Topic: My alcoholic husband has destroyed my belongings. How seriously should I take this?

Good morning friends,

I am so excited to be starting my blog experience with the Association of Biblical Counselors, specifically targeting abusive relationships. Please pray with me that biblical counselors and pastors will begin to see that the way many of them have been counseling couples caught in destructive and abusive relationships has been inadequate and at times harmful to the people in the marriage as well as the marriage itself. I think the first one will start next Monday, 8/15

If you want to read my blogs at that site, go to

I gave the wrong link in my newsletter last week. Thank you Mary for catching it and letting me know that my link was wrong. The blogs will come out twice a month. Tweet and respond them if you like what you read. They need to see that people are applauding their efforts to learn about this.

Next week (August 15th) I’ll be sending out my second newsletter for August, Four Lies About Anger. If you’re not a part of my mailing list but would like to be, please go to my website at and sign up to get it.

This Week’s Question: My alcoholic husband has progressively become more abusive, hateful and vindictive. Last Monday he was angry with me for standing up to him about his mistreatment of our family (no, I wasn't mean or nasty to him, just clear). He went out to our shop and smashed and burned a number of neatly-stored family mementos, including things that belonged to me and to our children. He smashed and burned for hours. Yes, he was drinking but did not seem to be extremely intoxicated.

When I tried to reason with him, he shouted at me and told me over and over that I am “the problem”. He has reiterated that to me since.

He has shown no remorse whatsoever. He believes that the whole thing is my fault. He says that I am a “hoarder” and that he is getting out of the “storage business”.

We certainly do need to get rid of some things. But I am not a “hoarder”. I am constantly going through, improving, organizing, giving things to the thrift store. My friends often comment on how “organized” I am. Managing our belongings is harder and slower when I have to deal with his drunkenness and nastiness so much… I am falling farther and farther behind.

But is keeping baby pictures “hoarding”?! Why didn't he haul off the junk around here, instead of targeting personal keepsakes? And why didn't he just ask me to go through some boxes, instead of violating my possessions like that? I would have been willing to work with him.

It actually would have been really fun to go through some of those things with him… there were some beautiful and memory-triggering items in there. But now they are gone. I am going through some of the things that are left but the job isn't pleasant like it could have been.

His smashing and burning feels like a very direct expression of hatred and disrespect, of power and control messages… like he is showing me that he can do whatever he wants to do to me (us)… only he did it to my (our) things.

How seriously should I take this? What should I do if he tries to do it again?

Answer: You should take his behavior very seriously. Studies of abusive relationships indicate that over time the incidents of abuse are often more frequent and increase in intensity, especially when there are no consequences for such behavior. Your husband’s problem with alcohol makes it a higher probability for continued abuse and danger to you as well.

But your question is what should you do if he tries to do it again? Hear me. He will do it again. He is using his anger as a means to scare you into not questioning or confronting his behavior or holding him accountable for the way he’s treating you. You’ve already noticed the progression. It is time for you to ask yourself some hard questions and make some difficult but important decisions.

1. Are you physically afraid of your husband? Has he threatened harm to you or your children? He’s already destroyed your personal property as a statement to never confront his mistreatment of you again or “things will get worse” .

2. Do you have a safety plan in place when his behavior escalates? Living with someone this long you begin to know his patterns. I’m sure you can sense when he is working up to rage. Obviously when he is drinking, you are more vulnerable.

3. Why did you not call the police when he started his burning rampage in the shop? You knew he was destroying your personal property and family mementoes. You knew he was drinking and his anger escalating. Ask yourself why you didn’t take steps to protect yourself with some legal help?

I am encouraging you to look at these things because when you’re a repeated victim, you have to ask yourself “what’s my part?” That is not to cast blame or make you feel responsible for his behaviors, but you do need to look at why you are staying with someone who is repeatedly treating you in such disrespectful ways, not to mention being scary and abusive.

For example, are you afraid of him? Do you believe God calls you to stay for better or worse? Do you feel like it’s your fault he treats you this way (as he has already indicated?). Are you afraid of being alone? Is it that you can’t support yourself financially?

These may all be legitimate concerns why you have accepted living this way but facing them helps you to take some ownership back over your life. Whatever they are, begin to work on getting yourself to a healthier place so that your fears do not control you or make you feel helpless in this difficult situation.

Hear me: You’ve already tried speaking up. There is no “reasoning” with someone like this. Proverbs warns us, “It is safer to meet a bear robbed of her cubs than to confront a fool caught in foolishness” (Proverbs 16:12 NLT).

Reasonable people don’t purposely destroy someone else’s personal property. And if they did something foolish while drinking alcohol, they would make amends and restitution, not blame the other person for their destructive behaviors. The time for talking about his mistreatment of you and the children is over with. It’s time to take action.

I can’t tell you what specific action to take but let me give you some suggestions.

You may need to separate for safety purposes. I would definitely get some good counsel on this step because sometimes separating from an abusive person increases your risk of being harmed.

You can consult with your local woman’s shelter or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800 799 SAFE (7233) for advice in developing a safety plan for yourself and your children.

If you’re not prepared to take that drastic of a step right now, you will need to get ready because it probably will come to that. That does not mean that reconciliation is not possible. It just means that you cannot live in a home where you fear for your personal safety. Until he takes responsibility for his behavior, his angry attitude, and his drinking problem, and gets some accountability and help, you and the children are not safe.

If you decide to stay for now, it is important that you get ready to firmly take a stand. You may or may not announce this to your husband. You’ll have to decide the wisdom and timing of it however, if he ever does anything close to what he did in the garage, you must call the police.

It’s important that you send a very clear message to your husband right now and the only message he will hear are painful consequences, either you leaving or legal intervention. The crystal clear message you must convey now through your actions (because he has rejected your words) is you will not continue to allow yourself or the children to be treated LIKE THIS.

Police involvement is important because they are the only ones that can provide the vehicle (legal) to mandate your husband into some sort of treatment, either alcohol rehab or anger management. It also provides a document of your concerns if you should later need to get a Protection from Abuse order from the court.

Lastly, I don’t know your husband but you do. I don’t know what kind of man he’s become or has been but my guess is he doesn’t like himself anymore than you do, but his pride and alcohol is deceiving him.

Try to speak into his good qualities – whatever you have known of him to be a good father or husband and say something like: “I don’t know what is going on with you, but the man I’ve known all these years would not want to treat his family this way either. I want you to get some help. I can’t live like this.”

Do not say this as a request, it is a statement. You are not asking him, you are telling him. It is not a discussion open for debate. He needs to get the message loud and clear you will not live LIKE THIS anymore!

I hope you have informed your pastor, and/or family of your dilemma. You will need their support. You do not need to do this alone. Get some help for yourself.

Have you heard about the BRAND NEW group coaching program?


This small group coaching program is the culmination of 25 years of private practice and hundreds of hours helping women just like you.


  1. Notes from the Den on August 8, 2011 at 6:45 pm

    I unfortunately dealt with similar behavior from My BPD now separated from husband. When I called the police, about destructive behavior,smashing furniture, I was told, it is marital property he can do what he wants with it. I was told to document the behavior through video on my phone and pictures of the aftermath to use when I got a DVPO. Which I did. My stuff was destroyed and I was powerless to do anything about it. THe restraining order got him out of the house for now. But, His behavior will never end. He just becomes more devious and sneaky. I wish there was an answer but, I feel safer now than I did when he was in the house. Support groups help. But, if I had to do it over again, i would have waited til he was gone to work, backed a truck up to the door taken my most precious belongings and disappeared.

  2. Leslie on August 9, 2011 at 2:14 am

    You make an excellent point about police not really being able to do anything if someone is destroying their own property. I wondered about that as I wrote it, but calling the police makes a statement in and of itself, Taking video is also a smart idea but for anyone in this position, they need support and safety. It is a terrible dilemma to be in. Let's remember to pray for women (and men) who are in very destructive and sometimes dangerous marriages.

  3. Carole Bills on September 1, 2011 at 11:30 pm

    I,too,am married to an alcoholic who has used intimidating behavior in an attempt to control me. I was blessed three years ago to walk through the doors of Al-Anon which offers help and hope for those dealing with an alcolholic family member or loved one. Through this 12 step program I have been able to recognize my powerlessness over someone else's behavior and believe in God's ability to restore me to sanity. Every day I have to renew my decision to turn my will and life over to His loving care. Before Al-Anon I believed that it was God's will for me to suffer the effects of my husband's behavior. Now I understand that because of the sacredness of marriage God wants something much better for both of us. Daily I am getting back the self respect that I willingly gave away by not standing up for what is right, good, and holy. I attempt to stand my ground and set my boundaries in a way that shows a true love for both my spouse and myself. He has not been comfortable with all the changes because he now understands there are consequences for his behavior. And yes I have involved the police and the legal system which ultimately led him and then us as a couple to counseling. I know my main objective has to be to work on myself in an attempt to be a loving and compassionate wife and mother who truly understands that I am dealing with the disease of alcoholism.I continue to attend al-anon meetings weekly to avoid falling into enabling behaviors and to learn to let go and let God. In a loving but firm way I am learning to state when a behavior is unacceptabe and to remove myself from the situation if necessary. I continue to pray that my husband too finds the peace of Christ and with the grace of God I intend to continue to love him where he's at just as God has always loved me. For anyone who is struggling with the effects of alcoholism I encourage them to give al-anon a try. Not to get the loved one to stop drinking but to begin to work on yourself and your role in the family disease.

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  5. Antonia on November 24, 2014 at 9:22 am

    My Alocoholic hisband cut up our marriage certificate into pieces in a moment of rage. I don’t know what to do

  6. john on February 12, 2016 at 9:49 am

    Hi there! This article couldn’t be written much better!
    Going through this post reminds me of my previous roommate!
    He always kept preaching about this. I’ll forward this article to him.

    Pretty sure he’ll have a good read. Thank you for sharing!

  7. Teresa on June 10, 2016 at 7:33 am

    Wow..this really hits home for my current situation alot of other stuff..but this hit everything spot on..I have had two protective orders’s time to just divorce because the situation just doesn’t get better..the main reason is my husband sees no wrong in destroying my possessions in order to scare me..the last time he took our truck and ran it into our car that I was sitting in mind you he only was going about 25 miles an hour no damage or inquiry but the intentions were to bring harm to me scare me..then he destroyed the house phone. Threaten to destroy my work equipment says he wishes my daughter dead..all because he was drinking and extremely anger…then says it’s my it’s not..the thoughts of what could have happen..what if the truck breaks went out..what if my grandson was in the car..etc..the anger outburst are getting worse..he already is on probation already in anger management classes…it still continues it was ok for a while but I knew it was a matter of time before the next explosion he so anger about the state pressing charges on him the last time blames me and my daughter of course for it..I have thought this over so many’s so sad to feel name it I have felt is just time to divorce..heal and move on.. can’t live in fear of what could have happened or what might happen ..

    • Leslie Vernick on June 10, 2016 at 12:27 pm

      It is time to get out. HIs anger is escalating and don’t wait until he does harm you or someone else.

      • Teresa on June 11, 2016 at 8:58 am

        Yes it is going to be a long hard road..the hardest part is being family or friends were I live..i know I am not alone but it sure does feel like it..I hate to hear other people suffering but it does help others know they are not alone and it does help to just tell your story..the hardest part about this situation is trying to love yourself enough..not to believe the negative abusive things they say and has made me feel so powerless so empty so lost..I do believe I have finally come to terms that I am not worthless, do not deserve this, etc..I pray for all the woman that are suffering from these types of situations and I thank you for sharing..I also ask for prayer..the protective order ends Monday and I don’t have an appointment til Wednesday with a lawyer to extend it and begin divorce proceedings..I do have a safe place to go if anything happens..its just the mental anguish I feel I am going to break down any moment from the name calling, the intimidation, the violent destructive behavior towards my possessions etc..things he does that he knows the law can’t do anything about because he doesn’t physically put his hands on me..

  8. Annette on June 21, 2016 at 2:57 pm

    Wow, i thought this was a not so common thing, but now i see it isn’t My husband has a sex addiction, but he refuses to admit it when he acts out on it even though we’ve been married almost 35 yrs and I see all the signs of it. He’s taken my belongings and threw them away, and when confronted, denied it. He’s been physically, emotionally and verbally abusive. I’ve cried so many tears it would fill an ocean. I dont have the means to divorce and feel just ‘stuck’ here. Please say a prayer for me, thank you for this article

  9. Ghislaine on December 29, 2019 at 11:14 pm

    I’ve been married for 30 + yrs my husband has been an alcoholic for the whole time but just didn’t see it until my first child was born. I’ve been thru breaking all of my pride and joy items I made when I was a teenager . Then few years later he burnt part of my dresser with my clothing and all the baby pictures in it. I still have the dresser for reminding me of what he is capable of doing it again. We walk on eyeshells everyday never know what will happen. Now my kids are all grown up married and we have grandkids and he has no plans of changing. I know in my heart I need to leave but it’s super scary, meaning I will have to be the one that has to give up everything I love and he will enjoy his everyday drunks and I’ll be struggling. Our life is a rollercoaster . But in his eyes it’s all my fault and I’m the crazy one.

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