Ask Ellie: Report abuse, seek restraining order to protect yourself and child

Advice columnist EllieDear Ellie: I’ve been married for 16 years and initially thought my husband and I were a perfect match made in heaven. We met at university, then worked in the same profession. I took maternity leave when our son was born (now 12) but once I returned to work, I rose in my position.

It never occurred to me that my success would become a serious problem for him.

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Initially, my husband just teased me e.g. “Don’t think that your job means you’re smarter than me, you’re not!… “I’m still the boss of this house…”

Then, one evening, “You come home late, I want to know who you’re sleeping with to get a promotion!” That came with a hard slap to my face and a black eye.

I was shocked, hurt, frightened. But I had a young child to consider. I also feared that if I reported the abuse, he’d lose his job and anything could happen next.

I carried on as best I could, trying to prove I wasn’t competing with him, that I still honoured our marriage, stressing that our child loves us both and needs us to get along, etc.

But now, we’re at a turning point. My husband and I are only able to act “normal” when we’re with our son. Otherwise, he’s the one out late at night so I assume he’s found a girlfriend. He sometimes comes home acting belligerent and terrorizes me with verbal threats before he falls asleep.

I wonder if I have a responsibility to warn another woman about his temper, but I know any such move would put me in line for further harm.

No one knows about this, so I’m not sure I’ll even be believed if I report him to police, because I’ve stayed with him despite his physical and emotional abuse.

Where do I begin to save myself and our child?

Abused Wife

Most acts of family violence are considered crimes in Canada. You should report the abuse to police, and consider asking for a restraining order against your husband to secure your safety and that of your child.

Ask a lawyer’s advice as well as the police if you’re unsure about starting this process.

You may wish to find a safe place for you and your son to live if you proceed with a criminal charge against your husband.

Or contact a local abused women’s shelter and meet with the people there who’ll direct you to legal help as well as make a secure plan with you about where to stay.

Don’t hesitate to proceed with all legal means to end the abuse. If you don’t, most people who’ve been in your position will assure you that it’ll only get worse.

The following is from the government of Canada website:

“When charges relating to family violence have been laid, criminal courts have a wide range of powers to release or detain an accused person. They can provide for release conditions such as “no contact” until the trial or appeal (Section 515).

Even where no offence has been committed yet, where personal injury or damage is feared, courts can also order peace bonds or recognizances, which require an individual to agree to specific conditions to keep the peace (Section 810).”

Readers who live in the United States or another country need to do a similar search of the relevant criminal laws and resources available to those suffering family violence.

Send relationship questions to ellie@thestar.ca.

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