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!


75. StorkNet Member: Hi Jennifer. I have been married for four years. I feel in love instantly and so did he. We had a good relationship for the first two years. We have been through a lot since we have been married.

Things have changed so much, we argue all the time and he has become so childish acting. He takes forever to take care of things and he has frightened me twice. One time was when his dog was in the house and he kept trying to tell us that he needed to go out, we just really didn't pay attention and then the dog used the bathroom in the house (it was clearly our fault) and my husband hit him on the butt with a belt pretty hard, I started crying and kept telling him that it was not the dog's fault and he held the belt up and told me that if I didn't shut up he would use the belt on me, and that hurt me deeply. I love this man and he is supposed to take care of me and never threaten me.

Another instance is one night the dogs started barking and my husband went down the stairs and got his bb gun to scare the dogs (I cannot stand this) I told him that it wasn't a big deal that the dogs were barking, and I again started crying and yelling at him because it hurts me so bad for anyone to be mean to animals. Anyway, he kept telling me to shut up and he turned around and pointed the bb gun at my leg. He didn't shoot it and it is not a gun that would kill me but it did scare me. I am so confused and sad that it has turned into this and here I am wondering if this is something that just happened or will get worse. I had a very serious talk with him two days later and I told him that if he ever threatened me again I would leave, period. I don't understand what happened and when it happened. His childhood consisted of seeing his mother physically abused all the time.

Another thing is how he is with sex. The attention that I get is always in anticipation of sex. The way he has treated me has destroyed a lot of my feelings and I almost can't stand it when he wants to touch me. I feel very angry inside and If I don't do it he gets mad and upset and we go to bed mad. I was sexually abused as a child and my dad is still in prison today for that. I went to counseling and dealt with all of that and moved on with my life, I didn't let it destroy me and I am proud of myself for that. But, I feel a lot of those feelings of my past coming back and I feel that it is because of all of this. I would love to hear what you have to say, and thank you so much.

Jennifer: It must feel so scary to be in this situation. The feelings you had when you were a little girl are being brought up. In particular is the fear of not being heard and the loss of control. Anyone in your situation with the background you have had would feel the same. Listen to your feelings. Your anger is telling you something. We have anger for a reason. It is an emotion that helps us to act when we are in danger or being threatened. I think it is helpful sometimes to imagine that it is your dearest friend or sister in your situation and consider what you would advise her to do. You are now in charge of taking care of that frightened little girl inside.

You know that you cannot fix someone else. You can understand how they may have come to be the way they are by examining their past. Your husband is responsible now for his actions and no amount of understanding from you will prevent him from another outburst. It is not your fault. Be very proud of your work you have done on your abuse issues of the past and take what you have learned back into therapy (it really is an ongoing process. My coworkers and I call ourselves "works in progress"). Don't see going back into therapy as going backward. You will need all the support you can get and you deserve to be treated with love, compassion, kindness and respect. It will not be easy. Talk with people who are involved with your local domestic violence shelter for referrals and assistance in making a plan. Be safe. Take care of yourself.

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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.
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27. Question about one of Jennifer's comments
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58. Elderly parents are abusing each other, alcohol involved.
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