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Doc@DrIrene.com

Comments for Which One is the Abuser

Comments for Which One is the Abuser?

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

Courtesy of Dr. Irene Matiatos  Copyrightę 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
Remote Name: 172.137.158.66
Date: Sunday, July 23, 2000

S1

Out of curiosity, why did you become involved with her to begin with? I am in a similar situation, but whereas I am seeking therapy and trying to end my own bad behavior and wishing we could patch things up (5 year marriage, he's not all the way moved out yet and is already dating...telling me that it'll be different with "someone else") he is simply running into another's arms. I remember why I was with him despite all of our bad behavior. I really love him and care about him. Why did you stay for four years in a relationship that was so hellish, if there was no earthly reason to be there? 

I speak of course from my own perspective, being married and a highly commitment-oriented person, that if there were reasons to be with her in hell for that long, why not seek some help and be with her in a better situation? Or is she not seeking any change in herself at all? If not, it seems like you're doing the right thing, to me. But if there is effort on her side, what's up? Excellent comments.

I know this may not apply, I don't know your whole situation, but I wouldn't date until you're sure that you understand why you acted as you did, not her actions but your own. Focus on where you went wrong and move on after you know why and how to avoid it again...Dr. Irene makes a good point about learning to express yourself. Also I wonder about whether you were shutting her out - my H used withdrawal and distance along with "that's not important enough to talk about" to demean me and make me feel less important. Withholding is also abuse and can spark some bad reactions, especially if she has (as I do) a past history of neglect. I know that the majority of times, when I would berate or try to make my H feel guilty, it was because I needed him to show his care and concern for me, and he wouldn't. He would go into the other room when I was crying, saying there was nothing to talk about, it's ok, relax! Anything to avoid comforting me or making me freely loved and important to him. So because asking nicely and even begging and leaving him alone elicited no response for attention to my concerns or fears, I would lash out in anger at being neglected by him, or ignored. Right on cue. Then, he could turn around and point fingers at you - getting himself off the hook. Good for you for seeing it!

I have learned lately that my feelings are important, and my insistence that he recognize this and respond appropriately have chased him away. He left me rather than get therapy with me, or for himself, and it hurts me immeasurably to see him with others when I feel that I love him so much and would love to work things out - something he says to me but hasn't yet lived up to. 

He tells me and his friends two different things- and it hurts. So that's where I'm at and why I asked you what I asked. I hope you respond, I'd like to hear more about your situation and maybe it will help me understand my own. jg JG: Best way to interest him is to lose interest in him. Watch what happens as you begin to get on with your life... Lots of times, that's when your partner begins to realize what they've taken for granted...

B1: Submit
Remote Name: 206.100.246.97
Date: Sunday, July 23, 2000

S1

'Family of Origin' !!!! She was probably raised that way, in an abusive family. Maybe she thinks, even unconsciously, that is the 'normal relationship'. Some people like fighting as a way of life.

Was she an only child? Do you have siblings? An only child often has some problems later in life....

 

B1: Submit
Remote Name: 12.38.64.216
Date: Sunday, July 23, 2000

S1

It sounds to me like the abusive person is Gary's wife. Gary says he feels confused and guilty. Abusive people aren't confused, they know they are deceitful. Abusive persons also feel their abuse toward another person is justified. If yelling, calling another person names, using put-downs is justified in the abuser's head, why would they feel guilty. Though I tend to agree with your assessment, note that there are lots of different types of abusive people. Some would feel justified; others would feel guilty. Promise! It's too easy, when you've been a victim, not to be able to see anything redeeming in the abuser.

I have often yelled back at my abusive brother. Most of the time I walk away, but last week when he accused me once again of something I didn't do to him, I snapped and told him he was so stupid it was pathetic. In fact, I yelled so loud my throat hurt. An hour later I felt ashamed of myself, and guilty. I thought about his low self-esteem. He already thinks he's stupid, why did I have to say that? Like other abusers he is arrogant, never wrong, sees qualities in himself that don't exist. But I know it's all a front to cover up his low self esteem. Anyway, I'm the one who is feeling sick and sorry for my behavior. He never feels that way, even though he started the fight by accusing me in a threatening tone. Perhaps you felt badly because you compromised your own self esteem. If you treat someone poorly, how could you possibly feel good about yourself?

I've noticed that other people treat my brother the way he treats him. If someone attacks you with words, it is normal to attack back. Yes. Normal, though not desirable. One time my brother threatened a man physically. Police were called. A few weeks later the man's friends beat up my brother. Maybe two wrongs don't make a right, but I think it is unrealistic to expect a victim to have no reaction. I certainly don't expect the victim not to react! I encourage the victim to feel and react. But to recognize that there are sane, productive reactions that raise the self-esteem and don't compromise the integrity ("skillful" behavior), and there are poor reactions, on par with the abuser's reactions ("mis-behavior.) Even though I know the dynamics of abuse, know my brother has a personality disorder; doesn't stop me from experiencing a stress overload. We can't have perfect behavior in response to abuse all the time, speaking for myself. Don't sell yourself short. Just because you are not great at reacting more skillfully towards him now does not mean you cannot learn the skills you need to negotiate him more productively.

I am working hard on getting out of this situation. For me it is best to get away from my brother because the chances of him changing are slim to none. I don't think four years is that long. I've lived with my brother for 3 1/2 yrs. It took that long to figure out what was going on. Yes, you guys should not be living together. It's too hard to learn what you have to learn when you are constantly feeling provoked.

One of my brother's ex-girlfriends calls him occasionally. She looks for ways to antagonize him, says she's giving him what he dished out to her for years. I believe this is abusive victim behavior.

Best wishes to you, Gary. Sis

B1: Submit
Remote Name: 172.162.51.194
Date: Sunday, July 23, 2000

S1

Wow, Gary, this also comes close to describing my relationship, though not quite as intense (car keys being taken away? Geez..) At the start me and my BF fought. He'd attack- I, never having been in a romantic verbally abusive relationship, was caught off guard, but I'd behave badly back towards him. We'd end up having those fights that you describe until we both apologized and had sex, basically. I hated this cycle though, and I recognized that we were both to blame - so I had a talk with him and we both decided to try not to be "mean" (didn't know about verbal abuse at the time) and to remember that even when we fought we loved each other and to act this way. 

Well, I stopped- but he didn't! So instead of a fight with us both attacking each other, he'd yell at me and I'd just cry. (I obviously hadn't learned about codependency and didn't have the strength to just walk away when he behaved like this.) After trying to plead, promise, beg and deal with him to keep him from abusing me, I started "fighting back" again, out of sheer frustration. Luckily we discovered verbal abuse info shortly thereafter. Good thing, it was getting UGLY. Interesting point though: It wasn't right of me, but after hours of taking abuse from him, horrible hurtful things, I hit back verbally as good as I could - for the first time in the relationship I intentionally tried to hurt him.

Of course, his first reaction was the scariest explosion of rage I've ever witnessed, and as he told me that I couldn't love him because if I loved him, I'd never say that, I said, "Funny, I say that to you all the time but you just say that you said it because you were mad." That gave him the understanding to finally realize that he way he had been treating me was wrong. If not for that moment, I don't know if he would've ever figured it out. I certainly tried to explain it million times. It's normal for a victim to be angry. and to act out abusively. It's not right, but if you can control your behavior that says a lot. Right! (Although it sounds like with her the only way to avoid fighting with her IS to divorce her, unfortunately.) Anyway, Gary, you're not alone. You're on the track to self-discovery and I bet you'll do great in future relationships with the knowledge you learn here. -SatokoGirl  

B1: Submit
Remote Name: 172.163.122.195
Date: Sunday, July 23, 2000

S1

I posted under "Jealous Wife". My response to your story is very intense - you are saying to Dr. Irene almost all the things my ex-Husband is saying to all of his friends...I am trying to put my life back together, he told me I was abusive, and he is confused right now about whether he wants to be with me or not... Our relationship was really sick but he is already dating, it hurts me to see this and I am still getting over the lack of any kind of acknowledgement of what he did to me... I almost always initiated apologies with him, because if I didn't the argument would have continued with him yelling at me or ignoring me, the only way I could have any closeness with him at all was to apologize first. Doing that all the time compromises your integrity - because you are selling out; selling yourself short... I grew up in a neglectful but quiet family, so my response to his abusive talk was very bad from the start, constantly questioning him and seeking support and reassurance and love where there was none to be had. I hope you are feeling better. jacqueline. And same to you Jacqueline. Dr. Irene

B1: Submit
Remote Name: 216.229.172.112
Date: Monday, July 24, 2000

S1

Dr. I, one things disturbs me about your answer. It is stated.. "what she says to me is because I MAKE HER MAD (emphasis mine). No. You can MAKE her mad, but...". I'd say, be careful. No one can MAKE anyone else feel anything. We each choose to feel what we feel. That is responsibility for our own feelings. She chooses to get angry. He chooses to do something that he knows she will CHOOSE to get angry about. Correct. I've rephrased it to "She can let you make her mad..." Thanks for pointing out my oversight.

B1: Submit
Remote Name: 141.214.169.36
Date: Monday, July 24, 2000

S1

Gary,

I can relate to feeling guilty for lashing out. My bf was abusive for several years until I got angry and started fighting back. The difference was I would say something unkind and feel terrible - I knew it was wrong and I didn't want to make him feel bad. He would abuse me and still get a good night sleep. I left partly because I hated how I had started acting. Good for you. You left because you found yourself constantly compromising your integrity, and it impacted your self-esteem. You took responsibility - and got out since it was clear he wasn't doing anything to fix himself. Another way to say much the same thing that you'll hear elsewhere might be something like you chose not to surround yourself with negative people anymore.

Now that I am out, I can see thing much more clearly, and I can re-build myself. I know I need to work on expressing my anger in a productive way, instead of stuffing it until I blow up. Yes! You're right on track!

Wishing you the best,

S

B1: Submit
Remote Name: 63.17.122.201
Date: Monday, July 24, 2000

S1

I have just started to go to CODA meetings. They help bring me to clarity and give me inner strength. Also, turning things over to your Higher Power when they become too unmanageable for you helps, too. Yes! Spirituality is a wonderful and necessary adjunct to all this stuff!

B1: Submit
Remote Name: 147.140.144.157
Date: Monday, July 24, 2000

S1

A note to JG and Gary:

A few words from someone who has been through this a time or two and learned more each time. This is a hard concept to accept, but we waste so much time hoping someone will change. Yes... Unfortunately you can't get blood from stone, unless of course the stone is willing to go to a blood bank! Cute! 

JG , it seems that you wanted your husband to be more attentive and he just didn't want to or didn't have the capacity within to do it! Instead of changing/improving himself in an effort to keep you, he dodged the responsibility and just moved on to the next person. Right. Because abusive people think that someone else is always the "problem", they believe that the grass will be greener with someone new who isn't such a "pain in the neck"... but it WON'T because they have never dealt with their own issues, and eventually those issues will surface again. Absolutely!

The only person you can change is yourself. You WILL grow - you are growing as you are reading this. Abusive people will hide behind others continuing the blame game. You don't need that. I say work on yourself and move on to someone who can willingly give you what you need. Or if that doesn't happen, you'll be having a lot of fun getting to know how much you like yourself.

Good luck, LHW You always have good stuff to say... Thanks LHW. Dr. Irene

B1: Submit
Remote Name: 12.38.64.12
Date: Tuesday, July 25, 2000

S1

Sis here.

I have two questions:(1)where can I learn about different types of abusers? The ones who feel guilty in particular. I've read this entire site. Did I miss something? I do see many good qualities in my abusive brother, but feeling guilty doesn't seem to be one of them. Or, if he does question his behavior he always ends up at "it's not my fault." Hi Sis. That's cuz he's very defensive. Most abusers do feel guilty; many won't admit it - sometimes even to themselves.

And (2), Dr Irene states it's too hard to learn what you have to learn when you are constantly feeling provoked. But doesn't practice make perfect? Yes. I have learned to just walk away most of the time. I do feel provoked almost daily, but don't really understand why that makes it harder to learn new skills. Too much stress involved? Yes. It just makes it more challenging, not impossible. But, in some ways it makes it better: you get lots more opportunities to practice! Thanks.

B1: Submit
Remote Name: 172.162.115.203
Date: Tuesday, July 25, 2000

S1

Sis- I think there are different levels of abusers. Yes! Believe me, I'm not an abuser-sympathizer (well, that's not true, I DO feel sorry for them..) but I have seen a range of abusers. There are some that I don't believe will ever even realize they have a problem, even if it's screaming them in the face. There are some who know they have a problem, feel guilty about it, but are still to self-absorbed and scared to do the work. And then there are the ones that do feel genuine guilt, and really want to get better. They don't always make it, but I do know some abusers, including my BF who I truly feel is genuinely remorseful for nearly all of his abusive behavior. IMO, these are the only ones that have any hope of changing. If you don't feel bad about what you've done, why would you change? Usually because their partner is leaving... It's a wake-up call.

Unfortunately though, sometimes these guilty feelings can lead to more abusive behavior in my experience. Yes. After all, why does an abuser lash out in the first place? Low self-esteem, bad self-image, self-hatred, etc. Yes. So a normal person would feel guilty and make a mental note not to do such a thing again, but an abusive mindset lets the guilty feelings further worsen their self-image, and these feelings make them lash out again. Something like that. They live in denial. They live for their ego for the most part. The self, the part about integrity, is put away somewhere. But, there is no one answer. Abusive people abuse for many, many different reasons. 

 Now I'm just rambling...:D I think, deep down, abusers are just sad little boys (or girls!) who think they are bad. -SatokoGirl Often enough... Whatever...

B1: Submit
Remote Name: 207.115.63.13
Date: Wednesday, July 26, 2000

S1

Okay I've read the post and all the replies.

To the reply who tried to compare dealing with a brother vs dealing with a spouse. It's much harder to deal with a spouse than a sibling, because sex and money are involved. YES!

I also think that one can not always nor should they walk away from verbal attacks. I mean there are times when you do need to stand up for yourself. I am of many minds on this subject. If you walk away from fights all the time is that always the best thing? I don't think so...it might teach that you can be bullied. Yes. And it's your house too..why should always have to be peacekeeper? I think sometimes a taste of one's own medicine will cure what ails them. Another thought is....hey...if you constantly treat your spouse like they were a child....they you just end up becoming their parent...and there is nothing sexy or nice about that roll. You are able to take this healthy position because you take more of your power than some other people do. Good for you! In some cases, especially if you don't take your power, standing up to your abuser can lead to violence.

Marriage is about 2 adults...not one child and one adult. I can't help but imagine how draining that type of marriage is...and how after awhile the adult spouse starts to get snappy to. It's hard...you have kids, job...house...housework...money...etc..etc...to deal with. You can't be babysitting your spouse without getting resentful and start yelling about it. Yeah!

I think to expect a spouse to stick around and bear the weight of being the adult in the marriage while waiting for the other spouse to grow up (I'm referring to being in counseling here) is a tall order and not always do-able. Life is hard enough and so is marriage when both are adults and work together as a well oiled machine. Cause life gives adversity... and if you don't have it together you ain't gonna weather those storms in one piece. Right. In my experience, the couples who do wait for one partner to get healthy are those couples who really, really, really love one another. Not all do.

I don't like all these labels...co dependent...abuser...victim...etc. I look at it like this: Does this person enhance my life? Do I show my appreciation? Do we respect each other? Is there mutuality and reciprocity? Does this person give me a hard time most of the time? Does this person let me down a lot? Is this person unreliable? Is this person self absorbed? Can this person see things from other points of view? Can they put themselves in another's shoes? If you answer to many no's..then move on..and find someone who you can answer yes to these questions...cause you can't change people. You're a smart one! Great advice. Unfortunately, easier said than done for some.

To me it's more cause and effect. You pick the incompatible person; this is why you have trouble and then are in a miserable marriage. See,.......the verbally abusive marriage starts with choosing the wrong partner....not because the marriage is troubled. Right! The people in the marriage are troubled or just a bad fit. I also think that some people just bring out the worst in each other...and if married to more suitable people...they are fine...and bring out the best in each other. And just because you like something doesn't mean it suits you. Just like not every color looks on everyone. Then of course their are people that just can't get along with anyone.. or only a very select few. What you want and what you need are two very different things. I mean I want to eat ice cream and cookies...most of the time...but I don't cause I need to eat fruit.. and veggies instead. This business of is this person a good partner for me is the main theme in Are You The One For Me? by Barbara DeAngelis. 

So take off the rose colored glasses when choosing a spouse...cause they will come off for sure during the marriage....and then you got much bigger problems to deal with. Yes. Choosing the right partner can save most people a lifetime of headaches.

B1: Submit
Remote Name: 12.38.64.71
Date: Wednesday, July 26, 2000

S1

It doesn't matter HOW you are related to the abuser! I could easily make the argument that it was harder for my parents to deal with my brother who abused them also. My father kept saying, "But he's my son." My brother physically attacked me and my father--father had to go to ER.

With immediate family members it's a blood relationship--how do you just walk away from that? Especially when you know the abuser has a mental disorder? All the memories, all the love---no, it was a lot easier for my brother's ex-girlfriends to walk away, to get on with their lives and forget him. My brother is 48 yrs old, I am 50. My family has had to deal with him for DECADES! Sure, we made a lot of wrong choices in dealing with him because we didn't know the dynamics.

MONEY IS INVOLVED!!! My brother lived with my parents his entire life. They gave him money every month, fed him, etc. right up until the time they died. He always wanted more, more, more. He threatened to burn their house down. They gave him money to try to keep the peace--typical victim behavior. The same is happening to me right now. Two days ago I finally got his threats for money recorded on a micro-cassette recorder. I've lost thousands just by living with him. Ouchhh!

Please don't make judgments about any victim having it easier than another victim. Whether the victim is a mate, sibling, or parent, we are ALL going thru hell! Yes.

B1: Submit
Remote Name: 172.162.10.252
Date: Wednesday, July 26, 2000

S1

I agree- You can't say that one kind of abusive relationship is preferable over the other. And sis makes a good point- it's VERY difficult to cut off family ties. I was also judged because I was in an abusive long-distance relationship, and because I wasn't married to my abuser or had any children with him, that somehow it would be 'easier' for me to leave, or that somehow I hadn't suffered real abuse because it wasn't on a day-to-day basis. (as if people can't abuse over a telephone!) Practically, financially, yes, absolutely, it would've been easier for me to leave than a married person. But emotionally, a codependent person is codependent no matter what their relationship, and emotionally it may have been just as hard for me to leave. -SatokoGirl Yes. Let's not compare situations. Even though there are some generalities that can be made, each person's Hell is their own Hell. Their situation is the situation a given individual needs to face.

B1: Submit
Remote Name: 147.140.144.157
Date: Wednesday, July 26, 2000

S1

Someone made a comment about it not always being good to walk away from a verbally abusive situation, because this might just allow you to be bullied. This person also stated that "they can't help but imagine" how draining this type of marriage is. I'm afraid you are correct because your statements are truly "imaginative" and not indicative of one "experiencing" what we call abuse. While I found this individual's comments somewhat insightful, understand that people walk away from verbally abusive situations for a good reason. The reason is that staying and giving the abuser a "dose of their own medicine" could cost the victim a black eye or worse. Right. Have you ever witnessed someone truly enraged? While I agree that labels can be used inappropriately, there is unfortunately a phenomenon called "abuse", which is defined as "a corrupt practice or custom". The term is used effectively here by most of us who understand and identify with one another. I do believe the questions you stated that one should ask themselves are good ones, i.e., "does this person understand other points of view, is there reciprocation, etc." However, there is much more to the abusive/victim dilemma than simply answering those questions and subsequently dumping the person accordingly. Few people have the strength to conduct relationships like that, and, unfortunately abuse sometimes does not appear in it's most severe cases until some people are married. Isn't that sad? So it is not (always) just as easy as marrying the right person who is compatible with you. It is much more complicated than that. Thanks for your insight. This is only intended to give you another perspective. I think each of you have insights that are valuable for the other.  

LHW  

B1: Submit
Remote Name: 207.115.63.24
Date: Wednesday, July 26, 2000

S1

I am the one who wrote that I think it's harder to end an abusive relationship when money and sex are involved. And I still stand by that. You are legally bound to the person you marry by church and state. You are not bound by the same laws to a sibling. And courts in divorce cases are not always fair...most of the time justice is not served fairly. It is harder legally. And it is as hard emotionally.

As for picking the right spouse...no it's not easy at all...it requires lots of seeing things the way they are ....and not the way you wish them to be. Yep. But I think in the long run it's easier to pick the right spouse than to end up married to wrong one and then having to clean up that ugly mess. I think picking the right spouse is the hardest job of all in life..afterall, this is the person you are going to share money, house, bed, your body with and create life with. So ya...your damn right it takes a lot of homework to get the most suitable spouse. But there is no other way to accomplish that. Picking your marital partner is the most important decision an individual will ever make...

As for dealing with a toxic sibling.. that is rough. The only choice you have is to pick the lesser of the two evils. Either way, emotionally you will hurt. But you do have a responsibility to protect yourself....and there is no shame in that. Yes! I believe it's okay to help people...but I don't believe it's okay to help them while hurting yourself or your family in the process. Yes. You have to draw the line somewhere in order to survive. Gotta take care of yourself first; otherwise there is no you to help anybody... And for those who don't understand that...well that's their problem not yours. You gotta do what you gotta do.

I also don't believe that there are no clues to what lies ahead....there are clues....but some are hard to see....and sometimes you don't want to see them....cause the truth can be ugly and painful at times...so you look the other way. But the truth always rears it's ugly head...sooner or later...it's just the way it is. Yeah...

B1: Submit
Remote Name: 199.129.101.99
Date: Wednesday, July 26, 2000

S1

The balance of power in Gary's relationship doesn't sound "even" to me, in any way. I know we're hearing only one side of the story, here, but it sounds to me like Gary's just a nice, regular guy who's in a hellish relationship with someone who, for whatever reason, is trying to grind him down to a shadow. My advice is, "Get out now and don't look back."

Don't try to explain your decision, either. You can stay up until 3:00 in the morning, night after night, talking, sharing your feelings, trying to explain yourself and trying to find some way of turning yourselves into the ideal loving couple. But it ain't gonna work. All you're doing is giving her ammunition, which she WILL use, in the next argument.

The way I see it, your wife's trying to wrap you around her finger. Her weapons are: 1) the social convention that says that any man who makes a woman cry is an ogre and a heel; and 2) that "thang" she's got that you call "intimacy". Your only defenses are: 1) your own certainty that you never intended her any harm, and 2) your ability to satisfy yourself without any help from her (or anyone else, at least while you're still married).

Don't get into ego-battles, where you're trying to "prove" either that you are innocent or, failing that, that you are right. That just keeps the argument going. Just ask yourself, as she stands there before you, screaming out names, if that's the way you want to spend the rest of your life. Ask yourself if this is a "good" relationship, from your point of view. If so, then stick around and go your nightly 20 rounds with her; make Ali and Foreman sit up and take notice. Heck, you might even invite your buddies over, so that they can watch. Maybe they'll place bets among themselves about who will "win". It'll be better than a night at Caesar's Palace or Madison Square Garden.

But if you decide that this is NOT the way you want to live, then split. Prepare a statement that defines your net worth, your assets and liabilities. Look around you, and decide which of your possessions have some sort of overwhelming meaning for you. Then wait until your wife's out of the house for the day, and call in the moving van. Take nothing that you bought together. Take nothing you can't absolutely live without. Just dump your clothes in a garbage bag, gather up your music collection (or whatever), and be gone in 20 minutes. Your first stop should be the bank. Take half of the money, not all of it. If you can't cash in your CDs without her signature, then you'll have to leave those behind. Open up a new account in your own name. When you're done at the bank, go to your employer, and have your paychecks automatically deposited in your new account. And finally, draw up a new statement of your net worth. The house is gone, half (or more) of your money is gone, most of your possessions are gone. Are you an abuser?

I agree with the good doctor, here, in that getting into screaming matches is stupid. Just like your wife can't change you, you can't change her. Obviously, she likes getting into fights with you, or she wouldn't do it. Who knows what the reason is? Does it matter? Maybe you're just too gentle and considerate in the sack, and so she gets into fights in order to exhaust herself, so that her orgasms will leave her light-headed. It doesn't matter WHAT the reason is; all that matters is that IT IS. The only decision that you can make is whether you want it in your life.

You didn't mention kids. If you don't have any, in this particular situation, then you're a lucky man. If you do, then your wife will have her hooks into you for the next 20 years. She'll use your kids as "leverage" on you, just like she uses her "womanly charms" today. Are you an abuser?

But again, if you make up your mind to leave, just walk out. Don't threaten. That's "controlling behavior", and the mark of an abuser. Besides, threatening someone is futile. Respect the fact that your wife is who she is. If you were outside, and it were raining cats and dogs, you wouldn't threaten the sky. It wouldn't do any good, and you know it. What you'd do would be to demonstrate your respect for the fact that the sky is going to do what the sky is going to do, and nothing you can say will ever change it. You'd confine your decisions to the sphere of your own actions, and either stay outside and get wet, or go inside and be dry.

One final note, to any other guys Or gals, I might add... who happen upon this web-site. You get to decide, for yourself, whether or not you are abusive. Don't hang your head and let someone else put a label on you and your "manner of being in this world". Accept the fact that not everybody's is going to like you. So what? The real question is, do you like yourSELF?

Despite what some other corners of this web-site say, keeping silent is not being abusive. Walking away is not being abusive. Neither are half of the actions listed, here, as "characteristics of the abuser". But let's say that these things really DO constitute abuse, and that they DO cause harm to those whom we say we love. What is the solution? Do we go on, day after day, year after year, watching our loved ones writhe in pain at our physical or psychological touch? Or do we back off, and give them some room to heal?

Which is the choice of the abuser?

-- Larry

B1: Submit
Remote Name: 172.166.214.218
Date: Thursday, July 27, 2000

S1

Without knowing more about what the circumstances were when Gary left, there's no way we can be sure all those statements apply. (My x-h called it abusive when I told him he couldn't evict me from our house and business, legally. He said I'd "betrayed" him by telling him I would get a lawyer to defend myself...now he denies that he threatened to take anything.) Threats are no good. Also, if you truly want to get away, don't ask them to help you with anything. You are an adult - do it yourself. The abuser (I think) has a hard time adjusting to life without a constant supporter and helper - someone who will gladly pick them up at the airport, wash their dishes, etc...without asking anything in return! When you withdraw these things too, it gets easier to distance yourself. :)

B1: Submit
Remote Name: 12.46.84.47
Date: Thursday, July 27, 2000

S1

I found Larry's comments interesting. Some I thought were right on target, such as The only decision you have is to stay or go (something like that). One that disturbed me though was "She must like fighting with you or she wouldn't do it." I think this could be a destructive way to think about an abusive situation. I am not abusive, but I just can't believe that those who are actually LIKE fighting with their victim. Am I wrong? I've struggled to understand the abuser - (Its easy for me to understand the victim), and this is not part of my understanding.... Some abusive types enjoy fighting; some even enjoy watching their victim squirm. Most don't know what else to do to cope with life... 

B1: Submit
Remote Name: 152.163.204.16
Date: Thursday, July 27, 2000

S1

I can understand why a few of you have been offended by certain comments to the effect of it being easier to get away from an abusive family member as opposed to a spouse.

I was inundated with the same nonsense on Ouchhh. I was with a man who was verbally, emotionally, sexually and physically abusive. Besides being hostile and critical with his words, he also tried to force anal intercourse on me, held loaded guns to my head, shot at me with a BB gun, etc. Ugh!

However, by the time I joined that group, I was dealing more with an abusive relative. I could not believe some of the input directed toward me like, "Well, he's JUST your Uncle. You can't relate to what WE are going through, we have to LIVE with our abusers." There was so much competition there - who has had it worst, which type of abuse hurts the most, what type of abusive relationship is more painful to deal with? Etc. Oh boy... I wish people wouldn't get into this... 

Up until that point I had not discussed in great detail what my abusive SO had done, but I felt like asking, "Oh, you want to compare, do you? When is that last time your abuser tried to force a loaded gun up your rectum?"

Yet, I caught myself in time because I realized I have had to tolerate abuse from both a SO and a relative, they BOTH HURT, and I don't care if someone else tries to diminish one type and elevate another. That's their problem. It's not a contest. Correct. I wish they wouldn't either; especially on a support group...

However, a spouse or SO is someone YOU choose to be with, a family member is someone who at least while growing up you have little control over getting away from. You can know a mate for 2 years, but have a deep rooted bond with a family member that goes back years and years.

Regardless, abuse is abuse and if it hurts it hurts. It's no one else's place to say which is easier to overcome or less traumatic to endure. It is unfortunate that so many people are consumed by the fact that they have had to suffer more than someone else. The bottom line is most of us think we got the shortest end of the stick regardless of the situation we are in or "who" the abuser is. If it hurts, it hurts. That's all that matters.

B1: Submit
Remote Name: 172.146.129.101
Date: Thursday, July 27, 2000

S1

The last poster is right on target. I think most 'victim-types' have experienced abuse from at least one family member, anyway. YES! Otherwise, we generally wouldn't tolerate the behavior of a romantic-relationship abuser. As for the poster who still insists that abuse is 'not as bad' when money and sex aren't involved- you're hearing testimonials from people who HAVE endured both kinds of abuse. Yet you yourself never mention your own experience with abuse. Unless you've personally experienced this and you can say "for ME, it's worse when money and sex are involved" you're doing the rest of us a disservice by passing judgment in this way. -SatokoGirl  Look, the more in common, the more entanglement. Children, finances, a house, etc. in common, just add to the problems. But the real difficulty, as you pointed out earlier, is the emotional one. That is what all victims have in common. That is the only thing that matters. We are all on the same side; you should not have to defend the validity of your abuse experience. I'm sorry you sometimes find yourself in that position.

B1: Submit
Remote Name: 192.104.254.82
Date: Thursday, July 27, 2000

S1

Larry,

Why do you hate women? It is clear from your dissertation that you carry some "baggage" yourself, as your statement reeks of defensiveness and your advice is a little too detailed. You have made so many general assumptions about women and you could have definitely spared us the part about the female orgasm. Exactly what was your point in mentioning that? As a female, I find it offensive and degrading. It was nothing but a malicious statement toward women where you used sex as a vehicle. It's no wonder that you don't think any of the "characteristics of abuse" are indeed abusive. If this is the way you express yourself, I don't care what the circumstances are, it is ABUSIVE. Look in the mirror. Does anyone agree? I think Larry's style is strong and provocative. But, I didn't read it as women-hating. So hard to "read" people from just words with no body language cues...

LHW

B1: Submit
Remote Name: 152.163.206.183
Date: Thursday, July 27, 2000

S1

To a few people, in Gary's original post he wrote:

"But when I fight back, she would try to argue as long as she could and when she saw that I wouldn't quit until she did, she would threaten to expose this argument to our community and our church so that they would know what type of person I "really" was, or she would cry. I would feel guilty and she would apologize because she knew in turn I would apologize to her, then she would initiate intimacy."

The way I interpret this is to mean that Gary's wife was on some level sexually aroused by the intensity of their conflicts. Although I think that is not particularly healthy, there are some people like that who almost thrive on adversity and then crave intimacy afterward.

At any rate, whatever goes through her mind, it seemed to me that some of Larry's comments to the effect her wanting the orgasm to leave her light headed (I forget the precise wording) and that she may like to fight don't offend me in the least. He was not stereotyping women or making broad generalized criticisms about women, he was merely pointing out that Gary's wife has some issues.

This is a perfect example of how we all have our own realities and can define abuse in our own way. I did not find the post either offensive or abusive, it simply just is his observation of the scenario. And to be honest, it's not nearly as bad as some of the male bashing I have seen in other areas, but that's another topic.

B1: Submit
Remote Name: 208.148.52.15
Date: Thursday, July 27, 2000

S1

In addition to being the victim of an abusive brother with whom I have lived with for the last 3 1/2 yrs; I have also had two live-in relationships with verbal abusers when I was in my twenties. For a year I had sex with a man I despised, avoided it whenever I could, until I graduated from college and had enough money to leave.

The second SO I lived with held my wrists one time until I agreed with him, and another time pushed me backwards on the bed, so he goes into physical abuse category as well as verbal.

For 17 years I was in a relationship with a gentle, but controlling man. I really can't call him a verbal abuser, but the control issues were there. I was still a codependent, but improved over time. We separated and that's how I ended up in the same house with my brother.

So, I have had experience in abusive relationships with sex and without sex (brother). Abusers use anything and everything to manipulate and control others. Same behavior, different "weapons." If children are involved, they'll use those. With my parents my brother used guilt, and the "please help your poor son" manipulation. Yes. Oh, I wish you didn't feel the need to defend yourself...

My experience is that money is an issue in every abusive relationship, doesn't matter how the people are related. Employees who have encountered abusive people at work also suffer from extreme stress. There is no such thing as an "easier" abusive relationship. If it hurts, it hurts. The end.

B1: Submit
Remote Name: 147.140.144.157
Date: Friday, July 28, 2000

S1

I've read the comments responding to my expression of disappointment in Larry's note. In fact, I've even read Larry's note through again to see if I perhaps over-dramatized my statement. I maintain that I find his comments over-generalized, sarcastic and stereotypical. Following are my reasons:

He states "keeping silent is not abusive, neither is walking away". If he had said that these actions are "not always" abusive, then I would agree. However, these actions can indeed be abusive. He doesn't know the particular use of these actions in the given situation so he cannot say with certainty that they are not abusive.

He mentioned to Gary "don't threaten", because that is "controlling behavior". I find this totally sarcastic. Threats can indeed be abusive and controlling.

He stated "if you don't have any kids, you're a lucky man". I believe that many couples still feel fortunate to have their children despite their failing relationship. Maybe Gary wanted children? How does Larry know that Gary is "lucky"?

Here is the best one that I feel is without a doubt stereotypical:

"Your wife will have her hooks into you for the next 20 years. She'll use your kids as "leverage" on you, just like she uses her "womanly charms". WOMANLY CHARMS? This isn't stereotypical or sarcastic? Do ALL women operate like that?

Another note about the sexual comments. Larry stated:

"maybe you're just too gentle and considerate in the sack..." HOW does he know if Gary was too gentle in the sack and what does he care?

To me, most of his story was about how "right" Gary is about everything, and how to protect him from this "horrible" woman, including denying all potentially abusive behaviors - Larry has made some pretty strong statements that are up for argument.

Although I don't agree, I still respect anyone's comments to the contrary. Thanks.

LHW  Larry's style is strong, sarcastic, and provocative. He talks straight and is not afraid to share his position. Who cares whether or not he's angry? Whatever Larry is or is not, his comments are thought-provoking. He makes one think. Isn't that where it's at folks? Not necessarily to agree, but to think about it and come to your own take - as you did.  

B1: Submit
Remote Name: 208.34.11.106
Date: Friday, July 28, 2000

S1

LHW: I wouldn't go so far as to think that Larry hates women, but I did find some generalizations somewhat off-color. Such as "She'll use your kids as "leverage" on you, just like she uses her "womanly charms" today." I'm not sure. They just seem to play on stereotypes of the shrieking harpy controlling woman and left a bad taste in my mouth. What is sad is that many of those stereotypes are acted out day in and day out... I didn't want to speak up though because I've already got into too many going-nowhere arguments about gender here. For the record, I definitely think that Gary is the 'victim-type' in this, and that his wife is abuser. Just to shatter those notions about us feminists how thing that all guys are abusers. Wow, this is really getting off subject. Has Gary posted? I'd like to hear what he has to say. -SatokoGirl

B1: Submit
Remote Name: 152.163.195.197
Date: Friday, July 28, 2000

S1

Well, I guess I simply viewed it differently upon initial reading. I interpreted Larry to be saying in essence, "The way you described your wife in your post, she is probably the type who would have her hooks into you for 20 years, she is probably the type to use her womanly charms to..." et al. I thought he was basing his assessments on the description provided of her, so I didn't really think much of.

Womanly charms didn't bother me either, a lot of women do use their sexuality to control, so do men, I just don't get the big deal. Maybe it's because I see so many women at this site make biased statements about men and it is rarely pointed out, that I have become a bit desensitized to gender comments in general. Although I have noticed that the men here have to be extra, extra cautious about what they say lest some become fixated on their posts and dissect them. I suppose he could have forgone a few comments but all I was conveying is his post did not offend me in the least. I am sorry you found it insulting though. But I would be interested in hearing how Gary is doing.

This is not a war, men vs. women. We are all on the same team...

B1: Submit
Remote Name: 216.86.64.12
Date: Sunday, July 30, 2000

S1

I too have been told that I am verbally abusive, emotional abusive and physically abusive. These have come from my wife. Verbally abusive because I am a "Rageaholic", emotionally abusive because I make my children clean up and try to make them responsible for their actions. Physically abusive because I have spanked my kids in the past. 

My wife sent me to this web site to show me how abusive I am. What I found was that she was the main abuser in our relationship. She didn't think she was abusive because she was not a "Rageaholic". She would use Passive - Aggressive techniques on me. This too is a very poor way of showing anger. She would promise things to the kids and me, and then not go through with them. She would also spank the kids, but quit because the boys were bigger than her. I found that she was lacking in self respect for herself. Her dad is also dying of heart failure. She would complain that I don't tell my boys (17,15,12) that I love them enough or hug and kiss them. This stems back from her dad not EVER telling her that he loved her. She projects her anger on me as she is not willing to hurt her dad who she wants desperately to love her. She suffers from depression and refuses to take her medicine. She claims it is situational and not Clinical or Major depression. I am convinced that it is clinical. What's the difference? Meds make it all better... Why suffer... We also have a son who is clinically depressed. 

In January my wife took my sons and moved out and filed for divorce. This was because of the way I reacted when my 15 year old son placed a plate that had been in the microwave oven for 4 minutes on top of my head. I spanked him once for his action, but her reaction was to pour a glass of water over my head after I had calmed down enough to try to finish eating dinner. There are many reasons why people leave us. Some of them are not in our control, and some are. It is our reaction that matters. Yes.

It is something that you have control over. You have a choice. While we all want our marriages and lives to be successful, there are times that they aren't. I would recommend a anger-management group or class to assist you if you want to change. If you don't want to change the way you react, stay the same and you will always end up the same way. Its your choice. It is not something that will happen overnight, but will take time. Anger is ok, but the way you react is learned and can be unlearned. Yes you can teach an old dog new tricks. Arf! (Translation: Yes!) 

While I may not be able to convince my wife to come back, the way I respond to her is my choice. I CHOOSE not to let her upset me to the point where I have to yell. When she withholds my kids from me, I CHOOSE to write a letter to the Friend of the Court rather than yell at her. I CHOOSE to take control of my life, and not let her control me. You can too. My God bless you and help you in your life. paul I hope things work out for you and your family Paul... 

B1: Submit
Remote Name: 207.172.11.147
Date: Sunday, July 30, 2000

S1

Someone said that s/he "just can't believe that [there are] those who actually LIKE fighting with their victim." I find that idea quite easy to believe. Speaking specifically of Gary's post, try to project yourself into the mind of the wife he describes.

If you know that you can incite your partner almost to the point of violence, it might give you a little thrill. The thrill of controlling someone else. Unfortunately, that thrill can be offset by the physical consequences of a good knock-down drag-out. BUT! If you can bring on that kind of horrible confrontation and then end it by enticing your partner into a sexual embrace, then, my friend, you have achieved the ultimate victory. You have played your partner like a musical instrument, and have brought him (or her), like a dog, to heel. You have initiated a symphony of emotions that include lightening clashes and thundering crescendos, but have brought it all to a close with the sweet and gentle tones of post-coital pillow talk. Bravo! How heady must be the elixir of power! And quite addictive, too. This tactic can succeed only when the partner sells out: sells the self out for a sex fix.

But what of Gary? Why might HE like to fight? Let's pretend, for a moment, that he (although a man) OK, enough of this sexist silliness... actually spoke the truth in his description of his interaction with his wife. Even he, at some level, must surely know at the beginning of the fight that it will end with sex. And maybe his wife is good at it. So, somewhere in the back of Gary's mind, he might associate the emotional turmoil of fighting with his wife, and the physical ecstasy of a sexual encounter. Like Pavlov's dog, who learned to slobber at the sound of a ringing bell, Gary's ...er... "libido" might leap into high gear at the sound of his wife's first screech. He wouldn't be the first, nor the last.

Ooooh, I shouldn't have said that. Anyone who speaks as I do must hate women. Do I hate women? Or is she who makes that accusation the type that tries to rule through weakness and the shedding of a river of tears? "Boo hoo," she sobs, burying her face in the pillow, "You are a cad and a brute, to say such things!" You Brute, you! 

What is a fellow to do, in that situation? Here! Let me fall to my knees and take your hand in mine! Let me cry out in anguish, "I'm sorry! You are right! I do not deserve to live!" Suggesting that Gary not sell himself out and fall prey to sexual manipulation might be enough. But, I guess that would be too easy... so, the sexist battle continues.

Poppycock! I do not hate women! In fact, I have met and loved many fine examples of womanhood, in my time. Strong in character, robed in virtue, capable, clean, and sincere. These women have lives of their own, and do not have to live vicariously through the actions of their browbeaten men. No, these women actually have their own accomplishments, made in accordance with their own standards. These accomplishments, whether in the home or in business, or even in the wilderness, remind such women of their own greatness. These women reach out and grab life with both hands, rather than sitting back and bewailing the fate that they, themselves, have made. If they sleep with a man for money, then they do it right up front, and admit to being what they are. They don't masquerade as lovers while picking the pockets of their men. And they don't label someone a "woman-hater" just because they don't happen to like what that other person says.

On another topic, I continue to believe that silence is never abusive. Who knows what goes on in the mind of the silent person? Do you? Depends on the body language that accompanies the silence, and what happens when the silence is broken.

All the "victim" knows is that the abuser won't talk with him (or her). Does the victim know or care what it is costing the "abuser", just to be silent? For all the victim knows, the silent abuser might be waging an epic battle within himself (or herself), searching for a true and equitable end to whatever situation sparked that battle in the first place. The silent abuser might be searching every nook and cranny of his (or her) mind, looking for a single one of the victim's qualities that the abuser can say that he (or she) still loves. Is it not enough that the silent abuser refrains from slamming the victim against a wall?  Is it not enough that the silent abuser keeps from shouting out horrible words which can never be unspoken? Must this "abuser" be required, also, to laugh and smile, and make inane conversation about the latest cover of "The Star"? If so, then it is not the silent person who is the real abuser. You are sarcastically describing the difficulty the abusive person has containing their temper, and you are really mad about it. Who can blame you? It's tough stuff. It's even tougher when you spend all your energy containing yourself, but, your victim is mad because you're not doing it well enough; you're not being "normal." OK, be mad. But, for your own sake, look at containing your temper as an interim step in your recovery. Don't let your anger at your victim's expectations side track you. You really don't have to engage in this stuff.

Yes, silences can be heavy, and a house without joyous laughter is like a prison or a tomb. But silences are less heavy than other things, such as flying fists or frying pans. And yes, walking out of a partner's life may break the victim's heart. But neither silence nor walking away leaves bruises, draws blood, or breaks bones.

Remember that the door is always open. It may take years to psyche yourself up to do it, but any victim of "the silent treatment" can generate the courage to leave the situation and build a happier life. And there won't be a mark on him (or her). Just be aware that some "silences" are about containing the rage, as you describe, some are about enraging, and some are about both.

One more thing, before I end this rant, and then I'll sum up and be gone. Yes, it is possible to "make someone mad". No. An individual can send an "invitation" for anger. The other has to accept it. (Read Ron Potter's book, Angry All The Time.) Most people go through their whole lives, without ever knowing who they are or what makes them tick. These people have "buttons", and those buttons can be "pushed". Your buttons are pushed - if you let them. A certain tone of voice can remind a person of a particular moment from his childhood. And when that memory wells up in the head of the person who hears that tone of voice, that person reacts in a certain way. A look, a gesture, a posture, a word, all of these can push buttons and cause reactions in almost every individual. That's just the way it is. That's true, that's the way it is. But, that's the way it is when you don't take responsibility for your life. Read Grow Up!: How Taking Responsibility Can Make You A Happy Adult. If this is truly how you feel, you need to look at these books. The topics they cover are about your recovery; your life!

The only way that I know of, to remove these buttons, is to take a good, long look at them. Doing so gives you a tiny bit of "distance" between you and the person who's trying to push a particular button of yours. That distance gives you a split second in which to recognize not only THAT a button is being pushed, but also WHICH button it is. That split second is time enough to allow you to "put on the brakes" and stop or divert what would normally be your first reaction. Right. That is one of the first steps in anger management.

Only when you're really good at introspection, and only when you've examined those buttons to death, only then can you do more than just "put on the brakes". Only then can you actually "choose your emotions". And even if you know yourself inside out, and even if you stand constant guard at the gates of all five of your senses, there's no guarantee that you'll ever really be able to "decide which emotion to feel". Right, sort of. The goal is not to "decide" or "choose" what emotions to feel; the goal is to recognize what emotions you do feel. What you choose is your behavioral response to your emotions.

Okay, I'm done. I wrote this rant because I felt like it. You were pissed off that victims cannot readily understand how difficult it is for an angry person to contain the rage; how it takes all the energy you have in the beginning. Tip: That's all you had to say. Instead, you kind of acted it out in words. I'm trying to put off going to bed, just like a 9-year old boy would do. But this rant has allowed me to blow off a little steam, which has probably helped me; having done so, I'll probably be able to fall right to sleep, when I go upstairs and hit the sack. Tomorrow's going to be a big day, for me, and I don't want to lie in bed, tonight, too excited to sleep. Why am I telling you this? Just so you'll know that my words really have nothing to do with any of you. I'm just here, spouting off for my own pleasure, doing my own thing. I hope you are learning from it too.

But isn't that the way of the world? We are all bouncing around on this planet like a game of croquet with a million players. My "ball" hits yours and sends it off in a certain direction. Your ball hits someone else's, and you go one way while that "someone else" goes another. And so it goes, with everyone bouncing off of everyone else, affecting one another's speed and trajectory. To be conscious of this seems to be the only way I know of, to direct one's own course through the Universe.

Good night.

-- Larry  Yes Larry, you are right, again, sort of. Angry people tend not to take responsibility; they bounce all over. Codependent people take too much, so they bounce around too. The goal is not to live life as though you are riding a leaf blowing in the wind. The goal is to direct your life. And there is no reason in the world why you, or just about anybody else, can't learn to do this. Good night and sweet dreams.

B1: Submit
Remote Name: 172.137.206.25
Date: Monday, July 31, 2000

S1

Silence can be extremely abusive/ I have personally felt it. I have been abused by another's silence. Most of the cold shoulders I have gotten have nothing at all to do with him resisting the urge to hit me. Even if they did, it's still painful, inappropriate, and abusive to refuse to respond to another human being who is in pain. It is abusive to deny your partner love and communication. It is abuse. Whether it's worse or better than getting punched, it's still abusive.  Unless your angry person is trying to fight their anger, it is abuse. But, recognize that angry people learning to control their anger, as Larry points out, truly can do absolutely no more than...be silent. Even when they remain silent, because they have difficulty containing their strong emotion, the anger usually "leaks" out in body language. Their silence is typically - and correctly - read as hostile. But, what else would you expect? Can you so easily take your power and assert yourself? Of course not. Anger management is a skill, just as assertion is; both take time and practice to master.

B1: Submit
Remote Name: 12.38.64.169
Date: Monday, July 31, 2000

S1

I have a close friend with a husband who gives her the silent treatment, among other abusive behaviors. He swears, calls her names, makes insults. He doesn't scream, yell, or make physical threats. She often complains about the silent treatment, it bothers her a lot. Silence is a form of punishment. It says the other person isn't worth talking to, not important enough to communicate with, that the other person is beneath you. Correct. Your friend's husband sounds as though he is expressing his anger, as opposed to trying to manage it. I bet if my friend gave him the silent treatment he would be furious. Of course he would be! Who wouldn't?

Also, I don't believe that people choose to be angry in every situation. I just don't buy that. Anger is a natural reaction. Yes, sort of. Anger is a feeling generated by underlying, often implicit, habitual thinking - thinking that may or may not be rational. Angry behavior is a choice.

I recall my mother's two dogs and cat when she had advanced Alzheimer's. Sometimes she would continuously pet them, even when they were trying to sleep. The animals were extremely patient, sometimes moving from one location to another. I would try to make my mother stop petting them when it was clear she was bothering them. She wouldn't stop. Eventually one of the dogs would snap at her and growl. One time the cat left a long scratch on her hand. Only then did she stop annoying them, saying, "oh, he wants me to stop." Anger is a natural reaction. We get into trouble when we bury it and do nothing. As Dr Irene stated; anger is sign that something is wrong. Yes. Anger is a sign that something is wrong - when the underlying thinking is rational. (Example: If I feel angry at you because I conclude that you are disrespectful towards me since you talk to me in a voice too low for me to hear, my anger is irrational if I know I have a hearing disorder that makes it hard for me to hear people's voices.)

B1: Submit
Remote Name: 199.174.217.118
Date: Monday, July 31, 2000

S1

Thank you for backing me up about the silence thing-my H always tells me the same thing that was posted above- "what, you'd rather I belted you?" It's bullsh*t. Silence kills communication, and that's what relationships are for, right? (among other things, of course.) Your husband's attitude depends on what's going on: Is he saying, "Look, I've managed to contain my violence; count your lucky stars because that's all I'm going to do." Or, is he saying, "I'm really, really, really doing everything in my power to contain my anger; I can do no more. You have to give me time to chill before I can behave more normally." There is a big difference.

B1: Submit
Remote Name: 12.46.84.47
Date: Tuesday, August 01, 2000

S1

I just read the several posts above talking about "the silent treatment" and wanted to add my testimony. I grew up in a home where my father used silence - and ignoring people - when he was angry. True, as Larry suggested I did not know what he was thinking and I suppose it was a step above being beaten.... but I am pretty certain it was abusive and unhealthy for our family. Also, crying and being sick were forbidden. We did not talk about anything emotional. Upsetting events were kept "secret". Actually, silence was the only acceptable expression of anger. Somehow we did not have much joy or affection either. Sometimes now I feel like I am only an observer in this world. So sad when silence is used as a form of with holding; it is covert abuse...

B1: Submit
Remote Name: 24.67.224.13
Date: Tuesday, August 01, 2000

S1

Silence is great if it is done so that communication can be done in a more civil manner later that day or the next morning, but if it is done to dismiss your mate it hurts, it is abusive and it is controlling. Bingo! You said it better than I did. Politeness and loving behaviour dictates that even if the mate is having an emotional meltdown, you can still say "I'm not going to talk right now BUT I will talk to you later about this." That is a different scenario then getting ignored, having someone withdraw and tune you out or make some snide comment that you want to fight again because you've asked a question, needed an answer to something. Correct. Just recognize that the ability to say "BUT I will talk to you later..." is a skill your angry person may have to learn to do!

All I can say at this point is that Dr. Irene is right. There is a more appropriate way to communicate, some people may go years before they realize that there are effective communication skills out there that they can learn. Isn't that sad?

I just read "The Seven Principles to Make Marriage Work," It educates the reader to different fighting styles. I almost had a heart attack when I read it because I didn't know that there were basically four fighting styles that End relationships. I wish this kind of book was mandatory reading in schools so that kids could be better prepared and educated with these life skills. This is an excellent book because the author, Dr. Gottman has based the work on his research. This book is not about opinion. It is about observations of life.

Anyways, Gary's post and the ensuing informative posts, are just the best thing that I've come across in a very long time. I can't help but wonder if this web site, all this insight and information could have saved my relationship? Thanks everyone. Make sure it saves the next one...

B1: Submit
Remote Name: 152.163.197.208
Date: Sunday, August 06, 2000

S1

Gary:

I have been in a six year relationship with a man who was diagnosed twice as passive aggressive. I have read the list that defines verbal abuse and believe me they all apply to him. A therapist told me four years ago that he will eventually drive me crazy. And it has happened. I have tried to end the relationship many times, but we always went back. His accusations, his insecurities, his immaturity, his put downs drove me nuts. I am ashamed to say I started responding with verbal abuse. I have said a lot of things that I regret. Yes I got to the point where my anger and my resentment were beyond manageable. Tonight, the same thing. He provoked and provoked despite the fact that I begged him to stop. My anger got the best of me and he tried to kick me out of the house and told me he was going to start seeing other women because it is alllllll my fault.

Yes i do admit I finally responded with abuse, but believe me, if you know anything about passive aggressive people, you would know that they are capable of driving you insane and yet deny any wrong doing. That is true. That is why it is your responsibility to yourself to get out; you can fix you, not him.

I know you know how miserable a situation this could be. Oh, I too have to get out. I too am scared of ever considering romance again.

B1: Submit
Remote Name: 216.34.56.10
Date: Wednesday, August 09, 2000

S1

Gary, I know what you are going through, I also got fed up with the verbal and thought if I dished it back he would see what he was doing and stop, but he didnt he got better at it and just found another way of doing it,same abuse different way was all.Do not fall trap to it.When ever she calms down talk and talk ad if she doesnt, when you are on your way home find another place to hang your hat,life is to short to go through all of this.

B1: Submit
Remote Name: 152.163.194.201
Date: Wednesday, October 04, 2000

S1