Aggressive encounters on the road represent a real concern for motorists traveling on America’s many highways and byways. The dangers were thrown into sharp focus by a study by the American Automobile Association analyzing 10,000 road rage incidents over a seven-year period. The data showed that these confrontations led to at least 218 murders and 12,610 injuries.
One expectant mom must have been fearing the worst when a recent encounter with an angry motorist turned violent. But while she escaped the incident largely unscathed, the damage done to her marriage may yet prove beyond repair.
Writing in a post shared to Reddit, the woman detailed how the incident was sparked when her husband, who was driving, “cut someone off in traffic.” Angered by her husband’s actions, another driver “tailgated” the expectant couple, following them down the road and “beeping” at them.
Increasingly concerned about the other driver tailing them home, the couple pulled into a gas station. The pregnant woman then decided to get out and confront him, but her husband “stayed in the car.”
“I told the man what happened and why we needed to cut him off but he wouldn’t calm down and instead was shouting and swearing telling me I should learn to drive,” the woman wrote.
When she tried to explain that it was her husband who was driving, the angry motorist branded her partner “a coward” and continued his tirade. “I said it really was all we could do and apologized but he slapped me and started to yell louder,” she wrote.
Eventually, another man who had pulled up in his car to get gas intervened and threatened to “call the police” on the angry driver, who left soon after.
While the woman was left in “hysterics” at the motorist’s actions, she was equally shocked by her partner’s response. “My husband was just sat in the car during this whole ordeal,” she said. “He didn’t get out even when the man had gone.”
Though she could sense he felt “guilty” about his inaction, the lack of reaction left her furious.”I don’t want to even look at him,” she said. “He can’t even back me up in an argument? I’m pregnant with his child and he can’t help me?”
While the wife was left angry at her partner’s response, Jami Dumler a licensed clinical social worker with mental health company Thriveworks, felt it was important to acknowledge what took place was a “very traumatic experience for both husband and wife.”
Dumler, who specializes in family dynamics, trauma and life transitions, told Newsweek: “What may be helpful to understand is that when the body undergoes trauma, it kicks on what is called your Fight, Flight or Freeze response.”
“This is a system that goes into action without you even knowing or trying, it is meant to be a survival tool. No one can predict, know or choose which of those three will kick on in a traumatic, frightening moment,” she continued.
“It sounds like the husband often experiences the Freeze response, where the body shuts down to survive and de-escalate.”
The reaction on social media, however, was less forgiving.
Chesynacholover commented: “Way to make your PREGNANT WIFE feel safe and secure. We would definitely be having issues after this! It could have been so much worse than a slap!” Express-Bus-1408 added: “I’m just so shocked that the husband would even Let the PREGNANT WIFE get out of the car.”
Even so, others, like Bubbly-Kitty-2425 felt the woman should shoulder some of the responsibility for what happened. “Don’t get out the car, that’s saying you want confrontation,” they wrote. “If they get out let them come round to the driver’s side and deal with your husband. Stop putting yourself in danger.”
Dumler urged the couple to “try talking through this, after the dust has settled and the intensity of the emotions decrease when you are both calm.”
“Being able to validate both of your emotions, understand how your bodies may react differently in moments of stress, and come up with a plan of how to tackle these moments together will help you rebuild trust and strengthen your communication,” she concluded.
Newsweek wasn’t able to verify the details of the case.
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