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Below is an Interactive Board sampler. A fuller listing is found in the "Stories" menu above.

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!

My Advice: What's Working For Me

My Advice: What's Working For Me

"Not being able to govern events, I govern myself." Michel de Montaigne

June 26, 2000

Dear Dr Irene,

I am writing not for advice but just to share some of my hard work with you.  I hope you post this as I feel I have some useful information for others. You sure do!
I first recognized I was in an abusive relationship over a year ago.  This was reinforced when I visited your web site.  Ahhhhh!!!  Validation!
Nothing continued smoothly from there on because my husband became more defensive and I had to do lots of hard work on my own co-dependency, control issues, anger, sadness (and the list goes on).  However, it was empowering to realize I had so many choices and I got really busy thinking about all the possibilities I had.  I stopped wallowing in my helplessness (it was never going to get me anywhere). Smart lady!
Now throughout this period I learnt to identify friends who would be supportive and people who wouldn't.  "Verbal abuse" is still such an unknown concept amongst so many people.  So true... I also learnt to trust my instincts and if I felt unsafe (constant verbal assault), I knew I had every right to leave. Very smart... I set boundaries and started to express my feelings, wants as "I" statements and not "you should".  Very, very smart! None of this is easy.  I still mess up now. Yikes, she's not even defensive! This I accept because at least now I recognize my own responsibilities and role in the relationship.  I recognize the ability I have to control.............ME!  Yipppeeee!
And probably most important of all I said to my husband that I would not stay in the relationship if counseling was not pursued.  This was scary because I knew I couldn't give ultimatums and not stick to them. You trusted yourself, and were no longer willing to compromise your integrity by playing games...
We have been to various counselors now.  It was frustrating because we were constantly up against inexperienced professionals who little or nothing about verbal/emotional abuse.  I felt like I was being beaten down.  Forced to give up.  Then a friend suggested I ring the Domestic Violence center near us and ask them for counselors they would recommend.  I hit gold and found a wonderful counselor who identified the problems straight away.  My husband enjoyed our first session together saying "I have never had things explained so clearly to me before".  Yes. That's a line I hear all the time... Unfortunately...

Now Dr Irene, after this session my partner did not change.  I would like people to know that it won't happen overnight.  Indeed, things got worse.  Denial is a dreadful thing.  However, I again stipulated counseling must continue...and I demanded a time and date from my partner that he would commit to.  So he decided he needed to go alone.  I went alone also.  And again, things do not change overnight.  But we are coming up to our third session (and are still going to have individual counseling) and I feel some progress has been made.  It's only slight but I can feel it!! And you have to stay strong; he will test your strength and commitment to yourself over and over... Keep up the great, empowering, courageous work!

Therefore, the purpose of my writing has been to share with others the following points that really helped me:
1.    Reading books on anger, co-dependency, abuse, boundaries are essential.  Perceptions get altered, inner awareness grows. (Some selections are here.)
2.    Talking to supportive friends is a must.  It is too difficult and lonely to go through alone.  Important to be aware of advice-giving, values that only further disempower the "victim" e.g. "it takes two to tango", "all couples have their ups-and-downs", "he just really loves you". (ps: It does take two to tango, all couple do have their ups and downs, and he really does love you - but, unless there is an understanding of abuse, none of that applies...)
3.     Seek counseling with professionals who have an understanding of verbal abuse.  DON'T give up when you have discovered the counselor is a dud.  Ring a domestic violence center to get the names of professionals they can recommend. Yeah!
4.      Never, ever expect it to be easy.  Constantly assess and be aware.  Understand that the only change you can control is your own. Double yeah!
5.      Keep learning, learning, learning. Yeah, yeah, yeah!
Dr Irene, I am now reading a book called "People Skills" and I learning to move from being submissive to being assertive.  It has changed my relationships with people I work with and my confidence has increased.  I am no longer as scared to ask for what I want.  That book is an oldie but goodie that's been on my bookshelf at home since grad school, when I used it to teach assertion skills... The more you practice these skills, the easier they become - and the more confident you feel. It's a win-win.
I am enjoying learning and putting new things into practice.  I imagine learning forever.  The wishes I have for my self are to continue to increase self-love, self-worth, and enriching my soul. You are taking responsibility for yourself; recognizing and enjoying your personal power. There is no higher task, I think - and is what this site is really all about. 
Many thanks for leading the way in emotional healing. Reva.


Dear Reva, And many thanks to YOU for sharing your secrets of success! My very best wishes for your continued progress. Dr. Irene  

Riva's Sept/Oct, 2000 update is here!