I wish I could say that we’ve evolved as a society where we allow abused men to have a voice. This is not the case. It is a growing issue with one in three men suffering physical abuse. However, the most common form of abuse towards men is emotional.
Healthy Place, an internet magazine on mental health, lists a number of ways women abuse men (Read it here). These are the forms I experienced in my previous marriage:
- Insult and demean them; tell them they are not worth the trouble
- Socially isolate them
- Lie or withhold information
- Treat them like a child or servant
- Control all the finances
- Falsely accusing or threatening to accuse a man of assault on them
- Making the man feel like “he’s crazy”
- Minimizing the abuse; blaming the victim of the abuse
- Playing mind games
- Making the man feel guilty
- Falsely obtaining a restraining order
- Withholding affection
I didn’t know it was abuse at the time, but my ex started employing these the minute we were engaged. It manifested in turning me and my father-in-law against each other, having me give her my paychecks, and demeaning my decision making. As our engagement progressed, my self-esteem and confidence in the relationship waned.
I tried to end things a month away from marriage. I remember the night. We had gone to dinner. She spent the evening making me feel worthless and crazy for having an opinion about how to remodel and fix the house. She feigned personal responsibility by blaming her father’s “overbearing” opinion. At the end of the date, I dropped her off at our house (we weren’t living together before marriage) and I told her it was over. She sobbed, begged me to come back, not to end the relationship, that she would stop making me feel isolated, alone, stupid, and worthless. She kept her promise for a couple of months.
We went to a counselor shortly thereafter. She continued to chip away at my self-esteem, lob her parents judgement onto me, ignore my needs such as groceries when she went shopping (she wouldn’t let me do the grocery shopping), and altogether neglecting me (she would come home from work and barely look at me).
The point is that every time we met with a counselor, it was someone else’s fault. Her parent’s disapproval, her brother’s abuse, or just that I was an awful person. When she had her affair, she publicly pulled people into her lies so she wouldn’t have to face the responsibility of her sins. She lied about her physical safety, pitted friends against me, and when I tried to defend myself, I was met with harsh condemnation because I was not allowed to feel the way I did.
In the end, she called the police a number of times on false pretenses, dragged a simple divorce out for a year to steal as much as possible, lied about the work I did on the home, the money I provided, and even her affair. At the core of it all is the sin of divorce. There is nothing as painful as this form rejection. If you are a man who has, or is suffering from any of this, please get help. Here are some options and warning signs.
With all this stated, I still love and forgive my ex. The reason why I went through with the marriage was because I believed in her. Neither of us were entirely healthy, no one ever is. I just thought, trusted, that we would work through it. I swore agape, unconditional love, to an abuser. Sure, I made mistakes, so many of them. In the end, she had mounted so many sins that it was easier for her to blame me and walk away from her commitment than repent. The world didn’t dissuade her because she’s a woman and I’m the man. I wish it wasn’t so trite, but it is. I believe God can do a number of miracles, even heal an abuser. It is sin that justifies all manner of hurt to others. It is sin that makes concessions for the rejection of a person we swore a covenant to.
Aaron Daniel Behr
Mount Vernon, Ohio