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!


28. StorkNet Member: I could write you a book. I also have never been hit by my husband. We have lived together for six years, married 4 1/2 and in counseling for 3 1/2 of those years.

I have noticed that these episodes of fighting seem to get worse and worse. More hurtful things get said and the anger level gets higher all the time.

Then four months ago he told me he was close to kicking my ass. We got a new counselor right away, because when I said I was going to leave he threatened to keep me from my daughter. Another thing is he used to "joke" about how it would be easier to kill me than divorce me. He never has acted violently toward me but I have spent A LOT of years feeling very alone.

So anyway, we are in counseling and he is trying hard to be better and is working at things, but I am tired. Tired of all of it and I don't trust that it is going to last. And I feel in my heart that I can't do it anymore. We haven't slept in the same bed for almost two years and I have anxiety thinking about it. I am going to tell him I want out next week at our counseling session.

He is being super nice, and I feel horrible, but I can't do this anymore. Four months ago I found a strength and independence I never had before. I stopped counting on him for my happiness and have been doing it myself. I don't know if I have a question, but I am so scared I will cave in again and not leave. I am good at convincing myself that it is better and we are one big happy family. I guess I just want to know where I can find the strength to keep going the way I want when I start to doubt myself?

Jennifer: It is so terribly difficult to feel isolated and alone. I think it's worse when in a relationship because there is the expectation that we are there for one another. It sounds like you have reached the point where you are no longer able to live in denial about the outcome of your marriage. It is something that you've spent time working on in therapy and it is not easy to let go of the hope and fantasy of being "one big happy family." I'm wondering what the turning point was for you. What was it that seemed to "click" four months ago?

I think it is essential that you make a plan beyond disclosing your desire for a divorce at the therapist's office. You need to be able to be as safe as possible. Do you have a place to go that is safe with your child? Have you sought the advice of an attorney? Does your therapist know yet? It may be something to share with him or her in advance so they can be supportive of you and help you plan the next few months.

Do you have a good support system? I know I harp on that a lot but it is extremely essential to your well being and can help provide you with the strength to keep going and avoid caving in to his pressure. It is always difficult when there is a child as you'll have to deal with the support/visitation issues. Keep your guard up and be aware of you own safety. Try to have someone with you as a witness and keep a log should you need it for court purposes.

It sounds like you are finding some inner strength over the last few months. Keep a journal (different from just keeping a log of your interactions with your spouse) as it will be helpful to you over the next few years. It doesn't have to be extremely detailed. It can be a safe place for you to vent your feelings and become aware of your increasing strength and resolve. Surround yourself with loving friends and family. They are the very best "medicine." Take good care of yourself.

Followup: We received your response to Jennifer's reply above, and are not sure if you wanted it posted. If you reply again and clarify, we can put part of it up here. Here's Jennifer's reply:

Jennifer: It sounds like you are headed in the right direction and I'm am glad that you have a good support system (including your strong spiritual connection with God, as I know that can help even when you are feeling alone). Know that you are not alone in this situation and certainly are not alone in this world. I think we forget that or we don't want to appear "needy" or "dependent." What we give to others by allowing them to give to us in times of need (emotional, spiritual, physical) is truly a gift. Let me know how you're doing. You're in my thoughts and prayers. Jennifer

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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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