After 10 years of being abused, Candace left her husband. Then she met his new wife, a young Chinese woman, who told Candace she too was being abused. Should an abused ex-wife help a new abused wife?
By Tom P Blake Finding Love After 50
"I had a rather unnerving experience today. I met my ex-husband's current wife, a Chinese woman in her 30s, who works at the local post office where I went to ship a package. My ex is 68," Candace (not her real name) emailed.
Candace detailed her experience with her ex, and why encountering the new wife was unnerving.
"He was charming and generous during courtship, but revealed his true nature-stingy, possessive jerk-after we married," she said.
"I lived with him for 10 years. Over time, he had become more paranoid, moody, and jealous for imaginary reasons. A 'rage-aholic.'"
Candace cited an example. She was driving an older car in the middle of summer when the radiator overheated. She had to stop at three different gas stations to cool the engine before she got the car to limp into the driveway. She was proud of herself for getting home okay, thinking he might be sympathetic, only to be met by a raging husband who was convinced she was late because she had stopped to have an affair.
"He refused to see a counselor, never taking responsibility for his behavior, always blaming others, with statements like, 'If you hadn't said/done that, I would not have gotten so upset,' Candace said.
"He has a loud voice. When he's angry, that voice will boom throughout the house at 200 decibels. I consider such yelling to be a form of domestic violence."
Candace said her family hated her husband because he was so mean. Her father paid for the movers when she moved out.
She added, "After our 1996 divorce, I read an article about controlling abusers and Mr. Ex matched up with 9 out of 10 abuser traits.
Which leads us back to the post office encounter. How did Candace recognize the Chinese woman's name on her nametag?
As a former journalist, Candace knew how to check public records to gather information about people. From time to time, she monitored his whereabouts because after they divorced, he called her at work every week for two years. She was happy he had moved 20 miles away, but she didn't want to be taken by surprise if he moved back to her neighborhood.
Candace said, "That's how I learned he had remarried in 2006, plus the name of his new wife--a most unique Chinese name--and what part of town they had moved to. The woman was working a few blocks from the house where Mr. Ex and I had lived, so I figure they moved there.
"I quietly asked if she was married to Mr. Ex, she said yes, and then I revealed that I am ex-wife #2. As the conversation progressed, she opened up and told me how unhappy she was.
"The wife despises his super-controlling ways and wants to leave, but feels trapped. They have just one car, which he controls, and he won't let her drive. Instead, he makes two 30-mile round trips each day to take her to work and pick her up. Mr. Ex has driven off all of his wife's friends (just like he tried to do with me). They're living in a retirement community, not exactly the place for a woman so young. Big differences in age, cultures, and expectations..."
Candace says the wife was under the assumption that hiring a divorce lawyer would practically bankrupt her, and unaware that domestic violence shelters can help her get a lawyer at reasonable cost.
Candace added, "She asked how I was able to leave Mr. Ex; I told her, and added that neither of us needs anybody's permission to leave a lousy marriage!
"I felt bad for this woman, who was living without hope. And, I was alarmed that Mr. Ex's behavior had gotten even more controlling.
What did Candace do?
She said, "Before leaving the post office, I got her e-mail address, which she and only she (not the husband) has the password to, then I went home and called the local domestic violence shelter.
"In my e-mail to her, I provided the local domestic violence shelter's 24-hour phone number and advised her to write it on a small piece of paper and stick it in her shoe. A woman's shoe is considered the safest place to hide such information. I said to call the shelter during her lunch hour, adding that once she gets there, the shelter will provide free bus tickets for her work commute so she can keep her job and become financially independent.
"The rest is up to her. Fingers crossed."
Is Candace doing the right thing?