Trapped in an Abusive Marriage

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

This is both a typical and an atypical marriage. My husband and I have been married nearly eighteen years. We have three young children. The first four years were filled with extreme violence and people begging me to leave. I used drugs and alcohol to cope. My husband convinced me I was the problem. I felt like a prisoner with nowhere to go. I could not leave and stay gone. Now, it is fifteen years later, with three children. The violence is gone, I have fifteen years of sobriety and have accomplished a great deal, but my husband has not changed.

Although he is no longer violent, he yells, ignores, punishes, chastises, and so on, but he doesn’t swear. He always says I swear too much. He is angry. He is a victim. He is a martyr. The clencher for me is not any single event but finally realizing what the truth is. I see everything and I’m different. But now, I still can’t leave.

He will throw me under the bus so-to-speak and try to destroy me. I figure it is easier to stay and deal with constantly trying to protect myself and my children from his tirades and insults…but no name calling and swearing, just “constructive criticsim and so on.” He refuses help. I am over thinking I’m the problem. I want to love and be loved, but I do not have resources and family and friends to get out. I don’t want to destroy my children in this process.

I dream of other men all the time now. I don’t want to be rescued. I just want a better life. My husband also refuses to take care of us financially. He works, but I’ve had to scramble to make ends meat. I do everything while he plays video games. I want the silver bullet that says it’s okay to run, here’s how and don’t look back. I really want someone to hear me.

A: Sadly, your marriage is indeed typical of an abusive one. You have been so worn down that you believe your husband’s assessment of you. You are not helpless. You are not stuck in this relationship. You deserve better. Your children deserve to grow up in an environment that is safe. You don’t want your children to think that this is a normal relationship and, even worse, to repeat it in their own lives.

You made an important first step in writing. The next step is to contact your local women’s center. Every city and county has one. I did an Internet search and found three in and around your city.

Women’s Centers provide counseling, support groups, and practical help to women in your situation. Many even have shelters for women and their children who need a place to be while they get on their feet and establish a new life. Often services are low-cost or free. Please make an appointment and find out what resources are availabe to you.

Your children need you to be strong and to protect them. You deserve to get out of this situation and to find someone who can love and cherish you.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 1 Feb 2012

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2012). Trapped in an Abusive Marriage. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 22, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2012/02/01/trapped-in-an-abusive-marriage/