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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!

Some of My Stories

Some of My Stories

by Viv, a lady who replied to Tex

October, 1999

Hi Dr. Irene,

How long does it take to get over all this stuff, to heal ourselves?
As long as it takes...

I know you can't give me a definitive answer to that question - but I want to be "done" - I want all this ugliness and sick feeling in the pit of my stomach to go away and never come back. I want those horror movies that run and rewind and run and rewind in my head to stop!

I was married for many years to a verbal abuser, whom I also believe is an alcoholic. We have been apart for 4 months now, we did our divorce over email and I will be a single lady sometime in early 2000.

I have not gone to therapy.  I tried that a few times over the years, but they always wanted to give me anti-depressants, so I quit going (I don't want to get dependant on taking drugs).
Wrong way of thinking about these medicines. Would you refuse insulin? Or penicillin? Sometimes you just need a little help to level out your body chemistry, at least for a while. How about the herbal or natural remedies? SAMe & St. John's Wort have accomplished miracles in my practice! Also, you can stay in therapy even if you disagree with the meds recommendation and refuse any type of med option. I wonder why you really dropped out... I pray a lot, read many books on abuse and alcoholism,  and get much support from God and some fantastic girlfriends! Good. I am pampering myself now and then, but my heart is broken. Of course. I don't want this man back, nor does he want me (this last time, he has made no effort at all to apologize nor to try and mend our broken life).  He used to, but the last year or so, all I ever got was excuses and reasons why whatever he did was my fault, and why I deserved what he dished out. I'm glad you have been able to free yourself from this. You don't deserve it.

Anyway, if you'd like some examples of how these people control their partners, here are a few of my stories.  I have many many many more I could tell as well.... *sigh*  Feel free to share them with anyone you think can get comfort or validity from hearing some of my experiences.  I could fill pages and pages and pages with examples of how I allowed that man, my husband, whom I loved very much - to hurt me time and again with his cruel words and careless manner.
Many will receive receive validation by reading your stories - just as you have received validation in reading their. That's a big part of what this site's about. Thank you for giving back. 

Thanks for such a wonderful web site, I come here often - it helps validate for me that what happened in my life was REAL and not just me being too negative, too sensitive, etc. as I was told over and over again.   Bye, Viv (& Meower)

One of the awful things about abuse is being told that your very normal, human feelings are somehow not OK, are sick, are too something, not enough something else, etc. Its often hard to remember that you are perfectly imperfect - and that is exactly how you are supposed to be! You have a right to be perfectly imperfect, and that you have the right to insist that your partner respect that you are who you are. It is your responsibility to yourself and your Maker never to allow someone to put you down!

Some of my stories:

I have always - my whole life - been intrigued and interested in hidden sciences: astrology, dreams, ESP, ghosts, all of it. I read about things that I don't understand.  We are both Christians -  however, my boundaries in spiritual matters are different than his.  Sometimes I read the Bible.  I have never seen him pick up the Bible. I used to ask him if we could look for a Church to go to.  He never would go, he said he would get "too involved with it".  Too bad. His over-involvement may have helped him... He verbally attacked me and my spirituality so many times, I can't even begin to count - it was one of his favorite things to ridicule and judge me about.  He would preach to me about being a Fool in God's eyes, and that I was evil for being interested in the "occult" and that I was bad for reading my horoscope.  This from a man that wouldn't go to church, didn't read the Bible, and began looking at porn on the internet every chance he got (I knew how to tell of his internet travels on our shared computer). This from a man who, I later found out from a relative, went to strip bars and bought table dances.  He judged me severely without a second thought for the disrespectful things he did to my face as well as behind my back. Now that we are separated, I hear from 3rd parties that he tells people that I am deeply involved in the occult, and that is why we are getting a divorce.  He tells people that I am dangerous. Very sad.

It seemed that everything I did that gave me joy - from a source other than him - were the very things he attacked. 
Yes. These things threatened him; took you away from him. I love gardening and have quite the green thumb.  I have a few topiaries that I've been tending for a couple of years - it takes a while for large plant sculptures to fill in to become a finished work of art.  He always told me how ugly they were, how he didn't like them.  He told me I spent more time in the garden than with him.  I also love my cat, Meower. She's very old (19 going on 20) and he often complained to me how I gave her more attention than I gave him. Honestly, I'd give my cat more attention too. The cat doesn't hurt you. He used to complain that I spent too much time on the phone with my family members as well as his own mother (we were very close).  He would get mad at me if I handed the phone to him, if someone on the other end of the line asked to say hello to him. He would give me an evil glare while speaking in a happy tone of voice to the other person on the phone.  I used to make up excuses for him to others when they wanted to talk with him, so that I would not get into trouble by handing him the phone. 

He told me that I should do his laundry and all the cooking and the cleaning because I was better at that, and he was better at doing the fix-it and maintenance chores around the house.  I made the same amount of money at my job as he did at his - I am actually quite successful at what I do - but I was not allowed to travel out of town.  This was a major problem at times, it was difficult to always have to weasel my way out of business trips, believe me!

I got in trouble one time because we had a yard sale and he got a sunburn. I was bad because I did not make him put on sunscreen.  It was my fault he got sunburned.

I used to get in trouble if I let him stay asleep on the couch all night. He would get so drunk and pass. Sometimes I truly could not wake him up.  I would try and get him to come to bed, but could not wake him.  The next day, he would get so mad at me!   It was my fault he got drunk and slept on the couch overnight. He told me I didn't try hard enough.

I was feeling frisky one evening.  He had been watching a football game, and I purposely waited for the 4th qtr to end.  I put on a short, sexy nighty and walked through the room, making sure to flirt a bit, to catch his eye.  No reaction.  Ok, I thought. I'll go do the dishes. He will be coming into the kitchen sooner or later to get himself a beer, and maybe he will notice me then.  So, I set about doing the dishes.  He came into the kitchen a few minutes later and said, "I was going to do the dishes, let me finish them."  I said, "That's OK - my hands are already dirty and besides, there are some cat food dishes in here."  (He hates the smell.) To my surprise, he blew up and yelled at me, "Oh, so now you are saying I never help with the dishes!"  He got really mad at me for doing the dishes!  There I was - again - trying to show him some love and attention, and somehow ended up with an angry husband. I was in trouble again as, I so often found myself.

I hung my bathrobe on one of two hooks on the back of our bathroom door. The other hook was empty.  He came home drunk one night.  When I went into the bathroom, there was my robe, on the floor.  One hook now held his shirt and the other a pair of his pants. He had thrown my robe on the floor and hung up his own clothes for his next day at work.  When I got angry and confronted him with his disrespect for my property, he said "Your robe is nothing more than a dirty towel. There is nothing more to it than that."

He screamed "F***" at the top of his voice.  I thought he had hurt himself! I hurried into the kitchen and found him staring at our kitchen cabinets.  He loudly exclaimed "There's a G** d*** cigarette burn on the cabinet!  (I smoke, he does not).  I said, "No there isn't, it's the wood grain, see?"  He said, "No it isn't, it's a burn!" and stormed out of the room.  I looked again, more closely.  There was no burn. It was a dark spot on the wood, a natural part of the grain. He never acknowledged that he was incorrect, that there was no burn at all.

He said he wanted to take a nap.  The radio was on in the living room, not loud, but not exactly soft either.. He went to the back of the house, and laid down in our bedroom.   A few minutes later, the door slammed shut with great force.  I guess the stereo was too loud, but he didn't ask me to turn it down, he just slammed the door.  We weren't arguing at the time, we were getting along OK in fact.

I had to bring some work home with me one evening.  I took a break to visit with him a bit.  He was on the computer looking up some stock information.  I pulled up a chair beside him and tried to start a conversation to show interest in what he was doing.  He snapped at me, "Oh, you just expect me to drop what I am doing to pay attention to you."  That broke my heart.  I was paying attention to HIM!

We were fighting.  He was letting loose with some of the most awful names you can imagine.  I was a freak of nature (I have an extra bone).  I was not creative in any way shape or form.  I was a whore, a c***, a b****, would never have amounted to anything if not for him, and all that jazz.  I was crying.  There was a knife on the kitchen counter by where we were standing. I slid the knife across the counter in his direction and told him to cut me, stab me - make me bleed. I told him that using the knife would hurt less than his awful words.  He insists that I "came at him with a knife". Years later, he still insists I came at him with a knife.  I never in my life did such a thing. I never threw things at him (only one time!!-see next story), I never hit him, I was never violent in any way, ever. I was too afraid of him!  I knew if I tried to fight physically with my husband, he would certainly hurt me.  But his story never changes. I came at him with a knife when all that really happened was that I scooted it towards him.

The one time he hurt me physically, I did throw something at him.  We had some friends over, male friends.  We had fun, visiting and playing cards. Almost the second they walked out our front door, the accusations started.  I was lusting after one of them, I wanted to have sex with him, I was making plans to have an affair, etc. etc.  I never, ever cheated on my husband; never even came close. Nor did I have any desire for another man.  But he was very jealous. He called me horrible insulting names and accused me of terrible things that were not true.  Then he went to bed and passed out, drunk.  I was so angry!  I picked up a zipper-front sweatshirt and threw it at his sleeping body.  It grazed his back (but did not leave a scratch!).  I admit, this was childish on my part. Anyway, I went back out into the living room and turned up the stereo very loud (also childish of me).  All of a sudden, he came storming into the living room, ripped my clothes off of me, and slammed me into our front door.  He held my hands tightly, and the diamond on my ring left a deep cut.  I had fingerprint-bruises all over my arms.  I had a big bruise in my kidney area, where the doorknob had been jammed into my back.  My clothes and bra hung in rags on my body.  Then he went back to bed.  He still says that I hurt him by throwing that sweatshirt at him, and was justified in what he did to me in retaliation.  I never threw anything at him again, ever.  That was in the summer of 1996, just a few weeks before we were to leave on our dream European vacation that we had been planning and saving for.  I tried to leave him after that incident.  He went to anger management counseling and got a little bit better, for a while.  He only went 3 or 4 times and then quit.

The End is Near

This past summer we were building a new house.  A brand new house!  We had made many improvements to our old fixer-upper and stood to make a very nice profit to parlay into the new house.  Getting the new house was his idea; he wanted it.  I asked him, "Why don't we just enjoy this house for a while, now that we have finally fixed it up. Let's take a rest."  But, he insisted on moving into a newer neighborhood, into a new house.  As usual, I supported him and wholeheartedly threw myself into making our home spotless for showing and selling.  A few weeks after we signed the papers on the new house, he started getting really mean and edgy, more so than usual.  One day he would tell me how much he loved me, and the next he would say he wanted to leave me, sell our old house, cancel the new house and go our separate ways.  He threatened to leave me and/or cancel our new house every few weeks.  This went on for several months. 

He made an appointment with a contractor, took him out to the new site, and explained what he wanted in our new back yard. A day or two later he was back to telling  me he wanted to leave and cancel our new house.  The insults had escalated too.  Nearly every day I was told I was a pain in the ass.  I was full of shit.  I didn't work hard enough.  He did all the work; I did nothing.  I was sabotaging the sale of our old house.  He carried all the work load of our life. I did not appreciate anything he did. I did not make him happy.  He stood in front of me, hands on his hips and said "I am not happy.  What are you going to do about it?"  I tried to explain to him that happiness is a chosen state of mind, it is not something anyone can "give" to another, nor "make" anyone "have."  This was the beginning of the end, the REAL end of our marriage.  He kept threatening to leave me and cancel our new home.  I finally snapped.  I told him if that is what he wanted, then he could have it. I wanted it too. I was tired of trying and trying to make my husband feel loved, secure, and happy in our marriage.  I gave up. About time.

He came home drunk and angry one evening during this period, and started packing his things to leave me.  As he was stacking things in the living room, he walked through the dining room, where I was.  I asked him, "Can I say one thing to you please?"  He continued on his way, with his hands over his ears.  He started bending over, pointing his butt at me when he walked through.  Then he started dancing around in circles, pointing his middle fingers with both hands at me as he walked through the room. I started crying.  I took the things he was stacking in the living room and began moving them onto the front porch. All the while I was crying and begging him to leave and never come back.  He saw me move his belongings onto the porch and  proceeded to pick up my 19-year old sleeping cat.  He picked her up, had his hand around her throat, pinning her to her little bed.  He took her to the back yard and held her up high over his head.  I screamed.  I thought he was going to throw her onto the ground, or maybe over the fence.  I will never forget her little eyes bulging out of her head, as he held her up as though he was about to smash her to the ground.  I reached for her. He moved her out of my reach.  I was terrified.  I called 911.  When he saw what I was doing, he told me to hang up the phone.  He said "I am not hurting the cat".  He brought the cat back inside.  When he set her down, she jumped away so hard that her little bed flipped upside down.  He righted her bed and said, "See, I didn't hurt her.  Why did you call the police?  I was trying to leave!".

I was nearly hysterical at this point and looking for the cat to make sure she was OK. She is so old and very fragile, she doesn't do much other than sleep.  He was drunk, the police were on their way, and he couldn't leave because he knew he'd get a DUI if he was caught behind the wheel.  The police came, and made him get a hotel room for the night.  

That was the last time I saw my husband.  He stayed away and filed the divorce papers (I told him if he didn't that I would make his abuse public record). This was 4 months ago.  We sold our house, canceled the new house. I am now renting my own safe place. Me and my cat.  He is still living in motels as far as I know. 

He quit seeing his son, my step son.  He often spoke of putting his son out of his life altogether. He would still pay child support, but just didn't want to spend time with his son anymore.  There was no reward in it for him. Those are his exact words.  No reward.  

As we waited for the police to arrive that night, he put his nose an inch from my face and told me he hated the cat, he wished she were dead; he wished I would put her to sleep.  He often told me that the cat got the affection he needed and that I paid more attention to the cat than him. He told me I loved the cat more than I loved him.  He also said that his son (who is 13) loved me more than he loved him.  Are you surprised?  He also said he was only putting the cat outside; he was not trying to hurt her.  He was putting her outside because I was "throwing his things out the door and screaming at the top of my lungs.".  Dr. Irene, I was very careful - I was neatly stacking his things on the porch, I threw nothing.  I was crying, begging him to leave. I was not screaming and I was not throwing things.

I know that. There is no winning with this man. Damned if you do; damned if you don't. His insecurity, lack of trust, anger, and poor impulse control will ensure that he pushes away anybody he "loves"... 

Luckily, I never had children with this man. I make the same salary as he does, so financially I am secure.  But sometimes it is like coming out of a war zone or something: ugly remnants of his angry, glaring eyes, his horrible insults, his blaming me for every rotten thing he said and did. Sometimes those images pop into my head out of nowhere and it's all I can do to keep from crying.  Other days, I dance in my newfound glorious freedom.  It's hard, but it's getting better. 

I have found that if I hear a male voice shouting - like in a bar, a crowd, anywhere - but if I hear an angry male voice, it nearly instantly reduces me to a pile of nerves and it's difficult to control my urge to burst into tears.

Viv, You are describing some symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a condition that develops when a human being is stressed beyond the ordinary - as in war.

I am so happy for you that you are away from this very sick person. You tried too long and too hard to save a marriage that was unsalvageable. The only reason your marriage could not work - is because your husband, in his illness, worked overtime to make sure of that. 

I don't know where anger ends and illness begins, or if there is such a line. But, your husband crossed it long ago.

May God bless you and may you never allow anybody to do this to you again, ever.  -Dr. Irene

A done deal! See Viv's January 2000 update!