Zero tolerance for domestic violence is wrong


It’s been four days since I documented my own domestic violence, in almost real-time, between me and the Farmer. The most common response I’ve heard is some variation of: “Zero tolerance for domestic abuse!”

And you know what? I have zero tolerance for things I am not prone to tolerate as well. That’s easy, isn’t it?

It’s much harder to see the issue from the person’s perspective who has the issue.

I’ve spent days reading the 500 comments on my blog and the comments about my situation on other blogs, and I’m absolutely shocked by the collective hatred and disdain for women who are in violent relationships.

Here’s what someone said on my blog: “Victims of domestic abuse suck at pressing charges.”

Yes. It’s true. Women don’t like to press charges. Because they love the guy. You, maybe, are unable to fall in love with a guy who is violent. Good for you. But do you have to hate women who aren’t like you?

For some reason, people feel it is honorable to rip a woman to shreds if she is living with domestic violence. Here’s an example from the comments section on James Altucher’s blog:

“[Penelope Trunk is] out of her mind to think that her children are not being abused. She, in fact, is as guilty of that abuse as the farmer that beats her.”

The high-and-mightiness that emanates from the public discussion of domestic violence is breathtaking. Everyone is an expert. Everyone knows what’s right.

Here’s an example from the comments section on Jezebel, a supposedly feminist community that is full of anger towards women who live in violent households.

“No one gets another chance to hit me. I don’t care that I have the training to fight back.

“One incident, and YOU LEAVE. Violent people don’t get better without a lot of work, and it’s not *your* problem. Once someone raises a hand to you, you owe that person *nothing.* It’s likely that the violent behavior will escalate. Sometimes it is deliberate. Either way, YOU LEAVE.”

This person sees everything very clearly. If there’s abuse, you leave. Even if it’s small. Because all small abuse gets huge.

I don’t think anyone is suggesting that if the guy hits you twice, the kids are better off living in a single-parent home and hearing their dad called an abuser. What people do say is that the odds are it won’t stop. The odds are it will get worse. The odds are, the kids will be worse off, in the end, having lived with the dad.

But the truth is that we do not believe that men who leave two, visible marks on their wife should lose their kids.

You know how I know we don’t believe this? Because if Child Protective Services sees two bruises on a kid at two different times, the kid is not removed from the home. Think about it: Is that kid better off with parents who might be able to stop, or in the Foster Care System for the rest of their life?

So we are making bets, right? Is it better to leave, because it is likely to get worse? Or is it better to stay because the benefits from things improving, although unlikely, are huge?

I’m in the startup community. It’s the world of high risk. You bet big on yourself, you kill your family’s credit, you put your house on the line, and maybe, just maybe, your company will make it.

So why wouldn’t I bet big on myself now? I am not the whole problem in my family, but I am half. And over the last year I have described multiple situations where I was half the problem.

I can improve my own half and see what happens. Have you been to couple’s therapy? There’s a saying that a marriage is a gear system. If one gear changes, all the gears change.

Blog commenters will argue against this idea by telling me not to change because It’s not my fault.

But really, how do they know? We know that I grew up in a home where there was lots of violence. So it’s likely that I will be in that kind of house when I’m an adult. And surely it’s possible that I am contributing to the mix since I am statistically likely to create a violent household. Here’s another thing: You don’t know what I did leading up to the bruise in the photo.

I’ll tell you what my mom used to do leading up to my dad hitting her:

One night they were wallpapering. They had been wallpapering the living room after work for a week. My mom got mad at my dad and threw red paint all over the wallpaper. Ruined all their work. He didn’t respond. He was stunned. Then she knocked over the table with the wallpaper and the glue. It ruined the newly varnished floors. He held her arms so she couldn’t do anything else. He held tighter and tighter. She kicked him to get loose. She left no mark. He hit her in the face.

If she blogged about it, and showed the hand print on her face, she might get 500 commenters telling her it’s not her fault.

Should she leave with me and my brother because our dad is violent and we should not live with him? Or should she work on her own behavior to see if she can single-handedly stop the violence?

I think the most grown-up, good parenting thing for her to do would be to understand her own behavior and stop it so that me and my brother could grow up in a home with both our parents. She didn’t do that, of course. She had little insight into her own behavior and she and my dad ended up taking most of their anger out on me.

My mom had good choices she could have made because, in fact, part of the domestic violence was her fault.

“It’s not your fault” completely limits a woman’s choices, because you are saying that she is powerless to control the situation. And if you tell every woman “it’s not your fault” then they can’t improve. How do women get better at not creating a violent household? Probably by changing their behavior. This doesn’t mean “always tiptoe around your spouse and become a mouse”. But it can mean a wide range of positive changes.

We are all growing personally. It’s not your fault is almost always a path to no growth. It’s what Oprah founded her show on, right? Personal responsibility. Why don’t we go there, first, before we go to “it’s not your fault”. The truth is that if we take responsibility for the problems in our lives, we can solve the problem. If we blame other people, we are always running. People who blame other people can’t get along with siblings, can’t get along at work, lose friends quickly. People who facilitate that behavior say, “It’s not your fault.”

Most of the success of my blog comes from my reliance on the idea of personal responsibility. There are no bad bosses–it’s only you. If you can’t get a job it’s not because of the job market, it’s because you are unemployable. And you can fix that. Your heavy workload is not because someone gave it to you — you gave it to yourself. People like what I say because I show them how they can fix anything when they take responsibility for fixing it. That’s what I truly believe.

And that’s why I’m staying with the Farmer.

608 replies
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  1. Dorothy @ Singular Insanity
    Dorothy @ Singular Insanity says:

    While I understand all the reasons for staying in a violent relationship – the ones that women give for staying, anyway, it is a proven fact that very few of these relationships change.

    There are thousands of women who have argued, albeit not as publicly, why they stay and how things can change, but for most of them it didn’t change.

    If the relationship is violent, for whatever reasons, it is obviously unhealthy and toxic and for both the people’s sakes, it should probably be ended.

    Good luck…

  2. Bryan
    Bryan says:

    My response to your logic is this:

    The risk of family violence cannot in any way be compared to the risk involved in starting a business. If a business fails is there a chance you will lose your life? Be thrown in prison? Not the same risk in my mind as what can result if either party in a marriage cannot control their behaviors which can end in violence.

    If I were the Farmer in a relationship with someone like you and I realized I could not control my responses to YOUR behavior I would not feel it appropriate or safe to stay in that relationship. You and the farmer could well be on a collision course with a very bad ending. Neither one of you may have the least intention of doing serious harm in your responses to each other but all it takes is one accidental wrong response that goes just the slightest bit to far and everyone’s world will never be the same again. Either one of you is risking either being thrown in jail or hurting each other irrevocably or hurting the kids (if even accidentally).

    What i will agre to tho is that it is certainly your choice to throw caution to the wind and allow the chips to fall where they may.

    At the very least you should both be apart while you both work on this. I certainly hope there is no such thing as manslaughter in your families future.

    All the best

  3. DWH
    DWH says:

    I’ve been following your blog for awhile and all I can say is “Damn”.

    I know things get better. I know that some things are situational. I know how it feels to be on the other side of the table.

    There are no absolutes, there is no, “Not Even Once,” in the real world.

    You may be wrong, you may be right and this blog is a beautiful view of the laboratory of life.

  4. Melissa
    Melissa says:

    I completely agree with you. People are responsible for their own choices. I do believe there is a difference between being an abused “beaten” victim in a desperate situation and being in a volatile relationship that has the tendency to erupt into violence. In the former their is clearly an aggresor and and a victim and in the latter their are two responsible parties.

    People react based upon their own experiences..I am lucky to have grown up with two loving parents who molded me into an independant, strong woman, who would not tolerate being in a dysfunctional relationship, to me being with someone who makes me become aggresive or reacts to me in a way physical way is simply crazy and would send me running for the hills on day 1.

    However your “norm” is so different that it is ridiculous for me (or anyone else) to sit in judgement of you… You are clearly an intellegent, successful woman who is not living with a man who beats her when dinner is not on the table at 5:00.

    I truly wish you the best of luck and I do think it is possible to change the dynamic of your relationship, although it will be a tremendous amount of work. My two cents – leave if you are unhappy, stay if you believe you can BOTH work on the hostility you bring out in each other.

  5. Betsy
    Betsy says:

    “Yes. It's true. Women don't like to press charges. Because they love the guy.”

    That undoubtedly is true, but not the entire reason.
    I asked Google why women should stay in violent relationships. These three websites with statistics explain why many commenters, who know of your life only through your blog, are skeptical.

    1. From Psychology Today, an evolutionary view:
    “When pressed, however, many respond by saying "Because I love him"; emotional attachment to the abuser is one of the primary reasons battered women give for why they choose to stay. ”

    2. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics,
    “On average, only 70% of nonfatal partner violence is reported to law enforcement. Of those not reporting, 41% of male and 27% of female victims (34% average) stated
    victimization being a private/personal matter as reason for not reporting, 15% of women feared reprisal, 12% of all victims wished to protect the offender, and 6% of all victims believed police would do nothing.
    (Bureau of Justice Statistics, Intimate Partner Violence in the U.S. 1993-2004, 2006.) referenced via

    3. From “Domestic Violence: An Overview” by C. J. Newton, MA, Learning Specialist and published in the Find (formerly Mental Health Journal in February, 2001.

    “Women very reasonably … fear retaliation and … economic upheaval. … Many times…they rationalize the abuse…”

    You are good at research. Find the statistics to prove the doubters wrong.

  6. AR
    AR says:

    It may be a world of high risk, but I wouldn’t make the same bets and risks on my children as I would on a company. Plus, he isn’t the father of your children nor are you the one being physically abusive. Therefore, you should contemplate leaving if it continues to happen. I hope your situation changes and that you have an action plan on how to improve yourself.

  7. downfromtheledge
    downfromtheledge says:

    Here’s what I related to in the story about your mom: I used to act in ways my partner didn’t like. Because he couldn’t MAKE me stop, he would hold me down, sit on me, choke me, whatever he could to try to “restrain” me.

    Yes, I did immature and asinine things when I got mad at him BECAUSE I was out of control and, short of beating him – which I don’t believe in – there was no outlet. I couldn’t have physically abused him if I’d wanted to; I wasn’t strong enough! The moral of the story is: your mom was the one with the mark on her face in the end, wasn’t she? Because HE put his hands on HER.

    What you learn as a woman is that, no matter how strong you think you are, a man can overpower you. Once he puts that intimidation dynamic into play, it doesn’t go away.

    I guess the analogy would be a child who throws a temper tantrum and starts destroying things. If the parent beats the sh*t out of the child to make it stop, I’m not sure child services is gonna say, “well the child obviously deserved it.” The child doesn’t have the physical stature to make it an even fight. And neither does a woman.

    My fear is that you’re going to waste as many years as I did thinking that if you just change yourself, he will respond in kind. My suspicion is that it’s easier for him to blame the crazy psycho b*tch, rather than examine how his behaviors cause the escalation.

    I don’t hold anything against a woman who stays … how could I when I did it myself? We all believe we’ll NEVER tolerate that sort of treatment. Until it’s us.

  8. doodles
    doodles says:

    Penelope: You’re a tough one to figure out. You claim your mother provoked your father’s anger, thus had no reason to leave him. They eventually turned their violence on you–understandable because surely you provoked them. Now you’re frustrating the Farmer to violence, just like your mom did your dad. Because you’re (at least) half at fault, you want to stay and work on your problems. Like your mom? Hmmmm. Kinda sounds like the classic cycle of violence to me. Think your kids’ blogs 15 years might sound similar? Not judging you here, but you do seem to be at the only one who can change yourself, your current dynamic of family violence, and the statistical odds of perpetuating this violence (most disconcertingly in your children). To not do so after posting your many blogs on family violence seems somewhat irresponsible. Just saying…

    • Kathy
      Kathy says:

      Not tough to figure out at all, really. P is subconsciously recreating her childhood in order to try to heal it. She’s placed herself (metaphysically and subconsciously) in this situation, and later relationships, if she chooses to leave, to try and redo them.

      In fact, people find others, like magnets, that will help them work out their issues. She, like all of us, will be attracted only to someone at the same level of dysfunction.

      So, you can look at it that the farmer is just as screwed up in his own way as P is. What happened before the farmer got to the point of shoving P we don’t know, as P points out. They are both playing out the dance of their childhood.

      What’s hopeful is that P is willing to look at her part in it and perhaps begin the long road to recovery. Is the farmer making the same commitment? Much can be done if they are both committed to growth and healing. If only one is, sometimes the only way is to leave.

  9. le@third
    le@third says:

    hello there P – this is perplexing … it takes courage to go as it does to stay … I left so my bias shows … real responsibility is choosing the response you give to any stimuli or situation so I do get that. I worry for the babes – I had zero babes during my mentally abusive and manipulative relationship/marriage so that makes it different … I hope you are not settling for second best … the comparison between your career risks and your risks here seem trite … to me they are worlds apart for a host of reasons. When all is said and done I have faith in you – go forward and conquer – best le

  10. Anne
    Anne says:

    I think there is some confusion here about the difference between domestic violence and relationships that contains violence. Domestic violence is a pattern of behavior that is about one partner having control over another. Violence is often used as a means to control. If there is no element of control going on with your relationship here, it is not domestic violence. We know very specific characteristics about domestic violence i.e. it will escalate and can lead to homicide, the abuser will NOT change, it is not the survivor’s fault, etc. Those facts are valid and true in the context of domestic violence. They are not necessarily true in the context of a fucked up relationship that CONTAINS violence.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      I agree. This is a great comment. Thanks, Anne. I don’t think it occurred to me that this is a way we can talk about a relationship. But it seems right because it’s a useful distinction.

      Also, this seems in line with our couple’s therapist (who specializes in violence) who said that while the relationship absolutely should not continue like this, it is not an emergency.


      • Rr
        Rr says:

        Love is supposed to be affirming and strengthening and supportive and enhancing, not so hard. Have you considered that you have not yet found your soul mate? So maybe go look? You might not be able to find him when you’re with the wrong person.

      • Ismone
        Ismone says:

        Just because it isn’t an emergency doesn’t mean it is somehow okay.

        My experience with other abused friends is that you can never tell a person to leave. So I won’t tell you to leave. Your therapist probably won’t either.

        But I will tell you, again and again, that it is not okay for him to hit you. Not okay. Not ever. No matter what you say. Even if you break lamps over your head and climb on tractors.

    • Sarah
      Sarah says:


      I think this comment is thus far the most accurate description of P’s relationship with the Farmer. P’s description of the Farmer does not make him seem like a true abuser at all. And P’s description of her own behavior does seem extremely provocative to a guy who tries like crazy but finally lashes out after he feels trapped into a corner with no way out.

      Having said that, there are a few things for us all to keep in mind.

      1. Other than self defense (including the defense of others), violence is wrong. The one committing violence does have a choice.

      It’s a total pain that they live far enough away that it makes the Farmer going to a hotel for the night more difficult. Perhaps they could set up a locked space in the barn where he can escape, even if she’s pounding on the door.

      Whatever it is, the Farmer needs to figure out how to keep from hitting P when she uses her verbal prowess to pummel him. It’s quite likely he feels emasculated when he cannot match her in her choice of weapons, and then his boundaries are not respected, and when he finally loses control and hits her. To him, abusing her is likely a sign of loss of power, not a calculated tool to use as a way of relating with P to gain power.

      2. P does not deserve abuse, any more than a woman deserves to be raped, no matter how provocatively she dresses or behaves.

      That does not absolve P of responsibility to work on her part in the relationship that creates conditions in which the abuse occurs. It appears that she deliberately provokes him extensively until he finally cracks. Out of love for him, she will change her part of the equation.

      3. Some screwed up relationships that contain violence (which is always wrong) are worth saving.

      Only P and the Farmer can decide if theirs is one of them.

    • karelys
      karelys says:

      wow what an incredible comment! this really aligns my perspective and helps me organize my thoughts. I probably make no sense in my prior comments because i didn’t have the distinction between domestic violence and relationships that contain violence.

      wow, thanks Anne!

    • Anne
      Anne says:

      I am glad that distinction is helpful. Domestic Violence is really means a very specific thing. If you are having problems in your relationship (one of those problems being physical violence) and you want to stay in the relationship and work on it, that is totally your choice and I wish you well. I enjoy reading your blog and I think you give great career advice. But a women who is experiencing domestic violence (physical, verbal, or otherwise) needs to be encouraged to contact her local dv program for support and some safety planning, because her situation is different and she may be in danger. The power and control wheel is the most widely used tool for explaining dv, and a quick google search will turn one up.

    • Diana
      Diana says:

      You are so wrong. Violence is Violence, if its domestic, it occurred in the home, but thats just a more politically correct way to refer to wife beating. The farmer is a wife beater. Lets call it what it is. doesnt matter whose fault you think it might be, or who started it, or whatever, that man is a WIFE BEATER.

      Now, Pen, you are all into doing your research, right? Look into wife beaters. what are the stats, for them, for you, for those kids? and you are telling me you will play the odds for your personal growth??? are fucking kidding me????

      Your particular intersection of work and life really sucks!
      And one more thing, I do feel like an enabler just reading your blog now…. good luck, girl. you are gunna need it..

  11. Katy
    Katy says:

    We are harsh on people that choose to stay in violent relationships and yet we’re forgiving of the obese eating themselves to death. It really is the same thing; self-control. Your relationship with someone or something is your responsibility. People drink or shop or eat in unhealthy ways that negatively impact their quality of life. When someone with a dieting blog admits to cheating on their diet they don’t get 500+ comments telling them they suck for cheating and are making an unhealthy choice. When someone has a heart attack from 40+ years of eating poorly we don’t tell them they brought it on themselves. We are sympathetic and supportive. We acknowledge how difficult it is to eat well and exercise when there is crappy food, desk jobs and entertainment everywhere.

    A lot more people die from being overweight than from being hit. Domestic violence is seen as something we can easily walk away from so we tell the woman ‘obviously, you need to leave. Just walk away, it is easy’. Do we tell the overweight ‘lose weight, it is easy. Just stop eating so much’? Weight loss is a billion dollar industry and yet the solution is free and obvious. It just takes self-control.

    I think what you’re working on is your self-control. Good luck with it.

    • gospozha_swanson
      gospozha_swanson says:

      Weight is much more a matter of genetics than of lifestyle choices. Weight is much less a factor in life expectancy than, for example, general physical fitness (which can happily coexist with obesity in the same person). Can we please have this discussion without fat-shaming when this has really nothing to do with the matter?

  12. Erin McJ
    Erin McJ says:

    I think you misunderstand. People don’t lay down moral absolutes because they think this stuff is easy. They lay them down because they KNOW it’s hard and sometimes when you’re confused it is really helpful to have a firm rule to follow.

    I disagree with your decision, but I’m definitely learning a few things about domestic violence by watching this unfold. I suspect your readers are benefiting from this drama a lot more than your family is.

  13. lou
    lou says:

    The 2 posts on this subject are incredibly manipulative. I can see how you can drive someone to the end of their rope. Your parting shot to readers who deride the Farmer is so typical of the pattern here: now you have an enemy and can defend your abuser.

    If you want to stay w/the Farmer and get beat up that’s up to you. But rationalizing it to your large audience is incredibly irresponsible.

    • Jordan
      Jordan says:

      As a person with an abuse history one of the skills I needed to learn was when something feels off, and even though I might not have the words or the logic to describe why – to trust it.

      Penelope – this whole thing feels really, really off. The near pornographic exposure of your body and its wounding, followed by your holier-than-thou and completely selective interpretation of your posters’ responses – those YOU provoked btw, and another clue to something being seriously messed up here. And surprise, also very like the provocation you seem to offer the Farmer.

      The thing I find the most distressing is that your children have no such capacity to sense that something is off nor any ability to filter it, get away from it, or choose something else. They believe they are experiencing what is true and real, and because of their ages, what is true and real about them.

      I want to stay to know how things turn out, but something is really off and I know enough to take that as my signal to leave. May you all stay safe, heart, body and soul, especially your dear ones.

      • C Holz
        C Holz says:

        I agree with your sentiments. And who took the photo? You couldn’t have done it yourself from that angle. Was it your friend Melissa? And why was the bruise in the lower left quadrant and not the center? We didn’t need to see much of what the photo contained in order to see the bruise. It felt, and still feels, sensational & inappropriate.

        Not everyone made a comment condemning women in violent relationships. Many comments were supportive of you and many were moderate. Your post in response to everyone was not so moderate.

        I get the sense that you feel you are above taking anyone’s advice or questioning yourself and your motives. If you truly have Aspergers why are you not more open to the idea that your perception of what is going on in your relationship is flawed?

        Are you the only person who can/should provide coaching or assessment?

  14. Olivier
    Olivier says:

    I don’t really buy into the self-empowerment rhetoric taken to such extremes: it’s a form of solipsism. That said, I also think it’s worth giving your marriage with the farmer a chance, if only so there are more pig sale events in the future of your sons.

  15. joe
    joe says:

    Your bruise showed up in some one elses blog and caused me to sign up for this one and I am glad I did. I agree with you. Many people are in abusive relationships because that is what they want. That is what they know. They would not know what to do in a plain vanilla tame mutually respectful relationship. Like in politics every person is passionate about the candidate they authorize to lead them whether that candidate is good for them or not. If you can handle the life you chose and don’t impose the cosequences of your choices on the rest of us. Who am I to judge you?

    • gospozha_swanson
      gospozha_swanson says:

      The opposite of “tame vanilla relationship” is “sane, safe, consensual relationship somewhere on the kinky/BDSM spectrum”, not “abusive relationship”. Please don’t confound the two.

  16. Ruby
    Ruby says:

    I’ve been following your blog for a while and I have to say that the recent turn of events completely blew my mind. Your post today reminds me of my own history. As an 18 year old, I moved into a home with a guy 10 years my senior…. a recipe for disaster. The night I moved in, he threw a jealous fit over his perception that I was hitting on his friend at a party. Within a month, he was punching holes in walls, breaking glasses and then he stuck his foot in my stereo. I attacked him to prevent him from destroying my computer, which looked like it was about to be his next target. Ultimately, I marked him and not the other way around. Campus security entered our apartment and beat the shit out of him while I called the cops, fearing for his life. Then the campus police ran out of the apartment and left me in there with him. He kicked me out while he called his therapist. I had somewhere else to go if I wanted. We weren’t married and I wasn’t financially dependent on him. But in the month and a half of hell that I experienced with him, I didn’t feel that I could leave. I felt that I had to stick it out, to try to make it better. I didn’t get better, it got more violent. He took my presence as a sign that his outbursts would be tolerated. I tolerated them. I think my attention and presence even encouraged him.

    I’m not telling this story to convince you that you should leave as I ultimately did, but to explain that having been in a violent situation, I went against my own idea that I would never tolerate domestic abuse. I was one of those women who said, “I will never put up with a violent man! I’ll just leave.” Well, I didn’t leave until things got really out of hand. I didn’t think it would get that bad.

    A year later, I had a conversation with a mutual friend about the fight we had the night I moved in. What happened was this: after he broke the second glass, I rushed across the room, threw him down on the bed, sat on his chest with my hands around his throat and, emulating a scene from some TV drama said, “If you ever fucking do that again, I’ll fucking kill you.” Well, our mutual friend told me, “Seth told me that was the night when he knew he was truly in love with you.”

    Fucked up huh? My violent response made him feel love. His response, to behave violently and childishly every time he felt jealous or slighted. We each perceive actions and words differently. No situation is the same.

    I guess I just worry about how much you blame yourself for this situation. Taking responsibility for your part is paramount. Giving yourself choices is key. But I do think women can unfairly blame themselves for abusive situations and stay in them because they don’t believe they deserve anything better. When you come from an abusive childhood, the chances are even higher. I can’t tell you what to do. I just want for you to keep producing good work and raise happy children who are loved and cared for.

  17. jenniferly
    jenniferly says:

    one problem with your plan: one person cannot single-handedly stop the violence in a relationship between two people. one person can make a difference, change the dynamic, but stopping the physical violence in a relationship? that’s not a one-person fix.

  18. awiz8
    awiz8 says:

    So I guess you’re going tolerate it long enough for him to either cripple or kill you or until the boys think it’s okay to beat up on any women in their lives, right?

    Sounds like a winning solution to me.

  19. Becca
    Becca says:

    I volunteer for a domestic violence non-profit. I help to support their website and I see the search terms, traffic, etc. I have to say that if you really believe that DV is sometimes justified, don’t write about it. Your blog does very well in search and has lots of links. Shame on you that some woman in need may be looking for help online and imagine if she found this post. If you really think your situation is OK, delete the post so you don’t harm others with bad information. DV is never ok, it rarely gets better, and it is certainly not about love or passion, it is about power. I used to respect your blog, now I think you are just shameful. Live in your own myth, don’t spread them.

  20. a gal
    a gal says:

    It seems that you haven’t heard the thing that helps you leave. For my sister, it was “You’re welcome to stay with us if you want to leave.”

    I know your parents are no refuge. That fucking sucks. I hope you have siblings or friends reading this. It would be ideal for them to offer you refuge right now.

    If that doesn’t happen, know that people close to you will gladly take you in.

    If you’re not comfortable asking, there are places to keep yourself and your children safe:

    It’s crazy that people think any woman in this situation is fair game for their scathing Internet critiques. For shame.

  21. Dave
    Dave says:

    The way I remember it, Oprah’s show was founded on copying Phil Donahue only with more racy topics – only years later did she turn to “self improvement” Oprah.

    As for the bulk of your post – good luck. I don’t agree but it’s your life. I wish you all the best.

  22. Irving Podolsky
    Irving Podolsky says:

    Dear Penelope,
    So far, you’ve had many intelligent comments for this post. I agree with most of them and trying to add ideas that will truly benefit you is difficult. But I’ll try, because I know you’re reading all of this, and that you are reaching out.

    My first thoughts about your public disrobing, physically and mentally, goes to the farmer. He knows his personal life is being published world wide along with yours, and yet he accepts it. He had to. When you both married, he signed on for this kind of exposure. And you’re still doing it, so there must be an agreement of some sort.

    Still, giving up privacy at this level is a huge sacrifice, so the trade-off must be huge to compensate for the public scrutiny. This tells me the farmer has as much invested in your marriage as you do, because although he has asked you to leave his bed in the past, you’re still with him. And according to your posts, he’s not demanding that you leave now. So there must be something incredibly strong holding you two together. You call it “love.” But what does that mean?

    You say you love him. What kind of love is it? Is it a giving love, or a needing love? There is always going to be “need” in love, but if you’re staying in a relationship to fill a deep vacuum or gain validation, you will never feel fulfilled.

    You know that, don’t you. You also understand your needs, and you know the limitations of what the farmer can give to you. At this point, you have weighed what you need against what you get and you have decided, at least for now, you’ll settle for what he CAN give you.

    But you’re not really accepting that, are you? You need more communication. You’re starved for deeper touching of souls. Will he eventually give you that the way your want it? Will he? Because that’s what you are waiting for now. The touching of hearts the way YOU want it.

    So, is the way he’s giving it enough? And is it given freely? Because if what you want and need is NOT given freely, even if the farmer is reluctantly going through the motions, there is no generous love in your life. Only tolerance.

    So I ask you again, is that enough for you?

    We’re not talking about who’s right and wrong, only about a productive and enriching relationship. If it doesn’t do that for either of you, is that all you’ll accept for yourself?

    Going by your own advice, if you consider a marriage something like a job, or any other opportunity, the only limitations on finding a better one, are the ones you put on yourself.

    Are you afraid you won’t find a better man? Or a better marriage? I have no conclusions. I’m just asking. Because leaving your marriage doesn’t necessarily mean leaving the farmer. It means finding another place to call “home” with a husband who better matches your needs. The farmer can still be your friend. It’s not all or nothing. It’s about redefining and reshaping what you have now.

    But to do that, you must totally believe can, even if it means leaving the farmer. You must BELIEVE you can find another mate, just like you believe you can find another job.

    So the questions I leave you with are:

    Is what you call love an exchange of giving, or a means to support your needs?
    If your love is about need, do you believe you can fulfill your needs someplace else?
    If not, WHY?


  23. Pamela
    Pamela says:

    So the deal you have accepted is the Farmer will not “beat you up” if you don’t keep him up late talking to you.

    A beating for talking sounds just like abusive parenting.

    I live next door to Domestic Violence, and have watched two children shrivel and regress in the shadow of their parents violent outbursts.

    Denial and rationalization is all I can think of about you post.

  24. Shandra
    Shandra says:

    What strikes me in this post is your perception that your father had no choice in his response to your mother. He could have left the room. He could have left her. He could have left the wallpaper and the floors that way and let her deal with it. He could have joined in with trashing the room.

    Sure you need to stop, but if he doesn’t, it’s still on him. He should have you leave his house if you are blocking his exits.

    I think it is very sad, the dynamics you have been describing, for both of you. I still don’t think you are an exceptional case in this. But it would be nice to be wrong.

      • AB
        AB says:

        P, I’ve been reading your recent posts and didn’t feel the right to comment since my experiences in life are completely different. I became a successful entrepreneur while being married to a non-violent husband, and don’t need career or life advice from you, but I enjoy very much reading your blog, especially when you are not talking about being physically hurt.

        Now I feel I should add my perspective agreeing with Anne when she said there is a clear difference between domestic violence and situations like yours, in which frustration with each others escalate to violence. I, being a non-violent woman, would likely react exactly like the Farmers does to your excessive insistence in talking when I was not up to conversation, because to me it sounds just like he is simply trying to get away from you when you won’t.let.go no matter how many times he asks you to stop.

        So, I only have a question for you: are you willing to stop the cycle of emotional to physical abuse when your partner asks for some quiet time? I hope the answer is yes for the sake of your kids mostly.

      • Shandra
        Shandra says:

        I remembered that post. I was trying to work within your example. I think when we are talking about people’s choices around escalation or de-escalation my point remains.

  25. HOW SAD
    HOW SAD says:

    There are so many people in this world that should not have had children and you are one of them. How dare you bring them into this world to have to bare the weight of your dysfunction?!

    People call those who choose not to have kids, – €˜selfish'–ridiculous in logic as well as in many other respects because who IS really selfish are the likes of you.

    This has turned into an absurd situation for your readers and I can't imagine that you haven't considered the fallout from this latest posting – the attention you're vying for will be more bad than good. Is it perhaps a – €˜swan song' in a departure from your current persona to make way for a reinvention of yourself – a more educated version of Snooki?

  26. Marianne
    Marianne says:

    Sigh… your situation is tiring to read about. I followed your blog because your perspective was truly unique and motivating.

    This crap lately is everything but.

    This year, I evacuated from my life due to a natural disaster. I gave up a high paying job, left a man behind who wouldn’t come with me, left all my possessions, and spent months living out of a tiny suitcase on friends and family’s guest bedrooms. I faced a horrific situation, I did not blink, I did not freeze, I recognized that the situation was unfixable by me and that it was not my responsibility to stay and pretend I could do something to fix the situation.

    I want to read posts from the old Penelope. Your current perspective is destructive and I’ve had enough destruction, death, and loss this year.

    I can’t read your blog anymore. You aren’t empowering or motivational anymore. Stick a fork in you… you are done and yesterday’s stuff.


    • smokytrees
      smokytrees says:

      “Your situation is tiring…” WELCOME TO LIFE MARRY POPPINS!! You went through a natural disaster and didn’t blink…Well good for you, that’s real swell.

      Your life has nothing to do with her life and her decisions. So her blog has moved from great heights down a few notches…And?? That’s life, last time I checked…sometimes your flush and sometimes your bust is pretty much how it goes… We all can’t be Barbara Bush’s like you.

      Were you sexually and physically abused horribly? Doubt it! Maybe cut the gal a break huh?!

      read this…ur the Jehovah Witness in the story….Leaving her blog is so not surprising because well….your just plain boring would be my guess.

      • Marianne
        Marianne says:

        I might be a boring person, but I took care of my boring backside this year, despite all the hardships. I rather like my boring unbruised backside.

        And you know the article you linked too? That’s exactly the type of post that Penelope no longer writes. Now it’s crap about being hit. Pictures of bruises and her backside. You perfectly proved my point about this blog’s declining relevance. In my annus horribilis, there is nothing I can gain from her publicly dealing with problems not my own.

        She wants to stay and fix the problem. She has a load of personal baggage. I want Penelope and the Farmer to have a happy relationship. From the tone and trajectory as of late, the relationship and Penelope are over and done. It’s sad, but there is nothing I can do about it.

        Your anger on her behalf will not really do anything for her either.

  27. JB
    JB says:

    No no no. The community does not have hatred and disdain for women in bad relationships. What the community disdains is anybody (woman or man) trying to feed us bogus stuff. This is why Anthony Weiner, Wall Street, Penn State's Administration could be in a dead heat for the d-bag of 2011 award. They treat us like we are stupid. You are galvanized to stay based on a misinterpretation the community's response as hate/disdain. This is you digging into a position based on something not real, because you want to dig in, which is because your fear is stronger than your brain just now.

    So over a period of years you've assembled not stupid readers and you feel we hate you right now. What we actually hate is you trying to sell us piss poor logic, which is what people of any gender, when in bad situations and when they have a choice, employ to justify staying. And we also hate fear. Not you, but your fear. It is so powerful, and we know you to be ballsy and effective, and we hate seeing people getting shellacked by their own fear. We don't like self made losers, self made winners sell the books.

    Your flawed reasoning (rooted in a flawed upbringing) just makes us nuts. Your logic is terribly weak throughout this post and we are going to keep on calling your BS because, well for my part I owe it to you since your blog has provided me the service of calling me on my own, and clarifying my values. We also call your BS because we know you are not stupid, and we want your service to us to continue, but we can't trust you anymore if you continue to fail to do the painful work of self awareness that you must rise to the challenge and do here. Go back and read your own post about how Gen X is going to bring transparency to the workplace. That post is about not lying to yourself.

    In this post, rather than shining some sun inward, you say we are all lying to ourselves and you can prove it because of how we *really* behave when it comes to people losing their kids or not. You reason that CPS executes our standards, which is just complete nonsense. Of course CPS doesn't set the standard. Kids – €“a truly disenfranchised group – €“ are the primary stakeholders of CPS. CPS fails children every day, just like they failed you. In a better world our CPS workers would have the benefit of reasoning out whether it is better to leave a kid/take a kid. They would take so many kids in a better world. CPS is making resource-based calls. They don't have the option to take the kid, there is nowhere to put the kid, no resources. They reserve the spots for the absolute worst cases. You became that worst case when you were a kid, and that is how you can trust that it really was that awful. CPS doesn't have budget to always do the right thing. That means they are not your authority on what is acceptable or not. Don't hide behind a government service as standard-bearer. They didn’t protect you then, but you can protect you now.

    The people working in CPS have burn out and turn over. The burnout doesn't come from helping kids, it comes from NOT helping kids.

    A CPS anecdote in a Dear Sugar column:

    Look: values drive decisions. When values are clear decisions are clear. This is strategy 101. Nobody is saying anything about easy. But your complicated situation has indeed become very simple, to us. Do you share our values? If you do, you have to move out of that house you just decorated. If you don’t, we can’t read your column in the same way anymore, you don’t speak from a shared set of basic values. A four year old knows it is not ok to hit.

    You would never invest your money in a 50/50 partnership where the fights b/w the partners get physical. Bad bet. Please get out of there so your brain has some room to bathe in something other than stress chemicals.

    • Pen
      Pen says:

      I found myself nodding affirmatively as I read. I like your comment.

      To the people who wonder why “we” are involved with Penelope, or why “we” would have any advice or reaction: Isn’t that what the blog is about? If Penelope didn’t want any comments, input, advice, or reaction, why would she post this blog? Also, come on, she clearly drew us in to an emotional situation; it’s only human to feel emotions then.

    • Erin
      Erin says:

      This has to be the most sane, logical thing I’ve read concerning this whole debacle that has unfolded over the last few days. You have succinctly put to words everything I just felt after reading this last blog update. You wrapped it all up for me in a way that I can now leave my whole participation in this behind me. Thank you!!

    • Can't stop watching
      Can't stop watching says:

      Yes. Absolutely.

      The thing making me crazy is that she has two very young children in the balance, and their other biological parent isn’t/can’t be stepping in.

      Adults have the right to make appalling decisions for themselves. Decent people try not to make appalling decisions for others. When those others are your tiny children? People run back into burning buildings to save their kids. Penelope can’t even stick to her “one month in a hotel for space” for the sake of her kids.

  28. Libby McCullough
    Libby McCullough says:

    Penelope, violence was your “normal” growing up. That is why you do not feel it is urgent that you leave him. I was never treated that way. I was taught that “normal” gets its definition for more than what we grew up with. “Normal” for humans is to let anger, jealousy, rage, selfishness, etc. to control our thoughts and actions. That is also the sinful nature. This is why Cain killed Abel. It is why there is so much violence in our world. Now I know you know where I’m going with this. The opposite is love and love is patient, kind, never boastful or proud, never haughty, selfish or rude. Love does not demand its own way. It is not irritable or touchy. It is never glad about injustice, but rejoices when truth wins out. Now, I am sure you are all thinking “that sounds impossible.” I think you need to ask yourself if the Farmer is willing to work with a therapist to get to some semblance of that. It is the kind of love none of us can achieve w/o God’s help. I know I don’t half the time. But it is the ideal or the goal.

    I hope you know there are readers of yours who do love you and hope you will be safe and ok. I do.

  29. Matthew
    Matthew says:


    It makes me sad to see so many people who think that they know how to run your life.

    All the best to you and the Farmer.


      • karelys
        karelys says:

        i don’t know…maybe just share and talk and gain more insight? just because i share with a friend my problems and hear her advice doesn’t mean i’ll do everything 100%

  30. amy@camhproject
    amy@camhproject says:

    What can I say? You have the gift of objectivity in a horrible situation. That takes a lot of work however allowing the farmer to do this more than once creates habits that never die. I don’t agree to leave after the first time. Establishing boundaries and limits which can save you/farmer/kids MUST to be done early in the violence phase. Your past doesn’t have to be your kids future so best of luck. Do the hard work and expect the best from the farmer and yourself. You both deserve better than your current situation.

    • Cathy
      Cathy says:

      sorry, Amy, but IMHO, this is about as far from objective as can be. Sure, Pen, THINKS she’s being objective…that’s part of the problem.

  31. Andrew Walker
    Andrew Walker says:

    Opinions are like belly buttons…
    Everyone has one, not everyone likes them and they are usually full of fluff or old personal dirt.
    A world without violence would be great! But we are animals who have complex emotions and reactions. You need to understand

    • fred doe
      fred doe says:

      I used to put my belly button lint in peoples coffee if I didn’t like them. I realized it was wrong and I stopped doing it. I think I’m a better person today for turning away from such behavior.

  32. Lisa
    Lisa says:

    I agree, zero tolerance is a wrong-headed approach. However, from what you have shown us here, staying where you are does not appear to be good for anyone. Perhaps you are leaving stuff out. But you can’t fault us for incorrect assessments given faulty data.

    • Dee
      Dee says:

      @ Lisa
      I agree, Zero tolerance does not apply when both are abusers-physical or emotional.

      Zero tolerance is for healthy adults who find themselves in a victim/abuser situation.
      Real life example: a boyfriend yelling and slappng you because dinner was too salty.

  33. Lisa
    Lisa says:

    The intelligence level of your readers is such that no one would imagine it’s “easy” to get out of your situation. But it is painful to read how a disagreement between you escalates to violence (more than once) and then after an outpouring of support read that you’re sticking with the relationship.

    It is not that we all blame the farmer unfairly. It is not that we need you to now defend him and make us understand that you are difficult to live with. I’ve read most of your blog, and that was the first thing that ran through my mind after the last post – “I wonder what happened up to the point of violence?”. That does not mean that you are to blame for the incident either. It means you are two people who each made poor choices, got aggressive, and it culminated in him getting physical. Perhaps you got physical with him as well – you may not have given us all the facts.

    The point is THAT DOESN’T MATTER.

    What matters is that regardless of the reasons, the farmer hit you. You two somehow escalate a disagreement to the point of violence. And then you get physically hurt. This is a damaged relationship where at least one of you cannot make the right decision to walk away before it gets violent. You should not be in a relationship with any person that escalates in that way.

    If it were your kids being frustrating, demanding, yelling screaming and chasing the farmer down until he lost his cool and then HIT THEM, could it ever be OK? You could say that the kids drove him to frustration, but he still would be responsible for the act of violence. It would never be OK.

    Another consideration –

    Don’t consider blame, but think of what the dynamic between you and the farmer does for all of you:

    1)Physical violence to you

    2)You both teach the kids by example to treat women without respect, and that violence is tolerated.

    3)The farmer and you both become more accustomed to accepting violence in your relationship. You become desensitized, and it changes both of you.

    4)If there is guilt for the violence, there is anguish and stress because of the cycle you experience. You both live in emotional pain/fear.

    I don’t think any of us see it as black and white, or who’s right and wrong. More that by staying, you are setting yourself, the kids and the farmer up for further stress and pain. You can love someone, and love the best parts of that relationship, but when you are consistently causing each other pain (and teaching that to the children), you are not a good match. That is why you do what is healthiest for all of you, and not go back to that dysfunction.

    I wish you good luck with this. I am sure it is so very, very hard to start over. But it sounds like you two have already tried working through things, and it has gotten worse.

    • JB
      JB says:

      Good comment by Lisa. And her items 1-4? That’s exactly what happened to Penelope’s parents. And Penelope, look at Lisa’s #2, your parents taught you that it is ok for a man to treat you without respect, and that violence is tolerated. And that’s what your kids are learning in their formative years.

      You may think your kids don’t know these fights are happening, but a man who hits you doesn’t talk to you with respect, either, if he talks to you at all in front of them. You are not in a good relationship to model to these children, better you’re in none at all.

      • KellyGreen
        KellyGreen says:

        As a parent, when my 8 year old comes to me saying “he hit me” or “she called me a name” I have learned to ask, And what came before?
        But he is 8. Grownups should have better impulse control. And whether you are withholding info about you because you’re mad at the Farmer, or whatever, does not matter.
        Here’s what does: your kids are learning that it’s ok not to get past 8 years old and getting so mad that hitting is the only thing you can think to do.
        That is not ok. Your life is yours but you are not doing them any favors, even though you think you are. He has many wonderful things to teach them, but that will only reinforce that maybe this is OK. And if their wife is the one who is beaten, they are the ones who will go to jail. Not to exaggerate but this is not an unreasonable way that this ends.
        I had a rule with boyfriends (for cheating, not hitting; I would have had zero tolerance for that but that’s just me): once is a mistake. Twice is a pattern.
        I know you love those boys. And I know this isn’t a pattern anyone wants their kids to learn: “it’s ok to hurt someone you love when you are mad” is not, in fact, a true statement.
        Wishing you a better 2012.

    • Lisa
      Lisa says:

      @ Hazel,

      I guess we are splitting hairs. I would equate shoving someone hard into a bedpost, leaving a bruise as violent (though I phrased that as hitting). In the past, Penelope has also written about the following episodes:

      “The odds are that I would be with a man who treats me like my dad did, right? So it should not surprise you that the Farmer pushed me so hard that I fell on the floor. In front of my six-year-old son.”

      “Two nights ago, I got really scared. He had already pushed me and shoved me and grabbed me and crushed my foot in a door.”

      Are you asking because you thought you missed something in this post, or is it that you think this kind of violence is not as severe as “hitting”?

      • Hazel
        Hazel says:

        I asked because to me pushing and shoving are different from hitting. Since many commenters have written that the Farmer hit Penelope, I wondered if I missed something.

        It may be splitting hairs, but I think if the Farmer had punched Penelope in the face it would have been a somewhat different situation.

  34. Tia
    Tia says:

    Okay, I love these blogs they are very entertaining. I stop what I’m doing everytime your name appears in my inbox. I am actually responding from my phone… I agree that the “leave him” posts got a little angry.
    I like that you believe in individual responsibility but most ppl who do are inactive intellects that often fail at completing the tasks they are responsible for. You are neurotic and that’s okay, just find an outlet for the moment when you feel like your brain is about to explode. Find a close friend to say all the things you shouldn’t to. Get out everything that u want to tell the farmer that he is tired of hearing to he friend, have a nice cocktail and keep it moving.
    Reading your past blogs we both know you won’t leave, and reading between the lines I can tell he won’t either. I even think he is willing to try, but you are the problem.
    So leave or stay, but get to happy for Penelope!

  35. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    You are good at rationalizing. You continue this pattern and your daughter will one day be subjected to this same thing. I assume your advice will be, “stay put.”

    A child without a parent is much different than a grown adult subjecting themselves and family to an individual who is abusive. Kids being taken into Foster Care is not even comparable. If a child has a bruise perhaps the parent that spanked then might change. If the child was sexually abused, they are better in foster care OR WITH A RELATIVE. However, the bad thing is you are subjecting your kids to this against their better interest.

    Actually, that fact you and your beau both are aggressive isn’t an excuse. If you acted first, that doesn’t matter. You should modify your behavior and environment for you to get better as well as for him to get better.

    If he hits your child, what will you do? Rationalize that your dad did it to you so it is okay.

  36. Perplexed
    Perplexed says:

    Translation – €“ “I’m a freak to live with, so he gets to hit me.”

    I’m sure that message will help battered women everywhere.

    So, the point of posting your picture was . . . ?

    A desperate cry for help? [apparently not]
    A need to validate your actions?
    A threat to the farmer?
    Link bait?

    I’m sure the blog will gain in popularity. Let’s all watch the “self-proclaimed career guru spiral out of control with her life” reality show.

    I know I’m glued to my computer screen.

    • ssj
      ssj says:

      Both of these people — Penelope and ‘the farmer’ — have PTSD.

      That means that both of them have hair-trigger anger. The smallest, slightest thing can make one (and then both) of them furiously angry. Screaming, etc.

      And the reason this happens, the PHYSIOLOGICAL reason not the ‘psychology of it, is because when someone is upset or alarmed, their body pumps out adrenaline.

      And then, in normal cirumstances, things calm down and the distressing emergency goes away, and eventually the body breaks down the adrenaline.

      But in PTSD, this ‘jump’ of adrenaline has happened so often, over and over, that their bodies have become depleted of what it takes to break down the adrenaline.

      That means that the farmer and Penelope, and all the soldiers coming home from combat — all of them need more of whatever it takes to break down (catablize) adrenaline.

      And all the psychologists and psychiatrists in North America put together don’t seem to be able to figure that out. No wonder their ‘marriage counseling’ hasn’t worked. It’s an effort to fix a biochemistry problem with talking; guaranteed to fail.

      • csts
        csts says:

        Zellie’s right, and she makes a terrific comparison which sheds light on your situation. Penelope, neurofeedback is definitely worth researching for yourself. Email me if you want a published academic article looking at the existing scientific literature 4 years ago on the effectiveness of neurofeedback. It seems it can really help with conditions like PTSD (and would you believe high- or low-functioning autism??!! yes, that too!!!). Many clinical psychologists whom I respect no longer conduct individual therapy if the patient won’t agree to neurofeedback as well — because brain function is really the issue, and because talk therapy can only address in years of therapy what neurofeedback can help with in months. Combining them is the Cadillac of treatment these days. Look at the EEG Institute website (which is the sponsor of the treatment for vets that Zellie sent you to) for more info. But don’t just go to a hole-in-the-wall provider of neurofeedback: look for one who’s also certified in traditional therapeutic techniques, so that you know you’re getting someone responsible. A clinical neuropsychologist who provides the treatment would be ideal, and there are now many of those around (consensus about the efficacy of this treatment has grown since the scientific article 4 years ago I can send you). This is something you can do to change yourself for the better, regardless of what the Farmer does — and if the Farmer will sign up for treatment too, so much the better. Email me for more if you want…

      • LJM
        LJM says:

        There are many, many cases of PTSD related violent reactions being brought under control by cognitive therapy and lots of hard work by the people suffering from the disorder. Suggesting otherwise is objectively wrong.

  37. Rev. Carol Crawford Rowe
    Rev. Carol Crawford Rowe says:

    Penelope, you are doing a good job in parenting, in your entrepreneurial pursuits, in your writing, in your personal assessments, and in your marriage. Only you know what is best for you and your children. I hope that the Farmer will work with you, and with himself, to also make the changes that will de-escalate the need for physical confrontation. Blessings to all of you.

  38. H.
    H. says:

    Challenges come to point us in the direction of change. Penelope, I am really sorry for what you go through and I wish you continued courage and strength and renewed hope everyday! May this new year herald many positive changes. I hope you are talking to the children about this though and shielding them from seeing what they needn’t. Take very good care of yourself, and I trly wish peace and love between you and your hubby. Fingers crossed Penelope. It has been sad seeing the photo you posted. Hope you are healing well. I know you will make the best decisions that feel right, and make an attempt to correct what needs correction. I agree fully about taking personal responsibility. Love and blessings to you and family. Happy 2012 Penelope! With prayers – xoxo

  39. Ryan
    Ryan says:

    You conveniently omitted the many comments offering you wonderful, sound, non bias advice. This post’s is desperately trying to convince us, while you still sound unsure yourself.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      I like to think that the great thing about my blog is that I’m unsure about myself all the time. That’s why I write a blog. So we can all figure things out together. And I have a feeling that the people who feel like they have everything pulled together nice and tidy do not even read this blog.


      • Chuck
        Chuck says:

        I agree with the person that said most of the responses to your “I think I’m Dying” post were thoughtful and supportive. The fact that you decided to react to the small percentage that showed “intolerance” is indicative of the unhealthy rationalization that paved the way for your “return to the Farmer(Abuser)”.
        What you are saying now is that it is o.k. under certain circumstances for domestic partners to be physically violent to one another. Or at least in your case you consider it to be ok. I haven’t read anything from you indicating you have been physically abusive to him but maybe you think you are emotionally abusive or psychologically abusive and therefore he is justified in pushing, shoving, slapping, throwing, knifing, or shooting you.
        Hopefully, you will see how sick this way of thinking is before you, your kids, or the abuser is dead. If your kids were sucking on a crack pipe would you say, “hey, we are all just trying to find our way through this whacky world, together. I don’t have all the answers and who’s to say that in this case the crack isn’t better for my child than life without crack? It’s ok to suck on a crack pipe. People who advocate zero tolerance towards kids sucking on crack pipes are so intolerant.”?
        My guess the sane part of Penelope would want to remove the crack pipe from her child and get the kid into a safe environment where he/she could learn to live happily without the crack rather than rationalize why it’s the best thing in this circumstance to go back to the pipe.
        You are a sick puppy, Penelope, but a sick puppy doesn’t deserve to be kicked. Well, maybe your case is different.

  40. Elizabeth Harper
    Elizabeth Harper says:

    I’m afraid I’m going too and without all the fanfare at my blog like when I announced my big crush after I first found yours. I was loud and proud telling everyone in my blog world how much I enjoyed what you had to say even if it was a bit different. You’ve shifted into places now that I can’t follow and I don’t want to watch. More importantly, I don’t trust you anymore so all advice, business or otherwise, feels false. These last two posts make me feel used for bothering to be concerned. Good luck to you.

    • smokytrees
      smokytrees says:

      WoW!!!!! So if Penelope makes you money but has a rocky relationship…that makes sense to jump ship??? HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

      Good example. My ex-wife is an executive of one of the top 5 yellow page books in the country. I hired a customer of hers, obviously this client paid money to be in the yellow-pages for an add. His company comes over and does a piss-poor job of asphalting the driveway, getting some on the garage door, the sidewalk, landscaped rocks, etc. I call the company and complain. He sends his crew back out to fix it, again they half ass the clean-up part.

      Yay well, the owner got an earful and I mean an earful.

      What brilliant move does the owner decide to do to get us back I guess?? HE PULLS ALL HIS ADDS FROM THE BOOK!!!! Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.

      Just because I ripped his ass into 12.5 pieces. So his pride made him pull his addS from the top yellow-page book in our area OBVIOUSLY MEANING HE LOST A TON OF MONEY!!!! A TON!!! HE WAS FIRST POSITION IN THE BOOK!!!

      That doesn’t make 1 bit of sense!!!

      Just like you!! Nel has gems, mountains of gems scattered in her blog that will help you out financially but your gonna throw that away for not agreeing in a few areas??? GOOD LUCK!!!

      Great common sense tool you’ve got going on.

  41. Stephanie
    Stephanie says:


    I think you are one of the most self-aware people out there, and applaud you for your response to the zero tolerance preachers. I love the example you gave about your mother and father–not that it was touching and heartwarming–but it beautifully illustrated your point about what can lead up to certain events (and how some people may never know, understand, care about, etc. those details when they have a zero tolerance mentality). Thank you for sharing your life with me and the other readers. I for one, truly appreciate your honesty.

    • Perplexed
      Perplexed says:

      P has now established the criteria for when a husband can punch his wife in the face.

      How helpful.

      Zero Tolerance be damned!

      • Helen
        Helen says:

        Well said, Perplexed. PT’s post is a textbook case of why people stay with their abusers. It’s bizarre that this should be in the context of being a life coach.

    • Pen
      Pen says:

      How can this latest incident even BE about Zero Tolerance, since there have already been violent incidents before this.

      Wouldn’t this have to be the first one in order for the Zero Tolerance/Non-Zero Tolerance debate to apply?

  42. redrock
    redrock says:

    the other problem with completely ditching the zero-tolerance is as a consequence in the case of domestic abuse the one who is abused physically (most frequently the woman) has now to prove that she (he) did not trigger the violent response. It will go then like this :” he hit me because the dinner was not ready. entirely my fault, I should have prepared it in time”, indeed clearly her(his) fault now he(she) has the right to hit because of provocation? Most of us would not classify this as emotional abuse, but where is the limit?
    Sure every case is different, and physical abuse can be the reaction to emotional abuse. But can emotional abuse justify physical abuse? Not in my opinion. If a cycle of emotional-physical abuse has been started everything possible should be done to break it within a reasonable timeframe. Very often that can only be achieved by one partner leaving.

  43. Christine
    Christine says:

    Hi Penelope,

    There are some really good books on the market that will help you understand your situation. “Why Does He Do That?” by Lundy Bancroft is one of the best I’ve ever read on the subject. Good luck to you.

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