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Addendum: When I first wrote this piece I did not use the word "abuse." (I guess I had suspected it before. That's another story of another situation in which I suffered abuse. So, I shoved the idea out of my consciousness.) I did not see it that way until I read last Wednesday’s Q&A . That put the words to it in my mind; shoved it, in fact, down my psyche. What if you switched the male and female pronouns in my experience.


This is the tip of the iceberg of my personal story and it is far from over. I offer it in the hopes that it might help other men who are in similar situations.

***

"Bob" is a blogger still struggling with his experience, and therefore unable to link to his blog here.
.

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Comments

55 comments
JD
JD

You have suffered... No-one should be put through that, having your children used as a weapon, having your pride as a human being taken from you. Abuse is abuse, regardless of age or gender.

I honour you for saying 'no'. I honour you, for publishing this post. And I sincerely hope that you, your children, and your wife, find peace.

Tanna
Tanna

Thank you for your courage in sharing this.

My parents have been divorced for about 10 years and I'm convinced my father married a woman who abuses him. His entire attitude changed and he became nasty towards his kids. Two of us walked away and haven't spoken with him since and the other will continue to feel the trickle-down effects for a while. Prior to this, he was a kind, gentle, caring man; something is taking a toll and from the little awfulness I witnessed, I hope it's not the tip of the iceberg.

Taking care of yourself and living as a good example for your children makes a world of difference, I know. Keep up the good work!

Shelli
Shelli

My boyfriend was, and in some ways is still, being abused by his ex-wife. She has his self-esteem so low that he feels worthless. I thank my studying of social work for being able to understand why he is sometimes unable to be there for me emotionally. I know there is a greiving process he must go through, and I intend to be there for him while he heals.

He stayed "because of the kids". I don't think this is always a wise decision. Being in an abusive relationship is NEVER good for the kids. I commend you for being strong enough to tell us your story! Good luck!

Liz
Liz

I know that we have the divorce and custody laws that we do because so many women spent so long with the short end of the legal stick, and I'm grateful. But, every time I see a man in the situation of a bad, bad marriage, afraid to leave because he knows he's almost certainly forfeiting his children, I can't help but feel the injustice.

Thank you for sharing your experience. I wish you the best.

dab
dab

'"Bob" best of luck to you. My brother is only beginning to realize the extent of his wife's manipulation and abuse--I don't know if he'll get to the point of realizing abuse is the word. So much of the crap we all witnessed we would have recognized as abuse had the genders been reversed. She isn't physically violent, but so, so, so manipulative and controlling. I wish I'd spoken up sooner to him, but don't know if he would have listened.

C,
C,

"(oh, yes, how could I forget how often she said she would take the house, the children and everything she could from me if I divorced her?) "

I have heard those words all too often :( (although it's a he in my situation) stay strong

Heather from DE
Heather from DE

I hope that you continue to stay strong and that you are able to get your kids out of that situation as well. many hugs to you!

Meg
Meg

My dad died when I was 14... but I believe - KNOW - I'm a good mother. I"m sorry you experienced this. Be strong, do what you know is right. Your kids are lucky to have you.

Maura
Maura

Sometimes I'm overwhelmed when visiting here because the courage it takes to tell a story that hurts so much is just huge, and the wisdom, love and caring people express in the comments is heart-swelling.

I'm sorry that you have been so hurt like this, Bob. But I'm glad that you're taking back the parts of yourself that have been so battered. Sharing your story reminds of all that we shouldn't make assumptions about gender roles and that we never know what someone else is going through behind closed doors. I wish you nothing but the best as you work your way back to the person you deserve to be.

Bob
Bob

I'm still reading, folks. Thank you so very much. Each one of you are helping me!

I am exhausted and working alot. Also getting to spend some time with my children thankfully, despite the separation. Please forgive me for not reaching out to each and every one of you commenting here.

But, believe me, this is a huge part of my therapy. Soon, I will be able to reach out to others as you have here.

Dory
Dory

Bob, as bad as your experience was/is, your bravery in stepping forward is going to change someone's life. Whether it's a male who suddenly realizes that it's abuse (and it's time to just call a "spade" a "fucking shovel"), or a female who suddenly realizes that she's destroying his heart one word at a time. Thank you for speaking out and making a difference.

Eaton Bennett
Eaton Bennett

I haven't read one story on this blog that hasn't shocked me. Yours shocks me too and saddens me. I am so sorry that you have had to live with such distress and hurt and confusion. I sincerely hope that your future will be stronger, with more peaceful moments and genuine love.
Eaton.

Sue
Sue

I am proud of you for learning to take care of yourself and to set boundaries.

The worst part of this abuse is the believing it. It is so hard to escape, because part of the way abusers work is first to isolate you and then demean you while you are in a vacuum and don't have other input to counteract their words.

I was told "What IS it that you know how to do?" when I apologized for not doing something good enough. "You think you're funny, but you're not," when I made a joke. "You'll never find anyone as good as me."

I have been alone for 3 years. Being alone is much preferable to being with the abuse.

I hope you find your happiness.

Fran
Fran

Bob, Thank you for sharing. I often make the sexist assumption that women are the victims. Your tale is so poignant. I pray that you are able to break free. I'm glad you spoke out here, and I hope that you are able to work through this struggle.

Bless you,

Emma
Emma

Thank you for speaking out. It is important to not get stuck in the rut of thinking that abusers come in one shape or size or gender. Anyone who displays abusive behavior is an abuser, regardless of the gender etc. of the abuser or the victim/survivor. speaking out is hard, thank you for your courage.

Rachael
Rachael

Thank you for sharing your story. Stories of male survivors of domestic violence or sexual assault are WAY too few, even though it happens. I am glad you are realizing now that you deserve better.

FreedomFirst
FreedomFirst

I'm glad you wrote this. I do not understand how a woman can live with a man and treat him that way. And I read the book Leslie referred to, it is a wonderful book although not every wife is willing to accept it. It helped me at a time when I was very frustrated with things I didn't understand.

I'm glad I read your comment about her telling your personal information around. I covered for my husband's drug addiction so long that I thought I was going to lose my mind, and finally I started talking to family members and friends. I only talk to people who either don't know him or who I believe will have his back, although I made a mistake with his mother since she began to be openly abusive towards him. There were many things I didn't understand about their relationship that have since become clearer. But our counselor told me I need to be more careful, so I'm trying to bite my tongue these days and just trust that things are getting better.

I would suggest really trying hard to stick with a single counselor. I know you have to find one you can get along with first. But it takes a long time for all the issues to come out, and moving around means you have to start over again each time and lose all that work.

I agree with the people who say to get help for yourself. Even if you stay in counseling with your wife, make sure you don't go back if you aren't comfortable, and get a counselor just for yourself if you need it. I don't know how your counselor does things, but ours offered individual meetings if we wanted them. We don't feel we need them but it might be something you could ask about. Especially if your wife is dominating the conversations or cutting you off when you try to make a point.

I applaud you for thinking of your kids. Too many men cut and run over far less. God bless you.

Sandi
Sandi

Your story sound sso similar to my brother's story. Fortunately, she finally met another man over the internet and left him or he never would have left her. With distance he has gotten clarity. While she attempted to push friend sand family away, we stayed on the sidelines and came running back when it was over. Reach out to those friends and family she isolated you from. I am sure you will be pleasantly surprised by the support you will receive from them.

christina564
christina564

Somehow someone that I love called my house while she was fighting with her husband. I wasn't home, so the answering machine recorded every single word that was said. I was sick in my heart, bones, mind, and every ounce of my being to hear the words said by this woman to her husband. This woman is my family, but her husband needs to walk! She needs serious help. I am afraid of the type of mother that she is.

I played the message to the woman to hear herself. I'm praying for her and her family.

Thank you for sharing.

kateanon
kateanon

I know it's so hard as a man to be in this situation, I've seen men reluctant to talk or ask for help. I wish you all the best.

Joy
Joy

Bob, thak you for sharing your story, and I commend you for your courage. I hope that you and your children find some peace, calmness, and love.

Rebecca
Rebecca

Thanks for sharing your story. I have a good friend who's wife turned on him after 10 years of seemingly happy marriage. She took their son away, accused him of abuse, implied that he was a pedophile, every horrible thing possible. He always says that one of the nicest things my husband and I did for him during that difficult time was ask him to babysit our son, showing our trust in him that he was the victim in the situation.

Emily R
Emily R

thank you for speaking out

pamela
pamela

The truth will set you free.
Blessings.

Another Suburban Mom
Another Suburban Mom

Good for you for calling the abuse exactly what it is...abuse.

I can only hope that you can get your children away from her as well.

Bravo my friend.

"Bob"
"Bob"

Usually I am not at a loss for words, but I am now. I wish I had the time and strength to respond to each one of you that have commented so far.

I feel raw. I want to put my head down and sob. I want to yell out in anger. I want to lay down and sleep for a week.

Then again, I feel inspired. I no longer feel totally alone. Mojo and Hurting: wow.

I am reclaiming my life now. The vibrant life that once filled this shell of a soul is on it's way back.

I am going to be reading this page so often that if it were on paper, it'd eventually fall apart.

Thank you. Thank you all. From the shortest comment to the longest, I need every single one.

And thanks to Maggie for her selfless work here.

Bless you all.

Jenny, Bloggess
Jenny, Bloggess

I think it's incredibly brave of you to share this story. Your courage is inspiring.

Kay
Kay

Thank you so much for having the courage to speak out - despite the societal assumption that all domestic violence victims are female.
Like it was mentioned, if we switched the "he" and "she", people would be outraged and overwhelmingly supportive. It's sad that so many can't recognize that abuse can happen to ANYONE, male or female.
Good for you for getting out, and I truly hope that you can find peace with your decision to leave (or that your wife gets the help she so desperately needs to change), and wish you the best with your sons. To hear your son say those words must have been heartbreaking. It must be so hard to know that this is what your boys are growing up seeing - I'm sure they will one day thank you for teaching them that NO ONE deserves to be abused. When it gets hard, keep trying to remember that you're doing it for them too.

Mojo
Mojo

When the bruises don't show it's hard to think of it as abuse. But ya know Bob, a lot of your story resonates with me. I hear a lot of my own history in your words, but I never used the word "abuse" to describe it. I just remember how bad it felt. The isolation from the people who would have cared, the humiliation any time we were in public, being the butt of every joke -- most of them deeply personal -- and laughing along with them just to keep from crying. Or worse.

And staying in the marriage because "who wanted to hear my sad-ass story anyway?" For years. Pretending it didn't matter, accepting that it must be my fault, wanting to leave, wanting even more to stay and make it work.

And finally realizing that it wasn't ever gonna work. And part of the reason was my fault. Because it was easier to "go along to get along" than it was to fight it. Saddest of all really is that I'd probably still be married to that woman if she hadn't traded me in on a boy toy. At the time I was devastated (I even blamed myself for that), and looking at it now I can't for the life of me imagine why. It may have been the one nice thing she ever did for me.

Whatever happens with you from here, I'm glad you had the guts to tell your story. Maybe it'll go easier because you did. Having done it the hard way, I can tell you it sure won't be any more difficult because you did. And at the end of it all, you'll be stronger for it.

Not to mention happier. And healthier.

I wish you all the best my friend. Yours is a difficult road, but you have friends here -- friends that she can't corrupt. Take that with you as you go, okay?

Aunt Becky
Aunt Becky

Bob, I'm so sorry you're being treated this way. No one should make you feel so badly about yourself--no one. You're a human being who deserves respect. I'm so sorry.

I hope that you are able to work things out. I'll be thinking of you.

Tricia
Tricia

I can't really imagine the pain and angst men must feel who want to leave a relationship. For all intensive purposes, our society and our family court system would allow, in the "interest" of your children, for your wife to in fact make you relinquish your home, possessions and most important....your kids. Our society still does not value the roll of fathers and we assume domestic violence only touches women. We are still a society riding in polarity and your story is such an important one. You're absolutely right that if we switched the pronouns in this essay, we'd be rightfully screaming with righteous indignation. I hope you continue to find strength for yourself and for your children and that your life becomes more peaceful.

Karen Sugarpants
Karen Sugarpants

Good for you for sharing your story - that was very brave. And good for you for recognizing you needed help and seeking it. Good for you for standing up to your wife when it was warranted.

I'm afraid you aren't the one one that needs help though. I really think she does too. For the sake of your children.

All the best to you in the future.

cat
cat

Anyone can be a victim of domestic violence - take care of yourself and the kids and hopefully she will see that she needs to begin taking care of herself.

hurting
hurting

Growing up my folks both were abusive to each other, although hearing my mom tell it she was the only one abused. Unfortunately we kids were abused as well. Fast forward, 20 + yrs later. My dad is dead by his own hands. My mother remarried. I have witnessed the abuse she has bestowed upon her new husband for the past 12yrs. It's awful. My kids have been witness to it as well. Awful. She once again claims to me that she is the victim of abuse. She married an abuser, this I did find out about. And within the last 2-3yrs his abuse has become more public.

Bob get away from this woman and get counseling for yourself. I realize that there are children involved and that's highly unfortunate. Like me, they will take years to heal. I'm close to 40 and I still hurt. But please seek help just for you, not her. Cut yourself as completely free of her as you can. And be very aware of who your next partner is like. As it is true, it wouldn't be uncommon to find yourself back in the same situation as you just left.

One other thing, I witnessed a close male friend going through what you are going through. Thankfully she is out of the picture.

And thank you, Bob for sharing you story. Abusers do come in either sex.

Best of luck to you and get free.

Leslie
Leslie

Your wife needs this book: Created to Be His Help Meet. If she were a friend of mine, I'd mail it to her :)
It was given to me by a friend who also read it, then I read it and it changed my whole perspective on how I ought to treat and love my husband. Although I did not berate my husband in such harsh words as your wife, I do not excuse my behavior of acting like his ways of thinking and behavior were never good enough, and I was the wiser one when it came to making decisions affecting the home. It is a controversial book, if you read the reviews on Amazon, because some women do not want to realize that they are not building themselves up by tearing their man down. They are tearing everything down when they tear their man down. By loving and cherishing my husband and putting him first, I reap so many wonderful blessings and I am treated like a queen. It is not your fault she behaves the way she does. Love is a choice, and apparently she chooses not to love. I pray she will choose to love. Not only love you, but love herself! I'm sorry you are going through this!

brandi
brandi

thank you for sharing. i think you are a brave, strong man.
she needs help and it sounds like you have tried and tried. but you can help your kids - protect them from her and help them to heal. i wish you the best of luck!

Lillian
Lillian

Thank you for having the courage to share your story. Best wishes to you and your family and hope that you and your sons can be free from your wife's abusiveness.

mandy
mandy

Anyone can be a victim of abuse, regardless of gender. I hope your journey to healing is underway.

Sunny
Sunny

Thank you for sharing your story. You've done the right thing, even though it is so difficult. I hope you both find peace. Good luck!

C Yates
C Yates

"Bob" I used to work the hotline for the local woman's shelter. We took several calls from men as well, they had no one else to call. I am glad you can use the word abuse. It is a hard word and it takes strength to recognize it. It takes a lot of strength to stand up and leave.

MK
MK

Good luck w/ the rest of your journey, and hug your children :)

Jill
Jill

Thank you for sharing your story. You are a strong man to stand up to her. I only hope she doesn't inflict similar harm on your boys and that she doesn't do anything to jeopardize your relationship with them if you ultimately end up apart. She sounds like someone who needs a lot of help.

Nicole
Nicole

Bob – Bless you for standing up and speaking out. You are tackling a dozen different stereotypes head on. While male abuse cases are the minority, I have to think that some of that is because so many men WILL NOT speak out, for fear of being stigmatized.

I assure you that you have found a sympathetic and empathetic audience here. It doesn’t matter what anatomy an abuser may possess, they are all the same. Some are just worse than others. I know your choices must be difficult ones due to your children, but now that you are out, I hope you will stay out. You have gone above and beyond in trying to make the marriage work. But unless your wife acknowledges her abuse issues and seeks help, I don’t think that will ever be possible.

I know it’s not easy, but continue to stand strong. It’s the only way that peace and happiness can be yours. I wish you both.

Coco
Coco

I commend you for finally getting out from under all that abuse. I know personally how hard it is. I am so sorry that you and your children experience this. I hope that your wife changes but if she doesn't I hope you are able to get your children out of that situation so they can have a happy healthy life.

She is obviously very controlling, insecure and quite angry. You are obviously not the reason. Good luck to you.

Baltimoregal
Baltimoregal

Good for you for coming forward and sharing your story.
What you are going through is not your fault and should stop.
I hope you can make that happen, or get the help you need to make your life better for you and your children.

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