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Domestic Violence/is there any hope for this relationship

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Hi Kris

My husband and I have been married for 4 1/2 years ( 2nd marriage for me 4th marriage for him ). He has been a step parent to my now 17 year old son .

When we started dating he was the most caring, strong, considerate, supportive man , I felt very blessed to have him in my life and  for my son also.

About 6 months into our relationship with my now husband, my sons father kidnapped my son he was 11 years old. This was a very traumatic time and my husband was just amazing i could not have delt with this awful time without him. We did infact get my son back and went through a very bitter custody battle which I won through the courts.

Once the custody was over , my now husband asked me to marry him , I couldnt of imagined a better role model for my son or a better person to spend our lives with so of course said yes.
Initally everything was great, slowly but surely over time my husband would find fault with anything and everything my son did , eg: he wasnt working hard enough at school, not keeping his room tidy enough, being lazy , not being respectful  to him etc. At first he would raise his voice and threaten punishment, then he started shoving my son , when this happened I told my husband  that was unacceptable and we would be moving out.

He didnt want us to move, so he organised counselling for himself. He went to a few sessions then the counsellor wanted to meet with myself and my son, which we did. My husband and myself continued with the sessions for a couple of months with my husband usually storming out most times as he didnt agree or like what the counsellor was saying to him. At one of those times the counsellor said to me when he had stormed out, get out of this relationship now he is not going to change and things are going to get worse. At my husbands insistance we stopped going to counselling.


He did seem to gain a good level of control for sometime and we were really feeling like our family relationship was getting stronger and healthier. However this was not to last, the cycle of abuse continued and infact just got worse and worse, my husband would justify why he would abuse my son and he blamed my bad parenting and my lack of control of my son. He consistantly blamed me for teaching my son to disrespect him. So needless to say things really went downhill.
During this timeframe of about 2or so years my husband lost his job and was finding it really difficult to find employment, which also increased his level of aggression towards my son. My son could barely breathe around him when he was feeling agressive other times he wanted to lavish gifts and time on him.
Time went on and i guess that became our pattern.

My son and I moved into my parents house for a couple of weeks at one point after a really horrible agruement that started between my husband and my son and then of course included me, as i would always back my son. According to my husband i didnt see the  disrespect and defiance by my son towards him and if i did i wasnt dealing with it to his satisfaction.
After disscussion we did move back home, my husband promised as he has done before to control his anger towards my son and he wanted me to be more vigilant with my son.
My son really is a very good child, he does well at school, goes to church, participates in sport. He can be cheeky and lazy and sometimes does talk back, he is a teenager !!  He is just a regular kid. Not according to my husband, he is a force to be delt with.

Time went on and my son and i try to not upset my husband (walking on eggshells ).
I am caught between them always having to keep the calm knowing that my son is not a difficult child to deal with and also knowing that my husband can be such a loving man, until he decides not to be.
About 8 weeks ago a huge arguement erupted between my son and my husband over nothing important (removing taped shows off a settop box) my husband completely lost his temper and went to punch my son, somehow i got between them and he didnt punch him or me. He was so  mad it was frightening . I told my son that day that we were moving out, we didnt mention anything to my husband , my son kept out of his way by staying out of the house until i came home from work and staying nights at my parents. The tension in the house was horrible, it took me 2 weeks to pack up and find somewhere for us to live.
The nights that my son stayed at my parents my husband was back to the loving man that he could be. I really feel he is very jealous of the close relationship  i have with my son. He knows the trauma we went through he was part of it.
I am heartbroken that my marriage has broken down and i feel helpless to do anything. I have tried being supportive everyway i know for my husband but ultimately i have and want to protect my son.
Is there hope for this marriage ? My husband and i have had no contact in 8 weeks since i left and i have found out that he is on an internet dating site. I am devistated.
Looking forward to your reply
Tracey

Answer
Dear Tracey,
I am always leary of stories where one of the spouses has been married over three times.  Usually there are reasons for that and I believe you are seeing the reason why your spouse has been married so many times.  The counselor you went to probably saw the indications of a personality disorder in your husband and gave you the best advice for the circumstances.  Although to correctly diagnose, your husband would need psychological testing, but there are indications here that would lean in that direction.

Without counseling there would be no indication that this situation will change.  Change comes about through identifying the factors that contribute to the problems or issues and doing consistent behavioral or emotional things that move those factors in a different direction.  In most cases, people with anger issues need consistent outside help to deal with the internal struggles which bring about their issues.  If your husband is dealing with a personality disorder, there isn't any hope for change without professional help.  With that help, the road is very long and the healing will depend on his commitment to the process and you have seen what that looks like.  Research a website at www.bpdcentral.org and see if the descriptions you read line up with what you are dealing with.

When there is violence in a relationship, that is a deal breaker...always.  Your son deserves to feel safe in his home.  What is happening to his self image is not good and he will need counseling in order to recover from what has happened as much as you will.  

I wish you all the best and if I can be of any further assistance, please contact me.

Domestic Violence

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Kriss Mitchell, M.Ed, CRC, CNHP

Expertise

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.

Experience

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.

Organizations
American Mental Health Counselors Association, 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

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