Friday, February 04, 2005

Counseling

Not too long ago I had a meeting with my attorney, and after I told her I was feeling down about the whole situation, she suggested that I should see a counselor. I am in no way opposed to that, so I decided that I would. She went a little further, however, and said she had somebody in mind. She even called and asked him to take me on as a client, which was nice because I found out later he's pretty selective as to who he'll take on as a new patient. I spoke to him on the phone and we went through my situation a little bit. He said that he specializes in helping men learn how they get themselves into the situations they are in and how to avoid it in the future. It sounds great to me. We made an appointment and he told me he was going to pencil me in tentatively until I checked with my insurance to see if he was covered. It turns out he's not in my network, but I'm willing to pay for the difference. I get the feeling that this was some kind of test to see if I was committed in following through and getting something out of the sessions with him.

I am really looking forward to meeting with him. I've thought a lot about how I got into this situation and what I could have done differently. I think the biggest mistake I made is not reporting my wife's physical abuse. I did think about it. I actually went so far as to call a couple of domestic abuse hotlines to get advice. Let me tell you, I got absolutely no help that way. One woman told me to seek counseling to find out why I was angering my wife so much, another told me that since I wasn't actually injured that it wasn't that serious. They pretty much made it clear that they had no idea what to do when a man is being abused by a woman. Would their advice have been different for a woman who called? Probably. What do you think would be there response if a woman told them that in three different incidents her husband had punched her in the stomach twice, and slapped her several times?

I should have just called the police, but I thought I'd just be ridiculed because I'm a man and shouldn't be complaining about incidents that resulted in no real injury to me. At least then there'd be some kind of record other than the marriage counseling.

I also ignored what to me now was a huge warning sign. A couple of weeks before she went to the police, she again told me she wanted a divorce and that I needed to move out. I told her I was not going to move out. At that point I didn't take her divorce threats very seriously because I heard them on an almost daily basis for three years. After I told her that I wasn't going to move out, she said "There are ways to make that happen". At the time the remark confused me, but it's pretty clear what she meant now.

So hopefully this counselor will live up to his billing and really teach me something. There are a couple of things I'd like to change about myself, including how I pick the women I get involved with. In that regard I've made a couple of good choices and a couple of really bad ones.

I've been to two of the Family Violence Education Program meetings now, and I have to say that if you go in with the attitude that you want to get something out of it, regardless of how you ended up there or whether or not it's fair you'll do a lot better. I've already learned some interesting things, and it looks like from the schedule there's a lot more to come. One of the rules is that there shouldn't be discussion of anybody's particular cases, but there are some there who can't help themselves. I really think there's a couple of people who are going to be thrown out of the class because they're so argumentative. They keep coming up with extreme situations to try and show why the strategies and advice being presented won't work in every situation. I swear one guy was so bad I would not have been surprised if he started arguing that the instructor was wrong because in a situation where his wife was mentally controlling army ants and telling them to attack he would be justified...blah blah blah. One other really entertaining character started comparing his situation with the fight for civil rights and the assassination of Martin Luther King jr. He then went on to say that every social movement resulted in spilled blood. That's probably not a good metaphor to use in this type of class. One of the funniest things I heard was from one guy who was trying to argue against another's statement that it was a "woman's world". He said that the US was nowhere near as bad as England. He went on to say that this was because they had a Queen and a female Prime Minister. "Why don't they ever have a King?" he asked to prove his point. I thought about telling him that the United Kingdom has been known to have a King from time to time in the past, and would likely have one again, and that Margaret Thatcher was no longer the Prime Minister, but decided that I should pick my battles.

A lot of the men there feel that the laws are wrong. I don't agree, which may surprise some of you given what I've gone through. I think that where there is abuse there needs to be a way to get serious, immediate help. I've too often read about people who are seriously injured, even killed by abuse. My situation doesn't stem from the law, it stems from my wife's decision to manipulate and abuse the law. I can't recommend any changes because I honestly can't think of any way to prevent what happened to me without removing important, and in my opinion, necessary, protections against real abuse.

I think that the punishment for making a false report of domestic abuse should be much more severe, but in reality I don't think that would accomplish anything. How in the world do you prove that domestic abuse didn't happen? And how many police and prosecutors would want to take on a case going after a person who claims to be a domestic abuse victim?

So what's the solution? I have no idea. All I can do right now is thank my lucky stars that things went the way they did for me, it could have been much, much worse.

Wish me luck!