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7/20: Dr. Irene on cognitive behavior therapy and mindfulness

6/12 Interactive Board: Unintentional Abuse

11/7 Interactive Board: Is This Abusive?

12/29 Interactive Board: There Goes the Wife...

11/4 Interactive Board: A New Me!

10/8 Interactive Board: Seeming Impossibility

9/8 Interactive Board: My Ex MisTreats Our Son

5/1 Interactive Board: I feel Dead - Towards Him

4/26 Interactive Board: Why is This So Hard?

4/19 Interactive Board: I Lost My Love...

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Doc@DrIrene.com

Comments to Be Free

Reader Comments For Will I Ever Be Free?


 Material posted here is intended for educational purposes only, and must not be considered a substitute for informed advice from your own health care provider.

Courtesy of Dr. Irene Matiatos   Copyrightę 1998-2005. The material on this website may be distributed freely for non-commercial or educational purposes provided that author credit is given. For commercial distribution, please contact the author at Doc@drirene.com

B1: Submit
Date: Sunday, January 16, 2000

S1

I really feel for you. I'm in the middle of something so similar it's scary -- the delays he's putting me through (will I be in this separation limbo forever? when can I get on with my life?), abuse relayed through the lawyers (comments made to his lawyer to my lawyer which then get said to me -- yikes!), and children caught in the middle. And conflicting advice from all quarters, including my lawyer, makes it very hard to stay on the right path (or be confident that I'm doing everything I possibly can without a misstep) What about the kids?? Good grief. I know things will get better eventually, but in the meantime it feels like I'm hanging by a thread. It sounds like you've got your head on straight about what's going on -- be strong, and hang in there. The kids can help us stay focused on what we need to be doing...but it is SO hard. --Ann

B1: Submit
Date: Sunday, January 16, 2000

S1

I suggest that you ask for a GAL ( guardian ad lidum). It is like a lawyer for the children. They stay completely unbiased, and work for the children. I was in the same position. I finally got so fed up with the intimidations and crap that I did get a restraining order. We are not divorced yet, but I doubt it will be an issue regarding custody. We don't do ourselves any favors by not making our abusers accountable for their actions. I tell everyone now, no more secrets. Take care, and make him squirm a bit. It will take the pressure off of you, and may make his true colors come out to the courts. Good luck. A fellow survivor

B1: Submit
Date: Monday, January 17, 2000

S1

Dear S,

You need to talk to your lawyer. He should not only be advising you on the best defense, but also on the best offense. Protecting yourself is not enough, you also need to know how to give him grief. While personally I don't approve of playing games like tattle tale or tit for tat, but I see no other tactic than giving him a taste of his own medicine to cure what ails him. Document everything, and call the cops on him for everything as well and call your lawyer for every little thing as well also. Remember the old saying the squeeky wheel gets the oil. Have your daughter document her interactions with him to. Remind yourself that the ends justify the means and do what you have to, to get what you want. And above all never ever considering his feelings, for it will place you at big disadvantage. He can justify what he does because he never thinks about anybody but himself. If you stop to consider his feelings or feel guilty or ashamed of playing this game, you won't be able to don your suit of armor and and do battle with him.

B1: Submit
Date: Monday, January 17, 2000

S1

I divorced a man who was physically, emotionally, and verbally abusive. The divorce was the worst nightmare that I ever experienced. Unlike you, I did turn him into social services at one point, for abusing the children. We were subject to their intervention for a year. But the case was 4 years old by the time I filed for divorce and the judge considered my ex "rehabilitated". I got a restraining order when he broke my arm 3 months into our separation. I could not file charges. The police had said that since I was on his property and he said that he "felt threatened" (He is 6' 200 lbs, I am 5'4" and was 97 lbs at the time.), that he had the "right" to assault me! I was charged for harrassment. (Found not guilty) My lawyer asked me repeatedly NOT to stoop to my ex's level and file bogus misdemeanor charges against him (he had his family and friends do this to me to harrass me. I was found "not guilty" on all.). He kept telling me "what goes around comes around... eventually". I was losing my patience, frustrated, angry at the legal system. I documented EVERYTHING. I reported every violation. I did not "retaliate". I kept my mouth shut and listened to my lawyer. Three years later, I won sole custody of my four children. My ex has to pay child support but he is not allowed visitation. I was no longer required to stay in El Paso County Colorado. I now live in another state. It is not fair. It is aggravating and frustrating, but it can be done. Follow your lawyer's advice and at every opportunity, display that YOU are the reasonable one. And as Dr. Irene said, document everything.

Good luck!

B1: Submit
Date: Monday, January 17, 2000

S1

BE BRAVE!!!!

B1: Submit
Date: Monday, January 17, 2000

S1

Dear S,

I don't have too much advice...as I am in a very similar situation and unfortunately, still living with this man -- my husband of four years. But I did want to say I really empathize with you and hope you become free of this person. When I read your story, especially the list of things he has done, I saw a perfect reflection of my own husband...it is amazing. I haven't left because I am afraid that he will kidnap or gain sole custody of our son, which he has threatened to do many times. I've come close to leaving a thousand times and know I will eventually but it takes so much courage and strength...Congratulations on YOUR courage and strength!! And stay strong to keep away from him. You are doing great! If you ever want to talk or reply you may e-mail me at Krystalli3@aol.com

B1: Submit
Date: Tuesday, January 18, 2000

S1

Are there any legal eagles out there who could help? You must "fight the good fight", but you need help. I cannot offer any further advice, but perhaps a good attorney or judge reading your letter and these responses could assist. Be STRONG!

B1: Submit
Date: Tuesday, January 18, 2000

S1

Dear S,

You haven't *completely* lost your ability to document the abuse, since he is continuing to do it. Keeping a journal is VERY hard because it will force you to re-visit (mentally) all the times he has done similar things before, during the marriage. Another trick about documenting things is that you must be your own most exacting editor. When you document facts, stick to facts, not speculation. And please don't get into his motives in the documentation of the facts. In a section of your journal, following the FACTS, you may want to make notes like this: "This behavior is consistent with his pattern during our marriage in that he would do (such and such) and *appear to be very satisfied when I "lost it." (fill in the blank with your reaction).* The episode left me feeling (fill in the blank.)" No, it isn't a good substitute for the documenting that you didn't do back then. And it isn't a good substitute for what a good therapist might have to say about you in a future court action against your Ex. It WILL give you things to hash out with your therapist! It WILL add to your credibility.

Having been through two divorces when the children were under ten years of age, I can tell you that if you stick to the written agreement in the decree, you may be accused of being "rigid and inflexible." Those two words are also used to describe people with some serious emotional disorders! The correct response is, "No, I am being obedient to the Law."

Good luck. I have observed that one of the few things which is more painful than a failed marriage is a failed divorce.

Sarah

B1: Submit
Date: Tuesday, January 18, 2000

S1

Why just let your heart break over your daughter going down the same path you did- do something! Show her how to change by example. Have a gentleman treat you decently, as your counselor advises. Don't agonize over the visits. It's in her best interest to know exactly what her father is, to avoid becoming like him (or sorry to say, like you were, manipulated and abused). Use them as life lessons, like "see, because daddy yelled at his neighbors, now he can't get their help when he needs it, to pick up his mail while he's gone." How is it that you "get her back on track?" Are you also trying to manipulate her? What does she "come home" with? Bad ideas, like lying is OK? Tell her the truth, that lying is wrong, and stupid, too. Does she come home with bad self-esteem? Then the counselor should help, and you both should be giving her coping skills. Document- when are her nightmares, when does she do poorly in school? Only after visits? Divorce itself is difficult, and a Judge might think that her difficulties are just part of overall divorce anxiety unless you show the cause-and-effect of visits and her problems. If the visits really are bad for her, the counselor should be able to document and tell a judge enough to appropriately limit the visits. Limit, but not completely cut off. Avoidance and relocation are not necessarily the answers. You need to get him out of your brain, not your neighborhood. Besides, there's plenty more like him out there, everywhere. Avoiding him is not dealing with him or coping with him. Most of all, stick to your guns! Hang in there! know yourself, and know you make good decisions. Have confidence. You know best.

B1: Submit
Date: Tuesday, January 18, 2000

S1

Yes you will be free of him. But even NOW you are FREE if only because you recognize the situation and are changing it. ""so often times it happens that we live our lives in chains...for we never even know we have the key" (The Eagles) You have found the key and it is just taking time to make it work. Be strong in your self. Don't give him any thing from that self and be strong. God Bless.

B1: Submit
Date: Tuesday, January 18, 2000

S1

In response to some of your posts, I feel I must speak up since I AM the original author of the letter.

First of all, every counselor and therapist I have spoken with tells me to put distance (physical as well as emotional) between this abusive man and my daughter and me. Of course, I know there are others out there like him, but you ALL must know, that the abuser/victim role remains intact within the original relationship. HE may change, and I may change, but without intense, intense therapy of an ongoing nature, we will always be the same sick co-dependents with one another. Plus, the benefits of moving away from the abuse are well documented. I know all the abusers hate hearing that, but it's a well known fact.

Someone said I shouldn't be rigid. Of course I am not rigid! I am the one who is the QUEEN of compromise and flexibility. He is rigid only when it serves him.

Additionally, when I say I must get my daughter back on track, for all of you who want to know, that means I must nurture her sweetness again. She comes home angry at the world! I don't think manipulative is a word one could use to describe me! Overly sensitive maybe....wanting everyone's approval, maybe.....but manipulative? Nope.

My daughter is a straight A student, on the student council, in select choir and is the youngest member of the ballet company in our city. She is exceptional and suffers only from her father making her think she cannot make decisions for herself; even about movies or food choices or whether she wants to ride her bike or not. She told him it hurts her when he talks bad about me......do you think that stops him? She is WAY stronger than me and I know it is because I have fostered her self-esteem. Something my own mother didn't do.

For the record...The judge has already given me sole custody........my husband is fighting a decision that was already made. My attorney believes it is being done to make me give up part of what I stand to receive financially.

I'm not an idiot. I've read the books, I've had the counseling. I just can't believe the legal system functions like it does. It's very frustrating dealing with a personality like my stbx AND the courts.

God bless all of you who responded.

B1: Submit
Date: Wednesday, January 19, 2000

S1

S,

I can relate to your experience, I lived with a man for 3 years that verbally and emotionally (not to mention physically)abused me. I knew that his behavior was wrong but like the "scenario" goes he had me second guessing myself at times. He was treated this way by his father and watched his mother get treated this way also-so he thinks this is normal for couples to be in a relationship. He also, as your ex, would always say why don't I ever remember the "good times"? I use to think to myself is he kidding??? But now I just embrace my freedom and the strength I got back in myself to get away from him and have peace back in my life. You will get there, his controlling, nasty manipulation won't work anymore because you are getting stronger and better everyday and start documenting EVERYTHING-he sounds volatile! The physical abuse I took was minimal compared to you, but abuse is abuse no matter how little! Good Luck and this site will always be there for you!

K

B1: Submit
Date: Thursday, January 20, 2000

S1

I agree with the idea of police documentation. I believe the important thing is not to handle any situation yourself at this point as your emotions could very well cause you more problems. Let professionals handle it. That's what they're there for. People like your ex typically use control of others to compensate for their own lack of control or fear of losing control. They are ego driven, have low self-esteem, and by putting you down their disturbed ego is temporarily uplifted (in a sick way of course). This uplifting wears off and the need to reinforce the control returns. If the real issue is not addressed, the behavior will not change. Why would it ? Abusers appear to be powerful but this is the big lie they go out of their way to maintain. In the process they convince others of the lie and this simply helps to reinforce it. In reality they are more dangerous than powerful, for a person with an ego in crisis can be a dangerous animal who may go to "any" extent to avoid the causal issue(s). That is why I recommend caution, not backing down, but caution. Stay sane, your daughter needs you.

Loving Life Today,

JK

B1: Submit
Date: Friday, January 21, 2000

S1

Dear Dr. Irene,

I would like to ask you a question about a comment you made to S. You asked if she'd "documented" incidents with the police. Exactly what does this mean? The only time I went to the police to report an incident was when my husband used a knife during an argument. He was originally charged with "assault with a deadly weapon" but the charges were dropped since the police believed I was "in no immediate danger." Since that episode, there has been one other incident involving physical force on his part. I thought about reporting it to someone, perhaps even the police, but I'm not sure what the ramifications would be, or even if "documenting" is the same as "reporting." Could you clarify this for me?

Thank you, M

B1: Submit
Date: Friday, January 21, 2000

S1

Good luck

B1: Submit
Date: Friday, January 21, 2000

S1

I tried to do my dissertation on feminism and I noticed this book on the shelf "The Inevitability of Patriarchy" that contended that as long as men have testosterone that they will always be driven to dominate any space or environment....how depressing. If you get a social worker for you and your daughter they will legally have to insist that you do not have associations with your ex, based on child protection laws. I strongly suggest that you anonymously report your ex to child protection(child welfare bureau) for alleged abuse to your daughter. Tell them not to reveal any specific details that will let your ex know that it was you making the report, since you are an abuse victim also. Harrass him with these complaints as many times as you can until he gives up.

B1: Submit
Date: Friday, January 21, 2000

S1

I know exactly what you are talking about because I am in the same boat. My husband and I were legally separated 7 months ago and he immediately started having an affair. Yet, he is still trying to control me by using our 2-year old son. I had to get permission from a Judge to be allowed to take our son for a visit to Europe. When he knows I have plans on the weekend he is supposed to have him, he calls me at the last minute to let me know he can't get him. He has not once stuck to his visitation schedule. He gets him whenever he feels like it, and when I speak up, he threatens with the court. I have spend a fortune just for the separation. The divorce will be the real battle. He pays child support whenever he wants to. He was ordered to pay through the court and just ignores it. He harasses me at work and at home. I went through all the same emotional and physical abuse that you described. Letting him take our 2-year old for the weekend is like a nightmare for me every time. But, Dr. Irene is right, when we stop reacting to their harassment, that is when they will let up. We just have to learn not to let them get to us. Hang in there.

B1: Submit
Date: Saturday, January 22, 2000

S1

The husband in the story above sounds a lot like myself. I am 20 and a female. I think he needs to get some help. There is no doubt about it that he probably feels really awful on the inside about how he acts and reacts to everything in his life, especially to his wife and kid, even if it doesn't show. I know I do. He probably doesn't even know what he needs help for....or the name of his problem, so I think he needs therapy to find that out, and dont give up on him if he is willing to get some help. One of the times I hit my partner, she sent me to jail. I spent 5 days there and have now 2yrs of probation and fines, but it didnt help me any.

B1: Submit
Date: Saturday, January 22, 2000

S1

No she did not document anything with the police. I did not either. S, Take Dr. Irene's advice and hang in there. My daughter was forced to go to visit with here Dad when she was 161/2 years old. She ended up calling my lawyer at his home at 10:00 at night. He told her she needed to visit with her Dad, and she asked him if she would go to jail if she left and he told her no. The next morning she had one of the neighbors to drive her to her Grandmothers while her Dad was out taking a drive. Give the kids your love and support, let them know you understand there feelings and validate them. It will pay off in the long run. Your so to be ex is a sore loser and the best thing you can do is to pretend all his accusations are the wind blowing by. Go, have fun, learn how to accept love from others, live your live with as much love and kindness as you can get in it. Try not to respond to the ex's B.S. Thank God for answering machines so we can erase junk messages and the power to hang up the receiver on abusive phone calls. Do not forget what you and your children are going through you are not alone. There are lots of people out here going through it as well, maybe a different road but pretty much the same trip. Take care, Keep growing in strength, and run for the love. Dee

B1: Submit
Date: Monday, January 24, 2000

S1

Instead of document, how about tape record.

Two years ago, I was harassed all night long in the car on the way back from an amusement park. We got back around 3 and it continued until dawn, at which point I tried to leave the house with my daughter. He jerked her out of the car. I got out to get her. He let her go and grabbed the keys out of the car so I couldn't leave. I had a small voice activated tape recorder on the top of the frig and I turned it on. I don't remember the exact conversation, but it was full of f* this and that and how he would rip the spark plugs out of my car before I could have it back and drain the oil since he had put them in. child came in as he was screaming in my face up against the wall. She called 911. He laughed when they were coming and said since I was hysterical, I'd never get my keys back. After the police (one male, one female) arrived, I pulled out the tape. The female cop said that was a smart thing I'd done. He was ordered to give me keys back and I was told to leave the house until he calmed down. Get this: the lease is in my name, but I'm the one that has to leave. Both of us were accused of drinking and told they smelled alcohol on our breath. Neither of us had had a drink the entire weekend. It sounded like a drunk situation, so that was all it was perceived as.

When your daughter goes to Daddy's, have her hide a tape recorder somehow and record what he says. Instruct her to call child protective about any and every little thing Daddy does. This man needs to be put away for your daughter's sake. Spanking is almost against the law and leaving her outside as you described definitely is. You or your daughter should call child services if he so much as slaps her hand. At least he'll feel harrassed some and he'll get in more trouble for hurting the child than you.

If nothing helps and the courts and police don't help, maybe you could learn Spanish and leave the country. You might also try Canada. You can't allow your 11 year old to be alone with him without contributing to her abuse.

B1: Submit
Date: Tuesday, January 25, 2000

S1

Dear S, I was in the same situation with my Ex. It was very pretty neither. He hit me alot and never let me out of the house but I had things documented. If you don't have them documented then it's basically your word against his. And 9x's out of 10 they will believe him over you-depending on which state you live in. You have to show him that you are stronger than what he thinks,and no longer put up with the abuse he is throwing at you. You must fight for all that you have especially when you have kids. I know I did--- and I got out of the situation, but now I still have to learn how to keep him from manipulating me. Good Luck! I will pray for you..... R

  B1: Submit
Date: Monday, January 31, 2000

S1

Dear S: While I cannot relate to some of the problems, I have been struggling for 30 years to get out of a verbally (no physical abuse in past 5 yrs) abusive situation. You will not6ice I don't say relationship, since there cannot be a relationship with verbal abuse. I know you said you have read and done it all. Me, too. The book(s) that saved my sanity was: VERBAL ABUSE by Patricia Evans and Verbal Abuse: Survivors Speak Out. I have paper-clipped and highlighted practically every page. I don't have any advice for you; it seems as you are doing everything you can to help your situation.....You are the only one who knows what it is like in your world.......I will pray for you. If you wish, you may e-mail me at: carleton@oakland.edu I filed for divorce in November and didn't have the guts to go thru with it. Both my "kids" are grown now, and I know it's time to "escape"---I only hope I can do it. Talk to me anytime. With Love, A

 

 

B1: Submit
Date: Saturday, June 29, 2002

S1

Dear Dr. Irene,

I agree with your advice. I was married to a physically, emotionally, and verbally man. He didn't beat me with his fists, but he shoved me and even once slammed a heavy door into my forehead that gave me a concussion. Leaving me stranded in strange places, constantly threatening me to leave me, divorce me and much, much more.

I was ashamed to tell the police. In the beginning, he would call them and try to press charges against me! Finally, after one particularly abusive fight where he kicked me in the crotch, I called them myself. I pressed charges and told him I would do it every time he was verbally or physically abusive. Unfortunately, the police wouldn't act if it was just verbal abuse - but I called them anyway.

The long and short of it is that he was arrested, tried for Domestic Spousal Battery and I have a three 3 restraining order. The only way to save myself was to get off his roller coaster. I am glad I documented the abuse (finally). I have talked to many women who didn't and they have had a much harder time (and longer) in their divorce than I.

I know it is hard for women. I was financially dependent on my husband. I also realize I have codependency issues. But, no man and no woman should ever abuse each other. I believe the only way is to get away from each other forever.

Call me, working hard, still healing, but sane.

B1: Submit
Date: Monday, March 17, 2003

S1

You should get up and leave in the middle of the night take you and your daughter to a shelter for abused women and children you could get killed or your child could get tooking away you need to get her out of that kind of life style you both dont need that and if you care for her you will get out thats what i did with me and my kids my husband cant go around us because i made sure my family was safe