Anatomy of Abuse: Amy

Anatomy of Abuse: Amy

"Lee and I have had a really rough relationship in the past few years, pretty much our entire marriage," says Amy. She has one child, Amerie, from a previous relationship and two kids with Lee. "Things really started to go wrong right after our son was born, fighting all the time and a good amount of physical violence."
 
Lee admits that he has a temper. "I come from a long line of hotheads. I have a short fuse," he says.

 

Their blow-ups have become dangerous. "I ended up with a knife up against her throat, telling her I was going to ******* kill her if she didn't get out of my face," Lee recalls. "I was convicted of assault with a deadly weapon. I am currently on probation."
 

Amy fears for the safety of her family. "I am terrified that my husband is capable of hurting the children. He's already started to lose control with Amerie by the last mark he's left on her."
 
Lee explains, "I guess I got a little carried away disciplining our oldest daughter, and I guess I ended up leaving a mark on her."

 

Little Amerie says, "He hit me too hard. He banged me on the floor." 

Amy and Lee separated, and she moved in with her parents, Stan and Cynthia. "I think the incident that happened with Amerie was the breaking point," Lee says. 
 
"My wife and I will not allow her to take those kids back into that situation," declares Stan.

 

"I will do whatever it takes to protect the grandchildren," vows Cynthia.

 

Now that he is separated from his wife and children, Lee reflects on his poor choices. "I feel very guilty because she's been there for me," he says.
 
"The person he's become, I'm better off without," says Amy.

Dr. Phil is joined onstage by Stan, Cynthia, Amy and Sandy, Lee's mother. Sandy gives her account of the situation. "I know that they argue because I've heard them on the phone, and I've even been there when " it's just something simple, and it will just keep going back and forth."
 

Dr. Phil wants to give Sandy a wake-up call about her son's behavior. He replays a video clip of Lee saying, "I ended up with a knife up against her throat, telling her I was going to ******* kill her if she didn't get out of my face."
 
"It's wrong, and he knows that it's wrong," Sandy says when the clip ends. "He was not raised in an abusive home."
 
Amy says her mother-in-law has been her only support system. "When we're in an argument, she's the first person I call because she and her husband are the only ones who can really whack [Lee] across the back of the head, and put him in his place," she tells Dr. Phil. 
 
"Well, have you lied to her about what's been going on?" Dr. Phil asks Amy.
 
"I haven't," she replies. 
 
Dr. Phil is skeptical. "What you're telling me already makes no sense whatsoever. You say, 'This is the first person I turn to whenever something happens,' and yet [Sandy says] 'I had no idea they were being physical,'" he points out. "You're either lying by omission, or you're not telling me what you've actually known."
 
"I never knew that he hit her," Sandy maintains.

"You never talked to her outside of the presence of Lee?" Dr. Phil asks Sandy. Turning to Amy, he says "He leaves. You never called her then to say, 'I need some help here'?" 
 
"I would usually go to my mom for that kind of help," Amy says. 
 
"It's only, actually, recently that Amy has called me or asked me anything," Sandy tells Dr. Phil. 
 
Cynthia, who sits across from her daughter, chimes in, "Because she doesn't like our answers. That's the reason she's gone to you. She's using you as her support system." 
 
Dr. Phil reads several of Lee's comments: "'I'm afraid I will hurt them. I'm afraid that I might lose it and kill her.'" He then turns to Amy. "You have said that he has shoved you, choked you, slapped you, spit on you, punched you and kicked you in the back, followed you around the house with a hammer."

 

Addressing Sandy, Dr. Phil says, "You knew about the hammer."
 
"That one I did know because he was arrested for it," Sandy says.
 
"Your response was, 'He wasn't going to hit her.'"
 
Amy interjects, "She didn't know he was capable."
 
"I really don't think he is," Sandy says.

Dr. Phil lists more disturbing actions Lee has taken against his wife. "He held a knife to her throat. He's dragged her by the hair, stepped on her head, pressed her face to the floor with his shoe, and has knocked her unconscious. You had no clue?" he asks Sandy.
 
"No," she replies.

 

"I can validate. She has not known the explicit details," Amy says.
 
"Why didn't you call me? Then I could get in there and help you," Stan says in frustration. "I'm your dad. Are you afraid of what I may do?"
 

"No. I can't go to you because anything that I say and do is turned around on me," Amy says. "I can't confide in you to trust me. I can't confide in you to let me be in control. I've already got one man trying to keep that control away from me. Everything in my entire life has been someone else having to control it. I can't confide in you guys to be there to support me without you having to think you have to control me."
 
"We've supported you, basically, for the last six years, darling," Stan says.

 

Dr. Phil wants Amy to put her pride aside and think about the kids. "You say, 'I didn't want to talk to you because you tried to control me.' If you're allowing those children to be subjected to this, somebody needs to control you," he says sternly.