When Fear of Judgement Keeps You From Seeking Safety

Written by Editor on . Posted in Advice Columns

My husband found out a few months ago that I was having an emotional affair (nothing physical ever happened) by looking through my phone and reading old messages. I feel terrible about what I did, have broken off all contact with this other person, and have apologized repeatedly; I don’t know what else I can do. 

Since my husband found out, he has become really jealous and won’t let me go out on my own. He shows up unexpectedly at my work so often that my boss has brought it up with me. I am afraid I will lose my job.

Also, if I don’t want to be intimate with him, he says that it’s because I’m still seeing that person and gets so angry that I give in. We’re fighting more often, and recently he pushed me during an argument. Another time, he threw something near my head, but it missed me.

I feel like I’ve brought this on myself, and I’m afraid my friends will judge me if I tell them about what has been going on. What should I do?

 Signed,

 “Eliana”

Dear “Eliana,”

 Your husband is entitled to feel hurt or angry, but feeling betrayed does not entitle him to treat you this way. Pressuring someone to be intimate when they do not want to, pushing them, throwing objects at them, and controlling their daily activities are forms of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse. No one deserves to be abused, and even if your husband blames you for his actions, he is solely responsible for his behavior.

Esther Perel, a psychotherapist who has researched infidelity, says in her TED Talk: “Betrayal in a relationship comes in many forms. There are many ways that we betray our partner: with contempt, with neglect, with indifference, with violence. Sexual betrayal is only one way to hurt a partner. In other words, the victim of an affair is not always the victim of the marriage.”

People have affairs for many different reasons, and it does not always lead to the end of a marriage. Some marriages are able to overcome the discovery of an affair. They may even come out stronger because couples who may have taken each other for granted now have a renewed sense of what they would lose if the relationship were to end.

However, if couples are not able to work through the affair, there are also ways to uncouple without causing further harm. Again, just because your husband feels betrayed does not give him the right to act out however he wants or to hurt you. You have a right to say no and to feel safe at your home and work. There are healthy ways for him to deal with his emotions about the affair, such as going to individual counseling or finding ways to cope with his anger. It is important for you to get support, as well. If you do not want to share this with your friends, it may be helpful for you to seek out individual counseling too or to join a group. At JCADA, we know that marriages are complicated, and sometimes there are no easy answers. Don’t hesitate to call us at 1-877-88-JCADA (52232) for free and confidential counseling, safety planning, and other services.


 

For the past 17 years, JCADA has offered support to victims and survivors of domestic and dating abuse. These free clinical and legal services are available to any resident of the Greater Washington area, 14 years of age and older, who is affected by any type of domestic abuse. Staff are available to answer questions, offer support, and connect callers to services on our free and confidential helpline Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Fridays, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 1-877-88-JCADA (52232).