Douglas Flor -- why I stayed in my marriage : LUSENET : Domestic Violence Accounts : One Thread

Feb 8 1997

Yes, you may cross post the message. Making it anonymous is not necessary, people may think I was a woman and that is something I wish to avoid. As a victim of spousal abuse from my former marriage partner, Why did I not leave? Go to a shelter? Get help everywhere?

First, I loved my former spouse. Even though she had a problem with violence, there was more to her than just the abusive behavior. I sought to work out the problem. She refused to admit that she "had a problem" (something many women's groups deny today, as well).

Second, I love my children. I felt that by being an active parent I could moderate or deflect any abuse that might be inflicted on the children. Today, they are adults. But I know that the courts don't give a man a fair shake when it comes to custody. A man can't be just a good father in order to gain custody of his children, he has to prove the mother to be incompetent. This only makes an adversarial situation more adversarial and we know that the single biggest predictor of emotional and behavioral problems in children is open hostile conflict between parents. I was unwilling to "go to bat" for my children as it would mean subjecting them to more negative behavior. By staying in an abusive relationship, I was able to assure myself that I would have access to my children and that they could see that there was a different way to have a relationship with a parent.

Third, there is a stigma attached to being a male victim of spousal abuse that even permeates our field. I had a discussion with a male professor at one university (in a family department) that refused to believe that a woman could be abusive. Try talking as a male victim to others that you are a victim of this kind of behavior and you will get such reactions as this, or reactions that imply: "you wimp", or "why don't you take it like a man", or "you must be a controlling man or she wouldn't do that", or "you must be abusive too".

These are a few reactions I have encountered by people in our field. How could I expect to have any kind of understanding from people who were NOT expected to understand families (police, etc). While I did encounter some people in this field who were understanding, it was still very embarassing for me on both the personal and professional levels.

Fourth, there are VERY FEW programs (if any) designed to help battered males. We just passed a bill called the Defense of Women's Act targeting all kinds of money for female victims of spousal abuse, but what about the men in this situation? By refusing to earmark monies to programs that are inclusive of men, we deny that a problem exists (that women can be abusive) and perpetuate an implicit message that it is perfectly OK to abuse men. THIS IS A SERIOUS PROBLEM.

Fifth, even when researchers use data sets that could illuminate the problem of familial violence by forming a theoretical framework that isn't biased (or blind), they get attacked by the more radical, extremist political agendas of groups who wish to exclude, hide, or just ignore the issue by focusing only on the "real" victims of spousal abuse.

The political agenda of these various groups say that they can only look at one type of abuse (because it is "more important"). And while some give lipservice to the issue of male victims, they rarely, if ever discuss the issue without revictimizing men who have experienced abuse. Where is the "ethic of caring" in that?

The betrayal of a prime theoretical supposition to maintain a blindsightedness because it fails to meet their political agenda makes me highly suspect of these groups. They seem to have an axe to grind and they would rather remain blind, intolerant, and uncaring than to admit their political agenda is driving their theory and research.

Familial violence, whether it is perpetrated by a male or female, on an adult male or female (or child, whether male or female) is wrong.

But in trying to ascertain why it is perpetrated and why individuals stay in abusive relationships is very complex. Most of the reasoning, research, help, and content is still blind to the issue of male victims.

doug flor ********************************************************* Which is more important? Impressing people with your rhetoric, or your character and integrity? Think about it. ********************************************************* Douglas L. Flor Project Coordinator Department of Child and Family Development The University of Georgia Dawson Hall Athens, GA 30602 (706) 542-1297 or Project Coordinator Adolescent Development Research Program Institute for Behavioral Research The University of Georgia 132 Barrow Hall Athens, GA 30602 (706) 542-6099 *******************************************************

-- Anonymous, August 08, 1999


In response to Douglas L. from Georgia with the long title behind his first name. Who's trying to impress who? What's more important? Finding a solution to the violence or putting down someone who is? I'm a poolman, impressed? You must be a member or member wanna be of the overclass. What's your solution?

-- Anonymous, November 14, 1999

For such a learned man you grossly underestimated your children. No matter how much "deflection" you did, they knew what was going on. I know of several situations like yours and the children could not understand why the non abused parent did not get away. They actually did not respect that parent. Tension is felt throughout a home. Even if you did not get custody, you could have shown them that there is "life" out there and a relationship is not what their parents had. My second husband was a stay at home parent for 10 years before his children were taken away and moved three states in a divorce. Now his boys love and respect him more than ever and look forward to being in a house that has love and respect in it. They tell me that they want to grow up and have a life like dad's. If dad was still in the bad situation with their mother, they would not have a positive frame of reference.

I did what you did until my ex husband did the ultimate in control, he carried out his common threat of filing for divorce. He did not expect me to walk away. I did, even from my boys of 4 and 6 years old. I moved 500 miles away, rebuilt a good life, and moved back. I now have shared custody and my boys have a chance to be happy.

-- Anonymous, June 27, 2001

In response to Lynda Tyler's post of June 27, 2001:

You are right. The children did know what was going on.

Given the perfect vision of hindsight, I can say I should have left her after she threw our six month old daughter across the room onto a couch.

But then I never would have had my son...

-- Anonymous, August 09, 2001

Whether it be a male or a female, it does not matter. The kids do get hurt in the end and they learn from it. I am from an abusive relationship and am trying for a divorce. I have a male friend who has been in an abusive relationship more than once. So, what I am saying is I can understand where you are coming from. Sometimes you just have to leave the relationship for your own safety and sanity. First make sure of the safety of the kids. I will shortly be a volunteer for an organization that helps people in abusive relationships. The first best thing to do is find a best friend who understands where you are coming from and let them give you suggestions on what to do. Family is also a good thing. Your kids will always love you no matter what. Just make yourself happy, so they can be happy also. Good luck. If you ever need a friend, E-mail me at Even though I am a female, does not mean I do not understand how you feel.

-- Anonymous, October 16, 2002

Though Doug Flor conceded to Lynda Tyler's response, I think they both lost sight of his initial point. The intent, as he stated, was "to moderate or deflect the abuse" that would be inflicted upon his children.

That's not saying the children couldn't see or understand what was going on. Most importantly it was to provide them a buffer from the direct assault of the mother's attitudes and activities. Because my experience has been, and in fact a major cause of conflict has been my wife's interaction with our kids. A man staying in such an environment is thus also to provide wisdom, counseling, healing, and advise on appropriate behaviors of the children to minimize "setting mommy off".

Children understanding what's going on from viewing things with their own eyes is one thing. Being able to retain that understanding is another. The mother will certainly distort their reality with her view of things out of not wanting to be seen as the bad or defective person. She will do everything in her power to subsequently cause the children to see things from her point of view thus being reprogrammed away from their visual reality, losing sight of who the victims are and who the abuser is. No MAN will leave his children unattended in such an environment without feeling confident that their children are well prepared to at least minimize being the recipient of mother's instabilities.

Thus men's only options, for what they're worth, are first, to find a safe place to document "EVERYTHING", from how she keeps house, to the way she speaks to and otherwise interacts with the children. I realize in some jurisdictions that might not matter but that's often your only chance at becoming the primary custodial parent when you realize it's time to then EXIT that situation. Some courts will still not award custody to a man due to the same faulty logic that presumes women can't be abusers: the assumption that children are better off with their psychotic mothers.

-- Anonymous, December 25, 2002

I believe in the situation described and anything similar, there are no good solutions. Saying the children are better off if the dad leaves the relationship, opens them up to being the 'new' target of the abuse. Staying in the abusive relationship keeps you in the same situation as the victim.

If you lay your choices before you, each one will have pros and cons. There is no perfect solution other than the spouse that is the abusive one, realizes, admits to, and takes responsibility to get help to overcome the problem. Unfortunately, this is not in the control of the victim.

I am currently married to an abusive spouse. Whoever the person(s) who give comments to you that you are not a man or that it cannot be happening has no understanding. I am a 6' tall, 220lb bodybuilder. My wife is 5'-3" and weighs 110 lbs. Physical size does not matter.

I have some choices to make as I have two small children (1yr and 4yr). If you have any information it would be appreciated.

-- Anonymous, January 23, 2003

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