Letters From Our Readers
Thanks for doing this. My life has been a mess for a long time and I need some help. My marriage ended, six months ago, after ten years of abuse from my husband. I had to leave because I could not take it anymore. I moved in with my parents along with my four-year-old daughter. Since then I haven’t had a day of peace because my husband comes to my work and sits in the parking lot. He calls me all day long or sends me emails. I don’t know what else to do.
Your letter has told me so much and, at the same time, not enough.
I want to start by telling you how proud I am that you and your daughter left the marital home. That took a great deal of courage. You didn’t say what kind of abuse you were subjected to but no abuse is ever okay. No child should ever witness abuse whether it is physical or verbal. She is fortunate that you left while she is still very young and can enjoy a childhood free of abuse. Good job to you for seeing to it that she is safe.
You did not say whether or not you have legal representation. If you do, you must tell your attorney about your husband’s behavior. Abusers have a tendency to stalk and harass their victims during the separation and even after the divorce.
My mantra has been — “You can’t change another person’s behavior. You can only decide how to respond to it.” That means you should not engage with email threads unless they are regarding your daughter and, even then, correspondence should be brief. If your husband shows up at your work and trespasses, he can be asked to leave the premises. Of course, pursuing that action would involve notifying your supervisor and possibly the police. I gather that is not a welcomed option for you. However, if he is trespassing and harassing you, you may have no other option. If he is just hanging around the parking lot, make sure you park as close to the building as possible and in a lighted area. You may want to walk out of the building with other people which may dissuade him from approaching you. I know that is not possible all the time, but you should try to do so as much as possible.
You did not state whether he approaches you at work. I strongly suggest that you contact the Domestic Abuse Officer in your police jurisdiction and make him/her aware of your situation. They will have helpful tips for your safety as well as help you set up protective orders if the situation warrants them. In addition, they may be able to refer you to a domestic violence support group and/or class. These classes are usually excellent in content and are either free or very inexpensive. It is there that you will learn about the underpinnings of abuse and how you can stay safe regardless of what you husband does.
I know this is difficult and very scary. Abusers leave one wondering when they will strike next. Please do not suffer in silence. You did nothing to deserve this treatment so you need not be ashamed. Those who love you should know so that they can be mindful of your situation and help where they can.
Carin, you have two things to do now. First, is to let the police know what is happening to you. Second, is to find an attorney, if you have not done so. You and your daughter need protection. These two resources are where you should begin.