Dealing with an Abusive Spouse?

I have been with my husband for nearly 20 years and we have 5 children, who range in age from 17 to 5. When we met in college, his neediness to be "taken care of" appealed to my nurturing side and I happily obliged.


He has never paid a bill in all our years as a couple. He has never taken a second job to help pay those bills even though he loves to complain about what we don't have. He has an issue with his temper. I saw it when we were dating, but it was usually over the outcome of a sporting event so I didn't place much stock in it.

We have struggled all our married life to keep our heads above water and to maintain a happy environment for our kids. I adore being a Mom, but because he wouldn't take a second job I have had to work multiple jobs to provide for our children's needs to the point that I work nearly all of the time (literally).

He is constantly at odds with the kids, but mostly our oldest daughter because she doesn't hold back when she sees something being done wrong. He acts like a child more often than not, throwing things at the kids to "get their attention" and then ignoring them when they want his. He demands "respect", but does very little to earn it and doesn't feel he needs to give it to get it.


He has admitted to our oldest that "sometimes he wishes he hadn't had kids". He has said on more than one occasion "if we hadn't had so many kids...". More often than not, when I have to work or run an errand he refers to having to watch the youngest ones as "being stuck with them". He's even said openly that he can't stand our daughter and told her as much.

In anger (usually at one or more of the kids) he's flipped tables, thrown remotes at heads, basketballs in faces, toys across the room. etc. He threatens to "beat" them and gets such a look of rage on his face over the littlest of things that it scares even me. More than once I've had to intervene, in fact I play referee between him and the kids more than anything else. He is constantly threatening to skip holidays or birthday gifts because "they don't do anything to deserve it" and I am left finding a way to do it on my own.


The phrase "don't tell Dad" takes on new meaning here. He thinks feeding them dinner is a "treat"! He gives them the silent treatment or the cold shoulder as punishment when he's mad at them and holds a grudge. He won't show affection or tell them he loves them when he's in this state of mind and the kids are painfully aware of it!

I home school my oldest two because of a learning disability and a health issue and it's been a positive experience for the most part, but my husband is always saying how they'll never be able to make it in the real world because of it. Were it not for my two oldest being home schooled, I couldn't work like I do. They take turns watching their younger brother and sister before and after school and usually get that responsibility on the weekends because their father doesn't think he should have to because it's his only time off. Never mind the fact that I work six days a week 12 or more hours a day.


He criticizes me in front of the kids for how long I'm gone when I go to the store or for how I spend money and for the things I do with it. He refuses to take the kids anywhere unless it serves his needs, he throws past mistakes with finances or attempts at improving our relationships in my face during an argument or the fact that I've held several jobs since we started our family nearly two decades ago (only because I was trying to be home more than away and raise my kids myself and avoid the high cost of daycare).

We are expected to spend time with his family whenever an opportunity arises, but if I want to do something with mine (who live 2 hours away or more) he says the kids have to "earn it". He even makes derogatory comments about them as if they are not as "normal" as his own. I have been living away from my family all of my adult life and it saddens me to think of all the wonderful memories my children could have had. My dad is gone now, Mom re-married and my nieces and nephews are all grown up. We can't get that time back.


If I ask him to help out with the kids or by doing something like take out the garbage or fix something that's broken he either puts it off indefinitely or asks one of the kids to do it, but if he asks one of them or me to do something and we do the same he flips out. He's constantly saying how if everyone would just keep him happy things would be a whole lot better at home. He pressures me for sex and openly "jokes" about not getting it often enough in front of other people. He makes lewd comments and gestures in front of the kids that make them uncomfortable and then says "at least you have two parents who love each other". He leaves bathing and bedtime to me or expects the older kids to do it. His main concern is for himself. He yells at the kids for changing the channel or leaving food out, but when he does it it's okay cause it's "his house", "his TV", or "his money that bought the food". (His take home is less than mine, btw). Combined, the two of us make just enough to "not" qualify for any help, but not enough to "not" need it!


He is highly unmotivated and extremely negative about anything and everything to the point that the older kids want me to leave. I feel like we're walking on eggshells waiting for the next blow up. Even the kids' friends notice and don't like to come around when he's there because he screams and yells in front of them too! I'm constantly having to choose between him and the kids. I too dream of leaving rather than staying, but with five kids and questionable "abuse" I feel foolish seeking help from a shelter.

I am fiercely loyal to my work (which I love) and don't want to leave the area because of that. I've cared for a friend's elderly Father who suffers from Alzheimer's for several years. It's the reason I can work so much and still home school! I just want it to be me and the kids so I can salvage what's left of their childhood, but can't imagine being able to do this on my own. I feel very "stuck"! I even tried to leave twice before, but financially it's just so difficult. I asked him to leave and deal with his anger issues and he refused, saying he didn't think it was necessary. Sadly, I love him, but am not in love with him anymore. I've made my share of mistakes over the years, but marrying him wasn't one of them because it gave me my kids whom I adore. I fear that staying with him will cause me to lose them and that is something I could not bear. Any advice or direction you can offer would be greatly appreciated.

By Anastacia

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November 2, 20130 found this helpful

I don't want to sound mean, but part of this is your fault. I don't know how many kids you have, but it sounds like you have more than you can afford. I have an adult mentally disabled daughter, who attended public school. My older daughter also has an adult mentally disabled boy, who has cerebral palsy, ADHD, and Autism, and he attended public school. When he graduated in 2005, he was listed in the top 15% of the 500 seniors that year, even though he was in special ed.

If you are as low income as you make it sound, those kids should be getting disability with you as the payee, not your husband. But there is no way you can be doing a great job of home schooling them and working too. I have known teachers that have quit teaching to home school their kids(no disability) and they have said that it is much harder to home school kids than to teach in a school.

There has to be a shelter for battered women someplace near you, that you can take your kids and go to. They will help you get established while you are staying there, and you will be safe as long as you and your kids don't let your husband know where you are.

Call the Department of Social Services and ask for some help in finding the location of the shelter, because they aren't listed under that category in the phone book. I don't even know if they have a listed phone number. As a whole they have a lot of donated clothes, etc. that as the clients need something they can pick what fits. Some of it is used, and some of it is new from stores.

My oldest daughter and grandkids were in a shelter for awhile and they got some quite nice clothes. The fact that your husband has told your oldest child he wishes he never had kids means he was doing mental abuse to that child. Whenever I hear of a young woman entering into a relationship I advise them to keep stashing a little money away, where their significant other never knows where it is. It doesn't take that much to leave, granted you won't be able to take furniture, but you can take enough clothing, etc. to get by.

Don't you have your parents, siblings or somebody that can help somehow? You basically got yourself into this position and nobody can get you out without your help. It isn't good for your kids to be in this environment. You also have to want to get out, in order to do so.

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November 4, 20130 found this helpful

Your husband is more immature than your kids are. He always will be too. You do all of it by yourself now so, get out! He will never change. The damage he is doing to your children is unforgettable for them.

If you get out of your marriage now, you will struggle just like you do now, but without the emotional jail this man has you in. By staying with him, you are allowing him to act this way and he will NOT change. You and your children are better than this and deserve a peaceful home. Good luck to you!

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November 4, 20130 found this helpful

First off, redhatterb, sure, she can take some of the blame, but you were too harsh on her. You are judgemental, as most people tend to be, of abused women. do not need to feel foolish asking for help. There are all forms of abuse, and you all definitely fit. Emotionally and mentally, he is terrible! What he is doing to your children is terrible, and i agree... you need to get them away, and the sooner, the better. Every day that they have to hear those horrible things from their own father, the worse the damage is going to be.
It is hard to do, but you can do it. You have a job, which is alot more than alot of women in your position have!

I had to take my kids and go into hiding...without any help... i just handed each of the kids a box and told them to pack up their favorite things... that was all they got to keep, and we got on the highway... i traveled til we hit the coast. We went to a state i had never been before, and didn't know a soul... didn't know if i was going to have enough gas to get there or if the car would make it. And i was sooo scared when i got on that highway.. but i knew if i didn't leave he would kill me, and who knows what he would do to the kids after he was done with me.

I tell you my story to encourage you and let you see that you have alot going for you and even though it is scary to make that step, you can do it, and believe me, it is so very worth it, to save your kids!!

Feel free to contact me if you would like to discuss it further or just to talk with someone that's been there.

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November 4, 20130 found this helpful

You don't have to have physical abuse for it to be abuse. The things you describe are emotionally and mentally abusive. You have your kids for support. I think the first thing you should do is see a lawyer; then make plans to leave. You may have to make these in secret; or maybe your husband won't believe you are going to take action, and you can quite openly line up friends and family to help you move out.

I think you should leave as soon as possible; this is not a healthy environment to raise children in, and I am sure that your older children will help you leave. When I left my husband, my oldest was 17, and he was my biggest moral support. Even my youngest, at 11, knew that we were making a move for the better. I think that you will find a lot of strength in your children for this move. Do not delay another day. Start an action plan now.

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November 5, 20130 found this helpful

Sounds like the home I grew up in. I am 63 and still in counseling because of it.

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November 6, 20130 found this helpful

It is better to be happy without another person than to be miserable with them.

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November 9, 20130 found this helpful

As others you have said, what you are describing is abuse. It doesn't matter that he doesn't hit you. He's taking advantage of you and the children for his own selfish reasons, and no one who is "loved" should have to put up with that. You must make a plan to leave this toxic situation ASAP. Or heck, don't make a plan and just leave. You can work out the details later.

Don't get dragged into the trap of "planning" to leave. That's just fear finding a home in you and causing delay. The financial stuff will work out. It always does. I understand it feels very scary to take on full financial responsibility for those 5 kids - and in one way it probably feels insane to remove them from the security they currently have. But what's easier to fix - financial insecurity or years of emotional abuse?

Your kids will be ok; there are people and resources who can get you the material things you will need. But it's a lot harder for others to fix the internal damage he is causing. To not take action now is actually more of a risk than to take it - look at it that way.

Have you looked into organizations or ministries that help abused women and children? Trust me, you would qualify. Any family or friends you can ask for help? Don't let pride get in the way. Your kids will love and respect you all their lives for the action you take now. Let them be your motivation. Good luck and best wishes to you.

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