This is not my usual post. But it’s something I had to share. As you read this, imagine how your reaction would differ if this story were being told by a woman, talking about how her husband treated her.
I have been separated from my wife for over a year, though we continue to share a house. We live on separate floors. We share the house because we need to parent our son together, and because we can’t afford to maintain two households.
I’d like to tell you a story, illustrating one reason why I am divorcing her. This is an example of the treatment I have received over the past fourteen years.
This evening, while she was drinking her wine, my estranged wife took exception to the fact that I wanted to talk about how tense she’s been. She said she didn’t want to talk about it.
I left the room (so as to comply with her request).
I went upstairs to use our tiny guest bathroom. She began to yell and throw things around the kitchen, then eventually charged up the stairs and into the bathroom, just as I was finishing and getting ready to leave. She confronted me there, holding her half-full wine glass in her hand. Her voice got louder, her gestures wilder.
She complained that I had upset her by wanting to talk when she had told me she didn’t want to talk. As I began to feel uncomfortable, I said, “You’re saying it’s my fault you can’t express your emotions responsibly like an adult?”
She said, “Yes!! It’s because you want to go off and take a vacation with your girlfriend!” Then she threw the contents of her glass in my face and smashed it against my bare chest.
The results are pictured here.
I stood there, with shattered glass at my feet, glass shards sticking in my skin, bleeding, for five minutes or so. I asked her to move so that I could leave. She waved the broken stem of the glass in the air and said, “Leave!! Who’s stopping you?”
I told her she was standing between me and the door. I felt threatened.
She laughed and said, “You’re 6 foot 3 and 250 pounds! You can’t feel threatened by me!”
I said, “You just broke a glass on my chest and cut me. You’re standing there with the stem in your hands. Yes. I feel threatened.
She said, “No, you don’t.”
I asked her to move out of the way and let me pass. I didn’t want her to think I was pushing her or threatening her.
She held her ground, waved the broken stem and shouted, “Go on! Leave! I’m not stopping you!”
After I asked her repeatedly, she finally moved a bit and I left, carefully stepping over the broken glass.
I have posted this here as evidence, and to help those who may think that size and gender make a difference when abuse is concerned. People who, like my estranged, think some have permission to feel threatened and some don’t.
Abusers come in all sizes and genders.
She and I went to a half dozen therapists over the years. At each initial session, every therapist took a look at me, then at her (5’4” 150 lbs.). Then he or she would gravely ask my wife, “Do you feel safe?”
None ever thought to ask me.
Thanks for listening.