We all like to think we truly know our spouses and know how they will behave but unfortunately that’s not always the case. Divorce has a tendency to bring out the worst behavior. Sometimes it’s an isolated incident but other times it reveals very serious, even dangerous personality disorders.
My current guest, Tina Swithin initially had a nesting arrangement with her STBX but it quickly became apparent that it wasn’t going to work and that for her own safety, Tina needed to find somewhere to live where her STBX had no access. Here’s Tina:
He was drinking more and more, and he was stalking me.
If I left the house for an hour, he would enter the home and at one point he stole my laptop computer with all of my court documents and things like that. It was getting increasingly worrisome, his state of mind.
One particular weekend that he was supposed to have the girls, I was concerned about his mental stability, so I took them on a Friday night to go stay at a friend’s house and he started leaving really irrational, angry drunken voicemails on my cell phone. He never crossed the line to where he was actually threatening my life. He was smart enough to not do that but it made me very worried. Saturday morning when we woke up and I heard these three angry messages on my voicemail, I checked the girls and myself into a local women’s shelter where I had actually volunteered for years. It was a really humbling experience.
We were there for about for three to four days and then I was able to get an emergency hearing on the court calendar and the judge awarded me exclusive use of our home, so he was unable to enter the house. However, he entered the house just 24 hours later.
He still had keys. And here I thought, “Gee, I’m protected by this court order.”
People who have narcissistic personality disorder, a lot of times they’re very charming, very charismatic. So when I called the police to report that he was in my home, he was able to sweet talk his way out of it and they didn’t arrest him. He said, “I’m just here to bring them dinner. I wanted to check and make sure there were groceries, I needed to check on my dog.” His dog wasn’t even living at our house anymore. The police let him go and at that point, I realized I was no longer safe in the home and pretty quickly made arrangements for my daughters and I to move out and get a small apartment.
Your physical safety and that of your children is the top concern and that always takes priority over your wedding vows. If you have any worries about this I urge you to contact your local domestic abuse or violence organization. In the U.S. the National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-7233) can help you locate local resources and there are resources on this site that may be helpful even to non-U.S. residents.
But safety doesn’t stop there. You need to take steps to protect yourself from harassment, manipulation and control. That encompasses access to money, access to your financial information, security of all your online accounts and safe storage of your personal records.
The best time to start doing this is once you realize divorce may be an option. Don’t wait for you and your spouse to agree to separate. You need to start making the preparations and even if you do decide not to proceed, many of these steps enable you to take more responsibility for yourself. My Kindle ebook, Untangling From Your Spouse: How To Prepare For Divorce, walks you through these steps and if you don’t have a Kindle you can download the reading app for smartphone, tablet or computer at no charge at Amazon.
Prepare for the worst and hope for the best …
Tina Swithin describes herself as a one-time victim now survivor. She’s spent the past four years in a horrific custody battle with her ex who she believes suffers from Narcissistic Personality Disorder. You can read about her journey at her blog, One Mom’s Battle and also in her book, Divorcing a Narcissist.
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