Q:

Is this just part and parcel in stressful times?

Hi Jude, I have been married to my husband for nearly 9 years and we have two children aged 5 and 7. Since I've had the kids I have had a lot of trouble with depression and self-worth issues and my husband is becoming increasingly angry. All along he has been very supportive and he still does a lot to help me as I am studying and working to try and help us have a better future. Recently he is increasingly angry with me and the kids. He will tell the kids they are stupid and useless, he tells me I don't do enough and that I am the cause of his anger. More than once he has told me and the kids together that he would be happy of none of us were around. He himself grew up with a father that was, and still is, very disrespectful to his mother, and I know that on rare occasions his father had hit his mother and his sister.

I feel depressed and worthless a lot and have always thought it is my own fault but recently he has been physically punishing the kids and I have been feeling the need to step in. I am afraid that this may be the start of something worse. He has hit me twice but shrugged it off as giving me a dead arm. Am I in a violent relationship or is this all just part and parcel of raising a family in stressful times?


A:

Thank you for writing in and sharing. May I start by saying that in no way is hitting you part and parcel of raising a family.

You also asked if you are in a violent relationship and the answer is "yes" you are.

He is also abusing your children so it's really great that you have written in and I commend you for that, well done! I need you to know that absolutely none of this is your fault, please believe that. You have done nothing wrong, and having trouble with depression and self-worth issues does not give your husband the right to treat you the way he does and you are in no way responsible for your husband's anger. He is choosing to be angry all on his own.

Talking to the children the way he does and physically punishing them the way he does is absolutely not ok and will be having a detrimental effect on them as well so this needs to be addressed.

May I suggest that you read some literature on the effects of family violence on children and family violence on women. This will clearly show you what is being done to you and the children, both short and long term.

May I ask if your husband would be willing to get help? Does he see that his behaviour is a problem? Does he know what it is doing to you and the children? Maybe if he saw the literature would that help?? If he does acknowledge that this is his issue, is he prepared to take responsibility for his behaviour and do something about it?

There are many services out there to help men who have similar issues, like Relationships Aotearoa, Living Without Violence and other social service agencies. All he would have to do would be to make contact with one of them and they will advise him of what to do from there.

If your husband is not willing to take responsibility then it will be a matter of what you want to do and only you can decide that. Maybe you and your husband could do couple counselling, as well as individual counselling. Maybe the children could do counselling then have sessions as a family. If you are wanting to help your family and save it then something has to give, something has to change and it will take both of you to do it.

There are many counselling agencies available and if you would like to ring our information line on 0800 456 450 they will be able to advise you of the contact details of those in your local area. It may be worth considering that you see someone on your own and share what is happening for you and how you are feeling and what you need.

There are programmes for women who have experienced family violence which are very good as well which may be worth considering. These programmes are wonderful for women and they help you realise that you are not alone, that there are in fact many women going through similar and often some very close friendships are formed from these groups. Just something to consider.

I would like to add that should you ever decide you want to leave please know that the Women's Refuge is available to you day or night and is a safe place that you and the children could go. There is also the Police, just ring 111 at any time if you feel scared.

Lastly I would like to suggest that you put together a safety plan for you. This is a plan that is about having some things put in place should you and the children need to leave in a hurry. Things like having some money put away, a spare set of car keys, important documents, any medicines, some clothes. Having a pre-arranged place to go to any time day or night like a friend's or family member's, having a code word or phrase pre-arranged with a friend/family member so that if you ring and say this particular word/phrase they will know that you need help and either call the Police or come to help you immediately. Having important phone number memorised in your phone.

I know this may sound extreme but living with family violence can be incredibly unpredictable so you need to be prepared for the "what if" times. It's all about keeping you and the children safe.

You are incredibly precious and valuable. Please take care, write back in if you need to and know that I will be thinking of you.

Jude

 

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