Hi Chump Lady!
As a diagnosed “Perfectionist”, I have been traumatized over and over by the Reconciliation Industrial Complex gospel so awfully prevalent in society. Such a relief to find your site… I feel like I’m remembering who I am when I read you. Thank you.
I knew there was something “off”, decided I was being immature, got married at 19. Four months in there was a Secret Pornography thing which exposed some sexual history that he hadn’t told me about and slightly weird, vaguely sexual conversations on social media that I knew were Something but of course he had a good, “My life is sad and I’m all messed up and helpless please help” reason for everything. This whole thing happened when I had gone out of town with my best friend to shop for bridesmaid dresses for her wedding one weekend. I always thought it was weird that it had to be when I was gone. I now realize it was punishment for leaving him for a couple days.
Fast-forward 6 years. Last January, my estranged father died. In my grief, I was very introspective and had this overwhelming feeling that my life was a lie. I felt like I was able to see that my relationship was fake and my spouse was an actor. I struggled with thinking “I’m just expressing grief in a really weird way.”
I called my husband one day and said “I think I need to live on my own.” He obviously freaked out, screamed and yelled, and I quickly caved and said “I don’t know what is going on, but I’m sure we can work through this.” I eventually brushed it off as a really weird “evil” phase that grief brought me to.
A couple of months later, to sum up, I found out that he has been cheating in all the ways for AT LEAST a year and a half. The evidence I found began a year and a half ago when I had moved us to a very expensive town in California for his school. I had worked a terrible job while he went to a Christian MUSIC school and worked 10 hours a week at a skateboard shop. He had a ton of “cool” friends and I was alone all the time. I thought I was making a sacrifice for our future (we have a band and always talked about wanting to help children in need learn music).
He had continued the sex-meetups, hookups, and webcam sex all the way back to our hometown and even created his own online profile to facilitate local meetups via Snapchat. From this profile, he tried to rope me in by sending me unsolicited RANDOM LOCALS porn and asking if I had anything to send. I didn’t know it was my spouse and deleted my snapchat account because of it.
I confronted him about it, expecting a big blow-up where I could say “That’s it get out!”… but Chump me SOMEHOW felt bad, felt like I needed more clarity. I have asked him to find somewhere to stay and he threw a big crying fit (the first since discovery… he wasn’t sad to destroy my life, just to have to tell someone he’s not the big admirable “worship-leader” they know). A week or so later I asked him to sleep in another room. He launched into this big lecture about not being able to “grow together” through this if we are “growing separately,” which I know is manipulative bullshit.
The problem isn’t that I don’t realize he’s an abusive, manipulative man-boy. It is that I am truly terrified. He has been following me and I have reason to believe he has cameras in my house hidden and is monitoring my devices. I can’t reach out to friends because I’m afraid he’s reading my texts and listening to my calls. (I’m not crazy, there is evidence to support this!) He also carries an unregistered gun everywhere. I told him his guns made me scared on D-Day, and he hid them in a closet….still super accessible. A couple of nights later he was brazenly setting his gun back on the nightstand before bed.
I am scared to do ANYTHING. You say contact a lawyer, call domestic abuse hotline… I’m afraid he’ll freak out if he catches wind of that. He is acting COMPLETELY NORMAL and nice. If I seem alright, he seems alright. Any advice on what to do when you are terrified to do anything? I don’t want to trigger him by overreacting either. I’m thinking I will all-at-once take a day off work, get all my stuff together, bring his weapons to a safe place, and when he gets home addressing the “get out” stuff.
Get. The. Fuck. Out. NOW.
You are NOT overreacting. Call an abuse hotline now before you’re the next episode of Dateline.
Also check out WomensLaw.org for online legal help for domestic abuse in the U.S. (it’s staffed by law students) and one-stop-shopping for divorce laws in all 50 states.
Oh wait, I gave you the advice you explicitly told me not to give. Call a lawyer, call a domestic abuse hotline. I’m sorry EC, that’s the advice I have for you. Because you have to leave this scary motherfucker ASAP and I can tell you from personal hey-there’s-a-loaded-handgun-under-my-bed!-Holy-shit-I-married-a-sociopath! experience that extracting yourself from this nightmare is best done with professional help — lawyers and law enforcement.
I can’t reach across the interwebs to save you. I wish I could. I wish every time I get a letter like this I could come and personally thug kick your abuser.
Instead, it’s Sunday night and I’m typing hoping you see this. And he doesn’t. And if he does? Fuck you, you psychopath. And fuck your Christian rock ministry fuckwit facade. I hope you choke on a recorder. I hope Jesus descends from a cloud of angels and thug kicks you personally. On a high Holy Day. And smites you twice on Sundays.
I have a lot of bad thoughts about your soon-to-be-ex. But let me direct my attention back to you — time to escape to safety. You know what keeps people stuck with abusers? This mental tape loop:
but Chump me SOMEHOW felt bad, felt like I needed more clarity
The self doubt, the self recrimination, the idea that you shouldn’t rush to judgement/trust your senses/trust ACTUAL reality.
That “need more clarity” shit is deadly.
You want clarity? Here’s clarity: HE COULD KILL YOU.
Forget the porn, the rando hook-ups, the Snapchat mindfuckery — HE. COULD. KILL. YOU.
You think it’s some sort of cosmic coincidence that the moment you said you want to leave was the moment he started leaving his UNREGISTERED HANDGUN on the nightstand?
Look, I can’t give you much, but I can give you validation — this is a crisis situation. This is ABUSE.
I know that’s mortifying and you’re a smart person and gosh, he seems so normal and nice right now. So did Chris Watts — that sociopath who killed his wife and two children and stuffed them in oil tanks. She was texting “He’s changed!” and pick-me dancing right up to the end.
Oh, but that’s a sensational murder story and your husband is just a mild-mannered Christian worship leader whose life is sad.
Please know, this domestic abuse shit is VERY (tragically) common. You are not freak of the week. You do NOT need to keep his secrets. This is not your shame to carry. I’m a smart person (a chump, but otherwise intelligent), I’m educated, I have a master’s degree. My abuser had two masters degrees and a law degree. Domestic abusers can be ANYONE. Even “Christian” ministers. Or musicians. Or skateboarders. Or fat, balding patent attorneys.
Don’t doubt yourself. He’s a fraud. And your gut was right. And you have all the evidence you’ll ever need. You need to find your moment and be brave and leave him.
We’re here for you.