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Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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151 Responses

  1. benvolio
    benvolio March 9, 2012 at 11:28 am |

    I used to enjoy Cary’s wooly-headed advice, but the ratio of wooly-head to advice shifted too hard to woolyward for my taste. It’s been years.

    I agree; this is klaxon-level scary.

  2. oldlady
    oldlady March 9, 2012 at 11:28 am |

    I become weary of Cary Tennis and his patronizing-male-chauvinist-talk. His column never fails to annoy me which is why I stopped reading it! Oh my, the suffering he endures.

  3. EG
    EG March 9, 2012 at 11:33 am |

    I like “there’s no reason to believe that she will find someone better.” I mean–you don’t know jack about this lady! Maybe she has her pick of suitors! Maybe she’d rather be single than be married to this asshole!

    It’s almost as good as the way “she wants to find someone to marry about whom she doesn’t have doubts” becomes “she wants somebody perfect.” No. It’s absolutely possible to acknowledge that somebody is flawed, and still have no doubts about marrying him, because you love him and he is not an abusive asshole.

  4. FashionablyEvil
    FashionablyEvil March 9, 2012 at 11:43 am |

    The headline for the column is “I Broke a Plate in the Sink and Got Arrested.”

    Sounds like the headline writer isn’t getting it either. At least the comments on the column are considerably more reasonable (excluding the requisite MRA delegation.)

  5. debbie
    debbie March 9, 2012 at 11:56 am |

    I can just imagine my abusive ex writing a very similar letter about our relationship. One of the terrifying things about abusers is how they rationalize their behaviour to themselves and other people (and how often other people believe them!).
    I hope this woman runs and never looks back.

  6. Katya
    Katya March 9, 2012 at 11:59 am |

    …your girlfriend is lucky to have you. It’s not like there are a million really great men out there; it’s not like she can just go and pick one and be off to her perfect life.

    This is unbelievable. Frankly, the girlfriend is better off single (even though she wants to be married) than with a guy who is critical, isolating, manipulative, lacks self-control, and refuses to take responsibility for his actions. This guy is a walking red flag. It’s not a “sin and a damned shame” to walk away from a relationship like that. It’s a sin and a shame not to leave an unhealthy relationship in order to seek something that is healthy and mature.

    This does not surprise me, of course. I stopped reading Cary’s columns years ago, because his advice is so consistently terrible, but this one is just troubling because it reflects this idea that women are supposed to put up with all kinds of terrible behavior in men because there aren’t any good ones left, anyway. And that as long as he’s not beating you, whatever flaws he has aren’t that bad, and if you want something better, you think you’re entitled to perfection.

    And I guess I think more highly of men than Cary does, because I am absolutely certain that there are plenty of men with whom this woman could potentially find a healthy and happy relationship, one that does not involve abuse, isolation, and manipulation.

  7. Larkin Callaghan
    Larkin Callaghan March 9, 2012 at 11:59 am |

    Wow, that is a frightening response.

  8. marle
    marle March 9, 2012 at 12:03 pm |

    I recently got out of a relationship that was a like this. Only mine never involved calling the police, because he broke my phone instead of a plate. Fortunately I managed to get out ok and I’m glad she did too.

    I hate people who don’t understand that abuse sucks. Sure, good men don’t grow on trees, so stay with someone who treats you like crap, there’s a plan! My ex has a female friend who “wishes he cared for [her] like he does [me]” (quote) and keeps emailing me to give him another chance. Her last email said she was moving in with him (trying to make me jealous???) so that she could stop him from killing himself. I hate that bullshit.

  9. jackieattacks
    jackieattacks March 9, 2012 at 12:03 pm |

    Cary Tennis’s response to everything is a random, nonsensical essay. You could pick pretty much any of his Salon columns and have a virtually identical response. He gives a useful answer exactly never, which leads me to believe anyone who writes to him doesn’t actually want actual advice, just to get some vague sympathy from someone on the internet.

  10. Jem Bloomfield
    Jem Bloomfield March 9, 2012 at 12:05 pm |

    Agree with so many of the comments here – what a terrible message to send to this guy, that other men are probably as bad as/worse than him, so his girlfriend doesn’t really have options. Classic example of how little many sexists really think of their own gender.

  11. Emolee
    Emolee March 9, 2012 at 12:16 pm |

    It’s better to have loved and lost than to live with an asshole for the rest of your life.

  12. Marissa
    Marissa March 9, 2012 at 12:21 pm |

    Looks like she’s lucky he was slapped with a restraining order! I have to agree with Debbie (5), a lot of these abusers are so manipulative they can turn people against you with simple lies. We all know she can do better, let’s hope she actually knows that and doesn’t ever end up going back to him.

  13. Dani Alexis
    Dani Alexis March 9, 2012 at 12:42 pm |

    It’s not like there are a million really great men out there; it’s not like she can just go and pick one and be off to her perfect life.

    I stayed with an abuser for seven years on the basis of such pearls of wisdom as this comment. Then I left him, and I learned that actually, yes, it is like that.

    As in, it is like there are LITERALLY ONE MILLION men (or more) out there who will not threaten violence, freak out when you have your own friends and interests, or have a screaming match in front of your apartment building when you say “look, I need to try something else.” It is ABSOLUTELY LIKE this woman can find someone to date who will not send up even a single one of the red flags this LW is rolling in right now. Decent human beings really are A Real Thing in the World!

    (Granted, not all of those people will be this woman’s cup of tea – but I’d bet my hat that at least ONE of the literally a million or more men who will treat this woman with basic human respect will also be someone she could see herself marrying, if that’s what she wants.)

    Really terrible advice, Cary Tennis. Really terrible false nonsense potentially dangerous garbage ‘advice.’ F for effort.

  14. sriracha
    sriracha March 9, 2012 at 12:55 pm |

    It’s always really sad when advice columnists don’t have a clue what they’re talking about.

    LW does not love his girlfriend, he’s obsessed with her, and the two aren’t even closely related. He doesn’t have a single idea what love actually is. He needs a ton of intensive therapy and counselling. He is isolative, manipulative, verbally abusive, not only should she have run the other way a long time ago, she might consider witness protection now.

    Clearly he is several fries short of a happy meal and unlike Cary, this breakup is the best thing that could have happened to the both of them.

  15. Officer A
    Officer A March 9, 2012 at 1:01 pm |

    I smell bullshit. Likely a lot more took place and that’s why he got arrested.

    Also, while I hope she got an actual restraining order against this douche, it’s likely a automatic no-contact order that many states have now in which once someone is arrested for a domestic crime, an order goes into effect.

    I mean look, the guy isn’t a violent wife-beater…

    Yet. These guys follow the same script and I’d bet he’d escalate things if she stayed but he felt his power/control wane.

  16. shfree
    shfree March 9, 2012 at 1:07 pm |

    As in, it is like there are LITERALLY ONE MILLION men (or more) out there who will not threaten violence, freak out when you have your own friends and interests, or have a screaming match in front of your apartment building when you say “look, I need to try something else.” It is ABSOLUTELY LIKE this woman can find someone to date who will not send up even a single one of the red flags this LW is rolling in right now. Decent human beings really are A Real Thing in the World!

    Yes. While men that don’t rub a specific woman the wrong way might be few and far between, men that aren’t abusive, well, they are everywhere. If nothing else, jerky asshole =! abuser, even if the world seems teeming with jerky assholes some days. It is the whole attitude that there are only so many men out there that give the lie that women need to settle such traction in our society, when really we don’t. We CAN do better.

  17. Joe from an alternate universe
    Joe from an alternate universe March 9, 2012 at 1:10 pm |

    OK, why is Cary even writing an advise column? He doesn’t know if this women still loves the guy. Cary should know that this guy has a severe mental problem, and trying to get him to go after her can only lead this guy getting real jail time if he bothers her, hopefully.

    I’m not sure what disorders this guy has; there are a lot of people here more experienced with that, but I’m sure he has two or three. What’s the one were you can only feel for yourself, and can’t empathize with anyone else? And if you can take advantage of someone, it’s their fault? Yeah, that one.

    And as someone whose tried to kill himself, and have had friends, and coworkers with family members who’ve killed themselves, and a cousin who made two very excellent attempts (thwarted by very astute family members) at killing himself, I know they never make threats, or even give signals. Indeed, after I made the decision, I was very happy, and so was my cousin. A 19 year old army corporal, son of a coworker, posted a goodbye message on his myspace page 5 minutes before he shot himself at 2am. His parents were completely shocked. No one saw the posting until the next morning. They wait until they are alone and they do it.

    Cary should have advised him to leave her alone, and get treatment, so he doesn’t visit this on someone else.

  18. LotusBen
    LotusBen March 9, 2012 at 1:26 pm |

    Well. . .I have a habit of giving people the benefit of the doubt even when it’s not warranted. But I must admit I felt sorry for this guy reading his letter to Cary. Not sorry for him because he’s being victimized in any way by his girlfriend or the law or whatever, but just sorry for him because he really does seem to have a lot of issues, and they do seem to be causing him a lot of suffering. Of course, he’s also clearly framing himself in the best possible light so that raises red flags as to his honesty with me. In real life, I very well might find him a lot less sympathetic and a lot more of a raging asshole.

    Either way, I wouldn’t want to hang around him, and I applaud this woman for finally being able to leave him. If his account is true, at all, she seems to have conflicted emotions and he’s clearly manipulative, so that can make it hard to get out of an abusive relationship like this. So it’s awesome that she finally had the courage to do it.

    I felt a lot more angry reading Cary’s advice than reading the guy’s letter. I mean, this is the last thing this guy needs to be hearing. Of course, it’s good to be sympathetic, but he also very much needs to disabused of his illusion that in any way he should stay with this woman. If someone wants to leave you then they should leave you, period. I would tell this guy I’m sure he has a lot to live for and that he can do a lot better than being in a relationship with a person who doesn’t want to be with him anyone. And that by not letting go of this he is only going to cause himself more misery, at best, and at worse continue to harass a woman who no longer wants to see him. So it really pisses me off that anyone would be irresponsible enough to validate this guy’s delusions about his ex and how he should be with her.

  19. preying mantis
    preying mantis March 9, 2012 at 1:41 pm |

    That he would be charged with a crime, though, and issued a restraining order against the wishes of his partner? Ehhh… I dunno.

    The no-contact order was probably automatic as soon as the charges were filed. I’d be willing to bet that the apparently-credible threat of suicide on top of the broken plate and public screaming matched bumped up the willingness to file charges. There’d be concern at that point that him acting out against his ex wouldn’t take the form of stalking or harassment but murder-suicide, which would necessarily shorten the interval for possible intervention and up the ante for failure.

  20. K__
    K__ March 9, 2012 at 1:54 pm |

    Why is the letter writer still referring to her as “My girlfriend” in the present tense?

    She’s not your anything anymore. Except maybe ex.

  21. Katya
    Katya March 9, 2012 at 2:10 pm |

    And as someone whose tried to kill himself, and have had friends, and coworkers with family members who’ve killed themselves, and a cousin who made two very excellent attempts (thwarted by very astute family members) at killing himself, I know they never make threats, or even give signals

    Slightly OT, and not to dismiss your experience, but in fact, people who go on to attempt suicide often do make threats or give signals, which include talking about killing themselves, wanting to die, or not wanting to be a burden on others; giving away their possessions; acting more recklessly than usual; increasing consumption of drugs or alcohol, etc. They may also attempt suicide in ways that appear unlikely to be successful, leading others to believe they aren’t serious.

    While it is true that threatening suicide can be a form of manipulation, suicidal threats should always be taken seriously. Not everyone signals their intent in advance, but many do.

  22. Joe from an alternate universe
    Joe from an alternate universe March 9, 2012 at 2:18 pm |

    The no-contact order was probably automatic as soon as the charges were filed

    I believe this. Also, the police know that certain types of charges automatically lead to automatic responses by authorities nowdays, and it’s those responses that they are looking for. The charges can be a means to an end. The charges triggered the no contact order, but also enabled them to fingerprint him and to run a criminal background check, and take his DNA in some states. And they were probably curious to see if he owned a firearm. They knew, at least in most states, that a no contact order will result in a search warrent for a gun, and, if one is found, they can take custody of it, at least temporarily.

  23. Lauren
    Lauren March 9, 2012 at 2:34 pm |

    Well. . .I have a habit of giving people the benefit of the doubt even when it’s not warranted. But I must admit I felt sorry for this guy reading his letter to Cary. Not sorry for him because he’s being victimized in any way by his girlfriend or the law or whatever, but just sorry for him because he really does seem to have a lot of issues, and they do seem to be causing him a lot of suffering.

    Yeah, no. This is pretty much a straightforward attempt at gaslighting in action. He minimizes abuse, downplays whatever circumstances led to the restraining order, minimizes his transparent attempts at manipulation, attributes his ex’s family’s opinions of him to some magically shared mental illness, and polishes everything off with a plea for sympathy. This is an abuse pattern, it’s not just a guy who doesn’t understand how to have nice relationships.

    In the end, this expression of empathy for the guy’s “problems” just helps to revictimize the victim. She got out, and good on her.

  24. Joe from an alternate universe
    Joe from an alternate universe March 9, 2012 at 2:34 pm |

    Slightly OT, and not to dismiss your experience, but in fact, people who go on to attempt suicide often do make threats or give signals, which include talking about killing themselves, wanting to die, or not wanting to be a burden on others; giving away their possessions; acting more recklessly than usual; increasing consumption of drugs or alcohol, etc. They may also attempt suicide in ways that appear unlikely to be successful, leading others to believe they aren’t serious.

    Yes, I’ll cop to that. I should have adhered to the old aphorism: Never say never. Yes, giving away possessions, especially cherished items, is a big tell. And increased use of drugs and alcohol can make the decision to go through with it seem rational. That was true in my case; although, no one seemed to notice the increase. Also, it’s funny how alcohol can seem to make your problems go away until the next morning. Having said that, a depressed person who suddenly seems happy may appear ok because he/she has taken a decision.

  25. K__
    K__ March 9, 2012 at 2:39 pm |

    I gotta hand it to the responding officers who took the guy’s threats seriously. My own dad pulled a similar stunt a few years ago – he got pissy & yelled about how he was going to kill himself. When the responding officers arrived & found out, they hauled him to a hospital to be temporarily institutionalized.
    Somehow my dad finagled it do that he got out within like, hours, instead of the full 24 he was supposed to stay in for.
    And nobody pressed charges. Nobody looked further into it.

    Corey’s letter reminds me of the kind of advice my mom gets from her friends :/ … Not quite the same, obvs, since different point of view re: who is being addressed. But this kind of response is waaay too common.

  26. preying mantis
    preying mantis March 9, 2012 at 2:41 pm |

    Oh I believe that charges were filed and a no-contact order was issued. I just think that there’s more to the story than “I was arrested for breaking a plate.”

    My guess would be that, even if the incident with his ex occurred as he told it–smashed plate, screaming match, suicide threat, she leaves, fin–there’s a lot more in that police report and the charges filed pertaining to his interactions with the first responders dispatched to intervene in his feared suicide attempt.

    If the cops show up because your distraught ex says you started breaking things, screaming, and threatening to kill yourself when she left you, and you proceed to tell them all about how you’re too good to her, and something something bitches, and soon she’ll be sorry, I’d wager that’s going to make them–assuming they take DV seriously–a bit more gung-ho about prosecuting you than if you’d just talked about how your life is empty without her.

  27. LotusBen
    LotusBen March 9, 2012 at 3:02 pm |

    Yeah, no. This is pretty much a straightforward attempt at gaslighting in action. He minimizes abuse, downplays whatever circumstances led to the restraining order, minimizes his transparent attempts at manipulation, attributes his ex’s family’s opinions of him to some magically shared mental illness, and polishes everything off with a plea for sympathy. This is an abuse pattern, it’s not just a guy who doesn’t understand how to have nice relationships. In the end, this expression of empathy for the guy’s “problems” just helps to revictimize the victim. She got out, and good on her.

    I agree with you; this guy does sound abusive, and that’s based off his incredibly one-sided interpretation of his relationship with his ex. So I can only imagine how abusive he really is or how abusive I would think he was if I heard his ex’s side of the story. On reflection, I am feeling less sympathetic toward him and feeling more disgusted. I tend to feel really disgusted when someone seems to be playing the victim and drubbing up sympathy for themselves rather than taking responsibility for their actions, especially when that person is in a position of relative power. It reminds me of a former roommate I had who was a real sexist, misogynistic asshole (for example, constantly berating his girlfriend for the fact she was “fat”), and yet at the same time always found a way to prove that it was he who was the “victim.” And I have negative feelings toward him because he was an asshole to me, too. But yeah, I did feel sympathy with this guy in the letter initially because he does seemingly have psychological problems, and that’s never fun. I actually felt sympathy for my ex-roommate, too, mixed with the anger, fear, and disgust, because I could see how unhappy his maladaptive ways of dealing with life and people made him–I mean he was always frowning or scowling. So while I disliked him for being a jerk; I pitied him because he wasn’t really getting any benefit from being a jerk, either.

  28. Soullite
    Soullite March 9, 2012 at 3:26 pm |

    Yes, and certainly the proper standard for whether or not people should be thrown in jail is ‘are they good in a relationship’, and not ‘did they actually hurt someone’.

    Not ‘is it at all possible that at some point in the future they might hurt someone’ or ‘do I see a pattern that I personally believe will lead them to hurt someone’, but ‘did they actually hurt someone’, or at the very least ‘do they have a specific plan to hurt someone’.

    Just because you feel threatened doesn’t mean any actual threat has been made or even implied. Male anger is often frightening to women, but men have every bit as much right to their anger as you do to your fear. You do not have a constitutional right to never feel uncomfortable.

  29. Lauren
    Lauren March 9, 2012 at 3:27 pm |

    So I can only imagine how abusive he really is or how abusive I would think he was if I heard his ex’s side of the story. On reflection, I am feeling less sympathetic toward him and feeling more disgusted. I tend to feel really disgusted when someone seems to be playing the victim and drubbing up sympathy for themselves rather than taking responsibility for their actions, especially when that person is in a position of relative power.

    I hear that. I think the gut reaction most of us have is the urge to give everyone the benefit of the doubt always. We do that because we’re nice people (or because we’re fortunate enough not to have to recognize those red flags from experience). The problem is that abusers capitalize on that instinct and build consensus on our willingness to say “it takes two” or “we can never know”.

  30. Echo Zen
    Echo Zen March 9, 2012 at 3:32 pm |

    When I saw the title of this post, I’d assumed it was going to be about something Prudie wrote. It wouldn’t have surprised me!

  31. R. Dave
    R. Dave March 9, 2012 at 3:34 pm |

    So while I disliked him for being a jerk; I pitied him because he wasn’t really getting any benefit from being a jerk, either.

    Absolutely this. It’s quite possible to (a) feel sorry for the letter writer and believe that maybe he really is just a chronically depressed individual whose depression leads to fear of abandonment and clingy, controlling behavior, and (b) simultaneously think the woman was absolutely right to get out of that situation and find some happiness for herself.

  32. Stephanie
    Stephanie March 9, 2012 at 3:37 pm |

    Yikes. That could have been my ex, except the headline would be something like “I broke an appliance and got arrested,” because my ex did in fact break an appliance and get arrested AFTER trapping me inside his house for hours, chasing me from room to room when I tried to get away from him, and blocking the door or physically restraining me when I tried to leave. Oh, and the appliance he broke was the phone, which he ripped out of the wall when I tried to pick it up to call 911. (No cell phones back then.)

    I can also very easily see him writing about how his “issues with low self-confidence and insecurities about abandonment” led to him isolating me from friends and family, and he did in fact threaten suicide multiple times, and I have no doubt that he’d characterize our relationship as “passionate.” Because he was a fucking manipulative abuser, and I’m sure he would have LOVED a response like Cary’s, where an arrest on the basis of a broken appliance is somehow emblematic of the “absurdities to which the law might descend” in addressing DV. That alone would be bad enough, but this crap about how women should cheerfully accept at least some amount of broken plates and suicide threats and controlling behavior because dudes who DON’T pull that shit are somehow in the minority? That’s just the bullshit icing on the bullshit cake, because of the multiple men I’ve dated only one of them has actually pulled a goddamn phone out of the wall to keep me from calling 911 after he’d trapped me in his house for hours, so I’d say that he is actually the one in the minority.

    I’d also say that Cary Tennis should consider an alternative career in the field of Not Writing an Advice Column, because my cat could ingest a dictionary and poop a better response to this letter.

    And @29:

    “Male anger is often frightening to women”

    Well gosh, I can’t imagine why.

  33. Joe from an alternate universe
    Joe from an alternate universe March 9, 2012 at 3:47 pm |

    Yes, and certainly the proper standard for whether or not people should be thrown in jail is ‘are they good in a relationship’, and not ‘did they actually hurt someone’.

    No, a person can be arrested for assault. The legal definition of assault in our state is to accost someone in such a manner that causes them to be in imminent fear of bodily harm. Battery is when you actually hit them. In my state, If he yelled at her and broke a plate, that can be classified as an assault. I have a friend who was knocked down by a bicycle currier who illegally rode up on to the side walk. An argument ensued and the currier brandished a bike lock and my friend raised his umbrella. Both were arrested for assault with a deadly weapon, no kidding. Of course, charges were dropped, but if that caused an arrest, the plate incident certainly counts as an assault.

  34. Joe from an alternate universe
    Joe from an alternate universe March 9, 2012 at 3:56 pm |

    LOL, pardon my illiteracy , I meant courier

  35. LotusBen
    LotusBen March 9, 2012 at 4:02 pm |

    I hear that. I think the gut reaction most of us have is the urge to give everyone the benefit of the doubt always. We do that because we’re nice people (or because we’re fortunate enough not to have to recognize those red flags from experience). The problem is that abusers capitalize on that instinct and build consensus on our willingness to say “it takes two” or “we can never know”.

    Yeah definitely. Those are good points.

    Absolutely this. It’s quite possible to feel sorry for the letter writer and believe that maybe he really is just a chronically depressed individual whose depression leads to fear of abandonment and clingy, controlling behavior.

    Hmmm, well I can see that as a valid perspective, R. Dave, but that wasn’t really what I personally was saying. I did feel sorry for him because he’s depressed and suicidal, which are things I can relate to, but I wasn’t saying I thought his controlling behavior was a result of his depression. I’m guessing his controlling, abusive behavior would manifest whether he were depressed or not and is probably ultimately something he chooses to do because of other factors, but of course, it’s hard to know. Either way, I definitely think it’s important to emphasize that people are always responsible for their actions, and that abuse is never OK, regardless of the underlying factors that might motivate someone to choose to abuse someone else.

  36. R. Dave
    R. Dave March 9, 2012 at 4:05 pm |

    Soulite wrote: Just because you feel threatened doesn’t mean any actual threat has been made or even implied. Male anger is often frightening to women, but men have every bit as much right to their anger as you do to your fear. You do not have a constitutional right to never feel uncomfortable.

    It’s not the emotion that’s the problem, it’s the manner in which it’s expressed. There’s a big difference between saying it’s not acceptable for him to feel angry and saying it’s not acceptable for him to express that anger by screaming and smashing things.

    That said, I do think anger is a special case precisely because it is naturally and instinctively expressed through aggressive behavior, which, in turn, is naturally and instinctively read by anyone in the vicinity as a potential threat. That doesn’t mean one can never get angry or outwardly express that anger under any circumstances, but it does mean that claiming equivalence between a display of anger and a display of other emotions is mistaken.

  37. Alexandra
    Alexandra March 9, 2012 at 4:09 pm |

    I wonder what it says about me and my homelife and childhood that I read this column, and Mr. Tennis’s response, and thought, “Well, that sounds about normal for a relationship. Just one plate broken? Only screaming? What’s the big deal?”

    I can see when it’s presented before me clearly and concisely by other commenters on this thread how that behavior is inappropriate/abusive, but it just seems so… par for the course to me.

  38. Joe from an alternate universe
    Joe from an alternate universe March 9, 2012 at 4:10 pm |

    because my cat could ingest a dictionary and poop a better response to this letter.

    OK, really, can I steal this? I just need to change it from a cat to a dog when I use it, and I’ll seem like a bloody genius.

  39. R. Dave
    R. Dave March 9, 2012 at 4:24 pm |

    To LotusBen @ 37…

    Fair enough, and sorry if I was putting words in your mouth. For my part, I wasn’t trying to excuse abusive behavior either; I was just trying to make the basic point that saying “to hell with this situation” isn’t the same as saying “to hell with this person.”

  40. Mztress
    Mztress March 9, 2012 at 4:38 pm |

    “…the guy isn’t a violent wife-beater…”

    Yeah. He isn’t a violent wife-beater YET. If she’d given him a few more months, he would’ve easily (and inevitably) crossed the border over into physical & sexual abuse country. No doubt about it, he has ABUSER written all over him.

  41. EG
    EG March 9, 2012 at 4:45 pm |

    And as someone whose tried to kill himself, and have had friends, and coworkers with family members who’ve killed themselves, and a cousin who made two very excellent attempts (thwarted by very astute family members) at killing himself, I know they never make threats, or even give signals.

    I know you already qualified this, Joe, but I wanted to add my experience. When my junior-high best friend made attempts at suicide, it was after a string of textbook-like signals that I told my parents about at the time because they were worrying me so much–she talked about how life wasn’t worth living, about wanting to die, she tried to give her stuff away, all of that. So it’s not even “never say never”; I’d say it’s more “it varies.”

  42. Mztress
    Mztress March 9, 2012 at 4:52 pm |

    When I was 19 I dated a guy just like that. He mostly functioned as a spoiled, petulant child. When I tried to end the relationship (took about 6 tries before I was successful), or spent the holidays with my blood relatives, or if there was some petty, insignificant argument where I wouldn’t let him have his way he threatened suicide. And he pushed it to the point where he’d write fake suicide notes & lay very still early in the morining with empty pill bottles in his hands, just to freak me out & manipulate me. I lost sleep and jobs from the stress of dealing with him.

    At my breaking point I screamed at to go ahead & commit suicide so that I’d finally have some peace and quiet. So he told anyone who would listen that I was a terrible, selfish fiancee who ignored his suffering & depression in favor of my job, and an (imaginary) affair with another man.

    I lost a significant chunk of friends over that shit.

    So yeah, I believe that the man whose manipulative and borderline abusive behavior started this thread deserves to be taken up on domestic violence charges.

  43. LotusBen
    LotusBen March 9, 2012 at 5:08 pm |

    And he pushed it to the point where he’d write fake suicide notes & lay very still early in the morining with empty pill bottles in his hands

    Jesus. That’s really fucked up. I’m not sure if I’ll ever fully understand why some people go to such lengths to manipulate others.

  44. Skye
    Skye March 9, 2012 at 5:57 pm |

    Considering my ex apparently sums up his last episode of abuse as “we had a fight, she freaked out and called the cops on me,” damn straight a hell of a lot more happened than this manipulative asshole is saying.

    I say “apparently” because I am fortunate enough to live in a province where the cops are required to make an automatic arrest and lay an automatic restraining order. And yes: his friends have lamented how “unfair” that is.

  45. Chataya
    Chataya March 9, 2012 at 6:07 pm |

    You don’t even know how good it feels to see this kind of behavior called what it is: abuse. My first boyfriend was the exact same way; controlling, manipulative, jealous, isolating, emotionally manipulative, and sexually abusive. It took me nearly 3 years to get out of that relationship, and I was miserable for the last 2.5 years of it. Even now, 6 years later, I still have people (family members!) ask me how I could stand to leave someone who loved me so much. When I tell them how he used to interrogate me for hours about what I’d done that day and forbid me from talking to people he didn’t know, they tell me he was just loving and protective.

    If I hadn’t moved away for college, I don’t know how I ever would have escaped. Once when we were on a break (his idea) he called me saying he didn’t think he could live without me and confessed that he had been planning on sabotaging my birth control so that I would get pregnant and “never be able to leave him.”

  46. debbie
    debbie March 9, 2012 at 6:19 pm |

    Yes, and certainly the proper standard for whether or not people should be thrown in jail is ‘are they good in a relationship’, and not ‘did they actually hurt someone’.

    Not ‘is it at all possible that at some point in the future they might hurt someone’ or ‘do I see a pattern that I personally believe will lead them to hurt someone’, but ‘did they actually hurt someone’, or at the very least ‘do they have a specific plan to hurt someone’.

    Just because you feel threatened doesn’t mean any actual threat has been made or even implied. Male anger is often frightening to women, but men have every bit as much right to their anger as you do to your fear. You do not have a constitutional right to never feel uncomfortable.

    It’s amazing to me the lengths some people will go to in order to justify abusive behaviour. If someone was in your home screaming at you, breaking stuff, and threatening suicide, what would you do? As someone who has been in that situation (and, incidentally, didn’t call the police because he never hit me), it’s really scary, especially when that person is bigger and stronger than you.

    This isn’t a matter of two people getting in a fight and things getting tense and emotional. This is a situation where a grown man told a woman that if she did not do what he wanted, he was going to kill himself while breaking stuff. This letter (written by someone who has a real interest in minimizing what happened – try and think of it from her perspective) only mentions one incident, and given what we know about abuse, it’s very unlikely that this was an isolated event. Also, abuse often escalates – once someone has moved beyond yelling to breaking stuff, they may not be far from hitting.

  47. Laurel
    Laurel March 9, 2012 at 6:55 pm |

    Yeah, this is why I stopped reading this guy’s advice about a week after I started reading it.

    He has these stupid, rambling responses that completely ignore the actual situation and never provides any actual advice.

    I don’t know why people still write in to him.

  48. number9
    number9 March 9, 2012 at 7:13 pm |

    Oh, Cary Tennis. One of the reasons I stopped reading Salon. His writing style is nonsensical and his “advice” is downright diabolical. If this asshole uses this shitty column to guilt-trip his ex into getting back together, her potential suffering will be on Cary’s hands as well. No, Cary, she probably couldn’t meet literally a million men better than this guy, but I’m sure she can meet quite a few.

  49. Mztress
    Mztress March 9, 2012 at 7:19 pm |

    Isn’t destruction of property an implicit threat? As in, “See how simple it was for me to destroy this object? I can smash your face just as easily.”

  50. Mztress
    Mztress March 9, 2012 at 7:23 pm |

    “Male anger is often frightening to women”

    Hmmm, I wonder why that is? Oh yeah! It’s because damn everyone on the planet has had a female friend, relative, or coworker whose male partner isolates her or beats the shit out of her. True story.

  51. gratuitous_violet
    gratuitous_violet March 9, 2012 at 7:32 pm |

    Just because you feel threatened doesn’t mean any actual threat has been made or even implied. Male anger is often frightening to women, but men have every bit as much right to their anger as you do to your fear. You do not have a constitutional right to never feel uncomfortable.

    Yeah, see, but I do have a right to respond if I feel threatened! (Only my acceptable responses, here in the United States, are basically limited to the police, which is not ideal.) So I do in fact have the right to call the cops on you if I feel threatened, I just don’t have the right to have you locked up instantaneously, only upon my word. There are these things called investigations. I hear sometimes they happen, and if you don’t trust the cops to protect your interests in that situation, well gee, that makes two of us! (probably for entirely different reasons, though) And maybe we should do something about that instead of trying to convince us all that our fear isn’t fair because it might interfere with some man’s anger expression!

    Incidentally, men do have the right to all the anger they want, just not the right to be free from any repercussions.

    Seriously, this shit is so insidious and I’m sorry but I’m going to ramble a bit because I see a straight line between soullite’s nonsense and the very attitudes within our communities that make breaking the cycle of domestic violence damn difficult. I’m a straight lady and I was in an abusive, though not violent until the very end, relationship for a year with a self-described “socialist, feminist, and anti-police state activist” man at the end of college. During our relationship he never hit me or anyone around me, he just carried himself in a constant tremor of rage. He threw books, flipped furniture, always gradually escalating within the week or month until I would break down and cry and say I was scared of him. Then I got an earful about how he was just mad about all the injustice in the world, see, and capitalism made him want to smash things (like my personal property! what a principled guy!), and couldn’t I see he was totally not sexist because he, like, consciously rejected the patriarchy and shit so WHY CAN’T I UNDERSTAND HE’S TRYING!!??”

    Our friends and comrades (my former friends, that is) all just thought he was SO! PASSIONATE! and it was ADMIRABLE! and IMPORTANT TO THE CAUSE! when I’d mention that sometimes he scared me. During one of these conversations, I said I’d call the cops if he ever hit me and everyone was AGHAST. Like, verbally abusive to me because how could I risk subjecting HIM to the violence of the system?

    I was with him another month. A month during which my soul hurt because not only was I terrified more than usual (he’d heard that I told someone I was scared, and boy did he let me know how disappointed he was that I could think he’d ever do that…by ripping the phone off the wall and smashing it against the other wall), I WAS PRE-EMPTIVELY WRACKED WITH GUILT FOR THINKING ABOUT CALLING THE COPS. He eventually did hit me, when I was walking out his door for the last time, and I never called 911 because I didn’t want to ruin his life.

    So do you see what you did there? If we keep reinforcing this practice of always considering men’s intentions and realities and needs first, pondering whether she’s justified in feeling threatened WHILE SHE FEELS THREATENED, women in abusive relationships will never have the support to get out. And men like my ex will still get to have a happy activist career talking about justice and stuff, because their anger is so passionate and we need to be understanding.

    TL; DR moment over. Sorry this is an awkward rambly way of introducing myself to Feministe but I just couldn’t let that comment go. It’s like the center of the Venn diagram where MRA’s, socialists, anti-police activists, liberals, and conservatives can all get along: expending a large amount of energy getting oppressed people to doubt their own perceptions, and getting everyone around them to second-guess out loud. Fuck that noise.

  52. armillaria
    armillaria March 9, 2012 at 7:46 pm |

    Sometimes I break things and want to kill myself. I’m a ‘woman’ so I’m not in the same position in terms of patriarchy- To me, the column’s advice seems bad, mostly because leaving a relationship should never be conditional on having someone better to fuck. You don’t need to be in a sexual partnership to have a life worth living, and leaving someone and being single sounds better than staying with a partner when it’s doing more harm than good.

    I do think it’s fucked up for the cops to arrest him over this, and the restraining-order issue should have been left up to the woman, not them.

    I don’t think it’s wrong or irrational to prefer ending life on one’s own terms. It’s just what happens when pain exceeds methods of coping with it. And it’s not something people should be locked up for, in jails or hospitals. I’ve spent more time suicidal because of psychiatric ‘interventions.’

    Again, none of this is to say she should get back together with him- he sounds controlling with the ‘friends and family’ thing, and admits insulting her, and lying about the relationship in email. Of course we weren’t there and don’t know everything- if she really unfairly expected him to befriend her family, or bear animosity towards his female friends. But either way, it sounds like a relationship she needed to get out of.

    So now she’s out of it, and that’s probably good for her, whether she finds a better partner or not. Cary’s wrong to deny that. But the legal response is fucked up too. And, I mean, I’m a female person who sometimes breaks things/self-injures and talks about needing to die, and I don’t like what this post would say that makes me.

  53. Carol
    Carol March 9, 2012 at 7:48 pm |

    Dear Letter Writer,
    Fortunately for you, I write a column read by thousands of people with “advice” that is not just ineffective, not just “off-base,” but incredibly misogynist and an abuse of power! I have placed myself in a position of offering “wisdom” on relationships, but I don’t have to spend even a minute on thought or educating myself before dismissing a woman’s agency in leaving an abusive situation. I think you are a great guy. You are clearly acting like the best boyfriend ever. It’s not like she is ever going to find another great guy at any time in the whole rest of her life. I will completely validate you in your eventual escalation to stalking her. Please consider police involvement in domestic violence as ridiculous, of a restraining order as either a joke or a horrible sin. In fact, I think I will out-romanticize you in making your relationship sound like some Romeo and Juliet tragedy, if that’s OK with you before I come over and hug you.
    Sincerely,
    CT

  54. Joyce
    Joyce March 9, 2012 at 7:51 pm |

    51 years ago my father threatened to kill himself on several occasions if my mother would break off with him…then she got pregnant, they married, and things just got worse and worse.

    I once saw a show about psychopaths and wondered if my father wasn’t an undiagnosed case.

    RUN! Before he sucks you into his vortex of evil.

  55. LotusBen
    LotusBen March 9, 2012 at 7:57 pm |

    Well done Carol. I, for one, would support some sort of petition to get Salon to permanently replace Mr. Tennis with some sort of column in the vane of your post here.

  56. gratuitous_violet
    gratuitous_violet March 9, 2012 at 8:10 pm |

    Carol, I love it! My local weekly publishes
    Amy Alkon’s column, that lone brave voice trying to save our relationships with “common sense,” aka evo psych nonsense about how women are programmed to want commitment and men are programmed to want sex all the time (and of course there are NO OTHER KINDS relationships besides two-person heterosexual ones). I’ve been dying to write in a fake letter about someone whose friend constantly ignores the realities of her life when she asks them for advice, but I couldn’t do it better than you.

  57. Ann S.
    Ann S. March 9, 2012 at 8:46 pm |

    Well, every sad story has a bright side, and so does this. At least we now know how low the bar is set for writers of advice columns and can pursue that career without acquiring costly credentials. Who knows, maybe the next dear Abby will be the above-mentioned dictionary-eating cat.

  58. kungfulola
    kungfulola March 9, 2012 at 9:02 pm |

    “Male anger is often frightening to women”

    Hmmm, I wonder why that is? Oh yeah! It’s because damn everyone on the planet has had a female friend, relative, or coworker whose male partner isolates her or beats the shit out of her. True story.

    “Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.” – Margaret Atwood

  59. Jor from an alternate universe
    Jor from an alternate universe March 9, 2012 at 11:06 pm |

    I know you already qualified this, Joe, but I wanted to add my experience. When my junior-high best friend made attempts at suicide, it was after a string of textbook-like signals that I told my parents about at the time because they were worrying me so much–she talked about how life wasn’t worth living, about wanting to die, she tried to give her stuff away, all of that. So it’s not even “never say never”; I’d say it’s more “it varies.”

    I agree. When it comes to this there is no norm.

  60. anon
    anon March 9, 2012 at 11:11 pm |

    When I read this I thought, that could be me. It sounds like me. I’m controlling like that, I’m emotionally unstable, etc. I hate it. I was raised super religious, abused, and that left its scars. That’s no excuse for my behavior towards my husband, and the fact that he puts up with it and tries to understand is amazing…he’s the one who ultimately has helped me get over my past the most, and I hate that he has to deal with my shit sometimes. But I’m also getting help, counseling and medication, and I recognize that this behavior is fucked up and wrong. This guy could at least admit that it’s wrong…there is help.

  61. Karolena
    Karolena March 10, 2012 at 12:00 am |

    OK, maybe I’m missing something, but I don’t even see in his letter where he broke the plate. The cops just showed up and “saw the broken plate.” What else did he omit?

  62. rayuela23
    rayuela23 March 10, 2012 at 12:17 am |

    “Male anger is often frightening to women.”

    No, it’s not. My husband’s anger has been frightening to me exactly never in our six-year relationship. You know why? Because he is not an abusive shit. When he is angry he sits away from me with his eyes looking very big and even darker brown than usual and licks his lips a lot. Those are his “angry” behaviours (as well as, obviously, telling me why I’ve been a git).
    Those behaviours are not threatening and they are never frightening to me. If your partner is frightened by your anger then you are doing anger wrong.

  63. outrageandsprinkles
    outrageandsprinkles March 10, 2012 at 2:01 am |

    I once behaved very similarly to the letter writer in a relationship, several years ago.

    My behavior was not healthy and neither was the relationship. My then-partner was right to break it off when he did and keep his distance from me afterwards based on the way I was acting. That’s all I have to say.

  64. Natalia
    Natalia March 10, 2012 at 2:15 am |

    I went to take the trash out this morning, and saw a crow perched high up on a nearby poplar. It’s desolate “caw” in the frozen air on this morning in early spring made me think about what a tragedy and a damn shame it is when advice columnists project their own issues all over some fucked-up situation and proceed to write about it while making a lot of stupid assumptions. Such as the assumption that someone’s girlfriend couldn’t possibly find a better relationship and must stick it out for the rest of her days with Broken Plate Man.

    Anyhoo.

    People do express anger diffirently. Not all of us are quietly angry, and I definitely recall at least one incident where I’ve personally smashed a bottle against a fence in order to make some sort of “point.” I think a lot of this is influenced by cultural factors as well – most American women I know would be terrified of the anger displays of my husband, for example. Whereas I get much more upset and uncomfortable around the kind of quiet anger displays that can go on for hours. I’d rather deal with a big outburst and go on and make up. Once that energy is quickly spent, there’s no slow torture, which I can’t stand. Not that I would defend such childish behaviour as smashing a bottle either.

    Having read the letter to Cary Tennis, though, I think it’s not so much about anger as it is about control. The LW’s behaviour is obviously controlling – and he continues to try to exert control over this situation, and seeks validation, which Cary is only too happy to give him. Someone needs to tell him that YES, it is VERY FOOLISH to hope the girlfriend comes back, dude – now move on and get your act together, you’re a complete mess.

  65. karak
    karak March 10, 2012 at 4:46 am |

    If you actively want to kill yourself because your partner is leaving you, then you are messed up. Period. And your partner is very astute to want to leave.

    If my partner of four years broke up with me, I’d be devastated. I’d cry, drink a lot, might even take a few days off of work and maybe leave him some sorrowful rambly messages on his phone. I wouldn’t scream at him in public and break shit and threaten to kill myself if he DARED leave my precious self.

  66. ginmar
    ginmar March 10, 2012 at 4:47 am |

    Just because you feel threatened doesn’t mean any actual threat has been made or even implied. Male anger is often frightening to women, but men have every bit as much right to their anger as you do to your fear. You do not have a constitutional right to never feel uncomfortable.

    How funny it is that men just must express that rage toward women—-usually smaller, already discriminated against, laboring under a pile of pre-existing prejudices—–and then on top of it, sneer that “just because you feel threatened doesn’t mean a threat’s been made.”

    This is such bullshit I feel like I need to look around for a cow. Gavin de Becker has a lot of good things to say(and some shitty ones) but he gets right that women are pretty much gaslighted out of our survival instincts by the constant barrage of a society that wants us to be prey. Well, hello, the prey ain’t fallin’ for it quite so quickly these days.

    The only reason this letter guy didn’t do worse was because he hadn’t married or impregnated his ex yet. That’s when they really get their hooks into you—and that’s when escape becomes far more difficult. She’s a smart woman, his ex. Notice how he wants the marriage more than she does. And notice, too, that he believes—-like so many other abusers —–that other men are bad or worse than he is. Given a choice between a plate-smashing, manipulative, suicide-threatening abuser and all those things that people like to throw at a picky woman—–‘You’ll be single!” (“Great!”) and so on——it’s no longer that hard of a choice. And guys like this know it.

    Frankly, men get too overindulged in the temper department, and what they need is not more justification for their tantrums, but as many timeouts as it takes them from being so self indulgent.

  67. anon for this one
    anon for this one March 10, 2012 at 6:13 am |

    I don’t think it’s quite fair to say that any partner who threatens suicide after a breakup is “messed up.” That’s probably true in a lot of cases, but my own experience is very different. I attempted suicide after a break up. And the reason I did is because my partner had sexually assaulted me two weeks before. I’d stayed with him because he swore that he loved me, and believing that is the only thing that was holding me together afterwards. When I no longer had that, I snapped because I couldn’t lie to myself anymore. I don’t apologize for my reaction because it was born out of absolute despair and self-hatred brought on by domestic abuse.

  68. Lori
    Lori March 10, 2012 at 7:22 am |

    Thank you for this! I was unable to comment at Salon – my browser is old, or whatever – so I was left sputtering to myself about the inanity of Cary’s response. She won’t find anyone better?!? It’s better to be with NO ONE than this guy.
    How can Cary be an advice columnist for years and not see how deeply unwell this guy is?
    It’s a shame the LW didn’t write to Carolyn Hax instead.

  69. debbie
    debbie March 10, 2012 at 9:27 am |

    I think this is a good opportunity to promote my favourite advice columnist, Captain Awkward, who is feminist, queer positive, fat positive, compassionate, and hilarious. I’m pretty sure a lot of feministe-ers already read and comment there, and I highly recommend her.

  70. LotusBen
    LotusBen March 10, 2012 at 12:00 pm |

    Male anger is often frightening to women, but men have every bit as much right to their anger as you do to your fear.

    I think it’s best to accept our emotions–whatever they are. But I don’t think there’s ever a need to express emotions, even extreme anger, in a way that’s abusive. It’s possible to learn non-abusive ways to express every emotion. Yelling at someone or breaking stuff in front of them without their consent is threatening behavior and emotional abuse. And no one has a right to abuse someone else.

    If I’m feeling angry at a friend, family member, or someone else I care about, I will try to introspect and gauge how angry I am. If I feel like I might lose control of myself and say something I’ll regret or do something emotionally abusive, I will tell them I have to leave to cool down, because I don’t want to hurt someone I care about. Then I will go exercise, or talk to a third party about what happened, or go scream or yell or punch pillows or whatever in a private place where no one can see or hear me. Afterwards, if I still think there’s some issue to discuss with the person I was angry at, I’ll go talk to them in a way that respects their boundaries and doesn’t nonconsentually subject them to something that’s frightening or hurtful.

  71. Datdamwuf
    Datdamwuf March 10, 2012 at 12:24 pm |

    gratuitous_violet, just wanted to tell ya, from your description it may have been smart not to call the cops. When I told my husband we must divorce he busted into the house drunk and attacked me, he trapped me in my bed and was about to put his fist through my face, I panicked and I defended myself leaving a small pink mark on him. He calmed down for a few minutes then turned on his rage again, he then started taunting me to call the cops. I finally did and that rage went completely away, he became instantly calm. I was hysterical when the police got there, he was calm and reasonable, he told the police we’d had a verbal argument and I attacked him for no reason. Meanwhile, I told them nothing of the attack, I was protecting him from jail, this is what the years of abuse did to me. Even after what happened I thought of him first. Turns out my state has mandatory arrest for DV calls. I was cuffed and thrown in jail for about 8 hours, the cop who arrested me, he thought I was hilarious, with the exception of one female officer I was treated like an animal and the conditions of the jail were obscene.

    I would say that was the most traumatic thing that ever happened to me except it wasn’t. Many months later, an hour after agreeing to divorce mediation, my husband brought a semi auto hand gun in the house, chambered a bullet and commenced to hold it to his head, his mouth, he alternated between crying and rage and pointed the gun at me many times. You don’t need the whole story here, but later, the (ex) husband told me this: “I had no intention of killing myself or you, if I wanted to I would have, I didn’t” and “I just wanted you to know what I felt like”. oh, and he spent a great deal of time alternating between martyr man and rage man demanding I have the protective order rescinded, but trust, almost being murdered does help give you clarity. I spent huge bucks on an attorney to ensure that PO stayed in place. Why did it cost me so much you ask? Well, see above, I was on a deferred dismissal probation for DV….

    and yes, my ex husband threatened to kill himself many times before the gun incident when I refused to reconcile.

  72. shfree
    shfree March 10, 2012 at 1:12 pm |

    The thing is, we can’t help how we feel. We can, however, control how we express our feelings. That is what I always tell myself, and what I tell my daughter.

  73. flatline
    flatline March 10, 2012 at 3:28 pm |

    @52:Mztress

    Hmmm, I wonder why that is? Oh yeah! It’s because damn everyone on the planet has had a female friend, relative, or coworker whose male partner isolates her or beats the shit out of her. True story.

    … no it isn’t, I for example have never had any female friends, relatives, or coworkers, other than my mother, and my parents certainly don’t beat each other. lets not let our assumptions get the better of us.

    @60: kungfulola

    “Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.” – Margaret Atwood

    … Those men are nieve and stupid. I fear female violence far more than them “laughing at me”, and while my memory is a little fuzzy about the last time I was laughed at by a woman, I do remember the last time I was stabbed by one.

    sigh, she really needs to get away from a destructive personality like that before things get worse, but if dude really is being charged with DV for “getting mad and breaking a plate” thats some messed up shit.

  74. AMM
    AMM March 10, 2012 at 4:03 pm |

    Alexandra @39

    I wonder what it says about me and my homelife and childhood that I read this column, and Mr. Tennis’s response, and thought, “Well, that sounds about normal for a relationship. Just one plate broken? Only screaming? What’s the big deal?”

    For some reason, this was an “aha!” moment for me. I already “knew” (sort of) that a frequent reason people get into relationships like this is that they’ve grown up in a family where that sort of behavior is considered normal. But, in a sort of free-association way, I suddenly connected this with the friends and family (esp. family) who so often say “but that just shows how much he loves you!” Because if they admitted that the abusee is in fact being abused, they’d have to admit that a lot of what passed and passes for “normal” in their own lives is actually abuse. Having everybody around you treat this stuff as normal helps reinforce the idea that this is, indeed, the normal way to live.

    I guess what I’m realizing is, “it takes a whole village to maintain an abusive relationship.”

  75. AMM
    AMM March 10, 2012 at 4:40 pm |

    54
    armillaria

    I do think it’s fucked up for the cops to arrest him over this, and the restraining-order issue should have been left up to the woman, not them.

    IMHO, this is a Domestic Violence 101 question.

    The reason it is not left up to the woman is that, especially in the worst cases of abuse, the woman doesn’t dare request a restraining order.

    As for whether he should have been arrested, the cops were there, we weren’t, and there is internal evidence in the LW’s story that he is not telling the whole truth. I strongly suspect that the police report would contain a lot of details that the LW convienently left out, details which would have given the cops ample reason to believe that the LW was an immediate danger to himself and others, and especially to his soon-to-be-ex.

    I don’t think it’s wrong or irrational to prefer ending life on one’s own terms. It’s just what happens when pain exceeds methods of coping with it.

    You are conveniently leaving out the manipulative way that he presented his suicide threat. It was not a rational choice to end his pain, it was a threat intended to prevent his girlfriend from leaving him. Also, it sounded to many of us here (and probably to the cops) as though, if he did ultimately decide to “end his life on his own terms,” those “own terms” might include killing his (ex-)girlfriend.

  76. Comradde PhysioProffe
    Comradde PhysioProffe March 10, 2012 at 4:56 pm |

    Salon is nothing but Parade magazine for liberals.

  77. DragonBreath
    DragonBreath March 10, 2012 at 6:20 pm |

    Funny how things turn up; I should have paid more attention to the disclaimer. Run girl run and don’t look back.

  78. Katherine
    Katherine March 10, 2012 at 7:04 pm |

    “You are lucky to have these women in your life, and your girlfriend is lucky to have you. It’s not like there are a million really great men out there; it’s not like she can just go and pick one and be off to her perfect life.”

    Funny, there are a lot more controlling shit-heads out there than we think. Relationships can easily become toxic without many realizing it. Why do you think there are stories on verbal abuse sites about someone staying with their emotionally abusive partner for 13 years, and yet the victim was the only person who knew about their partner being a shit-head?

    The guy who wrote back, oh that disgusting guy who wrote back. . .

    I do hope the guy’s girlfriend is far, far away from him.

  79. librarygoose
    librarygoose March 10, 2012 at 7:25 pm |

    I for example have never had any female friends, relatives, or coworkers, other than my mother, and my parents certainly don’t beat each other. lets not let our assumptions get the better of us.

    I have a mother, sister, and multiple friends that were the victims of abuse. The occurrences of my experience far out weighs the instances of yours. You assume yours is normal, don’t let your assumptions get the better of you.

  80. Sarah Harper
    Sarah Harper March 10, 2012 at 8:54 pm |

    Everybody here’s going to jump on me for this, but I’ll say it anyway.

    Near everyone’s comments here besides armillaria’s make me want to throw up. I suppose we’re all supposed to hate this guy for being an abuser, but what I see is a case of this guy being abused by the police and then by doctors.

    And then you well-meaning people all shoot the shit about his “disorders” and how he needs therapy, medication, etc…presumably that shit will cure him whether he wants it or not…and how if somebody threatens suicide over a breakup it’s manipulation not love, because just getting over it is so much more loving right?

    Not that this guy isn’t necessarily an asshole–it sounds like he tries to damage her self-esteem and isolate her from others, classic emotional abuse behaviors–but, are you guys really saying it’s ok to be jailed then hospitalized because you broke a plate and threatened suicide over a breakup? I would feel physically safer around this guy than around most of you “healthy” commenters.

    –someone who’s been forcibly hospitalized for suicide threats

  81. ginmar
    ginmar March 10, 2012 at 9:04 pm |

    #82, do you know anything about abusers at all? Because it sounds like you’re accepting everything he says as the truth, which is impossible if you’ve ever dealt with an abuser.

  82. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable March 10, 2012 at 9:31 pm |

    and how if somebody threatens suicide over a breakup it’s manipulation not love, because just getting over it is so much more loving right?

    Well, obviously the only two choices are suicide and “just getting over it.” And one has to be loving.

    Threatening/committing suicide is not an act of love. It is an act of desperation.

    And yeah. It’s okay to be hospitalized if you are a real and legitimate danger to yourself or others. I am perfectly okay with that, and frankly think that anyone who disagrees is an asshole.

  83. Bloix
    Bloix March 10, 2012 at 9:58 pm |

    He was arrested and charged with “criminal mischief” for breaking his own plate in his own sink in his own apartment.

    To me, cops are the enemy. Their first response is to kick someone who is already down. It’s amazing that they didn’t taser him while they were at it.

    As for Tennis, the thing to keep in mind is that he’s a former alcoholic and drug addict and a slacker who couldn’t hold a job. He’s seen a lot worse behavior than this, and probably done a lot worse. And he believes that people who do bad things are nonetheless real human beings who can recover and go on to live happy and productive lives. The commenters here all seem to think that the guy is a creep and the woman is Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. Tennis comes to the letter with the unstated presumption that they are both likely to be fairly fucked up. That’s his life experience.

    And if there’s any lesson to be taken from this pathetic story it’s this: DO NOT tell your significant other that you are leaving and then stay in the apartment for two more weeks. The time to say “I’m leaving you for good” is when you’ve already arranged for someplace else to live. Say it and get the hell out.

  84. Sarah Harper
    Sarah Harper March 10, 2012 at 10:03 pm |

    If you must know: I was in a relationship last year with someone who, while he didn’t hit me, did once punch the kitchen cabinet hard enough to damage it and then tell me “this could’ve been your face.” I still would feel far safer around him than around, say, PrettyAmiable. Because the worst he could do to me is beat me up or kill me, and I could defend myself against him physically as a person fighting one-on-one against another person, and the law and society in general would not be on his side in that case. Whereas if someone hospitalizes me by force, I have no legal redress, mainstream society will say I needed the “help”, and I may have to face a situation like what happened when I was hospitalized at age fifteen, where four people held me down on a table while a fifth pulled my pants down and injected me in the ass with tranquilizers.

  85. DonnaL
    DonnaL March 10, 2012 at 10:54 pm |

    He’s seen a lot worse behavior than this, and probably done a lot worse.

    I have no doubt of that.


    Tennis comes to the letter with the unstated presumption that they are both likely to be fairly fucked up. That’s his life experience.

    Then he has no damn business writing an advice column. What a shit.

  86. Jackie
    Jackie March 10, 2012 at 11:10 pm |

    He sounds like a little boy who doesn’t know why he got in trouble for doing a bad thing. I wouldn’t want to be involved with a man who acted more like a boy either.

  87. EG
    EG March 10, 2012 at 11:45 pm |

    I still would feel far safer around him than around, say, PrettyAmiable. Because the worst he could do to me is beat me up or kill me, and I could defend myself against him physically as a person fighting one-on-one against another person, and the law and society in general would not be on his side in that case.

    Are you paying attention to how the law and society in general usually treat men who beat or even kill their female partners? Don’t put money on them being on your side.

    To me, cops are the enemy. Their first response is to kick someone who is already down.

    Which is why it’s so remarkable and praiseworthy that in this case, they acted against an abuser. If they were going to kick someone who was already down in this situation, they would have admonished the woman for wasting their time.

    The commenters here all seem to think that the guy is a creep and the woman is Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm.

    No. A creep is somebody who stands too close to you at a party and refuses to leave you alone when you’ve made it clear you’re not interested in him. Commenters here are correctly identifying this guy as an abusive asshole, and are aware that women need not be Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm to deserve better than an abusive asshole.

  88. EG
    EG March 10, 2012 at 11:59 pm |

    Whereas if someone hospitalizes me by force, I have no legal redress, mainstream society will say I needed the “help”, and I may have to face a situation like what happened when I was hospitalized at age fifteen, where four people held me down on a table while a fifth pulled my pants down and injected me in the ass with tranquilizers.

    Let’s see, worry about the potential consequences to an abuser of calling the cops for help, or worry about the safety of his girlfriend? Consequences to the abuser, safety of his girlfriend…hmm…which do I care more about? Let me think. This one is a toughie…

    Fortunately, after about ten seconds of hard thought, I remembered that I don’t give two shits about what happens to men who abuse women, especially in comparison to the safety of those women. I am very sorry that your agency, privacy, and dignity were stripped from you when you were so young. But I couldn’t possibly care less about that happening to some abusive, manipulative scumbag.

  89. EG
    EG March 11, 2012 at 12:01 am |

    Well, obviously the only two choices are suicide and “just getting over it.”

    Right? I mean, when my first boyfriend broke up with me, I cried for weeks and weeks and sunk into a depression and missed him terribly. Funny thing, even when I felt hopeless about my life, it didn’t occur to me to call him up and threaten him with my suicide. I guess that means I never really loved him.

    Which, actually, is kind of a relief, because he was a dick.

  90. LotusBen
    LotusBen March 11, 2012 at 4:08 am |

    And if there’s any lesson to be taken from this pathetic story it’s this: DO NOT tell your significant other that you are leaving and then stay in the apartment for two more weeks. The time to say “I’m leaving you for good” is when you’ve already arranged for someplace else to live. Say it and get the hell out.

    Classic victim blaming bullshit.

    Are you guys really saying it’s ok to be jailed then hospitalized because you broke a plate and threatened suicide over a breakup?

    I don’t really trust this guy’s version of events. He–at least–screamed at his ex and broke a plate, probably in front of her (he conveniently leaves out the details of how exactly the plate was broken). That’s emotional abuse. She understandably felt scared. And who knows what other threatening things he might have done or said that he left out. So I think she was right to call the cops. And since he was an imminent threat to her safety, I think it makes sense to detain him in jail for as long as the threat remains.

    I do agree with your position on forcible hospitalization and suicide. I don’t think anyone should ever be subjected to psychiatric treatment against their will for any reason because it’s an infringement on their right to bodily and mental integrity. I also think that suicide is not inherently wrong and no one should be pressured to stay alive if they don’t want to. But what happened to this guy–at least initially–is different. This guy was a threat to his ex, and he didn’t have a right to be. Detaining him for her safety (for as long as it takes her to secure her safety) makes sense to me.

    One last thing to note is I’m not even quite sure if he was hospitalized involuntarily. All he says is “I was hospitalized,” which sounds ambigious to me, so it’s possible he consented to it.

  91. flatline
    flatline March 11, 2012 at 5:52 am |

    I have a mother, sister, and multiple friends that were the victims of abuse. The occurrences of my experience far out weighs the instances of yours. You assume yours is normal, don’t let your assumptions get the better of you.

    Im not quit sure with what this has to do with my response. The posted comment I was responding to said “everyone on the planet has had a female [in their lives who has been assaulted]“. My response was simply that this is false because some of us have no females in our lives at all (amongst other reasons).

  92. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable March 11, 2012 at 8:04 am |

    I still would feel far safer around him than around, say, PrettyAmiable. Because the worst he could do to me is beat me up or kill me, and I could defend myself against him physically as a person fighting one-on-one against another person, and the law and society in general would not be on his side in that case. Whereas if someone hospitalizes me by force,

    Ohai. Have you been friends with people who have been hospitalized for threatening or attempting suicide? I have. The role I had: none. The role a bottle of Tylenol had/self-discussion over wanting to kill themselves in a frank manner = 100%. I don’t know why you were hospitalized, and I don’t really give a shit. Obviously people are hospitalized when they shouldn’t be. That doesn’t make it okay for you to excuse an abuser and suggest he shouldn’t be taken away from his victim.

    Also, given that the friend who attempted is now a lawyer, has a dog she loves, is happier than she’s ever been, and is getting married in two months, I’m glad she didn’t succeed. I’m glad she ended up in a hospital. Granted, neither friend was tranquilized, so consider that your experience may be atypical. Maybe the solution isn’t “DON’T GET PEOPLE HELP WHEN THEY NEED IT AND MAY NOT BE COMFORTABLE GETTING IT OMG WTF” but “Let’s address how to best get suicidal people help. There are problems in place now. How can we fix them.”

    And to repeat – suicide is NEVER committed out of love.

  93. Callie
    Callie March 11, 2012 at 9:06 am |

    Carey is not only horrible at giving advice, he’s a special kind of horrible. He’s a well know AA/Alanon (he mentions it in his columns so this is not outing anyone) participator. You can see this reflected in the kind of advice that he gives, which focuses on the sick individual rather than advising the healthy one to get out.

  94. DouglasG
    DouglasG March 11, 2012 at 9:58 am |

    Given that, in my time, my mother’s breaking a plate on my father’s head was basically seen as No Big Deal, I prefer the current system – when it’s applied properly, of course. It is a bit warped that at first the letter almost read like no big deal, but then I remembered that there were broken plates in the sink before broken plates on the head.

  95. anon this time
    anon this time March 11, 2012 at 10:59 am |

    Variation on the yanking-the-phone-out story.

    I’m calling 911 during an event of domestic violence. I wasn’t being hit, but I was being trapped in a room and not allowed to leave. But at least that room had a phone.

    While I’m on the phone, the abuser gets on the other line and starts disputing my version of events with the dispatcher.

    I don’t know if that bumped up the priority, but I bet it sounded pretty messed up to an outsider. And a cop was at our front door in about two minutes.

  96. f.
    f. March 11, 2012 at 12:06 pm |

    Just because you feel threatened doesn’t mean any actual threat has been made or even implied. Male anger is often frightening to women, but men have every bit as much right to their anger as you do to your fear. You do not have a constitutional right to never feel uncomfortable.

    Breaking objects and threatening suicide are not OK ways of expressing anger – not “male anger” and not “female anger”. If a male friend of mine told me this exact story about his female live-in partner, I’d instantly offer to set up a mattress on the floor of my apartment for him and tell him he could call me any time, 24/7. Because it’s abuse. It is threatening, and it’s rational to be frightened of such behavior.

  97. gratuituous_violet
    gratuituous_violet March 11, 2012 at 1:58 pm |

    So, according to some people, we should never call the police on potential assailants, because the worst they could do to us is KILL us, but somebody ELSE might be hospitalized against their will.

    Indeed. Look, the system is far from perfect. But insisting that women and others in abusive situations forgo one of the very few options available to us (and, let’s face it, many of us don’t even have THOSE options the first place) to protect ourselves until we as a society completely rehabilitate both our corrupt “justice” system and our coercive mental “health” system is fucked up. Once again, we ‘re supposed to take care of everyone else before we take care of ourselves. Gee, this doesn’t sound familiar in the least.

  98. i've been there
    i've been there March 11, 2012 at 4:06 pm |

    i’ve threatened suicide before in a relationship and once almost made good on it. most of you are right, it isn’t out of love. it’s out of an overwhelming desperation to have love that we erroneously or not perceive to be denied to us. yes, it is objectively manipulative behavior, but usually the person making those suicidal threats do not see it that way at the time – they see it as their only choice for eliminating their pain and getting the love that they feel they need. if you’ve been in this man’s shoes or in my shoes, maybe you would understand the utter desperation one feels to make such a dramatic gesture. it’s a horrible, helpless feeling. in my case, followed by enormous guilt and shame that years later still brings me to my knees.

    there are better ways to cope with the perceived loss of pain, it’s true, and there is no justifiable reason to act aggressively. but this realization doesn’t come to everyone in the moment. often people like us suffer from mental illness (borderline personality disorder is a good example) – many are women – and there is a journey to understand it, treat it, gently cope with it. why do we sabotage our opportunities for love and acceptance? why do we turn away the people we want to keep close? why do we resort to horrible threats or gestures instead of reacting rationally to situations that bring us pain? how do we stop our own destructive tendencies? these are the questions i ask myself every day, multiple times a day, to try and get better so i can have a healthy, mutually beneficial relationship.

    it’s tough on the partner. i think he knows i am trying to get better and he appreciates it, but when he lets his frustration show it kills me. you feel so inadequate, you fall into self-pity and self-hatred. but how is he supposed to hide his feelings all the time? it sometimes feels like a constant competition between our needs but nobody ever wins. if he leaves i will let him go without a fuss but i will certainly feel like a failure. whether the partner stays or leaves – no matter what you think the “right” thing to do – this is not my call to make. the letter writer has to learn that and accept it. if a lover or acquaintance along the way feels threatened of course they have every right to leave.

    i would encourage you all to try to have compassion for both the letter writer and his girlfriend.

    i feel for the woman who wants to leave this man because she wants to be happy, she’s not happy, and he’s making it hard for her to leave. but i also feel for him, because he is in pain, he is fearful he will never be a good partner to anyone, he worries what he will do if there is no one there to take care of him, he knows he is his own worst enemy, but in his heart of hearts he too wants desperately to be happy and to give and receive love. maybe he needs to let go of her and focus on getting right in his mind. it’s very hard to do. i know how he feels. i wish both of them well.

  99. fifi
    fifi March 11, 2012 at 4:55 pm |

    I’m disappointed in Cary Tennis for this response. One of the reasons I started reading his columns is because he neatly once pierced the conceit of a man who wrote in for advice about why he was being a ‘nice guy’ and getting nowhere with women, and Tennis tactfully told him he needed to go think long and hard about what he wanted, how he behaved and from where his dissatisfaction with his relationships with women emanated.

    Then he started link-baiting with ever more dramatic problems, then started giving out superficial and ill-conceived advice like this. :(

  100. Skye
    Skye March 11, 2012 at 6:12 pm |

    @97

    This could be me-with the variation that my ex 1. yanked the phone away and ended the call as soon as I got through to 911 and 2. when the dispatchers called back, attempted to convince them that I was “distraught, had been in hospital, was on meds and didn’t know what was going on.”

    Thankfully, the cops were having none of it, and also showed up within 5 minutes.

    So yes: this is why automatic arrests happen in suspected domestic violence cases. The accused will always try to downplay what happened, or tell an outright lie.

    Furthermore: a full four hours passed between when my ex was arrested and when he was formally charged. Why the gap? The cops were investigating both our turns of events, of course, and if it transpired that I was indeed just “distraught”, he would have been let go.

    So no matter how much this letter writer insists he was arrested for breaking a plate, I’d bet my next paycheque one hell of a lot more happened. That’s WHY automatic arrest laws are in place.

  101. Skye
    Skye March 11, 2012 at 7:39 pm |

    Excuse the double post…..

    …….I think a crucial takeaway here is society, in general, needs to be educated on what an abuser really sounds like.

    Very few are the Hollywood caricatures we’ve come to know, the ones who spout lines like “women are the property of men, now make me a sandwich!”. As too many posters here can tell you, the language of the abuser is much more subtle, insidious, and often makes the abuser sound sensitive and caring.

    They sound, in fact, like the letter writer above.

    It’s time to educate everyone, from adolescence and onward, what an abuser sounds like.

  102. Bloix
    Bloix March 11, 2012 at 10:17 pm |

    Some people might find Tennis’s advice to today’s letter-writer a little more to their taste:

    http://www.salon.com/topic/since_you_asked/ (“I found heroin in my boyfriend’s pocket”)

    Tennis’s advice: “Cease communication with your ex-boyfriend, cancel any plans for a future together, and go back to the West Coast.

    That is the prudent and reasonable thing to do.”

    The thing about Tennis is that he doesn’t see his role as judging his correspondents. He’s trying to give them helpful advice. If an asshole writes in, he tries to give advice that will make the person a bit less of an asshole. If a deeply depressed person writes in, he tries to give encouraging and optimistic advice. If a naive and trusting person writes in, he tries to give her clear-eyed advice without condescending to her. What makes him different from the average agony aunt is that he responds to letters from people who are far more damaged and dysfunctional you get in the usual run of advice columns.

    He gives a lot of points for trying, and more for even the slightest glimmer of introspection. This letter writer, for instance, gets a huge amount of credit for his grudging understanding that his girlfriend left him because he behaved badly toward her. (Go read the full letter. There’s not one negative word about her.)

    And note how gently Tennis expresses his skepticism that the guy is telling the full story. “Now maybe there are things I don’t know. I’m just hearing your side. You’re a guy. I’m a guy.”

    Tennis would never tell someone more than he thinks the person can handle. For example, he would never tell a potentially suicidal correspondent, “your girlfriend is better off without you.” He’s never, ever going to condemn a correspondent for being who he is.

  103. suspect class
    suspect class March 11, 2012 at 11:20 pm |

    The thing about Tennis is that he doesn’t see his role as judging his correspondents. He’s trying to give them helpful advice.

    PSA: It is not helpful to tell an abuser that his girlfriend is lucky to have him. It is helpful to call an abuser on his shit.

  104. Does social stigma against extreme emotions provide cover for domestic abusers? « Pissed Off Woman

    [...] a blog I’ve spent many enjoyable hours procrastinating on, recently re-posted the tale of a guy who wrote to an advice column about how to get back with his ex-girlfriend.  [...]

  105. Hugh
    Hugh March 12, 2012 at 1:38 am |

    Jill:

    You said “you are even allowed to be suicidal without being a manipulative, abusive asshole.”

    But you also said: “I am ok with forced hospitalization if you’re a danger to yourself ”

    So it’s OK to be suicidal, but not sufficiently OK for you not to be hospitalised against your will?

  106. Sarah Harper
    Sarah Harper March 12, 2012 at 2:53 am |

    Have you been friends with people who have been hospitalized for threatening or attempting suicide?

    I am friends with someone who voluntarily hospitalized himself because the voices were telling him to die, and was then kept in there involuntarily for almost a year. By the time he came out, his self-confidence and optimism had plunged to rock bottom, and he was consumed with a bitter hatred of doctors. I’ve myself been hospitalized involuntarily for precisely that reason–not that you give a shit. Funny how abuse suddenly becomes OK when it’s done by the system.

    ***

    OK, I’m going to stop here. No more replying to toxic comments. No more reading toxic shit. I wrote a blog post that covers some of what I think about the larger issues this discussion has brought up for me. It’s a good essay, it’s done, and now I am going to think about other things.

    To armillaria, Soullite, flatline, Bloix, and Hugh: thank you.

    To most of the other commenters: fuck you. I sincerely hope and pray I never meet any of you in person. I shouldn’t even have to say this, but that last sentence was not a threat–just an expression of how deeply threatened I feel by what I’ve read here, from people who otherwise seem so nice, progressive, feminist etc. but yet are so willing to declare my feelings worthless, my rights non-existent.

    Jill, PLEASE add a trigger warning at the top of this post for encouragement of psychiatric abuse. I have been beyond fucking triggered by all of this.

  107. Crys T
    Crys T March 12, 2012 at 5:48 am |

    Jesus. As someone who’s struggled with suicidal thoughts for most of my life, I don’t even want to address most of the crap that’s come up here.

    So I’ll just focus on the trivial: for the love of Christ, it’s “Ay, ay, ay,” NOT “Ay, yi, yi.” If you’re going to appropriate my culture, at least have the fucking courtesy to do it right.

  108. EG
    EG March 12, 2012 at 6:44 am |

    To most of the other commenters: fuck you….people who otherwise seem so nice, progressive, feminist etc. but yet are so willing to declare my feelings worthless, my rights non-existent.

    You know, fuck you right back. Fuck you for jumping to the defense of an abuser, and fuck you for claiming that it’s our duty as progressives and feminists to care what happens to him, and to prioritize that above the safety of his ex. If you are so wrapped up your own traumatic experiences that you can’t see the trauma that this asshole was/is inflicting on his ex, because you can’t get beyond certain surface similarities between his feelings and yours, you are the one who is making your own feelings and rights worthless.

    He’s trying to give them helpful advice. If an asshole writes in, he tries to give advice that will make the person a bit less of an asshole.

    How does his advice do that? Not saying bad things about the ex and saying “maybe because we’re both guys I’m missing something” do nothing to make someone less of an asshole. You know what might? Being, as suspect class says, called on his shitty behavior, or even being encouraged to develop some fucking empathy for his ex and to leave her alone.

  109. Bloix
    Bloix March 12, 2012 at 7:18 am |

    #106 – no, it’s not particularly helpful to tell a potential suicide, in a letter, that he’s a bad person and that the world would be better off without him. It might be helpful to you, the reader, but that’s not what Tennis does.

    #110 – it’s not your “duty” to care about him. You have the absolute right to hate his guts and say so. You can hope that he puts the rope around his neck already and leave the women of the world alone. Tennis isn’t going to join you in that. He thinks that all human beings have worth. You don’t. It’s a basic philosophical difference.

    “Develop some fucking empathy for his ex and leave her alone.” Um, he tells him to leave her alone. He says it gently, but that’s what he tells him. He doesn’t say, try to patch things up. He says, if she’s gone, she’s gone, and you’ll have to get over her.

  110. Lara Emily Foley
    Lara Emily Foley March 12, 2012 at 7:27 am |

    To most of the other commenters: fuck you. I sincerely hope and pray I never meet any of you in person. I shouldn’t even have to say this, but that last sentence was not a threat–just an expression of how deeply threatened I feel by what I’ve read here, from people who otherwise seem so nice, progressive, feminist etc. but yet are so willing to declare my feelings worthless, my rights non-existent.

    If they completely ignored the incident and he came back and fucking killed himself and her, all would have been great right? Because at least he didn’t get arrested/hospitalized involuntary, cause that in the end is what matters most, better an abuser (and let’s be real he admits to being one) be protected from hospitalization then an abused be protected from potential harm or death. I’d like to note he clearly wasn’t locked up in prison or in hospital for very fucking long given he’s writing a letter for advice on how to get her back and stuff.

    Look bad shit happens with police and doctors, (appallingly often to women and victims of abuse), but that doesn’t mean it’s never the solution and like I said in this case it seemed to have gone down relatively properly given that both are still alive, he’s not locked up and she’s not with him.

    In the end I’m sorry but your entire line of thought leads to an implication that you feel it’s better for a few women to be murdered by abusive partners if it means no one will ever be hospitalized for being suicidal, violent and threatening. So I guess what I am saying is fuck you too.

  111. Lara Emily Foley
    Lara Emily Foley March 12, 2012 at 7:34 am |

    “Develop some fucking empathy for his ex and leave her alone.” Um, he tells him to leave her alone. He says it gently, but that’s what he tells him. He doesn’t say, try to patch things up. He says, if she’s gone, she’s gone, and you’ll have to get over her.

    Like fuck he is.

    “[...] and your girlfriend is lucky to have you. It’s not like there are a million really great men out there; it’s not like she can just go and pick one and be off to her perfect life. Frankly, it strikes me as kind of a sin and a damned shame to throw something like this away. [...] But it sounds like she really loves you and neither one of you has good relationship problem-solving skills, and there’s no reason to believe she’s going to find someone better. [...] This sounds like an unfortunate breakup, and I hope you two can find a solution.

    Sure he sprinkled in a bit of you might have to move on, but mostly he’s telling this dude that she’s lucky to have him, that he clearly had something good, and that it’s a sin for it to go away. So again like fuck he is.

  112. EG
    EG March 12, 2012 at 7:49 am |

    Seconding everything Lara Emily Foley says.

    And adding that “develop some fucking empathy for his ex” was not just a frill in my comment. Not once does this asshole make any mention of how his girlfriend feels about him, of how she must have felt in trying to break up with a controlling, volatile man. If the point really is to make the letter-writer a better person, then the empathy part is crucial.

    Tennis isn’t going to join you in that. He thinks that all human beings have worth. You don’t. It’s a basic philosophical difference.

    If thinking that all human beings have worth leads to prioritizing the feelings of an abuser over the safety and feelings of the woman he has abused, I’ll stay on this side of the judgment.

  113. Marksman2010
    Marksman2010 March 12, 2012 at 8:39 am |

    Turns out my state has mandatory arrest for DV calls.

    After your experience, do you agree that these obligatory domestic violence arrests are complete nonsense?

  114. Skye
    Skye March 12, 2012 at 9:16 am |

    My ex was let off the hook by everyone around him-including me, at one point-for his abuse because he happened to be manic depressive.

    And he was well aware of this. “I’m manic” becaume his justification for losing his temper on everyone from the landlord to traffic cops. Every time he abused me, he excused it with a “why did you trigger me? I’m manic!”

    As for hospitalizing people against their willl, as I mentioned earlier, he was only too happy to attempt to convince the police I was mentally ill and to drag me away, if it saved his own skin. To elaborate: he bragged that the cops would cart me off because I was hysterical, and continued to insist that I’d swallowed “all my medication” once the cops arrived.

    So excuse me if I feel mental issues are no excuse for partner assault. And excuse me if I feel the safety of the person being assaulted trumps that of the assaulter, no matter their mental state.

  115. ASH
    ASH March 12, 2012 at 9:55 am |

    After reading all of the comments, I’m a little bothered that some commenters have tried to turn this around into a mental illness issue for the letter writer instead of an issue of domestic violence, which it is.

    To get that part out of the way, was he hospitalized? Yes. Did it say he was involuntarily? No. It doesn’t say anything about how long or under whose direction he was hospitalized. If he is indeed, mentally ill, I would hope that he is continuing treatment outside of being admitted to an inpatient mental health facility.

    Red flags:
    -Negative
    -Critical
    -Admits that he has abandonment issues (many abusers do)
    -Low self confidence
    -Does not like when she is away with friends and family too long (isolation from support system)
    -Family is suspicious of him, not because of above said behaviors, but some of “shared groupthink”.
    – Says that they had a screaming match in which he “never raised his voice” (this doesn’t even make sense and starts to paint the picture of minimizing)
    -Threatens suicide (typical abusive behavior)
    – Breaks objects
    -Continues to try to get back together with her because they have broken up and gotten back together before (anyone else wondering WHY that happened).

    The one part of the story that bothered me the most, is that he said that their relationship was really good because they could sit at home and do puzzles and talk for hours. I think it bothers me the most because it is indicative of how alot of abusive controlling partners would prefer their relationship. She’s like his own toy that will only pay attention to him, no one else is around to compete with, and there’s no threat of him potentially losing attention in the very near future. I wonder, as someone who has known abusers and survied an abusive relationship that has weird similarities to this one, is did she stay there and talk to him for hours because she wanted to or was it to keep the peace? What kind of barrage of questions would she have had to endure if she were to go out and spend time with someone else.

    The problem that we have is that people think abusers are only like the Hollywood manufactured nightmares. Yes, those monsters exist. So do ones like this guy. The ones who think that you exist to make their life easier; to be their mommy, even if it sucks the life OUT OF YOU. When you’ve had enough of being mommy to a man-child, THIS is the kind of crap that happens; up to and including the tantrums and minimizing he is doing in this letter. I don’t see any accountablity on his part because he just wants her to come back home and be “mommy” because it is all about HIM. Anyone that has endured this kind of treatment knows EXACTLY what I am talking about.

  116. Bloix
    Bloix March 12, 2012 at 10:23 am |

    #115 – right. Your view is that an advice columnist’s job is to judge and condemn. Tennis’s view is that he’s there to help the person that is in front of him. Tennis’s world is small, and made up of individuals.

    #166- “excuse me if I feel the safety of the person being assaulted trumps that of the assaulter, no matter their mental state.”

    Well, no. I don’t excuse you. What you’ve written is that you really don’t care if a person is pushed over into suicide even where the person he “assaulted” – scare quotes entirely justified – is not in any danger from him whatsoever. I don’t excuse you for it.

    In this little drama that we’re commenting on, the writer of the letter is not challenging the restraining order. He’s obeying it. He’s trying to figure out how to get along with his life, and Tennis is trying to help him. But your view is that he shouldn’t be helped. He should be condemned and told, “You are an evil person and the world would be better with you out of it.”

    #117 – “What should society do if a person is clearly suicidal?”

    A number of your readers seem to think that society has an obligation to help the person along.

  117. Lara Emily Foley
    Lara Emily Foley March 12, 2012 at 11:29 am |

    He’s not even fucking suicidal anymore. He bloody acknowledges that he came out of whatever treatment (or whatever you want to call it) he went through that threatening suicide was stupid. He flat out says he’s not suicidal.

    And not a fucking soul here has said he should kill himself, merely that he shouldn’t be fucking lionized by a fucking advice columnist. He shouldn’t be told that she was lucky to have him, that she’ll probably never find someone better anyway. He shouldn’t be told that it’s such a sin that his relationship failed. That’s all enabling bullshit and is fucking worthless to this guy and dangerous to his ex.

    Seriously, for fuck sakes.

  118. Lara Emily Foley
    Lara Emily Foley March 12, 2012 at 11:33 am |

    Also who the fuck “pushed” him in to suicide. He’s the one who freaked the fuck out by all accounts when she just wanted to break up.

  119. EG
    EG March 12, 2012 at 11:43 am |

    Tennis’s view is that he’s there to help the person that is in front of him. Tennis’s world is small, and made up of individuals.

    Sure, and if helping the person in front of him means validating that person’s abusive actions, who cares, right? The only individuals in his small world are the men who write to him, after all.

    And not a fucking soul here has said he should kill himself, merely that he shouldn’t be fucking lionized by a fucking advice columnist. He shouldn’t be told that she was lucky to have him, that she’ll probably never find someone better anyway. He shouldn’t be told that it’s such a sin that his relationship failed.

    Well, you know, saying a man is abusive is just like telling him to go kill himself.

  120. Lara Emily Foley
    Lara Emily Foley March 12, 2012 at 11:48 am |

    And I am going to reiterate for a third fucking time by his own account the hospitalization did him some good. The only thing that’s pissing him off now is that he can’t talk to her because the law is ruining his life.

  121. EG
    EG March 12, 2012 at 11:55 am |

    Also who the fuck “pushed” him in to suicide. He’s the one who freaked the fuck out by all accounts when she just wanted to break up.

    Well, women are required to put the emotional needs of everyone around them above their own. Didn’t you know that?

  122. mary
    mary March 12, 2012 at 12:14 pm |

    the person he “assaulted” – scare quotes entirely justified

    Minimizing horseshit. You are NOT doing the LW any favors with this line of defense.

  123. petpluto
    petpluto March 12, 2012 at 12:14 pm |

    Your view is that an advice columnist’s job is to judge and condemn. Tennis’s view is that he’s there to help the person that is in front of him. Tennis’s world is small, and made up of individuals.

    Actually, my view is that there are situations where the advice given to one party should mirror advice given to the other party. In this case, “This was a bad relationship, and neither one of you should be in it”. This isn’t like if I insult your shoes and I write in and am told, “Yeah, you should apologize” and if you write in you’re told, “Yeah, you should get over that”.

    If the ex-girlfriend were to write in, I would hope Tennis wouldn’t tell her that she was just searching for perfection and Plate Breaker here was the best she could hope for. I would hope that he wouldn’t look at what was in the letter and tell her that it would be a “sin and a shame” to break up such a relationship. I would hope he wouldn’t tell her that she was “lucky” to have someone who would attempt to isolate her from friends and family. I would hope that he would tell her that no matter what, she had a right to break up with this guy – but that also there seemed to be some real problems with this relationship, and that Plate Breaker and Plate Breaker’s mental health were not her responsibility. I would hope that he would point out that this sounds like abusive behavior.

    Plate Breaker could get that same advice. That his behavior was, in a word, unhealthy. That he shouldn’t expect or wait for his girlfriend to come back. That she has a right to break up with him, and that he (Tennis) is sorry that it hurts but that break ups usually do.

    What he should not do is call the break up a “sin and a damn shame”. Breaking up with someone is never a sin. Let me write that again: breaking up with someone is NEVER a sin. It may hurt. It may seem like it came out of the blue to the dumpee. It may seem unfair to the dumpee. But it is fully within the realm of acceptable actions. To call it a sin is to offer cover to Plate Breaker. As is the railing against the lack of common sense today (I mean, really?).

    What he should not do is bolster the guy’s self-esteem with the idea that there will never be anyone better for his ex than him. Is that an unhealthy idea or what? I love my partner more than most things in this world. I think I’m pretty good for him, and I know he’s pretty good for me. But there are other people out there who would be equally (though in different ways, probably) good for each of us if we were ever to break up. That’s normal. To make it seem like Plate Breaker is the best catch ever is not helpful. It isn’t advice. It may just be a platitude meant to make this guy feel better, but that platitude has real world implications. If not for this girlfriend, then for the next.

    Instead, Tennis could have told Plate Breaker that it looked like he had some areas he could work on in terms of future relationships. He could have told him that his ex-girlfriend had made her choice; and in no uncertain terms told him that was her choice to make instead of making it sound like she was making the biggest mistake of her life and oh was she going to look back and regret it some day.

    That’s what Tennis could have done without outright saying, “You’re an abuser and an asshole.” He could have offered solutions without being as hard hitting as some here would be if we had our own advice columns. What he shouldn’t have done was talk about how “sad” this break up made him and how he hopes these two crazy kids can work it out. That? Is the very definition of not helpful.

  124. Bloix
    Bloix March 12, 2012 at 12:20 pm |

    123- “The only individuals in his small world are the men who write to him, after all.”

    Tennis responds to both women and men. See, eg, http://www.salon.com/2012/03/12/i_found_heroin_in_my_boyfriends_pocket/singleton/

    #124 – “The only thing that’s pissing him off now is that he can’t talk to her because the law is ruining his life”

    A few weeks ago he and his girlfriend were planning their marriage and talking about baby names. Then she abruptly left him. He’s broken up about it.

    #125- “Well, women are required to put the emotional needs of everyone around them above their own.”

    The woman in this situation is gone. She has taken care of herself. We are listening to two men talk to each other. One is in emotional turmoil and the other one is trying to help. Neither one of them is telling the woman what she is required to do.

  125. EG
    EG March 12, 2012 at 12:27 pm |

    Right. It wasn’t either of them. It was you who spoke about “pushing” the letter writer to suicide.

  126. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub March 12, 2012 at 12:42 pm |

    No, Tenis is just implying that she’s terrible and misguided for leaving such a swell guy, that what he did is no big deal, etc.

    As are certain people in this thread, who seem to think that someone whose admitted behavior is indicative of emotional abuse that escalated to downright scary (destroying property and screaming at someone who is leaving you, coupled with threatening suicide when they leave), is no big deal and shouldn’t be considered scary, violent, or threatening at all. And that pointing out such behavior IS abusive and that minimizing it is not okay is just the same as telling the guy to go kill himself.

    Also? It’s telling that the abuse survivors posting here are assumed to have never been suicidal or mentally ill or in crisis. Just like when we talk about people with ASD or who are just shy or socially awkward, mental illness and depression only affect men, certainly not abuse survivors who have also been at the wrong end of a manipulative tantrum and the shaming of abuse enabling “friends” and family. And that the only person who deserves empathy and kindness here is the guy, who even in his version of events put his girlfriend through seven shades of hell.

    Tenis could have been empathetic without being enabling. It actually is possible, but he’d have to drop his snotty comments about how she’d never find anyone as good as the LW (really? a critical, isolating, lying dude who throws tantrums, screams and threatens self harm, and breaks shit when she cannot take it anymore and actually leaves? Oh, lucky her). He’d have to drop the “awww, that’s aaaaaallll you did?” BS. He’d have to drop the “I just wish you two could work it out” crap.

    If he actually wanted to be, you know, empathetic AND realistic, he could have said something along these lines:

    “Look. I know you feel hurt and abandoned right now, but you admit to doing a lot of stuff that alienated your ex girlfriend. If you want to live a whole life and have healthy relationships, I’d let this woman go in peace and focus on working on your issues. Getting angry when your romantic partner spends time with their friends and family isn’t healthy and it’s hurtful to your partner. Being critical of your partner isn’t healthy and it’s hurtful to your partner. Lying about your relationship status isn’t healthy and it’s hurtful to your partner. And screaming at your partner (while then saying you didn’t raise your voice) and threatening suicide probably had your partner and the cops worried you’d hurt her and/or yourself–you yourself said you fully intended to hang yourself. That’s not your ex girlfriend’s fault. If you’re in that much crisis, this relationship is the last thing you need, and you should leave your ex alone and focus on getting better. I suggest you talk to a good therapist and stay single for a while until you work this stuff out.”

    Look at that! Shows sympathy for his feelings while not letting him off the hook. It’s possible to do that without telling someone to kill themselves. It’s also possible to be critical of abuse-enabling rhetoric without telling an abuser to off himself. Oddly enough, no one here said the abuser (and the LW is an abuser) should kill himself, but true to form, the trolls have decided to construct huge strawfeminists rather than read what was actually written–either in the original Tenis column, the OP, or the responses here from abuse survivors. Why am I not surprised?

  127. gratuitous_violet
    gratuitous_violet March 12, 2012 at 1:37 pm |

    Well, I stand convinced. To make sure I don’t accidentally systematically oppress any future abusers of mine, I’ll skip 911 and go right to what’s always been my last-resort plan: enlisting several members of my large Mediterranean family who are always ready to solve problems with macho bullshit and a baseball bat to kneecap a motherfucker instead.

    Nobody who has problems with the system ever seems to like that answer either. Seriously, this is some backlash if we’re sitting around debating women’s right to protect themselves without being called horrible toxic people.

    Like we learned with that schwyzer crap, transformative justice and community accountability only work if everyone is committed to transformation and accountability. After reading this thread we have a hell of a way to go.

    Also, everything EG and Lara Emily said. Thank you both.

  128. Katya
    Katya March 12, 2012 at 3:18 pm |

    Nobody who has problems with the system ever seems to like that answer either.

    Yeah, I would agree that there are problems with our mental health system, but right now, what’s the alternative? That people should just tolerate abuse because it would be even worse to involve the police or mental health system? Or should we just handle it privately, which would probably involve a lot more violence, either because the abuser continues or escalates the violence, or the victim retaliates?

    My boyfriend is screaming and breaking things and threatening to kill himself, you bet I’m calling the cops. What else do I do? Just leave him to do it? It’s really better for someone to kill themselves than for me to take a chance that they might be mistreated in the hospital? Or I should just hope that he doesn’t destroy more of my stuff, or move on to inflicting damage on me? Why does the person being threatened or assaulted bear the responsibility for the system being flawed? Why shouldn’t they do the best they can given the system they live in, and save systemic change for a time when they are safe?

  129. suspect class
    suspect class March 12, 2012 at 3:59 pm |

    #106 – no, it’s not particularly helpful to tell a potential suicide, in a letter, that he’s a bad person and that the world would be better off without him. It might be helpful to you, the reader, but that’s not what Tennis does.

    Oh FFS. I never said anything about telling anyone they’re worthless. Which, of course, is clear from my comment. There’s plenty of area to tell someone their behavior is not okay, and to question the reliability of their version of events without telling them they’re worthless as a human being. There’s also plenty of room to disagree without putting words in others’ mouths. I suggest you look into it.

  130. gratuitous_violet
    gratuitous_violet March 12, 2012 at 4:44 pm |

    Katya, we’re in total agreement and I’m sorry if I didn’t make myself clear. You actually put it much more clearly than I did. I also believe the police system is flawed and corrupt and systematically violent, and I only brought up private violence as a response to the people on this thread suggesting that abuse victims need to abdicate one of our only options to protect ourselves in the name of the greater good. Sorry for the confusion.

  131. Bloix
    Bloix March 12, 2012 at 5:11 pm |

    #129- I was talking about the people who wanted Tennis to condemn the letter writer. There’s nothing in the letter, or in Tennis’s response – or my comments – to imply that the girlfriend was pushing the letter-writer to suicide.

    # 131- “Seriously, this is some backlash if we’re sitting around debating women’s right to protect themselves without being called horrible toxic people.”

    No one called the ex-girlfriend any word that comes close to “horrible” or “toxic.”

    If you read the letter again, you’ll see that the guy doesn’t assign blame to her, as abusers invariably do. He’s puzzled and hurt that she could go from choosing baby names with him to leaving him in two weeks. But that’s it. He never says, “she drove me crazy!” or any of the million harsher variations on that theme.

    #130- “And that the only person who deserves empathy and kindness here is the guy, who even in his version of events put his girlfriend through seven shades of hell.”

    No, not the only person. The person that Tennis was talking to. Tennis can’t talk to the girlfriend. He wonders if she’s making a mistake. But he doesn’t express hostility or unkindness to her.

    And “seven shades of hell?” Really? We know he put her through one unpleasant evening. That’s all we know.

    #132- “you bet I’m calling the cops.” Tennis actually agrees with you. He tells the guy: “But maybe, just maybe, she saved your life. Were you really going to hang yourself?”

    I’m the one that has doubts. When you call the cops on someone who is not in control of his or her emotions, you are running a risk that the person might be tased, shot, or beaten.

    Take a look at “Officer A” (#15). You can see the process of inventing an alternate story that would justify roughing the guy up a little. That’s what cops do.

  132. Alexandra
    Alexandra March 12, 2012 at 5:16 pm |

    And if there’s any lesson to be taken from this pathetic story it’s this: DO NOT tell your significant other that you are leaving and then stay in the apartment for two more weeks. The time to say “I’m leaving you for good” is when you’ve already arranged for someplace else to live. Say it and get the hell out.

    Actually, this is EXACTLY what I did with my abusive ex, due to various circumstances. Ironically, those 2 weeks were the best time 2 weeks in our entire relationship – which is not to say they were devote of the rage displays that made me end the relationship. During one of those he actually waved his fist in front of my face – of course, this was AFTER he has already hit me twice before, when we were still together (never with a fist, though). I find it very hard to believe it was the first time that the author of this letter threw a fit like that. He certainly suffers from depression, but that is no excuse. I used to discount my ex’s behavior for various things he went through – which were, indeed, horrible – but at some point I realized that I shouldn’t have to go through life on my tiptoes, afraid of his random outbursts, because of things that had nothing to do with me, and that I cannot devote my life to fixing him at the expense of my own peace of mind.
    RUN GIRL, RUN indeed.

  133. gratuitous_violet
    gratuitous_violet March 12, 2012 at 5:53 pm |

    Sorry for the double post, but this whole thread brings to mind the whole Schwyzer clusterfuck from a few months ago as directly correlated with my own experiences with abuse within a community of people agitating against the police state and economic injustice. In my experience, a whole shit-ton of abuse minimizing was done by a bunch of people who (at least claim to) have read The Revolution Begins At Home. I keep seeing the pattern play out in different venues, with different communities, but it’s always the same dance.

    We can make all the noise we want about how great it would be to move away from a model of police/institutional intervention towards a model of community accountability (and for record, my ideal of community accountability does not actually include my cousins stomping people), but we won’t even begin to approach that time until we can be arsed to put the safety and well-being of victims first, period, no compromises. Anything else requires us, as so succinctly stated above and in other conversations months ago, to put the responsibility of broken systems on the backs of abuse victims.

  134. Chiara
    Chiara March 12, 2012 at 6:24 pm |

    We can make all the noise we want about how great it would be to move away from a model of police/institutional intervention towards a model of community accountability

    Sorry I’m not trying to troll or anything but I have a question.

    I think there is a problem in the doing the ‘community accountability’ because doing a kind of forced community thing is a bit creepy and it doesn’t gel with peeps who just want to chill out in their own crib, and not bother about other people. For example in my country the conservatives what are in power are advocating a ‘big community’ and it basically means that they cut funds to all sorts of useful sh and then they say that the community should be helping each other out instead but obviously it’s rubbish because the community doesn’t have any money to help each other out even if they wanted to. Also it’s an affront to personal libertines. Having the police is 10x better even though prisons suck.

  135. FashionablyEvil
    FashionablyEvil March 12, 2012 at 6:41 pm |

    Sorry I’m not trying to troll or anything but I have a question.

    I think there is a problem in the doing the ‘community accountability’ because doing a kind of forced community thing is a bit creepy and it doesn’t gel with peeps who just want to chill out in their own crib, and not bother about other people. For example in my country the conservatives what are in power are advocating a ‘big community’ and it basically means that they cut funds to all sorts of useful sh and then they say that the community should be helping each other out instead but obviously it’s rubbish because the community doesn’t have any money to help each other out even if they wanted to. Also it’s an affront to personal libertines. Having the police is 10x better even though prisons suck.

    What exactly is your question? You don’t like the concept of community accountability and…?

  136. petpluto
    petpluto March 12, 2012 at 6:43 pm |

    Take a look at “Officer A” (#15). You can see the process of inventing an alternate story that would justify roughing the guy up a little. That’s what cops do.

    I’m not sure what you’re referring to in comment 15. There is nothing there that indicates Officer A is inventing anything. It’s not that long of a comment.

    I’m the one that has doubts. When you call the cops on someone who is not in control of his or her emotions, you are running a risk that the person might be tased, shot, or beaten.

    Sure, you risk that. But if you’re in a situation where someone is not in control of their emotions and you feel like you are in danger, then calling the cops shouldn’t be taken off the table because what they may do to the other person. Your health and safety comes FIRST. Full stop.

    I have no tolerance for making someone feel ashamed or worried about calling the police when they feel someone is a threat. I am wary of the police, but if I’m feeling threatened, you can bet I’ll be dialing 911. Because at that point, the other person is not my top concern.

  137. ASH
    ASH March 12, 2012 at 7:50 pm |

    “And “seven shades of hell?” Really? We know he put her through one unpleasant evening. That’s all we know”

    I disagree. Look at his own words:

    “There were some other issues that I acknowledge were my fault. She complained that I was too negative and too critical of her, and due to some issues with low self-confidence and insecurities about abandonment, I was often not OK with her spending too much time away from me with her friends and family.”

    Do you honestly believe that he was negative, critical, and needy for like, let’s say a week? Two weeks? How long does someone have to be negative, critical, and needy for it to qualify as emotional abuse? He says that they were together for five years. I can’t imagine that this was a new development in his personality. I could be wrong, but, eh, I’m going to guess that’s a big no.

    Also, if a complete stranger or even an acquaintance were to start arguing with you, escalating to a yelling match, including breaking objects and threatening suicide, I wonder if his consequences of behaving in such a way would necessitate any type of discussion of the potential of police misconduct or forced hospitalization.

  138. Hugh
    Hugh March 12, 2012 at 8:35 pm |

    “What should society do if a person is clearly suicidal? Ignore? Look the other way? Just let people kill themselves if they want, with no attempt at intervention?”

    That’s a strawman, Jill. It’s possible to intervene without hospitalisation. There are a variety of positions between the one you’re accusing me of having (do nothing) and the one you seem to be advocating, which is hospitalisation.

    I mean if you’re not advocating forcible hospitalisation of anybody who is believed to be a suicide risk, OK, but I’m not seeing that.

  139. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub March 12, 2012 at 8:51 pm |

    It was not just “one night.” We know from the LW’s own words that he got angry when she spent time away from him with family and friends (who were all inexplicably against him), that he belittled her a lot, that he lied about his relationship status to another woman and then dismissed it. Isolating your partner, constant criticism of your partner, dishonesty, and dismissal of your partner’s feelings and the hurt you’ve caused are all markers of emotional abuse, and once the abuser loses control, they up the ante. They tend to scream, break things or throw things, threaten self-harm, and eventually they may hit or harm you. And the abuse survivors on this thread have been repeating this over and over again because we lived it.

    Tenis was an absolute shit about this woman. He made snotty ass comments about how she’d never find anyone as nice as the LW, he commiserated at the unfairness of the treatment the LW got (arrest! no contact order! WHY?????) and dismissed and ignored the suicide threats, dishonesty (“*we* were screaming” yet “I never raised my voice”), breaking stuff, and his own admission that he fully intended to hang himself. Never once did Tenis tell this guy that actually, screaming at someone, threatening harm, and breaking a plate is really scary to witness and experience, and that he probably scared the bejesus out of his ex and possibly his neighbors (instead of complain that it was too bad those two couldn’t just “resolve” this as if it was a conflict over leaving the toilet seat up). If Tenis actually wanted to help the guy instead of excuse and enable him, he could point out that the LW needs to work on his issues; that he sympathizes with his heartbreak but that the LW has to understand that the actions he copped to were probably deeply hurtful to his ex, and that to move forward, he has to learn better ways of relating to another partner because what he was doing was fucked up. That he should leave her in peace and work on his own issues.

    But he didn’t. He minimized, he excused, and belittled the whole situation, just certain (usual posters) in this thread did.

    Also, if a complete stranger or even an acquaintance were to start arguing with you, escalating to a yelling match, including breaking objects and threatening suicide, I wonder if his consequences of behaving in such a way would necessitate any type of discussion of the potential of police misconduct or forced hospitalization.

    Oh, but didn’t you know? It’s different when it’s a romantic partner. Then it’s no big deal. Apparently, they’re entitled and we’re big harpy meanie-butts who would tell a suicidal person to off themselves for having the gall to get out of a miserable situation and to keep ourselves safe.

    Honestly. I’m not surprised; I recall the unbridled outrage commenters were met with when we pointed out that demanding explanations and apologies AFTER someone’s broken up with you and told you why is creepy and fucked up. Women–we’re not allowed to make our own decisions if it bothers a man, apparently.

  140. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable March 12, 2012 at 10:09 pm |

    Bloix, I’m excited to see how you willfully misinterpret the next person who disagrees with you. Keep going, sparky. This is how I plan to entertain myself at work tomorrow.

  141. EG
    EG March 12, 2012 at 10:15 pm |

    Bloix #120:

    What you’ve written is that you really don’t care if a person is pushed over into suicide… [emphasis added]

    That is what I have been referring to, Bloix. Something you wrote in the oh-so-convenient passive voice about our hapless abusive hero being “pushed” into suicide.

    So now you say that telling somebody that his behavior is abusive and he needs to stop and take responsibility for it is “pushing” him over into suicide? Tell me, are there any circumstances under which we don’t have to handle abusers with kid gloves?

  142. gratuitous_violet
    gratuitous_violet March 12, 2012 at 10:45 pm |

    Datdamwulf, I missed your words of support above and wanted to say thank you, and I’m glad you made it out of your marriage. I’ll have your story in the back of my mind the next time one of my relatives who hasn’t seen me in a few years asks why I didn’t marry “that nice boy with a PhD.”

  143. karak
    karak March 13, 2012 at 4:21 am |

    @Sarah Harper:

    His (possible) mental illness doesn’t give him the right to act like a toddler. It certainly doesn’t give him the right to engage in abusive and manipulative behavior. You don’t get a free pass for being sick; you have to try ten times as hard to get half as far as someone else. And if you decide to act like an abuser, you need to either go to jail or hospital. Hospital was probably the better choice.

    His illness is not her problem. It’s his problem. And if he won’t (or can’t) manage it, it’s her right to remove him from her home and send him someplace where he can (hopefully) learn to manage his problems. Or, at the very least, be away from her while he’s, you know, in the mood to threaten and terrorize.

    If he wants to sit quietly in his apartment and kill himself, that’s really sad, but his business. If he wants to scream and throw things and basically try to tell her she’s a MURDERER and she’s going to KILL HIM with her SELFISHNESS… then he’s making HIS issues/illness HER problem. And if it’s her problem, she’s going to solve it how she deems appropriate–by calling the cops.

    I’m willing to meet someone halfway. If you’re sick, and trying your best, and you just have these behaviors you can’t get under control, I’ll be forgiving, or at least pretend I don’t notice. But if you try to involve me in your mental illness…well, that’s not going to happen. If your mental illness caused you to yell and scream at me and threaten to kill yourself because of me, expect my response to be to call the cops and get your ass out of my house. Because I really don’t care to be involved in your issues, I don’t care about your health, and I don’t really care about your wants and needs. I care about mine. And *my* mental health dictates I need to avoid people who treat me like shit, regardless of why they do it.

    I also don’t care if you stay in that hospital or not–as long as you leave me the fuck alone. So no, Sarah Harper, I am definitely not a person you want to be around. In all fairness, you don’t seem like a person I’d want to be around either.

    I have moderate mental health issues. A few members of my family have severe mental health issues. And when my family member is in a paranoid or manic or depressed state, I’m going to go that extra mile to help them be safe and feel safe. I’ll drive down and stay the night for a few days, take some time off work, go to appointments with them, advocate for them, watch my speech for triggers, whatever the need. Because I love them and I know they would do (and have done) the same for me. But they second they turn abusive, I’m out. And I’ve walked out on people I love who were desperately sick because of their cruel and abusive behavior. And then when they got better and called me and apologized, I wasn’t mad, I didn’t hold a grudge, and I was available the next time they needed help or support. But I am not putting up with their shit.

    And his girlfriend shouldn’t have to either.

  144. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub March 13, 2012 at 5:41 am |

    What I’ve seen on the part of abuser enablers here:

    1) Minimization of abusive acts (he didn’t hit her, it was only one night, it was just a bad relationship)

    2) Revision of history (you’re pushing the guy to suicide, you want Tenis to tell him to off himself, if you call the cops when you’re being screamed at and the dude is breaking shit and threatening to kill himself he’ll be tased or worse (forget the danger you feel you’re in–see above).

    What does that remind me of? Hmmmmmm. . .

  145. Mztress
    Mztress March 13, 2012 at 10:08 am |

    “I have a mother, sister, and multiple friends that were the victims of abuse. The occurrences of my experience far out weighs the instances of yours. You assume yours is normal, don’t let your assumptions get the better of you.”

    Thanks. I couldn’t have said it any better myself.

  146. Mztress
    Mztress March 13, 2012 at 10:20 am |

    As a general rule, I hate the idea of forced hospitalization for individuals who are ACTUALLY suicidal (as opposed to manipulative assholes who threaten suicide to manipulate & guilt-trip a significant other who has reached his/her bullshit threshold enough to leave).

    However, please understand that I couldn’t give less of a fuck about the welfare of an abuser, and I offer no apologies for that.

  147. Mztress
    Mztress March 15, 2012 at 10:16 am |

    “And if there’s any lesson to be taken from this pathetic story it’s this: DO NOT tell your significant other that you are leaving and then stay in the apartment for two more weeks. The time to say “I’m leaving you for good” is when you’ve already arranged for someplace else to live. Say it and get the hell out.”

    See the above quote for a prime example of victim-blaming bullshit.

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