Category Archives: controlling abuse

Lessons in Crazy-Making

Lessons in Crazy-Making

It was not just a bad night among many, it was an insane night.  Our four kids were all asleep in their beds when my husband and I got into an argument about something rather menial, but he quickly escalated into a rage.  Having no success in calming him, concerned for the kids and seeing the extreme manner of his response, I simply said, “I think you need to leave.” 

At that point, he exploded.

“Oh, you want me to leave, do you!?  Well, if that’s what you want, then that’s what you’ll get!”  He immediately went out into the garage and grabbed a couple of suitcases, returned and marched upstairs, tromping as he went while he continued his tirade.  I followed him up the stairs and tried to calm him down and asked him to be quiet so as not to wake the kids, but this was his moment to make a scene.  He went into the bedroom, tossed the suitcases on the bed and began grabbing his clothes from the closet and loading them up.  He grabbed his conga drums and other instruments, dragged them downstairs and began loading them and other favorite possessions into his van.

 “I’m asking you to leave until you can calm down,” I tried to explain. 

 “You said you want me to leave, so that’s what I’m going to do!”  

It wasn’t long before the kids were awakened.  When they came out of their rooms rubbing their eyes and asking about all the commotion, their father loudly told them that I was making him leave.  They all gathered together on the eldest daughter’s bed, held one another and cried, while I working to convince the man that he was being irrational (which didn’t go over too well) while simultaneously trying to assure the kids that everything would be okay. 

 After about 45 minutes of loading up his van, he came in and told me he was tired and was going to go to bed and would finish up in the morning.

 “Fine,” I conceded.  He went to bed, I was able to get our somewhat traumatized kids back to their beds, and I slept in the sofa-bed downstairs, where I had been sleeping for months. 

The next morning, I woke early and called my supervisor at work to let him know I would not be in, as my husband was moving out, and I needed to make some arrangements for the kids.  I got the kids off to school, returned home and was drinking a cup of coffee at the kitchen table when my husband slowly trudged downstairs.  Seeing me in the kitchen, he said calmly, “What are you doing home?”

“I stayed home to take care of the kids,” I reminded him, “since you’re leaving.”

He gave me an incredulous look and shook his head as though I had lost my mind.  “I don’t know what you’re talking about.  I’m not going anywhere,” he said, and retreated back upstairs to take a shower.

I would like to say that I was surprised by the absurdity of it all at that moment, but I wasn’t.  My former husband had obtained pro status when it came to responding severely and irrationally.  By the final year of our marriage, the word I mentally used to describe our relationship was “insane.”  It was. Continue reading Lessons in Crazy-Making

Identifying Financial Abusers and Their Tactics

Early in our marriage, my husband and I worked cooperatively on budgeting and saving.  We came to an understanding that neither of us would make any major purchases until we discussed them and agreed upon them.  But as the years passed, something shifted – and not in a good way.

When balancing our checkbook virtually every month, I would discover significant cash withdrawals that my husband had made, but with nothing material to show for them.  When asked where the money was going, he would reply, “Good things.  All good things.”

On many evenings, as I paid the bills and tried to budget the little that remained, I had to will myself not to cry.  My husband would walk by me sitting there, pat me on the shoulder and say patronizingly, “You’ll figure it out.” And, yes, I always found a way to make ends meet, but barely.  I suppose he knew I would, which only substantiated his increasingly spend-aholic ways. 

Then there were the times later in our marriage when I found large sums of money stashed away in a drawer or the linen closet. When confronted, he would say that that was his money, perhaps from a bonus he said he had received at work.  Not only did I not believe him, but it didn’t matter to me where the money came from when our household had legitimate needs.  I reminded him that he had a wife and children who should be a priority, but he usually dismissed me and affirmed that he had more important things in mind – like buying a new shotgun or saving for a new set of conga drums.  Month after month money continued to mysteriously disappear from our bank account. 

After the divorce, it became apparent that at least a portion of those funds had been spent at local strip clubs.  But even that couldn’t account for one-tenth of the financial – and emotional – damage the man had done to me and our children. 

Recognizing that the abuser’s desire for power and control are at the core of the abusive relationship, it should come as no surprise that finances will likely be impacted as well.  Continue reading Identifying Financial Abusers and Their Tactics

The Power of Words

“Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made.”  Genesis 3:1aserpent

The word “crafty” used in Genesis 3 describes the serpent that came to the garden.  The word has also been interpreted to read “subtle,” “clever,” “cunning” or “shrewd.”  The description clearly implies that this particular being’s intellect alone posed some kind of a threat. Continue reading The Power of Words

Passive and Controlling Abuse: A Dictatorial Form of Emotional Violence

If you put together a list of all the primary strategies that abusers woman behind barsuse to keep their victims living a life of emotional paralysis, 99% of them would probably apply to the man to whom I was married for 20 years.  But as I read and hear other women’s stories, other more subtle patterns emerge, and among them is a practice I have struggled to identify even in my own history, a bizarre combination of passive and controlling abuse. Continue reading Passive and Controlling Abuse: A Dictatorial Form of Emotional Violence