Dear Annie: I've been involved with the father of my child for 10 years. Leaving out at least nine years of insanity, I fast-forward to today. He has a drug problem and got clean seven months ago. He's doing well in recovery. We were separated for five years because of his behavior, but after rehab, he came to live with me and our son to try to make things work.
It has been OK. He started working recently, and things had been fine. However, I have some deep-seated trust issues because of his lying and infidelity in the past. I looked at his phone while he was sleeping the other night and discovered that he's still very much in a relationship with the woman he was dating the five years we were apart. He has told her that he is still in rehab, and the lies are quite elaborate regarding his day-to-day activities.
This has gone on for five months. When confronted, he became violent. Obviously, I need to break this off, but I am at a loss as to how. Our son is thrilled that his dad is home and sober. His dad will not leave easily. He doesn't really have anywhere else to go and has, in the past, broken into my home or hung around outside until he's been let in.
I'm afraid of what this will do to our son. The last time we broke things off, he was a toddler, so he doesn't remember, but things got very, very messy. I am keeping quiet for now because I don't know what to do. I feel like I'm trapped in a ridiculous mess, and I'm also so embarrassed by all of it. -- Trapped
Dear Trapped: Keeping you and your son safe -- from potential violence, potential relapse and continued manipulation at the hands of your son's father -- is of the utmost importance. He's clearly worn out his welcome and needs to be removed from the home immediately.
Create the boundary. Give him a firm move-out date and stick to it, allowing him a week or two at most to secure his own housing. Having this conversation in a public place or with a trusted friend or family member present may reduce the risk of violence. Additionally, the National Domestic Violence Hotline website has information on local resources, from support groups to counseling to recovery services.
If appealing to reason doesn't work, appealing to the law will. Depending on what state you live in, your options may vary, so consider speaking with a lawyer to determine the best option for your situation. No matter what, stay strong. You're doing the right thing.
Dear Annie: I had to respond to the column regarding "A Concerned and Sad Friend," who moved to a city closer to her best friend but hasn't seen her much now that she's in a new relationship. The fact that the guy moved in with her friend BEFORE they were officially dating AND that she won't stop by to see the letter writer when she's in the area seem to be red flags of a possible abusive relationship.
Abusers tend to rush into relationships, moving in quickly and isolating their victims from friends and family by monitoring their every move. Even a foray to the corner store or the library becomes fodder for the abuser to question and harass about activity and its timing.
In addition to "getting to know the new beau," I'd suggest a heart-to-heart talk with her friend. If this "relationship" isn't what her friend really wants and if, at any time, she needs to extricate herself, she'll know she has support and their friendship. Absolutely no pressure, but knowing there is someone who's willing to help can set the wheels in motion for a woman to plan her safe exit from an abusive relationship. -- Been There
Dear Been There: Well said. If this friend is indeed in an abusive relationship, being reminded she has a dear friend to lean on may be just what she needs to change her situation.
"How Can I Forgive My Cheating Partner?" is out now! Annie Lane's second anthology -- featuring favorite columns on marriage, infidelity, communication and reconciliation -- is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.