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You Asked: How Can I Get Over My Husband's Abusive Past?

You Asked: How Can I Get Over My Husband's Abusive Past?

Dear Sugar--

I have been married to my husband for almost 21 years. To many people he appears the perfect husband, and in a way he is. He can cook, will help around the house and with the children and is generally very good to me. However, I have a problem.

When we were first married, for the first few years, every time we got into an argument he would hit me. He caused black eyes on occasion, made my nose bleed and left me with bruises. Every time it happened he was remorseful afterwards and promised that it would never happen again and eventually he did stop hitting me.

He is however still quite threatening in his stance when we have an argument now, and although I do actually believe that he wouldn't hit me again, every time we fight, it brings back vile memories for me. He denies any current threatening attitude, and admittedly that is all it is really, and he gets upset when I mention the past.

He is a good husband in so many ways, but these memories have put a distant shadow over our marriage. I have five lovely children, and I want really to keep the marriage alive for them. Do you think that I can ever get rid of this ghost?

--Hurting Helene

To see DEARSUGAR's answer

Dear Hurting Helene--

I have to say that part of me is a little sad that you are still with him after the way he's treated you, but I do understand that he's the father of your children and it sounds like he's changed his ways (slightly). Abuse isn't just physical, and although he's stopped hitting you, it sounds like he still is holding power over you emotionally with his threatening personality. That's still a form of abuse, and it worries me, for both you and for your children.

You say that you want to keep the marriage going for the sake of your five kids, but if you are unhappy or if they see him act negatively towards you, you run the risk of them growing up thinking that is "normal" behavior, which we all know is very false. It sounds like you two need some counseling, both together and on your own. Talking about the past will make you feel better, will make him realize how wrong his reaction to anger is, and will help prevent abuse in the future.

I do believe that people can change, but if these threatening behaviors continue, for the mental health and safety of you and your five children, you have got to find a way to get away from him until he can treat you and your children with love and respect. I know that's easier said then done, but there are many women's programs available or you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or TTY 1-800-787-3224) so you don't have to deal with this alone. Good luck Helene.


Gizselle Gizselle 10 years
I know what you are going through. Physical abuse from a spouse or lover is different from some stranger smacking you etc because it hurts more mentally and emotionally than physically. I'd say pray on it really hard and ask if this is the relationship for be honest (and this is also a hard truth for me to swallow as well) a man who will hit you once will hit you again.
Rachie-Rees Rachie-Rees 10 years
I know where you are coming from, just over six months ago my husband used to hurt me too...I got a protection order and he was ordered by a judge to do a anger management programme. I feel that same tension as you when we argue, and I tell him to stay well clear from me, and remind him he could face getting locked up if he touches me. So he has shown me in the last six or more months that he can address the problem without violence and is now a nicer calmer, person that will sit and listen and help find a resolve. sometimes my dad will come and chat and see what he can do..... I suggest you hang in there, tell him how the situation makes you feel, and ask if he can stand further away out of your personal space and talk, to show you he will not touch you! Remind him you love him and that you both need counselling! Ultimately its your decision? I am only telling you about what I did to help mine which is simular, no children involved!
juliemyjewel juliemyjewel 10 years
Do not stay in an abusive marriage "for the kids". You are not doing the kids any favors. It will teach your boys it's ok to hit women, and teach your girls that it's ok to be hit. Is that really what you want? They would be better off with a strong mother, not a passive woman.
auddie auddie 10 years
If you want to make this marriage work, you BOTH need to go to marriage counseling and work through the issues surrounding his abuse. There is no other way that will allow you to move forward; you will be stuck where you are right now forever. It is a sad fact, but the only abusers who truly ever change 100% are those who initially seek help of their own accord. Meaning they hit once or twice, realize what they've down, and seek help on their own, without anyone else's intervention. Counseling is the only way that your marriage and trust in him can be repaired. This isn't a quick fix, it is an ongoing process to make it through this.
vmruby vmruby 10 years
I agree with most of the other posters.If it were me i would slap the shit out of him the very first time he ever raised his hands to me (which by the way would be the last time too)and then put his sorry abusive ass to the curb....
Muirnea Muirnea 10 years
Good luck, I hope everything works out for you!!!
Muirnea Muirnea 10 years
I really agree with Masqueraded_Angel. To answer your question I would say don't get rid of "the ghost", you need to remember what happened. Whether he has really changed now or not, he does not deserve you, and you and your children deserve much better.
Masqueraded_Angel Masqueraded_Angel 10 years
You know what I think? I think you're still making excuses for him. You're somewhat blaming yourself, and you're defending his behavior. Although you are asking for help, which is admirable. I agree with whomever commented before about abuse not just being physical. There are so many aspects to abuse that it's almost sickening. I think as long as you're in this marriage, you'll secretly be scared for your safety as well as your childrens'. I would normally suggest counseling (because you are married) but once any abuse comes in, I would walk away. As for your children, there are so many organizations out there that will help you get on your feet with your children. It's not impossible, so don't doubt yourself. Hey...if I was able to get out of a physically abusive relationship with my baby boy, you can too.
junebrug junebrug 10 years
This an abusive marriage, it was then and it is now. My first instinct is to tell you to take the kids and leave him, because even if the physical abuse is over (for the moment), the emotional abuse is not. Clearly he's not over his anger issues. But there's something between the lines of your letter that scares the sh*t out of me (beyond the fact that you spend most of the letter defending him). If you tried to leave, what do you think he would do? Please seek a counselor, a therapist, a religious leader, law enforcement, anyone who is local and can be with you when you talk to your husband. Anything we have to say may help or may make it worse. Perhaps I'm off the mark and simply talking to a religious leader or counselor will help him stop being so angry and everything will fine. But I didn't buy that line even when I was writing it. Talk to someone right away, and I'm wishing the best for you and your kids.
ethiopian_princess ethiopian_princess 10 years
I think it's difficult to fully forgive someone you still perceive as a threat. You say you don't think he'd hit you, but I think some part of you probably still fears it, particularly if he doesn't know how to discuss issues rather than get into a fight. I've come to realize this lately: forgiving someone is a process. A very lengthy process. For as long as you remember it, you will have to work constantly to trust him and he has to work constantly to ensure that he is worthy of this trust. I thought I forgave someone who was out of my life. Didn't even think about him mostly and when I did, it was never hateful. That is until he contacted me. I disliked him before I forgave him. Now, my feelings towards him border on hatred.
andreadeann andreadeann 10 years
You have already moved on from the abuse by staying in the marriage. If he is not abusing you currently you need to find a way to truly forgive him, but under no circumstances do you forget. You say that you believe he will not hurt you again but everytime you think of this you hurt. You say that he doesn't like for you to bring it up but in order to feel safe he needs to understand that even his stance makes you afraid. You should be able to say to him, "I am still afraid." If he makes no effort to comfort you the abuse is present it is just not the physical brand but emotional. Many Blessings to you, sincerely......
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