It’s day 7 of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Shrink4Men is committed to raising awareness about male victims of domestic abuse, the invisible victims.
Today’s In His Own Words is about a man who kissed a princess only to watch her turn into a poisonous toad shortly after saying, “I do.” He thought he was marrying the woman of his dreams. In reality, she is the stuff of nightmares.
Princess Turns into a Poisonous Toad
In the beginning:
I planned to treat my bride to a tropical honeymoon full of adventure including, hikes, snorkeling, sandy beaches, exploring and animal watching on the Galapagos Islands. We didn’t have much money at that time, so I planned the second part of our trip on a yacht called the Darwin. It was not a Carnival cruise ship, and its cabins were rather narrow with bunk beds drilled into the starboard hull and no mattresses thicker than two feet.
The first night of the cruise, my wife’s displeasure at my ‘poor’ job in choosing a cruise with suitable conditions was evident. She constantly complained and criticized my planning ability to provide for a ‘proper’ marriage.
Soon the comparisons to daddy started. Daddy would know how to treat his girls on a trip. He would plan properly to make sure everyone was taken care of. How dare I not know that the boat I chose would be subpar for her! After I softly and unwittingly suggested that, while it’s not perfect, it didn’t mean we weren’t going to enjoy our honeymoon, I was able to assuage her temper that night.
The following morning while getting ready for the day, my wife had the misfortune to drop a contact lens. This event triggered a narcissistic rage episode. While rehashing my inadequacies in a loud, aggressive and tearful tone, she slapped me in the face and demanded that I help find her contact.
I was really bewildered. I did not know how to react.
In the end, in order to assuage her, I helped her find her contact lens and calmly reassured her that everything would be OK. A voice deep-down told me I should divorce her. However, given that we’d been married for less than a week, I allowed myself to rationalize away the incident.
I thought, “What about the fortune her daddy just spent to put on a spectacular wedding? My family just spent a fortune on travel just to support my wedding. I can’t leave her now. She was just upset, and rightly so. This cabin is a bit small. I probably could have researched it a little more and done a better job to make her happy, etc.”
I started to withdraw some that day from her. My wife then apologized to me, while still blaming me and said that that wouldn’t happen again. Since my image and reputation as a newlywed was vested in that, I happily accepted her apology and tried to forget the incident.
A few months later:
My wife was very ‘family oriented’ and “needed” to be around her family very much. I pointed out that I wanted to be respected as an autonomous person and balance that with her need to be with her family. My desires were secondary to those of her family and their plan and vision for my life.
One day, I had another engagement to attend to and was trying to hurry the family visit along. This upset my wife very much. While driving to pick up some food, she started in on how I was disrespecting her family and slapped me in the face while I drove. How dare I have my own schedule and desires! It’s important that the family leave the country club together and be together!
I rationalized this one away as well. I told myself we’d be moving to Florida soon and I’d be rid of that influence. Once in a new environment, she’d grow up and be a rational human being. She just needed to change her environment.
A few months later:
My wife and I were ‘happily’ adjusting to a new life in Florida. However, the loss of her family was too much to bear. My wife couldn’t function without them. I was a terrible thorn in her side for marrying her. She had many other suitors, but she chose me and I was making her unhappy. I had no career, no family, nothing for her.
I tried to ease her pain by staying with her, comforting her and making friends for her. I found other newlyweds from similar backgrounds and befriended them. Naturally, my wife was jealous that I was making friends and accused me of cheating with the married women I thought would be good friends for my wife and me.
In public, she can be quite charming and we arranged some double dates. On one double date, she didn’t understand a direct question our new friends were asking her. I didn’t come to her immediate aid and she felt stupid and humiliated. On the ride home, I got slapped again. I still felt terribly for her and tried all the more to make her assimilate and fit in. I felt I needed to ‘raise’ her into adulthood.
As the years pass:
My wife decided I was no good working menial office tasks with no future. She preyed on my desire to make something of myself, after firmly projecting how worthless I was to her. I wanted to finish my college education and be a ‘professional’ for her and give her the life she deserved. After all, all her friends were married to professionals.
She was ‘slaving’ away at a clerical position for me, while I was bumbling around. My previous college credits didn’t transfer, but it didn’t stop me from going from clerical position, to pizza delivery driver, to busboy, to server to eventually, a chemical engineer.
During this time, my wife became pregnant with our first daughter. The resolve to be a good father came over me and so did my wife’s tyrannical behavior. This is when the mask started coming off completely. After all sorts of verbal abuse on how I don’t care enough, I’m not a good father, etc. It further cemented my resolve to be the best father I could be.
Eventually, there were more episodes of violence. I was slapped for asking her to be quiet while talking to her sister on the phone. Our daughter was sleeping. There were episodes of broken glass and then it happened, the first suicide attempt.
She was yelling about how all I cared about was our daughter and smashing stuff up. After trashing the house, she ran into the kitchen and pulled out a knife. I screamed, “No!” and wrestled the blade from her and calmed her down. I just had a kid with this woman. The psychological torture was horrible.
I asked her to get professional help. She replied, “I was never like this until I met you. I don’t need any help.” At that point, I I retreated further into my studies and fatherhood.
The verbal abuse, and sometimes physical abuse (not slapping anymore, but pinching and punching), continued up until I was about to graduate college. Then for a month, it stopped. She was kind, nice, sincere and lavished praise on me! I did it! I had earned my BS in engineering! We should have another kid! Are you kidding me!
I had sex one time and she was pregnant. Once the pregnancy was confirmed, she went right back to being worse than before. There was, yet again, a second suicide attempt. This one occurred after another episode of domestic violence. What triggered it? I didn’t take her to the beach she wanted to go to, I took her to a nicer one. This caused a rage episode in front of her sister who I was taking care of because of poor school behavior.
I was ready for this attempt. I scooped up our two-year old, ran out of the house and called the police. Naturally, the police found the house trashed with broken glass and took her to the mental health facilities. She then put on the charm and played the pregnant card. I stuck with her because she was carrying my baby. She knew I felt a strong obligation to our children and used it against me.
Next, she was diagnosed with a common pre-cancer in the cervix. How she milked that one. The awful conditions I was making her live in caused her cancer. Though I showed her report after report that it’s common and has a rather simple procedure to fix, it was high drama for her. In the end, a healthy baby girl was born.
After my daughter was born, I finished college and looked for work. I had an internship across the country in California. Though I asked my wife to continue working until I gained full-time employment, she decided she had worked enough and the children required her undivided attention. This included taking the children out of the country to visit her family for my entire internship, despite my logical explanations as to why this wouldn’t be healthy for the children. My eldest was completely lost to me once I got her back.
After my internship, I got a job in California and we moved as a family. Once there, I made every effort to acclimate my wife to a new life. It didn’t take long for her to hit me again, accuse me of cheating on her and try to throw me out of the house. Two weeks after buying the house I was never good enough to get for her, she staged a third suicide attempt.
Again, I pulled the knife from her hand after a long and deliberate campaign to ‘prove’ to the kids what a jerk I was. I comforted her and took her out for ice-cream. I was bewildered again, and had decided that I had done everything she demanded of me, worked my tail off to give it to her, but she would never be satisfied.
I asked her for a divorce the next day.
That put her into high gear. Divorce! No, never! How could such a good man like me divorce the mother of his children!? She promised she’d do counseling. I was exhausted at this point and told her my mind was made up, but she wore me down for counseling.
She went to see a therapist for depression. I came in two sessions later and the therapist told me, “You need to get out as soon as you can!” I was so relieved it wasn’t the same “communication and understanding” garbage I’d heard at the church after her second suicide attempt.
However, I was very afraid to pull the trigger. I knew what kind of a tyrant she was, and thought about my children. I knew that I had never held her accountable for her behavior, and in many ways enabled it by not knowing how to stand up for myself. Believe me, I tried to do it logically, but I fear the only language she understands is drama and craziness. Eventually, after six months of therapy, I worked up the courage to serve her.
When she was served, she had another narcissistic rage episode. I was fixing a child’s car seat for her so she could go out. She punched me twice. I threatened to call the police. She said, “Ouch, you just hit me! Who are the police going to believe?”
With this taunting and craziness, I got really, really scared. I tried to leave with my children, but my eldest, who is the emotional caretaker of her mommy wouldn’t leave with me. My wife demanded I hand over the children and threatened to take golf clubs to my car and call the police.
Her threats worked and she hung up on 911. 911 called back and my wife said there was no problem. She then took the kids and put them in her car and told me, “You’ll never win them. They’ll always love me!” With that she left.
I called the police to give them my side of the story. I was still in shock and feeling guilty — guilty for giving her divorce papers. I told the police, it’s not necessary to arrest her, she didn’t hurt me, but she did hit me and I don’t want her making false accusations. Essentially, I was still trying to be a white knight and excused her behavior. She ended up going to jail, but was released the next day.
I’m still living in the same house with her as we go through the divorce. If I leave the house, I lose my kids and the house. My finances are gone. Everything I’ve worked for is gone.
My oldest feels the need to reject me completely, especially when her mother is present. She is a miniature version of her mother. All of this has happened because I tried to love my wife and make her happy.
If anyone reading this is in the same boat. Stop protecting her. Tell somebody. Don’t keep it in and rationalize it away.
Chances are, most folks won’t believe you or care. But, you may find somebody who can really help. If you have kids, you will feel trapped. However, you still need to find help and find a way to protect yourself and your kids and get them out if you can. Find a good therapist to help you and read Shrink4men!
If you are in a relationship with an abusive woman and have considered leaving, but are still hopeful, for whatever reason, that you can make it work, please pay attention to these stories. Each of the men featured In His Own Words held out hope, tried their hardest to make their partners happy and were still brutalized, often with the help of law enforcement and the courts. Here are the lessons:
- Do not ignore, rationalize or minimize the red flags.
- Once the mask slips, do not ignore the crazy. Get out and get away as far and as fast as you can.
- If you “love” her and just “can’t” break it off, do not have children with these women. The children will become hostages and weapons. They will also likely become the next generation of Abusers and Codependents.
- Tell your friends, family or a therapist about the abuse. You might think you’re “protecting her,” but in reality you are enabling her. Get help and support for yourself.
- ABR (Always Be Recording) the abuse and DDD (Document! Document! Document!) the abuse. If you don’t, you may not be believed. Even if you record her abuse, you still may not be believed in our misandrist women-can-do-no-wrong culture.
- If she assaults you, don’t be a “nice guy,” be a smart guy and press charges.
- If she makes suicide threats, call the cops. If she’s serious, she needs psychiatric help. If she threatens suicide/makes a parasuicidal gesture, she still needs psychiatric help.
- It won’t get better. Develop an exit strategy and GTFO (Get the F*ck Out).
In His Own Words is a joint effort between DAHMW, Shrink4Men and AVoiceForMen to help raise awareness about the invisible victims of domestic violence, men. If you would like to submit your story, please follow the guidelines at the end of this article.
Dr. Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD helps individuals work through their relationship and codependency issues via telephone or Skype. She specializes in helping men and women trying to break free of an abusive relationship, cope with the stress of an abusive relationship or heal from an abusive relationship. Coaching individuals through high-conflict divorce and custody cases is also an area of expertise. She combines practical advice, emotional support and goal-oriented outcomes. Please visit the Schedule a Session page for more information.
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