*Recently, in the news, there was a horrendous story about a firefighter who killed his wife and then killed himself. Although there were no preliminary reports of domestic violence it was a subject that struck close to some that Jefe knows and one in particular who reached out for help/advice. Usually, Jefe likes to keep things light but he sometimes has to give thought-provoking content. This is one of them.
Frustrated and Confused wrote:
I have been married for almost 21 years. I have two children – oldest being 21 and youngest just turned 18. My husband is a firefighter and his schedule has him away a lot. When he is home, we dare not disturb or make him upset. He is quite volatile and the slightest thing can send him off the deep end. He will yell and raise his voice at me and or the kids. He will sometimes throw or break things. I am ashamed to admit that he has placed his hands on me during fits of rage (although it was a long time ago) and that police have been called to my house but I didn’t have it in me to file charges either time.
He is extremely controlling and manipulative. We have to check in with him if we go anywhere. When he is away at work, we have to answer his calls or texts right away. He doesn’t like my family and I hardly ever see them. We always do things with his side of the family but even then, he’s distant from them.
I don’t want to paint him as a monster because I know he had a rough upbringing and he is a terrific provider for us. He is emotionally detached however and almost everything we do as a family is centered around him and what he wants. I’ve prayed for him and things to change but they seem to be getting worse. I’ve tried to leave several times but something always keeps me coming back. Funny thing is that when he gets upset with me, he usually threatens divorce. I actually called him out on it recently. The following morning, he threw the divorce papers in my face and said if I wanted a divorce, I should be the one doing the paperwork.
I’m extremely frustrated and confused. What should I do?
F&C, first off let me say that your husband is probably a sociopath and without a doubt – a coward! All I need to know is this and I’ll make it simple for you: He’s put his hands on you before. I don’t care if it was a long time ago or not, that is flat out wrong. Second, he knows nobody else will put up with his crap so that is why he put the ball in your court, as it were, to have YOU start the divorce process. He is probably so sure you wouldn’t and he knew he’d be off the hook. Also, I have close friends and family that are firefighters as well and they’re not away as much as you say he is. But that’s neither here nor there. That’s a whole other response.
You know, I was fighting with how to respond so I had to reach out to an acquaintance who battled through over sixteen years of all kinds of abuse at the hands of her husband. It was only when she had been beaten within an inch of her life that she decided to leave. She told Jefe that fear and manipulation play a big part as to why women stay. She said that nobody can really understand unless they’ve been in that situation before. She said that it took her being beat so bad that she woke up in the ICU that she finally decided enough was enough. She didn’t have a plan but knew she had to file charges and most importantly get out. It was then in that process that she realized how strong she really was but because for so long her husband put her down and beat her, she never really knew her self worth.
I hope you know your self worth but YOU have got to want to change your situation. What’s it going to take? Are you really willing to stick around to find out? Your friends and family may want to help but what good is it going to do if you keep going back? What keeps you going back? History? Not wanting to be alone? Pride?
I have a friend who is a counselor and so is his wife who ironically enough, specializes with women who have been abused. Her first marriage was marred by domestic violence. Thank God that she can share her experience with others and help them heal and overcome. Anyways, my friend gave me this great anecdote that I hope is beneficial to you and those who may know of situations of domestic abuse/violence and need help:
“You know I used to be a life guard instructor and the first thing I would ask every new class was this: what do you do when you see somebody drowning? I’d get answers from, “get a pole” to “throw a life ring”. Then I’d ask: what if you don’t have none of that? Almost every time, I’d get this answer, “swim out to them and proceed with life rescuing procedures”.
Did you know that is the worst thing you can do because the person that is drowning has so much adrenaline pumping through them that their thrashing about can actually take whoever is trying to save them down as well. You actually have to get beyond arms distance and wait for them to exhaust themselves to the point where you see them start to go down below water. It is only then that you know it is safe to go get them.
F&C, I really hope it doesn’t take you to “go below the water” to finally get out and or help. By continuing to go back you’re teaching your children it’s OK for men to treat women/their wives without respect and like possessions. You are also teaching them that you’re fine with it and that they should be as well.
I’m praying that you find your worth and strength again.