Help! My partner is in prison

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

If your partner or spouse is in prison, I hope this article will help you at the very least feel supported. I've written it to help you, and I so hope that it'll give you the information you need about coping with this situation.

This page is about helping you 'normalise' your feelings and cope with:

  • your reactions and feelings
  • judgement - sentencing - day in court
  • your children's reactions
  • prison visits
  • other people's reactions

I have included links to other helpful pages, so that you can begin to manage all that's happening right now. And I promise you, managing you will - you'll find that you are much stronger than you would ever have given yourself credit for.

Day in court

On that fateful (first) day in court you're there 'supporting' your partner, yet you're very likely to be in turmoil yourself. Nobody tells you what's going to happen, where you should be or what's expected of you (unless of course you're giving evidence).

Then there's that awful sense of guilt and shame. You dread the thought of bumping into anybody you know.

What would they think? What would you say?

Right now you're unlikely to be able to get your head around it all. You'll probably feel torn:

  • What are you to believe?  
  • How do you emotionally handle the information about what your partner's accused of?  
  • How do you cope with what you've been told (if anything) and what you hear in court?

Just remember that supporting your partner doesn't mean that you're aligning yourself with the crime.

Your partner or spouse is going to prison

Prison fencing

You are left the pick up the pieces. You're left dealing with the children and their reactions, the finances, family, friends - you name it. You're on your own with it. All that, whilst you're in shock and quite possibly feeling completely traumatised yourself.

Now... I'm assuming here that you could never have imagined your partner would have ended up in prison. In this case, these events will have come completely out of the blue for you.

So, I'm hoping I can help you a little - and to let you know that you're not on your own. If you understand and know how to deal with your own reactions to your partner's sudden incarceration you're likely to feel a little less out of control.

I'll also suggest some problem solving strategies to get you though the initial stages. So, stick with me and hang on in there...

Feeling in shock?

This is totally understandable if you've just discovered that your partner has been found guilty of some (heinous?) crime. I don't know, of course, at what stage in the legal process your partner is. But I'll assume that you've only just been confronted with the fact that the person you were sharing your life with is now in prison.

All of a sudden, your life - as it was - is no more. Surely there's been a mistake, you might think. If not, who was that person you were living with? You're in shock, barely able to take it all in.

And now you're having to deal with all this:

  • Lack of knowledge: where is he/she, will I hear from him/her, can I make contact, who can I ask?
  • Having to tell your children, but as you're barely able to comprehend what's happening yourself, you're at a loss what to say to them
  • You don't want to tell anyone, including family and friends
  • Yet you'll have to decide who to tell, because suddenly you're on your own - you do need someone to talk to and you may need help with the children
  • Dealing with everyone's reactions, when you can barely cope with your own

I can only guess at how much you're suffering right now. What I do know is that it'll be difficult to share with anyone. So, do speak to one of my online counsellors - there's no need to identify yourself if you don't want to.

How do you react?

You might be feeling a whole mix of emotions right now, and this in itself can be confusing and frightening. Come with me to Part 2 to have a look at some of the ways you might be reacting, and for tips on how to cope with Visiting Your Partner in Prison.

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

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Elly Prior

It's me - Elly Prior, I'm the Founder and Author of this site. I'm a 'real' person! I'm hoping to make a positive difference, small or large, to every person who visits my site.

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Image courtesy of: Kate ter Haar