Divorcing a Narcissist: Flaws in the System

Divorcing a Narcissist: Flaws in the System

I re-discovered another huge flaw in our system this week.  Namely, how difficult it is to protect yourself from a Narcissist who hasn’t verbally threatened to inflict great bodily harm or worse, threatened your life.

I am tired of being afraid to walk through my own neighborhood.  I am tired of being afraid to open my windows when I am home alone.  I am envious of the people who have their front door wide open and I am envious of the summer breeze blowing through their living rooms.  I want to be that woman taking a morning walk alone or the woman who is able to sweep her front porch without jumping at the sound of crackling leaves in the yard.

This week I called my local Women’s Shelter- the place where I spent a few days in 2009.  I was asked the same questions that I was asked in 2009: “Has he hit you?”  “Has he threatened your life“?  The answers: No.  He hasn’t.  He knows how to stay within the limits.  I had threatened a restraining order in the past and his response was along the lines of, “They say that nothing I’ve said constitutes a threat“.  He knows how to threaten me in a passive aggressive way– in a subtle way that allows him to victimize me without recourse or consequences.

What prompted my call?  I am moving.  I am moving into my dream neighborhood- a small, quaint neighborhood where you can borrow a cup of sugar from your neighbor.  It’s safe.  It’s happy.  It’s mine.  I don’t want his venom to invade my peaceful world.  I don’t want him to taint my safe haven by driving through my neighborhood minutes after he’s led us to believe that he was four hours away.  I want to take away his opportunity to victimize me with his head games.

As I spoke to the intake counselor at the Women’s Shelter, I wondered: How do you explain the look in someone’s eyes that chills you to your core?  How do you explain that you aren’t worried about being hit but you are worried about your life being taken by someone who appears normal but is the furthest thing from that word?  I regretted the call before a full minute had passed.  I instantly knew it was a waste of my time and a waste of the counselor’s time.

She gave me the normal advice: carry a video camera or a phone with a video camera.  Document every time you see him and remember details- what was he wearing?  What was he holding?  What was he driving?  All of that information is fabulous but it doesn’t help me now.  By the end of September, I will be forced to tell him where we are living.  The very man who terrorizes all of the women who “leave him”– I have been in communication with a total of three women since 2009 who are victims of my X.  They have had to change their locks, write “cease and desist” letters and like me, they all live in fear for their safety. I am not giving up yet- I am still determined to find a way to seal my address.

Do I really think that a piece of paper will protect me from him?  No- I’m not that naive but even if it bought me peace of mind for three months or six months, I’d be happy. It’s just another flaw in our system that infuriates me.  The very system that was designed to protect is incredibly flawed.

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18 Responses

  1. I completely agree. And what’s worse, is when you finally ARE in court, the judges don’t care about those details that you work so hard to document. If he hasn’t “hit you or verbally threatened your life” then the judges don’t really care about anything else, and that’s how the narcissistic abusers win in court. Exactly like you said, they know how to fly under the radar. They know exactly what they can get away with, and because of that they manipulate the system and the get away with a whole heck of a lot! It’s called Legal Abuse for a reason. They use the legal system to continue to abuse their targets, and the legal system just sits back and lets them. Something needs to be done to change it. I sincerely believe that every person who goes into a custody battle in court should be forced to go through a psych eval before they ever testify in a court room, and the evaluators should all be trained to look for indicators as to why they are in high conflict cases, like NPD, BPD, or any other problem. The courts should be educated AND THEN HELD ACCOUNTABLE to be aware of the cause of high conflict divorce and instead of just taking a middle of the road, lazy approach, they should recognize that a hcd is usually caused by one individual, and then they should be aware that that individual is going to lie and manipulate the court. The judicial system is supposed to be there to protect the innocent people from the abusers, but instead they are just sitting back and feeding innocent mothers, fathers and children to their abusers like steak to wolves. Shame on you, family court system.

  2. Tina-
    I just had a discussion with one of my very good friends about this subject tonight. I know my ex is a loose canyon, a ticking time bomb who hasn’t hit rock bottom yet. It scares me and I worry that one of these days he is going to get to the end of his rope and take the kids and disappear or do something worse to the kids and myself. I don’t believe anyone has any idea how sick of a individual he is. He is so so good at looking good and acting normal. There is nothing he has “done” for me to report but I just have this sick feeling in the bottom of my stomach. I understand where you are coming from. I pray that for the sake of yourself and the girls you can figure something out. Thanks for all you do!!

  3. MWP: I agree on the psychological testing. It helps to have that in front of a judge. My ex was ordered to take one and it showed he is cluster B and that he lacks empathy. Even with this, he continues to drag me into court and continue his legal abuse.

    I totally understand feeling scared all the time and looking over your shoulder. My ex was arrested for violating a protection order I had against him. The prosecutor wanted to offer him a plea bargain that I was against. They said they know he will violate it again, they just have to wait until he does something worse to get him charged with a more serious crime. Unfortunately officials are reactive rather than proactive.

    I wonder what it is going to take to make people realize waiting until he does something really disastrous is a mistake and to wake up and be proactive and prevent abuse and damage to the ex spouse or kids?

  4. I keep putting off talking to legal aid to divorce my husband because he is quiet right now and I am afraid once he gets served those papers all hell will break lose. At the same time I have put off letting him see our three year old the last two times he requested because, even though we meet in a public place, I fear that he may bolt with our son and I don’t have any orders in place. There is also some fear as to what he is up to. The last communication I received from him was a text asking if I was alright, sounding like he was all concerned about me and being nice, but I know better. Luckily I have gotten involved with a women’s support group here at the Family Violence Prevention Services and they get it. They recognize the emotional abuse and manipulation as something real and understand why we women who are subject to it are just as fearful as those who are physically abused. I just wish the court system wasn’t so far behind on this issue. There are too many women suffering from this kind of abuse. Our story is unfortunately quite common.

  5. Why not hire a good PI and stalk your stalker? have them terrorize/stalk back? I would find a way to absolutely TERRORIZE that man. Stalk. Him. Back. Stay within the law – but know where he is at all times. Someone following HIM, calling you, so you know where he is and what he’s doing. I know there is an expense, but this sounds like the perfect way to keep one step (or more) ahead of him. They can film him and record his movements for your attorney. There has to be an absolute pit-bull of a former Marine-turned-cop type guy somewhere willing to HUNT. Fight his intimidation tactics with FIRE. Jeebus I hate these narcs.

  6. I lost a restraining order because the threat wasn’t explicit. What he said in the email was “You are on notice.” This was always his warning before he hit me so he could justify it. He had already warned me after all. But because he didn’t say in words in this email that he would attack me, the judge decided it wasn’t a threat. Stupid dummy idiot.
    On another note,
    I put a hook & eye latch on my screen doors so I could open my front and back doors and feel the Spring breeze refresh my home and my spirit. It’s not a deadbolt, but I felt both open and safe. I only just recently stopped looking outside at every passing car and person, but that’s because the court gave our kids to my abusive ex so I don’t expect I’ll see him around here.

  7. It makes alot of sense does it? I totally understand, the system is broken,period. It has got to change before women and children will ever be or feel safe again from their abusers!

  8. MVP,
    You are right on the money. And it is happening over and over and over and the family court system and attorneys allow it,even with all the evidence and testimony. They say his words agianst yours. Well I have to differ when it is documented that my son said to counselor and myself his father wants to cut my head off with his sword and it was told to police and yet that is not a threat on my life? And we wonder why women and children are being killed!

  9. The only thing to remember regarding the paranoia is that God is in control. He did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. Keep your head and your eyes up, know how to use pepper spray and if you can afford some kind of surveillance/PI that would helpful. Take the control back as much as you know how to and surround yourself with people you trust. I know it is easier said than done for all of us. Lord knows sometimes it can be a day by day, even minute by minute thing, but it can and must be done. Our NXs are the crazy ones, not us and they have to live with that every second of their lives whether they know it or not.
    I am debating on whether or not to report my first attorney to the State Bar on ethics violations, she has admittedly communicated with my NX while he was represented by his own attorney, and some other things. I am concerned about the possibility that she has orchestrated some of the issues that have continued this “high conflict” situation. I have bits and pieces of proof, if I find the right person they could probably be more discerning about it, but I was reading about Leann Rimes admitting herself into counseling(poor girl-when she started looking like her husbands X my “sociopath flags” started flailing, hope she gets out and stays out before she gets pregnant), but I digress, sorry. My attorney told me it would be a good idea to start counseling as divorces are “traumatizing.” So I did. It was in fact the most tremendous blessing. She later had insisted she was devising a plan to get my NX into counseling, she wanted to make sure she avoided any opportunity for him to find some “bimbo” that he could manipulate. She did not do that and later said Ns can’t be helped. She never even made available the option to have evaluations. Now I believe that she was the manipulator as much as my NX was and she was MY attorney! Can I prove it? Maybe(if I could get phone/email records), I believe those of us with NXs have a better chance if attorneys do not get involved, and I do not think it matters how good they are. They will submit to the system and the system is severely flawed. Their motives are not ours. Some could not care less about us and our children, they care as much as we are in a position to pay them a lot of money and even then, their care is questionable. Maybe we can start a movement to set a cap on the amount of money attorneys can make in divorces and the amount of time allotted for the process, if they go beyond that cap the cost starts coming out of their own pockets and then we have the option to sue them for a full refund if they fail to comply with the cap on any level. I think that would be a great place to start!

  10. I really can’t believe you posted this. (in a good way) just yesterday I decided to again see how to go about getting a restraining order against my ex. I called the domestic violence center (again) to ask if from their experience, they thought I could have a fighting chance getting one based on my reasons. My reasons were his abusive texts and the fact that when I have to pick my baby up from visitation I practically die with anxiety. I won’t look him in the eye, but I know that he will use that minute of switching the baby off to berate me about whatever he feels like at that moment. This week it was my babys haircut which was adorable but he hated. He began to go off on what a terrible job I did etc and I just wanted to flee down the road to escape the verbal attack. I grabbed the babys bag and took off as fast as possible. While walking away with my baby he’s yelling how immature I was. (I’m 38). I guess to him the mature thing to do is stand there and be ripped to shreads. Anyway,my ex is so smart as far as pushing just enough, but not enough for anyone to take his threats and abuse seriously. The domestic violence center again thought that because I was not in life-threatening danger, I probably couldn’t get one. I am just sick that these narcissists get away with such subtle but crippling abuse towards us. I would give anything for a flat out “I’m going to kill you” text. Judges will respond to that yet not to the twisted, warped abuse that instead kills our beings. It’s amazing what we all have to endure.

  11. This isn’t for everyone, but my next dog is a guard dog. A german shepherd full or mixed breed. They are extremely loyal and fiercely protective of the family. I am considering a kill command. SOunds nuts but I do have a retraining order for the threat to kill me, but it is a piece of paper. Everyone knows who to go to if I am killed or disappear with or without that paper, that won’t change the fact that I am dead or missing though. I am not a fan of a weapon in the home, especially with small children. A guard dog will do it for me. I know there are many reasons not to get one, but if no one is allergic and you can handle the expense and have spare love to give, consider it. That and (or) a kick ass security system should do it. Nothing is more expensive than a life, worth every dime and hour put into it. While you have the right to live peacefully with no irrational fears of being murdered, they don’t play with the same rule book. The veiled threats are likely empty and just to keep you afraid (control), but not worth the risk. I am so sorry you have to live this way, but I totally understand.

  12. I haven’t read any of the replies yet, but I use to live this way. I know for a fact had I stayed my Ex N would have killed me, either in a fit of rage when losing his temper or infecting me with an STD or HIV from his shady and dangerous sexual habits. And so I lived in fear, even with a 100 pound pitbull mix dog who would kill my ex if he dared to look wrong at me. I knew how he worked, I knew I had no protection and worse yet, I HAD called the cops on him numerous times and DID have physical proof and pictures of his abuse. But he used his military uniform to bypass the system and be unaccountable for his physical and sexual abuse. And so I continued living in fear. And then my father stepped in and said enough is enough.

    I moved into an apartment complex that I love, with neighbors who briefly know my history (abusive ex who is in the military) and they keep an eye on me and my place. And then I went to the range with my best friend and her husband and I learned not only how to fire a gun, but how to properly handle, clean, unload, load and use it. I blogged about my first time and the liberation I felt after facing one of my fears (i was deathly scared of guns and the ex knew that and had threatened me for years that he would buy one if i left him). I went back a lot and then I got a license, permit and bought myself a gun, a safe and now it is safely secure in my home. I do have small children and i’ve always feared that they would get hurt by a gun in the home, but i realized WE would get hurt by my ex if i didn’t have one in the home.

    Now I no longer live in fear. He knows where I live and picks up the kids from here. My target from the range is actually framed and visible when the front door opens, a silent warning to him that not only do i know how to shoot, i’m capable of taking the kill shot should my life or my children be endangered. I have found myself actually sleeping at night, not being consumed by the anxiety that use to eat me alive with fear of him getting ticked off and finally realizing that I hold all the power and he’s fed up with what he lost and coming after me and taking my life. I go for runs almost every day in my small neighborhood with minimal car traffic and I no longer look over my shoulder fearful he may be there behind me trying to run me over. I took my life back by figuring out a way to feel safe without having to depend on the court system. I hope and pray that you are able to find a way to find that empowerment and safety in a way that protects you and your children as the courts do nothing to protect us. Living in that fear and anxiety is so damaging to us and the N’s know it and i believe they use it to their advantage whenever they can. You deserve to live in peace and contentment knowing you safe to live the life you and your girls deserve.

  13. Don’t even count on it then. My ex left a VM saying he wanted to shut my f-ing mouth permanently, and that was still not enough. What did that judge think he meant by ‘permenently’? Go figure huh?

  14. OH Tina, I’m so sorry this isn’t the transition to complete safety that you both desire and need. Every human should have what you describe (the front door open, the windows open with the breezes blowing in…).

    I can hope with and for you that ….well, he finds someone else (isn’t that the way it ends for us in the EASY way?). I can hope that the courts get a clue before it’s too late for even one more woman.

    Take care of your health as much as you can. For me, the mess physically broke me.


  15. Interesting that you wrote about this because I’ve decided that’s what I want to do for my birthday this month. I want to go to the shooting range and learn how to defend myself. I’ve grown up with weapons (guns) in our home and I grew up shooting but its been a very long time. You bet your bottom dollar that I will be blogging about it also- complete with photos to boot!

    thank you for sharing. T

  16. I can’t wait to read and see pics!!! I posted my pics on my facebook after I did it. So very empowering! And you’re a step ahead of me, i’d never been around guns except in a very traumatic experience so overcoming my fears was comical (now looking back lol), at the time i was a huge mess!

  17. Tina, I feel the same way about not having the windows and doors open. I even keep my shades in the front of the house completely down everyday all day. I have had the orders of protection and they are a joke. My X was arrested on many occasions and was actually found not guilty because the judge said, “This just sounds like a bad divorce.” I vowed to never ask the police or the court for help again. My X thinks its all a big joke. Recently a garage remote my son had went missing while at his dads. It was found at my X’s mothers and my X sent a text to my son saying, “Your mother probably thought I took it to come over there and kill her.” Duh…of course I thought that. Here is one example of why. While living in Germany he had me in a car doing over 100 mpr and screaming that he could just turn the wheel and we would both be dead. I was pregnant and terrified. He only stopped after I was a puddle in the floorboard screaming for him to stop.
    There are so many more things he has said or done that makes me think he is more than capable of doing something.
    I’m waiting for my youngest to turn 18 andI will disappear.
    Enjoy your few months to build your strength and get lots of rest.