DEAR ABBY: I am a 23-year-old mother of three. Ever since our marriage five years ago, my husband, "Kurt," has been verbally and emotionally abusive. He has cursed me at least once a day. At times, he is emotionally abusive to our kids, who are 2, 3 and 4. I have asked Kurt to leave, but he refuses -- and I don't know if I really want him to.
A couple of weeks ago, I told Kurt I am no longer in love with him, and if things don't change, I want a divorce.
Things went well for a couple of weeks, but now the abuse has resumed. I don't know what to do. I have tried everything. I asked him to go for marriage counseling. He refused. I just want him to change, and I don't think he ever will.
He calls me terrible names in front of the kids. When my little girl asks him to fix breakfast, he'll say "no" just to make her cry. He claims he's "just playing," but he knows what it does to her. Please help. -- CRAZY IN TENNESSEE
DEAR CRAZY: As far back as 1996, the American Psychology Association reported that 40 percent to 60 percent of men who abused their female partners also abused their children. Is this the kind of atmosphere in which you want your children raised? Your husband's refusal to seek marriage counseling indicates that he has no intention of changing his pattern. It's bad enough that he takes his hostility out on you daily. But for him to take pleasure in making your daughter cry is sick.
Please don't let your husband's refusal to go for counseling deter you from getting professional help to aid you in deciding how best to protect yourself and your children. Cruel words erode the self-esteem like the ocean eats away the shore. And for children to be exposed to it day after day can cause lifelong damage.