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Monday, August 4, 2014

Verbal Abuse, Part II: depression is destructive

By Susan Knight

Have you ever seen the 1941 movie "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" starring Spencer Tracey and Ingrid Bergman?

I couldn't watch it. I tried, but I realized something hit home for me. . .I couldn't quite put my finger on it. The realization that I was being verbally abused hadn't arisen from the deep, dark recesses of my psyche. That took someone blatantly telling me I was verbally abused by my husband.

How shocking that was. A friend called me from across the country to tell me. It came at a good time. God is good. His timing is excellent. Had she called me at any other time, I wouldn't have believed her and probably never spoken to her again, as I was keen on saving face, looking good.

She called me the week my husband went on a business trip, right after telling me "I have no desire for you," and refused to be intimate with me. I was devastated. Up until that point, I believed he loved me, despite how he treated me. Those words--that sentence--became the beginning of the breakdown of my cover-up, knowing my married life was a lie.

Thank you, friend, for having the courage to call me long distance (in those days) and tell me my husband was verbally abusing me. She had noticed it when we were on a vacation in Utah. Probably more people noticed it, too, but denied it like I did.

Watch this YouTube music video of segments of Ingrid Bergman's portrayal of an abused woman and follow my play-by-play:  *
My commentary is in italics. You can read that after you watch.

-As you watch, notice how Champagne Ivy Pearson is vivacious and spunky in the beginning when Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde comes into her life. She is in love. This is how it was with me. I think the spunkier, smarter, happier you are, the more the abusive predater sees you as prey. He must win you. He must have you. You are a challenge.

-Mr. Hyde amps up his abuse, but she still thinks this is the man she loves and who loves her. When my ex first starting showing signs of anger (right after the honeymoon), I wrote it off as him having a bad day. He had many bad days.

-She is cautious, yet gives him the benefit of the doubt. Benefit of the doubt happened almost every day for me. How about you?

-She pretends he is the same person she loves and thinks he loves her. As good people, we can't believe that everyone isn't good like us. We turn the other cheek. We deny what is really going on.

-He gets full control of her. He won't let her out of the house. She isn't allowed to have friends in. She doesn't know what to believe. She chooses to believe he is the man she loves. This happened every day. Every day.

-She becomes depressed. She is confused.  Did you know "confusion" is at the bottom of the ladder of abuse? Teasing is the firtst rung; confusion is the second.

-She is afraid of him now, but she is still confused. She blames herself. Maybe it's because of something she did.  This is how they get you.

-A friend sneaks in to see her, consoles her, and Ivy opens up. Friends are the ones who save you--let you know how wrong you are. They let you know you are worth being saved.

-Ivy is in the throes of depression, sinking in the quicksand. She drinks to try to put it out of her mind. Some drink, some take pills. I couldn't have lived without Prozac, which I took for the last 15 years of my marriage. Without it, I would have killed myself. Yes, literally. I thought about it quite often. I thank my Heavenly Father that I had the courage NOT to drive into that stone wall or telephone pole.

-She acquiesces to his abuse. She knows she can't control it. She begins to hate him, yet, she can't believe he would hurt her. She doesn't realize how hurt she already is. She is abused. She is ruined and she realizes it. In the movie, she wants to commit suicide and asks Dr. Jekyll to help her.

How many major depressive episodes have you had? Depression, auto-immune diseases, PTSD loops--these are hints, the symptoms, that something is wrong with your life. Please don't let it be so obvious to others, and denied by yourself. Please address the issue of your verbally abusive marriage, or any abusive relationship you are in, or have had in the past.

And one more thing. At the end of my marriage, when I was so depressed, so betrayed, so out of my mind, our marriage counselor told me to get out of my marriage as quickly as possible. He said either my ex was going to kill me (verbal abuse can turn on a dime to physical abuse **), or I would kill myself.

Imagine how that made me feel. And, for once, I actually believed him. No other therapist had ever said that. Luckily he could see my ex-husband for what he really was--a narcissist, an adulterer, bi-polar, angry. None of the other therapists ever could.

* The song, "She Couldn't Laugh," which accompanies this music video, is also a beautiful rendition of verbal abuse.

***Spoiler alert *** 

If you know the movie, you know how it ends. Mr. Hyde kills Ivy. He kills his fiancee's father, then his best friend ends up killing Mr. Hyde. If you have the courage to watch, please do. You might see yourself in that movie and wonder why you're putting up with verbal and/or physical abuse.

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