My Outrageously Abusive Divorce Repeatedly Landed Me In The Emergency Room

The stress of my ex-husband's behavior was affecting my health.

woman lying in hospital bed with hands over face KieferPix | Shutterstock

I was at the gym and my friend asked me what was on my arm. I looked and saw a small circular red spot.

Something about it didn't look right so I immediately went to the doctor. It turned out to be a surface blood clot. 

In the next year, it happened again twice on one of my legs.

My internist told me I was too young to be having something like this and sent me to various specialists.

They determined that I have a very non-invasive blood disorder.


If I don’t do anything to thicken my blood, like smoking or hormone replacement, I should barely be impacted by what I have unless I’m having surgery.

I didn't realize it yet but something had brought this on.

My husband had begun uncharacteristically drinking and scaring our children and me. 

But I didn't realize the initial stress of his behavior was causing this medical issue.

Fast forward several years, to my divorce.

I was happy that I had made the decision to leave. It was a relief to put all of this agonizing back and forth behind me. The attempt to save my marriage while running interference with my husband’s bad behavior had been exhausting.


My husband was an adult and it was always his responsibility to police himself, not mine.

My temporary peace was interrupted immediately after I meet with a lawyer.

My husband inflicted severe financial abuse. He withheld food money and transportation. He cut off the electricity and canceled our health insurance. I began to receive foreclosure notices and repo guys invaded our driveway.

I was a wreck.

I didn't know what was going to happen next. I couldn't think straight or sleep.

It was an intense barrage of bullying and he was willing to hurt our children to hurt me.

Within months, I developed another surface blood clot.

At this point, I knew the drill. Where is the placement of the clot on my leg? Is it on my left arm? They used to believe these types of clots didn’t travel but some do so they take them more seriously now.


"You’ve got to get through this divorce," said my internist.

"I know," I said.

"Really," he said. "This is bad for your health. There are some doctors who may not believe stress can induce these types of things but I am not one of them."

I had gotten to know my internist well over the years I was sent for testing to determine why I was developing surface blood clots. He’s a kind person and I had shared some of the stress I am going through with him.

By now, I had also connected the dots.

It was no accident that the first time I experienced an episodic cluster of clots was when my husband was drinking. That was when he first brought a degree of chaotic unpredictability into our lives.


His abusive divorce behavior was the second time.

I was in the emergency room multiple times during the first year of my divorce.

I finally backed off of the work I was doing because I had one goal. I needed to get through this divorce.

I was under such stress and duress. I was doing everything I could to keep it together. Not to mention, the sleep deprivation I had never before experienced.


Divorce and family law are unfair in many ways.

The emotional and physical toll a person is allowed to inflict on another spouse is outrageous.

There aren’t any consequences for a man sending a woman to an emergency room multiple times. And my husband certainly didn’t care that I had a pre-existing health condition that he was exacerbating by his abuse.

He kept a life insurance policy on me several years into the divorce. Probably, in no small part due to the fact he absolutely understood what he was doing to my health.

High-conflict prolonged and abusive divorce demands reform.

This shouldn’t happen to anyone.

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