Boyfriend's drinking problem has become uncontrollable. Can't deal.
September 22, 2015 11:49 AM   Subscribe

He now drinks every day without fail --when we first met, he only drank every once in awhile but it was something he did to relax. Now in my perspective, it's gotten out of control because we decided to move into a new place where we both are on the lease. All conversations have ended in a screaming match and him telling me I no longer have any power because we share a lease. I don't know if I can continue on like this, what do I do?

I love him when he's sober - he's fantastic, best boyfriend ever. We planned on getting married, even. He turns into the worst person I've ever met when he's drunk and it's gotten worse over the past few weeks. This morning, to really nutshell a long story, he was of course, drunk and slurring his words and pushed himself into the bathroom because I told him to leave me alone. I had to scratch him and lock the door to get him to leave. His response to this was to laugh at me, yell that I was getting what I deserved, and pissed on our living room floor.

This is the worse it's ever been and I'm done. We've only been on this lease for the past month, and have been in a relationship for about 8 months. Things have truly taken a turn for the worse since we signed a lease together. I think when he lived in my old apartment where I was the only name on the lease, he kept himself in check. I wonder now if he's hellbent on making my life a living hell. I put up 1500 dollars so that we could both be on this lease and I don't have any money to sign myself off the lease.

What do I do? How do I talk to him about this and/or get the apartment management to let me sign out of the lease? I don't think our relationship is salvageable. I know I deserve better than whatever this is. I lived with an alcoholic parent and I don't want to repeat my childhood.
posted by camylanded to Human Relations (29 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Try to evict him. First, tell your landlord you want to evict him and why. Keywords: you fear damage to the apartment (see: peeing, rampaging) and also fear he will harm you. Landlord might say you need to file a police report.

If so, file a police report. Or file a police report anyway.

I dont think he can hold you captive just because you are both on the lease.

You can also call the police (non emergency line) and ask for advice. They might have a community officer who can help.
posted by charlielxxv at 12:03 PM on September 22, 2015 [35 favorites]

I'm sorry that you are going through this. Do you have any options for moving?

I don't think there is any way you can get out of this cleanly. If you can leave, you will end up paying a lease for a year just to get out. Any way you can get him to leave? Can you afford it on your own?

This is not salvageable. If you had a restraining order, you might be able to work with the apartment management to get out of the lease -- and I am not in ANY way suggesting that you push an escalation so that you can get a restraining order.

Are there multiple bedrooms? Can you co-habitate for a year and try and stay away from each other? This really does suck.
posted by archimago at 12:04 PM on September 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

Do you have any friends or family you could stay with for a few nights? Any way to get your most valuable things into some sort of storage? Also double-check that your computer/laptop/phone/etc are locked down and not within easy reach, because if things ever escalate further you want to make sure he's not ruining your access to other resources.

I'd also recommend talking to your landlord, and go into that conversation strong. You have a legitimate concern for your physical safety at this point. Ask them what their process is for getting out of a physically dangerous situation like this, and mention that you are completely willing to go to the police. Let them know this is Serious Business.

Best of luck, and please update the thread here if the management is unwilling to help you.
posted by erratic meatsack at 12:15 PM on September 22, 2015 [12 favorites]

In some states, the law allows victims of domestic violence to break their lease without penalty. I don't know whether that is true in your case or not, but it is worth looking into. Even if the law doesn't allow it, your landlord may allow it anyway.

But get out. There is nothing worse for you, for your sense of yourself and your worth, than being in a relationship with an abusive person, and make no mistake, your boyfriend is abusive, and sharing a lease is a fairly intimate relationship, particularly insofar as it doesn't sound like he is likely to respect your boundaries. Get out however you have to.

And please get whatever help you need. Your local or state domestic violence organization should have resources to help you, possibly including help relocating or help dealing with the trauma, and certainly help navigating the legal system.
posted by gauche at 12:20 PM on September 22, 2015 [31 favorites]

Is he ever sober? does he show remorse for his actions while sober? does he pay his share of the rent? is there a clearly defined trigger for the increased drinking that he is working to resolve?

It doesn't sound like you can answer yes to any of the above questions, so quite frankly, you need to break up and get yourself out of there. Start taking computer/clothes /important documents to work/outside the apt, and then talk with your landlord about breaking the lease; the Landlord does not want someone who will destroy their apartment, and they would prefer to break a lease than have a physically violent and destructive tenant. Let them know that you are planning on going to the police.

You will probably lose your deposit and some of your possessions to this situation, and I'm very sorry that you have to go through this. Now is the time to talk to your friends and family about what is going on, and to ask for help. It is the time to reach out to domestic violence shelters, and to ask around about other resources available to you. If you have enough savings, it is also the time to start looking for a room you can sublet on craigslist etc. for 3-6 months while you get your feet back under you.

If you are someplace that gets snow, make sure you get your winter jacket and boots out with you. You don't need to be replacing those in 2 months if everything goes truly terrible.
posted by larthegreat at 12:21 PM on September 22, 2015 [5 favorites]

A call to a local domestic violence hotline may help put you in touch with resources and inform you of your rights. Depending on your location, you may have certain rights to get out of a lease early -- there's some info here.
posted by rainbowbrite at 12:21 PM on September 22, 2015 [21 favorites]

Contact your local women's shelter. This is serious enough to warrant their help. I was in a similar situation once and thought that those resources were for people who weren't like me and that my situation wasn't serious enough to bother them with. I was wrong. Please contact them. You may also want to call the national domestic violence hotline at 1-800-799-7233. They are amazing and will help you.

You may also want to ask specifically about creating a safety plan.

I would wait to talk to the landlord. Talk to one of these experts first. That is not what I did and I wish I had.

This isn't about the drinking really; the thing that just rings alarm bells for me is his statement about how you have no control or power anymore because you're on a lease together. No.

Take care.
posted by sockermom at 12:30 PM on September 22, 2015 [73 favorites]

This sounds like an emergency, the type for which you should feel willing to call in any and all favors you can from family and friends to help you get out of this, and consider that $1,500 is an absolute bargain price to escape from the kind of hell this appears to be turning into.
posted by prize bull octorok at 12:31 PM on September 22, 2015 [31 favorites]

Al-Anon can offer immediate help and support, and point you to some good resources. It's also a good way to get out of the house for an hour or two and be in a safe environment. Good luck.
posted by witchen at 12:34 PM on September 22, 2015 [3 favorites]

Every lease i've ever signed, and i believe some facets of local law where i am, will allow you to get out of the lease in situations like this. The most recent one i signed had an entire extra page about it. I've also lifelined my parents(former landlords of years) on these situations for friends to get clarification

This varies from state to state, and city to city. I agree with the recommendations to call a DV hotline, as they'll know exactly what to look for and what you'd need to present.

This is one of the only nearly universal get-out-of-lease-free cards, having a documented DV situation. Figure out exactly what you need and just get yourself out.

Another thing to note is that friends have walked away from leases for less than this. It isn't a renting death sentence. Some landlords will be sympathetic if this is the reason you give for having an eviction or something on your record. That's definitely a last resort, but seriously, this is a situation i'd totally give someone the high sign on just fucking off from if the fully legal breaking the lease route is somehow hamstrung. It'll make your apartment search a little more challenging, but not impossible.
posted by emptythought at 12:35 PM on September 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

Don't let the lease stranglehold you. Lots of people have walked out of apartments for a lot less. Take care of yourself. This guy sounds like a total nightmare and it's gotten physical. You don't want it to get worse. Walk away.
posted by xingcat at 12:46 PM on September 22, 2015 [6 favorites]

Another vote for "contact a domestic violence support group; do not try talking to the boyfriend."

Landlords HATE having guys like this on their properties. In my experience, most landlords will want to evict your shithead boyfriend and keep you as a tenant (assuming you can cover the rent).

Once you've discussed your options with a support line, get in touch with your landlord or management office and ask them what your options are. They have almost certainly dealt with this exact situation before, and they will be motivated to get this guy out, especially if you tell them about the peeing. (Seriously, what the hell, dude.)

In the meantime, make sure anything valuable to you (computer, jewelery, medications, and also items with sentimental value) is removed from the apartment for safe-keeping. And keep yourself safe.

I'm sorry you're going through this.
posted by pie ninja at 12:51 PM on September 22, 2015 [19 favorites]

I had to scratch him and lock the door to get him to leave.

Please be very careful with things like that. You don't want to provoke him to further violence, plus, "scratching him" might be against the law unless it is in actual self-defense.

Speaking of the law, however, I'm not sure that urinating on your shared floor is legal. I recommend contacting (or going to, in person) a domestic violence center and asking them both for advice in general, and advice about potentially involving the police.
posted by Juffo-Wup at 1:09 PM on September 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

You are in a dangerous situation. You can not live with this person a moment longer. Do not ever ever ever ever ever be alone with this man ever again.

Use all resources at your disposal and get out of this lease asap. Don't even bother feeling ashamed or guilty. He fell off the wagon and is a dangerous drunk. You could not have known this information earlier. You don't need to feel responsible.

He peed on the floor out of anger towards you because you needed to lock yourself in the bathroom to stay safe. Just prior, the confrontation got physical.

IDK what the laws are in your jurisdiction, but if the DV experts you contact recommend it, hell yes you should file a police report and get a restraining order. Who knows what this person is capable of??

Don't take any chances with your safety. I know you are likely in shock anfd not thinking too clearly. Get outside help.
posted by jbenben at 1:12 PM on September 22, 2015 [18 favorites]

Whatever you do (and I completely agree with calling the DV hotline first), do not blame yourself. Do not be embarrassed. This is not your fault and I know you "know" all of this, but sometimes it's easy to believe when you're talking to the landlord or other people that potentially hold your fate in their hands that you are partially to blame. You're not. From your question, you sound like you're pretty clear on leaving and leave you should. Immediately.
posted by Sophie1 at 1:15 PM on September 22, 2015 [3 favorites]

If I have your state right based on clues in your profile, your state does, in fact, have protections called the Safe Homes Act.
posted by Sophie1 at 1:18 PM on September 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

This isn't exactly an answer, but I just wanted to tell you how much I admire your clearheadedness about the situation. It's great that you can see how bad things are; it's great that you know you deserve better. Stay strong.
posted by the_blizz at 1:53 PM on September 22, 2015 [34 favorites]

I'm so sorry you're going through this. It sounds like a horrific situation. If it were me, I would pack all my essential shit and stay at a friend's house. Next I would call a women's shelter for advice on how to proceed -- they should be able to assist in filing a police report, contacting the landlord, etc. But the highest priority is ensuring your personal safety. Worry about the lease later.
posted by a strong female character at 2:09 PM on September 22, 2015 [6 favorites]

Sending good thoughts - gtfo.
posted by parki at 2:22 PM on September 22, 2015

How do I talk to him about this

You can't, really. Alcohol's short and long-term effects in people who abuse it make it impossible to reason and deal with them, while they're addicted. He doesn't have the ability to behave or communicate like someone who's not experiencing recurring (temporary) and long-term brain damage, to a greater or lesser degree. I bet you're right that he's been keeping it in check over the past while. He's probably got a history of drinking longer and harder than you've seen over the past 8 months.

If you want to explain things to him, you can leave him a letter. He probably won't really understand that any better than he would a conversation, right now, to be honest, but it might make sense to him at some point.

This isn't exactly an answer, but I just wanted to tell you how much I admire your clearheadedness about the situation. It's great that you can see how bad things are; it's great that you know you deserve better. Stay strong.

2nd this so hard. You are super strong for seeing this for what it is now, and for acting to protect yourself.
posted by cotton dress sock at 2:40 PM on September 22, 2015 [12 favorites]

(Also, in case I suggested otherwise above, in any way - the reasons for his behaviour don't matter. You're in danger around him, and you can't help him. A professional might be able to, if that opportunity arises, but you can't.)
posted by cotton dress sock at 3:04 PM on September 22, 2015 [4 favorites]

How do I talk to him about this

Don't. You've made the decision - you're leaving. The only thing left is to work out how. There's no further negotiation to be had with him. You don't owe him anything, least of all a reason for your leaving.

I put up 1500 dollars so that we could both be on this lease and I don't have any money to sign myself off the lease.

Your physical safety and happiness is far, far more important than the cash you will need to spend to get out of this situation. It sucks, but there it is. Investigate the possibilities and resources that people have suggested above. If you have to let the money go, do it. If you have to borrow money to sign off the lease and get away, then do it. It will hurt, but it's the best thing in the long run.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:20 PM on September 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

Seconding Al-Anon. I also grew up with an alcoholic parent it wasn't until I made it to Al-Anon that I learn how to deal with alcoholics and also how to take care of myself. YMMV. Best
Of luck!
posted by Bella Donna at 5:38 PM on September 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

Get out now. This will not end well if you stay.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 8:20 PM on September 22, 2015

You need to leave as soon as possible.


Worry about the lease and money and other stuff that doesn't matter later. Worry about you, your safety and your sanity first. This situation WILL get worse.
posted by cnc at 8:53 PM on September 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

it's gotten out of control because we decided to move into a new place he's an abusive alcoholic.

All conversations have ended in a screaming match and him telling me I no longer have any power because we share a lease he's an abusive alcoholic.

What do I do? How do I talk to him about this You don't. Because he's an abusive alcoholic.

Honey, there's no talking to, or reasoning with, an abusive alcoholic. None. He's beyond that. I'm so, so sorry. And you're absolutely correct: You deserve far, far better than whatever this is.

I don't know any hotline numbers off the top of my head, but there's a great website, Love Is Respect, that has a texting option to get some help. Text: loveis to 22522.

You don't deserve this. You did nothing to create this. You did nothing to cause this. This is not your fault.
posted by The Almighty Mommy Goddess at 9:34 PM on September 22, 2015 [11 favorites]

When I was in a similar situation, I left my furniture and books behind in the middle of the night and informed my landlady (in person, with evidence of abuse) that I would need to be removed from the lease. I was removed that night and the lease became his problem. It was worth having to leave my things behind. If you can get him evicted, that's wonderful. If not, no price is worth staying.
posted by a hat out of hell at 7:24 AM on September 23, 2015 [3 favorites]

I'm very worried for you. Please update us when you can. Yes, he is an abusive alcoholic, and I'm really glad that you have realized this so soon. It sounds like your head is in the right place.

You need to never be alone with this man again. Calling a DV hotline or contacting a shelter is in order -- this is what they're for. I know what it's like to minimize your situation and think it's not bad enough for that. It is. Be very careful with this -- delete your history if he has access to your computer or phone.

You may be able to go back with a police escort to get your things, but in the meantime, get what you can't live without and please get away from this man.
posted by fiercecupcake at 7:49 AM on September 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

camylanded, you have been in my thoughts as well since you posted your question. It is the dear hope of my heart that you are safely away from this man. While you are of course under no obligation to say anything further here, I think more than a few of us would be thankful for an update on your situation, if you can.

Peace to you.
posted by gauche at 11:32 AM on September 23, 2015 [7 favorites]

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