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4/14 Interactive Board: Codependent Partners

3/23 Interactive Board: He's Changing... I'm Not...

3/1 Interactive Board: D/s Lifestyle

1/14 Interactive Board: My Purrrfect Husband

12/12 Interactive Board: What if He Could Have Changed?

10/23 Interactive Board: Quandary Revisited

8/24 Interactive Board: Quandary! What's Going On?

7/20: Dr. Irene on cognitive behavior therapy and mindfulness

6/12 Interactive Board: Unintentional Abuse

11/7 Interactive Board: Is This Abusive?

12/29 Interactive Board: There Goes the Wife...

11/4 Interactive Board: A New Me!

10/8 Interactive Board: Seeming Impossibility

9/8 Interactive Board: My Ex MisTreats Our Son

5/1 Interactive Board: I feel Dead - Towards Him

4/26 Interactive Board: Why is This So Hard?

4/19 Interactive Board: I Lost My Love...

4/7 Interactive Board: Too Guilty!

A Reader Disagrees

A Reader Disagrees


Subj:    your articles on-line
Date:    1/27/1999
From:    Carol
To:      drirene

Dear Dr. Irene:

I consider myself an expert in verbal abuse (physical also). I grew up that way....left home and joined the army--best decision I ever made...I will try to make this short--married a man who (it started out so covertly as it often does) was verbally abusive. By the time I figured out what was happening to me---and I figured it out all because of a book called: VERBAL Patricia Evans---it was like a light was turned on or I discovered a cure for a horrible disease---It took me 25 years to find this out, and now I have written a paper, talk to everyone I know about this best kept secret in the universe---Why does no one know about this, or talk about it??!! Anyway, the reason I am writing is that when you say abusive partners do not set out to hurt you...I know this is untrue.....The object of abuse is to distort reality, and of course, CONTROL is the issue, words murder your soul, and I could go on forever here--I consider myself an expert...I experienced it for almost a lifetime, and then went into counseling (of very little value, the book was all I ever needed)---wrote about it and talk about it.......The other issue is co-dependence......No one who is being abused is co-dependent---this terminology doubly abuses the victim----you're already being abused and are now told that it is your fault--this of course, is rubbish---common sense tells you that you didn't CAUSE the abuse, then you cannot STOP it.......They have their own agenda, and could not care less what you want.

When you are being verbally abused, you are literally brain-washed (I, for some reason, didn't go crazy, but was able to stand back, and realize this guy was nuts)---unfortunately, however, for the majority of women they start to believe everything that's told them---when you are being brainwashed, jerked around, reality is being distorted, you are angry, confused, "gaslighted" (lit?), etc. there seems to be no way to figure anything out, so to say an abused person is co-dependent is TOTALLY WRONG. If you could make it stop, you would. And if, like most women, you don't even know what is happening to you, how in the world do you get out, or even know what to do? If you tell someone (and they are the wrong person to tell), saying things, like, "just leave" or "I would never put up with that" means they are ignorant and perhaps some women will not try to get help again for fear of being put down. They feel ashamed for letting it happen, and powerless to stop it, so more shame is added on...I could go on forever. I feel passionate about this subject, as is obvious, but the terminology co-dependent tacked on to a person being abused is simply not relevant, and does even more damage to a person struggling to figure what is happening to her. Fortunately, for me I stood up for myself and told him to get help or get out and was furious every time he would abuse me. I always let him know how I felt about how he treated me (not realizing "they" don't care, it's all about them)--I never accepted blame for what I knew wasn't true (again, this is unusual)---when I showed the therapist what I had written (about 90 items) on what my husband had said and done to me, he said "this is overwhelming"---this from a therapist--but I'm okay, and always will be, because my life was illuminated by a book----it was the story of my (and probably every other woman, abused) life. It's my second Bible---Thank you for listening. Sincerely yours, Carol

Dear Carol,

Thank you for your thoughtful reply to my web pages.

I also thank you for your input regarding 1. nobody sets out to hurt you and 2. codependents. I don't see the inconsistency. Let me explain:

1. An angry person is out to hurt you, especially when you are down. And to control you. But, in most cases, a desire to hurt the partner is an unconscious process. This person has really done a mind game on himself and has grossly distorted reality! I often see abusive men who feel that they are the ones who are being abused! Some men have more awareness than others, but as a generalization, their stated and usually conscious intent, is contrary to their actions. Jeckyl and Hyde.

So, I do not disagree with anything you are saying. I am merely speaking from a different perspective: The perspective of an abusive person who tricks himself into thinking that he is "right," "innocent," whatever. This person is typically so self-absorbed and lacking in empathy, the only reality that matters is his own. There is no room for anyone else's feelings, perceptions, etc. For the abuser, self-deception is a death battle.

2. Codependents. Sorry, we disagree, but not in the way you imply. I have never met an abused woman who was not codependent. I am not saying this to victimize the woman, but to empower her. Yes, abuse is a well kept secret. Yes, the last thing she needs is to be blamed. But, here is where we differ. You assume the codependent woman is to blame. I do not assign blame! I use the terminology as a place to begin to encourage the woman to listen to the self. Bit by bit, she is worn down. By the time she finds herself in a hurtful place, she has placed her partner's needs ahead of her own! My position is that the abused woman has a task: to listen to her inner voice, love herself, respect herself and not tolerate any behavior that is disrespectful - and to never, ever put anybody's needs ahead of her own. This is what the woman who throws the abuser out does.

Stop thinking Fault - Start thinking Responsibility! As for the shame, that comes with the territory. That was around before the "creep." Of course she "didn't know!" How could she? This lady has been trained to care for others! This does not make it her fault that she has ended up with an abusive person. Unfortunately, it is the giving, loving woman with the big heart that this type of man pursues. Of course, if she could make it stop, she would. And that is exactly what she does when she learns enough and gets enough support to say "No!" in taking responsibility for the self.

I agree with you that abuse is a well-kept secret! Too, too many therapists don't understand abuse and do double-victimize the woman, especially in couples therapy, when the man, who has come in his death-battle to control, fools the clinician. It saddens me to hear of stories like yours, especially since you saw a counselor who was unable to enlighten you or point you in the right direction. What is even sadder is that abuse is a very common problem! This in part is why I posted these pages: To educate and empower; certainly not to assign blame!

Best regards and may God bless,
Dr. Irene