A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

Pregnancy and Birth – how domestic abuse can affect these special times

Recently in the post Crocodile Tears, some survivors started mentioning how their abusers had treated them during pregnancy and birth. From my reading, this is not uncommon. The secular domestic violence literature  and statistical research shows that domestic abuse often starts or get worse during pregnancy. And I’ve heard a few horror stories of abusers grossly mistreating and disrespecting their partner when she was just about to have a baby, or had just given birth. One woman told me that her husband refused to take her to hospital when the contractions were happening, saying he simply couldn’t leave his work (his work was not in essential services like policing or medicine). Another told me that when she was in the maternity ward with the new baby, recovering from stitches and a long traumatic birth, her partner waltzed in to visit his new baby son with his ‘new girlfriend’ on his arm. She had never heard of the new girlfriend until that moment; she thinks he picked her up while she was in hospital giving birth.

Women talk about their abuser pressuring them to get abortions, deliberately beating them in the stomach while they are pregnant, and making them go back to an arduous job straight after they have given birth.

Here is a place where you can share your stories of what abusers have done to wreak havoc around what should be that very special time in our lives, the time of  bringing forth a new baby.

To those who posted comments on birth and pregnancy in the crocodile tears  thread, if you re-post your comments here we will perhaps take them out of the other thread, so long as removal doesn’t disrupt the flow and sense of the other comments there.  We trust this is okay with you.

80 Comments

  1. Jeff Crippen

    You can find good information on this subject in many books on domestic violence. Abusers of course demand to be the center of their universe. Babies and pregnancies are a threat to this self-feeding frenzy. Also, in the perverted and wicked world of power and control, pregnancy provides evil more opportunity to mock a victim both during and after the pregnancy. Hollywood of course is no friend to victims. It is amazing that women in the modeling and cinema industries allow themselves to be powerful tools for an abusive mindset toward their own gender. We are bombarded with images of women who gave birth, and then months later are showing off their figures as if they had never experienced childbirth at all. That is not reality and it is cruel to portray it as such.

    • MeganC

      Jeff — Your comment really helps me to understand why pregnancy/birth/after-birth was so much more difficult for me. Women are so very vulnerable during this time. We need a lot of help and encouragement. We also need rest and security. I do not remember too much about the births of my children — they were all four C-sections. I don’t think my stories are as horrible as most. I do know that my ex seemed to believe that I needed to be exactly like I was when I was not pregnant. There were no allowances. I remember I drove myself to the hospital when I went into labor with my first (before I knew I needed C-sections) And I know that, in the hospital, he was much more concerned about how HE was treated by nurses and doctors than anything else (weird, right?). I remember him yelling at me right after my last birth. My youngest was in the NICU with a collapsed lung and I was recovering from the C-section. I remember sitting on my hospital bed thinking, “Is he really doing this NOW? With me having had surgery and my baby daughter in critical condition? Is he really yelling at me?” The neo-natalogist (sp?) walked in and glared at my (then) husband and came over and held my hand. He must have heard him. He just stared at my ex until he walked out of the room. It felt like sheer kindness. I didn’t want that doctor to ever leave (of course, he eventually did and I eventually had to go home with this monster of a man). My ex ridiculed me for my size . . . some of it demeaning. And, at my last C-section, the doctor told me that I should have a tubal ligation (I wasn’t supposed to have my last two babies — my body was not holding up well under the close pregnancies and C-sections and the doctors had already warned me — but my ex wanted four children and I felt like I needed to at least give him four children). He looked at my ex and me (I was laying on the table) and told us we needed to make a decision. My ex backed away and threw his hands up . .. took himself out of the decision-making process. I watched the kind doctor look at him like, “C’mon, dude! Your wife’s life is in danger. SAY SOMETHING.” I had to make a decision. It was agonizing because, at the time, we had been told by the seminary that birth-control was EVIL and that I should just keep on having babies. I made the decision to have the tubal ligation and I suffered for two years afterwards in my mind and heart . . . unsure if I was sinful or not. I finally found rest and peace with Christ during prayer, as He gently let me know that MY life was worth something . . . that I was not just a baby-making machine. That He cared about whether or not I was healthy and well. Throughout the pregnancies, birth and breast-feeding, my ex made sure that I knew he was to be the “first” in my life. I was barely surviving. And his greatest concern was that I have “my priorities straight”.

      • Bethany

        Megan I am so sorry :( You are not a baby making machine! You are worth so much more! Thank you for sharing your story. I find healing in knowing others understand and I’m not exaggerating my experiences or letting my feelings get in the way of the truth.

      • Jeff Crippen

        The seminary from the pit. Maybe all of us should have you write out your whole story with details on all the abuse (too kind of a word) that “holy institution” unleashed on you and we could affix all of our names to it and mail copies of it to the entire faculty and staff! You know, that wouldn’t be a bad idea at all, would it? I can think of some churches that we could do the very same thing to using the stories and testimony of our other readers.

      • Just Me

        Megan, isn’t it amazing how they can yell at us in a hospital and get away with it?! Weren’t your babies born overseas? In the US, when you have a baby, at check in, the nurse privately asks you if you’re being abused at all. I checked “no” both times. What did I know? Looking back, I wonder if the nurses heard him yelling at me.

      • MeganC

        JM — No — my babies were all born here in the US before we went overseas (thank GOD because they are all US citizens — I cannot tell you what that means for us, legally). And I would have checked “no”, as well. :( I wondered if the nurses heard him, as well. Maybe there are rules or laws that prohibit them from saying anything? I don’t know . . . but it is tragic.

      • Bethany

        JM- I checked no all three times too. I honestly didn’t think I was abused so of course I would say no. I think it is a poor way of doing it and just covers them legally. I don’t know if anyone would ever say yes.

      • Just Me

        Megan, that makes sense. I was wondering how you were able to legally leave the country with them. Praise God!!

      • Megan – I’m so sorry! What a horrible situation, with your husband, church, and seminary are working together to demean your sense of worth.

        So glad that you have begun learning to see yourself as Jesus values you!

      • MeganC

        Thank you, Joe!! :)

  2. Bethany

    I don’t even know where to start! I gave a bit of my story on the other post but that wasn’t even the tip. I have had three babies and three miscarriages. My last miscarriage was in the weeks after my husband tried to kill me and was arrested. When I mentioned that I was pregnant and had lost the baby to the prosecuting attorney they said that it couldn’t be proven that the miscarriage was caused by P&P so it was irrelevant to their case! I wasn’t allowed to get “Fat” while I was pregnant or I would be ridiculed relentlessly and if I didn’t loose the weight within months after birth I didn’t love him and wanted to be fat my whole life! He didn’t care what my “condition” was I had to keep up with every thing. Cooking (even though he ALWAYS wanted foods that made my stomach upset), cleaning (even when my back hurt because the babies head was pressed against my spine) and sex (even when I was too tired to do anything but lay there). When I would lose a baby due to miscarriage I was not allowed to mourn the loss to him ( I still did in private but was not allowed to burden him with my feelings) and couldn’t lay around but had to be back on my feet the next day. He made up an excuse for his increased abuse, saying that it was because of my hormones and my mood swings. I was to blame for his increased anger and hostility ( I now know that it was just a convenient excuse for doing what he wanted to do)
    I was in the Navy and my job of course meant that I would deploy. Every time I came up for deployment he would do everything he could to get me pregnant so that I wouldn’t leave! He would rape me nightly for weeks until he was sure I was pregnant. I would then be put on two years of non-deployment status. Two years later he would do it all over again! I love my children more than anything but they are all rape babies. I long to be able to look back on my pregnancies with happiness but they are too full of pain.
    When I would go into labor he would complain about it being late at night. He would take me to he hospital and then leave to go home and sleep! I was to call him when I was about to have the baby so that he could swoop in and play the role of dutiful dad (cutting the cord and showing them off to friends and family).
    This still isn’t all of the abuse but it is all I can type right now. I hope it will break the ice and allow others to feel more comfortable telling there stories.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Thanks Bethany. And did this guy claim to be a Christian? What horrendous experiences for you.

      So glad you cut the cord with him!!

      • Bethany

        Yes! He still claims to be a Christian and is still going to church every Sunday with the abusive pastor he is living with!

      • Jeff Crippen

        Well, better that they are roomies than you having to still live with the guy. If that pastor can’t see what your ex is, then he has willful blinders on. More likely they are birds of a feather rooming together.

    • MeganC

      It’s awful, Bethany . . . just awful. :( I wish I could just give you a great big hug right now. None of this should have happened to you . . .

    • Just Me

      Oh Bethany, I’m so sad for you. Your story is heartbreaking.

    • Bethany – What a horrible situation! So glad that you have left that relationship! Praying for you and your children!

      • Bethany

        Thank you Joe

  3. Just Me

    Warning: Very long

    My preganancies, births and having an infant days were the most difficult times in our marriage. And I expected them to be the most joyous. I didn’t realize at that time that he was abusive–I just thought he was occasionally jerky. I was completely shocked that someone could act the way he did towards a precious baby.

    We were married for three years before I got pregnant with my first. Things were going smoothly with the marriage. He was much better than he was before we were married and we worked opposite hours, so we weren’t together all that much. I kept the house spotlessly clean and cooked him a nice meal every night and I made a very decent income (he would still complain that nothing I did was ever good enough and the income I made “didn’t count” because I didn’t work as hard as he did for it, but I attributed it to “joking” or that he was upset that I made more money than he did and assumed that he didn’t realize how much he was hurting my feelings.) So baby #1 was planned. I got pregnant easily. I told him I was pregnant after taking a home test and he said that he didn’t believe me. He said he wouldn’t believe me until after I had seen a doctor, but the doctor woudn’t see me until I was 10 weeks along. So he told me that I wasn’t allowed to talk about it until then. A few days of not talking about it later, he caved and asked if I was really pregnant. I said yes, and he started this fake crying/wailing thing about how his life was over. For the rest of the pregnancy, every time he talked to someone about it, he would do this wailing thing. They found a Down Syndrome marker on my 20 week ultrasound and we had to have a more specialized ultrasound. During that few week wait, he was hinting that he wanted me to terminate if she had Down Syndrome. He kept bringing it up, and I kept refusing to talk about it. In the car ride on the way to the ultrasound, he relentlessy picked on me and criticized me until I cried. The ultrasound revealed a healthy baby. (Side note:I now have a toddler nephew with Down Syndrome and he is the most amazing gift from God ever.) The rest of the pregnancy went well, and then I went into labor. Fortunately, it was on an evening and he was off work for the weekend, so I didn’t have to worry about how to get to the hospital. He had already told me that he wouldn’t be able to miss work for anything. He was fine for the labor although I was surprised at how much I cringed when he would touch me and how much I just wanted him to leave me alone. I had a c-section after getting stuck at 9.5 cm dilated for 6 hours. I also had a cyst on my ovary that they had to remove. So they took the baby out, he left the OR with her, and then they gave me twilight sleep meds for the remainder of the surgery. I woke up in recovery having hallucinations. They wheeled me into my room and our entire familes were there (minus my mom who is mentally ill and I had no contact with at that time). I was crying and completely out of my mind from the meds. I thought I was a drug addict and that I had 3 babies. I kept asking to hold her and they told me no because I was so out of it. My family (dad, sister, brother) offered to leave but his family refused to leave, so I let my family stay too. I kept telling husband that I was embarrassed that everyone was seeing me like this and eventually he snapped and screamed at me in front of everyone that I was being selfish and rude to his family, so I shut up and just sat in my bed and cried. They all passed her around while I begged to see her. Finally my 16 year old sister sat with her next to me so I could see what she looked like. Then everyone left and husband left with them. The nurses took her away since I was still out of my mind no one was staying with me and I went to bed without meeting my baby. They brought her in to nurse in the middle of the night and that’s when I met her. We left the hospital and I was expected to get right back into the swing of things with a clean house and big dinners. I was able to because I only had one child and she was an angel of a baby. He never wanted to hold her and wouldn’t help with her at all, but I was fine with that. I was so in love with her. But when we were in public, he pretended that he did everything for her. I went back to work at 6 weeks. He was fine unless she was crying or sick. He would scream at her to shut up. He had to take care of her for a few hours in between child care and me getting home from work. I got home one night and heard her crying and him screaming at her. I went upstairs and he was trying to feed her a bottle which was scalding hot. He was furious at her that she wouldn’t take it. We fought all the time and I was thinking seriously about leaving him because surely God wouldn’t want a little baby to be treated this way. And then I found out I was pregnant again. I thought it was God’s way of telling me to stay. I miscarried at 10 weeks.

    Baby #2 was also planned. We had moved closer to his family (big mistake) and I was going to be a stay at home mom after he was born. I mistakenly thought that the situation wouldn’t repeat itself because I would be home and I could do everything and create such a perfect atmosphere that he wouldn’t snap. I planned a vaginal delivery this time because I knew I couldn’t have another c-section and keep up with what he expected of me. Delivery went well and I got to hold him right away. It was so amazing and a gift from God for which I will always be grateful. Husband shared every mortifying and embarrassing detail of my delivery to all visitors and everyone he knew. He would make fun of me saying that I had no pain tolerance (excuse me for screaming while pushing out a 10lb baby). When I told him that he was embarrassing me, he proceeded to tell everyone behind my back and laugh at me. Friends would tell me about it weeks later. Our son cried all the time. He has many severe food allergies and my milk was making him sick. Husband kept yelling at me to feed him formula and I refused because my gut was telling me that he would have a fatal reaction if I did (allergies weren’t diagnosed yet). He was diagnosed at 4 months old and I knew what I couldn’t eat anymore and he became a happy baby, but it was 4 months of hell up until that point. (side note: a well-meaning friend fed him 1 spoonful of something he was allergic to at 15 months old and he had an anaphylactic reaction within seconds. We had to use his Epi-Pen and take him to the ER. I knew then that God had given me that instinct not to feed him formula as a newborn. I really think he would have died.) Sometimes when he would cry, husband would get 6 inches from his face and scream “shut up” at the top of his lungs. Then baby would cry more, and husband would scream more. I was expected to do everything and I couldn’t because my baby cried all the time. Literally, all the time. Husband was so angry that the meals weren’t what he wanted. I was cooking while holding a screaming child. At night, I would try to keep him quiet but he would cry and husband would come in and scream at me to lock him in the basment and leave him there until morning. I would just cry and try my best to shield my baby from his shouting. I tried to talk to him about it so many times thinking that he just wasn’t understanding that if he wanted the baby to stop crying, shouting at him was only going to make it worse. I would beg him to stay in bed and I would try to keep the baby quiet in the opposite side of the house but he would always follow me to scream at me. It was really awful. I hardly ever slept. Husband yelled at me that the house wasn’t clean enough and I would stay up until 2am cleaning and get even less sleep.

    Our youngest is now 4 and now that they’re older, things are much better. But still, if one of them is sick in the night and I go to tend to them, I feel immense anxiety because my body is waiting for him to stomp his feet down the hallway to scream at us like he used to. Last time he came in when our son was sick, I literally shouted in fright when he walked in. Fortunately, the kids don’t remember any of it.

    I’ve always wanted a large family and it’s really hard for me to accept that I shouldn’t have any more because my husband is an abuser. He offered a few months ago to have another one (he only ever wanted 2 but I think he’s trying to be kind to me and he knew I always wanted 5 kids). I told him no, but my heart is broken over the children I should be a mommy to but am not because I made such a mistake when I married him.

    I hope this wasn’t too long. I’ve worked through most of this with my counselor, but it’s still therapeutic to write it out.

    • Jeff Crippen

      JM- There really was only one baby in the house – and still is. Of course a real baby has an excuse, your big baby doesn’t. Here is something that I am hearing repeatedly from abuse victims: their abuser WANTS children. Sometimes lots of children. I don’t understand that dynamic. They hate the pregnancy. They hate the inconvenience of a baby. They don’t truly love children. Yet they want to keep getting you pregnant. Does anyone understand that? It can’t be motivated by anything good. Victims are amazing in that they hold up under such tyranny and suffering and take as good of care of their children as they can. I know, for example, a family with 11 children. The husband is extremely abusive. Isolates the family. All under a facade of being a fine Christian. Somehow there must be a connection between getting a woman pregnant and controlling her?

      Apologies in advance if I have botched how I worded my thoughts here. I have absolutely nothing against large families. It is just that I know very well that a wicked, abusive man does not have children for noble reasons.

      • MeganC

        Jeff — Your words are a balm to my soul! This is helping me! I know, for me, I felt incredibly vulnerable all throughout the pregnancy and then for a good year afterwards. Could it be that our abuser ex’s (or husbands) want to keep us in a constant state of vulnerability? Or, could it be that they want more children to abuse? Like notches on their belts? I always felt like my ex (and his father) saw us all as his little servants — existing only to build him up on this earth. More people to make him the center of their universe.

      • Just Me

        Jeff, Right. I have noticed that common thread among abusers. My husband does not have that mindset. He literally hates having babies and he knows it. He wanted 2 and we have 2. He will admit that he got the post partum depression.

        In a way I’m fortunate, that even though he professes to be a believer, he doesn’t read his Bible at all. Yesterday, during a really great sermon at church, he was playing games on his phone. He doesn’t spiritually abuse me because he doesn’t know what the Bible says. Any spiritual abuse comes from my own misconceptions from the legalistic mindset that I was taught to have. I would hold the babies while he was shouting at us, but I would hardly ever say anything back to him because I thought that I had to submit to his abuse. I thought that if I said anything back to protect my babies, that it wouldn’t be biblical because I would then be choosing my children over my spouse. Instinctually, it felt very wrong, but that’s what I kept telling myself. I am so thankful that I no longer believe that!

        Even though he isn’t “spiritually” abusive, he does have that mindset about women submitting to men and he feels that he is justified to use that position selfishly. It comes more from the way that his family works rather than from the Bible. Example–when we were first dating, he told me that I wouldn’t be allowed to drive with him in the car. He would do all the driving because I was just a dumb girl. His family regularly talks about how women are terrible drivers simply because of our gender. Every time we’re behind a car that isn’t driving well, he assumes it’s a woman behind the wheel.

      • Jeff Crippen

        Just as well he plays games on the iphone. You’re right, these kinds find plenty of ammo for abuse by twisting Scripture. Glad you don’t have that to endure at least. Does he profess to be a Christian? Is he a member of the church and therefore assumed by the church to be a Christian?

      • Bethany

        I’m a southern girl so I will bring of the old adage “Keep your woman Barefoot and pregnant so she can’t run away” I seriously believe that is it. In my case it was clear he didn’t want me to go on deployment and be away form his control for 3-9mos so he kept me pregnant!

      • Just Me

        Jeff C, Yes, he professes to be a Christian. He just thinks he can do whatever he wants because “The big guy upstairs” will forgive him. When I ask him if his conscience bothers him about something (like porn or stealing) that’s the answer he’ll give me. He has some fruit–he shows compassion to people. He’s giving with money towards those less fortunate and he doesn’t do it for recognition or anything. He helps family or friends if they ever need anything. And I really don’t think he does it for the wrong reasons. But he doesn’t feel remorse about other things or for playing with his phone during a sermon. I really don’t know what to make of it. We go to church with his family (Everybody Loves Ramond style) and I think he does it more to keep up appearances to make his mother happy. He’s made some progress through counseling. His counselor is a very compassionate Christian man but I’m not sure he sees through him 100%. Our church has a young married couple’s Bible study. We used to go and he would really press to go. I struggled with going because it would always break my heart to be there with all these couples working on “rekindling” a marriage that I just wanted to run away from. But he never seemed to “hear” anything that was being taught. He would go for the laughs. It was embarrassing to me because there was a time to joke and have fun and then it was time to sit with our Bibles and learn. He just kept right on joking. The group takes breaks between studies and for summers. They never did start up again this year. It’s a good thing because I don’t plan to go anymore. I’m in a much better frame of mind when I stay away from “marriage building” things.

        I’m sure the church assumes he’s a Christian. They don’t have reason not to because I’ve never confided anything in them. I did get the name of his counselor from the pastor’s wife so they know that we have “problems” but they don’t know what they are. I do have a few friends within the church who know the basics of our situation, but they’re not gossipy, so no one up in the ranks knows anything. I have a lot of respect for our pastor. He’s very real and he’s honest about himself and his struggles. He actually used to go to the counselor my husband sees and he’s not shy about telling people that.

        My husband and I actually are teaching Sunday School this year with another couple. I teach one grade with the wife and our husbands teach another grade together. My husband lets the other guy do all the work. I’m a little embarrassed but there’s nothing I can do about it. One week, the other guy was sick so my husband played football with the kids for the hour. The few times that he has prepared for a lesson have been the only times in our entire 11 year marriage that I have seen him open his Bible.

        But when there is a great sermon, and there often are in our church, it doesn’t seem to sink in with him. I guess it’s the seed on the rocky soil. But then I feel guilty even saying that because I went for years without opening my Bible. I thought God turned his back on me because I allowed him to bully me into having sex before we were married (hence why I married him). The remorse was so heavy on my heart. Husband never felt any remorse.

      • Jeff Crippen

        An indispensible trait of a Christian is a love for God’s Word. Ps 119. We wax and wane in this area but Christ’s sheep know His voice. Dont feel guilty about making the rocky soil observation. It is very accurate. I have seen other men who showed a giving spirit in some cases but who treated their Christian wife like dirt. A genuine Christian loves another Christian.

      • Jeff S

        “Here is something that I am hearing repeatedly from abuse victims: their abuser WANTS children. Sometimes lots of children. I don’t understand that dynamic. They hate the pregnancy. They hate the inconvenience of a baby. They don’t truly love children. Yet they want to keep getting you pregnant. Does anyone understand that? It can’t be motivated by anything good.”

        Alright, so I have a twist on this one. Obviously this topic is different for me, not having the capability of being pregnant, but this statement still rings true.

        It took 10 years before we had a child, and it was something my ex wanted desperately. It was an obsession- she felt like a failure as a woman without a child. The pregnancy was hard, but actually it wasn’t that much more different from our normal life. She was bedridden though the majority of it (which was no change from before). But after the pregnancy when she was uninvolved with our son, she’d keep talking about having more children. I was dying trying to take care of my job and our son- and she wanted more! I would say “what about the one you have?” She would see him literally 15 minutes a day.

        In fact, one boundary that I set in the end was no more children, which sent her through the roof. But I was barely surviving taking care of the one we had- I wasn’t going to bring another into the world. The sad part is that it wasn’t that I didn’t want more children, but I didn’t want more children with her. She’d always say “but I can change!” which actually would have been good enough for me, but I didn’t want to give her a promise because she had a way of cashing in promises without making the change.

      • Just Me

        Jeff S, This is so true. “but I didn’t want to give her a promise because she had a way of cashing in promises without making the change.” It took me many years to realize that when we made a “compromise” it always entailed me giving my part first, then he would never give his. He strung me along for years with promises that he never kept.

      • Bethany

        kJeff S. -She new her lack of care for the child was causing chaos in your life and she wanted more to create more chaos. You wouldn’t leave a defenseless child so you wouldn’t leave her. Its the same ploy to keep there victims its just in reverse in your case. I know of several abusive women who “accidently” get pregnant in order to entrap there prey. I am sorry that she did this to you. You may not have been the one who was pregnant but she still used an innocent new life to torture you instead of blessing you and that is VERY wrong!

      • MeganC

        Good insight, Bethany!

    • Bethany

      It wasn’t too long at all! I am glad you took the time and used such courage to write it down. I am sorry he does this to you and I will be praying for you.

      • A.K.

        I know this is an old thread but I’m new here and have been looking around the blog on various subjects.

        I do not have the horror stories written here. I am so sorry for these women who have endured such cruelty during what is supposed to be a joyous time in their lives. I guess I should be grateful that I do not have children right now, but before I could put my finger on what was going on in my marriage (i.e. emotional/verbal abuse) this subject was a very sore spot for me.

        Jeff S comment: “It took 10 years before we had a child, and it was something my ex wanted desperately. It was an obsession- she felt like a failure as a woman without a child.” This statement triggered me because a) I want children and my husband makes every effort to ensure that doesn’t happen and b) every barren woman in the Bible who wanted a child felt like a failure as a woman. I don’t believe the intense desire for children is wrong, but rather the reasoning behind it. Jeff S., I understand that your wife wasn’t really interested in raising a child, so this was a boundary you had to set, but in my situation it’s controlling and manipulative.

        My husband is a classic withholder/punisher. He withholds love and intimacy, stonewalls, gives me the silent treatment for days, and won’t finish projects around the house that he starts as punishment for my bad behavior. He’ll start working on something to get me really excited (hooked) and then walk away from it, dashing my hopes ….for YEARS. He says I don’t know how to motivate him, I don’t praise him enough, I don’t deserve all the nice things he does for me, and it’s my fault things don’t get done around the house and we can’t have a family. He sees having a family, much like he sees church attendance, as a favor to me. He professes to be a Christian but says things like, “aren’t you happy I’m going to church with you this week?”

        He told me I was a dead-beat wife 3 months into our marriage and
        if I wanted to be a stay at home mother I needed to pay off $30,000 on our mortgage as well as save money to pay the medical bills associated with the pregnancy. This sounded like a tall order but I thought he was just trying to be fiscally responsible. I also thought he might change his mind (he was already pushing 40). I went to work, made the extra mortgage payments in addition to paying for all our groceries and household items, did all of the household chores, and he was still nasty to me. After two 1/2 years working (I was a nanny before and after we got married. He said that’s how he knew I would be a good mother), I could clearly see that his spending habits were anything but thrifty and he wasn’t helping me prepare for a family at all. He was spending most of his free time and money on his hobby or elaborate tools he didn’t really need for his contracting business (like a $6,000 dump trailer he used twice). I felt used (he bought the house before we were married so it’s in his name alone). I talked to him about this financial plan and he confessed that it wasn’t about the money at all – even if we had paid off the loan, he just didn’t want to have kids with me. It was all a lie. I was (and am) hurt and traumatized. He’s very good at withholding things that are the most important and dear to me. I even asked if I could have a dog instead (he loves dogs or at least, he loves everyone else’s), but he said he’d poison it if I got one without his permission. It just seems like he doesn’t want me to be happy…ever.

        I’ve been married six years and I’m starting to wrap my brain around divorce and remarriage in the church. We went to one of our pastors for counsel and he told us we both just needed to “deny ourselves” more. I felt like I was dying. I had already given him everything, every dream for my future, what more can I possibly relinquish to him?

        I have since gotten counsel from an old friend/counselor who went through the same thing. She recommended this blog. It’s so comforting talking to someone who understands.

      • Dear A K, your husband is definitely abusing you. The pattern of lies, manipulation, multiple forms of financial abuse, unilateral decision-making about reproductive issues, withholding, sucking you in by giving you hope and then punishing you by not following through — that pattern of conduct is very abusive. I am so glad you have found our blog. (((Hugs)))

      • thepersistentwidow

        A. K., I am sorry that you are dealing with a withholder/punisher. I lived in that type of abuse for years and it is very lonely. It is disturbing that the pastor will not take your concerns seriously and I would not trust any of his counsel. His response is not surprising as most pastors are totally incompetent to counsel abuse victims and they have an agenda that is totally void of truth. Beware also of the counseling service they may try to send you to as it is likely that they have no policy of dealing with domestic abuse and will cause you much harm. I speak from experience on this issue. The more the church ‘helped’ the worse things got.
        I am so glad that you have a friend that understands and who is able to counsel you wisely. A Cry for Justice and Not Under Bondage are must reads to see through the fog of abuse. It’s great that you found this blog because you will gain a lot of insight and encouragement here. Welcome!

      • A.K – a withholder/punisher/stonewaller is just as evil as the most callous beast on this thread. Your anti-husband’s entitlement is amazing. I am so sorry, and the way he was making you pay off a house that is in HIS name only is financial abuse…
        You don’t deserve this cruelty!
        ((hugs))

      • A.K.,
        I am sorry that my comments triggered you- I completely understand why.

        I realize you understand the differences in our situations, but even with that I do regret my word choice when I said “obsessed” because the implication with that word is that it was bad for her to want a child. It was not a bad desire. Sometimes it was painful because I felt like it was more important for her to have a child than it was for her to participate in the marriage, so that’s why I used the word “obsession”. But in hind-site, I think the problem was her attitude toward the marriage more than her desire to have a baby. I do want to make sure it’s clear that I was never against having our first child; it was only after the first child that I set the boundary.

        I’m sorry that your husband has denied you a child. I am not of the opinion that all marriages must produce children, but I AM of the opinion that a husband and wife ought to support one another’s dreams, especially a dream for children. If a man doesn’t want to have children, he has no business marrying a woman who does.

        I’m also sad at the advice you were given to deny yourself more. I also got that same advice, and it killed me very slowly on the inside. I’m glad you are here and I hope you will find hope on this blog.

        Again, I apologize for the triggering language.

  4. Just Me

    Oh, and one more thing, and this is something I should mull over with my counselor. He has become less abusive towards me as the years have gone on. I wonder if he’s getting his need to be controlling filled by being a parent so he doesn’t need to be as controlling of me. Example – before we had children, he would scold me in restaurants for not eating enough of my food. He doesn’t do that anymore and hasn’t since we had kids. Is it now because he can scold the children for not eating their food? Does that make any sense? He needs to feel superior so he used to belittle me continuously. He doesn’t do that as much because his need to feel superior is being met because he’s superior to the children.

    My abuse radar is “off” because I grew up in an abusive home. I’m scared that he’s abusive to the kids in ways that I don’t even notice because it doesn’t seem abnormal to me.

    • Pippa

      This particularly scares me for you, Just Me, as it is reminiscent of my life starting about 15 years ago (after having been married for almost 20 years). 8th or 9th counseling was an intensive one and I thought that he had finally made real changes. ( I became pregnant at a late age with our third child. I now have good evidence that this was the ex’s plan to hide his homosexual acting out. However God used it for His good. )
      The ex even became a voracious reader of spiritual literature. He was beginning to seem quite normal at times and we frequently seemed to have a real relationship. Little did I realize, he was cooking up a whole new personna, and a whole new story…with me as the bad “guy.” Whenever I got a tiny glimpse of this I just told myself that no one would ever believe him over me, that it was pretty obvious who was who. Wrong. When I realized what had taken place it was too late. I do mean too late. I don’t want to sound super-dramatic but the truth is that one child died in the MASSACRE. I feel I am basically emotionally dead and physically unwell Of course I have hope in the Lord, but it has seemed a long wait.
      Oh, re: pregnancy story…First pregnancy, labor and delivery over 30 years ago. He made fun of me when I began to show, made no effort to support the family, instead indulging himself in his fantasy career, constantly smoked marijuana. When we went to labor class, the husbands were taught how to coach the wives through contractions with counting and breathing. We were suppose to practice at home. He didn’t want to actually practice it in person but made a tape recording of himself doing the breathing practice “for me.” After labor was induced and went on for over a day, and I gave birth to a wonderful baby, he took off without notice and showed up later in the hospital room with his girlfriend. I later found letters from her that he had “hidden.”
      and so on and so on…

  5. Katy

    Sorry I’m late to this thread. I just want to add that it seems as though pregnancy is the time when the abuse skyrockets. I know I was shocked at the level of total disregard/lack of concern/oblivious to witnesses that my ex appeared when we had our kids. Although he left me to fend for myself on the last one (I gave birth in my car), the first two had incidents of him being very nasty to me right in front of the hospital staff. I was always totally mortified that he behaved that way in front of other people. I was ashamed of him, the way that I would feel if one of my children said horrible things in front of strangers…

    When i had the last one in the car, he panicked and called 911. he had to use his shoelace to tie the cord…then the baby’s face was blue and we were both being loaded in the ambulance, baby on oxygen, and i hear him ask the paramedic (totally unconcerned) “can i get my shoelace back?” – then when we got to the hospital he turned around and went home to bed. He wouldn’t stay, even though i couldn’t get off the table i was so hurt, and the baby was left in a warmer somewhere because there wasn’t enough staff at the time…we were just laying in the ER and he wouldn’t stay. That’s who he was

    Did your abuser also like to take lots of naps? Was his “sleep time” extremely important? Like nothing could get in the way of it, or everyone felt his/her wrath?

    • Jeff Crippen

      Katy- I think one of the marks of the sociopathic abuser (no conscience) is this business of napping/sleeping with no problem at all after even horrifically abusing a victim. Doesn’t bother him at all. In fact, I think it gives him some kind of twisted “peace.”

    • MeganC

      I noticed that, too, Katie. My ex always wanted naps and would get upset that he couldn’t “sleep in”. He also kept track of MY sleeping hours and would compare . . . always making me feel guilty if I got more sleep than he did. That is also a strong characteristic of a cult leader.

    • OH Katy – “skyrockets” what a great word to use.
      I am so sorry you went through all that. And the shoelace detail – that is classic detail from a genuine victim. No-one inventing a story about abuse would think of putting in something that, but those kinds of details are so common in true stories of domestic abuse. The supreme selfishness of the abuser, and the petty things he gets focused on. You and the baby could have died, and he’s worried about his shoelace!
      But so many people could have heard him tell the story and thought “What a good and sensible man! He called 911 !”

      I cannot imagine what it would be like to give birth in a car. And especially in a car that was not even driving – because my husband couldn’t be bothered taking me to hospital in time for the birth. That must have been mind-blowing.

      I also relate to how you felt ashamed when he spoke nastily to you in front of the hospital staff. I have felt ashamed of my abuser’s conduct in public too. It’s a horrible feeling. I felt ashamed for him, ashamed of myself, ashamed of how the staff or other witnesses were made uncomfortable by his uncivilised behavior. And sometimes I think abusers get off on knowing they have caused us such shame.

      BTW, don’t worry about being ‘late’ to a thread. We love people commenting any time, even months after a thread was published.

      My abusers were not tyrannical about their sleep time, but I have heard other survivors talk about that. Of course, if someone works night shifts and the rest of the family have to keep quiet during the day while the night-worker sleeps, it’s kinda understandable if there are rough words when their sleep is interrupted. But your abuser sounds like he was on some much more demanding and selfish jag than that.

    • Bethany

      Katy- I am so sorry that he treated you like that. P&P was always taking naps and if anyone made any noise he would yell at the top of his lungs for them to “Shut up!” Then after his naps I would get lectured on how horrible a mother I was for not keeping 3 young children perfectly quiet while he slept for 3 hours in the middle of the day. He would then play his video games at high volume all hours of the night. He would also come into the room and flip on the light any time he wanted to “get something” and then walk out “forgetting” to turn out the light so I would have to get out of bed and switch it off! As horrible as my sleep is now because of PTSD it is still better then living with P&P.

    • Still scared( but getting angry)

      Sleeping and naps…whew! More in common. Yes, his sleep was critical. All times and we were supposed to just know when he was sleeping and when he was not and not wake him. He would be in the bedroom watching a movie or playing on his lap top and then take a nap and all of were to psychically know that now he was sleeping and to be quiet and not go into the bedroom. He never got up with any of the kids during the night. I broke my ankle and sleep downstairs on the sofa because he couldn’t help me during the night if I had to go the bathroom and I needed help to get off the bed.

    • Just Me

      Yes, there are nap issues at our house too. I understand that he needs to nap, because he leaves for work around 3am, which means he’s home by noon (ugh). I don’t have a problem with him napping (actually, I prefer it because it keeps him out of my hair). My issue is that he wants to nap downstairs on the couch and then he yells at us if we make any noise. When I suggest that he naps upstairs, he’ll say “But I feel bad leaving you down here with the kids.” But he doesn’t feel bad shouting at us for living our lives? Or he’ll get angry and accuse me of not allowing him to nap. Our daughter fell off her bike and came inside crying with scraped up knees, and he yelled at her for waking him up . So I cleaned her up, put the kids in the car and went out for the afternoon. He proceeded to badger me with text messages and phone calls begging me to come back home. I told him we would come home when we were ready. When I told our marriage counselor about this incident, and said “I don’t have a problem with him napping.” The counselor looked at my with a surprised look and said “You don’t?” I said “No, I have an issue with him napping on the couch and yelling at us when he could nap upstairs where it’s quiet.” I think that husband (who likes to lie to the counselor about me) told him that I get mad because he needs to nap and I’m inconsiderate of him waking up at 3am, which is very far from the truth. Anyway, the counselor talked to husband about it and now he naps upstairs. It’s just as well with me because then he leaves us alone.

      • Jeff Crippen

        He likes to sleep on the couch so that he can be the center of attention, even if to do so it means yelling at you all for bothering him. Abusers are always on target. The target? A universe with them at the center.

      • Marah

        Ugh – my husband has slept on the couch (day and night) for over 15 years. And has flip-flopped between making me feel guilty about it and insisting he can no longer sleep with the window open like I always have it (when I’d say he could sleep in the bed any time). And before I asked him to leave a couple of months ago, he slept off and on all day on the weekends, or if he came home in the middle of a weekday (he’s self employed). And when he wasn’t sleeping, he was playing on his phone or watching stuff on his laptop.

        I always have thought of all that stuff as annoying, but not abusive, before now. I really don’t miss him. I may miss the illusion of the best friend who totally gets me, but I don’t miss living our lives around his preferences and desires.

    • Katy- I don’t really have terrible pregnancy and childbirth stories (far as Ican remember) but Lord, did that man like to sleep! He would sleep anytime anywhere. Even while driving- if he was sitting or laying down, he was asleep.He could never make it through a tv show(unless it was one of his choosing). As soon as his head hit the pillow at nite, he was asleep(unless he wanted to reprimand me or give me a speech of some kind-).It was ridiculous. If I ever left him with one of the kids- he would be asleep when I got back. If I took a nap and thought he was watching them (they were young) I would wake up to find him asleep and the kids running wild. I could never depend on him.

  6. Katy

    I have several abusers in my family (which is probably how I ended up married to one), but the one that really stands out is my grandmother. Stories about her are legendary. She wanted 12 kids but the doctor convinced her to stop at 8, this was back in the 50′s and 60′s when abuse simply wasn’t spoken about. But her doctor finally figured it out. She paraded her family into church in the front pew every single Sunday, her Christian reputation was the most important thing in the world to her and her children couldn’t dare tell anyone what she did to them at home behind closed doors. We’re talking horrific beatings and sexual abuse and all manner of evil spiritual/emotional abuse. 2 of her children are schizophrenics. The others have varying degrees of “issues”. Fortunately my mom ran away when she was 16 and came out with a gentle heart and no tolerance for abuse.

    The constant pregnancy and having a huge family is a badge of pride to some abusers, if they are very obsessed with how they look in public etc. and if they think that having tons of kids is somehow more “godly” than having less. This is what makes me afraid of the quiverful people. We have a couple of quiverful families in our church and I steer clear of them. Sad but true

    • Jeff Crippen

      Thanks Katy. Very good observations and insights. There are many reasons for having children. Not all of them, unfortunately, are good. Of course if there had been wise church leadership in her church, she would never have received the praise and adulation she so desired. Where was your grandfather in all of this? A passive type guy?

    • Just Me

      Katy, This is interesting. My mother has schizophrenia and I’ve wondered if it’s linked to childhood abuse. My grandfather was very strange, although she never admitted to any abuse. But he and some of his siblings molested several of my cousins, so I know there were pedophiles around her when she was growing up.

      I saw a special today on the Oprah network about a woman who was severely sexually abused as a young child and ended up with multiple personality disorder with 92 personalities. Our minds do amazing things in order to cope with trauma.

      Does anyone know if there is a link between Schizophrenia and childhood abuse?

      • Just Me

        I just did a quick Google search and it looks like there is a link. I feel slightly relieved because my mother’s Schizophrenia was late onset. When I give my family medical history to a doctor, they always say “Well, you don’t have to worry about the Schizophrenia for yourself because you’re past the age of onset” but it doesn’t ease my concern since she started battling it so much later. Perhaps her issues are due to abuse and not due to an unavoidable biological condition.

      • Laurie

        My sister is schizophrenic…I don’t think it is necessarily a hereditary thing. I think it is a stress thing. If you run a car out of balance on the wheel alignment, you will ruin your tires and tie rod ends. I think the same is true if you stress out a developing mind with abusive behavior, or fill a person’s life with hatred in some way. The stress causes them to be out of balance and I think this can cause the chemical balance in the brain to go sideways, too, resulting in schizophrenia. Just my opinion.

      • Pippa

        Schizophrenia is an illness for which there is a genetic predisposition. Certainly being abused in childhood would add stress to a genetically weakened system and could possibly result in an earlier or worsened presentation of the illness. Also one might guess that if ones’ parents or grandparents had schizophrenia, then one might be more likely to be both abused and schizophrenic. However nothing has ever suggested that being abused causes schizophrenia.

  7. Katy

    yes. my grandpa was very passive and a weak man. Plus he lived under her control. He escaped by working very late hours (and of course he worked constantly because he had so many children!)
    I don’t think she would have gotten away with it as long as she did if people were more aware of abuse and “red flags” – but she was cunning and manipulative so her church knew there was something “off” about her but of course no one ever dared to pry. It is a tragic story. I always pray that if there is someone suffering in secret in my church, that God would use me to help.

    • Jeff Crippen

      A good prayer. I saw a very similar dynamic in my maternal grandmother and her passive husband. I think he was a genuine Christian, but this little 4ft 6inch woman totally intimidated him. “Daddy! Get our there and….”! I can hear her now. I remember hearing her in the mornings talking on the phone in her sweet “Christian” voice, impressing some church member or the pastor. Even as a kid I knew something was wrong with that picture.

  8. Katy

    Yes I think kids instinctively pick up on those things. My mom said that from a very young age, she and her siblings just *knew* that their dad was incapable of protecting them. So as they got older they protected HIM! By keeping the worst of it a secret from him because they didn’t think he could handle it. It is amazing what human beings can survive, isn’t it.!

  9. This napping thing could be a whole other post. My ex probably spent about 5 hours awake every day. She was on a lot of prescription medication that made her perpetually sleepy. However, she would go to sleep at night much later that me and keep the TV on, so I ended up sleeping in our spare bedroom so I could get some rest.

    During the day I had to be careful not to be too noisy. I can still remember in the middle of the afternoon she got angry with me for practicing my electric guitar in the next room while she was resting. The kicker was that I was practicing with headphones so all she was hearing was the unamplified electric guitar- if you’ve ever heard one, you would know this is not very loud at all (way quiter than an acoustic guitar, which I wouldn’t have dreamed of touching while she was napping unless I was at the other end of the house). And trying to watch an action movie downstairs on Saturday afternoon- forget it.

    • Just Me

      Jeff S, Does your ex wife have any sort of visitation with your son at all? I can’t imagine that she’s capable of caring for him at all, even in small amounts.

    • Still scared( but getting angry)

      I know that feeling. Normal, quiet activity suddenly being told it was so much louder than any person should hear, let alone be bothered by. Not to mention the 3am him wanting to watch a TV program in the bedroom and getting mad because I couldn’t sleep through it.

      • Bethany

        One night when we were traveling we stayed in a hotel. He slept in one bed and I slept in the other with the two boys. During the night I was coughing because I get allergies every time I travel. He got angry because I woke him with my coughing and threw a remote control at me. It hit me just above the eye and split my eyebrow open. I was taken by ambulance to the emergency room for stiches. Of course I told them that I tripped in the dark and hit the corner of the coffee table. Years later he told one of his friends the story and was laughing about it.

      • MeganC

        Bethany — That repulses me and angers me simultaneously. I can only imagine God’s disgust over His precious girl being treated that way. Ugh.

  10. JM, she does. Technically she gets every other weekend and 4 hours on Wednesday nights. However, since she moved out of state, this has turned into “a few days whenever she can come”, which has turned out to be three or four days every couple of months. She also gets two solid weeks at Christmas and over the summer, which is where he is right now. She lives with her sister and two nieces (who are both older teens) so she has a lot of help.

    It’s worth noting that she is no longer sleeping as much as she used to. Getting off the pain medication helped, as has no longer living with someone (me) who tolerates the sleeping.

  11. Laurie

    Seventh week of pregnancy, I started spotting. Instead of taking it easy, I was required to take care of all points, including driving, on a trip to Yellowstone from Virginia. I had asked for a favor of using “protection” during intimacy, since the bleeding would show up after not using it. I was compelled to not use it, and when I showed the bloody mucus to my husband, he called me a liar. After we returned home, I was to harvest and can 80+ quarts of green beans, clean the camper and unpack and keep the house spotless, because that is what God wanted me to do. I gave the baby away to God at that point, telling Him that I could either take care of the baby or meet my husband’s requests and the Bible said I was to do whatever my husband wanted. I was responsible to pack the house and move just one month after the gardening was over. Meanwhile, he prepared to go away for five days on a hiking trip (dream trip of a “lifetime”) and told me, just before he left, that he tried to “do it” with a coworker and would have “done it” if she had said yes, “sorry.” At that point, I asked God for a divorce from him.

    Well, he left, and I went into preterm labor while he was camping where he could not be reached (he never saw our son alive and doesn’t remember what day or year it all happened). The baby lived 4 hours, while my blood pressure dropped to 93/50 and my fever rose to 104.6. I had a blood infection and so did my child, from a chorionic infection derived from trying to “please” him just before he left. This caused me to dilate.

    Worst part was that, when I saw him crying a month later after he had run out on me and the children for a week and called for a divorce, I asked him what was wrong and he said, “No one wants to hear about my camping trip.”

    By the way, if I ever think of this again or say anything about how much this still hurts or talk about how my child died, the “church” and my husband call me “bitter” and “unforgiving.”

    • Jeff Crippen

      Laurie – Well, I can assure you that anyone who lays that bitter and unforgiving nonsense on you is either accusing and thus wicked, or grossly ignorant about the nature of true forgiveness and thus a Pharisee at best. You did the absolute best you could under horrid, cruel circumstances. The actions of the ex are those of a conscienceless sociopath. Find the right people and talk about it all you want. I think a group of the right people are here on this blog, so talk whenever you want!

      • Laurie

        God bless you, Jeff, and thank you. Its been a while since I posted…life has been crazy lately. But I sure am glad to have you folks there.

    • Just Me

      Laurie, I am so sorry for what you went through. Your story brought tears to my eyes. That man is absolutely horrible.

    • Katy

      Laurie if you are currently still suffering in that relationship I’ll be praying for your relief. You are not bitter. (hugs)

    • Still scared( but getting angry)

      Laurie, you are not bitter, you are rightly angry and sorrowed by the obnoxious behavior. It’s is sooooo wrong! Praying for your grief!

    • Bethany

      Oh dear Laurie you are far from bitter or unforgiving! I have had three miscarriages but I have never had a baby die after birth. I am so very sorry for you. Your abuser is a sick sociopath and you are a grieving mother. I will be praying for you.

    • Kathy seldon

      Your are not bitter, you were horribly wronged. I’m so sorry you went through this. People who don’t know better (or don’t care) will minimize abuse, but what happened to you was wrong wrong wrong. Someone had told me that God saw what my husband was doing and it made Him; that someday, here or in the hereafter, he would answer to God for his treatment of His daughter and that it was going to be a dark day for him. That sounded nice, but I was laying bed a few nights later doubting how true that was. I prayed “God is that true, do you see how broken I am, and does it make you mad?”, then I told him all I wanted was a really good hug. While I was praying that prayer a friend in my apartments was on her way over with chocolate filled sugar cookies to share with me. She texted to ask if I could come to the door and then gave them to me. Half-way to the kitchen with them I heard a voice in my heart say, yes I see you, yes I care, and here’s your hug. The cookies were delicious and I cried the whole time I ate them. The church has said some false things to me too, but they’re not God.

      • Jeff S

        “The church has said some false things to me too, but they’re not God.”

        Yes, though this can be so hard to see. I had to realize that whatever the theology of my church about divorce, it’s the theology of God that really matters.

  12. Kathy seldon

    I’m so glad i found this thread. I have been working through forgiving my husband for past abuses, this is purely for my own benefit and healing. But the thing I have been unable to even fully face, let alone forgive, is the way he stole my pregnancies/newborn time from me. he also wanted lots of kids, when were dating he said six, I said three, so we settled on four. His side of the family doesn’t make girls, there are generations of boys made by the men in his family, and he dreamed of a girl. But one thing that confused me was that if we had a girl first that was it, no more kids, he wanted a girl, but only one girl. It was so weird, but I passed it off as a quirk.
    I got pregnant a year a half into our marriage. We were already having problems, he was so passionate and attracted to me until we were married, then I was already his and, therefore, not exciting. He once told me that undressing the room with him took the excitement out because my body became commonplace. The day before I conceived my first child was the last day I wore lingerie in our marriage. I had hesitated doing it, because he had already shown a tendency to not want sex on my terms, but I took the risk. He brushed me off and I called him out, asked him what he found so undesirable about me, his response was that I wanted alot of emotion involved and he didn’t have the energy for it. In other words, he wanted sex, not romance. I was 23. Apparently I was more attractive the next day, because I conceived my first son. Pregnancy was a nightmare. I was sooooooo sick, if we had not been in the military with free healthcare, I don’t think I could have carried my pregnancy, the medication required to keep food in me was too expensive. A good day was only throwing up twice, on bad days I lost count after seven. I suffered with this for a while because I though all ladies deal with this so I just needed to suck it up. I was so afraid of appearing weak. I was sitting on the couch thinking that if they told me the only way to have my baby was to be put under and fed through a tube for nine months I would be okay with that. I remember wondering why all the pregnant girls around me were glowing and I felt no emotion. I loved my baby and I knew it, but I could not conjure any excitement. I was sitting on my couch thinking about the fact that I had not eaten in two days, wondering if my baby was going to survive, my husband came home and saw how messy the house was. He looked at me, and cleaned the house, I could feel the resentment seething from his pores. After he finished he laid on the ground next to the couch. I asked what was wrong and he didn’t answer, I asked if he was mad that he had to clean the house and he said yes. I was devastated. Where was the man who promised to protect me, I was so sick, I was afraid I was going to lose my baby, I was dying inside, and he was mad that I had not cleaned the house in between trips to toilet that day. My mom came to help around the house just before the baby was born, she was kept out of the delivery room. He said it was the husband who should be there to show support, I saw so many of his control tactics as his way of being supportive and involved, I wish I had known his heart. The birth was hard, I pushed for a long time, and the recovery took along time. Thank God for my mom those first few weeks, I would not have survived without her. the rest is pretty typical, he resented helping, I was seeing double and worried about falling down the stairs because I was so tired. But if I asked him to take over and let me get sleep he let me know what a sacrifice it was. Then, when my first son was one, I was pregnant again. A one year old at home, and another growing inside me, our lease was up and we were moving. He banned my family from coming for Christmas because of the stress it would put on him from having so many people around. I tried to tell him that they wanted to help us move, but he wouldn’t have it. So the work was given to me. I packed, cleaned, cleaned, and cleaned. Then I unpacked. I never expected what happened during pregnancy two.

    He left, every way but moving out and setting me free. We only had one car because of our financial position. We make a considerable amount of money, but we are in debt and poor because he refuses to submit to a budget. If he wants it he gets it and God help the poor soul who tries to tell him to restrain himself. It was summer, in a tiny apartment, I had no friends and no car. He joined every sports team that came up at work, and signed up for volunteer opportunities on the weekends. He would come home an hour late, change his shoes and leave for practice/games. Come home, go to bed. On the rare night when he was home, I was expected to know it would be one of those nights, and have dinner ready. When I asked him to limit his extracurricular activities because I needed him at home, he focused on the word limit, and explained how I was a ball and chain wife for using it on him. He likes helping people, how dare I try to take that from him or imply that it is wrong. I also suspect he was cheating on me during this time, but I have to proof beyond a woman’s intuition. When he was home he was dipping a drinking beer. He doesn’t get drunk, so I couldn’t outright say anything, but it was enough to be a problem. He dips because when were dating I told him how much I hated that habit and would never want to kiss a man who does it. He didn’t announce when he started, he just did, and when my brother saw a can and asked him when he had started he said he had always done it (he had been doing it about two months at this point). The delivery was easy, I was induced and I had him naturally and only pushed for ten minutes. The nurse called me her hero and said she had never seen such a picture perfect delivery. He was on the phone with his brother while I sat on the birthing ball with contractions. I was taking an online english class for him at this time, and I wrote a major essay for it while in the hospital (please don’t judge me). I was alone after second son was born. My first son was with friends, he loved this couple, especially the dad, and they had daughter his age. I asked BB to leave him with them overnight and stay with me, but he refused, he said our son needed him. The humiliation I felt every time a nurse walked in looked at me with pity and said, “isn’t someone here with you?” still crushes me when I remember it. BB brought the big brother in the next day to see us, and I chased him around the hospital room while he laid on the couch because he was so exhausted. This the first written testimony of my abuse, i only realized I was being abused a month ago. When seen on paper, the disgusting nature of his actions his shocking, how did I not see what a monster he is?

    • Jeff Crippen

      Kathy – And so the lights come on! Good job! This is terrible, horrid stuff to have to experience, but don’t hammer yourself for not seeing it for what it was until now. Every single victim of abuse lives in the deception and fog that the abuser casts. I am sure that Barbara will have some good input for you, and probably others as well. Let me say that if you haven’t yet had a chance to read Lundy Bancroft’s book, Why Does He Do That? then we highly recommend it. Very, very helpful. If you need any assistance in getting a copy, email Barbara or myself directly (see our email addresses on the About Us page).

      Your first written testimony! Congratulations! We hope you become a regular visitor here and a part of our little blog community. By the way, did you have any experience with a pastor or church in all of this? If so, we would all benefit from hearing how that went for you.

    • Hi Kathy, thank you for sharing this part of you story in such detail. I would guess it’s only the tip of the iceberg. So sorry to hear you have gone through all that, but really really thrilled that you are waking up and seeing the truth, even though the truth can hurt like crazy.

      It sounds like your husband is very selfish, and believes he is entitled and quite justified to neglect you, hurt your feelings, use you as a slave-housekeeper and child minder, ignore your needs for love and affection, spend money however he likes, lie whenever he likes, drink whenever he likes, prevent you having contact with your family, refuse to listen to your reasonable requests, and bludgeon you by exuding a bad mood or giving you the silent treatment in order to make you feel guilty, demoralised and lonely. And when you HAVE made a very reasonable request, he ups the ante and turns your words round and uses them against you. Like the way when you asked him to limit his recreational activities, he calls you a ball and chain wife. This tactic is a very strong mark of an abuser. Let me quote you something from Lundy Bancroft’s book (the one Jeff C mentioned). This comes from page 145 of Why Does He DO That?:

      He has an array of control tactics in conflicts
      Sarcasm
      Ridicule
      Distorting what you say
      Distorting what happened in an earlier interaction
      Sulking
      Accusing you of doing what he does, or thinking the way he thinks
      Using a tone of absolute certainty and final authority – “defining reality”
      Interrupting
      Not listening, refusing to respond
      Laughing out loud at your opinion or perspective
      Turning your grievances around to use against you [that's what he did when he called you a ball and chain wife for asking him to limit his recreational activities ]
      Changing the subject to his grievances
      Criticism that is harsh, undeserved or frequent
      Provoking guilt
      Playing the victim
      Smirking, rolling his eyes, contemptuous facial expressions
      Yelling, out-shouting
      Swearing

    • Still scared( but getting angry)

      So glad you’ve joined us. Your story sounds so similar to mine!

  13. Kathy seldon

    I forgot to mention, since the second child he has had a visectomy. I asked him why he didn’t want four kids anymore and he said he didn’t realize how much work they are. He doesnt to the work, I do. He wanted the social benefits and rewards being a husband and father, with the freedoms of a single man.

    • “he said he didn’t realize how much work they are.” – that was a rare moment of honesty from him, I’d say.

      And I think your conclusion here is spot on: “He wanted the social benefits and rewards being a husband and father, with the freedoms of a single man.”

      People tell me that ‘spot on’ is an Aussie idiom that you don’t use in the States. Translation: correct, exactly right, perfectly stated. Now you know! :)

      Hope you keep coming to our blog; we love to hear from new survivors.

  14. xerarose

    I have 5 children, 4 with my stbx. I was 6 months pregnant when we married 5 years ago, and our marriage was awful from the start. My youngest is 8 months, and I remember during my pregnancy with her, going grocery shopping one time, leaving the little kids in the van with him and taking my oldest to help. I was 7 months pregnant, and had bought $400 worth of groceries. I was just checking out and paying for them, when he comes in, kids crying, holding our toddler in one arm like a sack of potatoes, holding the arm of my 3 yr old in a tight grip and practically dragging her, and nearly kicking my then 4 yr old to try to get her to move quickly enough for his liking. He dumps them all on me then started yelling at me for taking so long. We had two carts, so when he was done raging he took one, left me with the other, all 4 kids and pregnant… we were still glad he’d left!

    We haven’t been living together for 5 months now…. and he talks about wanting to get me pregnant again, how I’ll be fertile again soon (9 months post partum) and how he’ll “have to knock you up again, hehe” …

    • Wow Xerarose, what a scenario. I bet some of us have seen or sensed similar scenarios being played out in supermarkets. The one you described was really overt. He ‘leaked’ all over the place!
      I know I bristle sometimes at the vibes I pick up from couples in supermarkets, just the sense that the woman is in fear and trying to appease the man so there won’t be a scene in public.

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