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I believe that I can help.
I am so sorry that you are living under this veil of threats and are in fear of this man.
If you want to have your own life, separate from his (and it appears that you do, and it appears that it would be in your best interests), then you certainly don't need his permission.
He enjoys controlling you and uses fear or "violent repercussions (which does NOT sound as it is is "covert aggression").
You do not have to prove anything in court to get a divorce as "not-fault" divorces are permitted in all 50 states.
However, for property settlements it might help to have evidence that he made threatening gestures or statements to you. For this you can get some undetectable recording devices to record these events and use them as evidence in court.
If you are scared of him hurting you then get an order of protection.
Until you stand up to him you will be his virtual slave and under his domination.
I know it is scary to make the move to break away.
Plan things out carefully.
Go to visit an attorney and let the attorney help you. It is amazing how many people will rally to your aid.
He may be a narcissist and control lots of people with his fake charm and lies, but you know who he is and you need to get away from him.
Remember, separation is YOUR decision and YOUR desire. He prefers to keep you, not for love, but to control you.
Start planning today and work on breaking free. I wish you great success and pray that God gives you the courage and strength to break free.
Elliott, MAE, LPCC, NCC, CCMHC
What I fear is not being heard. What I HAVE heard is that even women who get pummeled by their spouses have a hard time being heard and supported and when they flee they get in trouble for taking their children out of harms way and the offender ends up being favored. Especially the covert part of it seems to difficult to overcome. Maybe I just need to ask better questions to the DV counselors? I don't know what to ask and they seem so use to dealing with violent offenders I'm afraid I won't be taken seriously. I know I'm horrible at articulating this situation as the stress stymies my brain and I've been dealing with it for so long that I'm used to it and it almost feels normal and that I shouldn't be 'complaining'.
Thank you Elliot!