The Secret to Stopping a Violent Spouse
The on/off cycle of love from an abuser can mess with your mind. Which is real, the over-the-top words of affection or the underhanded, life-threatening acts of violence?
If your mate still loves you, both. And he or she can control one of them, not the other.
No one who loves you will assault you intentionally. Think about this. No one who loves you will assault you intentionally. Assume Love and try to explain the violence. Only one explanation fits: he or she hurts you in spite of choosing not to. Your mate is incapable of protecting you.
Either you are living with someone incapable of protecting you from his or her violence or you are living with someone who no longer loves you. Either is a very dangerous place to be.
This means the apologies and the love that follow mean nothing at all about the abuse. The only thing that will stop the abuse is stopping whatever causes the abusive behavior. That out-of-control rage comes from something that screws with your mate's executive functions in the brain: alcohol, drugs, addiction, mental illness, a brain tumor.
Choosing to face and fix any of those takes a lot more than love. It is much easier to apologize or to find a way to blame you for what happened. The more you overlook, the harder it will become.
New research by psychologists at Ohio State University, reported by Sophia Dembling of Psych Central, pinpoints a critical moment in protecting yourself and your marriage.
If you did not physically separate sooner, this moment holds the secret to stopping the violence.
Your or a neighbor calls the police. They take your abuser into custody. Here is what the researchers found is quite likely to happen to you when your mate phones you from jail. I will use "he" because they studied only male abusers, but I doubt the pattern is limited to men.
First, an angry conversation about what happened or did not happen. You stay strong.
Next, a second angry conversation about it. You stay strong again. You know what happened. He cannot convince you otherwise. You know you are in danger.
That is what the researchers call phase one. He's angry. You are strong.
Phase two is the critical one. He minimizes the abuse, hoping to convince you it was not nearly as serious as what you have done, what he is facing in prison. He may tell you how much he misses you and the kids or even that he is so depressed by what happened that he will kill himself.
He wants your sympathy. As soon as he gets it, you head off into phase three, which is a very dangerous place for both of you. In phase three, you side with him against every possible source of help to get him well and make you safe.
He wants your sympathy. He knows every one of your buttons to push to get it, too, because he knows you well. He wants your sympathy because jail is scary for anyone but overwhelming to anyone with an addiction that demands to be fed constantly.
No matter what words he chooses, you will know they are the lies born of an addiction or mental illness. You will know this because his loving side would care deeply about the harm done to you. If it were accidental, he would care about it even more than you do. You would have plenty of his sympathy. He would offer to bear your pain if he could.
If he seeks your sympathy, there is nothing you can do to help him now, especially not allowing him to ignore his out-of-control behavior and its consequences. If he threatens suicide, report it to the warden, so they can take away any means of killing himself.
The most loving act you can do right now is leave him to deal with the consequences of his behavior in a place that prevents him from doing any further harm to the person he loves. It will surely require a lot of courage to deal with his problem. Sympathy will only get in the way.
The secret to stopping a violent spouse is to keep your sympathy for yourself and your marriage until he deals with his problem.