We received an incredible response to a recent letter from a reader who described feeling trapped in an emotionally and verbally abusive marriage. Here are just some excerpts. Remember, if you are experiencing abuse, Women’s Aid offers support, including a national freephone helpline, on 1800-341-900.

‘this problem is more common than we realise’

Dear Miriam,

Sadly, this problem is more common than we realise and I have been a victim also. I am still living in the house, but I have reached out for help from my family, siblings and dear friend. The support is wonderful. My husband hasn’t changed for the better, but I am doing a few things for myself outside the home and it’s helpful.

I advise this lady to waste no more time at home listening to her husband. Reach out and get help from family, siblings, a good friend or counselling. Life is too short. You deserve much better. The doctor will help your husband with his health issues. Maybe you should have a talk with the doctor in confidence?

Wishing this lady good luck. She must act now and get help.

‘Go and build a new life for yourself’

Dear Miriam,

I am writing this letter as a means of support for the wife who is being abused in that toxic and abusive marriage. I am a male in my 50s, married with children. I grew up on a farm. My father abused my mother constantly. Being the eldest, I also suffered those hallmarks of emotional abuse. I have not inherited by father’s abuse on to my wife and children.

I still have vivid memories of my father’s usual tirade of rants towards my mother. As a child, I remember lying in bed at night in convulsions crying. My mother being called a “whore”, “her fault”, “useless” and every other expletive and degrading language one could imagine.

My reachout to that wife is that she should not sacrifice herself (put up with that abuse) in order to maintain the whole family balance. Not only for herself, but if there are children then they should not be inflicted with and affected by the abuse too. The plea to the wife would be to pack her suitcases and simply leave. Have the courage to do so. You will be abundantly better off.

Go and build a new life for yourself. Don’t be worrying about the neighbours, other family members, the church etc.

‘do not waste any more time’

Dear Miriam,

I too have been a victim of abuse from my husband and in-laws. Sadly, my husband’s abuse has affected me deeply: verbal and “silent treatment”, selective hearing etc. He shows no respect for my work in the house and I am on a tight budget. It goes on and on.

My advice to this lady is do not waste any more time. Get help. Has she a family? If so, talk to them. You need to talk to someone who will listen and not judge you. Don’t be concerned with what people say. Talk is cheap. You have to mind your health and mental health. Your husband can link in with the doctor for his health support.

I regret having accepted so much from an arrogant man who is so self-centred. Reach out and get help.

‘Put yourself first from now on’

Dear Miriam,

I am in my 80s. In the early years, my in-laws were abusive, but my husband told me to “stay quiet” as he didn’t want any issues over the farm. I became a doormat. I never even noticed that my husband did not try to stand up for me. Years later, I am still in this marriage and get no love or respect. Some years ago, I realised it’s my husband that’s the main problem: he shut me up. It was abuse then and it’s a shamble of a marriage now.

I would advise you to seek help from a friend/family member. Get counselling also. You need a good listener. You have to be careful of your own health. I strongly advise you not to be concerned about what other people say or think – they are not living with your husband. Get out of the house more often: walk, meet a friend for coffee, join a class. Put yourself first from now on. When he is verbally abusive, leave the room. Don’t wait around for him to keep abusing you.

Take little steps, make a few changes. I hope things improve and you feel a bit stronger going forward. CL