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How Did You Line Up Your Ducks?

Dear Chump Lady,

I have written before and asked for anonymity due to domestic violence, despite my ex being out of my house 3.5 years and fear his retribution. I wish to remain ‘behind the scenes’ as a quiet champion of your site and the amazing work you do. This site has literally saved my life and I share it with many people. I have even written it on toilet doors in the ladies!

This link takes people to our horrifying stats and I am sure they are reflected across the globe. In an insane world this site is my touchstone to hear amazing individuals generously sharing their experiences coming out of the tyranny of abuse, stolen agency and mindfuckery. A digital hand-hold through the minefield. There is no greater place to come to fill up on thoughtful words and insights.

Today I feel lucky I wasn’t a sad statistic and cheer on those getting their ducks in a row to get out …It takes time often can seem counterintuitive to those on the outside, but good advice does and has saved lives. Keep on making a difference.

Much love,



Dear Anonymous,

That is the greatest compliment I have ever received as a writer! This site is on a loo wall! I love it!

I’m so glad you’re safe and you’re free, and I’m running your letter today to say thank you to Chump Nation for sharing your stories and hard-won advice. I know it often feels like typing into the void, but please know that your words are helping someone you will probably never meet. I’m sorry the world needs communities like this, but I’m grateful for all of you.

So on that note, the Friday Challenge is to tell CN how you Lined Up Your Ducks.

We write that a lot here — get your ducks lined up! — but HOW did you do it? Stash money? Confide in a friend? Get a loan from your parents? Move to another state? Just get fed up one day and bolt? Or did you plot and make Excel spreadsheets? Hire the biggest badass of a lawyer?

Tell CN your practical Leave a Fuckwit tips and pen some encouragement. Someone somewhere out there needs it.

TGIF! Hold out for Real Monkey Love. And run away from those barbed wire monkeys!

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.
  • Sadly, I’ve left two abusers. The first one strangled me into unconsciousness and dumped me on the highway while we were on vacation. I called work, sobbing uncontrollably, because we were fairly new to the area and I didn’t know anyone else. My manager drove 300 miles to pick me up. She’s my best friend to this day, 33 years later. I didn’t get my ducks in a row. I just went and started looking for apartments the next day, put a deposit down from my meager savings and filed for divorce. In those days, you could file it yourself, so that’s what I did. There was a book you could buy with the forms in it. Fortunately we had no children or property, but if we’d had them, I probably would have given up any property we had just to get away from that bastard.

    I was able to get my things out of our house while he was at work, which is more difficult than it sounds. He was in the Air Force; we lived on base. He had my purse with all my ID, and didn’t think I could get on base without it. My otherwise-useless therapist was married to a pilot and drove me onto the base and vouched for my friend following me with a U-Haul.

    Later, I found out he had been cheating on me with former classmates, a colleague and participated in an orgy with several priests. (He was a former monk. How’s that for Jesus cheating? Father Stephen said it wasn’t cheating because it wasn’t sex; and it wasn’t sex because there was no possibility for procreation.).

    The other one is more instructive, but I’ll put it in a different post.

    • Made your way on to an Air Force base without your ID and with a U-Haul?? Dang. You impress me!

      • The rather useless therapist who spent our entire sessions complaining about how her husband was cheating on her came through for me! I guess I should be more grateful!

        • That’s called “inappropriate levels of self-disclosure”, a big no-no for therapists and social workers.

          • That would be yes. But at least she redeemed herself in the end–you don’t have to be perfect (or even adequate) to help someone out when they need it.

            • I’m not paying a therapist a lot of money to listen to THEIR problems. They need to work that out with their own therapist, on their own time and on their dime.

  • I planned my departure 5 years before I actually left. I had a long term plan – I had just had my 4th child and didn’t feel able to leave at the time, but I was able to prepare to leave.

    I secretly did a bachelors degree by distance learning so that when I left I would hopefully be able to support myself and my 4 children. It took 8 years to complete the degree but most of it was completed in secret before I left.

    I had a spreadsheet filed under something innocuous on my laptop of my possible in/outgoings if I left that I updated every few weeks along with a list of everything I had to do once I left – admin wise.

    I built up a vast range of real life and online friends so that I had *someone* to turn to for support at any time of the day or night.

    I insisted we move house so that I would get financial support in the case of becoming a single parent.

    My main thing was financially knowing I and my children were in a position to survive financially and would be safe with a roof over our heads and food on the table. That eased the difficulties around become a single mum to 4 kids overnight.

    My exh has probably paid around £1000 in child support over the ten years since I left him – each time an amount was seized from him not given willingly. So it’s a good job I didn’t have to rely on him for money.

    The rest of it is a long story but I would say if you’re only at the stage of thinking that you *might* leave one day, do your homework and make your preparations ASAP so that you know if that day comes you will be ready for it. You will also be removing an obstacle to leaving.

    During the process of leaving all I can say is keep your mind focussed on the long game. Visualise your life In 5, 10, 20 years time if you stay Vs if you leave. You know he will always be the same, and you *can* choose a lifetime of peace and happiness. Batten down the hatches when you leave and prepare for at least 6 months of emotional rollercoaster (no more than you have IN your relationship) and then you’re home free forever.

    Worth it.

    Good luck.

    • That’s amazing you did a degree (or most of one) on the sly! It just goes to show how checked out these freaks are.

    • The suggestion to do your research even if you think you MIGHT want to leave is a great one. The more you research, the more prepared you’ll be if you do decide to go, and the more options you’ll discover. The undercover degree was awesome!

  • I left my first abuser when I was in my thirties. I was retired and in my 60s when I realized, to my horror, that the man I had loved for a quarter of a century and been married to for 19 years wasn’t just “emotional,” he was verbally and emotionally abusive. I don’t know how, precisely, I had failed to notice it – except that the first abuser had thrown me down the stairs, slammed me into a wall so hard I went through the drywall and attempted to murder me. This wasn’t like that — he just yelled a lot. And called me names, criticized me, threatened dire consequences if I insisted on discussing that thing he didn’t want to discuss, blame-shifted and gaslighted me. I was sure I was physically safe. Until I wasn’t.

    We were living on a sailboat, having sold or given away everything we (I) owned, including the house I had before we married. I had retired (because he said he’d divorce me if I didn’t) and we were cruising full time. Everything we owned was on that boat – which he deliberately ran aground because he was angry at me. Why was he angry? Because I, with the nautical charts in my hands, was trying to tell him he was steering up the wrong channel, not the one that led to the marina we were trying to reach. He screamed at me that I was too stupid to know what I was talking about, then deliberately ran up onto a clearly visible and clearly marked sandbar. Everything we owned was on that boat, including the dog. For 13 hours, I was terrified as the tide ebbed and the boat heeled farther and farther on it’s side. And then the tide slowly flooded and the boat righted itself. We floated off and were able to go about half a mile before he deliberately ran aground again. It was at that point that I realized he was dangerous even if he had never hit me, and I started making plans to leave.

    The equity from my house had disappeared; and he became enraged when I asked him what had happened to it. He told me it was none of my freaking business. I couldn’t get my retirement savings without his signature (common when you’re married when you’re saving it) and he had already spent most of his. (Again, he said it was none of my business where that money went or how much he owed in credit cards. Lots, he owed lots.). We were on a boat, traveling constantly. No job, no money, no car, no church, no community. I thought I was stuck. In truth, I was just too beaten down and too miserable to recognize those options I did have.

    We were in Florida, and I was still trying to get his signature on documents so I could get my retirement savings when Hurricane Irma came barreling in from Africa. We evacuated to his home town in Louisiana. I had rented the car with the idea of just leaving him — I was ready to abandon my money and everything else — but I couldn’t leave him on a boat alone in a hurricane. We stayed with his sister, and it was she who pointed out the incriminating text messages on my husband’s phone. I trusted him. I had never looked. He was sexting with his high school girlfriend. When I confronted him (stupid, I know) he said it was no big deal, he hadn’t done anything wrong, and he hadn’t even seen her in forty years. It turns out that she was the “friend” he had spent the afternoon with that very day. An old high school friend. My SIL and I had spent the day together while he went to see his old friend.

    Funny, I could spackle over the abuse, but not the cheating. I got him to sign the papers relinquishing all claim to my retirement accounts by slipping them in with the tax documents — it turns out you cannot fool the IRS, and they wanted their share of the money he’d been siphoning out of his retirement accounts and spending. And then I just walked away with what I could carry and the dog. We didn’t have much after moving aboard the boat, and I had my mother’s silver, grandmother’s Bible and my laptop with me. I didn’t take clothes, cosmetics, or anything I couldn’t carry. And then I drove a thousand miles until I felt as though I was far enough away from him to be safe.

    If you read my first post, I mentioned my boss, who drove 300 miles to pick me up from the side of the highway where my first abuser dumped me after strangling me unconscious. Same woman, still my best friend. Thirty years after I left the first abuser, she opened her home and gave me a place to stay when I left the second.

    It wasn’t until I was safe at my friend’s home and going to counseling that I realized how much physical abuse there had actually been. Trying to wreck our home more than once, reckless driving with me and the dog in the car, throwing things at me, kicking things at me and knocking me off the boat — all physical abuse. So was looming over me, trapping me so I couldn’t get off the boat, threatening me, breaking my stuff, and commenting, when he didn’t like something I’d said or done, that he was a martial arts instructor who could take me apart with his bare hands.

    Again, not as much getting my ducks in a row. Although I’ll say this:
    Know where your most important possessions are at all times, and get them out of the house if you can. I mailed some special things to my friend, claiming I was freeing up some space on the boat so we could store food and safety equipment.

    If you can, get your important documents — passport, children’s birth certificate, etc. out of the house. Men have been known to control women by hiding those documents. I backed up my laptop to a portable hard drive and kept that, my passport, prescription meds and a few other precious things in a waterproof backpack, explaining to him that it was a “ditch bag.” That’s the one thing you grab if your boat is sinking. He didn’t think we needed a ditch bag and was happy to let me worry about that.

    I opened up my own private mailbox at a UPS office to which I could walk. When we left that town, I could have the mail forwarded wherever I was. I had my own mailing address that I didn’t tell him about. He was happy to let me deal with the mail, so I got away with that. He didn’t discovered the private mailbox until after I left him, but by then I was having my mail sent to my friend’s house.

    Keep a spare set of car keys where he cannot find them — at a neighbor or friend’s house if you need to. My first abuser tried to control me by taking my car keys and locking me in the bedroom. I went out the window one night and drove away. Foolishly I didn’t STAY away. The second time, I rented a car because I didn’t have one.

    I regret that I never told anyone my second abuser was abusing me. I told everyone I knew the first time. My best friend knows — she held my hand and talked me off the ledge repeatedly. TELL people. There’s no reason to go through it without support or to let them get away with abusing you.

    I was able to keep my retirement accounts by just giving him the boat and everything on it . . . He thought he was getting the better of me and was happy to think he was getting over on me. I pretended to be his friend, regretfully divorcing him to give him his freedom to pursue Schmoopie. I had to eat a lot of shit sandwiches, but he even helped me get my family’s antiques back from the neice (HIS neice) who was using them (because she got locked out of her house when her husband caught her cheating).

    I’m 64 now, with a new full time job. I’ll have to work until I’m 70. That’s OK. I can do that. I just moved into my own apartment and bought the first comfortable couch I’ve had in years. The dog and I are happy. I didn’t realize how much the narcissistic rages had terrorized the dog until I was free.

    This has gotten far too long, so I’ll stop now. Never think you have no options. You always have some, even if you cannot see them.

    • Is is wrong of me to hope your ex is stuck on a sandbar somewhere with a broken mast and a head leaking raw sewage?

      Such courage and reinvention. These stories are incredible.

      • My hope is he coasted into piranha-infested waters and went for a long swim.

        Wow, the Ex-Ms. Sparkly Pants, you are a survivor in the best way possible. Great advice for anyone facing abuse.

    • The Ex-Mrs. Sparkly Pants – Amazing story and much like my own. I also didn’t understand the toll of emotional and physical abuse, not the blackened eye kind, the shoving, breaking things, threatening my dog, driving erratically, until after I finally got out after 20-years because of his ongoing cheating. I didn’t realize the abuse was enough to leave him and I also didn’t tell my friends and family, too ashamed.

      The day I finally realized I was being abused, while reading an article on the cycle of abuse, I shook for hours. I know what shaken to the core means now, it’s when your w hole being, body and soul find out the truth you have been avoiding for decades.

    • I’m in tears reading your story. You are a BADASS!!!
      On a side note, it’s amazing how intuitive dogs are, isn’t it? I didn’t realize how scared and nervous mine was until “Pinocchio” was gone. She and I are blissfully happy together on our own. Much love to you. You rock!!

    • Im one of the many who didnt realize how bad the abuse was until it was over…I was too scared in the middle of it to acknowledge it to myself…it would have required a decision I was unwilling to make.

      Im now so ashamed that I didnt see the rage driving as a deal breaker…he drove with me and the kids in the car as if his singular goal in life was to kill us all in the car at that very moment. I just KNEW that had I said “Im leaving you for endangering us” he would have gaslighted/denied the severity of what he had done and told everyone I was a histrionic nag.

      I want to apologize to my kids for failing them in this way but they are trying to find some peace with thier dads death and me bringing up his faults is unsettling to them.

      • The rage-threatening driving is a trend among these losers! My ex did the same to me AND at least one other former girlfriend (who I am now good friends with). When I would confront said ex, she’d just rage at me and blameshift. This was one of many violent things she would do to me and my friend. I’m sure ex did all this to all her partners and probably her friends too. She was also physically violent towards her mom.

        • My family and friends watched me take back my cheating husband six times Over the course of two years including when I had 16 rounds of chemo and it wasn’t until my mom said look up the cycle of abuse and my jaw dropped open. It was like this moment of clarity. I know now you can get so caught up in survival and wanting to fix and help a person that you can lose sight of the bigger picture. My good friend had made me bring important financial documents to her house and put a retainer of the best attorney during dday 5. After the 7th time I just said get every damn piece of your shit out of this house and I will never talk to you or even look at you again. And I haven’t. Grey rock, no contact except for minimal kid stuff and I’m going to fight like hell for as much custody as I can get. So I lined up my ducks only with the help of a good friend and parents who forced me to and I thank God every day for them.

        • My ex would run through stop signs if he wasn’t hearing what he wanted to. He would also goose the gas and brake to flip my head, knowing I have a weak neck from a car accident years ago.

          • Awww…this is so hard to read. We need to continue to share in the hope we are helping someone else.
            My abuse came in the form of making me feel invisible…I really did not exist or matter in his world.

            • Wow. There are so many of us. 39 years of marriage and all those years he cheated, lied, hit me, mentally and emotionally wrecked me. Looking back, I just was not strong enough to be on my own. I never meant a thing to him. Nothing. Zero. Ziltch.

      • Unicornomore, I could have written this too:

        “ Im now so ashamed that I didnt see the rage driving as a deal breaker…he drove with me and the kids in the car as if his singular goal in life was to kill us all in the car at that very moment. I just KNEW that had I said “Im leaving you for endangering us” he would have gaslighted/denied the severity of what he had done and told everyone I was a histrionic nag.

        I want to apologize to my kids for failing them in this way….”


      • My ex was a careless driver at best. He was always texting while driving which drove me nuts. He would also regularly drive drunk. There were times he did the rage driving as well. I didn’t realize this was a thing with these asshats. I also didn’t realize this was abuse, but I never enjoyed being a passenger in his car, so that should’ve been my first clue. Thanks for the insight.

        • The reckless rage driving, finally I can see it as abuse. I experienced the same, along with the gaslighting and blame-shifting after.

          The first time we were driving to his parents with our then six month old in the car. He started to text his boss back over a petty thing(a malicious narc) who knew he would be driving for one hour – driving on the left lane at 200 km/h (German autobahn).
          I arrived crying to my FIL and informed both. As always none of them stood up against their son.

          I failed my baby daughter on that for ever letting him drive us again. I did in that incident shout at him and made him pull over.

          I got the silent treatment for weeks for that and he also used this as evidence how I wasn’t supportive of his career.

          Several othrt times he would drive on purpose into the rescue lane after accidents. When I begged at him not to or pointed out how morally wrong he was and the difficulties to medics and rescue crew, he would rage at me and actually shout, who ever takes care of ME, the poor guy who’s forever working and in need of sleep.

          At the time I didn’t know chump lady. I remember posting the incident with my baby on a help site for co-dependents of workaholics. Little did I know about the entitlement and self-righteous rage of the narcissist then.

        • OMG ME TOO! I clearly remember one time my mom, dad, and I were in the car with asshat. Mom (who was about 75 years old at time time) said “Asshat, you’re making me really nervous. Could you slow down please?”. Asshat sped up. That should have been the deal breaker. Of course, he apologized (to me, not her) later, and I swept it under the rug with the rest of Kilimanjaro.

          Asshat fancied himself a super cool guy that listened to heavy metal and played electric guitar (besides the fact that he’s a pot-bellied financial advisor with terrible dandruff that has not picked up his prized guitar in 30 years). One time I got in the truck with him and he was listening to some stupid metal song called “you’re the reason I lie”. wow. The list of shit like this is so long. Sometimes I have nightmares that we are still married.

    • Ex-Mrs. Sparkly Pants
      I am going to re read both of your posts, later, I have to let them sink in.
      YOU are Amazing, beyond Mighty.
      I love your BFF.
      Thelma & Louise type, there for each other, always there for each other.
      I don’t know what else to say….
      Big big hugs to you, your dog and your BFF!!!

    • Wow, Ex Mrs Sparkly pants! You are amazing. Well done on escaping twice. I now consider myself lucky my cheater just left and I didn’t find out until later he had been having a four year affair. I was devastated because I loved him and didn’t want to leave so no ducks in a row.
      Those with abusive ex’s please be careful. In Australia we have just had a young mum and her three children murdered by the abusive husband she just left. She had a protective order against him also. Take care everyone.

      • I just read that story Georgie. Horrendous. That evil bastard couldn’t just top himself he had to take his wife and 3 beautiful children too. They quoted in the paper that it had to be “his way or the highway”!

    • Ex-Mrs SparklyPants,

      I read your post this morning, but didn’t have to write. But I have been thinking of it all day.
      One thing you wrote that sunk in deep was “Funny, I could spackle over the abuse, but not the cheating”.

      That is what keeps me from getting to meh. How could I let this abuse go on for 41 years!

      But, you know what!? We are amazing! You seem to be about my age and we are some “corocious” people (courageous + ferocious; I used to make my mom laugh because I mixed up the words to describe a lion) . Take care! I feel better for your post.

      • I’ve read all of the replies calling me mighty or courageous or “corocious” and am crying. I never thought of myself as strong or brave; I thought of myself as a slow learner — why did it take me three cheaters, two of whom were also physical abusers to realize that I needed to fix (or even develop) my picker? But if all of you wise women think I’m brave or strong, maybe I am, at least a little bit. So thank you, all of you!

        • Of course you are mighty! You’re here, you’re free, you got out and stayed out and you are rocking your new life. That’s mega mighty in my book?

        • Also you are an amazing story-teller and writer–you had me absolutely riveted!

          It’s always such a shock to read such humility from strong, clever, intelligent women who also happen to be chumps–Chump Lady also is very humble the way I read her from time to time. And it just stops me! I think it’s a thing with chumps. Sometimes we just still can’t see our worth or our value, or we don’t want to believe that we are special or extra when we really really are sometimes.

          Hm. Just, hm.

  • I moved myself and my kids into my parents home several hours away from our home after she wanted a “separation”. My parents, while not wanting any of this either, convinced me that divorce was unfortunately the best option. They loaned me the money for the lawyer and I filed. I didn’t tell her for two months after and when we sat down to meet and I told her I had filed, the look of shock on her face was the first indicator to me what a Chump a truly was and what she took me for. She knew everything that she had done and I didn’t and she was still shocked I had the balls fo do it.

    I’m still sad at times, still angry, still lots of emotions but I’m getting so much better. My business is doing better than ever and things look so bright. The kids are doing so well(thanks to a marvelous counselor) given what was thrust upon them. Karma doesn’t feel as good as I had hoped. She can’t get a job after getting fired from the last one, put on a bunch of weight and looks so much older. It’s a sad thing when the people you love self destruct and can’t even see it or ever admit it.

    • I never had my ducks in a row. Housewife for 15 years. Medical conditions not able to work. 4 kids. And he kicked us out… because his needs weren’t being met.
      My sister took us in. I got on state assistance, fixed my medical issues, got a job and a house. Took a loan and filed for divorce. I’ve been in court for 3 years now fighting him for proper support and custody. (They go for custody when they find out how much child support costs.). I’m in college because alimony only lasts so long.
      I’ve had to wing it the whole time, and I attribute my survival to God leading me one step at a time. The church that supports me, I didn’t have before. My job, not before. You may not think you can survive on your own. I stayed 5 years longer than I should have because I thought there’s no way I could make it on my own. Then I had no choice.
      I took the first step, God showed me the next. I did that, God showed me the next. Etc. plan what you can. Do what you can. You’ll be surprised the options that open up to you once you take the first steps and get the ball rolling.

      And I’ll say this. Mine was a Jesus cheater. Preached from the pulpit while he was having affairs. One- we all have free will, and some people choose to do awful things with it. Two- That gets God really angry. God cares more about you and your kids safety than the sanctity of marriage. So don’t let ANYONE tell you to stay for “death do us part” or “for the children”
      It’s been scary at times, but my every need has been met. And even though I’ve been in court over and over- he keeps messing up and giving me more evidence against him.

      You know your situation. Be safe. Be smart. Tell someone. You can do this.

    • I’m glad for the counselor but the kids are doing well because of YOU, the sane parent. Give yourself some credit. (((HUGS)).

    • My take is that when he was riding high with his OW he hadn’t a care about me or our family. So I can’t cry or feel bad for him now.

  • On the road today. Wish I could comment on every post. These stories are amazing. Big hugs to you, (((CN))).

  • Wow. Just wow – so much mighty.

    I hope that any gentlemen Chumps who had to escape also weigh in. I know that statistically it is most often women fleeing, but men do too. Your experiences matter too and others may glean information or be inspired to do it too.

    • ok… but my story isn’t all dramatic. I didn’t have to flee. My XW isn’t nuts or wacko. She’s just… shallow.

      And as I read these stories and all the stories over my years reading this blog, I think, “huh… i dont have it so bad”.

      I just let myself get MAD. Thats how I did it. I let myself finally get mad. pissed off at the one person I was trying so dam hard to not really be mad at. I got mad. I got pissed.

      And so I called a lawyer. And I called friends. And I moved into my pal’s basement when it wasn’t my turn at home. Or I went to my parents which was hard, cause there was all the family photos, but I did it.

      I then photo copied every little paper in the file cabinet.
      I then make copies of all the bank statements. Of every phone bill. I printed every email. I mail piles of documents. I photographed the whole house; opened drawers and snap pic’s of all that “we” owned.
      And I moved all my stuff into the friend’s basements. I started to let go of things I imagined as important. I said goodbye to house rooms and spaces I thought I’d forever be around; the piano for example.

      I got mad. And I put one foot in front of the other. I made mistakes; I told the adult nephews what happens (then lost them — no regrets though). I kept moving forward.

      Here I am. Different. Better. A LOT less mad.

  • I never had my ducks in a row as i was absolutely blindsided and abandoned it was over before i knew anything was happening

    But my Boss has been amazing – he lent me the money to go and get legal help ( He is taking a small amount out of my monthly wage to pay him back ) He drove me to the lawyer as i couldn’t even function.

    Once i had a bit of money behind me i could fight back .

    I knew my Ex would only care about money and fight for every penny . He wanted this that and the next thing ( no household goods though only hard cash ) – oh how wrong he was !!

    I got all my old paper work looked out and what i couldn’t find i called companies and asked for help
    I proved the deposit for our home came from me and me alone through the sale of my former home which i bought 6 years before i met him . I proved that i used my savings to pay off his debt before we were married . So we went back and made his settlement offer which he refused ( no surprise there )

    Then i got an email with his new address on it !! I paid £3 to the land registry and found out he had bought a house with her months and months before he left me . I by law was entitled to that asset so we went back and said keep the car , keep the few £000 you took by emptying the savings account and here is less than 1/4 of marital assets if you don’t accept this then we go full steam ahead to court with all the back up of premarital assets and we are going after your new house as well
    He accepted !!

    My boss has since gave me a pay rise and i have opened a savings account which now has a few hundred £ in it . I will never ever put all my money into a relationship again that savings is mine

    • You are mighty karenb6702. He definitely sucks. I’m so sorry this happened and hope you have a awesome future to lm forward to.

    • I wish we would teach all our kids to protect their own financial interests when they fall in love.

    • Your story made me smile. Great karma for your fuckwit. Way to go use going after the house he bought with ow. So few of us get to actually witness that kind of karma. Yea for you being able to. You really rocked it!

  • It took years, but I slowly got all my ducks in a row and found the strength to leave an abuser. My counselor told me in 2008 that my husband was an abuser and I should get me kids and leave. I was so beat down, I could barely get up and take care of myself, how could I take the kids and run?

    I started slowly taking care of myself, joined a yoga studio, went to grad school. I made a list of things I needed to do to get myself back on track and out of a depression. By the time I find out he was cheating again, in 2011, I was ready although I didn’t file until 2014. I was ready because I knew I had to leave, I knew I could leave and made sure I had finances to do so. What held me back was fear. After I filed for divorce I literally thought he was going to kill me and so did my friends and family.

    I suffered with PTSD after I left, night terrors, panic attacks, memory loss, but I fought through that too. I am finally on the other side, healthy and happier than ever.

    It’s hard to leave an abuser and even harder when your abuser has used your fears against you for so long your perception of things has changed. I believe God gave me a way out and the strength to let go. I thank God everyday that I am free and healing.

    • ChumpedToTheMax, while I’m heartbroken you endured these years of terror, your experience is so helpful to those who also need time to get the energy to leave and to those who were able to leave quickly and perhaps aren’t as compassionate about those who don’t. You give hope to all.

      I have a friend who is a SAHM with a much wanted (IVF) baby and she found out her husband was cheating with sex workers (apparently she had caught him before the marriage too but he took it underground d). She left. All hell broke loose, he threatened her, their child, threatened suicide. She went back. I told her about CL, tried to be as supportive as I could — she thinks she has a unicorn, he went to a few marriage counseling sessions, she’s completely isolated and plays marriage police 24/7. It’s really really really hard to see this (brings up my PTSD symptoms just writing this).

      Your post reminds me there is hope, there is always hope.

      Thank you.

  • Dear Chump Lady,

    I wrote to you October 15, 2019 a few days after my X shot himself in a suicide attempt. Since that writing, I have made a lot of progress and wish to give Chump Nation an update and reach out for more feedback.

    As a quick recap, after one year of marriage I discovered that my husband was a “sex addict”, (insert psychopath, somatic narcissist, lowest form of human being) had been with many women before, during, and after our marriage and had gradually depleted all of my finances.

    In the past 120 days, I have:
    Divorced. Final February 18.
    Arranged a restraining order.
    Gone 99% No Contact – only minimal contact for legal correspondence
    Completed college Fall semester with five A’s and an arrangement to complete my degree (@ 20 credit hours to graduate!) on-line
    Liquidated/sold/consigned/stored all of my possessions including the Grand Piano I bought myself for my 60th birthday.
    Arranged to be a 50% business partner with a General Contracting business owned by a old and trusted friend of 20 years.
    Received psychological counseling
    Moved out of state.
    Learned to reach out to others for emotional support and guidance.

    • I say you have done enough for a time and see how things play out for a few months before you take on still more! You know, do take some time to relax or simply ENJOY your day.

      If there is anything that you can do without extreme effort to make that 99% NC become 100% NC – that would be my goal.

      But you are rocking the bad ass.

  • Despite the fact that I actually did the pick me dance for 13 months, hoping to save the marriage, I also was lining ducks up on the side, just in case.

    Started tracking all spending to see if I could afford to do it on my own. Started using up all the points on my cards to buy things on sale/clearance for the house, figuring that if he goes, I’ll encourage him to take old things that I already had new replacements for. Kept all the things accumulating at my mother’s house. I started to overpay the bills so that there was actually a couple of months credit on most of the house utilities.

    When he introduced a 50/50 access arrangement with the kids, I knew that in my “no-fault” province, I wouldn’t be able to just say no. However, I was able to talk him into an arrangement that was 60(me)-40. Because I outearned my ex by more that 40%, it actually meant that I would be paying him an equalization payment. When our son with autism derailed badly shortly after my ex left for good, I was able to get a family counsellor who found that the arrangement we had was inappropriate for my son’s condition, which resulted in a slight shift in the number of nights spent with his father. It shifted the balance to 70-30, which meant that my ex was in a child support paying position to me. All of this accomplished without seeing the inside of a court room.

    My documents were all collected, passwords to all accounts (including his passwords), all monies accounted for as he just wasn’t paying attention to anything anymore. I even got three evaluations done on our house, all from estate agents who were friends of friends, that consistently undervalued our house so that I got the best deal when I bought him out.

    Then, I hit the jackpot. Discovered the secret email account he created the last few months of the marriage when he claimed he had let go of the OW for good and was going to put his all into saving the marriage (idiot used the same password as all his other accounts), and printed everything. Almost daily messages to the OW recounting their relationship history, his progress in dismantling the marriage during this time apart, how he felt that he was successfully convincing his family that the marriage is over and that there was no connection to their affair, how the advice he was learning through marriage counselling sessions with me was going to help them in their relationship, his financial strategy in leaving me. All this happening while he was pretending to work things out in the marriage.

    I presented all of this to his family. I also showed some of my friends who are the wives of his best friends. Everyone was in shock at the insanity of what he had been doing for years (this woman was around for two years and he still claims to this day that she was only ever a friend that he had met a few months before). He has been gone from the marriage for two years now and still doesn’t know that I discovered those emails and that everyone know about them. He continues to lie and doesn’t realize that everyone knows it, so he’s always scratching his head about why no one believes him and why no one is accepting this OW and his narrative about their relationship.

    The final frontier was my pension, of which he was entitled to half of it. That’s where we came to a head. He knew I could go after the child support, but it would bankrupt him. So, he agreed to leave my pension untouched. If he tried to go for it, it would not lead to immediate cash as it would be slid into another locked retirement account for him to only access years down the road or lose 30-40% of it to taxes and early withdrawal fees. He signed away the pension if I promised to go easy on child support, which I gladly did as I don’t need his money.

    What he didn’t know is that the entire time, behind the scenes, I was in consultation with a lawyer. About once a month, I would meet with her for about an hour ($300/hr) to get advice on navigating things with money and custodial access with the kids. With patience, I put things in place and hoped that my ex would continue to have his head in the clouds. It worked. It took a lot longer to hash out a legal separation agreement, but the more I stalled or he stalled because he wasn’t caring to get things done, the more I built up a de facto custody of the kids and the more I built up financials he was owing me for the house that I maintained that still had his name on it. My lawyers consultation fees totalled about $3000 over that period of time, but it saved me over $200 000 of my pension.

    If your life is not in risk staying, it is worth taking your time to line up your ducks. Get that lawyer. Get that financial advisor. Start tracking behaviour and parenting patterns. Collect that evidence. Bide your time. By the end, my ex was so afraid of what the court costs would amount to to fight what eventually fell into place, that he signed the agreement I had drafted with so much in my favour. No doubt a lot of luck was also involved.

    They think they are so smart in their duper’s delight while cheating. In the end, be smarter.

  • Wow, these are some mighty survival stories!

    After my kids told me he was cheating I started lining up my ducks. Started exercising, got short term counseling, got a separate bank account, bought another car, joined CL, bought CLs book, gathered necessary documents, went to a divorce workshop, etc.

    Cheater left January 1st, 2019 to enjoy his new live den. I got a temporary agreement. Just recently and will submit documents to court next week…

  • I’m about to enter the thick of it. Not living together. He left me out of the blue after 26 years, no children, 6 months ago. I was blindsided, no warning, life as usual, he seemed happy, but stressed at work. I was close to 60. 2 months later I find evidence of a long distance affair with ex girlfriend who he last dumped 27 years ago (still denied by the way). He had plotted and planned for some time, hidden bonuses and amount of earnings. I had stopped work to begin a portfolio career, delayed due to injury and bereavement. I had invested every penny of my high professional earnings in our allegedly ‘team’ effort. There was only one team member in this instance. Both professionals with roles requiring honesty and integrity. I was honest, he wasn’t. I was blamed for everything. And the mind games! I have not got my mighty back but I know that financially my retirement will be hard. I have been told to send him and her good karma. I can’t do that. My ducks were already stretched to the max. and bedraggled. I hope his and hers become mangy too. It’s what Mr and Mrs ‘Soulmates, Sliding Doors’ deserve.

    • Madge – Don’t forget to comb through your IRS filings (I’m assuming USA) and ensure he didn’t do anything illegal for which YOU could be holding the bag.

      “I have been told to send him and her good karma.”

      WHAAT?! Drop those Switzerland friends/family. Back away as far as you can, maybe entirely, for that mind fuck.

      Best of luck to you – I hope that you are able to recoup financially.

      • Hi No Shit Cupcakes, not US so that’s one thing I don’t have to worry about.

        Yes the Switzerland friends are proving to be triggers, and I need to move on from them. Thanks for the good luck – I’ll need it.

        P, on that basis they are in for a very bad time!!

    • He dumped her 27 years ago……guess what? It won’t work out this time either, but who cares? Don’t waste energy on sending them “good karma” just concentrate on yourself.

      • Thanks KB22. I know you’re right about concentrating on myself. That’s good advice.

    • You’ll get your mighty Madge2

      In fact I think you’ve already got it but are shy to show it off !! Showoff your mighty we’ve got your back xx

      • Thanks karenb6702. It’s good to know that CN are behind me! I will give my Mighty a boost.

  • I got myself into college so I would have a degree. Convinced him to move out of our rental and into my grandmother’s home after she passed away, so the children and I would have a home to stay in. Then I opened a secret account for my money. My advice would to be very careful who you tell what you are doing. I made the mistake of telling a “friend” that I was taking steps to leave my abuser. She went straight to the rat bastard and told him what I was doing. He hurt me that night and destroyed anything he could get his hands on in the house before I was able to force him out of the house.

    • Also, have a bag packed and be ready to leave at a moments notice if things get scary. Have somewhere to go where your abuser can’t find you. The rat bastard called me one night after I kicked him out and threatened to kill me, the children, and then himself. I had to grab all the kids out of bed in the middle of the night and run to my mother’s house (she had just moved and he didn’t know where). My mother only lived an hour away, and I hadn’t even made it to her house yet when he started calling and leaving messages wanting to know where I was with the kids. He was at my house and knew we weren’t there. I had to call the police and file a restraining order.

        • He was very good at image management. I clearly remember fights between us where I didn’t care enough what people thought, and he cared so fucking much. So much that he had to tell me how I should’ve acted, how I shouldn’t have. What I said, what I should’ve said. How I always come across, what I could do about all that. Etc.etc. It was always so exhausting.

      • It seems that many of us also need to fix our pickers as far as friends are concerned too. I know I’m definately one of them.

  • Cannot believe they strength and courage of some of these women. I am in awe of you. If only I’d found CL much much sooner in my separation journey. It would have saved me so much heartache and stress, particularly with the financials. Thank god you all exist.

  • I had disconnected from a few years prior, and was staying in our relationship ONLY because I wasn’t going to leave our youngest son (age 12). I had perfected grey rock, and 1 word responses; he didn’t even notice a change.
    One evening, he finally lost his shit, went into a rage like I’ve never seen and kicked down the locked French Doors leading into our bedroom where I was hiding.
    I ran out of the room, stepping over broken door frames, grabbed my sons hand and ran. We had the clothes on our back, which were pajamas.
    I’ve never been back, never looked back.
    In a few short months, I’ve obtained a restraining order, hired a kick ass attorney, got our son into counseling with a therapist specializing in domestic violence, obtained a confidential address, moved to a new town, installed a security system, bought a car, and furnished an entire new home….everything from plates, coffee cups, beds, underwear, bra, clothes and everything our son needs. The court him one-hour supervised visitation with our son, once a week. ONE HOUR!
    He on the other hand, awaits sentencing for domestic violence in our home that is now empty of everyone but himself. He had a drug addiction (He kept it hidden from me until he couldn’t) that he can no longer afford, so he went through detox alone, at home. He is unemployed, and unbeknownst to me, had just taken out a 3rd (!!!) mortgage on our home a week before I fled. The OW (plural-WOMEN) he had been having relationships with while we were together (supply harem anyone??) have all discarded him.
    My ducks are NOW in a row…after I left.
    He did not break me then, and by God, he will not break me ever. Angry women are mighty!!

    • The 3rd mortgage is fraud apparently and hopefully will be calculated into your share of the property. He’ll eventually blow off the 1 hour supervised visits as soon as he lines up some unsuspecting woman.

    • I just want to tell you that what you did for your son was the best thing you could have done for him for his future. You protected him. You modeled self respect. And you showed him that is father was not an acceptable role model.
      I grew up with a physically violent (abusive) father. On the night when I was 12 and my father was choking my mother on the kitchen floor, I went in and told him to let her up. She put me and my sleeping toddler sister in the car, and I told her, “Let’s get out of here.” She sat there and sat there, and then said she was going inside because she was worried about my father. I told her “If you go back in there, you’re crazy.” But she did. And she stayed another dozen years until my father threatened my sister’s life (my sister was 15 by then).
      I may know now that she was an abused woman acting from out of the mindset of abuse, but my mother’s actions that night still had so many repercussions for me and for my relationship with my mother (who is now 93 and for whom I am now serving as caretaker). She taught me by example to subject myself to abuse and to put my abuser before myself. She showed me she was not willing to protect her children from abuse.
      So: Thank you. Your son may not be in a position to thank you right now, but I’m going to thank you on his behalf until he can.

      • That’s so sad Adelante… I can just see that little girl, acting heroically <3

  • In addition to all of the excellent advice that’s been said here I’d like to add a few tips of my own.
    Set up your own savings and checking account, a credit card with only your name on it.
    When you go grocery shopping add a $20-$40 atm charge and keep the money. Have a $500 stash of cash hidden and ready. Always back into your parking spot so you can make a quick getaway.
    Online banking was a savior. When I left, I was able to quickly transfer half of our savings into my own account.
    If you can’t leave because you’re mentally stuck, disengage little by little, one day you’ll be able to leave for good.

    • If you can’t yet act, do your research. It’s important to begin to imagine life on your own, because it helps you get to the point when you can act. Go online and read up on the divorce laws in your state; find out who the “super lawyers” in family law are in your area (eventually you’ll make an appointment and take the step of retaining one); look up the price of rental housing (eventually you’ll be able to make yourself go visit one or two. ). Get a good understanding of your resources, including bank accounts (and who’s spending what), any retirement accounts, mortgage, etc.
      To detach emotionally, begin making lists: make a list of every time s/he says something hurtful, every hurtful act, every instance of when words and deeds don’t match up, everything you won’t miss about being married to your cheater, everything you’re not able to do because of your cheater, and everything you’ll be able to do and want to do when you’re no longer married to your cheater. The clear picture of what’s wrong and what can be right will help you begin the difficult task of unloving your spouse.

      • Adelante, such excellent advice! I hadn’t even realized it, but I was doing all those things in the years leading up to Affair #2, and it super helped me once I decided I was done w/that fuckwit.

        I’m another one for whom cheating (the 2nd time) was the dealbreaker, but not the on-going psychological abuse and physical intimidation and threats (which I now know is also abuse). Sigh.

  • I borrowed money, put a Lawyer on retainer, and started moving boxes out if the house when he was at work to store in my friends garage. He never even noticed. I copied all of our financial documents and gave them to my lawyer. I rented a uhaul, secured a room to rent from a friend, and moved out while he was in Indianapolis humping someone he met online. He got shingles before he left, got stuck there for 10 days in the snow, and had been catfished online. He came home to no wife, no pets, and a cold dark house. Take that jackass. (We were married for 44 years and have 8 kids)

    • OMG I love the mental image of him coming home to that empty house! You are super mighty!

    • Wow, amazing. I hope you are thriving!
      Also, LOL at calling what these ijits do ‘humping’ ???? Sounds about right!

    • I so hope you were able to turn off the utilities so there was no chance of him obtaining hot water or electricity until he signed on as a new customer.

      Still mighty even if those bills were in his name.

      *applauds wildly*

  • I had to cash out my retirement to buy a new home, but it was worth it. I also filed for child support and alimony despite by ex telling me I didn’t deserve any type of support. Our initially amicable divorce quickly went south as soon as I moved out and stopped agreeing with everything he said. I stopped reacting and started responding, and he punished me financially. Fortunately my parents loaned me the money to hire a good lawyer who understands abusive marriages. That has been key, finding a lawyer who gets the bullying because she doesn’t tolerate it at all.

    He refuses to settle so we’re legally married going on 20 months post-separation. He’s on his second lawyer, and after our recent mediation, my lawyer described his lawyer as looking like he saw a ghost after consulting with my ex for 30 minutes – things weren’t going his way. We now have a hearing scheduled for this summer.

  • 1. Filed for divorce, after realizing he wanted a wife and a girlfriend
    2. Borrowed money as he wanted to control me through money since I was a SAHM
    3. Switched attorneys one week before mediation as my original attorney was going to not deliver on what she promised. She wasted an insane amount of my money for basically nothing. New attorney delivered. She was a gift from God.
    4. Made a life for myself – cheater free – love the peace I have.
    5. Did all the work separating my name from his on all our joint stuff – after 30 some years a lot of shared accounts.
    6.Set up all my own investments, that have done well!
    7. Bought my own place.
    8. Jointed several support groups where I have made some amazing friends!

    To this day – three years out – even though he is married to the ho, he is still angry and blames it all on me.

  • My duck-lining was odd since I never left but I knew a serious stress was headed his way and was and that he was not going to handle it well and the rage that I expected from him was going to be family-ending.

    Our septic tank was full and he (special that he was) didn’t need to have it pumped. At some point, it was going to back up and I would be blamed…it was inevitable and it was going to be ugly. He blamed us living in this place as all my fault although he chose it and bought it. I would have secretly gotten it pumped while we was gone one day if I could but the builder poured the patio over the access hole so demo was needed and I couldnt hide that.

    Part of keeping my ducks somewhat in line was refusing to allow him to move me again – forcing me to quit the job I love and displacing our kids AGAIN…we had moved cross country for his career 6 times and I was done with that.

    Oh my…sitting here typing, 7+ years after this happened, I finally connected the dots…he WANTED this disaster to happen. He wanted an excuse to rage and he knew I would leave. He didnt want to be married to me but was simply not willing to end the marriage with integrity…I came to learn much later that he had no integrity…he had lived a duplicitous life for years.

    I kept my kids in a stable environment, worked my job and saved all my money in a separate acct. My income was meager compared to his so its absence didnt really show but with consistency, I was able to save $40,000.

    So I had promised myself that I had tolerated the last rage. We had lost all our home equity in the crash of 2008 and would be lucky to leave with savings. My vintage Mercedes was in his name and I knew he would claim it. My plan was to buy a modest car and rent a modest apartment and just survive the initial adjustment.

    I came home from work on our anniversary and he was really angry that a job he had applied for went to someone else. I was so numb from his hostility I barely reacted to learning the job was 3000 miles away. I had made anniversary dinner reservations that he cancelled. I trudged into work the next day and was praying “God, its OK for him to move…if there is a place where he would be happy, its ok if he goes there”. I thought I was speaking of California…seriously…he saw it as the promise land and had run-off there before. 8 days after that he died suddenly from a septic embolus. God knew him better than I did.

  • I wasn’t in such dire circumstances as many Chumps, so my tale of lining up ducks isn’t very dramatic. But perhaps useful to someone in a similar situation …

    When I figured out he was cheating again, after 6 or 7 years of wreckonciliation, I thought about how to get confirmation, and within a week, I did. I didn’t say a word, went and saw a lawyer. Got all the info I needed to be able to plan. Found out that at my kids’ ages at the time, they got a say in how much custody time with each parent – YAY! Figured out my budget. Increased my hours at my side-job. Then confronted him IN A PUBLIC PLACE; he had been quite convincingly physically threatening in the past. Because I knew what the law said and how things should go (although I didn’t say I’d seen a lawyer, and continued to consult w/the same one), he just went along with things.

    I was very lucky in one way; Cheater’s narcissism made him think he was handling everything to his best advantage, and that I was still his friend who would continue to make his life easy, as I always I had, and I let him think that.

    He preferred to move out of the family home (so he could have the freedom of a ‘love nest’ and lots of time out of the city, where Shmoops lived), but wanted me and the kids to stay in it (because he thought he was coming back if things didn’t work out w/Shmoops). This meant he had to be financially generous. He easily accepted only about 15% of the kids’ time (because of his oh-so-important career, plus time w/Shmoops, plus who really wants the WORK of raising kids?). Even once he realized he was in trouble, he couldn’t touch my retirement savings (larger than his) or pension (he didn’t have one except gov’t minimum) because we weren’t legally married and there’s no common-law in Quebec.

    I gradually untangled all our finances, and ended up in pretty good spot. He started getting angry once Shmoops dumping him (both times!) when he realized I wasn’t going to let him come back and that the kids were sick of him. He blew mediation up, and lost on custody and child support by simply not showing up in court – although he would have lost anyway, given QC laws.

    So here’s hoping any new Chumps have Cheaters who are as dumb as mine was, and that you have good lawyers and good legal systems that protect you! Take CL’s and CN’s advice, there is so much collective experience and wisdom here!

  • I am hesitant to even post after reading the brave stories of the ladies here. I feel a need though, because as a man I thought if I patiently wait I can fix this or her. I know there are other men who are doing the same thing at this moment. Don’t!

    My X would state after her violent confrontation’s, I am just a small girl, you have nothing to be scared of.
    Thinking back now I truly escaped with my health and very possibly my life. That codependent part of me, I can fix this, was my downfall. She picked up handguns and knives while threatening suicide. It freaking never occurred to me how within a second she could have pointed them at me. Close calls of her running me over after I had started walking home, because it was too dangerous to ride with her. How, why, was this OK in my brain. I had always been rational about everything in my life. Hell I live in Texas. We don’t walk anywhere! Now I realize my loyalty to my family and wife, overrode my personal safety and certainly overrode any future that I had yet experienced. I was so caught up in the “her crazy” minute by minute acting out. I could’t even see the forest much less any tree. I was in my own man fog of, I can fix it.

    So my experience is, I did not line up any duck.

    Do not be me.

    Toward the end, one thing I did do right was use her ambivalence in my favor. She still wanted cake and icing. So I shutdown all confrontation and let the divorce wheels slowly turn. This I did correctly. I took advantage of her la la land brain, by doing less. She even became angry that I was not helping her move after filing for divorce and at least 3 AP’s. My response to this request was silence. I used this disconnect in my favor.
    Funny, I still feel a bit of shame typing these lines out, that I took advantage of her crazy. I guess that is difference between healthy spouse vs. unhealthy. Awareness of our actions in regards to others.

    • Bluedog65 – You really are lucky to be physically no worse than you are and even alive. Women are every bit as capable of stabbing, shooting, running someone over or beating them to death with a bat as anyone else.

      Don’t feel shame for not doing her bidding still further. At some point, you simply run out of gas. It’s for the best.

      Thank you for sharing. I hope other gentlemen Chumps read it and take solace that they aren’t along (and then get started down the path to the Kingdom of Meh).

      Be well.

      • “Women are every bit as capable of stabbing, shooting, running someone over or beating them to death with a bat as anyone else.”

        Truth! My ex is a woman and she’s also deeply violent, threatened to kill people, and raped and statutory raped many many victims. I’m thankful every day I’m alive after that. She would have killed me if I stayed, no joke.

        • The beating them to death with a bat comment made me shudder. I slept beside her for over 2 1/2 years after discovery. She could have done me in, anytime.

          I had an uncle many many years ago who was in a car accident. He only had a small scratch on his forehead. Due to the head injury he was a bedridden vegetable for over 20 years and finally died laying in a hospitable bed in his living room.When I told another cousin about my X throwing a claw hammer at me as my back was turned. How it went by my head. She said, wow you could have been like uncle Arthur! That comment sat with for a while. Scary thought.

          It is interesting how we often only think of life or death. Black and white, when there can be a whole lot of other misery in between. Just the idea of well he/she is not going to kill me, could very well be the worst thing that could happen.

          Sleeping with unstable can be…well unstable and very unsafe. Be safe folks.

    • Hey Blue(Red), Good work getting out in one piece.
      I had one moment where I almost got ran over as well. Granted I was a raving lunatic and calling her every name in the book at that particular moment. Not one of my finer moments but this stuff can bring out the crazy in someone.

      • Hey brother!
        Great to hear from you.

        I never told you. I was married in Banff and honeymooned outside of Calgary.
        Damn, did that trip, turn out to be expensive!! Ha!

    • Bluedog – “Funny, I still feel a bit of shame typing these lines out, that I took advantage of her crazy.”

      So I’m not the only one who still struggles with doing what I did to protect myself. My story of lining my ducks is written below, but your comment here still resonates with me. There are still many moments where I feel guilty that what I did was sneaky and underhanded, so I must be a bad person. Intellectually, I understand that I was being smart to protect my interests and my kids in the face of a husband who had stopped carrying long before and was more interested in pursuing his “happiness” with no thought to the cost of anyone else’s suffering. Yet, I still feel moments of shame that I stepped out of my RIC mode and used his obliviousness to my advantage.

      However, for how many years did our cheaters use your obliviousness to their own advantage in carrying out their affairs and all that doing that entails? Most experienced duper’s delight in pulling one over on us for years. How ironic that then we berate ourselves for doing what we had to do to protect ourselves from all of this.

      • Chumps are so careful, so self-reflective! We hate the idea that we might have done something wrong. So we worry about this stuff.

        But the Cheaters, are they worrying they might be doing something wrong? Might be taking advantage of someone? Nah, they’re FINE!

        When you’re dealing with an unreasonable person, it would be DUMB to act as you would in a relationship/separation/divorce with a reasonable one.

        I felt bad for a while that I took advantage of my Ex’s ignorance of the law around separation, custody, support etc. And that he clearly thought I was still in wife-mode and would make the separation easy for him, continue to facilitate (read; prop up) his relationship with our kids, and would take him back once he changed his mind about his ‘new life’ w/Shmoops.

        EXCEPT, he was just as able to consult a lawyer as I was. He was just as able to look this stuff up online as I was. And I TOLD him that I was done w/wife-ing for him and done with the relationship. And he’s not intellectually limited in any way; the man has a Ph.D and an MBA that he’s very proud of! That he CHOSE not to look for this info, that he CHOSE to ignore what I was telling him … NO LONGER MY PROBLEM.

        No guilt no more.

        • Your right that there isn’t anything that we know that our cheaters couldn’t learn for themselves, if they bothered to try. I don’t know that I will ever really understand why he so flaked out in educating himself. My ex is also no dummy. However, he was always personally lazy…as in he would always work hard at his job, but then choose the path of least resistance in every day life. His lack of initiative drove me nuts.

          Now that I’m two years out, it’s interesting to see how separated life and parenting with him is simply the same shit (but a different pile) as when we were together. It’s me doing all the legwork for the kids (our son has autism) and him going “ok”. He puts no effort in. Waits for me to tell him what to do, which a don’t because it’s not my job so he does little. Then, if I get annoyed with him and call him out on something, he plays victim and tells me to accept that I can’t control him. Seriously?!?!

          So as much no contact as possible works best for me to maintain sanity. As my lawyer told me, “Don’t help him parent. You’re not his wife anymore. Let him dig his hole.”

      • Options thanks for the reply.

        I look at my twinge of guilt or shame within my actions during divorce and consider it a healthy awareness. I did the personal work during attempted reconciliation. I now know what unhealthy shame is compared to healthy mindfulness of my actions.
        As y’all know. It is the action of people’s thoughts that move them forward.

        Words not so much.

        • In doing the personal work, we get smarter about ourselves. That is the mistake of so many cheaters, they mistake our naivete as trusting spouses for stupidity. We are not stupid, and when we wake up in our lives, all that mental energy that we expended on them gets turned off. Most of us carried much of our marriages, were the problem-solvers in much of the adulting of family life, so it stands to reason that when we use our smarts for protecting ourselves, the cheaters don’t know what hit the (and often don’t even care to notice they’ve been hit in the midst of their “fog”). Yeah, us!!

  • After my discard for the OW, my ex began stalking me. Cease and desist letter was no help, police were no help of course, going public in the community was no help. So I made a secret trip to my nearest city and rented a furnished apartment. Came back, grabbed my clothes and my cat, and left, without telling anyone (not even my parents) my new location. (I didn’t mail forward with the post office, just in case!)

    I could do this scorched-earth no contact because we weren’t married and didn’t have children. So my heart goes out to those chumps who are struggling through endless court processes and custody arrangements with these carcinogenic turds.

  • I suppose my methods are pretty boring. I would like to say I was tough, but I wasn’t. It took me a couple of weeks to get the will to do all this after D-day.
    * Hired a PI
    * Hired a lawyer (she already had one)
    * When she said she was moving out in the next couple of weeks, I agreed
    * Threw out all her shit that she didn’t take with her
    * Before she left, I turned off the satellite TV channels. She spent hours and hours watching stupid shows instead of being with her husband and kids; she could go find her own stupid TV to watch. I never heard the end of how she missed the season finale for one show (Royal Pains?) Oh, boo hoo.

    Ok, that last one isn’t really getting ducks in a row, but it was definitely gratifying.

  • Every time I went grocery shopping, I bought gift cards and stashed them away. Credit card statements were looked at but not receipts.

    I was really afraid that once I filed, our money would be tied up or there would be a period before temporary support was established through the courts. Plus, he often threatened to stop sharing his paychecks and “let me figure out where to get the money”. I wanted to make sure the kids and I wouldn’t run short on food and gas.

  • Chump Nation’s Guide to Lining Up Ducks would be a wonderful supplement to Lose a Cheater, Gain a Life.

    Already there have been so many excellent suggestions. I’d like to group them into categories.

    Keep it quiet. You can’t line up ducks if you’ve confronted your cheater and threatened divorce unless they stop seeing the AP. If you’ve not yet confronted them, don’t. If you have, then go along with any kind of reconciliation and let them believe that you are all onboard and that you believe that they’re reformed (they aren’t, and they are probably starting to hide money from you).

    Seek legal advice–Even if you think you’d like to give Reconciliation a try, it’s always smart to seek legal advice. Most attorneys will have low cost initial consultations. Use these consultations to learn more about the laws governing divorce in your area and what the courts view as a standard settlement. Also try to see which lawyer you believe will handle your situation the best. Knowledge is power.

    Get emotional supportYou can’t talk with your cheater. They’ve betrayed you and no, they don’t care how much they hurt you. If they cared, they’d not have had an affair. Until you file for divorce, you really can’t talk with family members, as you can’t guarantee they won’t blab to your cheater. For real support, you need a therapist. Your therapist will help you cope with the betrayal and the stress. If your therapist suggests that you are somehow to blame, then switch therapists.

    Once you’ve filed, then feel free to let family and friends know that you’re divorcing and the reason. Be aware that some of your friends will be Switzerland friends (want to remain friends with you both), some will intimate that marriage issues mean both of you are at fault (ask how the victim of domestic violence contributes to their own abuse–cheating IS emotional abuse), and your cheater’s family will likely rally behind the cheater. None of that matters. What does matter is that your truth is out there and you got there before your cheater tried to manipulate the narrative. The cheater may try to manipulate the narrative, but as long as you can stay sane and rational, your cheater will have a hard time discrediting you.

    Get your own financial house in order. Run a credit report on yourself to see where you stand. If you haven’t established credit in your own name, start to do so. Paying on time is one of the easiest things to do to improve your credit score. If you do have credit, but you’ve run up lots of debt, use one of the debt-reduction programs out there (Dave Ramsey is well-known) to eliminate debt and shore up your reserves. Get a better job or take on an additional part-time job. Build up a cash reserve so that if something happens, you can leave and have cash on hand. If you’ve been out of the workplace and need to brush up your credentials to be employable, start taking a class to do just that. If you have the income to do so, work with a divorce financial planner.

    You should also try to get as much information on your household finances as possible. Get account statements, know about the credit cards, etc. If there is investment income, this will be documented on prior tax returns, and yes, you need those.

    Prepare an exit plan. Ideally, you want to leave on your timeline. However, you have no idea if your cheater will suddenly serve you with divorce papers or threaten you. Have a go-bag packed for you and your kids. If you have personal property that is not part of the marriage household (your grandmother’s jewelry, the photo album from your great-aunt, etc.), then take those off site.

    Plan your post-divorce life. Look at where you want to be in 6 months, 1 year, 5 years out. Use this information to figure out the best settlement possible under your state’s laws. Think about the best way to get that settlement. Consider what kinds of compromises you are willing to make. This way, when you do file, you have a plan and you know what it takes to get your goals.

    By being proactive in lining up your ducks, you empower yourself so that when you do file, you’ll feel much stronger!

  • At the time I didn’t feel like I was lining up my ducks. But instinct kicked in and I handed him his walking papers after 32 years. Once he knew his charade had been uncovered, he began to let his guard down. Didn’t think I was as mighty as I was. First told him I wasn’t going to accept his behavior, lies, cheating, god knows what else anymore. Started stashing money (a must do). I did all the shopping so he was never on to the fact I was buying a pack of gum and getting back the limit in change usually 200-300. Opened up my own account. Chump change!! I also got larger amounts from shared accounts. While he was pretending to get help for his sex addiction (porn) I was sleuthing through all of his own of town receipts. If he spent excessively, I took the same amount. This went one for about 6 months. Lined up an attorney and waited for the right moment to hit him with divorce papers.

    Then one beautiful spring morning he answered the door and was handed his ass. The look of shock on his face was priceless. Game over! Of course it was a high conflict divorce bc these people are all a**holes. I changed the locks when I discovered he had bought a RV and set up an out of state address PO Box. He was allowed to come back at the end of divorce to collect his clothes, tools, other belongings. I was always a great feeling when I beat him at his own game. I wasn’t unfaithful ever, but I was sneaky in getting much over on him. Post divorce now 4 years and I live a life stress free of this freak who hid behind me and our beautiful grown kids/grandkids to look normal. Mostly everyone shakes their head at what he wasted. He ruined His life not mine! One foot in front of the other, YOU can do it! They Don’t Change and YES they all SUCK!

  • The lining of my ducks:
    (Luckily I was not living with serial cheater and we have no kids together, but I feel like parts of this can still be useful to those who do.)

    -I started seeing my own therapist who specialized in domestic violence.
    -I demanded a two week break away from her, saying I could not survive the relationship any longer unless I had space to heal.
    -During my “break” I realized I could not do it any longer because she was most certainly going to kill me either through the physical abuse or STDs. My health had already declined significantly and I was in fear of losing my job because of how much she kept making me late to work, keeping me up at night against my will, and showing up at my work to harass me.
    -I had the landlord change my locks.
    -I wrote a detailed list of why I could not return to her and sent it to friends for additions and revisions and I carried it with me everywhere.
    -I wrote her a breakup letter explaining my reasons but then ending with a paragraph about how if she tried to stop me or force me to see her, that would mean she does not respect my decision and I would cut off all contact at that point.
    -I told all my friends and arranged to stay with a friend until I knew it was safe to come home. I also arranged for a potentially long term pet sitter.
    -At the end of the work day when I could leave, I sent her the break up email and put the key to her house in the mail back to her. I then skipped town and waited to see whether she would react violently. I kept my therapist up to date on everything as my therapist was more familiar with warning signs. I didn’t know if ex would react violently and get a gun to shoot me/others or what. She has a history of physical violence and making death threats.
    -Her reactions were sad but not angry, which my therapist thought were a good sign for my safety, so I waited a couple days and then returned home.
    -When she begged to see me, I just referred her back to the part of my email saying that I was taking that as her not respecting my decision. I refused to see her or speak to her besides cursory responses.
    -I shared everything she wrote with friends and my therapist. They helped me construct my replies. Then eventually when her replies were so frequent and manipulative and awful, I cut off all contact.
    -Months later when she left “gifts” outside my front door in the middle of the night, I photographed it as evidence, made a police report, and donated the items and kept the receipt as evidence.

    And that is the story of how I lined up my ducks and left for a life free of abuse, manipulation, sexual abuse, and constant fear for my life.

  • It took me a few years of being treated increasingly badly (verbal and psychological and financial abuse) to become aware that his behavior was abusive. It took me until after I moved out to realize that the abuse started when I ran out of money. He pretended for a week to be a good husband in an effort to get me to sign off on a home equity line of credit for his owner personal uses. So I saw clearly that he could choose how to behave towards me, but mostly couldn’t be bothered to be decent.

    I started looking into divorce, met with an attorney a few times, and negotiated directly with stbx to a legal separation, selling the house and separating the finances. Had 4 women friends I could call to vent and strategize leaving the frightening situation.

  • All I can add is that at 60, it’s possible to end a marriage with a substance abuser and then a few years later, survive being discarded by a narcissistic cheater who had promised to be my financial and emotional “safe place to land.”

    I saw an attorney who advised me that I would lose a lot of money (relative to my situation) in a divorce, particularly half my retirement. My then STBX was already retired and had his money tied up legally. The lawyer said I would end up paying alimony. And I couldn’t see how I could do that and still survive. So I did a lot of research: how much equity we had in the house, what another house or apartment near my work would cost, what would I need to do to survive financially and retire someday. (I’m lucky I can work into my 70s at full salary). My therapist and banker were my biggest helpers in this area. The banker figured out how to re-fi the house so that one of us could buy out the other. My therapist helped me to plan out my financials to the point where I could see getting to a reasonable retirement. I worked that plan. I gave my husband 3 written options dividing our assets. He picked the one where I could buy him out of the house, he kept all the household stuff other than what I brought to the marriage, and we each kept our retirements separate. I helped him get re-settled and had enough money to start over–painting the house, getting a sofa, etc. I already had all the documents and financials in my possession because I did all that in the marriage. The worst thing was finding his personal papers all over his workshop, mixed among the wood shavings on the floor. I’m the one who copied HIS papers for him to take when he moved. I spent a year living in an apartment while he got his act together.

    When Jackass came on the scene, he was all about how he would be there forever and I shouldn’t worry about money. We’d have 2 incomes! He would take care of my big yard! We would start a business and have a third income stream! Of course, none of that ever happened, for which I am thankful. But I had my plan and that’s what saved me when it turned out that Jackass was future-faking.

    Every adult should know–KNOW–what they have to do to make it on their own, financially. That includes SAHPs. No one wants to think about affairs or divorce or death. But the fact is that none of us know the future. How would I survive if I were suddenly disabled, for example? How would a SAHM survive if she needed to leave? How would a spouse in a 2-earner family survive on one income and maybe a little child support? Nothing is impossible, but it takes a plan. And that takes information, knowledge, and a willingness to imagine life can be configured in many different ways.

    There is nothing in my life that surprises me as much as the fact that I am self-sufficient financially and that if I keep working my plan, I will have an adequate retirement. All my life I feared being “on my own,” and that led me to missing a lot of happiness by putting my energy into relationships that might save me from that fate when what I needed all along was a plan to take care of myself.

    Here’s what I told a young woman who was like a daughter to me: If you own a home, never sign it over or sell it to be with a man (married or otherwise). Get a pre-nuptial agreement that the house is 100% yours if there is a separation. Always have your own vehicle. Always have your own bank account. Know where all the money is going. Always put aside cash into an emergency fund. Have your important documents organized and readily available to you. Don’t be afraid to ask friends and family for help. It’s better to move in with someone for a while than to stay with an abuser. Believe you can always, always start over. If you doing these things already, it’s not too late to change.

  • A survivor’s guide to getting your ducks in a row 🙂

    1. Buy two three ring, three inch binders (one for you, one for the eventual attorney)
    2. Get tab dividers for binders (see above)
    3. Name your tab dividers: Credit Reports; Financial Statements (Assets); Debts; Phone Records (if applicable); and lastly… PROOF (this is where the hotel room receipts, screen shots, emails, etc go)
    4. Get checked for STDs
    5. Open a separate bank account (and not at the same bank as any joint accounts)
    6. Interview the top 3 – 6 attorneys in your area to discuss your case (share the binder)… hire the one who is going to advocate for you (and the rest cannot work for him because they’ve already met with you)
    7. Before any confrontation with your cheater, consider a post-nuptial play (discuss with attorney)… you may be able to get your cheater to think you’ll stay by getting him to sign a post-nuptial agreement and if she/he does, it will hold up in the divorce proceedings… (guarantees you things like child support, spousal support, property agreements, debt agreements, etc.)… get it signed and notarized (courts love things that are signed and notarized)
    8. Stay off all social media… you want nothing that can be used against you in regard to mental stability; child care; restraining orders; etc….
    9. Be kind to yourself and your kids, etc., but prepare for No Contact with cheater
    10. Once I knew it was over with, I got ahead of the narrative with my son… Mr. Sparkles balked, but it didn’t matter, he was too late to spackle over the age appropriate truth of “married people don’t get girlfriends while they are on family vacations”… little nuggets like that 🙂

    Everyone’s list will look different – but some of these I learned from Chump Nation and came in handy. I’m 99% at meh… but during those 1% moments of nostalgia, I pull out my binder and flip to the personal ad as a BiMWM where he used a photo of himself from our son’s baptism pic (just cropped me and the baby out of the photo)… brings me right back to meh!

  • When the Fucktard’s abuse turned physical, I left in the night to visit a (much older) friend. I wanted a witness. She told me to get into the catbird seat, and stay in the catbird seat. Then she explained what that meant.

    I took her pep talk to heart. The next time now-ex laid a hand on me, he drew blood and was promptly arrested and removed from the house. Over the next six months, I inventoried the property, assembled the financials, got a new job, and figured out what I needed to start over. He didn’t get back into the house until I got those things.

    He was furious, and the rage and attempts at retribution continued for years after, but I’d protected myself, was cautious, and was safe. He circled the drain for over a decade, then died a lonely and painful and untimely death.*

    I’m a big fan of the catbird seat.

    * Your results may vary.

  • I, also, left two abusive relationships.

    The kids dad: He was financially and emotionally abusive. I knew that I had to leave when I was 5 months pregnant with my son (2nd child, already had a 4 yo dd) and had to go off work early for sciatica back pain. Financially we separated our household bills by him paying for everything related to the house (it was his prior to our relationship), and me paying for my car and food and everything child related. At this point he was making 50k+ a year and I was making maybe 15k working part time because we agreed it would be better for me to stay home with the kids.

    I went to see a bankruptcy specialist to determine whether I should do a consumer debt proposal vs a bankruptcy, and she was gobsmacked when we crunched the numbers, and she realized I was living with kids dad who made the amount of money he did, and was unwilling to support the kids and I, while pregnant.

    I ended up filing the bankruptcy, gave birth to my son, and read many, many books during this time on how to save your relationship. Two things happened during this time:

    1) he became even more controlling – he removed the dryer cord and hit it, refusing to allow me to dry the babies cloth diapers, he insisted I was wasting energy and his hydro bill was too high, i MUST use the clothesline…. then he said the hot water tank was going and he didnt have enough $$$ to fix it, so his solution was to turn the power off to the washer/dryer AND the hotwater tank, and then LOCK the electrical box shut, so I couldn’t “sneak” it, without him knowing. Then it was a rule that I was only allowed to use the oven 1 x per day. No more baking in the morning and then cooking dinner. I had to figure it out all at once.

    2) a relationship book that I was reading asked me to list: 3 things you admire about him. I could not think of ONE thing. Then, list 3 things you LIKE about him. Again, nothing.

    So, because he worked midnights, I made my plans. My family was aware, and they were concerned that I not tell him ahead of time, as he had guns in the house, and was unpredictable. He drove a cube van back and forth to work, I drove a small compact car. That particular night, I remember he wanted to switch vehicles to save money on gas. I told him, fine, we could meet at the local McDonalds at a set time the next morning on his way home from work (we lived out of town, and he worked in another town altogether). That night after he left, my my showed up and took my daughter. I kept the baby, put him in a backpack and moved everything I was going to take into his cube van and did 3 loads to my mothers house. I left a lot behind. I also hercules moved a ton of stuff, looking back, I had no idea how I did it.

    Because none of our finances were intermingled, I did not have to hide anything. The week prior, I had been reorganizing the kids stuff, which he was used to, and I was squirreling my belongings away, amongst their stuff.

    I had already seen a lawyer, and drafted my own separation agreement with child support determined as per the Child Support table of Ontario, and knew my rights.

    The next morning, I met him at McDonalds, we exchanged keys for the vehicles, and then I told him I had left him. He had no reaction. A few weeks later he contacted me to ask “what’s it gonna take to get you back in the house…” I said nothing, and he popped in and out of the kids lives a bit after that until we went to court many years later, because he got a girlfriend that thought he should be a dad….

  • Sadly if you have children the verbally and emotionally abusive ex’s still abuse. I never realized how bad the verbal and emotional abuse was until I got out because of cheating and physical threats. I left the family home with kids on advice from police officers. Got my ducks in a row filed for divorce. Got a Job (stay at home mom for 15 years). Bought a house with divorce settlement ( nice neighborhood with great school district). Have majority custody of the kids. Still get verbally abused through “Our family Wizard” can’t find anyone who can get it to stop. Still tries to use child support and health insurance as a game to try to abuse ; but I put myself in a spot where I don’t need the money (financially stable). Sadly emotional and verbal abuse is not easily detectable or provable, it destroys who you are a piece at a time. It takes years to rebuild self-esteem, but thankfully at least being 99.5% gray rock has helped.

  • The 2nd abusive ex I left was ex narcopath.

    This was a lot more tricky. He had drained me financially, as well, but I refused to pay any more money towards his house, and his mother backed me up. So I had a months rent set aside. We also kept our money and accounts separate.

    I had left him six months after moving in, so we were not common law, shared no property or kids.
    We had a fight around the six month mark, and I took my kids (from a prev relationship, see above), and moved back to my moms for 3 days. He begged me to come back, promised changed behaviour, so I went back.

    I gave him 3 weeks to shape up. I knew after 1 week, nothing changed, and he was even worse, so I began making plans. I told all of my friends. That was tricky, because he had accused me of cheating on him, and he constantly was looking at my phone. I changed my password and told all of my friends not to text or call me, I would call them.

    Next, I contacted my landlords of a the apartment I rented before I moved in with him. It was a cute basement apartment, but because they ran a music school above my living room, they were unable to find other tenants while I was gone that would put up with the noise. They were amazing, and allowed me to rent from month-to-month, so financially, I could pay the first month. They even cleaned and moved up the moving date for me when things got bad at ex narcopaths (they even made me dinner for the 1st night back).

    Next, I was trying to figure out how to move my furniture. I was scared of ex narcopath. He had never been physically violent, but something about his behaviour scared me. So I was calling moving companies while in my car, before school pickup with the kids, and having to hide the notes in random notepads in the glovebox in my car. I realized how abusive this relationship was, when the moving companies wanted to come to the house to see what I had in order to quote me. Which I forbade. I also told them they were never allowed to call this number, and I had to erased all my phone history when done with their calls. I was also worried about what would happen on moving day, as ex narcopath has flying monkeys all over, and we lived on a main road in town. Someone would text him at work and he would drive home to confront me. I was worried about the workers safety if he did this, and was too scared to call the police to escort me.

    As I was making these plans, ex somehow caught on. He harrassed me relentlessly to just tell him the truth, and I confessed. He kept me up all night long, wavering between pleading and call me dirty names. (My kids were at my moms that night). I had not planned on telling my children except a day before we moved, due to many factors, and of course ex narcopath threatened to tell them. He also threatened to move all of the childrens’ belongings into the dirty, oily garage, if I didn’t promise to stay.

    Ex narcopath ended up crying to his parents about me leaving, and they asked me to come over for a family discussion, which I did, and they ended up berating him. His father promised to help me move with this truck and trailer, if I could find no other way. I think, in retrospect, that by telling his parents and keeping them involved, it ensured my safety.

    Ex was very petulant about me moving, but my mind was made up. He refused to help me load or carry anything, and his dad finally called and yelled at him to let me use his truck. He did not clean out the flatbed of his truck, or brush the snow off, and everything he did reassured me leaving him was the right choice. I moved mostly everything myself, as I did not want to call my friends and subject them to his rage. I had cancelled the moving company out of fear for their safety.

    Ex begged me, the day that I was moving my final load, to go to one last therapy session. I decided to appease his rage by telling him that I was moving out, but we could date from afar. Therapy was a disaster with him telling me he would cheat on my if I wasn’t physically there, and then we drove to my apartment with his truck full of my furniture. He sat in the truck crying, while I managed to unload everything myself, and then he threatened to leave me stranded them. I had to call his dad to talk sense into him, and he pretty much cried to his dad how he fucked everything up. My patience was thin with this act, and once I drove back and got my car I was out of there.

    I am currently still in my sweet apartment with my awesome landlords, and I have been no contact with ex for 3 years. After I moved out, I went back 4 more times, dating him while living in my apartment, but his promise came true and he cheated on me, so I left him for good.

  • Dday 12/27/14, GTFO day 5/20/15 when XH said he had never stopped seeking OW, wanted to see her openly.

    I completed sale of our family home, used money to pay off all debt including mortgage on our smaller, affordable rental home kids and I had moved into. Insisted hoovering XH go to rehab, take polygraphs, and sign iron clad postNup with full custody, 85% of assets, alimony for life to take him back — he refused. Hired badass divorce attorney and filed. Got kids into counseling. Continued being sane parent, documented all daily parenting activities by me, and none by XH. Took out two $25k limit credit cards to pay for lawyer. After week-long trial was over and I won all assets and full custody, I refi’d my home to pay off attorney fees. Bought an affordable older Toyota. Got new licensing in my career and a new job making double all during the divorce from hell took the licensing exam and got new position two months after the divorce.

    Hired a certified financial planner and got all my finances and retirement planning in place — he gave me an A+ at my last review.

    Post-cheater life is amazing! Keep going through hell and do not stop new chumps. It will be so much better on the other side! I promise!

  • The most important thing I started to do was to talk to people I trusted about how bad my marriage was. Good advice followed. Support followed. Eventually, the courage to leave followed.

  • HELP Chump Nation.

    My lawyer has told me to stay put in the house until everything is settled and signed. Trouble is, cheater refuses to leave even temporarily. Having to see him everyday is keeping my ptsd in high gear and I just want to move the F on.

    Do I just have a crummy lawyer? Anyone have any stories or guidance on transitioning to a new place (rent/buy) with the weird timeline that is the divorce process?

    Longest divorce ever.

    • Fearful&loathing Hugs to you at a tough time! Can you check with another lawyer, or is there a domestic violence support or womens centre that can give advice about the recommendations for your location??
      Hope you can connect with good support to help you cope, survive and more on from the PSTD too. Glad you have found CL and CN. I used to make lists – many were practical things I needed to do or sort, but some were planning things that were impt to me in a new place, and things I wanted to do (joining classes, hobbies, friends to catch up with /groups to join). It helped to look ahead and plan for better times, Good luck to you!

    • So sorry. I had to do this too. It was miserable. But 2 years out and I can hardly remember it. Honestly, I just drank a lot to get through it. My parents worried I was becoming an alcoholic but once he finally left I cut out the booze and things got a lot cheerier

    • OMG, I’m so sorry! I was in this situation also. (For a little over a year.) Asshole was literally using sleep deprivation techniques, punching things, threatening me, even tried to demand sex to the point of near rape, raged a lot, stumbling drunk. He would not leave and I couldn’t afford to. I was being tracked and was forbidden to talk to a lawyer, but I did see a therapist who told me to get out before I was a statistic. The one thing I had going was his image management needs; that alone may have saved me from getting killed or maimed as Mr. Executive didn’t want to look bad for his professional career.

      Your lawyer needs to know that he is unstable! Squirrel away money and get out! You will make more money and like the earlier poster said, you will get a little amnesia in a couple years. I had PTSD, adult onset very severe allergies, a very weak immune system, an ovarian tumor, cervical pre-cancer, and a breast lump in the 2.5 years that followed. That was all from stress! (Well the cervical issues are stress AND the HPV that fucker gave me.)

  • I applied for every job I could possibly do for over a year, and in the meantime I temped and did multiple part-time jobs. He didn’t believe in cellphones and refused to have one or let me buy one. I bought one out of my tiny paycheck. I kept my vital papers at a friend’s house. I got luggage locks for my computer case, backpack, and purse and wore the keys 24/7. I changed all my passwords every couple of weeks. I got my own PO box in a nearby town; I opened a bank account at a financial institution where he had no accounts and started stashing money there. I bought a beater car and when weird things started going wrong with it, I took the spare keys away from him. Funny how all of a sudden there weren’t any more mishaps with my car. I kept my vital papers at a friend’s house. I got luggage locks for my computer case, backpack, and purse, and wore the keys 24/7. I changed all my passwords every couple of weeks. I quietly told several friends what was happening so I’d have places to stash things and places to run to. When I finally got a job far away, I was astonished because people who had known my situation came up, unasked, and gave me money. I ended up with enough for the deposit and first month’s rent on my new apartment and a month’s living expenses.

  • I spackled over increasing emotional abuse over decades, and, to my shame decisions about making pets live outside that I did not agree with, rage driving the family. A turning point was telling my sister about DD1 (he gaslit it was EA – it wasn’t until much later another OW at DD2 later I found out DD1 was more) – but then I had a supporter albeit at some distance who questioned me how things were and I could share events and hear her reaction and affirmation that it was not usual or reasonable. Her care and concern sustained my spirit). At DD2 I gave up hope of change or improvement and saw that his abuse was escalating. After deciding to act – fear made me very careful. Control extended to a location app(so I left the phone at home with a flat battery) while I saw a counselor, and on his advice consulted a lawyer (both I paid using borrowed cash from a relative. I stocked up on provisions as I had no independent funds / and a fixed term role had just ended at the time of leaving. I waited a little so as not to disrupt kids exams and held my plans very close. Changed locks once he was not there – even then kept essentials in a small safe exit bag and knew the domestic violence line (discreetly) so I could contact them if need be. Kept my phone in a pocket and had other people there the last few times in his presence. Even now media reports of new domestic violence are triggering as I knew his brothers had physically abused their female partners. X is blocked on social media, email and cellphone after later abusive email/calls.
    Now just over 3 years since ‘leaving day’ I sleep peacefully in a new bed (with our two old cats happily snuggled up) in a modes, happy, new place with both kids. We sing sometimes (walls singing) and enjoy catching up with friends, I have a job I like, and am studying and making time for old and new hobbies. I count my blessings every day. Newbies be encouraged – you too can leave a cheater and gain a life!

  • Wow! Amazing group of chumps here! My Cheater was more along the lines of La La Land than vicious. I did a lot of the common Duck Lining up but here are a few to add:

    I got us a new credit card in his name only that was the same exact one as our joint one we used for years. I used it close to it’s limits to pay family bills he was not paying and to gather cash back cash.

    We had a very large check come in that was being sent Fed Ex that he was hounding me to let him know ‘as soon as it arrives’. I watched and tracked and ran down that Fed Ex truck, got the check, brought it immediately to the bank and deposited it. As soon as it cleared I paid off our regular credit card first, then transferred the remaining half into an account only in my name, and removed his name from our formerly joint credit credit card. The fear of letting him know half the money was moved was horrendous, but I am so glad I did this.

    I also started and completed a certification that enabled me to get a half way decent job, since I had been a mostly a stay at home mom.

    I needed a new car (I already had funds set aside). I remember thinking I better ask him to help me shop now since our marriage may be ending. I was actually afraid to car shop on my own! That is unimaginable to me now! I have even had a few flat tires since we split. The first one I was freaking out and almost called a guy I was ‘dating’ to help but decided I didn’t want to take it to that level. It turns out there are tire places you can go that will serve single women 🙂

    Women who are reading this who are locked into interdepdence with a man, which is a perfectly fine and wonderful way of life with an honest partner — separating is only overwhelming at first. After you adjust you laugh that you were ever afraid of being on your own. I am sure this is the same for the chump guys who count on their partners in various ways.

  • This is a reply to Back to Reality’s post of February 20th, which I saw only later and to which I replied now as validation. I don’t know if people go check their posts for comments at a later time. That is why I am posting it here as well. Apologies, if it is breach of etiquette. I don’t always read in time.

    Back To Reality,

    What you describe with being joint at the hip, is exactly the experience I had.
    Not one holiday just with my now ex. Always and only on spouse duty together with the in-laws, to include all the siblings. Absolute rigidity in ways. One felt one couldn’t even suggest something different.
    They push you in a role. Spontaneity is abhorred. One is nullified. The dysfunctional family exists only as a cluster. Moves en mass. No individuality allowed.
    These families use fear, guilt, obligation and shame among one another, to keep people in place. One is under constant threat and intimidation. Submission is demanded. Most of it happens covertly.
    I was discarded. Luckily, no children.
    I had not known of Narcissism either. When I started reading, I understood. I lived that in my family of origin as well. I understood that some family members had been so oppressed by the abusive treatment that they died. They were killed off by the narcs.
    Your description above provided validation for my experience. I thank you for posting those details.
    I hope you’ll still see this reply of mine, despite my posting later, so that it can come as validation to you and your daughter.

  • I guess you could say I’m fortunate that the dick just abandoned me and the almost adult kids. He sent a text from a business trip( that JustANumber was probably with him on). Said he wasn’t coming home, blah blah blah. Couldn’t be bothered to help with any of the divorce process, but did make it difficult. He was too busy having fun. It took months for me to grieve, and while I grieved I met with a lawyer and got the mess of a house ready to put on the market. He was a borderline hoarder, and since he refused to come get his piles of stuff…..the kids and I went through it all.
    You could say the cheater didn’t get his ducks in a row( did he think he had forever, that I was too weak, that we wouldn’t find all the “souvenirs“ he left behind?). So I got my ducks in a row( and the kids’) while he played, and the cheater couple tormented their ex families for sport. I told everyone and showed them the proof. Weird how some are fascinated by it instead of horrified, but that’s the world we lived in. The dick overestimated his cool factor with the people that matter. Go through everything. If they leave the house, don’t let them back without notice( check legality of this) I required notice so I could have someone there with me. There were some weird factors at play here that I still haven’t sorted out. Maybe I never will. He’s been a cheater and liar for decades. Assume the worst and protect yourself and your kids.

  • In hindsight I can say that I applied for and enrolled in law school as part and parcel of getting my ducks in a row. At the time I just felt desperate to build myself up and regain some self worth, but now I think my subconscious was telling me to get into a career that could give my daughter and I a good life.

    But, no good deed goes unpunished I guess cause now that I’m an attorney (and paying off that law degree) he’s coming after me for support of some kind or another regularly, despite that he too has a great job and makes as much as I do.

    The entitlement runs so deep in these people.

  • I didn’t have any ducks lined up as I was blindsided just over three years ago. I did however remember that there was a fairly large account that was in my name only. I had been asked to put the PFs. name on it so he could access it . The first week after DDay I called the broker and had his name removed. This has provided a safety net for me and enough money to pay attorneys for all this time. Without that account I would
    have been SOL. I realize how fortunate I am . Respect to all those who had the sense to get their ducks in a row.

  • Ex was so convinced we would never split up when I told him I wanted him out and was going to file for divorce he said he would do anything if we would “ try “ again.
    Told him he needed to deed the home in my name only along with giving me 20k cash . He did it , but I knew I was never staying married to him .
    I filed days after he gave me the money and transferred the home . I knew there was gonna be only a very small window of time he would be reasonable.
    When i told him I was going through with the divorce , he said “ I trusted you “
    Yeah , fuck face , it sucks to be betrayed .

  • I moved to Hawaii. It’s as far away as I can be. I even got it as a transfer within the company (we all worked at the same place, joy).

  • I’m in awe of these stories. I’m new here and feel lost. This is my first post. We weren’t married. Dated for 3 years. Last weekend, I found out he was at a woman’s house in a different state who also had an affair with his brother (!!).

    His brother must be a unicorn because he’s still with his wife. Instead of addressing any of this, the dude sent me long, rambling texts a few days ago saying he feels convinced that his days are numbered and that he’ll never have a partner and he’s never loved anyone like me but “doesn’t think he can do it.” Who knows how deep it goes — how many women he has for cake. I haven’t responded. I want to feel mighty, but right now I just feel heartbroken, listening to Chump Lady’s book like a bedtime story. How do you all trust again and marry?

    • Short answer: many of us don’t. But that doesn’t mean we don’t move forward. I’ll never marry again but I date a nice guy. I’ve also become far more self reliant than I ever thought possible, which is great.

      There’s no getting around it…these disordered people can leave us permanently scarred. But, life does go on.

      Your job right now is not to think about all that. Just focus on completely splitting from this monster man. Get out of that burning house. Save yourself.

    • and free_wren, don’t assume that his brother is a unicorn. LOTS of Chumps reconcile, only to live miserably, while marriage policing and/or still being treated badly by the selfish, entitled Cheater. Most of the time there is a divorce later (often following the discovery of another affair), but in any case, these ‘wreckonciliations’ don’t lead to happy, satisfying, reciprocal relationships. The same character flaws that allow them to cheat make them lousy partners.

      You feel heartbroken because you trusted him and he broke your heart! Let yourself grieve, and if it’s too hard or goes on too long, get yourself a good therapist – one who understands that cheating is abusive. Learn the warning signs and how to keep your eyes open for them, not defaulting to trusting anyone who SAYS they love you and SAYS they would never hurt you. It IS possible to trust again, once you can tell the difference between someone who deserves that trust and someone who doesn’t – once you’ve fixed your picker.

  • It’s a process, isn’t it? The moment I realized I had been taken for a fool, all trust was gone! It was a change in my mindset. I lawyered up, changed the lock and I watched the show he was putting up. If I had any doubt in my heart, he sure shuttered it himself! Can you turn off empathy? That’s what I did with my cheater husband. From there on, it was much easier to follow the path to freedom! Oh, and I informed Everyone I could about his cheating. But don’expect empathy from his heard of cattles! I got some nasty answers and felt sooo good to answer them back!

  • I was so glad to see this post! This is “biggest chump of all”. I was so lucky to have Chump Lady post my email and offer her advice over 1.5 years ago!

    Quick synopsis: my husband of almost 18 years plotted to destroy me out of greed for his affair that surfaced 3 weeks after he left me. He made me quit my career thinking we were moving to his new job location, lost my full retirement, forced to sell our home because his relocation package bought it, left his daughter from another woman with me (I didn’t mind that cause I wanted her, I raised her ♥️), left our child together, he took all the expensive assets out of the house and didn’t help me financially for 10 months until forced out of him.

    What I did:
    I took money from our joint account immediately, I played it cool with him in the beginning to get my DUCKS IN A ROW!!! I spoke to a lawyer immediately and went to work! I photographed everything in the house and got serial numbers right after he left before he took it out. I bought gift cards from joint accounts and stashed them for rough days. I got him in text messages admitting to leaving, taking the expensive stuff and his promises to take care of me financially! This fucktwat makes almost 200k a year!

    Filed for the divorce when I was ready! Kept all feelings and comments off of social media and only to family and friends. I went back to school to start my own business! I was awarded a nice alimony package, his whole retirement after 17 years with his large company, 2nd home, vacation property, sole custody, health insurance and my FUCKING LIFE BACK!!! I cut contact with his narcissistic ass! I only speak to him when required by law with our son who’s almost 18 ????. Then I’ll cut it for life!!!

    This was not an easy path!!! Emotionally I was at rock bottom! I’m still working on me, I’ll always work on ME! I’ve started dating again! There’s no shortage on men 😉 I just wont settle this time.
    PS: Going to Europe this week! (Thanks Exhole for making it all possible ????). Hope that side piece was worth it ????????, you both ARE each other’s KARMA ????

  • It took me 3 years from Dday to convince myself that Mr. Down Low truly sucked, was always going to suck, and that I was the only one who was going to be able to stop my misery. I had a complete and horrible breakdown in March of 2015. 3 years of denial came crashing down on me. I formulated a plan. I needed a reliable car, the one I was driving was not going to get me where I wanted to go, so I leased one. I managed to accumulate $2K into a separate bank account. I put my notice in at work. I reserved a moving truck. I consulted with a lawyer. Note: I should have had him served the day I left- huge mistake to think we could have an “amicable divorce”. I did one last “snoop” of his computer a few days before I left to confirm what I knew to be true, he hadn’t stopped hooking up with men, even though he told me he had. I confronted him quietly one night after the kids were in bed. I printed out all the emails for hookups and pictures of himself and other men that he had accumulated since the LAST time he assured me he wasn’t going to do that anymore and laid them on the bed ( too many to just fit on the bed…). and said, almost in a whisper.
    “We are done… In one month I will be gone. I am taking our daughter with me, because she is a minor, and this house is not a safe place for her. If you contest this, please know that I have made several copies of this material and much more and mailed them to a secure place, and one phone call will have those packets mailed out to your family and your boss, complete with records of how you used company resources and time to hook up with your partners”.

    He spent the entire remainder of my time in the house in a fetal position, crying.

    Karma sucks baby….

  • I LOVE this one, because I was always so proud of my own skills in lining up my ducks!

    20 years in, 2 kids, and I highly suspect something is up. He’s been going to work early for weeks, but the hours are not reflected on his checks. He’s been acting sketchy. We had sex on Thursday and he couldn’t keep it up. Former DDay 3 years prior. Wreckonciliation all-the-way.

    By the way, we have nothing. I mean, we are poor. We rent, each own our own beater car, I’m a SAHM and he doesn’t make much, but we get by without asking for anything from anyone else. There are NO DUCKS LOL. There is NO CHUMPLADY! I wouldn’t find her for 2 weeks at this point.

    So he comes home from work after I spent the afternoon with his pay stubs, and I act like nothing’s up, but tell him the toilet’s clogged, could he fix it?

    He fixes it.

    Then I get him to install all the AC units (mid-May).

    Feed the family, send the kids out to play, and asked him flat out if he wanted to be in this marriage anymore, because if he wanted out I was fine with that, he was free to go. He assured me of course not, he was in this for the long haul, and I said great, glad to hear it, I need you to unlock your phone.

    He tried to argue with me, told me I was crazy. Told me there were conversations with a friend that I might misconstrue.
    I told him he was a coward. Unlock your phone or get out.
    He finally got out.
    He told the kids outside that mommy was making him leave. I told them when they came back in that it was true, because he had sex with another woman, and mommy deserves better. It’s hot out here, want to come inside to the nice cool living room?

    Those are my ducks 🙂 I spent the whole summer cool and comfortable (he did not BTW-his karma train came pretty swiftly lol), quite proud of my forethought in getting him to install those heavy freaking ac units and clean up his kids shit before confronting him.
    I tell the story better in person 😛

  • I took my time planning, but a couple of things that were really helpful were setting up a new post office box in my own name, opening a new bank account (at a different bank) and a credit card that went to that box address, and stashing cash. In my case I got a second job and was able to hang onto that money, but I also would take an extra $20 in cash from every transaction at the grocery store etc. and stash that as well.

    I also had the huge advantage of finding the password to his “secret” email address that he used for schmoopies – I never said a word (keeping my mouth shut was SO hard!!!!) but I printed out all the incriminating correspondence and kept it in a file in my desk at work. The lawyer was gleeful when I handed over an entire binder of emails to various girlfriends.

    And I told people. I told trusted friends. I told his parents. And the day I moved out, I told the chief of police (an old friend) what was happening and why I was moving out. Abusers depend on our silence. Don’t consent. Tell your story.

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