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Domestic Violence/Is this an abusive marriage?


I have a friend who has been married over 10 years. She has contemplated divorce because she said he is controlling. She told me that he has choked her once during an argument, pushed her down another time and pulled out a gun, put it up to her side and jokingly asked if she loved him. In the 10+ years that they have been married, they may have one major physical blow up a couple of years. She also says that if he wants sex and she doesn't, he makes her do it anyway. My question is, if abuse happens once a year or so, is that considered an "abusive" relationship and require that she leave him and seek safety? Everything I have read seems extreme, like weekly beatings, black eyes and all the stuff Lifetime movies are made of. Is there a such thing as a somewhat abusive relationship and getting along with that person? Thank you so much for your time in reading and responding. I appreciate you.

Dear A.D.
What you are referring to is physical abuse, but there is emotional abuse and verbal abuse as well.  Your friend is being abused, most likely on an ongoing basis.  Usually a high level of control goes along with the behaviors that you are describing.  If her spouse is choking her, that is at the top of the violence scale, just under murder and she needs to leave.  Forcing another person to have sex is sexual abuse, whether you are married or not.  

The common problem, which is even reflected in your question, is how much abuse is classified as abuse?  One physical abuse event and the person should leave.  Think about it.  Outside of marriage, if someone choked another person, charges would be filed and the person would be in jail.  It is against the law to put your hands on another person.  Does the law say, "well they only did it once"?  No, it says never.  Just because we are married to the person or in a relationship with them, this standard should not change.  If he has escalated to threats with a gun, she definitely needs to be out of there.  She should have called the cops on him both times, pressed charges and had him put in jail.  When choking is involved, it takes 8 lbs of pressure around the neck for 11 seconds to kill someone.  That isn't anything to mess with.

This level of abuse is not to be tolerated.  She should leave and not look back.  However, just as a side note, if she does leave she needs to be prepared for a barrage of manipulative behavior to get her to come back.  Most women make the mistake of believing that the abuser will change before they see that change put into place.  That is a mistake.  Please go to my website at and download the Cycle of Domestic Violence.  You will see the cycle that is so common volumes of books have been written about it.  She will need lots of support and she will need to break contact with him altogether.  Abusers seek to engage their victims through visits, text messages, verbal communication, email and physical touch.  She can't let that happen because more than likely she won't be strong enough to resist.

Thank you for the question and if I can be of any further assistance, please feel free to contact me again.

Domestic Violence

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Kriss Mitchell, M.Ed, CRC, CNHP


I am able to answer questions with regard to problems that result from emotional abuse or physical abuse in both dating and marriage relationships. Having been in an abusive relationship for many years, I know first hand the feelings, the questions and the doubts we go through as we try to make decisions about our lives. Often victims of abuse have deep faith based concerns regarding staying in these kinds of relationships which I am able to address as well.


My background started as a victim of an emotionally abusive relationship as well as having family members who were victims of violence and physical abuse. I have gone on to become a professional counselor and I work with abused women.

American Mental Health Counselors Association, American Association of Christian Counselors, International Association of Prayer Counselors

I currently maintain a blog at I also have links and currently written articles on my website at 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

Licensed Professional Counselor, Board Certified Professional Christian Counselor, Certified Rehabilitation Counselor, Certified Natural Health Professional

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