Definition of Domestic Violence Includes Using Intimidation to Interfere with Mate’s Property Rights

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“My ex-boyfriend and I have a lease on a townhouse that is not up until 09/30/06. We are currently both on the lease, and need agreement by both parties before changing anything on the lease, such as early termination, or one of us leaving. I have recently moved out of the townhouse, secondary to a minor physical altercation (he pinned my arms down while I was in bed), as well as countless acts of verbal slander, and many text messages of harassment. I have told him to stop calling my work, stop calling my cell phone, leaving messages and texting me, sometimes which he abides by. Every other day, he is like Jekyll vs. Hyde, as one day he wishes to have me back, and the next he comes at me with horrible malicious comments. He even thinks that I still want him back, and that am in denial (furthest from the truth).

I have tried every which way to compromise and get one of us off of the lease, but he is unwilling to leave and find a new place, is not looking that hard to find a roommate, and will not agree to sign me off the lease. Like I said, I have moved out, but have kept my keys, as I wish to avoid confrontations with him as much as possible, but am still a legal tenant and have large items I cannot move, nor am willing to pay for an additional storage unit, when my bedroom in the house will work fine for my items. He also makes getting items out of the house difficult, as he sits at the house waiting for me to come back to pick up items little by little, then when I get there, he cusses me out and says rude things, basically to push my buttons. The other day, I removed my washer and dryer, and he called me to cuss me out because I left the faucet dripping, and threatened to destroy my property by putting my computer printer under the leak. I have even gone so far as to put my belongings under lock and key for fear of him destroying items.

The management company in charge of our unit is one owns many other rental locations, and is probably a multimillion dollar business. The local management office to my particular unit has been unhelpful. They give me my options (ones beneficial to them of course). I am emotionally unstable when residing at the place with him, cannot handle the stress from his awful words, and avoiding him does not work. Therefore I am paying for half the rent, but staying with friends and family.

What else can I do?”

Your problem seems to be a boyfriend who is playing power and control games that aren’t meant for fun! I’m concerned that your statement about a “minor physical altercation” is minimizing what could escalate into a serious situation. I once had a client whose husband had never even hit her before they separated. She moved to a nearby apartment and he broke in one night and sat in her living room until the next morning. He said he missed her and wanted her to come back. She was frightened but still didn’t recognize the danger. He killed her a few weeks later, saying that they’d promised to be together “till death do us part”. If this frightens you, good. I want you to take this seriously. He’s not letting go of this relationship and just your short description raises all sorts of red flags for me. In some states, continuing to contact you in the ways you describe might be considered stalking.

Please contact your local domestic violence program and go get some advice about how to protect and empower yourself in the face of this abuse. You can find them by calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or visiting for a list of state domestic violence coalitions. It is possible that your local DV program will have access to legal advice that is specific to this situation. You may be able to have him restrained from harassing or even contacting you and there may be some recourse with the apartment management.

Every state has laws regarding domestic violence restraining orders but they vary a little from place to place. In places where I’ve lived, what you describe would probably be enough to get a temporary order. It is likely that the counselors at the domestic violence program will discuss getting a restraining order that may even give you possession of the apartment and leave him staying with friends! Before you take such an action, I want you to be sure you have a solid safety plan in place. It is well-known that abusers escalate their behavior over time. They want to remain in control. Ending a relationship is the most dangerous act, when the abuser loses control, and often triggers desperate behavior on the part of the abuser. Good luck.