He had a look, a stare, the glare of trouble, impending doom and rage. She felt shackled to him and the marriage because eventually she believed all the negative things he had said to her and about her. She had entered into the relationship feeling fairly intelligent, self-confident, and competent....somewhere mid-marriage, she became the words he spoke. She had turned into a defeated and powerless woman without any hope of ever extricating herself from his temper and control. He constantly corrected her. No matter what the setting, social or otherwise, if he didn't agree with her opinion she was admonished. He was always careful, if they were out publicly to be coy and deceptively subtle, with his correction. She knew, all too well, the angry response that she'd endure later if she didn't conform to his version of events. He was always very cautious to try and uphold what he perceived as his "charming" husband reputation.
She deferred to him constantly. He consistently reminded her that he knew better and was smarter than she was on every level. She also had come to understand the penalty for deflection. He used numerous and varied forms of manipulation to transform and diminish her. Therapists often use the term - Post Traumatic Stress - to describe those moments from the past that back up and spill over into today. That term unnerved her. She felt almost disrespectful describing her verbally abusive marriage with the same term veterans use for the horrors they endure from war. It didnt seem fitting that the verbal atrocities she lived through should be comparable to theirs. Yet, it is the term applicable to both, or anything traumatic that haunts you from the past.
She sometimes, for no apparent reason, felt that lump in the back of her throat that was always there when he started yelling at her. Her body would tense immediately for she now understood the rage that was about to rain down upon her. The tears often pooled in her eyes. She was reluctant to let them roll down her face in front of him. He would berate her for being a "cry baby" and unable to take it....The words, the insults that he raged at her, went deep and reverberated in her brain....They became a perverse sort of mantra further diminishing her esteem and independence. It was hard to have your own opinions when he angrily discouraged them at every turn.Sometimes, the tears slid down her cheeks regardless of her willing them back. She would steel herself for the ridicule, that almost assuredly would ensue. On rare occasions, he would shock her with a sympathetic gesture, just to keep her off balance and under his thumb. More often than not, he generally, showed no mercy to her emotions. The sobs could roll off her in waves and it would only serve to further incite his anger at her.
She remembered a particularly vicious verbal battle where she was wracked with sobs. He screamed a her to stop being a "weak little girl". It was in that moment that she realized she had become what she had feared most, an abused woman. The mark of constant correction.