<b>Q: </b>My husband has turned into a nasty piece of work. For years I've made it known to him that I wasn't interested in sex but he still expects it.
It makes me physically sick to think of sex with him.
It's always been an issue between us and as the years have passed it's only been done to keep the peace.
In the last 15 months or so I've realised that I no longer have any feelings for him.
He's been insulting me and accusing me of all kinds of rubbish.
He has also threatened suicide.
He told his family private details about our marriage and has been impossible to live with.
He refuses to give me any money unless I have sex - I feel like I'm trapped.
To everyone outside he seems like a doting dad but behind closed doors he's a different person.
I dread when he gets in from work.
He insults me in front of the kids and accuses me of being a useless parent.
He is trying to push me out of the home I've shared with him for more than 16 years and I don't know what to do.
To him I'm just an object which he can use for sexual purposes and I can't live like this any more.
I also think if I don't do as he asks that he will turn physical and hurt me.
What are my rights?
Can he evict me?
Can he separate me from our three kids?
I don't know where to turn. I can't afford legal advice as I have no means. Help me please.
A: I AM taking your letter very seriously because there is so much violence against women in the home which goes unreported out of fear and that is no way to live your life.
I realise that at the moment there is no physical violence but you do feel threatened so there is this underlying fear in your home while your husband is there.
Your children must sense that fear which in turn will make them unhappy.
You are in a very bad situation which is made even worse by the fact that your children are witnessing your husband's appalling behaviour towards you.
As you feel in physical danger I would urge you to take steps to protect yourself and to begin by telling a family member or close friend about your fears for your safety.
Your husband has no entitlement to evict you or the children.
If there is a threat being made then you should contact Women's Aid at the earliest opportunity.
Their very helpful website is www.womensaid.ie and the helpline number is 1800 341900.
They have centres around the country.
Also bear in mind that there are Free Legal Advice Centres (FLAC) open to you which can offer some basic legal assistance (www.flac.ie). Their telephone number is 01-8745690 or from a landline Lo-call 1890 350250.
Your husband is controlling you by not letting you have any money unless you have sex with him.
This is so far away from what it should be - an extension of a couple's love for each other - that it is almost unbelievable and gets very close to rape.
However, I know from other letters that I have received on this subject that you are not alone which makes it all the more disturbing.
You really do need help and so try to look at writing to me as being the first step.
Then confide in a close friend or family member so that you don't feel quite so alone and somebody knows the true story.
You will have to feel more secure emotionally before you would be able to have a meaningful conversation with your husband about how you feel, so contact the Women's Aid helpline and I am sure you will get the support that you need.
You can contact Mary O’Conor anonymously by visiting www.dearmary.ie or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or write c/o 27-32 Talbot Street, Dublin 1. All correspondence will be treated in confidence. Mary O’Conor regrets that she is unable to answer any questions privately.