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advice on sensitive subject - NWR

Hi all -

I usually just lurk, but I'm looking for some insight into something.  I am trying to counsel a friend and don't feel like I can ask anyone IRL - I'm the only one she's confided in and I don't want anyone to think badly of her or her H.

I'm trying to figure out the difference between having a temper and emotional abuse.  Friend's H is great most of the time, but he has a terrible temper and lashes out occasionally, and occasionally at her.  He has never touched her in anger - he seems to be all bark and no bite, but the barking is pretty bad.  

Friend is very low-key and mellow, and I've never known her to be argumentative, so this is hard for her to deal with.  She says her H can never admit to being wrong - to the point of blaming her and screaming at her after she was robbed at a bar one night.  He showed absolutely no sympathy for her and blamed her entirely - if she had been more careful she wouldn't have had her purse and wallet stolen.

I don't know what to tell her.  He obviously doesn't think he has a problem, and she calls me crying that she thinks her husband hates her.  He has told her that she needs to toughen up and just handle it, because his temper shouldn't be such a big deal.  He grew up with a father that acted just like he acts now.

What should I tell her?  I think counseling is in order, if only for her.  When does a bad temper cross the line into verbal/emotional abuse?
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Re: advice on sensitive subject - NWR

  • It sounds to me like it has crossed the line into abuse.  If it was just "a temper" she certainly wouldn't be thinking that her husband hates her, you know?

    The fact that he doesn't think he has a problem is a red flag to me.  I think they should go to couples counseling and he needs to go to anger management courses.

  • Amy, when I was reading your post, I felt like I was reading about my friend. You're not alone in not knowing what to do when it comes to friend's and bad-tempered bf's. You can't see me, but I'm hugging my phone and pretending it's you. Well, not really because that would be weird, but you know what I mean. I have no good advice because I struggle with this too. I'm beginning to see how common this really is. Guys who would never DEIGN to hit a woman just don't realize that verbal abuse is abuse, too.
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  • I agree about the anger management course.  I forgot to mention that she has asked him to do just that, but he refuses.  I guess you can't force someone to do that unfortunately.
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  • In Response to Re: advice on sensitive subject - NWR:
    [QUOTE]Amy, when I was reading your post, I felt like I was reading about my friend. You're not alone in not knowing what to do when it comes to friend's and bad-tempered bf's. You can't see me, but I'm hugging my phone and pretending it's you. Well, not really because that would be weird, but you know what I mean. I have no good advice because I struggle with this too. I'm beginning to see how common this really is. Guys who would never DEIGN to hit a woman just don't realize that verbal abuse is abuse, too.
    Posted by Simply Fated[/QUOTE]
    Thank you.  I actually just teared up reading this - I feel so terrible and I don't know who to ask for advice IRL, so it's good to get some feedback.
    I truly believe that he would never lay a hand on her, but what she describes doesn't sound much better.  I know she feels so ashamed to even admit how he treats her sometimes - I think she confided in me because she had nowhere else to turn, so I want to be the best friend I can be.
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  • Blaming someone for getting robbed at a bar when it's not their fault is crossing a line to me. 


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  • In Response to Re: advice on sensitive subject - NWR:
    [QUOTE]Emotional abuse is horrible and painful. It's like getting slapped across the brain instead of the face. I dealt with a father like this and grew up thinking I was a stupid girl who could never do anything right. I dated a guy who was exactly the same. I was afraid to speak or do anything, for fear he'd yell at me. Tell her to seek counseling right away. I feel so bad for her. :(
    Posted by burntofferings[/QUOTE]
    Wow - that is a powerful image.  Thank you.
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  • In Response to Re: advice on sensitive subject - NWR:
    [QUOTE]He crossed the fnish line long ago. I think the worst abuse is verbal and emotional.  You KNOW someone is wrong, and has abused you, when they hit you.  When the person never lays a hand on you, claims they love you, but batters you with words - it's easier to explain it away, or make excuses. She needs to call her local domestic violence center NOW.  They both need counseling. Most abusers will deny that they're abusers. Ask them if they hate their victim, and they will vehemently deny it.  They're making excuses for themselves at the same time the victim does. Ask her how she'll feel if they have children down the road, and he does this to them.  Does she really think  life will ever get different? That things will get better? The abuse may escalate over the years as well. It could turn it into physical.  He's already dehumanized her in his mind. It's a very short step. Do you know her family? Speak to them, too. I'm sure there are folks who will say to stay out of it, or not to approach her other family members. I say, WRONG.  Anyone who sees abuse has a moral obligation to go to any lengths, and use any means necessary, to stop it.  Behind every woman and child who lies in a grave because of abuse was someone who could have reached out, but didn't, because "it wasn't their place."  If it's not your place, whose is it?
    Posted by RetreadBride[/QUOTE]Thank you.  You and PP are making me realize that this is probably more serious than she has let on.  
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  • "Anyone who sees abuse has a moral obligation to go to any lengths, and use any means necessary, to stop it.  Behind every woman and child who lies in a grave because of abuse was someone who could have reached out, but didn't, because "it wasn't their place."  If it's not your place, whose is it?" This has me thinking.
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  • I'm so sorry that you ladies are dealing with this and even worse that your friends are in an abusive relationship.  Try to ask your friend if she would like it if he spoke to their future children like that.  If his father acted that way towards him youc an be damn sure that he is going to act like that to his children.  Sometimes when it comes to kids women's eyes open up a little more to the truth and stop makign the excuses.
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  • Abuse takes many forms, and IMO emotional abuse can be as damaging as physical abuse. I'd refrain from saying bad things about the guy, which could make her defensive. I'd say that I was concerned for her, and I'd focus on facts. As in, she's called you repeatedly crying over things he's said and done, and he refuses to look at his issues. Focus on how much you care about her, let her know that you're there for her no matter what, and that you're concerned for her emotional health. You can't convince her to leave him, but you can let her know that she deserves to be happy, and that she can count on you for support. I'm glad she has someone like you to confide in. I'm biased, since I'm a therapist, but I think everyone can benefit from therapy. If you choose to bring it up, I'd frame it as a source of support for her. Good luck.
  • It already has crossed to verbal and emotional abuse.  I divorced a guy who was emotionally abusive, but in different ways.  They don't all do the same thing and usually will not have everything on a checklist.  I never knew if it was bad enough to warrant leaving because it was very much my norm. 

    What helped me "see the light" was educating myself on it.  Then I realized it was not improving, it was bad enough to leave, and it was the best decision ever.

    I'd buy her these books, start with the first two:

    Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men by Lundy Bancroft

    Should I Stay or Should I Go?: A Guide to Knowing if Your Relationship Can--and Should--be Saved by Lundy Bancroft and JAC Patrissi

    The Verbally Abusive Relationship: How to recognize it and how to respond by Patricia Evans

    The Verbally Abusive Man, Can He Change?: A Woman's Guide to Deciding Whether to Stay or Go by Patricia Evans



    Question: Does he act like this towards anyone else besides his wife?  Can he control himself with other people in social situations?  Then it's not an anger management issue.
  • ginadogginadog member
    1000 Comments 5 Love Its
    edited January 2012
    And a book for friends of victims:

    To Be an Anchor in the Storm: A Guide for Families and Friends of Abused Women by Susan Brewster

    Couples counseling is not usually the answer when there is abuse involved.
    http://www.escapeabuse.com/?p=117
  • I do agree that speaking up is important, but please be careful about what you say about him. Think of what one of us would do if a friend said something bad about our FI/DH. Our impulse is to defend our loved ones, even if we know in our hearts that it's true. That's why I would encourage you to focus on your friend's well-being and repeating facts that she's told you. Most women need to leave an abusive partner six times before she stays away permanently. Try to stay patient and non-judgmental, and that'll help her immensely.
  • It's really hard to hear but most of the time they just have to figure things out n their own.  I had a friend in a physically abusive relationship and it just took her time to get away, she just would not listen to anybody.  just talk to your friend and tell her she has options and you will stick with her but ultimately it is up to her to decide whether to leave or not
  • temper = mad
    abuse = mad, and taking it out on you because you brought it on yourself, you deserve it, you are flawed and weak for being hurt by it, and I don't need help - you do.

    If she was robbed and he victimized her again when she came home, he's long since crossed the line.

    National Domestic Violence Hotline, phone number listed on the website.  I know, it hasn't gotten to hitting (yet,) but they'll still be able to help.
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  • Op, I grew up with a verbally and sometimes physically abusive father. It leaves scars that people can't see, but are just as real. My father didn't think there was anything.wrong with him either. He even once had a serious talk with me about not letting a man hit me. I would try to get your friend into counselinf asap. Talk.to any of her close friends who could help. Support.her and stay silent about him. I take the approach that it IS my business. There were so many times when I was growing up that I wished someone would HELP us. But everyone thought my dad couldn't be a bad guy, so no one got invokved. It's awful.to feel that alone and to feel that there is something wrong with me for wanting help. Don't let.your friend feel that either.
  • He DOES hate her.

    A man who loves his wife would never do the things you've described.

    A friend would never do the things you've described.

    I would have left after the purse/bar incident.  At my most vulnerable and violated, someone who yells at me and says it's my fault has just punched his ALONE ticket.  That's a man who hates his wife and wants to drive her away.

    He's either a power-drunk nut who needs to belittle people to keep himself pumped up, or he's having an affair and his guilt is making him bully his current wife to make her leave so he can fully pursue his new love.

    Personally, I would not need to go to counseling to find out WHY he hates me.  The multiple scenes of evidence that he DOES would be enough.

    But if she's looking for a way to "change" him (which rarely works), she could schedule a meeting with their wedding officiant and talk to him/her.  Then have the officiant schedule a meeting with the two of them, or the two of them and their parents, and have the officiant discuss these things in the meeting.  The officiant could call it "the usual two year check-up" or something else that makes this look like every single couple married by him/her in that church/temple/facility has to come in for a two-year check-up, etc.
  • Beware of couples counseling for an abusive relationship.  When an abuser goes to couples counseling, he or she learns how to game the system, how to play the counselor, trick them into thinking they're making progress...and they learn new weapons to use against the victim.  Abusers are charmers when they have to be - it's how they lure the victim in in the first place.  Counseling just gives such a master manipulator more tools to draw from 

    My abusive estranged sister is in counseling now, and people who know the situation are more impressed than ever about all these wonderful introspective things she's learning about herself...that somehow make it all my fault.

    She can't change him, but she can seek individual counseling to give her the courage to leave.
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  • Thanks everyone for your helpful words. You have given me a lot to think about and armed me with some great advice.
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  • As a woman who has been verbally and physically absused in the past I will say that in my situation the verbal abuse came first and it eventually escalated to physical violence.  I won't go into detail because it is rather painful and upsetting.  Plus, this thread is about your friend and her immediate need.

    Your friend needs to address this situation immediately.  At this point, there is a good possability the marriage can be saved with counseling, but you don't want her to be harmed.  Plus, it will be good for her self worth to realize that either 1.  Her husband does love her and he learns to show her he does or 2.  She leaves the situation and is better off.
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  • What scares me is the one time he crosses that second line (into physical abuse), who knows what would happen then?

    I agree with others, be her friend, support her, don't judge her if she needs some time to figure out what she wants to do.  He needs some counseling or she needs to leave him.
  • Ali092011Ali092011 member
    1000 Comments Second Anniversary 5 Love Its
    edited January 2012
    I think anytime name calling, blaming, or belittling enters the picture, it becomes abuse.

    You sound like a wonderful friend, and it sounds like you're going to go about helping her the right way. I think you can make a world of difference for her.

    Good luck!

    (Edited for spelling.)
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  • When my FI yells at me, he apologizes...he does not blame me or tell me to suck it up, he admits he shouldn't have yelled and we talk it over and both feel better. When I yell at him, I likewise apologize and we talk it over...it's called communication and it's healthy in a relationship when tempers boil over.

    This does sound like abuse, not just a temper - just be there for your friend and help guide her to the choices she needs to make.
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  • I think he's crossed the line into abuse. And I'm afraid he will cross the line from verbal abuse to physical abuse sooner than later. It's a slippery slope. He knows he can bully and belittle her verbally already- he will push the envelope.

    Please urge your friend to seek individual counseling and help for this issue.

    She has a great friend in you! :)
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  • You are a great friend, and she is lucky to have you in her life.  He has crossed the line into abuse, and help is needed all around.  Definitely bring it up gently and in a caring manner.  If she is suspecting this is abusive behavior, talking to her may cause her to seek out professional help faster.  If she isn't thinking it's abuse just yet, at least you are planting the seed that she can reach out to you when she's ready.  She may not be ready just yet, but you can definitely be there for her until she is.

    I grew up with an emotionally and verbally abusive father, and it wasn't until I was in college and had a professor point out to me that what I grew up with was not healthy that I realized I needed help. I couldn't make my father go to counseling, but I could get my butt to a therapist and get some assistance dealing with things.  Sometimes having someone else point out the writing on the wall in front of you is all that's needed to cause a shift in thinking.  I'll never forget my professor for speaking up and telling me what I didn't want--but completely needed--to hear. 
  • I didn't read through all the responses but definitely remind your friend that abuse doesn't stop at physical. I was verbally and emotionally abused in a former relationship. He became extremely manipulative and would talk me out of leaving him because "nobody else will ever love you"

    Be there for your friend. I had people who tried to coach me out of the relationship but I had to change my own mind and decide that I deserved better... (even though people were telling me that the whole time).  By time I left, I was threatened harm, so it was escalating to physical abuse level... I collected enough "evidence" via a voicemail he left me that I probably could have gotten a restraining order, but I never needed to use it, luckily.  I told him not to call again because I WAS getting a restraining order. Also easier for me since we lived several hours away at that point.

    Sorry for you and your friend. Its a tough path.
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  • My FI has a bad temper.He does none of the mentioned things. 

     This guy sounds completely out of line. Any person that has a heart wouldnt blame a victim for being robbed.
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