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Stuck in an abusive home

Community Member

After a long abusive marriage I have managed to separate from my wife. Unfortunately I am now stuck in the same house with her. No physical abuse, but emotional, psychological and financial abuse. We cannot agree on a property settlement and she has all our money so I can't afford to move out unless I agree to her terms, which are unfair and she knows it. She knows I can't leave.

I have a solicitor, but it will take 12 to 18 months to drag her through the court. Apart from the financial cost, I cannot imagine how I will cope with 18 months of this. I am already fearful that my life is at risk.

My solicitor says that the Family Court won't care about the abuse, and besides it is too hard to prove anyway. I have tried many agencies and they all agree that the abuse should come into it, but I keep hitting dead ends. If I were female with bruises I would have a case. There appear to be very few avenues for men. Help!

24 Replies 24

Community Member

Hi Mark

I see that this thread is a continuation of an earlier thread. My apologies if I repeat what has been said earlier.

I can relate to your current predicament. When my ex and I first separated, her behavior became controlling and threatening. In the end, I had to leave the family home as I feared false claims of abuse and violence to the local police. Her behavior was just plain outrageous.

In theory, you should have the same protections as a woman in your position; the reality may be very different.

"I am already fearful that my life is at risk."

If this is the case, go down and have a talk to your local police, they might be able to help. Depending on the circumstances, they will have a word to your wife or issue a protection order if considered necessary.

"I have a solicitor, but it will take 12 to 18 months to drag her through the court."

This is something to avoid if possible. There are alternatives, such as "mediation" and "arbitration". Like me, you may have to start court action to get your wife to "mediation" or "arbitration". The courts will lay down a timetable for alternative dispute resolution. Without this timetable, nothing will change. Have a talk to your lawyer about this if you have no done so.

Your wife may control the finance, but she cannot kick you out of the house. I would not agree to anything outside of mediation or arbitration.

Please, let us know how things progress!



Hi Mark247,

It's good to see you back reaching out to our wonderful online forums community. We're so sorry to hear what you are going through. Everyone has a right to feel safe and comfortable in their own home. We want you to know we're here to provide as much support, advice and conversation as you need.

As you know, while the peer support offered here is often quick, it is not immediate. For more immediate support about navigating your current situation we recommend reaching out to our friends at https://www.1800respect.org.au/. They offer 24/7 support by phone on 1800 737 732 or by webchat: https://chat.1800respect.org.au/#/welcome

We also recommend reaching out to our firends at https://mensline.org.au/ . You can call them 24/7 on 1300 78 99 78.

To spare you from having to repeat those parts of your story that you have already so generously shared with our wonderful, caring online forums community we thought we'd share links to you (now closed) threads here:

Please reach out and check in here whenever you feel up to it.

Hi Mark

I picked up on your duplicate thread about the silent treatment you had from one week up to 3 months long.

I had the same situation in my first marriage. It is clearly abuse and after 11 years of tolerating it, it led to a suicide attempt. I left one week later. I had two daughters 7 and 4yo at the time.

My eldest came to live with me at 12yo and in adulthood has been under psych care due to the psychological harm her mother dished out. My youngest I'm estranged from because...she became a worse abuser than her mother.

My main point here is that you deserve better and you also can do yourself a favour by moving on.

This mean sticking with your legal team (eg caveat on the house)and finding ways to spend your time in your house to a minimum.

Stay strong.


Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

hi Mark

I'm so sorry for what you've had to go through and also sorry for the others who've had their lives hurt by potential narcissists (?)

I can imagine how hard it would be to live under the same roof and also how annoying it would be getting different opinions about what approach to follow for the courts.

I have never, thank G-d had any legal issues so I don't know exactly how the courts work. I have had a family member who is female and abused her partner, and she was prosecuted quite harshly, but I remember they were afraid they would not be taken seriously. it's sad that the courts don't see certain forms of harm.

Community Member

Thanks everyone for your replies.

I have been abused for 30 years. It just doesn't seem right that to get out of this situation I either have to give her everything she wants, or endure another 18 months of abuse to get my day in court in a situation that is worse now that she knows I want to leave.

My psychologist believes my life is in danger, but I have no concrete evidence that I can take to the police.

I know the system is supposed to encourage couples to work things out for themselves, but I am in a far from ideal world.

Community Member

G'day Mark

In reference to your last post, you do have options. None are ideal, but I will run them up the flagpole and see if they get a "salute".

Option 1: - this is the best option if your wife will agree

Ask your wife to agree and lock in a date for mediation - "Relationships Australia" can do the mediation on a budget.

Option 2:

If your wife refuses mediation, start court action. You lawyer can help you file an application to the court. If you can demonstrate financial hardship, the court filing fee is reduced. Once you have done this, the court will order "mediation". The court will insist on mediation before they intervein. The whole purpose of filing a court application is to laydown a timetable for mediation; it is not about going to court. Without the court, your wife can delay mediation indefinitely

Option 3:

If you feel threatened, give your wife whatever she asks for and move out. An informal verbal agreement between you and your wife carries no legal weight in family law. The family law court will only recognise a formal agreement, such as a Binding Financial Agreement (BFA) or Consent Order. This is the whole point of mediation.

Warning: If you do decide to move out, you may not be able to return if you have financial difficulties. You may also loses access to you children, if you have any. In short, moving out is a last resort if you fear for your safety.

Have you had any advice from the "Men's Legal Service"?



Community Member

Thanks Mr Paul,

Option 1 has already been refused. Option 3 is not an option because I have no money, she has all our savings, and besides it would mean leaving the adult kids with her. Option 2 is the course I am headed. I did not realise that it would trigger mediation (already refused - waste of time/money) and/or arbitration, so thanks for making that clear. Why did my lawyer not explain that to me? I was under the impression that once I file I would be waiting for 18 months to get a day in court.

In the meantime I am keeping the door to my room locked and being vigilant. It is doing my head in though.

Community Member

Hi Mark

When you file an "initiating application" with the court, usually the Federal Circuit Court of Australia, the court will give you or your solicitor a "first return date". On this date, the court registrar (not the judge) will assess your application and lay down a timetable and a course of action to achieve a property settlement.

If you have not been to mediation, the "registrar" will order voluntary mediation before the matter goes any further. At this point, the court will want you and your wife to go off and agree to mediation or arbitration. Your wife can still refuse mediation, but if she does, the court will not be impressed. It is in everyone's interest to attend mediation if directed by the court.

The important point here is, at the "first first return date" (sometimes called the "first mention") the court registrar will laydown a timetable and a chain of actions for mediation and then arbitration if needed. The registrar will do their best to achieve a property settlement out of court. Remember, the courts are overworked; they do no want your application to proceed, unless absolutely necessary.

Depending how busy the registrar is, the first mention will be 2-3 months after the "initiating application" is lodged. Your lawyer will have a better idea for your locality.

As I said previously, the court application is all about setting timetables.

I hope this helps!


Very informative Mr Paul