“My Husband Hit Me Three Times With A Shoe”

John [reads the letter I got in this morning],

Thank you for your article on why women stay in abusive relationships. [Seven Reasons Women Stay in Abusive Relationships, and How to Defeat Each One of Them.] I appreciated reading the posts from others. You all have me thinking.

I have been engaged and, until the last three months, living with a man whom I thought was uniquely suited to be my soul mate. We had Christian values; we were both writers; we were both interested in politics; we valued family; and, as recovering alcoholics and addicts, we had a recovery program in AA/NA/Al-anon that gave us a unique set of tools we could have used to confront any problems that might arise in the relationship. I even got him to attend counseling with me 2-3 times to work on communication skills. He swept me up and quickly moved me into his home, which he had determined was a much better, more suitable place for me to live than the place I had on my own.  He also proposed, bought the , registered me on the Web pages of several bridal sites.

It felt like things were going a little fast, but he would protest my arguments for slowing down, and then buy me some present, or do something over-the-top to show how much he loved me. And I went along.

I thought I had finally found the relationship of my dreams.  Except that once I was really, truly moved in, and obviously committed, he changed. He started to resent my presence. He would blame me if he had problems with a work deadline.  He was a perfectionist, and tried to control the whole experience of the relationship—cooking elaborate dinners, washing the cars, while working hard on a media deadline.  He would not accept help because my abilities never met his standards so he felt a great sense of responsibility and blamed me for being incompetent to perceive and follow through on his needs.

So began a pattern of him telling me I caused him  problems, made his life hell, I wouldn’t be allowed to make up for what I did or learn a new way because we already knew I was incompetent and bound to “EFF it up.”  Later, whatever happened to him, the fault was mine.

Sometimes we would be out for a drive on the weekend and he would launch into a monolog about how lazy I was, unlike the Latin housewife he said h would pick if he were single. He said love was not just pretty words, but deeds done to show a person love.  He told me all I did was sleep all day (which was because I worked all night). He said I was a terrible cook—but I’m not; he just never gave me the chance because cooking fed his ego. He said his home was his office and I was invading his space. He would say he needed time to think whether we should be together.

Many women were interested in him, he said.  This was partially true; I found a note to a women he corresponded with where he wrote “lets be friends, lovers, but most of all, love God…” The same woman Fed-Exed him from Trinidad some music CDs and pictures of her breasts, labeled “my girls.”

Eventually, he slipped back into using alcohol to my face and drugs behind my back. Later, he begged me to use with him, and I did for a month, until our home started looking like a crack house, and the only activities were scoring and using. I couldn’t take it and moved in with my parents.

In previous years, he had accused me of cheating many times. He was bipolar, with rapid cycling mood swings, and to this day has not gotten the medication regimen for that mood disorder straightened out. Once the crack cocaine became a factor, I was begging him to stop killing himself, while he was paranoid on a daily basis, accusing me of cheating with several different men. He would find a piece of a snack bag or candy bag in the car or apartment, and accuse me of cheating.  He would remember situations such as me using the restroom in a Target much faster than usual, and ending up on the Valentine as evidence I was looking for a Valentine for my lover.

Even when we did have fights of the escalating variety where he was physically abusive, he never broke my bones, or hit me with a fist. Or remembered what he did. He was threatening me one night while accusing me of cheating, and I left after he hit me three times with a shoe. He packed my things into six garbage bags and put them in the dumpster. I went back to him again after that, and again he threw away the clothes, coat and things I had brought with me.

He is convinced I cheat on him, but wants us to stay together because he “forgives” me. He, on the other hand, has been corresponding three years with an old girlfriend, who now wants to come to the states and move in with him. He tells me how I have hurt him, how much he feels betrayed and used by me, how he sacrificed time with his children for me, and how my leaving him to get away from the drugs hurt him.

Now he is in treatment. And I need to make a decision whether I want to go back and live with him in our apartment.  He is sorry for how he acted when he was using, and for begging me and influencing me to use. I got sober. I know he may come out of treatment and stay sober.  But he was verbally and emotionally abusive before he ever used, and I don’t know that that will ever change.

Part of me loves him like he is my own child. I have a lot of empathy for his past.  I just don’t want to live with someone who is constantly disappointed in me, angry with me, and always telling me how stupid I am.

Please write if you have any feedback. This is such a hard decision.



[Dear G: John here. Pretty much whatever I have to say about this I’ve already said in 7 Reasons. But of course if anyone else has anything they’d like to add to that, have at it.]

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  • DR

    What a powerful note. I’m not John, but this sentence stood out to me: “Part of me loves him like he is my own child. I have a lot of empathy for his past.”

    In ALANON (for family members of addicts), we learned that love is not pity but that addicts and people supporting them often mix the two up. You do seem like a lovely, deeply sensitive woman. Empathy comes naturally to you, I’m sure of it, that is probably a gift in your life that serves you well and makes you really wonderful to be around. But how much of this empathy is pity for him? That is not love. That is not a reason to stay in the relationship. You can know him, for sure, support him for sure, but for me? I’ve dated someone who made me feel stupid before. I was diminished and depressed as a result for a very long time. When someone cuts you down in that way, they often are simply hoping you’ll feel as miserable as they do so they don’t have to change.

  • Matthew Tweedell

    Hi, Gina.

    I’m no expert, but I hope my two cents might be of any value.

    You said, “He is sorry for how he acted….”

    Although I don’t know him, or your situation, is it possible that what you’re really saying is that he acts like / says that he is? Perhaps God only knows. Maybe he’s sorry that it’s led to the consequences that it has for him but not really sorry about what he did to you.

    You said, “I don’t know that that will ever change.”

    And I don’t know if it’s wise to take chances then. You’ve only got one life to live right now. If I’ve only got one dollar, I’m not headed for the casino. When you can only make one investment, it’s prudent to avoid investing in any significant uncertainties. I understand that emotions tend to interfere with such cold calculations: that’s what leads to gambling addictions and overexposure to subprime mortgages in a bull market, and that’s what compels us to try to love people in ways that they aren’t really ready, able, or willing to be loved.

    I’m not saying that love itself can ever be given a “rational” basis, but there are rational and irrational ways to express it: It might be more loving of your neighbor AND yourself if you stayed away from this neighbor, so he’s forced to get his own house in order rather than project his unclean spirits onto you. Again, I don’t know your situation: perhaps you should at least wait until you can be as certain as the sunrise that he’s got a long term commitment to sobriety, isn’t after anyone but you, and values you for who you are—a masterpiece by the very hand of the Almighty; or perhaps you should move on with someone else.

    God bless, Gina.

  • SugarMags

    DO NOT GO BACK. Not if you value your life, or your sanity. You are worth more than that. STAY AWAY.

  • A’isha

    “Part of me loves him like he is my own child.”

    I think that says it all. You don’t need a man who needs a mom, you need someone who wants a partner, equal in all ways, who builds you up as you build him up. Yes, he might change, but what if he doesn’t? What if he changes for awhile and you do get married, have kids, get isolated from your friends and family…then he goes back to his old ways? Get out now while you can do so with some ease. Yes it’s hard to end any relationship, but it’ll be easier now than later.

    Hope that wasn’t too blunt. I really do wish the very best for you, G.

  • Mindy

    All I can say is, GO. I don’t have time to write a lot right now, but many years ago, I was in a frighteningly similar relationship. He was a former pastor, who loved to party. It took the actions of others to finally get me out of there, and looking back, I can’t imagine how I was that person. But I felt everything you describe.

    Today, I am a whole person, divorced from someone else with whom I am still friends,and mom to two incredible daughters. He is dead. I don’t know the details, but I have no doubt his lifestyle played a part.

  • Gina, if you are taking votes, my vote is for “Don’t Go Back.” Shake the dust off you feet and don’t cast your pearls for others to trample them underfoot. You are infinitely more valuable than that.

  • Laurel Hedge

    Dear, G.,

    I so feel for you. I’ve been in similar situations, and faced the same challenges, and I can’t tell you what to do, but I can offer my own experience, strength, and hope. I learned in Al-Anon that one always has choices. There are three of them: Stay miserable and/or broken, learn to live with *it* (whatever *it* is), or leave.

    I’ve learned that I can’t be “the face of Jesus” for someone else unless I’m whole myself. When I’m strong and healthy and stable, I have plenty to offer others, and can keep myself from being damaged by their mental, emotional. or spiritual issues. I’ve also discovered that it’s really difficult–sometimes impossible–for me to be a supportive and loving helpmeet or friend to someone who is scapegoating and blaming me, or emotionally abusive. I spend so much time trying to keep from being damaged and wounded that I can’t be giving, and my trust in the person becomes so damaged I can’t accept what is offered to me without looking for the “strings attached” which will be used against me at some point in the future.

    My evaluation of a potentially abusive relationship pretty much boils down to: “can I stay in this relationship and maintain my own health, sanity, and sobriety?” If yes, then it’s worth continuing. If not, it’s time to leave.

    His job right now is HIS recovery. your job is YOUR recovery. I believe that if you focus on that, all else will fall into place, and your best course of action will become clear. I’ve also found that prayers for guidance never go unanswered, the trick is to accept those answers, once we know them to be the right ones. Whatever you decide, I will keep you (and him) in my prayers, and hope for all the best for both of you.


  • Kara K


    I’ve been where you are. My ex-husband was mostly clean for the first 15 years of our marriage and then, assuming he could handle it, met meth. The last 4 years of our marriage were pure hell. Oh the lies he would tell were incredible. And I believed them because I thought he didn’t lie to me. The funny thing was that the things he accused me of always turned out to be the things he was doing behind my back. The times he hit me were always because of the drug, he just took too much, it wasn’t really him. At least that’s what I believed.

    I’ve been divorced for 2 years and am just now starting to understand that his controlling behavior has always been there and the drug just enhanced it. He’s always been an addict, even when clean, and the drugs will always come first. In the case of my ex and your man, controlling the people around him is just another drug. I took forever to make the choice to leave him because I had already invested my adult life in this relationship. Had I not left, I’d either be dead or strung out with him.

    He isn’t going to change without serious long term mental health care. Please don’t waste the next ten years being emotionally, mentally and physically beat down only to have it blow up in your face like I did.

  • Mary

    My heart goes out to you. His health, sobriety, and happiness are not your responsibility.

  • Strong

    If you can’t say what is on your mind when someone accuses you, blames you or degrades you, then you should not be in a relationship, period.

    I spent 31 years with a man who blamed me for every bad mood, problem, character defect, etc. I spent those 31 years defending myself only in my mind. I was never able to have a normal argument with him. I was always wrong, always at fault, and always the one who had to apologize (just to stop the interrogation).

    We who are physically and mentally abused are weak. That’s why they chose us. And we stay with them because we don’t want to have to grow up. That’s hard work. So, we live their lives, their successes, their triumphs, not our own.

    I left him a year and a half ago. It has been challenging, but so worthwhile. I am finally becoming a woman, allowed to do the things I want to do, have my own opinions, eat what I what (and how much)…I have freedom for the first time in my life. Why would I want to go back to being controlled? I love my life.

    So, be a big girl. Grow. Don’t be with a man for a while. Learn who you are. You are not strong enough yet to overcome a Controller/Abuser. But you can be. You need to give yourself time. Please re-read John’s “7 Reasons Women Stay in Abusive….” Digest it. There are other great books out there that really helped me. “Men Who Hate Women and the Women Who Love Them”, is one. It taught me so much about myself.

    Two broken people don’t make a whole relationship. Get whole, then get into a safe relationship. But not now, please.

  • LS

    To be blunt: run the opposite direction and run as fast as you can.

    Get involved in Celebrate Recovery support group where you will find healing and comfort.

    After 30 years of living with an active alcoholic, I moved out. He continued spiraling out of control that it ultimately caused his death. He was 56.

    With Jesus, I not only survive, I can thrive and be the woman He wants me to be.

  • Richard Lubbers

    Dear G,

    Please be kind to yourself and stay away from that man.


  • A’isha

    I have to say this. The first time I heard of Celebrate Recovery I misunderstood my mom and thought she called it “Celibate Recovery.” We still laugh about that one!

    I’ve heard it’s a really good program though. You can read more about it online if anyone’s interested.

  • DR

    While challenging and probably tough to hear, this is enduring, wise advice.

  • Suz

    G, get away and stay away. I understand your empathy for his pain, so try to see the deeper issue from his perspective. Consider his overwhelming need for control. Even clean, that’s his top priority. If you aren’t willing to be beaten down, mentally and physically, for the rest of your life, do him a favor and don’t give him hope. He has already invested quite a bit of himself in your transformation ( into something beneath him,) and now you’ve gone and betrayed him. If you give him another chance, how desperate is he going to be to keep you from escaping again? He’ll need to change tactics; his manipulation will either become more subtle, or more overtly intimidating. At best, he might learn to control his impulses to some degree, but his basic personality won’t change. He doesn’t want you strong, he want’s you weak. You MUST understand this. You can’t help him, and you shouldn’t try. Don’t encourage him to believe that you want to help him; he doesn’t even comprehend his need for help. All he “needs” from you, is more of the same.

    I’m sorry if this sounds cold, but your biggest mistake is assuming that he, like you, is capable of empathy. Considering all the mistakes he’s laid at your feet, it’s hardly one for which you should apologize. But your safety depends upon your correcting it. Look for support from people who have been there. Good luck to you, and may God bless you and your deep compassion.

  • Paul


    Love the advice from everyone to you. I agree with them. But maybe you should be looking at the qualities and characteristics that he has. Are they want you want from a spouse? If not, then keep on looking for the right person. I have found that if you put 7 characteristics that you believe will be the “perfect mate” and hold that list up to each person you have a relationship with, then eventually you will get the right person.

    From your letter I would assume that you have qualified this person as you note: the perfect soul mate.

    He has the following redeeming qualities:

    1. Controlling

    2. Suspicious/distrustful of you

    3. Addictive

    4. Liar

    5. Egotistical

    6. Not family oriented

    7. Not trustworthy

    Is this the type of person your really want to go through life with?


  • Matthew Tweedell

    An excellent point (or 7 — or 6, since #7 is kind of redundant with #4, but whatever), Paul!

  • Don’t just walk away, RUN! Get to an Al-Anon meeting, and if you don’t have one, get a sponsor. What you are describing is classic co-dependency. As Strong posted earlier, you need to stay out of relationships for a while until you figure out why you are so attracted to someone so abusive. Are you repeating your family of origin? Does is feel “comfortable” to be in a relationship where you are made to feel worthless?

    I was divorced from my abuser for five years before I found the book that finally helped me to truly heal: “Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men” For the first time, I finally was able to accept that there wasn’t ANYTHING I could ever do that would have saved my marriage.

    Good luck, and let us know what you chose to do.

  • Sounds like he’s still not ready to take responsibility for himself in the relationship. I really liked the advice given above for you each to focus on your individual recoveries, and that leading to greater clarity about what to do with regard to each other. I’ve seen God do big things in saving marriages…with a WHOLE lotta work from BOTH sides. To be honest, it seems pretty unlikely that he will get honest with himself and you. Not that a miracle couldn’t happen…but I agree that for now–and likely for a good, long while–you should absolutely stay away. All the best to you.

  • tavdy79

    Ask yourself this question: after what he’s done, can you still trust him?

    Ultimately whether or not he’s being honest when he says that he’s changed might not matter: if you can’t trust him your distrust will eventually poison and destroy anything you try to build (or rebuild) together – and there’s little you or he can do to stop that. Distrust does more damage to a relationship than any other emotion.

  • NS


    Let’s pretend that he is truly sorry, and that he has truly changed. Even if this is the case, you still need to stay away from him. You left for a good reason, and you should never, never go back.


    – Because you deserve better, and in going back to him you tell yourself that you don’t.

    – Because you need to learn how to have a different kind of relationship than the one you had with him, and you two have long established unhealthy patterns.

    – Because he if he has changed he will need to learn how to have a different kind of relationship than he had with you, and you two have already established how yours goes.

    – Because the way you tell yourself, and him, that what he did was absolutey abhorent and inherently unforgivable is by never trusting him again.

    Do whatever you have to do to stay away. Remember, Beauty and the Beast is a fairy tale. In real life, going back to a beast does not change him into a prince. It tells him that he can be a beast to you and you will keep coming back.

  • Jeannie

    My heart goes out to you. Run. Stay away. It gets better and easier. He is not your child. He is not your responsibility. It gets better, it really, really does.

  • DomainDiva

    GINA!!! You are involved with a serious narcissistic personality. GET OUT NOW!!!!! Otherwise he will kill you. Get on the internet and do some research on narcissistic personalities. My mother is a narcissistic personality and my late brother was…it took years to shake it off and cut ties but I am alive and well. Move back in with your parents and get some therapy for yourself. This man will destroy you if you let him…it’s your choice…your life not his.

  • Laura M


    Imagine that your daughter wrote this letter to you. What sort of advice would you give to your own beloved child? What sort of love would you want her to have, what sort of relationship? Would this be acceptable for your girl? Then why is it acceptable for YOU?

  • Don Rappe

    Hi G. My name is Donald. I’m an alcoholic.

    I share the same disease that afflicts you and your ex. I’m in recovery now, but, drinking was just a symptom of my basically spiritual disease, although it does have a physical basis as well. I can not afford to rest on my laurels, I am not “cured”. What I have is a daily remission of my disease based on the maintenance of my spiritual condition. (You have probably heard it said: “Once I was a cucumber, cured by alcohol into a pickle. I can never become a cucumber again.”) I maintain my spiritual condition by daily meditation and being alert to my character defects, so I can make real amends as necessary. I’m sure you do the same.

    It has been my privilege to meet and become acquainted with a number of men and women such as you and your ex in the fellowship. (Not in matched pairs though.) I feel like I may know you somewhat. “Seldom (if ever) have we known someone to fail who has thoroughly followed our path.” In this spirit I offer a couple of suggestions.

    We have to get our own house in order. You could make a real amend to your ex by giving him 5 or more years to practice his own program, after he leaves rehab, without any communication with you. This should free him from any enabling. It’s very important for him to avoid that “first drink”. If you make other connections so be it. You are not the only woman in the world.

    I also suggest that when you do your daily meditations in accord with step 11, you add John’s article. You might want to break it into more than 7 parts. Don’t just read it; meditate on its parts. It might take 3 weeks to cycle through it, then repeat. The ideas in it are not simple or easy to come by. It might take a couple years or more.

    In the fellowship, I wish you every success.

  • Suz

    Don, that was awesome!

  • Beautiful. Thank you, Don.

  • Wow. I just read through all this stuff. Fantastic. G, are you listening?

  • DR


  • Gina, leave. Run, do not walk away. I was married to an abusive alcoholic for nearly ten years, and the only mistake I made in leaving him was in the length of time it took me to come to the decision.

    I look back and think “if only.”

    … if only I’d left when he first blew up at me for daring to suggest he move the empty boxes he swore he’d move four months prior

    … if only I’d left when he threw a fit because I ate the last of the chili (after asking him if it was okay and getting his consent)

    … if only I’d left when he screamed at me because I dared to be on the pill while he was on the road (something about having to take it consistently didn’t quite gel in his mind)

    I have a decade of “if only’s”. And they only get worse. So much worse I still can’t bring myself to write about it. I can barely even speak of it.

    Run, Gina. I’m not kidding.

    The person who said it isn’t a fairy tale is right; frighteningly right, actually, because at times I envisioned Beauty and the Beast when dealing with my ex’s fits of temper. It was just temporary. He was in pain, so he was acting out. Those actions weren’t “really him” — they were the result of some universal unfairness. And if I just loved him enough, intensely enough, long enough, well enough, it would all go away and he’d be better.

    Wrong. Oh so very wrong. He stopped drinking and guess what? Nothing changed, except he no longer had the excuse of the alcohol for his behavior.

    Pick up a copy of “Why Does He Do That” by Lundy Bancroft, as recommended by another wise commenter; I also recommend “The Verbally Abusive Relationship” by Patricia Evans. Both those books have done me a world of good in understanding just what I dealt with all those years, and have helped me to see why it took me so long to leave. It doesn’t change the facts, but it puts a framework around them that I can live with, and move forward from.

    It’s not your fault. He treats you the way he does because of his issues, not yours. You have nothing to prove to him, nothing to make up to him. You owe him nothing. He might claim you do; he’s wrong.

    Be strong. Walk away. I wish I’d done it sooner.

  • Sorry for the “Gina” — I meant “G”. I just read something with “Gina” in it and apparently my brain created a bit of a composite. Yipes!!!

  • Run. No matter how hard you pray, people like this don’t change. Any ‘change’ you observe may look real, it won’t last and it’s meant to snare you back in.

    I spent all my life involved with controlling, angry people. I thought that’s just how men were. It wasn’t until I read Patricia Evans book(s) three years ago that what I had experienced growing up and throughout several relationships was verbal and emotional abuse. I read “The Verbally Abusive Relationship” in about two hours, marking pages and underlining passages. It was my whole life right there, the same arguments, confusion, conflicted feelings, self-doubt presented on the pages as if she had been in the room.

    I really feel the Lord lead me to that book, it had such an effect on me. I use it all the time to help me deal with family members and other emotionally dangerous people I encounter. I can say from experience, no amount of prayer from you is going to change this guy. Give him to God and run the other way. Take time to learn and heal, and in a few months you’ll wonder why you ever stayed.

  • Beth

    Please leave him!

  • Nora

    Oh, man…just leave Get the hell out of Dodge, honey. No need for a lot of analysis. Just make sure you take care of yourself financially first, ya know? Don’t let him get to the bank accounts before you do. And you’d be amazed how therapeutic keying a car can be. Just sayin’. Even Jesus flipped a few tables and kicked some ass when he had to.

  • na

    my husband hits me too ,what should i do.he say bad words to me near his family and ask me to leave house.but i cant go back to my parents,they will die,beacuse they told me he isnot good boy.what should i do.

  • Glynis

    “The Verbally Abusive Relationship” by Patricia Evans.

    YESSSSSSSSSSS !! And she has a sequel, too, just as good.

    One of the most important things in her book is that there are many ways to “verbally abuse” someone, without it ever coming out of their mouth ! My ex did no namecalling, no physical violence (but some really demeaning things sexually), and zero drinking or drugs. But he fit SO many of the other power and control things in her book. She has surveyed hundreds of abused women, and overwhelmingly, they say that the physical violence WASN’T the most damaging/hurtful part. It was all the moments in between – verbal, and nasty, and withholding love, and setting rules but not outright – so they can keep changing rules – ergo, you are always wrong. Etc.