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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!

Sheer Desperation

Interactive Board: Sheer Desperation 

"Be prepared." - Boy Scout motto

April 23, 2002

Dear Doc,

I am writing you out of sheer desperation. I’m 38 years old w/ 3 kids, ages 18, 14 and 3. I have been married for 7 years to an emotionally abusive man. After the first year that we were married, I took my two sons (they are from my 1st marriage) and moved back in w/ my mother because his abuse was explosive and I just couldn’t take it. I went to a DV therapy group, and he went for counseling as well. He was a master at manipulating my heart and I, like a fool, moved us back in after more than a year. Correction: I made him a master of manipulating my heart... Then, we had a son of our own. There was a time there that things were almost good between us but after the baby was born, that all fell apart too. :(

Here is a quick overview of my situation.

bulletFinancial abuse- Everything is in his name, except for 1 small savings account. The house, the cars, the big $$ are all under his name. My paycheck (except for what I "pilfer" as he calls it) goes directly to him. What! Wouldn't it be nice to change that and tell him that you intend on "pilfering" even more! I need permission to spend anything, and I lie, lie, lie about money constantly so he won’t find out how, where or why I’m spending. That in itself is a full time job. In fact, I’m going to have to make up another lie about what the charges are for getting your advice. Hmmm, you're certainly not ready to confront him, are you?  I work full-time and make a decent living. He’s cheap beyond belief (we don’t even have the hot water hose hooked up to our washing machine so I can’t use more hot water to wash clothes in!!!) Well, if he were doing the laundry, he can hook it up the way he wants...
bulletControl - He is a control freak. If the kids leave a light on, he unscrews the light bulb or takes it out so they can’t do it again. Amazing.  Since I told him I don’t want him reprimanding my older kids, he tells me every little thing they’ve done wrong, or is out of place (shoes not straight by the door, jackets not hung up, sink wet after they brush their teeth, etc). When I bring up something I’d like to do (like paint the cement wall in my son’s room in the basement), he says no. I live in constant fear of his explosive anger. Why live this way? 911 is just a call away...
bulletEmotional Abuse- This is the part that’s really, really bad. He makes everyone in our house (except his son) feel worthless and stupid -- especially my older kids. He makes "jokes" that are inappropriate about everything that is important to any of us. He is especially hard on my 14 year old. He calls him "homophobic" because Robby (my son) is modest about changing in front of other people. He makes fun of they way they dress, the music they listen to and them in general. It had gotten so bad that after my oldest turned 18, she moved out for a year. My 14 y.o. is depressed, hostile and becoming abusive to me and his little brothers as well (which is really freaking me out). When ever my husband goes into an angry rage, he usually directs it at Robby, and the poor kid hates him (my husband) so much that he wants him dead, and tells me that every day. You can see why I’m very concerned for all of us. Robby is going to need help. Even though Robby's anger may be entirely justified.
bulletGavin - Gabby, as we call him, is our baby. As far as my husband is concerned, the sun rises and sets with him, and we should all bow down at his, and my husband’s, every wish. One time after Gabby was born I threatened to leave my husband, and he picked the baby up and put him in front of him as to say, "you can go, but you’re not taking him". Almost like a weapon.
bulletMe - I’m a mess. The worst part is that since I’ve gone back with him, it’s like he’s zapped all the life out of me and it’s making it harder for me to leave. I don’t stand up to him at all, I don’t tell him anything, I just spend all of my energy trying not to piss him off. I know deep in my heart that I have to get out of this marriage, but it seems as though I’m stuck. These little "voices" inside my head keep filling me with doubt, that things will get better, but I truly know they won’t and I live in CONSTANT FEAR.  The CONSTANT FEAR is reason alone to get out. As though you need any more...


Quick Email to Madalyn:
One question: any violence or history of violence?
Thanks,  Doc

Yes there is. He's pushed me down and hit the kids before, but not for about 7 yrs. Now he's just violent against objects. For instance, my 14 yo son locked the baby gate so his brother couldn't get downstairs, and the baby started crying, so my husband tore the baby gate out of the wall & threw it down the stairs. No violence against the baby, he doesn't want "the prince" to cry, so the anger was directed towards my son for locking the gate. That kind of stuff happens about every month or so, and is usually directed at my 14 yo. He's a bully. So there is a history of violence... Though it was a while ago, it sounds as though he's not far from there these days...



So, here is where I need your help. I’m stuck. Less stuck than before you got up the courage to write this letter and seek support... I’m scared to death and I feel like such a wimp. I need to do better for at least my kids sake, if not for my own. Yes! How to I get the strength to tell him I’m leaving?

bullet If you are frightened for your physical safety or for the safety of your children, you don't tell him you are leaving ahead! You plan ahead and then GO! Surprise him!
bullet Go to a safe house or to a close friend or family member's home, etc. The Domestic Violence people will help, even if you have to wait to get their help.
bullet Involve the police if there have been any threats or history of physical abuse. Don't be afraid to "rat" on him. He deserves it, and so do you and your kids!
bullet Look here too. In fact, read everything pertinent in The Victim Pages.
bulletSeek out an attorney. Many are willing to get you started with a free consult; find out where you stand financially should you file for divorce. In many if not most states, you are entitled to half the marital assets, whether your name is on them or not. Knowledge is power!
bulletThe day you leave, make a stop at the bank. Take out all the cash you can. Don't worry about how he'll pay the bills.
bulletIf you don't have access to this account, stop the money from your job from being forwarded to the bank. Take your paycheck and cash it.

How do you get through the ambivalent stage, where you’re so battered and so afraid that you do nothing? I guess maybe I need some sort of holy permission to leave (because I keep thinking of how devastated he will be, and all that emotional crying & crap we went through the last time I left - as I said, he’s very emotionally manipulative). HELP!!!      Madelyn

bulletOh yeah, The Gang Upstairs said you were granted Holy Permission. 

Ok, more: as you astutely point out, the emotional stuff is the real problem. Your co-dependent worry over his welfare, your fear of going it alone, is in your way. First you take care of your physical safety, next you deal with this stuff.

bulletYou are beaten down and depressed. Recognize that the ambivalence and yukky feelings you are having are the most natural feelings in the world for anybody in the situation you're in. Please talk to your family doc. He/she can probably prescribe something to help you through these trying times; be honest about your situation and about how beaten down you feel.
bulletEach time you think of how devastated he will be, and his crying, etc., please think about how he's made you feel - worse: think about what he's doing to your 14 year old... Ouchhh! Reason enough to leave right there. Minimally, this kind of man is setting the stage for the 14 year old to hate the baby; perhaps hurt the baby...
bulletEach time you think of his pain and his hurt, get out of your emotional state and use your head: No matter how repentant or hurt he is, what he has done to you and your family (and even himself) is unforgettable... HE DID IT!   Never ever forget that he brought this upon himself - at your expense - at your kids' expense!.
bulletYou need support! Your own therapist, a support group, the people on this site and others; the domestic violence people, your friends and family who understand: get all the support you can. You need it! There is nothing to protect; no shame in talking about your situation. You did nothing wrong.


Pick up a copy of Ellis' The Secret of Overcoming Verbal Abuse: Getting Off the Emotional Roller Coaster and Regaining Control of Your Life. This book will help you change the way you think and feel about your marriage - and your life....

Also, Emotional Blackmail: When the People in Your Life Use Fear, Obligation and Guilt to Manipulate You by Dr. Susan Forward and Donna Frazier will be helpful in dealing with your manipulative bully...

Now, heads up; you've done this before. You can do this again. Let us know how you're doing. We're looking forward to hearing from you...

May God bless,


 I just want to read the posts.