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Spousal Abuse And Borderline Personality Disorder

Question:

In late 1995 I started dating following a divorce from a 29 yr marriage (32 yrs total). This woman had also been recently divorced, her 2nd time. We married 4/98, after somewhat of a very difficult dating period. I experienced frequent, with regularity, stages of rage, and anger on her part, for often times seemingly minor things. I thought they would end after we got married, because she always feared that I would leave her. They didn’t. They got worse. In August 03, and after 3-4 other events of physical abuse (punching), I filed a complaint and obtained an order of protection. I later dropped the criminal charge, as my wife promised to get into therapy. She didn’t, but she did file for divorce and then after 6 mo. withdrew her petition. Again agreeing to reconciliation. Never happened. In November 04 I filed for divorce. I’m haunted by the action of getting an order of protection, and I know it was painful for my wife to be arrested. But I feel I took the appropirate action. Either she would get help or the marriage was over. Well, at that point there really wasn’t a marriage. Sometimes I feel like I acted too harshly, knowing what consequences she would face. Spousal Abuse is horrible! How much is wife on husband? How much doesn’t get reported because us Macho guys don’t want to be looked upon as wimps. (I’m 6’2″ 200 lbs and I can take care of myself). But wouldn’t hurt my wife…

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Answer:

Female-on-male domestic abuse occurs far less frequently than the male-on-female variety, but exactly how much less frequently it occurs is difficult to establish. United States Federal Government statistics suggest 95% of domestic violence victims are women, but as you point out, men are more likely than women to not report situations where they have been attacked, as it is quite unmasculine-appearing to have been harmed, and especially uncool and wussy-appearing to have been harmed by a woman. There are also likely cases where women attack men, who then attack the women back, and the women are then seen as victims rather than the men. It is hard to say what the actual percentage of female-on-male abuse is, but I’ll wager it is a bit higher than 5% of all domestic abuse situations.

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p> Statistics aside, you’ve been through a pretty difficult time here. More importantly, you seem to have reached the conclusion that though you loved your wife, that you could not afford to let yourself continue to be harmed by her abusive actions. It was clearly not a simple decision to leave; you endured a lot of verbal and physical abuse before it became clear that your was was not interested, or not capable of changing her abusive behaivor. Leaving was thus a rational act of self-preservation. It wasn’t something you wanted to do, so much as it was something you needed to do in order to preserve your own sanity, and protect yourself from being provoked into harming your ex-wife (which would then look like you were the perpetrator and might get you into legal trouble yourself). Don’t feel too guilty for doing what you had to do in order to protect yourself. It is a very real shame that your wife has a problem with emotion control but that is not and can never be an excuse for her to harm others around her. You did the right thing by leaving, it sounds like to me.

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