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!

 

40. StorkNet Member: I have been separated from my husband for several months now. I am pregnant and in the process of getting a divorce because of verbal/physical abuse. Lately my soon to be ex-husband and I have been talking again about the upcoming baby. We both have agreed that divorce is a good option since the relationship we had was unhealthy. We are thinking of maybe just starting all over again. He lives in another town now, so that would mean that I would have to move in order for us all to be together. He admits it was wrong what he did, but in a way still has an excuse for what he did by saying that I made him do bad things to me because I nagged and yelled at him. In looking back, I realize that I wasn't very supportive of him and said mean things that I shouldn't have. My question is - is that a reasonable excuse for him to be physically and verbally abusive? I was never punched in the face, but often I was pushed down, had something thrown at me, pushed against the wall, or once I was choked. I'm not stupid only I might sound like it from my question. I am a college graduate and I come from a normal non abusive family. I can't help but think that maybe I'm throwing in the towel too early. Maybe if we started over with professional counseling and both realized that we need to change to have a healthy relationship then I can't help but think that we could work it out. Once someone has been abusive is it possible for them to change if they want to and if they get professional help? I know people say abusers never change, but what if they say they want to and are willing to seek professional help?

Jennifer: I think the key to whether someone who has been abusive can change their behavior begins with them taking FULL responsibility for the abuse and NOT blaming the victim. I cannot imagine what you could have said that would have been "mean" enough to incite your husband to choke you. I don't think you are stupid, but I think you are allowing your emotions to overrule what your intellect is telling you. From the small bit you've said about your relationship I would worry a great deal about you if you were my friend, daughter or sister. You have even more reason than ever with your baby soon to be born to build a life and a home without violence. You have obviously been strong in your ability to leave him and begin divorce proceedings. Sit down and list all the reasons you left. Has he sought counseling in the interim? I know that when your husband makes these kind overtures to you it feels good to think that he could change and that you could be a family. This is normal and part of the grief process of divorce. From a distance you may be thinking of good memories of your relationship with him. Read over some of the other women's questions and see how heartbreaking it is when they have to allow their children visitation with a father who is cruel and abusive. It is not a situation I would want you to find yourself in.

I think your situation would be one that could benefit from some counseling where you could explore what your reasons for being with this man are and what it would mean should you continue with the divorce. Counseling would be a place for you to get some strong emotional support.

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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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