Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Boyfriend Thinks I’m a Bad Mom”

I have been in my relationship for five years. I have two children from a previous relationship. My children love “Ben” and I do, too, but we fight all the time. When I tell him I want to leave, he starts making a big scene in public and telling my children that I do not love him and that I am a bad mother. I did leave him a few months ago, but he promised to change and, me being stupid, I said I would go back. We have been doing pretty well until today.

I have been seeing my daughter’s school therapist off and on whenever she can fit me in. Today she joked about how he should take me on a date, so I told Ben. He didn’t respond. Later on we had a ball game to go to and I had asked him if he could get me a water. He didn’t respond. I asked if he had heard me and he still didn’t respond, so I let it go (he had the money on him and I had left my wallet at the house). About an hour later I told him I was going to go to the house to get a drink and he got mad. I told him I had asked him twice and he didn’t respond. He got up and walked away from the game. My child ended up hitting a home run, so I texted him and told him he missed an awesome hit. He sent a message back saying, “No, I didnt,” so I left it alone. On the drive home my boss texted me, so when I came to the stop sign I texted her back. Then took off. As I was driving, Ben opened the door and started to step out (I was going about 15 miles an hour). I asked him what the hell is wrong with him. He said he isn’t going to be in the car with me if I’m texting. But I didn’t do it while I was driving. I was stopped.

Anyway, he started trying to argue with me about how I’m always mad (even though I’m not) and how I don’t discipline the kids enough and everything else you can think of. I pulled up to the store and told the kids I would buy them an ice cream since they had been so good. He said I was spoiling them, and he got out of the car and took off walking. When we both finally got home, it was WW3. He began yelling at me extremely loudly saying I need to go to my other boyfriend and that maybe he could take me on all the dates I need to go on. He told me that I am crazy and I need to be on meds and that he will tell everyone I am on drugs even though I would never do them because I don’t like drugs at all and I lost a sister to them two years ago.

I am an emotional wreck right now. He told me to leave, but if I start to pack then he is going to go crazy and I just don’t know what to do at this point. I do not believe he can change. I do not want to keep going through this. It is making me sick. Please give me some advice on how to move past this pain and get on with my life. — Emotional Wreck

You are a mother and a full-grown adult and you need to start taking responsibility for your actions and putting your children first. Do you think it’s in their best interest — let alone, yours — to have this emotionally unstable male figure in their life who screams at their mother in public, threatens her, and opens the door of a moving vehicle while they’re inside? It is not. From your last sentence, it seems that you know it isn’t healthy for any of you to continue with this unstable relationship and that you need to move on and give your children the safe home, free from fighting and emotional abuse, that they deserve.

As for how to move on and “get past the pain,” as you say, this wonderful article, written by a guest columnist with experience working in a domestic violence shelter, has some great tips. You don’t mention any physical violence (yet), but what you’re describing sounds a lot like emotional abuse, which can often be a gateway to domestic violence. The fact that you left your boyfriend and then came back when he “promised to change” is a classic pattern that I hope serves as a serious warning to you. It’s exactly this kind of pattern that exists in many, many homes of domestic violence. Please, for your sake as well as your innocent children, heed the warning sign before something more dramatic happens. As I said, this article has some very helpful tips to help you move on. Pay particular attention to numbers 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, 15, and 16.

Since you’ve already been talking to your daughter’s school therapist, tell her of your plan to move on and ask her for resources that may help you get on your feet. Without knowing the details about your financial situation, how easily you can find a new home for you and your children, or whether you have family or friends you can stay with while you look for a place of your own, the best advice I can give you is to ask for help from trusted members of your support network. People who care about you and your children would not want you to stay in a situation that sounds as unhealthy as the one you’re in.

Please, please gather all the strength you can muster and get yourself and your babies away from Ben. Do it before something worse than a few bad fights happen. And for the love of God, QUIT TEXTING while you’re on the road. It doesn’t matter if you’re at a stop light. It’s incredibly dangerous to be sitting in a car in the middle of traffic while you’re punching away on a cell phone, oblivious to the cars around you. All it takes is one second — ONE SECOND — for a car you don’t see to slam into you because you’ve got your eyes on your phone instead of the road and weren’t able to move out of harm’s way. It doesn’t matter if YOU are at a complete stop. Other cars are still moving and there are a lot of morons on the street. There are drunk drivers, and old drivers, and drivers who grew up in Manhattan. There are drivers who have sudden seizures or screaming babies in the back seat or a text from their boss they have to check right now. And those drivers may not be as careful as you need them to be while you’re sitting at a stop light checking out your phone. Don’t count on others to be responsible and safe. Count on yourself. And that goes ditto for creating a home where you and your children don’t live in fear of another blowup.

*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com and be sure to follow me on Twitter.

102 comments… add one
  • Budj May 10, 2012, 9:03 am

    ….nice crazy boy friend.

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  • Addie Pray May 10, 2012, 9:12 am

    “There are drunk drivers, and old drivers, and drivers who grew up in Manhattan.”


    (LOL re: the “drivers who grew up in Manhattan” part.)

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    • Addie Pray May 10, 2012, 9:25 am

      p.s. Wendy, I’m glad you took the time to address the LW’s texting incident and to explain why it’s bad to text from the driver seat. So, everybody, just knock it off already! There. That should do it.

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      • Addie Pray May 10, 2012, 9:48 am

        p.p.s. One last comment and then I’ll stop talking to myself:

        True story: When I was 18 or so, I was at a stop light waiting for the light to turn green. I was on a little road but trying to cross a highway, so the light was taking FOREVER. I was just sitting there but luckily paying attention because, though it was nighttime, I could faintly see something in the distance moving toward me… before I knew it, it was RIGHT in front of me. I swerved to the left as fast as I could but it still hit the corner of my car and rolled over the top, denting the whole right side of the car. It turned out to be two ginormous wheels from a semi that had somehow come loose and was flying rogue through the streets! That was a good 15 years ago before cell phones and texting. But if I had not been paying attention… BAM, it would have hit me straight on and… ouch.

      • Addie Pray May 10, 2012, 9:53 am

        p.p.p.s. The moral of that story, just to be clear, is: get off your phone while driving.

        Now I’m done. I’m going on a bike ride, people. You know, I see a lot of bikers on their cell phones in Chicago… I would never do that either – mostly because I’m not skilled enough to do that while biking.

      • JK May 10, 2012, 10:06 am

        A couple of years ago I saw a guy on a motorbike texting while going at like 100km/hr on the highway. With his helmet off of course (people are real dicks about using helmets here). And there were no police around to stop him. Those things really piss me off.
        100km = 62m

      • GatorGirl May 10, 2012, 10:19 am

        People text with two hands while riding pedal bikes in this town. Drives me nuts! Also we have a massive scooter problem. Its like an infestation of them. And there is no helmet law so there are tons of college kids zipping around on scooters with no helmets loaded down with backpacks, books, text, eating….Ugh!

      • Jess of CGW May 10, 2012, 11:09 am

        While we’re on the bikes vs cars debate (I’ll skip over motorcycles and scooters which I know less about) –I just want to add that cars have the most potential to do damage.

        Before someone corrects me, I didn’t say that bicycles do not inflict harm. It’s true that bikers can cause damage to other bikers, pedestrians, and in extreme cases, perhaps a car. But mostly, cars –made of metal walls and with the capability of speeds exceeding 60 mph are the ones capable of severe injury and death.

        So please, please, don’t text while driving. ANYWHERE. And that includes stoplights and busy city streets where you feel like you’re hardly moving. Making a quick right turn or pulling out of a parking spot while texting? That might just kill a person on a bike.

      • Jess of CGW May 10, 2012, 11:12 am

        Bicyclists are not anymore responsible than car drivers. There just as many of them that are dangerous, ignorant, careless, reckless, or distracted. They make bad decisions. They can be inconsiderate and they CERTAINLY get in the way. I’m just saying to remember that it’s not an even playing field. Because cars have the potential to inflict death, it is part of their responsibility to be cautious. Sure, if a biker breaks a traffic law , you wouldn’t be liable if you ran into them. But you’d still have injured a human being and I think that would be a bad outcome regardless of who was in the right.

        Ok, end of PSA.

      • JK May 10, 2012, 11:18 am

        I agree with you that cars are more dangerous, potentially. But where I live, bicyclists are so terrible it´s not funny. In the 2 years Ipve been driving, Ipve never once seen one on the right side of the road (facing traffic), most of them go on the same side as the cars, and then keep looking over their shoulder (to see if a car´s coming: WTF kind of logic is that?), thus swerving into the middle of the road. Or, they go 2/3 side by side so they can go talking, taking up half of the lane, making it dangerous to go around them. Parents with the kids balanced on the handle bars/side bar thingy. Nobody with a helmet. Crossing in front of cars without even looking.
        I respect every traffic law, and it really gets me when people don´t: why would they risk themselves/their kids like that???

        Traffic in Buenos Aires is probably the thing I hate most.

      • Jess of CGW May 10, 2012, 11:27 am

        I don’t know the laws in Brazil but in the US, you are required to ride with traffic so that doesn’t sound strange to me. The looking back part is not smart though, unless there is a reason like needing to pass. The rest of what you describe is insane though! I rarely see people riding side by side. There just isn’t enough room. Kids on handlebars? I think that would be grounds for arrest here.

      • JK May 10, 2012, 11:29 am

        Ugh, even pedestrians walk side by side on the road (not footpath). People are so ridiculously careless about stuff here sometimes!

      • Jess of CGW May 10, 2012, 11:28 am

        Apologies. I meant Argentina.

      • JK May 10, 2012, 11:30 am

        haha, no problem. People are terribly careless here, including pedestrians (cross wherever, walk on the road not footpath). And then everyone complains about the traffic casualties! Prevention starts at home, people!

      • Julesoola May 10, 2012, 11:28 am

        Correct me I’m wrong, but, I’m pretty sure traffic laws dictate that bicycles are supposed to be riding with cars/traffic and NOT against them. Pedestrians on the otherhand should be walking against traffic.

      • JK May 10, 2012, 1:18 pm

        My bad. I just checked the traffic code for where I live, and yes, amongst a lot of other requisites that bikes don´t comply with, they´re supposed to with traffic. I remember being taught growing up in NZ to always ride facing traffic, I must´ve gotten mixed up with that.
        They still shouldnt swerve into the middle of the lane though.

      • landygirl May 10, 2012, 11:50 am

        I live in SF and we’ve had a few bike/pedestrian fatalities here in the past few years. Everyone should pay attention to the road, drivers, bikers and pedestrians. In CA it’s illegal to use your phone while driving and yet I still see it happening constantly. It’s extremely arrogant of people to think that they are the exception to the rule when it comes to talking while driving.

      • buttoned May 10, 2012, 10:14 am

        I saw someone biking (with you know, the pedals) eating a hot calzone (I thought that was sort of counterproductive..) and another with a mug of hot coffee. A MUG. These folks be crazy. I’d somehow kill myself if I did that, or worse, accidentally slap someone in the face with a calzone or a mug of hot coffee as I try to stop.

      • honeybeenicki May 10, 2012, 11:03 am

        People do crazy stuff while biking/driving/walking. I watched someone almost go up over a median and hit a stoplight and when I got closer I realized she was doing her makeup in the mirror of her visor. She had 2 other adults and a kid in the car with her too. And a few weeks ago I saw someone brushing her hair using the rearview mirror on the interstate going about 85.

      • buttoned May 10, 2012, 11:19 am

        OOOH people who do their makeup and hair while driving get on my NERVES. Girl, don’t you know you could poke your eye out with that mascara once you ram into someone on the highway?? Wherever you gotta go, even if you’re late, focus on getting there and THEN do your makeup in the parking lot or something. Yeesh. Takes about the same amount of time.

      • Jessibel May 10, 2012, 4:55 pm

        Haha, I once saw someone reading a newspaper while driving.

      • SpyGlassez May 16, 2012, 1:10 am

        A friend of mine used to pride himself on being able to tie his tie while driving.

      • Jessibel May 10, 2012, 11:16 am

        My friend was just in a terrible accident where he was on a bike and basically got run over by a semi truck twice (was run over by both front and back wheels). He wasn’t wearing a helmet, and by some miracle his head is fine. Crushed his pelvis, but he’s going to be okay eventually. Please for the love of god bikers, wear helmets, obey all traffic laws (as in, stop at stop signs and red lights) and no texting!!!

      • Jess of CGW May 10, 2012, 11:24 am

        I cannot fathom why anyone would not wear a helmet. It’s totally beyond me. I have to stop myself from shouting at people in the city who ride without them. Thankfully there aren’t too many but usually it’s women. I assume they don’t like the look of the helmet or the associated hat hair effect. I blame magazines and images online that depict beautiful women with long flowing helmet-free heads riding happily along the streets of NYC stopping for baguettes. That’s not reality though.

        My position on traffic laws is a little controversial and really hard to explain without a diagram. However, in short I would say that I follow a “yield” policy at all times. In all cases, I yield to cars no matter what the color of the light may be. With rare exceptions (cars double parked) I never get in the way of a car. In fact, it’s pretty common for me to be waiting as cars stream by so that I can safely pass. That said, I will often sit out in front of cars at a light and I will definitely go on red if the way is clear. It helps the drivers because A. I’m where they can see me and B. by getting ahead start across the intersection, I don’t hold anyone up who might want to turn. It’s the safest way I know to avoid being hit or pissing drivers off. This is one example of why the traffic laws for cars don’t really make sense for people on bikes. At least not every time. The laws are still evolving and hopefully cities will get more organized and everyone will get clear about what they are supposed to be doing.

      • Jessibel May 10, 2012, 5:02 pm

        Maybe I’m biased because my friend didn’t stop at a red light and that’s why he was run over by the semi, and then I also had my ankle broken by a cyclist running through a red light and right into me while I was in the crosswalk (and then he screamed at me while I was laying on the ground, because he said he had the momentum and therefore the right of way, even though he ran through a red light and I had the white walking man thingy. I had a reasonable expectation of not getting hit, but he ran straight through the red light and into me, even though I tried to get out of his way once I realized he was going to blow the light) but bikers who run red lights and stop signs make me absolutely furious.

        So do emotionally abusing, manipulative boyfriends like the LW’s. I’m glad she recognizes that she needs to leave.

      • Sarah May 14, 2012, 12:29 pm

        Ohhh, I had cyclists that ride on the sidewalk at full speed! My ex-boyfriend has someone hit him while he was walking out of the gate at our old apartment. Slammed right into his left side and broke his thumb and injured his hand pretty badly. They guy didn’t even stay to see if he was okay, just hopped back on his bike and took off.

      • rachel May 10, 2012, 1:09 pm

        Yeah, so I used to text while driving. Rarely while the car was moving, usually at stoplights. Then about a month or two after I bought the car I have now (not new on my salary, haha, but new to me), I was crawling up to a stoplight and thought it would be an okay time to shoot off a quick text. And I ran into the truck in front of me. Now, luckily it was a pick up truck with a hitch, and so basically the tow hitch just punched a hole into my bumper and the truck wasn’t hurt. But, I mean, come on, I’m an idiot – what if a person had run into the road or something. That hole is my reminder to just wait the 15 minutes until I’m not driving to send the text.

  • Kristina May 10, 2012, 9:13 am

    This LW needs to get her life together, if not for the sake of herself, but for the sake of her children. Growing up seeing two parents (parental figures) who hate each other, say horrible things to each other, and fight all the time is not healthy.He sounds abusive when you say you want to leave and he immediately makes a big scene and calls you a bad mother. That’s exactly what my parents were/are like. The situation you’re in sets a horrible example for your children–put your children first and if you wouldn’t want them to be in your relationship when they are older, then make every effort to change it now. LW, you said it yourself at the end that you do not believe he can change, so how about you believe in yourself that YOU can make the changes needed in your life.

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  • katie May 10, 2012, 9:19 am

    yikes.. this sounds like a terrible situation all around. yes, LW, please find some resources and the stength to leave this guy! he sounds terrible…

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  • GatorGirl May 10, 2012, 9:24 am

    Wendy is absolutely right. This man is emotionally abusing you. I’m going to assume your finances are separate- so send you kids to a family member or close friends house for a few days, put your self up in a hotel, and have a few people (large men if you know any) help you move your stuff out. Call the cops to come stand by if you’re that worried your BF will flip. Change your number and notify your children’s school he is not to have contact with them.

    If you have shared finances and little control over them, start stashing away a dollar or two from grocery trips until you have enough to get out. Or even better contact a domestic abuse shelter in your area and ask for help.

    Emotional abuse is a gateway to physical abuse, in my opinion. Please get your children out of the situation before they learn his actions are acceptable and repeate the cycle. Get your self and kids into counciling, maybe do a few family sessions. As miserable as you are now, your going to feel even worse if your children grow up and learn to be abusers too.

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  • Amanda May 10, 2012, 9:25 am

    Ummm, MOA. LW, you need to grow up and get out of this toxic relationship. What kind of example are you setting for your children? In case you don’t know, a TERRIBLE ONE. The current environment in your home is undoubtedly unstable and toxic for your children. YOU are responsible for providing a loving and stable home for your children. Get to it! Move out of the crazy guy’s house and don’t contact him again. Move in with a family member if you don’t have the money to get your own place. You have to act. Your children need you to act.

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  • a_different_Wendy May 10, 2012, 9:26 am

    When I was very young, I had to be in a house with a lot of ‘WW3’s. Lots of fighting and screaming and emotional abuse. Please, for the sake of your children’s mental health and your own, get out now. And don’t even give him the opportunity to promise to change. Cut ties. You don’t need this person in your life. Because a good parent doesn’t keep their children in this type of environment.

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    • Leroy May 10, 2012, 10:33 am

      That’s what she needs to recognize – she’s harming her children by participating in this type of behavior. My folks used to pull the same thing: constant vicious fighting, melodramatic public arguments, etc.. They permanently damaged their relationship w/ me and my sister as the result.

      Her boyfriend seems like a real drama queen, but so does she. The fact that he behaves abusively doesn’t exonerate her. I suspect that if we got the real story, that she’s playing right along in these conflict.

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      • a_different_Wendy May 10, 2012, 1:54 pm

        Well yeah, if she was just walking away from it, it wouldn’t be an issue. It wouldn’t be WW3 if she wasn’t playing into it. I don’t even understand why she’s questioning what she should do. A *good* parent’s priority is giving their children a stable home environment. A rock among the chaos that is the world.

  • JK May 10, 2012, 9:26 am

    This letter made me really sad.
    LW you don´t deserve to be treated this way, and your kids definitely don´t deserve to be subjected to this kind of treatment. What kind of asshole tells kids that their mother doesn´t love them?

    And I just want to repeat about the texting and driving. No text is worth risking an accident like that. If you can´t wait until you get home to read/answer a text (or talk on the phone) park, and then do it.

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    • lets_be_honest May 10, 2012, 10:14 am

      Agreed. You need to get out of there, this will truly scar your children in so many ways.

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      • d2 May 10, 2012, 11:14 am

        Yes. Removing your children from this environment will be one of the best things you will ever do for them.

  • DMR May 10, 2012, 9:31 am

    key quote:

    He told me to leave but if I start to pack then he is going to go crazy

    LW, you’re in danger. And you know you’re in danger. You said so in the very letter we all read. You have to leave; I suggest enlisting some help (preferably more than one person); so that you can spend the entire day packing everything you need, while he is not in the house. You’ll end up leaving loads of stuff behind: furniture, and so on. Let it go.

    Then go get the kids, then get the hell out of there. And never, ever see him again.

    Oh, and red flag number two: he wants to “discipline” the kids more. Big neon warning sign there. You’re not the only one in danger here. So are your children.

    Summary: Get out. Have a team to help you escape. Plan it well. And make sure the kids are okay. That’s all.

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  • DMR May 10, 2012, 9:36 am

    One other thing. You know when he told the kids that you don’t love them? Well, that’s abuse. A family court would certainly see it that way. Sure, it’s verbal/emotional abuse rather than physical, so people sometimes don’t recognize it when they see it. But a family court, for example, would certainly look at it that way.

    I just mention this to point out that this asshole is already abusing your kids. We’re not even talking future tense. Please get out, and do it like ripping off an old band-aid. Very fast.

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    • DMR May 10, 2012, 9:37 am

      Sorry for the repetition of the bit about the family court in my comment.

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  • IDreamofElectricSheep May 10, 2012, 9:43 am

    Please read the articles Wendy provided links for. They are great. Everyone has already covered everything so all I wanted to say is good luck! Stay safe, smart, and strong. Realize that you have not only your close network of friends and family, but also resources available out there for you. As well as countless men, women, and children who have been in abusive situations pulling for you, as they would for anyone in your shoes. Even if you don’t know it, there’s a community of people out there, right now, supporting you. Again, good luck!

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  • d2 May 10, 2012, 10:05 am

    Having been in an emotionally manipulative relationship, I know how hard it can be to get the courage to decide you should move on. From your last paragraph, it sounds like you have already come to that realization. Good for you. It took a lot of strength to make that first step. Remind yourself of that. That means you have the strength to take the next step to move out and move on.

    Wendy had several suggestions to help you with the transition, and I am sure the DW readers will have even more. Talk to your daughter’s school therapist. I am sure she can offer suggestions for local resources to help keep you and your children safe as you separate from your boyfriend. She may even be able to direct you to local sources for financial assistance. Do you have friends or family you can talk to for emotional support? If not, the school therapist may be able to direct you to some local resources for support. And , of course, the DW community will be here for you.

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  • Sue Jones May 10, 2012, 10:12 am

    MOA. This guy is bad news. Go call a Domestic Violence hotline if you need help figuring out how to leave this situation. Go to a women’s shelter with the kids if needed. Get a restraining order, but GET OUT. This guy is awful.

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    • CatsMeow May 10, 2012, 10:27 am

      I second this. I really think LW should get a local domestic violence organization involved when she tries to leave. They can help her plan her escape and provide necessary resources. They can also help with obtaining an order of protection if needed. Leaving an abuser can be very dangerous so I want you to take every precaution you can.

      LW, your description of your relationship made me feel sick inside. Sick and sad. I’ve been there, and I can say from experience that from the “inside” it’s hard to see exactly how bad it is. But let me tell you, this is a BAD situation you’re in. Please do whatever you can to get out and get out safely. It will be difficult, but you can do it. Do it for your children if not yourself.

      And if you haven’t read my million bajillion comments about my abusive ex, know that he acted a LOT like your boyfriend, and yes, he did eventually hurt me physically.

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  • Amybelle May 10, 2012, 10:25 am

    You know what you need to do, and you can do it. Just take things one step at a time and don’t let yourself get overwhelmed with all the details of moving out. Are any of your friends and family aware of what’s going on? When I was in an abusive relationship I would never admit anything to anyone (mainly because I felt ashamed to even be in that situation) but when I did start talking about it to close friends and family it really helped me feel more in control and able to leave. Trust me, you will not regret leaving this relationship.

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    • CatsMeow May 10, 2012, 10:29 am

      I did the same thing. I never reached out to anyone because I was too ashamed. I didn’t tell anyone until years after it was over. Looking back, I really wish I had asked for help.

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      • GatorGirl May 10, 2012, 10:39 am

        Me too. I never thought my situation was “bad” enough to need help while I was in the middle of it. Looking back, I did need it. LW you have nothing to be ashamed of and it is an awesome thing to do for your kids to reach out to someone.

  • Fabelle May 10, 2012, 9:28 am

    LW, please leave this man for good. He ignores your needs, calls you crazy for having them, and seemingly judges your every action. He responds in the extreme by trying to hop out of a moving vehicle over a minor issue, yelling at you about your made-up “other boyfriend” (never a good sign), and threatening to publicize a fabricated drug habit of yours. Get out of this emotionally abusive and dangerous situation.

    http://www.amazon.com/Why-Does-He-That-Controlling/dp/0425191656/?&tag=dearwecom-20&linkCode=wsw& This is a good source, I think (the author outlines many scenarios that sound similiar to yours)

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  • Ravage Maladie May 10, 2012, 10:44 am

    LW, I just know this voice inside of you is telling you that you need to get out of this relationship because you deserve better. If you didn’t hear that voice, you wouldn’t have written in.

    PLEASE take courage from the fact that you still have that connection with your inner self, and that it’s strong enough to exceed what ‘Ben’ might want or think of you. Now PLEASE take it one step further and ACT on that voice, and on all the advice you’ve been given here. You can do it. We’re rooting for you. But you are the only one who can take yourself and your kids out of this bad situation.

    So GO.

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    • Marina May 10, 2012, 11:41 am

      Let me be as plain as I can: your children are frightened and miserable. No matter how they’re pretending to behave in front of you, they’re scared ,and confused, and unhappy. And it’s on you. Not him. Yes, he’s a dirtbag, but you’re responsible for keeping them in a safe environment. And you’re allowing this man to behave that way in their presence? The first time he screamed at you in front of your kids should have been the last time you spoke to him.

      You’re putting your own fears of being alone ahead of your kids’ happiness and safety. You’re their mother. It’s your responsibility to fix this. Today. Now. You know there’s nothing good, and nothing worth keeping, in this relationship. There’s no reason to stay one minute longer.

      It sounds like you’re afraid of what he’ll do if you start packing. If that’s the case, take the kids and go – today – to your local domestic violence shelter. You and your kids will be safe while you find a place to stay. They can help you figure out how to get your stuff out of the house, get you legal help if you need it, and help you get your life in order and move on from here.

      Please do it today. For yourself, and your kids.

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      • lets_be_honest May 10, 2012, 11:55 am

        You raise an excellent point about even if the kids SEEM ok, they likely are not even close to it. I have seen this before. Much like where the abused has to walk on eggshells so not to set off the abuser, the kids will engage in this behavior too.


  • buttoned May 10, 2012, 10:20 am

    Oooh, LW, he sounds crazy. Not that hot-kind-of-sort-of-crazy either. I’m glad you realized it though! Now it’s time to act on that feeling (and obvious evidence of his craziness!!) and get the heck out of there. Like everyone said, and Wendy said/linked, you should find help and pack your kids and things and maybe sneak out when the coast is clear. I wish you luck! And don’t let that guy back into your life. Close that door. Lock it. Don’t even open the window to letting him in. Close them blinds! Be strong for yourself and your kids. You’ll certainly find someone much better, loving, supportive, and not so Charlie Sheen like.

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  • caitie_didnt May 10, 2012, 11:34 am

    LW, my heart is breaking for your children. This guy is absolutely abusing you, but he is also abusing your children. I grew up in a household with lots of World War 3s- screaming, breaking dishes, name calling and threats and I think it’s only now as an adult that I’m realizing the extent of the effect it has on me (I say has because it is still effecting me). Make no mistake that this environment will damage your children permanently.

    Oh, and the threats to tell everyone that you are “crazy” and “take drugs all the time”? That’s classic abuser behaviour- he’s setting it up so that you’re the bad guy and casting doubt on your abilities as a fit parent. I would bet that he’s going to escalate this by calling CPS on you with false accusations of drug use and unstable behaviour. For this reason, you need to tell someone- the school therapist or a support worker at a domestic violence shelter or organization- of what has been happening and your plans to leave.

    Please, please, please, for the sake of your children and yourself get out now.

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  • 6napkinburger May 10, 2012, 11:36 am

    I know I should be more sympathetic. But this letter makes no sense and has infuriated me! I know that sometimes editing them to make them shorter can make some things less clear, but I don’t think this was due to Wendy’s pen.

    I don’t understand the thing about the water at all. Did you ask him for the 2 dollars and he ignored you? did you ask him to get you a bottle of water from a vendor and he ignored you? what happened next? just awkward silence? Is your house right next to the ballgame? Is that why you were able to go home to get the water? Was the point that he’s just plain ignoring you when you talk? I know that frustrates me, but I can’t tell if that is the issue. What did his response “no, I didn’t” mean. Was the point that he was still at the game, but at a different location? Was the point that he was putting down your child’s hit?

    In the first paragraph, you say that when you say “you want to leave” he gets mad. Do you mean that when you express the desire to leave the location you guys are at, that he flips out? Or do you mean that when you tell him you are ending the relationship, he flips out?

    If it’s the latter, I really don’t understand your letter. I understand all about how difficult it is for abused women to leave and why they stay, etc, and the cycle and all that. And I normally am sympathetic to it. But this letter just… well… pissed me off. And not just because of “the example you are setting for your children.” That will usually get people to do things that they won’t normally do for themselves, which is good. But that’s not even my issue.

    Maybe it’s that you don’t appear weak yet you seem so inept in these life scenarios and your behavior makes no sense to me. You seem to know that you want to leave and that you don’t want to be with him. Yet you aren’t asking for advice on how to leave him — you are asking for how to make the pain stop. Clearly, to all of us, that means leaving him. But you actually KNOW you want to, and you can’t even ask it in an advice column?

    I don’t understand why you know that you want to break up and why you’d tell him that you’re breaking up with him, and then be surprised that he gets mad in public and tells your children that you do not love HIM (not THEM) anymore. If someone broke up with me in public, I’d get mad it public too! I think the talking to your kids about it at all is scummy, but if they ask him why he’s leaving, is it so crazy for him to say “because mommy doesn’t love me anymore”? Not mature of course, but not surprising. And not entirely untrue.

    If I was with someone who was texting and driving and I was pissed, I might hop out of a car before it gains speed too. Like hell if I’m going to die because it might make them mad. especially if I’m already heated from a previous fight.

    You’ve been with him for 5 years. Has this been going on for 5 years? Has he ignored you for 5 years? I just don’t get it. When he didn’t answer about the date, what did you say? Did you say “so let’s go out to Cisero’s next thursday”? I just literally don’t understand anything about your story. I’d think that if I was with someone for 5 years, I would be able to make comments about their parenting styles and I’d speak up to them if I thought they were spoiling the kids.

    I don’t think this is a healthy relationship but I don’t know if its clearly abusive. But if you need to treat it like it is abusive, then go for it. Just end the relationship and get out.

    Sorry. I’m normally nicer. But I just don’t understand any part of this letter.

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    • Fabelle May 10, 2012, 11:57 am

      She says “I do not believe he can change. I do not want to keep going through this.” I think it’s clear that the LW is asking HOW to leave. I agree that the part with the ballgame could have used some clarification, but you kind of have to read between the lines. I’m sure this guy would not take well to being questioned (about why he’s flat-out not responding) Also, he isn’t just “making comments” about her parenting style; he’s getting disproportionately irate.

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    • anonymous May 10, 2012, 11:58 am

      I understand your frustration — I was also seeing a lot of passivity. So your therapist says you should go on a date — and what do you do? Tell your boyfriend and expect him to make the next step. Why not just ask him out yourself? You’re thirsty & don’t have money with you — so HE has to go get you the water? I agree that it would be chivalrous to offer to get it for you — but why not ask him for the money and then go get the water?

      And the text about missing a great play of your son’s? That’s just an attempt at being punitive — an only slightly more grown up version of “nanny nanny boo boo”.

      If I were he, I’d be fed up with your behavior, frankly — and that’s just as YOU reported it.

      I agree that WWIII is not good, and you probably should break up. However, before you even THINK about getting involved with the next guy, you need to get your own act together and start behaving in a mature way. Otherwise, you’re just going to perpetuate the cycle.

      And you know what? It’s your job to demonstrate to your kids what adult behavior looks like. This is not what you’re doing right now. Maybe you were never shown how adults behave. If that’s the case, it’s time for you to seek out resources to help you learn. Your kids are your primary job, not appeasing the man of the moment.

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      • lets_be_honest May 10, 2012, 12:05 pm

        You would be fed up if your boyfriend asked you for water? Or a date? Or told you he saw a kid do well at baseball?

        I agree LW is exhibiting not mature behavior by being with this guy and letting her kids see these battles, but that’s the only behavior I see where she is at fault. However, seems she is acknowledging this terribly poor behavior by asking how to get away.

      • anonymous May 10, 2012, 1:19 pm

        As she described it, she said, “My therapist says we need to go on a date.” And then waited for him to say, “Well, honey, would you like to go on a date? How about next Thursday?” It’s totally putting the ball in his court. After a while, that’s completely annoying.

        I interpreted the water incident to go something along the lines of “I want some water” as opposed to, “Hey, sweetie, can I get a couple of bucks for some water?” and then walking her ass over to the concession stand to get it.

        Maybe I was wrong, but I saw a LOT of passivity in her letter. And the incident of her kid’s play? Absolutely. In the context of his having stomped off, it was without question an attempt at a dig — “See what you missed?”

      • lets_be_honest May 10, 2012, 1:32 pm

        My head’s kinda spinning at your assertions. Anyway, sure if you want to attach a bitchy tone to her requesting water/dates or interpreting her see what you missed (which I would’ve said too!) the way you are, then you are spinning the letter, however, even if she wrote exactly what you said, it makes his behavior STILL so unbelievably unacceptable. I don’t have to talk in the sweetest, baby-ish tone to receive a bottle of water from my SO. I also can’t attack her for mentioning a date and not planning the entire thing for him. If my SO got annoyed at me for saying I wanted to go out with him more, I’d MOA.

      • Fabelle May 10, 2012, 2:16 pm

        Yeah, anonymous, your responses might be appropriate for a different letter entirely? You’re right that there’s some passivity, but when you look at her boyfriend’s behavior…why do you think that is?

        I think this LW HAS to be passive because the dude blows up at the slightest provocation. Also, @lbh, this exactly: “I don’t have to talk in the sweetest, baby-ish tone to receive a bottle of water from my SO.” If somebody feels like that’s how they need to talk to their SO, it’s usuallyyy because any other tone wouldn’t go over well.

      • Taylor May 10, 2012, 12:17 pm

        “You’re thirsty & don’t have money with you — so HE has to go get you the water? I agree that it would be chivalrous to offer to get it for you — but why not ask him for the money and then go get the water? ”

        It’s her kid’s game! She probably wants to watch it. I see nothing wrong with asking a partner to get one some water (in either way). If he doesn’t want to, he can always say, I don’t want to. The bf’s reactions are ridiculous, and way out of line – it sounds like he was looking for something to react, I wouldn’t tie his reactions in to the LWs requests.

      • Sue Jones May 10, 2012, 1:49 pm

        This guy certainly is not a mensch!!! A healthy relationship people do nice things for each other, nice favors when asked and when not asked. It is a 2 way street. What I get is that this boy is a spoiled immature abusive brat. A taker. I cannot understand how she is getting picked apart for being “passive” when the guy just seems like a moody selfish abusive brute. Unless of course, she refuses to dump his ass!

      • Leroy May 10, 2012, 12:25 pm

        That’s what I’d picked up as well. The whole letter is framed to cast her as a victim, but it’s apparent that she’s playing along.

      • Sue Jones May 10, 2012, 1:42 pm

        Um…what???? I said she should get out, but I do not buy the “She deserved it” crap you are dishing out today. Blaming the victim is a typical abuser tactic. Seriously?????

      • 6napkinburger May 10, 2012, 2:55 pm

        I’m not blaming the victim, because I still have no idea what happened!!

        Based on her letter, clearly this is a horrible horrible relationship for her and she should get out pronto. And if being treated like an abuse victim is what gets that done, I’m all for it. But I can’t necessarily take one fight which was brewing for a while as evidence of abuse; and I can’t make heads or tails of the rest of it.

        Of course, there are random parts of the fight/letter that send off fireworks of warning signals (“I’m going to tell everyone you’re on drugs???? what????), but the idea that he he effectively said “You’re a nut job! go get help, because you’re batshit crazy!!!” doesn’t strike me as automatically abusive. It just sounds like a WWIII kind of fight. The other boyfriend thing could be heinously accusing her of cheating with no basis, to undermine her sense of self worth. OR. It could be a pretty normal tactic of “You don’t like how often we go out? Well, get your other husbands to take you out more because this one is tired of hearing about it!!!” Mature? not so much. A good way of dealing with the issue? no. But I can’t say that that is necessarily abusive either.

        I have no idea if she deserves his responses to her actions because I don’t understand what his responses are and I don’t understand what her actions are. But none of it matters, because she’s miserable. And she certainly doesn’t deserve that.

        Which is why I think she should think of it in whatever light gets the F out of the situation. The letter itself just annoyed me. I hate when things don’t make sense.

      • Leroy May 10, 2012, 5:49 pm

        And something to keep in mind is that she’s seeing a professional therapist, who’s advised her to go on ‘dates’ with the crazy man. I doubt they’d have counseled that if there was evidence that she was in the sort of abusive relationship that might properly qualify her as a victim of domestic violence or abuse. Not all bad relationships constitute abuse. This is likely just your garden variety F-up relationship.

        We’re only getting her disjointed take on what happened. I find it a little hard to believe that this guy is jumping out of cars, and getting all huffy over absolutely nothing. There’s likely another side to the story.

      • Fabelle May 10, 2012, 5:56 pm

        Not all professional therapists are trained in this sort of thing. I’m usually pretty reserved about throwing out the “emotional abuse” label, but this letter just screams it. I think with some LWs you can tell they’re kind of full of shit, but this one seemed pretty raw.

    • CatsMeow May 10, 2012, 1:13 pm

      I tried to break up with my abusive ex in public because I thought there was less of a chance that he would flip out and do something violent. I thought I was safer with witnesses. I can understand that part.

      (He actually punched through a window and got kicked out by security).

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      • 6napkinburger May 10, 2012, 2:59 pm

        And I agree, that is an incredibly smart thing for you to have done and for abused women to do in general.

        But her phrasing was so weird. You just said that you “tried to break up with” your abusive ex. She said “When I tell him I want to leave, he starts making a big scene in public and telling my children that I do not love him and that I am a bad mother.”

        Why did she write “when I tell him…”?? Why not “when I told him.” Why is it continuing? I know I sound like im being nitpicky, but they are SOOO different. To the point that I couldn’t even tell if it was breaking up with him or leaving the mall!! Is this something she does often? Does she constantly tell him that she’s leaving him? Does she mean it? Is it a threat that she’s using? Or it something she is desperately trying to make happen?


      • CatsMeow May 10, 2012, 3:33 pm

        Yeah, I see what you’re saying. But for me, that was actually the ‘first’ time I tried to break up with my ex. It was nearly a year later before I actually got him out of my life entirely.

        I can only talk from my own experience, of course. And of course it completely influences how I interpret this letter, so take it with a grain of salt.

      • GatorGirl May 10, 2012, 3:51 pm

        I took me multiple conversations and times telling my abusive ex that it was over for it to be actually over. We broke up all the time for a year and we weren’t actually. Getting away from an abusive relationship isn’t as simple as saying we’re broken up, there is too much screwy mental stuff going on.

      • CatsMeow May 10, 2012, 4:18 pm

        Yeah. He would either react violently (making me scared to go through with it) or threaten to hurt himself orrrr just pretend like the conversation never happened. I kicked him out SO MANY times.

        But that’s the other thing that might be unique about my situation – I wanted HIM to leave. We were both on the lease, everything in the apartment belonged to ME, and if I left him there he couldn’t/wouldn’t pay rent or bills, thus destroying my credit. I couldn’t afford to break the lease either. And since I was living 2000 miles from home in a place where I knew no one, I had nowhere to go. And HE had nowhere to go.

        NOW I know that there were resources available that could have helped me get around some of those barriers. Like I said, I wish I had reached out for help, but at the time I was clueless and ashamed. All I can do now is try to help others in similar situations (rather than beat myself up over “shoulda coulda woulda”).

      • GatorGirl May 10, 2012, 4:30 pm

        We didn’t even live together and it still took that long! Pretending to never have had the conversation was the funniest. He also would guilt trip me back into the relationship or threaten to hurt himself (he was also diabetic so he could fairly easily hurt himself by over dosing on insulin).And the promising to change over and over and over again. Oh crazies.

  • landygirl May 10, 2012, 11:52 am

    LW, do you really have to ask? Seriously, really? Find some self-respect and DTMFA.

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  • Ravage Maladie May 10, 2012, 11:52 am

    You’re completely right about it not being a very coherent letter. But c’mon:

    “When we both finally got home, it was WW3. He began yelling at me extremely loudly saying I need to go to my other boyfriend and that maybe he could take me on all the dates I need to go on. He told me that I am crazy and I need to be on meds and that he will tell everyone I am on drugs […]”

    This is not just rude. This is eerily off-kilter. Especially when you picture the kids being in another room (hopefully!!) and overhearing it. Don’t you agree (even if the rest doesn’t make a lot of sense)?

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    • Ravage Maladie May 10, 2012, 11:53 am

      Oh, sorry, that was meant to be a reply to 6napkinburger (and by the way I LOVE that screen name!:))

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  • Budj May 10, 2012, 11:53 am

    One question – does your bf know your boss is a female? you mention you were texting a woman, but he is assuming this is a man….that may be the key to this whole issue.

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    • caitie_didnt May 10, 2012, 11:59 am

      Even so, his response is not proportionate. And kind of scary.

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      • Budj May 10, 2012, 12:09 pm

        I agree. Not dismissing it. Totally out of line.

    • Leroy May 10, 2012, 12:18 pm

      I think he’s jealous females in general, because he obviously wants to be a princess.

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  • jubietta May 10, 2012, 12:09 pm

    Getting on with life means having a goal and taking a step everyday toward that goal. Sometimes it’s hard to make those changes without the appropriate motiviation — so starting there can be helpful.

    In my opinion, the best motivating factor in the letter is the kiddos. How can they feel safe and be confident enough to tackle the important things in their lives if mom and her latest guy (and in my experience, looking back, that’s what it was…a string of the-latest-guy) are too busy fighting to provide a safe/secure home. There may be no physical violence going on, but the emotional toll of all that anger being vented in front of them has the potential to become an issue. (So glad there’s a counselor involved.)

    Good mom, bad mom, that’s not a judgement that ought to be made by a lay-person on the outside. And it’s not helpful anyway – it’s a value judgement not specific suggestions for what can be improved. The LW, with help from competent professionals if she needs it, is the only one who knows whether or not she’s “a good mom.” If she can look back over each and every day and know that her kids were never in substantial danger, never came to reasonably preventable harm, that they had the tools they needed to grow, that they learned something about themselves or the world — then that’s evidence of responsible parenting. From the content of the letter I’d say those boxes were not all being checked everyday and that’s where having a goal and taking small steps will help in “getting on with life.”

    (Please take all that with a grain of salt, I am not a parent and don’t play one on TV either.)

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  • Brad May 10, 2012, 12:11 pm

    “He told me that I am crazy and I need to be on meds” – LOL! Sounds to me like he’s the crazy one. Glad you’ve decided to ditch the loser before he gets physically violent with you or the kids. And if you’re really worried he’ll do something violent when you pack up you can always call the local police and have them come over and assist/protect you while you get some things together.

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  • Something More May 10, 2012, 12:28 pm

    Jesus christ – get those kids out of this situation now.

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  • SiSisodaPop May 10, 2012, 12:38 pm

    I don’t have time to read all of the comments, so I apologize if I repreat what someone else said. I was in just about the exact situation as LW until a month ago. Only he is the father of my girls. What the LW described I was living daily for 2 years. I was stupid to have stayed as long as I did – I would leave for a few days and go to my mother’s, but he of course would promise to change and not behave that way anymore, as long as I came home. I kept believeing him when he said he would change. I was stupid. As long as he had me at home (paying all the bills no less) he had no motivation to change.My youngest was only two weeks old when I decided that I could n olonger tolerate the emotional abuse. I had to call 911 to get my children out of our home – he would not let me take them. I had to get a restraining order. The court will grant one for emotional abuse – he doesn’t have to hit you in order to get a prtective order. LW, let me repeat – he does not have to hit you for you to get a restraining order! After the restarining order was granted, the police went to our home and physically removed him. The weight that lifted off my shoulders that day was incredible. The last month has been great. I no longer have to go home to that chit anymore. I don’t have to be afraid of which person I was going home to, the charmong loving husband – or the jealous dilusional emotionally unstable wreck. (he had 2 very different personalities, which I think is typical of abusers)Anyway, my point LW is that there is a way out, and if you are afraid of him, please don’t be afraid to ask for help. Help from friends, family, coworkers, or the court. You can get out – but you need help to do it.I was scared as hell to get the courts involved – but I’m glad I did. And take comfort in the fact that this man is not the father of your children and you will never have to deal with him or his shit again once you get out of there. GET OUT OF THERE ASAP!!!

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  • bittergaymark May 10, 2012, 1:12 pm

    Wait. What’s the problem here? Next time he tries to jump from your speeding car? Let him.

    PS — By staying with this psycho as long as you have, you haven’t exactly been the greatest mother. Hate to be an asshole, here. But seriously, how can any of this be good for your poor kids. This is what they WILL think is normal. Great role modeling there. How do you get through your pain? You just freaking pull on your big girl panties and deal with it. Oh, and you know what? I honestly don’t think you should date anyone for a while. Just focus on you and your kids. Go buy a decent vibrator and be done with it…

    You know, because she has put up with this idiot for as long as she has, this thread could actually be called… My Boyfriend PROVES I’m A Bad Mom. Because a good mom wouldn’t keep a guy like this in her kids’ life…

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    • Yammy May 10, 2012, 1:55 pm

      This was my knee-jerk reaction also. I do think it’s important to note the good mom things going on in this letter though.

      LW, you’re going to therapy, living clean, attending your children’s sporting events, doing fun things with them, you’ve realized that you need get them out of this situation, these are all good mom things. The only bad mom thing that’s really going on here is exposing your children to this man. And that’s a Big One. From one (admittedly too judgmental) mom to another, at your core, I think you are a good mom, but you have got to stop making excuses. Take to heart what the commenters who’ve grown up in similar circumstances. This guy has already hurt your children. Cut ties with him. Change your number, don’t let him know your new address. I think you are strong enough to do it and I look forward to reading your future update about how the kids love thier new home and you haven’t seen hide nor hair of thier former abuser.

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    • a_different_Wendy May 10, 2012, 2:08 pm

      Thank you! I felt bad outright saying “Yes, you are being a bad mother by staying.” So thank you for saying that.

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    • Kristina May 10, 2012, 2:33 pm

      Yup, reminded me of my own parents and why I resent them. It’s not like I was too young to remember anything and it certainly affected me. It’s hard for me to gain sympathy for people in these situations.

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  • SiSisodaPop May 10, 2012, 1:37 pm

    I’m sorry – I gotta say this. Tough love is good, blah blah blah….but some of the comments here are really really harsh – and that is the LAST thing this LW needs right now. She needs direction and support. I’m sure she gets enough criticism at home.

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    • bittergaymark May 10, 2012, 1:51 pm

      I disagree and here is why. In her entire letter, all she talked about how was terrible he was being to her. Did she even once worry at all about what this is like for her kids? Because frankly, I didn’t see any sign of it. She needs to be called out her own bad behavior here simply because she seems painfully unaware of its impact on her poor children who are now caught up in the web of her very bad relationship.

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      • lets_be_honest May 10, 2012, 2:00 pm

        Weird, I agreed with Sisi, but I agree with this too.
        While I’m not going to attack her, I will shout that she needs a MAJOR wake up call to care about these kids and put them first. Hopefully this thread will do just that.

      • SiSisodaPop May 10, 2012, 2:01 pm

        Just because she didn’t say it doesnt mean she is not aware of it – she just may be ashamed that she has put her kids in this situation. Obviously she knows that this relationship is not healthy and she needs to get out – that is why she wrote to Wendy… she is asking for help to figure out how to get out of the situation (relationship) she got herself into. Judging her and “calling her out”, I feel, is counterproductive.I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure that getting into and staying in this relationship already has her doubting herself, her choices, her judgement. Saying things that will only further perpetrate that doubt will not give her the boost, knowledge, or skills needed to walk away from an abuser.

      • bittergaymark May 10, 2012, 2:28 pm

        I respectfully disagree. This entire letter was very whiney and just way to ME! ME! ME! ME! Hell, she even goes so far as to mention that her daughter is in counseling — but only does so in passing she can tell us that SHE is now seeing her daughters counselor!! That alone is just hilariously narcissistic. She meets with her daughter’s therapist, not to talk about her daughter? But to talk about herself? Hilarious…

      • SiSisodaPop May 10, 2012, 2:58 pm

        I agree that she should have made more clear that she is aware that this is affecting her children. I just assumed that her children would be her biggest motivating factor in getting out of her living hell. But I may just be putting too much of my own experience into this. We can just agree to disagree about the appropriateness (sp?) of tough love in this situation.

      • DMR May 13, 2012, 11:30 pm

        Mark, it’s not hilarious.

        Also, when you’re close to someone who is abusive, it’s hard to get a clear picture of how everyone else is being affected. I’d hate to let you onto a domestic abuse hotline.

        “She needs to be called out her own bad behavior”

        I’m usually a nice polite person, even to people I don’t know online. But occasionally exceptions have to be made, so in that spirit, I have to respectfully tell you that you’re an asshole.

        Essentially, I can sum up your approach as this: “blame the victim.” Go you.

        (yeah, I know, the kids are also victims here… but abuse can impair decision making ability; it’s hard in this situation to see the forest for the trees)

    • GatorGirl May 10, 2012, 2:17 pm

      I agree. I don’t think she is asking if she should do something rather HOW she can do something. She pretty clearly states “I do not want to keep going through this. It is making me sick.” She know this is a toxic relationship for herself and her children. Tough love is okay most of the time, but she already knows she needs to leave!

      My suggestions for how to do this are in my post above.

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    • CatsMeow May 10, 2012, 3:12 pm

      I was going to chime in and say something as well. I volunteered for the crisis hotline at a shelter for intimate partner violence, and in all the training we had (and it was very extensive training) they told us over and over and over that it is counterproductive to come at the victims/survivors with the judgmental/harsh/”tough love” approach. You REALLY have to meet them where they are and help them with what THEY want help with. They might not be ready for everything all at once, but the thing is – once you’ve got them – once they’re starting to come around – you CAN’T lose them at that point by berating them for staying too long, or going back, or whatever looks plain as day from the ouside looking in. It DOES sound simple to us – just MOA, right? Unfortunately it’s just not that easy.

      HOWEVER – often voicing *concern* for a victim’s children is effective. Many victims may not be able to see the harm violence does to their family until someone outside the family voices their concern. Judging? Berating? Counterproductive if you actually want to help the person.

      In my own experience, I went to great lengths to hide what was happening because I feared outside judgment. I was already tremendously ashamed of myself and my situation. This woman (the LW) has reached out for help and understanding and I think we should give it to her.

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      • Lili May 10, 2012, 4:15 pm

        Just chiming in to say I wish I could like this 10000x! Your first paragraph is EXACTLY what I too learned at training to volunteer for a DV shelter, and i’m embarrassed to say it took me a long time to even ‘get’ that message. Having never been in that situation really really clouded my perceptions of how I felt that it was ‘easy’ to see the abuse and just leave.

    • d2 May 10, 2012, 6:14 pm

      Thanks for saying this. Being judgmental is never helpful. That’s a basic premise of counseling.

      Of course, helping someone in an unfortunate situation see the effects of their choices is extremely valuable. But doing it in a judgmental fashion is nearly always counterproductive.

      Judy McGuire wrote a nice essay on the Frisky a few years ago explaining the effects. http://www.thefrisky.com/2010-10-26/girl-talk-should-we-ask-why/

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  • Sunshine Brite May 10, 2012, 2:14 pm

    This is not normal behavior. Get those kids out of that volatile situation. Enlist help from sources you could trust, maybe your daughter’s therapist could tell you about domestic violence resources in your area. Stay strong and do not take him back.

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  • Caris May 10, 2012, 8:39 pm

    Him trying (pretending) to hurt himself is something abusers do to get you trapped. Get out of there ASAP, you are putting YOURSELF and your KIDS in DANGER.

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  • ape_escape May 10, 2012, 10:36 pm



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