“Tom” can also be “Alicia.”
Nevertheless, it happens often enough to come up every so often in a crime documentary aired on the Investigation Discovery channel.
The premise is as follows:
- A person is SO convinced that their spouse or soon-to-be ex-spouse is going to kill them, that they actually tell friends something like, “If anything ever happens to me, Tom did it,” or, “If anything bad ever happens to me, have the cops question Alicia.”
- There was one case in which a woman spoke from the grave. Detectives discovered a note she had hidden inside a piece of furniture explaining that if she was ever murdered, her husband was responsible.
- Yet these men and women continue living with the person they think is capable of murdering them.
These aren’t cases in which the future killer warns their future victim, “If you move out I’ll kill your parents and your dog and boil your bunny.”
The irony is that there’s often no threat given to the future victim of any devastating consequences if they move out.
Another thing about many of these cases is that there aren’t young children living with them who could provide the future victim an excuse for continuing to live with the man (or woman) they’ve told friends might kill them.
So this begs the question: Why would anyone want to continue living under the same roof with someone whom is so threatening, that the future victim has actually told friends or other family members, “If something happens to me…it was Alicia”?
One might think, “Well, maybe these individuals don’t have any other place to go.” Yet in the documentaries, friends or extended family members are speaking lovingly of them and are very distraught over what ultimately had happened. Certainly, they would have taken in the person they cared about.
But this element is never explored. Thus, the assumption is that a place to stay was offered but declined.
There are many reasons people stay in destructive relationships. Fear and uncertainty play a huge role. Bad judgment might be another. But one things for sure, the victim in these situations isn’t to be blamed. They are no more “at fault’ than someone who is walking down the street and gets bit by a dog. And Tom just plain sucks.
#1 Self-esteem might be so damaged through emotional abuse the victim simply can’t make a move.
#2 Abusive behavior seems “normal” in a society that is abusive towards each other.
#3 Leaving can be very dangerous. Its not unlikely for their abuser to act on his feelings of violence when feeling abandoned.
#4 Abuse is all about control of the mind and body. A victim’s decisions are often not their own.
#5 Abusers are skilled at making the victim think everything’s their fault.
#6 The victim might think they can change the abuser. They cannot.
#7 Embarrassment, being judged by others and shame often keeps the victim from leaving.
#8 Family. Having kids together is huge and the victim might stay “for the sake of the kids”.
The worst-case scenario is living in a mission, a safe house or even on the street – which would be a lot safer than living in the same house as someone you’re convinced might kill you.
Would you spend even ONE NIGHT in a house if you knew that somewhere in that house, a 20-foot python was loose? Of course not. If you were told you had a choice of a nice warm bed and bath facilities – in a house with that roaming snake – or…a homeless shelter…which would you choose? This however is easier said than done.
If you’re compelled to hide a “from the grave” note or inform a friend, “Tom did it,” then GET OUT NOW. If you or someone you know is in danger call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233
Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of Identity Theft Privacy: Security Protection and Fraud Prevention: Your Guide to Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft and Computer Fraud. See him knock’em dead in this Security Awareness Training video