Dr. Romance:

I am a native American woman who has been abused and betrayed by my husband.  He was my coresearcher and advisor for several years.  We were married according to tribal custom, which he later denied happened and disowned me in the courts where he was believed over me.

After I told him that I realized his internet activities were illegal he became more abusive and denied that I was his wife. He put me on the street several times, but we later reconciled and he was sweet for a tine, then became abusive again.

I am now 'widowed' and am therefore now grieving on many levels and not understood.  I am stranded without a permanent home and my late husband's lies denied me the potential to work in the field I was studying.  One professor suggested writing my life experience as a dissertation in self-study and self-healing from a Native-mixed perspective. I do not feel able to do that at this time and also would not know where to begin in excising the tender and affectionate parts of the thesis.

Nonetheless, I hope - with the help of an expert such as yourself - to turn my life around and renew my standing before my people, my family and the academy. Can you advise and help me?

Dear Reader:

I tend to agree with your professor that writing your life experience would enable you to do a thesis, as well as be cathartic for you and help you heal.  Don't think about it as writing a thesis; you can edit it down later. Instead, write all your experiences and feelings. You can use
"How to Write a Love Letter"

 as a primer for the writing. My clients with PTSD find it very helpful. Your husband sounds like a typical charmer/abuser: those people who tell you what they sense you want to hear, just to get you under their control, then abuse you once they have control.

It sounds like he is deceased now, so I'm glad he's no longer a threat. 

However, the aftermath of abuse still needs to be healed. You are a long way from the original home of your people, but it sounds as though you have a lot of information about the culture. If there are healing rituals that you know of, it would be very helpful to do them.  
"Drama, Trauma and Time Travel"
can help you through your healing process

There are quite a number of assistance programs for Native Americans. If you're looking for financial assistance, I suggest starting with your tribe, or
U.S. Department of the Interior Benefits and Services
. You also need help with your PTSD, and they may be able to provide it.  You can also try
The Domestic Violence Hotline
1-800-799-SAFE The hotline can refer you to programs and counselors in your area who are knowledgeable about the aftermath of abuse, and will help you find a suitable counselor for low or no cost. Please take advantage of that. I wish you the best of luck.

It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction

has exercises, information and examples which can help you get through the healing process.

IEWY new cover

For low-cost phone counseling, email me at

Author's Bio: 

Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D. is a licensed psychotherapist in S. California since 1978 with over 30 years experience in counseling individuals and couples and author of 13 books in 17 languages, including It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction; The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again; Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting About the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage, The Commuter Marriage, and her newest, Love Styles: How to Celebrate Your Differences. She writes the “Dr. Romance” blog, and the “Happiness Tips from Tina” email newsletter.