Sent: Sunday, July 04, 1999 11:43
Subject: Abused Judge
Dear Dr. Irene,
I will reply to
your message within the body of it...
I am very thankful to you for
your site. It has been a great help to me. Here's my story. I got
married at the age of 26 in 1987. I had been in a few girlfriend
boyfriend relationships but nothing really too deep as I preferred
to hang out with the guys, have fun, and party rather
than do the "love" thing. I was always a very attractive
physically fit person so it was never a problem meeting women or dating.
I guess that's why I wasn't pressed about the issue. Anyway, I
married a very attractive woman and went into it with a positive
attitude. In hindsight, I guess I felt that I was ready to settle
down and I really didn't pay much attention to her personality
because I felt she had to be attractive and shapely (how stupid). Not stupid. A little naive, that's all.
That being said, I am still a very
easygoing person and I go out of my way to do nice things for people
so I was confident it would work out nicely (sound like a codependency
problem). A few months after we were married the verbal abuse and
constant attempts at dominance and control began. I went on for 11 years
of torture not knowing what to do or what I was up against. I have
recently read Patricia Evans book and my wife is pretty much the poster
child of abusers. Screaming, name calling, physical attacks, etc.. The
most angering thing is that she constantly talks over, buts into, and
cuts off your conversation. She does not possess the ability to listen
for more than a few seconds without butting in. (Mainly because I have
realized that she really could care less about anything other than her
own opinion and needs). I have a very bright daughter and I have worked
very hard to insure that she does not follow the pattern of abuse. I
tried to cope over the years but I had no idea how to deal with it. The
odd thing is that I am a very successful, high ranking Judge in the
criminal justice system. I am sought out to address national problems
and frequently fly around the nation to attend conferences and speak at
seminars. And to be honest, she isn't very bright and though she comes
from a middle class family, was on public assistance with one
illegitimate child when I met her. I really believe she resents my
success. An angry person would find
something to resent. If it wasn't your success, it would be something
After I read Patricia Evans
verbal abuse book it was like the heavens opened and rained life giving
knowledge on me. She perfectly fit every profile of a severe abuser. I
have since found out that she witnessed her mother do precisely the same
things as a child and came to view this as "normal behavior". I'm glad you woke up and realized this is not normal.
Your wife makes it easy since she seems pretty extreme.
The problem is this. She is of a different religion and has viciously
verbally attacked me many times over that very issue. She has verbally
attacked me because I came from a home with a single mother. She has
told me that she hated me and would be glad when I die so she can marry
someone else. In a nutshell, during her frequent fits of insane rage
over the years, there was no limit to the hurtful attacks which she
would make. In fact, it was almost as if she dug as deeply as humanly
possible into her arsenal of knowledge to hurt and attack. Of course, it
was simply good enough to say "I really didn't mean those things, I
just said it because I was mad" in her mind. Her mentality is that
it's OK to express anger in the most vicious violent way imaginable,
then just forget it and move on. No, it is NOT ok
in general and it is not OK in particular since it is NOT ok with YOU!
As long as it's her doing it. If I
say the slightest thing such as infer that her behavior has severely
damaged the feelings I once had for her. That is just as bad as her
if not worse because I really mean what I say. I'm glad you finally put
your foot down.
She seems to be trying to improve. But there is one major problem (and
being a codependent this was hard for me to really face). I HATE HER
STINKIN' GUTS!!!!!!! Did anyone ever tell you
that HATE is not the opposite of love? Hate is about anger. By the
way, there is no way in the world you should not have the anger that you
have. There is also no reason why you should fix it with her. People
choose to for various reasons. They may not have the anger you have. The
decision to fix it is a personal choice. Also, not all abusers are as
extreme as your wife.
I despise the very ground she walks
on and I could never love one of these horrible creatures you so
clinically refer to as "abusers". I don't want to reconcile a
damn thing with her. Then don't. If I never
saw her again in life it would be to soon. When she talks about going
out to do things together to re-kindle the romance and start over I just
want to barf, then scream out HELL NO!!!! So,
That's right, I'm sure plenty of
people who come to you for help with abusive relationships don't reveal
that fact to you or maybe even themselves but I have come to face it. Sure they do. Any therapist starts where his or her
client is. I really don't give a crap about her childhood and all
of that pyscho-eval stuff anymore. No reason
I think you should realize
that when you try to get a victim of abuse to reconcile with his or her
abuser after years of horror it's like asking a holocaust victim to
reconcile with an abusive murderous guard from Auschwitz. Often enough, there is just too much water under the
bridge. Get out.
Very few humans can summon that kind
of forgiveness. Especially when I realize that had I not found a way to
address the abuse. She would have been perfectly comfortable abusing me
for life. Yes. Without an ounce of regret.
Why, because abusers don't care a smidgen about their victims, only
themselves. Correct. Even more correct: They are
so preoccupied with their own stuff, unless you scream very loudly, they
haven't realized you've said anything! By the way, this
explanation is not offered as an excuse for your wife's mis-behavior.
There is no excuse. It is just is the way it is.
So why should I or other victims
have any reason to work things out? You don't.
What you choose to do with your life is your option.
I love your site, but this
whole idea of trying to "work it out" with these nutcases
leaves a bad taste in my mouth. The wanting to
work it out part comes from the client. No therapist would take it
upon him or herself to dictate that kind of choice!
How's this for advice to abusers
from a Judge's perspective. In writing tell them how revolted you
are by their behavior, and them as a human. Then with a big smile on
your face, LEAVE. Do not pass go, do not collect 200 dollars. Not bad. It would give you a bit of a thrill, and that
is exactly what it would take that to get some of them to wake up. My
interest in having them wake up, independent of what their partner does,
is that I am happy to see anybody decide that they have had it and want
to work at being the best they can be.
So keep that in mind when working on this issue. I believe that in many
instances the victim can't and doesn't want to reconcile with the
abuser. True. Where did I say otherwise??? (I
never have, my friend. So thouest is putting words into my mouth. Watch
That the anger and bitterness is so
deeply rooted that there is literally no hope for reconciliation. In
fact, the victim probably feels even further abuse by having to
"work it out" as if they did something "wrong". The
Jews were not asked "work it out" with the Nazis were they? I
feel as though this whole "work it out" mentality with abusers
by the psychology community is just a way to make it more
palatable to the abuser. Whoa ... what
"work it out mentality"? We are consultants. Period. We help
you accomplish your ends. We advise you if we think something you are
doing is not in your favor. But, we respect that your life is just that,
your life. Yes, you need to deal with your anger, but not for the sake
of your abuser. You need to deal with your anger for your sake!
Otherwise, you will carry it around like a heavy load wherever you go.
It will get in the way of your life! The only reason you ever work
anything out is for yourself. Period. End of Story.
So they won't reject the truth. They
really are bad people. You are so angry, you are
twisting stuff here. Some are "bad" people, i.e., sociopathic,
others are spoiled by partners who never put a foot down...
Often horrid selfish individuals with the conscience of a rattlesnake.
Some yes, most no. I guess it's your job to feel
for them but as an eleven year victim, I have no empathy for those who
would so intentionally do everything to destroy the lives of others. Nobody can destroy your life unless you let them. You
didn't have to put up with her crap for 11 years. You did it because you
didn't know what else to do. Unwittingly, you made a choice.
You know Doc, maybe being in criminal law all of these years and seeing
the callous disregard for human lives that I've witnessed has eroded my
ability to feel for the perpetrator. This is an
example of "baggage." Don't confuse the sick people you work
with with all abusive individuals. Nothing is black and white; there are
shades of gray. But I think secretly, a lot of abuse victims
which you counsel feel the same way. I think if you dig deep enough,
you'll find this out. I already know that. It is
called "anger", "rage." Part of the territory and
part of what needs to be worked out by the victim during recovery. I
have yet, in fact, to meet a victim who was not angry! (And if they
think they are not, then we have work to do...)
Rage is a stage
in recovery. Some victims unfortunately get stuck here. When women do,
they often become the misguided feminists who bash men and politicize
issues that are not political. I have written a bit about that here. You are a
man. Same difference. Be careful to work through your anger. If you don't, you are likely
to over-react to others in your environment out of your own stuff. Take
your power. Don't ever let anyone step on you again. But don't become a
rage-spouting member of "them" in the process. Maintain your
self-respect. Take a lesson from the Godfather. Marlon Brando did not
need to speak loudly to be heard. (The last of the Gentlemen bad guys?)
I doubt if you'll put this letter on your website because I have said a
few things that conflict with your directions and intentions for
solution of this problem. On the contrary, I love controversy - I
particularly love your letter! I picked yours to answer out of a mess of
others for exactly that reason...
the exception, or the rule. (Let me know-I'll make this
into a column!)
OK! Come visit
your url - it should be up within an hour or so of when you get this,
slightly cleaned up & slightly anonym zed, with email address
Thank you for your good work, G
Thank you G!
Take a look at
G's next thought-provoking email: on