Welcome to Domestic Violence Awareness Month at Shrink4Men. In His Own Words Abused Men: Living a Nightmare, is the first in a series. To raise public awareness about male victims of domestic violence, I’ll publish an account about men who have been abused by their wives and girlfriends everyday in October.
Men comprise approximately 50% of domestic violence victims, but we rarely read or hear about this. In this respect, men are invisible victims.
Living a Nightmare is Gerald’s (not his real name) story of how his wife abused him during the marriage and continues to abuse him via administrative violence in the family court.
Thank you, Gerald, and much strength to you and your children.
Living a Nightmare
Even as I begin typing my story, I’m fearful she’ll somehow figure out I wrote this. And that I will, once again, be subjected to her spite and vindictiveness, which knows no bounds. Nevertheless, I hope writing this will somehow help me and, perhaps, other men like me.
I’ve been living a nightmare. My now ex-wife has, and will likely continue to successfully manipulate people to see her as “the victim” and me as the “villain.” Including people who can influence things like child custody (e.g., evaluators).
I’m beyond frustrated at the complete lack of resources available to abused men. I’ve been looking for self-help books online and find nothing geared specifically towards men. It’s hard to believe there are aren’t any books and other resources for men. I’ve considered getting one of the hundreds of books available to abused women and just switch the genders. But when you’ve been abused, you don’t want to see the word abuser being referred to as he/him.
I was with my ex-wife for over 13 years. I ignored so many red flags. For example, she’d fly into fits of rage over seemingly simple and/or minor things. One time, she berated me for more than an hour because I went to the bathroom and didn’t open the window in anticipation of her coming in later.
From the moment we met, I felt she was “the one.” She liked everything I liked, and seemed to be exactly who I was looking for in a spouse. I mistakenly told her this.
After telling her she was “it,” she constantly asked “When are you going to propose?!” To my regret, I proposed before I was ready, and only did it to get her off my back. Little did I know, “When are you going to propose?!” would be replaced by, “When are we going to have babies?!”
She grew up in a broken home. Her dad has been divorced three times. I’ve never seen it, but she often spoke of his uncontrollable temper. Claiming he’d throw plates (and the family cat) against walls. She said her dad would get violent over something as small as the phone ringing during dinner. Additionally, she believes he cheated on her mom.
She “thinks” she was raped in high school, and claims to have had two abortions from two different guys. One in high school and one in college. She also says she had bulimia before meeting me. Admittedly, she’s been through a lot. Apparently, she seems to think it only fair that I be as unhappy as her.
Marriage, Kids and the First Lies
We “unexpectedly” got pregnant only two months after the wedding. She tells people she told me she was going off birth control and that I was “fine with it.” That’s a lie.
We had two more babies, also unplanned (by me). During our first pregnancy, she developed severe obsessive compulsive disorder, around “something bad happening” to her and our unborn child. Ultimately, nothing bad happened, and our first daughter was born perfectly healthy. Afterward, my wife’s anxiety turned into obsessing over our daughter.
Our marriage became a living hell, to me at least. I read as much as I could about OCD, trying to learn how it was affecting her and how I could better support and relate to her. Nothing helped. We were both miserable, but we both loved our kids beyond comprehension.
She began telling me that I was “100% responsible” for our marital problems. I believed her.
The Abuse Cycle Begins
She had and continues to have such unbelievable anger and resentment toward me. How could I keep upsetting her so much!? She told me I was a bad person. She began calling me names. Her yelling and swearing worsened. She acted like this toward me in front of our kids.
She slammed doors and threw objects at me. She came after me once, fists flying. I had to grab her arms to hold her back, leaving a mark on her forearm. “Look what you’ve done to me!!!” she yelled.
For almost four years, she spent nearly $8,000/month on her credit card (despite me not making that much). I once pled with her to stop the spending, and she yelled at me for being “controlling.” We were in massive debt.
She kicked me out of the house repeatedly over the years claiming I upset her. I’d routinely sleep on our couch or at my parents’ house. She threatened divorce at least 38 times throughout our marriage if she didn’t get what she wanted from me.
I told her I didn’t feel comfortable having a fourth baby. So she began calling me the “Dream Crusher.” She manipulated me with sex to get what she wanted, and withheld it if she didn’t.
Her erratic behavior got worse when she was drunk. One night, she was so out of control I actually considered calling the police, but I just couldn’t do it. I always felt (and still do) this need to protect her. I tried to escape her by going into our kids’ bedroom, hoping she’d leave me alone. She did not. As I laid down, she dumped a pitcher of water on me.
Smear Campaign and Gaslighting
Later, I heard her tell her mom how she “had to” dump water” on me because I was “acting so crazy.” I felt like was losing my mind, due to her gaslighting and projections. She’d say things like, “You have absolutely no concept of reality.”
I doubted my own thoughts, feelings, intentions, beliefs – everything. I doubted myself to my core. My three beautiful kids were the only reason I stayed as long as I did.
After four years of her abuse, I finally told my parents what had been going on. I was afraid no one else would believe me. After all, she is “so sweet” and very intelligent. Everyone likes her.
My parents, being religious, are against divorce. However, over a period of years, they regularly urged me to get out of my marriage.
One day, after being yelled at for I don’t know how long, I finally broke down. I told her I couldn’t take it anymore. That I didn’t know what was going on, but something was very wrong. I felt like I was losing my mind.
That afternoon, in my home office, she said something I’ll never forget. She admitted to setting me up to fail, putting me in no win situations, and something she called “checks and balances.” She explained, when things were going well, she’d intentionally make them bad in order to control when the bad would happen. It was crazy talk, but it explained so much!
I recently brought this life changing (to me) confession up to her. Unsurprisingly, she completely denied it ever happened.
Divorce and False Allegations of Abuse
She filed for divorce in April 2012. In January 2013, she falsely accused me of molesting our daughter. This never happened.
As it turns out, she got the idea from snooping through my phone before we separated. She saw texts between a friend and me wherein my friend referred to attractive adult women as “baby girls.” The false allegations nightmare she created has since gotten progressively worse.
My ex has — through lies, distortions, and half-truths — insinuated to the custody evaluator that I have also molested our two boys. This also never happened. I was the primary caregiver for all three kids, while working full-time during her four years in professional school that I worked to put her through. I now have no custody and only supervised visits.
My world has crumbled and I have nothing left. My kids are my world and we miss each other tremendously. She controls when I talk to them on the phone and for how long. She monitors all conversations via speakerphone.
I have been all but removed completely from their lives. She’s removed my immediate family from their lives. Their favorite nanny of three years has also been removed from their lives. Why? Because the nanny told the truth to the evaluator about my ex’s crazy behavior.
Meanwhile, she’s spread lies and half-truths all around town. I’ve lost friends. Each day, I grow more miserable. Before marrying her, I was an incredibly happy person.
Her abuse has lasted 13 years and counting. I never realized it was abuse during the relationship. It’s still painful to admit that I allowed myself to be abused. When I would tried to bring it up, she’d turn it around on me.
Cheating and Blame Shifting
One time during the marriage, she cheated on me with a woman and blamed me for it. Her excuse? Shortly before her one night stand, I’d told her how unhappy I was. So, she got drunk and drove somewhere after kicking me out to my parents’ house for the night, leaving our kids (ages 4, 3, and 1 at the time) home alone.
The next morning, she confessed. And blamed her behavior on me, saying she only drank so much and hooked up with some random woman because I had upset her so much. I’d no idea she was bisexual.
I feel like such an idiot. Only now, away from it all, can I see things more clearly. Yet, she’s taken the only thing I care about – our children. My denial and devotion has led to my demise. I’m an empty shell of the person I once was.
By no means am I free from responsibility. Despite being told I was 100% responsible for all of our problems, deep down, I knew I should only accept 50%. And, I do. Early on, I became so detached and disengaged from her because of how she treated me, there was no hope for us. Instead of admitting this, I began to despise her.
Reactive Abuse and Secondary Health Issues
Her unpredictable moods, temper, and inability to control her emotions, among other things, were too much to handle. Her 13+ years of abuse led me to do some things towards her as a way of getting back at her. I’m extremely regretful and sorry for my actions and how they may have affected her. In no way do I attempt to justify my behavior as it relates to her.
My point is, I started to change as a person as a result of the way my ex treated me. I’m not a bad person, but she led me to believe this over our years together.
Years of pent up frustration, confusion, anger, and resentment began to eat away at me. I developed gastric issues and had not one, but two separate surgeries for two unrelated afflictions in my gut. I also developed an autoimmune disease, one that will plague me for the rest of my life.
How I wish I’d the strength and fortitude to leave her long ago, but I stayed “for the kids.” Instead of modeling healthy relationships and self-respect, I’m afraid I taught them it’s acceptable to be treated the way I was and that you just have to deal with it.
Now, she’s keeping the kids and I apart. My disdain for her grows everyday. I hate who I’ve allowed myself to become. I am not this person.
If you’re reading this and can even vaguely relate to my experiences, get out. Get out! My therapists told me to leave her. My parents told me to leave her. What I wouldn’t give to go back now and heed their advice.
These people are TOXIC. And, when push comes to shove, they’ll shove you so hard you won’t know what hit you; and they’ll keep doing it. I never thought something like this could happen to me. If it can happen to me, it can happen to you.
Don’t allow your life to be ruined anymore than it has been already. If you think you’re being abused, it’s very likely that you are. Trust your instincts! I shoved mine aside. Don’t lose yourself to this person. They’ll keep taking and you may never get it back.
Much gratitude to Gerald for sharing these very painful experiences. I hope the custody evaluator will believe the evidence instead of your ex’s malicious and destructive lies, so you and your children can be together. You’re not alone, Gerald.
Counseling, Consulting and Coaching with Dr. Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD
Dr. Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD helps individuals with relationship and codependency issues via telephone or Skype. Since 2009, she’s specialized in helping men and women break free of abusive relationships, cope with the stress of ongoing abuse and heal from the trauma. She combines practical advice, emotional support and goal-oriented outcomes. If you’d like to work with Dr. Palmatier, please visit the Schedule a Session page or you can email her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Want to Say Goodbye to Crazy? Buy it HERE.
Gerald, You are not alone. This has happened to me. You are not alone. I met Sylvia (name changed) while I was in college. She was having difficulties with her abusive parents and saw me as her “savior.” I was older, having done a stint in the military before attending college. I was inexperienced in love and sex and we had a luke warm relationship, which I thought then was better than nothing. She clung to me in those first years, but also did weird things, like scream at me when we were running because she couldn’t keep up, talk all the time about nothing, call me at work to tell me what she was eating etc. We married against the wishes of her family, but also because of her family telling her that she was bad because she had premarital sex. We worked very hard, almost all the time, so I didn’t realize how bad things were. I just didn’t spend much time with her. We had the opportunity to go to her aged relative in Europe where, as newly weds, she denied me sex for a year! She didn’t want to do it in the old lady’s house! I would frequently wake up and see her doing herself. Ha. Warning signals did not turn on. She tried to be an artist like me, but couldn’t do it and then prevented me from painting. She worried about “what we would do” when we got back to the states. Constantly.
It went from semi bad to worse after we had carefully planned children. She never slept, she never let me sleep, making me sit in a chair until I nearly peed myself. She hit me, she dumped clothes, she made me read every insert in every bill and she spent money that we didn’t have. She spent thousands of money on shrinks, quitting them when they wouldn’t tell her what she wanted to hear. She insisted on going back to work, but didn’t earn any money, as the baby sitters cost more than she was making. It was a nightmare. She made up with her parents years before we had kids. They hated me because I wasn’t making enough money, wasn’t good enough for their daughter etc. etc. Yet, they insisted on staying with us for months at a time, her mother blaring the TV at all hours, no thought of anyone in the house. They were as bad or worse than my wife. I should NEVER have thought that kids would make things better. But I did. We did love the kids.
All the while, she was blaming me for everything! The food was horrible, I fed the kids beans when she had left a note to feed them peas. She accused me of being negligent when I was the one driving the kids to daycare, driving 2 hrs to work, shopping, cooking ,cleaning etc. I lost my job due to corporate downsizing and the s*** really hit the fan. Now I was a poor provider. It was unthinkable that I could collect unemployment, so they insisted that I work at a mall, making minimum wage. Things did not get better. My wife would go on conferences to Florida when I could barely make gas money. She maxed out our credit cards, she made sure she had appointments when I was to be at work, so I had to worry about the children. She was relentless in her hatred for me, yet I kept hanging in there. My body broke down, I too had autoimmune disease, high blood pressure, depression. The marriage counselor told us to break up because I was going to die if I stayed with her.
I didn’t do it then. We decided to make a geographical change to move closer to her parents and mine, who were supporting me and paid all of her bills (enablers). I spent a few weeks away and noticed that I felt better alone. When I got home, things were worse. She then told me to leave the house and had the locks changed. I moved into a long term hotel, it was horrible, not to live with my children in the house that my hard work paid for. Did I mention that she was unable to keep a job for longer than 6-12 months? Nobody could stand her attitude, she knew better than anyone and let you know it over and over and over. She would never let it drop. OCD.
Well we filed for a divorce. Her lawyer accused me of only seeing the kids for 20 minutes, abusing her, not making any money, and generally slandering me and my family! I didn’t have much money by then so I couldn’t really fight her. She spent her inheritance on her lawyer.
They based the child support on my old income (I was making next to nothing when this happened and had to pay over 1200 a month to this ungrateful bitch) The divorce was granted and I had the usual visitation. Every other weekend, some weeks in summer, birthdays, every Wed. and every other holiday. I was making Easter dinner and she was to drop the kids off. They didn’t show up. I got a call from her. “We are moving to Florida, we are driving with my father.”
She gave me no warning! There was not much I could do. My kids were 2 and 4. I got the child support lowered to 850. I had nothing, no kids, no house, we had to sell it. I had to clean it, she left in a hurry and it was a total mess!
It was the worse part of my life, all because of this woman.
The children are now in their early teens. They visit me for 4-8 weeks in the summer and that is all. It isn’t pleasant because like your ex wife, she calls daily, emails, texts etc. She never lets me speak to them privately when they are with her and when they come here, they have to decompress. The court has done nothing for me EVER. She even uprooted them again and took them back to where we used to live. The move was “permanent” The kids hated it. They moved back to her parents after only a year. She filed for bankruptcy and to this day I haven’t missed a child support payment, yet she always says, ‘I didn’t get the check.”
I hate her. I hate that she says that she is the one who provides for the children 24/7 and has been doing this since they were born. She is a narcissist and makes the children sick. She is taking them to shrinks, doctors and whatever is the in thing in the name of health. The kids tell me of the horrors, her lack of sleep, the fact that she has no bed in the house should be proof enough.
Yet, she doesn’t do drugs, and hasn’t done anything illegal that is in plain sight. My children are not happy. After a few weeks of being with me, they relax and open up and tell me horror stories. She is doing to them what she used to do to me.
I remarried, that makes me have a partner in crime now, it’s two against one. I don’t know how long my new wife will be able to stand this. She has wonderful children who love my kids, they even look alike.
So, don’t give up man. There is hope. I however, have given up hope of having these kids live with me. Their mom wants me to live in dire poverty. I am a teacher, I give her 40% of what I earn. We keep our house cold. My new wife works but we barely make enough to make ends meet. I am so sick of what this woman did to me and continues to do to me. I count the years until the kids turn 18.
Thanks for letting me vent.
Firstly just wanted to say thanks to Dr Palmatier for allowing the opportunity for people to share their experiences here, and to Gerald and Randy – sorry you had to have them.
I had a relatively minor (I say “relatively” though it was pretty devastating at the time) experience with abusive woman a few years ago. Essentially I think that what happened was about 3 months into the relationship, and after yet another one of her explosive rages over a minor incident, she cottoned onto the fact that I was having my doubts about her, and ended the relationship by fabricating all sorts of accusations and applying for a restraining order against me… which of course I had to go through the process of answering.
Since then I have taken an interest in following the discussions surrounding domestic violence against men, and the fact that there is so much denial and minimisation of it. One such example – in fact a rather unwarranted criticism of Paul Elam and his work – appeared in the most widely-circulated, non-Murdoch-owned newspaper here in Australia today – see here: http://www.dailylife.com.au/news-and-views/dl-opinion/the-group-that-believe-violence-against-women-is-a-conspiracy-20131001-2uqgc.html
It really just makes me sad to read things like this, because from my understanding of the whole discourse on this, all men really want is recognition that we can be the victims of domestic abuse as well, and from our female partners, and to have our experiences validated and be afforded a modicum of support. We have no intention of “smashing the sisterhood” or of reversing the gains that feminism has made for women. We are simply nice guys with big hearts (in fact, probably too nice and big-hearted most of the time) who have been subjected to horrendous experiences at the hands of women who, though we often recognise and empathise with the fact that they are messed up themselves, should not be allowed to get away with the things they do.
We may be small in number (but then again, maybe not. I’ve yet to see a convincing piece of research on the extent of women’s domestic abuse of men), but that doesn’t mean it’s legitimate to deny us our rights, or to invalidate our experiences. That’s all we ask.
In the meantime, to all the non-abusive men and women out there, learn about abusive behaviour (by men and women), personality disorders, the effects of trauma, and the ways in which our culture enables both male female abusers in many and varied ways. Talk to each other and to your kids about this. Call out abusive behaviour when you see it. Stay strong, reach out to each other, and know that while negativity is damaging, hope always reaches further.
ssscrambled…I agree. And hopefully with all of us here we will shine a bright spotlight on the largely ignored issue (by the media and society) of women abusing men.
No, this is not normal. Abuse is abuse.
Hang in there!
Gerald and Randy thank you so much for sharing. I feel you personally know my wife. I facing my final court date (hopefully) IN DECEMBER. She wants my testicles, after me just finding them after 13 years, and I am going for custody of my boys, 13 and 5. We have been separated for almost 3 years and while I have moved on and happy in another relationship, I carry to this day, an unbearable amount of hate and cannot commit to my girlfriend of two years.
After six months of wild passion I HAD TO MARRY THIS WOMAN. There must have been something in the wedding cake, because as soon as she ate it, everything changed. She wanted her name on the title of my house and bank accounts. The haste got me worried. Our first child came after a year, and the relationship between herself and my mother ( they were inseparable) slowly eroded to nothing. All issues were made up and to this day my mother does not know what exactly went wrong. It was at this time that her relationship with my step-father became suspect. That affair lasted for 6 years and destroyed my family and my relationship with them, but not before giving me a heart attack at 36 years old.
After the birth of our second child in 2008 I had hope after a confrontation between my mother and father and myself and my wife ended the affair. I did everything in my power to make her happy. I wanted her back.
She made me believe that everything that was bad in our marriage over the past 8 years was my fault and I was riddled with guilt. I did not want by boys to grow in a broken home so I went to work. I made arrangements to sell our house and migrate to Canada where she wanted to live. I went nowhere. I had no friends anymore. I did, and completed fully, the book titled “The Dare”. It was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. She went on to have 3 other affairs between 2008 and 2011. She was never at home and I became the primary caregiver to my one year old between 2009 and 2011.
I came home after a meeting and found one of the men, not in the house but in my driveway. By the grace of God he still lives to this day. While running the house and looking after the children, I managed to drink half a bottle of rum everyday to numb the pain, and it did – sort of.
I screamed in pain after she got home late one night. I wanted to die. I begged her and begged her and begged her. Please forgive me and stop the affairs!
She said I was pathetic, and I was. Some old friends and eventually Antidepressants saved my life.
I had to get her out of the bedroom to start, so out went her stuff. She would not let go of the comforter so instead of touching her, I dragged her along with it. The police responded to her call for domestic violence but left after cautioning her about false calls. I eventually got her to leave the house some months later, but I had to agree for her to take the children.
In the two years she has been gone, I have stopped drinking, smoking and have put on 25 healthy pounds. I feel good, but still getting help with the feelings I have, of unfinished business. I still want her to pay for what she did and still look in the obituaries hoping one day to see her face.
I have my boys every weekend. I still want to smash her face on something every time I see her. Her smell makes me nauseous and the sound of her voice is like nails on a chalkboard. The days of being abused however, are long gone for me, but the full effects of this type of warfare has had on me, I feel, are still yet to be seen. After going through this……. war? Middle East? Piece of cake!
God Bless you Tara, and thank you for this very powerful website for us to connect and heal.
Wow, wow, wow. So sad to read this, and paradoxically enough, glad to know I’m not alone. My ex-wife did about 80% of what yours did Gerald. Getting locked out of the house constantly, being slapped, kicked, threatened. Stuff thrown at me or dumped on me. Emotional abuse and psychological torture, triangulation, FOGS, mind games, cheating…so much misery. I stayed first for religious reasons, then for the kids. She spent money, hardly worked, so irresponsible, and left me when we ran into financial problems. Her parents were wealthy and affluent; I was a failure to them b/c I wasn’t rich. She exaggerated to her parents that we were homeless & hungry, just to stir up drama and make them dislike me even more. She is from Mexico originally. Once, in the middle of an argument, she laid down on the bed and started masturbating. That was 3 months into the marriage. It went downhill quickly.
I also started becoming sick. I think it was pre-diabetes. Pale, tired, fatigued, depressed, a big sore opened up on my eye I didn’t know where it came from. Now in hindsight, think it may have been an autoimmune response/cortisol/stress response from my body. I would have died had we stayed together. She’s alienated and blocked visitation from me between the kids.
I think I’ve kind of blocked some things off and when I read these stories, many details start coming back. And although I was very sad/depressed when we separated, and eventually divorced, now I’m sooooo happy that I got away from her and out of the marriage. Divorce is not ideal, but I know now that God/Jesus/Buddha/Mohammed/Moses et al do not want me to be miserable and sick and suffering like that. God/Creator/Whatever doesn’t want me to die from stress-related health issues or die at the hands of a borderline sociopath narcissist during her rage. Pretty sure my Higher Power doesn’t want that. Still struggle with it sometimes but better at accepting.
Dr. T these story-sharing pieces are a great idea. Reading all these details drives home even more how similar our stories/experiences are, and, that its not us who are the crazy ones. I’d suggest doing this story thing at least 1x a month from here on out.
You know, I’m going to make a controversial statement here. Well, at least for some it is.
I believe feminism has some part to blame for these women and situations. I, and many others on this website and other sites like AVFM, are of the belief that feminism is not about fairness & equality, but rather of entitlement/special treatment for women, at the cost of men’s rights and equality. Feminism’s overt & covert philosophies teach women that they are victims (paradoxically telling them they are weaker than men) and that men are violators, aggressors, walking penises and bullies. So the default mentality of feminists is as such.
This isn’t about women’s rights. My position is every human on the planet should be treated equally, with respect & dignity, and given the same opportunity to succeed. If a woman is better at sports, business, medicine, law, or whatever area or discipline, I think thats great. In fact, I find it attractive. An empowered woman means I don’t have to shoulder all the responsibility in a relationship (in theory). I don’t have to pay all the bills, or do all the worrying. I don’t have to initiate sex. Women can do all of their fair share in a relationhip too. Empowered women are great for men, really, I believe that.
Yet a truly strong, confident and empowered woman shouldn’t feel insecure or threatened. She shouldn’t have to resort to group psychology & behavior and bully up on men, whether its male-bashing at work, a breakup, a divorce in court and child custody issues etc.
In fact, a secure person in general does not have to resort to bullying tactics, manipulation, abuse, etc. This is common sense.
So getting back to my point. Feminism has indoctrinated many women into believing they are victims and they have the right to abuse men (the aggressors) always. And a woman who is already prone to NPD/BPD/Sociopathy, this is a feast for them. What a great deal; societal/cultural norms now saying they are victims and they are entitled to being treated like princesses & are entitled to mistreat men.
Really a lot of twisted thinking & mentality we have to educate people on to start making a difference and hopefully change things.
cuatezon…I agree with you to a point. Like any other group, you always have an “extremist” element or wing.
Feminism has been turned into (by some) as a movement or label meaning “time to get even” and it’s not at all why the movement was created. Two wrongs don’t make a right, right? 😉
People (men and women) who actually know the true meaning should educate those who are ignorant on the subject. We would all be better off.