Dear Amy: Why do we stay with our abusers? I don't know what the statistics are for men who are abused by women, but I am one of them.
My wife was abused by her family while growing up. As far as I know it was verbal/emotional, and not physical.
I asked her once if she knew how she could deal with her anger, and she replied, "Get rid of my husband."
I never know what I might do or say to set her off. My answers have been reduced to saying nothing, or just nodding my head.
I heard [Christian speaker] Dennis Rainey speak several years ago, and one of the things he mentioned to be a better lover of your wife is, "To love the pain of the past out of her." At some point, doesn't she need to love that pain out of herself?
We went to counseling together a few times early in our marriage, but she recently demanded: "Never take me to a counselor."
I've had a few friends tell me I should go by myself (I have looked into it), but I feel like I'd be leaving her behind. I'm tired and want to cry.
Amy says: An estimated 1 in 10 men are in an abusive intimate relationship, but it's a rough estimate because of the taboo and silence surrounding male abuse survivors.
Reasons people stay in abusive partner relationships are: fear (it can be dangerous to leave), conditioning (believing the abuse is normal), embarrassment, lack of resources, cultural or religious reasons, fear of dislocating children in the household, low self-esteem or because they think Dennis Rainey (whose business model surrounds telling couples to adopt "traditional values") told them to.
Why do you stay?
Your narrative is really all about your wife — her reasons and her excuses for being an unloving and abusive wife. But what about you? Who is going to "love the pain" out of you?
I'm urging you to attend nonreligious-affiliated counseling sessions on your own. Don't think of it as leaving your wife behind, so much as taking yourself along on the most important journey of your life — the journey toward self-awareness and self-worth. And yes, if your marriage continues to be spiritually, morally and emotionally depleting, and devoid of affection and respect, then — for what it's worth — I would encourage you to leave. Counselors at the National Domestic Violence Hotline can help. Search their site: thehotline.org, or call 1-800-799-7233.
Advice for a witness
Dear Amy: In the parking lot of a grocery store, I saw a lady slap a girl in her face.
After I wrote down her license plate number, the lady told me that the girl was her daughter and that she had told her in the store that she hated her, and that she wants to kill herself.
The lady said other things to try to justify her actions.
I told her that hitting this child was "uncalled for."
I'm not sure I should inform the police or some other authority. What is your advice?
Amy says: In the moment, you could have called 911, or alerted the security guard at the store (if there was one). What you did — to confront this mom about what you witnessed — was also the right thing to do.
You could call the nonemergency phone number for your local police department and ask for their advice. Not only did you witness a physical assault, but according to the mother's account, her daughter is a suicide risk. (Imagine the parent who thinks the correct response to this information is to strike their daughter!) This is alarming.
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