At Wits End

My daughter has been a victim of domestic abuse, both physical and mental for the past eight months. Her husband has had delusions of jealousy for that period of time. During that time he uses their two children against her and has turned them against her so that now they believe his accusations. Last week after being abused, she called my other daughter for help and sought help to leave their home since he was physically preventing her from doing so. The children would not go with her because of their beliefs, so they remained at home. He is saying that this is abandonment on her part but I disagree. The children desperately need counseling but I do not fear for their physical safety.

His behavior has been one of being unreasonable and mercurial. After visiting my daughter’s work place, I have been told that my son in law sits hiding in his car waiting and watching for signs of her infidelity. Isn’t this behavior considered stalking? He has no proof of any infidelity on my daughter’s part but yet cannot except her word. He has been told that he suffers from bipolar disorder but refuses to take any medication. Last week while I was there, he used the children to call her and then pass the phone over to him. There must have been 10 calls during the course of an hour. She takes the calls for fear of not alienating the children any further.

My daughter has seen an attorney who is preparing a draft of a separation agreement for my son in law to review. My wife and I are at our wits end not knowing how to help her or counsel her. She does not want to get a restraining order for fear of angering him before he signs the separation agreement.

Does waiting for a no contact or restraining order until a separation agreement is signed the correct course of action? I would appreciate any recommendations, and how can his harassment of her be stopped?

If your daughter is in danger she should file for a restraining order immediately. The marital property and custody issues can be dealt with through the courts. If he is as unreasonable as he sounds he will refuse to sign a separation agreement anyway.

There is also court-mandated involuntary committal. You will most likely have to have a formal bipolar diagnosis from a psychiatrist and some sort of documentation that he has physically abused her in the past to accomplish this. Not sure what the procedure is or how long a psych hold can be done in NC.

FWIW, bipolars tend to have obsessive thinking patterns and will focus on internal thoughts whether angry, sad, or happy. (Thus the 10 phone calls.) Bipolars can also have episodes of psychosis when in an extreme manic state. Sometimes the psychosis can become so severe that it mimics the symptoms of schizophrenia.

If you truly fear for her safety and have the proof, you may want to consider commital, possibly in addition to a restraining order. At least in a hospital, he would not be able to harm her and the hospital would attempt to medicate and regulate his sleeping patterns which would make him a bit more stable, which might reduce the paranoia. If they can get him back to middle ground perhaps he would agree to medication and counselling in the long run.

My daughter was advised to have him committed but I believe that it is only for three days. My fear is that at the end of the three days he would be worse than he is now.

Yes, that is a possibility. Some of the medications used to treat bipolar disorder will break the obsessive thinking patterns (Seroquel and some of the other antipsychotics), however, there’s no way to tell what the hospital would decide to give him and no guarantee he would continue taking them when he was released.

What about the possibility of your daughter contacting or attending a support group for people with bipolar disorder or families of those with the disorder? They might be able to offer some guidance on how best to handle the situation.