To be continued. . . .
What can you do about it? The first step is to be aware of danger signals. If you are following our advice and have your own therapist please share with him any comments or behaviors that appear threatening, no matter how “off the cuff” or “joking” they appear.
Be particularly alert at the significant legal steps in the divorce. Your spouse may become dangerous when:
- served with legal papers that you are filing for divorce
- served with notice that documents or statements (deposition) must be produced
- court dates are set
- child support or custody papers are delivered
- the day of appearance in court for the divorce to be final
- your anniversary
- your or your spouses birthday
- your child’s birthday
- holidays that were important to both of you
You may know of other significant dates during your relationship. Write them down and be wary on those dates. There are things you can do at each of these phases. First, you should plan to be around other people and have plans for some sort of recreation. Do not sit alone in depression. It is NOT a good idea to call the spouse on “those” days to chat or try to soften the blow or try to cheer up your spouse.
There is another significant danger point, i.e., when you start to go out socially. You may be only “going out with the girls (guys)” but the spouse who might be a stalker may see it as traumatic. Yes it is difficult to follow the admonition of not getting involved with someone else during the separation, especially if that other person is your reason for the divorce. If you will only limit your contact with them to phone calls and public places you will have less to worry about before the divorce is final. Also consider: what will your children think?
If you do find yourself unable to control your urges and you get signals that the spouse is making verbal or behavioral threats you should notify your attorney and the authorities AND change the locks on the doors even if you are the one who moved out. Plus, you might want to pack a “survival kit.” A suitcase with clothes, money, personal hygiene items, phone numbers of close friends and a cell phone will give you a plan if you hear glass breaking or pounding on the door. We will stop short of advising that you arm yourself with personal protection that could injure someone. That step is your decision.
Can you analyze your present situation for danger signs? Before we go into what signs you should look for, you probably already know whether you might be at risk. A maxim within Dr. Martin’s Quality of Motivation theory is that “you don’t have to honk at the incompetent driver.” The driver on the interstate that cuts in front of you without signaling or drives at 40 mph in the fast lane, already has both hands on the wheel and is breathing fast and clenching the wheel. He knows that getting from A to B is a hazardous experience and honking at him doesn’t tell him anything new. You probably already know whether your spouse has the potential or tendency to stalk you. Make sure you are aware of the danger signs.