People who are struggling to decide if divorce is right for them often do so because they don’t feel they have a “legitimate reason.” That debate changes when there’s domestic abuse but it’s still not an easy decision since abuse victims also blame themselves for the abuse and feel it’s wrong to end the marriage when the problems are their fault. This isn’t a problem just for women. Men are victims of domestic violence too.
Gregory Smith got married soon after college and was married for two short years. Although his marriage ended because of his wife’s infidelity, there was another critical problem: domestic violence. It had been a problem even when Gregory and his wife were dating. Here’s Gregory.
My ex-wife had a problem with physical violence. She had that problem throughout college and throughout our marriage. And when she would do that I would insist that she go to counseling, and she would go to counseling. She would be fine for a while, and then something would trigger her to strike me.
It was the biggest red flag that I could ever possibly imagine, and I didn’t see it because I was blinded by love. And if any woman ever strikes me again, that’s the last day she will ever talk to me.
I stayed in the relationship because I was young and stupid, and I was in love with her. And young love is different than an older person’s love. When we’re young and in love, we don’t necessarily see the warning signs or recognize them for the severity of what they might mean.
In my mind, I just thought, “Oh, she’s just got a little bit of a temper.” And I was able to restrain her when she would try to do this. She did, actually, physically strike me in the face a number of times when I didn’t see it coming. But I would say the majority of times I would see it coming, and she would throw punches at me and I would simply catch her fists, spin her around, and bear hugged her until she stopped— until she calmed down basically. I don’t know why I stayed in that. It was such just one hell of a learning experience.
There’s no fixing it. Just get out of there while you can.
The Divorce Coach Says:
This is an important conversation on two fronts.
First, while the majority of victims of domestic violence are women, men are victims too. A 2010 survey by the CDC found that 40% of victims of severe, physical domestic violence were men.
Men are often silent about their abuse – the media focus is heavily biased towards female victims, we believe that men are stronger and should be capable of subduing their attacker (as Gregory describes) and there’s the stigma. Men fear being judged. Domestic violence is not a gender issue – it is never acceptable regardless of whether the victim is male or female.
And that brings us to the second issue – the abuse will not stop on its own. Without interventions, it’s likely to escalate and the control that is part of the abuse makes it harder and harder to leave. It’s critical to get help. And if you’re considering divorce then it’s even more critical to get help especially with respect to keeping yourself safe.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline is 1-800-799-7233.
P.S. If you’re looking for a “legitimate reason” for divorce, it’s a sign that you’re worried about other people approving of your decision and concerned that other people will judge you. This not the basis for making this life-changing decision. They are not experiencing your marriage.
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