Advice on How to End a Violent Relationship
Dear April Masini,
I have been in a relationship with a man for 6 years. We have a daughter together. My partner has epilepsy, and suffers from violent behavior when he refuses or forgets to take his medication. This has been going on for too long now, and a few weeks ago I woke up and just felt like I was full, that's enough I want out."
He has injured me in the past, broken bones, strangled me, hit me, yelled at me, threatened to kill me, and more. Then he has a seizure and conveniently claims he does not remember. It seems to be cyclic, about every three to four months. This last time, I just feel like something snapped in me. He grabbed me by the head and screamed at me, then threw me across the room for hugging him. He than graphically described how he wanted to drown me in a bucket of water. He claimed the next day to not remember, and said I was punishing him for his past and for his illness.
I love him deeply. When he is on his meds he is awesome: sweet, loyal, hardworking. He is funny and loving. But, I feel horrible. I can't sleep. I have anxiety all the time and I cry at the drop of a hat. I just can't take it anymore. I want to leave, but can't find it in myself to break up our family. My daughter loves him, and he is always on his best behavior with her. Am I a horrible person for needing to leave? What can I do? I just cant stay. It's killing me. How can I leave him and break up our family?
April Masini's Advice :
I'm very sorry for your pain. Your answer is very clear. You know what you have to do. What you're having trouble with is your feelings.
So many women fall into this trap. They see the small picture and forget the big picture. In your case, you have a child, and you must not place her in harm's way any longer. You have lived with a partner who is violent and dangerous. To stay there any longer means you have been and are exposing yourself, the mother of your child, and your child, to danger. I hate to be blunt because you are so hurt, but someone has to say it to you -- being an unfit mother means exposing your child to danger. If you want to continue to parent your child, you need to get out of the house and the environment immediately. You are putting yourself and your child at risk while you stay there, given what you've told me about your partner.
If you stay there any longer, you will be doing a horrible thing. Leaving is painful because the relationship did not turn out to be what you had hoped. He did not turn out to be the man you had hoped, and your daughter has a father who is not one you had hoped him to be. So grieve your lost hope, and accept reality.
This situation you describe is pretty black and white to me. Your partner has broken your bones, strangled you and threatened to kill you. What other kind of message do you need to get out? The police to come and take your daughter away because you can't protect her from him, let alone yourself?
I'm not sure what led you to be in an abusive situation, but that's what's happened. Stop being a victim. You need to be a hero. It's not a perfect situation, but you CAN make the best of it.
Your partner has an illness, epilepsy, that may or may not be causing psychotic breaks. He may have epilepsy AND an additional illness that is psychological or neurological that is causing the violence. Who knows. Not you, for sure. A doctor or a team of doctors needs to evaluate him.
AFTER you move yourself and your daughter out of your house to a safe place (a relative's home or a friend's home), you need to get your daughter's father some help. Anti-psychotic medications do exist. There are many people with epilepsy who do not break the bones of their partners. As long as your partner is violent, you cannot allow your daughter or yourself to be with him.
Because you have a child with him, and I trust that you want your daughter to have a good relationship with her father, you have to try to get him help. You may need a restraining order. You may need to not allow your daughter to visit with her father without a court appointed monitor to assure his safety. You may need to keep her from him until he is sedated and or behaviorally modified.
You need to learn to call the police when you and your child are at risk. If your partner has a medical condition that renders him violent then the police will help him get what he needs in terms of safety for his daughter, you, and himself. He may hurt other people he comes into contact with if he's hurting you. If you do not report him to the police for this violence, you will be partly responsible for whomever else he hurts.
Your partner needs help and you can not fix him, but you can help him by not notifying his doctor, the police, and moving out, you're actually preventing him from getting the help he needs. He will be hurt, but your safety and your daughter's safety are WAY more important than anyone's feelings.
Be careful when you describe him as sweet, loyal and hardworking. Many criminals are also sweet, loyal and hardworking, but they are also people who commit crimes -- some of them violent. Children often have great love for people who harm and molest them because they are usually family members, and not strangers. Your daughter is at risk for these types of dangers. See your partner for who he is -- a sick man who does not have the help he needs.
You deserve a man who is healthy. Your daughter deserves a father who has help and a mother who is healthy.
Move out so you and your daughter are safe. THEN call his doctor and get him help. If that doesn't work, call the police. if that doesn't work, get a restraining order so he can't hurt you or your daughter. If that doesn't work, then you need to move on with your life without him, and protect your daughter first and foremost from harm.