“What Should I Do About My Abusive Husband?”

by Annie Kaszina on August 19, 2008

My husband has been verbally abusive since we got married 10 years ago.
We are both in our late 60s..  Today he got angry because I didn’t look
something up on the computer.  He
got angry and took the mouse away from me and held it over my head
where I couldn’t reach it.  I told him about  wanting to look at my email first. I said I was tired of explaining everything I had to do  to him. He
drew back his fist to hit me.  I told him if he hit me I’d call the
police.  He grabbed both of my hands and
almost broke my right wrist.  I have finger print bruises on my left
arm.   He has used up all my money and made me
completely dependent on him. His abuse is
getting harder to bear and I am beginning to hate him for the abuse.
What should I do?  F

Hi F,

What you should do is of no consequence. It’s all about what you want to do.

I’m not suprised you feel you are beginning to hate him for
the abuse. Abuse is hateful. I also hear that he is starting to be
physically violent. This is very alarming.

You don’t say whether you have children, family and friends
who can offer support to you, and that is also important. 

My thinking is this: you need to start looking for a safe
route out of this marriage. You may
need it. You clearly cannot stay with
someone who is violent. So you need to
do practical things. These include:
putting all your documents somewhere safe, finding a safe
place you can go to if you need too, consulting a lawyer to find out where you
stand and what you can look forward to legally after 12 years of marriage. (I am no lawyer. My thinking is that after 12 years of marriage your husband
should be obliged to offer you financial support within his ability to do
so. That is, unless you made some other
binding agreement at the start. I would
also suggest that if you have access to information about his financial
position you make sure you have duplicate copies of it NOW, in a safe
place. If things turn out badly you can
expect him to lie and minimise his financial assets. So whatever proof you can garner before he withholds information
from you could be very important.)

It may be possible to sit your husband down, preferably with
a trusted third party present, and say to him that you are not prepared to
tolerate this kind of behaviour from him any more and you will leave unless he
cleans up his act. He may just respond
to this, but you know him better than I can. (It may leave you open to renewed violence. Only you can decide. If you think it will, then don’t take the risk.)

However, if you go for this option, you cannot stop at words
and promises. You both need some
support and counselling. I would very
much doubt if ‘couples counselling’ would cut it at all, because most
counsellors have very little idea of the true nature of abuse. So you would need for him to agree to attend
a group for abusive men. There are no
promises here at all, it might just help, if he is prepared to look at his
behaviour and if he chooses to change it. Obviously, if he does not see that he has a problem, that it is all
because your behaviour does not conform to his standards, then you are flogging
a dead horse.

Either way, you ideally need help and support. It is a good idea to check out your local
Women’s Refuge and find out what facilities they can offer you. Now, I don’t know what your thinking is
about Women’s Refuges. My own, a while
back when I was married (to an abusive man) was that they were only for sad
women who couldn’t manage their lives. Having had the privilege to work for a time with my local refuge, I’ve
seen for myself that they offer a fabulous amount of support, care and
understanding – and often some enlightening courses that will help move you
forward. (In the absence of a Women’s
Refuge, try your local Women’s Centre.)

Do this today. Don’t
wait. He may subside for a while and
play Mr Nice Guy. He isn’t. He is a damaging, increasingly violent
partner.

I can’t tell you whether or not he will change. But I certainly wouldn’t put money on it.

Look to yourself, F. Start finding support around yourself. And don’t be ashamed to be honest in the real world about what has
happened to you. 

Some people will express disbelief: "It can’t be
true. He strikes me as such a nice
man." (Like they live with
him!!!! But people love to know
best.) Some people may drop out of your
life, because they don’t want to know about ugly realities. And some people, often people you would
never have imagined, will come up trumps and care about you and support you
more than you could possibly imagine. 

And you will move on.

Warm wishes,

Annie

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