Thursday, April 14, 2011

Good news/Bad news

I just learned some very good news for this week. My ex-husband will be going out of town this weekend to participate in special event on Monday. This is one of his long-term goals, so he will be on his very best behavior to make sure it happens for him.

The bad news? When he gets back from his trip, he will experience the natural let-down that people have after achieving a major life goal. I'm thinking about leaving town for a few days next week.

Why Does He DO That?

I'm reading a very interesting and helpful book - Why Does He DO That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men by Lundy Bancroft.*

Bancroft spent many years working with this type of man and gained considerable insight into their thought processes. Interestingly, he always attempted to maintain contact with the wives and girlfriends of the men he counseled so he could get both sides of the story. Much of this book resonates with me.

Bancroft says that there are many types of controlling men and many myths surrounding the abusive man. He believes that the heart of the matter is not the man's past or his struggles with mental illness or drug and alcohol abuse. Instead, Bancroft's position is that a man's thought processes are what leads to angry and controlling behavior.

What are these thought processes that lead to abuse? Bancroft lists ten realities that together make up the abusive mentality.

Reality #1 - He is controlling.

This is my ex-husband in spades. He believed that he had a right to control me. Bancroft says that most controlling men don't try to control everything about their partner, but they stake out specific areas to control. My ex-husband once gave me a two-page list of tasks that he expected me to do every day. Included in that list was that he expected to walk in the door at 6pm every evening and find a hot, tasty meal ready and waiting. If it didn't happen, he was angry. On the other hand, he usually didn't care too much where I went during the day or what the children and I did. As long as we were properly prepared and waiting eagerly for his arrival from work, the rest of the day was mine to control.

Currently, my ex is trying to exert control by trying to control how I parent the children. He has sent me messages telling me how the children and I should spend our free time. He has tried to make me sign a "contract" involving him and one of our adult children. He is also trying to use the court system to exert greater levels of control over me and the children.

Reality #2 - He feels entitled.

Oh. My. Goodness. THAT'S IT!!! Let me share Bancroft's definition of entitlement - "the abuser's belief that he has a special status and that it provides him with exclusive rights and privileges that do not apply to his partner." My ex-husband believed that as a man, and as the only one earning an income his opinions and his desires were paramount.

In recent months my ex-husband's feelings of entitlement have taken a huge hit. He was absolutely appalled when he learned that as his wife I was entitled to half of the marital assets. He assumed that everything belonged to him exclusively. He still has not turned everything over to me, and he has only two more weeks to complete the process.

My ex-husband has always had the mentality that he was special and different from everyone else. And if he receives any recognition for a job well done, his feelings of entitlement rise even higher. As he became more and more successful in his profession, he became increasingly abusive. My experience parallels the experiences Bancroft had in working with abusive men. At one time he had some of his "success stories" speak out publicly about how they overcame their abusive tendencies.  In every single case, the men who received recognition reverted to abusive behavior.

I'll share more about the the thought processes of angry and controlling men another day. If someone in your life exhibits these realities, I'd suggest you get a copy of the book to read.

*Bancroft states several time in his book that he refers to abusers as men because the vast majority of them ARE men, and the vast majority of their victims are women. He agrees that in a few rare cases women are the abusers and their male partner is the victim. Additionally, in the homosexual community both men and women may be abused by their same-sex partner, and he addresses some of the issues that are unique to same-sex relationships.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

I have nothing to lose!

That's a line in an email sent to me recently by my ex-husband.  He says that he has nothing to lose.  He also said that he's planning to report me for child neglect and endangerment.*  As you can imagine, I'm not sure how to respond.

My attorney is concerned for my safety.  Men who have nothing to lose have been known to do desperate things.

A couple of years ago, my oldest daughter read The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker.  The author is an expert in assessing risk and determining what steps to take if someone has been threatened.  My daughter recommended the book to me, and I read it also.  This week, I've had my copy of the book out, trying to determine if I really am in danger.

Early in my marriage, I made it very clear that physical abuse was right out.  Men who hit women should be drawn and quartered.  If I was in an intimate relationship with someone who ever hit me, it would be over immediately.  That's that.

My ex-husband has never hit, shoved, or slapped me.  He has, however, driven in a reckless manner with an intent to scare or annoy both me and the children.  On one occasion I was terrified that the driver of the car next to us would do something violent because of my husband's actions. 

My ex-husband slapped one of the children across her face.  He had a horrible habit of poking, kicking, and thumping the children.  When they or I complained he always claimed it was an affectionate tap, not done with aggressive intent.

The day I asked him to move out of the house, I was afraid that he would react violently.  I had three of the children leave home, and kept the two tallest ones with me.  I had my cell phone in my pocket ready to call 911 if needed.

That night he got angry, he cursed me, and he yelled insults to me and about me to the children.  He told them that I am a horrible mother.  That's been his recurring theme ever since.

In assessing my risk The Gift of Fear has been very helpful.  There is a 30-point checklist to help me figure out my level of concern.  I have gone over that list and my husband has done 14 out of the 30 items.  Hmmm.

In general I am not a fearful person.  I think many women are unnecessarily fearful of what may happen.  I have never been one to waste my time worrying about possibilities.  However, I try not to be heedless.  I want to listen to the warnings.  I am taking steps.  I may or may not post about what I'm doing.

*My two youngest children are 14 and 16.  They are both taller than I am, so we're not talking about little kids here.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

My new life

My divorce is final.  I am now officially a divorcee.

Today I went to mass at my local Catholic church.  While I'm not angry at God, I'm certainly disappointed and disillusioned with the evangelical churches in my area and evangelical churches in general.  I don't know where I'm going spiritually, but it felt good to hear the word of the Lord and participate in worship.

Now I need to redecorate my blog and get back to blogging regularly.