Anger Intervention: The Solution

The Next Step
“If I don’t get away from Sara, I feel like I’m going to end up losing my mind and go crazy because I feel like I’ve done everything I can do,” Quinn says. He claims that he volunteered for a second tour of duty in Iraq in order to escape his wife’s abuse.

Dr. Phil says domestic violence resources cater to women, who are typically the victims. Men, he says, don’t have such resources. “We need to change that.”

“I feel like divorce is the only solution,” Quinn says. “Sara has told me she wants me back a million and one times, and enough is enough. I’m done.” He says there's just something that's making him stay, though he can't explain it.

“I personally don’t think he wants a divorce; he’s just tired of being hurt,” Sara says. “I don’t want a divorce because I love him. I want to be with him for the rest of my life.”

“You can divorce her, you certainly can, but her children can’t,” Dr. Phil tells Quinn. “That means that you need to hope to find a way to fix this situation because your children are going to grow up in her shadow, exposed to who and what she is, unless she crosses the line to the point that you terminate her parental rights, and then they grow up without a mother.”

[AD]Dr. Phil speaks to Tracy, “There is a legacy that is passed from generation to generation — good things and bad things. What we want to do is keep the good things. What she’s saying is that you have modeled for her behavior that she finds offensive, that she has experienced her father in a way that was painful to her; I don’t mean to demonize him — I don’t know the man. Nobody’s perfect. I’m sure he has flaws and fallacies like everybody else. I’m sure he has good qualities like everybody else. But for her, this was a source of pain. Would you agree with that?”

“Probably,” Tracy responds. “That’s what she reports.”

“Perception is reality. If that’s how she perceives it, then for her — however demented or distorted that may be, and it may be — that is her reality at this point,” Dr. Phil says to Tracy. “It puzzles me that you can look at her and say, ‘Gee, I can’t imagine why she would be emotionally up and down.’”

Dr. Phil turns to Rene: “You say, ‘How does this lead to adultery?’ Because this is a woman who hates herself, she hates everything she stands for. She hates what she does, she hates who she is, and so she goes on self-destruct. With people who are abusive, there is a powerful sense of entitlement. I am entitled. I want immediate gratification. Give me what I want, when I want it, and I want it now.”

Quinn nods his head.

“That is exactly who she is, and that is exactly why her frustration tolerance is low,” Dr. Phil says. “When he is gone and she is frustrated, she wants immediate gratification; go find some loser up here and have an affair — immediate gratification. And she justifies it because to her, men are a source of pain, so screw you.” Dr. Phil explains that Sara beats Quinn as a way to vent all the pent-up anxiety. Once she’s done, he says, she may feel regret.

Dr. Phil gets to the root of Sara's violence.

“Until tomorrow morning,” Quinn responds.

“When you see anger on the outside, yelling, screaming, throwing, fighting, cussing, hitting, all of that, if you just peel that layer off, what you see behind it is a lot of pain,” Dr. Phil says.

“And under that is a good person,” Rene says.

“Now, if she’s beating on her daughter, does that matter that it comes from pain?” Dr. Phil asks. “No. That doesn’t make it OK. It has to stop. It has to change.” He says partner violence is often mutual and “there are injuries that can happen in these situations by accident.”

Sara nods her head.

“Children that are the subject of abuse, neglect, bad modeling, bad environment, bad exposure, whatever, have zero accountability for that because they’re a child. You are a victim in that sense, and I am sorry if you grew up with even part of your life being painful. I’m sorry,” he tells Sara. “But [AD]you know what you do have accountability for? What you do about it now because you are an adult, and adults have the choice to choose.” He lists what Sara needs to do: “The first thing you have to choose is to stop all of your defensiveness; stop all of your blaming of your past; stop all of your justifying it by what he does or doesn’t do, or what the children do or don’t do. You need to be big enough to acknowledge that you are broken.”

“I am. I know I am,” Sara responds.

Dr. Phil gives Sara a reality check!

“You need to stop blaming your mother and father because you want to vent at them, and you need to stop blaming your husband because you want to vent at him, and you want to stop taking it out on your children because they’re not big enough to fight back,” Dr. Phil says. “There comes a time when you’ve got to rise above your raisin'. You’ve got to choose to be different. You’ve got to choose to be a different person, and you can make choices about this.”

“I don’t want to be a bad mom. I want to do better for my kids than what was done for me,” Sara says.

“If you want to be a better mother, you have to become a better person. And to become a better person, you have to heal what is broken in you, and you can’t do that if you keep fighting against the people in your life that love you and want the best for you,” Dr. Phil responds. He tells her that there are physiological, cognitive and behavioral skills that she can learn to help manage her behavior. He offers to get Sara help, under certain conditions: she needs to stop blaming others and must show up for appointments. “I will fire you and you will be right back where you were. You do not take my help and resources, and then blow them off with some arrogant, childish behavior. If you make an appointment with these professionals, you show up on-time, leaning forward, and do what you need to do.”

“Amen,” Quinn says, as Sara nods her head.

Dr. Phil addresses Quinn: “It is premature for you to divorce her at this point. You need to give her and all of my team a chance to find out who this woman really is.” He says Quinn’s job in the meantime is to protect his children. “Do not, one time, for one minute, under any circumstances, leave those children unsupervised with her. Do not do it, unless and until the professionals who are going to become involved say she is safe to be around those children.”

“I want to remove myself from her. Whether she gets the help or not, there’s nothing that’s going to take away the mental scars that I have and physical scars on my body,” Quinn says.

[AD]“It’s going to take you longer to do what you’re saying you want to do than it’s going to take for us to turn her in a significant way. Just cool your jets. Your feelings may change, and your children deserve the right for their parents to make every effort to try to work this out in an amicable way. You’ve got the rest of your life to get a divorce. Give me 45 days to make a change,” Dr. Phil says.

Quinn agrees to Dr. Phil’s request.