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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!

The Former Victim is the Abuser

The Former Victim Is The Abuser

Dear Dr. Irene -

I have taken part of my day to explore your site.  It's full of incredible information.  I'd like to share my story with you if I may. My story is probably like many you read about.  However, mine has a bit of a twist.  I'd like to share it with you. I have always been honest - and I didn't realize how terrified I was to admit my own dysfunction.

First of all, I am female.  I was raised in an abusive/dysfunctional household.  Both parents are alcoholics.  Father is blatant, Mother is a closet alcoholic.  I went through a large promiscuous phase, trying to fill the "emotional hole" in  my heart. I grew up with substance abuse issues.  Sexual abuse issues.  Food issues.

I married young to "escape". I married an abusive man, and didn't realize he was abusive until 3 years before I left.  I also didn't realize how much of an enabler, co-dependent, or victim with so many resentments, I had become. In 1995, I left my abusive marriage.  Thankfully we did not have any children, (although the sick part of me blamed my ex-spouse for that) and so we divorced.

I met another man that same year, who was going through a divorce.  I was attracted to him because of his strength.  I also felt I needed to rescue him.  I actually got angry when he wouldn't let me. 

Well he had baggage, I had baggage.  He dealt with his. For whatever reason I had to hang on to mine.  I remember the day it happened.  We had moved in together, and after the honeymoon phase of our cohabitation, I yelled at him.  He stated to me, that he didn't appreciate me yelling, and would I please not do that. This made me angry.  Now typically, I would have stopped yelling, and said I was sorry.  We would have talked it out.  This day, I just lost it, and let him have it verbally.

This graduated into full blow rage and abuse.   Until the day my partner told me to my face that I was an abuser.  I was shocked, angry and furious!  How dare he talk to me like this!  I was so angry I actually saw red, and felt psycho. I felt myself teetering over the edge, and then all of these feelings of anger, sadness, resentments, and anything that negatively impacted my life came literally hurtling down on me.

All I remember is howling.  Just howling in pain like a wounded animal.  My partner, God Bless him, just held me, and loved me.  (this part still chokes me up). I howled all night long, from 9 PM until 5 AM the next morning, I just sat, and sobbed, and raged, and howled.  All night long, my partner held me, supported me, and stuck by me.

The next day, when I was rational, he talked to me about getting some help. I rebelled against that, as no one from my family ever got help, only those who sought therapy were "weak". I was at the lowest point in my life.  I agreed, I felt defeated.  But I went.

I met this very kind, no nonsense, loving individual who took my complete history.  After she was through asking me many questions, she smiled, and said, "Well Marietta, you are a late bloomer, but with hard work, you can fly again".  I will never forget that.

That's was four years ago.  This very angry young lady, is now a pretty functional, responsible human being, who is in touch with her emotions.  Who understands, and supports healthy relationship styles, and models herself after them. It was so hard for me to recognize the fact that I was an abuser.  I think because my father abused me, I just knew I'd never do that to another person, when in truth, I should have seen it coming, and recognized, that I would do that to another person, as that's all I knew and had learned as a kid.

I married my partner last year - May of 98.  Now I am not perfect, and I know there is no such thing as a Utopia, but I feel confident in saying: I am free, I am in touch with who I am, and I love me.  And it wasn't until I started loving *me* that I could love anyone else.

So if anyone tells you they can't recover from being abusive, they are trying to sell you ocean front in Arizona:)

Thanks for all you do, Dr. Irene. Thanks for letting me share. -Marietta


"I want to respect myself without becoming self-absorbed,
  take care of myself without becoming vain, and have
  confidence in myself without becoming arrogant."

Dear Marietta,

Thank you so much for sharing your story. You letter arrived exactly when it was supposed to: I am preparing content on what I believe are big misconceptions: that there is a firm victim camp vs. a firm abuser camp. My practice is not so black and white. I see too many of my codependent victims become abusers in other relationships and vice versa. More and more, I have come to see both camps as one, sharing the same issues and the same problems. 

Not only am I concerned with the abuser's misuse of power, I am equally concerned by the misuse of power of some angry former victims! I am concerned that the law is apparently blind to the victim's misuse of power, given the "political correctness" of victim groups or victim status. The victim's misuse of power is no different than the abuser's misuse of power. Two wrongs don't make a right. How can our Courts understand if the professionals are fooled?

My goal is to educate the public and the legal system to the extent than I can. Angry acting out is wrong. Revenge is wrong. Blaming is wrong. None of these strategies work, and their use just adds insult to injury. Each and every individual has a responsibility to themselves (for the sake of their own inner peace at the very least) to deal with their own issues, to take responsibility for their woes, to stop blaming anyone or anything, and fix what is broken inside..  

Again, thank you for your letter. You have my respect and my best wishes. -Dr. Irene