My abusive drug addict partner is ruining my life. What can I do?

Readers Question Readers Question: (Name changed for privacy)
Stanton Peele Response by: Dr. Stanton Peele
Posted on December 16th, 2010 - Last updated: June 22nd, 2023
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I’m taking a deep breath here. Here’s a short bio of myself so you may get a clearer picture. I’m 25, have two children, and I’m going places with my career. I’m ambitious and devoted to improving myself (I went from single-mom at 17 on social assistance to college graduate to business project manager).

I think I need a good kick in the arse! After leaving the father of my children of 7 years (who was a marijuana drug addict, lazy, selfish, ect..) I went right back into a new relationship (going on two years now) with a guy whom is a cocaine addict. I was deceived in the beginning. For a year it was great. He put his 50% in the house (sharing the cost of living). Now he’s gone from good guy to thief, liar and physically intimidating.

I asked him to move out many times but whenever I “enforce it” he gets literally pushy. I had called the cops twice, they won’t do anything because he has a right to live there they said. They are so not emphatic! I want out. He had two former girlfriends (with whom he has children with) that all moved out of town to get away from him. This is scary. I’m afraid though that when I truly enforce it, I will get physically hurt. (He won’t let me near the phone). I don’t have much family support, actually I’ve been on my own since I was 16. He threatens to make my life a living hell. What should I do? I’m scared to make a big stand. I want to though. I’m afraid too that I will have to leave the city, abandon my hard work/dreams to get away.


Dear Jacqueline:

I am reluctant to tell you how to leave your mate. You can apply to a court for an order to expel him, for a restraining order to keep him away from you. Go to your local police station to ask for a restraining order, citing his physical intimidation and pushing you (although you say they are not willing to be helpful). Go to a local battered women’s shelter for assistance in doing this and for advice. However, a certain number of people simply ignore these orders, and they don’t guarantee that he can’t hurt you, which is why I can’t tell you what steps to take to guarantee your safety, but only point you towards helpful local resources.

What is most remarkable in your story from a psychological standpoint is how you went from one substance-abusing lout to another, even after you have gotten your own professional and financial house in order. Can you offer any understanding about how this happens? It would seem to be an important element for continuing your life – how often can you endure such destructive relationships and the disruptions involved in ending them?

In your current relationship, you claim that your spouse was great, sharing expenses and house maintenance. If I believe that, then something about the way you interact with him (or men) encourages them to lay all the responsibilities on you (for example, by picking up after him or letting him slide in his responsibilities).

But, I don’t believe there were no signs that your boyfriend was a slacker-addict-abuser-thief early on. Perhaps I am naïve, but I don’t believe that most men are willing to steal from their mates (and children). For instance, did you not know he had children by two former girlfriends? At a minimum, you didn’t do due diligence – if you did, you would have discovered his abusive relationships before you became another one (which is typical, and which you can cite to the police in seeking a restraining order).


Stanton Peele

Dr. Stanton Peele, recognized as one of the world's leading addiction experts, developed the Life Process Program after decades of research, writing, and treatment about and for people with addictions. Dr. Peele is the author of 14 books. His work has been published in leading professional journals and popular publications around the globe.

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