Love and Lies

A Changed Man?

"Ernie's been arrested for beating me up twice, and both times I had extensive injuries," reveals Vicki. "The first time, he thought I had cheated on him, and I would have never cheated on Ernie. He starts beating my head into the wall, kicking me, smashing my face on the floor, smashing my face in the toilet. He puts his hands around my throat, and he's choking me, and he's beating my head into the concrete."

She grows visibly upset when recounting the abuse. "I remember thinking, 'Oh, my God. A human being can't take this for very much longer.' That's when I really thought I was going to die."

[AD]Vicki says she sustained injuries to 70 percent of her body. "I had hematomas, stitches, a concussion," she says. "The second time he beat me up, he thought I was leaving him. I had pretty massive bruising on my arms, legs, hands and ribs and around my neck. I felt like I didn't even know who he was, like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde."

"I've tried to understand my issues, and ‘fess up to the things I've done in the past, and take responsibility," Ernie says. "I've done two sessions of anger management, eight weeks the first time and 24 weeks after that, a year ago."


"I'd like to ask Dr. Phil how do I learn to trust again, or should I just let that relationship go?" Vicki says.

Noting that the couple had words during the break, Dr. Phil says, "What were you talking about?"

"He said that we've been through this before, and I said, ‘Been through what before?" Vicki explains.

"Two years ago, I did all this counseling. The last time we spoke, you said, ‘I forgive you,'" Ernie adds.

"You feel like " " Vicki begins.

"You can't tell me how I feel," Ernie says.

"Are you angry now?" Dr. Phil asks.

[AD]"No, I'm just embarrassed," Ernie replies. "It just brings it up again."

"If you want a chance to heal this relationship, you've got to be brutally honest," Dr. Phil says. "You can't fix what you don't acknowledge."

"The abuse was unacceptable. There is no excuse," Ernie says.

"When you run it off in the ditch like this, you have to work on it until," Dr. Phil says. He addresses both Ernie and Vicki. "If it is a life sentence, then you need to let him go, and you need to take the door. Take the out. You don't want to spend the rest of your life getting pummeled for something you can't change."

"Why did you do it? Why did you attack her?" Dr. Phil asks Ernie.

"I was angry. I was upset with her. Again, I thought she had only guy friends all the time and was out all night long, instead of working on our relationship, our marriage together," he replies. "She goes outside to friends and family members to get that counseling."

"You turned outside your marriage, correct?" Dr. Phil asks him. "According to her, there are three women at your work who thought you were their guy."

"That's not right," Ernie says.

"Yes, it is," Vicki says.


Dr. Phil addresses her. "You say you can't get past this," he notes. "So why don't you just move on?"

[AD]"I've tried moving on. After New Year's Eve, I told him, ‘I just don't want to talk to you anymore. Just don't contact me. Leave me alone, and let me have some time,'" she replies. "I think maybe it's like an obsession or something. I don't understand why I can't get past this."

"Assume with me for a minute it's not him. Assume with me for a minute that you are damaged in some way, that you think you'd better hang on to what you've got because you may not ever get another chance."

"That's probably very true," Vicki responds, voice tremulous.

Dr. Phil says that Vicki has a damaged personal truth. "You blame yourself for your grandmother's death," he says. "You blame yourself for not protecting your daughter."

"That's true," she replies, her voice barely above a whisper. 

"Whatever we believe about ourselves, we generate the results we think we deserve," he says. "You tell me that you have talked to one of the coworkers he cheated with."


"You tell me that she told you that you're always high on drugs, that he comes home, you're lying there foaming at the mouth, when he hits you, he lies and says it was a bar fight, he was protecting you," Dr. Phil reads. "You believe all of that, right?"

"I believe it 100 percent."

"The question you've got to ask yourself is why, when you believe this 100 percent, when you believe he is out telling intimate details about you to somebody he's having an affair with, in a critical way, that you say, ‘I just want to get back with Ernie'?" Dr. Phil says.

"I know it sounds crazy," Vicki says. [AD]

"That should tell you that you have serious, serious perception issues. You apparently believe that that's all you deserve," Dr. Phil says. "You don't believe you deserve somebody who will treat you with honesty and integrity. You don't believe you deserve somebody who will protect rather than attack you. You don't believe that you are entitled to peace instead of chaos and turmoil, so you settle for all of those things."

"I guess I never thought about it like that."

Dr. Phil says that couples can either contribute to or contaminate a relationship, based on the traits and history they bring into the union. "Are you a contributor or a contaminator?" he asks Vicki.

"I think I'm a contributor," she replies.

"Really?" Dr. Phil asks. "Because I think you are a contaminator."

"You think I contaminated us?" she asks, gesturing to herself and Ernie.

"You came into this relationship with a damaged personal truth where, based on results, you're obviously willing to accept virtually anything. You believe that this is what your life has to be. The truth is you are a young, intelligent, healthy, vibrant woman, and you don't have to settle for an on-again/off-again crapshoot with another contaminator."

He faces Ernie. "You are a contaminator. You have a toxic history, and I do not believe that you have healed that history," he says. "You have got some things you've got to do before you're even almost ready to get into a relationship with her or anybody else."

"I agree with that," Ernie says. [AD]

Dr. Phil addresses Vicki. "Don't even begin to think you are ready to reconcile this relationship. He's got work to do, but forget him. You've got work to do," he says. "There is a time and place that you can get to, where you can look at this situation and say, ‘What in the hell was I thinking?'" 

Noting that the couple is currently divorced, he says, "You need to stay that way."

Dr. Phil says he will provide resources for the couple to help them work on their individual issues, and they say they will embrace the help.