Annie’s mailbox: Constant criticism a way to exercise control

Constant criticism a way to manipulate and exercise control

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Q. My husband criticizes me all the time. He also says the nastiest, most hurtful things when we argue. I have been called a slut and a troublemaker and threatened about almost everything. I don’t believe he feels bad about the way he treats me, and even when I tell him how painful it is, he continues to do it.


We all have made mistakes in our past, but he paints himself as the most innocent and pure person alive. Because of all of this, I find it hard to be intimate with him.


My husband tells me he says these things because I am provoking him. Counseling is out of the question, as he would never admit there is a problem with the way he treats me. Would someone behave like this if he doesn’t mean it? – N.N.


A. Your husband is a classic verbal abuser. Constant criticism and calling you names is a way to control and manipulate you. He also threatens you so you will be afraid of angering him. He refuses to discuss his behavior because he doesn’t want to take responsibility for it. You have told him his words are hurtful, but it makes no difference.


His abuse is not your fault, but it is important that you make it clear it is unacceptable. Otherwise, he will continue to belittle you, and in some cases, the behavior can escalate to physical abuse. Please lean on your family and friends for support, letting them know what is going on. We also strongly urge you to get counseling on your own in order to decide whether you can set boundaries that he will follow, or whether you must leave for your own safety and sanity.


Dear Annie: I am a 25-year-old woman with very short, spiky hair. I wear girly clothes, yet time and time again, people think I am gay. It drives me absolutely crazy. I have seen my hairstyle on other women, and it would never occur to me to think they are gay.


I admire guys when they walk by like any other woman my age. I like my hair short because it takes me three minutes to style, which means I can sleep longer. My hair is also rather thin, so a longer style looks straggly.


The length of my hair has nothing to do with my sexual orientation. I hope people will see this and think twice. – Short, Sassy and Straight


Dear Short: With so many female celebrities wearing short, spiky hairstyles these days, we are amazed that anyone would make such assumptions. Ask a few friends why your appearance gives others this impression. Or, if it bothers you, consider different makeup to feminize your face, although you do not need to justify your look to anyone. If you like it, that’s all that matters.


Dear Annie: Please tell “Frustrated Viewer in Canada” and other readers that almost all newer flat-screen televisions can be set to meet their audio needs.


My family recently was surprised to discover that TV stations were already broadcasting programs with wonderful audio. All we needed to do was read the owner’s manual for our TV and make the necessary adjustments to the audio settings. In our case, we also were able to attach external speakers using an amplifier, which gave us even clearer and richer sound.


Not only is the dialogue easier to understand, but the hearing-impaired member of our household no longer has to wear special headphones to hear the TV. And what’s even more unbelievable, the music in the commercials sounds so good, we no longer feel an urgent need to push the “mute” button. – Eureka, Calif.



Email questions to anniesmailboxcomcast.net, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254


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