May 27, 2001
Dear Dr Irene,
Your site has been an inspiration to me. After one of my partner's "episodes" I find solace and strength in other survivor's stories. Thank you.
I have been married for 13 years to a man whose emotional and verbal abuse I excused as "mood swings" and the outcome of an unhappy childhood. I am finding less excuses for his behaviour as time goes by and as I improve my self confidence and self esteem. :)
We separated 5 years ago because he had met someone he loved. I was working 70 hour weeks, exhausted by him and by work, and kind of relieved. He left to live with this other woman but it didn't work out and he was back sponging off some other female relative and trying to get back into my life (which, I am sad to say, he did).
Since then we have had a wonderful son who is the joy of my life. After our son was born my partner's constant criticism of my mothering techniques (which, considering this was my first child were not perfect - I was on a steep learning curve! Of course your parenting skills were not perfect!. You are so beaten down, you felt compelled to let us know you know that!) wore me down. Our son was a poor sleeper and my husband blamed me for this. After some good advice from our local baby clinic I sought professional advice on sleeping techniques and within a week my baby was sleeping. My husband criticized me, thought the technique was a load of crap, but I ignored him and it worked out.
Then, my old boss offered me a job and things have only got better for me - the project was a great success and they want me to stay on. My husband constantly hounds me to tell him what amount of money I have earned, saying that I should be able to "stay home" for the rest of the year if I budget properly. The economic reality is that he barely earns enough to feed himself let alone me and the baby, but I don't tell him this - he just says I am unsupportive of his career (he has been attempting an artistic endeavor for 20 years without much success).
When my husband and I reunited, we had been separated for 8 months. We had been dating occasionally and during this time I had stated my needs (that I needed him to be financially self supporting and that I wanted to start a family). He agreed that this was okay and what he wanted too, yet after we reunited he constantly badgered me about this "conditional love" and how mercenary I was to expect him to earn $x per annum.
Since then he has bullied me to the point of nervous exhaustion. Since taking anti depressants, I have felt fantastic and my self esteem is definitely improved to the point where I do not bite back when he provokes me, I remain calm and wait until I can speak rationally to him, some times this is 1/2 an hour, sometimes more.
Well here I've been rambling on about his behaviour without proof. Proof? Why do you need "proof" to have the opinions you have? Three days in a row last week my husband announced he didn't love me and wanted me to get out of his life. Normally (huh!) this happens once a week and he "forgets" about it the next day, makes a joke, cajoles me into thinking all is okay, that it was a slight aberration . However one night last week, when I was busy after working all day making up bottles and the baby was toddling around him busy at the computer he yelled completely out of left field, "if you don't take this kid away, I'll smash him." I picked the baby up and took him to his room and played with him for an hour until I put him to bed. Then I approached my husband and said I didn't like what he said. He replied that he would never hurt the baby but just said it to hurt me because he knew threatening the baby would upset me. I left the room and went to bed - I didn't think a confrontation would have solved anything (it hasn't in the past). Correct.
Today he left the house and said, staring me straight in the face, "get out of my life you piece of shit". Then he left and slammed the door so hard the baby jumped. This was triggered when he asked me if there was another bag to take with him (he was to return some borrowed clothes). I said, "Yes, there was another bag with some electrical equipment." He said "do you think I'm stupid, I know electrical equipment, I was asking you if there was another bag of clothes." I replied that I wanted to make sure that he took both bags. He then said "I must be stupid, I married you." Ugh...
That was after a good morning where he had hugged me and the baby saying that I was sweetie number one and the baby was sweetie number two. The complete turnaround from great to horrible happened very quickly.
Daily I consider the alternatives - stay for the great or leave because of the horrible. I feel I am getting stronger daily and will soon make the right decision for my baby and myself. Thanks for all the stories and your comments - when I'm having a bad day they give me strength and I realise I'm not going crazy, but that I am choosing to remain a victim to an abusive husband - choice being the key.
Yes. Choice. Your eyes are open and you know what's going on, and that his complaints are not about you. I don't think you see just how beaten down you are. You seem to be in a place where you are buying time and waiting to see what develops.
As I always say, "When in doubt, do nothing." In time you will know - or perhaps he'll do you the favor of falling "in love" again. We're here for you for as long as you need us.
Good luck to you, Dr. Irene
Ps., When an email address looks like it may be shared, like yours does, I never know when to reply back and notify you that you're published. I'm hoping you find yourself on the left banner. Please let me know you did...