"I have the most possessive fiancé in the world. Ken's possessive rage has made me fear for my life," says Amber, 19. She and Ken have been together for three years and have a 13-month-old daughter. "Ken must know every single detail of my activities during the day or he goes ballistic."
"I like to decide what happens and how it happens, and know who and where and what is going on," says Ken, 20, who admits he has an anger problem. "I've punched holes in walls, kicked doors in, punched through the front door. I would really like Amber and the baby to move in with me. Amber won't move in with me because she feels that I'd be too controlling."
Amber describes one incident that frightened her. "A few days before I had the baby, Ken came over to discuss moving in with him. I told him that I wasn't ready yet, and he became very angry and upset."
When Amber's mother, Linda, appeared, Ken turned on her. He explains, "I turned around, and reared my ugly side and said, 'If you don't get the f*** out of my face, I'm going to kill you, bitch.' She called the police immediately. I grabbed the phone and just threw it. I was arrested on double felony charges of a hostile terrorist threat and disabling a phone line."
Amber says Ken's anger isn't all that has her worried. "Sometimes he stalks. That's pretty creepy," she says. "Showing up where I'm at. Driving by my house just to make sure that my car is here. When we fight, I won't answer the phone when he calls. He has called up to 40 times."
Amber and Ken often fight about Ken's faithfulness. "I have cheated on Amber with a few different people. I'm bad. I am a big flirt," he says with a smile.
"I have never cheated on him. Ken has even told me my mom is hot. My mom claims that he's even tried to kiss her once. He's even offered me $100 if I could get my mom to show him her breasts," says Amber. "During one of our arguments about him cheating on me, he punched his windshield. The whole thing shattered. Every time I talk about leaving Ken, he says that I'm the greatest thing that has ever happened to him, and that he couldn't survive without me. If Ken doesn't stop being as possessive as he is, then there's no way that I'm going to marry him."
"My life would be over if Amber found some other guy," says Ken. "My greatest fear is Amber leaving me and taking the baby with her. Dr. Phil, how can I find a way to control my anger?"
Dr. Phil addresses Amber first. "I'm curious as to why you still have a relationship with someone who treats you the way you've been treated. If we just take the stuff that he agrees to, he says, 'Yeah, that did happen,' I'm curious as to what it is about you that said, 'I am still continuing a relationship with this person.'"
"Was this behavior going on before you had the daughter?"
"Yes, it was," she says.
"I've got to know what your problem-recognition skills are, problem-solving skills are. What were you telling yourself? Were you flattered by this at one time?" asks Dr. Phil.
"Yes, I was. I was flattered by it," says Amber. "He would tell me that I'm beautiful all the time, that he wanted to see me every single day, and that he just wanted to be around me. And I felt like, oh, my God, somebody really admires me this much. I just want to be there for him, and I want to make him happy."
"OK, so he sucked you in with flattery, and it felt like this was all positive in the beginning," says Dr. Phil.
Dr. Phil turns to Ken. "When do you think you lost control?"
"I feel that I lost control sometime right after she had the baby," says Ken. "I felt like I had no control anymore. I tried to make things work before she had the baby, and throughout the pregnancy, I tried to improve my behavior, and improve the way that I went about doing things and back off a little bit, and then once the baby came along, I felt that because she wasn't living with me, that her and her mom kind of controlled the situation around me."
"Which you didn't like," notes Dr. Phil. "Tell me what life experience you've had that makes you think that you get to run things. Why is that your expectation, that we're going to do everything the way Ken wants to do it?"
"I don't feel that it's completely up to me. I just feel that I see compromise, and I see other things in different marriages and relationships " my parents' " and I feel that I don't get that choice because of the way I've acted before. My opinion doesn't count anymore," he says.
"Well, you lost a little creditability," says Dr. Phil.
Dr. Phil brings up the recent incident in which Ken forced his way into Amber and her mother's house. "What do you say to yourself that gives you the right to do that?"
"Isn't that her right? Doesn't she have the right to tell you, 'I don't want to talk to you,' just as you have the right to say that you don't want to talk to her?" asks Dr. Phil.
"Absolutely. I just feel like she plays that card every single day," says Ken. Noticing Dr. Phil's questioning expression, he continues, "It's like, if you don't want to see me any day, then why are we continuing this relationship?"
"Do you want to end the relationship, or are you just gassing?" asks Dr. Phil.
"I would like it to work because I'm afraid if we aren't together, my biggest fear is having my little girl call someone else Daddy. That is something I won't be able to handle," says Ken.
"Apparently you aren't too worried about it, or you wouldn't be alienating her mother," says Dr. Phil.
"Since she has been born, I rarely get to see her," says Ken, explaining that Amber usually has her mother baby-sit their daughter. "I feel like I'm already shuffled out of the situation."
"With the way that you've behaved, I would think that would be a pretty rational thought, don't you think?" asks Dr. Phil. "I mean, you stand outside the bathroom door and beg her to say, 'I love you' until they have to call the police?"
"Well, her mom was threatening to call the police, and I told her, 'Just tell me, if you want this to work and you love me, I'll leave.'"
"So, you're telling her what to say?"
"I mean, yeah, sometimes," says Ken.
"Have you threatened your fiancée's mother?" Dr. Phil asks.
"I threatened her that one time I went to jail."
"You're smashing cells phones against the house when you get mad?" asks Dr. Phil. He points out that once, Ken threw the phone twice because it didn't make a loud enough noise the first time. "That does not sound like a fit of anger to me. That sounds like manipulation and control. You threw it and it didn't break as much as you wanted, so you picked it up and threw it again."
"It's just that it didn't break, and that pissed me off even more because I threw it really hard the first time," he explains.
"I can't defend what I've done because my actions speak for themselves, but there are other roles that play in the situation," says Ken. "It takes two to tango " "
Dr. Phil interrupts. "You want my help, right?
"I'm going to challenge the things you say that I think are self-destructive for you. It doesn't take two for somebody to ram into a car!" exclaims Dr. Phil. "You got into your car and went and rammed into her car. Now, you were quick to point out, 'No, I just lightly bumped her car.' That sounds to me like defense. How does it take two to tango when you decide to get in a 5,000-pound, motorized missile and ram it into another person's car?"
"I think they have taken the situation out of control. We were stopped at a stop light. I was calling her. I touched her car, the light turned green, she took off. That is what happened," says Ken.
"How pregnant were you when he hit the back of your car?" Dr. Phil asks Amber.
"Seven months," she says.
"I did not ram her car," says Ken. "She was making a joke out of the situation, talking to her friends, turning up the radio, turning her phone off, and dropping her phone onto the seat like, 'I am not going to talk to you.'"
"What in the hell are you thinking? What gives you the right to do that?" asks Dr. Phil.
"I mean, for me, when I was growing up, that's how my parents got my attention," says Ken.
"Are they also blowing this out of proportion, when you said to Linda, 'F you, bitch. Leave us alone. I could kill you right now'?"
"No, when I get mad, there is no connection between my brain and my mouth. I said that, yeah. I remember saying that," says Ken.
Dr. Phil continues, reading his notes. "Punched the windshield out of a truck, pushed you physically into a toilet, hunted you down, rear-ended your car. When he tries to call you and you don't answer, you've gotten as many as 46 calls in a day, right?" he asks Amber.
"Within an hour actually," says Amber.
"What do you say to yourself when you do these things, when you are 'lightly bumping' her car, when you are telling her mother to F off, when you are committing emotional extortion? You're saying, 'Do what I want or I will kill myself.' That's emotional extortion, isn't it?" Dr. Phil asks. "'OK, you want my blood on your hands, then assert your will, but if not, you do what I want you to do.' Does that sound like a loving relationship to you?"
"Not at all," says Ken.