Leaving a partner is a very hard decision. The second most stressful event other than the death of a loved one. It‘s made even that much harder, when leaving an abuser. Even though victims may know that their partner is toxic and abusive, they are often completely blindsided by the voracity of the anger, aggression, and hostility that is unleashed when they finally decide to separate.
In an ideal world, no one would be married to a high conflict personality, let alone embroiled in a high conflict divorce or separation. Often times, you may not even realize you are facing this personality type, until you make the decision to leave.
They say it takes two to tango, but in divorce, it only takes one person to create a high conflict divorce. And this is often times the case. One party refuses to let go of their power and control and so, they amp up their attempts to assert themselves as relevant and important. Unchecked bruised egos, create the worst offenders.
Here Are Some Signs to Look Out For:
🚩Declarations of outcome: ”I’ll bankrupt you!,”
“ Once you start this, you won’t be able to stop it.”
”You won’t ever see the kids again.”
”You won’t get a penny of “my” money.”
🚩Hostile or harassing communications.
🚩A history or a pattern of abuse including, but not limited to, coercive control. Remember: abuse includes so much more than just physical assault.
🚩Withdrawal of financial support. This is spousal starvation, a common tactic by abusers, which renders their victims helpless and unable to stay gone. They often have to return to their abusers, as a result of having no access to money.
🚩A sudden change in employment income. They may have been a top earner, and suddenly, surprise, surprise, they are much lower income earners.
🚩Threats or stalking, which can include social media stalking, often done by friends and family who enable their abuse (these people are fondly referred to as flying monkeys- a Wizard of Oz reference.)
🚩False Allegations. They may even bait and goad you in order to set you up for these allegations. Often times, these include false allegations of parental alienation.
🚩Lies and/or failure to comply with court orders etc.
🚩The hiring of a combative lawyer, aka a pit-bull attorney.
🚩A smear campaign against you to friends, family, colleagues, your children, and acquaintances, which is often started before you separate, and is intensified after you leave. This is done to erode your support system and further isolate you, which makes it easier for them to manipulate and control you.
🚩The use of your children as weapons or pawns against you. They hit you where it hurts the most: by hurting your children (neglecting them, not caring for them adequately, putting them in harms way, etc) they hurt you. This is abuse by proxy. What wouldn’t a loving parent do to protect their children?
🚩A win at all costs mentality. They don’t care if they bankrupt you both in court, so long as you don’t get any of “their money”. Or any variations of this mentality. They play dirty and aren’t afraid to do so. In fact, they love it, especially if they get away with it.
While we all hope our divorces can be amicable, above board, and sprints that keep the children in the center, many abusers refuse to let you walk away without a fight. And so your divorce becomes an ultra-marathon. This is why it’s critical to surround yourself with expert support prior to separating. You’d not enter into an ultra marathon without the proper training and preparation, so please don’t do so with one of the most overwhelming and stressful life events. To do so, is to show up underprepared and undereducated. A recipe for disaster: mentally, emotionally, physically, and financially.