History of violence repeats itself

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Four months ago I married a convicted violent offender. He has many violent offenses on his record, two of them are domestic. The first time he caught his wife cheating on him . The second his ex girlfriend tried to murder him. He warned me after we were married not to betray him like the two women before me. I thought as long as I was a good wife I would be ok. Three weeks after we were married he threw me down and shattered my phone. A few weeks ago he got angry and started yelling and throwing things when I asked to go to the store. He was about to leave when I turned and walked towards the bedroom. He lunged at me and choked me. He got even more angry when he realized I wasnt looking at him and started to pound my head against the floor. I had two broken ribs, a concussion, sprained neck, and separated shoulder. He has no memory of attacking me. He says I made it all up. My issue is this, the other two women betrayed him in his eyes. I was walking away to avoid a fight. I dont understand what I did to make him attack me. And if he has no memory of trying to kill me how can he tell me he wont do it again? I am terrified of this man. I cant sleep, I weigh 90lbs and I am 5’6″. I weighed 119lbs a month ago. I have no one to go to, no one to help me figure this out.

A: Nothing – absolutely nothing – you did warranted a physical attack! I don’t understand how your husband can deny that he hurt you when you have broken ribs and a separated shoulder. Does he think you made that up too? I’m very, very sorry that you are disappointed to find that the man you married is not who you thought he was. And I’m also very sorry for this man who is so hurt and out of touch with himself that he terribly hurt someone he loves. Whether or not the marriage can be saved, the two of you need some major help right now.

For your husband: Your city has many anger management therapists and classes available. If he loves you and wants to make your marriage work, he needs to take advantage of what is offered. Otherwise, he may hurt you again and may find himself once again in legal trouble. However loving and wonderful he may be in the good times, he won’t be able to control himself when he feels that he is possibly being betrayed yet again. Sadly, he is so sensitive around this issue, it doesn’t take much to make him distrustful and violent.

For you: It’s not true that you have no one to go to. There are many, many qualified therapists in your community. There are pastors and rabbis. And there is a women’s center. Call the Safe Nest for Women at 702-646-4981 and see if they have services that would be helpful. In addition, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233. Counselors are available 24/7 to talk with women in situations much like your own. They can also refer you to local resources. If you are afraid for your safety, please use a computer or phone at your library or at a friend’s house to contact any of these services. Some men get violent if their wife reaches out for help.

Please trust what your body is telling you. You’ve lost 20 pounds in a month. Clearly this situation is dangerous to your health. Get the support you need to safely separate so you both can get the help you need.

I wish you both well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Jan 2010

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2010). History of violence repeats itself. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 17, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/01/21/history-of-violence-repeats-itself/