Controlling people suffer from other mental health problems

Those who work on programmes in Ireland enjoy the satisfaction of seeing some of the abusive participants change for the better and stop abusing. But, this work can also be frustrating, and facilitators also experience the disappointment of trying to deal with abusive men, who are not willing to change. Global research reflects this, showing that some programmes are ineffective, while others have a positive impact on women’s safety by suppressing battering. Their first priority is the safety of women and children. They help batterers be aware of their behaviour, and a batterer can learn in a group setting how abuse hurts their partners and their children. Groups also hold men accountable for their behaviour, and provide a setting for positive change. On the other hand, the abuser is surrounded by violent men, and may not be inclined to reveal the inner pain that often promotes abusive behaviour. Strange as it may seem, there are abusive people who get pleasure and satisfaction for hearing about the sufferings of victims. Such groups do not change the abusive personality type, and some abusers on programmes try to manipulate the facilitators, and ‘butter them up’. They also know that the police, if called to a domestic incident, will take a favourable view of the fact that they are attending a programme. But, at the very least, abusers, who wish to change, learn violence avoidance techniques, and are educated on abuse and violent behaviour.
Ultimately, if such programmes are not always successful, it is not because of any lack of dedication by their facilitators, but because of the extreme difficulty perpetrators experience in being vulnerable, and being able to embrace self-change. So, it is important that you are motivated by the desire to change, rather than enter any programme because you are coerced by the courts or by the threat of your partner leaving you. I believe that self-motivation is the most important ingredient in ensuring your success on any programme.
Before entering such programmes, it is also important, and required by some groups, to deal elsewhere with the mental health issues that you, as an abusive person, are more than likely to suffer from. People with abusive tendencies often experience mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, suicidal feelings, and addiction. In Ireland, as in other countries, there are some marvellous voluntary organisations offering free help for these. Mental Health Ireland, (with at least 104 local Mental Health Associations), has an excellent mental health information service, which you can avail of. On its website you will find, for example, contact information for AWARE, a major organisation with a countrywide network of branches. One of its aims is to educate sufferers about depression. It has a helpline, but its main way of helping depressed people is through confidential support groups. Be aware that confidentiality has limits, which will be explained to you by the facilitators of these groups.

Adapted from Jim O’Shea’s book Abuse. Domestic Violence, Workplace and School Bullying published by Cork University Press

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You can change from being controlling and abusive

You have a choice. You can carry this cancer into old age where it will eat at you until you die, or you can break the pattern that has spread possibly through generations in your family. Unless you decide to do something about it, future generations will be infected, and many more people hurt. Are you ready to face your abusiveness? Are you ready to be vulnerable? Are you ready to face the long hard road of confronting and controlling this cancer? Are you ready to make the decision that you no longer want to be an abusive person? If you are, you will not only help to heal the hurts you have inflicted on your victims, but your own hurt will be assuaged, and you will break the cycle.
I believe that you cannot do this work on your own. Every country has its own specific organisations dealing with people who abuse. There are many battering programmes in the United States. The National Institute of Justice, which is part of the Department of Justice, is heavily involved in such programmes. It also publishes research on how effective they are. Lundy Bancroft, already mentioned in relation to the abusive personality, has twenty years of experience in devising programmes for men who batter. The fundamental aim of these programmes is to offer support to women and children who are victims of abuse. Bancroft trains professionals on best practice for intervening with male batterers, and becoming involved with the victims of these abusers. Bancroft was also a former Co-Director of Emerge, the country’s first counselling programme for men who batter. Founded in 1977 it is now a leading organisation working to end violence in intimate relationships.
There are three organisations in Ireland providing a service to deal exclusively with abusive men. These are MOVE (Men Overcoming Violence), MEND (Men Ending Domestic Violence), and MODV (Men Overcoming Domestic Violence). They are voluntary organisations supported by the Department of Justice Equality and Law Reform. They work in co-operation with each other, and do not encroach on each other’s geographical areas. All three have representatives on the Domestic Violence Intervention Programme. You should find a branch (listed on their websites) within reach of where you live. Their services are free, and their aim is to support the safety of women and children by having what I imagine are very challenging group session for abusive men. In these sessions, you will be challenged to take responsibility for your violent behaviour and to change your thinking and behaviour. They also provide specific and effective behavioural programmes to help perpetrators to cease abusing. Their belief is that violence is a learned behaviour. The conclusion would, therefore, be that what is learned can be unlearned.
I could not trace any organisation that deals with abusive females, but there may be some.

Adapted from Jim O’Shea’s book Abuse. Domestic Violence, Workplace and School Bullying published by Cork University Press

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If you have an abusive personality, can you change?

This cancer eats my soul,
Even as I grow older.
I have not the gift of wisdom,
It is not possible.
I can give good advice,
I can see the problems,
I can offer solutions,
I am intelligent,
But my soul is contaminated,
The generosity of my spirit stifled in the stench of hatred.
Self-hatred.
From the cradle, I have carried this seed.
Forever blooming.
Manured by the fear of abandonment.
Never feeling good enough.
Soured by perfectionism.
Even as I grow older.
I cannot sooth the raging child,
And spray my shame even on those who love me.
Is this always to be?

Jim O’Shea

Despite conducting a deliberate campaign of hurt and control, those of you with abusive tendencies are likely to be shocked, if you are labelled an abuser. The first step in any decision to change is awareness, and that label must be applied to you without reservation, to begin the process of bringing about that awareness. As an abuser, you have a strong sense of denial, and you bury deep in your subconscious any recognition of your abusiveness. This is a defence against the pain of the vulnerable, hurt, child within you, so you will experience anxiety and fear as your awareness dawns, if you contemplate facing the roots of your abusiveness.

Adapted from Jim O’Shea’s book Abuse. Domestic Violence, Workplace and School Bullying published by Cork University Press

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Welcoming our distresses is necessary and healing

One of the principal aspects preventing rehabilitation, and possibly forgiveness, is the presence of rage and anger. This anger is justified and must be vented, but, for the sake of our mental health, we must eventually let it go. Some of the techniques mentioned might help, but developing self-empathy is probably one of the best ways of dissipating it. If you can bring acceptance and compassion to your anger, and experience the hurt that lies behind it, you will promote healing. You went into this abusive relationship with the best of intentions. You tried to make it work, and now you have to feel compassion for yourself, the innocent one who made a bad decision.
The medieval Afghan poet, Rumi, was a wise individual, and in his poem, The Guesthouse, lies a healing, if difficult, philosophy. You can download this poem from the internet.

This being human is a guesthouse.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
Some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
Who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture.
Still, treat each guest honourably.
He may be clearing you out
For some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
Meet them at the door laughing
And invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
Because each has been sent
As a guide from beyond.

Adapted from Jim O’Shea’s book Abuse. Domestic Violence, Workplace and School Bullying published by Cork University Press

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Controlling people pay little regard to court decisions.

Distress is also caused by some abusive partners manipulating the legal process as a means of control over the survivor. Some make excuses to postpone court hearings as a way to control. At one stage, Linda worried that Stephen would use his absence from Ireland as a means of delaying the separation process. The process was somewhat delayed, but the judge quickly realised the true situation, and, to her relief, was successfully concluded. The following part of her narrative shows her fear during the waiting period
“Stephen has used any step he can to drag out the separation, from not providing a forwarding address in Canada to having post refused at his parents’ house. It has been a long drawn out process. It is so frustrating, and just when I think it is moving along, he does something to slow it down. I tried to locate an address from one of his family members, where we could issue papers, as Stephen would not provide an address. After going through all that hassle and given him plenty of time, he didn’t respond. Then after a number of weeks, when it suited him, he hired a solicitor to represent him from Canada. But, because of the fact that he is in another country with different time zones, it’s hard for my solicitor to make contact. At the moment, we are not sure as if an Irish solicitor will be appointed, or what is the plan. Because of the fact that he is now so far away he is entitled to more time to get paperwork sorted out, once again slowing up the whole process. Even though I started the legal separation, he seems to have gained control of the whole process, and once again, everyone is moving to his terms. I feel that it is so unfair.”
It was unfair. It was a bullying tactic. It was also bluff. Stephen did not have the money to pay a solicitor. His profligate ways continued in Canada.
It was a relief for Linda when the separation order was granted, and on her desired terms. I have no doubt that she has now completed her counselling, and can look forward and move on. Ultimately, too, your counselling will end, and the legal process will be completed. During this time, you will have done your best to practice self-care and keep you and your children safe. You slowly build a new life and new relationships, and if your circumstances allow, you may begin to think about forgiveness. Some survivors tell me that it is the greatest healer of all, and they want to know how to reach it. I do not have the answer. Some of the survivors who told their stories to Elaine Weiss managed to forgive their abusive partners. However, you cannot force yourself to forgive. Sometimes it arrives apparently unexpectedly. However, if it happens, it can only do so after the long road of rehabilitation, and perhaps through a new (non-intimate) relationship with your ex-partner. I think that Linda will reach a stage of forgiveness, because even at this early stage she feels a certain sadness for Stephen. I feel that, somehow, she sees the lost vulnerable child in this very abusive person, and in the midst of her own pain finds space to feel sad for him.
“I am also a believer in my faith and I strive to do right by people, and even though I may have slipped on some occasions with him, over time I have found it just has dissolved, I have no urge to get back with him. He’s in a big enough mess with his life due to himself, without me adding to it. And as much as he has done to us I still wish that he may have some sort of a good life without all the anger and rage To be honest I feel sorry for him sometimes, because if he could just see all the hurt he causes from what he does, he might see things differently.”
Adapted from Jim O’Shea’s book Abuse. Domestic Violence, Workplace and School Bullying published by Cork University Press

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Importance of having good professional legal support

As you work your way through your losses, you may also be engaging in the process of legal separation, and counselling will help you make that sometimes long and painful journey. But, despite the reservations already made about the legal process, you will require the assistance of a good family law solicitor. You have left the abusive relationship and now face the prospect of a long and difficult legal journey. The story of Linda and the legal process might help you to understand the emotional roller coaster that you may experience as you travel that road. She is lucky because she found a supportive solicitor, and did not incur much expense because she has free legal aid. She found it a relief that the solicitor would deal will all matters relating to the separation, including the financial mess left by Stephen. However, she is concerned about appearing in court where she will have to endure having their personal details aired. As it happened, Stephen did not return from Canada to attend Court, and Linda was granted a separation and full custody. This meant that he could only see Jack under Linda’s supervision. This was always her wish, and she adhered strictly to it.
You might, however, like to know how Linda felt prior to the court hearing, not knowing that Stephen would remain in Canada and not have any legal representation in court. Her thoughts and feelings might reflect some of yours
“It is a day I wait in anticipation for, and is a day I will be anxious and worried about until it is over. Each day I try to put it to the back of my mind. I find I get so tired spinning round and round in my head what is going to be said, or what might happen on the day. It is so stressful. It is also hard to contemplate that one day can make such life changing decisions. Everything is very hazy now. I also don’t know what his plan is for the day in court. I am unsure as to whether he will turn up in court on the day. This is one of my biggest fears. I haven’t seen him for so long, I don’t know how I will react. I know, however, that if he turns up, it will open up an emotional rollercoaster in me. I haven’t seen this man for so long, yet he has such an impact on my life in negative ways. I am afraid when I see him that the emotional feelings of the nice Stephen will arise. The good times always come into my head, but I have to say over time it is getting easier to deal with them. This is because I am getting more understanding of the way Stephen is, and why he turned from a lovely caring man to someone completely different. But on this day I have to stay strong. I can’t let the emotional part of all of this take me over. I need to keep my strength and wits about me, so that I can work at getting what is fair, and what my son and I deserve from this separation.”
We have seen in the last chapter that fear of not having sufficient access sometimes keeps victims in an abusive relationship. When one leaves this may become a reality, and may generate conflict and anger. Separated fathers are often distraught, because they have insufficient time to see their children, perhaps because a controlling ex-wife wishes to punish them by denying them enough access. However, some parents fear for the emotional well being of their children if the ex-partner has been abusive in the relationship. That was Linda’s great fear

“Access is going to be an issue on this day, and I am worried about this. My son doesn’t know his dad. This is such a sad statement, but it is fact. Jack doesn’t know what a dad is. I am not sure what memories, if any at all, he has of him. He hasn’t seen him in well over a year. And he has grown and advanced so much in that space of time that he is no longer a toddler, but a boy. I worry about the fact that his father doesn’t live in this country, and has mentioned that he wants access when he can get home. But how will that work for Jack. His dad will come into his life, introduce himself as his dad, and then leave and go back to his other life. No one will know when he will come home again, and in the meantime, I am left to pick up the pieces, as the little boy is left wondering where daddy is gone, and when he will see him again. I don’t want my son hurt or emotionally damaged over this, and am adamant that if access is wanted, it needs to be regular and supervised for the foreseeable future. I really worry about Stephen gaining access without supervision. The last time he took him, he dropped him back home in the car with no child seat. This is so dangerous. I don’t want my son subjected to this kind of danger. I am so mad at Stephen for all this; I hate him for been so selfish. When does he ever think of Jack? Never! It is always about what he wants or feels, never what his son might need, or want, or feel.”

Fortunately, as stated, she now has sole control, and Stephen’s irregular visits do not seem to have a negative impact on Jack. The child never bonded with his father, and is too young to miss him. Linda worries, however, that when Jack reaches teenage years he may blame her, believing, perhaps, that she had kept him from his father. In reality, and despite her reservations about Stephen, Linda feels that her child should meet his father. It may be painful for her at times, but she puts her child’s needs first. Her close supervision of their encounters eases her mind that her child may suffer some emotional damage from contact with his abusive father.
Adapted from Jim O’Shea’s book Abuse. Domestic Violence, Workplace and School Bullying published by Cork University Press

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There are pros and cons to confronting a person who abused you

There are many relaxation techniques that you might find useful in your repertoire of self-care. These include breathing exercises, stretching, meditation, yoga, guided meditation, mindfulness, prayer, listening to quiet music, and walking in a rural area. I often suggest to distressed people to create a personal space, where they can listen to soft music, light candles and have a small indoor water feature. It will be their soothing haven. However, soothing exercises must be managed carefully, because when a survivor is relaxed, the intrusive thoughts of the abuse may intrude. Apart from relaxation, there are positive distracting activities to help alleviate the after-effects of trauma; for example, an exercise programme would include walking, swimming, jogging, and perhaps gym activity.
Ultimately, some people may wish to confront the abuser as an aid to recovery. Survivors will make up their own minds about the feasibility and safety of such a course. Confrontation gives back power and gives a voice, but caution is advised. It should not be hasty, but should be planned. I believe that the best place to lay out a plan is with the help of a therapist, or a reliable friend. It is advisable to consider the pros and cons of confrontation, talk to others about their experiences on confrontation, and to those who decided not to confront. Write down what you would like to say, and discuss it your counsellor. Perhaps some role-play in the safety of the counsellor’s room might help. Role-play can make the confrontation much more realistic, and help you to assess if you are psychologically ready for it. If you decide to go ahead and confront the perpetrator, make sure the meeting place is safe. Finally, be aware that the result of the confrontation may not be as you hoped. It is likely that the perpetrator will deny, be vague, or minimise the abuse. But, in a sense, you do not need validation of the abuse. You know it happened. Remember, no matter what the result, your action is for yourself, and it reinforces your courage and your emergence from the shadow of the abuser. Mic Hunter makes the useful point that the work in the preparation to confront has greater healing than the actual confrontation.
There are, of course, other ways of confrontation, such as sending a letter or prosecuting the criminal. If he or she is dead, you could also write the unsent letter. As you saw in Anna’s case in the context of workplace abuse, it is a powerful way of getting your feelings out, and flexing your emotional muscles. It is advisable to write these in the safety of the counselling room, because they inevitably bring up strong emotions.
Adapted from Jim O’Shea’s book Abuse. Domestic Violence, Workplace and School Bullying published by Cork University Press

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It’s hard to shake old feelings for an abusive ex-partner

Despite her initial reservation about her husband, Linda found herself being drawn into the web again
“In the meantime, my mind was playing havoc along with my feelings. I was beginning to ponder over the thought “had he changed,” and had life experiences in travelling changed his perception on things, that maybe he can see the damage he had done.
It wasn’t long before he was asking for us to give things a go again. He promised all the good things, pleaded that we should be a family again, and not to keep the family apart. That he has changed now, and is ready for a family and for settling down. He told me he still loved me and always would. He said we would have back what we once had.
Deep down I knew none of this would happen and that this was a big fantasy. I have learned so much about abuse that I knew this was the NICE Stephen coming forth and the ugly one was to follow. However this didn’t prevent havoc on my emotions and feelings. It was as if all the pain and hurt and loss was brought to the surface again. When I had seen Stephen for the first time with our son, it immediately brought it to the surface like a volcano erupting. Once again I found myself in pain! How could this happen? I thought I had dealt with all of this. I couldn’t believe it was happening again.
Stephen’s return had reopened my grief- every inch of the pain and hurt, sorrow, loneliness, stress and longing for when it was good. I soon realised that I WAS STILL GRIEVING MY MARRIAGE. Stephen in reality in front of me, brought all that back to me. I went over the marriage again and again. I took out the photos of the wedding day and cried. I cried looking at my son asleep longing for the dreams that were in place for our family, before it was ripped apart.
I shut everyone out, I went to work and when I came home I shut the door and wanted to hide from the world. I looked forward to going to sleep at night because it would give me peace for a few hours from the world and my pain. Because no one would understand how I could be upset. He had left for so long and done so much – how could I still be upset? But, these were my feelings and I couldn’t prevent them. I knew I had to accept them and take the time to myself to deal with it all, and go through all the feelings that had once again resurfaced.
Meanwhile, Stephen was trying his utmost for me to give him a chance and go back. The strength I had to gain to do this was very hard. On one occasion, Stephen brushed his hand on my back. This might seem like an insignificant thing to do, but in the light of what I was going through it was hugely emotional. I knew that this was going too far, and was too dangerous. I was on very thin ice. I knew very clearly that Stephen didn’t love me, that he was not going to be there for me and Jack
So, I understood the reality, but my feelings played havoc in my fantasy world of what it could be like to be back as a family again.”

I was surprised when Linda returned for counselling. From her previous narrative and the exploration of her issues I wrongly assumed that she had completed her grieving, and would be able to withstand any emotional impact his eventual return would have on her. But, when grieving is incomplete returning feelings can be overwhelming. It is like the final sting of a dying wasp. Therapy, therefore, is important to embrace and complete the journey of grief. If therapy is too expensive for you as a way of grieving and exploring the dynamics of your abusive relationship, there are other ways that you can cope, integrate and eventually grow. It is always beneficial to talk to other survivors, and perhaps join a support group, although Mike Lew advises that it is best to see a therapist for a while before joining a group. Group work will help you to feel less alone, to feel understood, or perhaps to receive practical help, especially if you suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Victims of abuse lose a sense of identity, and often become disconnected and split within themselves, so volunteer work in the community can reconnect you with other people, and help you reclaim your sense of worth. You will receive assistance from the state body, the HSE (Health Service Executive), and support from some of the voluntary organisations mentioned in the next chapter.
Adapted from Jim O’Shea’s book Abuse. Domestic Violence, Workplace and School Bullying published by Cork University Press

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It can shock you when you try to move on but find your feelings for your partner returning

The fourth task of grieving is to emotionally relocate the lost partner and move on. You will reconcile conflicting emotions, realise that you will not forget the relationship experience, good and bad, and experience the relief of leaving an abusive environment and travelling the road to peace and, hopefully, love. Many of Elaine Weiss’s storytellers eventually learned to trust, and to take the risk of a new relationship. Educating yourself on the nature of abuse and abusers will make it a little easier for you to make a better choice of partner. Most of her storytellers had better luck second time round.
It is vital to complete the grieving stages or grieving tasks. Sometimes you may be disappointed and shocked, when you feel that you have succeeded and are ready to move on, and your feelings for your partner return with even greater intensity. This may happen when a partner emigrates and returns. In the meantime the survivor goes through what he or she thinks is the entire process of grieving. Linda’s story in the above paragraphs indicates that she felt she was ready to move on. But, when Stephen suddenly returned from Canada, she unexpectedly found herself overwhelmed with conflicting emotions, and returned to counselling to deal with this crisis. She successfully met this challenge in the short space of 10 weeks. Basically, she had moved a long way down the road of grieving, but she had not reached the end of that road. Do not be surprised if that happens to you.
When Stephen rang to say that he was returning, Linda initially felt a plethora of negative emotions. She felt angry, suspicious, mistrustful, and concerned about the possible impact on her child. How would Jack respond to his father? Would Stephen befriend him and abandon him again? The peace she had so painfully achieved was shattered and her emotional turmoil increased on the Sunday they had agreed to meet
I was upside down with emotions. I was angry, anxious, stressed and upset. It had been so long, I didn’t know how to be. We pulled up in our car, and waited. He arrived. I introduced Jack, who hid behind my legs for a while, but eventually he came around. They played and they seemed to do very well. It was so strange, though, after all this time. He told me about his experiences of his travelling. He was nice and very warm with his personality. He said that he had changed, and had learned so much from his travels that he wants to make things better.
He met Jack on a number of occasions, I always accompanied my child because I didn’t want to leave him on his own with him. I had very little trust in him. I waited to see when he would get tired of handing over money for Jack, and spending time with him on Sundays. But he didn’t break any of his promises, and was there when he was meant to be.
Adapted from Jim O’Shea’s book Abuse. Domestic Violence, Workplace and School Bullying published by Cork University Press

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grieving when an abusive relationship is over

You, too, may have to grieve the loss of a caring partner, and you move on to mourn the loss of self-esteem, of personal integrity, of relationship, of intimacy, of friends, of control, of safety, of personal meaning, of a father/mother to your children. You mourn the loss of your dreams, your hopes, your future without your partner, and the possible lack of closure. Your therapist will help you explore the story of your relationship, and you will come to identify your particular losses.
Bereavement theorists offer several frameworks to help us grieve. William Worden, one of the great experts on grief, tells us that we have four tasks to perform to successfully mourn a loss.
We must first accept the reality of the permanent loss of the relationship. In parts of her narrative, Linda believed that she had reached this stage, and did not regret making every effort to
“I criticised myself that night so much for giving him another chance, and that when I left for those few months at my parents’ house, I should have stayed gone. But looking back now, I’m glad I gave us another chance, because I put my heart and soul into us, and he walked all over it. And now I can look back and say I gave it my best shot, and I had to do this for myself, so that I wouldn’t feel guilty about leaving, and bringing my son with me and letting him be from a broken home. This hurt so much! Of course, this wasn’t the only reason for leaving as explained earlier, but it definitely gave me that nudge that I needed to get out. I realised that night that Jack and I didn’t matter to him anymore.”
There can be several false endings when the survivor returns to the relationship, and this makes it difficult to acknowledge the real ending when it comes. It also involves recognising that you never really knew the abusive partner, but loved an idealised or non-existent person.
Secondly, we must work through the pain of the grief, which will involve many feelings such as anger, guilt, loneliness, depression, guilt, sadness, and longing. You feel anger at the Hyde and longing for the Jekyll. You may be filled with confusion at these contradictory feelings, but ultimately you will get perspective on the relationship. This can be painful and challenging.
Your third task is to adjust to your new world in which your partner is missing. Remember that despite the obstacles you face, you are the creator of this new world. Your abusive partner is no longer with you and your central question is ‘who am I now’. You redefine yourself, find meaning in the loss, regain control, and begin to see the world as a benevolent place. Elaine Weiss has some good examples of women empowering themselves having escaped the clutches abusive partners. One woman quickly reclaimed her maiden name, and this became a symbol of obliterating her marriage, for example, whenever she found a document with her married name on it, she covered it over using markers. Perhaps ‘obliterating’ the marriage may be an unfortunate term, because you must integrate it as part of your life experience. As Linda surveyed the wreckage of her marriage, she saw her new life as being free of her abusive husband
“Stephen hasn’t been a husband to me for such a long time, I feel he doesn’t deserve the title “ my husband”, because when I think of this title I think of someone that will love, care and protect me, and he provides none of these. I don’t want to be referred to as his wife anymore, I am not his wife in my eyes. We haven’t seen each other for over a year, and we have no contact. He does nothing to help with his son, or with anything. I want to be free from him.”
Neither was she willing to celebrate the end of her relationship
“A lot of friends have said to me, “we will celebrate that day when you are granted your separation for him”. We will organise dinner and drinks to celebrate”. But what is there really to celebrate? This day will be the end of so much – a marriage I had such dreams for, a chapter in my life that I gave my heart and soul for, the family unit, even though it is gone a long time, my title as Stephen’s wife – the title I was proud and happy to take on the day we got married. I think this day in court is a sad day, and it is a sad day for any couple who have to go to this stage. Remember on the day the marriage was made, we celebrated it with friends and family. It was a day of happiness and joy, and now we end it in so official a way, in a courtroom with a group of professional strangers, who don’t know either one of us. How can this be a day to celebrate?”
She also recognised that they had happy times, and she was determined that these would be preserved, so she kept some photos and her wedding album, when she left Stephen.
“The reason I brought the album and video is that I knew he would destroy them in his rage. Despite the pain and hurt the breakdown of our marriage had brought us, I was the happiest woman on this planet the day I married him. My wedding day memories are something no one can take away from me. It is a part of my life, and I want to be able to hold onto that day. Even though the marriage is over now, that good day and the good parts of our relationship I am glad and grateful to have experienced. They were such happy days. I hope one day I might be able to look at the wedding album or video as it is a part of my life and me. The marriage may be over, but the memories last, both good and bad, and both are part of my life, so I’m not going to try to wipe any of them clear from my life. I just want to be able one day to accept both memories calmly without being upset, and get on and live some more good memories.”
Adapted from Jim O’Shea’s book Abuse. Domestic Violence, Workplace and School Bullying published by Cork University Press

THERAPISTS IN TIPPERARY
PSYCHOTHERAPISTS IN TIPPERARY
COUNSELLORS IN TIPPERARY
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
ABUSE
DEATH OF A CHILD

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