Savage Love

Fantasy Figures



Nocute @99, sigh, you're probably right, but it makes for a great revenge fantasy.


It appears that BiDan and Nocute both landed on @99 at the exact same moment. What are the odds?


Most of the people one would want to see blackmailed would probably be too dangerous. People who invest a great deal in maintaining an air of respectability will often go to great lengths to uphold the image.

In a backwards way, it makes me think of how the solution to Evil Under the Sun began to piece together because the claim that Arlena Stuart was being blackmailed didn't stand to reason. A married actress carrying on a brazen flirtation at a holiday resort might well be getting up to things but would not go to great lengths to conceal them (unless she were the devious type who might signal an affair to distract attention from something different).


Blackmail? We joining the trumpdump set, now.
And one doesn’t up the ante with a person who has had so much air room for their bossy boot ways. They will always go a notch or ten higher.
Let one of the other women sniffing around have him, as one slips out the back door. Do her the courtesy of warning her, she won’t listen.. who InLove ever does..
at least one tried..


@69 fubar: Butta bing bang BOOM! WA-HOOOOOOOO!!!!! Congratulations on scoring this week's Lucky @69 Award honors! Savor the delicious accolades and bask in the glory. :)
@100 LavaGirl: WA-HOOOOOO!!!!! Major congrats on scoring this week's Big Hunsky @100 Award, just in time for spring fever! Savor the honors with your sexy Mountain Man, and enjoy the return to beach weather your way. :)


This is a sad letter from a DDD (delusional, deferential, and docile) woman. Whether she's a Stockholm wife or not, I'd put her in the Stepford wife category.

She believes they've been building a life together for 30 years when it's more along the lines of her gathering twigs together which he then smashes, making her run around with crazy glue to do damage control.

So far she has accepted EVERYTHING he's done to her. Even strangling once was not enough to make her leave but, if he does it again, then that will be one time too many. If we can believe her.

We have only her perception that they cannot separate. Just how enmeshed are their finances? At the very least, she should get some counselling at a women's centre dealing with DV.

But I get a hint of false pride or the concept that, once you've made your bed, you lie in it without complaining. These may be the lessons she absorbed - along with putting her husband first - when she was growing up.

Right now, the last thing she needs is a lover. She needs practical advice from women who've been in her shoes. Waiting for him to predecease her won't do anything for the damage being done to her body because of stress hormones!


Living semi rural means for me, yapping dags are still too close. Not wanting to bring in the Law, having a few transgressions ourselves, I use the well worn way of telling the dogs to shut the fuck up. Adults get the message. The other day, just after I gave my shout, the horse across the road, grazing on a big piece of land, neighed. Don’t tell me animals don’t do irony.


Shit. Double negative. Sorry. Bit of rain about, filling the tank.


I can believe there's a few toxic women abusers, so that doesn't entirely surprise me! Was your father in a persistent condition of quiet fear? But I suspect a big part of the "Look what you made me do!" book and concept is the way women are socialised to do the emotional labour and help men, and also socialised to be afraid of men because if they don't do exactly the right thing there may be terrible consequences.
As Bi says, not unusual. It was partly an artefact of when she grew up, in the 1950s, where the most important thing women could do was attract men, together with the fact that she could frame it as romantic love (and the violent assaults were infrequent, just every month or few). She had an image of domestic violence which is usually somewhat different, with more frequent assaults. Meanwhile, "Frank" seemed to feel as upset as she did when "it happened" (that is, when she was encouraged to perform the emotional labour of fixing the relationship because he'd hit her). Coercive control is often much less obvious than domestic violence: by the end of it, he was living away (with his other family) a lot of the time, while she didn't feel she could choose to buy a new item of clothing in case Frank didn't approve. So she was very downtrodden but her abasement to his will had come on so slowly and gradually that it didn't look like domestic violence (it wasn't "domestic", he didn't live with her most of the time). In the end, he just gradually detached to be with his other family, and when she was out of his influence she very gradually realised that having nobody was better than having Frank, so she changed the locks and/or moved out. Which was probably extremely sensible: victims of DV or coercive control have died when they decided to confront when they moved out, and one of Frank's things was "playfully" appearing to threaten to strangle her to death (qv where we came in), which was a great laugh for him


@93. nocute. There's no difference between my advice and anyone else's here. I think she should leave her marriage to a controlling man, and everyone else is saying something like 'run!'.

We know that he strangled her--once--just after her child was born. The marriage is 30 years old. This incident could have happened 29 years ago. Saying 'go!' on that account is almost certainly somewhat after the event.

What I take from the overwhelming response--including from domestic violence experts and on-the-ground feminist activists--to the strangling is that, if a woman is prepared to level an accusation of that sort against her husband, she must be prepared to yield to supporters' and experts' advice and leave without further ado. No other consideration--pro or against going--will be moot. She has in effect obviated it by bringing up strangling. But I can't think that was DISCORD's intention. There were other circumstances in her letter about which she was asking for our input. Did her husband have ED? Why was he lying to her about fucking other women? In people's sense, was their marriage only about his desire to control her, or were there ways in which it was more reciprocal? I would think that, supposing she was inviting a slate of responses and heads-up to her letter, she would have expected a fair number to base their reasoning only on the one incident of strangling, but some to talk about negotiating openness or getting a controlling man to trust her to have some autonomy.

And do you actually think that any woman whose husband once strangled her 30 years ago, and who is since transformed--who has given up drink; who has mellowed, who is now a model of rectitude and good-humored tolerance--should now cast her mind back to that incident and leave the guy? It's like thinking that men are like bears or tigers--barely in-control feral beasts--and can't change. It's saying to any young woman, 'it's a jungle out there'. Or 'men are beasts'. But it's not really a jungle out there.

In this case, of course, I do think she should leave, for everyone else's reasons.

@95. Bi. He is too volatile for that to work, most likely. Divorce proceedings are not so unfair. I think she would get more than she fears (which, probably, is nothing).


I am rather shocked at the efforts of some here to mitigate, de-emphasize or contextualize non-consensual strangling. @116 said "the majority of those who strangle once don't go on to torture/kill their partner." Talk about a straw man. Guess what? 100% of people who non-consensually strangle their partners are dangerous assholes who should not have partners.


Edit 117: Perhaps my terminology is wrong. I should simply say "strangle." While I understand choking can be consensual, I don't suppose "strangling" truly can be.


Ens.Pulver @117: The discussion here clearly pertains to DISCORD's letter, and a decades-ago case of strangling. Nobody has suggested the husband is not a dangerous asshole.


@114: I don't believe I was saying that your advice was different from other people's, Harriet. In fact, I didn't address you at all. The "you" I mentioned, who is free to decide that a single incident of strangulation is not worth leaving a marriage over was meant to apply generally, and to all.

You weren't the first person to bring up DISCORD's husband's supposed erectile dysfunction, either. You were responding to Philophile and there may have been others who mentioned it before that point, too.

In my opinion, this couple's problems--or the woman's problems--go well beyond the sexual. That's what I was trying to say.

And where do you get this: "And do you actually think that any woman whose husband once strangled her 30 years ago, and who is since transformed--who has given up drink; who has mellowed, who is now a model of rectitude and good-humored tolerance--should now cast her mind back to that incident and leave the guy? "

a) We don't know when her husband strangled her, other than it was shortly after the birth of their son. It could have been 29 years ago or 20 years ago, and what is the point you're trying to make?

b) What evidence in the letter can you cite to support your claim that DISCORD's husband has transformed, let alone that he has become a "a model of rectitude and good-humored tolerance?" Certainly, it's not the part where she says she has learned to deal with "his tantrums, his screaming, and his fits" or "He’s always had anger management issues." These are not in the past tense. But you have made up a whole character and a story. Reading the whole letter, the husband sure doesn't sound like a "model of rectitude and good-humored tolerance"--not if he's setting her up to fail some sort of fidelity test and to attack her when she fails, not if she says her husband "flipped out" when he saw, either through the spyware he installed or when she responded to his attempt, under the guise of a different person, to get her to be willing to cheat on her husband. We don't know whether the husband drank or drinks, either. It's a nice little story with a heart-warming character development for the husband but it is 100% in your head.

c) I am not saying she should "cast her mind back to that incident [the strangling] and leave the guy;" I am saying that personally, /I/ would have left the minute after my spouse attempted to strangle me; I acknowledged that others ("you") might not make the same decision. I was trying to say that I would take strangulation very seriously, indeed. And besides, I see plenty in the non-physical abuse (so far) that is going on in the present to make me wish that Dan had advised her to leave, though I was acknowledging the real economic hardships that both of them might suffer by divorcing, hardships which I saw others--you included, though by no means you exclusively--minimizing.

Her letter is hung up on what seems to be an almost irrelevant issue: he doesn't want to have sex with her and he claims to have ED to cover, but he's seemingly capable of getting and maintaining erections. She's confused; I propose that he's all about control, that he is a master of manipulation and control. And though she didn't ask whether she should leave him or not, Dan should at the very least, have seized on the issue of how he came to know--within minutes--that she had told her supposed secret internet boyfriend that she was willing to be physically unfaithful to him. He should have noted the strangling and the temper tantrums and taken them more seriously and not recommend that she get back on the ol' internet dating horse again because she has a right to sexual satisfaction. I agree with Dan that if she stays in this marriage, she should detach from him emotionally, but the rest of his advice is dangerously stupid.

I happen to think that this man is quite capable of killing her. I'm in my 50s: unfortunately, I have known or heard of more than one woman killed by jealous husbands over perceived infidelity or even flirting.


@119. Several commenters insisted on calling attention to the number of strangling incidents and the amount of elapsed time since the last strangulation occurred. To me that read as an implicit qualification of the seriousness of the offense. Perhaps I am in error. But I'd rather err on the right side in this case.


Ens.Pulver @121: The amount of elapsed time since the last (and only) strangulation occurred is relevant.

While it doesn't discount what he did decades ago, DISCORD is not obliged to leave her husband now because of it. He could be a reformed character (improbable), or he could be older and more mellow (testosterone).

It sounds to me like he prefers his aggression to be more passive than manifest (after realizing 29 years ago he'd breached one of her few limits). He catfished her to justify blowing up, after he discovered via spyware that she was socializing online (entirely speculation, of course; that's what we do here).

My sense is that he's a ticking time bomb. She should seek out DV counselling, and begin a process that might lead to the realization that she can separate from him. I don't think she should attempt to carry on a hidden online life. He's already spying on her, and will catch her.

All of that said, chewing on the thing from every side is what the commentariat does. I don't presume to be right. Neither should anyone else.


Oh, wow. Discord needs to leave, as carefully as possible.

If she leaves, she could lose money, and possibly health insurance, but if she stays with this guy, he could kill her.

It's not just the fact that he strangled her once. That's one red flag. The second is that he spies on her, whether it's by catfishing her, getting a friend to catfish her, or planted spyware on her computer. It's just too unlikely that a random stranger would keep pressuring her to admit to an affair, and then turn on her the moment she does. There was definitely something shady happening there.

DISCORD needs to be extremely careful to hide the evidence that she's planning to leave. If public libraries are open, only use a public computer to make plans. Or, a work computer, if she's going to work in person. Or a trusted friend's computer. Put aside money. Don't let him know you're doing it. Store getaway supplies somewhere he won't suspect, like your place of work or at a friend's house. Or in a trash bag, if it's at home. And when you get a chance, leave and don't come back. And, above all else, NEVER tell him where you went.


Harriet @114, with every paragraph you write, the strangling event gets longer and longer ago. What is your vested interest in minimising this incident? Why do you seem to see worse wrong in "dictating" to a victim of abuse advice that she is not safe in her current situation than actually abusing her? The consensus advice is not that she must leave because of one violent incident, but that she must leave because taking Dan's advice instead could easily result in a reappearance of his violent nature. No one but you is taking the strangling incident in a vacuum.

Woof @113/Dadddy @115, my "not unusual" comment pertained to Dadddy's friend who kept picking the same dysfunctional devil she knows for relationships, which I said was not unusual because I see people choosing similarly dysfunctional people quite frequently. We're all more comfortable with people whose baggage coordinates with our own. Dadddy's friend is only unusual in recognising and admitting to the pattern, not in having it.

Nocute @120: Word. "Do you actually think that any woman whose husband once strangled her 30 years ago, and who is since transformed--who has given up drink; who has mellowed, who is now a model of rectitude and good-humored tolerance--should now cast her mind back to that incident and leave the guy?" Why are you even asking about this guy? DISCORD is not married to him. DISCORD is married to a guy who STILL has anger management issues, still throws fits and tantrums, cheats on her, spies on her, controls her communications, and has her convinced that despite working full-time she'd never make it on her own. Again, if the letter were "My husband is a great guy who once lost his temper and strangled me more than two decades ago, but then got therapy, gave up drink and became the ideal husband and father, should I leave him for this long-ago incident?" The strangling is 100% -in character- for this awful man. Why are you so hellbent on discarding this piece of evidence from his trial?


Sentence fragment but you get my meaning.


@117. Ensign. You are locking the stable door after the horse has bolted. The lw in this case should leave her husband; but you're unlikely to be able to persuade her if your only argument is something that may have happened thirty years ago. 'I don't want to hear about your recent problems; the strangling is by itself sufficient'. Your concern will come over as high-mindedness, imposing an impossible cultural standard (one she's already failed), condescension.

And neither fubar nor Dadddy @116 is minimising strangling.


Harriet @126: "And neither fubar nor Dadddy @116 is minimising strangling." Nope, just you.


@120. Nocute. Well, I think she probably should have left when he strangled her that one time. She should have said--I think--'the life my child is going to have with this man--her/his father--in it is likely going to be worse than the life I can make for myself apart from him'. But she didn't go. And every month, every year that passes, the strangling incident is going to have less weight in her decision whether to go or stay. It's unrealistic to suppose anything else--unrealistic and unsympathetic to the choice she made.

And it would have been a difficult decision to leave at that point. It's not a decision, with a baby, I've ever had to face, and nor perhaps you. I hope you can grant it was a difficult decision.

My personal standard in dating has also been 'one strike and you're out'. Some people like DISCORD are going to say, 'life's more complicated than that'. I was not saying that DISCORD's husband has mellowed or transformed. He hasn't. He's a typically subtle, non-violent controller, who lapsed once into violence. I was taking you as saying that in any case of a man strangling a woman, no matter how long ago and what has happened in the intervening period, a wife, or any woman, should come to full consciousness and leave.

@122. Fubar. Yes. I agree with every word.

@124. Bi. I am not minimising the strangling incident. The reasons other people think she should go, in the round, are the reasons I think she should go. I take some people, like slowpokey, woofb and ens. pulver, to be saying that the strangling should be presented to her now as sufficient reason to go. Whether or not this is correct (her husband may indeed pose a life-threatening danger to DISCORD), it's not, imv, a good rhetorical strategy. It risks coming off as sanctimonious and high-minded.

People don't seem to understand why middle-aged and older women in Red states view feminism as not in solidarity with them, but as Democratic politicking by other means--chiding, unsympathetic, culturally out of touch, holding them to impossible standards.


@127. Bi. Of course I'm not. She should have scooped up the baby and driven to her mother's.

Not something you've ever had to do either.


Harriet, I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you had something going on this week that prevented you from reading anyone's comments accurately. Every person I saw who brought up the strangling did so as a way of pointing out that this creepy, tantrum-throwing man with anger management issues once violently attacked his wife in a manner that has the capacity to easily have killed her and that therefore, we think he has the potential to be a violent man again. Certainly I think that Dan overlooked this when he advised her to continue trying to cheat on this husband via the internet and simply choose a different partner next time.

I would never say to anyone whose marriage was going well and whose partner was and had been for the last 29 years a paragon of virtue, "oh, but once, decades ago, he assaulted you so you should now leave a good thing." I didn't read anyone saying that. The lw has obviously considered leaving him, and it appears that the only thing that stops her is the fact that she perceives their financial situation to be incapable of sustaining two households; that in itself is a sad situation, albeit a common one. I think those of us pointing to the strangulation--which must be something that DISCORD thinks about, too, because she brought it up and I can't tell whether that is to say that she knows he has the capacity to violently assault her or to try to tell Dan that he's really not all that bad or has changed--were doing so as a way of gathering data points, all of which combine to suggest that this man is scary. Some of us have more expertise in this area than others, notably slowpokey, and woofb.

By the way, I'm not a "one strike and you're out" person; I think life is more complicated than that, and I know how difficult it would be to weigh an assault against security and my hope for a happy and stable family for my child. I'm not saying she should leave now to correct her original bad decision to stay then. I'm not even saying she should leave now, because I understand how tight finances may be. If I had really, truly grasped how hard my life would become because of the hit I would take to my income and finances when my now ex-husband and I divorced, I may well have decided to stay married, and he never abused me, either physically or verbally. A lot of people make vague statements about cutting back or finding a way, and while those things are possible, the reality is that for many people in the U.S., it's impossible or extremely difficult for even one person to survive on a single income.

I do happen to think she should leave this relationship, but I think she needs to do it in a very careful way, because this man sounds dangerous.


@Ens, Pulver, a point of clarification. You distinguished between consensual choking (as a part of sex) and non-consensual strangling. I think what we call "choking" during sex play is actually strangulation (mild strangulation, because the person survives without damage). Technically, choking is the obstruction of the airway occurring in the throat, and it really usually happens when something one ingests gets lodged there and cuts off the airway, like young children and grapes, or hotdogs, or Legos, or Tennessee Williams and beer bottle caps. Strangulation achieves the same end result as choking (i.e. cutting off air supply at the windpipe), but it happens externally, from a tightening pressure surrounding the throat, like young children getting twisted in window blinds' cords.

The choking that takes place during sex play happens when one person puts their hands around the other person's throat, right? So it's strangling, really.


Ms Woof - He didn't retaliate. He certainly acted as if he expected her to do it again on any provocation. I have no interest in defending either of them. Most of his conduct seems consistent with a Gentile Country Club Set background.

In the What is the World Coming To? category, the lineswoman who got hit in the throat by the ball Mr Djokovic hit with some frustration to the back of the court (leading to his disqualification) has been receiving threatening messages. Do people seriously think she was a Federer supporter who deliberately moved into the path of a ball so that she could fake an injury?


@ 131. Thanks for the clarification. I was wary of using the wrong terminology. To my mind "strangulation" conjured crime-scene and autopsy reports, while choking, breath-play, etc. was what I heard more often in describing sexual practices. But your emphasis on the physiological definition makes sense.


@133: Oh, I've always heard the same things you referenced. I just was thinking about it, and it seemed to me that what we call "choking" during sex is actually choking-by-strangulation, or more accurately, "pretend-choking by pretend-or-light strangulation."

The two get used interchangeably, it seems to me. Certainly, we refer to someone being "choked out," and that seems to refer to strangulation, but the word "strangle" seems to be much more malevolent. I suspect that's because so much actual choking is achieved by accident while the person is eating and most of the time, strangulation is deliberate and imposed by someone else.


If he did it once, way back, I don’t see his violence is physical. It doesn’t have to be, to control and manipulate the other. Constant criticism, raising of voice when feeling displeased, etc.. all forms of manipulation. The slow, over years, form of control.


@135: Good points, LavaGirl. One doesn't have to be physically violent to manipulate and control.


@131: Also, thanks for giving me a reason to look up how Tennessee Williams died! That was more how I would have expected Tennessee Ernie Ford to meet his end.


Nocute @134: We prefer the term "throat hugs" to describe consensual strangulation. It avoids confusion.


@130. Nocute. Well ... I'd say I believe more in the generalisation that:

Anyone, taken too far and in just the wrong combination of circumstances, could be a strangler

than in:

Once a strangler, ever a strangler.

BUT ... having said that, in this case, the strangling, the losing-it over not having complete control (with a new child in the house), is quite of a piece with the man's behavior for the last thirty years--of manipulative tantrums, one-sided rules and prohibitions, and the denial for his wife of any apparent kind of independent life, even in fantasy. So I agree with what you and everybody has said. I think there is a possibility, with DISCORD starting to regain some control, that this man could snap.

The presupposition with which I began was that I would like to think that someone married for 30 years--married unfortunately, for sure--would be insightful into their situation. So if they spoke about looking for solutions for themselves and their partner, I would want to think the thing to find were solutions for the couple together--not something altogether different from what someone like DISCORD claims to envision. I would be against, in principle, running down someone's views, disallowing their perspectives as a condition of rescuing them. But what changed my mind in this case was being persuaded that the best explanation for her husband having the down-low on her fantasy life (30 mins. after she spilled it) was that he was spying on or catfishing her.

I suppose that if I believe in 'one strike and you're out' for myself--very often, I discovered that someone I thought wanted to have sex with me in the spirit of desire wanted to do so in anger or vindictiveness--then I should believe in it for anyone else. Yes, richer people, professional people, will have more potential mobility, more options.

But everyone has some kind of space of having options.


@138: fubar, "throat hugs" sounds positively cuddly. As someone who loves the feeling of my partner's hands (lightly) around my throat, I kind of like it!


@138: fubar, a "throat hug" sound almost cuddly; I like it. I also like the feeling of my partner putting his hands (lightly) around my throat.


The problem is that Dan's advice isn't just bad, it something that could hurt the LW. She doesn't need orgasms she needs a DV counselor and an escape plan.

Harriet why are you so obsessed with the idea that the husband has ED? Are you dating him? Do you want that dick? I mean considering he's the only one claiming this, he hasn't been diagnosed by anyone as far as I know, and it's not like ED drugs are readily available, maybe he's lying. Because he doesn't want to fuck his wife, and it's a way to get out of it without having to explain and risk exposing himself.

I'm thinking of the Terry Pratchett quote that all evil starts with treating people like things. That's what she is to him. A thing. That's why he strangled her, his thing was showing signs of agency and he had to stop that. That's why he catfished her, didn't want her thinking she could leave. I mean he doesn't want her anymore but won't let anyone else have her because she's his thing.

Honestly it's disgusting the hoops people will jump through to justify and minimize DV.


Harriet @129, I refer you back to your comment @59:
"I didn't think, reading the letter, that he was physically violent. DISCORD says he put her hands round her neck maybe around 25 years ago."
You minimised the strangling.
By comment @114, this had increased to 29 and then 30 years ago. Still minimising the strangling.
And what does it matter that neither you nor I have been in this exact situation? I never claimed I have, nor did I claim that your failure to grasp the import of this incident is because it's never happened to you. Not sure why you've thrown that red herring into the mix. Look, it's okay if you skim-read the letter and missed something important, or changed your mind after reading the comments of others. But don't pull the I-never-said-that card when your words are there in black and white. Looks like you finally have admitted that you did change your mind, and also that you were mischaracterising the comments of others, so I will leave this thread.


@142. msanonymous. Well, I began by being concerned with what she was concerned about. This was the cheating, the lack of sex and the (apparent) lies given for the lack of sex.

Other responses, like philophile's--possibly the responses of people who hadn't read through the whole of the comment thread before setting out an initial view--also engaged with the things the lw had at the forefront of her mind.

@143. Bi. Nocute was right @130 when she said that the reason that other commenters e.g. slowpokey @63 laid such stress on the strangling was that it suggested to them that DISCORD's husband could be violent again--could be violent NOW. Yes. I thought they were saying that she should leave because of something that happened in the distant past. My urge was to say that this painted a picture of men according to which they/we were only ever a few seconds away from a lapse into animality.

In bringing up the strangling, DISCORD forfeited any closer engagement with her issues--which probably wasn't her intention. This was my main point. Otherwise, my commentary, whose advice is the same as yours, has provided a diversion from that of Dan's--which virtually everybody, independently and spontaneously, thought was terrible.


If this guy is as potentially violent as he seems to be and is monitoring her emails and correspondance (and everyone in the comments is convinced that he most certainly is): wasn't Dan's advice much safer for her, since I think he directly emails responses as well? If this dude gets wind that she might be planning to leave, that could be bad for her. Hopefully she'll come here and read the comments section and get the better advice. (No offense to Dan, but if that's truly the advice he meant, it's dangerous).