I would much rather write something funny and lighthearted, but I have something serious that needs to be shared. I have multiple friends who have gone through nightmarish divorces and they really got screwed in the process. These women were married to abusive men and were too scared to put their butts in jail or waited too long to put their butts in jail.
As a side note, I do know that men are abused too, but I want to focus on women because they are most likely to give up their careers to be mothers and feel like they have no way to support themselves.
I have one thing I want to stress more than anything: If you’re too scared to throw his butt in jail, just wait and see what this man will do to you in the court system. You think you’re being abused now? You married him because he was charming and lots of abusive men will manage to charm even the parent evaluators.
Some women who are filing for divorce are still too scared to press charges because who will support them and the children? Their husbands can’t work if they’re in jail.
Another thing I want to stress: Document, document, document. Pictures. Videos. Letters. Emails. Whenever possible, do not take phone calls from your ex because you want everything in writing.
You’re understandably terrified. I would be too. I would have no idea how to support myself and my five kids if I were in an awful situation where I had to leave, but I know from friends’ experiences that if you let him get away with abuse for a long time, dealing with him in a legal battle will be ten times worse – way worse than you can even imagine.
A classic strategy is convincing others that you’re crazy. And you’ve been dealing with the abuse for so long, you might just be halfway there. People may have witnessed you acting “crazy” because you were reacting to being assaulted, but you were hiding that. He’ll get those people to testify as to how crazy you are. Even worse, you most likely isolated yourself as you tried to hide what’s going on, so you have almost no one to stand for you. He has people who witnessed you behaving hysterically for no apparent reason.
Because he has the job and you don’t, he has the money to fight with a lawyer for longer. He has the ability to bankrupt you as you fight allegations against you. Whatever you might have received in the divorce settlement – that will be gone in no time. No, he doesn’t want what’s best for the children. He wants whatever will punish you for as long as possible for leaving his awesome, important self.
If you are going to divorce an abusive man, first seek help from a support group. Find out who the good lawyers are. Find out who the awful lawyers are. Learn from the experiences of the women who have suffered before you. Who you choose as a lawyer is probably almost as important as who you marry!
To young women who are not yet married: You might think you will just marry the perfect guy to avoid this kind of heartache. That’s a great plan, but I think the majority of women thought they were marrying the perfect guy. Addictions can also develop later and transform your husband into someone you no longer recognize. I’ve seen that too and was completely horrified by it.
My daughters will be taught to have marketable skills and a way t0 get out if needed. They will also know that they can always come to us for safety. If we don’t have enough room for one of my daughters and their children, I will gladly sleep in the closet before I would let them feel trapped. Not every woman has that kind of support.
Before I got married, my dad said, “If you ever marry a man who lays a hand on you, I will kill him.” I don’t recommend this option, but I think he meant it. My husband continues to live because he’s never laid a hand on me in anger. And he knows if he did, I would come down on him like an anvil. Like a ton of bricks. Like Miss Piggy.
If you’re being abused, please get help.