Comments: Killing Her with Kindness
here is intended for educational purposes only, and must not be considered a
substitute for informed advice from your own health care provider.
Dear Karin, I am experiencing a similar situation: I think my husband is attempting to use religious faith to keep me in the relationship. I had expressed my need to him to have spirituality play a larger role in our relationship following an incident last November which necessitated my spending several nights in a hotel away from him. After a second incident this past February in which I finally stated that I thought we should separate, he has made connections with a local church and has gotten involved in its activities and has gotten me to participate in them with him. As much as I really want to believe that he has embraced Christ and that he is really trying to work a change, I remain skeptical. I can't help but think that this is again another hook he has used to keep me from following through with my request. It's worked too. I'm still in the relationship, hoping and waiting to see whether he will or can change. It will take time though for him to earn my trust and respect again; and change, if it comes at all, will only be evident from his actions - not his words. I hope and pray that both of us someday will have the clarity to measure the actions - not the words - and make our decisions based on that for the sake of ourselves and our children. Jenny
You're on the right track, Karin... Continue to avoid contact with him whenever possible. He may, with great effort, change for the better. But will that erase your pain and fear from the past? No, not necessarily. I've been out of a similar relationship for nearly five years, and no amount of miraculous change on my ex's part would drag me back there. The next woman can have him, with my somewhat worried blessings.
Karen, I totally know what your going through as most of us on this site. My abuser too used kindness to keep pulling me back into the relationship I had left serveral times. I would quickly forget the abuse and somehow just reconize the kindness at that time. He would make me doubt what I was seeing in him was actually true, made me doubt myself. I did realize that as I was coming and going in and out of this realationship there was a pattern that he would use and it all became clear. You see I never married this man I was in a relationship with him for 3 1/2 yrs on and off. I would be pushed to my ends wit and then cut off communication with him and try to go on and every time he would some kinda way worm his way back into my life. My abuser knows everything about me what I like and what is important to me, he would use these things to soften me up, get me back on his side. I attend counseling now and have been for the last 2 years and I have finally become strong enough to leave this complex situation and continue on with my life that I have control of not him. I learned to set healtly bounderies and to make him respect me. I am currently working on no contact at all, which I know I should be doing at this point. I broke things off with him 9 weeks ago. I do talk to him on the phone from my job, I am much stronger now and I don't have a problem with saying NO and not explaining myself to him. I wish you luck as I know it will be a long road ahead, just take one day at a time and learn to love yourself first as you are the most important , for you and your children. kiwi
Hello, Obviously he is not making progress if he is harassing you. When he stops THAT and can pick things up and visit the kids WITHOUT laying guild on you THEN you can MAYBE entertain the IDEA that he MAY SOMEDAY interact with all of you. My mother is tortured by my dad everyday. I would not put up with it. There is so much life to live. -Tina
You are not crazy! He is saying the words he thinks you want to hear to suck you back in. Once he has you, the kindness will end quickly. Just sit and notice how well you feel and how clear your mind is after a few days of no contact with him. I don't know about you, but I actually feel more positive and excited about life when I don't hear from my ex for a few days. I think you are very intelligent and you really do know what's going on. Don't fall for his tricks! MovingOn
Dear Karin, I too went through many similar situations after breaking up with the father of my children 5 years ago. He tried the sob stories, the guilt trips and yes even the suicide attempts. He sounded much like your husband, wanting me to see "his" pain for what "he" had done to "me". It was all ploys and manipulations, touching on all my vulnerable spots. I was with him for 12 years, who else knew me better, who else would know how to get at me than him. At first, the guilt trips worked on me, i caved and let him come back but my dear, it took only 4 days for him to return back to his old self, just a couple days of "honeymooning" and he was back to his mood swings, silent treatment and ultimately his rages. It takes a lot for time for him to prove to you that he is even really willing to change. I suggest no contact to you, for me it was the only way to clear my head and get a grip on what i really wanted, not what he wanted. Neither you nor your children deserve abuse. Stay strong and stay safe hugs -W
Karin: I wouldn't consider what he's saying or how he's behaving "kindness" at all. True kindness is altruistic, not self-motivated. If he is truly remorseful, he would be more concerned with how YOUR feeling about how he treated you, than in you recognizing and acknowledging HIS agony. It also sounds like he is using "all or nothing" logic. The only way you could show him your not "mean", your not trying to get "his" half of the assets, and that you understand how hard he's trying, is to forget where you've come from, and let him come back home NOW, on his terms in other words. DON'T DO IT! You have nothing to feel guilty about, in fact you should be proud of the courage and stamina you've shown in this difficult and painful situation. Best Wishes, SJ
I also don't see in what way this guy is being kind to you. He is constantly burdening you with being responsible for his emotional well being. He's making you responsible for his suicide? He's giving you more burdens than you need. A kind and loving spouse looks at ways they can lighten your load or at least not add to it. There is nothing kind or even enjoyable about this guy. It might be different if he could make you laugh, try to do things for you to ease your burdens, tell you "don't worry about it hon", but no this guy does nothing but pressure you and guilt you and make your life so much harder. Ask yourself the question- does this man lighten my burdens or add it them?
Hi Karin! The best thing you can do for yourself is cut off all contact with him that is not directly related to setting up his visits with the children. He won't be happy about it and he'll make a fuss. (More proof that he really hasn't changed, as if you needed any.) He is not going to make separating from him easy for you. Since you know that it's hard for you to hang onto your feelings and your clarity when you two speak, the best thing to do is cut him off. If you aren't sure you want a permanent separation, you can make this temporary. Tell him you want three months of no contact whatsoever with him, except for emails regarding his visits with the children. If he really is changing, he will be able to respect this. If he can't respect it, be ready to fight for your boundaries: changing phone numbers and locks and email addresses, arranging for trusted friends or grandparents to be present while he's with the kids, instead of being there yourself, etc. (In fact, if CPS knew about his dangerous behavior toward your daughter, they would probably insist on monitored visits anyway.) Best of luck!
Abandon guilt and self doubt!! I know its so easy to say and so hard to do. Wishing you positive energy and the courage of your convictions.
Dear Dr. Irene: (Deleted. Sorry Elizabeth, but this board is dedicated to replying to the person who posted their dilemma.) Love, Elizabeth
Karin! Where are you? Please use this opportunity to post any questions or comments you have that you may want me to answer. Also, you may want to reply to some of those who posted to you. I'll be back sometime this weekend to look for your post. Warmly, Dr. Irene, March 15, 2005.
I think hearing both sides might make a difference as to who is responsible for helping him change. I once knew a woman who decided to marry a man. Initially, she was passive which brought out controlling behavior in her spouse. Over time, she became more active, which magnified his need to control her and their children.(skills no longer needed) They were divorced. In the end, she never once admitted she brought the pain and torment onto herself and the children when she went from passive to active. Rather, she wanted to blame him for being the controlling person he was the whole time. Whereas, it was she who had changed from passive to active. And I think it was her who was subtley controlling when she was passive, because it was she who cultivated passivity to have her needs met early in the relationship. So, in the end, I think she had a duty to help him understand her changing from a passive to active life. (skills needed when raising children)However, it never worked out because having someone to blame let her retain the control she so desired.
HI Karin, I'm not sure if I'm strong enough yet to give any good advice.. But I would like to say I can certainly relate and feel great empathy for you. Stay strong... . Someone asked me once "what are you going to miss if you leave?" I didn't have an answer except security.. and realistically that isn't an issue. I can say we all deserve to be treated with dignity and respect..like good friends treat each other... Why do we insist on living with people we couldn't even imagine haveing friendships with. Wow can picture how long a friendship would last if your best friend called you a horrible name ..or threatned your friendship every day if you didn't do something the way they thought was best..... all the very best to you and your children for a happy, healthy,,,, carefree .. fun loving....stress free....life you deserve to have!!!!!!!!!
Sorry to take so long to respond to everyone's posts. You have no idea what it means to have even one person say you're not imagining things. Yes we do! It's been a rollercoaster week (but, then, why should I expect anything different). Since reading all these posts, I've started to look at things differently. To think about what he's really saying and what it is he's out to accomplish, changes my perspective on a lot of things. Good! Tuesday was an interesting, yet emotionally draining day.
He called me at work and started right in about the joint checking account and why wasn't it closed yet. He felt that I was still using it and that I was racking up debt that he was going to be responsible for. (How easy it is for him to forget that I specifically told him what I was doing and how long it would remain open. I'm buying my own house and needed to write a check for earnest money, which in the end, is given back. I don't need it to close on the house.) At any rate, he wouldn't quit with the harassment and argumentative behavior while I was at work. I told him to leave it alone and I would take care of it myself. I shouldn't have been surprised when he showed up at the bank while I was there over the lunch hour. Oh! He proceeded to call me names and degrade me in public. Ugh. The poor woman who was helping me looked so uncomfortable. When she was done explaining, I walked out without saying anything to him. He followed and switched gears into normal conversation, as if he hadn't said anything in the bank. Right. Purrfect gentleman. I got in my car and drove away.
He called my cell phone and was angry. Now I couldn't even have civil conversation with him about his financial situation, he wanted my opinion on what decisions he needed to make. He had just called me a liar and a cheater in front of people we don't know, and he wants me to have "normal" conversation with him. He immediately went into his self-pity act and how he wants to change and make his life better, because "he doesn't want to go through this again". Note he has no clue he is creating this life by his actions... He continues with the selfish point of view. What about what he's put me and the kids through? Exactly! I certainly didn't ask him to slam my head into a car window, or anything else that he's done to us. Yes. Seems the only perspective he knows is his own.
I'm very sure about ending this relationship and making a healthier, happier life for my kids. All of us deserve it. I know that there are still going to be moments where I'm going to feel weak and wishing that this could be easier and why couldn't he just change for the better, but in reality, that's not up to me. I only have control over myself and my life. Correct on all counts. I refuse to be in a situation like this ever again. Each day that goes by feels better and safer. I can see that my children have a lot to deal with, especially the oldest one. She's struggling with anger issues and is worrying about behaving the same way that he does. At least she feels she can talk about it. That's a step in the right direction. I don't know what I would do without the information and support that I find on this site. It's been an endless supply of sanity in the past six months. Karin Your vision seems much clearer. Good for you! Keep up the good work. Remember, the further you get from him emotionally, the clearer and better you will feel. And, dear posters, my thanks to you for supporting Karin. Dr. Irene
Dear Karin If you are ever in doubt or feeling manipulated just go back and reread your post of March 17th. Being somewhat vulnerable I read it and just wanted to cry. I think I wanted so much for there to be a happy ending and then the reality check takes place. So if you feel a bit vulnerable or at a low point or confused, take strength from your own reality, exactly as you have recorded it. It is totally NOT NORMAL for someone to hurl abuse and malign you, in public no less!! and then pretend as if nothing has happened!!!, You should be so proud of your restraint and maintaining your dignity, - I want to thump him! Your children will draw strength from your example of dignity and self reliance and the more you talk openly with them about what constitutes acceptable behaviour and identify the abuses, the safer and clearer it becomes for the children as to what is okay in their own interactions within the family and with other people. As their confidence in boundaries and appropriate behaviour develops they will also become skilled (with your help) in managing their relationship with their father - who will no doubt be continually manipulative in his relations with them. Wishing you all the strength and courage for the future - jen
Past behavior, is a good way to predict "future" behaviour. I got involved with a person who, I later on discovered had Borderline Personality Disorder. The devaluation, the anger and rage it was a very traumatic episode for me...Fortunately for me, I kicked her out and kicked her out hard...I offered "friendship" with Boundary's... Even on a plutonic level she is EXTREMELY self absorbed and draining... These type of personality's are very immature and are incapable of understanding others needs. The sun rises for them and only them... "We" have to accept that these people are incapable of giving of themselves because they have such a poor sense of self. How can you give, when you don't even no who you are? When actions contardict the words, you always listen to the actions...
"I feel like he’s trying to plant seeds of doubt in my mind about the decisions I feel I have to make." Yes, that's exactly what he's doing! Planting seeds of doubt! That's what one friend of mine called manipulative controlling tactics. "Planting seeds"! And then this same friend stated that's why he liked the song "Home on the Range". The lyrics being, "Where seldom is heard, a discouraging word..." We started calling people who did that farmers of doubt. ;) It's gotten to the point where anytime someone is doing that faux kindness kind of thing, but in reality they're manipulating with discouraging words... Subtle put-downs... I think to myself -- they are planting a seed!! And I think of the song "Home on the Range"! :) :) "Where seldom is heard, a discouraging word... and the skies are not cloudy all day..." Hope you find your home on the range! :) :) :) - watermelonpunch
It's a trust issue. It's inconceivable to simply just trust a person who has been so mean and inconsistent in the past. My "abusers" and "controllers" have been members of my family who just start acting as though nothing happened. They claim it's my fault that I can't "get over it" or just "forgive and forget". But when you don't consistently see changed behavior, one has nothing to go on. It's not a bad thing not to trust these kinds of folks. I truly believe that, as "nice" people, we enter a phase of doubt. As "nice" people, we do the normal behavior of checking to make sure that we haven't contributed to the whole mess. But also as "nice" people, we truly hope and believe that one day our abusers will be nice, too. What I have realized is that it keeps me "stuck" to keep hoping and believing--I need to accept the behavior for what it is and what it looks like. --Cb
DEAR KARIN, THIS ALL SOUNDS SOOOOO FAMILIAR! I'M FINALLY GETTING DIVORCED AFTER 25 YEARS OF VERBAL ABUSE. UNFORTUNATELY, THIS HAS AFFECTED OUR 2 CHILDREN. MY SON, WHO IS NOW 16, HAS BEEN IN AND OUT OF COUNSELLING AND HOSPITAL PROGRAMS MOST OF HIS LIFE. I FINALLY SENT HIM TO LIVE WITH MY SISTER AND BROTHER-IN-LAW BECAUSE HE WAS TAKING ON SOME OF HIS FATHERS CHARACTERISTICS AND NOT ACCEPTING CONSEQUENCES FOR HIS ACTIONS. HE HAD GONE FROM AN "A" STUENT TO AN "F" HIS FIRST YEAR OF HIGH SCHOOL. HE HAS MADE A COMPLETE TURN AROUND THIS PAST 2 YEARS THERE. MY DAUGHTER, 20, IS MY MOST AVID SUPPORTER IN THIS DIVORCE. THINGS JUST AREN'T MOVING FAST ENOUGH, THOUGH. WE ARE CO-HABITATING DURING THIS PROCESS, AND IT IS SOMETIMES VERY DIFFICULT. HE TOO HAS JUST STARTED SEEING A COUNSELOR FOR ANGER MANAGEMENT. SOME DAYS ARE GOOD AND SOME NOT. HE TENDS TO POINT OUT WHEN HE DOESN'T GET ANGRY FOR SOMETHING HE NORMALLY WOULD. I ADMIRE YOU FOR GETTING THE COURAGE TO GET OUT EARLY WHILE THE CHILDREN ARE STILL YOUNG. HOPEFULLY THEY WON'T BE QUITE AS AFFECTED.
Nice answer. My abusive ex said exactly the same when he was trying to win me back--that someone else would benefit from his new reformed self. I told him I was happy for her, whoever she turned out to be. What a laugh. He's still manipulative and abusive, four years later.
Karin, Dr Irene's comments, while not satisfying your need to do the right thing, are the correct comments with the correct suggestions for you to do. It takes someone outside looking in to clarify the confusion that you are used to living in/with. He has changed his tactics toward you, BUT HE HAS NOT CHANGED HIMSELF! He knows you hate the bickering, fighting, abusive language, so he is now trying to get his own way by pleasing you with kind, acceptable, words. It is a ploy.... I agree with Dr Irene that you should look for words/deeds/actions that show his concern for your happiness, not his own. Get waaayyy back from him and take a good, hard look at him. It's your only healthy defense. SSM
I would just like to draw attention to a previous posted reply. As soon as I read it I got a shiver because I heard the echo of my own abusive ex partner's voice in it. "She was passive which brought out controlling behavior in her spouse", seems like a classic blaming mechanism for abusive behaviour, particularly as later the author writes "she never once admitted she brought the pain and torment onto herself". Abusive behaviour is not "brought about" by another person's actions or behaviour, it is the sole responsibility of the abuser and his core values and beliefs. The change from 'passive' to 'active' by his wife has nothing to do with this man's chosen response. He is blaming her for his controlling, abusive behaviour, as indeed my ex also did. This is one of the most insidious mechanisms that an abuser can use, to muddle cause and effect, when there is NO CAUSE AND EFFECT WHERE ABUSE IS CONCERNED! I just wanted to draw attention to this post in case anyone out there suffering from abuse read it and for one moment questioned their own judgement as a result. I've reprinted it here so it can be seen for what it is. March 16, 2005 06:45 PM I think hearing both sides might make a difference as to who is responsible for helping him change. I once knew a woman who decided to marry a man. Initially, she was passive which brought out controlling behavior in her spouse. Over time, she became more active, which magnified his need to control her and their children.(skills no longer needed) They were divorced. In the end, she never once admitted she brought the pain and torment onto herself and the children when she went from passive to active. Rather, she wanted to blame him for being the controlling person he was the whole time. Whereas, it was she who had changed from passive to active. And I think it was her who was subtley controlling when she was passive, because it was she who cultivated passivity to have her needs met early in the relationship. So, in the end, I think she had a duty to help him understand her changing from a passive to active life. (skills needed when raising children)However, it never worked out because having someone to blame let her retain the control she so desired.
again to everyone who's posted, I appreciate the support and insights.
I've spent a great deal of time reading through other areas of this
site and I read Bill's post and update "A Recovering Abuser Speaks" and
"An Angry Persons Pain" along with the replys. One caught my attention
because of the language of the writer's abuser that she described, his
actions, and responses to where she's at with the relationship. They
are a mirror image of the behaviors/responses that my husband has shown
me over the past few months. I'm copying the post here rather than try
to convey it in my own words.
"Bill, I almost hurt reading your letter. I do feel so bad for my
soon-to-be ex, I know if he knew where he would end up, he would change
so much of the past. He wouldn't listen to all the times I told him "I
can't live like this." Until I said I didn't love him anymore. Then he
tried to change, but I really didn't love him anymore. I am mad at him
he couldn't have attempted to change years ago, obviously he's capable
of making the effort.
What struck me was when you said you'd divorce with dignity. That's
what we had agreed on, we know we will be together forever with the
kids. But he will not let me go. When I am nice to him he acts as if
there is still a chance to reunite, and there's not. He still tries to
be controlling, though he thinks he's fixed because he has stopped
yelling. There are other ways to be verbally abusive and he's using
them all. He debates what we agree upon, and says he didn't say things
he did in "weaker" moments. Control seems to be ingrained in his inner
self, and he still uses it in different ways. I really hope you don't
do that. I know once I learned about verbal abuse, I looked at most
things he said or did as a way to control me. The trust is gone.
I also want to thank you for sharing, I wish some of these abusive
husbands or wives would understand when we say we have had enough,
there is a time that comes when we really mean it. There's not always
another chance, there is a time when abusers pretend everything's
normal and we don't accept that anymore. You can be nice for 6 months,
but the love is gone. My husband didn't realize that until it was too
late too, just like you Bill. If she really is done, please, divorce
her with dignity, I am beginning to hate my husband, he still won't
just get along with me. He still wants to maintain some amount of
control. He told me he will never stop trying to show me how much he
loves me. And I don't want his love."
Thanks again to everyone for sharing. Karin
I went through a similar time a couple years ago, though I didn't stick with it long enough, I wish I had. It is amazing how someone's stories, thoughts, doubts, etc. can be so close to mirroring your own, but what seems so obvious in another person's case can seem so much more unclear and complicated when it's your own life. You're doing the right thing. You aren't losing your mind, your mind is just adjusting to taking back the control of it that he once had, and doesn't want to let go of. Good luck, stay strong! Amy
Karin, You sound like a very caring person. I feel bad for you and hope that you will be able to overcome this for the sake of you and your 4 children. Other people don't make us feel bad about ourselves (even though it's easy to blame them). Everyone is responsible for their own actions and how they deal with things that happen in life. Your priority is with yourself and your children. If your husband gets better and gets the help he needs that's great, but hopefully he's doing it for the right reasons.
Your story sounds a lot like mine...Only I"m still here...always making
plans to leave until he starts another "fire" for me to put out...
The manipulation is so confusing, isn't it? I think our desire for them
to change is so great..all we want is to have a decent family. a decent
relationship with our husband and so we try and try and try and end up
disappointed and crushed time after time...sometimes we think THIS may
be the time it works..or THIS may be really it....but it is not going
to happen that way...For them to change their abusive behaviour....take
a lot of time and work...It seems so easy to us...just do this or stop
My husband even went as far as to join my church (I'm baptist, he's
catholic) to convince me he was serious about making things work,,,He
knew how important church was to me....He disrupted my church in such a
he caused a lot of tension and even took my best friend aside (during
church) and accused her of commiting adultry 20 years ago...He would
get aggravated at me when I wouldn't see :things: his way and proceed
to cast demons out of me in front of my children...
So no change dosen't come that quickly but if he can manipulate you
into thinking it does....he's won again.
Hang in there....
April 16, 2005 Dear Dr. Irene... Please don't ask your own questions on another person's board. Thanks. Doc
Karin, I wish you continued strength. I know Dr Irene is so right when she said that we all know how wonderful it feels to have affirmation. If it is any consolation, I understand how easily it is to feel guilty and that you should give it one more try. Funny, we are always the ones giving. Take care of yourself and be strong. Deep inside I bet you know what is best for You! Judy
Karin sent me an email on April 29, 2005...
After reading this I see myself in the husband. It hurts to be reminded of what I have done to my family and I am scared that I may never get them back. Time is what it will take to change me and I pray that someday I will be healthy and good for them. I wish that I had sought help befor but the time to start is now and if I can change maybe god will bring us back together. Stay strong and my prayers are with you. Martin
Remember Karin that self-love is not selfish. Your hubby may have told you that you're being "selfish" for thinking only of yourself. HOWEVER, he is being selfish to even presume he knows what you're thinking or feeling without asking you. I think you're going in the right direction in clarifying what you need and what you don't deserve. If hubby has any hope in coming back to your relationship, he needs to get help for himself, no one else. Sometimes we think taking care of ourselves is wrong, but you cannot love someone else until you love yourself. Hope that helps...JM
I had a friend like that! He maniuplated ever person in his life, his parents, his wife, his friends of which I was one. Toxic! I'm relieved we're no longer friends but here is some poetry I've written about him... ----- Machiavellian Machiavellian You know that it’s true You prey on the vulnerable Yes, I’m talking about you Ambiguity Is your middle name Causing people to misread things Again and again They may well be right But you throw them off track By blocking their conclusions Saying it’s evidence they lack The truth you deny them You rant, rave and shout Manipulate situations Fill them with self-doubt Intelligent people You prefer most But they’ll be the ones To see you have nothing to boast You have many techniques To fool us all You think you’re infallible But it’s you who will fall Machiavellian I know that you’re weak Keep up your ways Your future looks bleak Machiavellian That is your name But what do you care? To you, it’s only a game Cheryl (written under the pseudonym of Abby Hendon) ------ Who Are You? Destroyer of souls: you don’t care who you hurt Erode people’s confidence: you make them doubt themselves Volatile, that’s you: you’re so hard to placate Innocent, you’re not: grow up and take responsibility for your own actions! Lucifer! Who let you out of hell? Cheryl
all ive got to say is it TAKES TWO!!! shes as at fault equally as she was!!period no excuses!!