Opinion: The Person Who Destroys In Divorce

Colleen Sheehy Orme

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The Johnny Depp vs. Amber Heard defamation suit ignited the conversation about divorce abuse. If you were to google divorce abuse you wouldn't find much except for links to various law firms. If you searched people destroying one another in divorce you would find other descriptors. They would refer to it as a 'messy' or 'bitter' divorce.

Depp vs. Heard elevated the damage one individual can do to another.

Because someone dared to leave a marriage.

Was the relationship toxic? Absolutely. Was there abuse? Yes. I write about it here in Opinion: Amber Heard Truth or Lies and Opinion: Depp vs. Heard the One Undiscussed Topic. If you watched a significant portion of the trial (not YouTube clips or article excerpts) you will understand why the jury rendered their verdict. Amber Heard lacked credibility and evidence. She was repeatedly caught in lies. Johnny Depp was unapologetically Johnny Depp. He owned his substance abuse and the majority of his actions.

I'll admit it was confusing at the beginning of the trial.

I vacillated back and forth about who to believe. I didn't see two celebrities. I am a marketing consultant and journalist. A former business columnist turned relationship columnist. I have spent a decade in the counseling and research of relationships, marriage, divorce, and extreme personalities. And the abusive and destructive behavior people will inflict upon one another.

In order to achieve their desired outcome during a divorce. How they will lie, manipulate, and control. How they will shift and confuse the narrative. Even worse, how they will be believed because others can't see beyond their attractive charm. Make no mistake they are in it to win it. This is not the unfortunate dissolution of a relationship. It's a war. They believe they've been wronged.

And all's fair in love and war.

You may find this impossible to believe.

You might ask how one person could possibly destroy another? One person couldn't plausibly be capable of taking another person to the brink of extinction. You may say it isn't conceivable unless the individual did something in some way to deserve it. That no one could get away with doing this when we have a system of checks and balances in the divorce process to protect us. There are laws and accountability.

If you think like this, consider yourself lucky.

You have never encountered a seemingly charismatic personality who is equally destructive. One who doesn't fully present themselves until you have unknowingly entangled yourself with them. By then, you have made yourself vulnerable emotionally, financially, or physically.

You don't see the control they've assumed in your world until they make your life out of control.

You don't grasp their capability of calculation and manipulation.

Many times over Johnny Depp was asked who he was. He acknowledged who he was and his behaviors. The real danger was Amber Heard who had no ability to delve into actual reality and responsibility. She continued to maneuver and deny. To spin a new tale when an old one disintegrated. To deflect accountability and insist every individual who proved her story lacked credibility as villains. Everyone was lying but Amber Heard. Even when evidence proved otherwise.

There's a reason many believed Amber Heard over Johnny Depp.

People like this are convincing. Because they believe the lies they tell themselves. It's why their stories are compelling. They rationalize the spouse they are attempting to destroy deserves it. They don't live in actual reality. They live in their perception of it. If my partner hadn't left I wouldn't be forced to do this. I warned my spouse if they left me they would regret it.

I will punish them for what they've done.

I will hurt their reputation. I will hurt their finances. I will gain full custody. I won't let them win. I won't let them move forward. I won't let them be happy without me.

In doing so, the narrative will shift. The perpetrator will be believed as they use, confuse, and abuse anything and anyone to achieve their objective. One of the reasons this works for them is the individual who is leaving them doesn't see it coming. They understand the relationship is toxic.

But they have no comprehension of what this person is capable of doing to them.

And that it will be far worse than when they were actually in the relationship. Why? Because even though the relationship was deteriorating, unhealthy, or even abusive the true abuser still felt in control. They still had what they wanted. They still had the individual in their grasp.

This is why the abuse unleashes itself more violently in divorce.

Be it emotional, financial, or physical.

It's hard to fathom leaving someone could result in such destruction and chaos. But it can. You will lose yourself until others finally believe you and there's some relief. Some ability to rebuild and escape the perpetrator. When others no longer believe the lies that took you down.

When the world stops referring to divorce abuse as 'messy' or 'bitter.'

And recognizes there's nothing normal about elongated or abusive divorces.

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Colleen Sheehy Orme is a National Relationship Columnist, freelance journalist, and former business columnist. She writes about love, relationships, and self-restoration. She has spent more than a decade in research and counseling on the topics of divorce, relationships, and Narcissistic personality disorder.

Reston, VA
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