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!


87. StorkNet Member: I was wondering if you could help me with a situation involving our friends. We have some friends at our church that we have known for four years now. They are a married couple with three kids, all around our kids' ages. The wife has always been very, very sweet on the surface. We are friends, but it has been hard to get to know her. It always seems like she'll really want to get to know me, and then she'll pull away and I won't see her for awhile. The husband is your all-American sort of guy. He's very nice. They are well-known, fairly prominent people in our church. They are our age, too (meaning, a younger couple with kids).

We knew something was wrong for about the last six to nine months. But we couldn't figure out what it was. A few days ago we found out the wife is out of control. She is a very bitter person underneath her "niceness." She frequently attacks her husband. Our other friends from church witnessed it personally. They had this family over for lunch one day, and then the couple went to play basketball out on their driveway. They saw the wife attack her husband. She literally holds him down. He's a pretty small guy, and she's thin but very tall and strong. Our friends went out and told the wife not to do that sort of stuff, especially in front of the kids. They have distanced themselves from them ever since. The husband now has openly admitted (to only a couple of people) that his wife does this constantly. If he even says one wrong thing, she attacks him.

A couple of years ago their oldest daughter (6 years old at the time) came to church with what I swear looked like choke marks on her neck. At the time I just brushed it off, thinking maybe she was wrestling with her little brother, or whatever. But now I truly believe it was from her mom.

What do we do? I cannot stop thinking about this. I just can't believe someone would do these types of things. It just makes me sick! Our pastor is aware of the problems, but is relying on prayer. I do believe in the power of prayer, but in this situation I think it warrants more action. The only people who know are the pastor, the friends who had the couple over for lunch, and now we know. What would you do if you were in our shoes? PS: And no, the attack wasn't just fun and games because they were playing basketball. I made sure of that. It was a true, physical attack, because of something the husband said to her, apparently.

Jennifer: I am so glad that this has given us all an opportunity to see that abuse isn't just male to female, but in fact can be the other way around and can go between same sex couples also. It has the same demoralizing effect on the spouse and the same trauma occurs with the children. The pastor is a mandated reporter, and if he is aware of the marks on this child's neck he should and has a legal (and moral) duty to contact protective services. It can be done anonymously so please if he hasn't done this or won't do it, please do it yourself. It is possible that they will only take a report (since it is now likely the marks are gone), but to start a paper trail is a good thing in this situation. The pastor, being the spiritual leader has the most clout in your church community and can perhaps call on elders in the church to assist. This woman needs immediate assistance with anger management and the spouse and children need assistance with counseling for the effects of the abuse, including going to a shelter or making the wife leave. The spouse will need support if this happens as his self worth has suffered significantly.

They will all need support. I too believe in prayer, but (from a standpoint of religion): we are called upon to help our brothers and sisters by God. We are the ones who are able to step in and help this couple and especially their children. If she is doing this in front of others one can only imagine what is happening behind closed doors. I agree with you that it needs to be taken seriously and action needs to happen. If the pastor is still reluctant please get the information about local support groups to this husband so that he knows he has some options. He has the added stigma of it being seen as "unusual" that he is being battered as a man, which just adds to his sense of shame. Let him know that he has support. You are doing the right thing for him and the children.

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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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