Dad in Woman's Life//Emotional abuse replies Stosny, etc
cmfce at smartmarriages.com
Sat May 20 18:24:45 EDT 2000
subject: Dad in Woman's Life//Emotional abuse replies Stosny, etc
from: Smart Marriages
RESPONSES TO THE RESEARCH ON EMOTINAL ABUSE
This one from Steven Stosny who will present his Compassion
Workshop training institute on Wed & Thurs at the Denver conference
and Compassionate Parenting training institute on Monday. These
qualify you to teach the highly successful anger & violence management
This study repeats previous findings on emotional abuse. To understand how
emotional abuse can be at least as damaging as violence is to understand
dynamics of abuse. Violence in intimate relationships tend to be cyclical.
It happens now and then, with abusive incidents often separated by
periods of renewed interest and love. In contrast, emotional abuse tends
be daily. When someone hits you it is a little easier to see that that
has a problem. But when they continually say you're stupid, ugly, a bad
parent, and that nobody could ever love you, it's easier to think that you
have the problem. In our Compassion Workshops, the participants of whom
court-ordered for violence (they fall into the 98 percentile of violent
couples), the primary group goal is the elimination even accidentally
hurting the feelings of loved ones by failing to understand their
perspectives. What hurts the most in all intimate relationships is the
perception that your loved ones do not understand or care how you fell.
These put bruises on the soul that last longer than those on the skin.
I definitely agree with you that divorce is not the only solution to
emotional abuse. Getting rid of the abusive behavior is the solution for
the victim, the abuser, and the marriage.
However, I would be very interested in a study which 1) found levels of
wives emotionally abusing their husbands as high or even nearly as high
as those levels in which husbands emotionally abuse their wives; and 2)
that actually showed that such husband abuse had similar effects on the
men, as it appears to have on the women. From my understanding, abuse is
not an "equal opportunity" offense, and while I don't study the area as
you do, I would venture to say that based on history and the difference
between the genders, that in any type of "abusive situation" it is the
male, rather than the female, "dishing it out." For one thing, higher
levels of testosterone just tend to make one more aggressive. Thankfully
this can be used in a beneficial way, as well. :-) It's just that I
rarely hear of spousal abuse being "husband abuse," a term that has a
hard time rolling off the tongue potentially due to its rare use.
I have also lived/worked in a situation where there was emotional/verbal
abuse to the female members of the group. While certainly the entire
group, regardless of gender, was subjected to such abuse, the females
were subjected to the "general abuse," as well as abuse specific to them,
because they were females. The females endured the same verbal criticism
and psychological abuse as the male workers, but were additionally
subjected to female-specific criticism, excessive control, and other
emotionally/psychologically abusive behaviors by the all-male leadership.
When I was in the situation there seemed to be (and there still seems to
be) little that could be done to change it, other than to leave the
situation and disassociate oneself from the abusers. In an employment
situation, that was easy. I would assume that "separation" provides a
similar "distancing" so that the victim, as well as the sick spouse, can
heal. Interestingly, when in the situation, I never even thought of it as
abuse until I was sitting in the waiting room of a gynecologist and the
patient form asked if I was currently being subjected to
"emotional/psychological abuse" and they listed "excessive control of
[certain activities specific to where I worked]" and some other very
specific areas which the organization I worked for engaged in. Had I
never read that on that form, I may never have seen the situation for
what it was . . . abuse.
I would be surprised to find that men really do suffer as greatly
physically, by internalizing the abuse, etc., as women do in emotionally
abusive situations. Maybe for them it comes out in heart attacks or
strokes at a later age, but I would still tend to think that women deal
with more emotional abuse, are more aware of it when it is present, and
are more greatly impacted by it than men. Women generally tend to be more
"emotionally aware," or so I'm told.
By the way, thank you for all that you and your organization do to
support marriage. The Christian and American in me are grateful for your
work supporting this institution so vital to our world and society, the
attorney in me is grateful that there is someone out there holding one of
the columns supporting marriage which I have not yet been called to
support, and the lay-pyschologist in me finds your updates very
My two cents :-),
wendy_jh at juno.com
JONETTA ROSE BARRAS featured in the article below will present at
THE NATIONAL FATHERHOOD INITIATIVE Summit in DC June 2nd - 3rd
which is co-sponsored by Smart Marriages. To register
or for information visit http://www.fatherhood.org/summit2000.html
Tuesday, May 16, 2000
Book Emphasizes Importance of a Dad in Woman's Life
By William Raspberry
WASHINGTON "Promiscuous fatherless women are
desperately seeking love. Or we are terrified that if we give
love, it will not be returned. So we pull away from it, refusing
to permit it to enter our houses, our beds or our hearts. To fill
the void that our fathers created, we only make the hold larger
No, Jonetta Rose Barras isn't playing the blame game,
condemning her father and exonerating herself for her own
awful choices over the years. At least that isn't all she's
doing in her new book, "Whatever Happened to Daddy's
What she hopes to accomplish in this incredibly candid
book (apart from the reclamation and reassembling of her
own life) is to teach the rest of us how powerfully
fatherlessness affects daughters.
Barras' exploration of the subject began with a column
she wrote in The Washington Times. The response to that
piece made her know that there was much more to it than a
newspaper column could address, hence this book - part
confessional, part survey, part philosophical treatise.
Still it's hard for someone lucky enough to have grown
up in an intact family to comprehend fully what Barras is
telling us. Was her psychic injury worse than that of most
women who lose their fathers to divorce, desertion or
death? Was it exacerbated by the fact that she lost three
fathers (her mother's husband, who rejected her, the
biological father she never met till she was in her 30s, and
the man who seemed really to care about her but who left
her and her mother without a trace)?
We've grown used to talking about the devastating
impact of fatherlessness on black boys. Implicit in the way
we talk about these things is the idea that girls need their
Barras begs to differ. Children need both parents Û
economically and otherwise; that goes without saying. And
boys need fathers to learn how to be men. But Barras
wants to make another point: Her father is likely to be the
first man a girl wants to love. If that love develops as it
should and is reciprocated, the girl is likely to see herself
as worthy of genuine affection and respect and therefore
capable of demanding these things from the other men in
It doesn't follow, of course, that all girls without loving
fathers become suckers for shallow, disrespecting men (or
else become too wary of commitment to let anyone get
close). Just as many boys grow up into fine men without a
male role model at home, so do many girls grow up into
strong, self-assured women.
But I believe Barras when she says many of them
don't. I have grown tired of "low self-esteem" as the
universal explainer for every negative thing women do Û
whether it's putting on too much weight, taking on too
many lovers, having too many babies or making too little
effort to get their lives together.
Thanks to Barras, though, I'm hearing the explanation
- seeing it - more clearly. I'm starting to wonder if it may
not be tragically true that girls who don't know the love of
their fathers may find it hard to love themselves as much
and as unquestioningly as they should.
I suppose two days after Mother's Day - two days
after the Million Mom March - seems an odd time to be
talking about the importance of fathers. But I intend no
diminution of the importance of mothers. Everybody knows
the importance of mothers - takes it for granted.
My concern - even before reading Barras' powerful
book - is that men have underestimated their own
importance in raising healthy and competent sons and
daughters. When we have thought of our importance, we've
thought mostly of our sons and our role in keeping them away
from violence, criminality, prison and death.
But our daughters need us to model responsible
manhood almost as much as our sons do - and in ways
both obvious and subtle. Girls are treated with greater
respect by boyfriends who find a father on the scene when
they come calling. I can't prove that, but I don't doubt it Û
any more than I doubt that girls with loving fathers at
home find the flamboyant thugs and gangbangers less
attractive than those who don't.
We're right to spend serious time and attention trying
to save our sons from the forces that are sending them
spinning out of our control.
But Barras is right, too. We need to pay more attention
than we have to what's happening to Daddy's little girl.
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