Sent: Wednesday, August 04, 1999
I just found your site this morning and have been on it for 2 hours.
I am still exploring. I find your advice and insight right on, and
extremely helpful, and validating. Thank you!
Thank you! Your
letter touched me and I was compelled to write and give you a huge pat
on the back!
I have a question. As I was
reading "The Abuser," the verbally
abusive partner, when you talk about the abuser's anger, I became
confused. Cannot this exact same behavior be evident without overt
yes, yes! Take a look at what this survivor has to say... The reason
I ask is because this profile fits my husband perfectly, except that he
has no overt anger, only and until I have "provoked"
Abuse can be so
subtle, it is almost invisible.
We have been married 37 years. It has taken me this long to
identify the real problem, and mainly because he operates without any
overt behavior. It is so subtle and covert, therefore, he has not
fit the average, usual profile I've read about. Everything but
covert does fit the pattern; it makes abuse harder to identify. You are
describing the withholding type of abuser. Sins of omission rather than
sins of commission. It is about control.
I discounted my own inner feelings for years, from using Rx drugs to
alcohol, to a suicide attempt. I've picked myself up, have been
clean/sober for over 8 years, and now listen to, and believe in myself. Good for you! I am
working on making my
way out of this relationship, and at age 56, it is terrifying. God Bless you and good luck! I was the child of
an alcoholic. I have been a member of all the 12 step groups,
learning much in ACoA. The Steps are a
wonderful support source. I understand my parents did the best
they could, with the skills that they had. Yes.
I have moved on from this. Good. I
have seen numerous
therapists, most of whom validated my spouse....I had to try harder. Your husband is "good at it... Your experience,
unfortunately, is not unusual. I have
become abusive because of my rage and anger. This
is exactly what happens...you are provoked and provoked, until you
lose control and rage. You need self control
skills, even if you leave. I
simply want out. I do not like my reactive displays of anger, and
I know this is not the real me. No, not you.
You are unhappy with your partner, but you should consider
cultivating these skills for your own sake. To increase your personal
power and self-esteem. I need to stay away from these type of
people. You don't have to pick a controlling
partner. Yes, I grew up a victim, but no more. Good! The toughest thing for me has been being
invalidated. No one to
witness the dynamics in my marriage. I kept believing it was all
me, enough to try and destroy myself. Yes. It
occurs behind tightly closed doors.
You have identified
one of the saddest as well as most challenging aspects of abuse
phenomena. Abuse can be so difficult to detect, and too often, the
professionals are fooled, the victim doubts themselves, the victim
becomes overtly violent and is seen as the abuser. Your story,
unfortunately, is not unusual.
Now I see me as an imperfect
human being just like everyone else, and one who definitely does not
deserve to be mistreated. Absolutely not! (Nor do
you deserve to mistreat - too much of a toll on your self-esteem!)
The withholding has hurt terribly. No sex for years, no emotional
intimacy. And for years I felt pity because he was an abused and
neglected child. So was I! The difference is, I don't want
to be a victim anymore and I don't want to live like this. I do
deserve better! You certainly do.
you've been through, despite being provoked to rage and substance abuse,
you are on the right path now. You are clear, emotionally balanced, and
you call a spade a spade. I am glad to see that you have not fallen
into the victim's revenge trap... It is too easy, once victimized, to
want to extract blood from your abuser. God bless you that you are not
on that destructive road.
I wish you the very
best, and I'm glad I was able to be helpful to you. Keep up the good
Sent: Friday, August 06, 1999
I wrote you the other day and your
response lifted my heart untold. However, I visited with a
therapist today and I came away in tears. Once again I do not feel
validated at all. I told her I wanted help learning assertive
skills because I'm either a victim or an aggressor. She
commiserated with my childhood, but that's done and gone. She said
that my spouse "sounds like he is trying." Really?
I never said that. She was just trying to
make you feel better. Sounds like she doesn't know much about abuse
though. Not uncommon. She let me talk ad lib, anything that came
to mind, so I was all over the place. If you remember, I have 37
years in this marriage and much baggage prior to that. She said I
sounded somewhat "dissociative." Needless to tell you, I
came away rather than feeling validated and that I have someone who
empathizes (not pity), I have to convince her, too, of my situation.
I am absolutely done in. I want to numb out so badly. Don't. Why is it me who hurts so much? Why
is it me who has to make all the changes? Why is it me who cannot
live in this world without any validation of my reality?
And the biggest question of all? Why would I even want to create
this kind of pain in my life? I was an addict. I got
clean/sober. I attempted suicide. I now like who I am, not
an option anymore. I just can't find anyone who will validate my
reality and it's enough to push me back.
Is there a place for a woman like me to receive some compassion,
understanding, empathy and support? I've just about let go of the
thread I've been hanging on to. You.
Can you help me?
Thank you, -Alice
that you are the consumer. This lady does not sound like the therapist
don't need anybody to validate your reality. Your reality is your
reality, though I know that is hard for you to believe in yourself
Get on the phone
and ask friends, relatives, anybody for the name of a good therapist.
Get a few names and then go interview them. Most therapists will
spend a few minutes on the phone with you prior to making your first
appointment. Ask them about their degree, their training, their
philosophy, whatever. See if you connect. The most important thing is
that you are comfortable with the person you are working with.
like you want somebody more active rather than passive. A
"consultant" type therapist, like myself will have a
cognitive-behavioral orientation rather than a psychodynamic one. We
tend to jump in a lot and work with you rather than on you. A
cognitive therapist will also know what you are talking about when you
talk about "assertion."
Don't give up; get
to work! OK?