DEAR ABBY: I am in an eight-year marriage that feels like a prison sentence. I have two children under the age of 5, and a husband who is mentally and emotionally unstable and has severe addiction to prescription painkillers. If I divorce him, he will have joint custody of our children and, while I want them to know who their father is because they love him, I am terrified of what he might do to them as emotionally unstable as he is. I'm convinced he is capable of murder-suicide just to get at me.
He forces me to say "I love you" several times a day. I don't mean it anymore. He forces bodily contact. I sleep in a recliner in the den and put off going home from work to avoid him because I know the fight will be on when I get there.
I have never cheated on him, but I'm accused of it all the time. I have no privacy. He searches my purse, phone and car for "evidence" almost nightly. He takes checks from my private account and writes them without my consent. When I get overdrafts, he acts like it's my fault. If he spends money on the kids, he resents it -- and to complicate matters further, we filed for bankruptcy last year and are living in the house with my parents.
To be truthful, I'm scared to live with him by myself. I cringe every time I'm forced to be intimate with him, and I'm dying inside in little pieces. Please advise me. I would like to be sane and have a reasonably decent life for me and my kids before it's over. -- DESPERATE MOM IN COLORADO
DEAR DESPERATE: You have your work cut out for you. First, talk to the police and go on record with the fact that your husband is a drug-addicted forger -- something you should also tell your bank, by the way -- and that you are afraid he will harm you or the children because of his instability due to his abuse of prescription medications.
Then inform the physician who has been prescribing the meds.
Tell your lawyer that you want to end your marriage, but that you are: (1) afraid he will harm you, (2) afraid he could harm the children, and (3) you would like him to have supervised visitation with them only because of his mental instability.
Fortunately, you are living in your parents' home -- which means you are not alone and vulnerable. But it's time to get your husband out of there. Your attorney can advise you on the safest way to accomplish that.