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"Don't Be Like Me"--One Man's Escape From Abuse (Guest Post by Jim McCoy)

Acceptance of reality means understanding you were abused. It can happen to men too. It's not funny or cute. And God help us all, it is NOT 'offensive' for men to speak out.



I am so pleased to offer Grow Some Labia’s first guest post on domestic abuse - as suffered by a man. Jim McCoy, ‘The Conservative Historian’ and Jimbo’s Awesome Science Fiction & Fantasy Review decided to do this under his real name instead of anonymously because he wants other men to know they’re not alone, and that there’s help and support. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 1 in 4 men have experienced physical assault by a female partner. While Jim describes emotional and psychological abuse, he told me in email Nicole hit him twice. There is, as for women, a lot of shame surrounding being a victim of domestic violence, but it’s often compounded for men because it’s not taken as seriously. Certain feminists can be surprisingly (or perhaps not) unsympathetic to a man who complains of the very treatment they’d condemn him for. I am reminded of the social media ‘team-selection’ that occurred during the Amber Heard-Johnny Depp trial, and the reason why I haven’t written about it yet is because I haven’t yet figured out what the hell happened with these two violent headcases, although I wrote on my website blog about how similar Amber Heard’s words to Depp during therapy sessions sounded remarkably like a man’s. It was originally published elsewhere before the trial.


What’s good for the gander is good for the goose. If we take domestic violence against women seriously we MUST take it seriously for men too. It’s not funny, cute, or, as Jim told me in email, ‘offensive’, according to some women who don’t want to acknowledge women can be abusers too or think abuse sympathy is a zero-sum game. It’s true that men abuse far more than women (although they may be abused more than we think when they’re silent), but talking about it doesn’t take away from the pain and suffering of women. Gay and lesbian domestic abuse is just as awful, and lesbian domestic violence happens far more often than we know as well. And while the numbers of transfolk killed every year are grossly exaggerated by transactivists, the majority of those who really are murdered are about 75% domestic violence casualties.


THIS HAS TO STOP. Jim, take it away!


 

It shouldn't take a funeral to make a person forgive someone, but it did for me. It was so hard to give up the anger and the hate. I was so used to being angry at Nicole that I didn't know how to function without being mad every time I thought of her. When you're divorced and she has your kids it's hard not to think of them.


I was just so frustrated with her on a regular basis. It wasn’t because there was something wrong with me. It was more the fact that I married her mother along with her and that Nicole never seemed to care about my opinion on anything. Oh, Nicole would ask about everything but she never took anything I said seriously. My marriage ended over four words:


Exaggerating.


Nicole liked to scream this one at me every time I pointed out a problem. It didn't matter what it was. If I pointed out that she wouldn't take a day away from her mother to work on her marriage, I was exaggerating. If I pointed out that she mistreated my family and I got chewed because of it I was exaggerating. And the one to top them all: “Your dad wasn't forty-two when he passed. You’re exaggerating.”


Dramatic.


“You won't divorce me. You're just being dramatic.” “You didn't mean that. You're just being dramatic.” “I never told your sister she couldn't bring her kids to my house. You're just being dramatic.”


Sarcastic.


“No, Nicole. I don't want to spend all weekend with your mother.”


“Stop being sarcastic.”


“No, I really think we should wait on getting a car like we agreed to instead of buying a twenty-five thousand dollar car to avoid a two-hundred dollar brake job.”


“You're just being sarcastic.”


FUNNY.


This one gets me more than the rest combined. Disagree with Nicole on anything? You’re funny.


“No, Nicole, I don't want your mother to come over here every morning to get Riley ready for school.”


Funny!


“No. I'm not going to cancel my birthday party because my wife decided she wants to do dinner the day of the party after telling me she had other plans.”


Funny!


On and on. If it wasn't what she wanted to hear, she found a way to belittle it.. She would get mad when I wouldn't talk to her but why bother? She wasn't going to listen. It got to the point that I was considering offing myself to make it stop. She saved my life when she threw me out. I was that close. I don't know when or how, but it was coming.


Looking back on it, suicide would have been a revenge killing. Nicole needed my help with the kids and she wanted the little bit of income I brought in. If I had offed myself she wouldn't have gotten it. I got the same effect from divorcing her, but I've never been a big fan of that. It was by far the better choice, but it wasn't my first instinct.


I honestly believe that Nicole would scream “Exaggerating!” if she saw that.


I needed a wife that took what I was saying seriously, I didn't have one.


Then there was the fact that Nicole was attached to her mother at the hip. I don't get it. What I do know is that the only day of the year I could regularly count on seeing my wife without her mother was on our anniversary. There was never a day when I could count on seeing my wife and kids without Nicole's mother. Not. One. Single. Day. A. Year. Nicole's mother would threaten to not eat if we didn't come over every night for dinner. Nicole cooperated with the emotional blackmail.


Seriously though, it was impossible to enjoy anything with Nicole's mother around. I’m told that was probably my fault because I was the one who didn’t want her around. Not a single dinner out. We had one dinner at home without Nicole's mother. My oldest daughter, just days away from her sixth birthday, remarked that she had never had dinner at home with just Mommy and Daddy before and how nice it was.


It had never been like this until after I was engaged to Nicole. We went out with her parents sometimes, sure, but that's how it's supposed to work. Then when we were engaged, Nicole's parents split up. Oddly enough, Nicole's father moved out the day after the check to pay for the reception cleared his checking account. I'm told he did it on his own with no prompting from his wife.


I needed a wife who would take some time away from other people to spend with just her husband and her kids. I didn't have one.


I remember the day my grandmother passed. I was at work. I knew it was coming, but it was a new job and I didn't have any time off yet. I had talked to my mom on the way into the building. I knew what was about to happen and that it would probably be that day, but attendance points, right? Anyway, my mom called me to let me know. She was worried about me, but my wife?


I called her. “Hey hun, my grandma just died.”


“I'm sorry for your loss. I need to go. I have to talk to my boss.”“I just told you my grandma died. I need you here.”“I need to talk to my boss. I'll see you when I get home.”


I was pissed. It got worse when my Aunt Janice passed and Nicole refused to answer her phone because she was at a baby shower and then screamed at me. I was bothering her. Then she refused to go to the funeral.


Seriously. Two of the worst days of my life and my “wife” couldn't be bothered with them.

It's not like she was there for the good times either. She didn’t come to my thirtieth birthday party. She showed up for my college graduation but she told me that I should be making everyone congratulate her instead of me. The exact words that came out of her mouth were, “I earned this.” Then she got pissy with me at my graduation party for the same reason. So basically, she was there but not for me. She was there for herself so that she could receive the congratulations.


I needed a wife who showed up for things. I didn't have one.


And forget about my health. If I missed work because my IBS was flaring, I was trash. My gout flared up one week and the grass didn't get cut on my day off. I got screamed at.

Another time I had a gout flare and it was three days before she found out about it. Why? Why tell her?


I had a job I hated for most of my marriage. I literally had to pull off of the road to puke a couple of times on my way in because I hated that place so much. What mattered though, was the schedule. I could stay home to be with the kids while Nicole was at work. I dealt with it. Any time I mentioned it though she would run around the house screaming “How do you think I feel?” at the top of her lungs. After that would come a lecture about some horrible crime I had committed in the past. Never mind what I was dealing with.


I needed a wife who cared how I was doing, both physically and mentally. I didn't have one.


Nicole knew I didn't want to be around her mother. She knew if she asked me if I wanted to do something with her mother I'd say no. She started asking me if I'd do something with just her and the kids and I always said yes. There was nothing I wanted worse than time with just the wife and kids when I was married. Then she'd wait a day or so and tell me her mother was coming too. The first time it happened I figured it was just a coincidence. The second time I was less convinced. By the tenth I was damn sure I was being lied to.


I called her out for lying to me. She told me that she wasn't lying, that she had said that because she knew I didn't want to do things with her mother. I got fed up with it. The most common time she would do this would be on weekends. I got off early from work on Saturday and Sunday and she would ask me if I wanted to do dinner with just her and the kids on both nights. I'd say yes. Then she'd call or text me to tell me to meet her at her mom's house. Not this time.


I got up for work one Saturday. I wrote a note. “I'm not going to your mother's house for dinner tonight.” I didn't do a ‘Dear Nicole,’ I didn't sign it ‘Love, Jim.’ I just wrote the words ‘I'm not going to your mother's house for dinner tonight.’ and folded the piece of paper in half, stuck it in my flip phone and left the whole mess on her purse. I knew she'd find it there.

When I got home from work that day, I found a piece of paper stuck to the door. “We went to my mom's house for dinner. Meet us there.” Oddly enough, it was folded but the open side faced out. I pulled it off the door and flipped it over. My note was on the back. I took it into the house. Then I went to Applebees for dinner.


She later told me she hadn't seen that note. I was supposed to believe that somehow, she ended up writing her note on the same piece of paper I had left mine on without seeing the note.


I needed a wife who was honest with me. I didn't have one.


Then one day, matters came to a head. Cecilia’s baptism was the day before. It should have been a good day, but my mother-in-law involved herself in an argument. That was nothing new. An argument with Nicole meant an argument with her mother.


I needed a wife that could keep problems in our marriage between us. I didn't have one.


Nicole came home from her mother's one night. I had planned to talk to her. She threw a fit because I argued with her mother. I let her wear herself out. She wasn't going to let me speak if I didn't. Eventually it ended.


“I'm done with your mother. I will go over there on holidays because she's your family but I'm not going over there every day anymore. If you want to stay married you won't either.”

Her response was what I expected. “I'm going to my mother's every day after work. If you want to see me or the girls you will too.” Yep, typical Nicole. I asked her to fix a problem.


She refused to do so.


We screamed at each other. She went to bed alone. I lay down on the couch and thought about my marriage to that point.



I realized a few things


  • I needed a wife who took what I said seriously.

  • I needed a wife who would take some time away from other people to spend with her family.

  • I needed a wife who showed up for things.

  • I needed a wife who cared how I was doing.

  • I needed a wife who was honest with me.

  • I needed a wife that could keep problems in our marriage between us.


I had none of the above.


At the end of the day, I needed a wife and I didn't have one.


But what was I going to do about it? I didn't want to leave my kids. The only reason I haven’t opened a vein was because I didn't want them to have to grow up with no father. I didn't want to see them have to live in a house without their father either. I knew if I left I'd be at Nicole’s mercy as far as when I got to see them.


I knew this though: I was done. I couldn't bring myself to sleep next to this woman anymore. I was not going to her mother's house anymore. I was done beating my head against the wall. This couldn’t continue.


I spent the next six months sleeping on the couch. With the exception of when we were trying to conceive Riley, sex had never been a frequent thing in that marriage. It's not like I was missing out on anything.


I acted like Nicole had for her entire marriage: I did what I wanted when I wanted. I watched football with the guys. I read books. I played games. I was single again and all I had to do was the chores: Dishes, laundry, lawn mowing, taking the trash out, etc. It was months before Nicole even caught on that I hadn't come to bed. I brought it up. She was screaming at me about something and told me not to try having sex with her that night. I asked her when the last time I had come to bed was. She stopped screaming and ran into her room.


The look on her face was epic.


Six months later we actually hit Splitsville. I had lied to her about some stuff related to school. I was in graduate school. I had a couple of classes where I had taken incompletes because I couldn't write with my marriage falling apart around me. I told Nicole that my grades hadn't posted yet. She was too smart to believe me.


I came home from school one night. I went into Riley's room so I could kiss my hand and touch her forehead with it. She wasn't there. I went into Sealy's room to do the same thing. She wasn't there either. Nicole called for me to come downstairs. She had hacked my email and saw where I had communicated with a professor about a new due date. She didn't tell me where my kids were.


We got into a big fight because of what I had done. For the record, she had every right to be upset. The screaming match was epic. I was in the wrong here, but I couldn't take it anymore. I was just done. I took my wedding ring off and spiked it on the kitchen table.


She went into her room. I went in to try to talk to her. She told me to leave her alone. She was shocked when I walked out of the room. I fell asleep on the couch. I was exhausted.


The next day when I woke up, she was gone. At the time I figured she was at work, but now I wonder if she had been to see a divorce lawyer. She sat down and explained to me that she didn't want me living with her while we ‘went through this.’ She was careful not to mention what ‘this’ was. She told me I needed to leave. She would talk to me about when I could see my kids after I was gone. Then she left. I moved out a few days later.


I filed for divorce a month later. I called her four times. When she didn't answer the last time I left a voicemail telling her what I had done. She inboxed me on Facebook an hour or two later and told me I was a joke.


Here’s the thing: If I found myself in the same position again, I’d leave. Eleven times out of ten. It took the word of a Friend of the Court referee before it occurred to me that what I had been through had been abuse. Movies, TV, and the newspaper all told me that men were the abusers. I was a man, so there’s no way I could be the victim here, right? Even then I didn’t really take it to heart. It’s been echoed by two psychologists since though, and they’re the experts.


And fellas, if you’re out there, know this: It can happen to you. Don’t let a woman abuse you simply because you’ve been told it can’t happen. It happened to me.


And know this: There are those out there who will shame you for telling your story. I have been told that I am offensive for stating that I was abused and for divorcing a woman. I am putting this out there with my name on it because someone needs to. I hate the phrase ‘raising awareness’ but I guess that’s what I’m doing here. Do it anyway. Don’t make it easy on the woman who abuses someone else. Your brothers need you.


Speak out. Stand up. Stop hiding what you’ve been through to protect your abuser. She’s not worth it. Don’t let your kids grow up thinking abuse is normal. They deserve better.


And dammit, MEN, be there for your brothers. I can almost guarantee that you know a man who is dealing with an abusive wife. Let him talk. Sympathize with him. And, by all that you hold sacred, don’t dog the guy for putting up with it. Thank you, Brandon ‘Monk’ Thompson and family for offering to take me out of my situation. I should have gone with you that day. And understand this: If you are a man and you are stuck in this situation GET THE FUCK OUT!!!! Go somewhere safe. If you can take your kids with you, do so.


You matter, even if she acts like you don’t.





If you are being emotionally, verbally, psychologically, or physically abused by a female domestic partner, there is help. It’s sparse compared to that for women but it’s a start, and you can find other men in your situation you can network with.


HelpGuide.org - Help for men who are being abused


MenLiving - This is a support group for connecting men to live more intentionally and consciously. It doesn’t seem to raise any red flags for misogyny - in other words, it’s not the wrong kind of ‘men’s rights’ group although I’m sure they do discuss rights men have. It includes trans-identified females too. They describe themselves as “…regular guys – genuine, open and aware and we’d love to hang out with you.”


Reach Out Recovery - Their ‘When The Men Are Abused’ link details the basics of male abuse, offers ‘Eric’s’ story as an example, and has some great resource links at the end



The National Domestic Abuse Hotline, 1-800-799-7233 (1-800-799-SAFE) is for everyone, not just women. You will not be judged if you call it. If she’s physically violent, it’s critical you get out while you can, and consider your children as well - who will she take out her hostilities on when you’re not there anymore? There is help.




Did you like this post? Would you like to see more? I lean left of center, but not so far over my brains fall out. Subscribe to my Substack newsletter Grow Some Labia so you never miss a damn thing!

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