Messy Breakup Advice
December 23, 2013 1:02 PM   Subscribe

I'm trying to make a full break from my significant other. Things get messy because we currently share a home, I feel that he is verbally and borderline physically abusive, and I am expecting a baby in about 8 weeks. I have been intermitently sleeping in hotels or couch surfing, but am having trouble sleeping well. My significant other SAYS he has moved out so I have a quiet place to stay while trying to find alternative housing, but would you go back?

Sooo this is the VERY extended version: Moved in with a seemingly wonderful guy in May. Got kidney infection shortly there after and ended up pregnant. The relationship was not THAT well established at that point but I was in love so, hey, what the heck, why not live the dream and have a beautiful baby with a wonderful man?

You can skip this paragraph: It's mostly about how I ended up 8 month pregnant and in a seriously sketchy situation. Anyway cut to a few months of being exhausted and pukey which distanced me from a lot of my normal friends/activities and significant absence of SO for summer work. This period was followed by a few weeks of fighting and me quasi considering moving out. Then I found out the baby was 'abnormal' in a number of ways. Cut to a few months of me not doing ANYTHING but freaking out about whatever test results came back as to baby's possibilities of being normal. I did not really engange in the relationship with my SO or any friends or activities. Just freaking out and a mild amount of work as a distraction (I'm a grad student). Anyway once the flurry of weird news ended, I started to re-engage in my life. The baby may or may not have severe mental/neurological/genetic disabilities but they're pretty sure he will live. But this is not my current problem.

My SO and I began disagreeing on EVERYTHING. Money, where to put a nursery, when I got home from work. I felt like I had no say in my home (his house I moved into), and felt like he was controlling about what activities we did and when I saw my friends. Our arguments got more and more heating. SO likes to air whatever 20+ problems he has with me at one time. I like to address one thing at a time and find a solution. No solutions were ever really reached and I just shut down and waited for him to stop yelling at me. Then I started just walking out. Which let to him holding me down and yelling at me more. Anyway that's the borderline abusive part. But we fundamentally disagree about money, time spent together, lifestyle etc. In conclusion, live with someone before you make a baby. But since that boat has sailed:

I am currently afraid to go home. The last time I was there my SO was so angry he announced that he wanted his coat back. I've been borrowing it since mine are currently too small. I took it off and he realized I was attempting to leave in 20 degree weather with no coat. At which point he blocked the door and physically held me down and put the coat back on me.

Anyway I am currently trying to find permanent housing of my own. It will likely take me a couple weeks. I am not completely broke - but I was hoping to keep my savings for day care or whatever special treatment a special needs child will require. I am an incredibly light sleeper while pregnant, and have only been sleeping a few hours a night in hotels or on friends couches. Technically, the relationship is not abusive enough to be hurtful or illegal or whatever and SO says he won't come back. Would you go home?
posted by Kalmya to Human Relations (24 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I wouldn't.

What city are you in? There are resources available to people in your situation.
posted by heavenstobetsy at 1:05 PM on December 23, 2013 [5 favorites]

Technically, the relationship is not abusive enough to be hurtful or illegal or whatever

Someone holding you down and preventing you from leaving is all kinds of illegal.
posted by Jairus at 1:10 PM on December 23, 2013 [25 favorites]

I'm very sorry that your ex has behaved in such a frightening, abusive way and put you in such a difficult situation.

I would not return to his home if I were in your shoes.

I would call a domestic abuse hotline local to your city and ask for housing resources.

If you update with your city or general region, many Mefites will chime in with the appropriate phone numbers and resources for you.

Best of luck. Take good care of yourself and your baby. YOU are the most important person in this situation.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 1:12 PM on December 23, 2013 [6 favorites]

Technically, he is verbally abusive and that's more than you can or should have to deal with now. Please get in touch with your local domestic violence services. Tell us where you are and we will help you find a safe pace.
posted by mareli at 1:13 PM on December 23, 2013 [2 favorites]

He would go to jail for less than that where I live. That's domestic violence, it's abuse no matter how you look at it.
posted by checkitnice at 1:14 PM on December 23, 2013 [7 favorites]

I know that this advice will likely not be very popular, but I am someone who has witnessed (and helped) a number of friends leave crappy, abusive/borderline-abusive relationships, if that's worth anything.

My advice? If you are not in danger, it may be better to wait and plan. It is MUCH harder to regroup and make life choices while in an unstable/temporary/emergency situation. I am not, not NOT trying to diminish your SO's behavior - it's inexcusable, and he DOES sound like an utter dick. However, if you do not feel as though you're in danger, it may be best to think slightly longer-term: start secretly rallying friends and family, start socking away cash, start looking into various resources (you're likely entitled to child support, for instance).

Then, when you have built up your "toolbox" of resources... THEN, you make your move, swiftly and decisively and confidently.

Like I said: I know this ain't gonna be a popular suggestion. But it'll likely lead to a happier and more stable immediate future for you and the kiddo than just IMMEDIATELY fleeing right now. Immediate flight is sometimes the best and only option, but it is not without consequences.

By the by, feel free to MeMail me if you want to talk/vent or if you're in the Philly area and need any help whatsoever.
posted by julthumbscrew at 1:23 PM on December 23, 2013 [4 favorites]

If you are in the US your baby may be eligible for Social Security and Medicaid if she/he has handicapping conditions, so don't worry about spending that money.
posted by mareli at 1:29 PM on December 23, 2013

I just want to make sure I understand the situation:

You lived together in a house that he owns. Then you broke up. Then he moved out of his own house so that you would have a place to stay while looking for housing of your own, and he says he won't go to the house while you're there.

Do I have that right?

I guess the only question that really matters is, do you believe he won't go to the house while you're there?

No one but you can answer that. Me, personally - if I were in your situation, and dealing with the stress of being seven months pregnant and a breakup and everything else - and I'm not saying that this is what you should do, necessarily, just that it's what I would do - I would take him up on it. I'd do it because I would read his willingness to move out of his own place as a show of good faith. From what I can tell anyway, it sounds like he doesn't want to do this to control you or hold on to you or whatever; it sounds like he's just done with this relationship and wants to disentangle your lives with a minimum of fuss.

If he were trying to use this house as a bargaining chip in some way, I'd think it would come with strings attached. It doesn't sound like there are any. Or he'd be doing it in such a way that you remain dependent on him but also under his thumb, like if he offered the house but insisted he would remain there. Something like that. Like I say, it sounds like he's just done with all this.

At best, the two of you bring out the absolute worst in each other when living in proximity; at worst, he's abusive. I don't know. You'd be able to answer that better than I would.

So, what I would do in your situation is I'd go to the house and use it as a temporary place to crash. I'd sleep on the couch and not the bed I'd shared with him. And I'd use that time to become very productive in terms of finding new housing.

But again, this is contingent on the one question of: Do you trust that he won't come back to the house while you're there?
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 1:33 PM on December 23, 2013 [7 favorites]

Is there grad student family housing available to you?
posted by k8t at 1:34 PM on December 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

Which let to him holding me down and yelling at me more. Anyway that's the borderline abusive part.

There is nothing borderline there. That is abuse.

I, personally, would not feel safe going back in this situation, at least not without somebody there with me. But I have no idea what it's like to be pregnant so maybe it's a rational risk for you to take.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:44 PM on December 23, 2013 [5 favorites]

Holding someone down and forcing them to do something is not magically okay if it's 20 degrees outside, nogero.

I would not go back, OP. I would try very hard to set up a home base for myself asap and I would talk to a lawyer yesterday about parental responsibilities and child support. You need to use the money you have to find a stable living situation and get your ex to pay for his share of whatever daycare/special needs the kid will end up needing.

Good luck, you'll be in my thoughts.
posted by lydhre at 1:45 PM on December 23, 2013 [4 favorites]

I would not go back.

This is abuse. It's okay to admit that - it is not your fault.

I would call a domestic violence hotline and ask for their advice. I would also make a list of all the friends and relatives I could call upon for help and a place to stay. If you are willing, be honest with people that you are trying to escape an abusive situation. You may be surprised by their generosity.

I would also look to see if your university has a parent support group.

Lastly, can your physician refer you to social services agencies that can help you plan for the baby's special needs?

Please follow up and share your city if you are comfortable doing so - some local mefites may be willing to offer advice and support.
posted by mai at 2:20 PM on December 23, 2013 [2 favorites]

If it's he's the main person on the lease, don't go back.
If you're the main person on the lease, would it be possible to get the locks changed today or tomorrow, give him a day or two to get his stuff out and then go back?
posted by bleep at 2:57 PM on December 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

there's no reason to diminish the physical abuse. i have a family member who spent the night in jail and got put on probation for almost exactly what you describe (and he was barely an adult). the fact that you're pregnant actually notches up the legal seriousness of the abuse in many jurisdictions.
posted by nadawi at 4:10 PM on December 23, 2013 [3 favorites]

This is a time to call on relatives, if you have any that you feel safe with. (Forget feeling ashamed or embarrassed--that ship has sailed. You have to take care of yourself for the baby's sake, even if you don't feel like you deserve it for yourself.)

If that's not an option, I agree that calling a domestic violence hotline is a great resource.

If the ex says he's gone, could a friend or two go over with you to make sure, and then get the locks changed and an alarm installed? Can friends stay with you for a while to make sure he doesn't come back?

I think you have enough to get a restraining order. The domestic violence hotline can counsel you better.

I am so sorry you're having to deal with this.
posted by elizeh at 4:30 PM on December 23, 2013

It sounds like the boyfriend owns the house. You may not legally be able to do things like change the locks or keep him away from his property with a restraining order (you can keep him away from you, but you might not be able to stay in his property).

Domestic Violence agencies/shelters often have lawyers associated with them who can help you figure some of this stuff out.
posted by jaguar at 4:59 PM on December 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

There are two times when the risk of domestic violence is especially high: 1) When the person being abused is leaving; 2) When the person being abused is pregnant. I don't think you should chance it if you have other options.
posted by cairdeas at 5:16 PM on December 23, 2013 [10 favorites]

When you are 8 months pregnant, about to go into 20 degree weather, and your "partner" demands you take off the only coat you can wear because it's "his" coat, it is, in fact, the most rational thing to do to get the fuck out of there.
posted by cairdeas at 5:21 PM on December 23, 2013 [5 favorites]

It doesn't sound like either one of you is handling the pregnancy very well. It is hard to say if he is abusive or has just lost it over the whole situation. At any rate, you don't seem like you two are very good for one another. Don't go back. Sleep wherever you must but not at his house. Please be cordial with him- you will have to know him for a very long time. Do not argue. It would benefit you both to seek counseling both apart and together. It would be reasonable for him to pay for this since it is cheaper than the lawyers that you may both end up hiring once the baby is born. If he doesn't want to pay for counseling then call everyone you know until you can find it for free. Try to avoid lawyers and court if possible. Your living situation alone works against you coming out ahead in court.
posted by myselfasme at 5:41 PM on December 23, 2013

Please don't go back. The risk is way way too high.

Yes, please call a domestic abuse hotline for help.

I'm so sorry this turned out the way it did. Keep yourself safe.

Best of luck.
posted by jbenben at 6:42 PM on December 23, 2013 [5 favorites]

it is not at all hard to say that he was abusive, since it rises to the legal definition of domestic violence in many jurisdictions. he might have also "lost it" but he lost it in an abusive way.
posted by nadawi at 6:46 PM on December 23, 2013 [2 favorites]

Get the police involved. And do not go back.
posted by IAmBroom at 7:00 PM on December 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

IANAL but some states might give you rights to the premises (even if you aren't on a lease) via a specific kind of domestic violence protective order; these are not always easy to enforce, however. :-(

Start with a DV shelter/hotline and get a referral to a legal services agency. They may or may not be able to represent you in the more complicated aspects of custody, but they often will assist with simple protective orders. Your state's bar association might also have a "lawyer on the line" type service where you can get a free-to-cheap brief phone consult to take the temperature of a situation and go from there.

I won't go into personal details, but I know that recognizing and naming abusive behavior is tough, sometimes humiliating (especially for those of us who value our independence, strength, and emotional resourcefulness). It's a great first step, though. Remember that you deserve all the support you need. *hug*
posted by Schielisque at 7:52 PM on December 23, 2013

Everything you've mentioned is not "borderline"; if you wanted to call the cops and file an assault charge you would be completely within your rights to do so. Also, do not go back to that house, where you will be physically weak after a birth and needing to shelter your new, likely special-needs child. If this guy is so eager to manufacture fighting and drama that he's willing to physically assault you over the possession of A COAT that he lent you, there is no way on earth he's not going to use the house as a massive bargaining chip. There is zero probability that he will stick to his word and leave you unmolested in the house he legally owns. He will be there, he will be pulling his violent bullshit, and you (and your baby) will be incredibly vulnerable. Call DV hotlines and see if you can get into housing. Do not get back into this man's orbit of influence.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 10:21 PM on December 23, 2013 [3 favorites]

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