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Physical Vs. Verbal Abuse

Physical Vs. Verbal Abuse

April 18, 2000

Hello. Hi. I have a question:

When a woman is being physically abused I think we are all in agreement that she and her children should get out. To run. Don't look back. I have told others that if my husband were to turn violent (physically) I would be outta here!

So...

Why don't we say that about verbal abuse?

According to the the information I've gathered, it is just a matter of time before it will become physical. Not true. While cases of physical abuse have typically started with verbal abuse, not all cases of verbal abuse become physical. 

Last July I was in a Taxi Cab headed for a woman's shelter. Obviously, I came back before I ever reached it. As far as I know he has NO IDEA that I left. I left because he was beginning to show signs of a physical abuser.  He threw a chair across the room into my now ruined cedar chest. I was not home -  that is the reason he gave for being so angry. He smashed the telephone on the tile floor. He said he wished I was dead. Another time, he wished I'd fall down the stairs. He denies some of this and says, "Of course I don't want you dead!"

There has been no acting out like the above since last Fall. At least, I can't remember any particular thing being broken or "wish you were dead" statement. What did you do that let him know his stuff was not OK? Somehow, you set some sort of limit.

Today, he said "Get out of my face." (WHAT?) I was in the living room and he was in the kitchen. I asked him if he'd seen where I left my wallet...   Another time today he was sitting on the stairs and I was on the floor at the end of the stairs. I asked him why Craig, my 11 year old with Down Syndrome, was holding his head about to cry. His response was, "Go ahead touch me! Give me a reason." end of quote but the implication was that he'd have a reason to 'Whal-on-me.' 

As I sit typing this to you, my son took all his toys out of his toy chest. My husband told Craig to put them back in the box, "...What do I need to do? Slap you?"

I walked into the room to intervene. "Boss is here."  "You like mess."  "You don't make him clean up one mess before he makes another."  I say I am here because I heard you threaten to Slap Craig across the face. "I don't threaten, and I should slap you both in the face."

I can not believe how calm I am about all this....

I really want to know why it is acceptable to Leave after you have black and blue marks - and not when you know they are going to come down the road... Patty

Dear Patty,

Your husband has not crossed the physical abuse line, but he is inching his way there. While he has not hit you, or hit you "by mistake," he threatens and has destroyed property. People are next. 

Something you did back in the Fall set him straight. Think hard so you can repeat it. Perhaps you became so frustrated with the cab ride, you behaved in a way that shouted, "NO WAY!" Whatever you started doing the day you were ready to flee, Do it again. 

Or, perhaps it is time to sit him down and tell him in no uncertain terms that you will tolerate threats of slapping, hitting, etc., etc.

But, my question to you is: What are you doing in a relationship where you are just waiting for a reason to leave. No where in your letter to you refer to loving him, wanting him, etc. Do you really want to be married to this man?

Best regards, Dr. Irene

Readers,

I want to read the posts.

Patty's July 2001 Update here.