Domestic Violence Discussion with
Jennifer Bowles, MSW, LCSW

Jennifer Bowles is a licensed clinical social worker currently working in California as a medical social worker at a county hospital. She obtained her Master's degree in social work from U.C.L.A. Since graduating in 1993 she has worked in a variety of settings, including private practice, with children and families, frail elderly, and chronically and terminally ill clients. Prior to becoming a social worker she was a deputy sheriff. She believes this law enforcement background provided her with an increased sensitivity to abuse issues, including domestic violence.

She has seen first hand the damage domestic violence does to the individual and family. It crosses all demographic barriers: financial, racial, ethnic, age and sexual orientation.

Our thanks to Jennifer Bowles!


16. StorkNet Member: My sister in law (my husband's sister) is married to a man who treats her very badly. He goes through periods (which can last for up to six weeks) of either not talking to her at all or just screaming at her. During these periods, he keeps telling her that she is ugly and stupid (which is definitely not true) and that she is not worth being with him. He also tells her that her family does not love her, which could not be further from the truth. Sometimes he has even hit her. These periods sometimes end when she threatens to get a divorce. That really seems to scare him, which I can understand.

We live in a Western European country that is very wealthy. He is from an Eastern European country that has huge economical and other problems. He can stay here because he is married to my sister in law, and he gets the same benefits that a citizen of our country gets. In addition, they live in a house that my parents-in-law own, so they don't pay any rent. He is a musician who does not enjoy working. (He grew up during a time when everybody had a job but nobody had anything to do in Eastern Europe.) She is working and is the one who brings some money to their household. Financially, he is totally dependent on her.

I would very much like to help my sister in law, since this relationship is tearing down her self-confidence piece by piece. For some strange reason she still loves her husband. He refuses to see a therapist since he does not seem to realize that there is a problem. They don't have any children, so that's not an issue here. In my opinion, and in the opinion of the rest of her family, she would be much better off without him. My sister in law is a very proud person, which makes it very difficult to have an honest conversation with her about this. She keeps telling us that "it really isn't that bad." How can I get through to her? She really needs to do something about this situation. They have been married for six years now, and it has been like this the whole time.

Jennifer: One question I would gently want to approach her with is this: "What will it look like when your situation is BAD?" If he's verbally and physically abused her along with attempting to isolate her from her family (social support system) and hacking away at her self worth, he's capable of the worst. He is someone who gets a boost of self worth only by knocking down his wife's. He is correct when he says that she is not worth being with him, because she is worth so very much more. Here is a loving woman who works to support herself and her husband. He is a very lucky man and yet cannot see reality. His refusal to seek therapy is understandable as he likely knows on some level what the therapist will say. I am thankful they don't have children, but this would concern me as children often keep women in the marriage longer.

The hardest part of this situation for you is not being able to MAKE her leave him. You may instead have to stand by and watch him further abuse her. Talk to her about going to a therapist herself to have an "unbiased" person with whom she can ventilate her feelings. Perhaps when someone outside her family is helping her to view her situation in a realistic way she may decide to leave him. Letting her know that you love her and will help her will give her a foundation to feel strong about. She really has much more power than she is aware of: being able to take care of herself, a caring family, and no children that he can use as a weapon to hurt her more.

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Questions and Answers (Click on the linked numbers below):

 1.  Husband's temper
 2.  Divorced, did not keep documentation for protection. What should I do?
 3.  I'm getting divorced. Do I tell the judge about my husband's anger? Should my daughter be with him?
 4.  How do I find an Abuse Center in My area?
 5.  How can I help my friend see that she's in a cycle of abuse?
 6.  Thank you, Jennifer
 7.  Is verbal abuse considered domestic violence?
 8.  I've left my husband - why do I feel so sad and guilty?
 9.  I'm being abused but no one can tell.
10. How does domestic abuse affect the children of the marriage?
11. When do you get past the damage?
12. Husband abusive and terminal. I'm pregnant. Can I make it on my own?
13. Therapists and false memories
14. Who do we tell if a child in my son's class is being molested?
15. My children are afraid of their father but he has part custody, what do I do?
16. This relationship is tearing down her self-confidence piece by piece.
17. I got away from the abuse but now my daughter is suffering.
18. Why do so many women end up in abusive relationships?
19. Is yelling verbal abuse?
20. Steps toward recovery?
21. Parents drinking affects the holidays
22. My dad was verbally abusive to me and I now suffer from low self esteem.
23. I can hear the neighbors fighting. What should I do?
24. My ex says no to counseling, but I want my kids to go.
25. Is my boyfriend showing signs of being abusive?
26. How can I prevent visitation rights?
27. Question about one of Jennifer's comments
28. Finding strength and independence
29. I worry so much about my children when they are with him and his new wife.
30. My friend got out of one abusive relationship and into another.
31. Helping my brother with his temper
32. My husband is an alcoholic.
33. My sister is abusing me.
34. My mom was abusive. Will I be too?
35. Abusive husband and a new baby
36. How is past abuse from my deceased husband affecting my 4 1/2 year old?
37. My best friend chose a controlling boyfriend, just like her father. Help me explain to her.
38. My husband intimidates me into sex. Is this abuse?
39. Husband has anxiety and is becoming violent
40. Separated, pregnant and thinking of working things out with abusive husband
41. Question about verbal abuse?
42. Is my boyfriend abusive?
43. Ex-husband and unpaid child support
44. Surviving molestation
45. Our arguing has turned physical now
46. I left my verbally abusive husband
47. Woman realizes she is the abuser
48. Husband's health is making him angry
49. Abuse and chronically ill
50. Abusive relationship and going through divorce proceedings
51. Granddaughter may lose custody
52. Relationship with abusive boyfriend is like obsession
53. Very afraid of abusive, threatening husband
54. Are my boyfriend's actions abusive?
55. I worry that my children will be molested because I was
56. Why do women stay or have a hard time leaving?
57. I need help to get away. What can I do?
58. Elderly parents are abusing each other, alcohol involved.
59. Is my daughter being abused by her stepmom?
60. Do you discuss female domestic violence towards men and children?
61. Friend keeps going back to abusive boyfriend
62. Alcohol problems as teens related to growing up in a violent home?
63. I left my abuser... a message of hope
64. How to help a pregnant friend
65. Resources for domestic violence in the military?
66. Nephew in abusive relationship
67. My husband is too controlling
68. Advice from someone who stayed
69. I left and now I'm confused
70. Thank you, Jennifer
71. My husband mentally abuses me
72. I've taken steps to leave my abusive husband, but am worried about my daughter
73. Abuse in friendships?
74. Why do women oppose mandatory reporting?
75. My husband is frightening me with his anger
76. Am I becoming my father?
77. Love and abuse
78. Boyfriend threatens me
79. Husband wants me to get an abortion, is verbally abusive.
80. My mother-in-law is harrassing us
81. Children verbally abusive like their father
82. Son and daughter-in-law's arguing affecting grandson
83. Should I call my husband on each verbal abuse?
84. My fiancÚ babysits and I am worried about his temper
85. My friend's child is affected by abuse by father
86. Every time he hits me, he blames me for it, then repents, apologizes and feels bad.
87. Acquaintances from church--the woman is attacking her husband. How can I help?
88. Shelters - how do you find your funds to live on and where to go?
89. My friend appears to have no way out!
90. My husband is in prison and we're divorcing. Visitation rights?
91. If you are in immediate danger

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