The nightmare of abuse leaves you feeling helpless, hopeless and trapped. Psychologically, you are a prisoner. Too afraid to leave, but afraid of what will happen if you stay. We all know this. Now imagine for a second that you couldn’t go. I don’t mean the psychological barriers we all face in leaving. I mean you literally, physically could not go. What if it wasn’t an option? Imagine depending on your abuser for your very life, literally. Imagine being trapped not only by the abuse, but also by a wheelchair, cancer, or a child with Autism.
This scenario is all too common. Women who have a disability are at a much greater risk than other women, of being victims of physical or sexual abuse. According to the Center On Human Policy, Law, and Disability Studies [Internet Archive link] at Syracuse University, women with disabilities are about twice as likely to become victims of abuse as are women who do not have a disability. Their disabilities or those of their children make them much more vulnerable and also put up much higher barriers to receiving assistance to get away from the abuse.
Many shelters are not equipped to handle the special needs of women with disabilities and this decreases the options for these women to leave. For example, if a woman needs attendant care on a regular basis, or special bathroom facilities, or needs lifts and ramps to access buildings, then many shelters cannot meet her needs and she may be sent to an institution which is not equipped or trained to support victims of domestic abuse. Women with disabilities may also have trouble accessing information or supports, due to communication barriers. Negative attitudes and prejudices devalue people with disabilities and this combined with difficulty in prosecuting abusers in these cases has contributed to a lack of responsiveness within law enforcement and an ineffective judicial system in these cases. Abusers learn that they can get away with whatever they want, and they do.
According to the Delaware Coalition Against Domestic Violence [Internet Archive link], abusers use a range of tactics to keep their disabled victims under their control, including manipulation of medication, refusal to help meet basic needs such as grooming, hygiene, clothing or feeding, and destruction or withholding of adaptive equipment or financial resources. Abusers will also withhold access to needed communication aides such as TTY [teletypewriter [Internet Archive link]1] and translators, and make decisions on the care their victims will or won’t receive.
Women with disabilities are much more dependent on their abusers than their counterparts for basic care, financial support and decision making; and the fear of losing these things keeps them in their relationships with their abusers on average almost twice as long as their non-disabled counterparts.
Women who have children with disabilities are often unable to leave their abusive situations, as shelters and friends are not always equipped to take them. They are often full-time care givers of their children and cannot work to provide an income with which to leave and be able to provide for themselves and their children. They depend on the income of the abuser and this keeps them locked into the abuse.
This is a much bigger problem than is really recognized, even by many abuse advocates today and it needs serious attention and change. What are your thoughts? Have you experienced this kind of complication or know someone who has? How can advocates for the disability community work along side the advocates for abuse survivors, to create change and open access to real supports for the many victims with disabilities, trapped by their abusers?
1[September 23, 2022: We added the link to HealthCare.gov’s page with the definition of TTY – Teletypewriter. The Internet Archive link is a copy of that page. Editors.]
From HealthCare.gov’s page:
A TTY (teletypewriter) is a communication device used by people who are deaf, hard-of-hearing, or have severe speech impairment. People who don’t have a TTY can communicate with a TTY user through a message relay center (MRC). An MRC has TTY operators available to send and interpret TTY messages.
[September 23, 2022: Editors’ notes:
—For some comments made prior to September 23, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be an exact match.
—For some comments made prior to September 23, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be found in the post.
If you would like to compare the text in the comments made prior to September 23, 2022 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (September 23, 2022), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]
Help and Advice for Women with Disabilities [Internet Archive link] — A useful resource by Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria, Victoria, Australia
‘Double the Odds’ — Domestic Violence and Women with Disabilities [Internet Archive link] — An academic paper from Australia.
We may also have a subset of victims who are parents of children who have autism:
The Life We Never Expected: Hopeful Reflections on the Challenges of Parenting Children with Special Needs [Affiliate link] — By Andrew and Rachel Wilson comes highly recommended and is on our Resources page.
70 thoughts on “The Effects Of Disabilities On Women Trapped In Abuse”
I wake up every morning and do an assessment of my abilities, especially to walk or being able to reach my phone on the night stand. Will I be able to use my left arm today, will I be able to see, will I be able to get soup or cereal to my mouth and there still be food on the spoon, can I speak without slurred speech. Lately, the Lord has given me great relief in most or these areas. Today is good. Praise God.
While with the abusive X, I didn’t seem to get any better. He became much more verbally abusive and resentful when I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis years ago. He didn’t pay any attention when the nurse came in and showed me how to give myself injections or that I would need more rest, less stress, etc. Getting away from him before he might become my caregiver some day was one of the things that caused stress for me while I was with him.
Reading this post brings other situations to mind. Years ago I was at a meeting RE: Sleep Apnea. A man was there with his wife who was a stroke victim and didn’t hide the fact that he was resentful of his wife for needing constant care. She could not speak, drooled, couldn’t use her arms. It was obvious that she was not coming back from this. I don’t know if he was abusive to her before this happened, but I could feel that he was not going to appropriately care for her.
This subject is troubling. How do we fix this? Can we fix this? Even if there is one shelter that others could transport people to. How to make this happen?
Thinking back to the shelters I had necessity of using in the mid 80’s, they were not equipped for any special needs. There were stairs in both to get to a 2nd or even 3rd story. I would have thought this might have changed. At the time it would not have been an issue for me–Now it could be. This issomething I really need to pray about for God’s intervention for these people who are in these situations.
My primary abuser happens to be a grandparent, who abuses my disabled, dependent adult child. His grandfather loved him deeply, but felt compelled to appease his grandmother (quite frankly, GF was in way over his head for 50+ years, and is turning over in his grave while I write). Prior to GF death, he insisted on changing his Trust to provide significant support for his cherished grandson. Upon GF death, GM went full-throttle: unprovoked, “throw-you-under-the-bus”, malignant narcissism aggression. Prior to that, she was the “Betty-White-Christian-sweet-little-old-lady-who-had-everybody-at-church-fooled” abuser.
Everything that GF wanted for his disabled grandchild, the abusive GM resented, and set out to change. Being the skilled narcissist that she is, we have had a miserable time advocating for the Trust to be left in place according to the wishes of GF and the needs of our son. The evil GM does not care. SHE DOES NOT CARE. He is merely a toy, a tool, an obstacle for her own gratification.
I could curl your hair if I revealed the untold misery she has wreaked on us since beloved GF death. She re-married a younger man mainly for his money (and to be worshipped, adored & cared for), only to be faced with his unforeseen dementia, throwing HER into the “role” of caregiver, which as we all know, is anathema for an abuser. She has slandered me incessantly and without restraint for nearly 40 years, and now that she is elderly and a “woman of means”, she has succeeded in manipulating devotion and control via money and inheritance. She has established allies in the entire family: cousins, nieces, nephews, in-laws, etc. who now have joined her in her quest for power, control & entitlement…and who are more than willing to accept her “blood money’ rather than advocate for the needs of their own disabled family member. It is despicable, predictable and evil. Thank God that I have been able to go “no contact” with her and all the others, but shame on them, & the “church’ who continues to coddle her and excuse her sin. May the Lord rebuke them all.
I certainly hope the Grandma Dearest is not the trustee.
Unfortunately, she is [Trustee]. And she uses it like an abuser would: to threaten, manipulate, obfuscate, and seduce. She ignores and violates the parts that benefit others & lives only for her self. When I finally accepted that she will NEVER keep her word (much less a legal agreement) & that even if I capitulated to her every whim, she could/would throw him under the bus, then it was painfully clear. She has what George Simon calls an “aggressive character disorder”, with a clearly established pattern of unprovoked attacks designed to hurt—this makes her a sadist. A sadist, pretending to be a saint!! IN the church, for crying out loud! She enjoys inflicting pain, then denying it and masquerading as a saint. I am convinced that she would deliberately & intentionally do so even beyond the grave, so I am further convinced that the safest, sanest path for me & my son is NC. She is beyond toxic. If the “bystanders” want to believe her lies & promises of financial reward upon her demise, that is their “privilege” & also their problem. But I will no longer be held hostage by her, nor will I allow her access to my son. Period. She gets “to not like it”. I get to have peace.
That is the way to go. My daughter’s father left a trust and wouldn’t put me as trustee because he told everyone that I would spend the money. He left his niece on as trustee who spent all of the money on bad housing investments. The money was suppose to go for her college education. She never saw a dime. She works 2 and 3 jobs at a time and takes one class as a time. She is now 27. I never did have the money to help her pay for college, but help her with personal expenses and medical bills when I can. Your story is so much worse, but I have a sour taste for trusts. They are often not worth the piece of paper they are written on and the judge always sides with the trustee.
StandsWithAFist, what a horror story!
Yes, Brenda & Barbara: it is a horror; or more specifically SHE is the horror. The Trust, written as GF wanted it, included a “Special Needs Trust” with the intent to provide & protect our son. Within a month of GF’s death, GM was making changes, wanting money returned that was specifically invested for his future, etc. Even tho we have legal guardianship of our son (our state allows that, some states only allow conservatorship, which is less-protective of vulnerable, dependent adults) and we also have a “special needs trust” for him, it does not prevent her from changing her own Trust. I thank God daily that we DO have the legal power to protect him from her, and to deny her access in any way. That of course infuriates her, b/c she thinks she can threaten & coerce us. Add to that the ever-changing “family laws” and it is a moving target to stay a step ahead of those who will exploit the vulnerable.
Because of GM devious power-plays with other family members, she has succeeded in getting all of them to resent our son, while NONE of them have come to his defense, or ours. She throws a pity party, and they all come running. It is really quite disturbing, not to mention evil. I mean, what kind of person exploits the disabled??? What kind of person exploits the vulnerable??? Those who “fail the empathy test”, that’s who. We all know the answer to that one, and I truly hurt for those who feel trapped in the nightmare of caring for a disabled child, or needing the care for their own disability.
To try and answer DeborahMom’s question(s) regarding advocacy for the disabled and their caregivers, perhaps some kind of wording in the language of Trust(s) could protect the assets in the event of abuse. And yet, we ALL know how fickle the courts can be in interpreting the language, recognizing & defining “abuse”, becoming advocates for those in need, preventing willful distribution of assets for nefarious reasons (i.e.: “bad investments”), “spendthrift” provisions that protect the innocent. Or, perhaps the easiest thing is to prevent changes to the Trust without the express written consent of BOTH the Trustee and the Guardians/conservators of the disabled.
In our case, GM uses the Trust as a curse rather than the blessing GF intended it to be. I finally had to “let go” emotionally & spiritually, when I fully understood she has no desire to bless anybody. The abuser who is a Trustee has a financial bully-pulpit, to beat and intimidate you; they become coercive and even more manipulative. I think they must lie awake at night and dream up ways to make you suffer even more.
I am still in the home with abuser. My health is such that should I need to go to hospital, I do not trust him. So I have had a Medical Power of Attorney drawn up with someone else designated to make medical decisions for me should I become unable.
Very wise Anonymous100 I did the same thing while I was still married.
My child has a disability (Aspergers, which is high-functioning autism) and I have been told that these children are more susceptible to being taken advantage of. I am her advocate and protector in the home, which is safer than out of the home – even with a narc husband (her father) – at least for now. It is all the more reason for me to stay and take safety measures for her protection while here – until and if she is able to someday on her own. What can we do about the others? Not sure yet, but perhaps there will be a ministry that develops out of our collective experiences. I see more books now on the subject of abuse than there were in yesteryear, so perhaps with increased awareness of this issue w/respect to disability, there will be more protection for these individuals in the future. Hard to say, as they are probably largely without a voice outside of their home. Perhaps getting help line numbers advertised where the disabled can see them (TV, mailings, book jackets or inserts, etc) would be a start.
Oh oh oh…this post and all the comments make my soul hurt.
I am going to ask about this at my next support group. The center where I go does a lot of outreach, so I wonder if they have encountered / addressed these situations.
For anyone experiencing such a helpless situation, I will be praying for you tonight.
I have two physically handicapped children that were both very young when I left X. He has constantly used their disabilities (inherited from him – he has the same condition) as tools to manipulate others, claiming that he has a special insight into their needs. Now that they are older, he pits the older (trophy) child against the younger one, teaching them to fight each other and him. The older one is becoming so much like his narc father, I fear for him. The younger is so frequently mistreated by his older brother and father, I fear for his physical safety and emotional well-being. (He cannot walk well, but even when he is having a very unbalanced day, his father tells him to “try harder” and won’t let him crawl.) No matter what I say, though, the GAL, attorneys, etc only see a loving father who has high ambitions for his sons.
I’d better not write what I would like to see happen to that GAL and the attorneys!
Hi what does Narc mean,sorry!
A common question — narc is short for narcissist, one who is diagnosed with narcissism, which involves cockiness, manipulativeness, selfishness, power motives etc.
I have a broad range of health issues and am not able to work. I have fibromyalgia, arthritis, hearing loss, depression/anxiety and some other issues. I am in some level of pain every day. My husband kept saying he couldn’t afford health insurance. On top of everything else I had to find and utilize free health care resources. I got pretty good at finding the resources, too. I dreaded the idea of growing older and more disabled. I could see the day coming when I would be trapped at home with him doing what he does.
I will share one specific story from early in our marriage. My youngest daughter lived with us and went with her Dad to visit his second wife’s family for Christmas. My husband had just gotten his umptyump new job which was on graveyard. I had gotten sick. Over the holidays it got worse and I begged my husband to take me to the emergency center. I was working and had insurance but that wouldn’t cover transportation to the emergency center. I was not able to lay down because I was so congested I felt I would drown and I was coughing up blood. He needed his sleep so he could work (sarcasm). So, I spent Christmas day sitting on the couch coughing up blood while he slept. My daughter came home the day after Christmas and the ground was covered in snow and ice. She had some experience driving but was 15 and didn’t actually have a permit. I made her drive me to the urgency center which had been closed during the holiday. She was terrified with me coughing up blood and and being an inexperienced driver on snow and ice. She was so traumatised that she blocked out that day and only knows it happened because I talked about it later. I use this memory to remind myself why I can’t be with him as I grow older and more disabled.
By the way, since I left him I qualified for SSI and medicaid. I barely survive financially but I am free, I just got brand new hearing aids. I am so excited to be able to hear again. I can go to the doctor and get my medical issues taken care of.
Thanks for being here. Now I can go back and finish reading this..
Wisdomchaser — wow!
God bless you and I thank him for granting you freedom. You are remarkable. Thank you for telling your story.
You are so brave ! I’m glad you were able to get free…
Wow wisdom chaser, what an encouraging story!!, God was looking after you even though he wouldnt…I am glad you are free now! i have to remind myself sometimes too why i am not with him,because he has been acting Very “saintly” recently!
Its been many years since i left him,and he has been droping round recently because our son has moved back home, and is now living here with me and our son with autism who i care for!!. He has WALKED into my house a few times recently, DESPITE THERE BEING A RESTRAINING ORDER, but because it was set up over 20yrs ago he thinks it does not apply! I have not wanted to “rock the boat” so have not said anything, He has a new girlfriend, who is a very nice woman but has but fallen for his lies, (he does not work, and she has had a job driving hundreds of miles every day from 5.am, while he lies in bed all day!) She has just given up her job after suffering from depression, and will probably lose her house….So i have blocked his number on my phone, and he is not allowed near my house anymore! I am shocked at his “front” as we say here in England,his belief that he could act as if nothing ever happened before!! We always have to keep vigilante even years later like me!!
Are you separated or divorced? I am wondering if I can receive any benefits if I don’t divorce.
Rebecca B, the welfare system may be different from state to state and country to country, so please check with the authorieties and experts in your own area.
My heart hurts for you all. I am, however, on the other end of things, my husband is disabled from chronic lyme disease and has mental issues. I’ve been asked so many times why I am still with him, as he has hurt me and himself several times, and has been abusive even before this illness four years ago. I feel bad abandoning him and have tried to take care of him in spite of advice that I should leave. Praying for all of you
Sherri, that is a whole other side of it, isn’t it? My second husband was somewhat disabled (nothing as severe as yours) and for quite a while I was uncertain whether his behavior was due to his disability or to just his underlying attitude and belief system (i.e. — was abuse). Only in the last 24 hours of the marriage did that become crystal clear. And the clarity was confirmed by the way he then responded to the authorities that dealt with him.
I had become his carer and was happy to do that for him, while I thought that he was legitimately disabled and needed that care. But when I realised he was also abusive, I started to look back and see that so many little things he had done that I had interpreted as ‘him needing care’ were in fact him manipulating me and taking advantage of me. He was not a good patient. He did not follow many of the instructions/advice of his treating professionals, so I was always having to pick up the pieces. . .
I have a disability and one of my children has a disability,so I can say for sure that it makes everything a thousand times worse. Disability prevented me from physically packing up and leaving for years after I wanted to get away- something that people don’t seem to understand.It made it easy for someone to isolate me. It made me stigmatized. Having a child with disability magnified all the difficulties and left me completely exhausted. Of course the abuser took advantage of all of this to keep me entrapped and to cause more harm.
I wish more people realized that abuse victims who also have disabilities need an enormous amount of help from many,many people,just to have a chance of getting free.
KayE, thanks for underlining how much help disabled people who are abused by their partners need to have a chance of getting free.
KayE I hear your heart and so many of the others in your situation.
You are right, this issue of abuse needs to receive more light so that you and others can get the help and support that you need.
My prayers are with you during this time.
I’m adding another resource here. It’s an academic paper from Australia.
Double the Odds: Domestic Violence and women with disabilities
‘Double the Odds’ – Domestic Violence and Women with Disabilities [Internet Archive link]
I’ll put it at the bottom of the post, too.
This may not be on topic, but I just have to ask. What is it about abusers asking for lists? I had read that in several comments or posts over the past few months, when lo and behold, now that the pressure is on my abuser, he asked me for a list of what he could do. We’re 20+ years into the abuse and this is the first time he’s asked for a list. But I suspect it’s because I’ve informed a few key individuals at church about the abuse, and I placed a few large boundaries he can’t breach in the home. I think that’s what prompted the request for the list, which of course he asked me to make for him. What’s the deal with lists? I told him no and that he doesn’t need me to make him a list to do the right thing. I’m ending conversations quickly before they get into pointless bickering. I put an mp3 player headset in my ears if he goes on. I try to make sure there are witnesses present (no conversations with just him and me because he’s untrustworthy), etc. So I think the heat is on, he’s feeling it, And he may not be getting the audience at church that he thinks he is, because I’ve informed key people. I know that if not now it will come back against me later but I’m beyond caring about that. Way beyond. It’s a day-to-day thing. I was just floored when he asked for “a list.” Whazzup with that?
Put simply, a list is a manipulation tactic he will use against you. He wants a list so that he can “check things off” and show you how much he is “trying”. It also gives him cover with others so that he can show them that he tried this and this and this and you still won’t back down. For some reason, we men tend to like these kind of things, thinking that if we follow the formula, everything will be fixed, when the real problem is the heart and there is not a checklist for fixing that.
The 40 Day Love Dare from the movie Fireproof is very much like that. Unfortunately, in the hands of an abuser, it is a hammer to be used against the wife.
Stay strong and don’t let him fool you.
Wendell, thank you. That is helpful to me. In the past, when I have said that we need to talk more or that I would like to talk about the Bible with him, or any other request, he would do it. But it was never heartfelt and always died away rapidly. And I would try to give him the benefit of the doubt, “Well, at least he tried to talk about the Bible with me,” although it was always me either leading the conversation or when I’d try to let him lead to give him opportunity, there was just nothing there. Just statements like, “I think it’s interesting.” So I’d ask, “What do you find interesting about x…?” He had nothing to respond with. The only thing he initiated was giving me a National Geographic magazine that had a cover story about the Bible. I read it thinking he found something interesting in it but it mostly trashed the people who compiled the tome, suggesting one was a drunkard. So I asked my husband why he liked the article. He responded that he liked the timeline. When I said that I don’t typically like timelines because I can’t remember them very well, he got kind of huffy and complained that I’m criticizing his efforts. And on it goes. So we don’t sit and talk about anything – because I’m always to blame for why it doesn’t work. I just found it interesting that after years of trying to talk and after three (failed) attempts at marriage counseling – where I’ve told him year after year things that could be done — now he wants “a list” that of course he wants me to write for him. I was just surprised since I had read about these lists here in the past three or so months. Thank you again! God is keeping me strong – in Him I am strong and in His wisdom that He’s providing – and I’m not letting God’s enemy here fool me. Blessings….
Yes, here’s our post about lists: He Wants a List and He’s Checking it Twice: But it Won’t do Any Good!
Thank you, Barbara. I’m posting it to FB because I’m so tired of being quiet and just “taking it.” When I was asked by my narc abuser to make the list and I declined, he pointed out to our daughter, “See? You’re a witness to how I’m trying and mom’s not cooperating.” (He used the word witness because I am no longer allowing him to speak to me without a witness present; He’s different in private than in public. He always picks up my language and then twists it to hurl it against me.)
Yes ‘the list’ is just another would-be manipulation strategy…in your own writing! If they were genuine about change, they could always try listening, and taking notice of what we say…they’d have plenty enough ‘list’ to set to work on…
I don’t know about a list, but my experience is my husband constantly reminded me of his (or what seemed to be) good behaviors. Look at me, I haven’t had a drink in months! I don’t need to go to AA because alcohol is no longer an issue. (Honestly, I do not believe he has stopped drinking. We haven’t lived together in months, so I can’t prove that he has stopped drinking.) He’s been an alcoholic most of his adult life and all of the sudden he is free of alcohol?! He mentions how he has not been physically abusive… He texted me, emailed me, called me, would drive by my work often, Facebook was a whole nother story! He was pretty much trying to get into my head! Every time I turned around he was there! Maybe not physically, but in other ways. …
Wendell, you are right! Basically, any list in the hands of the abuser, is to be used as manipulation…
I am going to divorce court in a few days. I will not be surprised that he will use the “I have tried..” And as I mentioned in another post he will say that I verbally abused him. He will twist every thing. I pray the judge will see through this man!
Dear Round*Two, please be careful to not give identifying details in your comments. I have edited your above comment a bit.
If you need help to work out how to disidentify your comments, check our New Users Info page 🙂
Thank you Barbara, I will be more mindful of what I post.
And they use it during divorces to say, “see I tried to save the marriage, I’m not the bad person she says I am.”
My oldest daughter and I both have several “invisible” disabilities: issues which are real, and have been diagnosed, but are not visible. My son also has one of these, and the other daughter suffers from anxiety disorder. I hyperventilate in panic if I think too much about the future. I’m glad to be on the road to permanent freedom, but it is terrifying.
Something I noticed about myself when I was still with X, was a tendency toward depression. Pretty common, from what I read. Of course, he would only look at it as a spiritual problem, so I believed the only solution was to fix myself with more repentance and confession of sin. I made up sin just so I had something to confess and correct, hoping things would improve in our home. When I look back on things now, I am amazed by the grace of God. I never once struggled with depression-type issues after I left. As horrible as it was with the custody battles and fearful visitations and myriad other matters associated with divorcing a narc, even then I felt free.
I say this, not to at all belittle those of you with serious mental or physical health issues, but only to encourage you that you might find some improvement when your abuser is not such a big part of the picture. At least, that is my prayer for you all.
Yes, yes, yes! I have a child with disabilities. I am trying to get myself career trained so that I can support her and her sister. So here I stay for who knows how long. Sigh! I wish I had the means to just Go!
I have a child with autism and my heart jumped and tears came when I read this article. Exactly my situation. I am my son’s full time caregiver. I don’t feel at ease leaving my husband alone with him for more than a few hours. I have back problems myself and had to leave my job because of that, and my son’s frequent needs. I tried to separate a year ago when my h. had been abusive to our son. I have financial support by staying together but that’s it. I don’t know what to do
Dear Rebecca, my heart goes out to you. Have you ever sought help from a women’s resource centre (domestic violence/ domestic abuse support service)?
I think they may have some suggestions for you. But it depends on how much welfare support for single mothers is available in your area, In Australia it is pretty good, and single moms, especially single mums who have a child with a disability, can survive reasonably on Centrelink payments and rent assistance from the Government. But I get the impression it is much harder to access welfare support in the USA and that the ways to access it are much more complicated and convoluted. And the amount of financial support is less overall. . .
We have a page for Hotline numbers in our Resources section (see the top menu bar). If you phone the appropriate number you will be able to find out where your local services are.
Oh, and btw, I also suggest you read our New Users Info page, for tips to how to disidentify yourself on this blog (for your safety).
blessings and hugs to you
Oh, and welcome to the blog, Rebecca. 🙂
I know you’ve commented before but I missed giving you a welcome then.
Rebecca~my heart goes out to you and I do understand. You are in a tough spot and it is often overwhelming even on the best of days. Keep coming here and be strengthened. Remember that you and your son deserve to be safe, so start there. Ask yourself with each decision “will this help him/me to be safe”? I stopped allowing my son to be anywhere near my MIL (his grandmother) b/c she is not safe. That includes phone calls, emails, gifts, etc. Perhaps you can identify just one thing that will increase your level of safety. It will be different from mine or anybody else’s, but ask the Lord to show you. I don’t mean that to sound pious or trite, I mean it sincerely. God is far more creative than I and He will be faithful to show you where to start. It sounds like you found an amazing school district so that may be a resource for you. There are good people out there who have big hearts for the disabled, you just have to find them, and the school or other parents may be that link. Be cautious while being inquisitive. Ask about support groups for parents of special needs children; that should not raise suspicions at all, but may serve to lead you to further independence and support for you and for you son. I will pray that it will open doors and build boundaries. Blessings on your way, and sending hugs too.
You and I are in similar situations. My child is on the Autism Spectrum, and I have an abusive husband, although he is the one who abandoned us (odd that the legal system uses neither the term abandonment nor desertion anymore), both physically and financially. I am getting by on my own savings, but that is decreasing. I completely understand your situation and in fact, separation brings with it a whole new situation of abuse, as I am experiencing now.
It is challenging to try to get a child on the Spectrum (mine is quite literal in understanding, not grasping nuance, although with help, she can, but it takes a lot of repetition and continual reminders) – it’s challenging to get them to understand manipulative behavior that is deceitful. It’s difficult enough to help a “typical” child through that web; All the moreso someone on the Spectrum who relies heavily on routine and predictability.
Add to the mix a parent who doesn’t really love the child (or he would put the child’s needs first), but uses the child as a tool to get at the target of abuse (the wife). That’s where I am now. Abuser abandons child and wife, blames wife for “keeping child from him” (though there were no court orders or restraints), scares child by staying far away though yelling “I love you” from afar, leaves notes on child’s bed blaming wife only when wife and child are out of the home, wife finally gets permission to get an alarm system put on home, abuser blames wife for parental alienation, abuser shows up at windows and doors in the dark outside, scares child all the more, finally after four months won’t “settle” (as if there could have been anyway) because the wife is “making him jump through all these hoops and she’s had the child 24 / 7 and I haven’t and blah blah blah….”, so wife is pressed by attorneys on all sides because we “must get abuser and child together.” (That happened once already and bombed; He got bored after 25 minutes. Now we have to have another get-together tomorrow – probably because we see the judge next week so the abuser has to look like he’s wanted to be together with his child), but the abuser will not allow the wife to even wait in the parking lot or lobby of a meeting place; She has to “vacate the premises.” (No one seems to mind the child’s discomfort and fear in all this driven by the abuser’s behavior.)
So as bad as living under the same roof is, living separately brings a different set of issues, I’m learning. But I agree wholeheartedly with StandsWithAFist – even so, the Lord has been gracious to child and me. He has protected us and kept us. He is teaching us valuable lessons. And He has given me wisdom even in these days of pressure and increased trial, He has never left nor forsaken her nor me. I am counting on Him to do so in the days ahead as well. I will remember you and your son in prayer. I sometimes have pondered how this trial would be “suffering for the Lord,” but I think that even the very fact of holding onto your faith, even though mine sometimes feels it’s a thin as a thread, even so – I think it honors the Lord and brings Him glory to stay the course (that doesn’t mean staying in the marriage, but the faith) in spite of the suffering. That alone is a great treasure, I think. ❤
Thanks very much! I am in the U.S. It has been hard to find resources. Thankfully our school district placed my son in a great school for autism and they provide transport every day. This has been an answered prayer. My son still lives at home which I want him to for as long as possible. I am going one day at a time and am trying to educate myself about abuse and how to handle it. Your website has been a huge eye opener and help. Thank you.
Rebecca, I just wanted to say that I too have an autistic child who also has another disability as well. I am in a similar situation as you. I am working on a way to work from home as I have no money either. Anyway, I just wanted to send you some online hugs and support! I will pray for you right now.
Too specific of info?
I’m not sure, Jul, but I’m erring on the side of caution. You know best how likely or possible it is for your absuer and his allies to come across this blog and possibly identify you from reading your commments. That’s why we recommend the New Users Info page for newcomers. But if you even want to change one of your comments onces it’s been published, or want us to undo some editing we’ve done on a comment to disidentify it, email TWBTC and she’ll carry out your request as she has time.
I haven’t checked in for a few days, I wanted to respond to the posts here…..StillReforming, wow…that must be hard. I have worried about that….if we were separated / divorced there’d be times my husband would have our son and I would not be there. I know it would not happen frequently because of H’s job, but still…it makes me nervous.
I have thought about talking to someone in our school district, about any possible job I could maybe get in the school here. It is right up the road and the calendar would be similar to the one at my son’s school. My main problem is there’s not really anyone to take care of him if I am not home. My older kids help, but the older they get they have more going on in their own lives. Also since my son used to go to this public school, hopefully they’d be understanding if I had to miss work for his sick days, which can be frequent during the cold weather months.
When I briefly separated from my husband awhile back, I did speak with a social worker and the first thing she told me was I have to be the one to stay in the home since I am the primary care giver for my son. Also he has lived here his whole life and he needs the constancy. That much at least is settled in my mind. There’s so much to think about, and day by day I am not always sure what the best course is. I know in ten years my son will age out of the school system, and a lot can change between now and then. I want him to live at home for ever if possible 😉 But as he is getting bigger and stronger and his behavior can sometimes be violent, I am aware this might not work out. It breaks my heart to even think about this possibility. At the same time, if this does eventually happen I do recognize that it would make thing much easier for me to work and supplement any support I’d receive if we divorced.
My h’s behavior with me is more often covertly abusive. As my children get older they recognize too how his behaviors are wrong. I am reading and learning more about narcissism, relationships, all of that and trying to get it through my mind…I still struggle with feeling guilty about even talking about him anonymously!! This website is a godsend for all of these issues.
Hi Rebecca B, would you please email me? I have a comment from another reader that was submitted in reply to yours here, and I think it would be better to let you see it by email rather than on-blog, as if we published it it would potentially identify the reader.
My email is firstname.lastname@example.org
Yes, I will do that. Thanks very much!!
I am starting to think it will be time soon for me to ask my husband to move out. We did this a year ago, but it only lasted a week…during which time he lived out of his truck and at work, and of course this was my fault.
I am nervous about bringing this up. I don’t want to wait for some big crisis or blow out. I just see his behavior getting worse, his attitude, and I know he’s not going to change if he just keeps living here with the way things are. My nerves are shot.
What is a good way to do this??
There is no ‘good way’ Rebecca B. All ways are likely to lead to the abuser escalating. Do it in whatever way seems most suitable for you. But before you do it, please read the links on our Safety Planning page and seriously consider getting support from a Women’s Centre that specialises in domestic violence and with their help tailoring a safety plan for you particular circumstances. And remember, safety plans need to be reviewed regularly because circumstances and risk levels may change. Look under our Resources tab for Safety Planning.
Thank you Barbara. I will read those sections.
I came to the site today wondering about forgiveness….if I am looking to separate does it mean I am unforgiving. The whole article and posts about the Peacemakers ministry is helping me grasp all of this. I know forgiveness is an issue with me. But sometimes I feel like if I am always in the middle of this with my husband, it makes it harder to forgive. Do you know what I mean?
Here is a comment I recently left for another commenter who had some questions about forgiveness. You may find it helpful.
Thank you for this. I shall be spending time reading the information in these links you provided. Thank you all for compiling this information – so important to those of us who seek to follow Christ as He would have us do.
This comment is for JeffC w/respect to forgiveness. I would have put it with the original post, but it’s so old (Jan. 31, 2012) that I thought it best to put here, presuming that’s okay
Jeff, you wrote:
This is quite thought-provoking. I remember within the past year pondering if I had really forgiven my husband all of the lies and manipulations over the years – because I saw a video on Facebook posted by a Christian friend. It was in essence pointing out the reaction of a man on trial for the rapes and murders of more than a dozen young women. As relatives had the opportunity to tell this defendant what he had done to their lives, one father said, “Others here have told you of their pain. My Savior makes it very hard for me, but because of Who He is, I must forgive you. So I do.” And the defendant then looked sad and bowed his head in what may appear to some as shame – maybe there was even a tear. The person posting wrote, “Look at the power of forgiveness.”
My initial reaction was wow – forgiveness can really melt a hard heart, but then I thought more on it. I figured, “Let’s say every parent of every murdered daughter said the same. Then let’s extend that to the judge and jury. Okay, now the defendant is completely forgiven.” Soooooo….. what then? Does the man get to go free to murder more? I mean, he’s completely forgiven. That just didn’t make sense to me.
And then at a point in my still thinking through forgiveness, I was asked by my pastor if I forgave a leader of the church for his refusing to read my prayer request (related to some inappropriate behaviors of my husband in the home with our child). This had followed the leader himself asking for forgiveness, and when I replied, “For what?” (after I had detailed verbally to him directly what he had done, having been asked to reconcile with him by our pastor). The leader said, “Whatever it is you think I’ve done.” That was so wide-open and non-commital and unrepentant that I just stammered, “Well, I don’t know then.” And the leader shrugged and left. He had done his part, he thought, to “reconcile.” It all seemed so legalistic. That’s when my pastor said, “I would urge you to seek Christ and learn more about forgiveness.” When I told him that I had done so and that I was brought to wonder if that meant I had to forgive every single offense my husband would do in the future toward our child – kind of blank slate as it were to to whatever, my pastor said, “You think too much.”
So I appreciate greatly your own question here. How COULD we forgive like God? In fact, God sends people to hell – so they are unforgiven by Him. Are we to forgive all while God doesn’t? That’s my question.
Rebecca, Peacemakers has an unbiblical view of the doctrine of forgiveness. They believe that if someone is “repentant” (according to their judgement), you as a Christian, must forgive them and reinstate the relationship with that person as if the breach of trust never happened. In a marriage relationship especially that is often times not desirable and impossible due to the fact that abusers are well known for faking repentance. You are not called to be a doormat to a person who is out to use you.
Look to Scripture and you will see that God allows people to face the consequences of their sin. Moses sinned in the wilderness and because of that he was not allowed to enter the earthly promised land, and yet, he was God’s friend! God certainly would not expect a Christian to reinstate an abusive or adulterous spouse to a position where they can continue to abuse or defraud.
It is completely possible to forgive the abuser by giving the situation over to God knowing that his justice is perfect. There is nothing ungodly in allowing the abuser to face the consequences of his sin that destroyed the relationship. With most abusers, once that door of reconciliation is closed, they move on anyway.
we have a tag for forgiveness. You can find in in the Tags tab in the top menu.
Last weekend my husband made a remark that felt threatening to me….saying he’d deal with disciplining our son his way “when you’re not in between us.” I told him this felt like a threat which began an overdue conversation. This conversation shook me because through it I learned where his mind and heart are really at. I left our home with our son and stayed with a relative of HIS which showed him that I am not covering up our situation any more. I was only able to stay at the relative’s home for one night, because my son was so upset by the change. (and it turned out this relative is dealing with a similar problem in her own marriage, she has a special needs son too and we were able to talk and support each other.)
My husband is supposedly looking to move out now….he might stay with his brother, or one of his friends. This situation has forced him to ask for help or at least to admit he’s been asked to leave. Up until now he’s been too proud to do this.
Very long story but…..I am finding God is with us. When I’ve had to ask for help this week, I’ve received nothing but understanding and support. From our home school district, to the company who transports my son to his out of state school every day, to my own children…. nothing but support and “let us know if we can help.” It is SO enCOURAGEing to finally speak up and find out I am not alone. Thank God. I just wanted to share in hopes it’ll encourage someone else. There is still a long and unknown road ahead, but I have to take it.
You can do it, Rebecca. The Lord is your strength and your rock. I believe He chose the time of my own deliverance, and it sounds like He’s doing the same for you. You are not alone in this. The Lord is providing people around you – both far and near. This is His timing. You are His child. He will never leave or forsake you. Do not fear. He’s got you and your son. (((hugs)))
And as you have all posted here, I am learning this….I am not doing anything wrong by separating. Yes I can forgive but I can’t be in relationship with him. It’s a process but I am learning.
Right on, Rebecca! Blessings to you in Christ.
Thank you so much! And thank you for what you do. This website is so needed. I have passed it on to several people. God bless you all.
Still Reforming, I only found your response just now. Thank you…I am letting your words sink in. I know you’re telling me the truth. I had been feeling this way the past few days …just knowing in my bones that this is the time. Thank God. And thank you for your kindness and encouragement.