Reid on verbal abuse - Pt 2
This week, we continue Kai Reid's* story as she shares how her husband exerted power and control over their marriage, and ultimately, why she decided to stay.
Let's explore the signs of verbal abuse. Counselling psychologist at Family Life Ministries, AndrÈ Allen-Casey, revealed, "You can identify that you are being verbally abused whenever the words spoken to you evoke the feelings of humiliation, embarrassment, fear, and repugnance. For example: crude remarks, inappropriate jokes, innuendos and insinuations, insults, mockery, obscenities, destructive critiques, reproaches, rumours, sarcasm, scolding, screaming, swearing, teasing, threats, and yelling."
Power and control
In order to assert his power over the relationship, Reid disclosed that everything they possessed was in her husband's name. They both lived with her parents - rent free - after getting married, to save up to buy their matrimonial home. But after pooling their resources and finding their house, her husband handled all the business, purchasing and putting their love nest solely in his name.
According to Casey, persons who are verbally abusive, have a sense of entitlement. "People with a sense of entitlement believe that they deserve special consideration and special treatment. They may cut in front of others waiting in line, smoke wherever they want, drive any way they want, say anything they like, and do pretty much anything they choose."
That's how it was in Reid's case. The car was also in her husband's name, and he ensured that she didn't forget it, angrily letting it slip in heated arguments that she didn't contribute financially to the family or their relationship, so she had no say. He would also tell her that if she didn't like the arrangement, she was free to get out of his car and leave his house.
Assets, she recalled, were in his name, and liabilities were, unfortunately, in hers.
"Every week, he had a new grand idea to start up a business, and as his supportive wife, I obliged. I was then given the responsibility to register the business, as well as get all the other moving parts needed to have everything up and running. All this only for him to fall short and have Tax Administration calling me and auditing me for having a business that didn't get off the ground," she disclosed.
Outings and interactions
Reid's husband was always going out, while she was not allowed to. "Once we went out, I apparently was not allowed to talk to any male we didn't know. He would make a scene, picking fights with people he barely knew because they were seen interacting with me. I have had to make apologies for his behaviour."
If she was allowed to go on occasional girls' nights out, she had to let him know where she was going and he would just show up and crash the all-girl affair, "Of course, the girls rolled their eyes at me," she recalled.
"I love soca music, he doesn't. So I went out to a party alone and ended up dancing with a friend. When I turned around, my eyes made four with his. Just imagine, everyone dancing and there he was, frozen with dark eyes looming right at me."
She revealed that he would be upset even if she spoke to someone on the phone - girlfriends, family members, it didn't matter. "You name it, I could not talk to them in peace, because I wasn't paying him enough attention. I think he was ensuring that I had an increasingly small circle, just so I could rely on him."
According to Allen-Casey, persons who are verbally abusive have a superiority complex. "Superiority is the implication, at least through body language or tone of voice, that someone is better than someone else. Potential abusers tend to have hierarchical self-esteem, that is, they need to feel better than someone else to feel OK about themselves. They need to point out ways in which they are smarter, more sensitive, or more talented than others."
One day, her husband's financial control caught up with her, an event she tells Outlook, that shook her to the very core. "I depended on him for money because I was a stay-at-home mom, and would run errands from a card on our joint account. One day when I was out getting gas for the car, I visited the mart to get some juice for the children. I was told by the store attendant that the card had declined. When I called my husband to find out if he had any issues, he informed me that he closed the account and opened an individual one in his name, leaving me penniless. Luckily for me, I could buy the gas, but I was unable to get the drinks for the children. I was beyond embarrassed, and heart broken."
He told her she had no need for money, because she was a stay-at-home wife, and that is where she ought to be - at home.
Soon after, she went job hunting and started working, though not making as much money as her husband. Even then, she found time to buy nice things for him, in order to appease his temper. But there was no silver lining to this dark and heavy cloud hanging over her marriage. Before the downpour, she decided that they should get professional help to weather their marital storm.
They sought advice from a psychologist, who suggested that they be honest with each other and try some exercises to get everything out into the open and come to some form of agreement. "It worked for a while. I became more attentive, more attractive, more accommodating, and more available. Consequently, we started going out on dates. He wasn't as cold or disgusting towards me, and for a moment, I saw a glimmer of hope and thought to myself the man I married had finally returned home." That is, until he got bored. One night, the phone rang very late and he pretend that it was someone that they both knew. But she knew better.
She found herself once again trapped in the abyss of darkness caused by his neglect. There were tears and, she confessed, alcohol. Wine become her best friend. It got so bad that her children would ask her what was wrong and why she was always crying. It never dawned on her that her babies would notice that she was so sad.
Allen-Casey noted that in cases like this, "A person's opinion of you does not identify who you are. What comes out of us is what is really in us. So, whenever a person inflicts hurt and hate, the source is internal, not external. True, the trigger is often external to them, but the spark is not the cause of their explosions. The explosive material is already there just waiting to be activated. Therefore, whatever they are upset about is about themselves not the one being victimised. In this case, for the abuser, it really is 'not you, it's me'. From this perspective, it is important that they (the abuser) own their own reactions and responses and stop blaming, shaming, criticising, controlling, coercing, and withdrawing from those dear to them."
Why she stayed
While her husband led a double life and was often spotted out even shopping with other women, the thought of leaving him never really crossed her mind. "Many said we wouldn't last, and a part of me wanted to prove them wrong. But the main reason I stayed with him was because it was important to do everything in my power to save the union. Up until that point, I hadn't known anyone who had got a divorce, and would wonder if I could survive on my own. At the end of the day, I didn't want to be a failure so I did my very best to make my marriage work."
She said that the children were also a huge factor in her choice to remain married, "I wanted us to remain a family." She would find out one day that her husband went ahead and started a new family of his own.
Will Reid now say enough is enough, file for a divorce and finally live her life on her own? Or will she bite the bullet and accept her 'external' family, all in the name of love?
Join us next week for the last hurrah.