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A Case of Domestic Abuse

Angry couple photo When this little boy, who I will call Prince, went through the potty-training stage at around 2 years old his mother insisted on wiping his behind, saying, “Let me do it. You’re too lazy to do it properly.” This is one of the more usual cases I have become acquainted with over the years.

It is unusual because the practice of wiping his behind after he went to the toilet continued until he was 18 years old and went away to college. It became a routine. This practice by the mother of wiping his behind was symbolic of her whole relationship with him and is why I have named him Prince.

She treated him like he was her little prince. He was her only child and she was his only parent. She and the father got a divorce soon after he was born, and from that point on she was permissive and spoiling. He got whatever he wanted, and if he didn’t get what he wanted he stamped his feet until he did. He became a very entitled little boy and grew into an entitled man.

In college he would go into a rage at professors who didn’t give him an A. He managed to graduate and then was fired from his first three jobs. He started a successful business as in which he could use his charm to win customers. He could be quite charming when he wanted to and his business flourished.

Women were attracted to his charm, but soon put off by his entitled attitude. Then he met Molly. She had been raised in an orphanage, where she had been sexually, physically and emotionally abused. As a result of this abuse she developed an inferiority complex, a self-defeating personality, and a craving for approval, particularly from someone she viewed as superior. Because of his narcissistic charm and entitlement, she saw Prince as someone superior who might approve of her.

As soon as Prince saw Molly, who was working as a waitress at the time, he realized that she was someone who craved approval, so he began frequenting the coffee shop where she worked and gave her the approval she wanted. He told her how attractive she was, how gracefully she waited on tables, and how engaging her personality was. He didn’t give her approval out of affection, but because it enhanced his power over her.

They married within a few months and went through a brief honeymoon period. However, he soon showed his entitled, demanding and entitled side. He became demanding about how she cooked, how she dressed, with whom she was friends, and how late she stayed out after working a shift. He began to yell at her if she didn’t do what she wanted and put her down by saying things like, ‘How did you get so stupid?” She never fought back but always tried to prove to him that she was really a nice person who was doing her best for him. This was how she had learned to handle her abusers at the orphanage.

Children who are abused either marry abusers or become abusers. Molly married an abuser. Children who are spoiled to the extreme as Prince was, become abusers. He had learned that the world was not just his oyster, but also his ass-wiper. She had learned that the world was her monster, and the only thing to do was to try to keep the monster at bay.

As the marriage went into its second year, Prince began to slap Molly. He would slap her if she looked at him in the wrong way. He would slap her if he thought she was having negative thoughts about him. He would slap her if she didn’t have an orgasm when they had sex, saying she was insulting him by faking it. He terrorized her just as she had been terrorized as a child.

She complained to the few friends she had, to coworkers, and finally to a Priest. Self-defeating people express their anger by being martyrs and getting sympathy. Everyone advised her to get out of the relationship. But battered women can’t get out. Molly had been conditioned by her childhood to feel helpless. The Priest tried to help her by arranging for the police to come and take her away to a women’s shelter, but at the last moment she told him she couldn’t do it. “He’ll kill me if I leave,” she said.

Prince called his mother every day. He told her only what she wanted to hear—that he was a prince with a successful business and a successful marriage. Sometimes he regretted that Molly was a bad cook, and she took his side and advised him to be patient with her. He kept most things from her, but even if he had told her he slapped Molly, she would probably have taken his side and thought she must have deserved it.

Things got worse and Prince had taken to micromanaging Molly’s love. He would slap her if the tone of her voice suggested she didn’t love him. He would slap her if her expression suggested she didn’t love him. Every hour of every day she had to convince him she loved him, or there would be another slap. She did her best to always have a smile on her face and exude love, saving her negative feelings for her one or two remaining friends. He became more controlling and entitled. Unconsciously he knew he was a monster, and he needed her to tell him he was lovable. She responded by becoming more submissive and fake loving. This made him even more of a monster.

One day, after Prince had gone to the toilet, he asked Molly to come wipe him.

“I’m not going to do that,” she protested.

“Molly,” he snapped. “I said for you to come wipe me. I’m not going to ask you again.”

She wiped him. It became a routine.

A Case of Domestic Abuse

Gerald Schoenewolf, Ph.D.

Gerald Schoenewolf, Ph.D. is a licensed psychoanalyst in New York and has been practicing for over 37 years. He works with adults, couples, families, adolescents, and children. He has graduated from three psychotherapy institutes and received a Certificate in Psychoanalysis from the Washington Square Institute in 1981. He has been an Adjunct Assistant Professor of psychology at the Borough of Manhattan Community College since 2002 and has authored thirteen books on psychotherapy and psychoanalysis as well as four novels and a book of poems and drawings. More recently he wrote 20 screenplays (winning four first-place awards at festivals) and produced and directed two feature films.

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APA Reference
Schoenewolf, G. (2018). A Case of Domestic Abuse. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 20, 2019, from


Last updated: 14 Apr 2018
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 14 Apr 2018
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