I Wish I Had Told My Ex's New Wife That He Was An Abuser

Is it your responsibility to warn your ex's new partner? Or should you let them found out for themselves?

  • Alecia Kennedy

Written on Jan 07, 2024

Woman calling exs new person LeisureCowboy, Nejron | Canva 

Where does your responsibility end?

When I was twenty-four, I escaped from my abuser, who was also my high school boyfriend and first husband. I had endured years of psychological torture, and physical, emotional, and mental abuse. At one point, he held a loaded gun to my head. Before, during, and after our marriage, he had several restraining orders issued against him, most of which I knew nothing about until after our divorce.


I filed for divorce and fled to another state. Within six months, my ex was remarried. Hearing that was a punch to the gut — but not because I had feelings for him or was jealous. I felt horrible for his new wife because she had no idea what was in store for her or what I had gone through.

I was also very angry that he was allowed to just get married again and go on with his life without facing any consequences for what he had done to me. Finally, I felt guilty for leaving without filing official criminal complaints against him. I had just wanted to forget about him and start a new life, but by leaving I had left the door open for another unwitting woman to be abused.


It didn’t take long for the new wife to seek help. My sister is a hairdresser, and one day she noticed an appointment on her calendar with a familiar last name. My ex accompanied his new wife to that first appointment as if he was showing my sister that he had moved on from me. But the next time, the wife came alone and questioned my sister about my marriage. She was already being abused and wanted to know the truth. My sister held nothing back and soon my ex and his second wife were divorced.

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I am once again struggling with this issue.

In 2020, after eighteen years of marriage and two children, my second husband and I divorced. Our relationship had been low-key emotionally abusive for years but it was so different from my first marriage that I did not recognize it as such immediately. Once I did, I was determined to work through our problems and stay together at least long enough to raise our kids. It was only during our third and final round of marriage counseling that I realized my husband had no intention of changing any behaviors — they were serving him well. He was getting what he wanted and nothing else mattered.


Once we were divorced, co-parenting was near impossible. He was unpredictable and emotionally unstable so our daughter lived with me nearly full-time for the first year and a half. In the past year and a half (once he began dating his current wife), we have settled into a routine of three days on and three days off with custody of our youngest daughter. Our oldest daughter is grown.

My daughter’s time with her dad is limited to three days at a time because that is all he can seem to handle without starting to take out his uncontrolled emotions on her. My daughter is not comfortable staying with him for longer periods. I’m sure he has told his new wife a completely different story because today she contacted me with an idea. She wants to switch to a one-week on and one-week off schedule.

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If I trusted my ex, this would be a great schedule. It would make school, vacations, and holidays easier. I understand where she is coming from, but she doesn’t understand why we aren’t already doing it. I have had this discussion with my ex many times, and he understands our daughter does not want to be with him for extended periods, but he will never admit why this is so. Her text message today made it clear to me that he has not told her the whole truth. If he has and she still wants this arrangement, she is not someone I can count on to look out for my child.


For the moment, I have decided to meet with my daughter’s stepmother alone and discuss the issue. I plan on being upfront about why a week at a time has not worked in the past. I don't think she truly understands the level of emotional manipulation my ex is capable of — even with his children. They have been married less than a year and are probably still in the honeymoon phase.

I feel confident about my decision to have this talk with her because my daughter’s well-being is at stake. But it also begs the question in my mind, about how much information we offer the new person in our abusive ex’s life.

I remember back when I was dating my second husband and being confused about the seemingly hostile behavior of his ex-wives. I couldn’t understand why they behaved the way they did until I experienced the emotional abuse myself. No wonder they were angry. But my husband always had a reasonable-sounding explanation for their comments and attitude.



RELATED: 21 Warning Signs Of Emotional Abuse In Relationships


I wish to this day that I’d taken it upon myself to talk to them privately.

I do not know if it would have made a difference, but it may have planted enough doubt in my mind that I would have taken things a little slower and been more cautious before jumping into marriage and motherhood with both feet.

What is the moral and ethical responsibility of the abused when we see another person stepping into the same mess we just recently escaped? Should we share our experience or is that overstepping our boundaries? I would never lie to a new person who asked me point blank about my ex, but I also have never offered the information.

Have you experienced this dilemma? How did you approach the situation? Isn’t there a better way than to watch an abuser ruin life after life until they eventually gravely injure or kill someone?




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Alecia Kennedy is a public health professional, writer, mother, and domestic violence survivor who writes in support of women's personal and financial independence. She is a frequent contributor to Medium where she writes for over 15 publications. Her work has also appeared in YourTango, Tealfeed, and Vocal.