Editor's Note: Hundreds of Ann Landers' loyal readers have requested that newspapers continue to publish her columns. These letters originally appeared in 1999.
Dear Ann Landers: The letter from "M.A.D." prompted me to write. She said her ex-husband was obsessive and potentially violent. That train can run both ways.
I was an abused husband. During 10 years of marriage, starting on our honeymoon, my wife became more and more abusive, first verbally, then physically. Years of counseling resulted in very little improvement. Every day, I lived in fear of her unprovoked attacks and storming rages. Finally, one night, my wife brutally beat me in front of our 7-year-old daughter. That was the night I decided I had had enough, and packed up and left.
Why is there such silence about women who abuse? And why was I silent? First, I loved her and hoped she would change. Second, I wanted to stay in the marriage to protect my daughter from my wife. Her anger was often directed at our child, too. Third, I was ashamed of myself for putting up with it.
After years and $55,000 in legal fees, I was finally successful in defending myself against her charges that I was the abuser and got custody of our daughter. As a condition of being allowed to see our daughter, my ex-wife was ordered by the court to get therapy to deal with her severe emotional disturbance.
I am now in a wonderful, happy relationship with a gentle, mentally healthy woman. My daughter is much happier and is doing better in every aspect of her life. I deeply regret all the years I wasted hoping my ex-wife would change.
Tell your readers that women can be abusers, too. It's time to break the silence and get out of those sick situations. And please tell us, Ann, if there are resources available for abused men. They need all the help they can get. — Finally Happy Dad
Dear Dad: You were brave to write, and I thank you. Abused husbands are not as rare as you think. I have heard from several over the years and printed their letters. The National Domestic Violence Hotline (thehotline.org) helps abused men, as well as abused women. For more information on local resources, please call 1-800-799-SAFE (1-800-799-7233) or, for the hearing impaired, TTY: 1-800-787-3224. P.S.: It is not wimpy to seek protection from a physically abusive woman. Violence sometimes escalates to murder.
To find out more about Ann Landers and read her past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.