Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on
 

Is Huma Abedin blaming herself?

By Kelly Wallace, CNN
August 2, 2013 -- Updated 1616 GMT (0016 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Reports say Huma Abedin partly blames herself for Anthony Weiner's return to sexting
  • Women across the country say Abedin is not the one at fault
  • Psychologists say women blame themselves because they feel helpless otherwise
  • Experts say it's hard for successful women to face failure in relationships

Editor's note: Kelly Wallace is CNN's digital correspondent and editor-at-large covering family, career and life. She's a mom of two girls and lives in Manhattan. Read her other columns and follow her reports at CNN Parents and on Twitter. Kelly will chat about Huma Abedin and cheating guilt with the CNN New Day crew Friday during the 8 a.m. hour.

(CNN) -- Huma, please say it isn't so.

That was the overwhelming sentiment of women I chatted with on Facebook, Twitter and over e-mail after I heard reports that Huma Abedin, wife of embattled New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner, might partly blame herself for her husband's return to sexting.

An Abedin family member reportedly told People magazine that she blamed herself, in part, for ending couples counseling last year and focusing on her newborn son around the same time Weiner got back to his explicit digital contacts with women.

I checked in with women around the country, most of whom I interviewed last week about Abedin's decision to stick with her husband, to take their pulse.

Report: Weiner's wife takes blame
Friend: Abedin stands by Weiner for son
Abedin stands by Weiner amid scandal
Analysis: Huma Abedin not a victim

Weiner's wife: Should Huma stand by her man?

"What a sad thing to hear, that Huma blames herself, but it's not so unusual, is it?" said Jessica Dukes, a mom of two and freelance writer in Brooklyn, New York. "When relationships hit the rocks, doesn't everyone have those 'What did I do to deserve this?' thoughts."

Andrea Kristina says she knows exactly what Abedin is going through. She put up with her husband's infidelities for years, she said, and that battered her self-worth.

"When a woman's self-esteem is already low, and she is already so insecure, it is easy for a man like this to bend her thinking in a way that makes her feel as if she is the one who failed somehow," the divorced mom of a teenager said. "For so long, that's how I felt."

Pam Selker Rak, a married public relations executive in Pittsburgh, said if she were Huma's friend, she'd tell her she feels terrible she is choosing to "carry this burden on her own shoulders."

"But this is not her burden to carry," she said. "Her husband is an adult who made choices, and those choices resulted in actions that have impacted his family, his career and even himself."

Sources: Huma Abedin considered leaving Weiner last fall

Allison Kluger, a married mom of two in Palo Alto, California, believes Huma's "self-blame stance" is "very generous."

"I don't really believe that she believes this, but she is very brave in voicing that a relationship -- all the ups and downs -- involve two people," Kluger said. "What saddens me, but does not make me think negatively of Huma, is that she seems to be making all the sacrifices to keep her family, her husband's career and her career together."

Who is Huma Abedin?
Weiner's wife: Forgiving him wasn't easy
Standing by your man helps in the polls?

It is not surprising and very common for women to blame themselves when a spouse or partner strays, says Dr. Thema Bryant-Davis, a Los Angeles-based psychologist and associate professor at Pepperdine University.

Women in these situations, says Bryant-Davis, are looking for hope, power or control.

"If I acknowledge I am powerless to stop his behavior, that is very disheartening," she said. "If I can figure out what I did wrong, I can figure out how to fix it, and if you tell me that I didn't do anything wrong, then what do I do with that?"

Huma Abedin dines with Clinton spokesman

Bryant-Davis also said it can be very hard for a woman such as Abedin, who has been very successful in her career and is not accustomed to "losing."

"It can be very disorienting to say how is it that in every other area of my life, I've been able to achieve, and now in this area it looks like a failure," she said, adding the best advice for women who are in Abedin's shoes is to get individual counseling as well as couples therapy.

Meg Watt, a married mom of two, says she knows plenty of people who have blamed themselves for their significant other's choices, and that she was also guilty of it in a past relationship.

Stay in touch!
Don't miss out on the conversation we're having at CNN Living. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for the latest stories and tell us what's influencing your life.

"But either you live in denial of reality or you eventually face the facts in the situation: she didn't make him seek something outside their marriage. He did that all on his own," she said.

We, as women, are wired to be fixers, Watt added. "But the important thing is to realize that the only person who can 'fix' infidelity is the one who chose to commit it."

Follow Kelly Wallace on Twitter and like CNN Living on Facebook.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
November 26, 2014 -- Updated 1310 GMT (2110 HKT)
If it hasn't happened already, it likely will at some point: the moment you don't like one of your child's friends. What do you do?
November 25, 2014 -- Updated 1150 GMT (1950 HKT)
They say the first step to overcoming a problem is realizing you have one in the first place. An online quiz can help you determine whether you are over-reliant on your cell phone.
November 24, 2014 -- Updated 1452 GMT (2252 HKT)
Options for meat substitutes have come a long way since Seth Tibbott's first few Thanksgivings as a vegetarian in the 1970s.
November 22, 2014 -- Updated 2112 GMT (0512 HKT)
Students unhappy with school meals are taking it out on the first lady by sharing images on social media of lunches sarcastically tagged #ThanksMichelleObama.
November 24, 2014 -- Updated 0255 GMT (1055 HKT)
A Louisiana family is fighting to protect its beloved pit bull from a "vicious dogs" ordinance.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 2220 GMT (0620 HKT)
November is National Adoption Awareness Month. CNN's Michaela Pereira grew up in a family of five adopted girls in Canada and eventually reunited with her biological half-sister.
November 20, 2014 -- Updated 1939 GMT (0339 HKT)
It began for Nickolay Lamm as a question: What would Barbie look like if she had the dimensions of an average woman?
November 20, 2014 -- Updated 0216 GMT (1016 HKT)
Bill Cosby was thought of as a perceptive comedian and genial father figure. Now, that persona pairs with another, much darker image.
November 18, 2014 -- Updated 1735 GMT (0135 HKT)
If you think 'my teen would never sext,' you might be mistaken. Recent studies suggest it's more common than many parents might want to admit.
November 14, 2014 -- Updated 1144 GMT (1944 HKT)
I pictured myself graduating from college, getting a cool job and even having a cute place of my own. Instead, I wake to the early-morning sounds of my family dog barking and my parents making coffee downstairs.
November 18, 2014 -- Updated 1738 GMT (0138 HKT)
Samantha Futerman and Anais Bordier tease, poke and prod each other like they've grown up together, but they didn't. Neither woman knew she had an identical twin sister until less than two years ago.
November 13, 2014 -- Updated 1402 GMT (2202 HKT)
A school district in Maryland has decided to remove all references to religious holidays from its school calendar, leaving some in the community frustrated.
November 13, 2014 -- Updated 1706 GMT (0106 HKT)
Female veterans often have a harder time finding employment than their male counterparts. But why?
November 14, 2014 -- Updated 2019 GMT (0419 HKT)
I simply couldn't believe my eyes. At a children's party this year, I witnessed full-on "mean girl" behavior.
November 10, 2014 -- Updated 1724 GMT (0124 HKT)
Several children were sent to the hospital after being sickened by ingesting detergent pods.
November 12, 2014 -- Updated 1446 GMT (2246 HKT)
There are plenty of times when I literally wish I could take a hammer to the portrayal of girls and women in the media. In a new ad, a little girl gets to do just that.
November 8, 2014 -- Updated 1509 GMT (2309 HKT)
"Playing doctor" and "I'll show you mine if you show me yours" are common rites of passage in childhood sexual behavior, according to the experts.
November 6, 2014 -- Updated 2012 GMT (0412 HKT)
A tech startup claims credit for making Alex from Target go viral, but there's skepticism about how involved it was, if at all.
November 4, 2014 -- Updated 2247 GMT (0647 HKT)
A soft toy for cribs lets babies post pictures of themselves to social media.
November 4, 2014 -- Updated 1655 GMT (0055 HKT)
Schools are increasingly confronting a controversial question: Should they do more to monitor students' online interactions off-campus to keep them safe?
November 6, 2014 -- Updated 1656 GMT (0056 HKT)
The National Toy Hall of Fame recently inducted three new favorites into its hallowed halls. What's your favorite?
October 31, 2014 -- Updated 1409 GMT (2209 HKT)
We don't know, and may never know, what led to the Washington school shooting, but we have to ask ourselves, following this tragedy, if we are doing enough to help our boys deal with difficult emotions without resorting to violence.
October 29, 2014 -- Updated 2301 GMT (0701 HKT)
The viral video of a New York woman being catcalled on the street has men asking, "So, what should I do?" The answer starts with respect.
October 30, 2014 -- Updated 1840 GMT (0240 HKT)
Trick-or-treating and dressing in costume have been Halloween traditions for a good long time now, but it seems we're still struggling to get it right.
October 31, 2014 -- Updated 2038 GMT (0438 HKT)
Yes, there's actually corn in it. Corn syrup, if that counts.
October 28, 2014 -- Updated 1828 GMT (0228 HKT)
Walmart found itself sending apology tweet after apology tweet after the Twitterverse raked it over the coals for a major goof on its website.
October 27, 2014 -- Updated 2002 GMT (0402 HKT)
There aren't too many times when I'm speechless about what I consider an outrageous example of parenting. This is one of those times.
October 27, 2014 -- Updated 1157 GMT (1957 HKT)
Holy crap, LeVar Burton.
October 24, 2014 -- Updated 2138 GMT (0538 HKT)
Critics pounced on supermodel Gisele Bundchen for advocating a little mommy "me time" recently. When did it become a crime to admit that you -- as a parent -- put yourself first?
October 24, 2014 -- Updated 1621 GMT (0021 HKT)
Sally Kohn says a video of little girls dressed as princesses using the F-word very loudly to condemn sexism is provocative. But is it exploitative?
October 24, 2014 -- Updated 2027 GMT (0427 HKT)
Not again.
October 24, 2014 -- Updated 1641 GMT (0041 HKT)
"Breaking Bad's" drug-dealing chemistry teacher Walter White will have to stop making the sale at Toys R Us.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 2006 GMT (0406 HKT)
I happen to agree with Renee Zellweger that all the chatter about her face is "silly." But I, and many other women I talked with via email Wednesday, would add some other choice words to the mix to describe the non-stop attention about her appearance: nasty, cruel, hurtful, invasive and sexist.
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 2206 GMT (0606 HKT)
I have long thought millennials, who expect flexibility in the workplace, would be the group that would bring an end to the stigma that is too often associated with flex time -- the belief that wanting a flexible work arrangement means you aren't willing to work as hard. But now I'm thinking it's going to be men who will get us there.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 1140 GMT (1940 HKT)
Say it with us: Kids today have it sooooo easy.
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 1829 GMT (0229 HKT)
An Atlanta judge reportedly reprimanded an immigration attorney for bringing her 4-week-old to court for a hearing -- a hearing she asked the judge to reschedule because she was on her six-week maternity leave.
November 18, 2014 -- Updated 1604 GMT (0004 HKT)
Monica Lewinsky tweeted for the first time. She called herself "patient zero" of cyber-bullying.
October 17, 2014 -- Updated 1943 GMT (0343 HKT)
Meet Shyanne Roberts, a 10-year-old competitive shooter with something to prove: "Kids and guns don't always mean bad things happen."
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1350 GMT (2150 HKT)
strawberry ghosts
We love Halloween season. Sweets. Sweaters. Sipping hot cider (maybe spiked). Halloween can certainly get you in the spirit, and nothing warms our hearts like these healthy Halloween treats that help you stay energized instead of stuck in a sugar coma.
October 17, 2014 -- Updated 1923 GMT (0323 HKT)
Does your baby cry during long flights, causing you to want to disappear from the glares of fellow passengers?
November 20, 2014 -- Updated 2114 GMT (0514 HKT)
Ask any teen if they suffer from social media anxiety and they would probably tell you no. But the truth is getting "likes" and the fear of missing out are adding stress to teens' lives.
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 1313 GMT (2113 HKT)
Many photographers have taken it upon themselves to document stillborn and terminal babies' precious moments after birth.
October 14, 2014 -- Updated 1946 GMT (0346 HKT)
As part of the insurance coverage offered to its female employees, Facebook is paying to freeze their eggs.
October 14, 2014 -- Updated 1815 GMT (0215 HKT)
Amal Alamuddin was well-known in many important circles long before she snagged the world's most eligible bachelor. But Amal Alamuddin is now Amal Clooney, according to her law firm's website.
October 14, 2014 -- Updated 1642 GMT (0042 HKT)
Trends in young adult fiction have shifted from wizards to glittering vampires to bloodthirsty "Hunger Games" and now, to teens coping with illnesses and realistic issues.
October 15, 2014 -- Updated 0056 GMT (0856 HKT)
Before he died this year, 14-year-old Martin Romero wanted to do something for his community.
cnn, parents, parenting, logo
Get the latest kid-related buzz, confessions from imperfect parents and the download on the digital life of families here at CNN Parents.
ADVERTISEMENT