Tuesday, April 12, 2011

I have nothing to lose!

That's a line in an email sent to me recently by my ex-husband.  He says that he has nothing to lose.  He also said that he's planning to report me for child neglect and endangerment.*  As you can imagine, I'm not sure how to respond.

My attorney is concerned for my safety.  Men who have nothing to lose have been known to do desperate things.

A couple of years ago, my oldest daughter read The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker.  The author is an expert in assessing risk and determining what steps to take if someone has been threatened.  My daughter recommended the book to me, and I read it also.  This week, I've had my copy of the book out, trying to determine if I really am in danger.

Early in my marriage, I made it very clear that physical abuse was right out.  Men who hit women should be drawn and quartered.  If I was in an intimate relationship with someone who ever hit me, it would be over immediately.  That's that.

My ex-husband has never hit, shoved, or slapped me.  He has, however, driven in a reckless manner with an intent to scare or annoy both me and the children.  On one occasion I was terrified that the driver of the car next to us would do something violent because of my husband's actions. 

My ex-husband slapped one of the children across her face.  He had a horrible habit of poking, kicking, and thumping the children.  When they or I complained he always claimed it was an affectionate tap, not done with aggressive intent.

The day I asked him to move out of the house, I was afraid that he would react violently.  I had three of the children leave home, and kept the two tallest ones with me.  I had my cell phone in my pocket ready to call 911 if needed.

That night he got angry, he cursed me, and he yelled insults to me and about me to the children.  He told them that I am a horrible mother.  That's been his recurring theme ever since.

In assessing my risk The Gift of Fear has been very helpful.  There is a 30-point checklist to help me figure out my level of concern.  I have gone over that list and my husband has done 14 out of the 30 items.  Hmmm.

In general I am not a fearful person.  I think many women are unnecessarily fearful of what may happen.  I have never been one to waste my time worrying about possibilities.  However, I try not to be heedless.  I want to listen to the warnings.  I am taking steps.  I may or may not post about what I'm doing.

*My two youngest children are 14 and 16.  They are both taller than I am, so we're not talking about little kids here.