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!

 

46. StorkNet Member: I have just left my verbally abusive husband. We were only married for eight months. We lived together for two years. He has a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde personality, very charming and delightful one day a week, bitter and angry for the remaining six. He blames me for every problem he had or has, told me I was an unintelligent idiot, (my IQ is 137 and I am university educated white collar worker), that when I speak it is nothing but babbling, is jealous of my good friends, my career, harasses me about housework, finances, all of the horribly sad and painfully cruel things he could imagine to hurt me. I finally snapped and gave him a black eye. I suffered during my childhood as my father was an alcoholic.

That was the final straw. I left because I simply couldn't live in an atmosphere of anger another moment. I was afraid what I might do.

My questions are: How should I deal with my feelings of anger, resentment, grief and extreme disappointment? I am now seeing a counselor for my anger and violence. What else do you recommend? Is there a chance to save our marriage? He has agreed to counseling, medication, anything to change his behavior. Can a man like this change? Have you ever seen it happen? His father treats his mother the same way. Is hope foolish?

Jennifer: I would like so much to be the bearer of good news. You sound like a wonderful woman who came from a home (like so many do) where you probably did not see what a marriage, a healthy marriage looks like. I'm guessing your relationship with your father was at best problematic or distant and at worst...a nightmare you don't need to relive. You made the right decision for yourself and for your future by leaving your husband and working on your own issues in therapy, figuring out how to heal the past, and really believing that you deserve to be treated like the unique, lovable woman that you are.

My best advice is: FOCUS ON YOU. Take your time, go slow. Changes in our belief systems and healing take time.

The second piece of advice which is at once the most difficult and at the same time very freeing is this: LET GO OF THE OUTCOME of this relationship. I don't mean to be "preachy" when I say it is important that you get in touch with the spiritual side of yourself. Every human has a spiritual side (regardless of whether someone is "religious" or not). It is the wiser part of ourselves, our inner parent, our essence. There are many ways to do this including (but not limited to): meditation, prayer (okay so that is for religious people), reading self-help books that resonate with you, journaling on a consistent basis, doing anything creative that you enjoy. Let your spouse spend time on himself, journeying wherever he needs to go out of a desire to help himself, not just to save the marriage. He has a LOT of baggage that he needs to get rid of so that he's not blaming everyone else for everything that goes wrong.

As for whether people can change, I have to believe it is possible. Having said that, I know it is a difficult road and one must truly want to change, must have the capacity to see the damage they have done, must be willing to work on themselves and then DO THE WORK. I wish you the best of luck.

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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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