How Do I Leave My Husband?

Reader’s Question

My husband and I met when we were 18 and at first had a fun relationship. We basically grew up together. We rented an apartment together when we were 20, got married when we were 21 and had a son when we were 24. My husband always liked to drink beer but as time passed by his drinking worsened. After our son was born, he had a difficult time adjusting to the “adult” life and started leaving me at home with the baby while he went partying. He never admitted to cheating on me but his drinking got worse and I later found out that he was doing drugs as well. One of his bad habits also is playing violent video games. When he plays online video games he drinks beer and gets very drunk and loud. When he plays he yells out obscene words and drinks. When he is done drinking he gets into the car drunk and drives to a liquor store to get more beer. Then, when he is so drunk he can’t even walk he goes and buys crack or cocaine and stays up until the middle of the night because he can’t sleep. All this is just to describe what I am living with for the past 10 years. Our son is now almost 6 years old and he is witnessing this hell every day. If I try to talk to him while he is drunk and/or playing video games (which is all he does when he comes home from work) he curses me out in front of our son. So, the best thing for me to do is just not to approach him when he is in this condition. In the past, I just took my son and went to my friend’s or my parent’s house but if I wanted to leave I really have nowhere to go. I am trapped and I don’t know what to do. We own a condo together and he has no intention of leaving. Sometimes I feel as if I am living in a nightmare. Please give me some advice. How do I leave my husband and sell or keep my condo? I am afraid of how he will react if I try to divorce him.

Psychologist’s Reply

You are living a nightmare. For folks in this type of situation, I recommend an Exit Plan. As you mentioned, suddenly leaving with the child typically doesn’t work out — no money, no place to go, no plans, no support system, etc. An Exit Plan is a program of preparation to leave, often requiring several months. As an example, over the next several months, begin exploring what your legal options are for the condo and income. Take an inventory of what you would need to live on your own. Can you arrange a place to stay or live? Do you have family support? Basically do your homework and prepare to leave when you can safely leave and stay gone. Do you have your own income, job, financial support? Once these things are in place, you can leave and move toward a legal separation or divorce.

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