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The Many Faces of An Abusive Spouse and How to Protect Yourself


A young woman came to see me recently at the urging of a family friend who felt I could help. She was a successful financial professional, who had graduated from Harvard, was married to a physician and had one child. She explained that over the past few years she found herself “falling apart” and didn’t understand what was happening to her.

As I asked her questions, it became evident to me that she was a victim of abuse but she was clearly not aware of it. When we talked about her marriage, she explained her husband no longer wanted her to work, so she didn’t. She had no access to finances and was not “allowed” to have her own checking account. Her husband even had to approve of all her friends and he scrutinized her mail. She then defended his behavior and said he was a good father and provider. She stated, “He is not responsible for his behavior because he’s stressed out all the time.” When I asked about his angry outbursts, she quickly said, “Well he doesn’t hit me, but he can say very mean and hurtful things.”

As we further discussed his rage and her marriage, my client realized that her husband had diminished and isolated her so much that she had lost her spirit, her self-esteem and most importantly, herself. Yes, this is the face of abuse. You don’t have to be “hit” to be abused. If you’re unsure or think you might be a victim of abuse, please consult with a psychologically trained legal professional who can guide you on the steps you can take to remove yourself from an unhealthy marriage. Become educated, know your rights, and take some action!

If you have any other questions about abusive relationships or need help in the choice you are thinking of making in leaving that relationship, please feel free to call me at (646) 663-4546, and I’d be happy to advise or help you fight or negotiate the outcome you are looking for. I’m Lois Brenner, a psychologically trained medical professional, mediator, and New York divorce attorney; and I will help you achieve the future you deserve.