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Abusive Relationships/Leaving my emotional abuser

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Question
Dear Kriss,

I am a 24 year old woman who recently got married in September (been with him for 6 years). I have decided to leave my husband as I (along with others) believe he is an emotional abuser in which a few of our arguments have become physical.

The red flags began to appear long ago when I noticed his tendency to call me names during arguments we had, not all the time but about 80% of the time. The night before out wedding he had mentioned to me that after having dinner with my family he needed to head back to the city to go out with some friends. I told him that he should relax and take things easy in which he said that I was a "C" word and a "bitch" the way I had said it over the phone. I told him my intentions were purely of good hearted nature just telling him to take things easy and not stress out with all these things to do before our big day. I don't think it is ever normal to cry the night before your wedding or be called those hurtful names when 24 hours later you are giving your heart to that person for the rest of your life. As with many things I was upset and I was told to apologize for the way I spoke to him when I did not do anything hurtful or spiteful to him. He was very reluctant to apologize for those hurtful words.

A month and a half after getting married changed my life forever in the way I see my husband. He was watching football and asked if I could make him something to eat, I told him that I was busy looking online at honeymoon destinations. He got up and walked downstairs and returned with food in hand. I said something to him about a destination deal I found online and he was quick to reply with a "f**k you, you're a piece of shit". I was shocked that I would receive such treatment over not making him something to eat. My reaction to this was to treat him the way I had just been treated, I think I had said "F you" or something along those lines. He turned around at me and grabbed my laptop and threw it across the room. I was seeing red. I know that I shouldn't have but I had so much built up anger I began to hit his arm crying with frustration and somehow in between my finger broke from a twisting motion (thats what my doctor told me). I had never felt so disrespected and hurt my entire life.Ever since that day I have had a lot of resentment, anger and loss of respect for a person I used to call my best friend.

A month after that I came home at 3am drunk from a night out with my friends. I lay in bed and was texting my girlfriend to make sure she got home and my husband asked me two times to turn the light off on my phone as it was bright. I told him I was making sure that my friend got home okay and he jumped up from out of the bed telling me that I have no respect for him and to "pack your shit and leave tomorrow". I had had enough. I called my friend  pick me up and took me to my girlfriends house. The following day I received text messages saying how disgusting of a person I am for coming home drunk at 3am ( I rarely ever go out, he has done this more than once and I have never done that to him or treated him that way). I was told to apologize for my "behaviour" and that I am not the type of wife he wants and that I am not a good wife etc. He felt no need to apologize for kicking me out of OUR home, he was extremely hesitant to say anything except for a justification to excuse him and give him a reason for saying what he did.

I finally took it upon myself to tell my parents about everything that has been going on. I am living with them currently for the last 2 days as I have had enough. He has promised to make changes and respect me but the feelings of wanting to give him another chance is non-existent for me. I can no longer trust or respect him the way that I used to, especially since the incident with him blowing up so easily over me not making him food was so unexpected. I feel that this relationship is a ticking time bomb and it is just a matter of time for things to go back the way they were.

I am writing this to you because I need the reassurance to continue being strong and that I am not wrong for getting out of this relationship. I'm looking for an opinion to help me see that there is no light at the end of that tunnel and that I need to get out before things get worse. I get feelings of guilt and blame trying to look at myself where I went wrong in this relationship and that there is some degree of blame that can be placed on me. When you're told that you are wrong and to blame for many things from someone, you begin to believe it and that is what has kept me in this horrible cycle for the last 6 years.

Thank you

Answer
Hi Kristina,
If you need reassurance to stay strong in your decision, please go to my blog and read the article in this link:  http://www.livingwellcc.blogspot.com/2010/09/can-he-change.html

No matter where you went wrong, it doesn't give your partner any reason to treat you badly, verbally, emotionally or physically.  He sounds like a bully and bullies usually don't have good relationships.

The thing to remember in the apologies that inevitably come when one person leaves is that you need to see concrete steps being taken to effect the change and you will want to see if the change lasts.  So, you are really talking about a process that should take about a year or more.  This man will need professional help to overcome his issues and that professional help will need to be consistent and lasting.  If you go back to him just on his word, the cycle of abuse will go around again.  This cycle is so predictable that volumes of books have been written about it.  If he wants to change, then that is admirable.  Will he change?  That is a very, very different set of circumstances.  

Please read the blog article, it will give you the information that you need.  I'm sure that there are things on your side of the relationship that need help as well.  However, there isn't anything that you have done that would warrant the kind of treatment you described.  If he was that unhappy, he could have talked with you about counseling or he could have just left the relationship.  Instead, he chose to be destructive, intimidating and verbally violent.  He has problems beyond the scope of simple problem solving.  

If you have the courage to leave the relationship, then move on with your life.  You will need some counseling to help you do that and to help you discover the issues in your own life that have kept you in this kind of relationship for this long.  Please take the time and effort to invest in yourself in this manner.  You won't regret it.

Thank you for writing and please excuse the delay in getting back to you.  I was out of touch over the weekend and saw your email today when I was back in the office.  It took me a little time to formulate an answer for you.  If I can be of any further assistance, please feel free to contact me again.  

Abusive Relationships

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Kriss Mitchell, M.Ed, CRC, CNHP

Expertise

I can answer questions regarding emotional and physical abuse in dating and marriage situations, however I am unable to give legal advice. Having had firsthand experience in an abusive relationship, I understand the feelings, the questions and the doubts we have as we try to make decisions about how to improve our situations. I am also able to address spiritual concerns regarding staying in or leaving these types of situations.

Experience

Having been a victim of emotional abuse for many years and having family members who were in violent abuse situations, I have personal experience on many levels. I have since gone on to become a professional counselor and work with abused women.

Organizations
American Mental Health Counselors Assn., American Association of Christian Counselors, International Association of Prayer Counselors

Publications
I currently maintain a blog at www.livingwellcc.blogspot.com. I also have links and currently written articles on my website at www.livingwellcc.com. You can also follow me on TWITTER @livingwellcc, or on facebook at Living Well Counseling and Consulting. My writings have appeared in The Good News Northwest and the North Idaho Business Journal

Education/Credentials
Licensed Professional Counselor, Board Certified Professional Christian Counselor, Certified Rehabilitation Counselor, Certified Natural Health Professional

Awards and Honors
Board Certified Christian Counselor

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