Sent: Monday, May 17, 1999 8:38 PM
Subject: Verbal abuse question
Dear Dr. Irene,
Firstly, thank you for the web site. I never actually realized prior to reading all the
other people's stories what sort of situation I was in. It's still hard to come to terms
with that I have been in an abusive relationship, me as the abused.
I am writing because I want to know what to do! I have separated from my wife, but I still
love her and she is suggesting that we come back together. To give you some history, we
broke up before we married (I broke us up), because of the abuse and the control tactics
she used. I didn't realize at the time it was abuse, I just thought that it hurt too much
to be with her. Now I have separated from her again for exactly the same reasons, two and
a half years later. I always hoped it would get better but it never did.
Can she stop the abuse, or is it something so deep in her character that it cannot be
controlled? Her father was very abusive (physically and verbally) with my wife's mother
and probably her as well.
Would I be better for my own physical and mental health, stopping the relationship
altogether? We have been to see a counselor, but that was before I realized that this was
a "classic" case of an abusive relationship.
Can you help? Are there techniques to remedy this thing?
First, thank you for your kind feedback.
I'm sorry about your situation. I
can't make any recommendations regarding what you should do with your life in terms of
staying in your marriage or not. That is strictly a personal decision. But I can suggest
you read through the entire site because, in my experience, there is no difference between
an angry controller who is male or female. I also suggest you read Evan's book.
Basically, anything that applies
to the abused woman applies to you: You have to stop her abuse and control; better yet,
love yourself enough to stop any disrespect at all - before it becomes abuse. In
general, her task is much harder than yours. How much harder, I cannot say from an
email. This question is best answered by a professional experienced in working with
abusive individuals, and who has assessed your specific marital situation.
Warmest regards, Dr. Irene
Sent: Tuesday, May 18, 1999 10:45 PM
Subject: Your reply to my email
Dear Dr Irene,
Thanks for your rapid response, I wasn't even sure to expect one! Thanks also for your
comments, I am about to purchase Patricia Evan's book.
About your suggestions. The thing about stopping abuse and control early (loving myself? I
do!) is something that I do not know how to do, as I never experienced this situation
before. It just starts as a few provocative / control statements and the next thing you
know it's like a train bearing down on you. The main thing I want to learn, is what to do
in those situations to stop that happening. Nothing I did ever stopped the tantrums and
eventual shouting, except gratifying the wish of my wife (whatever it was at the time),
which inevitably resulted in her wanting sex and saying how much she loved me. I will not
sink to the level of shouting back (I did once or twice). I don't know how to raise the
issue of abuse with her now, either. I have talked about it with her (recently) and
suggested it needs professional help. As the classic case, however, she first
as not REALLY serious, then bounces it back to me, saying she had a reason to do what she
Hopefully Evan's book will give me some ideas on how to deal with the situation.
Thanks again for your response, I understand if you do not respond to this one as I'm sure
you're a very busy person.
Kind regards, Steven
A provocative control statement is not OK under any
circumstances. Challenge her. Tell her that it is not OK and to knock it off. Don't
ignore it! Tantrums and shouting? Not OK. Throw her out; call the police; leave.
Whatever you have to do, you don't have to put up with it. (Good for you for not shouting
If you can't raise the issue of her abuse, you are far
from taking your power. I hope that before you attempt to make a go of it with her
that you are very, very clear that you will not tolerate any yelling or control for
any reason. If she thinks it is not serious, walk away until she agrees with you that
it is. When she tells you she has a reason, tell her that you don't really care, that her
behavior is unacceptable, and walk away. Do not give her the benefit of the doubt - that's
what gets you into trouble. Under any circumstances: Do not defend yourself!!!!! Never,
ever, ever. You won't win. If she won't go into treatment, don't go back with her.
Each time you give in and enjoy the rewards she
offers, you hammer one more nail into your own coffin. Don't sell yourself short, Steven.
Get the picture? Dr. Irene