Mentally Abusive Anger

“I am married to a man that I believe mentally abuses me” I am confused and depressed. I do not know how to deal with this. I am tired and have no energy most of the time. Where do I start to fix this?Answer:
Dear Friend, you are not alone. Many women are suffering in marriages such as yours. You need to learn how to cope and how to take better care of yourself. through building your self-esteem, relationship with God, assertiveness skills and getting some support. I would encourage you to begin to take some of the following steps:
1. Please call the National Domestic Violence hotline at: 1-800-799-7233 or contact AACC for a referral to a mental health professional. You need to get some counseling and resources. You need to get some counseling to help you learn how to cope, be more assertive and build your self-esteem.
2. Get close to God. You need faith. You need spiritual strength and focus. You need to know that the God of the universe cares about you and your situation. Pray. Read your Bible, especially the New Testament book of John, Romans chapters 3-8; the Psalms in the Old Testament: chapters 42, 46, 51, 121, 139, 145 and more. Read more about how to grow in your faith in this article: How to Know God personally.
3. Go to your family doctor or a psychiatrist for an evaluation about your depression and whether you need an antidepressant. Also, you should have a complete physical to check if your hormones and thyroid are functioning normally because there may be a biological basis for your depression besides this situation. When people have been going through an on-going crisis or stress or conflict they can suffer depression and this depletes the neurochemicals in the brain which affect a person’s mood. Read my article on depression and take the inventory.
4. Your husband needs an anger management or a batterer’s intervention program. See What’s Good About Anger? for information on the courses and book. Ask your husband to attend counseling with you or a marriage retreat. You can check out Prep’s Fighting for Your Marriage web site for a seminar or retreat in your locality. Read this book together: A Christian Guide to Fighting for Your Marriage by Scott Stanley, Howard Markman, Susan Blumberg, Dean Edell found on our resources page. You can order it right now.
5. Grow in assertiveness skills. Read Assert Yourself and order books such as: What’s Good About Anger?, and Asserting Yourself found on our resources page.
6. You need to take a time-out when your husband becomes verbally abusive. After the time-out period (30 minutes to one hour) you can talk with him about the issue and both make some requests. Make sure you talk about the issue within 24 hours. If he follows you around the house verbally abusing you then you may need to leave the house until he can calm down.
The reason that you feel so confused, depressed and fatigued is that you feel helpless and hopeless about your marriage and the emotional pain you feel when he is verbally abusing you. Assertiveness, counseling, faith, friends who are supportive, a church where you can get pastoral guidance and prayer from others, reading the Bible, and medication can all help you to improve your communication skills, coping skills and provide you with spiritual strength. You can change even if your husband doesn’t change. And you can investigate how you may be contributing to the problems and how to change your behavior which may be provoking your husband to anger. Proverbs 15:1 reads: “a gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” NIV Your husband needs to be responsible for his behavior. There is no guarantee that when you change…..he will. Men have a tendency to want to fix problems quickly in a marriage, but one can’t fix a relationship, one has to learn skills in communication and conflict management to build the relationship.
Take care of yourself. Get some exercise. Think about going back to school or getting a part-time job. Take some time to get together with friends. I hope this will give you hope and encouragement.
Many times verbal and mental abuse will escalate. You need to be prepared with a safety plan. See: Safe Relationships for information on how to protect yourself. Talk with a pastor and seek domestic violence resources.
Do what you can to grow in Christ, get fellowship and support in a local church. If you don’t have a church check out Willow Creek for a referral to a solid evangelical church near you. God bless you! Lynette Hoy, NCC, LCPC
Order the Safe Relationships Women’s Series– a resource to help you grow personally, recognize and deal with abuse in relationships.
.~ © copyright 2005 by Lynette J. Hoy, NCC, LCPC. Lynette is a Marriage and Family Counselor with CounselCare Connection, National Certified Counselor, Anger Management Specialist-IV and Diplomate with the National Anger Management Association. She is the co-author of What’s Good About Anger? and a speaker for community, women’s and church organizations.
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