"Not being able to govern events, I govern myself." Michel de Montaigne
June 26, 2000
Dear Dr Irene,
I am writing not for advice but just
to share some of my hard work with you. I hope you post this as I
feel I have some useful information for others. You
I first recognized I was in an
abusive relationship over a year ago. This was reinforced when I
visited your web site. Ahhhhh!!! Validation!
Nothing continued smoothly from
there on because my husband became more defensive and I had to do lots
of hard work on my own co-dependency, control issues, anger, sadness
(and the list goes on). However, it was empowering to realize I
had so many choices and I got really busy thinking about all the
possibilities I had. I stopped wallowing in my helplessness (it
was never going to get me anywhere). Smart
Now throughout this period I learnt
to identify friends who would be supportive and people who wouldn't.
"Verbal abuse" is still such an unknown concept amongst so
many people. So true... I also learnt
to trust my instincts and if I felt unsafe (constant verbal assault), I
knew I had every right to leave. Very smart... I
set boundaries and started to express my feelings, wants as
"I" statements and not "you should". Very, very smart! None of this is easy. I
still mess up now. Yikes, she's not even
defensive! This I accept because at least now I recognize my own
responsibilities and role in the relationship. I recognize the
ability I have to control.............ME! Yipppeeee!
And probably most important of all I
said to my husband that I would not stay in the relationship if counseling
was not pursued. This was scary because I knew I couldn't give
ultimatums and not stick to them. You trusted
yourself, and were no longer willing to compromise your integrity by
We have been to various counselors
now. It was frustrating because we were constantly up against
inexperienced professionals who little or nothing about verbal/emotional
abuse. I felt like I was being beaten down. Forced to give
up. Then a friend suggested I ring the Domestic Violence center
near us and ask them for counselors they would recommend. I hit
gold and found a wonderful counselor who identified the problems
straight away. My husband enjoyed our first session together
saying "I have never had things explained so clearly to me
before". Yes. That's a line I hear all
the time... Unfortunately...
Now Dr Irene, after this session
my partner did not change. I would like people to know that it
won't happen overnight. Indeed, things got worse. Denial is
a dreadful thing. However, I again stipulated counseling must
continue...and I demanded a time and date from my partner that he would
commit to. So he decided he needed to go alone. I went alone
also. And again, things do not change overnight. But we are
coming up to our third session (and are still going to have individual counseling)
and I feel some progress has been made. It's only slight but I can
feel it!! And you have to stay strong; he will
test your strength and commitment to yourself over and over... Keep up
the great, empowering, courageous work!
Therefore, the purpose of my writing
has been to share with others the following points that really helped
Reading books on anger, co-dependency, abuse, boundaries are essential.
Perceptions get altered, inner awareness grows. (Some selections are here.)
Talking to supportive friends is a must. It is too difficult and
lonely to go through alone. Important to be aware of
advice-giving, values that only further disempower the
"victim" e.g. "it takes two to tango", "all
couples have their ups-and-downs", "he just really loves
It does take two to tango, all couple do have their ups
and downs, and he really does love you - but, unless there is an
understanding of abuse, none of that applies...)
Seek counseling with professionals who have an understanding of verbal
abuse. DON'T give up when you have discovered the counselor is a
dud. Ring a domestic violence center to get the names of
professionals they can recommend. Yeah!
Never, ever expect it to be easy. Constantly assess and be aware.
Understand that the only change you can control is your own. Double yeah!
Dr Irene, I am now reading a book
called "People Skills" and I learning to move from
being submissive to being assertive. It has changed my
relationships with people I work with and my confidence has increased.
I am no longer as scared to ask for what I want. That book is an oldie but goodie that's been on my
bookshelf at home since grad school, when I used it to teach assertion
skills... The more you practice these skills, the easier they become -
and the more confident you feel. It's a win-win.
I am enjoying learning and putting
new things into practice. I imagine learning forever. The
wishes I have for my self are to continue to increase self-love,
self-worth, and enriching my soul. You are taking
responsibility for yourself; recognizing and enjoying your personal
power. There is no higher task, I think - and is what this site is
really all about.
Many thanks for leading the way in
emotional healing. Reva.
Dear Reva, And many thanks to YOU for
sharing your secrets of success! My very best wishes for your continued
progress. Dr. Irene