Letters of despair

Dear Amen,

Can you please give me some advice, as to what I should do about my situation? I have been married to my wife for nearly 17 years. For the first 14 years we were very happy. We have two glorious children aged 11 and 8. About three years ago we went through a stressful time with one of our children and problems with schooling. I know that I left it to my wife to deal with and that was very unfair of me.

What I mean is, I would come in from work and was too tired and I didn’t want to discuss the problems with the school. I would tell my wife to go to the school and be more forceful in dealing with the situation. This put pressure on her as she was a shy and timid person.

When things didn’t improve, I took it upon myself to deal with the school. Of course this only made things worse. As a result of all the stress my wife suffered a nervous breakdown. This is when our problems really started. My wife was put on anti-depressants. As a person she changed. She became stronger, but not in a good way.

She blames me for everything and we are always arguing. She is especially bad when she drinks. She is not supposed to consume alcohol when she is taking anti-depressants. Her answer to this is not to take her tablets on the nights she drinks.

Over the last year or so she has basically beaten me up on a least three occasions. She has punched, kicked, torn my hair, tried to break my fingers, spat at me and bit me on the face, hands, arms and legs.

I am not a big man but I am a black belt in karate. I have never hit her. But to my shame I have pushed her away on two separate occasions. The second time that this happened, I lost it. If our son had not been in the room I don’t know what I would have done.

Even though she beat me up, she labelled me as a wife beater. She made me go to counselling and admit as much. The counsellor told me I wasn’t and advised me to get out of the marriage.

I remember standing in my children’s bedroom one night, when my wife was basically biting my face. I just stood there crying, a broken man. All this happened in front of the children. My son pushed her away from me and she fell. She banged her arm against the dresser. The next day, she said I had done this. As far as I know, she told her GP that I had caused the bruise. I realise now that she was drunk at the time. I believe that because she was drunk, she actually believes it was me who pushed her.

The next time she beat me I pushed her away and she fell on her bum, bruising her finger in the process.

I spent the next couple of days growing a beard to cover the bite marks she left on my face again. I found out later that she went to A&E to get an x-ray on her finger. The x-ray didn’t show up anything. God only knows what story she gave the doctor.

On another occasion, she failed to collect the children from school and didn’t make contact for hours. I didn’t know where she was and feared the worst. She was very down at the time. When she showed up, we had another argument. I asked her brother to take her to her mother’s house.

The next day I went to her GP and told him everything. He suggested that she go for psychiatric assessment. She agreed to go voluntarily. But she then went to the GP and gave a completely different account of things. She gave him a letter to keep on file, saying I was a bully and a wife beater. The result is that I am afraid to go back to the GP.

The latest beating was the worst because she also hit my oldest son, splitting his lip. Of course she denies this. I took the kids out of the house for the weekend. My family begged me to report my injuries to the gardaí. I was afraid that they wouldn’t believe me and that the kids would be taken into care.

I came back with the kids on Sunday. I told her I was moving into the spare room. My son has told me that she went to the doctor to say her back was injured and she is going to look for an x-ray. I didn’t touch her and she is again twisting it to make it look that I am the abuser.

Things have taken a turn for the worse, because my parents have gone to a Citizen’s Information Centre. They want me to get a protection order. What good will that do? No-one will believe me. I would be ashamed to tell someone I was beaten up by my wife.

My mother rings my wife threatening to go to social services. I don’t know if this is making things any better. I think it is just spurring my wife to get a barring order against me.

 If I had no kids I would leave. But I can’t leave my kids. My oldest son sees what’s going on and has begged me not to leave. The ironic thing is that I believe my wife genuinely believes what she says.

I think it all boils down to the medication and alcohol. My wife has always said that I have issues with drink as I never drank and she comes from a family with a history of alcoholism.

I still love her. I can forgive her. All I want is to get my old wife back. But if I can’t have that, what about our children? If I leave I know things will only get worse. What options do I have?




Dear Amen,

First of all thank you for taking the time to read this mail.

I am a professional, I have my own business. I have been married since 2003 and we have two girls. We met in 1999. Looking back on it now, from the very beginning, she was very domineering but I loved her and was prepared to put up with it.

My friends and family were criticised, but I made a choice to commit to the relationship. When I say she was domineering it wasn’t so much that I was told what I could and could not do, but it was difficult not to go along with whatever she wanted. Decisions were made by her and I let it happen. I rarely was allowed to decide simple things like whether or not we went out for a meal. 

I always felt like I had to check in with her – it became like checking in with head office. Anyway, I always knew she had a bit of a temper and it could flare up every so often. At the beginning I put it down to the fact that she felt uncomfortable with my friends or family, as she was always giving out about them. However as time progressed, the temper flare-ups happened more often. I did say to her at the beginning that I wasn’t comfortable with the little slaps that she would give me. It’s not that they hurt but they made me feel like a scolded child.

Maybe I’m being weak.

On the day of our wedding, my father was extremely nervous about making his speech and he forgot to welcome my wife into the family. My wife cried, cried again on honeymoon and after we came home.

The ironic thing is that my father-in-law forgot my name during his speech and had to be reminded! However, if I bring this up, she says that he was nervous and that is the end of it!

I can remember instances of bullying when I was called names and told that I didn’t know what I was doing etc. It was after our first child was born that I realised how serious the situation was getting. I can remember holding the baby, and my wife hitting me. I had to take the baby out of the room and lock us in another room until she calmed down. 

The morning of the Christening was another example, when my wife had a row with her mother. Afterwards my wife said that she was trying to get everything done and that people needed to be treated like employees. This is typical of the attitude of my wife.

Bit by bit, the treatment has gotten worse. I have repeatedly asked my wife not to treat me like a second class citizen. The violence has gotten worse. What started out as slaps turned into punches. I started keeping a diary of the times that I have  been verbally abused or been violently hit.

It all came to a head before Christmas. Every morning I get the kids ready for the crèche, give them their breakfast and take them off in the car.

Before Christmas, I was being given out to as usual for something small.  A letter had arrived from my solicitor. I left the letter in the kitchen. When I came downstairs, I was questioned about it and accused of hiding things from her. I pointed out that if I was hiding it, I wouldn’t have left the letter in the open. She proceeded to push me into the corner of the kitchen. She went on to slap me in the face and hit me. She picked up her handbag and hit me repeatedly with it on the side of the head.

Our two children were looking at this. I did nothing until she pushed past our eldest child and pressed him against the kitchen units. I however saw red when our child was crying and tried to push her out the door. A lot of name calling ensued. 

I cried for what had happened. I cried for what I had become and what our kids had seen. It’s not right. We didn’t speak for a day and then she brought it up saying that I had endangered her life by pushing her out the door. Luckily enough I had thought about nothing else and I had all my answers ready for her. We haven’t spoken about it since. 

We haven’t slept in the same room apart from sporadic instances since 2004. There have been loads of reasons for this from the kids being sick, to her being afraid that someone would steal a child. It seems a bit excessive to me.

I constantly feel that I am a second class citizen, an employee and I never know what sort of reaction I am going to get. I don’t know what to do. If it were not for my kids, I would have left by now. I cannot face not seeing my kids. I cannot face putting them through a separation. I don’t know what to do.

Thanks for reading my rant and hopefully you will not see me as a whining wimp. Maybe I am and maybe I should just get on with this life. Maybe this is what marriage is supposed to be.




Dear Amen,

I am a 66 year old and I am a father of four. I have been a victim of abuse by my wife since we married 44 years ago.

The first time I was attacked was two months after we got married. My wife stabbed me and I ended up in hospital. When we went to the hospital my wife begged me not to say what she did and just to say it was an accident. I see that scar every day – it is a constant reminder of what my wife is.

She has always had to control every aspect of my life. I have been terrified to sleep at times for fear that she would harm me in my sleep. My wife has always told me that it’s my fault, but to this day I don’t know what I do to make her want to hurt me.

I am afraid that if I tell someone that they will agree with her and say I deserve to be stabbed, beaten and controlled. I have tried all our married life to be a good husband and father but nothing I do has ever made her happy and I am so tired of trying. I just want a life where I don’t feel afraid all the time, a life in which I can relax, a life where my wife loves me and doesn’t want to harm me.

Please help, but don’t send any post to my house – my wife opens my mail. The one and only,