RealTime

Karen de la Carriere: a History of Spousal Abuse

Spousal abuse takes on many forms, and while this societal plague is most commonly men abusing women, figures suggest that as many as one in three victims of domestic violence is male.

According to HelpGuide.org, a nonprofit dedicated to helping people deal with abusive spouses, “An abusive wife or partner may hit, kick, bite, punch, spit, throw things, or destroy your possessions. To make up for any difference in strength, she may attack you while you're asleep or otherwise catch you by surprise.”

This abuse can take the form of either physical or psychological abuse or both, as was the case of Karen de la Carriere and her then-husband.

The first such incident happened in the late 1980s, when de la Carriere was a passenger in her husband’s car. They were en route to a meeting and her husband missed the turnoff to their destination. Without warning or evident provocation, she unleashed a verbal tirade at him for his navigational error.

But it didn’t end there. Again without warning, de la Carriere punched her husband with a right hook to the jaw while he was driving at 60 miles per hour. With great difficulty, he somehow maintained control and kept the car on the road.

This incident was merely the tip of an iceberg. Her ex-husband recounted multiple incidents of verbal tirades for the most trivial of matters and another physical attack that was so vicious their neighbors filed a report.

While de la Carriere’s husband didn’t return the abuse, he knew something was severely wrong with his wife’s mental stability.

A study by Stanford University profiled such cases. The study said in part, “There is also emotional instability with marked and frequent shifts to an empty, lonely depression or to irritability and anxiety. There may be unpredictable and impulsive behavior which might include excessive spending, promiscuity, gambling, drug or alcohol abuse, shoplifting, overeating or physically self-damaging actions such as suicide gestures. The person may show inappropriate and intense anger or rage with temper tantrums, constant brooding and resentment, feelings of deprivation, and a loss of control or fear of loss of control over angry feelings."

De la Carriere’s friends and acquaintances experienced the shifts, the irritability and the wild tantrums.