|April 23, 2002
I am writing you out of sheer desperation. I’m 38 years old w/ 3
kids, ages 18, 14 and 3. I have been married for 7 years to an
emotionally abusive man. After the first year that we were married, I
took my two sons (they are from my 1st marriage) and moved back in w/
my mother because his abuse was explosive and I just couldn’t take it.
I went to a DV therapy group, and he went for counseling as well. He
was a master at manipulating my heart and I, like a fool, moved us
back in after more than a year. Correction: I
made him a master of manipulating my heart... Then, we had a
son of our own. There was a time there that things were almost good
between us but after the baby was born, that all fell apart too.
Here is a quick overview of my situation.
|Financial abuse- Everything is in his name, except for 1
small savings account. The house, the cars, the big $$ are all under
his name. My paycheck (except for what I "pilfer" as he calls it)
goes directly to him. What! Wouldn't it be
nice to change that and tell him that you intend on
"pilfering" even more! I need permission to spend anything,
and I lie, lie, lie about money constantly so he won’t find out how,
where or why I’m spending. That in itself is a full time job. In
fact, I’m going to have to make up another lie about what the
charges are for getting your advice. Hmmm,
you're certainly not ready to confront him, are you? I
work full-time and make a decent living. He’s cheap beyond belief
(we don’t even have the hot water hose hooked up to our washing
machine so I can’t use more hot water to wash clothes in!!!)
Well, if he were doing the laundry,
he can hook it up the way he wants...|
|Control - He is a control freak. If the kids leave a
light on, he unscrews the light bulb or takes it out so they can’t
do it again. Amazing. Since I
told him I don’t want him reprimanding my older kids, he tells me
every little thing they’ve done wrong, or is out of place (shoes not
straight by the door, jackets not hung up, sink wet after they brush
their teeth, etc). When I bring up something I’d like to do (like
paint the cement wall in my son’s room in the basement), he says no.
I live in constant fear of his explosive anger.
Why live this way? 911 is just a call away...|
|Emotional Abuse- This is the part that’s really, really
bad. He makes everyone in our house (except his son) feel worthless
and stupid -- especially my older kids. He makes "jokes" that are
inappropriate about everything that is important to any of us. He is
especially hard on my 14 year old. He calls him "homophobic"
because Robby (my son) is modest about changing in front of other
people. He makes fun of they way they dress, the music they listen
to and them in general. It had gotten so bad that after my oldest
turned 18, she moved out for a year. My 14 y.o. is depressed,
hostile and becoming abusive to me and his little brothers as well
(which is really freaking me out). When ever my husband goes into an
angry rage, he usually directs it at Robby, and the poor kid hates
him (my husband) so much that he wants him dead, and tells me that
every day. You can see why I’m very concerned for all of us.
Robby is going to need help. Even though Robby's anger may be entirely justified.|
|Gavin - Gabby, as we call him, is our baby. As far as my husband
is concerned, the sun rises and sets with him, and we should all bow
down at his, and my husband’s, every wish. One time after Gabby was
born I threatened to leave my husband, and he picked the baby up and
put him in front of him as to say, "you can go, but you’re not
taking him". Almost like a weapon. |
|Me - I’m a mess. The worst part is that since I’ve gone back
with him, it’s like he’s zapped all the life out of me and it’s
making it harder for me to leave. I don’t stand up to him at all, I
don’t tell him anything, I just spend all of my energy trying not to
piss him off. I know deep in my heart that I have to get out of this
marriage, but it seems as though I’m stuck. These little "voices"
inside my head keep filling me with doubt, that things will get
better, but I truly know they won’t and I live in CONSTANT FEAR.
The CONSTANT FEAR is reason alone to get out.
As though you need any more... |
Email to Madalyn:
One question: any violence or history of
Yes there is. He's pushed me down and hit the kids before, but not
about 7 yrs. Now he's just violent against objects. For instance,
my 14 yo
son locked the baby gate so his brother couldn't get downstairs,
baby started crying, so my husband tore the baby gate out of the
threw it down the stairs. No violence against the baby, he doesn't
prince" to cry, so the anger was directed towards my son for
gate. That kind of stuff happens about every month or so, and is
directed at my 14 yo. He's a bully. So there is a
history of violence... Though it was a while ago, it sounds as though
he's not far from there these days...
So, here is where I need your help. I’m stuck.
Less stuck than before you got up the courage to
write this letter and seek support... I’m scared to death
and I feel like such a wimp. I need to do better for at least my kids
sake, if not for my own. Yes! How to I get the strength to tell him I’m
| If you are frightened for your physical
safety or for the safety of your children, you don't tell him you are
leaving ahead! You plan ahead and then GO! Surprise him!
| Go to a safe
house or to a close friend or family member's home, etc. The Domestic
Violence people will help, even if you have to wait to get their help.
| Involve the police if there
have been any threats or history of physical
abuse. Don't be afraid to "rat" on him. He deserves it, and so do you
and your kids!|
Look here too. In fact, read everything pertinent in
The Victim Pages.
|Seek out an attorney. Many are
willing to get you started with a free consult; find out where you stand
financially should you file for divorce. In many if not most states,
you are entitled to half the marital assets, whether your name is on
them or not. Knowledge is power!|
|The day you leave, make a stop
at the bank. Take out all the cash you can. Don't worry about how
he'll pay the bills.|
|If you don't have access to
this account, stop the money from your job from being forwarded to
the bank. Take your paycheck and cash it.|
How do you get through the ambivalent stage, where you’re so
battered and so afraid that you do nothing? I guess maybe I need some
sort of holy permission to leave (because I keep thinking of how
devastated he will be, and all that emotional crying & crap we went
through the last time I left - as I said, he’s very emotionally
manipulative). HELP!!! Madelyn
|Oh yeah, The Gang Upstairs said
you were granted Holy Permission. |
Ok, more: as you astutely point out, the
emotional stuff is the real problem. Your co-dependent worry over his
welfare, your fear of going it alone, is in your way. First you
take care of your physical safety, next you deal with this stuff.
|You are beaten
down and depressed. Recognize that the
ambivalence and yukky feelings you are having are the most natural feelings in
the world for anybody in the situation you're in. Please talk to your family doc.
He/she can probably
prescribe something to help you through these trying times; be honest about your situation
and about how beaten down you feel.|
|Each time you think of how
devastated he will be, and his crying, etc., please think about
how he's made you feel - worse: think about what he's doing to
your 14 year old... Ouchhh! Reason enough to leave right there.
Minimally, this kind of man is setting the stage for the 14 year
old to hate the baby; perhaps hurt the baby... |
|Each time you think of his pain
and his hurt, get out of your emotional state and use your
head: No matter how repentant or hurt he is, what he has done
to you and your family (and even himself) is unforgettable... HE
DID IT! Never ever forget that he brought this upon
himself - at your expense - at your kids' expense!.|
|You need support! Your own
therapist, a support group, the people on this site and others; the
domestic violence people, your friends and family who understand: get all the
support you can. You need it! There is nothing to protect; no
shame in talking about your situation. You did nothing wrong.|
Pick up a copy of Ellis'
The Secret of Overcoming Verbal Abuse: Getting Off the Emotional
Roller Coaster and Regaining Control of Your Life.
This book will
help you change the way you think and feel about your marriage - and your
Emotional Blackmail: When the People in Your Life Use Fear, Obligation
and Guilt to Manipulate You
by Dr. Susan
Forward and Donna Frazier will be helpful in dealing with your
Now, heads up; you've done this
before. You can do this again. Let us know how you're doing. We're
looking forward to hearing from you...
May God bless,