One man's FAQ of his experiencesgreenspun.com : LUSENET : Domestic Violence Accounts : One Thread
I posted this on behalf of the original author, who would like to be left anonymous.
Sorry if this is a little long-winded.
I want to share it for several reasons. One is, that perhaps there is hope-- I was able to salvage my marriage. I do believe, from what I have seen myself, that female and male patterns of spousal abuse are different, and the prospects for change are much better in the former.
Secondly, I find that even years later, I cannot forget this. I have tried to do the manly thing, let it roll off my back, but this has not worked. I really need to talk about it somehow, with people who understand.
Thirdly, I want to help. We are so awkward and bad at this, this sharing thing, that we have to make a bit of an extra effort. Making it harder is all the social pressure that works so hard against us. And I'm not bitter about that, I have seen enough male spousal abuse to make me sick, and it *is* worse and more widespread.
Perhaps the fundamental difference is that abused husbands are so very less trapped, have so many other avenues, and yet stay there. Many of these guys are real heros. The problem is that we love so hard, we have a love that passes our own or anybody's understanding. The bad side of this is the guy that shoots the girlfriend that dumped him; but the better side is all these guys that hung in there and tried to make it work, and took it and took it. Some of the stories in this site are purely heartbreaking.
I don't want revenge or revisionism, but I would like very much if women and those that are thinking about gender relations could take this whole experience into account. Women have made us rethink so much, and that has been very good, but I think that perhaps there needs to be some rethinking on the other side as well.
You know, I really really should have realized what was going on a lot sooner, given what I do. Its one of other big problems with this-- we have a hard time thinking about ourselves this way.
Well, I posted much of this as an answer to a question on the site, but here is the full thing. It was written a couple of years back, for another place, but it is all still true.
1. Are you really an abused husband. Yes. Or rather, I was. I?m not any more.
2. Why are you writing this? Aren?t you ashamed? No, I am not ashamed. I made some conscious decisions in a clear frame of mind, and lived with them. I have also been very concerned about privacy and protecting my family, and frankly didn?t particularly wish to share. I would have stayed silent for the rest of my life, but I got irritated by some recent brouhaha.
What had happened was this: some academics did a survey, and ?discovered? that more women abused men than men abused women. Or at least that was the way the media reported it. What had actually happened is that they conducted a random telephone sample, and found that women were much more likely to confess over the phone to complete strangers to having struck their mates than vice versa. Anyway, the media loved it, it?s a perfect ?Man bites dog? kind of story.
They went to the folks running the women?s shelters for reaction, who, being stressed, underfunded, and often under attack, were rather short with the whole thing, poopooing the whole idea. The media also went to men?s rights activists, who predictably jumped up and down screaming about discrimination and the need for equal services and so on.
Both reactions pissed me off, the latter one considerably. There really are abused husbands, I know for a fact that I?m not alone, but we aren?t in much of position to speak out. So I?m writing this to try and get some reality out there.
3. Is your wife bigger and stronger than you? Are you some kind of pussy-whipped wimp? No. My wife is a large, strong woman, but I am even larger and stronger. I weigh 220 lb and I?m not very fat. And no, I am not pussy- whipped. I had good reasons to stay in the situation (see below).
5. Did you come from an abusive family? Did she? No, I did not. My family life had its peculiarities, as all do, but nothing like that. She had some pretty bad childhood traumas (more on which below), but none of them involved domestic assault.
4. How did she abuse you? Did she hit you? Yes. With her hands, with household objects (lamps, picture frames, sticks, vases, etc.). Thankfully, she never used a rolling pin. She pulled a butcher?s knife on me a few times, but never got me with it. There was also psychological abuse? many many screamed accusations, about my various sins of omission and commission, and my general worth as a human being. In attempts to appease them, various domestic things were transferred to her control, like travel decisions, money, schools, job searches, etc., and various chores to me.
6 Did you go to the hospital? Did you tell them/did they figure it out? Yes. Three times. No, they did not figure it out.
7 How long did this last? Since it started gradually, its hard to say. About eight years, from about three years in into our relationship. We got married after living together about five and half years, in a stupid attempt to make things better.
8 How did it start? Gently. At first she liked to punch me in play, like a lot of women do? men are big and strong, right? (especially big strong ones) and they can take it. Nudge in the ribs, punch to the shoulder, etc. And of course I was macho about it. But it got stronger and stronger. And it started happening when she was angry. And it got worse and worse, and more and more frequent.
9 So how could you let her hurt you? Well, first of all, its not all that easy to restrain a big strong person bent on attacking you, even if you are bigger and stronger, especially if they are armed somehow. Simple non-violent self defence is a lot harder than it looks. The only way to do it is to hit back, but even if that were an option (which it wasn?t for me), it doesn?t always work. Most of the time I could stay somewhat clear, but once in a while she got through. Secondly, and this is what really hurt, if she could not strike out at me, she would turn her rage on her own body. I love her very much, and it was frequently easier to let her hurt me than herself. Of course, this is a very toxic head-space to be in? I felt immense guilt and self-loathing about it.
10. When did you realize you were being abused? When I noticed that I flinched every time she made sudden hand gestures around me. And that I stood at a distance, preferably near a door, when discussing something with her that I thought might provoke her (this was a rather long list). I pointed this out to her, and she thought it was funny, and was slightly proud of the behaviour modification she had done. I also realized that the psychological abuse, the accusations of my various sins and deficiencies were unrelated to anything I was actually doing? they came at about the same rate no matter how I behaved. I felt humiliated, and eventually realized that I was being abused. Such a thought had never crossed my mind. Understanding what was going on actually made it much easier.
11. Why did you stay? Why didn?t you just leave? This is complicated. Because I love my wife very much. And I see my role as protecting and caring for my family, not blowing it apart. And because we have kids. She tried to be careful, and not let them see much, but they did, and this did make me think about leaving. But the problem is, first, I was/am sceptical about my ability to retain custody, or have much credibility in the kind of dispute that would certainly arise. It would have been a big gamble, and if I lost, after saying the kinds of things I would have had to say, I could not speak to her mental health, and then I would fear deeply for my children, and for her. I stayed to protect my wife and children, at the expense of myself. Which a man is supposed to do, right?
12. What did you say to your family and friends about it? Absolutely nothing.
13. Did you cry? Not very often, in front of her. Late night all alone, a lot.
14. What did you say to god late at night? Please.
15. Did she ever apologize? No, not once. She occasionally made oblique references to the raw deal I?d gotten out of life, but that was about it. After all, each incident was my fault, remember.
16. Was it the same as wife abuse? Yes and no. Yes, it was always my fault; yes it revolved around control issues; yes I stayed because I loved; and yes I stayed because I thought it was my role in life. No, she was unable to isolate me economically or socially; no, her attacks were never prolonged, ending once she had made contact; no, she would turn her anger on herself if too thwarted; no, there was nobody to help me and nobody I wanted help from; no, there was no alcohol involved (in fact giving her a stiff drink was one of the few sometimes effective ways to calm things down); and no, it ended rather differently (see below).
17. Did it make your sex-life better? Did you have really great make-up fucks? No. The only effect was to make lovemaking less frequent, and perhaps better and more special because of that.
18. What did you do to try and fix it? At first, before I realized that it was abuse, I tried to appease her. I accepted blame, admitted my faults, and apologized; I reasoned, I cleaned up, and I sympathized with her problems. Even after I realized that it was abuse, I didn?t do much: I was in the old hilly-billy state of mind? ?I?ve got a leaky roof, but it doesn?t leak when its not raining, so why fix it, and when its raining you can?t get up there to fix it anyway.? Not all the times were bad by any means, and when they were good I didn?t want to think about the bad, and when they were bad there wasn?t much I could do. At the end, I was able to help convince her to go into therapy for all her problems, and got her to admit that one just might be that there was a little problem in the way she treated me, though she seemed to have some trouble with the idea that men aren?t indestructible Gumby dolls, both physically and emotionally.
19. Why do you think she abused you? Who knows for sure, and a lot of it was between her and her therapist. But I do know some, probably most. First of all, there were a lot of things she was trying to suppress? a mother in and out of mental institutions and consequently a childhood where she felt she had to be pretty, happy, cheerful, and nice all the time. An older sibling with a lot of problems that she loved desperately that psychologically abused her, right up to the day she went into therapy. A family friend that had seduced/raped her at age 14 and passed her around to several of his friends like a toy. And a bunch of other stuff in the same vein. It was getting harder and harder to suppress, the effort was killing her, and she had no outlets or ways of dealing with it.
Secondly, I believe that one of the sources of my wife?s abuse and anger, and indeed of many women?s anger, was a deep fear of being treated or thought of as inferior, of being made powerless. So much of my wife?s problem seemed to be wrapped up in power/powerlessness issues. It is almost like she was saying, ?See, I?m tough too. You can?t push me around. I?m as dangerous as you are.? It?s a lesson I never needed, but one that she seemed to have trouble stopping administering.
20. Did the therapy work? At first, it made things worse, as a lot of demons came out and rampaged around. But yes, it worked. She became a much healthier and happier person, and was able to see much more clearly, and was able to love herself again, and then able to love me. So we went to marriage counselling.
21. Did marriage counselling work? Yes, it opened up paths of communication and agreement that we hadn?t shared in years. We were firmly united in the belief that the marriage counsellor was a loathsome idiotic asshole. It helped the relationship a lot.
22. So you?re still married, and happy now? For about seven years now. Now she knows that when she?s full of rage or feeling bad, the feelings are being generated internally, not from her circumstances, and so she can usually remove herself and deal with it. Pretty much anyway. The physical violence seems to be under control (though I am very aware of the occasional simmering and fraying control); there?s more room for improvement on the psychological side.
23. On reflection, what do you think? When I was a boy, I got one very old-fashioned lesson again and again. It was a very good one: boys don?t hit girls, ever, under any provocation, no matter what. (This is a hard lesson too, as I see with my own kids: little girls are bigger and smarter than little boys, and just as mean.)
Boys are also encouraged to develop some sort of self- discipline, which is the flip side of not being allowed to cry. Alas, the lesson is too often mislearnt. Yes, boys and men do need to become more like women in some ways.
But girls and women need to become a little bit more like boys and men in some ways too. If we are going to try and make our daughters more assertive, more self-reliant, more ambitious, more aggressive, and I deeply believe that we should, we must also remember to teach them to manage their emotions, to control (not suppress!) some of their negative feelings; perhaps, in the end, to cry a little less.
More than anything else, women need to really believe that they are on an equal footing with men, for I am convinced that one of the sources of my wife?s abuse and anger, and indeed of many women?s anger, was a deep fear of being treated or thought of as inferior, of being made powerless.
24. What do you want? What I would appreciate is a little sensitivity; from those who work with and in the cause of battered women: please do not deny my existence, my pain, my reality. And I would really appreciate it if the men?s rights idiots would shut the fuck up, sit down, and try and get a grip on reality: I am not a whip you can use to flail away with at women and those who help them, and I resent you for trying. This is one cause that definitely does not need a bunch of interfering dogooders scoring ideological points and making everything worse.
24. Is there anything you want to say to other abused men? Not really, what can I say? What could anyone have said to me at the time? I have sympathy and admiration for any man carrying this burden, soldiering on in silence, and also for any man with the courage to leave it. I don?t think programs or shelters or research is needed. Courage, self- control, and honesty is what is needed? good virtues all.
And please, give to women?s shelters. They need it, desperately. The situation I?ve so many women in was much worse than anything I ever experienced.
26. Anything you want to add? Yes. Two poems:
I live in silence, carry silence everywhere with me; silence is a weight.
Silence permeates all the spaces of my life; silence is like water.
I feel that I am making music in a cavern; silence is a maze.
There is nothing to say, nothing that can be said, nothing that I am able to say; silence is my voice.
I touch nothing, nothing touches me; silence is a pillow.
Grief can only endure, endure is only grief; silence is so sad.
There is no response, and I cannot respond; silence is a voice.
Silence is, and I am silence; I am silence.
It would not be true to say I still love you. There is nothing old and constant nothing still About it.
It would be no truer to say I still love you than to say I still hate you There is nothing that simple to it.
I really do not know if you are a drug I mainline, an addiction terrible and transforming Or the only thing that finally keeps me human. I truly do not know.
I, who understand so much, have here something I do not, perhaps will not understand at all.
Your subtle body refuses all black and whites and tells me there is more and less to me than any understanding.
And that is why.
-- Anonymous, June 05, 2000
First of all I would like to say something. You are a twit. It sounds like you were more of a match for your wife or other than what you want to believe. I am tired of hearing about women and their so called sensitivity. When I attempted to talk with my other, I was told that I was too stupid to understand the way things are suppose to be, meaning she was to be in charge. If I tried to get her to talk with me about things that bother her and about how do we straighten things out, again I am told that I am too stupid too possible understand and I talk more than a woman. If I just sit and take this abuse, then I do not want to get things straightened out to help our relationship and us. In other words I will not just surrender to her demands. You say that men have an easy go at things because we have the control. Just exactly what control are you speaking of? My wife controls all deposits in the bank, again because I could not possibly understand the concept of banking. I have an Assocciates degree in accounting. She thinks I do not work hard enough to take care of her. She has told me that I need a new job to pay for all the things that the house needs. She says it needs two more TVs (we only have four), cable to every room, new wallpaper because the wallpaper from last year is so dated new carpet because the wallpaper will not match the carpet. I have tried to get control of my paycheck, but I have not had the best of luck at that. She believes she knows how much I make. She says it is $400 more than I deposit. God, how I wish that it was that much. Since she knows how much I make, she spends that much. It is my fault and my responsibility to make sure the bills are paid. She has no responsibility for the payment of bills. It is the husbands job to take care of the wife. If you do not believe that is not true just asked her. I am told I could not possibly understand how to take care if a child because after all, I am just a man. I help my little girl with all her homework every day. We read for about fifteen minutes everyday. We do the math skills, practice spelling, and then if time permits we cook together (which it usually does, and she is getting to be quite a cook). I have been chased with a car and attacked with a chainsaw (luckily she ran out of electric cord). I have had a numerous bruises and cuts, several requiring stitches. One night I woke to find her sitting on my chest with a butcher knife in her hand and the blade at my throat. She said Glad that you are awake. See how easy it would be to kill you. As she was getting off of me, the knife slipped and cut my neck. I had always kept my knives very sharp. It took a couple of minutes to stop the bleeding. She was then sorry and said See what happens when you are acting stupid. If you would just do what I tell you, then I would not have to get so angry and this sort of thing would not happen. I did not go to the hospital. I have been through that before. The previous time I had gone to the hospital, I was there to get stitches in my arm. The emergency room had called the police. I had taken myself there. The female officer had wanted to know what had happened. I refused to talk. She then told me that I was just DAMMED lucky that they were not going to arrest me. If I had that many cuts and scratches, then my wife must be unconscious. They never did go to my house to check on anything.
I do not trust the police or my wife. I do not call them and I do not sleep with my wife, if I can get out of it.
I am tired of hearing just how hard women have life. Get off your soap box. Women do not have it hard they, just want to whine and complain. Some one told me that some women are just hot blooded. I say Bullshit, they are just blood thirsty.
-- Anonymous, October 10, 2000
100% correct to the person who responded that some women are blood thirsty. I am involved with one who it completely nuts - same thing, knives, threats, bashings, spending all the money - I got so sick of it that I retreated to the basement and stayed completely out of the rest of the house as much as possible - just returning upstairs to take a leak or a dump or go to work. The police are completely useless and basically I and my rights are simply hostages to a psychopath. Great thing that PC bullshit. Thank God I am far away from there.
This is not the first nutbag I've known, some of us seem to attract them. I've pretty much given up on women as partners. From now on, if my hand is not good enough, I'll just find a whore. Politicians have made it impossible to run your OWN life, much less have any say-so about that of the people you are caring for.
Guys = NEVER EVER SUPPORT A WOMAN who refuses to work because "it's the man's job". I'm convinced this is a key factor in indentifying nutbags who will quickly place you in a world of shit. And if it's happening to you, take what you can and go a million miles away. Don't look back. Go. Now. One day it will be too late.
-- Anonymous, December 26, 2000
I don't understand why there is so much hostility in the two previous replies to this posting. Other than the bit about staying for the kids (I don't have any), the writer reflected pretty much my own situation and my feelings towards my wife. I for one am glad to know that there hope other than a scortched-earth-dump-the-bitch mentality out there. If you hate your wife that much, I don't supposed there is anyway to salvage your marriages and you may as well start looking for the exits. For the rest of us, I for one would be interested to know the detailed step-by-step directions for getting my wife to go to counselling. Is it a good idea, for instance, to print out this posting and show it to her--or would that be counter-productive? My marriage is still young and I can honestly say that there are still bright, warm moments, despite the control and the occasional bit of physical assault. My goal is not to chuck out the baby with the bath water. I just want more intimate moments and less intimidation. If anyone has CONSTRUCTIVE advice to that end, I would like to hear it.
-- Anonymous, May 16, 2001
Dear Ray, I have been a domestic violence advocate for over a decade. In the beginning, I would have wondered how I could offer you and men like you, advice that would be different than what I offered women in your same situation. I was naive because the answers are amazingly similar. Abuse is about power and control, no matter what gender you are, no matter what the sexual orientation of the partnership. I hope I can offer you a few words that will help.
If in your young marriage, you are seeing signs that your relationship is unbalanced in control and causing you pain, it obviously needs addressing. For your wife to go into counseling, she must admit that the relationship needs help. She must be willing to hold some responsibility in the marriage's stressors (and I say "some", not because I secretly believe that you're to blame and think you need to share responsibility- but because it's a healthy communication tool so the other person doesn't feel attacked and alienated). And finally, she must WANT to seek help to make it better, to work WITH you to have that happen.
In these years as an advocate and counselor, I've found numerous couples that had poor communication skills that developed into very bad habits in their marriages, and inadvertently ended up becoming family violence. Those people can be helped if they want it. If you approach your wife (if you haven't already) in a way that keeps the communication open by using statements that reflect your experiences and fears and hopes, if you offer safe options for you to work together (I'm worried about us; I am afraid that if we don't do something, the marriage might fall apart; I can see us fixing this together; Let's talk with someone who can help us through this.), you'll get your answer about where your wife fits in the process, if she in fact, does.
If you hear "OK" "Let me have time to let this sink in" "Do you have anyone in mind?" "Would you really be willing to do that?" "I guess it's worth a try", then you are on the road to working together and the hope for change is there (although not guaranteed). If you hear "What's this 'we' crap?" or "You're out of your mind!" or "This is no one else's business but ours" or "What about YOU going? YOU'RE the one who REALLY needs help." or simply "No", then the challenge may an unexpected one- to decide how you should react. I tell people that each answer they receive from their partner or spouse gives particular information. You may find out the person is willing to work toward change in the relationship. Or you may find you need more information. With each bit of information, you have a more clear picture in front of you. Once you have the information, you can begin to decide whether or not you are ready willing or able to live under someone else's rules as an adult man. Period. There are too many personal details about your situation that I don't know for me to be right on the money for you but, this general apporach may be of assistance to you.
And remember, whatever you decide is OK. If you stay, you aren't stupid, sado-masochistic, asking for it. You just may be hopeful. You just may want the abuse to stop, not the whole thing. We know there was a good side that drew you into the relationship in the first place. You may not be seeing much of that side. And if you change your mind, that's OK too.
I know our dv program provides services to men. I believe that other programs do too. We offer resource guides specifically for our male clients that describe services in our area. Every program in the state does, by standards set by our coalition. I hope you can find the help that you need. Good luck to you and any other person out there, surviving abuse and feeling like there's no one who understands. And by the way, anger and hatred towards women helping women won't do anyone any good. After all, that's how the changes against accepting abuse began. Best to you~ Faith
PS- I'm in Connecticut. The Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence (CCADV) and it's member programs help men, women and children affected by domestic violence, regardless of the gender or sexual orientation of the abuser.
-- Anonymous, August 03, 2001
This is the third time I have read this site over the past 2 years. Mainly due to the fact that there isn't much info on the net to help men with these problems.
I have the same problem except it's more subdued, more subtle, until an explosion occurs. Like making arrangements to pick her up and being caught in a snowstorm, having her leave, me waiting there for 2 hours and her coming home only to find out that didn't have her keys with her so she had to wait for another hour for me to arrive. This type of small, unavoidable mishap should have dismissed within a few minutes of discussion but it's almost ruined her entire life and now it's been almost a week of no communications.
A diagnosis is difficult but it's called clinical depression and there is a cure, well almost!!! The women we love so much, can easily be brought back to the loving, caring individuals we originally fell in love with and will do anything for. All you need to do is slowly convince them that something is not quite right that's causing stress. On the next doctor's visit, call ahead and tell the doctor to discuss this with her and see if he thinks that "Zoloft" is in order. I love my girlfriend so much that I am willing to try anything to help this problem and it worked!!! It worked so well in fact that she started apologizing for every torture, either verbally or physically I had been the recipient of. I finally had the women I loved so very much, back and in full force!
Sounds like a miracle??? IT IS!!! Except for one very small problem, she has to take that crap for the rest of her life to save yours!!!
-- Anonymous, December 17, 2001
The whole key here is in her desire to change for the good of the marriage. What Faith said is correct, if the man opens the discussion on seeing a counselor in an open and productive way and hears something positive in return, then there's hope for the marriage. If he hears something negative or counterproductive in return,it becomes then quite obvious that she has no desire to change and will continue her abuse. He needs to then begin weighing his options so he knows where he stands and how badly he wants to stay in a marriage that will continue to torture him.
I recall full-well when I approached my wife about both of us going to a marriage counselor, I was desperate to make it work. I asked her one morning in the car after a huge blow up that she started if she didn't think seeing a counselor might be beneficial for both of us. Her reply was to blow her cigarette smoke in my face, shove the butt out the window and say "If you think we need help then YOU go". That told me then and there that she had no desire to change.
Let me speak from experience guys---you can't do it on your own. If she's not willing to meet you halfway, the only counseling you'll need is that of a good lawyer.
Some time I may submit my own story here. For you men who read this site and fault it for not having answers---there are no answers. Get used to it. If this site does nothing more than offer some measure of validation for those going through this, that's enough. For years I thought I was the only man on this planet who had a wife doing this, I was embarrassed and humiliated, emasculated and berated. I'm not a whimp, and neither are you, what we are talking about here has no logic, no cause, no reason, what you are dealing with is a flawed human being and if they have no way of recognizing they are flawed you can't help them, but you can help yourself.
Good luck guys--if you want to talk, you have my address.
-- Anonymous, March 24, 2002