He threatened to kill me if I leave

Dear Mrs Macaulay,

I've been in a relationship for four years with four kids; the last one was born March 15. All those years I've been abused by my kids' father. I tried to leave him but he threatened me that he knows all my family's houses and that he will come for me and kill me if I take the kids away. He has also physically abused me. I really need help to get away from him or file a restraining order against him. I am tired and I can't take it anymore and I'm at the stage where I want to just end my life. I don't want to get my family involved, but I'm really fed up with him drinking and smoking weed and his short temper and anger all the time. He has a routine where when he knows we're going to end up arguing, he will take my phone first so I can't get help. How can I get out of this?

I always feel upset and angry whenever I hear about situations like yours AND your children's. Such households like yours, which are repeatedly full of abuse and violence, are not only harmful to you, who is an adult, but very destructive to your children. It seems that your children are very young and yet they are learning about violence and abuse inflicted by a man on his woman partner. Children become what they are taught and experience and you are being destroyed as a woman. Your innate sense of self-confidence is and has been whittled away and you have even lost your will to live. He has been destroying you and your children all the time you have been with him.

Since you say that he is a drinker, he is clearly a damaged person who needs medical treatment but he must accept the fact that he is an alcoholic and he has to want to seek help. Your home is unsafe and you cannot continue to have him living there with you and the children.

Despite his threats, you must apply at the Family Court in your parish for protection, occupation and ancillary orders and for orders for sole custody and care and control of the children, and maintenance for them and for yourself, if he was maintaining you. All these applications can be done under the Domestic Violence Act and its amendment.

If you are working and contributing to the household costs, then you should only apply for what his contribution has been and should be, taking into account inflation, for the maintenance of the children. Remember, you must be prepared with the figures of all the necessary costs when you go to the court's office for the clerk to assist you to have your applications prepared and ready for filing and service.

One application could be for him to be put out of the house and you and the children remaining in the home. If, however, this is considered too dangerous for you and the children, then you should just apply for protection orders (no occupation orders) and maintenance orders and sole custody and care and control of the children. For these latter orders you must make sure that you have found another dwelling for you and the children and the cost for it to be rented. You are to ask the clerk to put in your maintenance claim to cover you and the four children. Then you must also have worked out the proportions needed for food for you and the children, cost of all utilities, transportation, lunch money, cost of clothing, uniforms, shoes, cost for hair grooming, toiletries, etc. You should also include as items his contribution (a part or the whole) for educational costs and all medical expenses.

As I said above, you could also apply for occupation orders which would enable you to have him put out of the house on the order of the judge while you and the children stay in the home. He would be forbidden to be in or even enter any door or window or the garden or yard of the home. If he does this, you would call the police or go to them and show them a certified copy of your orders. But you, with the clerk, can decide what is the best option for you and your children.

You have to make up your mind and go and make the applications that I have stated above. You can get a lawyer, if you can afford this, but remember that the clerk at the Family Court will help you without any charge. Take along your children's birth certificates and all the information that I told you above, to work out and have ready for when you go to the Family Court. Please do what you should have done a good while ago and save yourself and your children.

Please do not allow the present state of things to remain as they are because it is too destructive for you and your children. Save yourself and save them, please.

I wish you all a very good future after your applications are made and your orders are in your hand. Remember that you must make sure that you get at least two or three certified copies of the orders to show to the police or any other official when needed.

Margarette May Macaulay is an attorney-at-law, Supreme Court mediator, notary public, and women's and children's rights advocate. Send questions via e-mail to allwoman@jamaicaobserver.com; or write to All Woman, 40-42 1/2 Beechwood Avenue, Kingston 5. All responses are published. Mrs Macaulay cannot provide personal responses.


The contents of this article are for informational purposes only and must not be relied upon as an alternative to legal advice from your own attorney.

Margarette May Macaulay

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