I read something from a woman who is questioning whether or not she is being emotionally abused by her husband. The evidence is as clear as the nose on her face that she is but she can’t see it yet. The abused woman canNOT see that she is abused until she is ready. This woman is just now exploring whether or not it is even a remote possibility that she is being abused.
There are so many common traits that abusers have. Women I’ve spoken to who have escaped abuse suspect there is an Abuser’s Handbook that outlines exactly how they should behave because we all share so many experiences. I’ve talked to so many women who’ve woken up, admitted to being abused, and gotten out who have had their exes do almost the exact same things. They did the same things in the marriage and they did the same things when we left them.
One of the common traits is an absolute intolerance for any type of counseling. They don’t believe in it, they believe it is an invasion of privacy, they believe it doesn’t work, and they refuse to participate and find ways to get their wives to not go. You see, a counselor could possibly recognize the power and control being exerted on the wife and could either clue the wife in or she’d realize it on her own as she got healthier and stronger. Either way, counseling is a huge threat to the abuser’s world of power and control he’s created. It is the means to his wife taking her power and control back and that is intolerable to an abuser.
The means an abuser uses to keep his wife out of counseling are varied and can range anywhere from making it financially impossible for her to seek counseling to using guilt and manipulation to using outright threats.
To stop her financially, he can easily make it impossible because so many abusers control the purse strings in the marriage. Many woman do not have access to accounts and have no idea how much money they truly have. So many abusers make their victims account for every penny that is spent and question things they deem not “necessary.” Counseling would definitely fall in the “not necessary” category. If the couple has children, the wife might simply not have funds to pay for a sitter let alone the counseling. Money matters are just difficult when in an abusive relationship.
Guilt and manipulation are other great tools pulled out by the abuser so that his victim will not seek help. “If you go to counseling and talk about our problems, you will be betraying my trust. Once that trust is gone, you can’t get it back.” He is not only downplaying his role in the problem but he is making it impossible for her to seek counseling because he is telling her that talking to anyone about anything in regards to their marriage is something that will permanently break trust. This is outright control. A healthy person will encourage someone to seek counseling to help better their lives. The man who says the above is afraid of losing his control over his victim, of having the light shine into his darkness, of having his true face come out. There are other things an abuser will say, but they do like to play the Betrayal Card.
Outright threats can happen by him saying, “If you go to counseling, I’ll just divorce you. You think that it is all my problem, so why don’t we just end it here?” I heard this one from Bubba. Most of the time most of our fights ended by him threatening divorce. I was terrified of him divorcing me because I had no means of taking care of myself and my children. He made sure that I understood that “fact.” What I learned after I left was that was a big, fat LIE! I’m doing quite a remarkable job of taking care of myself and my children without him. Playing the I’ll Divorce You Card is a big one with abusers and one that is often played to stop his victim from seeking counseling.
If you find yourself bringing up counseling and he promises to do better by acknowledging to some of his faults, you may be tempted to drop the idea of counseling. Things may get better for a short period of time. Welcome to the Honeymoon Phase of abuse. Without outside help (a specific batterer intervention program) the Honeymoon Phase will eventually end and the emotional (and/or physical) abuse will begin again. It is a vicious cycle and each repetition draws you in deeper and deeper thus making it harder and harder to leave. If you are like me, you will become more desperate to leave with every repetition but will find it ever increasingly difficult to actually do so.
If you find yourself questioning whether or not you are being abused, please seek out women who’ve gotten out of abusive relationships, read Why Does He Do That? by Lundy Bancroft, and get in touch with your local Domestic Violence Agency. They can help you navigate how to get healthy, put together a safety plan, and when you are ready, they will be invaluable if you decide to leave.
I’ve found such amazing freedom by leaving Bubba and the abuse behind. I wish I could describe what it feels like to live, on daily basis, not being afraid or thinking that I’m the worst wife/mother/person in the world. My life, while still having its massive ups and downs, is a million times better than it ever was with Bubba.
I am free. I am Hope.
- Posted in: As Life Continues - My Story Now ♦ Coercion and Threats ♦ Economic Abuse ♦ First Year Divorced ♦ Married to an Abuser
- Tagged: abuse, abuser, abusive dynamic, abusive marriage, afraid, anger, blame, blaming, control, counseling, cycle of abuse, divorce, emotional abuse, free, healing, healthy, honeymoon phase, insanity, intimidation, marriage, married, Power and Control Wheel, punishment, textbook, verbal abuse