End the Silence on Domestic Violence, Teen Dating Violence: Brett, Mallory

An Abuser's Excuses?

"This is my first serious relationship," says Brett, 19. "I love Mallory, but sometimes, I just can't stand her. I have anger issues. Sometimes, we get heated. Nothing really physical. The typical, like, yelling, arguing, stuff like that."

Brett indicates a large piece of furniture. "This is a stool that I kind of tossed when I got mad one time. I didn't throw it at Mallory; I threw it at the wall," he says. "I would never, like, hurt her. When she wears revealing clothes, it kind of sets me off. Other guys would look, and I'd want to be like, ‘That's mine.' Her being pregnant now, people can see she's taken."

Brett admits he locked Mallory in a closet. "It was me trying to get her to talk, so, I was like, maybe this will work, to get her maybe a little freaked out or scared," he says. "When I found out she was pregnant, I freaked out. I never thought that would happen. When the baby comes, I'm not going to be able to go out with my friends anymore. It's going to cost a lot of money, and time and staying up late, and I'm still young, and I'm just in over my head."

Dr. Phil meets Brett and asks, "What gives you the right to impose your will and do the things that you have done with her?"

"Nothing, honestly," the teen says.

"You just do it because you can?"

"I don't want to do the things I do. Sometimes, I just don't understand why I do them, honestly," he says.

"Did you tell her that you hoped she died in childbirth?" Dr. Phil asks.

[AD]"I probably got heated and might have said that, yes," he says.

Dr. Phil notes that one wouldn't forget something like that, and Brett admits that he did say that.

"You said you hope the child is born retarded."

"I might've said that, but I was just joking," Brett says.

"Did you say, ‘If you want to make me happy, you'll get rid of this baby'?" Dr. Phil asks.

"I did. But my viewpoint has changed on that now. I mean, I freaked out," he says.

See a list of typical abuser excuses and whether Brett is guilty of using them.


Brett's friend, Grant, is sitting in the audience. He says he's witnessed Brett's anger and tries to be a good influence on him when it comes to how to treat women. "I think that he loves her more than anything in this world, but every relationship has its issues," he says.

Dr. Phil points out that if Brett loves Mallory, he wouldn't be cheating on her. He says he's disturbed because he feels like he's talking to a couple of junior high kids, and they're getting ready to have a baby. He asks Mallory, "Have you ever considered placing this baby for adoption because you're not emotionally mature enough to do it?"

"I never considered putting her up for adoption," she says

Brett says he has. "I don't want this baby to be adopted," he says.

[AD]Lisa says their family is supportive of Mallory and will help.

"Well, you know you're getting ready to raise that baby, right?" Dr. Phil asks Lisa. 

"I have a feeling that's true," she says.

"I mean, come on, she doesn't have the education or the job, the ability to live on her own, there are relational issues here. You're getting ready to be a mother," Dr. Phil says.

"Absolutely, and if that's what's necessary for the safety and health and well-being of the baby, then we are ready and willing to do that," Lisa says.

Dr. Phil introduces Cindy Southworth, vice president of development and innovation for the National Network to End Domestic Violence.

"If someone wakes up every single day and is being put down, called names, texted things, threatened, they are stronger than you and me combined, because they get up every single day, going through the day with things coming against them," Cindy says.

Dr. Phil makes it clear to Mallory that the abuse isn't her fault. "I promise you, his anger comes from the inside out, not as a reaction to you," he says. But she is accountable for what she does about it now. "You have choices to make, and you have a child in the balance as well that you have to think about."

Dr. Phil asks Brett if he's in love with Mallory and why.

"From the day I met her, I was in love with her," he says. "We get along " "

"Sometimes, you get along," Dr. Phil corrects him.

"Sometimes," he agrees.

"When it's good, it's good, right? But when it's bad, it's dangerous," Dr. Phil says.

Brett nods.

Dr. Phil tells Brett, "It is time for you to man up. It is time for you to step up and say, ‘Clearly, I am the problem here.' I don't care if you think she provokes you, I don't care if she doesn't do what you want her to do and you think she should. I don't care what you think happens over here. Because I'm going to promise you, if you go to another relationship, or another one, or another one, or another one, you're going to take everything with you that you have here, and you're going to be toxic in that relationship as well. You have to be willing to say, ‘I've got to figure out a better way to problem solve, a better way to resolve conflict. If I need anger management, then I need to get it, whatever needs to happen, so I have a more constructive way of interacting and relating with an intimate partner.' You need to do that."

"Yes, sir," Brett agrees.

Dr. Phil offers Brett help with managing his anger. Dr. Phil predicts that if Brett doesn't get help, he's going to end up in jail for his behavior, or worse, he's going to hurt someone he loves.

[AD]Brett accepts the offer of help.

If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, please reach out for help. Call The National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-SAFE (7233). Help is available to callers 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. For more information and local resources, go to the National Network to End Domestic Violence: NNEDV.org.