TVTracy: My Conversation With Reformed Abuser

A few weeks ago, I think I drove my photographer a little extra crazy.

We set out to interview a man who says he is no longer an abuser, thanks to a judge who forced him to attend a 6-month program after being arrested for assaulting his wife.  Click here to learn more about The Family Place.

A shoot like this typically takes an hour or so.

But after the first five minutes of this interview, I was so intrigued, I couldn’t stop asking him questions. We taped for two-and-a-half hours. Why? Because I had never heard the word “abuse” described in such a way that finally made sense to me.

Like me, you probably picture some terribly violent image when you hear that word.

But the way this man defined his abusive words and actions before his “rehabilitation” was so much broader that that:

“Yelling in their face, yes. Towering over them, yes. Screaming, talking louder than they do until they stop talking…yes.”

“There is a sense of self-gratification because ultimately you get what you want. And you don’t consider what the person gave up to get what you want.”

You don’t consider what the person gave up to get what you want.

Many of us married people have been told, counseled, encouraged our entire lives to believe that marriage is all about sacrifice. And it is in many ways.

But when you give up who you are–when you can longer say what you believe or tell your spouse how you really feel about things–that is not what marriage is supposed to look like. We are not supposed to feel powerless with our partners. And no one deserves to be screamed at or controlled.

Because of the time constraints of television, I could only share a few soundbites from this man in my story. So I posted on our website what I consider to be his most compelling and informative points. My hope–and his, quite frankly–is for others to see their abusive behaviors as what they really are–domestic abuse. To look in the mirror and get help.

Yes, verbal and emotional abuse often leads to physical abuse in a relationship. But even if it never gets that far does not mean the pain and suffering isn’t devastating to you, your children, and the generations to follow.

It’s time we raise our expectations.