My Fiancee can get violent. She was abused as a child
anonymous Asks ...
My fiancée grew up in a terrible and very violent household. Her father beat her mother regularly and would also beat and humiliate my fiancé and her sister pretty regularly. Her father died when she was 23. She is now 28.
She has told me some of what growing up was life but it’s not something she likes to talk about very much. She hates her father and I know she doesn’t want our life to be anything like the family life she grew up in. I am concerned, however, that she has a violent and out of control side.
She is normally a very sweet and kind person, but there have been a few times when we have had very big fights that she has become somewhat violent with me. She is always very apologetic afterward, but I can see that during the ‘heat of the moment’ she loses control. I suspect that she has learned this kind of violence growing up and it is what she resorts to as a last resort in very difficult situations.
My main concern is that we plan on having a family together and I am worried that she may lose her temper with our children someday in the future and become violent. I know she would never want to do this.
Will some sort of therapy help her overcome her deeply buried violent tendencies? Or is this something she is stuck with for life. I love her dearly, but if she is going to always be a violent person then I may have to rethink whether I can or should get married to her.
Ed Schmookler Says ...
Your concern seems very valid to me, and so is your understanding. Yes, people do learn tendencies from other people. In addition, being treated abusively can create a lot of unexpressed and (at the time) inexpressible rage. So it may well be that when you are arguing, she gets triggered into re-experiencing the past, and her rage comes up and gets addressed to the one she's with (you), who may at that moment remind her of her father.
Therapy can definitely help with this, if a person is willing to work through the rage they carry, and if the therapist is experienced at dealing with trauma and abuse.
I think your concerns that family life might echo her childhood could well be valid, unless she gets some help in working through her past.