Verbally Abusive Spouse

Parent Q&A

Leave or stay with verbally abusive husband Oct 25, 2020 (21 responses below)
Verbally abusive ex and 12yo son Jan 10, 2020 (8 responses below)
  • I’ve been married over thirty years, and I never thought I would be considering divorce. I realize that I have been living for a long time with a verbally abusive husband. He has never been physically abusive, but every so often he erupts in rage. It’s like a screw pops out. He’s like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. One minute he is Mr. Nice Guy, and then he turns into a monster, whom I don’t recognize. Little things can set him off. He always has to be right. There is never room for a different opinion on anything, so it can be difficult to discuss much (even though we are politically similar.) At times he belittles me and my two kids. I feel like I’m walking on eggshells, tiptoeing around, trying to keep everyone happy all the time. This has been going on for years, and it’s often so subtle, but it has gotten worse more recently. I’ve finally reached a boiling point. After the most recent episode, resulting from my college age son (at home during the pandemic) attempting to voice a different opinion, he argued back and then told him that he hopes he leaves and never comes back, before storming out of the room. When I confronted him the next day, on my own, he referred to his son as a piece of $hit, said he doesn’t love him, and refuses to apologize. He also makes inappropriate jokes about trans and gay people and always has to mention how people look, i.e. if they are fat or ugly. This has always upset me, but I always just ignored it. I now realize that this has caused much distress to my daughter, who has come out to me as bi-sexual; she is too afraid to tell her father. He also drinks heavily and could be described as a high functioning alcoholic. I discussed things again with him several days later. He had calmed down by then, and he was actually attentive and listened to me when I voiced all my concerns. He said he doesn’t want to lose his family, and he agreed to see a therapist at my suggestion. His drinking makes things worse, but clearly, he has some serious unresolved mental health issues. I only regret not standing up to him sooner, but it’s hard when he always has to be right. After feeling all the pain he has caused my kids and me, I don’t know if I still want to be with him, even if therapy helps. I feel raw and sad, and I hurt inside. I’ve lost my appetite, which rarely happens to me. I no longer have any feelings toward him. Will things change if he gets help? He has caused so much damage to my kids, and my inner mama bear wants to protect them. I love my kids, and we have a great relationship. He said he would apologize to them, but it’s going to take a lot more than an apology to fix things. Is this situation even fixable? Finances are not a serious consideration. I can live comfortably with 50% of our assets/income. Thankfully the kids are adults, so there are no custody issues, but they will need therapy for awhile. I have seen a therapist myself. I’m not sure how to proceed with divorce proceedings if/when it gets to that. Any advice would be appreciated.

    Hi, I just happened across your post and I want to make sure that you know you're not alone. Personally, I haven't experienced this, but I want you to have these resources: https://www.thehotline.org/ is the domestic violence hotline that you can call or do live chat. Most people do not recognize they are experiencing DV when it's not physical, and people there and your therapist can also help you to recognize what's going on and name it for what it is so you gain clarity about what to do next. Support groups such as https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/groups/domestic-abuse/california can also help you to talk with others in the same and similar situations. 

    Take care.

    So sorry to hear your story and I am sure that many folks will respond who have more experience with the kind of temperament you described.   However, I do think that your kids should be in therapy, both you and your husband should be in therapy separately and perhaps together as well in couples' therapy.    I have no experience with AA and tend not to like their step approach, however, your husband needs serious help with his drinking if he wants to keep his marriage.  What about a separation now while everyone is working on their stuff?  You and your kids could rent a place since I assume your husband will refuse to move out.   It is not too late to take control of your life and heal yourself and your children.   This will be a good role model for your children as well, demonstrating that one need not stay in an abusive situation.   A temporary separation sounds less drastic and is a first step.   I wish you all the best!  

    You are being subjected to emotional abuse which can be just as damaging and devastating as physical abuse. He will not change, not after this long of getting away with it. I urge you to explore divorce, you deserve to feel safe in your home from from your husband's toxic behavior. I speak strongly about this because I have a close family member who suffered this kind of abuse. Please consider what it would be like to be free from this situation. Good luck.

  • Verbally abusive ex and 12yo son

    (8 replies)

    Hello, 

    My ex and have a 12yr old son. We split due to ex's verbal abuse and currently have a unique living situation. As we own our home and have a unit in the lower half of the house, I have moved down there for financial reasons as well as being able to be close to my son. We have come up with a custody schedule that works but my son is often in my unit as he prefers to be with me. He has recently told me things that are really disturbing to me: Dad called me asshole and said fuck you to my face. My friends don't want to come over when dad is in charge because he's mean to me in front of them. I don't feel supported by dad. I didn't share the fact that I was getting bullied at school with him because I don't think he will do anything about it.

    I have witnessed my ex being harsh in his consequences -as in punishment doesn't fit the crime so to speak - and have had to step in. He recently accused our son of stealing money (almost $200!) but my son denies this and says he didn't even know that dad kept money in the house. I know kids do stupid things, but honestly believe him. However, my ex "still has a bitter taste in his mouth toward our son" (his words) over this issue and has lashed out at him because of this. I don't know what happened with the money - ex tends to be absent minded and disorganized but regardless I believe my son. We are close and I know him well. 

    My question is : How do I support my son without vilifying his dad? I was the victim of verbal abuse from a parent and know how horrible it feels - not to mention having tolerated years of abuse from ex.  I can't control others' behavior but what can I do to support my kid and make sure he doesn't internalize this or worse start acting this way? Are there books specifically for kids around this so I am using age appropriate language? In some ways I feel I'm very well equipped to support him given my experience. However, I also realize that dealing with my ex is VERY emotionally triggering for me, my mama bear instinct kicks into high gear. But I can't help but think that I really don't want to sour his relationship with his dad. Do I tell dad what kid has been telling me about him? I tend to think yes.

    I would also like to know if it is possible to sue(?) request(?) 100% custody because of verbal abuse. How can I prove this is happening? Ex says one thing, kid another - ex tends to rarely take accountability for his words/actions and if he does it's short lived, it WILL happen again. I just want to protect and empower my son. I don't want him feeling and growing up with the issues I've had to face and overcome in my life. 

    I’m so sorry you’re going through this. There is an amazing book called “helping kids cope the sandcastles way” by Gary Neuman. It’s written for parents with kids of all ages managing divorce. It helps you learn the best way to talk to your kid through this difficult time. It’s not recommended to share the ins and outs of what he may saying when your son is not around. You’re absolutely right to want to support him without vilifying the father - he should make his own opinion on him. 
     

    I would recommend finding a therapist for you that specializes in couples, divorce, and children. The therapist can help you identify healthy ways to support your son and also give you an outlet to manage understandable frustrations you have while going through this. 
     

    If you’re genuinely concerned with verbal and emotional abuse you should contact child protective services. It’s your son’s right to not be abused and involving them can assist in insuring his emotional well-being. If you’re not sure if the abuse is to the threshold of emotional abuse, you can also get him a therapist (separate from your own - this is important for multiple reasons) to assess and then support your son through this. If abuse is suspected the provider would then notify CPS. What’s important to remember is that your responsibility is to protect your child from abuse, so act on your instincts (but not emotions).
     

    At 12 years old your son can be heard in court and has a say in where he lives. It seems problematic that you live downstairs from your ex. I would suggest finding alternative living arrangements if at all possible. I would do this first while talking to your lawyer.Then when you are settled  elsewhere request the hearing and have your son state his preference. He can choose to say why in detail if he wants no visitation but otherwise he can give a limited reasoning that this is what he wants. I would NOT discuss this with your ex before you have a safe space as he sounds like he holds grudges and could retaliate against your son. If you want to protect him figure out how to be the primary parent without putting him in the crossfire. Good luck! Be brave! 

    I think you should contact your lawyer and request of the court that you get full physical custody. The courts will most likely evaluate his parenting as well as yours. They also might require him to take parenting classes which might (?) help. I would not want my son to be raised with this type of parent. He will end up repeating the pattern or will marry someone who treats him badly ( just as you did.) The state of CA is very pro 50/50 custody but in my case I was awarded full custody as my husband was an alcoholic and I provided the judge with enough evidence of the impact it had in my kids that I won. Good luck!

Archived Q&A and Reviews



My husband calls me names and swears at me

November 2002

I am bothered by my husbands name calling and bad language. We have the usuall problems most couples have such as house work and helping with child care. He is also not a very affectionet person and I usually have to ask for a kiss or hug. He is telling me I am bad, even when he sais it in a funny way it still hurts. When we argue about our issues he usually calls me names such as bitch or nag. He tells me to shut up, mind my buisness or he sais f--k you. I told him many times to comunicate differently about the problems we have. The sad thing is that he sais these nasty words right in front my 1 year old daughter. If I tell him that I don't like the word fuck he just tells me in a very calm way that I just don't understand different words. Do a lot of couples fight in this way or am I one of very few. When I asked his family for advice ( his grandmother which he grew up with ) she just said that's normal for todays society. It's impossible to sit down and talk about this issue with him, because he never has time and he gets extremly defensive. I often cry about it and than he also gets upset because I am not happy. Why does he treat me with such disrespect ?


Oh boy, does your posting ring bells for me. My heart is with you.

Let me just get to the heart of the matter: Your husband's treatment of you is not love. It is useful to think of ''love'' as a verb more than as an emotion, and with this in mind, you should realize that he is not LOVING you! Others who reply to you, I'm sure, will also say this: His behavior constitutes ABUSE.

If you continue to allow his verbal abuse, your daughter will grow up thinking that his behavior is normal, and that this is how people who love each other behave. It is not. People who love each other do not call each other ugly names, they do not say ''fuck you,'' they do not have to be cajoled into loving behaviors such as a kiss or a hug.

I advise you to seek marital counselling immediately, but I have to say from my own experience, this may not work. He may refuse to go, or he may go and refuse to participate. Sometimes the best thing about counselling is that when you look back on it all later, you know you did everything you could to save the marriage.

I used to be treated very much as you are now. I was afraid of divorce for many reasons -- the opinion of family and friends, my own self-image, etc. Most especially, I was afraid of raising a child alone. What I discovered is that raising a child alone is infinitely more joyful than raising a child with a verbally abusive spouse.

I know you haven't asked about divorce, but I want to note that if you decide to get divorced, be prepared for all his ugly behavior to become magnified by a factor of ten. It goes without saying that you should get a good lawyer, but get a good support group of friends to help you out emotionally (as well as logistically), too. He may well make your life hell to every degree that he can, for as long as he can, which might be for the next 17 years ('til your daughter is an adult). But YOU CAN DO IT and YOU WILL BE HAPPIER.

You deserve to be loved, and your daughter deserves to be loved.


Dear Anon,

If you don't get help for yourself now, do it for your daughter. You risk setting an example for her that it is OK for a woman to be yelled at and mis-treated by a man. You don't wish that for your daughter (or for yourself).

Your husband may not wish to be mis-treating you. If you seek help, both you and he may find other ways to relate to each other.

Please consider calling a domestic abuse hotline to talk to someone - even if you don't think you are being abused. Or you may consider seeing a therapist (there are therapists available to UC students and faculty and their families at Tang Center; and free and low-cost therapists available in Berkeley and Oakland).

Domestic abuse is a pattern of power and control. One person controls the other through intimidation, threats, insults, emotional or sexual abuse, economic control, isolation or physical violence.
You are in an abusive relationship if your partner has: -frequently criticized, shouted or called you names -withheld approval, sex or affection as punishment -humiliated you in private or in public -ridiculed or insulted your most valued beliefs -isolated you from family or friends -controlled where you go -controlled your money -shoved, slapped, punched, kicked, burned or hit you -thrown objects at or near you 
Statistically, 20-30% of women experience domestic violence. It is possible that includes you. Nobody wants that to be true. But you deserve better.

In Alameda County, you can call a 24-hour CRISIS HOTLINE at any time, day or night: (510)536-7233.

[This information comes from a pamphlet that I helped write from Shalom Bayit (peace in the home) a group of Jewish women who support battered women and those who assist them.] M.


Your husband is emotionally and verbally abusive. It's his problem- his anger and self-loathing, and nothing you do, or don't do, will change his behavior. If he is not open to couples therapy, I suggest you consult with a therapist who specializes in abuse so that you can begin to chart a more positive and healthy course of action for you and your young daughter. No one should tolerate abuse, no matter what the form. Good luck. anon this time


No, it is not normal in today's society for a husband to speak rudely to his wife and call her names and belittle her. It's no wonder you are bothered. Being called nasty names is extremely upsetting and hurtful for anyone, but coming from the person who's supposed to be your partner in life - that is really terrible. Even if he and his entire family thinks bad language is OK, your husband could at least respect your wishes not to use it around you and your child. It seems like he doesn't care too much about how you feel. That's not love, is it? I don't think I could live like that and I hope you can figure out a way to either get him to stop, or else you get out of that awful situation. There are so many wonderful men out there who would never call you a name, never use bad words, and would respect your request not to use language you don't like. Why waste your time on someone who has no regard for you at all, and who just makes you feel bad. A mom


Nobody should have to endure that kind of verbal abuse regardless of whether a child is involved. And that's just what it is...verbal abuse. If you're husband thinks it's OK to call you a bitch and say ''f--k you'' then you need to ask yourself, if you want to continue living with this person. If it doesn't stop now, he will continue to subject not only you but your child to this kind of language as well. Is that what you want? You need to get yourself and your husband to a marriage counselor, and if he won't go or try to change his behavior, then I would see an attorney. Rob


I am sorry to hear that your husband is so cruel and disrespectful to you. No, most husbands do not treat their wives this way and the ones that do should be in therapy. I wonder how long this has been going on and whether it has become worse recently? I also wonder if you are foreign born, since he tells you that you don't understand the words. If you are, you seem to understand them very well and to realize that this is unacceptable. You have the right to be treated respectfully. I also worry about the impact that his behavior has on your daughter. Children early on understand tension between parents and his treating you so poorly sets a bad example for her - that it is okay to treat women badly (which makes me worry about her relationships with men as an adult). In any case, this is emotional/verbal abuse (you don't mention physical abuse...?) and I would strongly suggest that you get into couseling as a couple, or if he refuses (not unlikely), that you get into therapy yourself (if money is an issue, there are many low- fee/sliding scale clinics). Good luck


You are dealing with an emotionally abusive husband, who shows you no respect or consideration. Your husband is rude and full of contempt about his life, but you are not the cause, nor are your children. You need to decide what you deserve, and why you live with such a person who makes you unhappy and ultimately unhealthy. Your husband influences your children negatively and will ultimately harm them down the road. You deserve a life with respectful people, and those who will love you. Your husband is not one of them. anonymous


You will probably get a lot of responses like this. Your husband is abusing you. His behavior is not only unacceptable, it is abusive to you and to your child, and it must stop. You must insist on counseling, and if he refuses, go alone. You should not have to raise your child with his poor influence. He is no kind of partner to you, and you don't have to accept his treatment of you. His language is just a symptom of a deeper disrespect for you and perhaps women in general, and certainly disrespect for your partnership as parents. This is very, very serious. Please, for the sake of your mental and emotional health and that of your child, get help from a counselor. I am so sorry this is happening to you. anon


Wow! It seems to me, the problem isn't just your husbands bad language, either in front of your daughers or not, the problem is disrespect. His behavior is normal only in a disfunctional and abusive marriage - not a healthy and supportive one. Also, I think, his grandmother is mis-directed if she thinks his behavior is normal. Your concerns are definitly valid, sounds like you DO understand his words and his meaning. Anytime someone says or does something which makes you feel upset, there is a problem. My suggestion is you seek a marriage counselor. If your husband won't go, you might benefit from advise even without his attendance. Sometime just talking about your concerns really helps. A counselor may give you some suggestions regarding how to deal with your husbands bahavior.

Regarding your child: I definitly would NOT want my child growing up thinking this was the appropriate way for a husband to treat his wife. Your husband's treatment will not only effect your self esteem, but your daughters as well.

I know there are non-profit organizations which can provide support for little or no fee. Try looking in the phone book or perhaps someone on-line will have a recommendation. Good luck, linda


Wow - this hits too close to home. I'm in the same boat. My husband knows that the 'c' word will not only push my button, it will set it on detonate. And he STILL says way too often. What I've had to do - and it is SOOOOO hard - is to maintain my calm and address him directly by saying, ''you have gone WAY over the line and there is no reason to resort to name calling/belittling. I am trying my hardest to stay calm right now even though I'm fuming. We need to de-escalate this NOW.'' As I say it calmly, he usually understands that his emotions got away from him and apologizes. If he is still furious, I just say ''This is over and we'll talk when you can be respectful.''

I always follow up the conversation later when we are both calm and relaxed and explain, yet again, why his behavior is totally inappropriate and unacceptable. We try to lay 'ground rules' we both follow when fighting - ie not doing/saying the things we know will set the other off.

The bottom line: it is up to you to be the more adult one and maintain your cool even if it means walking away from the situation. Your husband is pushing your buttons on purpose. Just as with a child, you have to show him that button won't work anymore by staying calm and not reacting the way he wants you to.

I'm sorry your husband talks to you this way as there are way better ways to communicate much more effectively. obviously anon


Please take a look at your marriage as a whole. Bad language seems like a narrow way to describe a pattern of maltreatment and abuse. Please get some outside help, if not counseling for both of you, just for yourself. There are low-cost options at the UC School of Psychology and the Women's Therapy Clinic in El Cerrito. My best friend from college finally got herself out of a 13-year marriage where the pattern sounded similar.

You deserve to be treated with respect. Anonymous


You end your message asking why he treats you with such disrespect. I think it is because you let him treat you that way. I could not stand a relationship with a person who does not respect me. And it is definetely not normal in todays society to call each other names over a disagreement, neither is the use of the F-word in any circumstances when adults are taking to each other.

In my opinion you have two options:
1. Get out of that relationship.
2. If you want to stay in the relationship, get marriage counseling (both of you). If your husband doesn't want counseling, back to 1.

Here is why: Your issue is much more than bad language. Your issue is disrespect and not being able to communicate. If you don't change a thing, how is your daughter supposed to have any respect for you later if you let yourself be called a bad person without standing up for yourself. You owe it to your daughter that she can grow up in a better environment than that.


Well, I'm going to give you the advice I'm giving EVERYone these days: check out ''The Passionate Marriage'' by Dr. Schnarch. Dr. Schnarch would probably say that you and your husband are ''emotionally fused.'' You're husbands behavior may be his attempt to control your behavior, because your husband's identity is so wrapped up in you: you are so important to him (and this scares him) that he must find ways to control you. You may have your own ways in which you exhibit ''emotional fusion.'' Well, Dr. Schnarch would probably say something along those lines, but more indepth. I am recommending his book to everyone I know because I think that it is incredibly insightful, obviously successful and he has quite a lot of practical advice. Just so you know: the book includes a lot of stuff about sexuality between married couples (he understandibly sees that a couple's sexuality together is reflective of the quality of their overall intimacy). But this book isn't just about sex, it's about emotional closeness. I think it's fabulous and I can only reccommend that you read it and see if you find it as useful for understanding your situation as I have found it useful to me. Best of luck to you! ~Alesia


Your husband is being emotionally abusive to you. The fact that he says 'fuck' is the least of it. He's putting you down, belittling you, calling you names when you fight, and doing it in front of your child. Do you have a good friend you can confide in, who won't judge you? If not, or even if you do have a good friend to share this with, you should try calling one of the domestic violence hotlines. Look in the phone book under domestic violence or battered women for a number. Emotional abuse is just as bad as physical abuse. He's intentially hurting you. You don't have to put up with it. You need to trust yourself and your own instincts. Try to get your husband to go to couples counseling with you. I feel for you. anon


I am sure you are going to get so many responses to this one. Please be assured of the many people on this list who sympathize with your situation and feel that you do not deserve to listen to abusive language, particularly when it is directed at you as an insult. This is a form of violence, meant to force the other person into silence and humiliation. If it is ''today's culture'' then we have to do what we can to change our culture -- today. I was listening to a speaker recently on the subject of violence against women who noted that most violence begins with debasing language, name-calling. You are doing the right thing in speaking up about this and refusing to accept it. I was brought up in a household where the father used abusive language and had temper tantrums; he also developed a drinking problem. Your husband probably needs help with managing his temper and issues of self- respect (let alone issues of respecting others), but it will be difficult to make him see that. You need to protect yourself and your child from his temper and immaturity as best you can. Know that you are in the right. I wish I could offer you more concrete advice, but I do offer you my support. Sign me, I'm done listening to that kind of talk.


Your husband's behavior is not acceptable. What he's doing is extremely damaging to both you and your child. I would like to suggest that you call STAND Against Domestic Violence. Even though your husband's abuse may be limited to language, STAND can be a very valuable resource for you. Please call them - even if you only want someone to talk to. All communications are strictly CONFIDENTIAL. Counseling, treatment, emergency housing, and transitional housing, are amount the many services they provide. Their 24-hour, toll-free phone number is 1-888- 215-5555 or you can also call 676-2845 during regular business hours. Please, please give them a call. R.L.


I don't think this is ''normal for today's society.'' Yes, people use more foul language today than years ago, but directing it at one's spouse in the way you have described sounds like plain old abuse, in my opinion. My husband and I use foul language about various things, but never directed at each other and never in front of our child. If he's upset that you're not happy, then he needs to look at his behavior and how his disrespect is contributing to your unhappiness! anon


You do not deserve to be spoken to this way! Perhaps it is ''normal'' to his family but it sounds like verbal abuse to me. It is damaging your self-esteem and if it keeps up, it will hurt your child as well. It was great you reached out for support from this network! I urge you to get professional help. If your husband wont go to couples' counseling, go alone. Also check out the book -the Verbally Abusive Relationship: How to Recognize it, How to respond by Patircia Evans (it's on sale at Amazon.com!) In the meantime, whenever he calls you a name, tell yourself the opposite: ''I'm lovable'', ''I'm a good person''. Good luck! Peggy


In my humble opinion, it is NOT okay for your husband to call you a bitch and use other derrogatory language directed towards you. This is a form of verbal and emotional abuse. Yes, all couples fight and it is hard to know ''how'' to fight in a fair and respectful manner. I used to call my spouse names and swear out of anger. I grew up in a family where name calling and losing one's temper was the norm. So naturally, I felt okay doing this in my marraige.

However, my therapist said it was completely unacceptable to call my spouse names. She said it was abuse, pure and simple. Over many years, I have learned to walk away when I am angry (most times). I still yell but I rarely call my spouse names anymore. When I do yell in front of (or at) my daughter, I always talk to her afterwards and explain it is not her fault.

I would encourage you to talk to a therapist so you can get support in dealing with this. Hopefully your husband will acknowledge it is not okay to treat you this way. But if he doesn't, you might want to consider how best to take care of yourself.

I also firmly beleive this behavior is harmful to your child. She will soon learn to talk and will be a little mimic. Maybe this will motivate your husband to refrain from this behavior while in her presence. If it does not, you might need support from a profeesional therapist on how to deal with this. A therapist named Deborah Joy (in the white pages) specializes in abusive relationships. You may not feel you has reached that point, but it might help you to talk to her. Best of luck! anon


I feel horrible for you. I was there last year. My daughter is now 19 months old. Her father and I are not married, but lived together. He would walk into our home after work and not say one word to me and would become angry if I tried to speak to him. He'd call me ''stupid'' and ''bitch'', and once, when I tried locking myself in the bathroom so that I could just cry, he tried to unscrew the lock because it was his apartment and he had a ''right'' to be in all the rooms if he wanted. I knew he was an abuser (not physically, but mentally and emotionally), but I didn't leave because I couldn't afford to. His mother eventually gave me a place to stay, and that is how I left. One woman wrote that men like this get 10 times worse when you leave, and he did. I left because I will not tolerate any man speaking to me disrespectfully in front of my daughter because she will tolerate abuse from men based on the example I give her. I'm not close to you, but you MUST LEAVE HIM. HE WILL NOT CHANGE IF YOU STAY. He may not change at all, but he WILL NEVER CHANGE if you stay. You must leave and tell him, EVERY SINGLE TIME he calls you (and he will try to contact you constantly) that you left because you cannot let her see him treating you this way. You must also say ''Staying with you means I'm teaching our daughter to take a man spitting on her the way you do me''.

When I left, he was HORRIBLE. Each time he called, he threatened to take the baby, he called me names. He'd be kind to me and tried to reconcile with me, and I'd let him in, but I'd slame the door if he even got CLOSE to HINTING at abusive behavior. Since my leaving, his work forced him to look at other people and their relationships (he's anti-psychology because his mother is a psychologist and he doesn't get along with her since she took my side). He began to grow on his own and began talking to other men in healthy relationships (another thing I used to tell him all the time.) He'd tell them his side only, but, eventually, his lies where transparent because he could never get the baby to come near him unless I was there.

Slamming the door on him and his crap, in addtion to my openly dating other men, has made him see that he had to change to get me and our daughter back. I CONSTANTLY remind him that he is lucky I'm around, and I also remind him that if he cannot be a soft place for me to fall, he is useless in my life - period. We are not living together again, but he is a new person. It has taken a year an a half, and I still don't think he deserves us, but we spend time with him now. We never would have gotten to this point if I had not left. Staying with him, no matter WHAT you tell him, gives him the message that you condone his horrible treatment of you and your daughter (it hurts the baby when he does this to you - believe me, it hurts her. If he raises his voice for any reason to me, our baby tells him to stop, and he does). We have a long way to go, and I may still end up with someone else, but he is more human than ever before since I left. If we do not end up together, I now know that he will at least be human to me because I've stood up to him and called his every bluff.

He may not love you, but YOU must love YOU AND YOUR DAUGHTER enough to leave. Men like this are taking out their insecurities on you, and they cannot heal and become men if they have women like us to kick. He need to figure out how to grow some self-esteem so that he doesn't feel so powerless that his only power is the power he has over you and your daughter. If you don't have the money to leave, find a friend or family who will take you and get out. Perhaps counseling will help, but from where I sit, leaving is the only way to preserve you sanity and self-esteem for you and your daughter. Christina


I did not respond to your message at first... I figured you would hear from other concerned people, and they really came through. Thank you all; I wish I had had this forum when this was happening to me; one of the ways my abusive husband controlled things was to convince me that it was inappropriate to talk to anyone else about my concerns about the marriage - being able to ask anonymously like this would have probably saved me years.

I want to comfirm what they all (or almost all) have said: your husband is abusive and disrespectful. He may say you are important to him or that he does respect you, but loving and respectful people care about your feelings and try NOT to do things that they know bother you. I found the book that someone else mentioned: 'The Verbally Abusive Relationship' to be very valuable in understanding what was going on in my marriage.

Given that, I do have a few of things to add:

1. If you do get your husband to go to couples therapy with you (and I would encourage you to try) please evaluate your therapist and SEE SOMEONE ELSE if this one is not working for you. There are wonderful people out there, but there are also people like one of the 4 we went to, whose action item for my husband's verbal abuse was to suggest anti-depressants for me so I wouldn't mind so much.

2. Know that YOU CANNOT MAKE YOUR HUSBAND CHANGE. I spent so much time and energy trying to figure out ways I could act; things to do or say, that might make my husband behave differently. This is what they call 'co-dependant' behavior, and was a waste of time. He has to understand that the way he is behaving is wrong, and want to change, and then there is a chance. And you cannot get him to that place.

3. Contemplating being a single mother is scary, but, if your husband will not stop his abuse, separating from him might be what you need to do. I, too, weighed the alternatives: I knew it would be better for me personally to live apart from my husband but could not do it until I decided that it was better for my daughters to have their parents live apart than to grow up in a household where their father was mean to their mother every day. In my case separating was what I needed to do. It has been rough, but I have never regretted doing it for a minute.

4. Talk to people. Get a therapist of your own if you can. You may decide to do some therapy on your own first.

Good luck to you and best wishes. Been there, too