Physical Abuse by Wife

I’m in a 27-year marriage. It’s always been a bit rocky, and we’ve both made mistakes. But recently, things have gone from bad to worse, and while we’ve been in counselling, things have not improved.

We have been living in separate rooms for almost a year, and no marital relations except once on our anniversary. We have kids, only one under age 18.

A few days ago, I became impatient during an argument and dropped the “f” bomb. This really upset my wife who followed me to the bathroom where I was going to brush my teeth before bed. She threw my toothbrush in the toilet, and the conversation became very heated. When I tried to leave the room, she blocked the way, and in my frustration I told her to move her fat ***. I’m ashamed of saying that, have never gone there because I know she’s sensitive about her body image.

It really set her off and she grabbed my arms forcefully (I have bruises) and then with both hands grabbed my hair and wrestled me to the floor. I could only have resisted by punching or kicking and didn’t want to do that. She kept a tight grip on my hair and got on top of me, pinning me to the ground. After almost an hour, the only way short of violence that I could get her off of me was to scream at her to let me up and call for our son to come help me, telling her I didn’t want to hit her to get her off of me.

Now, two days later, she’s all nice and contrite, which is fine. We’ve been polite, but I’m not sure she understands how serious her behavior was.

I’d already been considering separation, which would be highly disruptive/embarrassing to us in our parish circle of friends not to mention expensive. Our older kids all see that we are living apart in the house, and I’m sure they heard this fight.

Am I justified in separating? Or should I/must I stay and try to work it out? Is one episode of violence enough to justify separation?

I am sorry that you are going through this.

Since you have bruises and were assaulted, you would be justified in filing a police report. Once someone “opens the door” to physical violence there is an increased chance it will happen again. Especially that your wife seems unrepentant.

Thank you for sharing because you are not alone. I personally know of families where wives were **very **physically abusive and their husbands did not come forward. Throwing things, screaming and punching, slapping and other acts of violence towards their husbands all while they never called police.

The argument was obviously heated and you said mean things, but your wife crossed a line that was extremely dangerous. The fact that you had to call your son for help is awful, you need to do something about this disaster. If you don’t want to call the police, please make an appointment immediately with your parish priest or deacon. At the very least your wife, and maybe you too would benefit from anger management counseling. I would also look into Retrouvaille for your marriage to go on a retreat. God bless and please be assured of my prayers.

One instance of violence is one too many. If the relationship is escalting to becoming violent with name calling and to the point your are living apart in the home I would seek immediate marriage counseling and talk to your priest as well. Kids of course pick up on marital discord in the home and it’s stressful for them.


Praying for you & wife to seek the help you need.

Go to the police.

If you have a relative or friend you can stay with, then take the kids and get them out of this violent situation.

This is exactly the advice that we would give wives, so I have no idea why it shouldn’t be given to husbands as well under the same circumstances. Even someone who is physically weaker than you can kill you, especially if you are trying not to hurt them. So even though it’s a wife abusing a husband, the consequences can be the same.

This is a very dangerous situation you are in, my friend. I am praying for you.

I’m sorry you are here and really support you courage to come forward with this. Women come forward all to little about this and men, while probably smaller in number, likely come forward in even smaller percentages.

We all have our contributions to a dysfunctional relationship and that’s what grace and forgiveness from God, ourselves, and others is for. However to echo others here, when it gets to the point of physical and verbal abuse, things change. If this action of her’s is an escalation of prolonged verbal or more minor physical abuse, it’s probably time to be done with her. If this is truly a one time occurrence (which I kind of doubt) of something like this, you have a right and obligation to yourself to draw a line on this that will never be crossed again.

As for what other people think, the reality is people close to you likely know of have suspicions. I support strongly that marriage is an institution to be cherished, supported, and grown. But marriage is about having each other’s back and supporting each other, it is most certainly not in my opinion about being a punching bag for someone else’s sin.

Excellent advice and this is exactly the advice we would give wives.

Definitely need to separate. I would suggest contacting a battered women’s shelter for help and advice on what to do. They have experience in these things such as creating safety plans and filing restraint orders.

If you still have bruises, you could file a police report.

She’s not even sorry? She will do it again for a less severe offense and if you hit her back, you’ll be the one to go to jail.

I would separate also to teach her that you deserve respect. I would also tell her today your thoughts about what happened and how you feel it’s unacceptable. She needs to come down a notch or two. Sounds like she’s happy she did what she did and that’s why she’s acting like nothing happened. Abusers are like that.

The rage your wife exhibited towards you and the length of time it lasted is a call for help. Many of the responses have been to leave immediately and I am one more person who agrees. But, this sounds like the first time in a long marriage that anything of this nature has happened and that makes me wonder if your wife might need a medical exam. If you have been to counseling, even though it hasn’t improved things, don’t you think you should make an emergency appointment and discuss this with the professional. Let them sort through your next move and follow through even if it is embarrassing and disruptive. Your enitre family will be in my prayers.

What your wife did is called assault and she could go to jail for it. With the assistance of a counselor I would discuss this and remind her that this can’t happen again, or she could land up being arrested for it. If she is this angry she needs to get help, and even checked for other medical issues like hormonal imbalances. (I am a woman, so folks this is from that perspective.)

From what you say your marriage has had hidden issues all along, and this may be coming to the surface. You both should seek counseling and see what happens. As for separate rooms, well that happens for a variety of reasons. My parents would have done that except the house was too small to allow it. The reason would have been simply the need for better sleep. I have an aunt and uncle who have done this for years.

They sleep better, and when one is ill it helps keep the other one rested also. I always said if I had married I would have wanted to sleep in my own bed. I toss and turn like a wind storm, scream when I am having bad dreams and snore. Any potential husband would have gone nuts if he had to share a bed with me.

I hope you do work out your issues and that you can resolve your wife’s anger issues.

Leave now. Today. Your son needs to go with you, even though he’s apparently big enough to pull mom off you.

I agree with the others that this is a very dangerous situation, and that the advice we would give to abused women is equally applicable. Your wife escalated to violence, and I suspect it will be easier for her to go there next time.

An informal period of separation is definitely in order, but as for permanent legal separation? I suppose that depends on whether she is willing to go to therapy (anger management, marriage, both) and is able to change her behavior.

As for being embarrassed, isn’t that better than getting killed next time she’s in a rage, or having the entire neighborhood watch you get taken away in an ambulance? Besides, an awful lot of people probably suspect anyway.

The posts about medical issues are interesting. There are organic causes for rage, as well as standard mental illnesses and personality disorders. This is worth exploring. But please, move out first.

Sorry, but “all nice and contrite” does not cut it. Bad language is bad, but it does not give the target *any permission whatsoever *to commit physical abuse–and particularly not physical abuse that goes on for as long as you describe. That was not a momentary lapse. That was a decision, and she had to keep deciding over and over to have done it. Every time you asked her to stop, every time it crossed her mind that she should stop, she instead made a decision to try to get her way by physical intimidation, instead.

Since you still have bruises, not to mention witnesses, tell her that either she leaves or you file a police report. I think I would talk to the oldest children who were there for this, and have them be there when you tell her. Tell her as a group that she needs to leave until she has done something to show she will always contain her violent impulses ever after. Tell her you love her and want to work this out, you think it is time to admit that time alone will not heal the problems between you, but this kind of incident is simply unacceptable. It must never happen again, and it must not be allowed to pass with no consequences.

Yes–she leaves, not you. There is no reason you and your children need to leave the family home on account of what she did. If she would like to keep the situation quiet by having you and the children pick her up on the way to Mass, that could be managed. Nobody would allow a husband who did this to stay in the family home, and there is no reason that anyone ought to allow a wife who did this to stay, either.

I would include your children because otherwise it will be your willingness to pass over the incident that you will hand on to them, not your resolve to insist on appropriate behavior from everyone, regardless of gender. Domestic violence has this way of being handed down from generation to generation because tolerance for it is handed on. Don’t let that happen to your children.

I think she was thinking in her head, “I"ll show him not to call me names!!!”

and that’s how she’s justifying it…“I showed him!!!..haha…now he’s scared of me…”

Oh, I forgot about that part. You need to show your kids that this is not acceptable, else they’ll replicate this in their own lives.

or they will allow themselves to be victims

Who knows what she was thinking. The husband acted in accordance with the law, especially considering how likely he would take the brunt of the legal consequences for a mutual physical altercation. He certainly should never allow himself to be alone with his wife, at least not until he has evidence that she has done the work to ensure she will control herself. He ought to always have witnesses and someone who can help him fend off her attempts to intimidate or abuse him–or worse. If she really goes off, he could wind up with the choice of letting her kill him or else going to prison for laying a hand on her.

Actually, considering the likelihood that she will turn on a son when the father is gone, I wouldn’t allow her to be alone with one of her children, either. I hate to think what she might do, if there were no witnesses and she gets a he-said-she-said situation on her side, particularly with a male relative who is larger in physical stature than she is.

I would suggest counselling and a pastoral consultation to decide whether an amendment on her part is a realistic hope. If this is something of a lifelong pattern for her–that is, if this kind of thing was a pattern for her, even as a child–I would be very much afraid that she will return to this, particularly in old age. It is not as if a misplaced hope would just cost money. It could cause mortal harm. OTOH, if this is a recent pattern of behavior, the chances of changing it are much better. Besides, a marriage deserves careful discernment before being abandoned. Were it my decision, though, I’d consult with several people who have experience in this kind of marital situation. To give her the chance to beat her husband up when anything else was a dim hope is nothing but giving her a near occasion of serious sin. I wouldn’t call that a virtuous act, since it wouldn’t bring a good outcome to anyone, least of all her.

I have seen this up close and a situation like this is really ugly. First, the reality of our culture is that abused women get most of the sympathy and practically all of the resources over abused men. Name me a battered spouse shelter that will take in men as well as or instead of women. They may exist, but I sure have not heard of them. Second, the husband often cannot bring sufficient force to defend himself for fear of being the one who goes to jail when the cops are called. Witness the OP who allowed himself to be pinned for an hour rather than push or wrestle her off. Third, there is considerable social humiliation involved in being publicly known as a male abuse victim, hence many male victims never step forward so we don’t really have any idea of the extent of the problem the way that we do with abused wives. (Keep in mind I have no issues with helping abused wives and children, only with the lack of resources for abused husbands.)

My recommendation: document everything. Keep a journal, write down all occurrences. Talk to the children away from their mother; without confronting them, try to get a sense of where they stand. It may be possible to use this as a teaching moment about the wrongness of abuse. Record occurrences if possible and have a backup for the recordings. This is to build a defense should the legal system get involved because without documentation, the wife can deny all and the legal system is geared toward believing her side over her husband’s side.

She needs to be the one who leaves if this happens again. The problem is that it may take a court order, hence the need to document thoroughly in order to justify it. Even then, it may still be the OP who is required to leave, the system is that stacked against men.

The wife should have a physical exam with bloodwork to rule out physical or hormonal issues. Both sides have a lot of work to do to reclaim their marriage. I wish them well.

OP here… thanks for all the suggestions, I’m surprised so many are adamant about separation; it helps to know that many different perspectives share this observation.

There had been small incidents before, some fairly minor shoving while making a verbal point; this escalation has really shocked me, and I feel sick to my stomach by what it seems to mean.

She’s already mad/sad that the college aged kids “take my side,” a view of things I’ve tried hard to avoid, but they are old enough to draw their conclusions from what they see and hear.

There’s a big disconnect, since today she’s at Mass (she’s pretty much a daily Mass goer) and expecting me to go to our priest for our regular counselling on Tuesday. I’m not sure I want to now; and I think I do need to be away from her at least for a time. thankfully the older kids are back to college in August.

I’m afraid to leave after such a long time together, but am realizing it’s probably the way to go.

Thanks to all for prayers and thoughtful comments.

I saw this all the time in the army. The wife would get made and physical, the police would get called and the husband would be arrested. Had one fella taken to jail after having his head split open with a skillet.

You take your kid and get out of there. ASAP. If she’ll lay hands on you, she can, will and probably has been laying hands on them. Get your kids out, contact the police and go from there. Then call your priest. This kind of thing needs counselling.

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