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Learn About Coercive Control and Psychological Abuse

How victims cope with psychological abuse and coercive control

– Posted in: Crazymaking/Gaslighting

Speakoutloud.net how women cope Clare Murphy PhD_3I had two clients arrive today in tormented distress. One client was confused about her husband’s behaviours. She was also distraught because she is yearning to leave, but feels guilty at the thought of doing so. She wants to leave but is still confused about why he continues to be abusive and controlling despite the wide range of strategies she’s used over the years to try to resolve the problem. He controls the money. He spends over and above the budget. He disposes of her possessions including cars. He makes all the family decisions. He never takes responsibility for any of his actions. He lashes out with his fists. He threatens to leave but stays. He denigrates her. He is unkind. He ignores her for days on end. He lives in his own world. He has isolated her from her friends. She has no friends anymore.

My other client is being abused by her boss. It is common for a workplace bully to target the most conscientious and capable worker. I asked if this might be happening. She said yes, that he was abusing her and the other good workers, but that the lazy workers were allowed to do what they wanted, whilst the conscientious workers were overworking to take up the slack. Both my clients were confused. They were both trying to do better in an attempt to stop the abuser from abusing them.

Why are victims of one-sided power and control so confused?

My two clients today are generous, intelligent and caring. The woman whose husband is controlling her has tried over her very long marriage to help him manage money. But he refuses to learn how, he refuses to allow her to take charge of it, he refuses to take advice from financial experts. He has lost most of their savings because of his ignorance and selfishness. He is always determined to do what he wants, when he wants, how he wants. I have met many women who have had the exact same experiences. Over the years these women have tried to get their partner to take responsibility for his aggression, his controlling, his abusiveness, his unkindness. Today my client was extremely distraught about her feeling of failure. She has never found a way to actually engage him in a conversation that would enable a resolution. This is a common experience for victims of one-sided power and control.

The victim tries many strategies to be heard

The bully at work and the bullying husband both refuse to take any responsibility for their behaviours. In the case of the woman whose husband is controlling her, she has tried yelling at him. She has tried getting him to see logic. She has often confronted her husband with requests that he not abuse her, not control her. But he always claims everything he does is right and justified. If she stays silent and lets him control her she becomes depressed, she loses herself. If she asserts herself, he gets angry and enraged and creates fear in her. No matter what strategy she use, he refuses to take responsibility for his behaviours, and refuses to consider her wellbeing. This is not just the experience of one woman. She is echoing the confusion of thousands of women who have a husband or male partner who is determined to get his way at all costs. She is experiencing physical health problems as a result of the abuse. This too is a common effect of being incessantly controlled. His behaviours were particularly bad last week, so one of her health problems became worse. My client, who is being victimised by her boss, is afraid of going back to work. She had to take a week off because she feels fear.

Many victims ask for their needs to be met

Lots of female victims of one-sided power and control continually ask for their needs to be met. They are not passive. Wives of male perpetrators often try to help their partner see how frustrating his control tactics are. But many perpetrators of one-sided power and control turn a deaf ear to such pleas. Generally those men who behave that way are determined to meet their own needs, not their partner’s. Many female victims will try to explain to their partner how his neglectful behaviours, denigration and mind games affect her. Often women will explain to the man how trapped they feel, how hurt they feel, how they need the safety and the space to be themselves. But such information is often used as further ammunition to further control, manipulate and abuse the female victim.

Victims often say, “No”, “Don’t”, “Stop”

Many women I have spoken to, who are in a one-sided abusive situation, will frequently say, “No” to the abuser. But it is extremely common for those men who are determined to control their partner to infrequently, if ever, respond positively to “No”. Many other women will try to resolve the power and control their partner has over them by arguing. But many of those women say this ends up being a waste of energy, because it does not stop their partner from continuing with neglectful, controlling, abusive behaviours.

Victims may become angry or abusive

The feeling of powerless and frustration that many women experience, because they cannot find a way to be heard, then leads some women to get very angry. Some women have to lie to be able to gain some freedom from the control. Some women become physically aggressive or violent as a way of trying to be heard. This then leads those women to believe they are the same as their abusive and controlling partner.

Some women will become manipulative by getting sick as a way of avoiding sex. However, that strategy does not work for many of those women, as there are some perpetrators who will coerce sex from their wife or partner, whether she is sick or not.

Some forms of control feel worse than others, for example, when one woman’s husband requested that she have a caesarian for his convenience, she became so enraged that she physically attacked him. But this attack was not just because of that one request from him. It was the straw that broke the camel’s back. It was yet another controlling comment (aimed at meeting his needs, to the neglect of hers) after years of neglect, abuse, control and denigration. Many female victims hate themselves when they become abusive themselves. It is very confusing for them.

Many victims silence themselves or become isolated

But some women are afraid of anger – in others and in themselves. Some women do not want to appear abusive themselves so they will silence themselves as a way of dealing with being abused and controlled. They lose contact with friends because their partner has abused their friends, or denigrated those friends in such a way that leaves the woman wondering if her friends are good enough. Some women will simply stop seeing friends as a means of avoiding further abuse and control by their partner. They lose their self-esteem, their confidence. Many women who want to work, don’t work, because their partner has taken steps to stop her. This leads to more isolation. If he has taken her car from her, or “just” taken the keys, this leads to further isolation.

Victims’ multiple strategies tend not to work

Confusion is a hallmark for a victim of one-sided power and control – whether that is a woman’s experience in relationship with her husband, or the experience of someone being bullied at work. Most victims of psychological abuse and control are not passive. Victims resist. Victims fight back. Victims try to be heard. Victims try to make sense of why they are not being heard. Victims continually wonder how to get the abuser to be reasonable, to take responsibility for their actions, to try to see from the perspective of the victim. Victims continually ask for their needs to be met. They try to please the abuser, do as they are told. They rebel and say, “No”, “Don’t”, “Stop”. Victims become angry and aggressive. Yet at other times victims will silence themselves. It often takes 7, 15, 30, or more than 50 years for a woman to give up trying to resolve her partner’s behaviours. Many women feel like failures at this stage. But even then when they give up, they might try again — thinking, “If only I could work out why he does it, why he won’t take responsibility?”

Unless the controller takes responsibility for their behaviours, and takes real steps to change, it does not matter what aggressive, or passive, or assertive strategy the victim of one-sided power and control uses. The victim will never be able to change anything about the perpetrator’s behaviours until the perpetrator takes responsibility.

Safety is paramount for victims

It is important for the victim to take steps to keep herself psychologically and physically safe – whether she stays in the relationship or not. Safety is paramount when it comes to any friend, family or professional who tries to help a victim of power and control. It is vital that a support person understands the deep, complex and contradictory confusion that a victim may experience. The victim is not stupid. There are many reasons for the confusion. It is extremely common that a perpetrator will tell the victim many times, in many ways, that it is her fault, that the victim deserves the abuse and control. These messages may have been expressed to her in very subtle ways over the years of the relationship.

The controller steals the victim’s self-determination, her sense of integrity, her self-worth. It is important for any support person not to try to control her decisions too. If you are a support person, or if you are a victim of power and control – the following messages are for you…

  1. No one deserves to be victimised by a perpetrator of one-sided power and control
  2. One-sided power and control is aimed at confusing the victim
  3. The more confused the victim becomes, the more successful the perpetrator is in trapping the victim in their web
  4. The victim is not to blame
  5. Until the perpetrator of one-sided power and control admits to, and takes responsibility for their behaviours, it is impossible for a victim to feel they have any effect in trying to resolve the problem
  6. Any decisions the victim, or support person, makes should help enhance safety (psychological and physical) for the victim

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  • Jane 25 April 2016, 4:49 am

    Wow! I am so glad I found this page…I’m just coming to terms with the fact that my entire married life has been a classic case of coercive abuse…reading about other people’s experiences makes me feel less alone and stupid for not seeing it before. Thank you everyone

  • Clare Murphy PhD 21 April 2016, 3:59 pm

    Hi Josh, Unfortunately, your question is as difficult as the complexity of your relationship. My answer is that some abusive people do change and many do not. And the people who are motivated to change do so to varying degrees. In my experience people who use abuse need outside help to deal with the attitudes and other underlying causes of their behaviours. But those who deny, minimise and blame are far less likely to change. I also notice that change takes a minimum of two years committed work at embodying that change. I wish you well in your decision making about your way forward. —Clare

  • Josh 21 April 2016, 2:45 am

    This article put into words what I have tried to explain to my wife so many times over the past few years. I’m an abuser, sort of. I cherish my wife but she is an emotional abuser to the point that she will have me backed into a corner with my hands in the air waving them like “I surrender” yelling horrible things at me until I lash out so she will stop.

    It makes me feel horrible and like a failure because I try to keep calm and in control, but it seems like until she gets the reaction she wants, which is for me to lash out so she can hold it over my head, she won’t stop. Based on articles like this I’ve been able to adapt to her fits, but will that result in her escalating or will she just realize it no longer works and stop?

  • Chrissy 9 April 2016, 4:10 pm

    I found this article by happenstance or God’s will, either way I was looking for a way to explain to my thirteen year old daughter why her mother is screwed up!

    My daughter will always take my side because she knows the truth she has lived it, but also she has anger at me too and puts blame on me, although not around her dad, she would never. When we are alone, she thinks I am weak, and doesn’t understand the confusion and contradiction a relationship with someone like this causes. Especially after more than twenty years and since I was seventeen, so half of my life. I do just what you said, sometimes I yell back, sometimes I try to be happy and push the problems away or pretend! Sometimes I am passive and I don’t care and it is very upsetting and confusing to me at thirty five!

    I can’t help this young girl understand something the person involved in it does not even get! I am going to let my daughter read this and maybe it will give her some insight into why I feel powerless, worthless, helpless, out of control of my self and my purpose or direction! I used to work when I was helping raise my step children, but when I got pregnant with her, he made great money and I agreed he would work and I would be the homemaker. I have been a good wife, I cook, clean, launder/iron, dishes, take care of our children and that goes for all responsibility for OUR children! I have been cheated on, deceived humiliated, spat on, physically and mentally abused. Since my husband has been on disability these past few years since he was hit by a drunk driver. Our lives changed financially, in every way worse basically! We live in Michigan and we didn’t have a running vehicle till a little while ago and he will call me a mooch, a leech, user, parasite in front of, and to, our kids who are thirteen and nine!

    My kids actually get angry at me sometimes and they blame me and say if you would work we would have money and be better off. That is a form of control and abuse as well because we live in a town with no work and we don’t have transportation so he has them thinking I don’t want to work! I work everyday and do any and all chores and anything else in this house including meeting all their and our pets needs daily.

    I cannot see walking or riding a bike at the least twelve miles a day, especially not with the unresolved health issues I have! I have these issues due to life but also stress and anxiety, fear and because I will need to be laid up for a couple months! I do not have the luxury of sitting around being lazy as my husband has suggested because I do everything for everyone in this house. I am not appreciated and respected for it because I am expected to do it, it is my duty.

    I am just human, one person, alone, with no supporting partner, with a daughter I know puts the blame on me and I just keep going through the motions. I just feel hopeless and I know my baby girl is getting more depressed and resentful of me! I know she probably is becoming bitter and resentful towards me and that’s the cut throat part because I have always had her best interest at heart and I am making her messed up. To me I am the one responsible so that is what police, friends and family have said repeatedly to me!

    It’s like your mind is sharp, functioning at top level with an awareness of the issues and a plan to fix them but your body is stuck, immobile, stranded and bewildered and this great conflict inside you is locked in a perpetual dual, a never ending, unchangable standoff!

    Regardless of what outcome my life has I want to thank you from my soul, for seeing my soul conflict that everyone has repeatedly blamed me for but without shaming! Because that’s what most, if not for a small few do, they blame without shame but they still blame. Only you have the power to change your situation, no, we don’t all have this power yet! I have done this twenty years and I don’t have the power to fix me yet! In fact, dare I say I’m more conflicted today than at seventeen enduring the physical abuse! Believe it or don’t but I will tell anyone who asks me till I can’t anymore!

    The mental, emotional mistreatment and compassion abandonment is dying over and over and over compared to the physical! I have read article after article, went to therapy many times, talked with friends, family, many people about this abuse! People understand and they tell you how sorry they are, but you are ultimately the only one who has the power to change the situation!

    They blame without shame but not you, you put words to it. You put truthful and meaningful words and you defined it and every woman who is going through what I am, I pray they find your explanation. I know my daughter knows this isn’t my fault but she sees me lash out and then cry, beg, serve and argue and over and over it is madness!

    You’re right it is madness but it is me and you have made it clear in your words that you really understand. That’s why many of us women feel like we are nuts and also I can only speak for my situation but my husband the older the kids get, he acts and puts on in front of our kids. Even as far as to say things, cruel, mean, things quietly or in ways to try and manipulate in their minds to make them think I lie or he is not the bad guy they think!

    I call him cunning and crafty and twisted sick way of loving someone and would stand up to any other person with devotion and rage to protect me but would turn without a thought about me for self preservation.

    God Bless you or saying and sharing with the world the real truth of controlled and abused women, my truth! You are an angel, you may have given me, a mother, the greatest gift! I think your words and explanation will give my teen daughter, with her own internal conflict going on inside during these hard years or teenage girls, real understanding. Simple, easy, truthful clarity!

    From the bottom of my soul, thank you, thank you for compassion and true understanding truly! I will pray that you are blessed, please pray for me and my kids to find peace but no matter what happens please pray my kids don’t grow up and hate me!

    God Bless you all and I am sending out the same for all of you women going through the same, my heart, my soul cries for you all! Lord give us calm, clarity, strength, hope, peace, but mostly please no matter what we endure never, never, never harden hearts, and let bitterness take hold! Please keep love, compassion and grace in our hearts forever, amen! I understand and you’re not alone, don’t lose love in your heart!
    Bitterness only hurts us not them, I know, believe me! God’s speed.

  • Clare Murphy PhD 31 March 2016, 12:25 pm

    Hi Jacob, This is fantastic that you found my blog and recognised yourself. There are stages of change starting from the thought that “I don’t have a problem”, to then thinking maybe you do have a problem, to then deciding to find ways to do something about it. Then that is followed by learning techniques to maintain that change and then onto flourishing beyond anything you ever hoped for. Here is a link for you to read some stories of change: http://www.areyouok.org.nz/personal-stories/stories-of-hope-and-change/ Also I provide a 2 hour counselling session https://speakoutloud.net/counselling for men to kick start the journey of change which is very enlightening for men and leads to a stronger sense of hope and understanding of yourself.

  • Jacob Selph 31 March 2016, 10:56 am

    I am about through the final processes of a divorce by my wife of 10 years. I have gone through every gamut of a emotions during this process [Ive been trying to reconcile our marriage while she will have nothing to do with that notion]. Today I googled: “why Women lie to Self justify leaving a marriage”. This article was on top of the list and I have pulled over and been sitting on the side of the road for the last two hours reading every comment…’Word for Word’. I have probably cried more in the last 2 hours than I have During this entire process.

    I self enrolled in anger management classes and have been going to them for a little over a month now once a week and have successfully made changes regarding anger outbursts. However this article has brought me to my knees because, while I am definitely not as controlling and as abusive as a lot of these comments suggested their husbands to be, I had already previously come to the conclusion that any type of abuse, verbal physical be it name-calling or possessive or guilt or whatever is not good! My journey has led me to this article and I Gotto admit that it was probably the hardest article that I have ever read in my life and by far the hardest article that I read in the last three months searching for answers [I think that my wife is about sick and tired of me going on and on and on about this, as she puts it “all of the puke coming out of my mouth” and now I ask this question:

    What kind of help is there out there for the perpetrator that is ready to change, and accepts responsibility for his actions. I came from a broken and abusive home and to this day my father still tries to control my life and manipulate me through guilt and other bad techniques… Or as my wife likes to call it chaos.

    My journey started on Christmas Eve (2015) at communion at our local Methodist Church. And my journey is now three solid months into this journey: The gamut of emotions and actions have ranged from blaming everyone else except for myself, to breaking down one day with my pastor and realizing that I had blamed everyone else and I then finally/Truly started accepting responsibility for my actions.

    I never really truly understood the extent of my behavior; and I thought that I had a pretty good grasp on what I had done to ruin my marriage and I have been very adamant throughout this 3 month process that I did not want to divorce, that I want to reconcile my marriage and that I am willing to actually make the changes necessary, no matter how long it takes to regain my wife’s trust and become the father and husband that I am meant to be.

    My faith and my walk with God and his willingness to open my eyes and open my heart, and giving Jody the courage to put her foot down, and provide me with the willingness to break the cycle, I hope and pray that over time, and I am aware that it could take a very long time, I continue to pray that the Lord will provide us with the resources for my wife to heal her heart and for me to stop that type of behavior and I hope that through his grace and his power, he’ll find me worthy enough and at that point start to reopen my wife’s heart to me.

    The counselor that I spoke to earlier this evening said that there were some resources available for controlling behavior and verbal abuse, for the perpetrator. So do you all have any suggestions for resources and how about we put some success stories up, if there are none I hope and pray that mine will be one success story anyway, posted on this thread.

    My faith is so strong, that I can not see God opening up my heart and providing me with all of this knowledge and wisdom for it to be utilized in any other way then me becoming the man that I should be for my wife and allowing me to make up to her anything I have ever done to wrong her. I want to spend the rest of this physical life and all of eternity flowering her and my daughter with nothing but love and compassion and I hope that there is still a chance for me to do so. I hope you all are still out there and can provide some resources and words of encouragement

  • Nancy 15 March 2016, 2:48 pm

    I want to emphasize that many, if not most women’s shelters will take you if you are being emotionally or verbally abused. It is rare to be turned away because the abuse hasn’t reached the physical stage. Yet.

  • Violet 16 February 2016, 12:30 am

    I need to be heard, to get this out of me. To not be alone in this.

    This was my father, my ex husband, former bosses, and now my adult daughter.

    I thought I was free from the abuse until I recognized it in my daughter’s behavior. As she has gotten older (mid 20’s) she has gotten more dominant and aggressive to shut me down. She also is very sly in getting her own way, using lies and deceit. She will do anything to get her own way and when I need something or am in pain, she ignores me, does as little as possible, or leaves. She acts like I am on this planet to serve her needs.
    I have tried to for years to get her to understand how much she is hurting me and she responds with yelling, denying, and/ or blaming me. Then she pretends nothing ever happened and we’re supposed to go back to normal. Everything is always my fault and she tries to get me more in her perspective and away from mine.

    I do feel like a failure. I have tried so hard to be a good mother. I know she is an adult and is making her own choices and that knowledge increases the heartbreak.

    I feel very alone and hopeless. I have very limited communication with her now because I fear for my mental health. There is still part of me that believes she can/will change. I don’t know if that is a fantasy or a possibility. Do these people ever change?

    It’s so painful.

  • Christian 13 February 2016, 12:04 am

    I’ve tried the shelters but due to the nature of the people that his friend knows, I’ve been denied service based on his family and their contributions. It is very sad that he plays me and that I trust him and I always end up right where I started – humiliated belittled and abused even by the police department which is run by him and their conversion therapy. I’m at a point where I’ve run out of options.

  • Christian 12 February 2016, 11:35 pm

    Carol, I can relate to you as I was held at Gun point in my face by someone too. All he wanted was sex and to test his sexuality with me.

  • Christian 12 February 2016, 11:16 pm

    L . . . I’ve been in a similar situation and since then my life has become a living hell, despite all my efforts. In getting to know other people today I’ve broken down to my lowest and I’ve met the most amazing man that he as a friend has given me the strength that I needed when I needed the most… now I’m on his couch crying my heart out cause last year I was taken to a nice dinner date with someone that I had considered for ltr yet I’m so hurt and confused I’m unable to know what’s next and my big fear is not knowing what to do when right now I’m needing closure and support. My heart was destroyed and many horrendous things have happened to me since including a very verbally abusive mother, physically abusive sister and people that all they do is minimise me.

  • Ann 7 February 2016, 9:10 am

    Cindi — There are a lot of ways to experience Christianity, and sometimes a church will try to claim that it’s the only group in the history of the entire world that’s got it figured out correctly.

    My family and I finally left a church like that. With that decision we lost our entire community of social support. That’s not love–that’s coercion.

    Some churches and many well-meaning people tell you that a marriage is more important than the two persons involved. Some churches try much harder to be places of healing and offer sanctuary for the hurting.

    Maybe your first act of healthy self-love can be to allow God to be bigger than the church? And your second act: Could it be to allow yourself to be so “normal” that God would not select you from amongst all of humankind for punishment?

    Wishing you well on your journey toward peace.

  • J 4 February 2016, 11:49 am

    Cindi, I hope you are staying strong. You are absolutely right to leave him. Two people in love bring out the best in one another. He is trying to win to make you out to be the monster so that he can once again bring himself back up. It is wrong and that is not who you are. You are strong and loving and deserve the same. He may not have betrayed you with another woman (that you know) but he has certainly betrayed your love for each other and most importantly, yourself. Remember, the laws of marriage imposed by some religions were put into place by men who were taught that women needed to be controlled. That people need to be controlled. God gave you free will so that you could discover the wonder around you. Love is not cruel. Love does not need apologies. Love is strong and wise. Love thyself and thy neighbor, that is the golden rule you must live by. What he is doing is blasphemous in the eyes of the creator and he deserves to be alone until he can learn to love himself (which is gonna take a long time!) That which is divine exists within you! You are sacred and you are love! Be a queen.
    You CAN do it!

  • Deb 28 January 2016, 5:03 am

    A bad marriage is worse than no marriage – learn to love yourself by believing God loves you – God does not lie! That was how I was able to be happy by myself, and sometimes have him with me.

    Guilt is your enemy, feeling bad about yourself is the first sign things are going wrong. Take stock and plan for a break up.
    If you are an abused man, you have more power, shame is your enemy. Let people know what is happening.

    Controlling people are living a lie, their feelings were denied in childhood, and now they do not know how to feel so they make it up – first by working hard to charm you, then by abusing you. It’s the charm that hooks you, it’s not real, it can’t be sustained. That is your first step – to not buy in.

    Now plan a life without him. Do every kind of research you can how to get out and get that determination and independance – it is your only power, because he wants to be with you. He does all this because he fears to lose you. He must never be allowed to be the master in the home. You don’t need him, this must be made clear. You can say you want to be with him, but not as the master, he is not safe.

    Then you can start to reach for freedom while staying with him. But be so very wise, the control will creep in. Allow no putting down, no condemning of you (you’re bad, you deserve punishment, I’m going to do it). Strongly tell him you don’t accept it! Tell him he’s talking nonsense when he is. Short sharp and strong replies. If he physically goes for you, get the police and a restraining order.

    You can still have him with you, but you need your power back. Don’t get so desperate that you break the law, move on and change well before. Fight for your independence – it is the first sign of a healthy relationship. Know you were made to be loved by God. This person can only do that in a limited way as he is psychologically unwell from childhood. Don’t depend on him. You absolutely must grow into depending on yourself! God can help you, you can depend on Him as the first and best parent.
    God bless and keep you.

  • L 16 January 2016, 2:56 am

    I’ve been stalked by a man who I met online and never even met. I only entertained him because I dropped him for someone else initially as I wasn’t interested and felt guilty about it – had no interest in him. He seemed nice at first, but then switched. I had more important things to worry about and focus on which I usually do and ignored the warning signs.

    He’s been stalking me via a particular source online which lie and put crazy ideas in his head like me being interested in him when I’m not and never was. He was stalking me and posting delusional things on Twitter, writing cryptic messages in Tweets and Favourited things relating to rubbish he’d read.

    And just because I wasn’t interested he started abusing me and my family, posting vile comments and jokes about my mum dying who’s in care with early onset dementia, my dad, myself and anyone else I knew. Threatened to physically hurt me. Tried to inflict “deep” psychological damage through making suggestive and completely false accusations and notions he’d dreamed up because he’s so mentally unstable; so completely insane and jealous at being who he is: a nasty, bitter man with nothing going for him, least of all insight, intelligence, attractiveness and rational judgement.

    And he thinks he’s being clever when I just don’t give a sh*t about him which is the most annoying thing of all. Wasted so much of my precious time – time I’m spending with my dying mother – trying to get rid of his ugly, delusional self. Hacked my Twitter account and stalked, abused and harassed me for months. Got his friends to do the same. Sitting behind a computer and cowardly dishing out abuse because his pride was hurt at being rejected by someone out of his league. He’s low-class, unattractive and unintelligent (despite thinking himself smart and attractive) and lacks all perspective and self-insight. He must feel so proud. Completely insane and unable to accept reality. Typical stalker profile. The police will have to deal with him.

  • Cindi 10 January 2016, 7:09 am

    I’m in tears after reading this. I’m in a marriage more than 20 years to a man who manipulates everything in our marriage. I’ve tried to be complacent, anger, I withdraw, I get firm and most recently I lost all control. So much so that I’m afraid of myself. I’m told that as a Christian woman I can’t initiate divorce not unless there has been an infidelity. I am losing control and I wonder why I’m being punished to suffer this.

  • Philip 26 November 2015, 2:49 am

    I am a man…I’ve been in a gay relationship for 10 years and steady and surely my partner has cut me off from friends and family. He’s a heavy drinker and often gets violent and abusive when he drinks. He’s happy when he’s in control when getting his own way. As soon as he sees me trying to make a move for independence, like making friends or getting a job or a life away from him, the violent and agressive behavior starts. The bullying and the telling me I’m worthless. It’s come to the point that I lie to him when I go out and see what few friends I have.. We have a small 1 bedroom apartment with both our names on the tenancy which I’ve furnished and sunk all of what little money I’ve had into over the years. He contributes very little, won’t work.

    I don’t want to give it up and walk away and lose everything which is why I’ve held my ground and never left him. also I have nowhere else to go. My family won’t help and the few friends I have are too scared of him to get involved or just don’t want the trouble. I’ve tried the police with little success. I’ve tried legal help which just made him angry and little else. I find myself backing down and asking for forgiveness each time and just going back just to stop the vindictive games he does when I try to leave. I know this isn’t my problem it’s his. I understand about the confusion.

  • Sherry 14 November 2015, 3:53 am

    Wow Olivia…inspiring to say the least. You’re an amazing lady.

  • lola 12 October 2015, 12:22 pm

    I am dealing with a business connection gone bad due to the man bullying and threatening me with blatant denial that he recieved contracts (which I handed to him) and threats towards me of distorting me financially on the basis of the lies he has created to confuse me… and verbally condescending remarks against my personhood and screaming and cursing at me. Now I am almost 1500 in the hole and cannot pay my bills due to the stress and emotional damage – he is a coercive aggressor and has threatened me and scarred me verbally and emotionally and I don’t know where to go for help as my own family and friends think I am making too big of a deal of it… I need support…I would not wish this upon anyone but am glad I am not alone in this as this website has shown me .. Thank you.

  • Rose 29 September 2015, 9:41 am

    Many thanks

    After reading that, it made me realise the difference in me because of fear of him. Now I have to figure a way out. I have before tried to end the relationship, but through guilt, I seem to go back in the hope it will get better. I’m so so tired and I just want to feel safe in my mind as it’s more mental rather than the violence.

  • Clare Murphy PhD 29 September 2015, 8:28 am

    Hi Rose, It might help to read my blog explaining the difference between a healthy relationship and an abusive one: https://speakoutloud.net/helping-victims-survivors/healthy-relationships/abusive-vs-healthy-relationships … Clare

  • Rose 29 September 2015, 8:10 am

    A lot of what I have read is happening to me, I don’t really have friends and I’ve made my family believe it’s my fault. I feel afraid to talk about my feelings or needs, because he says I’m getting at him and bringing him down but yet I feel I have to meet his needs. Since he’s moved in his anger has really showed and he has this look on his face that says I’m angry.

    I’m so confused because I even question myself and tell myself that I am the problem. He cheated and blamed me saying it was because of the time we broke up for a couple of days. He’s always saying what I would and wouldn’t look good in. Then he wonders why I don’t love myself. I suffer with anxiety so when he gives me the silent trearmeant I can’t leave my house. I’m scared to make the wrong choice! Tells me I need to get my own life and go out more but yet he’s made me feel so crap about myself and friends that I don’t want to. Sold my car because he said I needed a new one but now I don’t have a car, which is fine as I’ve not passed my test but as a mother on low income I feel I have no way out! What’s wrong with me? Am I the abuser, have I made him like this?

  • Schannon 8 September 2015, 7:54 am

    Ex-Fiancé in a 2 year relationship with a divorced military vet with PTSD and ADHD. The majority of the time it was a complete storm. I found myself constantly supporting and encouraging. He was great when he really tried but the tries were two weeks of amazing- the rest verbally abusive, manipulative and controlling. Punching holes in the wall and breaking/stabbing things. Coping for me has been writing and talking but my sense of disappointment, shame and confusion are big. When will I feel better and more confident?

  • Lavon 29 July 2015, 8:40 am

    You women are like goddesses to me…I am going through what feels like the worst pains of my life yet, and everyday is a struggle and a challenge to get through without breaking down. I am a single mother of a seven year old and a two year old and you would think motivation to strive harder would be looking at them, but with the amount of stress I’m dealing with, the slightest cries from them seems like it makes my life that much more hectic… I know life is far from over for me but some days I just wish I could get a glimpse of my future to reassure me that life will get better with time.

  • Lorilai 15 July 2015, 1:31 am

    Being threatened with a gun? Feels the same as a fist in the face, right? Feels the same as the punch in the stomach, believing his lies that you don’t matter. Reach out to SOMEONE now. If you have kids and/or pets, take them and GO SOMEWHERE. DO SOMETHING to save yourself. It took me 20 years to get it. You must TRY.

  • Patty 14 July 2015, 11:53 pm

    The legal system is run by men and that’s the problem. It’s run by men who intend upon keeping that power over women. They believe that it preserves the family if they keep women down, there are countless women who agree with this and promote it as well. Society around the world is run by men. The psychological abusers write the laws regarding such things!! You can even say they are just enablers. They are willing participants to grow a decent society on the backs of innocent women and children and it’s always been that way. Women were allowed to divorce their husbands but not without abuse from the clergy and church members over it. When you leave your husband the law punishes you for it although they grant you the divorce. They have to keep us in line or their house of cards comes falling down around their ears.

  • Patty 14 July 2015, 11:42 pm

    Google Stockholm Syndrome and stay as far away from him as you can possibly get. Stop talking to him, writing to him or even allowing anyone to talk with him about you. Put a stop to it all now for your own safety. He was tying you up to furniture and threatening to bury you in the front yard????!!!! And you still have contact with him and love him????!!!! Get professional help before he kills you!

  • Patty 14 July 2015, 11:33 pm

    My brother got photos of dad’s second wife, the bruises on her arms, just like we’d seen on mom’s arms growing up and had seen him creating them on her with his fists. Mom decided enough was enough and asked that I help her tell this woman what he’d done to all of us. We met with her and her daughters and laid it all out. We knew the risk we were taking but we weren’t going to watch another nice, kind woman be turned into a basket case over his abuse. My brother feared he’d kill her. Well, he did come after her and she was able to stay hidden from him. She was able to get to a phone and call the police. It took 7 cops to haul him out of that house but the stalking never stopped. She got a gun, learned to use it safely and got a permit to carry it for her own protection. She had restraining orders against him when he pulled this on her.

    I asked him why he’d done that to her if he loved her so much. No response so I told him he knew what he did to her was wrong and asked him if he realized that at all. No response again. The only time I ever saw him cry he had to actually work very hard to force himself to cry. The only emotions he ever had were mean ones or delight over hurting others. He lived to hurt other people and watch them suffer.

    I told him so when I was a little kid and he got a tear in his eye. Even I knew that tear wasn’t real emotion. He poked himself in the eye to look like he was crying and I saw him do this! I told him so too. He finally shook his head at me and walked away. For some reason he didn’t like beating on me as much as he did everyone else in our house. I was able to affect him on a deep level at that time but as I got older that disappeared. He had a deep yearning to be healed in his soul but found no healing for his pain.

    Yes, they have pain from this and from hurting people though it also delights them to watch this. Even when they recognize that they’re heartless people, they feel they cannot change. Is it a mental illness? Probably. But unless the abuser gets the right help how can they even hope to have a chance to heal? Many therapists and even psychiatric personnel don’t know how to treat such people. So, instead of holding back the dam of pain within themselves, they unleash it on others so that others can see how much pain they’re in and how alone they’ve been with it. I understood that as a child watching it happen in my own house, many times a day.

    There was a lot of violence in our house and I’ve told people many times I spent a great deal of my childhood up big trees to save my own life. It’s true, not an exaggeration by any means. We learned to sleep, eat and do other things up in those trees. One day my younger brother went up a tree out of instinct and wouldn’t come down to take a beating from dad. Dad chopped the tree down with my brother in it!! We got dad’s attention long enough to allow our brother to escape and hide elsewhere. I learned over time that averting their attention when they’re raging breaks the concentration on hurting others. My younger brother had this problem having learned it from dad. So, at school when I saw him getting ready to tear into someone, I looked down the hall in the other direction and got close to him to do so, before loudly saying what the hell is that! Once he looked he’d look back and I’d play like something real was going on and told him to go get that, hurry! He’d take off after “it” without thinking although nothing could be seen to go get. My classmates saw me do this and looked at me like what the hell are you doing and why is he reacting to it that way. What my brother did wasn’t considered sane but I asked them why anyone would chase after something they couldn’t see. They said he’s got to be nuts. I raised my eyebrows and tilted my head with a look on my face and finally had to ask if they were prepared to get attacked by him. I told them to look at his muscles and they did. He was muscular. I told them they’d better stop running their mouths and get out of the area or I’d tell the principal that grew up with our dad what they’d been doing and why he was attacking them. I told them good luck with that and good luck dealing with dad after dealing with the my brother and the principal.

    Everyone was scared shitless of dad and his violent behavior. They did nothing to help us and when the odd person did they were made an example of for everyone else to see who was in control, our dad. So, these classmates left the area and kept giving me looks like “how in the world would she know how to pull that off?” Yea, if only they’d have known! If only! Their arrogance knew no ends either. It’s said that most narcissists are created in childhood but most children outgrow it after other children get together and take them to task for their abusive ways. More and more are not outgrowing their Narcissism but in fact embracing it full force. Beware. Google the warning signs that you’re dealing with a Narcissist because knowing how to spot one may save your life.

  • Patty 14 July 2015, 10:59 pm

    I hope your child was not fathered by your husband because if so your nightmare and that of your child is just beginning. He’ll have unsupervised visitation, weekend and even summer long visitation to train your child how to attack and abuse you. They use our children as weapons against us. They also abuse the child psychologically to create that weapon, it’s torture. If you were to describe in one word what doing such things amounts to, what word would you choose? As for me there is only one word and that word is “evil”. And yet the charming husband can manipulate his way through court with an equally manipulative charming lawyer to get whatever he wants, including getting the court to believe that “you” are the true abuser! I’ve been through it myself so I know how this plays out.

  • Patty 14 July 2015, 10:54 pm

    Did you slowly and carefully read the above article?? The abuser delights in not getting help or they know how to play the system to make themselves look like the victim and you the abuser! They refuse to change and get nothing out of changing. It sounds like you’re still in the stage of believing the abuser wants to change or might want to change. They don’t, as they’re getting what they want from you! You are the supply of their delight!

    Counselors? Ha! Most are not even aware of how to treat psychologically battered people! Most counselors treat you like you’re the offender! The abuser presents himself or herself as perfectly civil and helpful, charming really. And you? You’re so mad by the time you can even talk to a counselor that you want to spit!

    I applaud this article but in the current situation in this country and the world, women and the protection of children have lost a whole lot of ground. We are falling into the pit of aggressors who want to torture us psychologically until we’re dead, preferably by our own hand. These type of abusers are called sadists for a reason. They’re getting off on the control they have over you! Leave, stop talking to them, don’t engage.

    If you’re a caregiver and being treated this way by a patient then relinquish care of said patient. Give them to the county to deal with them. You can go to probate court if the patient is a family member and ask that they be probated for a mandatory 3 days psyche evaluation. You can ask the court to permanently remove them from your home. At least cover all your bases and call and question everyone who might be able to tell you how to do this. Even call the local TV station if need be. They do have segments for such things.

  • Patty 14 July 2015, 10:44 pm

    The shelters are for physically abused women only. I know this because I called our’s last week asking for help. Unless my abuser has physically beaten me they offer no help. I told her that it’s worse than being beaten physically and she said she doubted that very much. I told her what it was doing to my health and she suggested I leave him. That’s all the advice she had. So, no, they don’t help those of us who are being psychologically abused.

  • patty 14 July 2015, 10:36 pm

    I watched a show last night called “Over My Dead Body” with Linda Hamilton. In it the town bully was terrorizing everyone and the police kept saying they couldn’t do anything about it. There were things they could’ve done but they refused to do them. They were clearly afraid of the man. When he finally snapped, which everyone knew it would do, he killed a young cop serving an arrest warrant on him, and the couple across the street, right in front of their 8 year old daughter. The court ordered that this man stay away from the neighbors he terrorized from the day they moved there. He did not but the police did nothing to stop him doing it. He was stalking a lot of people in that town, including the chief of police!

    The police don’t like getting involved in domestic disputes and will tell you that these are the most dangerous for them. They’ve got families who need them and if they should be killed in a domestic dispute call, their family is left without them. Our police department has allowed police to choose whether they want to get involved in any of these domestic dispute calls. So, many do not. The vitcims, including children, elderly and disabled persons, are left to the abuser who knows they have free rein. The police are afraid of the men perpetrators in these situations but are “NOT” afraid of the women and will readily arrest them without hesitation. Why the double standard? I hate to tell you this but save your own life and get as far away from your husband as you possibly can and do it fast! Otherwise he won’t allow you to leave him alive. I grew up in such a household so I know very well how this goes. Save your own life.

  • Carol 13 July 2015, 4:58 pm

    I have been living with a borderline personality disorder, narcissist who is very angry controlling and some physical abuse. I feel isolated and hopeless today because he threatened me with a gun. The police came and took him. They said he could be released as early as tomorrow afternoon. I want this to be over, despite the fact that I care for him. He would not allow this, it progressively became more violent. He is very ill, physically and mentally. I hate to see him this way. I need help getting his things out of my house. He will be homeless and VERY angry when he gets out. I am going to the courthouse to file restraining order in the morning. I can’t sleep. I’m afraid he will come back.

  • P 9 July 2015, 11:08 pm

    There are lots of shelters for abused women and their families. That’s a great place to start. They can help you with everything you need to get on your feet again. I know it’s hard I did it with 3 small children. It was the hardest thing I ever did and we had nothing in the beginning. But it can be done and was worth it. Good luck.

  • Diane 10 June 2015, 4:00 am

    I understand all of these courageous women. I’m going through the same thing. I have been married 21 years with two teen girls — and boy have we suffered! The first 5 years were okay. Had a great career had to quit because he did nothing to care for our babies and daycare became expensive. (I had to pay). “We” decided I stay home and raise them. He works but does nothing else. He has alienated himself from family life. I raised kids all on my own. I am constantly reminded that I don’t work and he is God because he has a job. Now not working for 15 years, at 53 years old no more experience I’m lost. I have no money, no job and nowhere to go. I’m so mixed up and completely exhausted. If I could leave this minute and just say “F.U.” I would. I can’t even live on minimum wage jobs to pay rent, and have my girls with me. Tried to commit suicide and hospitalized for a month. He promised to get help but nothing happened. Kids don’t want to leave they want both parents together. I lost any will to get out. Even though I am so desperate to leave. He is a monster. I can’t believe anyone can treat or speak to another human the way he has with me. I haven’t had sexual relations with him for almost 15 years. I’m bored, lost, lonely, worried. You name it. I’ve painted myself into a corner and now I don’t know how to get out. Lost any confidence to work or even be motivated. All I need is a job and an apartment. Sounds simple right? Not so. I can’t afford to leave. Everything seems hopeless. All I think about is having a better life with my girls where I never have to see this monster again! But how? I can’t pay rent, car insurance, I’ve never even had a cell phone. How can I do all this with minimum wage, my age, and lost experience. All I can do is hope and pray. Thanks for reading this.

  • Em 11 April 2015, 7:44 pm

    Reading these types of forums makes me think how we are failing globally in our support networks and society. In particular when people reach out for help as a result of being subjected to negative behaviours it is usually designed only to provide temporary support. There should be a provision whereby abusive behaviours result in mandatory behavioural therapy to address relationship problems, personality issues or ongoing mental health problems. There should be reporting mechanisms and investigation of relationship dynamics by professionals with ongoing support. Often the victim is a carer for a person with an ongoing mental health problem. Would you deny support to a carer with any other type of illness. The divorce laws should be simplified to enable easy egress from a relationship with access to counselling and support during this difficult process.
    What about an emergency number for relationship counsellors to intervene. Is that too much to ask?

  • Ann 11 March 2015, 3:24 pm

    Thank you Olivia! I’ve been isolating myself since leaving my abusive husband eight months ago. Well, no more. Your words have inspired me! One big hug to you!

  • Ann 11 March 2015, 3:17 pm

    Thank you so much for this! I’ve been out of my abusive marriage for eight months. I lived what you speak about. It got to the point where I finally attacked back, and ran screaming with my child in arms from the home thinking ‘what has became of me?’ Now I understand. I’m still fighting, but a lawyer speaks for me now. I can’t wait until court is over and I can distance myself further from him. I hope more people find your article. Thanks again for advocating for us!

  • olivia 1 March 2015, 6:48 pm

    I am a former victim of domestic violence. I did not know I was a victim until I was lying face down waiting to die because I didn’t scream loud enough or long enough for the police to arrive. That was the last night I was a victim.
    I educated myself and learned that mental and emotional abuse had been going on for years and I never even knew.
    While educating myself I asked myself if it was my fault and wondered if I was the abuser. My abuser would have you think I am just as guilty as him in some areas because I allowed him to treat me that way. I take responsibility for the way I responded to his abuse, even though wisdom would remind me no reaction would have occurred with out the abuse. All he proved was that Im not a saint which I already knew. Any form of abuse is unacceptable and no one should ever be deceived to the point to where they believe there is any other solution than a safe escape. Being a former victim, I am not guilty of my abuser’s crimes and though many would argue I allowed him to abuse me continuously, I would ask for those who have never been in an abusive relationship especially the abuser to please consider me an expert witness with a testimony for myself and others like me. Allowing something to happen and witnessing something are two different things. Each survivor walks away as a witness and that in itself is more powerful than any power and abuser has.
    The control and power my ex had was beyond tolerable and I believe it is safe to say all victims go into survival mode. I am a survivor. Anyone who has ever gotten out of an abusive relationship is a survivor.
    So what, now we are out and free. It is on us to figure out how to take each step. No one takes it for us, no one holds our hand, we lead ourselves out.
    Alone is an understatement after surviving this. I’ve had some of my own family turn on me. I am okay with this since it’s not my job to convince the world of the truth. Face it ladies, the truth hurts and people are more likely going to digest a lie before they even consider the truth.
    I’ve gained my freedom. The cost of my freedom was almost my life.
    Alienated, rejected, judged, isolated, and ignored are common themes surrounding me.
    Does it bother me? No. I know the truth. I know abuse when I see it. Isolation is a form of abuse and I’m not going to isolate myself from the world just because it seems so callous. I walk into rooms and quite frankly sit down in the middle of the largest crowd I can find. My goal isn’t to make others uncomfortable, it’s to acknowledge the elephant in the room.
    We are trained step by step and guided into believing that we have no power or control. We are told we are worthless, pathetic, useless, horrible people who can’t do anything right. We have endured an unnatural crime. Things have been done to us against our will. Unspeakable acts we have witnessed. Deciet was ever present. Provoking us to do the things our heart did not want to do.
    One day, we wake up and stop the cycle. One day, he punches too hard forcing us to use our brains instead of our hearts.
    I am a survivor. If you have been abused and are reading this, you are a survivor. You are not guilty of the crimes someone else committed. It is not your responsibility to fix the person who hurt you. It’s not your responsibility to punish them either. It’s not your responsibility to make sure anyone else believes you. You are responsible for getting yourself out safely.
    I know that many of you feel angry because his consequence is a slap on the wrist and you have to endure the long lasting effects of his abuse. That’s not fair. What he did was wrong. In the end YOU survive and that leaves you with more than he will ever have. Is it fair for you to survive such torture and still be concerned about him?
    It’s hard living abuse free. It is similar to the PTSD soldiers have returning home after being at war. Trying to feel safe, even though they are safe, it is hard to accept.
    I gave up everything I had, walked out of hell alone, cried more nights than imaginable, suffered beyond measure, and at the end of the day, the devil wasn’t worth one minute of my time.
    I leave a piece of me behind for those confused.
    I find nothing about myself unworthy of love, even if it is my own love I recieve. I have loved so many in this world and know I love myself. It is a hard job but the rewards are superior to money, victoty, power, support, glory, justice, and knowledge. Today I live without fear, with a lot of love, and without abuse. I take each step forward remembering who I am and knowing that what happened to me wasn’t by choice it was by force. I am aware I am imperfect and flawed. I’m no better than anyone else and I’m certainly not any less.

  • brandi 2 February 2015, 4:40 am

    I have been in my current relationship for 9 years. He is the step dad of my 9 year old son Who has various developmental and emotional problems. He always makes me feel that nothing is ever good enough. There is always a problem with everything I do or try to do to make him happy, no matter how small or trivial it is. Anytime we argue, he manipulates my son into blaming me or getting mad at me for starting the argument. What my son doesn’t see or realise is that his step dad is always doing or saying things to upset me that my son doesn’t realise as such. I also feel that he will manipulate and emotionally abuse my son just to get to me when he realises that direct tactics towards me fail. He knows how extremely protective I am over my special needs son and he preys on that. He refuses to acknowledge his behaviors and attitudes. We could be having a great day and it’s like he flips a switch and ruins everyone’s mood. Then when we are upset or whatever, he acts like eveything is all fine and dandy and we are the ones who ruined the day. I don’t know what to do. I can’t continue to live like this or make my son go through the emotional turmoil. I have no support system or other place to go. I got really sick after my son was born and I am on disability now. I am so flippin frustrated and angry. I am so angry. I always try to keep myself as composed as possible and not say nasty things to him but more and more I just want to say you know what a**hole? F you and just walk out. I have no friends anymore. The only women he would let me talk to are women he wants to screw. I don’t trust him. He has had women, including his ex move in with us several years ago so that he can get what I wasn’t giving him. It is so hard to want intimacy with someone who belittles you and treats you like crap. He is manipulative and cruel. I just don’t know what else to do.

  • marg 29 January 2015, 11:46 am

    Have known these two male characters for 32 years but will never leave my autistic daughter. Am isolated (by choice) tired of friends who are indifferent. Am shocked at Medical trust members who really fall for Mr Hyde. Professionals need to be educated. They think I am the mega assertive one at meetings re: our daughter. He is Mr Nice. I always carry anti-emetics, much needed!

  • Danelle 15 December 2014, 7:02 am

    Ohh this is so true. I have been in a horrible relationship for a few years and it is impossible to have a conversation that leads to any sort of resolution. He always either verbally assents but does not change or worse, turns it around on me and makes me feel awful and guilty like I am abusing and controlling him. And yes a few times I have lost it, flown into a rage and physically attacked him. Which just serves to justify his false claims that “all I do” is abuse HIM. I guess the good part here is that I am NOT confused, I KNOW his treatment of me is wrong and I do NOT deserve it. This is a man I have loved and stood by through his meth addiction (he no longer uses, there is a little progress) and helped him to get free of a controlling sociopathic lying leeching ex girlfriend who played on his Christian worldview to manipulate him to her ends. But sadly he is content to perpetuate a similar situation onto me, the mother of his toddler daughter. I would already have left but I have nowhere to go. So all I can do is pray for God’s help, be a good mom to my daughter, and hope for a chance at a better future at some point. He rarely helps with the baby and he often tries to coerce me into sex. It is frustrating but thankfully at least I KNOW I deserve better. Although sometimes I think believing I didn’t would be less painful!

  • grateful 1 December 2014, 1:15 pm

    THANK YOU for this insightful, empathetic article… For the first time, after much searching for answers, I feel understood. I can’t convey enough how much this has helped me cope with the situation I’m in. Thank you!!

  • claire h 6 September 2014, 9:29 am

    Hello pwilton — I know you wrote this 2 years ago but I’m currently going through a separation with my ex of 12 years. 2 children — 6 and 8 with it coming to a final halt last Sunday as somebody else called the police. It was the first time he has been arrested and kept in custody yet I pleaded for him just to be removed as I was scared for him always thinking about his thoughts and feelings because I ended up never being heard so I attended to his mood his problems in the hope he would value and respect me.

    As said above I tried every self thought possible solution that existed in the whole being of me. Every time it failed of course since he had his way which would change on any given day, which ended up with me building up alot of anger injustice and real despair. I did put meaning to the phrase pulling your hair out.

    Yet it’s still so raw for me even now as I am writing this I am second guessing myself and thinking people who read this will read what I have written and see me as the abuser. But I’m not and it’s not my fault. I’m still getting my head around that but I will keep telling myself and listening to people outside of him that are now involved and keeping me safe.

    But what I wanted to say is I think we all have amazing strength and resilience and endurance that have come from depths that prior to the relationship has never been touched on in such extremes.
    I think you are an incredibly strong woman x

  • Ealasaid 2 February 2013, 4:58 am

    Thank you – this is brilliant. As a survivor of just such a relationship, I can tell you this is spot on in my personal experience. And, it was horribly frustrating to get “supportive” advice from other people that ran along the lines of ‘just stand up to him’. Or my personal favorite, ‘you’re allowing him to treat you badly’. In order to help someone in such a situation as this, it’s really important to know that, more than likely, the target of this type of abuse has NO way to influence the abuser’s behavior because, in this case, he’s not open to influence and doesn’t care how his behavior effects others. I also know many women who do the same thing to their husbands and the PATTERN is spot on. Again thank you for this brilliant article!

  • CR 30 January 2013, 3:18 pm

    I am being divorced after a 35 year marriage because I asked for my spouse to spend a little more time with me and converse with me. I was told no, “I have to triage your conversation because all you do is yabber”. It is painful to be married to these individuals but it is unbelieveable to divorce them. Their need for control is overwhelming. I am finding that there is little this man won’t do to hurt me. I hope it will get easier with time.

  • PV 19 January 2013, 12:16 am

    I know this thread was started sooo long ago but I hope someone out there is still reading and could help me.

    I’m 23 and have been with a guy, also my age, for the past 5 years. These 5 years haven’t been entirely great. What started out as an amazing beautiful relationship with a caring and charming guy has now become a noose around my neck.

    I’ve been psychologically abused so much that I went into depression and made several attempts to kill myself until the last one that landed me in the hospital for a week. I’ve seen it all – the belittling, humiliations, threats of physical harm to me and my family, isolated from friends, trash talk of all kinds, and being made to believe that I was a huge disappointment. He took all his time to make cruel jabs at my self esteem, destroyed my self confidence, and made me second-guess all my actions – from how to chop vegetables to how to speak to other people and even strangers. He convinced me that I could never do anything right.

    About 2 yrs ago I picked up the courage to break up with him but then his grandma died and we started talking again and I comforted him and ended up getting back together. But things went bad again and I finally gathered the courage to break it off again after a particularly scary incident where he threatened to tie me up and torture me in front of my dad. He begged me to give him another chance and promised to get professional help and therapy. Seeing how broken he looked I believed him and we got into an arrangement where there is no relationship but we still meet and stay over and have intimate relations. But this is not working out anymore. All the yelling and sarcasm and threats and jabs have returned. I’m again made answerable for where and how I spend money and how I talk to him and other people.

    I need help so badly. I don’t have the courage to leave again. I already have been made to feel guilty and been told that I am a selfish person who can leave him over and over and how he can’t trust me anymore. He keeps threatening to leave me and makes me feel guilty for trying to rebel against the abuse. I’m terrified and I’m going crazy. I’m losing control over my life. I fought back once but now I’m trapped coz I have no more strength left.

  • Hilary 15 January 2013, 8:46 am

    Yes, all is very true. Now he is with another woman. And I see him tormenting her also. It is not too late for her, they are not married. I dare not say a word. I am at the least, safe now.

  • Chloe 4 November 2012, 12:26 am

    I find it totally incomprehensible that the intelligent, hard working, nurturing, caring, generous women on here, are the ones being bullied and psychologically tormented.

    I have been married to a man who is controlling and incessantly verbally abusive for 22 years. The signs were there from the very beginning. My mother warned me and yet to use a cliche “love is blind”. What began as possessiveness (and I thought back then I was totally loved) has become a total feeling of suffocation and isolation. He began by alienating me from my friends and family. He then inhibited my career choices and aspirations as a Uni graduate. He stopped me from pursuing my goals. I left my job to work in our business. Our business developed 7-fold under my input but this has never been acknowledged. He believes he is the one doing the hard work and I don’t work enough. He wakes me up all hours of the morning, and the children as well. They are teenagers now and they, too, are being controlled and isolated from their friends and not allowed to socialise.

    My son has tried standing up to him, as I “have given up”, yet his father puts him down and humiliates him. I am afraid of the long-term damage he is inflicting. My daughter plans on leaving home, and she is only 17! I am being patient, waiting for her to finish her secondary schooling.

    I feel disgust and loathing toward him. I cannot even go shopping without him ringing 10 times.

    I have the money to leave him however I have one concern. He is an important member of our church community (Yes, hypocrite much?) and I worry about saving face. I worry about the business that I have sacrificed to develop. There are too many variables in my position. It would have been easier if I didn’t have money. Money is meaningless when you don’t have the freedom to enjoy it. I feel so entrapped in this large, beautiful home – its walls hide so much pain.

    Those of you who have made the decision to leave are so powerful. I am in wonder of you.

  • V 26 September 2012, 2:35 am

    Psychological abuse, not only does it come from intimate partners, I have suffered it from family, ex-husband, ex-boyfriend, and co-workers.

    A co-worker lied on me and my assignment ended. I got another job and a co-worker lied on me and my assignment ended. Then it happened again and I thought that three times were a charm – but I’m currenly unemployed LOL. My sister and I celebrated our birthday and she was given all the beautiful things that normally come with a birthday, and I wasn’t as is the case every year (51 and counting). The now ex-husband made plans to marry another woman while living with me. When I was made aware of it, I left California and gave away all of my possessions, left a job that yet another co-worker was targetting me for dismissal.

    Today, I was made aware that the psychological abuse is still in existence for me but thank God for Al-Anon, grandchildren, a good man, and genuine people on my journey. I know that it does get better when we, or they, choose to leave. When my ex decided the other woman was a better fit for him, I was so depressed that I walked in the middle of the street and was almost hit. But today I am so GRATEFUL to him, and especially her, because she has to deal with his psychological abuse and I am in a better place. I have been given the gift of a friend who is totally the opposite of my ex.

  • astrid 2 September 2012, 12:50 pm

    Hi I’m 24yrs old and have been married for less than a year. My husband has been abusing from the day after we got married and gradually it all got worse with each fight. What makes it worse is that we have a 4 month old daughter. He has banned me from friends and I’m not allowed to work because he feels that I would cheat on him, something I would never do. He threatens me again and again that he will kill. He swears at me, he disrespects me, and chokes me – most of all he makes me feel unworthy of anything. Since the birth of our daughter he has started accusing me of being a bad mother. He even went as far as telling me our daughter isn’t his. And yes, all this happens when he is drunk and around his single friends. He says he loves me time and time again but I can’t stand it any more even though it’s been such a short while. Like I feel now I never want to see him again even though it will hurt me…financially too. Please help me.

  • J. Lynn 20 August 2012, 6:06 pm

    Kristina, I only hope you made it away from that man. He has a gun!!? Please! Him “ditching” you is the best thing that could happen to you. The worst: You could wind up in a ditch. Remember: the person most likely to murder you is the person sitting across from you at breakfast every morning (by a significant level of probability).

    I understand why you would feel hypocritical, but I present another view to consider. You are an enlightened woman who is in a perplexing situation that you are trying to make sense of. Except there is no sense to be made of the actions of an insane person. You are the woman who inspires and guides these young minds toward self-love that leads to making responsible life choices for themselves. That is who you are. For the rest of your life. But you will only be a victim for as long as this man is in your life. You are ahead of the game as you hold the very keys with which you can set yourself free. Much love, jenn

  • M 14 August 2012, 6:46 am

    Dear P
    Please understand what I’m trying to say. I feel very much like you and I’m still living with bully husband. But not forgiving does not hurt him, it probably will make him happy if he finds out. But all this anger at him can cause some serious physical problems for you. Forgiveness is simply letting go of the bad years of the experience you devoted to that undeserving human being and looking forward to enjoying the rest of your life. God help you with that.

  • pwilton 31 July 2012, 8:05 am

    Finally someone puts into words what I still can’t fully comprehend, maybe more embarrassed. 33yrs married the last straw and I ran. Luckily the kids were all moved out. As you said “if your counselor gets it”. You really have to experience psychological abuse to realize how sneakily and deadly and invisble it is. No witnesses, no evidence, nobody believes you because the perpretator is so wonderful outside the home and relationship.
    I’ve been on my own now 6 yrs and still battling the scars. I still hear his words, see him around corners and so on. I’ve done counselling well before I left but he didn’t “get it”. Since everyone including family seems to think I am being snobby talking to them would be futile so I am trying to battle the scars and imbedded impairment alone. I still don’t have friends, don’t know how to make one. Holidays are alone, sometimes glad about it to save the “so what’s your problem”. Thank you ever ever for putting these words out. I hope somewhere within these words I will find a mantra that will help me heal scars and forget the battles. Don’t ask me to forgive him it will never happen. . . P

  • Veroncia 13 July 2012, 10:35 pm

    KRISTINA!!!!!!! OMG!!!
    It’s now 2012 but I’m on this site to get answers myself – I have left the nasty, thoughtless, selfish, emotional abuser behind me recently – it was a drip feed and very subtle – he was good at it!!! Over two years and through the support of my beautiful parents I feel compelled to reply to you – I’m not a fan of these social sites and never relied/commented to anyone but I honestly cannot believe what you have accepted as normal behaviour …PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE leave him (maybe you have already it’s now 2012).

    I’m going through the hurt phase at the moment and apologise if any of the content of my reply is misconstrued in any way – I’m only wanting another female to wake up and take the step away from this kind of behaviour.

    I sincerely hope you found the courage to leave him and are now living your beautiful life…………….. Be strong you owe it to your beautiful self!!!

  • shannon 19 June 2012, 4:40 am

    Hi, I am shannon and I just recently left an abusive relationship and this is the first place I found that people actually seem to understand the things I’m going through. I’m a very strong woman and I did say no over and over and then it started getting physical. That’s part of the reason I left. I still love him and didn’t want to hurt him but I really don’t know why, or how, I could still be in love with him. I know that most of the things he did happened when he was drinking – but it started to slip over into when he was sober. Like never wanting me to go anywhere without him. I couldn’t even get out of bed without him, and I never cheated on him but he always thought I was. I had to be by his side 24/7 and I got so depressed never being able to just be me – walking on egg shells. And then, when he drank, it was worse most of the time. It was threats he knew what I was afraid of and used it until I was crying and shaking so bad I couldn’t stop. He made me have anxiety attacks. He would tie me up to the bed, to a chair, anything, so I wouldn’t leave. And he would tell me how if he couldn’t have me no one would. I was so terrified I finally went to a neighbour’s house and just told them we were fighting. But he thought I, or they, would call the police so he left. I stayed in that house for about a month and was so scared I would jump anytime a vehicle got near the house. I’m really still so confused. I’m not usually the type of person who lets someone do this to me – if you are a jerk I just leave. I’ve never felt this way about someone before and don’t understand how I can still love a man who is so insecure that he was gonna bury me in the front yard cause he thought that was the only way he could keep me. And his dad is the same way – really controlling. So I’m safe now and on the other side of the country but I still talk to him and am still trying to work it out hoping that he will change. Like he says he’s only 26 so maybe he will grow up. But it’s been really hard cause I don’t have anyone to talk to who understands what I’m going through. They all just tell me I shouldn’t talk to him anymore and to move on – but I feel like I never will and it hurts so bad. Any advice would be really helpful.

  • kaybee 5 November 2011, 10:59 am

    Colleen – the new Family Justice Review in UK and other recent changes, mean that authorities are recognising that shared-care, especially 50/50 arrangements are not in the children’s best interests. I expect you share their feelings. There is new research supporting the role of the primary carer (often the mother) as being the key to the child’s wellbeing. An abusive man can never be a positive primary carer. I am not writing this to guilt-trip you if you are happy with your arrangement, but I know how much propaganda and peer pressure mothers are subjected to with fathers’ contact, and I wanted to encourage you if you were unhappy with the set-up. x

  • Alison 2 November 2011, 8:48 pm

    I have been married for 20 years, I have a stable job, earn 3 times what my husband does. I’m vivacious and fun, love socialising. But around my husband I am submissive and the dutiful wife. I am almost 50 now and have had enough! I work hard and long hours, do everything for my family and now feel like I need to be “myself”. I have been invited to a ladies night out and I’m too afraid to go. If I ask him he says no, if I put my foot down and say I’m going he gets angry. I hate confrontation, last night I told him I was going to a ladies night with a friend, he got so angry and said that he refuses to allow me to go! He doesn’t believe in it, tells me he doesn’t trust me. Just because of his own insecurities the only place he allows me to be is at work or at the running club (where he goes with me). I just want to go and have fun and relax for a few hours and be “me”. I even suggested that he take me to the function and then pick me up afterwards. I believe this is abuse, why must I always feel like I’m having to be submissive. I contribute to the household, look after everything and everyone. I have been ill for 2 years and just feel so drained and suffocated, just want an opportunity to dress up, relax and be in the company of ladies and have some clean fun! Now I’m too afraid to just go on Friday night because he says he will divorce me and then I must take my children with me. That’s not fair all I’m asking for is a night off!

  • Coleen 10 September 2011, 5:43 pm

    Hi, I am glad yet feel for every person that has experienced psychological/emotional abuse as I have.

    I recognise the problem is with him yet I still do find myself blaming myself for my current circumstances and difficulties. We have separated and now have the ordeal of sharing care of our 3 year old daughter 50/50. It is with the changeovers that I get angry and resentful as well as have trouble believing this has all happened to me (us I should say as my daughter has to deal with the loss of her family because of it).

    One of the biggest hurdles for me is how he blamed (and still does) blame me for the failure of our relationship. I also struggle as I was a stay at home mum, very isolated and still overcoming the depression caused by the abuse… now I find myself having to re-enter the workforce, still battling depression and anxiety and help my daughter through it emotionally too. All whilst he sits pretty in “our family home” and still has his work etc. i.e. I have so much more to deal with than him and no family support and my friends just don’t understand what I go through, I don’t know how to get through it all on my own and regain my trust in people and self-confidence. I guess the social stigma doesn’t really help people like myself.

    Jane, get out… it doesn’t go away and will never change… it just gets worse until you get to a point where you start to think you are going crazy… that’s what he wants you to think so that you can take the blame for everything. I sure hope for your sake that you don’t have any children and can get some good family support so that you can move on… you deserve better and you deserve to be with someone who knows that you do! Love yourself, if you don’t nobody else will. Trust me.

  • Jane 6 July 2011, 3:59 pm

    It’s a big relief to read about your sharings coz I am experiencing psychological abuse by my husband. I am trying to find a way out … How do I get out of this position or what should I do to stop him abusing me without separating.

  • Adrianne 28 April 2011, 6:29 am

    Thank you sooo much for the very valuable insight into my home situation, I have been a victim of this abuse for 16 long years, only last year I found the courage to walk away as it was like a light went off in my head,Ii became so unwell physically and mentally due to dealing with my husband’s behaviour. I would always fix everything that he did wrong, eventually I called the police when he was physically abusive to me. He got arrested and had to stay away from the family home until the hearing. When the case came to court the judge did not convict him and he was free to come back to the family home, which he did. He became more abusive. That’s when I ended up in hospital, not with physical injuries, but stress related due to my environment, as my husband got too clever to hit me again, so instilled fear of being hit instead. I left the family home with my 2 youngest children as by this time my eldest child was also abusive to me. I have managed to turn my eldest around and he now shows me the respect I well deserve. I have a case comming to court next week for a barring order against my husband to hopefully remove him from the family home and to reunite my children and myself. My husband is seen in our community as a decent man due to my lack of speaking out about the abuse we were enduring as a family from him. So I urge anyone who even thinks there’s something wrong in their relationship to speak out and squash domestic violence forever!!

  • Jan 10 December 2010, 5:07 pm

    Hello, thanks so much for your website…it is very helpful for those of us scarred by abuse.

    A word to Kristina (above)…. I had 4 children to my abusive ex-husband and now have the great difficulty of raising them alone as I finally managed to get to the point where I finally ‘respected’ myself enough, and finally (gee, it took a looooong time to get to this point: the point where I finally decided to ‘do it’) knew that mentally and emotionally I had had enough….and it was helpful when a colleague told me that if I was not careful I would not be healthy enough ‘in my head’ to parent well for the future if I did not leave……and ..well….it took years of confusion, of often being unable to go to sleep at night for the worry of it all, worry about the kids being parted from their father, and fear that if I parted, whether he could even be trusted to be alone with the children and look after them safely….so I stayed for years longer and was in that same ‘damned if I do, damned if I don’t’ state of what to do re: leaving, as you said….please remember : I do love and rejoice in my kids, but it is very hard to raise them if they have witnessed a lot of abuse….my problems didn’t end when I made the abuser leave, as the children had seen enough and heard enough psychological and verbal abuse over the years directed at me, that even though I’ve ‘rescued and protected’ them and wanted ultimately to keep them loved and safe; I now face a lot of disrespect and abuse from them also (3 are now teenagers) and they sadly learned this from their dad role-modelling it for them during our marriage….also, the children don’t see me as a valuable, special person worthy of love….I do look back now and see the OPTIMAL time to leave the abusive relationship was before I had children….as I have now got to participate with the father of the children and have a connection to him, even though he has left…he still has input and is able to contact me through the fact we both are parents of 4 beautiful children…. I would argue that it is better to move on (it takes sheer guts to do this, but you have it in you) and at some stage become a parent with someone you can TRUST who actually loves you….controlling abusive behaviour is never based on love or respect, only someone is loving to ‘use’ you….. I am privileged to now have met someone who does respect me, but I would have been happy to remain alone and without anyone till the end of my life, as my feeling was one of elation once I stepped away from the abuse and realised I was a lovely person and worthy. I had my last child at 41, so do not fear that your body is losing its fertility too soon…..

    The best piece of advice I was given by a counsellor was, “If your teenage daughter was dating someone like your husband/abuser, what would you counsel her to do: to stay or to leave?”… Then you realise that you are special and someone, like your family, loves you, and that’s when I knew I must/should get out of the abusive relationshp.

    My best wishes to you, Kristina. Kia kaha. (Gosh, I have written a lot!! Thanks for reading).

  • Teresa 9 December 2010, 7:07 am

    Perhaps things will work for victims when the legal system is willing to deal with the person who causes the problem instead of victimizing the victim all over again.

  • Kristina 22 October 2010, 4:08 pm

    I’m grateful to be reading these posts on this website as I am in the throws of a physically and emotionally abusive relationship. I visit here occasionally to get some relief and maybe to get some courage to leave for good. The articles here are thorough and address the multiple angles of an abusive relationship. I don’t feel so judged here. You address so many of the nuances of the toll from the emotional, physical, and cultural abuses towards women and minorities and for that reason I am choosing to share, well, where I am at this moment.

    I don’t have anything unique to say about his abuse other than it’s the standard litany of harms: He lies to me, hits me, chokes me, bites me, he’s handcuffed me, and neglets me, I’ve had 2 miscarriages in the past year with him and he wants kids, so I feel like I disappoint him. Further, I feel like he’s the only one that will have me because I’m 35 and am getting on the older end of the child-bearring spectrum. I think he’s sensed this fear and insecurity of mine and now he is even meaner to me. So he threatens me, won’t work anything out, etc…. I called the police on him in May, so he’s stopped being physically violent to me (after 8 months of it), but he still threatens to hurt me if I question him on anything or say “the wrong thing”. But, he tells me he loves me and wants to be together, but I think maybe he is trying to get me not to testify so that the case will be dismissed and then he’ll be able to keep his gun rights. And then ditch me. So he leaves me and comes back and yet every single time, no joke, as I try to pick up the pieces and move on; he’s the one who tries to re-establish contact again and tells me he loves me. So I feel I’m damned if I stay and damned if I go.

    Sorry for my stream of consciousness writing, I’ve really not been able to talk about this freely.

    Thank you for writting that abuse is also a masculine/culture issue. (He even uses that to tell me why it’s OK that he’s mean to me!) What did I do?! I am beautiful, feminine, nuturing, skilled and smart. I have everything! At least I try to remember that. He’s unemployed and is in construction and blames it on me. As for me, I am in a special, beautiful line of work in which I am with young girls every day to inspire them to be the best they can be and to be good and proud of being who they are. I teach them about self-respect and respect for others and how to be teammates and to not let anyone else’s judgement of them render them scared of following what they love and want to be. They look to me as their hero and inspiration! AND meanwhile I’m letting someone hit me, bite me, lie to me, choke me, and never be accountable for it and tell me that I am worthless. And now besides the fact that he still lies, trashes me to his friends with my most intimate secrets and his sexual exploits, threatens to become violent when I question him; he’s taking advantage of my fear that I can’t have my own kids by telling me that his friends and family would like me better if I had kids with him!

    It’s all the same result – he’s an abusive jerk and I keep taking it and crying everyday and he tells me I have to take it to be with him. Why are people so mean? How do I get out and have the life I want to have?! I am just so outraged. Thanks for listening.

  • Clare 14 October 2010, 2:30 pm

    Hi Amy – you ask such a pertinent question – one that I’ve been planning on blogging about – so instead of a long response to you here I wrote this blog using your words “Anger that just won’t go away”. Let me know if you find any of it useful. Clare

  • Amy 11 October 2010, 10:27 am

    Hello Clare,

    Your website speaks directly to the problem of abuse. Thank you for sharing this. I have a question, though, what happens after the victim is past her threshold, and chooses not to remain in the abusive relationship? To rephrase my question, how does one cope, with the inner anger? I’ve tried running, writing, meditating, anti-depressant medication, art. . . however, I’m at a loss. Because I still feel angry when I think about the abuse. Now that I recognize this anger, I can’t seem to let it go. I fear this will have a negative impact on my physical/psychological health and future relationships. Please advise. Thank you so much, for your time.

  • nanki 14 May 2009, 7:51 am

    this website was so helpful… it helped me understand a lot of things – especially how i feel because i was feeling confused for a long time!

    thanks so much.

  • Clare 16 April 2009, 9:18 pm

    Hi Sam – sorry for taking so long to reply. Thank you for uploading this list.

    Upon first reading of it I agree that every female victim of intimate partner abuse and control that I have met has talked about having many of these experiences. However, when I start to get specific and look for complexities I only see a list of pathological labels that can disempower victims.

    For example where it states:

    “Adopting distorted beliefs (e.g., believing that it is OK for a husband to beat his wife to keep her obedient).”

    Firstly, male perpetrators of power and control usually spend a great deal of energy actively blaming the victim – so much so that the victim is brainwashed. Secondly, subtle social cues blame the victim such as the cliché “why doesn’t she just leave”.

    I take issue with the notion of “inappropriate idealization of the perpetrator” because, when it comes to women who experience abuse by their intimate partner, many women were attracted to men with qualities such as charming, kind, caring, sexy, passionate, tough, strong, cunning. Perpetrators of domestic violence may not be abusive all the time – many women talk about how great the sex was, how kind the man was at certain times about certain things. Additionally, certain sectors of the media, education system, other institutions, certain types of men and women idealise aggressive, violent men – especially men who control, objectify and use women.

    Another statement I query is:

    “Self-blame: Exaggerated feelings of responsibility … guilt and remorse, despite obvious evidence of innocence.”

    Innocence is NOT always obvious to women. Additionally many women report being abusive themselves – this so-called mutual abuse is a complex issue – as is one-sided power and control.

    I’ll just challenge one other statement:

    “Socioeconomic status downward drift: Reduction of opportunity or life-style, and increased risk of repeat criminal victimization due to psychological, social, and vocational impairment.”

    Many male perpetrators cause women’s socioeconomic status downward drift by controlling the finances. Government policies add to this downward drift – for example women have to pay rent at many women’s refuges/shelters. Many male perpetrators prevent women from advancing their education or careers, hence if women leave they are disadvantaged financially. Many men refuse to pay child maintenance because they feel they’ve lost control over ex-partners, children and finances. . . . . Clare.

  • Clare 16 April 2009, 8:35 pm

    Thank you for your comments Helen. The field of psychology has tended to box counselling clients into either pathological or victim – tending not to acknowledge their myriad strengths, abilities and resources. That has especially been the case for victims of psychological abuse and control – as the most common question is, “why does she put up with it?” Shaming does not encourage flourishing into our full potential.

    In this website I endeavour to acknowledge the complexity of social issues – especially psychological abuse and control. It seems to take a lot more words to discuss complexity! There are no black and white formulas for how women respond. This means I have to take care with every word I write in case the words are seen in black and white terms – and in danger of shaming.

    Therefore I’d like to clarify further what I meant when I wrote above – “Some women will become manipulative by getting sick as a way of avoiding sex” – this refers to research participants’ stories. One of the women I interviewed, for instance, said she was sick a great deal during the final six months of her relationship. When she was asked if she thought becoming sick was an effect of enduring psychological abuse and control, she replied, “I partly at the time related it to sex because I had got to the point where I didn’t want him to touch me and he was really insistent that he was going to. Being sick was a legitimate way of getting out of sex. If you’re demonstrably sick then that’s good.”

    This research participant was sick partly because of the stress of the abuse and in part felt that being sick became a strategy to help her avoid sex with her abusive partner. It did not mean she made herself sick or that she was responsible for her illnesses.

    My use of the word “manipulative” refers to one of the many labels some women give themselves when they feel they have violated their moral codes. I observe repeatedly that many women develop a “negative” view of themselves for the ways they start behaving in response to long-term abuse and control. Such as lying in order to have some freedom, or getting angry, aggressive or violent in order to resolve the abuse and control, or in this case, by using physical illness as a “strategy” to avoid sex with a long-time abuser. I have so often found that when women react to long-term abuse and control in ways that are out of character, they label themselves manipulative, controlling, bitches.

  • Helen 12 April 2009, 7:50 pm

    Hi Clare. I find your website very interesting. It sounds like your journey has been fruitful

    I am interested in the comment in your writing that victims may become’ill’ to avoid having sex?

    Being told I’m a ‘somatiser’ has been tremendously shaming and disempowering for me. having had Chronic fatigue syndrome since the 1970’s outbreak of Tapanui Flu I’ve struggled with a lack of understanding about this problem, and I must admit, reading this comment took me aback.

    Funny thing is, I’m having therapy again…and when my therapist is sick, she is just ‘sick’ but when I am, it is ‘somatsising. So I’m thinking this is a dangerous area we are entering, and actually, it appears to lead right back to…power and control’ ie the power to label people ‘manipulative’ for being ill!

    I’ve had many health problems, including invasive breast cancer. I do find it offensive when people say I am ‘responsible’ for my cancer. Please, can we as educated aware people not go down the track of blaming people for illness. Plants get ill, as do animals,insects and people. It appears to me the to be human is to accept that there are mysteries in life we do not understand, and to be humble about this.

  • Sam Embracing Samo 16 February 2009, 10:44 pm

    Hi Clare, I have followed the link you left at Castor Girls’ http://scatteredpiecesofme.wordpress.com/2009/02/08/psychologicalabuse/ and I was wondering if you are familiar with the concept of Victimization Sequelae Disorder? Below is an excerpt from the Frank Ochberg’s webpage:

    Proposed Diagnostic Criteria for Victimization Sequelae Syndrome/Disorder

    A. The experience (or witnessing) of one or more episodes of physical violence or psychological abuse or of being coerced into sexual activity by another person.

    B. The development of at least (number to be determined) of the following symptoms (not present before the victimization experiences):

    1. A generalized sense of being ineffective in dealing with one’s environment that is not limited to the victimization experience (e.g., generalized passivity, lack of assertiveness, or lack of confidence in one’s own judgment).

    2. The belief that one has been permanently damaged by the victimization experience (e.g., a sexually abused child or rape victim believing that he or she will never be attractive to others).

    3. Feeling isolated or unable to trust or to be intimate with others.

    4. Over inhibition of anger or excessive expression of anger.

    5. Inappropriate minimizing of the injuries that were inflicted.

    6. Amnesia for the victimization experiences.

    7. Belief that one deserved to be victimized, rather than blaming the perpetrator.

    8. Vulnerability to being revictimized.

    9. Adopting the distorted beliefs of the perpetrator with regard to interpersonal behavior (e.g., believing that it is OK for parents to have sex with their children, or that it is OK for a husband to beat his wife to keep her obedient).

    10. Inappropriate idealization of the perpetrator.

    C. Duration of the disturbance of at least one month.

    Appendix 2 Victimization Symptoms: A Distinct Subcategory of Traumatic Stress

    1. Shame: Deep embarrassment, often characterized as humiliation or mortification.

    2. Self-blame: Exaggerated feelings of responsibility for the traumatic event, with guilt and remorse, despite obvious evidence of innocence.

    3. Subjugation: Feeling belittled, dehumanized, lowered in dominance, and powerless as a direct result of the trauma.

    4. Morbid hatred: Obsessions of vengeance and preoccupation with hurting or humiliating the perpetrator, with or without outbursts of anger or rage.

    5. Paradoxical gratitude: Positive feelings toward the victimizer ranging from compassion to romantic love, including attachment but not necessarily identification. The feelings are usually experienced as ironic but profound gratitude for the gift of life from one who has demonstrated the will to kill. (Also known as pathological transference and/or Stockholm syndrome).

    6. Defilement: Feeling dirty, disgusted, disgusting, tainted, “like spoiled goods,” and in extreme cases, rotten and evil.

    7. Sexual inhibition: Loss of libido, reduced capacity for intimacy, more frequently associated with sexual assault.

    8. Resignation: A state of broken will or despair, often associated with repetitive victimization or prolonged exploitation, with markedly diminished interest in past or future.

    9. Second injury or second wound: Revictimization through participation in the criminal justice, health, mental health, and other systems.

    10. Socioeconomic status downward drift: Reduction of opportunity or life-style, and increased risk of repeat criminal victimization due to psychological, social, and vocational impairment.

    Why am I asking? Because it was this concept that has helped me enormously to be able to — intellectually — understand/accept/validate my extreme symptoms that otherwise made no sense to me. Do you find it helpful? …Sam