On December 17, 2007, I wrote in an e-mail to my mother,
I already heard that Tracy can be hard on the kids at times, and I’ve seen some of it. It seems her mom was emotionally abusive, her dad was abusive in other ways, and when she and the kids stayed with them the past few months, she started acting like her mom.
Richard and I really hope that being away from there, and around Jeff, Richard and me, will influence her away from that. Poor Richard tries to get her to stop doing something, then gets an earful.
But I’m trying to look past that and remember that he loves her, he married her, so I can’t just judge her and reject her.
[Proving that I also made a good-faith effort to befriend her.]
On March 22, 2009, I received an e-mail. I won’t quote the e-mail, out of privacy and safety concerns. It spoke of domestic disputes and child abuse, specifically using the terms “assaulting” the children with “verbal abuse.”
The next day I received a phone call, and took notes. I saved the e-mail and the notes in case Richard needed me as a witness one day.
It is a smoking gun which proves I was not imagining abuse, or imagining his complaints of it.
Some of the things he described, I also find described by victims of abuse from BPD wives.
It was, finally, written proof that she had indeed been verbally and physically abusing him and the children, and its effects on him.
It is my proof that I am not lying, not “crazy.” I hold fast to this e-mail as my anchor, so their gaslighting does not get into my head and make me doubt myself.
This is important because Tracy threatened me a couple of years ago, tried to make me think it was all in my addled head, and Richard has even been helping her in her intimidation and cyberstalking campaign against me.
Over the years, I witnessed things, and Richard told me things verbally and by e-mail. This chapter is a summary of the abuse I know about. If any of it is incorrect, blame the source for deceiving me: I have made a good-faith effort to make it accurate.
Considering how Richard had told me I should spank my son harder, and I simply could not spank hard enough to please him because it hurt my hand and I did not have enough strength–Just how hard was Tracy spanking the kids that even he said it was too hard?
She hit him. I saw her smack his arm in anger on a few occasions, but when I wasn’t around, she punched him. It sounded like she’d been physically battering him.
He didn’t hit back because she’s a woman.
But he said if she ever hit his face, he’d tell her, “You’re no longer a woman,” and fight back. He said you never hit a man in the face, and that in our state, she’d be the one going to jail because she started the fight and male judges would recognize that she started the fight by hitting him in the face.
This was frightening. But I was still forced to be best buds with her, or else.
I saw her give him intimidating looks, treat him so that I caught him looking at her warily as if she would beat him (verbally at least) if he did something “out of line,” and verbally abuse both loved ones and perceived enemies.
I heard her scream obscenities at the ex over the phone, and once, while talking about him on the Forum, she called him a n***er–that horrid word most decent people can’t even say.
She comes from a very dysfunctional and extremely abusive family.
I caught Richard lying to me–in church–because of her.
She’s jealous, possessive, controlling; she was angry with me for thinking so, but she did everything in her power to prove me correct.
She nagged and nitpicked and ordered him around.
As for Richard saying that no judge in our state would convict him if she hit him in the face–What, had he been asking about this? considering whether or not to hit her back? With his large size, he could kill her!
A quick online check of our state laws reveals that self-defense only allows him to use what force he needs to defend himself, not go beyond that.
One night while they lived in our house, I saw her hit him with an open hand–not in play the way women often do, the way that men like and laugh about, but an angry hit.
I often wonder if I’ll hear about them on the 6:00 news one of these days, if they’ll end up like another couple which recently ended with the girlfriend Josie raped, and James Cruckson dead of self-inflicted wounds, after shooting a policeman dead and severely wounding another.
Like her mother before her, Tracy broke her children’s spirits, though–unlike her mother–she didn’t do it on purpose.
She would banter her children into a screaming frenzy, then scream and cuss at them, and spank them too hard.
Then when Richard told her to STOP, she turned her ire on him: She used the excuse that he had abused them before, so she could do it, and (even though he no longer did the things she referred to) went on about how oh, he’s so perfect.
This practice is called echoing: Basically, the abuser finds a way to accuse the victim of doing what the abuser is doing, then uses it as license to continue the abuse:
Another very destructive habit which I have identified in my relationship I refer to as “echoing”. This habit takes two distinct forms. The object is to feel whatever the partner feels whenever an “attack” is detected by the abuser….
The second form is to accuse the partner of whatever the partner accuses them of.
Partner: Please don’t raise your voice at me.
Abuser (Screaming): You’re the one that’s yelling.
Partner: Please stop cutting me off and let me finish my sentence.
Abuser (angrily): You’re the one who cuts me off all of the time.
When the conversation is discussed later, the abuser quickly takes the opportunity to first accuse the partner of the infraction and seize the high ground.
The abuser will then take every opportunity in the future to accuse the partner of doing what they do saying “See, you do it too.” This is generally viewed by the abuser as a way out.
Anytime they accuse you of an action similar to one of their destructive actions, that is viewed by them as a license to do it at will and a “win”. –Abused Judge, An Analysis of the Abuser’s Language
Also: “Are you an abused man? Three Questions.” Quote: “My wife thinks I’m being abusive and controlling when I tell her her behavior is hurtful.”
Sounds familiar: Tracy told Richard he was being controlling when he told her she was behaving very badly to the children one day (he used the word b**chy when talking about it to me, but I don’t think he used it to her).
This article sounds like Tracy:
Have you ever wondered why your abusive wife, girlfriend or ex blames others, makes excuses or rages when you question her behavior?
Does she often act like an out of control child? Does arguing with her seem like a losing battle? Does she have a comeback for everything you say that pushes your buttons? When she’s angry, does she say “not fair” and that nothing’s her fault?
Does it feel like she sets traps for you during arguments? Have you ever wished you could put her in a timeout chair just like you would a toddler?…
Men who are in relationships with abusive women often say that they feel like they’re dealing with a child in an adult’s body in regards to their wife, girlfriend or ex.
Like many others in the same situation, Richard thought that loving her would change things. But from what I saw, this did not work. In 2010, I witnessed her cycling yet again. His love could never be enough to change someone that damaged: She must want to change herself.
The drama started to wear him down. This may explain why he betrayed me later: to get peace, because he was so beaten down by her that he had been betraying his own friends, first Todd and then me.
On April 2, 2009, I wrote to Jeff:
Yesterday, Carolyn Hax ran a column with a letter from a guy who’s been verbally abused constantly by his wife for the past three years…It has stirred quite the debate!…
I’ve been especially interested in light of what Richard told me [in the above e-mail/phone conversation], and encouraged by those who say it can be changed, and sometimes the marriage can even be salvaged in the process.
I have hopes for them, especially since they have 3 children and a 4th on the way. Though he told me things that make me seriously hope they don’t end up on the 6:00 news some night…..
He said it’s a power play. There should be no power plays in a marriage. That’s how you end up like Todd vs. Tracy on [the online game] last year…..
Jeff wrote back,
All behavior can be changed if the person in question wishes it, and no behavior can be changed externally.
If change is to take place, Tracy must be confronted about the matter, convinced of the destructive nature involved, so that she will buy in to the process of change.
If Richard submits to the abuse and bends to whatever Tracy wants, then the behavior is positively re-inforced. If he simply doesn’t fight back but rather becomes passive-aggressive, then the behavior is mentally justified.
Behavioral change comes when the subject (A) becomes aware of the need for change, (B) actively chooses to change, and (C) develops a means of supporting and encouraging change.
Just wanting to change isn’t enough: there must be something providing internal and/or external leverage to empower that change.
In order for others to participate at all, changed behavior needs to be observed and promptly rewarded. Negative re-inforcement, even if the individual is attempting change, does not benefit morale and therefore is not encouraging.
All behaviors are fundamentally based in positive re-inforcement. If Tracy is abusive, it is because it somehow makes her feel good.
That desire to feel good is fundamental, but must be given a different path to progress on.
See? I think about this kind of stuff – *a lot!*