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!

 

25. StorkNet Member: For about a month I was living with a boyfriend whom while we were dating we were only able to be with each other on weekends. Things went OK for a while, but as time went on he basically became controlling, distrustful, and the amount of time spent in doing things for him got to the point to where it felt like a second full time job. Part of this was needed, as at the time he was unable to drive, others were things like whining when I would not get up and dressed (while trying to sleep) to take him three blocks to get a drink without caffeine.

At times he showed signs of having a temper with a bit of a violent side, such as his responses to neighbors above us moving around at night, hitting the keyboard when an online thing was not working, and throwing a phone when on hold too long.

Given that I had moved in with him, into a place where my nearest other person I knew well was 4 hours away, I felt very trapped, and left.

Since then, he has admitted that he was wrong in several things, and has promised to make things different and wants another chance, saying that losing me jolted him into realizing how things were.

Things became more complicated however when I found out I am pregnant with his child, the first one for either of us.

I know he would want to be involved, and I really feel like I should tell him. I am pretty sure that telling him he will have a child will only intensify his wanting to get back together. It would seem to me that it would give him even more reason to change when he knows exactly what he is going to lose if he doesn't.

However, almost everyone is warning me to simply write him off as abusive and to focus on my other options. I have been told that things still should have been in the "honeymoon" period of seeing no wrong, and that if he is showing even those signs of not being in control of his temper when his patience is tried, that it is very likely that at some point he will also act without thinking towards a baby which of course would try anyone's patience.

Personally, I am confused and very torn and have no clue which way is up right now. In your opinion, are the signs there that this is likely to be an abusive relationship if I were to go back trusting he will change and with a baby brought into the picture, or are they simply being a bit overcautious over normal things that will work themselves out over time when he adjusts both to having me live with him and to the child?

Jennifer: I would like to be able to give you a definite answer that would ease your mind. Did the people giving you the advice to consider other options know this man? Usually our friends and family have our best interests at heart and it is a very good idea to strongly consider what they are telling you. What has this man done to make changes other than tell you he woke up to reality once you left?

I think it would also help you to read the questions and concerns of the other women who have had children with abusive men. It becomes a potential nightmare when engaged in a battle over visitation, child support, and custody (not to mention divorce, should you marry this person). It is very frightening to leave your child in the hands of an abusive person AND be under court orders to do so. It is an extremely helpless feeling.

Having a baby, even under the very best of circumstances is so very stressful and can put strain on the most loving relationships. You are at a place where you do have options. Consulting with an attorney to find out what your rights are should he find out you are pregnant (if you decide to have the baby and raise him or her yourself) wouldn't be a bad idea as it could help you to make your decisions from an informed position. People generally show us who they are and we need to see that reality and not distort it with the picture of who we'd like them to be. A month does seem like he should have still been "on his best behavior" with you, "the honeymoon" period as your friends have suggested. It is certainly an emotionally complex problem and being pregnant and feeling vulnerable will make that potentially more difficult. It sounds like you have a caring support system should you decide to go into motherhood alone or choose to consider other options. Don't rush yourself into a decision.

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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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