Side view of a woman sat on a sofa, thinking
Side view of a woman sat on a sofa, thinking

Should I stay with my violent husband for the sake of my children?

Columnist and trained counsellor Fiona Caine offers guidance to a woman dealing with an abusive relationship.

Fiona Caine
Tuesday 20 April 2021 07:30

The problem…

“I need advice please, as my husband has been beating me. We’ve been married for 10 years and he drinks constantly. Whenever he gets drunk, he can stay in bed for two days getting sober and, as a result, he will often demand sex. When I refuse, he becomes aggressive and I get frightened that he might abandon me and my kids, so I give in.

“In July 2017, he hit me so badly that neighbours had to call the police, who arrested him for being drunk and took me to the hospital while a friend of ours took care of the kids. Then in 2018, on my birthday, he pushed me down the stairs and I injured my back.

“Another time whilst he was abusing me, a passer-by saw what was happening and found me crying on the floor. My husband walked out, and the witness wanted to alert the police but I begged him not to. He went behind my back and called them anyway, and the following morning the police came to my house to interview me, but I lied and said I’d fallen. My husband had been detained overnight for drink-driving but when he came home, he never apologised. He lost his licence and for 18 months I had to become his driver.

“For a while after that, things were good – but recently he has started all over again and I am so scared. He knows very well he has a problem, but if we bring people in to solve any problem, he will say all sorts of terrible things about me. To everyone else, he is a quiet person, so no one will ever believe me since I am the talkative one in our relationship; I like people, but he prefers we stay home just us.

“It is affecting my children too – my daughter in particular – but even though he has beaten me in front of them, she cries and begs me not to leave him. I am an accountant and the main financial support for the family, so I could manage financially, but I feel I need him to be a father for our children and don’t know what to do for the best.”

Fiona says…

“Staying with this man, who cares so little about you and your feelings and is prepared to damage his children, mentally, for the rest of their lives, is not for the best. It’s not good for you or for them and, despite your daughter’s apparent wishes, you really do need to leave him.

“You are clearly not safe where you are, and the fact that the abuse has restarted indicates it is likely to escalate to the levels you faced previously. If things escalate, if he throws you down the stairs again, how will your children manage without you – because that’s what it might lead to.

“You say he knows he has a problem but, when faced with the possibility of intervention that might help, he lies and blames you. How is that facing his problem? You have the resources, the income, and the capability to manage without him, so you really do need to leave. Please take the next step and leave this man.

“Of course this does not feel easy, but consider this: your daughter may be learning to see that this kind of behaviour is acceptable. That means, if, in the future, she too finds herself in an abusive relationship, she will see it as normal. Do you want that for her? I don’t know if you have boys too, but if you do, they run the risk of turning into abusers themselves – again because they have been brought up to believe it’s normal behaviour to abuse a partner.

“I would like to hope you could see the need to leave this man because he’s bad for you, but if you can’t, please consider what it’s doing to your children and break this potential cycle of abuse. Please contact the free National Domestic Abuse Hotline (nationaldahelpline.org.uk) on 0808 2000 247 for help in taking the next steps.”

If you have a problem you need help with, email Fiona by writing to help@askfiona.net for advice. All letters are treated in complete confidence and, to protect this privacy, Fiona is unable to pass on your messages to other readers. Fiona regrets that she cannot enter into personal correspondence.