Dr. Phil Takes on Abusers: Adam and Erin

Dr. Phil Takes on Abusers: Adam and Erin
Dr. Phil talks with parents who are determined to have their children make it as beauty queens and actresses."I am being physically abused by my wife. She'll dig her nails into me or she'll try to bite me," explains Adam, who has been
married to Erin for two years. "I feel kind of helpless when she's coming at me. I just feel bad for her. She doesn't mean to hurt me. She has some anger issues. I never thought marriage would be like this, but I stay in this relationship because there are more good times than bad."
"I think people would be very shocked if they knew the extent of violence when I get really ticked off," admits Erin. "I have kicked him in the groin, whatever part of his body I can get to first. I will punch Adam as hard as I can just to hear the smack of the
punch."
Erin explains what gets her so angry. "If he puts his shoes on the kitchen floor and then leaves the ring from the milk carton on the counter, he's accumulated enough points for a freak out," she says. "When I get really upset, I have gone in my truck and rammed Adam's truck. One time I grabbed his genitals with my fingernails and twisted." Erin has also punched their dog, and taken her anger out on their 9-month-old son by telling him to shut up or smacking him when he wouldn't stop screaming. She turns to Dr. Phil for help. "I don't know how to control my emotions. Can you help me?"When Erin says that sometimes she just "snaps," Dr. Phil doesn't buy it. He points to one time when she put the baby to bed and headed downstairs so she could "rip [Adam's] face off."
"Did it ever occur to you that that is not the way to treat another human being?" Dr. Phil asks. "What gives you the right, in your mind, to go down and physically attack your husband?"
"I really don't know. I know I don't have the right to do it and he's a very good husband," she says. "He's the easiest target I guess, and that's horrible to say, but it's the truth."
"Do you do things that you know are going to trigger her?" Dr. Phil asks Adam.
"I don't want her to physically attack me," Adam says, "but I do things maybe to get her riled up."
Dr. Phil reiterates that Adam is not responsible for Erin's actions, but he is responsible for his own. "You call her 'psycho' and 'crazy bitch,'" Dr. Phil says. "You know that that really gets to her. So what is it you are trying to achieve when you do that?"
"I'm trying to make her realize that maybe she's acting like that," Adam explains."Have you abused that baby?" Dr. Phil asks Erin.
"I have given him a smack on the bum when he wouldn't stop crying, and that
is so wrong," she says.
"I need to know where the bottom is," Dr. Phil tells her. "Have you lost control with that baby? Have you shaken that baby? Have you thrown that baby down?"
"The farthest I've ever gone is to hold him really tight and be right at the point where I felt like I was going to shake him. And I've put him down at that point and gone on a rage in the rest of the house," Erin admits.
"Did it scare you?" Dr. Phil pries.
"It scared me more than anything that I've ever done to Adam," she says.
"Because it scares me," Dr. Phil says. "I get the feeling that you have either crossed the line or been right up to that line, and that baby cannot protect itself. And that means we have to do something immediately, urgently, to stop what's going on. We have to stop this right now."
"Do you understand that you now have a child that's in the mix here that has been in danger?" Dr. Phil asks Adam.
"Absolutely," Adam says. "That's why I wanted to come here."
"You have to protect your child. That is your mission in life at all costs," Dr. Phil tells Adam.
Adam agrees and says that he will do that.
Dr. Phil turns to Erin. "We have to get you help," he tells her."You've got to learn some things and I think you
can. I think you want to do this. And again, we're not here to shame you; we're here to help you, to heal you," Dr. Phil continues. "You have to learn to recognize that first physical sign. There are cues that will tell you it's coming. That has to become a cue for coping instead of a cue for meltdown. You have to recognize that first physiological sign and have a different course that you take, a different set of behaviors that you embrace." In time, she will learn how to express her emotions differently, calm herself physically and change her expectations, but right now the focus needs to be on protecting the baby.