My ex has guns

My new boyfriend is afraid he'll show up with a shotgun. I feel terrible for telling him

By Cary Tennis
Published November 18, 2010 2:01AM (EST)

Dear Cary,

I was on the receiving end of a physically, emotionally and verbally abusive relationship for almost 10 years. It wasn't easy, but I got out and I'm happy. After giving myself some time to recover emotionally and get my head straight, I started going out on dates here and there -- fancy dinners with nice guys, but nothing too deep. I finally met someone whom I wanted to go out with more than once, and we started dating exclusively about a month ago.

I have decided that I will never tell my new beau about the physical abuse I suffered in the past. It is too shameful, plus I'm sure it wouldn't accomplish anything productive. I disclosed the tip of the iceberg about the verbal and emotional abuse, just to explain why I avoid confrontation. My boyfriend was upset, naturally, and said that if he ever met my ex he would tell him off. I replied that I would do everything in my power to make sure that they never met, because my ex is a big, crazy dude. My boyfriend asked if my ex could "take him" and I answered honestly that yes, he could. Plus, he has guns.

OK, so can of worms here. My boyfriend now is constantly nervous that he's going to walk out of my house on some random morning and come face-to-face with my crazy ex and a shotgun. There's more -- my boyfriend confided in his mother (I haven't met her yet) about all of this, who now thinks that I'm "bad news" and no doubt has shared her feelings with others in their family. I'm sure she is telling him that I am not worth the trouble.

In my heart, I agree that I am not worth the trouble. I really don't think that my ex has the motivation to track me down now (he's very mean, but also very lazy), so I don't believe there's any real danger. Still, I don't want to have someone feel uncomfortable just because I have this stupid baggage. I feel like damaged goods. Can this be repaired? What can I do? I guess I should have kept my mouth shut.

Damaged Goods

Dear Damaged,

Well, no, I don't think you should have kept your mouth shut. Wife beaters and woman-batterers of all kinds would love to see their victims keep their mouths shut. They would love it if all the women they abused were to live in fear the rest of their lives. It would probably turn them on to know that you're having to sneak around having a boyfriend in secret. What a great power trip it would be for him to know that long after you've ended the relationship you still fear him.

So no, I don't think you should have kept your mouth shut.

I think you should get a shotgun.

Wouldn't you rather be the one with the shotgun?

I'm all in favor of women having guns.

So maybe you go to a gun store and get licensed and get trained and have it ready but secured all the time, so it's not a safety risk but it's not out of reach either.

I don't see anything wrong with protecting yourself. If you lie awake at night fearing your ex, wouldn't it be nice to know that you had a weapon?

Or maybe this gun is not an actual gun but a gun that you carry in your mind. Maybe it's whatever it takes to square your shoulders and walk around unafraid. Maybe it's self-defense courses. Maybe it's a home security system. Maybe it's a metaphor for refusing to be afraid. Maybe it's a way of saying to the world that you'd rather die than live the rest of your life as a fearful victim.

You may object to buying a shotgun. There are reasons not to own a gun for self-protection. There is a chance that the gun would be used against you, or stolen, or that it might fall into the hands of a child and injure someone. Guns are powerful things. We know that.

But if your ex has guns, and he's still a threat to you, wouldn't you feel better having a gun of your own?

Somehow, whatever it takes, you have to stop living in fear of this ex. You owe it to yourself to do that.

Aside from that, go ahead and live your life. You've told your boyfriend about your crazy ex and there's no untelling it.

Now it's just a matter of protection. If you think he's genuinely a threat, then it's up to you to protect yourself. Whatever that means, whatever it takes, I say do it. 

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Cary Tennis

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