“My husband is turning into his abusive father – how do I help him escape is past?”

Photo(Getty Images/Gallo Images)
Photo(Getty Images/Gallo Images)

I love my man. He's a great guy and a family man – when he's sober. But when he drinks, he comes home and starts swearing. The kids and I have to hide for dear life because if he find us, he'll insult us and beat us up. The next morning when he's sober he's a completely different man. It’s as if the previous day’s bad events never happened.

He had a lot of issues growing up – he lived in a home with abusive parents. But now the very past he escaped is haunting him. He's destroying everything I've built with him, and he won’t talk about it and deal with his issues and the causes of them. What's the best way to cope when your man has issues from his past? Can I help him, or is it something he has to do on his own?

Move! Experts Advice

Both of us had difficult childhoods. We experienced a lot of abuse from the male figures in our lives. In Mo’s life especially, emotional and physical abuse was the norm. He grew up without a father and mother. He was passed from one relative to another. Unfortunately, in that process, he often experienced being the black sheep of the family. He went through a lot and, as an adult, had to go to therapy to heal from it.

NOT AN EXCUSE Although parents have a legal and moral obligation to raise their children, some somehow still feel they have a choice whether to raise them or not.

 In a country like ours, where family planning is no big issue and 62% of children younger than 18 grow up with absent fathers, kids often find themselves having to add different pieces from different places to make their lives meaningful. And often their lives are laced with abuse on various levels.

Like all adult children of adversity, MO grew up hyper-independent yet walking on eggshells in romantic relationships, always waiting for the unpredictable and assuming he would be betrayed.

However, all the abuse in the world can never justify a re-enactment of the same abuse to another person. It’s ultimately a choice the person makes, and for which he has to be held accountable.

NEVER TOLERATE ABUSE

In a country where women die like flies in the hands of men who claim to love them, you can never take any chances tolerating such a man. This is especially so when there are children involved.

The abuse taking place in their full view shapes their worldview. It shows them how men relate to women, as well as how fathers relate to children. And they're likely to continue the vicious cycle to their partners. Some grow up not even wanting to be in relationships, as they basically hate men.

Your self-esteem and self-confidence as a woman are also likely to go down the drain over a period of time. The only two places a spouse abuser belongs is in jail for his cowardly actions and in a therapist or counselor’s consultation room thereafter. He needs to both be held accountable for his actions and go through a compulsory rehabilitation process.

HE HAS TO FIND PEACE

Your abuser, since he was also abused as a child, is likely to feel he's unimportant and doesn’t deserve nurturing, consistency or security. 

Until he’s properly healed of his trauma and until he’s recovered and transitioned from a self-loathing person into self-loving individual, he’s an empty, small man who wants to prove to you that he’s grown.

The cruel irony is that the hypervigilance that helped him survive his dysfunctional past fails when applied to adult relationships – the healthy, nurturing, enduring relationships he so wants to have.

Read More: Signs that he is abusive

LEAVE WHILE YOU CAN

Your relationship has the best chance of longevity and health if he’s keen on dealing with his past therapeutically. But by your own admission, he’s not keen on dealing with his past.

Perhaps there’s a benefit he derives from harboring all that anger and pain. But you must prioritize your sanity and safety, as well as that of your children. You must get out of that relation- ship while you’re still sane.

And he has to be held accountable so he can realize he has no option but to do something about his abusive past. By continuing to stay in an abusive relationship you reward a behavior you'll never be able to manage with each day passing. Things will never get better.

Never believe his manipulative stunt that he suddenly suffers a memory lapse every time he’s sober – he knows exactly what he did while he was “drunk”