An exit strategy for an abusive marriage
Dear Annie: I have been married to my husband for 34 years. He’s been emotionally and verbally abusive for the whole 34.
He hit me a few times when we first got married (he was physically and verbally abused as a child), but he hasn’t hit me since then. However, he’s very bossy and controlling. I can’t go visit anybody without his approval. My niece and nephew live 45 minutes away, and several of us in the family go to their house to watch college football on Saturdays. He doesn’t want me to go, because I have to drive after dark if I do. I have no problem driving after dark. Really it’s that he doesn’t want to go, so he expects me to stay home with him.
I didn’t mind it as much years ago. When we were both young and healthy, I worked and was gone all day. But now we’re both retired.
I’m sick and tired of being around him all day long. He is grouchy, complains about everything under the sun, drives like a maniac and yells at me as if I were stupid in front of people. He’s embarrassed me in front of every boss of every job I’ve ever had. He’s constantly putting me down. I can’t do anything right in his eyes.
His favorite expression is, “If you would just do as you’re told!” I’ve told him for years that I wasn’t put on earth to do as I’m told.
I have put away enough money over the years (which he doesn’t know about, or it would have been long gone, spent by him), and I want to divorce him. My problem is that I don’t know how to go about telling him without being trapped here in the house with him. We live in a rural area and each have our own vehicle. He is in poor health and doesn’t get out much unless it’s a doctor’s appointment.
I have enough money saved up to rent an apartment in town, 15 miles away, so I would have somewhere to go. I have no siblings, and my parents are both deceased. My dad passed away six months ago and left me his house. It needs a lot of work done to it, and I don’t want to live there. I want to sell it, but I don’t want to give my husband any of the money when it sells.
I’m trying to figure out a way to go somewhere public and call him to come meet me at a restaurant or something. But I’m not sure he would come if I did call him.
Could you please help me figure out how to tell him I want a divorce without getting trapped here with him? He will raise all kinds of hell when I tell him. — Trapped
Dear Trapped: I commend you for finding the strength to leave an abusive partner and for coming up with an exit plan. Those are huge steps. You should be proud of yourself.
Your safety is paramount. Meeting in public is wise, and if you fear he will become violent, you can request an escort from your local police department. For more personalized guidance on planning a safe exit from your relationship, contact Loveisrespect at 866-331-9474 when your husband is not around.
Once you’re free and starting the next chapter of your life, the healing process can really begin. Consider seeking counseling or joining a support group for women who have undergone similar abuse. I wish you all the best.
Dear Annie is written by Annie Lane, a young, married mother of two. Send questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.