Family Member and Abusive Spouse


Please pray for one of my family members in a difficult marriage. She is a stay-at-home Mom who homeschools three kids. She didnt have a career before marriage and is afraid to leave her husband. She is scared she wont be able to support herself and her children. She stays with her husband because she does not want to lose health insurance for the kids and is terrified her husband will get joint unsupervised custody. Her husband is a lawyer and uses his knowelge of the law to scare her.

Her husband is bipolar and abuses alcohol, for starters.

My family tries to be as supportive as possible but it is hard to watch this family member stay in the situation. This has been going on for years but lately the abuse has changed for verbal to physical. My family lets this person know we will be there for her no matter what, and are always ready to help. She knows she has a place to stay etc. We struggle because we want to be supportive but we know she needs to be the one to help herself. We also want to support her, but don`t want to come across as pressuring her to end her marriage etc.

Please pray for my family member, her husband, and their children.

If you know of resources in the state of California that might be able to provide assistance to this family member, please PM me. My family member is a fallen away Catholic and does not have a parish to return to. She tried to return to the Church after her first baby was born but her husband is very anti-religion and discouraged this. She now completely doubts the existence of God and her children have no religious faith. Moreover, she feels economically trapped. With three children, she would not be able to provide for them, and pay for child care. She is also very pro-home schooling and does not want to put her kids in school.

Family and friends are not able to assist because at this point, she is not ready to take that step, but she knows we are here.




Your friend and her family are in my prayers.
God bless them


Thank you very much!




Maria1212, this is so sad. To think a woman needs to put up with this in order to live a certain lifestyle.
How does this man behave like this when he is a lawyer? Surely he deals with right and wrong every day, does he think he is above the law? What a bully.
I will pray for this woman, that she values herself and her children’s emotional wellbeing in all this.
This cannot be a good situation to bring children up in. They may have material security but not emotional. How sad that she cannot fall back on a loving God and get the children to pray for their daddy.


You need to know that the State of California has many resources available to women in this particular situation. Start with the county in which she lives. Call the social services department for that county - they may have a name that is different that ‘Social Services’, such as Human Development - and ask for resources in the area.

My question is - are you, as a family member, able to let the abuser know that the family is aware of what is going on? Sometimes when someone is in a position of some esteem in the community - a professional, for instance - the idea that people ‘know’ what is going on in his/her own home and the threat of further exposure can be used as a tool to getting them the help they need. If this person is bi-polar AND an alcoholic we are talking about a very, VERY sick man.

Your family is in my prayers.


my heart goes out to you and your family. i think sometimes its harder on the family to watch a loved one suffer then the suffering itself. people who control people like this man are usually very jealous people and take everything off of the other spouse because they know they can find better. sometimes all you can do is pray. and hope some day this person will come around and get her self worth back. its hard when someone has tramped you down for so long. i had a sister go thru this. she finally got out of it but it took a long time. my whole family suffered. the worst thing you can do is pressure her. then you will loose her for good. the best thing is to lisen dont give advice, and just let her know you arent passing judgement. I will also pray for her. no one should have to live like that. And he can maybe stop her from going to church but he cant stop her from praying. Hopefully with our prayers she can find her way back to God. then she can get the strength to put her life back together. God be with you all


The most important thing for your family member to do is to call the police and get this abuse on the record. This is important as far as the visitation issue. In addition she should also contact a domestic violence hotline. They can put her in touch with a shelter which can help her with her legal rights as far as getting a restraining order and the issue of visitation. Right now she should also document any recent instances of abuse, when it happened and what happened.

I have left an abusive marriage myself. I was a stay at home mom to four and my ex-husband would always tell me that he would leave me, hire a really good attorney, and l would get no support from him whatsoever. That is not going to happen here in California though. With three kids and a history of being a stay at home mom her combined alimony and child support would probably be half of his take home pay and there is completely no way for him to get out of that. There is a sate agency that will see that he makes his payments. If he is not self-employed, his employer will take it out of his paycheck. If he is self-employed and refuses to pay, there are serious consequences for him like losing his licence to practice law. Legally there is no way for him to get out of his obligation. Furthermore in California she is entitled to one half of the assets, the house, the savings, an retirement accounts that he has. So, before she leaves it would be a good idea to get a list of what the accounts are.

The only way for him to pay her less child support would be for him to have more custody. Even if the abuse is not documented, being an alcoholic and bi-polar are things that would turn up in a custody evaluation, things that he would not be able to hide. The judge would initially order supervised visitation and that would only change dependent upon his successful treatment of the problems.

I am praying for your family member. Please let her know there most definitely is hope. She can do this, and life is so much better on your own. She really needs to do this for her kids so they don’t grow up thinking this is an ok way to live.


Thank you to everyone for your advice and prayers. It means so much to me and I really appreciate it.

Her husband is aware we know what is going on. Some family members have tried to talk to him, in a charitable but firm way. He does not care. He is very sick. He is bipolar, and abuses alcohol, among other things.

He is a lawyer, and due to where he works, it makes it difficult for her to get help. I know it is out there, but she is terrified. He has a knack for getting away with legal “mishaps” because he knows the law so well. He knows how to exploit the loop holes. Plus, he blames everything on his illness, and then cries mental disability to claim it is not his fault.

I know that his battle with being bipolar is a struggle, but there are other issues going on and he refuses to take responsibility for his actions. He blames it on his illness or on the side effects of his medication.

He always tells her if she leaves him, he will quit his job and move in with his family, so that she won`t get a dime (or health insurance for the kids) from him.

She used to try to go to church, until in the middle of Mass, he said loud enough for the whole church to hear, " This is a bunch of bull s–t. " She was too embarrassed to ever go back. Finally they moved and she tried going to church again, but then gave up. She never had strong faith, and now she has none. She thinks it is all made up.

She is worn out in every sense of the word. She has finally started to document everything, and I like to think no court would ever give him unsupervised custody, but I don`t have confidence in our judicial system anymore. Mainly, because he will claim being bipolar is a medical disability, and I am worried the lawyer will try to say it is “discrimination” if anyone takes action against him. I hope I am wrong on this. My family member is too scared to take the risk.

I am also so sad for her children. They have no friends and they have no idea how a Dad should treat their children, or how a husband should treat his wife. I wish they at least had faith to get them through this, but they dont. We have tried to share the faith with them, but do not see them enough to make an impact yet. I have tried sending them religious books for kids, like childrens prayer books, but I am not sure her husband lets them have them.

Please keep all of them in your prayers. I feel uncomfortable writing this here, since it is about someone else. But they really need your prayers.




She needs to get advice from a lawyer of her own. Her first duty as a mother is her children and she needs to get them away from this jerk as timely as possible. If I were her I would do some research into the family assets…including the insurance and consult an attorney unaffiliated with her husbands law firm. Maybe her family can help her find one. There are also many job training programs and public services for women in this situtation. For her kids sake she needs to get away from this guy. He may turn on his kids at some point if he hasn’t already. :mad:


Hope this link helps


Think of her as a horse in a burning barn. You have to practically throw a blanket over her eyes to get her out, because she is paralyzed from fear by the flames. And if you aren’t careful, she will bolt back into the burning building.

Been there, done that.

Right now YOU need to be the face of God for her and her kids in her life. A man like that can make you doubt the very love of God. And he represents fatherhood of God to the kids. Which isn’t saying much.

Ask her what her advice would be to one of her children if they were in her shoes. She may believe she is helping her children by making the sacrifice to stay with him, but in reality, she needs to be told gently and firmly that if she stays, she is guaranteeing her sons will grow up to do the same thing to a woman, and she is seeing to it that her daughters will only feel “at home” with a man like that, not a decent kind one. She is sentencing her children to a repetition of history. She needs to show them the way out by example. So someday if her children are in similar circumstances, they will not be paralyzed with fear and stay at danger to themselves or others.

It will only get worse. Ask her how much worse it has to get before she leaves. One tooth knocked out? Two? A broken forearm? Cracked neck bone? Detached retina? What level of abuse and what line in the sand has she drawn that will make her take the kids and leave?

Tell her to take photos. She will need them.

And ask her if she is waiting for him to turn on the children before she gets out.

Sorry to be harsh. Sometimes that’s what it takes. There is a better life, with less money, but she doesn’t have to live in dread. The only homeschooling that her kids are learning right now is that family is a scary thing and home is a frightening place where no one is free to do what they want.

At this point they need to be in school. School was my kids’ safe place away from the stress and the drama and the violence. They aren’t learning anything good at home right now. Take it from me. I’ve been there.


I will pray for your family member, BUT…
A few caveats.
She needs to stop being a victim and get out of the marriage. There are plenty of jobs, and although she likes to homeschool, it is better that the kids go to school so she can get a job and help support herself. If she documents her abuse, no judge in his/her right mind will give custody to a bipolar parent who is abusive.
Tell her to suck it up and get help, and get OUT of this marriage.


Thanks. Believe me, we have tried talking to her. It is like banging your head against the wall. We will keep trying. I think she feels guilty leaving him because he is bipoloar. But mainly, I think she lost all her confidence and self-esteem. Everyone in my family tries to be as supportive as possible, but at the same time, she is the only one who can take the first step in helping herself. We have all let her know that when she is ready to take that step, we will do everything we can to help. But she is completely filled with fear.

That is just one of many reasons she needs everyone`s prayers. Prayers for spiritual faith, and prayers for courage.

I really appreciate the links everyone has sent.




Perhaps you could get all the social services information- (medicaid, food stamps, rental assistance) down for her so that she could see that her kids would still be taken care of.


Thanks for the suggestion. I don`t think she would qualify for state social assistance until she was legally separated from her husband. I will look into this for her though. Since I live overseas, it is harder for me to track some of this down. But fortunately, there is a lot of info online and my other family members are also committed to doing everything they can to help her.

Please keep the prayers coming.

Thank you.




I send my prayers to your family member. I too was in a marriage of that kind for years. Findly got out. My children are raised and I have 9 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren. It was very hard. but I am so glad I did. I was married to a good old boy as they call them, thinking women and children need to have the hell beat out of them to make them mind. It started out as verbial then physical then emotional. It is not good for her health either. It is something like women and children need to be submissive to the man of the house. And besides I am a dirty word Catholic you know I love EWTN because they really tell it like it is. The first thing she has to remember it is not her fault she did not cause him to be that way. Even though he would like her to beleive it. I pray for my husbands soul and that is what I am to do. He is re-married so I do feel for his new wife but then she jumped into it too and she doesn’t know how those baby blue eyes he has turn into something not so pretty. I was so scared most of the time for I never knew what to say or what to do it keeps you in a state of fear all the time. Sense then I do not have the shakes nor do I have that fear. I can enjoy my family and I do enjoy my work. I do not have a high paying job, but in my divorce I got enough money to buy a small house and pay for it. So my expenses are very low. I am 62 and about now I should be retireing if you go along with what you are told but I love to work and produce the things that I do. I am a cake decorator. And I really enjoy that. I found there was nothing I could do to make him happy. I moved 38 times in 40 years and those were not always just around town they were accross the country both north and south east and west. I have helped build 3 houses and every time the kitchen got done it was sell and move again. He would find a piece of property and spend lots of money getting it the way we wanted it then it was a bigger place more land and so on and so forth. According to him he made the big desisions. You just have to do it. And as far as my children well they were scattered all over the country too but they are here in this town where I am so I have my grandchildren here too. I found out that yes the sun does come out and life is still good. I know the fear because it is there and it is not that she doesn’t beleive she can take care of herself and her children it is her fear of him. that is no way to live your life.


I second what was said about calling the police. Document, document, document.


  1. Are there any male members of your family near her?

  2. Can she sneak away to an Al-Anon meeting (provided one is near her)? That might be a good way to network and get a contact for help.

It may also be time for an intervention. And see if any of this is grounds to file an ethics complaint with the state bar association.


Thank you for all of your advice and prayers. She is afraid to leave the kids with her husband, so hasnt gone to al-Anon. She hasnt left the kids with a babysitter because she doesnt want to leave the babysitter alone at the house with her husband, and doesnt have any friends willing to watch three kids.

I love my family member very much and try not to criticize. But by homeschooling, she has really isolated herself, and her kids. She is embarrrased to have guests over to the house, which is understandable considering the way her husband is. Since she doesnt go to church, and isnt involved in other social activities, she is very isolated. I don`t agree with a lot of her choices, but understand why she feels the way she does. She also lives in a isolated area.

I have thought about reporting her husband to the bar association but my family memer is terrified about losing health insurance, provided by his job.

I admire my family member for being a stay-at-home Mom. But at the same time, this has made me aware of how vulnerable it is to be out of the workforce for so long. She is so dependent on him. I don`t mean just financially, but she has lost her self-confidence. And honestly speaking, without any work experience for over ten years, she would not be able to support herself, and three children all on her own. She would qualify for state assistance, but not until she was legally separated.

I know she needs to leave him, and is capable of turning her life around, and of supporting herself, but it will take a lot of time. Until she decides to do this for herself, we are banging our heads against a brick wall when we talk to her. That is why prayer is so important in this situation. Please keep on praying.

Thank you!




I was out of the workforce for ten years and had three children. It can be done. And courts will mandate child support payments. As well as alimony in many places if they were married a certain number of years.

That kind of husband likes to keep the wife isolated. That way his voice is the only one she hears, saying she is worthless, stupid, no one likes her, she has no friends, her family doesn’t care… you can’t imagine the endless loop he plays in her head until she begins to believe it is true. You need to put another idea in her head. You need to talk to her… call her every day and tell her she is smart, she can do it, she can get a job, she can get out of that situation. That her family does love her and all the comments and quotes he takes and twists to manipulate her are not true.

Right now she is telling herself that the one thing she is doing right is homeschooling. It is probably the only thing that gives her dignity in her own head. Everything else is a farce and a facade for the world. She doesn’t want the world’s pity.

I would suggest she hide a small tape recorder and tape some of his abusive episodes and verbal assaults. It would help document his behavior. Even a hidden teddybear camera would make a difference in her feeling she is taking some kind of control back in her own life.

I wish they had that kind of thing when I was going through my problems.

And depending on the age of the children, they can testify about the violence they see. She really needs them in a school situation where they can see a school counselor and have a third party document the effect on them.

Because this kind of household is taking its toll on the children. If she won’t save herself, she needs to save them. She’s too afraid to leave her children alone with their own father to get help? Enough said!


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