The United Nations defines domestic abuse as “a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner. Abuse is physical, sexual, emotional, economic or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that frighten, intimidate, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, injure, or wound someone. Domestic abuse can happen to anyone of any race, age, sexual orientation, religion, or gender. It can occur within a range of relationships including couples who are married, living together or dating. Domestic violence affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels.”
Defining domestic abuse or domestic violence is easier than understanding why many women choose to endure these abusive behaviors that strip them of dignity, freedom, and self-respect. How could these women survive such loveless relationships where fear and violence cause harm not just to them but to their children as well?
Women are not inferior to men. Men have been instructed by the Holy Scriptures to love their wives just as Christ loves the congregation of God for whom he poured out his life. And so, if your partner does not treat you with love and respect — and instead, he shreds your dignity or vents his anger and frustrations on you like you’re an unfeeling punching bag — you have a choice to turn back from that kind of life.
This desperate woman wrote to Newsweek’s What Should I Do? for expert advice. She’s been a doormat throughout her married life, and now her health is in danger along with the emotional well-being of her young son.
As Anonymous, she wrote: “Dear Newsweek, My husband has had multiple hobbies throughout our relationship. He becomes obsessed with them for about 6 months at a time. Our weekends are exclusively dedicated to his pursuits; if I want to stop at a shop that I, or our son, may be interested in, my husband will pout and demand that we drop him off at home first, no matter the distance. He will watch dozens of hours of videos on the subject and runs several Facebook groups dedicated to his interests. Anything that I enjoy or prefer is mocked as ‘lame’ and not worth attention. If I even try to enjoy something, he gets mad and says that I’m being selfish for not helping him with his hobbies. He likes to say that he grew up poor, so he wasn’t able to enjoy his interests until now.”
She continued to relate that her husband had a recent arm surgery and all medical instructions were under her care. But this wife needed foot surgery, too, or else she would lose the ability to walk according to her doctor. But her husband belittled her situation, claiming that he needed surgery more than she did. Also, he refused to help at home because he claimed it was not his upbringing. As for this woman’s foot, about which her doctor has repeatedly told her husband, he kept telling her that it wasn’t that bad and she was just being a crybaby.
Carole Lieberman, M.D., M.P.H., a board-certified Beverly Hills psychiatrist, offers the following analysis and advice: “Your husband is a narcissist who is so focused on himself, his interests, his comfort, and his health, that he doesn’t have any empathy for you. He sees your pleadings for him to accommodate your interests, comfort, and health as just annoying distractions from his. He’s crying, ‘Me! Me! Me!’ all time, even if you can’t hear these words.”
Dr. Lieberman asked this wife if she had ever asked herself why she should have to endure all of her husband’s selfishness and serve as a mere doormat for him. Had she been treated the same way by her parents or older siblings, leading her to believe that she doesn’t deserve more? She emphasized to her that she and her son deserve more, and she has to learn to stand up to her husband.
Dr. Lierberman further said: “It’s interesting that you say anything you ‘enjoy or prefer is mocked as lame’ by your husband. Indeed, he is literally making you ‘lame’ by not prioritizing your reconstructive foot surgery. This should be the FINAL STRAW! Now is the time for you to stand up for yourself, and make arrangements to get your surgery asap, or else you really will be ‘lame’ because you won’t have
a leg to stand on.'”