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A woman married for 33 years to an emotionally and verbally abusive man who cheated on her at least

10 Oct
A woman married for 33 years to an emotionally and verbally abusive man who cheated on her at least twice, is surprised by the grief she feels over the end of this dysfunctional marriage..
After being married for 33 years to the same man since I was 21 years old, I have asked for a divorce. He has been unable to change his emotionally & verbally abusive behaviors in spite of counseling.

I discovered he was having a sexual affair (2nd time) with a woman younger than he (he is 58, she 45). He said he wanted a divorce, that he has been unhappy a long time. I said, "Fine. I will make this happen." I am fed up with him, but I feel so sad - heartbroken really - in spite of the problems.

I think your PTSD series would be good...but what do you suggest for all the emotional upheavals? Please change my name to Kathie. Do not give my last name or email.



Dear Kathie,

Sounds like you''re doing the right thing. I imagine there were more than just 2 flings, too, just between you and me. Stick with your plan - it''s a good one, in spite of the pain, which will pass. Your sadness may be more connected to your loss of your hopes and dreams more than the actual loss of this man. Your self-esteem will bounce back the longer you are away from this jerk, provided you don''t find another just like him! I would recommend our trauma pack, which contains the stress, sleep, trauma and grief imagery. It probably wouldn’t hurt to connect with a support group at this time, or some very specific counseling to help you stay on track, re-align your expectations and reclaim your identity.

Here are the components of a successful program for battered women who have been traumatized by their abusive partners. This program, created by Edward Kubany and Susan Watson at the Honolulu V.A., is aimed at alleviating PTSD, depression, guilt, shame, and negative self-esteem in formerly battered women. The main treatment components include:

(1) exploration of partner abuse history and exposure to other trauma;
(2) psychoeducation on the nature of PTSD;
(3) imagery homework;
(4) psychoeducation on maladaptive self-talk;
(5) stress management and relaxation training;
(6) cognitive therapy for trauma-related guilt;
(7) psychoeducation on assertiveness and responses to verbal aggression;
(8) managing unwanted contacts with former partners;
(9) learning to identify potential perpetrators and avoid revictimization; and
(10) psychoeducation on positive coping strategies that focus on self-advocacy and self-empowerment (e.g., placing oneself first, decision-making that promotes self-interest).

Homework in this program includes listening to audiotapes of the sessions, imaginal exposure to abuse-related reminders, playing a relaxation tape, and self-monitoring of negative self-talk.

Dianne Schwartz''s website, Educating Against Domestic Violence, - http://www.eadv.net - is a great place to start. (She is also the survivor of an abusive marriage, and this is a terrific support network. Her book, Whose Face is in the Mirror, is a good read for you, and her message boards will immediately make it clear that you are not alone!)

Good luck and trust in a future without this clown!

Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award