experience yourself, until you’ve felt threatened and scared for your safety, you can’t know how difficult it is to get away. It’s the hardest thing I ever had to do, hands down.

  • My X did point a loaded gun in my face during one of his typical drunken rages. I calmly told him that he’d better shoot me or I would call 911. He did not shoot, so I walked to the phone and called 911 telling the Sheriff’s Dept that a serious domestic fight was happening and that there was a loaded hand gun involved. After I hung up, X suddenly threw the gun down on the floor and stumbled out into the dark. He hid on the roof of our house before the cops showed up. No one was arrested…the cops did not even bother looking for him. The gun was not confiscated either because it was registered to me and I then had possession of it…I had given it to X for a Bday gift a couple of years prior because he owns a Jewelry store and I felt that he needed the protection there. I never knew that he was bringing it home from his store because I never saw it until it was aimed square at my face.

    What bothered me the most is that when he was shoving that loaded gun in my face, and I knew how easily it could have fired in the angry hands of a drunk, even w/o him meaning to…I did not even care. Not. One. Bit. If I died, I died. If I lived…meh. My eyes must have looked stone cold to him…not an ounce of fear…his were crazed, and they mesmerized me in the wonder of it all. I do not even know what possessed me to wait the 15 seconds to see if he’d shoot me, and then finally walk over to the phone and call 911, being fully aware that this alone could have provoked him to shoot as I dialed. Maybe I just wanted some control for once, even if it was the last thing I ever did. Yes, that must have been it.

    The next day, X denied EVERYTHING that happened. I told him fine…but if I ever find that gun at our home again, unlike you, I WILL use it.

    • “I did not even care. Not. One. Bit. If I died, I died.”

      Yes, it gets to that point. That’s why we must leave. It should never, EVER get to this point, but exhausting you with crisis and trauma is intentional. If you don’t care, you can be controlled.

    • Sweetz, what a terrifying story. That is so not normal. Please just say enough is enough. You are a bad ass. That is clear. But that shit gets old. Trust me i know. You deserve more than that.

  • Please forgive me for not commenting on every comment. I gotta go to bed. But I appreciate all the kind words, and I’m sorry that anyone can relate to one fucked up sentence of this.

  • There were no guns in my home ever, but my first Ex Husband just used his hand. Like many, it started with verbal abuse and calling me vulgar names. I was very young and we had three children. One day after he got angry and ripped off a piece of wood from the banister downstairs and threw it upstairs at me so hard that it smashed out the window behind where I was changing my youngest son’s diaper, I waited till he was calm and I plaintively asked him to stop getting so angry and I called it abuse. This enraged him further and he threatened me, “if you every tell anyone I abused you, I really WILL abuse you!”

    I finally got the courage to leave him after discovering his online affair. The day he was served with the divorce papers, I showed up to drop the kids off (he was unemployed while I worked fulltime, so he was ‘babysitting’) and he flew out of the house at me and decked me, knocking me to the ground in front of the kids. Then he grabbed my daughter and ran inside and locked all the doors. The neighbors heard this commotion and called the police. By the time the police arrived I was sobbing hysterically begging him to let her out of the house. This was over 20 years ago but I will never forget the cop (surprisingly from a female officer) after speaking to my ExH inside, telling me, “Mrs. WisedUp, your husband admits that he hit you, but you made him mad.”

    A few days later I obtained the written police report and it didn’t even mention that he hit me. It went on at great lengths about how hysterical I was.

    I used to have to drive the kids to him every weekend, and we had a regular meeting spot in a parking lot beside the highway halfway between our residences. One day I read in the paper that a man had shot and killed his wife in that very same parking lot the previous week during a similar kid exchange. The next time I saw my Ex there he started talking about this story to me, and I took that as a threat. I started having nightmares about him, and vividly recall one where I dreamed I was at my job, and in the dream I was nine months pregnant and I left my desk to leave for the day, and walked out to the parking lot and he was standing there pointing a gun at me. Just then I woke up. He never had any guns that I was aware of though he was in the National Guard. But shortly after this, I considered getting a gun myself and went to a training course with some female work friends. In the end I decided it would be more dangerous to have a gun in my home, and not worth the risk.

    Ironically, though this man continued to make my life miserable for the next 20 years after I left him, it was the Cheater I hooked up with four years later who damaged my emotionally way way way worse than the first husband, with his controlling, bully personality, uncontrolled rages at me and my kids, and what I now know was undoubtedly a personality disorder, and ultimately way worse serial cheating than the previous man I was married to for 12 years. And as many others will attest, “he never laid a hand on me.” But he hurt me so much more.

    I am 63 years old now and my three children have grown into fine young adults despite the things I described. I didn’t get to march on Saturday but they were out there. I am so very greatful for Chump Lady’s site, and for Jenny Willoughby as well as the women who have come forward with their #metoo stories, and their credible claims of being abused by the president.

    Love to all,

    • WisedUp — this: “Mrs. WisedUp, your husband admits that he hit you, but you made him mad.”

      This is the RIC. “He admits he cheated. But you weren’t meeting needs.”

      We have to change the narrative. Way to be mighty, your fine, grown kids are a testament to your strength.

  • Thank you, Tracy for sharing.
    I lived as a small child afraid to literally breathe wrong- my father in a rage, slapped me out of my chair at the table for sniffing up my snotty nose when I was sick…my mother hitting before she ever hugged…my father calling us every name but our given ones…afraid to get close to either parent when they were in “that” mood… Listening to mom scream in pain and cry at night as dad would beat her…watching mom hurt herself trying to hurt him…the cops coming to our house to separate them…being afraid, always afraid…
    Mom got free ling enough to be an OW to my sister’s best friend’s dad…we had to move so she could carry on the affair, since his in-laws lived across the street from us, he was worse than dad…mom then moved us several states away so she could be an OW to yet another married man…living in fear and hunger … Trying to be the “good one”…
    I found my escape from her and dad too thanks to college.
    I got clear.
    I got away and finally found myself.
    Didn’t matter, throughout my young life, I was always searching for love, safety, security…
    I never was around guns, still not, but I didn’t have to be to understand that any moment I could be dead. Fear kept me and my sister’s alive.
    I still worry that exh2 The Evil One will do something either to me or DD. He’s a Convicted felon, so guns

  • Tracy. Chumplady. Whatever you wanna be known as here – we know you as a friend and wonder woman, who not just survived, but thrived after your ordeal. You’re an inspiration. Thank you from our hearts.

  • Thank you, Tracy for sharing. You have been and always will be our bold and fearless leader, I admire you so much for so many reasons. Thank you!
    I lived as a small child afraid to literally breathe wrong- my father in a rage, slapped me out of my chair at the table for sniffing up my snotty nose when I was sick…my mother hitting before she ever hugged…my father calling us every name but our given ones…afraid to get close to either parent when they were in “that” mood… Listening to mom scream in pain and cry at night as dad would beat her…watching mom hurt herself trying to hurt him…the cops coming to our house to separate them…being afraid, always afraid…
    Mom got free long enough to be an OW to my sister’s best friend’s dad…we had to move so she could carry on the affair, since his in-laws lived across the street from us, he was worse than dad…mom then moved us several states away so she could be an OW to yet another married man…living in fear and hunger … Trying to be the “good one”…
    I found my escape from her and dad too thanks to college.
    I got clear.
    I got away and finally found myself.
    Didn’t matter, throughout my young life, I was always searching for love, safety, security…
    I never was around guns, still not, but I didn’t have to be to understand that any moment I could be dead. Fear kept me and my sister’s alive.
    I still worry that exh2 The Evil One will do something either to me or DD. He’s a Convicted felon, so he himself cant buy a gun, but hes a Convicted felon, so he can’t buy one himself. That doesn’t mean that he won’t be able to access one, plus, he’s always been more of a knife-fan. He has never threatened me, nor did he ever hit you.
    In a sick, sad way, I wished he had. At least that I was used to, but the other ways he abused me was so much worse.

  • “Fate has carried me
    ‘Mid the thick arrows: I will keep my stand–
    Not shrink and let the shaft pass by my breast
    To pierce another.”
    ― George Eliot

    Thank you for being willing to share, Tracy, especially given the dismissiveness with which your serious concerns were previously greeted. You are brave. You are mighty.

  • When I told my cheating STBX (didn’t know that at the time) I was leaving him, he grabbed a hunting rifle from the front closet. That was his reaction. In his position he was blocking the exits and I gave him a contemptuous look, as in “how childish”. He didn’t point it at me. The phone rang and it was a cop’s wife asking for a recipe. As I pretended all was well and as I was giving her the recipe, he leaned the gun against the kitchen door, wrote a note and left it on the coffee table, took the gun and sped off in the truck. I wish I kept the note. He wrote he was giving everything to me and the children. This was just the beginning of a terror campaign that intensified after I left him. I was so scared of him I wouldn’t put it past him to crash a plane into the house. He did plenty – much of it witnessed – and the cops could have charged him many times over but they didn’t. I was now apparently the local entertainment. The cops.did.nothing. My lawyer did though – and so did a judge. Whew. When I won physical safety, I went ballistic – politically – and cops in the entire district got a new set of requirements on how to handle domestic violence cases. Not that it changed anything of course. New rules means new ways around them.

  • Hi Tracy,

    Sarah P. here again from emotional affair journey. Yeah, I admit it. Your blog is becoming my new addiction and I am always telling everyone to read the latest installment. I hope you are okay with that.

    Tracy, I was moved to tears by your story. I physically shook when I read your story. I have a lump in my throat as I write this. Frankly, I just do not have the words to adequately tell you how sorry I am that you went through this. I have read your bio and you and I are a bit alike. We both got obscure Master’s degrees from prestigious universities in England when we were younger. We have the same curly hair and glasses. (but my hair is auburn). We are both smart women- smarter to know better than to be chumped. But we were. (By the way, of the two of us you are FAR SUPERIOR. Just thought some of the commonalities are interesting because it’s not everyday I “meet” another American who has a British Master’s degree and who is also writing about affair recovery.)

    I disagree with Esther Perel when she says what happened to you was “beyond an affair.” Your story was not beyond an affair. It was an affair. Full stop. Affairs are ugly– just as ugly as you described. I was physically harmed by my ex because I refused to move out of our mutually owned home so the OW could move in. He had to do some unspeakable physical things to get me to leave. And I did leave. That was that. I don’t know what kinds of affairs Esther has encountered, but the ones I have encountered are some of the ugliest stories one could ever hear. And yes, you, Tracy, can be an expert at chumpdom because you LIVED it. Many psychologists don’t know how to treat infidelity if they have not experienced. My program had no such curriculum for affairs. The Gottman’s have a level three training now about Affair Trauma. I attended their seminar and they get it. But few psychologists get it. Unless they have experienced being on suicide watch in the wee hours of the morning due to an affair, they won’t get it. It cannot be taught in a mainstream psychology textbook and given to someone who has never been betrayed. That’s why you are important. You lived it and you are able to articulate it clearly and in a way that empowers.

    I know of very few affairs that are about feeling alive again. It seems to be a very French or European way of looking at things. The poor guy/girl wanted to feel alive again. Poor thing– their spouse just made them feel so ‘dead’ — how can you blame them for becoming affair zombies? C’est la vie and que sera sera. (Sarcasm.)

    You would not believe how many smart “they would never fall for a guy like that” women I have met who have the worst affair stories. Besides me, a family member went through something worse than me. Yes, hers also involved guns and threats to kill and the perpetrator was a well-known attorney/husband. It had a terrible ending with no closure. One of them was going to die– we knew that– so we (her family) got her the heck out of there and the OW gave my family member’s husband the gun with which he killed himself.

    I am so very glad you have shared your very visceral story. While I cannot pretend to know you or all of the intricacies of your life, I understand where you were at emotionally at that time and why you came back. It hints at a trauma bond and trauma bonds are the worst.

    The nightmares? I am 17 years out and I still have “the nightmares.” When I have them, I wake up crying and shaking and it always takes a moment to look out my (curtainless) bedroom windows and realize I am no longer there in that terrible situation. It takes me a moment to realize I am many years out and in my own bed with my H and my children are fast asleep in their beds. The recurring nightmares involve him physically harming me, leaving me on the floor to recover, while he sped off in his car. (That’s what happened in real life and it is the recurring dream.)

    I understand what fuels you to get up and write each morning. I thank you for that, for whatever it is worth.

    But, even 17 years later, what happened to me also spurs me to write something everyday even if my loooong articles are published every other week. The one that will be published soon was 30 pages long in a Word document. How do I do that? It’s not because I am some great, disciplined writer who sticks to a schedule and can write at arms length. Oh no, it’s not that. I am DRIVEN to write from the bottom of my soul. I believe that for as long as I live I will be writing about things relating to affairs. It’s like this, I cannot help but write about affairs. There is no choice in the matter.


    The knowledge of what happened and the level of betrayal involved and the fallout never goes away. It’s like someone dropped the biggest nuclear bomb on your life. Sure, the area can be cleaned up from an aesthetic point of view, but the radiation will remain for several years. It doesn’t matter if someone nukes a city and the city is rebuilt. The radiation will still be there and that is just a fact. It’s not a right or wrong thing– it’s an objective fact that nuclear bombs leave tons of radiation, even if we cannot see it. And the radiation makes us ill. The radiation changes our lives– we are no longer safe in our toxic environment. That is what an affair is like. Everything can look great on the outside years later, but there is still some lurking toxic radiation. I will never get over what happened to me at the hands of my ex. The people who know the whole story and the layers of harm and ugliness know it was so horrendous someone would have to be superhuman to get over it. Alas, I am not super human. I am a chump who decided to get a Clinical Psychology degree in order to understand what happened. The degree did not explain it, but everything I learned about personality disorders and sex addiction helped tremendously. I hope that others are luckier than me and can get over being chumped.

    I hope one day I get over being chumped. But for now, the nightmares continue, the abandonment issues lurk in the background, and part of me has been forever changed.

    I am glad your blog is here.

    I admire you and a few others who have taken it up as a calling to help other betrayed spouses and to speak the Truth. We are all on the same team to some extent– that is, we write because we want to help others. We are in the club no one wants to join and that binds us together.

    I am truly touched by your article, Tracy, and again, I have no words to describe the visceral reaction I had to reading what you went through. My greatest hope is that you will feel empowered to write more bits and pieces of your story. You did not deserve what you got — yeah, the understatement of the century. And all the chumps here did not deserve what they got either.

    Just dropping in to tell you again how much I appreciate your writing and what you are doing for all us chumps of the world.

    Many blessings,

    • So much to comment on — but wanted to say, I think your radiation analogy is terrific. Also, Gottman not so great (ask Tempest about that). Somewhere around here I UBTed an article of theirs. It was full of RIC blameshifting.

      • Hi Tracy,
        Ohhh RIC blame-shifting is NOT good. That’s uncool!!

        Thanks again for your amazing articles and hope your event in Australia goes fantastically well.


    • Nuclear fallout. Yeah…I like that analogy to post-chump life. I think it’s very apt.

      • Thanks, Beth. It is how I have felt ever since I have been chumped. Everything may look normal on the outside, but there is toxic fall-out that will probably always be with me.

  • This was hard to read. It’s amazing how even those with the best of intentions for us minimize abuse. When I refer to my ex as an emotional abuser, I get crickets from my mom and sister, who in no way like this guy. When I told them about the time he threw a beer bottle at me and glass went everywhere and then he shoved my against a wall, they both said something along the lines of “well that’s out of character for him.” As if I was embellishing. It is what it is. But I know the truth and this site helped me find it. Thank you for all of it.

  • We never really know someone, do we? I just know that when X’s infidelity came to light, he was no longer someone I knew. I also grew aware of just how badly he had been treating me (personally, physically, and financially) in the days, months, years leading up to Dday. When he left, it was as if he were trying to erase me. And the kids, to be honest. Money was his biggest concern. He threatened me. I cycled through grief, was sad, angry, yet my one overriding emotion was fear, and that is the one I obeyed. I let him file. Went NO CONTACT, emailed him my concern (if only to have evidence) and came home to a vandalized house two years later (divorce still not finalized). I called the cops on him then (he’s a peace officer too) but felt like I was walking a tightrope because the MSA was still being hammered out(he had dissipated assets and worked and knew staff at court). X wants to pretend that none of this happened but I still feel threatened, and I will continue to obey my gut.

  • Dear Tracy I respect your courage sharing your story and appreciate the time you put into helping chumps. Your site has been like medicine – sometimes the reminders and new understandings have stung but the longer term effect is healing and with a balm of wisdom and inspiration.
    So many common themes seem to run through CN stories that differ from the RIC rot. Cheaters repeatedly are shown to be entitled, controlling, abusers. Whether its by lies, flirting, gaslighting, financial dishonesty, overt disrespect, verbal abuse, damaging property or physical threats and harm, cheaters’ collective actions reveal their complete lack of empathy and character. Cheating is abuse.
    Thank you for changing the narrative one blogpost at a time.

  • Tracy, this was an amazing post. Like many I’m in tears. I’ve hated the narrative that cheating isn’t harmful, that it’s an isolated bad act by good people (thanks Esther), that chumps don’t matter, really. I guess as a society we give people a pass here, which condones the behaviour and the perpetrator believes they can get away with more and more. And they do.

    Your words are beautiful, and so brave. Thank you.

  • My story is so mild compared to what some of you brave souls have faced. Back in the day, I wanted to replace our dial-up internet access with high speed. I had innocuous reasons for wanting to make the change – I have a genealogy hobby and it took forever to load records with dial-up. Plus there was that $700+ phone charge from my husband getting phished when he “accidentally” clicked on a few porn sites. He was so angry when I brought it to his attention. Why didn’t I just quietly take care of calling the Ohio fraud investigation service and get it reversed without bothering him about it? So anyway, I wanted high speed for “selfish” reasons like my stupid hobby I wasn’t allowed to talk about because it bored him, plus the whole not paying $700 for phone service we never actually agreed to because of those porn sites that ANYONE could accidentally click on… But since it was a selfish request on my part a bargain had to be made. He would “let” me get high speed internet if he could get a gun. We had young children so I wasn’t thrilled with the idea but I agreed. Chumpy me, it never dawned on me that he wanted high speed just as badly, if not more, than I did since those “accidental” clicks on porn sites were only the tip of the sick, deviant porn iceberg. It was a two-for-one win for him – he got that first gun plus faster access to a whole lot more porn. Years later during the divorce discovery process it turned out that after we separated he started stockpiling guns and ammo in a serious way, to the tune of some $12,000 worth of weaponry and ammunition. No, he was never violent physically during the marriage. He specialized in emotional, sexual and financial abuse. With him it was all about control and I was VERY good at letting him control me. Until I had enough. But I thought the gun and ammo buying spree was strange behavior and it worried me a bit.

    Now we’re divorced and my life is on track and his life has gone off the rails: he was fired from his executive position and can’t find another job, he lives with his former (?) stripper, felon fiancé in a falling down log cabin in the middle of nowhere and is estranged from his mother and his children. He stopped paying his spousal support and so far, I haven’t made any move to take him to court in part because I think about all those guns he has, and I think about alcohol fueled anger and how he blames me for everything that went wrong in his life, and I worry that suing him for the support he owes me might be that last straw that tips him over the edge. Honestly, it’s a bit shaming for me to admit that he still controls me to the extent that I think twice about collecting a debt he legally owes me but then I read your stories and I think about loss of control and power and how those things factor into the abuser’s disordered personality and I think I can handle a little personal shame to feel safe.

    Tracy, thank you for telling us more of your story. I don’t know how many people your honesty has reached or how many more will be helped by these new revelations, but I know they’re out there so thank you. Look at the way you and CN are starting to change the narrative around infidelity and now these amazing young people are going to change the narrative around responsible gun laws! I’m proud to be a supporter of both movements.

  • On November 5, a gunman killed 26 people in a church 30 minutes from me, in a county I covered for work. It was devastating. This area has a lot of people, but everyone pretty much knows everyone else. For weeks after, no matter where you were, if someone had tears streaming down their face no-one asked why – people knew why. He should never have been able to get the gun he used, but there were failures in the system to report a domestic violence conviction. He could have been arrested a year or so before the shooting, and lost all ability to purchase guns, but the police dismissed his girlfriend’s call as “teenage drama.”

  • “Where’s my ex these days? In a high-level government job with a Q-level security clearance. I was his last ex-wife and no one interviewed me on his background check.”

    I am in the same place. Wow. Thank you so much for sharing. I like to laugh when people think the FBI cares about affairs or any of that.

    Right after my ex told me we were divorcing, we were still living together, and we had our nastiest fight since he slapped our baby a few years before. The amount of attempted gaslighting and insults…Maybe the govt jobs make them feel invincible, but he sincerely warned me “You do not want to go to war with me.” I hid all of the bullets (for all the unregistered guns) until he moved out. I was terrified of me or the children being shot in the night. It happens so often, I couldn’t not be scared.

  • Thank you for trusting us with your truth. It is an honor and a privilege. I was choking back tears as I was reading your story. As the older ladies used to say when I was growing up (and now I’m one of them) “you don’t look like what you’ve been through.” I hate that you ever had to feel as if you were somehow complicit or responsible for your own abuse. Unfortunately, in this society, that attitude and that belief is frequently actively or passively expressed to victims. Why didn’t you just leave? Well maybe if you just . . . were less assertive, didn’t argue with him, make him angry, keep the kids quiet . . . and on and on, with no acknowledgement that these every day, perfectly acceptable things should never cause someone who supposedly loves you to harm you.

    Thank you for taking your experience and using it to help other people, me included. This is why I don’t necessarily adhere to that belief of hurt people hurting people. Hurt people with bad character hurt other people. Hurt people with good character use their hurt to help others who are hurting.

  • Wow, it’s funny the things you push to the far recesses of your mind. First, I’m sorry you experienced this and second thank you for sharing. My ex hit me once trying to take my phone so I couldn’t call the police, he’s been chasing me around the house terrorizing me, I finally told him to fuck off and he called the cops himself to have them get me!!! That’s how emboldened he was. When the police came he told them he hit me and they needed my confirmation. I was sobbing and hyperventilating I was worried they’d take his step son who lived with us (and sometimes had to be my protector) and his buddy the cop showed up. Said if he went to rehab tomorrow he wouldn’t be arrested so I agreed. Guess who got up and went to work the next day like nothing ever happened. When I finally filed and came to my senses he slept in the spare room with his unregistered handgun loaded next to him. I took a picture of it and the serial number and sent it to my girlfriend one day in case he killed me. That’s what my normal became sending pictures of guns in case I’m murdered.

  • Thank you, Tracey. Every time we share our story, we free a new part of ourselves and we help someone new.

  • Thank you so much for posting this, Tracey. We NEED to have these stories told, and told widely. My nephew died from an unsecured “household” gun–over 20 years ago, but the pain never dies.

    I’m so glad that you survived and are continuing to kick cheater a** on this site!

  • After D-Day, while my STBX was out of town, I put his huge gun collection, including semiautomatic weapons, into safe storage outside of the marital home. We had a suicidal teenager and had already been told by the teenager’s psychiatrist to get the guns out, a recommendation that the Douchebag had pooh-poohed. Until the divorce is final, my attorney says I cannot keep DB out of the marital home. You’re damned right I am not allowing those guns to be kept in my house when he has free access to it. If a person is capable of remorseless infidelity and lies on top of lies for years, what else don’t I know about that the person is capable of doing? People told me I was overreacting. DB pitched an enormous fit and threatened all sorts of retaliation if the guns were not immediately returned to the house. Sorry DB. CL gets it. My story is frighteningly similar. Thank you yet again, CL and CN.

  • I also had an EX with a lot of guns in the house. He also claimed he was a hunter but never really went hunting. He moved out for a job one day before I found email from coworker, realized he was having a long term affair. So he was two hours away thru the week but home on weekends, and we were going to fix our marriage. After DDAY when we were trying to work things out, When I would cry he would remind me there was loaded guns in the safe (when normally he kept the ammo lock up separately in a different safe???). One day it dawned on me that he wanted me to kill myself…. But as time went on it dawned on me that he wanted me to shut up and leave his money alone permanently. He kept telling me he loved the life I had always outlined when the kids get older and come to visit at our lake house, that was the life he wanted he just wanted her in it and he wanted me gone. I would ask so you want a divorce right? No I just want you gone, hey you are being careful of the guns in the closet right?

    Everyone told me I was crazy but I was scared to death. Our MC told me he would not hurt me or himself so I should not worry. So I had filed for divorce and said nothing, just unloaded the guns and moved the ammo. Once he found out about the divorce the rage was scary, I ended up with injured ribs and a quick divorce.

    After that every time he showed up at the house I had two police officers there two but I never felt safe. I also did not press charges, I did not want him to lose the job he had two hours away. I was afraid he would come back to my town. During the 7 months of working things out I would barricade myself in the house because he was only 2 hours away. When he was home for the weekends I did not sleep, I stayed up and played marriage police and would cat nap in a chair downstairs. I even fell asleep a few time behind that chair when I was exhausted. I remember it took me a year after the divorce before I quit barring every door when ever we were home. I would move furniture in front of the doors so we were safe in the house. I actually would leave paper stuck in the door so I could see if it was opened while I was away.

    I still get people who do not believe it happened and that EX the charmer would hurt me. My own parents questioned once about him coming to dinner for the holidays, I was shocked. My two teenage sons have their own stories to tell (I heard after the divorce) so they believe me and they have nothing to do with him.

    I am two years out and doing well, completely NC but still have nightmares about what I felt in my heart he was capable of. You lay down next to someone for 20 years so on one level you know them. I still get mad at myself for spackling things to the point they escalated to my being this afraid in my own home. I am learning to forgive me and to be gentle because Healing takes time.

    I have to laugh every time someone ask me why I am not dating yet after all it has been two years?

  • Absolutely loved the stories of the kids marching. They are bold and brave and they are going to be a political powerhouse. They are next in line and like it or not politicians, they do get to have a say. I love that they are taking on the NRA. It’s about time someone stood up to them.

  • Goddam! Tracy girl you are a warrior sister and so awesome…thank you for being you and being a voice for so many!! Much love

  • Thank you so much for sharing this amazing story. It is wonderful how far you have come. You deserve a wonderful life.

  • I know the cruelty of someone who gets off on abuse/control of another. My first husband was this way. On one occasion he ripped my arms out of the sockets. I begged to be taken to the hospital for hours. He yanked on my hanging arms telling me there was nothing wrong. It was in my head. Finally he brought me in, but not before the threat to kill me if I told what happened. They x-rayed me and got ready to put in an IV. They knock you out for a short period. The doctor takes his shoes off and sticks his foot in your armpit and jerks your arm back in. I begged the nurse to not let my husband in. I told her he had done this. I knew he’d get off watching my pain and have an interest in how the doctor manipulated my arms back in. I woke up on a table with my husband right next to me. The hospital had done nothing. Called nobody. I was in braces with my arms crossed across my chest. That’s when my husband hit the peddle under my bed and dropped my head to the floor. He knew I could not use my arms to save myself.
    I also went through him holding a gun to my head. (my computer acting up) I knelt on the floor for 4 hours before he had to use the bathroom and I made my run for it. I divorced this man in the 80’s after 11 yrs of abuse. That being said I am a gun owner.I worked at a prison. Head of the gang units at my Facility. I pissed a lot of scary people off. They called me the “Wicked White Bitch of the North.” I have a rifle and a pistol at ready in my home. I also hunt. I own a farm and sometimes I have to put down an animal who is ill. My children were put in hunting safety classes when they were young. They hunt also. I’m from the Upper Penn of Mich. where there is plenty of wildlife. It takes a sick mind to do these mass shootings. Seems there is no shortage of these sick minds. They don’t run around with signs on their backs. I worked for many years in the prisons among them. Once you read their files you’d vote in the death penalty in every state. They are masters of manipulation and cruelty. The Domestic Violence laws are not being taken seriously enough and the penalties are not being implemented. Most times the victims won’t testify against the abuser out of fear. The attitude is the abuser will “come around after he/she cools off.” The whole thing a many faceted social problem. Not enough mental health care people and facilities, not enough law enforcement officers, not enough room in jails and prisons , not enough courts to process offenders, not enough money to fund all this. Since none of this is going to be solved anytime soon I’m going to hang on to my weapons.

  • Thank you for sharing your story. It is hard to read. It is important to read.

    My own experiences also include an EX with guns growing ever more violent. The night I finally left (or more accurately, began the series of steps that led to a final separation and divorce), he was raging around the house breaking things and slashing things with a box cutter, and I found myself worrying about where the guns were and what he was doing with them. I was afraid to ask. (I had checked the closet where he stored them, and they were not in their usual spot.) The “smart” part of my brain spoke up and said “if you are worried he might escalate further and shoot you or the kids or himself, the time to pack the kids into the car and leave is now. If you wait until you are sure he intends to shoot someone, you will have waited too long.”

    If you are in a high-conflict situation and the presence of firearms is worrying you. Follow your instincts and remove yourself from the situation.

    My EX’s acquisition and misuse of guns skyrocketed after I left. His violence toward me skyrocketed. He is currently on probation and prohibited from contacting me. He still owns guns.

    Guns and domestic violence are linked. I think one of the many problems we have with guns in the US is that discussing them also means discussing a lot of our other ugly issues. To confront our gun problems is to confront all kinds of inequalities in our society–power imbalances that guns allow to be resolved with a “might makes right” mindset.

    I look forward to the changes our young adults are advocating for–changes that acknowledge the need to balance the rights of those who wish to own guns and those who wish to be free of the threat that guns represent in the hands of irresponsible and violent people. We can do better.

    Thank you again, CL, for all the work you do encouraging people to advocate for their own safety and well-being. Thank you for insisting that we refuse to sugar-coat the realities of infidelity.

    Your commitment to using your own horrible experiences to help others is awe inspiring.

  • My friend Becca cheated on her Husband Tommy and when he found out he started to rage at her. She called the cops, and they were guarding her while she packed and left.

    Then Tommy got so angry he came out with a gun and shot Becca. The cops shot and killed Tommy. Becca lived. He left behind 2 kids. The entire thing is senseless, ugly, and tragic and it makes me sad whenever I think about it.

  • What scares me is the murderous police. They can shoot whoever they want with no consequences. Want to be a murderer? Just become a police officer! Win win.

  • CL thank you for sharing your story. I, personally, am not against guns but I am against people who use guns improperly. Stringent background checks must be a requirement.

  • My STBXH had guns under the bed, behind the bed, in his drawer, and an arsenal in a gun locker. He was unstable before and after D day so I got a restraining order and served him after he left to give me time to make up my mind to keep him. I was scared out of my mind. The night before he left for the hotel he handed me one of his hand guns and told me to take it to protect myself while he was gone. He knows I cannot pull triggers due to my arthritis I’m my hands. I felt very threatened. Very scared. Shaking and sweating. I knew he could take My life because he wanted to be rid of me. My lawyer and my counselor saved me life. There is often, no second chance. Please get out and save yourself. You always have other options.

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