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Long-Overdue Update; or, The Good and the Bad of Leaving an Abuser

Nymh's picture

I feel a novel coming on, fair warning... So BD and I split up early last year, and I have been in a very rough patch since with the exception of meeting the love of my life and getting engaged (imagine that, I AM marriage material!). Ex had manipulated me into a position of completely depending on him, and leaving him meant I would either be destitute or survive on his charity until I could get on my feet. He gave me money every month to support me and the children for about six months after I left, which really did help and I was able to finish out the semester I was in in school. Now, of course, he uses that charity against me. He owes me about $8,000 for credit cards that I had maxed out and loans that I got to pay for things for him when his small business was low on money. I hate to admit this but part of that $8,000 is $2,400 in back child support that I paid for him when former-SS's mother sued for retroactive and he didn't have the money to pay for it. Now I am left waist-deep in debt that he refuses to pay. He says that since he gave me money in the months after I left him, he's not going to pay for the debt that he owes.

He says that I lied to him and was unfaithful for the last year of our relationship. I was very unhappy and I was escaping to the internet to talk to my friends, which he is using against me. We had so many fights over my supposed infidelity, I just can't quantify how much of a problem it ALWAYS was for us literally from day one. He was insanely jealous of everything I did. He wouldn't let me leave the house. I couldn't go places with friends, I definitely couldn't go out to eat or to a party. I couldn't even get text messages or phone calls without him flipping out and thinking I was cheating on him. It drove me crazy. Really.

One day I was browsing YouTube and I came across this video: When Love Gets Violent. When I finished that video, I was in hysterics. I had no idea I was in an abusive relationship. I felt so utterly stupid and horrified, and I cried for the rest of the day. How could I not have known? Eight years with this man, and I had no idea. I felt betrayed by everyone I loved that they didn't do whatever they could to get me away from him (looking back, however, I have remembered so many times when people tried to talk to me about it and I avoided it, changed the subject, stood up for him, minimized the situation, etc). I completely depended on this man, I gave him anything he wanted, I walked on eggshells every day trying to keep him happy and prevent him flipping out, taking things from me, leaving me, threatening me, taking the children from me, hurting me... Yes, he hit me. Not many times, but he did. His abuse however was primarily emotional. He sucked the life out of me. Everything I did was to keep him from being upset with me.

Finally, I hit a breaking point. We got into an argument (not a surprise) and he used his classic, "If you don't like it, you can leave." So I said, "OK." He said, "When can I expect you to be gone?" I said, "The girls and I will be gone tomorrow morning." Then I went inside and packed a couple of suitcases with my headphones on. He texted me from across the house asking me what I was doing. I said if he wanted to talk to me he could come and talk to me face-to-face. So he did, and this is when the breakdown crying begging me not to leave phase kicked in. I was having none of it. I was done. The next morning after he left for work, I loaded the kids up and we left.

It has been really, really hard since then. I live with my now-fiance in a different state from BD, and we are diiiiirt poor (not the least because I'm paying about half my paycheck out just to keep up with the monthly minimums on the debt that I racked up for BD). He and I never married, so we didn't have to go through the court for custody stuff when we split up. I don't want to. Honestly I would love to keep the girls as far away from him as possible, but I can't make myself do that. I am a child from a broken home and I always told myself I would never keep my children from their father like my mother did to me, but it's so hard sending them off with him. Every other weekend is this big grand adventure; they go on trips and eat ice cream and ride horses and have an amazing time. He has the money to do these things with them, and then they come home to us and we work all week and clean the house and eat meals at home. It's just so hard knowing that they think their times with their father are these magical getaways from our boring everyday life.

He tells them so many things that hurt me to hear. They believe that he stands around in their room crying all day because he misses them so much. Honestly believe it. I tried explaining to them that their Daddy had a job and did lots of things during the day, and that while I'm sure he misses them he really doesn't stand around crying all the time because of it. They refuse to believe it. To them, that is reality.

He wants 50/50 physical custody of them, which I know I won't be able to prevent him from getting. I don't understand WHY, though. He didn't fight for more time with SS at all. I don't see why our children are being treated differently than his other child.

I have them call him every night before they go to bed, because that's what he wants. He never calls them. They call him. [I find it important at this point to mention that he never called his SS or spoke to him on the phone at bedtime while he and I were together. (Also, he does not have them call me while they are with him, I have to call them.)] They are not allowed to talk about my fiance. Any time they mention him, BD says they're not supposed to talk about him. I hate that. It's so disrespectful and it gives the girls the wrong message. I feel like it is putting a wedge between them and my FH, because they know that their BD doesn't like him.

Up until the day that they got back from visiting him last (this past Sunday), he and I would say a brief hello every night after he was done talking with the girls, and if we needed to say anything to each other about them we would at that time (coordinating pick-up/drop-off, weekends, etc). But since they got back on Sunday, every single time he has waited until I say, "Hello?" and then hung up on me.

I'm just so worried and frustrated. I feel like my life is so much worse because I decided to leave him, like I am being punished. I am happy with my FH, please don't get me wrong. I love him more than I ever thought I could love someone. But dealing with the stress, and the poverty, and the manipulation from BD is just so hard.


realitycheckmom's picture

Why would you allow your children to go with a manipulative lying abuser? You don't have a custody order and he has no rights. Does he pay child support? Do you not see he is PASing your kids? This is going to be a bad situation for you and your girls in the end. BTW there is no guarantee that he will get 50/50 custody.

Nymh's picture

Trust me, I know exactly how horrible he is, and yes I see what he is doing to the children. But I don't see what power I have over the situation.

What can you tell me about not having guaranteed up to 50/50 custody? I would love some information on that. No, we do not have a custody order in place, but I expect him to file for one any time now and I don't have the money to fight him for custody.

I know it will be a bad situation for me and my girls in the end. It already is, and has been for a long time.

To answer your question about child support: he gives me $100 every time he picks them up. Originally he told me he wouldn't be giving me any child support, and then I told him that if he couldn't give me any money then he could come all the way here to pick them up when he wanted them because I was not paying $80 in gas every other weekend to meet him halfway if he wasn't giving me any money to help support them.

JEEMudder's picture

1- if you are dirt poor you can often find a lawyer who will work pro-bono for you. You really should get everything in writing. Child support, custody arrangements etc. I would start using google to find a lawyer who will help out for free and can advise you further.

2 - child support can be garnished directly off of his pay and into your account.

3 - custody tends to work in favor of the mother. Also it is very dependent on the age of the children and their schooling situation. A court will very rarely remove a child from school, and will often let one parent keep them during the school week and every other weekend, giving the other parent every other weekend.

4 - if people were warning you out of the relationship you were in while you were in it, that means there must be people who witnessed the abusive behavior right? I don't know if that would help in a court situation but it might be worth mentioning to a lawyer.

Nymh's picture

1: That's a great idea, thank you! I will look into that.

2: See, the convenient thing for him is that he just "got fired" a few weeks ago. I have a very strong suspicion that he quit his job in preparation to file papers. He owns or partially owns several businesses and makes a lot of money in cash deals, which couldn't be garnished I would think?

3: I am enrolling the girls in school this fall. Hopefully nothing will be filed before then. They're just 3 and 4 years old right now.

JEEMudder's picture

Even if things are filed you won't see the inside of a court for 8 months to a year.

If he is accepting money "under the table" (cash deals) the. He is not paying tax on his earnings, which is super illegal. More leverage for you I imagine. If you need a threat against him I would keep that in your pocket. He would hate to be audited and have to pay back taxes I bet!

Nymh's picture

Ok, so when the papers come to me for my signature, I just refuse to sign them? If I am understanding correctly, then it would go to mediation, which would cost us both money, and then on to court if we can't settle via mediation. Is that right?

JEEMudder's picture

Well if you can find a pro-bono lawyer, this process should not cost you more than travel and time. Lots of places have newer lawyers who do free work for single mothers or people with low income.

JEEMudder's picture

He can't just send you papers demanding 50/50 custody. He can have a lawyer write up an agreement, which you definitely do not have to sign though. If he sends you anything you should always have your own legal rep look at it for sure!

JEEMudder's picture

Oh and if the lawyers know mediation won't solve anything, ie you are both adamantly disagreeing, then you will go straight to court.

thinkthrice's picture

Whatever you do, DO NOT let him "sweet talk" you back into the relationship. "and he used his classic, "If you don't like it, you can leave." He said, "When can I expect you to be gone?"

Believe it or not, the person I live with often says this to me EVEN THOUGH I OWN THE HOUSE!!!

See how BOLD they can get??