What we accept, we teach. Dear Kathy column. Woman abused
From: Ted Powell
Subject: What we accept, we teach
This is from Kathy Tait's column, "Love" in The Province, 15 November, p 62:
DEAR KATHY: I'm 20; my husband "Paul" is 21. We've been married a year.
He's had a hard life. His parents had a messy divorce when he was in
his teens. He's been to jail.
Paul does not like to take me out. I don't demand to be taken out every
night, but maybe once a week ... anywhere.
I've brought this up and he says it could cramp his style, when he goes
When he goes out with the guys he dances with girls. (He does not dance
with me.) I also know he has not cheated on me.
He figures that as a wife I am to be his servant. I do not mind doing
things for him but I would like to be treated better than a servant with
fringe benefits. (The fringe benefits are great.)
Paul will not do anything for me. When I asked him to fix my car to
make it safe, he looked at me and laughted. When he goes upstairs and I
ask him to bring me something down, again he just laughs at me.
I love Paul with all my heart and soul. And I'll never love again.
Please don't say "of course you will" because sometimes there is only one
true love for a person and Paul is my one true love.
Paul also likes to call me names such as bitch, idiot, and bumb broad.
I know they are just names but they still hurt very much. When I ask him
to stop, he just smiles.
I do not deserve half of what he's dishing out.
Paul also likes to comment on my weight, which is 135 pounds, down from
155 pounds. He has given me until the end of the year to become 111. I am
five-foot-three with a medium build, so that weight is too small for me.
I've been told I'm pretty and easy to get along with.
Tell me what I can do. Don't say esparation or divorce. I do not
believe in either. The only way I'd leave is if I died.
I know he loves me in his own way.
. MY ONE AND ONLY LOVE
DEAR MY: The more you accept Paul's abusive behavior, the more of it
you're going to get. And I guarantee it will get worse.
Indeed, I hope his verbal abuse does not escalate to physical abuse.
I certainly hope that the only way you'll leave will _not_ be if you
die. In fact, two wives leave that way every week in Canada -- dead at the
hands of their abusive husbands.
You have all the signs of becoming the battered wife.
Already Paul is whittling away your self-esteem by making comments
about your weight and calling you names.
And you, while seeing that you are being treated without even the most
basic respect, reach for ways to excuse this treatment, on the basis of
his poor childhood.
I ask you instead to think more of yourself. As you say, you don't
deserve half of what he's dishing out. Hang on to that thought.
American psychiatrist Lawrence Miller says in his book, King of the
Hill: "People who act like doormats are treated like doormats. People who
command respect are given respect. People who refuse to be dumped on are
not dumped on. People who insist on being treated as equal are treated as
Remember the saying, "What we accept, we teach."
Ask yourself what has set you up as a victim. How were you raised?
Discover the possible origins in your childhood for your apparent
addiction to this man, revealed by your insistence that he is your one
true love despite how he treats you.
Look for ways now to build your self-esteem.
Ignore his comments about your weight, which are designed to put you in
a one-down position.
Tell him calmly, perhaps in a letter, that you will no longer accept
his abusive treatment.
Tell him you want an equal relationship, to be treated with respect.
But before you do this, read Robin Norwood's best-seller Women Who Love
Too Much (Pocket Books, $5.95) and her follow-up book, Letters From Women
who Love Too Much (Pocket Books, $26.95).
After these two, read The Dance of Intimacy by Harriet Goldhor Lerner
(Perennial Library, $12.95).
Then contact the Escape Victim Program of Abbotsford [a town up the
valley from Vancouver --tp] Community Services at  853-6440 to set up
an appointment with a counsellor.
You do not need to be in physical danger before you seek help.
[A couple of notes re the books mentioned: The prices are in Canadian
dollars. They are recommended by the columnist; I haven't read them. --tp]
--- msged 2.00
* Origin: PSG Vancouver (1:153/4)