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Learn About Coercive Control and Psychological Abuse

Tactic #6 — Emotional Unkindness & Violation of Trust

– Posted in: Fear and shame Intimate partner abuse Male perpetrators Why does he do it

This is the sixth of 16 blogs discussing the patterns of tactics from my power and control wheel – Emotional unkindness & violation of trust.

What is emotional unkindness?

Emotional unkindness entails DOING something unkind and the ABSENCE of, or FAILURE to do something kind.

Emotional unkindness is a failure to provide for emotional needs such as encouragement, understanding, respect and compassion. It includes ignoring you when you start a conversation, showing you none or very little attention and no empathy. It entails rejection, silent treatment and withdrawing. Emotional unkindness entails an absence of concern or care at times when you would most expect it – such as when you’re sick, in hospital, recovering from giving birth to a baby, or when you’re worn out and need a break.

Emotional unkindness also includes refusing to share responsibility for your children’s care and development, threatening to abandon you if he doesn’t get his way, making it emotionally difficult if you want to leave the house or leave the relationship, complaining whenever you ask for any kind of support, or making promises but not keeping them, saying ‘yes’ to doing something then ‘forgetting’, or it entails helping but with conditions attached.

When emotional kindness is turned on its head into an abusive manipulative tactic the result is a violation of trust.

Anyone can be emotionally unkind on occasion whether it’s done ignorantly or purposefully. There isn’t really a problem to write about if the unkind person takes responsibility for their behaviours and makes valid attempts to change. But the problem I’m addressing here is quite different – it’s about when an intimate partner withholds love, care, concern, attention and encouragement – on an ongoing regular basis.

Red flags that there’s a major problem become glaringly obvious when:

  • all your attempts at getting your partner to take responsibility for his unkind neglectful behaviours fall on deaf ears
  • he denies that he’s done anything harmful
  • he minimises your experience
  • he turns the situation about face and blames you

If this is the case, you need to listen to your gut instinct, admit to yourself that what you are experiencing is what you are experiencing! Otherwise you’re in danger of making one excuse after another for your partner’s emotional unkindness and violation of trust. You’re in danger of staying in a relationship in which his behaviours get worse and worse over time, and the long-term effects on you will get worse and worse. Stories from thousands of women show this to be true.

Here are some experiences that women shared with me during interviews I conducted for my Masters research.

Acts like she doesn’t matter

Pauline said, “I actually have a tattoo on my hand which Chris never knew I had. Not only did he really not take a good look at me, he never really acknowledged or thought, I actually had a personality and emotional side. It was just like he would look at me and see the word ‘wife’. In all those years of knowing me, he never knew me, so the true me was never shown. And because I didn’t express myself as I would today, speaking up, also he never really took the time to find out.”

Teresa’s partner, Patrick acted like she didn’t matter by showing “indifference if he was cross with me and be really cold and hard. He’d be indifferent to everything and ignore what I said and not show any sign at all that he’d heard anything I’d said or done for him. I’d increase my efforts to be nice and to do the right thing so that he’d notice me again and be nice to me, and I’d be back in his good books.”

Donna said, “I lost so much of myself, my freedom, everything, but I poured it back into the garden and even that got destroyed. I wasn’t even allowed to be upset because the pigs destroyed my gardens. That was just me being a bitch wife.” In response, Donna said she “Just quietly died inside. You didn’t respond to Frank, whatever he said happened. However he wanted it to be, that’s how it was, what I thought didn’t count.”

Donna talked about tending to her garden as her passion and solace from abuse. But when she got sick, although Frank could easily afford to hire a gardener he refused to and he also begrudged her the money to water her plants. She said, “When I got too sick to garden the whole garden turned into a jungle and so for about the last 12 months before I left, I didn’t used to go out to that part of the house anymore coz it just used to break my heart seeing all my years of beautiful work turned into a jungle and nobody cared, it didn’t matter but it mattered to me.”

Shows no empathy

Elsie said Leon, “had no empathy for my feelings, it didn’t matter at all.”

Teresa said, “I’d try and increase his level of empathy when there wasn’t any, when there was that indifference by trying to explain things in a different way, or do things differently or, to try and get a response from him but it didn’t make any difference so I just tried harder.”

On the other hand Raewyn responded to Brian’s lack of empathy by putting her focus into the children. She said, “I was just so happy with my children I didn’t need him any more. I used to just forget that he gave very little, touched very little.”

Gives then takes it away

Pauline said, “Chris did up a car with a mate and he gave it to me for Christmas. Well I didn’t have my licence. He sold it the following February (laugh). So I never got to drive my car. He did it up and it was all a big show, like, ‘I got my wife a car for Christmas’. It wasn’t until after I had my second child I got my licence. . . I look back and think things were just given and taken. Things were slowly taken away and I didn’t think a lot about it.”

Acts cruelly, then says she is too sensitive and cannot take a joke

Teresa said, “Once, I’d been out and I had stayed at a friend’s for tea and had got back later than he thought and he was cross about it and I apologised and tried to smooth things over. And it’s the nastiest thing anyone has ever done to me – he said and I thought it was okay – and he came out of the kitchen and he said ‘Would you like me to make you a cup of tea, would you like a cup of tea?’ and I said ‘That would be really nice, thank you darling.’ He went out to the kitchen and the jug boiled and he came back in with a cup and I was sitting on the couch and he got right up to me, then he went like that (acted out throwing a cup of tea in my face) and it was an empty cup and he planned it as a trick and it was just awful, it was just pre-meditated nastiness. And he was like, ‘It was just a joke, you’ve got no sense of humour, you can’t take a joke.’ But it was horrible and he used to do that sort thing.”

Makes promises but doesn’t carry them out

Teresa said Patrick would agree with something she wanted, “and then he just wouldn’t do anything. Little things, he was prepared to pay attention to, little wants, needs and wishes but big ones he’d just disregard, it was as if you hadn’t said anything at all.” I’d tried and there was nothing else I could do … sometimes I’d have one more try in saying something or doing something but it wouldn’t make any difference, so it was just the way it was.”

Susan spent most of her days crying because of the things Anthony had done. She said, “He didn’t run me down. I think it’s the things he did that didn’t bring me up. If I asked him to do something, it would never get done. If I said ‘Can we go somewhere?’ we’d never go. He didn’t do anything to build my self esteem. I thought for a long time he was easy going coz I didn’t have to cook him a good meal every night. He was quite happy with hamburgers, baked beans on toast or toasted sandwiches. I felt that’s really really nice coz there are people who won’t accept takeaways. If I didn’t clean up the house he didn’t tell me I was messy. He definitely neglected my emotional side.”

Withholds care, respect, approval, affection and support

Victoria said Graham “never really seemed to give a horse’s patoot that I may be upset about something. I tried not to think about it. I just got on with it. Life doesn’t become about trying to resolve anything, life becomes about surviving it. So you don’t try to actively do anything about anything because that just tells you there’s a problem, you don’t need to think about that right now, you just need to survive. If it’s going to cause you distress and upset the house, don’t bother, just survive it. And survive’s usually done by avoiding.”

Raewyn said, “I don’t think I ever heard Brian once say he loved me. He didn’t touch me a lot, he didn’t cuddle me a lot, in fact hardly ever. When we made up we might have had a cuddle, that was usually me initiating it. He would come home from work say and just get his book out, sit at the table and read. And that used to piss me off, because the children would be there and he’d just ignore them. There was that neglect as well where he would just do his own thing. He’d do his own thing all the time, his art, fishing, bike racing, so really there was very little attention given to me, very little. The only time was when he wanted sex then he’d be a little bit nice to me have sex and then that would be it and he wouldn’t be nice to me again until he wanted sex.” As a result, Raewyn said she, “learnt pretty quickly not have any wants, needs and wishes. I expected nothing from him pretty quickly in the marriage, oh except the money.”

Helps other people but not her

Karen said, “I couldn’t understand that if we broke a window in the house and I’d say, ‘hey could you fix the window?’ that Felix would get his back up and if he had been thinking about fixing the window that afternoon it would be completely out of the question now because I’d asked him to do it. What he would do would be he’d get his window making equipment and he’d go around the whanau (family) and ask if anybody needed any bloody windows fixing. Go and fix an entire community’s windows, and come home and look at me and say, ‘so there!’ I couldn’t understand it (laughter).”

Karen went on to say that Felix, “was so much more caring and tolerant and understanding of people other than of me. There was another solo mother and he’d say to her, ‘You’re looking tired, I’ll make you a cup of tea, have you had a break? Perhaps we can organise it so you can have a spa’. He’d be really caring to people outside of the home. I wanted him to listen to me and hear me. Saying, ‘I don’t want you to brush me off like that’, saying, ‘I’m here, I’m a person, the children are here, they’re real, there is a bond here, there is responsibility here, please be aware of it because you can’t just brush it away. I want you to offer me some support, because at the moment you’re taxing me more than you’re supporting me.’”

Donna said Frank, “would kill a beast and he’d have steak for breakfast and steak for lunch and steak for tea, give his friends steak because he was a great ‘I am’ and he was God in their world. My boys were only allowed to eat the mince and the sausages so they had to do the work on the farm and then he started ripping them off. They weren’t allowed to eat steaks.”

Ignores her need for assistance when she’s tired, overworked, or sick

Pauline said, “After my fifth baby I had a cancerous lump on my arm and I was breastfeeding her and once they found what it was, I had to go in straight away and have surgery. The operation to get this lump out was quite long so they did a big cut, and I’m all bandaged up and they said, ‘You won’t be able to use your arm for a few weeks, don’t go lifting or anything.’ I had this young baby, she was about three months old, and I thought, ‘how am I going to lift her out of her cot and feed her and change her and bath her?’ And my husband came and got me, I had the surgery and went home. All my children were at home and he went out. I sat down on the couch, he handed me my daughter and I started breastfeeding her and he said, ‘Well I’m off.’ I was like, ‘Oh my God!’ I was still under anaesthetic and we had stairs in the house.I remember not arguing but saying, ‘What? No, you can’t go out.’ But he went anyway.”

Sally said that in the last year of her relationship with Dylan when “my back was so sore and my health was so bad with these constant viruses, I felt desperate for help. I knew that Dylan wouldn’t let me. I just felt this intense rage inside of me because I was so sick, so I just phoned and made an appointment with a chiropractor. I knew Dylan wouldn’t let me spend the money on my health so I went behind his back and made the appointment and went anyway.”

Susan said, “When I was sick Anthony went off for the weekend with his family. I was so sick, I couldn’t even get out of bed. I only had our first child. I was grossly sick. I said, ‘Why don’t you please stay at home?’ ‘No, see ya.’ And he was gone. That’s what he was like and he’s always been like that. He didn’t care how I felt. Generally I cried about it.”

Susan went on to say that, “When I had our first child, I was really upset because I didn’t feel I had any security at all. It was an emergency birth. Anthony wouldn’t come to the hospital. He was out drinking with his mates. When I had her, he wouldn’t take any time off work to pick me up from hospital. My mum did it.”

Possessive jealousy used as excuse for deliberate emotional unkindness

Karen said Felix’s “jealousy started really really soon after I met him if I met somebody, gave them a peck on the cheek, all hell would break loose, there’d be two or three days of absolute hell. So I learnt not to express any affection to anybody, not to look at anybody. When my first baby was born, about the first time I went out with him after that I got a babysitter, but he made sure he told me it’s not going to be any fun for you anyway because you know that so and so …. Then he sat in the back row just glowering. I started dancing, he basically just came and got me, grabbed me by the arm, put a nice smile on his face and started to escort me away, pushed me into the car, and on the way home threw me out of the car. I had to walk well over an hour home in the middle of the night in winter wearing high-heeled shoes with a bloody baby waiting at home for me. He didn’t come back and get me. Just little things like that made me really careful not to fuck up.”

Exploits her intimate disclosures and uses them as ammunition

Karen said, “I don’t think Felix could ever really dominate. He listened to me very carefully for long periods of time to get to know me and I felt very secure in that initially and in those tender moments when he would listen and reflect back, I don’t know whether he was consciously building up ammunition, but when he felt the need he would grab those things and humiliate me with them.” Karen said she found right from the start that it was difficult sharing with Felix “because it would come back as a weapon. So I didn’t feel as if I could talk to him. He didn’t know I was sick with eating disorders, I couldn’t trust him with that. He thought everything was hunky dory.”

When Elizabeth went through a traumatic time while being counselled about sexual abuse perpetrated by her father when she was a child, David used this as an opportunity to tell her how ‘bad’ she was. Sally had a similar experience with Dylan. After nearly seven years of feeling used and never getting Dylan to take responsibility for his neglect and dismissive behaviours she went to the doctor, was put on anti-depressants. Then Dylan deflected responsibility further by arguing that her depression was the cause of the relationship issues.

Elsie said, “I trusted Leon not at all. If he ever found out anything about me, he just used it to give me a good psychological kick whenever he could as often and as much as he could. So I never ever trusted him at all.”

Dismisses her if she’s upset or asks for emotional support

Pauline said, “I had a miscarriage and while I was pregnant he wanted to abort the baby. He came home one night from work and he said, ‘I’ve decided’. He’d gone to work and he decided that I was having an abortion, and he went back downstairs to the kitchen and I was sitting in the bed reading and it was like, ‘arsehole!’ The abortion thing was huge because he actually knew I was anti-abortion. As fate would have it, that night I started bleeding. I lost the baby and he put me on the steps of Accident & Emergency (A & E) the next day and drove away. I came back very late that night, and he was just a total bastard over the whole thing.”

Subsequently, Pauline “got really really low, very depressed and he would come home from work and he started to not even say hello and I never forgave him for how he acted when I lost the baby. I think that was a huge factor in my shift in deciding to leave him. But I’ve never been able to pinpoint exactly when I decided ‘that’s it.’ I never forgave him for it, or the way he treated me afterwards. I finally accepted whatever I was going to face in the future if I left would be better than now.”

Pauline said, “I would be in tears after the miscarriage and he would just look through me and walk off.” Pauline remembered being incredibly surprised when the nurse in A & E showed concern for her wellbeing. Pauline handed them the note from the doctor, and remembered “the nurse saying to me, ‘Are you okay, do you need anything? Come in straight away.’ I was thinking, ‘Wow, oh that’s nice. That’s nice, someone’s asking how I am’.”

Violates Trust

Pauline said she, “ended up not trusting Chris several years before we separated. I didn’t trust him as far as I could throw him. I started marriage absolutely trusting him with my whole life and once I had that miscarriage I didn’t ever trust him again. To cope with this loss of trust, Pauline said she, “Did a lot of self talk. He’d say something or whatever he did, and rather than say it out loud I’d think in my mind ‘Oh yeah you prick. Fuck off to bed.’ But I would never say it out loud.”

Takes no responsibility for being caring – the focus of attention has to be on him

Victoria had asthma and had a really severe asthma attack one day. She called the ambulance when Graham was at work. She said, “We had no phone, we couldn’t afford one because the debts were too high. I managed to ring at the neighbour’s house and the ambulance came and got me. Graham pulled up in the driveway and I was in the back of the ambulance being nebulised and I was scared as scared as scared. So the ambulance people said to him we’re taking her through to the hospital. So he went round to my girlfriend’s for a cup of tea and thought she might like to come up to the hospital with him. I’m in this ambulance, and he went round to her place! It was like ‘for Christ’s sake!’” Victoria went on to say that although Graham “never stopped me from getting medical treatment, he was just a little bizarre when I got it. My impression of it was that it wasn’t about him really.”

Elsie said, “Leon took no responsibility for anything, like to be caring wasn’t his responsibility, to be there at any particular time when you think a normal person would be, that wasn’t anything that he believed was his responsibility. He was only there for the things that he wanted, for the play things that he did.”

Emotional unkindess is debilitating for men and women

It is often shocking for women when their partner repeatedly neglects them emotionally. But gender socialisation is full of messages about how to be a man and how to be a woman. Unfortunately, men experience social pressure to suppress expressions of love, care and empathy – in fact many men are bullied for doing so. On the other hand women experience the opposite pressure – that it is the woman’s role to do the emotional work in relationship – and for this women are applauded. This rigid socialisation not only harms women, it harms men.

At the individual level, women who experience ongoing emotional unkindness and violation of trust by a partner who refuses to take responsibility and make changes that lead to a close, constructive, caring connection, should continue to take steps to keep safe and, if possible, seriously consider doing what it takes to empower themselves to regain any lost self-determination and self-worth and follow their personal values, which may be quite different from what rigid gender socialisation is asking of women.

At the social level, everything we do influences our social and cultural norms, therefore individuals throughout every arena of our society can challenge gender socialisation that suppresses half of our humanity and speak out loud for a just society that honours men and women for living authentically – which requires courage to challenge social norms that work against kindness and trusting relations.

Watch out for blogs on the following control tactics:

One-Sided power games
Mind games
Inappropriate restrictions
Over-protection and ‘caring’
Degradation & suppression of potential
Separation abuse
Using social institutions & social prejudices
Denial, minimising, blaming
Using the children
Economic abuse
Sexual abuse
Symbolic aggression
Domestic slavery
Physical violence
Cyber Abuse

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  • Angie 15 April 2016, 12:48 pm

    I tried to explain this concept in a really calm way to the guy I was seeing – that I felt that he clearly didn’t like me much as a person and I couldn’t understand why he was with me – and told him the reasons why, i.e. because he never showed me any empathy (in fact insults and criticises me without ever appreciating anything about me), ignores me and switches off when I’m talking (but is happy to deliver me lengthy monologues), doesn’t really want to do nice things for me or spend quality time with me, wants instead to have me ‘around’ while he’s doing what he is doing on his own, forces me to have sex when I don’t want to and is really only nice to me before sex, etc. Insults me if I don’t want to do things for him that I don’t feel like doing, is dismissive of my feelings and makes everything about him.

    Tells me I’m oversensitive/taking it too personal/being dramatic when I object to his insults and criticisms, and he flew into an absolute rage and told me to get the f*** over myself and threw me out. So… I’m kind of glad it ended when it did. However… If he enjoys degrading and emotionally abusing me so much then my guess is he’ll come back for more?

  • Gareth 9 February 2016, 8:04 pm

    My wife does all of this to me, though being male, I get no sympathy. I’m not in the position to leave, who will protect my children from all the abuse if the kevlar (me) is not there? So I just suffer in silence, going more and more insane every day.

  • hanna 11 January 2016, 11:08 am

    My husband has learnt to do two things to make me suffer. A) he tells me all the time that I should be aware of what is going to come my way as he is going to do something to hurt me. B) He always blocks me on his phone after we have a small disagreement which can last up to 3-4 months at a time. And when he parks outside my house to collect kids he always calls me ugly fat Bastard or fat ugly Mother f***** and daughter of a whore..all this in front of kids then he’ll shout things like, to not show my ugly face at the door. Or that he hates my guts and everyday prays for my death. This is just a small part of of the abuse I endure everyday. If I don’t let him get his way he fuels up even more and always is plotting revenge as he is a very begrudging character. To be honest this man is not a human but a devil in human disguise.

    Unfortunately for women like us who are so lost in ourselves and have become so exausted and dead like that we are unable to let go sometimes as there’s way too much attachment cos of our own low self esteem and these monsters know this and they prey on us even more to make themselves feel powerful. I just pray my husband suffers 100 x more than what I endured from him. Even then that won’t make up for what he has done to me. I have lost my identity. I look in the mirror and can’t recognise myself. Truth is I am not ugly nor am I fat which he calls me everytime we have a difference of opinion but I now feel like i am. As the tiredness and anxiety has destroyed me as the person I once was. He on the other hand is living with his evil family like himself who tell him each day that they want him to leave me. So really he is a pathetic passive loser to destroy his home and family to please his parents. People like my husband shouldn’t even be allowed to live on this earth but then I’m hoping he pays for his crimes before he gets his punishment sent out to him in the grave.

  • hanna 11 January 2016, 10:54 am

    Hi Brenda. I am exactly in the same boat. When my mother was laying in a coma at the hospital I broke the news to him that my mother is critially ill and that I need him more than ever and want him to come round cos I was feeling lonely and frightened of what was to come..you know what he said? I don’t deserve support. And then he went and cheated on me in that same week while I went through the most traumatic time in my life watching my mother lay in hospital looking lifeless. 3yrs before that he kicked me out of the family home while I was carrying his child. Then we reconciled just 2wks before I gave birth to our 2nd child for him to leave me again just 12 hrs before I gave birth. He saw I was having contractions but just walked off and left me and my 3yr old son alone. He has never bought kids any clothes nor feeds them. They only see him when he does the drop offs to school. I get called hurtful names and he always says things like he will show me and I will never win even if I killed him he would win..he hates my family for no reason. He neglects to pay for bills or for kids needs. As for me, he truly despises me. When I go through any hardship or trauma he always walks out or vanishes into thin air then shows his face after a month or so. And stupid me who is too dead emotionally and physically can’t do anything as I’m so attached to the Narcissist. What hurts most is how he is how he loves his mother and his brothers daughters and everyone else yet hates me and his kids. So I know how you feel about being ignored and neglected.

  • Bianca 8 January 2016, 5:25 pm

    I’m in a really bad marriage it’s been about two years going on 3. I have a 6 year old and a 11month old – both girls. My husband is full blooded Native American and I am mixed. He makes racist remarks about me being part white and my daughter being mostly white (older). I am a 26 year old woman and he’s a 25 year old man. I’m a homemaker and he is a commercial fisherman. He gives me silent treatments for no damn reason and puts me down every day he calls this joking. After my youngest was born his brother moved in with his niece I thought it was for a few months. Due to lack of space 2bedroom Mobile home. So now we have 6 people and two dogs. He’s gotten worse it’s like he finds reasons to hate me every day. I barely even seen him today. Alls I know is he doesn’t want to look nor talk to me. It’s to the point my oldest didn’t even see him today. Financially I can’t leave and he said I won’t be able to take my youngest due to tribe. I need advice please anyone. I’m miserable.

  • Georgina 28 October 2015, 12:58 am

    I had a miscarriage last may. He’s from Manchester. I’m from London. He’s never been there to see me and didn’t text me to say ‘hi how are you?’ Only he thinks of himself, goes out with friends, have drinks and didn’t think about me? I’ve been supporting him since 2 and a half years when he had 2 kids from his ex. I support him a lot and have always been there for him for everything. Now I’m very emotional and finding it hard to cope on my own. Why did he change and what happend to him? I told him I will go for my first counselling tomorrow. It will be very big emotionally to talk with a counsellor since I had a miscarriage and scared myself. He knows I miss him so badly and still love him very much. What I do?

  • Jackie 27 October 2015, 1:25 pm

    Brenda my heart is breaking for you reading this.
    This is nothing but emotional abuse and I understand and feel your fear.
    Believe me if you were to leave this sick little man and stand up for yourself not only will you have the power of your emotions and your life back, you will find happiness that you truly deserve.
    I have left this type of man twice in my life they never change they have no feelings for anybody but themselves.
    God bless xx

  • Brenda 7 October 2015, 9:26 am

    Six months after we were married my older sister passed away. I called him at work to tell him. When he came home I was standing at the door waiting for him. I thought for sure that he would give me a hug, tell me how sorry he was for my loss. Instead, he looked at me and said “quit feeling sorry for yourself”. We then sat down at the table to eat and never said another word about it. On Sunday we went to church, The pastor’s wife came up to me and said “Brenda I want to pray for you.” William spoke up and said, “she doesn’t need prayer.” And with that she turned around and walked off nothing more was said. About 15 years later my dad passed away. I flew to Arizona before he passed. William picked me up at the airport and as soon as we got into the house he sat on the living room couch and said to me “Brenda come in here I want to talk to you.” I came into the living room sat down and he said, “it’s been so peaceful here without you I want a divorce.” About 10 years later my mom passed away. Easter Sunday I got the call but she had passed. William was in the spare bedroom laying on the bed playing video games. I laid down beside him put my head on his shoulder and said, “my mom just passed away.” He kept playing his video game and said, “are you going to be OK?” I said, “yes I’ll be fine.” I then walked out of the room. Through the years I tried to explain to him how I felt when these things happened to try and help him to “have a heart”. After 32 years he never got it for me. A few years later, one of his buddies lost his father. William stayed after work for two hours listening to and comforting his friend. A couple of years after this his parents’ bird passed away. He spent two hours with his parents crying with them, listening to them, comforting them. He never did comfort me. I long for him, to be able to cry on his shoulder and have him just hold me. I long for the love of a man who never gave it to me. No regard.

  • marsha 12 September 2015, 9:50 am

    It all boils down to one thing. I learned this by asking over and over, “why would God have me go through this horrible part of my life? Why would he subject me to such cruelty and hatred from another human being? Why!?” In the end, the only person you can rely on to give you what you need, the only person who will always be there for you…is you. Learn to love yourself and you’ll never live the nightmare again. Never, this is the promise I make to you. Be your own best friend. Good luck. You can do it. You have to do it or your life will not be yours.

  • Tiger 9 May 2015, 6:15 pm

    I can see a lot of my ex-boyfriend in this (today he doesn’t know I left him). He is 100% emotionally unkind, he withdrew love and affection from me after an argument, during an argument he turned around and ALWAYS told me I am making a problem out of nothing, and he would use the same words my dad used against me. I am broken. It’s not my first relationship. But I am stronger. All the women out there, please… Know this, I am a Muslim girl, in Islam one of the final things the Prophet said to the people was, “Be kind to your wife, because the best of you, is the one who is kind to his wife.” Well, I am not very religious, but women need kindness. I have lived without kindness from men and they taught me how to be hard and strong. Believe me. This world is ugly. But be stronger. Ladies, let my motivation echo through your struggle. We are emotional creatures, but we are strong. Please shut out anyone who is unkind to you. And never stop being you. Never stop loving friends and children and family. But to so many men out there, close the door. There are more ugly unkind men in this world than there are good men. I beg you, be strong. I need women to be strong so I can stop crying, so I can stop telling myself I am the problem. I need you to be strong so I can cry and breakdown and wipe the tears away. Women of the world fade away, in the name of religion, politics, society, human trafficking, motherhood, some women are terrible, and some women are great. Be strong for me. I need it.

  • cheryl 2 February 2013, 5:35 am

    Wow, reading your story …stirred emotion in me because I have and still allow my boys father to treat me in similar ways. I too a nurse have tried everything, we’re not married and I can’t understand anymore why I continue to be with/around him – thanks for sharing!
    I definitely need to change what’s happening and end it, allow myself to let go of broken dreams, promises, visions of perfect life together with our sons. Thank you again!

  • Alex 24 September 2012, 4:26 pm

    This is truly remarkable information. I can totally identify with nearly every subtitled topic! I have been married to my husband for twelve years and for much of it, we spent apart.

    I met him when I was twenty-five and very naive. He is nine years my senior. He was a few years shy of retiring from the military. I was ending a very troubling, adulterous marriage.

    We married in 1999, just two years after I completed my first level of nursing school. He did many of the things mentioned in this study, and while I did not know it then, it is crystal clear now.

    Before we dated and were just mere friendly acquaintances, he often encouraged me to get my education and, “…broaden my horizons..”, as he’d say. He was tender, attentive and supportive. He seemed to adore my three children, and they, him.

    However, while dating, he would often fail to call, visit or contact me for days at a time, in spite of my numerous attempts to contact him via paging or calling to him.

    I was a newly single parent in a state where I had no family. He and my friend Kelly, were all I had for support since I left my cheating husband.

    I held two jobs and attended nursing school full-time and was often exhausted and dramatically low in income, but determined to succeed.

    I knew it would not be long before I had extreme financial trouble being able to maintain my apartment and vehicle, gas it, pay for tuition and still feed my children, yet try I did.

    I remember the time that I asked him to move in with me to help with the rent as he was my lover and the only man in my life. He told me that he could not because I was still married and he didn’t want any trouble. Although my finances were becoming more of a burden, I accepted his decline simply as respect for me and my children.

    Later in the summer, I was evicted due to inability to pay my rent and my car bill, as the collection company threatened to take my only transportation to school. He encouraged me to quit school, but I did not.

    Later, I found that he’d moved in with one of his friends and his girlfriend, whom ALL held jobs. I was forced to move in with a friend who cared for me little and locked my children and I out of her house. We slept in the car for up to two nights a week. I finally took my children to my parents and worked extra shifts to get more money and eventually got a new place for us.

    Things like this went on for years. He used my past admissions to him of pain and agony against me. Whenever he had an opportunity to “stab” me with his words, he took it willingly. There were so many times that I thought he received some kind of joy seeing me suffer.

    We eventually married in 1999. We had now, four children and one due. We had numerous problems, mostly with communication, I thought at the time. But from his perspective, of course, this was all my fault. He blamed all of our problems on nursing school and that if I had not gotten an education, our marriage would have been better.

    He did things like promise to help with the electric bill and when I would come home from work with four children and a three month old baby and find the power was out, and him sitting in the dark, he would then tell me that he was low on funds or he forgot.

    He would also know for days that something was wrong with the oven, or the air conditioner unit, and not tell me. When I grew tired of the baby crying because she was uncomfortable, I got the children and I a hotel lodging assignment until I was paid. I then bought three window units in the house and he moved one from the boys’ room and put it in the living room for himself. He never got that unit fixed.

    There was one time that the only commode in the house didn’t work for nearly two weeks. I was a nurse and no stranger to body fluids. I had to put on gloves and fish stool from the toilet so the kids could go to the bathroom and eliminate the odor from the house. After I would clean out the commode, he would go in with his newspaper and glare at me saying, “Thanks, good job, sweetie!”, and smiling. I nearly grew to hate him!

    Finally in 2002, I got word that my mother was ill and I used it as an excuse to get the hell out of there!

    In 2007, following my mother’s death, I reached out to him feeling that since he was so much older than I, that with now, a bachelors’ degree in nursing and working on my master’s, I was more to his speed and could save my marriage.

    I knew for years that something was wrong, but I could not say what it was that was wrong. I thought it was me. Once he came to the state where I lived to visit for our daughter’s birthday and I had to drive through two cities to pick him up from his bus because he refused to have my family think that he was, “….chasing..”, after me.

    I had not seen him in nearly two years. OMG! He showed up looking as a homeless bum! His clothes were worn, filthy and smelly. His hair was about his head, badly in need of grooming, his face was covered by his beard so much so that we hardly recognized him! His breath was that of a wino who’d spent days in a bar and hot and sticky. His appearance was such that he looked as if he gained over fifty pounds! He rode on the bus this way! I pitied the person who rode beside him all those hours. He withdrew in anger at me because I refused to sleep with him. He said that I resented him. Truly, I did! He smelled awful!

    To this day, I am reminded of this every time he is reminded and claims it was my fault and refuse to visit my family with me.

    The day we returned after being away six years, he did not waste any time initiating punishments for his time in solitude. When I arrived with the movers, he failed to show up on time because I did not answer my phone while I was driving in front of a twenty-nine foot truck! We ended up waiting over an hour for him to arrive to let us in the new home.

    After a few more months of things like this, I spoke with my sister regarding my true feelings as I began to analyze the facts. I could not say that he was hitting or sexually abusing me, but what I felt was far worse.

    As one of the ladies in the research stated, “If you are slapped; at least you know it.” But you can deal with what to do next. If there was something that I did or failed to do, the retaliation that follows as a result of his unspoken disobedience, seems unwarranted, cruel and blatant!

    He resented my going to school and my career so much, but denies any accusation of it. He would seem so sincere in his denial of the resentment, that I often felt foolish and would apologize.

    I have a very expensive cardiac stethoscope. Well worth three hundred dollars. One weekend after an argument, he went into the bedroom. When he came out, he left. I did not see him for nearly a week. When I got to work, I found that my stethoscope had been sliced through the core of the tubing with a very sharp object. He moves boxes for a living and carried a very sharp box cutter.
    I knew my kids did not do it, but I could not prove he did.

    I have since left and am still quite baffled by my vicous husband and his hateful, controlling ways. I used to blame myself because since I could not describe what was happening to me, I dismissed it as paranoia. I tried counseling, pastoral assistance and good old fashioned communication, but all my efforts failed.

    I stumbled across your study and I must say thank you! Thanks to you, I don’t feel at all guilty for my leaving. He has treated me like an opponent and adversary for so long, withholding affection, love-making, accusing me of being with others when I did not initiate sex, but when I did, pull away from me to watch a game, leaving the children at school and blame my job for inconvenient schedules, signing the boys up for sports and then, when it is time for practice or a match; blame my schedule and leave me to do it all. He accuses me of being jealous of his relationship with our children and keeping them from him.

    I have thought for so long that something was wrong with me and that I was alone. Then, last night, I searched Google an typed, “…men who psychologically abuse women…”, and discovered this article and immediately shared it with my friend. I feel like a rehab patient set-free! Thank You!