My partner of 6 years is an emotionally abusive alcoholic, who is currently on probation for his fourth DUI. He has no car, no driver’s license, and only recently got a part-time job after more than 2 years of self-imposed unemployment. Even though he is now making about $1,000/month, he still refuses to chip in for the rent or monthly bills. (His money goes toward beer, fast food for himself, and paying off his court costs.) After years of trying to make things work, I’ve decided he will never really change, and staying in such a dysfunctional relationship will no doubt cause long-term harm to our son, who witnesses the yelling, cursing, drinking, and threats of violence that go on in our home on a regular basis. Although he is only 4, my son has already told me that he doesn’t really like his daddy, and wishes he had a different one that wasn’t so lazy, grumpy, and mean.
The problem is that I want to end things with his father, but I’m not sure how to do so. In 2012, we moved from the Midwest to the East Coast for my career, which means we have no local family or support system to speak of. Although I pay all the rent and bills, the lease is in both our names. When I’ve tried to make him leave in the past, he’s refused to do so (pointing out that he has a right to live there since he’s on the lease). He also always says he would never go anywhere without his son. We haven’t even talked/argued about the idea of breaking up for quite some time because whenever it came up in the past, he always went ballistic and tore the house apart.
I guess my main question is: How do I end the relationship and tell him I want him to leave without jeopardizing the safety and well-being of my son, myself, and my property? (Almost everything in the house is mine.) I feel like he’s holding us hostage, because I’m afraid that if I try to end things between us, he will either hurt me, destroy my possessions, kidnap our son, or all of the above. Please help! I want my son and I to be free of this situation but I don’t know what to do!
Thank you for this powerful question. I agree that the dysfunction is too great for you to continue. As you prepare for leaving, I propose three things. First, if you’re not already involved with Al-Anon meetings I would find one in your area. Here’s a list and contact number to find the closest one. Al-Anon is a 12-step program for family and friends of alcoholics. This group can help give you the support and guidance to cope.
Secondly, I contact your local women’s center. Most counties in the United States have a woman’s center familiar with the laws, rights, and process of coping with the kind of issues you have. I’d contact them sooner rather than later.
Finally, get legal advice. Perhaps through the woman’s center or your employer, or through your own search. You’ll need to find a lawyer who can help you negotiate your rights — as well as protect yourself during this process.
Wishing you patience and peace,