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Comments VictimThink


Comments for VictimThink

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   Copyright© 2000. 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, August 13, 2000

S1

I agree Dr. Irene, about not getting stuck in rage and it takes 2 to tango when it comes to abuse. A lot of support victims give each other is rooted in the rage and also the desire to not have anyone (known to them and unknown to them) feel and experience what they have. I currently post on a different website where the women are supportive of one another, but there is an underlying, "working towards getting the strength to LEAVE". While it is nice to support, if you do not fix what got you there in the first place, YOU WILL REPEAT this pattern over and over again. I see myself a codependent victim survivor who was given the "best" training by a very alcoholic controlling, sexist, racist father and a codependent, low self esteem mother. I realize I am programmed to be an overachieving ambitious woman who also happens to be very good at picking broken men to fix. I have been in therapy for 8 months now, reading CoDependent No More, Patricia Evans books

What I have realized through all this is MY part in the pattern, and if I don't "rewire" myself I will repeat this pattern and live my parents marriage again and again. I have learned to take responsibility for MY actions and not allow MY boundaries to be crossed. Excellent.

I try to focus my anger and rage at my STBX (he is fighting the divorce every step of the way) to do work harder on myself. I honor the anger, but also realize I must get past it for my future. While I would like to have things work out for my marriage, I know it cannot happen. I had started enforcing my boundaries in Dec and was ready to file for divorce in March of 00, he then entered individual therapy and medication. About 2 months after that his behaviors started to return, though my more subtly. I kept my boundaries firm and things started to escalate with him, then the denial of the abuse started, both previous and current. I had hoped we could work on this, but if you both don't want to work on it, it cannot happen. After talking with his ex-fiancé who was with him 5 years, it appears this is a pattern for him. Even now while telling mutual friends how much he loves me, he also tell them his attorney to "go for blood and nail me to the wall". Friends are baffled by that one too.

If in a relationship BOTH partners truly are working on themselves to fix their problem, then they should be supported. Perhaps too often, the abuser will use the counseling as yet another controlling tool, as mine really tried to, to keep their victim in place. Yes; you've got to expect that since that is what many angry people do. But, that's OK. That's part of what the therapist needs to work with the person on. I think this totally highlights the need for couples to find a counselor who is TRAINED in abuse, since ignorance of this issue causes so much damage to those involved. Yes. Thank you again Dr. Irene for this site, you have really helped my find my balance between blaming and sticking in the anger or using this a fantastic learning opportunity.

Karen  Thank you Karen!

B1: Submit
Date: Sunday, August 13, 2000

S1

What the man who wrote this letter doesn't' seem to understand is that generally, when you see the "50" posts encouraging a woman to leave, it's after her first original post described awful, awful abuse. I mean, the woman has two choices right? Either continue to take the abuse (because generally, like most victims, the woman has been trying to tell her husband that he's abusive) or to leave. She is looking for strength to leave. That strength should come from herself, but it doesn't help to have the validation of other people cheering you on. As for the original letter writer's boundary statement "This ends here and now, etc." I'm sorry, but I have a hard time believing abusers would've changed had they heard this one thing. Of course they wouldn't...as I non-angrily pointed out. I know I gave my abuser a message just like that many times! My problem is that I didn't enforce my boundaries by leaving. So if I got on here, described the boundary I set, the girls cheered me on, and I left, I would be doing something wrong, as would my cheerleaders? I'm confused as to what the writer of the letter wants. He's highlighting the problem many angry types have on the site: he feels attacked.  He is, I think, accurately responding to the underlying anger in the posts. I published his letter because I see same and think victim types need some awareness in this area - for the sake of their own empowerment! In order for boundaries to be effective, you have to enforce them. Nothing wrong with finding some validation to enforce your boundaries that an abuser has chosen to violate. (except again that I guess a person shouldn't NEED validation to make these choices.) -SatokoGirl, a non-stuck in rage recovery girl still with her trying-to-be-not-stuck-in-rage recovery boy

B1: Submit
Date: Sunday, August 13, 2000

S1

Little correction: I am also a *trying*-not-to-be-stuck-in-rage recovery girl. I wasn't trying to say that my bf is doing a worse job of not being stuck in rage than I am- we both fall into that trap sometimes but we're both getting much better. Thanks. -SatokoGirl And you'll be even better when you understand the message here. Keep up the good work!

B1: Submit
Date: Sunday, August 13, 2000

S1

Yes! I understand! In fact, during a calm discussion the other day, I acknowledged my responsibility for the state of our marriage (I came into it with a lot of erroneous beliefs about myself AND relationships, and I did not have to where-with-all to set boundaries early on) and told him that my being in therapy, reading good material on codependency and boundaries, and developing respect for myself, was my way of taking care of my "stuff." It's hard, but I am sincerely working on myself. Good!

His response? "You're not taking responsibility! Acknowledging and taking responsibility are two different things!"

Great Balls of Fire! I just told him I took responsibility for my part in this! I am working to FIX my part in this! He's projecting his perfectionism on you. Don't go there; don't engage.

I have told my husband that his behavior hurts me--he says EVERYTHING hurts me! I have withdrawn, stayed out of his way, quit "doing" for him--it doesn't influence him to change, at least not very much. He just usually accuses me of not being a good wife! If and when I do leave (and I am taking steps in that direction, little by little), he HAS had fair warning!

Anger can be a great motivator, but it is important to not get stuck there, because then, we can't move on. I do get very angry at times (at BOTH of us), but mostly, I am full of grief. And I, too, am bothered by advice that seems fueled by anger. It's useless to tell a woman "Get out! Leave the sorry SOB!" If she isn't ready, for whatever reasons, that doesn't help her. In fact, it could cause her to feel even more inadequate, i.e. "This other person is so much stronger than I am, so much more "together" because she just walked out. I'm such a loser because I can't do that!"

You mentioned fantasies about the abuser being dead. I understand that, but I don't indulge in it. I realize that what he gives is what he will receive someday, and that every hurtful thing he does to me, or anyone else, will come back on him eventually. It's a divine law that applies to us all. Thank you Becky.

Becky

B1: Submit
Date: Sunday, August 13, 2000

S1

It takes time to heal, to look after yourself, before you can see that it takes two to allow the abuse. I went on blaming my ex partner for 4 years, for all the abuse he put me through. I finally realized that it took me, to allow him to do what he did. Now, that's empowerment!

I think, and hope, that now, I can go on to another relationship and not allow any abuse. I will be able to say no, to that treatment. It is not easy to look yourself in the face, and say: You did it to yourself. I like myself now. I do not deserve to be treated that way. Yes, some abusers will not get the message, and keep abusing. Hopefully, there are some that do. Many get the message, but once you have the message, it takes time to learn how to stop abusing. Just like when you learned about boundaries: at first, even though you understood the concept, you couldn't put it into effect; it takes time and practice to pick up and perfect the requisite skills.

It is very hard to love someone, and see the relationship go to the deep end, and there is no solution. Now, I realize that my partner has many problems also. As much as I was the one trying to solve all his problems, I now realize it was an impossible task. I sometimes wonder if I am not too broken for anyone else...  I have suffered much rejection in the past 4 yrs. It makes me see that there are many people out there who need to control others. They are not for me. I do not want to control anymore, neither do I want to be controlled. Hang in there, you who are being abused. Men or women. Learn to love, respect and accept yourselves for who you are. Those are big steps that helped me, and still do. moon Well, Moon, one thing's for sure: you are a heck of a lot healthier now. And getting better all the time.

B1: Submit
Date: Monday, August 14, 2000

S1

Dr. Irene, I am working on not getting stuck in rage now that I finally understand that I have been verbally abused for 22 years. I didn't know the name for it, as it felt normal to me. It was a crazy place to be in. I am in therapy and getting the support and help I need. My abuser husband has realized his abuse and is in therapy and wants to find and explore why he does this as his own self-esteem is very low. We read our daily meditations together and share what we choose to from our journal writings, (If we want and decide to). The abuse has slips but he recognizes them now and knows this is HIS stuff and is working on HIS OWN recovery, I on the other hand am working on mine. Yippeee! My focus is also on my personal emotional safety while I am busy becoming the best I can become. Good. Taking care of yourself must be your very first priority, always. Whatever will be will be, I have a one day at a time attitude, and while we are on a journey to personal growth together, we are also VERY separate and personal. I CANNOT get stuck in rage but don't get me wrong, when you finally wake up it is amazing the depth of the rage you feel. I know! That's why I have to print stuff like this out! I have to keep the focus on me , I'm not perfect at it but I'm getting there. I love your site and pray for victims and abusers everywhere daily..Peace and love. Sue :) Keep up the excellent work Sue.

B1: Submit
Date: Monday, August 14, 2000

S1

YES I do understand and I also now understand how I took the dance steps too. Although for a year now I've tried not to dance the steps. I did get angry for a time but once I visited Dr Irene's site I STOPPED. I read and tried to learn everything I could. 

I told my abuser (I never called him this) that things were wrong he had control issues, but he already knew, he'd knew for years, he knew he had a bad temper, he knew he dealt with his anger badly. He was offered help but refused it. He told the person who offered it that he thought being aggressive was a male thing and without it he wouldn't be a man.

I was a doormat, I was a people pleaser, I did play my part well, though as soon as I realized I tried so hard to tell my abuser, I was not going to dance anymore.

Do you know what happened? The more I said "No" to the abuse the more intense it got. My abuser stopped breaking pots, though he didn't stop putting me down every step of the way. He humiliated me and told me I was wrong all the time.

I didn't listen for the some part but some of it went in. His family said I was too sensitive and ungrateful.

I compromised so much that I never got anything I wanted.

Though I don't blame my abuser. I even told him everything that was wrong and for the first time admitted my problems. He promised we could sort things out, but for seven days whilst we were trying to sort things, he accused me of wanting a perfect partnership. I said no I just want to be able to agree to disagree or to compromise if its a big thing.

I don't want you to call me nasty names just because I don't agree with your opinion. This is not healthy, and its not perfect either.

I just want respect. Do you know what he said in reply to this: we are incompatible. (Isn't everyone isn't this why we need to compromise or if its a small thing just accept that we are different and beg to differ) He said he's had enough of me. He wants to leave. Wow! He's in big-time denial. Too bad he has the support of a family that supports illness.

Problem is I was already leaving because I know that he thinks I am the problem, he told me I am. He told me I should be careful because I am false (I am or at least I was, I tried to pretend to those outside that everything was fine for along time) so YES I am guilty of that. He told me I am sensitive (Who wouldn't be if they were being attacked all the time) YES I am guilty of that. I don't appreciate him (NO, not for the nasty things he does but I do thank him for the good things about him, and yes there are things that are good about him even now!!!) Yes I am guilty for that. How wonderful that you are not defensive! Excellent! You own your stuff...

I realized its not people pleasing that's wrong, its people pleasing without also people pleasing yourself, doing things and asking for things for yourself. I like the way you word that.

I realize that we are different, I realize I am further in recovery and he is in denial and blaming me for everything.

It was only when I finally accepted my part in all of this that I started to recover. I don't blame my partner. I do pity him because I know myself how soul destroying denial is. Yes.

I am not better than him; maybe a little wiser because of all the reading and help I've received. Maybe a lot wiser.

I am going to go it alone; why? because its the only way he'll ever realize that he played a role as well as me. Then maybe he can't sort it out.

It makes me sad but I had to admit that it was the potential I was so in love with and YES I did love some things about him, but I also hated much more of the abusive things he did. It is not unusual for a victim, who knows no better, to sell out and fall for the dream / what may be. Good for you for seeing all this.

I just hope one day he can be saved also.

Though now I know its not up to me or my problem.

Thanks so much Dr Irene for helping me wake up. You did it kiddo. The right stuff is out there for the taking. YOU sought it out; YOU applied it appropriate. God bless you and yours.

Take care Theressa

 

B1: Submit
Date: Monday, August 14, 2000

S1

I guess I am atypical. I never experienced rage. When the first started was when I had the most overt anger. As it progressed, I became depressed. I just got more and more depressed and I am still depressed months after we split up. It seems to me the guy who wrote in is a real complainer with twisted logic. Even after his marriage is over, instead of exhibiting any empathy for his abused wife, he complains that the marriage would have been saved if only she knew the the right words to say to set boundaries! That's not accurate. I edited out much of the other material. Overall, I read his note as understanding why his wife left, but he is taking this space to express his frustration and rage in an appropriate way. I don't have a problem with that. I guess I shouldn't be surprised. A case where an abusive person who is feeling hurt can't deal with his feelings, so he turns it into a complaint against someone else. Even in this edited version, I can't see that, though I know what you're getting at. What you are seeing expressed is big-time frustration. I think you are too angry to see that; rageful even... Several things he said bother me, and another one is that he implies that because the abuse typically has been going on for years, the victims shouldn't try to get Out??? Something I find very interesting is that this guy does not mention his wife's rage or even anger at all, and yet here we are being invited to talk about being stuck in rage. Am I the only one who is not stuck in rage - in fact I never got there? You are stuck, I think. That puts you in the majority. Most victims waking up spend at least some time in rage. Hard not too. Take a look; you need to recognize the anger in your words, otherwise you are likely to get stuck! The purpose of this board is to educate you that rage should be a transient place; that you should aim to make it such rather than seeing rage as an end point.  

B1: Submit
Date: Monday, August 14, 2000

S1

Dr Irene,

You say in one of the posts that just because an abuser knows he is playing a role doesn't mean he can immediately change. RIGHT?? Right. Depending on the skills required for change.

I know how long it has taken me to get comfortable with the fact that I played a part and understand it will take my abuser along time to see his role, if he ever does.

This is why I think that leaving is the only option because when I go to counseling (Start 21st Aug) and start to get healthy, maybe he will see that YES I did play a role, and so did he.

Is it possible for someone who is an abuser to see this once you've left. That's usually when they wake up, unfortunately.

I plan to keep on being responsible for myself and using all the skills I've learned. In the hopes that as our child's parents, I can show him, her father, we can compromise.

DR IRENE my question to you is after all the abuse, how can one hear criticism which maybe constructive without feeling attacked?? You can't early on. The best you can do early on is to not react behaviorally to feeling attacked ("do nothing"). To be able to tell the difference between when you are and are not being attacked takes a little more work: you have to sift through the old, destructive tapes you play in your head when someone pushes your buttons. This takes time. Counseling will help; I'm glad you're starting.

Is it when you fully have your self esteem back and you can look at mistakes from an objective point?? As you regain your esteem and integrity, you have more "stuff." You better internalize the fact that just because a person has a negative opinion of you, their opinion does not make you more negative. They simply hold an opinion - that without being defensive, you may or may not agree with. If you agree that there is truth to their negative evaluation, you are not crushed by the realization because you already know you're not perfect (but love yourself anyway!). In other words, another person's opinion is less likely to affect your self esteem one way or the other.

Thanks very much, I hope you answer these questions. Theressa

B1: Submit
Date: Monday, August 14, 2000

S1

Dear Atypical:

A few comments on your post. How exactly is "overt anger" different from rage? Did you ever have feelings of glee or gloating during this time that you were finally free of your abuser? Where you happy to share that feeling with your ex or others? Also, while it is undisputed that women should leave an abusive relationship, do you feel like they have any responsibility in the break up, especially if the abuse went on for years, and if they left the relationship emotionally and didn't inform the spouse? Perhaps they could or should have left immediately when they still had feelings for their spouse. 

There is no advocate in our society for staying together, or getting back together, but a lot of support and advice of how to get on with your life once the damage is done. That's not true. Religious institutions, even political institutions support the unity of the family. Perhaps different ways of saying stop the abuse don't work and leaving is the only alternative. The original post was a very short letter. It didn't say anything one way or the other about the wife's anger. Maybe she was in fact angry as hell! Also, many men who are rejected by their spouses are extremely confused and this does indeed result in "twisted logic".  Ooops! You are angry with her! But, she didn't do anything to you, though her words pushed some buttons... Why give her so much power?

PJM

 

B1: Submit
Date: Monday, August 14, 2000

S1

Well, his email made me VERY mad. Why? Why give him so much power? Do you see gang, there is a difference between not liking a viewpoint and getting worked up over it. If you find yourself getting worked up, that's your cue that you've got a little work to do. Figure out what baggage you are towing around that sets you off. And dump it. It's hard not to think that his wife DID TRY on numerous occasions to inform him of the effect of his behavior. It sounds like again, he is blaming her for the relationship not working out. While this guy sounds like a creep to me, Ouchhh... I do give him credit not only writing to the site (he did come here after all), but for also highlighting that women need to do a 'better' job of communicating with men. That's not to say that we don't TRY OUR HARDEST, but that perhaps men need specific words told to them and specific limits set. While she may have made every effort to do this in her way, perhaps it was not what would have worked best for him. In that regard, hitting him w/ a 2x4 upside the head may not have worked either. This person needs to accept responsibility for their own behavior and be the strong man they consider themselves to be. Each and every person tries their hardest, but it's impossible to know what - for whatever reason - you don't know! Your energy is better spent improving yourself than analyzing the weaknesses of others. It will keep your blood pressure lower.

B1: Submit
Date: Monday, August 14, 2000

S1

Hi Everyone,

I understand that we victims shouldn't get stuck in rage, that it's not a good place, that we're compromising our integrity, etc.. I take full responsibility for allowing myself to be abused in the past (and yes, my relationship is ancient history). Keep in mind that many of us victims allowed ourselves to be "not allowed" to be mad, (we suppressed our anger because if we got mad, they got madder) so it's kind of a new emotion and we have to learn to adjust the barometer appropriately. You bet! Parenthetically, anger is a "new emotion" for angry types too. Anger is a signal that something is wrong; that's all. It takes skill to learn to listen to it's message and use that message constructively. 

However, (just a question) because I still insist that abusers take their own responsibility me too! - is there a level of typical abuser behavior in this initial post where the author is perceiving our victim support as a personal "attack" and has effectively shifted blame back to us victims? I think you are way off base and trying to force a round peg in an oval hole. The overwhelming emotion in the writer's note is frustration. He says the why, why, why stuff in sheer frustration.

Forcing us to self- analyze? "Forcing" you? Are we stuck in rage or just being firm? You are stuck at least in anger, if not in rage. Tip: There is a problem when you misinterpret emotion as you did here. You are so preoccupied with blame shift and being forced, you "see" it even where it doesn't exist or is peripheral to the topic. Your vision is limited because you can't tell the difference between when someone really is angry and attacking and when they are something else. I'm interested in learning - what's the difference? Being firm is simply not allowing yourself to be hurt; and you should not allow yourself to be hurt. Rage / anger stuckedness is when you throw in the added dimension of anger to the firmness. In other words, the goal is to be firm without being angry. Apples and oranges...

If the house is on fire and we tell the victim to GET OUT, are we being mean to the fire? Poor analogy for this. GET OUT can be firm and effective. GET OUT from you stinking, lousy &(%I$ fire adds nothing and detracts from your integrity. Or is the fire just hazardous? Should we be not mean to the fire and let the thick-headed victim burn? Do you see how you went askew on this one?

IT IS NOT ABOUT GENDER. Right. Yes, men are abused just as women...I've expressed the same support to both... and it does takes two to tango - but here's the catch: victim responsibility (our side of the tango) is in ACCEPTING blame and abuse rather than getting out...  Right. You need to learn never, ever to accept blame and abuse. but often in the abuser's eyes the victim's side of the tango is that you are the "cause" of the initial problem. Garbage. We know that. So, if the abuser wants to think it's the victim's fault, what do you care? Let him or think the moon is made of green cheese for all you care. All you are interested in is getting away from abuse. No thank you fire! All the time. This is the ultimate dilemma that we face. It is only a dilemma if you are hell bent on changing the other person's opinion/mind/thinking. Now who is trying to control?

We intuitively know we have some level of responsibility...but their perception of our responsibility is different than what it really is. Their perception of your responsibility doesn't matter... Your perception of your responsibility does; this is your power!  I guess it's just that we victims in recovery need a brick wall to fall on top of our heads to "get it". So we drop the brick wall on our victim peers...we don't want to see them go through what we went through. And guess what, much of the time it works in helping our peers to recognize abuse, so I feel good about that. You feel vindicated and supported in your anger. That makes your ego feel good. It does nothing for your integrity. Think about it...

Hot topic, LHW

B1: Submit
Date: Monday, August 14, 2000

S1

To PJM From Atypical - No I never felt any glee at any time after the abuse started. I suppose I am atypical because he is the one who left - much easier to start a new relationship then to stop being abusive. After all, why face the fact that you've been behaving horribly when you can easily pretend otherwise to someone who barely knows you? I maintain that the guy who wrote in has a bad attitude. Complaining about "Why I don't like recovering victims" doesn't seem like much of a way to grow up and stop being an abuser..... Atypical: you are trying to change the opinion/mind/whatever of the writer. You are getting all worked up that you don't like his position. Why? You don't have to like his position. Simply don't make it your position. It's not worth your energy to fret over this other person. Accept what is and change that within you that you can change (like your need to change him.) Am I making sense? You'll be happier.

 

This is a great thread; but it's getting late. Thanks for all the wonderful and provocative posts. I'll be back...  Dr. Irene

B1: Submit
Date: Monday, August 14, 2000

S1

Just a few thoughts, based on my experience: (1) The letter says, "they almost uniformly admit that this bad behavior had been going on for years." In my case, it took a therapist handing me the first Patricia Evans book to get me to REALIZE that it had been going on. At that point I KNEW I HAD BEEN ABUSED, but although it was brought up in therapy, neither my husband or our therapist believed it. (Sad, but common.) I was angry, but felt I shouldn't be angry--after all, look at all his problems. I spent a lot of time trying to "get past my anger." That's why you are so angry now; you denied your very real and very appropriate anger for so long. You are now learning to use anger as a signal, which is all it is - as opposed as a vehicle of expressing frustration, which is what you've hated about your abusive partner! In other words, everybody's goal is to talk about your frustration rather than act it out; to talk about specifically what angers you - and not put up with any abuse at all - whether your partner hears you or not.

(2) My husband has never really admitted that he has been abusive. (He can't admit ANY mistakes of any type.) However, he switched from overtly verbally abusive to passively aggressive crazy-making controlling when he found out I wouldn't tolerate the verbal abuse anymore. Unfortunately, this is typical. I was back at point 1--being abused, but not recognizing it. Feeling bad, not knowing why. After all, the abuse had stopped, right? Nope. Someone (with a capital "S") placed the 2nd Patricia Evans book in front of me on the sale table at the bookstore, and my hand reached for it while my mind said, "You aren't being verbally abused anymore." SURPRISE! Wow! Angry all over again! 

(3) I began reading about boundaries and trying to change myself. At this point, I wasn't strong enough to really try to set boundaries, but I started focusing on me--not him. (Having a therapist point out that I was still trying to change him or expect change helped.) The anger turned into resolve. 

(4) Somehow, over the past few months, I've become detached from it all. I may feel annoyed with my husband's behavior, but I realize that he is the way he is, and that I have choices, so if I'm going to be angry at someone, I have to include myself. I don't want to be angry at me, and I don't want to be angry at him. Most of the time I accomplish that. I think that the prayer is actually starting to get answered: I am now accepting the things I cannot change (him), changing the things I can (myself), and gaining the wisdom to know the difference. It's sad when I finally see that yes, I can't change everything--I'll never have a marriage that involves partnership and compromise. Everything has to be his way. I'll never get respect, or have my needs acknowledged, let alone met. He can't do it or has no reason to do it since you accept where he is.

(5) Someday soon, when I get all my ducks in a row (gather all the paperwork, get legal advice, etc.) I'll drop the bombshell, or sandbag, or whatever. It is only going to be a surprise because for the past two years my husband has basically been sticking his fingers in his ears, the way little kids do when they don't want to hear what a parent has to say. He doesn't want to hear anything that will damage his fragile self-esteem or upset the world he has created--the one in which I am to blame for all of his problems. The victims who aren't afraid to speak up about abuse often find that the abuser denies that it's going on or blames the victim--then is surprised by her leaving. Yes. Very correct.

Yes, I emotionally left the relationship long ago. How many times do you let the guy in front of you in line step back and step on your toe before you move back to a safe distance? Emotionally leaving the relationship seems to me to be healthier than being co-dependently involved with an abuser. Yes. At least you are not engaging. Although my husband did complain about my not being "affectionate" (and meet his needs in my usual co-dependent way) he didn't see that as a wake-up call to change. He doesn't see ANYTHING as a wake-up call to change because that would mean admitting that he's not perfect. Which, ironically, is exactly what he must do in order to adopt a healthier direction.

It takes too much energy to live with someone who is trying to tear you down, however subtly. Remember the old Star Treks, where they had to put up the force shield? Well, living like that is tiring, and I'm not willing to do it any more. I now trust myself, and Creation enough to believe that I can make it through whatever unpleasant things happen (and I know that things will hit the fan when I file) and I will come out on the other side a better, stronger, person. And that may be when he wakes up.

P.S. It strikes me as I look back at this that this is like the stages people go through when faced with illness or death: denial, anger, bargaining, (is there another one? Yes. Can't remember it either...) and finally acceptance. I am finally at acceptance (although I sometimes re-visit the other stages for a few minutes). That's OK. I think I HAD to focus on the past for a while and get angry enough to get the strength to change. The anger was around for a long time, but it just isn't here anymore. I didn't work on getting rid of it--I just switched from focusing on the past to focusing on the present and the future and on what I COULD change. You grew healthier. Good for you!

 

B1: Submit
Date: Monday, August 14, 2000

S1

In some ways I understand what this person is saying. I never understood I was being abused. My situation was not one of verbal abuse but of manipulation, control, and total self centeredness of my spouse. That is abuse! He told me he loved me and was physically affectionate, but didn't like my family and friends, couldn't handle an opinion that was not the same as his. He thought he was a good husband because he didn't run around, drink or do drugs. I just shut down, I didn't express opinions, I didn't disagree with him. When I did get angry I felt guilty and couldn't talk with him about it. By the time I became aware that I was emotionally abused, I had had an affair and was not interested in trying to save my marriage. I never said the word "abuse" to my ex-husband, never felt strong enough to. But I filed for a divorce, struggled for a year to get custody of my children, fought in court. But I never talked to him about emotional abuse. 

I feel guilty about that and I also wonder why I couldn't. My guess is that had you uttered those words, even if you felt them to be true, you knew you were totally unable to defend yourself. So, I think, you decided just not to bother. Which is OK.

I also am confused about my anger. I can't seem to feel anger toward him. He took advantage of me our whole marriage. He has done and said, in court, some terrible lies about me and I always seem to find excuses for him. I don't understand and I guess I am concerned that maybe I still can't admit my feelings. Or, feel guilty about having them. Don't. Anyway mainly I wanted to say that I wish I could have been strong enough to understand my situation when there was still some desire on my part to make it work. I'm sure my ex husband feels he was never given a chance. After 20 years of marriage I just said I wanted a divorce and never tried to make it work.

Still Guilty Please stop. Sometimes there is just too much water under the bridge. If you know it will be futile to try to defend yourself, you simply get out - in any way you can. You did the best you could; some partner's are just too strong or argumentative to argue against.

B1: Submit
Date: Monday, August 14, 2000

S1

LHW,

You wrote of the abuser, "Their perception of our responsibility is different than what it really is." If you read my earlier post, you'll see what I think is an example of this. I acknowledged to my husband my responsibility in our problems, and I am actively working on myself, trying to fix the "holes" in me. His response was that I am NOT taking responsibility. 

I can't help but feel that his idea of my responsibility is that I have CAUSED him to feel all of the bad things that he feels; therefore, if he attacks me, he is only defending himself. Yuk.  (He says that this is what he is doing, i.e., "When I feel attacked, I will defend myself!" Problem is, my very existence seems to be an attack at times!) I would be "taking responsibility" if I would admit that my failure as a wife is the cause of our problems. YUK! That's not taking responsibility; that's taking the blame! Now you're down the wrong path. He has said that if I would be "different," he wouldn't say such hateful things. Garbage. He's not taking responsibility for his actions. And you can be sure that by "different," he DOES NOT mean more assertive about enforcing boundaries! I hear you. You can do whatever you do. You can be positively awful. That's your problem. Your awful behavior does not give him license to behave poorly. Now both of you have problems.

In response to my description of this scenario, Dr. Irene said, "He is projecting his perfectionism onto you." Does this mean that nothing I do is good enough; therefore he will not accept what I am doing as "taking responsibility?" If so, that's no big surprise!

Any ideas as to what she means? Yes. "She" (i.e., me) means that he has unrealistic expectations about how a partner, a husband or a wife, should perform. His impossible expectations define what he expects of himself and what he wants from you - which is perfect (perfectly impossible, to be more accurate). Instead of accepting the goodies that you do give, he focuses on the aspects of perfection he expects that you do not give. He feels cheated because he has gone out of his way to give you the things he thinks he should give you (whether you want them or not). Unfortunately, he never questions the rational basis of his expectations. Nor does he question whether or not he has the right to expect what he expects! He gives blood whether you want it or not. In exchange, he expects you to bend in the direction he dictates.  Who appointed him God? He is out of line and crossing your boundaries. You have absolutely no obligation to behave according to his expectations, no matter how much he chooses to give you - whether you want it or not

Becky

B1: Submit
Date: Monday, August 14, 2000

S1

LHW- You articulated more clearly what I was trying to communicate in my early post. Also, Dr. Irene seemed to imply that I was responding angrily- huh? I do not LIKE the original letter but I feel that my reply was calm and non-angry- I was seeking serious clarification as to what the letter-writer really wants! I was also explaining my point of view. I don't know if that qualifies as being defensive and that's why it appeared I was angry, but at that time I don't feel that I was. I interpreted anger because you imposed stuff on the writer; you put words in his mouth. Also, isn't interpreting natural, healthy anger as an attack a very abusive state of mind? You missed the point and confused frustration with blaming.. I've been told over and over that I must accept my BF's non-abusive anger, but in some cases, recovering abusers still cannot tolerate any anger at them, and will interpret that as an attack. Well, they've got to get over that.

It seems like the original letter writer is wanting victims to stop ALL forms of anger. I don't read that at all. Is that abusive behavior? You are off on a tangent. Both victim-types and abusive-types need to learn how to express healthy anger without being stuck in blame, but also need to learn how to deal with other people's anger appropriately. Yes. 

Feeling attacked by other people's justified anger doesn't seem to fit that model to me. The only one who created your feeling of being attacked - was YOU. As for the rage stage and being stuck in blame and all that, I really feel that I went through that stage, big time. I also feel that a few months ago, I woke up and am now taking responsibility and doing what I can to act with personal integrity, but I feel there is a difference between being a shrieking stuck-in-rage victim and still (non-angrily, or at least non-acting out angrily) point out what seems to be abusive behavior. I don't doubt that you are taking more responsibility, but you are not entirely there yet. (Which is OK.) You put words in the writer's mouth that didn't exist. You did not see his post for what it was: sheer frustration and anger at being ganged up on.

 (In this case, the behavior of the original letter writer.) Can I say "to me he seems like whatever" without being a stuck-in-rage angry victim? Yes. But in this case, you misread his letter by inserting your own stuff... Also, for the record, it was "The Dance of Anger: A Woman's Guide to Changing The Patterns of Intimate Relationships" Good book. that broke through the blame stage for me and encouraged me to take responsibility. I highly recommend it. -Satokogirl, finding this subject interesting and really doesn't THINK she's angry right now... :)

B1: Submit
Date: Monday, August 14, 2000

S1

For Atypical: I was guessing your partner had left you, rather than the other way round. I'll make another wild guess: it could be the reason you never got stuck in rage is that you haven't gotten as far as rage... *yet*.

OK, you're angry now, so maybe you're there. Besides, all that depression was only anger turned inwards. Now you're turning some of it outwards.

Curiously, you could be in the same position as the original writer, only on the other side of the fence. He's asking why victims can't be "fair" and avoid blindsiding their abusers. But if victims knew enough to do that, they wouldn't be victims in the first place. :) Sad as it is, that ain't the way the universe works, and he's going to have to get past railing at the universe. You're asking why the writer didn't display more empathy for his wife. But if he'd been as empathetic as all that, he wouldn't have been an abuser in the first place. There is empathy towards the wife; evident in other correspondence.

It's also possible to see depression as a way of trying to attract back a partner who's left. But that's a futile hope if he doesn't have much empathy toward your depression, and an enormously frustrating one for you. So at least you're better off being angry right now.

There are concerns that others might help with. If there were more publicity about abuse phenomena, more victims and abusers might get help earlier, or avoid passing the bug to their kids. It would also be nice to see a higher percentage of success stories here about handling abusers. Write in Recovering Victims! Then again, as the original writer would say, it may also be too late by the time many victims find the board, so there is a majority that's already near the "leaving" stage. Other helpful things would include equal participation by male victims (to correct the writer's perception of a "conspiracy") I'd love that; just fewer men identify their victim status and log on than do women., and more discussion of a "victim's" own role: "How I interact with my partner." Oh, I'd really love that! Victims willing to take responsibility for their part in the dance are invited to let me know! None of that, unfortunately, seems to be the way the universe works either.

Still, while I deplore with PJM our lack of advocates for staying together, it isn't true that we have none. Right. In fact, although this isn't aimed at abusive relationships, one such advocate addresses the precise concern of the original writer here:

http://www.divorcebusting.com/forumlinks5.html

- Gordon Thanks Gordon. Weiner-Davis' book, Divorcebusting is excellent.

B1: Submit
Date: Monday, August 14, 2000

S1

I've been visiting this site for many, many months, always hoping to find more insights into both abusers and victims. That's exactly what I hope to accomplish here.

This letter, and Dr. Irene's responses, really summarize so many messages, so very, very well.

My situation was at work, which is a big reason why I've refrained till now, from ever submitting a post. I'm out of the abusive situation now, have been for many months, but still have quite a bit of guilt and shame. Almost 100% of the people in the project I was part of have left the project, including the boss, all in less than 24 months time. An incredible waste. I'm sorry... But please, do all you can to drop the guilt and shame. Useless, destructive emotions for non-sociopathic types.

What strikes me as I read the dialogue here between the writer and Dr. Irene, and many previous messages, are the following:

- The victim and abuser do really seem to have different realities; I can't come up with a better explanation than the one that Patricia Evans discusses in her books (I've read them both, and they were a lifeline for me for a period of time; I'm so grateful to her). Book 1; Book 2. 

I would very much like to see more abusers write because I would very much like to be able to understand them more. Yes! Abusers are a very misunderstood group. Other than a few really malicious souls, most abusers are simply narcissistic types who know no other way to feel OK about themselves. They are misguided. Just like victims, who think they can provide comfort for the abuser, are misguided.

- Regarding victims: Dr. Irene, you hit the nail on the head when you wrote this:

"You cheer it when you've had it after trying and trying and trying - cuz you are so, so, so ANGRY! And you finally feel validated... And, you are too fresh in your own recovery to take responsibility for your own anger, or your past inability to stop the abuse - because you didn't even know it was abuse - any more than the typical non-sociopathic abuser thought he/she were doling out abuse!" This is true. Both are doing the very best they can.

- Why do victims stay? Let me tell you why I did, and it's taken me many, many months to find these words:

- I needed to feel accepted - I needed to feel I belonged somewhere - It felt good to think I was contributing. - It felt good to think I was making a difference. Yes... He needed you.

- When my boss "got ugly", for a long time, I attributed it to the stress of the job. (Codependent making excuses for other rather than focusing on the pain that is being inflicted.) He pushed himself terribly hard, we were badly understaffed. But as time whet on, well, I think what happened was I developed one HUMONGOUS case of denial. He was very talented, I came to respect and admire him. I think this was also why it took so long for me to break through the denial. Yes. You looked to him for validation, appreciation, esteem supplies, etc.

- The first 4 things I listed above, were very, very, important to me. I did not want to give them up. So I hung on to hope, hoping he would get better, I guess, and I hung on, and hung on. Hope is the last thing I held on to. And once in a blue moon, hope works out.

I think the need to feel accepted and the need to feel I belonged go way back to my own childhood, and that is probably why I got so hooked, and why it hurt as much as it did. Yes. When you look for validation outside the self (the only real validation), expect this type of stuff.

To the extent that the abuser and victim are so lost, so clueless as to how to help themselves, much less STOP their self-defeating behavior, I think both have no other option but to stop blaming one another, take responsibility for themselves, and forgive each other. That's the only sane option. Unfortunately too many take other insane options...

This one sentence that Dr. Irene wrote, is worth zillions: "Just know that in most cases, your abuser knew as much as you did: not much." How sad, how funny. But if true: just think of what it means, if this sentence is really true, and I think it is.

- Lee   Oh Lee, excluding your malicious type, it is soooo true...

 

B1: Submit
Date: Monday, August 14, 2000

S1

To Gordon From Atypical, Reading your post made me realize that - one reason I keep coming back to this site is that I am able to get angry at other people's abusers even when I don't get angry at my own. Vicarious abuse anger...it's a start! It at least is very brief change from depression. I can't agree that I am just on the other side of the fence from the guy who wrote in. Take a another look; you are closer than you think. I also can't begin to imagine depression as a way to attract someone back? For some, it is that. For most, it is not. Depression is a physical illness that many people are biologically predisposed to. If you are depressed, get some professional help for it. Medication and therapy make the best combination in my experience. Besides I do not want my ex back. He would only continue the abuse. I am baffled that you think we do not hear enough about the "victim's role" here - or maybe I don't know what you mean? What I have read is most typically "I try harder to please him - he abuses me. I try standing up for myself/ boundaries - he abuses me. I try whistling the Star spangled banner standing on my head - he abuses me...". I too think it would be great to hear from more male victims, they are certainly welcome.  The writer is referring to the victim's taking responsibility for their participation in the abusive relationship. Most victims spend time complaining and feeling helpless and/or angry about their plight. Relatively few, like the poster above, recognize that some of the reasons they stay is because they hope to obtain validation, appreciation, etc.

B1: Submit
Date: Monday, August 14, 2000

S1

The rage stage is something I understand very well. I seem to be stuck in it currently. Every time I think I have been able to conquer the current stage of rage, I get another load piled on. I end up starting over. Obviously, I don't have control of my anger at this point. I believe I probably need some professional help in order to deal with it. Great idea. Tip: It's OK to feel angry, rageful even. But you don't have to behave angrily. There is a difference between making angry accusations in an angry and self-righteous voice and calmly but firmly stating the specifics of what behaviors bothered you. 

I find myself abusing my abuser when it seems I can get away with it. Whether it is to vent or to simply even the score, I don't know, but whatever the reason, I DON'T LIKE MYSELF WHEN I DO IT! Exactly. There is a momentary high in the sense of power and vindication your ego feels, but your integrity suffers because somewhere deep down, you know you misbehaved. There is very little to feel positive about and I mostly feel like giving up, just don't know what to do next. The only thing you can do when your requests for the abuse to stop do not work is to remove yourself from a toxic environment. 

The cycle is never-ending, build-up, blow-up, make-up... How do I get past the anger and try to salvage whatever is left? I must set boundaries and look after myself, but he won't let me. You don't need his permission or approval. Nor do you need to convince him; he doesn't have to agree with you. If he doesn't respect your position, you have no sane choice other than to back off. Nothing I ever do is good enough. I never used to blow like I do now, I used to be the calm, cool, and collected one, but I can't seem to hang on anymore. Don't. Listen to your body; it's trying to talk to you. Should I see someone re: my anger/rage? Yes. Start here. Leave? Shut up? Put it all back in it's box, lock it up, shove it in it's closet, and board up the door? No. That's a big no no. AGAIN? I've tried everything, reasoning, arguing, crying, trying, ignoring, reading, counseling, begging, and now I can't think of anything else that might work. I am trying to just concentrate on me and what I need right now. Any ideas??? Yes. It is likely that nothing will work. Accept that. Focus on you and what you have to do to save yourself from this constant headache.

B1: Submit
Date: Tuesday, August 15, 2000

S1

Dear Atypical:

You're not really "atypical." This is what so many victims have said. "I can get angry at other people's abusers when I can't get angry at my own." Let's switch the wording just a tiny bit. "I can sympathize with and get angry *on behalf of* other victims when I can't do the same for myself." Stand aside from yourself, and see yourself as a real person, just the way you see everyone else around you--all except yourself. Then give yourself a hug. Yeah! You are important enough to merit your own empathy. In fact, you are the MOST important person you know...

You can't imagine depression as a way to attract someone back? I could be wrong of course. I don't imagine you see yourself as attractive when you're depressed. But once again, try imagining someone else, like your ex, as depressed instead. Would you then feel the need to rush in and help him? If that's true--and I might be wrong--you see depression as attractive. Just in other people, not in yourself. But an abuser isn't going to respond to depression in you the same way you do in him. Some people use depression or suicidal threats as manipulation to gain power in a relationship. While this may be a component, Atypical strikes me as truly depressed and low in self esteem - as opposed to manipulative. Treat it! Depression is a treatable physical illness.

What I meant about the "victim's role" is that I've got an impression of hearing more about what abusers *do*, and less about what victims do themselves. Yes. What victims feel, yes, but less about what they do. (That might be just my impression too, of course. Then we share the same impression. ) I say this is "part of the universe" because victims do see themselves as "passive," "responding" at best rather than "acting," and feeling rather than doing. Yet to me it's problematic in a couple of ways. Yes. Sometimes it can cover up what somebody who sees themselves as a victim might be contributing to the conflict BINGO!; though I'm not accusing anyone of that here. Victims don't get into self-righteous indignation to mask their contribution. They go there because they feel so powerless and out of control of their lives. Victims don't take their power. They take responsibility for the welfare of others, but not responsibility for their own lives. They hope the person they cater to will do that for them. All this is unempowering stuff.

The other respect is the one I mentioned. People handle abusers, or try to, in different ways. Some ways are better than others. I think it would be helpful to hear more about what victims do, and what works better or not so well. There are a couple pages on that here and here. I agree that more of this stuff would be useful.

And sometimes, yes, "I please him; he abuses me. I whistle the Star Spangled Banner; he abuses me." There's a lesson in that. It may be that nothing will stop someone abusing you. Nothing, that is, except... to do nothing. To detach completely. But it's the last thing many people think of. Because most victims of guilty of wanting things to work out so badly, they are willing to sell themselves short to give the benefit of the doubt. Over and over and over. Victims need to take responsibility for their welfare here and be willing to detach emotionally and or physically if their relationship hurts them.

Take care.

- Gordon

B1: Submit
Date: Tuesday, August 15, 2000

S1

Oh, these are great topics since there are several issues being discussed simultaneously. I briefly wanted to address the poster who expressed they are not really angry, just depressed. My understanding is that depression IS anger, but anger that has been turned inward. After my Mother committed suicide I spent 40 minutes on the phone with her therapist who explained this concept to me. That was Freud's hypothesis. The research doesn't really support it, but, even though I am a behaviorist (and we are supposedly at war), clinically, I think the guy was onto something...

I cannot say it applies to everyone, but it seems to me that there must be those who (whether consciously or subconsciously) are not comfortable with their anger or are not really in touch with it and become exceedingly apathetic in an effort to deal with it in a more "passive" or covert manner? Yet the anger is indeed present on some level regardless of the manner in which it manifests itself. By Gosh! I think she's got it!

Anyway, I have been here almost a year now and I have participated in Ouchhh, I Am Responsible, the Yak board, this board, etc. To be honest, from my personal perspective, this specific board is just about the only one where I have witnessed a great deal of input to the effect of, "GET OUT!" The sad paradox is that all too often, the victim has to stop trying so hard; the victim too often needs to get into the mindset of leaving before his or her victim gets the message. Angry people tend not to "hear" the complaints. They minimize them.

On Ouchhh so many of the victims seem to be at the stage where they are aware they are being abused, they either have or are still trying to resolve it, but nothing has changed for months on end. In which case, many know that the only other alternative is to leave since you cannot get blood from a stone. Right. Yet, they are not prepared to end the relationship at this time, so to tell them to just get out does not go over well at all. They are more interested in changing reality than in changing the only thing they can change: themselves. Ouchhh is for people in early recovery when the codependency is still so strong, a warm body is worth selling the self out for. They are angry, in pain, some are in denial, and they are not ready to move on, so I disagree that the emphasis is on leaving. It depends where you go. My typical advice is that leaving may be the only hope for making the relationship work.

In fact, the entire reason so many have remained for as long as they have is due to their Codependent urges to "fix" others, a learned hopefulness, self-blame/anger and various other factors, but it's rarely due to lack of trying! Yes. They try too hard. One must strive never to care about another's recovery more than they care about it. And how many times is a person supposed to try? Sometimes becoming really mad at the other person is just what is needed to move beyond that. Although, no, one would not want to get stuck there. Anger is a phase most recovering victims go through. 

The only time I have been offended by the, "You go girl!" Is when a victim explains that they were so mad at their abuser that they retaliated by yelling, name calling, hitting, et al and there was periodically an underlying tone of, "Good for you! You showed him/her!" That encouragement to act out makes me wince, I don't think it's healthy. It's not. I see the "You go girl!" complaints as a metaphor that echoes the majority of visitors: abused women. When these women support each other and their early recovery anger slips through, male victims and angry people feel (are) ganged up on. It's a numbers game. I'd like it to stop.

However, overall all I have seen is a bunch of people doing their best to comfort each other which I think is wonderful. The ones who are stuck in their anger need to get unstuck when the time is right for them. I have tried in the past to help with that, but realized it's not my place. I was very clearly told by one woman that she "owns" her feelings and has the right to be as mad as she wants for as long as she wants, and I have to respect that - although I do not have to be witness to it either. That's what the delete button is for :)

Terri   Are you the Terri I know and love?

 

B1: Submit
Date: Tuesday, August 15, 2000

S1

In Response to "Victim Think" I discovered last December (after a lot of therapy and reading the Patricia Evans book) that I was in a long term (20+ year marriage) abusive situation. I changed my behavior, which triggered an "incident" of being verbally blasted and said to him, "You are verbally abusing me and I want you to stop it now." His response was "That's ridiculous ! I'll show you what verbal abuse is..." and of course did not stop. I was trapped in a car with him out in the middle of nowhere, otherwise I would have exited the scene. 

As time went on, we went to therapy and he said he felt at first like he'd been labeled a criminal-verbal abuser and a marked man, etc. Then, as time went by, he became remorseful and I received promises that it would never happen again, etc. I had filed for divorce by this time and he begged me to change my mind, stating that he had changed, it would never happen again, but when I said I was going to go through with this, he yelled at me for hours, saying how mean, cruel, and selfish a person I was - along with some other slams about my physical appearance. I asked him as best I could (to get a word in) about what he was doing and he said, "I'm just venting here." So he didn't stop when asked to stop and he didn't recognize his behavior as hurtful and damaging, even after being made aware . Yes. I know it sounds strange, but he really was just venting his outrage... With absolutely no awareness that even though he "didn't really mean it," and he can't possibly fathom how you could experience it otherwise. He'd better learn.

My point is that although it logically sounds easy to say to a spouse "stop this, this is unacceptable" it does not always mean that it will happen especially if the "abuser" doesn't recognize their behavior as hurtful or abusive. Correct. It is much easier to do if these "rules" have been established in a therapist's office. Relationships are tricky things and it does "take two;" one to talk and the other to listen. Also it is very hard for people in healthy relationships to understand what happens within the cycle of abuse. Yes. I know that it is taking me an great deal of time to change myself and it has nothing to do with intelligence or logic. It has to do with love and understanding towards both the victim and abuser. Good Luck to You, Barbie  And you...

B1: Submit
Date: Tuesday, August 15, 2000

S1

When I first felt rage, I asked my psychiatrist to hospitalize me for my and my spouse's own safety. You see, I didn't know until afterwards that what I'd experienced was actually "rage". The second time I felt rage, I knew what it was and what had caused it. The third time I felt rage, I determined to leave. I'd talked myself hoarse with my spouse. I cajoled him into a few therapy sessions and my therapist talked to him. I told him point blank that if he didn't work with me, I wanted a divorce. 

Nothing got through to him; and I continued to think somehow it was either all my fault or all my imagination. Why the codependent needs to learn to trust his or her feelings... Your rage was telling you that your life was unbearable. After all, no therapist had ever laid any responsibility at his doorstep. BUT when my experiences were finally validated, identified as domestic violence in general and verbal/emotional abuse specifically, my eyes were finally opened and I knew that my gut feeling had been true for years before my head caught up with it. Amazing, huh?

I used my rage to get organized, get a lawyer, get all the information I could, and then leave. Instead of whining and wishing for change, you heard your anger's message. You used the energy your anger mobilized constructively. I am certain my spouse is still in the dark about "why" I left. Some men just don't get it. Not even after 20 years. Unfortunately.

I did my reading; I knew about boundaries; I even stood up to him on occasion. But when you live day in and day out with someone whose goal in life is to systematically tear your soul and your self-esteem to shreds, you seldom have the strength to fight back as often as you would like to. Right. I might point out that it is unlikely that your husband's experienced motivation or intention was to tear you to shreds. In all likelihood, he just felt it was your job to "care" for him. 

I still hurt tremendously. I cannot imagine another intimate relationship with a man. The slightest courtesy can reduce me to tears (why is this stranger nice to me when my spouse wasn't?). Because your husband knew no better. Rebuilding trust will take a long time. But I would still cheer on any woman who wants to leave, even if it is a temporary separation while each spouse seeks counseling and knowledge; more and more I believe that it is only coming home to an empty house that gets the message through to a man: you are in deep trouble, mister, and you'd better get your act together. Unfortunately, you are correct. 

B1: Submit
Date: Tuesday, August 15, 2000

S1

ok. I've left the abusive relationship and for a while I was really angry. To me it was good and motivating anger. I feel as though I've worked through it and it's not boiling under the surface. Good!

However, when I talk about the abusive times I still get angry and emotional. Is this normal and is it ok that I am no longer actively dealing with it? When it comes up I acknowledge it and then move on. Is this healthy? I don't feel as though I am stuffing it, but I don't feel the need to act on it in any way either. I don't have enough information to answer your questions. You may still be processing your painful experience; this takes time... I would worry less about that than I would about not repeating your past.

Thanks.

B1: Submit
Date: Tuesday, August 15, 2000

S1

Becky,

I think what Dr Irene meant by he is projecting his perfectionism on to you.

She means that he has a different reality than you (Doesn't mean its a better reality than yours, just different!!!)

Therefore, whatever you do in his eyes isn't okay. Though that doesn't mean that YOU AREN'T OKAY, you are okay. Though if your expecting your husband/partner to agree you'll be waiting along time (or at least until one day he wakes up and recovers!!!) Nicely put.

All you can do Becky is accept that you do your best. In fact, if he comments about something you do, don't argue, don't defend (because you are okay and just different, everyone is different, and its nothing to apologize or defend yourself about!!!!) Right. Just say I am doing my best (say no more), say it in one tone of voice only, that's a cool tone, stand up straight and look up, not down at the floor. I like this! (And learn not to care about how he reacts; leave if he gets abusive.)

Work on your self esteem, to do this find out what you like, love, hate, start a self discovery project. If you chose something be it clothes, decor, food, decisions, whatever, and you find its not what you want don't worry, just remember next time to chose differently. Its okay to have consequences. Its okay to make mistakes and start a fresh, your HUMAN, so don't expect the un-expectable, we all make mistakes. THOUGH SOME AREN'T IN A MIND SET YET TO REALIZE THIS!!!!! Ain't that the truth!

REMEMBER, your body language, (how you stand, if you look straight at a person, if you slouch is 55% of the message another person receives) so stand up straight, look the person in the eye, don't be sarcastic, just say as if you were talking to a child, I am doing my best!!!

Also watch the tone of voice as I said above because 38% of the message another person receives.

The words are only a mere 7%.  (Exactly 38% and 7%, no more, no less. :) )

**SO REMEMBER ITS NOT ALWAYS HOW YOU SAY IT, ITS THE WAY THAT YOU SAY IT THAT'S THE PROBLEM!!!**

Take care Theressa

B1: Submit
Date: Tuesday, August 15, 2000

S1

For Dr. I from Atypical This is really interesting that I come across in writing as being angry and even stuck in rage. I just read your response to my earlier post. I think if you met me in person we might both laugh. I still have nightmares about some of the things my ex abuser said and did. So, being angry is the most appropriate thing in the world for you right now. You are working through and making sense of your experience - and post traumatic stressy experiences... And in my life at present perhaps there is no other outlet for my feelings besides the internet - thank you for providing that. If I was not still stuck in something I guess I wouldn't be here. I'm glad you are here. (And will be even gladder when you no longer need to be here...)

B1: Submit
Date: Tuesday, August 15, 2000

S1

Dr Irene,

Please give me your views on this.

Theresa,

All are very good questions and some are a bit tricky to explain since they carry a somewhat different meaning to all of us. I would like to say one thing though. While we can all say your H's childhood played a big role in his behavior today, he by no means appears to be a freak or psycho....at least no more than the rest of us. We are all creations of our surroundings don't forget his biology - 50/50 nurture/ nature, we think..., his (like mine) was just a bit different than most and I can sympathize with the man.

There seems to be a common thread in all conversations when trouble arises and that is change. My stbx what's "stbx?" said the same thing, she stated she has not and will not change. What can you do, but explain the pure foolishness of that statement. However in doing so, you usually state they are wrong and defenses fly up. The fact is we all change everyday. We are always inundated with new stimuli, new children, and new people. Our own model of the world changes on a daily basis to accommodate these changes. Typically speaking, these changes are automatic responses and not thoroughly thought out. My goal is to wrest these automatic responses from my subconscious and make them conscious. Or at least pay close enough attention to monitor the auto response and say yay or nay. If its nay, I take over and make a conscious decision. Yippeee! You got the right idea!

Much of your H's defensiveness is likely brought on by the way he is approached. It takes a very mature person and one who is open to suggestion to take constructive criticism well and learn from it, even though it stings. It appears you H is not there yet and until he understand that, he will be stuck. Constructive criticism can be tough even for relatively healthy people to take...

It sounds rather silly, but in the case of scolding your daughter, you obviously disagree (and so do I) on how he handled it. I think the key is to agree on a method prior to discipline. Yes yes yes! Ye old United Front...  Fighting about a method after it happens does no one any good. You need to sit down and make some rules together that you will both follow, write them down and sign them if you must. And if you fight, do so behind closed doors, away from the kids.

I think acceptance is often confused and misused. You are either willing to modify your behavior for the love of your partner or you are not. Nice. This is reality. If you are not, then move on. Think back to when you first started going out. I bet you both can list off some major changes you each made in your life to accommodate one another. You did it back then and you can still do it now. The key is when you change to make your partner happy, be sure it is not by doing something you are totally against for if it is, it will only breed bitterness. If you change, do so only because it will increase your integrity and self respect. Many of your partner's requests for your change will accomplish this. Other requests are downright codependent. Don't ever do anything that compromises your integrity. For anyone. Even your kid.

They way acceptance and inability to change are used, it puts people in a conundrum. My stbx basically said the same thing, she commented that I should accept her the way she is, yet at the same time she could not accept me. Yuk. You don't need to be around someone who doesn't think you are wonderful... Its simply hypocritical self defense and does not work. I feel that change and acceptance work together and at different levels. The acceptance part comes into play for the menial actions that partners do. My lf for example always puts her shoes on the same way and ties them the same way. Who the hell cares? I would have never even noticed had she not pointed it out. We have to decide what is important and what is not. We can not force our partners to change ever little aspect of who they are, but we should be able to accept some compromise and both parties working towards the common goal of a happily married couple. The changes your partner asks for that you might well consider are those changes that challenge you to be your best self.

With your situation now, I see two individuals fighting for their individuality, not a married couple working towards a positive goal. No partnership. You feel used and wonder why you should change and Michele states that well in her article "why should I be the one to change". Someone has to be the stronger to do it. You have lost something in your marriage that you once had, walls have been built and they now need to be tore down if a marriage is to succeed.

Acceptance and change is tricky. If you have something that absolutely drives you nuts, ask for the change. Remember though, that you are responsible for your happiness and if you want a successful change, you need to be specific. It also helps to pick your battles. You cant simply ask for more attention. You need to state specifics because we often have different ideas of what attention is. A good idea is to just pick one thing EACH so things are fair. Its probably even best to start by asking for one thing you can change about yourself that would make him happy. Remember, when he answers don't blow up. You need to create an atmosphere where he can be comfortable talking to you. 

Contemplate the change and don't forget that you will be requesting a change too. After he asks, assuming it is not totally out of the question, let him know you would like to work together for a better future and ask if he would be willing to do the same. Keep in mind the change he asked of you and try and pick something in the same 'range'. If you both agree to the specific request, each keep notes and rate each others performance on meeting the requests for a couple weeks.

It may all sound silly, but it gets across the point that you are BOTH willing to work on a better future, both willing to accept and change together. After a couple weeks, keep up with that change and add another. As time goes by, if each party is upholding their end of the agreement, a bond will actually begin to developed and as it strengthens everything will become easier and future changes will be met with less resistance.

I have a different method for accomplishing change with my couples. Assuming each partner knows what the other hates, I drop that line of inquiry - and ask each person to take their own inventory. I ask them to work on making themselves the best they can be. I've found this more effective than making requests of other.

As for being down on my values, I am very flexible. Arguing over something that is already done is a waste of time. Yes. The only value to looking at stuff you guys messed up is to figure out what went wrong so you can learn for the future. Do this only if you can both do it without assigning blame. The rules, for the children and all other areas of potential disagreement need to be laid out. After all, how can you play a game if you do not know the rules. Correct. Kids need clear limits. 

Typically speaking, I fight fire with facts. I can be a force to be reckoned with in a debate. I have found most people have a concept and as a whole it may seem to be very correct. When I run into someone who thinks this is best, no questions, I chunk down their concept and ask questions. I break the concept into smaller parts because as a whole most people can not see the true makeup. As it gets broken down I ask specific question, further breaking it down and asking more question. The questions keep coming and coming and before you know it I have introduced them to aspects of the larger concept they have never thought about. In asking my questions I do not even need to point out errors in their logic because they do it themselves and typically they get to a point of not being able to answer with factual information, and at that point their concept is acknowledged as simple opinion and one that happens; right and wrong no longer apply. You sure you never had some training as a cognitive therapist?

In the case of the scolding you mentioned above, ask your H why he handled it that way. You need facts, not just "because". He is not being forced to answer questions, most likely because none are even being asked. He is responding on an emotional level, but why? There is more to it, but no one will know what that is until the ask why. Ask when hubby is cool. Also, a great book for raising kids calmly and reasonably and setting fair limits, etc. is Assertive Discipline for Children. Best book I know.

quote:

Someone I know said whilst you make these changes and start standing up for yourself you should give more warmth to your h.

 

That may be hard to understand, but i have to agree with it a bit, but not for the obvious reason. For me, standing up for myself meant asking myself the questions I feared to answer with regards to my own happiness. The questions about the part I truly did play in my stb D. As I answered those questions honestly I began to realize my errors and how they could be corrected. NLP gave me a better grasp on the workings of the mind, new ways to change my perception and an understanding why people do what they do for the most part.

With this knowledge came power, self confidence and compassion. Not because another deserves it, but because I know that for the most part people are unaware of their destructive personal habits. Entirely correct! The people I know do not have the personal awareness that I posses and therefore I am at an advantage. I understand that most of my friends and acquaintances are simply slaves to their own subconscious and more often than not their actions (better termed as reactions) carried little or no conscious thought. Your friends don't know how to take responsibility for their lives. Sounds like you may want to consider expanding your circle.

Its like stepping on a dogs tail and having it swing around and bit you. Its easy to be angry at a dog for biting you, but once you understand that you stepped on its tail, your anger fades because you realize it was an automatic response by the dog. Right. The same thing goes for people and that is why often after giving someone some time after a verbal confrontation, you will get an apology. Much of the words are driven by pure uncontrolled emotion, and once they have time to recount the situation, they feel bad for what they said. Yes. True in most situations.

The warmth you would be passing along to your H would come more from your own personal understanding that from anything else.

Thanks Theressa Thank you too Theressa. And, gang, I'm off to sleep again. Will be back. Boy, you're all keeping me busy this week!

B1: Submit
Date: Tuesday, August 15, 2000

S1

Dear First Felt Rage:

I agree that women leaving (or in my case getting thrown out) really does get the man's attention. Maybe the only way. I think I am coming around to that point of view now. I just wish that this could be done more often at a point in the relationship when there is something preserved of the relationship and not a total emotional disconnect after staying for years in a dead relationship. You are assuming there is nothing left. Don't. My experience is otherwise: the victim needs to tell her abuser how awful she thinks he is; how they will be finished forever; blah, blah, blah... Then, once the anger has been expressed and acted out and the victim sees that her partner is still around and really does care about her, well... Stuff happens...

I am separated from my wife and although I have had total clarity and the "Road to Damascus" moment regarding what I lost what I want who she is what I did etc etc, it might be too late because she feels a lot like you do, and I did a lot of the things your ex-husband did. I am just hoping against hope that my new technique of supporting her and being her friend will eventually turn the tide. I just flat out don't want to give up on our marriage. Keep it up! This attitude is a win-win. Do not fall into the discouragement trap. Remain her friend (and become your own in the process).

Also, I don't know that the original poster's point was that women shouldn't leave but that there shouldn't be such an instant cheering section and gleeful joy at relationships being torn apart. Leave, but maybe you two could work something out and repair the relationship now that you, the wife, are gone and maybe hubby figures out that he is in deep ____?

PJM    In a perfect world... 

 

B1: Submit
Date: Tuesday, August 15, 2000

S1

Terri- Hey, for once, we agree! :D No seriously though, you articulated very well something else I also wanted to get across but wasn't really sure how to do it. I don't think the "You go girl!" that the original author is talking about is a stuck-in-rage victim angry thing. You explained why. When I was talking about this letter with my BF last night, he said he was really confused - he understood the feelings of original poster because at one time he felt attacked by the 'victims' here too, and he understood the point that Dr. Irene was trying to make, but he didn't think that they had that much to do with each other. Yes, it's important to victims not to get stuck in anger and blame, but I'm still confused as to how the original poster's frustration/anger has anything to do with that - he seems angry at something else, and I personally don't feel it was a great example to illustrate the problem of victims getting stuck in anger/blame. But that's just my opinion... Noted! -SatokoGirl

B1: Submit
Date: Tuesday, August 15, 2000

S1

The original poster has used a few examples of victim anger to generalize all replies. It's an exaggeration. Most of the replies on the Yak Board or interactive emails are not like the poster describes.

Any normal, sane person would become angry by the way abusers treat people. It's what you do with the anger that counts. Frankly, my anger gives me an extra boost in working to get away from my abusive brother. When I left a long-term relationship a few years ago (that's how I ended up in the same house with my brother), I was very angry and didn't know why for a long time. I thought I had the perfect relationship until I started to keep a journal of what made me upset. That's when a pattern emerged. I have already moved through sadness and grieving the loss of my significant other, and my brother.

I highly recommend Patricia Evan's new book, Verbal Abuse Survivors Speak Out. It contains concrete suggestions on how to help yourself, things that have worked for survivors. It also has good descriptions of where the abuser is "coming from." I found this book to be in-depth, and helpful. Sis

B1: Submit
Date: Tuesday, August 15, 2000

S1

Theressa, (Gordon, there's a comment for you, as well). Thanks for your input. I've been having a hard time keeping the lid on my anger lately. He has been suggesting the following: 1. That I read Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, because I "might learn something." I read that book years ago, he refused to, and isn't reading it now. Besides, this book, like many others, assumes that there is an equal power base in the marriage, and that the spouses just need help understanding gender differences. Correct. Not entirely applicable in abuse. We don't have an equal power base. 2. I should watch a self-help infomercial for the same reason. I have watched many such programs, and even have a set of Tony Robbins tapes that he has told me he has no interest in. (That is until I started writing in the workbook! Then I was "hogging" the workbook. When I offered it to him, he said "Too late" and has never listened to the tapes). 3.If I would be "different," he wouldn't act like he does toward me.

I do need to stay calm, and I do better some days than others. Gordon, you mentioned detaching. I understand how necessary that is, but when you are so emotionally invested in a relationship, it feels too much like giving up to detach, and we codependents HATE to give up! True, but now you are giving in to your symptoms; you are selling out at the expense of the self! There's also the fear that the abuser will use your detaching as an excuse to further label you the "bad guy." Another codependency symptom: you care too much about what others think. Thus, (he thinks) he's justified in being hateful to you, and leaving you. You don't get it: he's only looking for an excuse to pin the blame on you; any excuse. Don't bother trying to be perfect; he'll find something, or provoke you until he gets what he wants. Example: my husband will say something abusive, I leave the room. He taunts me: "See? You won't listen to how I feel! Communication is IMPOSSIBLE with YOU! With YOU it'll never work!" Gr-r-r-r-r! Yes, sometimes, I take the bait! Less and less, though. GOOD! I'm not saying that I shouldn't detach, you understand, I'm just saying that it isn't in my nature, and I'm afraid when I do it. Learn to deal with the fear. It's not that it is not in your "nature;" it is that you were taught not to detach.

I guess this comes down to the same thing: we can't MAKE these people want to have a healthy relationship if they don't want to; we can't MAKE them deal with themselves and their own bad behavior. We need to work on our own stuff and stay out of the line of fire. Yep.

Becky

B1: Submit
Date: Tuesday, August 15, 2000

S1

Satoko Girl and others accused of being "stuck in anger",

I understand what you are saying and was slightly taken aback by the harshness of Dr. Irene's response to my query. I honestly didn't feel angry or attacked by the original post. I was asking a simple question if perhaps the author feels some sort of attack or threat (because he's losing his wife?) by the overwhelming group support that victims provide to one another on this site. To me, that is one of the healthiest and most productive attributes of this site (if done in good taste). If there were more words to his story, I would have liked to see the whole letter because we could easily misinterpret his "frustration" as "responsibility shifting". Our main objective as recovering victims is NOT to "gang-up" on abusive people here - it is to help clouded-thinking victims!. Dr. I, you stated that I have some sort of a "problem" if I've misinterpreted the emotion that the author expressed. Forgive me if you experienced my reply as "harsh." But, check it out: you took a skeleton letter and imposed all this stuff on it that was not there! Like it or not, this is an indication of baggage you carry. Which is not a criticism; I'm pointing out what I see. It is up to you to look inside and see whether or not there is anything to attend to. 

Unfortunately, there is no emotion here to see or feel - only words to draw an opinion from! I can only read the message, and the message to me (and I'm not alone) was that someone wasn't thrilled about the support we give to one another to leave a seemingly abusive situation. I don't see how this is ego-building...or how this makes me stuck in anger?? If someone expresses here that they are being abused and they don't quite understand if they are yet, and I can see it more clearly from the outside looking in, tell me again what is wrong with supporting that person (in good taste) to at least think about getting out? There is nothing "bad" or "wrong"... you just don't see what I'm trying to get across. I've heard this analogy many times before (Dr. I didn't like mine about the fire Only because you misinterpreted frustration and turned it into anger...) but it is very similar to one she's used... "If your house is full of radon and you can't control it, what would you do?...I basically used the same analogy and substituted it with fire because I happened to like it...we don't want to see fellow victims get burned...and definitely don't want to feel like we're being nasty to the fire by doing so! You don't get it - yet. Keep thinking about this one, and, although I know you are feeling defensive, please try not to be. I am not attacking You. I am attacking what strikes me as some erroneous thinking on your part.  This is not a big deal! I am asking you to examine your assumptions. Yes, I don't feel that people should continue to be abused! Yes! That is part of who I am, a lot of who I've become... Isn't integrity acting out who you really say you are - when actions are parallel with words? If those actions and intentions elevate the self (as opposed to the ego). I would think if I didn't support someone leaving an abusive situation, THAT would compromise my integrity... No argument with supporting someone who leaves abuse; again, and I know I sound like a broken record: it is how you support them. You can support them with or without anger.

LHW

B1: Submit
Date: Tuesday, August 15, 2000

S1

LHW:

Is it at least theoretically possible to encourage a wife to get out of an emotionally abusive relationship AND to work with her husband (especially if the guy now "gets it") on her marriage once she is safely removed from the abuse? A lot of posts, yours included, are advising these women to get out and don't look back because you don't need this guy nobody should have to put up with that kind of abuse, people don't change etc etc. And they do it with a certain pervasive self-righteousness and self-assurance. Do you know any other aspect of your life that is that clear cut? Life isn't always that simple.

PJM

 

B1: Submit
Date: Tuesday, August 15, 2000

S1

Hi LHW:

There are so many layers to this topic that I might deviate a bit here from what you were discussing. I think it all depends on how one defines "support." I have seen examples of one victim being so enraged with their own abuser that they project that onto the abuser of another victim indirectly. An example would be if one victim said, "I am so upset today. My SO was really rude to me." And the other victim is so full of anger themselves that they respond to the effect of, "Oh, that SOB! I am so sick of the way he treats you! How dare he do that!"

Or, as I mentioned previously, one victim will say they were so mad that they screamed obscenities at their abuser or threw something and others will chime in, "Yeah, you go!"

What can happen eventually is everyone feels better for a short duration because they are all mad together, yet nothing is resolved via this route if people get stuck there. Thank you. This is exactly the scenario I am talking about. And, abused people who get into this typically have little or no awareness they are jumping on an anger bandwagon. I have seen some instances where there was a vicious cycle of select victims in the group going back and forth bashing abusers and expressing anger/rage, and some remained months and months on end completely stagnant in that angry place. Ouchhh!

I cannot speak for anyone else, but I personally don't define that as being supportive. In fact, when I joined this group and asked questions like, "Well, do you think there is a healthier way to release this anger?" I was basically told to shut up, that the purpose of the group is to provide "support" - not to analyze behavior or seek healthier alternatives. I kid you not. And I think I love you! You just hit the nail on the head: that is why I had to create a new list, I Am Responsible - for victims in the later stages of recovery who are past the angry validation stage.

Oh, well, I thought. I guess what you mean is you just want to be angry all of the time and to have others be angry along with you. I deduced that some interpreted support as being told that no matter how they felt or what they said/did it was justified. I have a hard time participating in stuff like that, although I do not judge it. I try to bypass it and interact with the victims who, yes, they might be mad at times but their goal is to find a solution to the abuse not just vindication for their anger. I am not saying this is what you were referring to at all, but your post got me to thinking about this area nonetheless.  It's an important issue in victim recovery! If I have any credibility in your eyes, please trust this one. Dr. Irene

B1: Submit
Date: Tuesday, August 15, 2000

S1

Dr. I -What a fascinating discussion. I'm reminded of Elizabeth Kubler-Ross's thoughts on Grief and the (correct me here) seven stages of grief- Denial, Anger, Bargaining, (umm.....)...eventually Acceptance. Correct me; I think it's 5 stages. When a marriage ends, it is as stressful as a death. This victim is going through grief for her dead "marriage", the marriage she never really had. The abuser isn't aware that the "marriage" is dead, because he liked the "marriage" just the way it was. A true marriage is a sharing of power and decision making. This abuser did not participate in a "marriage", and neither did his victim. He's in Denial, she's one step past him into Anger. This is a fascinating discussion. You have an interesting conceptualization... I need to think about it more...

B1: Submit
Date: Tuesday, August 15, 2000

S1

The Five Stages of Grief:

In the 1960’s Elizabeth Kubler Ross wrote the book "Denial of Death". She identified "Five Stages of Grief": Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, & Acceptance.

There is a lengthy comedy routine about it by Dustin Hoffman playing Lenny Bruce in the movie Lenny.

It should also be pointed out that the whole notion of the "Five Stages of Grief" has its critics. Of course. Any conceptualization is no more than a way or organizing data. If it's useful for you, go for it. Thanks for the clarification.

PJM

 

B1: Submit
Date: Wednesday, August 16, 2000

S1

I just wanted to add why I kept trying my heart out even though the harder I tried the colder and more withdrawn he seemed to get.

As a Christian I would read the bible verses about loving unconditionally, I'd read books that would say the same thing. If you just loved enough, forgave enough, one day your love for them would seep into their hardened heart and they would soften. In other words love enough for the two of you. When my affection or kindness would sometimes get met with a very cutting, or sarcastic remark I'd just try and understand that it came from the broken child inside him that was so beaten up by his father. That worked for awhile. Or should I say it allowed me to deny what was really going on. Being baited into vicious arguments, hating myself for engaging, Then being told that I started it by my reactions to his comments or unacceptable behaviour. I am no Biblical scholar, but I cannot imagine the the Bible condones staying in a situation that is hurtful to the self. 

What I did get from this unconditional love, was to be told I loved him so much, it was pathetic to him. I think it also made him step the cruel remarks up a notch, I'd step the unconditional love up a notch and on and on it went. It got to the point that I was convinced I was just so lacking in everything that any act of kindness he did seemed like a miracle break through for me. My prayers were answered, for a day, a week, a month and then - bam - it started all over again.

I just found this site a month ago and bought the Patricia Evans book today Great book. I wish I would have found this years ago. Who would have thought this behaviour had a name or that it even was a behaviour.

Too late for this relationship; he's gone and not looking back. At least he admitted he did the put downs, criticisms, and judgments towards me so that he could justify leaving because he could make it look like an unhealthy relationship. Great, he could have spared me the anguish and just said he was leaving. Now the thing I can do is learn all about this stuff and pick myself up from the emotional mess I was left in. Learn what my part in the whole thing was and try and forgive myself for the times I engaged in ugly arguments. I think back now and wonder who that crazy person was matching his ugly remarks with ones of my own. YUCK... You are regaining your integrity. Good for you! I have apologized profusely to him for doing this. No apology forth coming from him though, and his words still burn in my soul. Stop. At this point, it is his soul that is burning; not yours.

My remarks were about events or things done whereas his ripping comments were about me, my worth, my intelligence, my character, I find myself wondering.. "did he know me so well that those horrible things could be true?" No one else seems to think so, but then as he'd say "they don't live with you." Stop. Don't go here; don't believe the hurtful things he said. Those things are more of a reflection of who he is than who you are!

Life goes on. I wish I could feel some of that rage everyone keeps writing about. At different times, like last year and previous years I definitely reacted with rage, but then things changed. I make the decision to never do that again and I didn't, then it completely disappeared and never came back. I've been looking for it though because I think it was better than the sadness I feel for the loss of him. Go figure.......  Please, go to the Book Shelf or Amazon.com :

Search Now:
In Association with Amazon.com

 

Look for some of the Cloud and Townsend titles. They've written many books from a Christian perspective. Read some of this stuff...it will help you.

 B1: Submit
Date: Wednesday, August 16, 2000

S1

There is also that saying about doing unto others... I think the problem is that we often forget to love ourselves as much as we do those around us; we neglect to put a concerted effort into establishing self-love, self-respect and so on. I have never read anywhere in the Bible that Bill or Pete or Sandy or whomever is more important than you or me. Likewise, you can forgive someone but still end the relationship to alleviate the suffering. I have never heard that if you just love someone enough they will return that love to you. Although I do think we can try to love others equally while still loving ourselves enough to stay away from toxic people. Never forget that God made you. Your life is His gift to you. You are charged with taking care of and protecting that gift: you mind, body, and soul...

B1: Submit
Date: Wednesday, August 16, 2000

S1

Returning here again, I read Dr. I's comment to someone that the guy who wrote had exhibited empathy toward wife in other correspondence - so that explains a lot. I agree with Satoko Girl that his frustration does not seem directed at victims-stuck-in-anger to me. But maybe there is something/ other correspondence that indicated so? To me, he comes across as being angry / frustrated that victims apparently get a lot of support. In fact Resentful is the word I would use. OK. Resentful fits; he is angry that despite his efforts, he is getting little support from readers on the site. He is frustrated with the direction he has unwittingly taken his life. He is looking for answers. His sentence about, "If my wife would have said...." makes me think he is still blaming her, and that, without any evidence of his empathy in this letter, is part of what made me feel angry. Why are you jumping to conclusions? Where is your empathy for an individual who is trying to overcome his issues? Why are you interpreting his letter so negatively? Doesn't a person who admits they have a problem deserve the benefit of the doubt?  ...This is why I bring up the victim anger issue... And his statement "women have a hard time setting boundaries until there is permanent damage to a relationship" also came across to me as blaming....what if I said "men keep abusing their mates until there is permanent damage to the relationship." True. Equally "true" but doesn't it come across as blaming/ not able to see the other side of the picture? No. Not to me. Blame is in the eye of the beholder... Check it out. -Atypical

B1: Submit
Date: Wednesday, August 16, 2000

S1

PJM,

Just checking in and wanted to respond to your last post - this happens to be an excellent interactive. It sent chills down my spine when you made reference to victims being "self-righteous" and "self-assured" in their support for fellow victims. Please be careful not to rob us of our newly found confidence! Lesson 1: Nobody can "rob" you of what is yours. You can give it away, but it cannot be taken from you without your permission. This is a fact of life. Please, please learn it, take responsibility, and stop blaming other. 

The lack thereof was what kept us in undesirable situations to begin with. Take ownership: Your lack of confidence... The victim's position is that we have often tried, and tried, and tried to work on the relationship, wanted to get couples therapy, sought individual therapy and every other thing to make the relationship work to the point of taking too much responsibility. Yep. We support one another to GET OUT only when what we are reading that an individual is SUFFERING, in pain, in a lose-lose situation with someone who blames, is intractable and sometimes, DANGEROUS...and the victim doesn't "get it". Yes.

We empathize with this because at one time, we former victims DIDN'T get it either. I happen to be a person who believes in love and wants all relationships to work if possible, but not at the expense of soul destruction. On a personal level, if my ex wanted to work on the relationship even a little bit, I would have probably still been there. He wanted nothing of the sort, except to put all of the responsibility on me, i.e., he was neglectful, I told him about it, I was a Bit*&. He cursed me, I told him to stop, he said "he wouldn't say it if it weren't for me". I said "let's get help together", he said "I'm not getting help with YOU, cause you're (ugly curse words)". Yuk. He raged, he cursed, he broke things, he stormed-out, he hung-up and then some. And, I finally LEFT, or uhh, "got-it" through not only self-revelation but the awareness others have brought to me. 

I'll admit that your comment hit a sore spot because the last thing my ex said to me back in February as I was trying to escape being hostage in his van while he was breaking things and cursing me was "look at you, you self-righteous #*$$". I wasn't allowed to be self-righteous about NOT WANTING TO BE ABUSED ANYMORE. PJW, are we not allowed to be self-righteous in not wanting our peers to be abused? Think about this...there is a difference between abuser-bashing and wanting healthy survival for humanity, and first and foremost, ourselves. Boy am I glad that I've become self-righteous...

LHW   You are in a place most former victims find themselves in during their recovery. You have finally seen the light; you have had it. You are in the process of taking responsibility and never letting anything like this happen to you again, ever. Good! But, you are not quite there yet.  This is a process... Please believe me: you are getting there; you will likely get there; you are not there just yet... This is all OK.

B1: Submit
Date: Wednesday, August 16, 2000

S1

LHW and Atypical- I second your comments! Don't really know what else to add that you haven't said already. This is a really confusing issue, and again, I really think the letter chosen was not appropriate for the subject of victims-stuck-in-rage. -SatokoGirl The letter was extremely appropriate. You cannot yet see what you cannot see yet. Re-read this interchange in six months.

B1: Submit
Date: Wednesday, August 16, 2000

S1

Hi Dr Irene,

I've just read your response to the letter I received from a very healthy guy. Who?

He said a lot of great things, and he told me about the book that helped him learn about NLP.

I've also realized with his help that's its our thoughts that come first and then our feelings about those thoughts.

I know I played a role.

I know what needs to be done, though I don't know how to go about it.

Dr Irene, how on earth could I get my h to make these changes???? You can't; only he can.

Is walking away and washing my hands best for me??? I don't know.

You said don't do anything which compromises my integrity, what do you mean??? Don't do anything that makes the self feel yukky. First, learn to differentiate between the self and the ego. Read the site; there's a lot on this elsewhere. Try a search.

If there was a way to save my relationship, I'd love to know how?? Me too!

I am ready to walk in a week and a half!!! my partner and I have spoken, and I told him and he told me of all the damaging things in our relationship.

ANGER is a big one!!!!

I've learnt some basic NLP of seeing things differently, and learnt how to cool down. Though my partner hasn't!!!! Sad. But, I'm glad you are learning to chill.

I've a book called Positive Discipline which is similar to the assertive one you mention. Jane Nelsen is the author of positive discipline!!! Thanks for the title. The reviews look good; I've ordered it.

I need some direction because my family is at stake here, but most of all I am on a rocky bridge and unsure which way to fall!!!

WHAT NEXT DR IRENE?????????  Threressa, I know this sounds trite, but its true: All the answers are within you. Sit still and listen. Get professional help if need be; you can make sense of all of this...

Thanks Theressa

B1: Submit
Date: Wednesday, August 16, 2000

S1

Yes, anger is a BIG issue especially for me now that I have been watching myself, and every now and then, after being in a very abusive relationship, I may say things that are mean, and I am like "Where did that come from?" . I don't like this at all, I have to become more aware of things I say before I say them. I wonder how I can know if I still have anger problems even now. I don't want to be a mean person or hurt those around me. Good direction. Excellent way of looking at things. Keep this up and you won't have anger problems!

Keep working at it, and don't give up. I see these problems as windows of opportunities to improve myself and become a better more aware and happier me! Self-control is so awesome to have, and so self-empowering, it's worth every ounce of working at to get it! Yes!

CLC

 

B1: Submit
Date: Wednesday, August 16, 2000

S1

I'm not angry right now and though this does bother me a bit, I don't feel angry at the man who wrote it- He just doesn't understand. My abuser poured his anger over me like molasses for years. I was smothered by his constant rage and anger at the world at large which was unfairly shoved at me. I wasn't angry. I repressed it. I held it in for the whole time. Now, if the abuser (or the person writing) had held in all their anger for that long, they'd be raging too. Yes. But, two wrongs don't make a right. What's your point?

But abusers don't hold back their anger. It's sort of like taking turns, in a sick way. He yells at me and blames me and hurts me with anger for a long time, a little at a time. Then I give it all back to him at the end. That's why I get stuck with my anger- because it's not just mine that I've got-I've also got all the anger he's forced me to deal with, that he's laid in my lap all that time. Not quite. You're dealing with the anger he laid in your lap that you accepted. Take responsibility. 

 My raging time has almost passed. I'm getting angry in a kinda mellow, humorous way now about things from day to day, but not about what went before - I can see that he is angry at life in general, and that my anger is only at him for hurting me and me for allowing it. OK. He has a much heavier load to bear than I do. Yes. If the support here is slanted toward the victim leaving, I think that's just fine. It's nice for a change to hear someone tell you that being treated abusively isn't "normal", because when you're with someone who abuses you, you are told that your expectations aren't normal. That you want too much...then it starts seeming like you are the problem, not the anger that the abuser has, but your expectation that it won't be directed at you in a violent or disrespectful way. Abusers don't seem to respect emotions, they see them as weakness (I think) so it makes sense that to walk away unemotionally is the best and clearest way to gain their respect, in the long run. Just MHO. jg OK, but please look at your anger. Look where you went: rather than being able to respond to an individual who is clearly looking for help, you brought it back to your anger at your own abuser. I'm not suggesting you not do this; I do want you to be aware that you have issues here. Otherwise, you would be empathizing with a frustrated individual who is asking for support and understanding.

B1: Submit
Date: Wednesday, August 16, 2000

S1

I believe this is a hard one for a lot of us Very, very hard! , during my counseling I did become very angry, my therapist explained that this was healthy as long as I realized at some point we would move past it. Thank you! My husband still keeps asking why I cannot forgive him, but I truly have, as well as forgiving myself for allowing him to mistreat me. I did beg for him to get help, even offered to go with him; his comment was that it was like AA - for quitters. Yuk.

I have written here now a few times and I think he has as well. I see some change, but I am also seeing old behaviors come back in an overt way. He is becoming angry because in his mind, me leaving once the house closes escrow is because I am still angry. I am leaving for me. I have a long road of healing to go through still. I am just dipping my toes in at this time. I want to be ok without needing to be co-dependent. I want respect and nurturing from myself and with him I do not think I will ever truly have that. 

He basically mirrors the opinion of this letter: why did I decide to leave and then tell him, but the problem is I told him for years how he was destroying my soul, and only when my physical health became more stable in these last 3 yrs did I realize it was long past time and I had no love left for him inside of me. I started to love myself, but I think it was only after I realized the anger was ok, and I had to work through it, maybe over and over at different times in my life. 

I am getting close to my move out date and the fear is there about living alone, but I know I will do just fine, because I am taking the time I need to heal and learn to completely love me. Nuts

Good for you Nuts. Understandably, your husband is having a hard time. He needs to go through this to wake up. He doesn't like what you are doing; that is OK. Should he change, he won't do so overnight. Meanwhile, you are doing what you need to do. Take a look at your anger down the road a bit. Right now, your plate is otherwise full.

B1: Submit
Date: Wednesday, August 16, 2000

S1

stbx = Soon To Be "Ex"   Thanks!

 

B1: Submit
Date: Thursday, August 17, 2000

S1

Dr. Irene,

It took me a long time to "see the light" (figuratively and literally). I believe that I must take good care of myself if I am to continue to develop relationships with others. I must make sure that God has a "tool" to work through. I must make sure that I keep my mind and my body safe. I was in a "life or death" situation. I chose to LIVE!

AFTER I HAD LEFT, I wrote a letter to a family member describing the cycle that my husband (of four months) and I would go through. When I discovered your web site, I couldn't believe my eyes. I could see myself and my husband EVERYWHERE! Finally, I had found some information that confirmed everything I had written and was beginning to understand! THANK YOU GOD!

I am finally able to admit to myself, family members, and friends the TRUTH...my husband had physically and verbally abused me. I was two feet away from him, trying to make him realize that I did love HIM and that I didn't love anyone else when he stood up and "backhanded" me across the face / jaw. It happened so quickly that I never saw it coming. He hit me so hard that it knocked me right off of the chair that I was sitting on. I felt like a boxer that had been knocked to the canvas. I was stunned. My head and jaw hurt so bad...I remember trying to figure out what had just happened...I couldn't believe that he hit me! My jaw and head began to ache like nothing I had ever known. At that point, my heart was so broken. How was it that I could have so much love for someone and they would treat me like this? There was plenty more verbal and physical abuse to follow.......I can't decide which type of abuse is more painful!!!

I BEGGED MY HUSBAND TO SEEK HELP...the only problem was that he didn't think he needed help! He felt that it was all me! Finally, I couldn't take it any more. I felt that I was "losing" myself. So, I did go get some help for ME - even though I KNEW that HE was unable to express & handle HIS feelings of fear and anger in a healthy manner. How can you expect someone to give you something that they don't have to give? For example, if I asked my husband for a million dollars...he may WANT desperately to give it to me. And, he probably would give it to me if he had it...the problem is he doesn't have it to give. So in other words, it is quite insane to expect someone to "love you" when they do not have the tools or skills to do so. How can I be ANGRY with someone who WANTS to give me a million dollars, BUT DOESN'T HAVE IT TO GIVE?  

There is obviously a problem with a person who chooses to remain in this type of situation. I believe that God lead me to the counselor that I am currently seeing. I really appreciate my counselor and you. People like you two (who have really taken the time to UNDERSTAND what is "going on") have really made a difference in the lives of people like me.

It is unfortunate that there are others who cannot see reality YET. However, it has been my most recent experience that ALL of your information is "in-line" with REALITY.

I can see clearly NOW that not only did I choose to be in this type of relationship, but my mother and my sisters are also in the same type of relationships. I am beginning to suspect that my siblings and I learned this type of behavior somewhere along the line from our parents. Your web site was an eye opener to them as well. We are all learning a lot. We are learning that we can take the necessary steps to end the cycle of abuse.

I have noticed that you post "pros and cons" about yourself. I have also noticed that you are able to admit when you have made a mistake. Or make necessary clarifications. You are a very intelligent person and you are doing a good thing for a lot of people. I have read that, "you cannot teach someone something until you have learned the lesson yourself". If there wasn't a need for this site...people wouldn't be visiting! So, I would like to suggest that this "guy"...read my post and then go jump into a boxing ring with someone who is bigger and stronger. Get knocked down just once, come back and read some more posts....MAYBE his perception will change just a little bit!?

THANK YOU FOR ALL OF YOUR HELP! I AM GETTING HEALTHY!!! :)  Good for you! And thank you for your comments. You ask how can you be angry at a person who cannot give what they don't have... Well, it's easy. Rational or irrational, nevertheless you are entitled to your feelings; to your anger. How can you not be mad at someone who hurt you physically and emotionally? You were lucky; you found out about abuse quickly. You got out and got help before you became more deeply entrenched. You are taking responsibility for your life, health and happiness. 

That's really the whole point of this site: to take responsibility. If you are a victim, do whatever you have to do to stop the abuse. If you are an angry person, do whatever you have to do to stop taking your anguish out on others.

There is no "good" guy and "bad" guy. There are people who for whatever reason don't have the awareness or skills to do what they have to do to best serve their self's best interests. To their credit, the ones who are trying to learn how, both victim and abuser, come to sites like this to explore the process of getting healthy.  

The road to health is rocky. Lots of emotional stuff comes up. That is normal stuff. If health were easy to achieve, you would have already achieved it. You are here because you are struggling with learning the ropes. Venues like this give you the opportunity to  understand and share your frustrations and mistakes, as well as your victories, while you learn what you came here to learn.  

This is true whether you are a victim or an abuser. Be angry; be sad; feel whatever it is you feel. And be aware of it. Recognize that when you are not aware of powerful emotions such as anger, you compromise your self - because the greater your denial, the more you are likely to put yourself in a situation where you are inclined to act out rather than to take responsibility. Ouchhh!

This board has been about helping victim types to get a better handle on their very justified anger. If you are a victim who finds yourself getting mad at me, with the original writer, or with the issues brought up here, check yourself out: you have only self-knowledge to gain...        My best to all and thank you. Dr. Irene          

B1: Submit
Date: Thursday, August 17, 2000

S1

Dear Dr. Irene!

Recently, under "covert abuse", I wrote to you, among other things: (I edit:) "what should the victim do ...concerning a partner who does not do his part, but manages to pretend he does and that it's your fault anyway" and you wrote me back: "Take care of the self". I wrote in return: " BUT - and this is a big but - what does that consist of? The only answer that comes to my mind is - live as if I am alone...Is that the only way? B."

You wrote to me: "He is apparently not giving you many other options. What else can you do when every fix you try backfires?"

You also wrote to someone else, that this site is not about "saving the marriage", but about helping us understand what's going on, and EMPOWERING us to help ourselves.

SO - I learned a lot from your answers to me and to others, I understood that I am a victim, that I am not happy, that I have suffered for several years but I don't want to suffer anymore, that I deserve better - and I LEFT HIM!! Holy Crow!

Yes, exactly a week ago. I originally planned to talk with him in the morning and then pack and leave, but my daughter needed to nurse and I couldn't get up. In retrospect, it was better. I packed, tidied the house, and wrote him a letter. I explained that I was leaving him because I could not live with him anymore, that I want a loving partnership, that I do not deserve the abuse I'm getting, etc. Then I took our child and drove 3 hours to my grandma. I did not tell her what I did. I only told my father and my babysitter. I did not want to deal with non-supportive reactions, or to risk any such reactions. It was hard enough as it was. Sad... You've been covering up his mis-behaviors, yet you are the one worried about support... 

I left him, along with my letter, a book about dependency and co-dependency, and a pile of pages I printed from your site for him to read. I did not tell him where I went.

I now know that the letter, for me, was the best way. It spared me any "engaging in his abuse", and it enabled him to deal with it alone, by himself, preventing a heap of aggressive reactions trying to justify himself to me.

I thought he'd trash the house, call me (as I thought, his first bet was my grandmother) and tell me I was crazy etc. I was totally wrong.

He called me crying. He was in shock - though he did say he suspected I was going to leave him, for 2 weeks!!! I told him I only knew a day before I did it, and if he knew that, why did he not try to do anything? Stupid question... He is not only aggressive, but passive too.... If your husband knew what to do, don't you think he would have done it long ago?

He said he now agrees to counseling, since he now has no choice. He loves me and he wants to save our marriage. He admits that part of what I say is true. Yippeee! He wants me to come back and we'll talk. After that, if I still want him to leave home (I wrote in my letter that I'll be back in a week, and I asked him to not be there when I'm back), he will leave.

Anyway, we talked a lot. I told him that I will return when he finishes reading the book and pages I left him. I put my finger on everything that bothered me - even though many times it was a day late. Better late than never! (You'll get better at it - and faster, with practice.) One of my "co dependency" traits was that I was hurt. I did not understand what happened, but felt something was wrong. But I did not know how to tell him, and doubted my own perceptions, so I used to just "ignore" it. Now, even if it took me hours to really understand what bothered me, I still said it, assertively (not accusing, not shouting, but not afraid to make him feel bad! You know what I mean... Yeah, I do.).

For example: I told him I was bothered by the fact, that he admitted I was right "in part" - but then proceeded to discuss only what HE thought that *I* did wrong! (Taking our daughter with me, which is nonsense, since she's nursing and I could not have left her!) I told him this was one of the forms of abuse I was talking about, and that I don't want to live with it. :)

You told me in answer to one of my posts, not to leave as a manipulation. I knew exactly what you meant. I am sure it worked since I really felt inside me that I could not live with his behaviour for one more day. He sensed I meant what I did, that I was not playing games. :)

After many long conversations and after he told me he had read all the things I requested (and he never reads!), I returned home.

I did not know how it would be, but it was better than I expected. We "opened a new page" in our book (turned a new leaf? I don't remember the English expression), we really talked, communicated, expressed ourselves. Excellent!

One amazing thing is, I felt my love for him came all back! And I thought I lost it! Yes, I did really want him dead just a few weeks ago...  Amazing, isn't it?

And no - I did not forget that this "honeymoon" could be misleading. None of us has solved the anger issues. Right. So right away I called the local "movement against domestic violence [abuse]" and made an appointment. Yippeee! Apparently, they don't treat us as a couple here. First I have to come and tell them the case (they want to check if I am a battered wife - and I'm not...), then we each go to a different professional, then we'll see. 

He was a bit shocked. He says he's not a wife beater and why not go to regular couple's counseling. I told him we have a problem of anger, violence and abuse, and I want someone who understands problems of abuse (I did my homework, Dr. Irene!). I see that! You know the old saying, "The Big Guy helps those who help themselves..."  I don't care what they'll think of us. I want to solve our problems. Also, I told him that if we don't like what they offer, we'll go shop somewhere else. But I am willing to try them.

So, we are back together, we are both happy, but this is just the beginning:

I keep a close eye on him, and I will not tolerate the slightest deviation anymore (3 days since I'm back, none happened). Word of warning: As your heart warms, you will find yourself slipping back; forgiving him, overlooking, etc. DON'T!

Also, I keep a close eye on myself: I do my best to "feel my body" and go by what it tells me, and I do my best to stay calm and centered, so that I, too, will not "engage" or react "abusively" in any way (I used to shout at him when I got mad at his provocations). Excellent.

Also, we are going to counseling and more stuff - for instance, I want to suggest to him Shiatsu treatments to help him get more in touch with himself. I do it, and it helps me a lot. Sounds good to me.

I can't believe how different I feel today, compared to last week. At the moment I even have a hard time remembering any abusive incidents... All because I heard your advice, thought about what I, in my particular situation, needed to do, and acted on it. You took responsibility; you took control of your life.

You empowered me. You used the information to empower yourself. I left because I really felt my feelings, and I got the courage to stop acting co-dependently (i.e.., suffering but staying).

Leaving - which was being true to myself - empowered me. Now I'm back, still empowered. I have no illusions. We have a hard work ahead of us, but we have good chances of recovery. He's going to need you to stay tough; he can't do it alone right now.

Thank you for being here! That you!

I agree with what you told that guy - nothing I said to my husband before ever made a difference. The only thing that made a difference was manifesting to him and to myself that I RESPECT MYSELF now, and will not live with his behaviour, literally. "Threats to leave" or setting "leaving" as a boundary, don't work with abusers. They always treat you as manipulative (because they are), so they won't believe you. Correct.

Victims, put your money where your mouth is (is that the right expression?). It is all about respect. Can't stand it anymore? Then don't!

Love to you all. B.    God bless you and yours Smart Lady B. Keep us posted!

 

B1: Submit
Date: Thursday, August 17, 2000

S1

My abuser, because of his own insecurity and other "stuff," never did understand or own what he was doing. Yes, yes, absolutely, both of us contributed to the relationship problems and dysfunctions. I had lousy boundaries. So did he. I didn't know I was being abused. He didn't know he was being abusive. I figured it out, finally, and I told him that I wouldn't take it anymore. He still didn't get it. After several years of trying to re-form the relationship we got nowhere. I left. We kept trying. Still no progress. I finally gave up, but not before I figured out that I had a lot of work to do on myself, otherwise I'd be back in the same relationship, with him or someone like him. Good! YOU are the only one you can change!

After years of stuffing my anger I was very, very angry. This man has a problem with other peoples' anger, and his own. Other people "make" him angry--it's never his choice or his responsibility. On the other hand, other peoples' anger triggers intense discomfort in him. I think he thinks he's going to be abandoned if anyone is mad. So they have to quit being mad, otherwise. . .Who knows what might happen? So he still doesn't take responsibility. 

We have children, so we still have to have some kind of relationship. I no longer put up with abuse. I "call" him on all boundary violations or unethical behaviors. He never says, "What I did was wrong. I'm sorry. I won't do it again." He never will, I don't think. What happened in our marriage is I changed. I quit taking the blame for his bad behavior. I think that made him think I didn't love him anymore. I did love him, but I wanted him to grow up, and I wanted us to be friends again, not stuck in a constant control battle that was pointless. Neither one of us was healthy enough to do that. He couldn't give me space. I was too new at sticking up for myself to do it very gracefully or consistently. I was very angry about the whole thing for a pretty long time, before and after the divorce. 

Now I mostly just feel sorry for him, but don't blame him. He did the best he could. He doesn't know any better. He still needs to think he is the victim. (When I tried to start talking to him about how his treatment of me made me feel, he invariably deflected the conversation from being about his behavior and how it made me feel to being about how he felt about me not liking his behavior. He would insist that I was abusing him!) So sad... But I figured out that my recovery was my job. It didn't depend on him. I also figured out that there wasn't anything I wanted from him that I had to be married to him to get. 

Finally, I figured out that there was nothing loving or kind or warm or special about our relationship. It was sick, and sad. Not a marriage, just an addiction (in both directions.) The writer is right, though. It can seem sudden to the abuser, because he's just not paying attention. Yes. He's so into his own "stuff" that he doesn't really see his wife as a real person. Yes! She is an extension of him, a screen for his projections. Her presence, in his mind, is mandatory. You got it... She has to be there to take the pressure off for him. He thinks he "puts up" with a lot of bad stuff from her. She's a "lousy wife" and is failing to give him the perfect fantasy life he thinks he deserves. Yes. But at least with my husband, splitting up is unthinkable. And unforgivable. You've come a very, very long way. Not a happy ending, but the ending was your husband's choice, even though he doesn't see it that way. 

Readers: In light of this woman's post, can you understand why I think abusive types like the original writer are very special people? Look at how far they've had to go to overcome their self-absorption! While far from perfect, they are no more than lost souls striving to find peace of mind and sanity - as is their victim. But, their job is harder; that's why there are so many more victims than abusers populating this site. That's why I think the recovering abuser who has the courage to seek help and write in deserves a break - if not a round of applause. Comments?

B1: Submit
Date: Friday, August 18, 2000

S1

Regarding Recovering Abusers: I know as my own boyfriend has improved by leaps and bounds, I have also felt very proud and admired how far he had come and wanted to encourage him to stick with it (codependent, I know no: just human) by giving him lots of ego boosts and pats on the pack. However, we've gotten into a cycle where whenever I give him positive words about his recovery and how far he's come, the VERY NEXT DAY without FAIL he will start trying to control/abuse again. It's happened countless times. I've learned that in my case, giving him the ego boost is dangerous and I'm trying not to anymore, which is sad, because I want him to feel good about the improvements he's made. However, I don't know if all recovering abusers are like this or just my boyfriend in particular. So to all those recovering angry people who can get a pat on the back and still realize that it doesn't mean your work is done- consider yourself patted! -SatokoGirl :)

B1: Submit
Date: Friday, August 18, 2000

S1

YES, YES, YES - the abuser who has finally seen the light deserves a big round of applause - I can empathize about how difficult this must be.

However, sometimes this revelation takes longer than the victim can or should tolerate the abuse. Yes, and I've said this a dozen times, the victim must look WITHIN to their self-esteem issues to see why they've allowed their boundaries to be broken time and again. When they finally decide that they will not allow this ANYMORE, it does make them self-righteous (FINALLY!, although perceivably it's a new cockiness to the abuser, i.e. "who the heck does she think she/he is talking back to me, so confident that she/he wants out of the situation"?). Sure, it looks like heck now that the victim allowed it to go on for so long...patterns are being broken, people reacting to change.

My only real point here: The desired outcome is that both people become HEALTHIER...But, here's the acceptance part: many times, this can only happen when these two people are not TOGETHER anymore. If it can happen when they are still together - BEAUTIFUL.

Best of luck to all victims and abusers for a healthy future - together or not - whatever it takes!

LHW   :)

B1: Submit
Date: Friday, August 18, 2000

S1

Yes, he needs some cheering on!! I am very proud of him and in him I see that there is hope that our loved ones or "once" loved ones really can try and make that change if they really really want to and that's encouraging to me. Victims aren't left out here, we have to lace on our shoes and run the race of "change" also. After all, although we may be angry temporarily, remember it is only temporarily if we really work at it and keep moving forward, so let's not keep blaming our abuser and take responsibility for what we allowed in our life, which is bitter-sweet but self-empowering and well worth it! It's not easy, and sometimes very rough, but in the end you end up healthier, happier and sometimes, we just keep on running past the finish line into a brand new life of new dreams and new goals and meeting new wonderful friends! Don't give up, keep going! You'll be happy you did!

~CLC Yippeee!

 

B1: Submit
Date: Friday, August 18, 2000

S1

Dr. Irene,

In response to my earlier post, you asked readers to comment on recovering abusers. I'd like to comment. My path to recovery has included Al-Anon, and I have met some recovering abusers there. Anyone who is stuck in codependent or rage-aholic or other addictive behavior who decides to get out and makes the effort is a hero, in my eyes, and whatever process got them that far is nothing short of miraculous. Any tiny baby steps to give up the fantasy that others "make" us do what we do are to be cheered and encouraged. You bet.

My ex-husband tried to change. We went to counseling for almost a year. But I think he was doing it to keep me from divorcing him, not because he really believed he had done anything to hurt me. For a very short time I think he started to glimpse his issues (and he's got a lot of them. The man has a lot of valid reasons for being messed up--reasons, not excuses.) I think it scared him. And when the work he was doing on his own issues did not have the desired result, he dropped it, and went back to blaming me for everything. I could almost hear the door in his mind open half way, then slam shut. Ouchhh. Sorry.

I read The Verbally Abusive Relationship--twice. It was such an eye-opener. The explanation that he and I were in different realities was so helpful! That didn't keep me from resenting him for a long time for not being in my reality (dumb, I know, but part of the healing process) but it gave me words for what was going on. Before I read the book, I thought everything was due to some deficiency on my part. I wasn't patient enough or loving enough. I misunderstood. I wasn't good enough at explaining. Evans helped me see that all these difficulties fit a pattern of verbal abuse.

I agree that "get out, leave him, he's not worth it" can be very thoughtless. I agree that marriage is important and we should fight for our marriages. But to what end? If both people are willing to change, if both have enough self esteem and faith (in themselves, in each other) to weather the rough spots, if they really like and respect each other, and the problems are about communication and responsible assertiveness and feelings recognition and validation, they should keep working on it. If they are in different realities, and there's no way to build a bridge, what's the point? Absolutely. If two people are in different realities and the abusive person likes his or her reality, what's the point? My ex husband loved the idea of being married more than he loved our actual relationship. He loved the fantasy husband and wife in his head, not his own real self, and certainly not the real me. When I started being honest and real with him, instead of trying to tell him what he wanted to hear, I think it scared him. It showed him more reality than he was prepared to deal with. It was a time in my life when I was dealing with a lot of mid-life kinds of issues that had nothing to do with him, in addition to the ones that centered on our relationship. He had depended on me to be "always happy" and to "always do the right thing." When I started showing my human side (sad, depressed, angry, hurt, worried, etc.) I think it scared him.

Neither one of us was getting our needs met in the marriage. Once I started to get to know the real me, to be in touch with all my feelings, not just anger, and to find out who I really am, and quit trying to be what others (not just hubby!) wanted me to be, I couldn't go back to being a false self. Good! But it was my false self that he loved (though he denied it). He thinks he needs someone to run his life, tell him what to do, set the stage, and make everything easy for him. His current wife does that. (He doesn't actually seem any happier to me, but who am I to judge?) I have remarried too. My new husband is sweet, gentle, and kind. Not an abusive bone in his body. Smart lady! If I am upset about something, we talk. What a concept! If I want something from him I ask, and if he can give it to me he will, and if he can't he'll say so, and I'll find some other way to meet that need. He is warm and loving and attentive. I never get that "yo-yo" treatment anymore ("I hate you--Don't leave me.")

People can change, but it's really hard. Anyone who is hanging in there and sincerely trying to have empathy for the other person, to own his or her anger, to explore the inner source of his or her rage, to integrate his or her dark side, deserves encouragement and support. Good job, abusers. Keep trying. Keep praying. Stay on the path. It will be long, and hard, but it will be worth it. Don't worry about whether it will be worth the effort. You may not be able to save your marriage, but that shouldn't be your primary goal. Your primary goal should be to learn how to live in your own skin, and learn how to give and receive love in a healthy, respectful way, and find serenity, and be what God created you to be--for yourself, because that's what you need. We can't start having wonderful, happy relationships with other people until we have wonderful, honest, functional relationships with our true selves, "warts and all." That's what I think, anyway.

One last point is the abusive relationship is two sides of the same coin. Both of the people in it are able to play either role. The victim's path to recovery will require her to face her own abusive tendencies, the things she does to hurt herself and others, the rage she feels and expresses in such things as food abuse or drug abuse or child abuse or whatever. I agree with Dr. Irene, it's not "she's good, he's bad." It's about two people who both need to grow and heal and change. Abusers who read this site may miss it when Dr. Irene and others say that, maybe because they are at the moment blaming and punishing themselves. You didn't make yourself, but now you are the only person in the universe who has the power to change yourself for the better. Bravo to you for deciding to change. As they say in the 12 Step Groups, "keep coming back, it works--if you work it."  Thank you for your wonderful and thoughtful post. You have come a long way. Wow...   Dr. Irene

B1: Submit
Date: Saturday, August 19, 2000

S1

Hi DR Irene:

I am not sure if I am the Terri you know and love, lol, but I'll take it anyway and the same to you :) I am the one who got into it a few times on Ouchhh but took your advice and things have been soooo much better! I forget to sign my posts half the time. Terri You are the Terri I know and love... Glad you're still around.

 

B1: Submit
Date: Sunday, August 20, 2000

S1

Dear Dr. Irene, B. here, keeping you posted.

I am the one who left her husband and came back to a better relationship.

I wrote: "Leaving - which was being true to myself - empowered me. Now I'm back, still empowered. I have no illusions. We have a hard work ahead of us, but we have good chances of recovery."

You wrote to me: "He's going to need you to stay tough; he can't do it alone right now."

Yes! Absolutely! I really feel it. Actually, part of what makes me angry is "being the mother" in the house. I love being a mother to my 3 year old, but I don't want to be a mother to my 31 year old partner. However, this time it's not "mothering", but really taking care of me, of my own self, at all times - which helps him to stay in line. Exactly.

I wanted to tell you two things. One happened last night. My husband wanted to make love to me, but I was so tired that I only wanted to hug and kiss briefly, and go to sleep. This is a familiar scenario. What he does when I tell him I do not want to make love now is, he pushes me away in a rude way - he has an angry body language, he disconnects in a sudden way, he turns his back on me and sulks, in short: acts abusively towards me, while he actually "plays the part" of the "rejected victim". He feels "rejected", though I did not reject him (I simply don't want to make love right then for some reason) and "punishes" me for the perceived "wrong" I did him. You are correct to challenge him on his mis-behavior.

My behaviour as a co-dependent victim who had no respect for herself was either to say the "no" and be offended by his ugly reaction (feeling awful, crying, trying to explain to him my reasons etc. etc.), or - mostly - to shut up and sleep with him even though I didn't want to, just because it seemed harder for me to experience his abusive reaction (Yes, this is what you call "selling out". Yuck!). I bet many victims now nod "Oh, yeah, been there, done that". :)

Well, yesterday he did that again - though in a "lighter" way (he did not manifest high hostility, only mild irritation, but he did push me - gently, but firmly and physically - over to my side of the bed). I felt bad, though I did congratulate myself that I did say "no" (Yes, the thought of "giving up" did cross my mind - but I did not act upon it!). Then I did something that I think was a bit "co-dependent" of me: I said "wait, first I want a kiss" and we hugged and kissed. It was co-dependent because I did it a. to "pat" him and assure him I love him and want to be physically close to him even though I am too tired to make love. b. to calm myself, because his reaction made me feel rejected. Not codependent. Just smart. You let him know you did not take his silly rejection seriously and you still love him even though he's behaving like a 3 year old. Good for you!

He suggested a 5-minute-quickie so that I can still go to sleep right away. I said: "no, I don't want that, I will not enjoy it at all". I felt that this answer, too, was a new assertiveness for me. I felt what was "not good for me" and took care of it right away. Also, the "new" aspect of it was, again, that I said it without any anger, indignation, complaint etc. etc. - just stating what I do and do not want. Excellent!!!!!!

I just lay there for a minute, and then I rolled back to him, looked him in the eye - with my new empowered personality - and told him that what he did right now was something he does a lot and I don't like it. I told him I do not want to be "punished" and "rejected" just because I declined his offer to make love. I don't remember exactly what else I said, but I was not angry, very assertive, and full of a new feeling of self respect, that I felt gave me the courage to stay true to myself and stand for what I need. I did not tell him what to do, I did not "blame" or anything, I just said "you did XYZ and I don't like it". Yipppeeee!!!!! She's got it!

He smiled, said almost nothing, but I understood his smile very well. It said: "Yes, you are right. Yes, you "caught" me behaving improperly. That's OK. I like it when you don't let me step all over you, even though I was not aware of the fact that I was doing something wrong". So, Dr. Irene, You are absolutely right: He needs me to stay strong and empowered.

I promise I will NEVER again sleep with him when I don't want to, just to avoid his "punishment". But you know, how can I explain to someone else that this is abuse? After all, his "punishment" is not hitting me, shouting at me, or anything (that would not scare me, BTW) - I am afraid of his rejection, back turning, waves of hostility, silent accusation of me, behaving as if *I* abused him. It's as if this is abuse just because I act the victim! You've accepted it, yes. But that does not let him off the hook. He should know better at 31. Compromises his integrity.

OK, the second change brought by my new empowerment:

This is tricky. I don't know what I changed. Here goes: We went to a family dinner at his parents. Everyone there, all knew that I left him (they supported him. From what he said, none of them suggested that he corrects anything, but his brother told him "not to feel too guilty" and his psychologist sister-in-law told him she always thought HE would be the first to leave ME. And they know him as a childish passive-aggressive, and for years believe he should go to get treatment!).

Anyway, the conversation flows (none said anything, business as usual). My sister in law (not the psychologist) tells us she found a nanny and goes back to work in September (in two weeks). They have recently adopted, from Russia, a girl, who came to them after spending the first 5 months of her life in hospital (negligence only), and 6 more months in a childrens' institution (the Russians did everything very slowly, they don't think that babies' lives count). The child is with them for almost 4 months, after 10 years of treatments and such huge efforts to become parents, and here she goes "back to work" full time and gives her child to a nanny.

My old self would have commented on that. My new self kept quiet. Why express my opinion when a. nobody asked for it, and b. I knew nobody would change. :)

Someone else told about their baby's nutrition. My husband said something about the fact that sugary foods are not good for children. The someone did not "get it" at all. I kept quiet. :)

I kept my mouth shut about at least 4 different things that would normally get me to say my opinion. I felt good with myself for not saying anything. I felt calm and centered. I felt self respect.

Why? What did I do? What was the meaning of the old behaviour? Why can I do it now that I am empowered? How is it connected to the change I made in my relationship with my husband (who is now attentive, helpful, communicative, loving and great with our child too)? Also, I felt this was a double improvement, because the more stressed I am, the more I talk, and here I was in a very stressful situation, for me, and I easily manages to exercise my better judgment and NOT TALK. What do you think, Dr. Irene? I think you are centered and no longer need to avoid your anxiety and other feelings by "engaging" in whatever is going on.

All my love, B.

We're doing a whole board on B folks. Stay tuned.

B1: Submit
Date: Sunday, August 20, 2000

S1

Hi, B. again.

I have just read what you wrote me in the posts to "covert abuse": "As you begin to respect yourself, and as he sees you mean it - or bye - he begins to respect you, and in many cases (but not always) cleans up his act."

You were so right! I said "bye", I started to respect myself - he cleaned up his act! My job is to keep respecting myself, to get better and better at it until it becomes a second nature. :)

Also, we both have to work actively on our anger issues, to learn to "sit with feelings" (especially him, because he cannot tolerate feeling even slightly "bad", and the only way he can handle it is by instantly becoming abusive) and to learn "respect" and "self respect".

One of the things I do recently is, when we watch TV and see a character behaving with any kind of dis-respect towards self or others: I immediately tell him what he/she did and what was wrong with it ("She agreed to marry the guy even though he has just hit her mother in front of her! She has no self respect!"). It is easier when you discuss imaginary characters, but it's a very good practice to detect failures in boundaries. It also makes my job easier to tell him: "here you behaved exactly like Christopher Multisanti in the Sopranos, see?" It makes him think. He is more willing to understand what I say. :) 

Thanks again, Dr. Irene, and I hope all of you guys get the power. B. Yippeeee!

B1: Submit
Date: Sunday, August 20, 2000

S1

I love this web site! It is giving me insights into my anger with being abused (verbally). I am always angry now! I wasn't before. Just sad! I read once depression is anger turned inwards. It's my house so I can't leave and getting him to leave is hard. He doesn't want to. I know I have to be stronger and pack up his things and get him out. He frightens me so I back down. Then I really get mad at myself. I'll keep coming back to this site. I want to learn techniques for dealing with this.

B1: Submit
Date: Tuesday, August 22, 2000

S1

I was curious that you thought all it took for you to "change" was for your wife to say stop or I'll leave. Sort of shifting responsibility. Sort of like having to be told to stop spitting on someone. As if you have to be told.

I can think of dozens of reasons why she may have found it hard. She told you and it didn't work before. You didn't get it. It triggers bigger rage. The fact is that in my case it was very hard to leave an abusive spouse. My therapist said I had a hyper critical father I could not please so I tried to "solve" this problem by marrying a hyper critical wife and still couldn't get approval. When I was in a relationship for twenty years it got very disorientating. I eventually had no bearings on what was right or wrong. Your self esteem whittled to zero let me doubt myself. Being a guy it was hard to see that I was being manipulated by selective application of love but more often withholding and punishment. Until my only thought became do not do anything to set her off into an abusive tirade. I became entirely a tool that she used. That you allowed her to use.

Maybe it was unconditional love. My father had it for his wife and parents but not for his son. I never had a bad word to say about my wife or parent during the 20 years. I was in denial. She left me in a humiliating way. She was so convinced of her "righteousness" that we actually went to therapy. The therapist was a woman who knew her and my wife felt "safe" with. But after trying to think constructively for six months and my receiving validation from the therapist that in fact I was not the crazy one, the therapist gave up and advised me to do the same. She said my focus has to be on myself and you have to ask yourself why you did not leave a long time ago. For my ex she said "You trash and scapegoat this man all the time" and even one time called her a "castrating bitch". Wow!  

B1: Submit
Date: Wednesday, August 23, 2000

S1

Dear Dr. Irene,

I scoured your site since October of 99 and have found it incredibly helpful in dealing with my own recovery and personal growth and I am very thankful for that. However, this letter and your response raises the question in my mind again; why are we so screwed up when it comes to relationships? Because you were taught by people who knew no better. They knew no better and you knew no better because we live in a society that is disconnected from self and basic human values. This is my opinion.

We live in a day and age of self-help books and therapy and feel good drugs and self improvement and a tremendous amount of information regarding emotions and feelings. My question is are we getting better? Are we learning to love differently? Is there noticeable progress in our society to say that this emotional disease has a cure and an end is in sight? Are the children of today growing up with better models than we had? I don't know...

I am aware of a good deal of change on my part, I have grown personally by leaps and bounds. More so in the last year than in the last 13. But are we growing as a people? I am curious how you feel about this. I think we have a long way to go. I also think it is to our credit that we are becoming more and more aware of how empty we are, and the efforts we make towards remedying this unfortunate situation.

Thanks again for your site. I recommend it to so many people in similar situations. You have been a great help and resource. Thank you.

cc

B1: Submit
Date: Thursday, August 24, 2000

S1

Well, I'm a victim man, but I do understand what you mean.

I grew up in an abusive family - my father was the primary abuser - and so I put so much effort into NOT being like him that I turned into a doormat for the women in my life. I was so focused on not turning into a monster, like my father, that I never noticed the signs of my wife's abusiveness until I was already trapped in the relationship. And even then, it took friends who could see her behavior from outside the marriage to point out that what she was doing to me was cruel and vicious. That if I saw it happening to a friend, I wouldn't stand by and just let it happen the way I was letting it happen to myself. When it was explained to me that way, I couldn't deny it any more. Then I had to try to decide how to cope with it. The problem is, my wife's abuse only escalated after I became aware of it. It was as if she was afraid I was slipping away from her and had to brutalize me into submission. Something like that. Fortunately (?) her increased brutality made me so afraid of her, that it had the opposite effect. Good! It strengthened my resolve to leave her, enough that I accepted the offered help and fled 2000 miles away to get safely out of her reach.

I spent a year in therapy after leaving her, just to learn how to live like a human being after 8 years of being programmed by her to believe I wasn't worthy of that. I'd still be in therapy, but I had to move to a place where the air was clean enough to not make me sick from pollution. So I'm trying to cope on my own, with the help of friends and the What's Next? mailing list. I still find myself falling into her programming far too often, and sometimes find myself waking up, afraid she'll come for me. A touch of Post Traumatic Stress, huh? Have you seen a therapist? It is likely to help you process your abuse more quickly.

For me, the task of recovery is the need to deprogram from her programming, and to learn that I am a human being, not a despicable piece of subhuman slime who should be grateful that I'm allowed to serve her whims. It's likely to take a long time to overcome that.... But you can and you will. Bless you. 

B1: Submit
Date: Friday, August 25, 2000

S1

I agree - it takes two to tango, but WHY does the abuser have to be this way???? Trust me, most abusers do not want to be the way they are. They know no other way to be, as frustrating as it seems to you. If they could easily fix it, don't you think they would? Can they not get help and understand that life does not have to be a BATTLE! That no one HAS to be RIGHT all the time - or do they live in such an altered reality that this way of life is all they see - or maybe all they want to see? They can get help. It is very hard for this person to get help. That's why every abusive individual on this site who is trying to help him or herself earns my special respect. It must be a living H**l to live inside the abuser's skin YES!, always having to put the other person down to feel good about themselves - yes people in recovery are ANGRY! and they have a perfect right to be! Yes... All of this is so sad...

B1: Submit
Date: Sunday, August 27, 2000

S1

Unfortunately I have recently realized through the help of a dear friend that I was stuck in my rage , I did not even realize what was wrong I just knew I was unhappy and it was his fault. Rage is a very dangerous thing, I had and affair, got drunk, neglected my duties as a parent and lost all my self esteem. I am in therapy now and I am beginning to realize just how angry I have been for very long; it has affected my life in every aspect. I even became physically ill. Be very careful Rage is detrimental to you health ,happiness and you family. Thank you for your post. Thank God for your recovery.

B1: Submit
Date: Saturday, September 02, 2000

S1

Its been a long and hard nine months since he left us. Anger came and went like the tides. for awhile I could NOT control my rage against him and his actions. but I'm getting better now, much better. I don't throw the phone anymore, I haven't in a couple of months. I don't cry and shake uncontrollably with rage anymore. I am just learning how to feel again and the full range of emotions is a gift.

B1: Submit
Date: Monday, October 02, 2000

S1

Actually, the one thing I don't feel is angry. I'm NOT angry, not even a little. I left my husband in January, and he still does not (will not) understand that I left him because of the abuse. I just feel so relieved, and thankful. He continues to pursue me via phone calls, emails, and now our son, forcing me into the position of having to taking action concerning custody in order to to protect him. I still have empathy toward him, and sometimes I make excuses about his behavior, the same old codependent activity I suppose. I wonder if there is something wrong with me?

The way we broke up allows him to blame me for everything of course. He encouraged me to have an affair as he was sexually aroused by the idea of me with another man (?!) and I felt so dead I jumped at the chance of feeling again. I fell in love, and that led to me leaving. Shortly after leaving however, I dumped this very inappropriate relationship, and I haven't thought much about it since. The important thing was getting away from my husband! I completely ignore his "demands" for a defense or explaination as to why I left, because I know from past experience that it would just leave me open for more abuse. He believes I have betrayed him and my son by leaving. If I wasn't sure he would laugh or rage at me, I would send him the verbal abuse book... Is it possible that someone could be so in the dark as to the nature of their actions??

Meg

B1: Submit
Date: Friday, October 20, 2000

S1

I can whole heartedly agree with the last comment. I made the mistake allowing the abuser (boyfriend) tug at my guilt and heartstrings. His latest delimma is that he is dying of a brain tumor. I know now that this was a ploy to get me back into his throes of the abuse cycle. He promised me total fidelity, and that he was going to get rid of his girl-friend he had been seeing behind my back. We had been trying to have a child together prior to me finding out (by the way was by trial and error). Girlfriend just happened to pick up the phone one morning when I had called to find out what had happened to him. He was supposed to have come up to my house that morning!! When he came to the phone I questioned him about the woman answering the phone. He tried to lie his way out of this one saying that this was his roommate's girlfriend. Since I had been receiving the brunt of his criticism and sarcasm. Visits were getting more sporatic and unpredictable. He was calling me making up excuses why he was not able to come up, etc. Since I wasn't suspicious at this time, I accepted his excuses. Even after all this, and he was the culprit of this mess, I got blamed for finding out. I got blamed for wanting an explanation about this behavior. Let me be the first to tell you or maybe the 100th person, I did not know he was having an affair at all. The first thing people who don't understand the abuse want to do is blame the victim. I felt that something was wrong with the way we related to one another. I was never given the chance to speak up about anything, and was made to feel like I was standing in his way of a college degree, associates degree or whatever professional move his was making even though we had only known each other for four months. After four months, we were well into the emotional abuse cycle. The red flags were there. He had two girl-friends living with him within a year in his house. He complained that they were at fault. The mess hit the fan about two weeks ago. We had gone to the mountains for a day. I noticed he kept saying things like I was making his life hard, and that I cost him too much money. He bought me a $4.00 sandwich and this was breaking him financially. We drove my car. He tried to stick with buying the majority of his purchases even though I was costing him money, and it was his idea to go on this trip. I should not have gone in the first place because I had been sick all that week. He didn't even call to check on me at all that week. His argument was that I should have called him. Anyway, after we got back from the mountains I didn't hear from him in a couple of days so I decided to call him. When I called he acted as if he was talking to another guy on the phone that really threw me for a loop since he had proclaimed how much he loved me two days before. That's when the feeling left. I realized at this point that this man was in it for himself. Since he has a history of violence with his other female aquantances I took action and decided that I no longer needed any type of contact from this liar and manipulator. His actions kept me off balance the majority of the time I was involved with him. He would alternate between hot and cold becoming extremely unpredicatable in his visits and telephone calls. I filed a civil protection order against this guy and my court date is on Oct 25. I finally realize what this abuse cycle is about. You bet, I am mad as hell, but only I can deal with this anger. This anger was necessary in filing this order. This is my statement saying that I want out and I refuse to be treated this way any more. Thanks Paula

B1: Submit
Date: Friday, October 20, 2000

S1

I can whole heartedly agree with the last comment. I made the mistake allowing the abuser (boyfriend) tug at my guilt and heartstrings. His latest delimma is that he is dying of a brain tumor. I know now that this was a ploy to get me back into his throes of the abuse cycle. He promised me total fidelity, and that he was going to get rid of his girl-friend he had been seeing behind my back. We had been trying to have a child together prior to me finding out (by the way was by trial and error). Girlfriend just happened to pick up the phone one morning when I had called to find out what had happened to him. He was supposed to have come up to my house that morning!! When he came to the phone I questioned him about the woman answering the phone. He tried to lie his way out of this one saying that this was his roommate's girlfriend. Since I had been receiving the brunt of his criticism and sarcasm. Visits were getting more sporatic and unpredictable. He was calling me making up excuses why he was not able to come up, etc. Since I wasn't suspicious at this time, I accepted his excuses. Even after all this, and he was the culprit of this mess, I got blamed for finding out. I got blamed for wanting an explanation about this behavior. Let me be the first to tell you or maybe the 100th person, I did not know he was having an affair at all. The first thing people who don't understand the abuse want to do is blame the victim. I felt that something was wrong with the way we related to one another. I was never given the chance to speak up about anything, and was made to feel like I was standing in his way of a college degree, associates degree or whatever professional move his was making even though we had only known each other for four months. After four months, we were well into the emotional abuse cycle. The red flags were there. He had two girl-friends living with him within a year in his house. He complained that they were at fault. The mess hit the fan about two weeks ago. We had gone to the mountains for a day. I noticed he kept saying things like I was making his life hard, and that I cost him too much money. He bought me a $4.00 sandwich and this was breaking him financially. We drove my car. He tried to stick with buying the majority of his purchases even though I was costing him money, and it was his idea to go on this trip. I should not have gone in the first place because I had been sick all that week. He didn't even call to check on me at all that week. His argument was that I should have called him. Anyway, after we got back from the mountains I didn't hear from him in a couple of days so I decided to call him. When I called he acted as if he was talking to another guy on the phone that really threw me for a loop since he had proclaimed how much he loved me two days before. That's when the feeling left. I realized at this point that this man was in it for himself. Since he has a history of violence with his other female aquantances I took action and decided that I no longer needed any type of contact from this liar and manipulator. His actions kept me off balance the majority of the time I was involved with him. He would alternate between hot and cold becoming extremely unpredicatable in his visits and telephone calls. I filed a civil protection order against this guy and my court date is on Oct 25. I finally realize what this abuse cycle is about. You bet, I am mad as hell, but only I can deal with this anger. This anger was necessary in filing this order. This is my statement saying that I want out and I refuse to be treated this way any more. Thanks Paula

B1: Submit
Date: Saturday, December 23, 2000

S1

I fell like I am still stuck in anger. I have been trying to not blame everything on my h. It is hard to own your own "STUFF" and admit that you have been letting another person abuse you. It is also very hard to learn how to disengauge from this abuse - although it is working! Why can't abuser's listen when their wife or husband tries to put up boundries??? Are they that cruel or what?? I do not understand HOW people become so abusive or why they want to hurt other people. I guess I have a long way to go to get better.

B1: Submit
Date: Saturday, December 23, 2000

S1

Rage is when you look at ur self in the morror and see the abuser. Good thing for me I am stonger then my abuser! Smarter! Has a large heart. And on Jan 4th am seeking help for ME I will NOT do to him what he has done to me. I sit here and wonder, Does he at all feel the same way I do, after he has belittled, downgraded and yes hit me? If he does how can he live with him self from day to day? Mara SweetMaraNFla@aol.com

B1: Submit
Date: Tuesday, December 26, 2000

S1

I am a man "victim" and the problem is that you love your partner even after you are verbally abused. As well as being downright mean, the abuser is also (in many cases) the nicest person in the world (when they want to be) especially in public. Promises are made by the abuser not to continue with the behavior. The victim is caught in a complex duality struggle hoping to be able to remedy the situation (because after all, they are just words). Yes, the women on this sight stick to several catch prases---sorry, that's just pop culture. The abuser often wishes to stop the behavior and genuinely wishes to, but fails at every attempt.

I have a degree in psychology, yet I have been in a verbally abusive relationship for 2 1/2 years. As a sensitive man, I am aware of the consequences of leaving my wife and all that has been built. I also find it most difficult to bear hearing my wife sincerely cry for days litterally (when I say that we should divorce). I often ask myself, how can this one behavior problem ruin everything we've built? We find reasons not to leave, a hope for the future. Foolish only in hindsight. Those who have succeeded in curbing the abuse would make liars out of us all who think the only way out is divorce. So, where do you draw the line and decide that it is best to leave and not work on the problem any longer?

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Date: Saturday, January 06, 2001

S1

Yes........we MUST remember exactly what you said......neither of us had the skills to stop the mess. Somebody has to say "Stop!".....and it's usually (almost always?) the "victim". You are right.....by the time we understand what has been going on, we are soooooooooooo angry, too angry. And the anger should not ONLY be at the abuser. After all we, too, must take responsibility for our part in it all.....allowing it to continue for years and years. But once realization has hit, there is only one course open, isn't there? To let things remain as they have will only make us even angrier at ourselves and the abuser. Something has to change. Counseling? Someone leaves? I think only each couple can decide if there's anything left to save........and if BOTH partners are willing to face the destruction, why it happened.....but only long enough to understand so that it ceases, and then get on with the rest of their lives. Codependents are pretty forgiving people I have found, and if the abuser is sincere in wanting help I think alot of marriages CAN be salvaged from the wreck. We can't stay stuck in anger and expect anything to get better. It will take both partners to work hard at not "listening to old tapes" in their heads. pam

 

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Date: Sunday, January 07, 2001

S1

I have a commit most of the time they say it is the man that is the abuser, maybe maybe not, my counselor says it is about 50/50 and after reading and learning about all this in my relationship I see the Abuse from the beginning, and I abused and I was abused I didn’t know what good boundaries were and neither did she. I would say she started it but that would be a typical abuser claiming he was abused. I don’t know how it started but I know I have stopped and she is still abusing me. As a man we are not raised to be victims, I have a hard time seeing my self as a victim and learning what to do to stop the abuse I have learned a lot from this web site and it is more neutral then most of the readings out there about abuse. But it is not always the men doing this and your comment about "any comments Victims ladies" is just one more bias comment. This is not a gender problem it is a social problem and when we all take responsibility for our part in this and quit blaming one group or gender and start working on fixing this our world will be a better place, we can repair our families, teach our children how to behave, respect others and not to cross other boundaries. Jim

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Date: Sunday, March 18, 2001

S1

Dear Dr. Irene, Have I got a story to tell...I have just ended a ten year nightmare with a sociopath and only just found out what a sociopath is. It all started in 1990 wile this person was married to a friend of mine. They had a stormy marriage and I lent this person a sympathetic ear. She told me tales of abuse by my friend Bob and though I knew Bob all my life I somehow felt really sorry for her. Knowing that Bob could be somewhat of a chauvinist I leaned in closer to Connie's problem. She then seduced me into bed with her. The sex was extraordinary and I was caught between my desire for Connie, and the guilt of hurting a dear friend. It was was quite painful. I soon found myself doing the most despicable things for her. I even helped her empty the contents of his home with her telling me the entire time "its mine, its all mine." She didn't even leave him a fork. I was horrified. I wanted to leave but there was that guilt to face -- the guilt of hurting my friend. She made promises to keep me near - said she was in love with me, said she would make everything right for us; we would be married once the divorce was final. So many times I wanted out but guilt kept me in place.... After six months we where living together I developed a rash of little bumps on my genitals and found out I had an STD --venereal warts caused by "too many partners" -- too many partners? I only have known seven different women, but there it was. Connie began to tell me her intimacies, too many to remember, she was only 22 at the time but the few she did remember left me shocked and disgusted -- one of wich with an "Uncle Bill" another with three men at once and more all of which took place before the age of 18 ,this now what I understand to be part of this disorder. I got very angry. I felt she had been subjected to incestual abuse. I felt like running away but didn't. I thought if I could, dispite all, show her true love and understanding that her self-esteem would develop and she would heal whatever made her feel so cheep and empty.

Little did I know that her promiscuous behavior would continue throughout our 10 year relationship. Whenever I beleived that something was wrong, she would deny it, rationalize it, and then tell me that I was imagining things, jealous and overbearing. Then she would tell me that she loved me and that nothing was wrong. And I wanted to believe it. I never really did, though. I started believing that I defective in some way. She always accused me of being emotionally imbalanced, as I was an emotional person.

After the birth of our third child, which I feel quite confident that all are mine, Connie's behavior became outrageous. She withdrew from me completely. She only gave me sex when she wanted something. She used it as a tool or weapon to hurt me. She started going out all night quite frequently, coming home early in the morning or not at all, never calling or giving any kind of contact or warning. She told me that if she was not able to act this way that she would leave. I began walking around on eggshells, afraid to say or do anything.

At this point, she started her own business, a home party/demonstration business selling "sex toys", while denying me feelings, love or any form of passion or intimate relations. I began to get more angry and frustrated, banging on walls, begging her to try to keep "us" - our family and home together. It all ended with an alleged faint suicide attempt on her part. She was hospitalized and released with the counselors blaming me for abuse. On the day she emptied out the bank accounts, send the home into financial ruin, filed for custody of the children. This sent me into a daze of disbelief of what was happening to me, my family and my home.

I am currently under counseling, and did not realize until being in counseling what type of person I was dealing with for 10 years. I blamed so much on myself, until my psychiatrist described symptoms of her condition in intimate details that I thought only I would know about her.

I am thankful that, with the support of my counselor, and my family, I have begun recovery in a fairly short period of time as compared to some, and am determined to work toward full recovery and take control of my life once again. :)

Tim

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Date: Friday, April 06, 2001

S1

The person who wrote this e-mail obviously still doesn't get it. During my ten-year marriage to a verbally abusive man I tried EVERYTHING! I told him to stop, I demanded he stop, I threatened to leave - I even figured out that verbal abuse was what was happening and told him that some day very soon I wouldn't be able to take that treatment any more. He called my bluff by continuing the abuse, but I wasn't bluffing anymore. There wasn't one thing I could have done or said to get him to stop. All I could do in the end was remove myself and my two children from that hurtful and dangerous situation.

Now he's remarried to a wonderful woman. I actually thought he had straightened his life out after realizing what he did to me all those years. But his new wife has started confiding in me about the abuse he is inflicting on her and her son. It is the same, right down to the same words and phrases, as the abuse of me years before. You see, in some cases there's just nothing that can be done.

B1: Submit
Date: Sunday, April 08, 2001

S1

You know, I started crying right now reading this part "seeing him dead". I have been fantasizing about my husband maybe getting killed at work. For two days I have poured over everything on this site--recognizing his behavior and then mine. I keep telling myself not to focus on what he does or doesn't do but on me. what is my problem where do I try to control. My husband is bqasically a good guy and I've been making excuses for him sicne before we got married and i can't belive I'm here again. I didn't recognise any "abuse" becaseu I'm clean and sober for 30 plus years and am a strong and successful woman. How can I be a victim (I still cringe at the word)? for several years I have been trying to be the good wife becasue he has had so much stress and he doesn't dealwith it well--his mom died, his ex-wife wants to move out of the state with his son, he keeps trying to quit smoking, there is pressure at work.... allthis is the reason I don't bring things up that I want or perceive as unfair tome. I stuff it becasue I am "so well" and so long working a 12 step program. then of course, I notice where I am the one receiving the "abuse' is trying to control him, by making him happier, loving to me, supportive of my work. He tries too--and it endears me to him when he asks about my day or watches a porgramon relationships with me when I ask. When several people pointed out that I'm in an abusive relationship, I didn't relate becasue he does reallyt ry to be ag ood and is a good guy, so it was a shock to find he is also an aubsive guy. Worse its a shock to see that I'm trying to manipulate him in subtle ways. God, it gets entangled. I was beginng to suspect that he had alzhiemers because he woudl forget very important things and blame it on me. I began to wonder if i was imagining I had told him things. It was very helpful for me to see the ppost of "overt abuse" and then "covert abuse". My list : overt abuse We have to return something to store and then go to freind's barbecue. he confuses where store is and refuses to leave until a time when we will be late. he balmes me and tehn tears up the dash of my pick up. Doesn't like my asking him something and throws dishes and breaks them. Gets into fits of rage when agrguing and packs his stuff to leave--i'v had to beg him to stay.

BUT becasue he doesn't hit me, or call me a bitch--i don't see it as abuse.

Covert list --this gets long Often doesn't answer me. Because he has a hearing problem I used to repeat myself in a louder voice, butif he has heard me he makes a snide comment that heard me "the first time" I never know if he is ignoring me or didn't honestly hear and it cause a lto of fights Blows up or shows extreme dissapproval when I don't make a call he asked me to, make arrangements to take the cars in, buy what he wanted for lunch, do his laundry, "Forgets" promises he made or converstaons we had--since I forget things I want to allow him to forget too--we are human, but its sometimes so imporatnat, I began writing things down so I wouldn't question my own memory, EX: he forgets I paid off his car on the condition we satrt a joint savings account for our house (takes 6 months and many fights to start the account) He uses all our household resources for his hobbies, child support, gifts to his child, his hunting, and I get all my stuff as gifts from my Mom or take from my business account even though we contribute equally to our household account--tehn he gets resentful and angry that he doesn't have more money to spend. When I point out that he spends all OUR money he accuses me of always trying tomake him wrong He starts fights and always always say I started it!!! i still have trouble with this one. its soclear that he gets angry with me and I'm baffled that he always blames me. He never takes pictures of me. All our albums are filled with the pictures I take of events and him eventhough he has a camera and used to consider him self an ameture photogrpaher. he controls the temperature in the automobiles and I have to compensate when i am cold-ALWAYS. He controls the temperature of the house and I always do it wrong (leaving widnows open or not, temps wrong, not changing thermastate at right time of the day) everythign id id or didn't do was always wrong (no win) that I finally don't touch anything unless I'm dying--he gets angry at that too. When I point out the gets all the family resources, he says angerly "i never say antyhing about how you spend money--You can buy antyhing you wnat!" Which is true but I'm very careful with our budget andhe knows it. He says I control his spending even though he has his own account, credit card, and I don't say anything except how much we have and i won't go into debt to buy things. He's angry about money all the time and now i am too. Since I work out of the home it "eaiser" for me to take care of fmaily business and most of the time I get stuck taking care of all the daily stuff to run a household--my work is often discounted and I must say I have tolerated it and often volunteered myself. He used to go into rages about the dishes not being done right after dinner even though I am the one who usually does them--now he is getting better and compians about that less and helps quite often 9he heard me on this one when I refused to take his critisism--whish I could be that clear allt he time) He calls me cheap becasue I bargin hunt and clip coupons and won't buy soemthing without comparing prices.

 

My worst thing is that I have just recognized that I try to control HIM by making him be happy--by trying to point out the facts or getting him to "remember" something we agreed on. He acuses me of trying to control everything and since he really contrals everything (expcet maybe the fiances cause I keep the books) I was baffled--but its true I do try to change (control) his thoughts and feelings and behavior toward me. It made me sick when I saw how i was still trying to control too. then I got confused that maybe I'm the abuser after all! I hate the word "victim" and so began saying "tolerator". I am the "tolerator" tolerating unacceptable beahvior from him and I am also a "controler" becaseu i want him to be the man i thought I was falling in love with. i would say that I am not a victim (I have been able to stop some of the 'abuse" like the dishes thing). So I am a "tolerator/controller" I wouldn't call him an "abuser" becasue he really does want to be a good husband and he does make changes when he finally sees it (him admitting or becoming aware of his unreasonableness is another matter--my control again?) so I would call him the "agressive/controller"

no we're not nearly as bad as most couples--or is this denial? may be. In any case, I cried when I read about visualizing them dead. I got it. This is not what I want for him or me- I don't want to focus onhis "abuse" nor do I want to tolerate it. I want it stopped without me "controlling" him or manipulating him to stop it. Guess i have a lot to learn. I'm going to start now. Shelly daybyday@erols.com

B1: Submit
Date: Tuesday, July 24, 2001

S1

I feel victim rage. I left him recently, after having spent the previous week away after one of his new unprovoked tirades. It's only been a year, but I'm not going to wait for it to get worse. I said, I can't take this. I thought it was my fault. He just got worse. He blamed me for his anger. Now I see what has been happening. Yesterday I felt full of forgiveness. Now I feel angry with anyone who tells me that we were both "at fault". I tried and tried and tried and he refused to see that I was trying. He showed no commitment to change, even though finally admitted that he was sorry for hurting me and I said I wouldn't take it any more. Then it happened again, so I told him I didn't want to be with him anymore. I stayed because I was "so in love" with him, but now I look back and feel like I have been so blind--because that is the clear cycle of abuse, isn't it. I have never felt like this before. I still love him, but I know that I cannot ever stand for that & I know that any changing that he will make will be for him to sort out--safely FAR away from me. The way that he undermined almost everything I enjoy, believe and feel is enough to make me think: even if he did change, why would I want to be with someone who has become so unsupportive of me?

Thank you. This site has been helpful for me.

B1: Submit
Date: Tuesday, July 24, 2001

S1

Hi again I was admitting to feeling "victim rage" in the above post. I went to an aero-box class and got my anger out there. Feel more serene now. The rainbow of emotions is unbelievable.

B1: Submit
Date: Wednesday, August 01, 2001

S1

I found this site less than a week ago. THANK YOU! I believe I probably am in the anger stage and have probably been there for awhile. And, yes, I have fantasized that my abuser would meet an untimely death. I also feel that I have set my boundaries too late in the relationship. My abuser finally sought help about a year ago and was diagnosed as having bipolar disorder. I can't find anything about bipolar and verbal abuse on this site. Is verbal abuse a "symptom" of bp? It can be. Verbal abuse can be symptomatic of many conditions... What are the odds of finding that magical combination of medications that will eliminate episodes of rage, verbal abuse, paranoia,...? I'm not sure if I've set my boundaries too late in the relationship (9.5 yrs) or if maybe the boundaries I've set are so firm that I'm not wanting to take ANY more nonsense. I'm afraid that permanent damage has been done. Thanks for a great site

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Date: Tuesday, September 04, 2001

S1

It will not do any good to tell the abuser "you can't talk to me like that". I have and I'm the one who's always at fault. If I didn't do/say/act such and such "I wouldn't say those things to you". It does not matter how cruel or rotten they are. It doesn't matter to him that he has hurt me deeply. Somehow it's always my fault. Thank God I found this site. I thought I was losing my mind. I would say out-loud "how is everything turned around to be my fault?". Of course I never got an answer, but I was never told everything wasn't my fault either. I am so angry at myself for being in an abusive relationship. I came from a loving home where this did not happen. My mother doted on my father and us. But it was reciporcal. My father doted on my mother. She was everything to him. So, I doted on my husband and was a "loving wife". Either I was totally stupid or he was smart and picked just the right person he needed for his anger and I then became that object. Now, I'm learning to set boundaries. But, carefully, I'm also just observing and doing nothing at this new stage. However, my husband has asked me "would you marry me again?" repeatedly over the years. Stupid me always answered "yes" and this was dishonest. My soul could no longer broker that lie. I said "No and you know why". So what does this man do? Change, act concerned, commuicate with me? No, he contiually pushes that same question on me at least 2-3 times a week. So, to the man who thinks saying "you can't talk to me like that" would mean anything...forget it! It's not the answer you want to hear. It's not the answer you need and crave. It's not in the abuser's realm of responsibility to accept that you cannot talk like that. It just don't work for you pal! Anymore than the honest truth, repeated and repeated that I would not marry him again. However, and I know Dr. Irene would agree with this...the minute I say "oh, yes dear, I'd marry you again in a heartbeat" I won't hear my abusive husband ask me that question again for at least 2 months. Then it'll only be to check to see if my soul is still emotionally under his feet.

B1: Submit
Date: Thursday, December 20, 2001

S1

Hi Dr. Irene - First of all, thank you so much for working so hard to help us. What you are doing really DOES make a difference. I understand my recovery task: Not to get stuck in rage. It's difficult, but I'm committed to TRY every day. Melissa

B1: Submit
Date: Monday, December 31, 2001

S1

I myself believe in "action & reaction". My husband was verbally abusive to me within the first year of our marriage. I excused it as 'He's had a hard long agonizing day at work & in traffic and always being relied upon by employer, wife, daily tasks, etc. I however have recently discovered I am an "adult child". I didnt get married or get really serious with any one man (husband) until I was 30 yrs old and I lived w/my mom all those years. I am the baby out of 7 sib's and was raised on "Don't rock the boat. Be passive. Dad's in a bad mood-"stay away from him", address issues later (maybe?). Being I really never wanted to grow-up and be responsible, I now know

B1: Submit
Date: Monday, December 31, 2001

S1

I myself believe in "action & reaction". My husband was verbally abusive to me within the first year of our marriage. I excused it as 'He's had a hard long agonizing day at work & in traffic and always being relied upon by employer, wife, daily tasks, etc. I however have recently discovered I am an "adult child". I didnt get married or get really serious with any one man (husband) until I was 30 yrs old and I lived w/my mom all those years. I am the baby out of 7 sib's and was raised on "Don't rock the boat. Be passive. Dad's in a bad mood-"stay away from him", address issues later (maybe?). Being I really never wanted to grow-up and be responsible, I now know

B1: Submit
Date: Monday, December 31, 2001

S1

Dear Irene, I myself believe in "action & reaction". My husband was verbally abusive to me within the first year of our marriage. I excused it as 'He's had a hard long agonizing day at work & in traffic and always being relied upon by employer, wife, daily tasks, etc. I however have recently discovered I am an "adult child". I didnt get married or get really serious with any one man (husband) until I was 30 yrs old and I lived w/my mom all those years. I am the baby out of 7 sib's and was raised on "Don't rock the boat. Be passive. Dad's in a bad mood-"stay away from him", address issues later (maybe?). Being I really never wanted to grow-up and be responsible, I now know I was equally detrimental to myself and my beloved spouse. It's taken 11 years for me to actually listen to "the other side of the coin" and accept that I have been in Denial for so many years and that I need some serious help but am also afraid of that. Will I find a reliable (someone who's understanding of my "issues") Counselor? Will therapy work for me? My husband is abrubt and short temepered . He believes all people should fend for themselves and if they don't they're just lasy and unreliable to anyone. I always took these "issues as personal". I couldnt see that It was truely my denial of accepting "denial behavior, minimizing his feelings, and believeing outside interference (ie: friends, family: Boy is this one hard to accept, and daytime talk shows-HE'S CONTROLLING YOU? When in all actuality he has always expressed what he was seeing and just trying to help me understand (he's always calm when addrssng issues with me because he knows how overly emotional/personal I get). I began omitting truths 3 yrs into the marriage as I then thought he was taking personal info to use against me when the time came. I kept thinking "How can he love me and talk to me this way?" He's trying to make me 'think like him, act like him, see HIS-WAY and everything goes smoothly with me not being an "individual". I quit my job 2 mo's ago and have been having a lot of stress/depression. Mh husband and I have been taling about "working together & starting anew" or walking. We are always on the Internet researching similiar sites and trying to figure out if "we can actually grow as a loving team once again". Most of these articles say...Moving out is the worst thing you can do. I never want to leave as I do love my husband so very much and now even more so AS I NOW REALIZE I EGGED ON HIS ANGER AS HE DID MINE. When a person has to remind a "supposed adult" about irres- ponsibility (usually the same examples) every 4 or 5 days & that person #1 denies she did any such thing, #2 blames him, and worst of all: every once in awhile actually see what he was saying but still because of childhood beliefs/raisings, I eventually went back to con- vincing myself he was trying to keep me from being me and theres nothing wrong with me. THE GRAND FINAL... I NEVER MADE ANY CHANGES IN MY BEHAVIOR. He has and I give him Kudo's for that. He feels that I cannot change for the better due to the past. I say I cant change the past (but am now truly apathetic to his "justified feelings") and I DO BELIEVE I DO NOT WANT TO GO THROUGH LIFE LIKE THIS FOR MYSELF AND THE PEOPLE AROUND ME (work, home, all interpersonal relations) AND MORE IMPORTANTLY I THINK SOMEONE AS WISE/UNDERSTANDING (letting his emotions/LOVE for me sometimes blow my bad behavior off and build up stress/anxiety/insecurity in him & our relations w/ea. other ) AS MY HUSBAND IS-AND HOW STRONG OUR LOVE IS FOR EACH OTHER THAT WE COULD WORK TOGETHER AND IMERGE INTO THE TRUELY LOVING PEOPLE WE ARE. Kind, compassionate, but always working together, via research, understanding, compassion and truely working on our individual needs and turning our negatives into positives "one second at a time". Every day and every way "I get better and better and better", As my Mom used to say. CLB

B1: Submit
Date: Thursday, February 14, 2002

S1

All that happened when I finally stood up to my partner and told him where my bounderies were is that the abuse got worse and worse. I told him and told him again that he was not allowed to treat me the way he did. When I left he said that I had given him absolutely no signs!! He even denied that we ever had those arguments .. and I really think he was convinced that we never had them! (so denial is not only for the victim hey!) I am happy to see that this guy is at least taking a look at his own actions. My ex went looking for a young, more co-dependant than the ex, girlfriend the day I left. I really hope that one day he will seek help. I know he is unhappy, depressed, affraid. I know he is also a victim. I recovered. I have past the anger stage long ago. 1 year later I am even in a healty relationship! I hope he also recovers some day.

B1: Submit
Date: Thursday, February 14, 2002

S1

All that happened when I finally stood up to my partner and told him where my bounderies were is that the abuse got worse and worse. I told him and told him again that he was not allowed to treat me the way he did. When I left he said that I had given him absolutely no signs!! He even denied that we ever had those arguments .. and I really think he was convinced that we never had them! (so denial is not only for the victim hey!) I am happy to see that this guy is at least taking a look at his own actions. My ex went looking for a young, more co-dependant than the ex, girlfriend the day I left. I really hope that one day he will seek help. I know he is unhappy, depressed, affraid. I know he is also a victim. I recovered. I have past the anger stage long ago. 1 year later I am even in a healty relationship! I hope he also recovers some day.

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Date: Monday, March 11, 2002

S1

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Date: Friday, April 12, 2002

S1

Yes, I know I need to feel angry and work through it, so I can let it go. The anger becomes a sad hurt down in your soul that just won't go away. I want to feel good about my lfe again. In my head I know I am a strong and smart. I have a lot going for me, I now have a good job and happy children. But my heart still hurts, it's been a year, I am trying hard to move on. I would like to hear more about how to let it go. Reading other peoples anger lets me know I am some what normal but I want to move on. I am tired of feeling rotten. I used to have a positive outlook on life will I find it again?

Rissa

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Date: Monday, July 01, 2002

S1

I was in a verbally and physically abusive relationship for 22 years. I have a 24 year old daughter that I spent my life sheilding the attacks from her father. I come from an abusive violent home and he did as well. I enabled him to destroy. I feel very badly that I didn't leave while my daughter was young yet I recognize that I wasn't aware of what was really happening.

My daughter and I are very close. She deals with with a lot of pain regarding her Father's choice to abandon her because "I" left him. He is what I have heard classified as an "Anger Addict". Some would say a "sociopath". He will not recognize what he has done......he has said verbatim what was quoted on this website under "The Abuser".

My recovery has been long. I left in 1997 when my daughter, (19 at the time) said she was watching me die. I never felt so numb and in constant pain at the same time. If it weren't for her, I would have curled up in ball and waited for the final stages of my disinergration.

After I left I went through a year of nightmares of being attacked, raped, beaten, chased. I began reading up on it and found out that it was PTDS (Post Trauma). That was when I began to feel the validation, it wasn't in my head, I wasn't exagerating. I felt such a euphoric sense of freedom. I allowed myself to feel the full anger of what he had robbed from my little girl and from me. I had to stay angry because it protected me from allowing his barrages of phone calls of crying, begging, threatening to feel sorry for him. I had to remember and painfully relive what he had done.

After the anger came grief over that young 15 year old girl who never protected herself and allowed her whole youth to be robbed and tormented. I felt so sad for the loss. My only comfort was that I had a beautiful daughter and my life as her mother was, and is, the one thing that brings me such tremendous sense of accomplishment.

There were, and at time still is, a tremendous resentment and hostility that I felt like I could become violent toward him. I had to constantly pray to fight it off because resentment can destroy you.

I am so much better now but I still have bouts of an internal rage when I see the struggles my daugher goes through because of him. I also go through pains of guilt for not leaving sooner.

I can say that I recognize what abuse is now. I know when words are used as a weapon to hurt and not as a tool to communicate. I am remarried to my best friend. We are open about the subject. He told me something of his childhood that I think is a perfect example of how an abuser thinks. When he was a little boy, his mother would be combing his hair. Nearby his other brothers would do something that would anger his mother. Instead of putting down the comb and walking over to the boys, she would hit him instead. That is what an abuser does. The negative, angry feeling inside can only be relieved by crushing someone else.

Now I can say, I feel, indifferent. It is a comfortable place to be. Recovering from a life of abuse is like recovering from a bad car accident. You go through the anger of what was taken and what you allowed to be taken; the grief from the loss of what you used to be able to do or what you could have done, resentment that it happened and finally, accepting that it did and making changes to accomodate your current condition. You are stronger in many ways but the scars are there. You are highly sensitive to and intolerable of voilent, angry and hurtful acts and you will never again allow that in your life. I believe it is because you learn what is means to love yourself enough not to abandoned your self again.

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Date: Thursday, July 11, 2002

S1

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Date: Thursday, October 24, 2002

S1

I am so happy to read this. My husband (though our divorce will be final very soon) has been very cruel to me over the last few years. I now recognize the abuser-victim dynamic that was there throughout our 20 year marriage, and the extent to which I was a very willing partner in that dance. But there were good times, too. I haven't forgotten why I loved him, even though he won't show that side of himself to me any more. I haven't forgotten that he is a human being with failings just as I am, that God loves him as much as he loves me. There are days when I am so very angry at him for destroying our family, for hurting me so much with adultery and verbal cruelty. But I *never* feel good when I just bash him. I must believe that God values him, whatever his sins, if I am to believe that He cherishes me despite mine. My husband was really wonderful when he was happy and I wish he could be happy now, instead of so very, very angry. I think I will always miss him. Ambivalent? Sure I am ... I oscillate between grief, anger and relief that it is ending. Now I'm trying very hard to focus on changing myself so that perhaps I can be free of the anxiety-ridden craving for love that kept me, for my part, from intimacy. Thanks for telling us all not to play the victim!!! -FaithWalker

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Date: Saturday, November 02, 2002

S1

This anger thing is really interesting. I certainly have experienced victim rage and consider it part of my 'recovery'. I grew up thinking that there was two ways to be, a victim or an abuser. In my attempts not to ever hurt anyone (as I was hurt as a child and saw others hurt), I allowed myself to be hurt. I did not know what a boundary was. I had someone highly thought of in the community continually violate any boundaries I tried to engage. This brought me to the point of tetering on the edge of wondering if it mattered whether or not I was a victim or an abuser. I mean, what difference does it make if you have to be one or the other and if both are equally responsible then what difference does it make which you are? The lack of accountability in the relationship stripped me of any belief system, any morality. My morality had encouraged me to be abused as I was defenseless in terms of enforcing my boundaries otherwise they would have been respected. I am not an 'abuser' but I have a hard time justifying doing the 'right' thing when it appears that society endorses the abusers. It is interesting to ponder morality as sites like this talk about some kind of concept of what is fair behaviour between people when society as a whole is not fair. If it was then we would not have so many NPD's running around abusing people and we would not have so many women victims. How do you commit yourself to a society that does not recognise its own image? How do you join something that does not exist? If society has no integrity how do individuals act with integrity and adhere to the values of that society at the same time? How do you construct an identity when there are no communal values that you can actually believe exist? For me, being a victim throughout my life and more recently has meant questioning of meaning itself. He probably didn't mean to take that from me- he just did when he asked me to put my trust in his hands. I guess it helps to think that despite his arrogance he did not know any better. It does not help to think that he gets more rewards from society than do I. I used to tell him anger was good at times, that it meant recovery from victimhood (and this was before we 'split up'!) and he used to say it was NEVER good, there was always 'another way'. I could never get through to him that anger is not so bad that it is always pathological that it has its important role but he would never allow me to be me, the person who had experienced so much abuse. He never asked me about it, he did not accept what I said about it, although he did 'reward' me by being nice if I went out of my way to tell him my past. It was a continual reward and punishment regime with no other feedback and I was like a dog being trained but all I wanted was to be accepted for me. I guess he was an arrogant jerk. I can forgive him his weaknesses, I just could not accept them uncritically in how they impinged on my life. In the end he was a whole load of nothing because he did not have the courage of his convictions, at least not those he had made to me. I know there is a part of him that loves me but I guess you can't hurry people to grow up, even if you die waiting. You just have to know that if they could do better that they would do better and that whatever you got was the best they had even if they go out of their way to make it appear that they are giving other people better- that is not logically possible as they are the same person that the other party is getting. I guess life is an adventure and you never know where you are going to end up or meet up and if it was just a matter of 'and they lived happily ever after' then there would be no story.

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Date: Wednesday, November 13, 2002

S1

I thought this column was very well written. I was lucky enough to have a great therapist to help me work through my anger issues after leaving my verbally abusive ex-husband. Codependency seemed to go hand in hand with pure anger for me. I didn't even realize that the anger was seriously affecting my life. I thought I was doing great... until I was hospitalized for stress! I still have the anger worksheets that therapist gave me all those years ago and still read them from time to time. Turns out that I was diagnosed with PTSD -- and one major symptom of it is irritability. When confronted with that, I had to admit I was irritated about 99% of the time. Recognizing stress before I get cranky is one of my major tasks, consequently. After a lifetime of not feeling "entitled" to my anger, it seemed, particularly at first, so easy, even so pleasant, to flare up at any little thing. I still have to work to manage it, appreciate it for what it can bring, and spend it wisely. How I react to infuriating events is a conscious choice. I'm not trying to tell anybody else how to live, just sharing what my thoughts were after reading this column and how it related to my own post-abusive-relationship experience. -- Kara PS: Fantastic site, Doc!

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Date: Monday, December 02, 2002

S1

Whoa, I just found this site. It scares me all the similarities that I see ... and know ... exist in my relationship. I have realized over the course of this very bumpy 10 year marriage, he will not change unless HE wants (and really only realizing that in the last year). I think in a lot of ways I have become tremendously patient in this relationship (and not to my kudos, just that I don't get caught up in the arguements most of the time anymore, rather I let it slide off my back, though unfortunately apathetically). The rage, I have occasionally let it out during arguements/verbal abuse or physical abuse incidents. During verbal or physical abuse (the verbal almost continually, the physical occasionally), I now get ANGRY when he gets started up in his tirades or picks on the kids, INSTEAD of getting fearful. Most of the time I redirect the anger inward and either get depressed, try to ignore it, or get mad at myself for putting up with it and keeping my kids within this household (although I think this mostly controlled rage has made me stronger). I found the rage expressed outward might make me immediately feel better, but, doesn't help and just reinforces my husband's view that I am over emotional and acting foolish. I am apprehensive to talk to anyone in a therapy situation because of fear (unfounded?) that my kids might get taken away if I tell them about physical abuse situations. I am shamed to tell anyone; I know my kids are. My kids so want to help their dad, as I do (at least sometimes!), but I know that most of the time, he is just not interested in helping himself. I get afraid the kids will be like him when they grow up. They don't deserve his berating. He went to therapy w/our Assistant Pastor for the first time about 6 months ago after a physical incident, which I felt was progress. The assistant pastor had his own anger and alcohol issues before he gave his life to Christ, so he knows where my hubby was coming from. Initially the A.P. gave him materials to read, spoke with him, and encouraged him the first few months in working with his anger issues. He never told me what they spoke about, but I saw the materials he was giving him and saw my husband dipping into the Word for guidance. BUT, within the next few months, he still hadn't read any of the help books (and rarely reads the Word anymore) and when coming from the now once a month counseling (and occasionally missing that), the way my husband spoke of the session, it didn't sound like they hit any real issues, that this was just a "positive" encouragement session (I don't feel they really delved in) and/or just friendly yap. After they stopped meeting, I asked my husband if they discussed any of the physical abuse issues; he said no (due to the "take your kids away thing" he said) and it just seemed like it had been a superficial, hubby manipulating the A.P. to seem like he was "trying" and a "good guy"--if you know where I am going. Everyone thinks he is wonderful--outside our home. He is presently in a "better" stage, though the verbal abuse continues to varying degrees (unpredictable). I hate to leave to do errands w/o my kids sometimes. He seems to really resent the eldest (11), saying he is just a manipulator (and, to a certain degree, he is). But, my son is not deserving of the garbage that flows from my husband's mouth. I ran out to do some work for 2 hours tonight (which could not be avoided because I had committed previously). My husband, who is now sick with a cold, started picking on my son right before I left (I am finding this nitpicking thing common as I am about to leave on an errand or even right before church. Also, my husband is the Ultimate Blame-Shifter). While I was gone, he cut some turkey on a plate and my oldest ate some thinking it was for everyone, my husband called him a "pig". He refused to talk to him for the rest of the meal and turned his body away from our son's his direction. He either talks directly, or mumbles loud enough for our son to hear, these kind of degrading, discouraging comments, OFTEN. When our son tells me of these things and I approach my husband about it (I haven't yet on this incident because he left for work as I returned) he yells "How come he can't talk to me directly?" I can't blame my kid, who would want to? After my husband is done with you, you feel worse than when you started and you are now the root of all evil. I am SO tired (and so on) of this. ESPECIALLY for my kids. His more recent comments include statements of separating "us" from the "kids" (wish they were somewhere else right now, or would go away for awhile, need a break from--hello, reality check, guy, we have 4 children) Worse, I am the "middle-man" between my husband and son. I think my husband is jealous of the kids, and verbally takes it out on them (esp. the eldest). I try to give the kids an outlet for their feelings by discussing their hurts, and Dad is now jealous again, or feeling attacked. I can't just ignore my son has been yanked by his collar hard enough to leave a mark on his neck, knocked up against the wall, or humiliated in front of the rest of the brothers. And although I think my husband created the majority of the situation, he blames it on our son, openly. Who's the adult here? I realize I am flipping around quite a bit, I am just so FRUSTRATED, and saddened and wish I could leave, but don't know that I should, or even could (financially). I am ready to nip this thing in the bud. I have long ago distanced myself more or less, occasionally opening up (usu. to get hurt again). I have even had those "What if he were dead thoughts?" I felt so guilty for momenarily thinking them now and again. I prayed for forgiveness because I know it is not right. But it is overwhelming to think of another 30-40 years of this crap if he doesn't change, I don't leave, or something! I know I have acted wrongly sometimes, I am not afraid to admit it. But I think the biggest change in me is that I refuse to take self-responsibility for things I am not to blame for. That in itself has me stronger, praise God. Jesus may have said "Turn the other cheek", but I don't think he was advocating spousal abuse, verbal abuse or otherwise. This is my third marriage (10 years and running). I screwed up the first two. I think that was due to rage after having, what I know REALLY realize is true, a highly controlling and verbally abusing boyfriend of 4 years (14-18 years old). I married soon after leaving my boyfriend (best move I ever made)to a guy who was really wonderful to me, and then, after entering the service and having gotten some self esteem, I went (on the outside only) from shy and loyal, to a 180 degrees outspoken and promiscuous person (I was the abuser now!)--that was no solution. Two divorces and a "bottoming out" attest to that. After wrecking my husband's lives and bottoming out I found Christ and have 180'd back (thank you Lord, I may have been dead by now, literally!) Having spent time working out the major issues and my admitted failures with my ex-husbands after the fact (and their sincere forgiveness)has always made me believe it was possible, if I just hung in there long enough, and tried hard enough, that in any relationship, I would have the tools to help make it work (and therefore good relationship). Funny enough,instead of reconciling with either husband, I jumped in a "fresh" relationship that seemingly was a clean slate. Hey, I wound up with another anger control freak like my 4 year boyfriend! Little did I know initially, he was SO wonderful, and sensitive. And, after admitting my failures and really wanting to try hard in whatever future relationship I would be involved in . . . here I am! After physical abuse 3 times when I was pregnant with my first son you think I would have gotten the message, but no, I the diligent "we can make it work" just fed this type of relationship by "sticking it out". I feel I need the anger, properly channeled, to give me the push not to feel guilty, depressed, whatever else is keeping me from being me. Thanks for letting me vent and express myself. I think an outlet to express it "safely" is most wonderful. I look forward to the day I no longer hear negative comments about trivial things such as how to make a sandwich or comb my daughter's hair, told my timing is "impeccable", why would I want anything to do with my crappy family, don't have to tiptoe around on eggshells when he is in one of his moods, have past memorabilia thrown away, be made to feel worse when I open up about a problem, and most of all, I look foward to the day I can love wholeheartedly again. Any advice on what to do with the children's response to his behavior when he berates them would be wonderful. I know it is a long road ahead, wherever it leads (sigh). On we go fellow travelers. Jill

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Date: Sunday, February 23, 2003

S1

Dr. Irene I just left an abusive relationship. It has been eight years of guilt and shame, begging for mercy and recieving judgement. I sat before my son's computer after a short session with a counseler who claimed that I was a victim of verbal, emotional and spiritual abuse. Boy, that was hard to take, but made sense. I hate being a victim, that would make me weak! So I found your website, what an eye opener. Yet I still find that it hurts too much to admit it. It hurts my memories and believes in my loved abuser and it hurts my pride, that I would allow it. Even to the demise of my children, who I had to send away, (to protect them). I wanted to do what was right, stick with my committment for better or worse. Well it's been the worse and now I am left with nothing but my weak self to cling to and too many regrets to number over the years. Where am I in this recovery process? I feel like I am standing on the edge of a black hole. I am trying to be real with my self but who am I anyway? I have not contacted my loved abuser for days and can't seem to get him off my mind. To much info at once in your website maybe. I have realized for sometime that I am (not right) in my perspective of me and my world. Sexual and verbal abuse are not new to me, guess I expect it. What's a girl to do? I have been drunk for two days now, not bad writing for a drunk, cuz I can't face the ugly truth, I am a victim, yuk! My husband doesn't love me and my kids are disconnected from me. What's left anyway. I am ready to go to sleep and never wake up, I am so tired. How can you believe in yourself when your taught that thinking of your self is selfish and disgusting? Too many questions, too tired too care. I am not some innocent by-stander, that hurts more then anything, cuz I have always believed myself to be strong and a caring person. Talk about Co-dependant. What a mess, going in circles0. I have been a feast for my abuser and abusive myself. Reacting in my strength and fighting back for value, now I feel guilty for that. When does it end? Where do I begin? Co-dependant, abuser, victim? You know what I want more then anything in this world? Your guess is as good as mine! To be valued, to be loved, to be wanted, to be understood, to be free! guess I am feeling sorry for myself. I see the answers on your website, believe in yourself, set boundries, self-control. For what reason? I will just make a mess of it tomorrow, always do! I know the answers I guess, just a little confused at where to start, I have to depend on myself, right? I am alone and it terrifies me! What will I do to myself this time? The last thing my loved abuser said to me was, have a nice life destroying yourself, you can't do anything without me. He's right! I am afraid. I feel twisted, strung out and torn. Can you help? The child within

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Date: Tuesday, February 25, 2003

S1

Dr. Irene, I had not seen my childhood sweetheart for 37 years. In 1999 I visited his country, we met again and got married in 2000. I have been back there 6 times trying to make our marriage work, but he does not talk much, will not take just one hour a week for us to spend time alone. He is a farmer and also takes care of a family member who is 90 years old. He is always too busy. He makes comments about my body and when I get upset, he says it's a joke. Everything I ask, he answers 'maybe', but never acts. He tells me he will give me money for my airline ticket, but when I return, he does not give it. He has lied about money--said he owned nothing then after we got married, he told me he did. When we do go out, he ignores me completely, eg. leaning forward on a table with both hands under his chin. He stares at women from head to toe. The language of his country is not English so I am very, very isolated. He refused to help me when I was going to school to learn the language. He said it was my job, not his. The list goes on and on. Is this verbal abuse? I am away from him at the moment and in the midst of indecision about returning. I go back with determination to be strong, but after about 3 or 4 weeks, I am anxious, fearful, insecure, and I can feel my self-esteem and confidence diminishing and I leave. I'm 57 years old and this is different and scary. Again I am in the midst of indecison. I ask myself how do I recover? Should I try again or divorce and move on? I feel the sane thing to do would be divorce and move on so why do I feel so committed to this man when I have given all of me and he has given very little. From Iamstuck

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Date: Thursday, April 17, 2003

S1

I just have to comment on one thing. If the wife in this case would have just said, "You can't talk to me like that!" or told him that her love for him could change it he continues that it wouldn't have gone too far. In my own personal experience these tactics don't work. I have told my husband that nobody has the right to talk to me a certain way, and that I was unhappy. I told him that I love him very much, but could not go on like this. With such comments I heard such replies as "I can do whatever I want!", "Who are you to tell me what to do?!", "There's the door!" and my all time personal favorite..."Don't let the door hit you where the good lord split you!". Now here's the downside if you are still in love with that person, and long to find a way to stop the abuse obviously you didn't leave and you just gave him a new tool. She's not going anywhere, I'll call her bluff! Therefore letting him know that yes he can talk to you like that, and you'll never leave. So maybe I'm wrong, but don't you think that sometimes the only way to make them see that you won't take this anymore is to just leave (even if you do go back)? If you truly love him, and he truly loves you maybe at that point he would be forced to take responsibility for his actions, and stop blaming you.

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Date: Thursday, April 17, 2003

S1

I just have to comment on one thing. If the wife in this case would have just said, "You can't talk to me like that!" or told him that her love for him could change it he continues that it wouldn't have gone too far. In my own personal experience these tactics don't work. I have told my husband that nobody has the right to talk to me a certain way, and that I was unhappy. I told him that I love him very much, but could not go on like this. With such comments I heard such replies as "I can do whatever I want!", "Who are you to tell me what to do?!", "There's the door!" and my all time personal favorite..."Don't let the door hit you where the good lord split you!". Now here's the downside if you are still in love with that person, and long to find a way to stop the abuse obviously you didn't leave and you just gave him a new tool. She's not going anywhere, I'll call her bluff! Therefore letting him know that yes he can talk to you like that, and you'll never leave. So maybe I'm wrong, but don't you think that sometimes the only way to make them see that you won't take this anymore is to just leave (even if you do go back)? If you truly love him, and he truly loves you maybe at that point he would be forced to take responsibility for his actions, and stop blaming you.

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Date: Tuesday, May 20, 2003

S1

Dr. Irene, I am currently in an abusive marriage. I have been subjected to all forms of abuse, but mainly verbally. My spirit is so wounded at this time in my life. Many of the articles that I have read are confirming things that I have come to know and understand about this terrible behavior. I am currently preparing dissolution of marriaged papers to be filed tomorrow morning. I simply cannot function. I feel completely battered, though I have not been physically attacked in over four or five years. I am amazed at how battered I feel still. But I have come to a fork in the road and I have decided to stop the abuse, no matter what it cost me. Your site is a real blessing at this time. I will pass this info. to some other victims that I know. Lola