I Feared My Controlling Husband Would Harm Me If He Didn't Get All The Money In Our Divorce

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abusive husband with wife behind him going through divorce

It was the middle of my divorce.

My husband had control of our money and the bills. I called the cell phone carrier with a question. Somewhere in the conversation, they told me about a monthly charge to track my phone.

"What do you mean?" I asked. "If I need to locate my phone I can use find my iPhone."

"No," said the representative. "This is a monthly charge that tracks your phone."

Of course, she had already said that but it didn't register with me.

Then it clicked: My husband was following my whereabouts.

Why would he be tracking my movements? I was scared. I alternated throughout our divorce being frightened of his abusive need for control and money and talking myself out of it.

I convinced myself he was not capable of harming me.

But was he?

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I recently discovered that as our marriage was struggling he canceled his close to $2 million dollar life insurance policy. I was completely unaware he did this. Or that he was hiding money throughout our marital problems.

At this time, we had three children under the age of twelve. While I was giving myself away to save our marriage he was taking everything we own. 

And making sure all security would be taken away from me too.

Worse, he had continued to pay a life insurance policy on me for years after he canceled his own policy. Even two years into our divorce he continued to pay on my policy where he was both the owner and the beneficiary.

I know what you’re thinking.

How did this happen?

I trusted my husband, that's how.

When I signed the new life insurance policies, we were still married. Yes, we were having marital problems but remember this was my best friend and college sweetheart. I believed him when he told me we were switching carriers because he had found a cheaper life insurance premium. 

I signed the papers.

It didn't enter the mind of a naive and trusting woman that my own husband had made himself the owner of my policy — and not just the beneficiary.

I was worn down by the distress my husband’s new drinking habits were causing and under daily duress. 

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I met with a private investigator during my divorce.

I filled him in on my concerns. 

I told him I thought my husband had been deceiving me. I told him about clues I had discovered. I told him about the phone tracker. The private investigator was particularly alarmed my husband had discontinued his own life insurance but kept a policy on me. 

"Your husband is bad news," he said.

I was back in that space. The one where even a naive and trusting woman knows a man obsessed with control and money can be a dangerous man.

How much should I fear my husband? Was he tracking me for nefarious reasons or because he was so obsessed with what he called 'winning' in divorce?

I tried to tell myself that the life insurance policy may not be the worry it presents.

I know my husband.

He wanted to punish me for leaving him. 

When I told him I was unhappy and thinking of leaving he canceled his life insurance because he promised me if I left him he would make sure I got nothing and that I would work for the rest of my life. He kept my policy because he wants money for his aggravation in case anything were to happen.

Then I addressed the fear of tracking my phone.

"Why are you tracking my phone?" I asked my husband.

"What are you talking about?" he said with non-believable denial.

"You are paying monthly," I said.

"Oh that’s something I got to watch the kids," he said.

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But I know better. Even my kids know better. They started to fear for me. They started to worry about what their father is capable of.

My husband doesn’t pay for anything; he doesn’t have to. He wouldn’t have paid anything more than necessary for the phone bill he incessantly complained about.

Then, I realized the bank records I requested from our business account were missing from my bedroom closet. I believe my husband snuck into the house to take them. I can’t prove it. I tried to convince myself this was the reason he was tracking my phone.

Not to harm me — but to get whatever he wanted out of the house when I wasn't there.

I began to have trouble watching Dateline. The shows are filled with charismatic charmers that no one believes are capable of the worst. I have loved and lived with an empathy-lacking narcissist. I know the truth. I know exactly what people like this are capable of.

I recognize the surface beauty that hides the inner danger.

My husband got all of our money in our divorce.

I found the files he had stolen from me sitting on top of a box in our garage after he moved back in. His arrogance of 'winning' made him feel no need to hide it.

At the very least, I had validation that he had, indeed, broken in to take what did not belong to him.

At times, I still fear my husband.

I am not sure what he is truly capable of.

Why? Because he got what he wanted. He won what he wanted to win. He kept his promise of leaving me with nothing and making sure I would have to work for the rest of my life. 

The excessively and abusively controlling man remained in control.

Had he not, I fear what might have happened.

If you’re experiencing domestic abuse, you’re not alone.

There are ways to go about asking for help as safely as possible. For more information, resources, legal advice, and relevant links visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline. For anyone struggling with domestic abuse, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). If you’re unable to speak safely, text LOVEIS to 1-866-331-9474 or log onto thehotline.org.

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Colleen Sheehy Orme is a national relationship columnist, journalist, and former business columnist. She writes bout love, life, relationships, family, parenting, divorce, and narcissism.