Being married to an emotionally and verbally abusive husband can cause you to live a resentful, fearful and depressing life. The effect of abuse, even if not physical, can cause a lot of damage to a family. Learn how to cope and when you may need to end the relationship for your own safety and the safety of your children.
1. The Effects on Children
Your husband’s belittling and constant criticizing not only affects you, it also affects your children. Your children can sense tense emotions and can feel when you are walking on eggshells, according to “You Don’t Have to Take It Anymore: Turn Your Resentful, Angry, or Emotionally Abusive Relationship into a Compassionate, Loving One” by Steven Stosny. Children in abusive families, even if they are just witnessing their mother's abuse, can experience psychological damage.
2. Be Self-Compassionate
You husband may criticize your skills as a parent, insult your looks or knock down your intelligence. Frequent exposure to demeaning words and insults can tear down your self-esteem. Many victims of abuse tend to blame themselves and start to believe that they are the reason why their spouse is treating them negatively. Try to counter these negative messages that your husband is sending you by having compassion with yourself. Remind yourself that your husband’s abusive behavior -- no matter how he tries to blame it on you -- has more to do with him than you.
3. Let Go of Resentment
It may be easier said than done, but by letting go of any resentment towards your husband, you are letting go of the negative feelings that end up hurting you. This does not mean that you are accepting his behavior or saying that the abuse is right. It’s normal to be disappointed in the way he treats you. Continue to recognize your feelings and acknowledge your hurts. Whether you stay with him or not, letting go of any resentment and desire to retaliate will create a better situation for you and the children.
4. Seek Outside Help
Find a counselor in your area that you can see alone. Although you may be tempted to drag your husband to couple’s therapy, this may make the situation worse. According to “Envision Counseling”, while having a therapist present can help you open up about your feelings, your husband may use that against you later in private. According to Stosny, this is because an abusive partner is unable to regulate his feelings, which results in an unsuccessful counseling session.
5. Know When It's Time to Leave
When coping simply isn’t enough, recognize when it’s time to leave the relationship. Even if your husband hasn’t been violent toward you in the past, don’t ignore your gut feeling if you fear for your physical safety. If you sense that your children are in danger, do what you feel is right in that situation. Contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline if you have any questions or immediate concerns. Their website also has information on safety planning when getting out of an abusive relationship and useful information on staying safe after leaving the relationship.