Category: verbal abuse

Different kinds of abuse–same feelings: How Mark Driscoll reminds me of Tracy, Phil, and others

One reason why I read blogs and articles of all different kinds of abuse, is that I find the reactions of the abuse victims are the same everywhere.

Of course you’ll have differences here and there: Being molested by a parent is not the same as being psychologically manipulated by an ex-boyfriend, for example.

But everywhere you find the same common themes: loss of trust, hurt, pain, confusion, longing for the abuser to acknowledge the abuse and make up for it.

The other day, I read this account of narcissistic abuse and a smear campaign at Mars Hill Church:

My Story by Jonna Petry

Her husband was a pastor with the church for a time, until he was abandoned and smeared by Mark Driscoll.

In this and in other stories I’ve read about abuse at Mars Hill Church, I was struck all along by things that sounded very familiar, in my own experiences with narcissistic abuse, from exes (especially Phil) and from Richard and Tracy:

  • A person/place who at first seemed like God’s gift to you.
  • Pressure to conform.
  • Shunning someone you are told is bad.
  • Abuse and getting kicked out for questioning, disagreeing, speaking up about problems.
  • A person who throws tantrums and verbally abuses you for the slightest offenses, even when the offense is only in his own mind.
  • A smear campaign.
  • Others encouraged to shun you.
  • A kangaroo court in which you have no real chance to defend yourself.
  • Others put through the same abuse if they stick up for you.
  • A “conference” which is meant not to hear your side or your grievances, but to coerce you into agreeing that the abuse against you is justified.
  • A refusal of the abusers to admit they’ve done anything wrong.  As Driscoll and his henchman wrote to Jonna and her husband, “We still believe we have done nothing wrong.”
  • Begging others to help, but no one will.
  • Discovering this abuse is a pattern, that it neither began nor ended with you.

The hurt, pain and confusion as you long desperately for reconciliation:

In shock and heartbroken, Paul and I tried desperately that first half-year to bring about some level of reconciliation.

We so longed to be restored to our friends, to have our name and reputation exonerated, and to have peace in our relationships.

This had become our family that we loved and served and ministered to as our own dear children and as brothers and sisters. These were our dear friends.

How could they do this to us? Words do not adequately describe the shock, horror, betrayal, and rejection we felt. The weight of the loss was excruciating.

The PTSD and shaking of faith:

During this whole season since the firing and the months that followed, I was emotionally and spiritually devastated.

I was often tormented by fear. I had nightmares and imaginations of someone trying to physically harm Paul, me, and the children.

If Mark had had ecclesiastical power to burn Paul at the stake I believe he would have.

I literally slept in the fetal position for months. I stayed in bed a lot, bringing the children in bed with me to do their schoolwork.

I became severely depressed and could hardly bring myself to leave the house except when absolutely necessary. I cried nearly every day for well over a year thinking I must soon cry it out, right?

But, the sorrow was bottomless. My faith was gravely shaken. How could a loving God allow this?

Later it became clear that I had typical symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Depression and that these reactions were common in someone who has experienced spiritual abuse.

Spiritual abuse occurs when someone uses their power within a framework of spiritual belief or practice to satisfy their own needs at the expense of others. It is a breach of sacred trust.

Christians are commanded by Jesus to love one another. When that is projected, articulated, enjoyed and then treacherously betrayed, the wounded person is left with “a sense of having been raped, emotionally and spiritually” not by a stranger, but by someone who was deeply trusted. (See Recovering from Church Abuse by Len Hjalmarson)

At the beginning, Jonna wrote,

This past summer I saw the movie, “The Help,” and a seed of courage was planted in my soul. One of the last lines of the movie:

“God says we need to love our enemies. It hard to do.  But it can start by telling the truth. No one had ever asked me what it feel like to be me. Once I told the truth about that, I felt free.”

This story is an earnest attempt to speak the truth in love that freedom and new life may flourish.

At the end, she wrote things which encourage me to continue telling the story of Richard/Tracy–and express the same hope I hold, that one day my abusers will recognize their abuse and change:

In Acts, Chapter 20, the Apostle Paul pleaded with the Ephesian elders to pay attention and guard the flock.

This admonition, along with the mounting stories of abuse and misconduct coming out of Mars Hill Church, has added to our conviction.

We believe that to remain quiet now would be unloving and disobedient to God. As my husband stated earlier–if we fail to remember our history, we leave it for others to re-write. And, unfortunately, some of that has occurred.

And, in Mark’s own words from his book, Vintage Jesus:

“People are not perfect. As sinners we need to be gracious, patient, and merciful with one another just as God is with us or the church will spend all of its time doing nothing but having church discipline trials.

“It is worth stressing, however, that we cannot simply overlook an offense if doing so is motivated by our cowardice, fear of conflict, and/or lack of concern for someone and their sanctification.

“In the end, it is the glory of God, the reputation of Jesus, the well-being of the church, and the holiness of the individual that must outweigh any personal desires for a life of ease that avoids dealing with sin biblically.

“Sometimes God in his providential love for us allows us to be involved in dealing with another’s sin as part of our sanctification and growth. It is good for us and for the sinner, the church, and the reputation of the gospel if we respond willingly to the task God has set before us.”

What happened to us was very wrong. The way it was publicly described by Mark and the elders at the time was completely exaggerated and deceptive. The way the media and blogs have since reported on it has many holes and errors. Now it is open and plain to everyone.

If Mark and the organizations he leads do not change, I fear many more will be hurt, Mark and his family included.  To not speak is to not love or care and shows no thought or consideration for those who have been wounded and those who will be in the future.

We are witnesses. There is a pattern. There is a history. There is an ethos of authoritarianism and abuse.

Mark is the unquestioned head of Mars Hill Church and the Acts 29 Network. His elders have no way to hold him accountable. Those under him likely fear him and want to garner his favor so they don’t dare say nor do anything that might anger him. This is tragic.

Perhaps at some point, with enough outcry and exposure, Mark will come to his senses, own his harmful behavior, and get the help he needs to change. I hope so. Our common Enemy can make terrible use of our weaknesses and blind spots.

Our Lord’s harshest words were for leaders who used their status, power, the Scriptures, and God’s people for their own self-aggrandizement. Surely this is not what Mark meant to do.

We are all in this together, no matter what kind of abuse we suffered, or from whom.

We did not deserve it, and need to learn and remember this.  We need to put the responsibility for the abuse, and our subsequent hurt and pain, where it belongs–on the abuser–and take none for ourselves.

And we need to NOT look at each other and think, “I got it worse than you, so why should I bother with your story and pain?”

We also need to learn from each other, take courage from each other to speak up and tell our stories, and heal each other.

 

Phil walks away from me again–because I dare to have my own mind, opinions and needs–and because he’s a sociopath–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–The Long, Dark Painful Tunnel, Part 14

Intro to Psych was fascinating: It taught me a lot about such things as projecting your faults onto others, which I saw Phil doing.

The only problem was, it was an Intro class.  Like Intro to Christianity, I took it just to get credits.  For Christianity, I needed credits of any type so I’d have enough to graduate; for Psych, I needed Social Science credits.

But because it was an Intro, the class was full of immature freshmen.  Only a few people weren’t, like Astrid’s roommate Chloe and me.

Intro to Christianity, which I attended with Mike and Randy, taught how Christian doctrine developed and split over time.  The teacher, a preacher with the United Church of Christ, taught that Christ freed women, and Paul bound them up again.

We were also taught that the writers of the Bible saw a difference between Truth and Fact, which explains why, for example, the gospels have different versions of the same story, yet are still considered True.  The Truth is that Christ arose; the Facts are how many angels were at the tomb.

Unfortunately, we skipped over the section on Eastern Orthodox theology, so I knew very little about it until 2005, though I knew about the Great Schism.

Probably on Thursday, I went to lunch, went through the deli line, and spoke with the cafeteria lady who was at one of the food stalls.  (This may have been where the fries, or some other side dish, were.)

Sandy happened to be nearby as I told this woman I was engaged, and smiled and gushed about it.  Sandy didn’t say a word.

Amazing how, both times I got dumped, I had just been gushing about my engagement to someone the same day, and Dirk or his girlfriend Sandy happened to be standing nearby, silent–as if they knew something I didn’t.

Thursday, September 29, Phil took a nap in my apartment, after agreeing to go to the IV Bible study in the lounge that evening.  When it was almost time for the prayer group, I woke him up so he wouldn’t miss it.

Nothing at all unusual about that.  It’s polite, it’s kind, it’s helpful.

But he said, “I thought you said you wouldn’t tell me when to wake up and when to go to sleep.”

Can you imagine such an irrational comment?  I said this wasn’t the same thing.  I wanted him to join us because it was important to me, and he also said he wanted to come.

But he was so–weird about it, and acted like a jerk, like I had no right to wake him up for anything, no matter how important it was.

You see I couldn’t even be a normal human being around him.  Normal human beings wake up other normal human beings for things they want to go to.  I felt helpless, like the tiniest slipup and I could lose him.  (To me now, that doesn’t make him sound very loving!)

He finally got up, leaving some textbooks and pencils (some of the books were Dave’s) in my room.

(Just to clarify, since I’ve discovered that back in the ’70s, “jerk” often meant “stupid person”: I use the modern meaning of “jerk,” or someone who’s mean and nasty.)

We had a fun meeting with lots of people sitting on chairs arranged in a ring around and inside the TV nook.

After the meeting, Phil talked with someone; I believe it was the guy who came to InterVarsity once junior year, and wondered if Jews and Muslims, as People of the Book, would be saved.  Somehow, they got to the topic of how many kids a woman could potentially have.

Phil came up with a hundred, and I said from the couch on the other end of the room, “I don’t want a hundred kids!”  It was all playful and fun.

Later on, after the meeting ended it was just Charles, Pearl, Phil and me.  Phil and I cuddled together.

Phil and Charles got into a political argument.  I thought Charles was right and Phil was wrong, but said nothing at all about it.

Finally, the argument seemed to have ended.  Phil later complained that I didn’t support him in the argument, but how could I when I didn’t even agree?

Wasn’t I allowed my own political opinions?  And was I expected to back him up no matter what he said or how much I disagreed with it?

Soon, I quietly asked Phil to drive me to the store to buy milk and orange juice, but he said, “I’m not your taxicab.”  So I’m not even allowed to ask for a ride now? 

He then asked Charles and Pearl,

“Do you think a guy has to take his fiancée to the store if she asks?”

Charles and Pearl both said, “Yes, of course!”  Charles said yes if they’re going out and serious, and especially if they’re engaged.

I felt vindicated, and very upset with Phil for trying to humiliate me like that, though I still said nothing.

There may have been a few more words said between them, but I don’t remember.  He complained to me about people who don’t listen–though I thought the stubborn person here was him, not them.

I whispered to him, trying to be very calm and loving in my tone,

“Sometimes–I feel–you do the same.”

He said to me, “Thank you for being so supportive.”

Supportive?  After he’d just slammed and embarrassed me in front of my friends?  He treats me this way and expects me to support him?  My friends have just vindicated me and he says I should support him?

He got up and left the apartment.  I hurried after him, but couldn’t catch up with him, and he wouldn’t stop.  Then I did something that to this day I’m very glad I did: I yelled down the sidewalk to him,

“So you’re just going to run away?”  I used a tone that showed how cowardly I thought he was at that moment.

I went back inside and sat down on the armchair.

Charles had some choice words to say about Phil and his behavior that night.  Pearl was mad at him, too, and she showed it.  

They both thought his question about a fiancée was unfair to me, and that he was trying to embarrass me.  One of them, or I, said he seemed to be taking out his frustrations in the political argument on me.

A few minutes later, he called me up and said, “You’re more than free. Good-bye.”  Then he just hung up.

I tried to find him by calling Dirk’s apartment.  Dirk’s roommate Carl answered the phone, and promised to have Dirk call if Phil came there.  Unlike Dirk, he was very supportive of me.  Later Dirk called or I called him, and when I told him what happened, he said, “It sounds like you two have broken up.”

I think Dirk was very kind to me despite the lateness of the hour (probably after 11), and didn’t want to see us broken up, but felt powerless to stop it–even though he had done severe damage to my attempts to work things out.

Phil’s behavior all week long, especially including this, is well described in the “Disproportional Reactions” section here:

One of the favourite tools of manipulation in the abuser’s arsenal is the disproportionality of his reactions.

He reacts with supreme rage to the slightest slight. Or, he would punish severely for what he perceives to be an offence against him, no matter how minor. Or, he would throw a temper tantrum over any discord or disagreement, however gently and considerately expressed.

Or, he would act inordinately attentive, charming and tempting (even over-sexed, if need be).

This ever-shifting code of conduct and the unusually harsh and arbitrarily applied penalties are premeditated. The victims are kept in the dark.

Neediness and dependence on the source of “justice” meted and judgment passed – on the abuser – are thus guaranteed.

I believe this was indeed premeditated, that he wanted nothing but a subservient puppet with no mind or will of her own, and as soon as I expressed my own desires, my own opinions, that would be “the last straw” and he would leave. 

And somehow, it would be “my fault” even though the unvarnished truth is that he was an A$$HOLE and I did NOTHING wrong.

I talked to Phil on the phone the next day and asked him to come meet me and talk with me.  At least he gave me that much.  However, he insisted it be in the Pub, though it was public and often noisy.  We set the time for 3 p.m., after I left work.

During these weeks, I read books–a book on the Psychology of Love, which I’d bought sophomore year, when it was used by a Winterim class I didn’t take, “Love and Hate.”  I also started reading a book Helene lent me, on how to let go when you get divorced.

Both were very helpful to me.  I read them while there was still hope, and read them after the second breakup.  The first one I read when Phil and I first got back together.  I read it in just a few days to learn how to deal with our arguments.  The second one I read as I needed to.

I tried to set up rules to keep our discussion civil, probably using things I’d learned in these books.  The rules were to keep me in check as well as him:

  1. Issues will be honestly dealt with–not turned into arguments or “clamming up.”
  2. Each will listen to the other–not interrupt or get angry–and really think about what the other is saying.
  3. No getting up in a huff and stalking off–issues will be brought to a resolution.
  4. Each will be calm–no yelling, hitting, raising voices, or the like.
  5. Honesty–but not cruelty (including jokes).
  6. If someone violates the “rules,” the other one will calmly tell them– the talk is not over yet.
  7. Any and all apologies will be accepted.
  8. No accusations–use words like “I feel” or “It seems to me.”

I showed these to Pearl, and she thought they were fair.  I wrote them not only to protect me, but to protect Phil, because I could see myself breaking any of these rules quite easily.

Anna stopped at the library and gave me a pep talk about the meeting.  I prayed hard that it would go all right.  I think I even started to feel a peace about it.

3:00 came, and I headed over to the Pub with my books.  Phil was alone there.  I think I didn’t want to go there because I expected to find too many people, but only one person came in the whole time.

I showed him the House Rules, the pact I wanted to make with him.  But he refused to go by them, so I ended up not going by them, either.  What was the point, after all, if he wouldn’t play by any rules, to stick to any myself?

He was so pig-headed he wouldn’t even entertain the notion that I might have some good ideas about how to keep the talk at a reasonable, productive level.

Instead of sitting down and talking quietly with me, Phil played pool.  It seemed he didn’t want to talk with me, didn’t want to listen to a word I had to say.  He just walked around the pool table, shooting the balls.

It was frustrating.  It was done to show me that what I had to say was unimportant because it disagreed with His Majesty.

I tried to work out some problems, and it didn’t work.  He was so unwilling to listen to anything or even try to talk things over that we got into an argument.  I said he didn’t know the meaning of love; he said, “You’re right.”  Okay, for once we agreed on something!

Phil said cruel things; one thing was, he made me sound undutiful or uncaring because I didn’t confess to Mike that I had a little crush on him (and it was little–it had only just budded a couple of weeks before).

He yelled at me for never talking to Mike like he kept telling me to do, in those two weeks after the first breakup, and yelled that if I’d done so, I’d know it wasn’t returned.  He’d talked to Mike, and learned that “he does not“(that’s how Phil said it) return my feelings.

Not only did he overstep his bounds by scolding me for not broaching a subject with a friend without feeling right about it–

but now he made me feel like crap by not only saying Mike doesn’t return my feelings–

but saying it in such a way that made me feel presumptuous to even think that somebody else would like me. 

So now I was left with nobody at all, as he kicked me in the emotional side and made me feel like there was something wrong with having a tiny crush on somebody who didn’t return it.

But it hadn’t been right for me to talk to Mike, not while I was with Phil, and not so soon after the breakup.

There was also no sense risking Mike’s friendship over something that was so insignificant at the time.

But Phil had gone ahead and done that for me, a shocking betrayal, overstepping his bounds.

It was a blatant disregard and disrespect of me and my feelings on the issue.  It also could have jeopardized my friendship with Mike.

He also said at one point, “I’ll probably do things with other people,” meaning have sex.  I don’t know why he told me this, except to make me feel like crap.

I became furious, lost patience with his disregard for civility, and began saying what I felt.  Phil kept saying, “You’re right.”  This infuriated me even before, because it was an angry tone, and he’d once told me he did this to deliberately upset people during an argument.

All of a sudden, while I still had things left to say, Phil abruptly walked out of the Pub into the Campus Center lounge.  I almost followed, but when I got to the door and looked around he was already out of sight.

Rather than waste my time looking for him, I picked up my bookbag and left.  Sharon later said it was good I didn’t follow him.

I believe I said what I should have said, though it didn’t go very well.  I’m not at all ashamed of the chewing-out I gave him, either then or in later letters–I’m quite proud of standing up for myself, of refusing to sit back and be the victim of his abuse.

Because Phil was a classic abusive monster, even without hitting me, and I was well rid of him.  He was a narcissist, a sociopath. 

He broke things off with me because I dared to have my own mind, my own thoughts, my own opinions, my own needs. 

He was an old-fashioned chauvinist pig.  He broke things off with me because I was not a subservient, submissive slave who never does anything but what the Master wants, even if he doesn’t tell me what he wants.

My anger was fierce because I knew I’d been mistreated and abused.  I hated him.

Index 
Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)

Table of Contents

Freshman Year

September 1991:

 October 1991:

November 1991:

December 1991: Ride the Greyhound

January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD

 February 1992:

March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?

April 1992: Pledging, Prayer Group–and Peter’s Smear Campaign

May 1992:

Sophomore Year 

Summer 1992:

September 1992:

October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:

November 1992:

December 1992:

January 1993:

February 1993:

March 1993:

April 1993:

May 1993:

Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams

September 1993:

October 1993:

November 1993:

December 1993:

January 1994:

February 1994:

March 1994:

April 1994:

Senior Year 

June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:

July & August 1994:

January 1995:

February 1995:

March 1995:

April 1995:

May 1995:

 

Phil demands my complete submission and forces me into oral sex–and my will is broken, for fear he’ll divorce me again–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–The Long, Dark Painful Tunnel, Part 13

The night after Phil and I got back together, my suitemates threw a party for us “summer birthdays.”  Those of us with summer birthdays had to stay out of the apartment between five and seven, while the others got the place ready for us.

I thought Phil would show up during the party.  He had a date for the following night with the sixteen-year-old (I guess she was now seventeen) who kept calling him when he had a girlfriend.

He made the date while we were broken up; he said it would be platonic, and he would tell her we were back together again.  Because of this, I didn’t mind so much.

Possibly during the party, Charles saw my videotape collection (Dr. Who, Gone With the Wind, Monty Python, etc.), cried out, and wanted to know who owned it.  It impressed him.

He also admired my book collection, which included Dr. Who and Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy books.  (In October, he started reading my new copy of the fifth book in the Hitchhiker’s series.  However, I don’t think he finished it.)

Phil was gone for an awfully long time.

We had a fun party.  We even went outside on the little porch with the nice railing, tied balloons on Tara’s hair, and took pictures of her.

The Director of Safety and Security came by and said this was an “unauthorized social gathering,” too many people and not cleared by Memadmin, so we’d better go back inside and break up the party.

So we went inside, and instead turned on an audiotape of the Roanoke choir singing “The Messiah.”  If he came back, we’d say we were rehearsing choir songs.

We later found out he thought there was alcohol, but there wasn’t.  We could have as many people as we liked, as long as there was no drinking.  Otherwise, it would have to be cleared with Memadmin.  We didn’t drink at our parties, so this was funny.

Now that we were twenty-one, there might be a wine cooler or a strawberry daiquiri or the new drinks with the risqué names Sex on the Beach or Sloe Screw, but that was it.  I only drank pop.

During this party, we also played Phantom of the Opera music.  Mike turned on a Barry White CD to demonstrate to non-choir people what Derek had done on the last choir tour: Mike turned on the song “Feels So Good” and played the first few notes–Duhduh-duhduh-duh–then Barry’s words “Feels so good.”  Then Mike pushed the reverse button, and did this over and over again, replaying that first part over and over.

Derek made a tape of himself doing this over and over and over again, and played the tape over and over on the spring choir tour.  This drove everyone crazy.  The choir people, Mike especially, adopted this as a catch phrase–or perhaps, catch tune.

There were other couples at this party–Jennifer with the same Jason whom Catherine and Cindy had dated, Charles with Trina.  I felt lonely and depressed, almost as if I had no one, even though I was now back together with my Phil.  I didn’t know why I felt that way.

When Phil finally came near the end of the party, he told me the date was not the next night but this night, so that was where he had been all this time–at a coffeehouse with that other girl.

The coffeehouse was her idea: Her generation seemed to like those old-fashioned beatnik turtleneck coffeehouses, which were now coming back in style.  He told her we were back together, and she said she wasn’t surprised.

He looked odd in the black turtleneck he put on to “fit in” at the coffeehouse.  He left soon after, and kept waving and waving to me from his van as he left the parking lot by the apartments, the kind of thing he used to do.  It was funny.

One evening in the Pub, there was some sort of party.  Phil and I were there, as were James and Persephone.  Persephone came over to me, and smiled and looked surprised when I told her Phil and I were engaged.  She also said she had a crush on James.

****

TRIGGER WARNING: SEXUAL FORCE DESCRIBED BELOW

At his house one day, Phil said he almost wished we’d never slept together (even though we were married), because now he wanted all the girls he saw, and there were way too many cute freshman girls this year.

The more he talked, the more it sounded like a sexual addiction, so I begged him to get help for it.  It’s one thing to enjoy sex with your wife; it’s quite another to barely be able to restrain yourself around women!

I didn’t understand such a desire, myself, because I only wanted to have sex with one man my entire life: Phil, my husband for life!  And how could I be sure he’d stay faithful to me?

I had a day or two of happiness, but then started to feel a wedge between Phil and me.  He was very demanding, very pushy–and his ideas, plans and opinions about various things seemed a lot different from what they were before.

For example, he said he wanted to go to Thailand for a couple of years after we got legally married, to study martial arts for movie roles.  Thailand?  I thought we were supposed to go to Texas!

If I didn’t want to do something he wanted to do, it meant I didn’t care like I said I did.  

I felt like I was walking on eggshells, and the slightest thing might push him away.  I felt I had to align all my opinions with his, do things exactly as he wanted even though I couldn’t read his mind, or he’d divorce me.  

He seemed like a different person.  After he broke up with me, I was a broken, submissive person who was desperate to do whatever he wanted, just to keep him from leaving again.  That meant even oral sex:

One day, when he got me alone, before I had a chance to even talk to him, and without a word, he pulled down his pants. 

He got a strange, angry, stern look on his face, and pushed my head down–forced, really, since I couldn’t move my head whether I wanted to or not. 

I didn’t want to–it was smelly, I didn’t know if he had washed it recently, and I never liked doing this–but I did anyway, because of the unspoken but well-understood threat that he would divorce me if I didn’t.

Once, as a girl on crutches started to pass us on the sidewalk, I quickly moved to cross in front of Phil and get out of the way, so she could safely pass.  But Phil put out his foot and tripped me, almost making me fall!  The girl smiled at him (or maybe said “thank you”), and he smiled at her.

!!!!

I didn’t understand what was going on.  I complained that he tripped me, but he said he was “moving me out of the way” with his foot!  He treated me like I was the rude one, like I wasn’t getting out of the way so he had to make up for it and move me!

He humiliated me in front of that girl.  I burned with the injustice of being falsely accused–and tripped.  I was furious with him, but he just laughed.

More gaslighting!  And according to this website, tripping is one form of physical abuse.

How much farther could he have gone?  How far has he gone in the 20 years since I last saw him?

Many of the emotional and verbal abuse traits in that website are also familiar, as you will see.  It also says,

While physical abuse might seem worse, the scars of verbal and emotional abuse are deep.  Studies show that verbal or nonverbal abuse can be much more emotionally damaging than physical abuse.

That explains why I had so much trouble getting over this, still struggling some 11 years later, when I finally wrote about it on my Myspace blog and got it out.

Once, either now or before we got back together, Phil told me his friends had been encouraging him to break up with me–something about keeping him down, not letting him do things, exaggerated junk like that.

None of which was actually true.  It sounded like they thought I was the tyrant, when it wasn’t me, it was Phil.

The reasons were stupid and it sounded like they had no idea what was really going on.  My dad told me on the phone that in these situations, “The worst thing you can do is listen to your friends.”

It’s also quite possible that Phil made this up, another common tactic used by abusers to make you think you’re the problem because everybody says so. 

Either that, or he smeared me to them, too, a common abusive tactic to discredit the victim.  I went into this earlier: It’s called torture by triangulation.

On the night of the 24th, Phil, Pearl and I hung out in the living room, watching Demolition Man, Three Weddings and a Funeral, and some other movie with Rutger Hauer, the guy who played the white-haired robot from Blade Runner, playing an escaped convict in the future.

At one point there was the Chicken Movie.  I don’t know what its real name was, but it was terrible, something about a plague brought on humans by crazed chickens.  We called it the Chicken Movie.  I don’t think we could watch the whole thing.

Phil brought a plastic bowl and a spoon from home for soup, which was his dinner, but he left them there in our sink, dirty.

After Pearl went to bed, he said I was free from my vows, that I could go off with someone else if I ever wanted to.

I refused to accept the freedom.  “It’s worse than any chains you could give me,” I said.

For some reason, he found this strange.

I wanted us to say our vows again, which we hadn’t done since getting back together, and I insisted so he did, but he left out the vow of “cherish” and the vow of fidelity.

He said he was having a hard time keeping to the vow to “cherish” all the time, that it might lead to infidelity, and if he was bound to those vows he might end up hating me.  He wanted to be sure of them before he said them again legally.

He couldn’t be in my bedroom, but wanted to have sex with me on the couch.  I didn’t want to because I thought the others would be disgusted if they ever found out.

But he laid on a guilt trip, when I was already afraid of losing him if I didn’t do as he commanded or agree with all his opinions: “That just means you don’t really want to sleep with me.  Everyone else who’s ever wanted me didn’t care where it was.”

So I slept with him there, to prove I did want him. 

You see how he manipulated me into going against my conscience, forcing me through guilt and intimidation (the ever-present threat of losing him again) to be inconsiderate of my roommates. 

Ever after, I sometimes sat on that couch and remembered what happened.  It made me shudder, so most of the time I blocked it out.

It was because of him staying over that my roommates decided we must all clear it before someone’s boyfriend or friend stayed overnight.  They didn’t like seeing him there on the couch in the morning, and hadn’t expected it.

One day, as I sat with my friends, Phil came over and needed some money for lunch, so I gave it to him.  He said with a smile as he sauntered off, “You’re a saint–sometimes.”  What is this “sometimes,” another criticism because I’m not subservient?

Another time, while we were on the sidewalk by Muehlmeier, he got down on his knees and begged me for five dollars.  I gave it to him–but never saw it again, and didn’t bother asking for it.  This may have been Wednesday or Thursday.

On Tuesday, September 27, I had a meeting scheduled with the counselor at one p.m.  I told Phil right before that I would go see her, but tell her it was the last meeting I needed, and it might be short or it might not.  I might cancel it.  I didn’t know how long it would be.  I made this very clear to him–so I thought.

I told the counselor Phil and I were back together, so I wouldn’t need any more meetings.  She didn’t let me go that quickly, though: She gave me tips on conflict resolution, and a name of a book: Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus.  I had never heard of this book before.

Our discussion ended up taking the full hour.  Once, we heard a deep voice outside the door, but I didn’t think it was his.  The meeting ended and I left.

Phil came to me, furious.  He chewed me out for taking so long.  It was his voice outside the door.

I said, “I told you I might stay the whole time!”

“You took so long!  You said you’d just go for a few minutes and cancel.  I asked some people where the counselor’s office was, and they didn’t think anyone was in there because they didn’t see the light through the door.”

“I told you I might stay the whole time.  I said I didn’t know how long I’d be!”

It didn’t matter.  He stayed mad at me, and I didn’t deserve it.  For being so affectionate the first few days we were back together, he had turned so distant–and no matter what I did, it was wrong, even if I had little or no control over it (the length of the meeting).

Index 
Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)

Table of Contents

Freshman Year

September 1991:

 October 1991:

November 1991:

December 1991: Ride the Greyhound

January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD

 February 1992:

March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?

April 1992: Pledging, Prayer Group–and Peter’s Smear Campaign

May 1992:

Sophomore Year 

Summer 1992:

September 1992:

October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:

November 1992:

December 1992:

January 1993:

February 1993:

March 1993:

April 1993:

May 1993:

Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams

September 1993:

October 1993:

November 1993:

December 1993:

January 1994:

February 1994:

March 1994:

April 1994:

Senior Year 

June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:

July & August 1994:

January 1995:

February 1995:

March 1995:

April 1995:

May 1995:

 

Phil cuts off contact–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–The Long, Dark Painful Tunnel, Part 8

That night was awful.  I tried to talk to Phil about what the counselor said.  I didn’t yell or scold or anything.

But he stonewalled, suddenly abandoned me for a time to talk to Dirk, treated me like a stupid witch who had nothing worthwhile to say, then treated me like I had no right to wonder when we were going to get back to our conversation.  These are abuse tactics.

They sat in the foyer of the library, while I was inside the library, on the other side of the wall/windows and glass door.

So Dirk, who knew absolutely nothing about marriage, became Phil’s choice of marriage counselor.  So Dirk became privy to who knew what, while I was given no chance whatsoever to tell Dirk my own side of things, and was left out of the conversation about me.

Dirk basically was put in the middle of everything, and probably fed Phil all sorts of bullcrap.

But I wasn’t even supposed to wonder how long this conversation was going to keep us from our own conversation, because when I went to the windows/door and looked at them, he made a gesture toward me as if to say to Dirk, “See what I mean?”

What on earth he meant by that, I had no clue, because I’d been left waiting by myself for quite a long time already, and this was extremely rude of Phil.

Earlier, he had given me every reason to believe that reconciliation was possible.  But now, after talking with Dirk, he suddenly said we couldn’t even be friends.  It is interference like this that led to me loathing Dirk, so much so that 20 years later, I still won’t even friend him on Facebook.

This stunned me.  I can’t remember why he said this.  I doubt that I knew then what changed the course of the conversation, because he only communicated through yelling and stonewalling.

But now as I look back over this, I’m certain it was Dirk’s doing.  I don’t know why on earth Dirk was so determined to split us up, since he did not want me for himself.  Unless, of course, Dirk was actually Phil’s pawn, manipulated into believing that I was the abuser instead of Phil.

I have every reason to believe this is why.  Abusers recruit others to help with the abuse, by making them believe that the victim is the abuser.  This is called control by proxy.

When I first made notes of this argument a couple of years later for my memoir, I wrote that Phil probably either overreacted–or was only acting.  He’d done a lot of acting those few days, as he told me a few days after this event–and as I realized when I contrasted his words to his actions.

All I could do was leave him and not talk to him again.

I didn’t realize yet that his actions proved he had never loved me, no matter what he told me before or his insistence that he still loved me.  When you truly love someone, you don’t treat her this way.

In 1996 or 1997, as I worked with Cugan’s friend Laura on ideas for my wedding dress, she told me she knew Phil.  He used to come into the gaming shop where she was a clerk, and buy dice and other Dungeons and Dragons items.  She knew that Phil had to marry his girlfriend.  And that shop was in M–, not S–!  Small state, eh?

He used to go there with his high school friends, with whom he kept in touch after high school.  Laura told me they were upset with him over something, and that he’d been ostracized for it, but she didn’t know what the thing was.  I always wondered if they finally saw how he treated his women.

Laura used to think he was a nice guy, but she had been an abused wife herself, and stopped liking him as soon as I told her he was “borderline abusive.”

I’ll say this as well, in case any of you finds yourself in a similar situation.  I have heard and read other stories of emotional abuse.  In one, the guy made a date with another woman while lying in bed with his girlfriend, and then told his girlfriend she deserved that.

Many times, an abuser will hit his wife because she did something he thought she shouldn’t have done.  She will then start to believe she deserved what she got.  Don’t let yourself get into this trap.

In the following months, my friend Helene said, “It sounds like he’s trying to control you even after the relationship is over.”

Did he break up with me because he couldn’t control me?  (Sort of like in the song “Control” by Puddle of Mudd: “I can’t control you/ You’re not the one for me, no.”  Or in “Special” by Garbage: “I have run you down into the ground/ Spread disease about you over town/ I used to adore you/ I couldn’t control you.”

Also, in a letter to the editor in the 9/28/98 edition of US News and World Report, speaking of the Clinton/Lewinsky/Starr scandal and Hillary’s insistence on standing by her adulterous husband, a reader wrote, “Even women battered and bloodied will defend their abusers.”  A typical response of an abused woman is, “He was right and I was wrong.  I deserved what I got.”

In one way I was typical, in that I didn’t see the abuse for what it was.  In another I wasn’t, in that I refused to say I deserved what I got and that Phil was right to treat me the way he did.  This refusal to be a victim, to just sit back and take it, to act like a victim, may be a subconscious reason why Phil left me–which was actually a mercy.

Of course, some people might say I did sit back and take it like a victim, because I didn’t just tell him to leave.  But it’s common for abused women to say, as I did, that I loved him and didn’t want to leave.  After all the trouble I had finding a Christian man at a Christian college, and one who actually wanted to be with me, where else would I find one, especially one I had so much in common with?

Also, during the summer, even when I felt like telling Phil, “Go back to Wisconsin,” I didn’t because we were married.  I saw marriage as a lifelong commitment that was not to be broken lightly.

This may be why he married the new girl, who had been abused by a boyfriend before.  (We see the common trend of a woman subconsciously seeking out abusers, and finding them.  Cindy said she probably thought Phil wasn’t abusive because he didn’t seem as bad as the previous abuser.)

Years later, April 9 and 10, 1998, what can I say?  That he treated me like the bad guy when, all along, he was the bad guy.  He was emotionally abusive, and didn’t listen to a word I said, didn’t treat my feelings or ideas or words like they were worth his attention or care.

He’d said he’d be my husband, said we were meant for each other, even said he was my husband–yet had no respect for his commitment, or for me.  All he cared about was himself.  Just before the breakup, he told his friends that he still loved me–but he didn’t show it.

He also didn’t talk to me about whether or not a breakup was necessary, or even try to work out the misunderstanding of the night before the breakup, but to other people.  And then told me after he had already decided, all by himself.

(When did he talk to them?  There wasn’t much time in between Thursday night and Friday afternoon.  And how long did he take to process the things they said?  Did he even give himself enough time?)

He talked with my parents on the phone, at their request, but didn’t listen to them; he didn’t even want to go to a counselor for help.  It was all what he wanted, and he didn’t listen to any of my suggestions for what we could do to fix things.

He seemed to think I was the problem, but was too blind to see that very similar things would happen all over again with other girlfriends.  He refused to see his own failings, while I was willing to see mine.

But when you look at why I did them–because he was so hard to deal with and I didn’t know how else to get through to him, and he was so irresponsible that I was forced to nag at him for things–you can easily see they were tiny compared to his own failings.  (It’s called catching fleas from your abuser.)

Being forced to act like a mother and make a guy get up in time to go to his own job, being forced to nag at him until he gets his brakes fixed because this is the last day he’ll have a chance (before you go on a long road trip back to campus) and he just wants to be a slugabed–

These are nothing compared to the sin of emotional abuse, sexual abuse by forcing someone to do unnatural acts, and the threat of physical abuse if he finally decided to carry out his threats to hit.

He threatened me once or twice with physical violence (I have described at least one such instance to you), and really did slap Persephone while they were together.  (She slapped him right back, and he never did it to her again.)

And my second husband, Cugan, considers some of the sexual abuse to be physical as well, because after all, it took physical force to do the things he did.

Phil said he was a better person when not around me–a convenient phrase taken from Mrs. Doubtfire–but this was not true.  He was no better with Persephone, as I describe later.

Sharon said in 1996 or 1997, that watching him and his new girlfriend was like watching him and me all over again, only worse because she would lie about where she was when she missed Phi-Delt meetings for him.

Cindy heard him yelling at her the way he used to yell at me, and she was not happy with him at all.  When the new girlfriend got pregnant, Pearl tried to warn her not to marry him; she didn’t listen.  And in 2007, they divorced.

At a Christmas party at Sharon’s house in 1997, my friends, not me, brought up the subject of Phil, soon after somebody said they saw Dave working at Dunham’s Sporting Goods.  Pearl said with a laugh that Phil and his new wife’s kid should be taken away by the SPCC, the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children.

My friends told me he treated me like a child, and that’s one reason why they no longer liked him soon after we started dating–besides the fact that they considered him annoying.

But back to September 1994.  When you’ve been married to and living with someone all summer and they suddenly cut off all contact with you, even though they’ve been abusing you, you feel like a part of you is lost.

Wednesday, September 14.  On one of these early days of the week, Helene came to the library and saw me.  That’s probably when I told her about the breakup, while updating the card catalog.

She said she had been engaged three times since her husband died in a plane crash, and each engagement had been broken.  She was numb for the first few days afterward.

I felt similar, and could barely get through my shifts at the library.  Time was molasses, so slow I could hardly bear it.  Everything I did at the library, including updating the card catalog, made me restless.

I confided in Helene, called her on the phone once, and often sat with her at lunch during the next several months.  I talked about my feelings and got her advice; we discussed a book she lent me about dealing with a divorce.

For both of us, a favorite part of the book described a counselor’s experience in his support group for divorcees.  One woman saw her ex-husband having a picnic with a new girlfriend.  She ran her vehicle over them.  The people in the group said, “Ooh!  Did she back up and run over them again?”

While I confided in Helene, Phil confided in her best friend Kay.  He seemed to think of her as a sister.

I think it was Helene, or maybe Anna, who first said Phil seemed like good marriage material, but needed to grow up.  But later on, Helene said his turning to Persephone confirmed her worst fears about him, that he would go on to somebody else right away rather than trying to work out problems.

I told her how Phil treated me during the marriage; she liked him less every time I talked to her about him.

I spent most of my time with my friends or working or in class or eating or alone in the apartment, trying to do homework and deal with things and get on with life.

As much as possible, I wanted to go on with my daily life without grief interfering.  I lost very little, if any, sleep, and kept eating properly.  I dealt with things much better than when Peter broke up with me.

And after what Phil said on Tuesday night, I kept my distance from him.  No, I was never the stalker-type; if somebody told me to stop talking to them, I stopped.

Index 
Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)

Table of Contents

Freshman Year

September 1991:

 October 1991:

November 1991:

December 1991: Ride the Greyhound

January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD

 February 1992:

March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?

April 1992: Pledging, Prayer Group–and Peter’s Smear Campaign

May 1992:

Sophomore Year 

Summer 1992:

September 1992:

October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:

November 1992:

December 1992:

January 1993:

February 1993:

March 1993:

April 1993:

May 1993:

Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams

September 1993:

October 1993:

November 1993:

December 1993:

January 1994:

February 1994:

March 1994:

April 1994:

Senior Year 

June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:

July & August 1994:

January 1995:

February 1995:

March 1995:

April 1995:

May 1995:

 

Phil refuses to accept responsibility for the divorce–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–The Long, Dark Painful Tunnel, Part 7

All weekend, though a commuter, Phil hung around campus and had long talks with me.  They seemed productive.  Once, Phil agreed to talk to my parents on the phone; they talked him into going with me to a counselor.

Dad told us to make out lists of each other’s faults, rather than letting it be one-sided, with only Phil telling me my faults.  I started work on mine, and asked Phil to work on his–though, truly, he already gave me a verbal one.

Mom told me what he said to her on the phone.  He told her I was so upset because relationships and break-ups were new to me.  She didn’t like this.  (It also wasn’t true: I was upset over the way he treated me, and it’s only natural to be very upset over a divorce.)

Shortly before we left for school, he seemed to brag to her that he’d had seven girlfriends before, and broke up with all of them himself.  (Of course, one or two of them broke up with him.)  She got a weird feeling from this, that he had something in mind.

She also felt he would throw a girl away when he tired of her–confirmation that he had the abuser trait, “unceremoniously discarding.”  She said, “Oh, so he was going to spend the summer here, eat our food, take our money, then take you back to school and break up with you?”

I don’t want to tell everything Phil and I talked about, just summarize a few important things.  Things he said made no sense, and I didn’t deserve the treatment I got that summer.

I didn’t intend to do the same things again that I had done wrong, but he had to change, too.  He had to recognize his own faults, just as I’d recognized mine.

He even blamed me for him getting a cold, though I didn’t give it to him!

He even said, “I think I’m still in love with Tracy,” even though he never loved Tracy and never even kissed her.  Back in January, if he’d loved Tracy, I would have backed off.  But he made it very clear that he felt no passion for her, was not attracted to her, just thought of her as a friend!

Now he was changing history and telling me he’d been in love with her?  What the HECK?  (See here for what really happened.)

By the way, that school year I heard Tracy got a boyfriend who did want to be with her.  She would have missed out on that if she’d been with Phil.

Phil said his brother Dave and his fiancée Pearl were acting like his parents, and probably headed for a breakup.  (That, though he may not have realized it, sounded like our own marriage prior to the divorce.)

To my shock, Phil had asked this same Pearl to go to dinner with him.  She “got very quiet.”

So a day after our separation, my husband asked out some new girl–who, by the way, was his own brother’s fiancée?

He said, “She’s giving, like me.”

Like him?  Like him, who wouldn’t do anything nice for me when I asked?  Who wouldn’t give me what I wanted or needed, no matter what?  Who’d give anyone a ride but me?

(I later learned that he’d been offering to drive groups to Fond du Lac to dance on the weekends.)

Who wouldn’t do foreplay when I asked, go to Sunday School with me even once, or go to the classes in that one evening service?  Who wouldn’t give me the right to have valid points, valid complaints about him?

And she’s giving, the one who accused me falsely, terrorized me for having no clue anybody still needed the shower, and called me a party pooper for not wanting to dance with a concussion?

In 1995, Sharon, Pearl, Chloe and Astrid held a Christmas party in the apartment, where they all lived at the time, since they hadn’t graduated yet.  I was with Cugan now.

Persephone (Phil’s girlfriend after me) came to the party.  She had broken up with Phil again.  I must have asked if Dave and his Pearl had gotten married yet.

“They broke up a long time ago,” she said.  “You didn’t know that?”

Nope, I was totally out of the loop of the O’Hara life by then.

“Phil tried chasing after [Dave’s] Pearl for a while, but she wanted nothing to do with him.  In fact, all the women have been staying away from him!

Just goes to show you that my complaints of Phil were real, not just me trying to make myself feel better with false memories.  If I were the problem and not him (as he tried so hard for so long to make me believe), then he wouldn’t have such a terrible reputation at Roanoke that nobody wanted to date him, even long after I left.

****

Back to September 1994.  I’ve heard that women who go through a break-up usually cut their hair, but I didn’t–especially after Phil kept badgering me to cut it.

I tried to talk to Phil over the next few days about setting up a counseling appointment, and gave him my list.  Sometimes he was mean, and sometimes not.  He also complained about my friends giving him nasty looks.

One day, we sat by the lagoon and discussed what would happen if we did get back together: I would have to give up my own ideas of what was right or what was moral, of how a proper wife should act, and take on his ideas, which were now far more morally questionable than before. 

He had no backbone for refusing harmful peer pressure, and wanted me to be fine with that, forcing me to compromise everything I believed in.

But I was desperately stupid enough now to give in.  The things he wanted made me lose even more respect for him.  From the outcome of this interview, it almost seemed he would consider getting back together with me sooner than the month he had mentioned before.

He also wanted me to consider sex with him without commitment.

Clarissa came over to visit.  We went to my tree to tell her about Phil breaking off the “engagement.”  With the new apartments over there and the trimming the builders had done, the tree was now out in the open and stripped of shoots and such.  I tried to sit in the tree, but it just didn’t work.

My tree!  My tree!  I used to wander out there, past the lagoon and the geese, sophomore and junior years, to sit in the tree and read and get away from the difficulties and pains of life.  During sophomore year, it was a release from the situations with Peter and Shawn.  I really needed it then.  But now, there was no tree!

Since I couldn’t sit in my tree anymore, I started wandering in the woods instead, and doing this more times in one year than I had done in the last three years put together.

Sharon pointed to her ring finger once and said, “Next time, get a ring.”

Sometime soon after the divorce, Phil told me he’d been bathing now–soap and everything–and brushing his teeth, so he could attract women.  Sometimes he even shaved.

He must have wanted to insult me, because he refused to do this during our marriage.  (I think my nose got immune.)  He also started watching a network for televised personal ads on S–‘s Marcus Cable.

Please bear with me: We’re now entering the longest, darkest, most painful part of this tunnel.  But at the end we’ll find sunshine.  And hopefully, the darkness will finally be purged from my soul so I can forgive.  [I wrote this paragraph in 2006.]

Tuesday, September 13.  I sat with Phil, Dirk and some other people at lunch, probably so I could tell Phil the time of our counseling appointment.  Dirk said with a sneer, “Here’s your list, Phil,” and handed him a small piece of yellow, lined paper.

I blanched: It was the list I gave Phil of his faults!  What a betrayal!  Not only that, but Phil now refused to see the counselor with me, despite agreeing to it before.

I soon learned that Dirk had been feeding him the line, “You should be able to work things out without a counselor.”  This is not true, and I did not appreciate this interference and sabotage of my attempts to work things out with my own husband.  And this is the guy who later said he rooted for me to get back together with Phil!  Sometimes counseling is the only thing to save a relationship, and it is certainly worth a try.

So Phil now had a minion who not only believed every bit of BS Phil told him about me, but poisoned Phil’s mind against every attempt I made to save our marriage!

Note this from Myndtalk’s “Emotional Abuse”:

However, if the abused person demands that the abuser participate in counseling or else–even if the abuser agrees to the counseling, it is likely to be short lived.

The abuser will be able to benefit from counseling when the abuser believes and acknowledges that counseling is critical to recovery.  Why?  Until the abuser owns the behavior and his/her obligation to end the abuse, the behavior continues.

Sometimes the courts demand counseling. Sometimes the legal weight of mandated counseling does have an effect.  Sometimes the awareness that a loved one will leave the relationship in one way or another will jolt the abuser into an acceptance that the behavior must stop.  And sometimes not.

Over the years, I hoped that Phil’s second wife, “K,” dragged him into counseling and changed him.  She seemed like a nice person; I always felt sorry for her, being trapped into a marriage with him by pregnancy.  (That could’ve been me!)

Cindy heard Phil yell at K the same way he used to yell at me.  From what K said to Cindy, Phil told K I was this wonderful wife who did everything he wanted (the exact opposite of what he told me about myself).  (So why did he divorce me, then?)

She tried to be like this vision of me, and admired me.  Cindy considered this Phil manipulating K.

I kept wondering when I’d hear of their divorce.  I kept wondering when I’d hear that he hit her or the baby, or both.  I kept hoping she’d recognize abuse if he continued to abuse in any way.

I kept hoping his kid wouldn’t grow up just like him and carry on the chain, which I’d always hoped would be stopped by him not having children at all.  (I told Peter I hoped that Phil would become a monk so he wouldn’t have kids or advise married couples.)

In 2007, Phil and K did divorce.  Phil got a disorderly conduct charge in the early 2000’s which involved a “victim impact statement” (I have no details of who or what.)

And of course, on his classmates.com profile, he posted a whole description of the divorce, where he blames her for it, saying she was “not supportive.”  The same complaint he made of me later in September, as you will see.

Sharon said in 1996 or 1997 that watching him and his new fiancée K, was like watching him and me all over again, only worse because K lied about where she was when she missed Phi-Delt meetings for him.

K, who transferred to Roanoke after I graduated, became my “replacement” in my group of friends.  But when my friends called her this, they had no idea she would be my “replacement” in every way.

I bet Phil hated that each of his Roanoke girlfriends was in this group, with people he hated because they saw right through him.

Pearl wrote a long letter warning K not to marry Phil, but she didn’t listen.  In 1996, Persephone had finally broken up with him for the last time and told me,

“I didn’t realize how dysfunctional we were until all my friends starting throwing guys at me to date.”

But K did not have Persephone’s spunk, so she probably would not slap Phil back if he slapped her.  I always hoped that she got him into counseling.  After reading the above linked article, however, I began to fear for her emotional and physical safety, and for what was being taught to their children.

They had passed out of the lives of my friends and their alumni records were outdated, so I had no idea if she finally tossed him out on his abusive butt–until now.  Well, I don’t know if she tossed him out, but I do know they’ve been divorced since 2007.

But back to September 1994.  Phil rejected everything on my list.  I was expected to take everything he said were my faults, as gospel truth, and change; yet whatever I said, was untrue and he didn’t need to change at all.  

How dare I suggest that he was not perfect, that maybe he contributed quite a bit to our problems.

I heard nothing from him but defenses of even the most blatantly disrespectful things he’d done, such as passively-aggressively staying away from me after I said I needed milk and orange juice.

Instead of telling me outright that he couldn’t (or just plain refused to) make it that day, he left me waiting all day and night, wondering when he’d show up.  Yet even here, it was somehow “wrong” for me to complain about his behavior.

And his offenses, enumerated for you in the past several months of this memoir, were at least as bad as, if not worse than, anything I had ever done to him: He emotionally, verbally, psychologically and sexually abused me constantly, with the threat of future physical abuse and anal rape.

He also said Dirk called the list a stupid idea.

Which it was not!  My dad, my intelligent, my wise dad, suggested it.  He’d been married for over 30 years and had come through the inevitable rough patches with a stronger marriage; Dirk was a kid and had never been married.

I should think Dad would know what he was talking about.  This was an insult not only to me, but also to my dad.  (By the way, a marriage counselor also suggested it to Joe and Rhoda on Rhoda.)

Besides that, what gave Phil the right to call the list a stupid idea?  He gave me a verbal list of my faults, so I had just as much right to give him a list as well.

And I have since read advice similar to Dad’s in advice books and columns.  Phil listened to Dirk way too much, and Dirk was wrong about many things.  He was the classic case of a know-it-all who knows nothing.

I learned in 1998 that it’s common for abusive men to blame everything on the woman and take no blame for themselves.

If I had known this in 1994, perhaps I would have seen Phil for what he truly was, and decided to have nothing more to do with him.

As it was, in Spring Semester I termed him only “borderline abusive.”  I was thinking of physical abuse, and didn’t realize a man can be abusive in other ways as well.

This is a common reason why people don’t recognize non-physical abuse.  I also didn’t know that verbal and emotional abuse often lead into physical abuse.

Anyway, I went alone to what was supposed to be our first joint meeting with the counselor.  She was the same counselor I saw sophomore year.  I told her everything that happened.  When I told her the things Dad said, she said, “He sounds very perceptive.”

Index 
Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)

Table of Contents

Freshman Year

September 1991:

 October 1991:

November 1991:

December 1991: Ride the Greyhound

January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD

 February 1992:

March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?

April 1992: Pledging, Prayer Group–and Peter’s Smear Campaign

May 1992:

Sophomore Year 

Summer 1992:

September 1992:

October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:

November 1992:

December 1992:

January 1993:

February 1993:

March 1993:

April 1993:

May 1993:

Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams

September 1993:

October 1993:

November 1993:

December 1993:

January 1994:

February 1994:

March 1994:

April 1994:

Senior Year 

June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:

July & August 1994:

January 1995:

February 1995:

March 1995:

April 1995:

May 1995: