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A Conversation With an Abused Man
April 29, 2004
by George Rolph

The phone rang. I picked it up.

"Man2man. George speaking. How can I help you?"

"I need advice. It's my wife."

"What's going on?"

"I can't handle her anymore. She is going crazy....."

The voice sounded panicky and confused.

"OK. Take your time and go back to the start. How long have you been with her?"

The tale was a familiar one. He had met his wife 12 years ago. She was all he ever wanted. Within five years they had two kids. A boy and a girl. The boy of 8 and a girl of 10.*

He worked hard and they had bought their home. He became an advertising executive. It was good money and the family enjoyed two holidays abroad a year. They were thinking of buying a second home in France. Life seemed great.

One day she hit him. "It wasn't too bad, at first. Just slaps around the head and face."

As if, that's OK.

"I could handle that." He told me.

I asked what had brought it on.

"I forgot to wash her car." He told me. "She called me a lazy bastard. He complained. "I knew I wasn't lazy. I was just tired.. I was working all the hours there are and I just forgot."

"Why didn't she wash the car herself?" I asked.

"She said she had enough to do with coping with the kids. She said she didn't have time to wash, cook, take care of the kids and the home and clean the car."

"Do you think hitting you was over the top?"

"Not really." He said. "She did seem to find a lot of time to do her own things though."

"What do you mean?"

"Well, she was always in her friends house. Or swimming. Or shopping. You know."

"How did she find the time if she was working so hard at home?"

"I know! That's what I asked her and that's when she hit me." He laughed nervously.

"OK." I said. "Lets recap here for a moment. You were working as many hours as you could in order to buy a nice home and afford two holidays abroad every year for the wife and kids. You were thinking of buying a second home in France to improve the family lifestyle and assets. While you are doing all of this your wife is spending a lot of time doing what she likes to do, with the money you work for, and she got angry with you for not cleaning her car? When you told her she had time to do it herself she hit you. Is that right?"


"I see. What else has happened?"

"She gets, sort of, out of control sometimes."

"In what way?"

"She, erm, stabbed me in the leg last November."

"She stabbed you?"



"I'm not really sure. I mean, I have thought about what happened and I can't make sense of it. She, erm, she just went...., you know, a bit crazy."

I listened carefully as he described a cycle of behavior that so many other men had told me of. A small disagreement over a silly detail became blown up into a full scale attack. She began yelling. Accusations began to fly. She accused him of taking advantage of her. She threatened to take the kids away from him. She warned him she would get everything, [the house, the money, the cars, the kids] if he tried to leave her or if she left him. She attacked his parents. His efforts to make life better. She attacked his sexual performance. She accused him of being selfish. She told him he was a rubbish at fatherhood and at that point he decided to fight back.

"I love my kids." He told me. As if he felt the need to justify his anger at her attack on his abilities to do just that. "I couldn't stand for that. I told her that I spent as much time as I could with the kids. I reminded her that I made sure I took them out every weekend. I mean, I take Josh to football and Rosie goes to the pony club. I take them to the cinema to give mum a break and so they can have fun. We swim together and we have our adventure times."

"Adventure times?"

"Yes. It's a game we play. We live near a forest and we go camping in the woods and pretend... Well, you know, anything they want really. It's fun."

"OK. Go on."

"Well, when I stood up for myself, you know, over saying I was a bad dad, she went mental. She ran into the kitchen and came back with a steak knife. She started waving it around and saying she would cut my balls off if I accused her of being a bad mother. That did my head in. I have never said that to her."

"Yes you did." I said, gently.


"By claiming to be a good dad you made two mistakes. First mistake was to disagree with her. The second was, to defend yourself as a dad. In her mind, that implies you think you are a better parent. If you are better then she must be worse, in her mind. To her, that means you think she is a crap mum."

"I don't understand."

"It's OK. We will talk about this later and then you will see. Tell me what happened with the knife."

"I wouldn't back down. I just kept saying I am a good dad to those kids. It just made her worse but I thought it was important to stick up for myself over this thing. You know, I wasn't having it. I wasn't shouting or anything. I don't do shouting normally. I was trying to be calm and reasonable because I didn't want her to accuse me of raising my voice. Even though she did anyway.., while she was screaming at me. Right in my face, you know? Anyway, I started listing the things I do for the kids, you know, like the tree house I built them and....

"Oh, I see what you mean. She had made up her mind I am a crap dad so anything I said to prove I am not means I am secretly saying, in some way, that she is the bad parent and not me.

"Anyway, she was leaning over me, you know. Shouting. I was sitting on a dining room chair. She had one hand on the back of the chair and she was leaning over me. In my face. Then she just, sort of, pointed the knife at my leg and leant on it. It went about half an inch into my thigh. I pushed her off me and she started screaming, "That's right. Hit me you bastard." I didn't hit her. I just pushed her off me. I went into the kitchen to get a towel for my leg. It was bleeding, you know. She came in the kitchen and started waving the knife in my face so I grabbed her wrist and took the knife away. I had to. She was crazy. She had this look on her face, you know. Like a half smile; but her eyes were weird. Shiny and weird. Like she was on drugs or something."

"What happened next?"

"She went out in her car. She ran over Josh's bike in the drive on her way out. I had to buy him a new one. Anyway, I went to the doctors to get my leg sorted out. I told him a screwdriver slipped when I was trying to fix Josh's bike. I don't think he believed me though."

"Why not?"

"He [the doctor] said it looked like a knife wound. I just said it wasn't but he started asking me if things were OK at home and stuff. I just bluffed it."

I suppressed a sigh and told him to go on.

"Well, a couple of days later she started on the kids. Well, Rosie actually."

"She hit her?"

"No. She has never hit the kids. I heard something. I was upstairs and I don't think Emma [the wife] knew I was there. She was putting the kids to bed and I was in the bathroom looking for some floss. I heard her tell Rosie that she didn't think daddy loved us anymore. Rosie started crying. I went into Rosie`s room and told Emma to get out. I told Rosie I loved her lots and then went downstairs to Emma. I went nuts and asked her why she said that. I was shouting this time. I hate shouting but this was too much. I really lost it. Then I heard Rosie come down stairs. She came into the lounge and ran straight to Emma and said, "Why is daddy shouting at you mummy?" That really cut me up. You know? It was like I had played straight into Emma`s hands. I had, hadn't I?"

"Yes." I said, as softly as I could. "But do you understand why she said that to Rosie?"

"No. It doesn't make sense. I do love the kids. The Kids know I do. At least, they did."

I interrupted him. "Go back over what you have told me so far. You were having a row. She was firing things at you. All kinds of accusations and insults. (I call it, verbal machine gunning). You were taking it until she said you were a crap father, correct?"


"Right. When she said that you stood up for yourself. She sensed she had found the right button to press. The one thing that you would not tolerate. The one thing that hurt you. Made you angry. Made you defend yourself.

This time he interrupted me. "Ah. So I had handed her a weapon?"

"Exactly. She knows what to use now to get you going. Take that weapon away by refusing to get angry. Tell me, has she ever been insecure about her own motherhood?"

"Yes. How did you know that?"

"Just a hunch. In what way insecure?"

"Well, she started -- last year it was -- she started saying that she didn't feel like she was a good mum to the kids. I told her that was rubbish and she had always looked after them very well. They are well fed and clothed, you know. I got quite worried and thought that maybe something was wrong with her, Emma I mean, but after a few weeks she snapped out of it."

"I thought that something like that may have happened." I said.

"Why. What led you to think that?"

"Because I recognized her accusing you as typical of the projection that abusers indulge in. When they feel insecure or guilty they accuse their partners of whatever it is that is troubling them. It's very common."

The story went on for another hour. It was another tale of a man being abused by a woman who has no conscience. A women prepared to destroy the children's love for their father because she imagined he was slighting her in some way. A tale that will probably end with the father having "visitation rights" as if he was a prisoner in jail and seeing his own children is some kind of privilege. A tale that told of further attacks on his mind and body. A tale of a man helpless as she destroys his faith in himself, his self respect and his lifestyle. He spoke emotionally of her constant provocation. Her destruction of his property. Her attacks on his friends and family. He cried as he told me how she was alienating him from his children and how their previously fun times together were now strained and difficult. He told how he had called me because he was not sure how much longer he could stand the pressure. He told me he was afraid because he was getting angry. He talked about how he had started drinking heavily. He asked me why there is no help for abused men.

I listened. I sympathised. I advised him to record her behavior. I explained how abusers think and how they operate and I asked him to call back if things got tough and he needed to talk again. When I put the phone down I thought about the British Minister, Jack Straw saying, "Domestic violence is men hitting women."

I wish you were here now Jack. I wish you, and David Blunket and Harriet Harmen and Rosie Winterton and all those other left wing, fanatical feminists in the Houses of Parliament were here to listen to what I hear every day. I would love to hear you all explain to these men that by being victims they are in some way oppressing women. I would love to hear you explain to them why you will not give them refuges to go to. Why you refuse to help them at all. Why you deny they exist. Why you think they do not matter. That, is something I would like see you do!

I would also like to hear those idiots in the men's movement who think, "domestic violence is the opiate of the men's movement" (Whatever that means), explain their thinking to these men. I would like to see all those "heroes" in the men's movement who think that men like this, who suffer appalling domestic abuse, are all "wimps" because they don't beat the hell out of their wives and walk out on their kids, justify their views to these men.

I work with these men every day. Every day I am saddened as I listen to them falling apart on the telephone. Men who, in the main, work damn hard to provide for their families, suddenly destroyed by abuse. Men who cannot fight back for fear of arrest. Men who are often arrested even though they don't fight back. Men whose hearts break as they watch the children they love turned against them by cowardly women too frightened to deal with their own problems. Men being destroyed by the casual cruelty of policemen, judges and politicians, as well as brutal self centered women out for revenge against imagined wrongs. By journalists and broadcasters, too scared of the women in the office to write or tell the truth. Yet the one thing that gives me hope is the knowledge that for every fool there are other brave souls fighting back. Within the men's movement, men and women all over the world are seeing these injustices and shouting out, with all their strength, "No More Silence!"

If you are a man suffering like this then don't tolerate it anymore. Talk to people. Don't lie about your injuries to medical people. You are just empowering her for all the wrong reasons. Make the doctor, the lawyer, the politicians and even your local men's groups take you seriously. Refuse to accept their prejudice. Don't allow your kids hearts to be stolen from you. Make recordings of her behavior. Video or tape recordings taken secretly can strengthen your claims when talking to the police or legal professionals. Send the recordings to me and I will post them on the Internet for all to see. We can disguise the faces if necessary. Above all, stop being silent! Stand up for your rights, for the rights of your kids, and fight back!

* Names and certain details changed to protect anonymity.

Copyright © George Rolph, April 2004. Founder of No More Silence. Contact: grolph(@)no-more-silence.org

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