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October 20, 2006


This post is a very difficult one for me to write because it’s contrary to the standard message around abuse. So…before you read this post, if you are in, or have ever been in, an abusive relationship (either verbally or physically), please use your boundaries while reading this.

Let me start by saying that I don’t believe anyone causes their partner to hit, swear at, threaten, shame, or hurt them in anyway…that choice is made solely by the perpetrator of the abuse. And yes, I do believe it’s a conscious choice that a partner makes to be abusive.

That said…although I don’t believe one partner causes another partner to be abusive; I do believe the partner who is being abused plays a huge role in the continuation of that abuse…

When individuals are being abused by a loved one and don’t stop it, they, by default, keep it going. In psychological terms, they enable their partner to be abusive. If someone doesn’t stop abuse, then they are allowing it to continue. Abuse cannot go on and on if there’s not a body to abuse.

I realize there are a million factors that lead to individuals staying in an abusive relationship. I’m aware that many people choose to stay due to financial reasons, children, love, fear, isolation etc. Although I realize all of these factors make it difficult to leave, I don’t believe any of these factors warrant staying. None of these justify you subjecting yourself, your children, or your spirit, to emotional or physical abuse. You deserve better.

You have a right and an obligation to your well-being to be treated well. If you have children, they also have that right. They deserve to have their parents insure this right is protected.

There are a myriad of services, professionals, information, and resources available to you if you are in this position. You deserve to use them. Your children deserve for you to use them.

The only way you will stop being abused is if you stop it. Your partner will not magically wake up one day and decide to not be abusive. Your partner will not change if you say the right things, or cook the right meals, or agree with his/her every word. Know that your partner would be abusive with anyone he/she is in relationship with--it’s not about you.

Make the decision to stop the abuse. Stop waiting for your partner to come to his/her senses. The abuse only stops when someone is determined to not be abused. It only stops--when someone stops it.

Making the decision to not be abused may be the hardest decision you ever make, however, remember it is a decision--it is a choice. You can ask for help, leave the relationship, go to a safe house, set limits, and insist on therapy. etc. You don’t have to accept abuse from anyone. You deserve more. Your children deserve more. Begin to act as though you do.

Challenge: If you're in an abusive relationship, begin to take steps to protect yourself. If you're relationship is violent and your physical safetly is at risk, call the domestic violence hotline for more information: 1800-323-HOPE.  National Domestic Abuse Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE


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Hi, I am an Indian and this is about my sister who lives in the USA.

My brother-in-law is abusive by nature and is a threaten to my sister's life. She has 2 sons the elder one being 14 and the other around 10.

My brother-in-law abuses my sister verbally and physically day in and day out, and is mostly controlled by his mother, who stays in India. He doesn't seem mentally sound to us, due to his acts of violence and terror without any sound reason.

My sister wants to get rid of him, but is holding back just for the sake of her children. She is scared, that since she is not financially independent, she might not get the custody of her children. She will never take the risk of leaving them with an abusive father, who beats them up as well now and then.

Please advise. What should my sister do in order to save herself and address her fear of NOT getting the child custody? She is in major distress.

Also, my brother in law has applied for citizenship. Looking forward to your help

Dear Maddy: I'm so sorry to hear abut your sister's circumstances. Your sister needs to call the Domestic Violence Hotline. They will give her resources regarding protection, counseling her on how to leave safely and on how to keep her children. They are an excellent resource. Have her call ASAP. Their number is 1-800-799-7233. If she calls this number from her phone the number will not show up on her phone bill.
You can also call this number and ask how you can help your sister through this.
Hope this helps. Take Care-Lisa

I am so glad that I found this site. I am so stuck. I have been with my boyfriend for 4 yrs. The first half of our relationship was great. He did everything for me and my children, 3 at the time. He worshipped the ground I walked on. I couldn't ask for a better man and either could my parents, which are very wirey by the guys I've chosen to date. I stuck by this man through everything. He was in jail for a few months and stayed taking care of him and did anything for him. Then something changed almost out of no where. He was a completely different person. That's when he became very possessive and....crazy! I couldn't even be riding in the car with him and looming out the window w/out him saying I was looking at other men. Let me just say this....it is VERY true what they say, that the abuse, both physical and mental, emotional, etc gets worse every time. He became abusive physically and really CRAZY if I wouldn't have sex with him. Everything got worse from there. It wasn't everyday or even every wk, month. But it would keep happening. Now, 2 yrs later, I am miserable. I have been for the last 2 1/2 yrs. I kept hoping he would change but it didn't. I became pregnant w/his child in 09, our son now 2 1/2. He was so mentally abusive I ended up checking myself in to a mental home at 7 weeks pregnant because I didn't want to live anymore. But I had 3 other child I was trying to be stro.g for. I ended up getting my older to children taken from me from their father at that time because of all the physical and mental abuse that led me to literally feel like I was going crazy. I've been fighting for them since but can't get them back because the courts said of him. It seems that everyday gets worse. I didn't even think it was possible but it definitely is. Now its to the point that he constantly puts me down and tells me im dumb and constantly calling me a bitch. The physical abuse gets worse every time to the point that i am starting to really worry what hes going to end up doing to me. Every time he's beating on me or throwing me around he's telling me how he wants to kill me. That one of us is going to end up dead and the other in jail....this last time in front of my 8 yr old daughter. And why did he do it this last time? Because he keeps throwing in my face how in a month he's leaving and I told him in a argument as he was putting me down that he only had a couple more weeks left to deal with me. Oh, and this conversation was on the phone. He can home to put his hands on me and made it so I couldn't work for 2 weeks. All for something he said. I love him so much and don't want to be without him but I no that their is no way this will work. I don't want to be with him anymore. I no I deserve better and so do my children. But what do I do to make him leave? I have 4 children and I no that when the end of the month comes he's not going any where. Look what happened the last time I repeated to him something he kept saying to me a bunch of times. That he was leaving and I told him that he was right. That he was leaving. He threatens me with our son saying that he's going to take our son , that I got my other 2 taken from me and he's going to do the same. I don't no what to do anymore. I can't even ask him a question as simple as "what are you doing" without him screaming and talking down to me and giving me that look like he hates me. Why would he stay if he's miserable? I can't even look at him without him going crazy. What do I do? I no I love him with everything I have, but at the same time I no, without a doubt that this relationship can't be fixed. Its not possible. I'm done. But every time I tell him its over I fear for what he will do to me. I can't live lime this anymore. But I feel so stuck. I'm sick of walking on glass, or eggshells every second of my life. My kids want me to leave him. They do love him but can't stand what's been going on. We don't even talk. We haven't slept in the same bed since I've had our son. He wont have sex with me. Its only on his terms. Why would he want to stay?

Dear Brandy: You are in a very abusive relationship and need help to get out. Call Women's Protective Services NOW and get help and protection. Getting help will be the biggest gift you can give to your children and yourself. The number for the U.S. National Domestic Violence Hotline is 1-800-799-7233. Call them for resources and start your journey toward a better life.
Take Care-Lisa

I'm so glad I found a website that I can talk to someone about what I'm going through. Well here goes, I've been with my husband for almost 7 years. We were friends for those 6 years, we just got married in August. The reason I write about when we met and when we got married is because I married him knowing that he is an abuser. You see he abused me in the begining of our relationship. I don't have a clue as to why I married him. Everytime I question him about something he goes off in one of his verbal abusive rages. I feel like I'm walking on egg shells. He thinks that I'm dumb and stupid. You see I'm in my early forties and just learning how to drive. And he told me that I will never learn, because he said I'm retarded and can't follow instructions. I also found out last month he was cheating on me. I told him I was leaving him and did'nt want to be with him anymore. But as usual we made up and now I'm miserable, because I can't trust him. Please help me to understand why is my self esteem so low. I wanted to commit suicide last week, but I thought about my 12 year old son. Which is not his son. Please can someone help me. I feel so helpless and lost.

LISA'S REPLY: DEAR HOPELESS, I'm very glad to hear that you have chosen to not leave your son with a devastating legacy of suicide. That shows me that you have more strength than you realize. My first suggestion is that you get into therapy quick. I recommend calling Women's Protective Services (800) 593-1125 right away...TODAY.

You deserve to be treated well at all times by all people and until you realize that, you will continue in this relationship or others like it. Therapy will help you work on this belief and your self-esteem.

Please remember that as long as you stay in an abusive relationship, your self esteem will continue to be chipped away at. It's difficult to feel good about yourself when you constantly have someone telling you how bad you are. Getting out of that environment will be your first step to improving how you treat yourself. My suggestion is after you get into treatment, you tell your husband that unless he gets into treatment, you will have to separate. Your son deserves to be in an healthy home just like you do. This won't happen however unless you stand up for that. Women's Protective Services will help you stand up while also keeping you safe.

Thank you for your honesty...there are thousands of women in your same situation and your voice is a gift to them.
Warm regards-Lisa

Thank you for your reply. Since I last emailed you my partner realized that I was backing off and as been trying to be nice. He actually bought me an outfit for a wedding as a surprise. He wants us to try again as he doesn't want to loose me but now my daughter is urging me to leave as she wants us to be together as we used to be before my partner came on the scene. I feel so torn I love my daughter so much and feel so guilty for not standing by my children. I know I will be happy with just me and her but I feel as I'm being pressured from all sides and feel as if I am going to explode. I don't think he will change. I just think he is trying to keep me sweet for now. what can I do. Please advise.

Lisa's reply: All through your comment I hear what your partner wants and what your daughter wants; the unwritten is what you want. When I read this comment I'm struck by the message that is unsaid.

The unspoken message, I believe, is that your gut is telling you this relationship is not the one for you. You're clear that you haven't stood up for your children in the past, you say you know you would be happy without your partner, and you state that you doubt your partner will change other than for a few weeks to lure you back.

Where's your confusion? It seems clear to me that every fiber of your being is telling you to end this relationship...why aren't you listening to yourself? You are so much smarter than you give yourself credit for. Listen to your gut and give yourself the gift of a healthy future.

Warm regards-Lisa

I am in a relationship were he is always criticising everything i do also he hates my 18 and 21 year old daughters and talks badly to me about them. i have been with him for 5 years and its been a constant battle. He isolates me all the time and when he is in the house he gets these moods were he doesn't speak to me for days on end. I have resently started standing up to him and want to leave but I can't see why I can't just walk away. None of my family like him, and my daughters stay with my mum and come home when he is out. I can't see friends or socialise in anyway. He says its because he likes me to be safe when he is out he wants me in the house safe, he is a DJ and out thursdays fridays saturdays and I'm in our house all the time exept when I'm working. It's a sad and lonely life and when he's that way, out I get, sent to my room out of his way. I can't buy clothes, I can't help my girls in any way if they need a lift or picking up he says now if I go up to his mums on a friday to clean her house he checks the milage on the car to make sure Im going nowhere else. I could go on and on I'm so miserable, he knows I am then he starts being nice for a day and then it starts again. He says things like everyone else don't love or care about me and that he will not let anyone take me for granted and thats why he stops me from doing things. When I try and explain how he makes me feel he always has an answer and I ask my self is it me am I miss reading. He tells me he loves me and cares for me. Just when im getting stronger and more focused he seems to Know what buttons to press then I think well I wait untill we have another bad time but then its like a viscous circle, please advise.

Lisa's Reply: First and foremost: you deserve to be treated well. I want you to tell yourself that twenty five times a day, everyday, for thirty days--then I want you to live as though you deserve to be treated well.

The behavior you're describing is not love, no matter how your partner tries to spin it. It is controlling and abusive. I wonder where it is you learned that it is okay for people to treat you like this? Do you also know that you are teaching your children this same lesson?

When you say you can't buy clothes, give your girls a lift, leave the home etc., I wonder if you know that the only one who has the right to make those decisions for you is...YOU. No body else in the world has the right to determine when you leave your own home or how you choose to help your children. By accepting his control, you teach him that his control is okay.

I strongly advise you to call the Domestic Violence Hotline number to learn more about your situation and how to get out of it. The number is 1-800-799-7233.

Remember to stand up for your self in healthy ways. Remember people cannot control us unless we allow ourselves to be controlled.

You deserve to be treated well.

I have been married for 15 years and have 2 children, aged 10 and 7. When I was first married, "verbal abuse" wasn't a common term. I was confused and hurt by my husband's constant anger and verbal outbursts, and I was absolutely devastated when he humiliated me in public, and especially in front of my friends or my family. But my own family was kind of in shatters and I my Mum is a lot like my husband, and I have never been able to talk to her about my problems. I've rarely had close friends in my life, and I certainly haven't had any since being married. So I've never had anyone to talk to about my marriage, although I've often longed for a wise opinion, some advice to help me put things into perspective. But I'm also ashamed and I want to protect my husband from criticism among other things, so I keep quiet. Also, I'm sure people won't really understand, and the thought of rehashing everything makes me feel terribly tired. Anyway, 15 years on, my husband is now on medication and is much better than he used to be. But I find myself miserable and angry. I have recurring dreams about telling my husband "That's it! I'm not taking it any more. You're out of here!" and I scream at my Mum what a cow she is. Last night in my dream I pushed her into a wall. ( I would never do these things in real life). But these dreams have combined lately with an occasional feeling of desperation that I feel might be relieved if only I could talk to someone. I long not really to get things off my chest, but just to have someone that will listen to me. Hear my side of things. Understand and validate my feelings. Give me some perspective, and especially, to say "Hey. You haven't deserved that. You're a good person. Youv'e done well given your circumstances. I can't afford a psychologist. So I just decided to get online and offload these thoughts. Yours was the first website I found that talked about these issues. Do you have any advice?
Thanks. A.

Lisa's Reply:
Dear A,
Thank you for sharing your story; it is much more common than you may think. Many women find themselves in emotionally abusive relationships yet are unaware that these relationships are "abusive". If and when they are aware, they often remain silent about their situations. You are speaking for many when you share your story.

Regarding advice, you are very bright and have given yourself the answer. You stated that you need to be heard and to have someone listen to you and validate your experience.

I believe you need to first do that for yourself.

In a moment I want you to stop reading, close your eyes, and take a slow, deep breath (breath in to the count of four and then release that same breath to the count of five) and after you have done that, continue reading.

Okay ready...
Close your eyes and take the deep breath...and read below...

"Hey. You haven't deserved that. You're a good person. You've done well given your circumstances." AND you deserve to be treated lovingly by those close to you...at all times. If they don't treat you well, you have the right to speak up and take care of yourself by setting a limit with them, removing yourself from the situation, or ending the relationship if the abuse continues.

Take a moment to let the above sink in.

Remind yourself everyday of this and remember that no one is going to treat you well if you don't treat yourself well.

Your dreams may be telling you that it's time to stop being silent and protecting everyone else, instead begin to speak and protect yourself and your children. My hope is that you listen to the voice inside you that is so wise..she has a lot to say!

Im in an abusive realationship and everytime i try to get out i always end up going back because something in my head tells me that i need him and that i love him i dont know what to do i cant make my self stop loving him. i dont even know why i love him he physically and mentaly abuses me almost every day but still i cant find it in my heart to stop loving this dude. i dont know what is wrong with me i cant even help my self so theres no way no one else can and i dont believe that i have a roll in whats taking place.

NOTE: Please see post "Lisa's Reply"

Never strike your wife - even with a flower. ~Hindu Proverb

The victims of anger, rage and aggression can suffer from the stings of verbal assaults or from the lingering trauma of sexual abuse. Many victims pay the price with their lives. Such is true with victims of domestic violence. Crimes of domestic violence remain frequent. Probation offices throughout the nation have devoted complete units to handle the heavy domestic violence caseloads. Law enforcement officers find domestic violence calls their most unpredictable and dangerous.

Domestic Violence is a crime that spans every race, culture and socio-economic status. It is hard to believe someone could abuse an individual they say they love and live with everyday. It is harder to understand how an individual can stay around for the abuse year after year. No one stays in a relationship that is not beneficial to them. You may ask, “How can a day in and day out brutal beating benefit anybody?” Well, when someone feels worthless, they seek out another party to treat them as if they were worthless. It is the only way they can validate their own sense of low self-esteem. Strangely enough, many women who come out of violent relationships find themselves with another partner who abuses them. Why? Because they never changed how they felt about themselves. Many courts now order domestic violence victims to attend victim classes to teach them self- worth, independence and boundaries in relationships.

It is always important to remember that we have choices. We are not destined to stay in jobs or relationships that make us angry. Some of the choices are often difficult. We may love the very thing that is killing us, but as Tina Turner sang, “What does love got to do with it?”

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