Battered Woman Syndrome: Is the Battering Necessary?

March 13, 2011 Kellie Jo Holly

Lawyers use Battered Woman Syndrome (BWS) to explain a battered woman's behavior to a jury who does not understand why she "didn't just leave". After all, we all have the freedom to choose our own adventure in life, don't we? Why does an abused woman stay with a violent partner?

BWS could be called a subtype of posttraumatic stress disorder. This means, in part, that if you are abused, you may or may not show or feel all of the signs of PTSD, but you probably show other mentalities and behaviors in addition to many symptoms of PTSD. Most of the studies I've been reading compile data from women who are physically abused, but they also list verbal abuse as a precursor to physical violence - it's almost impossible to imagine that physical violence does NOT follow verbal abuse.

Symptoms of BWS: 

First Stage, "Fight or Flight"

  • Breathing quickens, heart races, it is difficult to concentrate, and a panic attack could occur
  • You can recognize fight or flight because you may try to "turn off" your emotions. You deny what's happening or minimize it to avoid dealing with the danger you're facing.
  • Later, you may repress the memory of the event and smile as if nothing happened.

Second Stage BWS:

  • Over time, you feel that you're not as smart or "with it" as you once were. Your memory can become fuzzy, so you're not really sure if you're remembering things correctly or not.
  • You may find that your mind wanders off to previous instances of abuse and holds you captive there, watching a movie you don't want to see.
  • Because of the repetitive, intrusive memories, you could respond to future abuses inaccurately - the abuse may not be as severe or potentially damaging as you perceive it to be. It becomes very hard to tell the difference between a memory of past abuse and a current abusive event.
  • You could take deadly actions against yourself or the abuser.

My Thoughts

Although research into verbal, emotional, and mental abuse symptoms and effects is increasing, most studies focus on physical violence as the outcome. Granted, the effects of other types of abuse are included by default, but I am really interested to find studies done where there has been NO physical violence to document. (I'll let you know when I find it.)

I see symptoms of BWS and PTSD in myself. There were four violent incidents (that I remember) in my 18-year marriage, and a part of me doesn't think I "qualify" under the terms of the studies. On average, battered women experience physical violence at least 3 times per year (and/or partner rape almost twice per year). Nevertheless, I feel symptoms and recognize behaviors in myself indicative of both the syndrome and the disorder. I carried them with me when I left my husband, and still exhibit and feel them to this day.

The good news is that 1.) I recognize them as symptoms instead of continuing to think I'm "messed up" and dysfunctional and 2.) the symptoms are fading.

I wish someone would do a study to include relationships in which physical violence is kept to a minimum over a long period of time. The first incident was within the first 6 months of my marriage, the second around year 7, then three and four came within a year of one another. Yet the "other abuses" were constant.

I also wonder about the finding that battered women suffering from BWS/PTSD could overestimate the severity of subsequent abusive incidents. I am finding that in my new relationship, I will feel very deeply anxious about conversations and emotion-sharing events, in part because I'm waiting for the shoe to drop. I'm anticipating abuse where there is none. My other choice in "new studies" would be one that lets me know HOW LONG THIS COULD CONTINUE.

If I have to be without abuse for the same length of time I was with it in order to overcome it, that puts me at 57 years of age. Or maybe there's a "half-life" or maybe a few years - maybe months (please!) on the moratorium for feeling crazy. I don't want my mental and biological training of the past 18 years to hinder my ability to live a fruitful and healthy life; therefore, it won't. I will overcome this challenge too.

APA Reference
Jo, K. (2011, March 13). Battered Woman Syndrome: Is the Battering Necessary?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 21 from

Author: Kellie Jo Holly

September, 4 2013 at 10:25 am

My husband constantly tells me im a piece of poo (but the other word) He tells me im a loser. When my parents were alive he was different, but as soon as they died he started abusing me mentally. He told me once that he was embarrassed cause i was too fat so he didnt want to take me to xmas party. In the last two years he has physically assaulted me with his hands.I have had ablackeye and countless knots on my head. Last month he hit me with a shoe and said he wants to kill me. Then yesterday he got me in a corner and hit me with his legs and grabbed the hairdryer to hit me, I begged him not to hit and i would do whatever it takes. So today i was off work and i went to the park but told him i had to work cause i needed to get away. I know it was wrong to lie, well he went by my job 3 times to check if i was working. I made mistakes in the past and he batters me over the head. He is "Christian" and says he is justified in hitting me cause of my mouth. Anytime i stick up for myself he hits me. I dont have no way out or any friends and no family. I want him to stop but dont know how. I tried to make myself better losing weight, studying tryin to improve myself. This morning the reason why i lied about work cause he said i was a stupid female dog, and that if i didnt shut up he would make me shut up. im terrifyed of him, and i know i need to get out but with no phone and no support it is hard. I could call the cops but then it will just get worse.

August, 30 2013 at 3:57 am

I came to this website looking for a way to help my daughter because I was emotionally abused and I recognize her situation. I was very moved by the stories I read here. I can say that I divorced my husband after 6 years of abuse and now he is remarried. I have an eight year old son by him and yes, my son is deeply affected by his father and openly chooses to stay away from the beatings and hostility. My ex used my son as a pawn to control me. I had forced myself not to fear him so he would make me fear for my son. And I got my son out of that situation with every resource I had including blackmail and bargaining.
My ex cheated on me and abused me emotionally as a way to show his girlfriends that he loved them. I was even verbally attacked by his girlfriends and one of them had secretly (so she thought) come to the hospital when I gave birth to my son. It was amazing to see how some women felt that debasing me was proof of love. Anyway, I can tell you that I felt like I had to choose between accepting that my ex had betrayed our commitments and blaming myself and trying harder to be where I wasn't wanted. It felt like he was trying to make me stay but then it also felt like he resented the air that I breathed.
My ex took a lot of time getting to know how I think. He studied what made me tick and tried to anticipate all of my responses to any stimuli or situation. He gained my trust and he led me to believe that he was my best friend. Then he went on this campaign to decimate me. All the while, he convinced people that I was a monster who wanted to control him. And if someone felt bad for me then he would convince them that I deserved it because he was a good guy and I was a typical scorn woman. I am a successful woman. I have a six figure income, a beautiful and large home and a nice car. My ex watched me achieve this during our marriage and it drove him crazy. But I thought he supported me.
I went through this phase of "strong woman vs weak woman" and had more than one incident of being humiliated in front of my family and friends. I saw signs of the abuse but I just kept my distance from everyone because I couldn't risk my son being punished or pawned off to a new girlfriend as her new son. The rule was that they were all better moms than I was. And I started recognizing signs of my "trained" pattern behavior. I started feeling trapped and overwhelmed and paranoid and unloved. My mother was always the type of parent who supported my failure and she supported my ex about my sanity but she was the only one left for me to turn to. That didn't help me until I ended up confronting her about our own relationship. But my ex would wholeheartedly unite with people who disliked me somehow. He enjoyed tearing me down. He told everyone all of my business and secrets and flaws. My life was on display and my family was embarrassed by me.
This is how my ex isolated me from my support system.
I don't know how many of the people who posted here are religious or what your religion is but that is how I got out of my abusive relationship. I refused to believe that I deserved any of the abuse but I felt like I had messed up my life and that I had lost my friends and that people looked down on me. I would get into these high stress battles with my ex or a girlfriend and I was always on edge. Then I started reading the bible to justify why God should punish them and how He would help me. Eventually I started reading for other reasons when I realized that I was not abandoned by God. I asked myself, when I was reading once, why is this really happening to me? What is in me that allowed me to make this mistake? I realized that I wasn't actually ever being forced into any of it, that I was giving my ex power over my mind and my life.
I started reading more but this time I wanted to know how to heal myself and not to seek retribution. I had realized that my life was full of issues that made me a target for a predator like my ex. That he was only tapping into what was already there. I had a bad relationship with my mom and he was my mom's bff. I had self esteem issues and prided my accomplishments as a way to feel like I had worth and a whole list of personality flaws that came with growing up unloved. I had to admit to myself that I wasn't going to be free of my ex until I freed myself from my own dislike of myself. That my ex was actually able to con me by mirroring my own opinion of myself.
I started reading about how I had been loved all along by God and learned how to gain strength from Him and His word and His promises. I read and read until I learned how to love myself and not sustain myself by loving others because I wanted to show that I deserved the same love in return. I learned that I can't force people to give love back by loving them when they aren't worth my love. I learned that I should love people without conditions the way that God loved me and that I can move on without feeling like I didn't get love in return. Then I learned the most important thing that made me capable of just walking away from a bad relationship with my ex. I wasn't being forced to stay, I stayed because I was afraid of not being loved. I felt like I had failed because I had loved a person who should have loved me back because nobody else loved him and he would be "grateful" enough to love me back.
So I started following God's examples of love and learning how He felt about people who didn't love Him and what He did about it. I stopped pitying myself. I stopped telling myself that any aspect of my life was without hope. That the only way any person could control me was because I gave that person the ability to do it. That I wasn't alone and that God had been helping me all along but I was only giving myself the credit and thought that I could make decisions that I should have put in God's hands whenever I was sinking into the holes that I kept digging myself into.
Ok, I just wanted to give another aspect to how someone might be able to get out of an abusive relationship. As I said, I came to this page looking for a way to convince my daughter (from a previous relationship) that she is being abused and that she needs to stand up instead of being overwhelmed. We talk about the role God plays in her life but she is still convinced that God expects her to hang in there with an abuser because she is in a God ordained marriage. She feels like she needs to give more of herself to God's will for helping underprivileged people will keep her too busy to face the world that her husband lives in. But even though I may not get her to see this page and that she is not alone, that I didn't fail in my marriage like her husband told her about me, and that people feel just like she does - I saw it and I can contribute to ending a bad cycle for somebody.
I am ok. I am important to God and to me. I have value to God and to me. I am loved by people in this world and by God. I don't need to be in a relationship that fills voids. I don't need validation. I don't need approval. I can take care of myself. I can take care of my children. I am not afraid of people who don't like me. I am not defined by my job or material possessions. I am blessed and I am saved.
I am currently not in a relationship. It's too early for me. I tried and it didn't work out because I was intolerant of another person's emotional needs, as well as, unwilling placate emotional outbursts of any kind. I am not interested in drama. I don't know when, if ever again, I will get involved with someone else. Part of the reason is the PTSD that is real and I am handling it better now. Part of the reason is that now that I have a better relationship with God and myself that I no longer feel like negativity and negative emotions are ideal for me to be able to show how love from me will bring light into the world of a loser. I also except that I was taken advantage of by a predator.
God Bless you all and I hope that you can find peace and courage for yourself and be able to live in the beauty of freedom. I pray that people like us learn and continue to realize to value our freedom and how life is too short to miss any more of it.

August, 24 2013 at 4:04 pm

Feel so down. I used to be full of confidence and hope but ever since i got married, i slowly am losing my self confidence and worth. Left the community i belong to because it was an issue of argument. Stopped seeing my friends and attending gatherings because i cant tell them what i am undergoing and nobody would believe me. Stopped believing im beautiful and talented and most of the times now i feel loneliness and envy.
Im trying to understand my husband but im afraid of fully trusting him. When he's mad his words are hurting. he works abroad but distance is not a hindrance when he wants to point out something. The worst feeling i had was when he was with me at home and he kept asking if i have any plans for the two of us. He's wants a domesticated wife. He would not stop until you give him an answer. All i could do is cry and stay silent because i was afraid of giving him a wrong answer to the extent that i hid behind the curtain and bed just to escape for a moment. That was the worst feeling i had and it kept reappearing in my mind.
Dont know if he will change but even if the occurences were minimized, i still fear the times when he would bring the issues up. Feel stupid and dumb when i'm with him.

August, 24 2013 at 2:49 pm

I been really feeling down for some time now. I'm trying to to figure out if i already belong to the category of a battered spouse because eversince i got married i never felt so loved and worthy. My husband wants me to resign from my job but i never really felt his 100% support. He used tell me he has to pay debts he made just to give me that beautiful wedding. Its as if its my fault coz i asked for it when in fact i didnt.
He used to tell me im stubborn coz i dont want to leave my parents and my job

July, 27 2013 at 2:10 pm

This morning I woke up in my beautiful home. My safe place that for the last 10years my 10yr old son and I have thrived in. We are safe here. I have locks on all the doors and windows and an alarm system that can be turned on when we are home and when we are not. I don't often use this, and feel liberated knowing that I am strong enough, brave enough, and free enough to leave my deck door open for fresh air when I'm at work. I can leave the front door unlocked when I take the dog for a walk around the block. (a personal statement that I wont let fear control me "all" the time) And yet this morning, just like many many mornings over the last 10 years, I woke up afraid. I was told just yesterday that I have BWSD. Not knowing what the symptoms for this were, I googled them and it has lead me to you beautiful strong women.
My son was 11months old when I escaped from my abusive husband of 12years. He was just a baby, when we fled to the police and then the womens shelter, but he still bears the scars of having an abusive father in his life, even in a controlled situation. He needs to debrief after every visit to his Father, so that he can clear his little confused mind. He needs to be clear on what things his Father has said are actually real, or lies. He suffers from General anxiety disorder and ADHD. He is untrusting of people and struggles to maintain friendships. I have such an overwhelming sense of guilt that he has had to deal with these issues from such a very young age, but.....then I realise that under horrendous circumstances I have given him the best life I possibly could. He is the reason I 'woke up' from my foggy abused state of mind. And despite the issues he suffers from, he is so full of love, and laughter, and knows his place in the world. He has had a chance to know what a safe and loving home environment is, and to be surrounded by family that he is free to see and be himself, and who shower him with love.
I read your posts this morning with tears streaming down my face. And I get so angry at the injustice that allows men to inflict this kind of life on innocent women and children. It is NEVER to late to get you and your children away from such a life. Everyone, especially your children, deserves a life where they don't have to live in fear. The idea of running, and escaping is so overwhelming. It can be terrifying and paralysing. I remember that feeling. It was ten years ago, but I remember the events of that day, May 2nd, 8.30am in perfect clarity. The 12years before that are a complete blur with feelings and memories very deeply suppressed, but the day I left, was the day I was born, and the day my life begun. Don't be afraid to give yourself the chance of freedom!! It will be hard, and it will be very scary, but I can promise you, that I will be the most empowering achievement you will ever experience in your lifetime. We are all so strong........if we weren't, how could we not deal with the abuses that we have had to suffer for such a long time!
My suppressed memories and fears have suddenly been awakened due to a relationship that failed 6months ago. I recognised the warning signs and was able to understand what I was feeling before I became to foggy. So I once again have to start the road of recovery and seek outside help to put my fears back into perspective. Relationships are a struggle for me, but I'm hoping that they wont always be. I sought answers from the internet this morning, and you have given me what I seek. Yes I may still have a sever panic attack and struggle to breath for half an hour, after my ex husband has verbally abused me on the weekend over visitation with my son. But I stayed firm, and stood up to him, and he had to walk away knowing that he couldn't control us and we wouldn't bend to his wishes.
I was frustrated and angry at the length of time it was taking for me to heal. I want to be better to live my life without any traces of his abuse tainting mine or my sons future happiness. I was starting to feel overwhelmed and helpless again.
I am strong. I am super woman. I am like a steel wall that protects myself, my home and especially my son. I must be patient, and take each set back in stride. I have achieved so much, and I have so much more to give.
I will start my therapy again next week, and no longer run from my fears but face them head on! (Its a comfort to know that I have an alarm system and a dog though, hahaha).
Thank you beautiful ladies. Stand strong, only you have the power to change your life. I love 'me' so much more for giving myself that power!!
Thank you.

July, 22 2013 at 5:49 am

I was strongly pressured into marrying a man who "privately" verbally abused and physically "threatened" me. During his rages, I would lock myself in a bedroom for "safety" - and he would try to break down the door, climb in a window, etc. to get at me. In addition, he had guns in the house which, obviously, added to my fear.
I kept the abuse secret out of fear and embarrassment.
We have two daughters who (when teenagers) also began (verbally) taking their anger out on me. (Children learn to do what is "familiar".) I became a "target" for all three of them. I finally "snapped" and, in the middle of one of the girls' rages at me, I walked out and never moved back. Since then (about 10 years later), we have been attempting to recover a relationship which, I thought, was going well.
My youngest daughter had wanted to go to college in a very distant state. Her father did everything he could think of to prevent it. I helped make it a reality for her, including our paying for her transportation and full tuition.
She is now married and living in that state. She recently had a baby, and has invited and welcomed her sister and father to visit often (each one separately) and to do intermittent daycare for her.
She has been acting very "cold" toward me for a long time and, a few days ago, informed me that she has carried anger and resentment toward me since I moved out. In addition, she told me that she does not trust me around her child.
Somehow, I have become "the bad guy". I am heartbroken and confused, and feel completely alone!

July, 19 2013 at 8:53 am

I grew up in an abusive family. My father was an alcoholic and I believe my Mother was also. My Father just over shadowed her addictions. He was the "bad" one. I have come to realize my Mother's lack of action to protect herself and her children is abusive.
Long term effects for me: learned helplessness and co-dependence. I have had few relationships. Married once, I have been divorced 19 years. My issues have been with emotional abuse. Emotional abuse is just as bad. There are no outward scars. It seems easy to "not see the abuse."
I just ended a year long relationship. I've ended it many times over the last year, but keep going back. After his last rage I think it finally sunk in that it's not getting better. I had actually thought things were getting better for awhile. They were just hiding.
Right now I'm more concerned about my self abuse of going back into the relationship. It's like I get amnesia after the storm. He gets nice and we pick up where we left off.
I need to do something to keep myself from going back. I know this won't get better.
One thing I have realized is that I am sensitive to "wave" of energy. When the emotional energy feels good, I feel good. When the wave turns bad, I feel bad. I realize I am giving my power to him. I am taking it back. I have told him not to contact me. I need to keep reminding MYSELF to stay away. I have been my own worst enemy.

July, 9 2013 at 4:45 am

Need to talk someone

Mashed potato
June, 15 2013 at 11:38 pm

Its sad to see so many people in the same situation... Expecially when there is children involved..
Im 20 years old, i have been dating my boyfriend for almost two years,
Since dating him after about 3 months i was diagnosed with severe depression from being around him all the time.
Now im on really strong anti-depression medication but now i just feel like it doesnt even help me anymore...
Ive been verbally, mentally and physically abused by my partner, more than 7 times now. When they know your weaknesses they control you, they bring up every disturbing past and they use everything they can against you...
Afterwards they swear and promise to change into the man you want them to be, ive heard this so many times from him i just dont believe it anymore...
After everything, the break downs the bruises across my skin i still love him... I still put him before myself and anyone else. Its a viscious cycle because as much as my friends and family tell me to leave i dont. I stay waiting for the day he will change...
I know i dont deserve the intense damage he is doing to me mentally, i honestly feel like there is mash potato in my head from all the mind fuck i constantly go through.
I dont even no what to do anymore.
But everytime he hurts me and we get physicall it gets more worse...
There have been times ive actually thought i was going to die.
My family is worried sick... But i cant dis attach my feelings from him, no
Matter how hard i try

June, 11 2013 at 5:18 am

I am getting ready to finalize my divorce. I feel a lot of anxiety. My husband has put four holes in the wall (never while any of us were home), explosive yelling at the kids and me, and called me names a few times. I guess I have started thinking this isn't the start of abuse. I would tell him I would hate his explosive behavior. He would always tell me I was right, and he would change. But it didnt. I found myself defending or covering up for him if he went off the deep end when he was upset with one of our kids. He would throw thungs once in awhile. He has told me that he didnt do enough for me to leave. That he rarely called me names. He tells me it isn't about what I want or what he wants, it's about what Gad wants. There were good times too, so maybe that's why I think he didn't do the bad stuff often enough so I shouldn't have left. I should give him another chance. When divorce first came up, he stopped his behavior. But he never went to therapy like I wanted. I know he was physically and emotionally abused as a child. He isn't a tyrant, but two months of therapy doesn't fix what is fundamentally wrong. The kids are my step-kids and it hurts more then anything to leave them. Thankfully I see them once in awhile still. Which makes him look good. I should say I have resentment too because when I was ready to have a child of my own, he told me no because I would be taking money away from his kids. Needless to say his mind changed when divorce first came up. I feel like I am losing my mind. The kids tell me things that lead me to believe he really isn't getting help. feel like I am completely wrong for leaving. Like I should go back. I have to fix it. It is all my fault. I used to come home wondering if he would be mad about the house or whatever else. I did almost all the work even thought he was off part of the week. I was not allowed to defend myself with his ex or his mom, but he didnt defend me either when they put me down. Is this the start of emotional abuse? Am I nuts? Should I just go back? He thinks marriage counseling will fix what is wrong with us. I tell him he needs it more than anything first. I go myself. My therapist keeps asking me why I want to go back and I can't tell her why because I don't understand, do I still love him? I don't know. I don't understand why I can't remember everything he did. Just a few really bad incidences, he would always tell me he loves me and I was beautiful. He still does. After I left he would get mad at me and text me mean things. I would sit on the ground crying. Then he would email or text me the next day apologizing saying he was having a hard time with everything, and I still defend him when people say anything about him, I say he wasn't that bad. I can barely remember the days I would sit there crying at how unhappy I was, but I couldn't leave because of the kids. It would cause too ,any problems for him, is this how is all starts. Any light shed on this would be helpful. I hate conflict.

June, 7 2013 at 4:07 pm

Evana Lews,
I am in an increasingly miserable situation. My children, especially my 17 year old son, who is closing his heart even to his sisters at this moment. He hates his dad and needs great inner healing.
Tell me about your 90 day plan. Does it not involve the courts?

May, 27 2013 at 9:52 am

I just want to say is put everything in the Lord's hand. I am being psychological abused and exploited a lot of times in front of our children. I am here, because I do not want to hurt the children. This perpetrator acts as though he is the good one between us all of the time. I just eschew him most of the time to avoid arguing in front of the children and hand him over to the Lord. And if you do the same our Lord will give you the strength through many things in this life, because all evil deeds that the abusers are doing will be brought forward on judgement day, and before judgement day the Lord will increase his Wrath on these evil unhappy people. May Our Lord of the Worlds Be with all of the weak and innocent people in this life. I will continue to pray for all of us that are being taking for granted, because we are followers of God's Goodness. This is the work of Satan and his Evil Chiefs. Just remember when he wants to start just ignore him as much as possible. If he is starting to get physical with you it is time for you to save yourselves and take yourselves and children out of that situation, and get closer to God. Being abused is the toughest situation any human can deal with, and medicine is not going to make it go away. If you feel that you really need to take it but don't stay stuck in it, because not only are you vulnerable to your abusers, you are vulnerable to the doctor's office as well. I turned to God in Faith and he has been helping me psychologically and spiritually against my abuser. A lot of these abuser including mines think that they have the upper hand over you and I, because we have no friends, or family support around us, and like to make us feel that our family do not love us,and only they are the ones that looked out for us. They did not raise us. We are just involved with them, and had some children for them. God is the Sustainer of all things. A lot of us do have careless families, and friends, but there are many ways you can get through what you are facing in your life. I wish for the best for everybody that are being taken for granted. Believe me Our Lord have prepared a grievous punishment for all wrongdoing people in this life. I wish that they will repent to God and put a stop to what they are doing to us, before it is too late. Life is Precious and is Temporary. May god be with all of the Good Souls in this Life.

May, 8 2013 at 11:52 am

I just married a month ago and I left my husband two days ago. He was yelling and screaming all the time. Always demanding sex no matter how I felt. Cursing me and humiliating me in public. He always tried to make everything he did to be my fault. I stopped smiling, always crying and anxious for him to leave and shaking and nervous when he came home. I tried to reason with him but it always turned into a fight. When I left I packed what I could and went to the women's shelter. Embarrassed to contact my family but I had to. They put me on a bus the same day and I am now with my parents. My husband told me that I could come home but there would be a price to pay. That I have to earn his heart again and humble myself. I told him to get some help and stay away from me. It's hard and my heart is broken but I'm not being abused. Get out!

May, 1 2013 at 4:06 am

I lived with an abusive man for over 20 years without understanding what he was doing to me. We had 3 children, lived in a house of our own, but I just felt all the time I wanted out. The past 10 years we lived together I felt I didn´t know how to get out.I just capitulated: this is my life, I´m absolutely no good at all.One evening six and a half years ago I was at a party with my co-workers. There was a live band playing and when we were leaving I heard the band playing one of my favourite songs. I turn back to listen when one of the members of the band turns round, walks three steps towards me and when my eyes meets his my whole world exploded and I got a feeling of "here I am this is me". I felt like born again and all feelings I had hold back just took hold of me.Unfortunately we had to leave then and I thought I would never see him again, but I still had that feeling he gave me so I went home and told my husband he would have to leave and about 6 months later he did. My problem now is that I panic and run every time I see the man who gave me my life back. I can understand why I do that but how do I overcome it? I know this is a result of being abused verbaly for so many years but I react on instinct and run like mad.I would like to tell him what he has meant for me and my children but I can`t even stay long enough to say Hi.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Holly
May, 7 2013 at 5:24 am

You could write him a letter :) This doesn't sound like a romantic involvement - you just want to let him know how he affected you. Write it in a letter, leave it with his things at the next concert. Be conservative about any contact information you include. Leave the message anonymous or include only your first name and email address.

Evana Lews
April, 25 2013 at 5:37 am

Hey My Sisters!
I call you my sisters because my story sounds like all of yours, especially Living the Dream. I am in the process of completing a 90 day plan to escape my narcissistic abuser. The pain, desolation, and stress is palpable every day. I have three children. My oldest, 17 year old daughter and myself suffer most of the daily torment. My younger two, 14 year old daughter and 12 year old son suffer from the fallout of the daily warring and skirmishes. I am so angry with myself for not waking up sooner and accepting that his man is a ruined and tormented soul who will never change for longer than a week or so. When he finally did the unforgivable a few months ago I finally started making plans. I called a women's shelter to find out what was needed to get in. They called family and children's services I my state and the sheriff and social workers showed up at my door. And do you know that he convinced them that I was a crazy, borderline who was making everything up! The system does not help, so I no longer trust them. I caught he'll on earth for 2 months as a result of that. Now I know that you have to pull yourself together and keep your eyes on the prize and plan slowly and carefully over time like the movie "sleeping with the enemy". Thank you Julia Roberts!" I am praying and looking forward to te day that u have a moment without fear and dread from the moment I wake up to the time I lay my head on my pillow and even in my dreams. My dear sweet children are my inspiration.

April, 19 2013 at 7:55 am

I am in an abusive relationship. He doesnt hit me but that does not stop him from slamming doors and putting holes in the walls. He blames me for things he is responsible for doing wrong. I do what ever he wants when he asks including working from the moment I wake to the moment I go to bed. Every day for the past 3 years. I have seen my family once and have seen 0 friends for the last 3 years. We live in a place far from home and I know no one here. I used to take baths before bed but now I can't because I am not allowed to stop working. When I tell him I need a break he will allow it and then 5 minuets later tell me how I HAVE to work because a customer has an urgent request and he has no time for it and if I don't work I will be the reason HIS business will fail. When I am sick and he does this and I refuse he says it is because I am sick and refuse to help him the business is failing. I haven't celebrated a single holiday in almost 4 years. I have spoken to my family on the phone 3x in 4 years. He refuses to hook up tv because then I won't work. I tell him it isnt true but he still refuses. I have no one to turn to. I don't have any transportation.. I am refused any money. I rarely have the basic necessities because he says we can't afford them but he makes damn sure he never goes without things such as underwear and deodorant. It is hard for me to fully grasp abuse because sadly it is truly all I know. Since childhood. But I don't think it is right but have no access to anything / one. I am sorry this is all complaints. I don't complain often... I just have no one to talk to. I have to go he is back and will be FURIOUS if he catches me. Please help.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Holly
April, 20 2013 at 3:50 pm

Dear Alone, I wish I could reach through the monitor and pull you into my home, but I can't. None of us can. It would be very smart of you to contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline ( The phone number is 1−800−799−SAFE(7233). They know where the domestic violence help services are in your area and can offer advice over the phone. You can chat on the website if you prefer.
I can offer you a safety plan. It will help you stay safER, and take better care of yourself mentally. You can find it at
Call the hotline so you can begin creating a support network. You said you were abused as a child and that you've spoken to your family 3 times in the past four years. I don't know how much they could or would be willing to help you, but if there's the slightest chance that reaching out to them will help you, the please do that, too.

April, 17 2013 at 5:27 pm

"It is always the false that makes you suffer, the false desires and fears, the false values and ideas, the false relationships between people. Abandon the false and you are free of pain; truth makes happy, truth liberates."
-Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
"Each time you choose to feel good about yourself, even when someone is criticizing you, putting you down, or acting in a way that you used to respond to with pain, you are choosing joy. Each time you do so you create freedom in your life. You are free from having to have other people act in certain ways for you to be happy."
A few inspiring quotes that help me.

April, 16 2013 at 6:01 pm

Thank you for a good read. I am sure you will persevere.
My abuse happened 13 years ago, and I still have PTS symptoms pop up at times. When people get angry around, even people I know are not violent, I get anxious and hypervigilant, my heart starts racing. But, honestly I have not dealt with the DV as much as I should have, though I did use therapy for many years prior to the battery to deal with childhood issues of abuse.
Sometimes I think there is still a denial there because the whole 7 years of abuse is foggy, I remember certain events very clearly but the rest all blends into one big ball of h-ll.
There are certainly great advances these days in PTS treatment and specialists who really know how to help you recover and do so fairly fast, check them out.
Good luck to you, I wish you success and good health.

March, 25 2013 at 4:04 pm

I was married for over 30 years to a man who abused me verbally, manipulatively, financially and emotionally - he would go into rages. This would be followed by "I’m sorry" and flowers or other gifts. Over the years I realised this was a cycle - abuse followed by "I'm sorry I had a bad childhood". I would forgive him every time. I can tell women it only gets worse over the year’s more often and more intense. He hated the way I looked, my size - I look back at photos of myself when he had convinced me I was huge - but I was slim, young and beautiful. He would put me down in front of our children to make them think their mother knew nothing about anything - I know I was a great mother. I can say this now because four years ago I finally had the guts to leave. It was really hard financially and other ways but finally after several years he started to leave me alone. I am a new person; well actually I am Me again. Now I say, why did I take so many years to leave. I stayed for the kids but I should have left for the kids. He is a psychologist so knows how to manipulate things for his good - be nice, intense rages for hours on end, sorry. He said to me "you are just an abused wife that is all you are" and sobbing I said "well I don't want to be that anymore I am leaving" - when I left he told friends that I left him so they felt sorry for him - they do not know the truth as I hid it. Now I ask why did I hide it - Why didn't I leave earlier - only those of us who suffer from abused wife syndrome know the answers - we all know why we stay - we can't see a way out, we believe what our abuser is saying, we are embarrassed, blame ourselves and the list goes on- I can now say the best thing I ever did was leave. If I had stayed I would have been dead. My story is here to help some other woman going through the same thing - You deserve better, you are special, you are beautiful, it is not your fault - you are not to blame ....I send out caring thoughts to you and want you to have a better life. Get help from where ever you can. This is not your lot in life - there is a better place - you just need to find it and stop hiding the abuse - show the world. It will be hard for a while and then happiness - Never ever go back no matter what!!

March, 6 2013 at 12:12 pm

I am too in a relationship with a phyically and verbally abusive man who blames me for all the abuse. He uses my past as the reason for why I am so "messed up". At first he was kind, sweet and loving he use to talk to me about God. I thought he understood me and loved me. But when I moved in with him it became a world i never imagained he became mentally and phyically abusive and life became a life full of religious rules. I am always apologizing for things. I feel like I am walking on eggshells all the time. He has done and said so many horrible things I am scared of him and i dont know what to say or do anymore because i dont want to trigger an arguement or make him upset. i feel like i cant leave because when i did the last three time he tracked me down and threaten to kill me if i leave again. I cant even go and visit my family he harasses them. I cant go no where without him I am always stuck in the house he doesnt give me no money I have to wait and go with him if i want to go somewhere. I feel like i am going crazy i am depressed and in fear all the time of my life.

February, 28 2013 at 5:54 pm

I've been with an abusive man for 8 years. He used to be physically abusive, but that has mostly stopped since about a year ago, when I had a spiritual experience. Any how I believe that the lord Buddha took something out of him that caused the physical violence. The verbal abuse, the control and the jealousy continue, but are less intense not. I am a very strong person, and have managed to do well in my job and have meaningful friendships through all of this. I'm finishing school soon and will be financially independent, and I think that I may leave him. I have 2 kids so I couldn't leave him before because he would have left me no money. He works under the table and he has made it clear that I'll get nothing if I leave him. I can handle the abuse, thank to my higher powers and thanks to my meditation practice, I am actually happy most of the time, but the kids aren't so strong and I don't want them to be damaged so I think I'd have to leave.
It hard, because I know that deep inside he's just a hurt and crying child himself. He's a refugee and was tortured for many years and experienced many other horrors like holding his brother while he died ect. He needs help, but he won't get it, and I can't sacrifice my children for him. My life has been hard to but that's ok. But I was also abused by my parents and bullied very badly by many people growing up and then raped twice, so I guess I just feel drawn to abusers because it feels normal to me. I hope that I can be wiser now, and not think that I have to rescue people who will only try to harm me.

February, 23 2013 at 6:18 pm

I have been out of my abusive relationship for over a year now. However i had to go through hell with the courts and city and now im still going through hell. The courts gave him too much power and im needing help. I hired two different lawyers and neither did much of anything to help even not taking out a tpo agreed i paid her. Then was reprimanded by her. I have no family and have tried very hard to get help. I don't know where to turn or who will help at this point! Please give me some way i can help myself more

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Holly
February, 25 2013 at 8:34 am

What state do you live in, Maria? "Power" is an idea only. It is an important idea, but it is nothing more than thinking and perspective. The courts cannot EVER give him power over YOU. The courts can order certain behaviors that you must respect, but the way in which you act in any situation are yours alone.
In most states, divorce is "no-fault" meaning both parties go their own ways with no legal blame laid on either of them. This doesn't mean you, as a person, cannot blame him for what he did to you - it only means the courts don't hold him accountable for his actions that caused the divorce. Therefore, in most courts, you will not hear anything about emotional abuse; physical violence plays a part in some cases, but it is separate from your divorce proceedings. The Law & Order shows in which domestic abuse victims have their abuse case heard in open court is unlikely in real life.
I too thought my attorney would defend me by using his abuse as a way to receive "more" financial support and custody during the divorce. She did somewhat, but there was really no place for it. The judge took into consideration my age, health, and ability to financially support myself. Then he and the attorneys divided everything in a way I feel is "fair" as possible. Short point: do not look to the law to give you power. You have to take that back yourself.
Look over your attorney receipts to see when you paid for the tpo. Bring to her attention that you didn't receive your day in court for it. Bother the attorney until you get what you need from her, or go to another attorney (or legal aid) for support. If the tpo is a restraining order (I'm assuming it is - the abbreviations differ from state to state), you don't need an attorney to get that. You can file the papers yourself. Call the police sheriff's department to find out how.
Take back your power by doing right by your Self. If you feel you've been wronged by your attorney, take action. You've been wronged by your ex, and the actions you can take to heal through the pain revolve around doing what is good for YOU. Do you have a therapist or counselor? Perhaps the domestic violence programs in your area offer counseling. I think talking to a professional about your feelings would help you more than anything right now.

February, 23 2013 at 10:29 am

My best friend has been in an emotionally/verbally abusive situation for years. She is in deep denial, she thinks he has an "anger management" problem. So she always tries to placate him, by being "understanding" and "loving". He tells her she is stupid and worthless, and threatens to kill himself if she leaves him.
It is escalating, the last time, she called me from outside her home, and told me it was the worst ever. It was so bad she wouldn't even tell me what happened.
I've listened to her for years and never said anything, bec. I knew if I did, she would withdraw from me. But after this, I tried to hint that there was something wrong with him. She got very mad at me. And now our relationship - which has always been good - is fractured.
I've tried to find online or in real life a group group like al-anon - for loved ones of abused people. There really needs to be such a thing. This is tearing me apart. Now that sounds selfish. I am also very very concerned about my friend. But I don't know what to do.
After the last episode, when she returned home, he told her he forgave her. ! And she repeated this to me like that is normal behavior. And he wants her to 'acknowledge him more". And she agrees.
I cannot figure this out.
thank you for this blog. and thank you to all who wrote. I am going to keep reading here and maybe I will learn something that will help me understand my friend.
I want to be a good friend to her, I don't know how.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Holly
February, 23 2013 at 2:27 pm

Gloria, I am sorry to hear your relationship with your friend breaks your heart. There isn't too much you can do when her head is so deep in denial, and, as you discovered, trying to pull her head from the sand resulted in a fractured friendship. It's time you took care of you too! Check out How to Help A Domestic Abuse Victim and see what you can do to help her and yourself.

February, 4 2013 at 9:32 am

I am now 53 and have a long history of abuse. SInce the age of 5. I no longer want a soulmate, left the second husband 1997 and have had only one relationship since. I don't hate men I just feel I am now retired from relationships. I am somewhat happy and don't live in the past. I look forward to getting up everyday and have a constructive life. I do have triggers that i am aware of, therefore I avoid things that bother me. What bothers me most is people are always saying 'don't you want to be happy? You need to find a man. " This kind of talk is stupid and redundant. I have happiness, just don't need a man to make me happy anymore. I don't mind being alone,,have lots of friends,kids, relatives... but just really truly feel retired. So what is wrong with that? Or is this a long term sympton of BWS and PDSD?

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Holly
February, 5 2013 at 4:28 am

Dear Maggie, There is nothing wrong with you. You have it figured out - you're happily retired from relationships. You enjoy your life. The people who express doubt in your happiness do not want to question theirs (but probably should). Re-lace your boots and get back to being you. You're strong and capable and know what it takes to make you happy.
Comments otherwise are worthless to you. Tell the ones who busy-body about in your life "I am open to the right relationship. If it is to be, it will come to me." That part may or may not be true, but it will shut them up. Continue with, "Until then, I'm happy and content with who I am and where I am. What about you? Are you really as happy as you say?" Turn the tables. Ask them the same question they're asking of you.
No doubts, Maggie. Continue making yourself happy because you're the one who counts in your life.
Just as a side-note, Battered Woman Syndrome is not a psychological disorder. It is a legal defense, nothing more. PTSD is a disorder that can be treated. You avoid triggers, and that is good UNLESS the situations you avoid could bring you greater happiness. If you avoid triggers at the expense of your happiness, I recommend seeing a counselor to talk about reclaiming the parts of your life that you fear will trigger hurtful responses. I want you to be completely happy - you don't have to settle for "somewhat happy". Therapy can get you to complete happiness.

January, 29 2013 at 6:18 pm

I suffer from BWS and PTSD, and now I live alone thankfully so, a step I thought I would never do but I am doing it. People say it is dangerous to live alone being a woman but I am here to say that it is more dangerouser to live with an abusive Parent or spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend than to live alone. Even more so dangerous when you have children along the way. My life will never be the same but one thing is for sure, it will not be abused ever again! I have anger issues and it is a no wonder but I know Me now, the Me that was Knocked out of Me so many times, the Me that missed Guys or Gals out there that miss who you were before all this crap happened.....remember who you are... remember the Me in you, not the person they demanded you to be...or beat you into be....Remember the Me that use to love life so much, use to love everything, enjoyed life, and even if you do not become the Me you use to know, you will become a better Me....the thing is you forgot who you were when you had to become What they demanded you to be...and it may take a long time to heal but eh, you will be free and that is a start even if you start with nothing because if you do not you will have nothing at all left.

on the outside looking in
October, 23 2012 at 9:44 am

My girlfriend I believe suffers from battered womens syndrome. There was never physical abuse but the mental is rampent. She left him 9 years ago but he always stayed around flaunting that he was coming back to her keeping her hanging on. Now it has come to the point where she can not move on with me because she still has feelings for him. He still treats her terribly and treats their daughter even worse. She blames herself for everything and can't get past him. Am I seeing this correctly as battered womens syndrome? I'm losing the love of my life to this. Can anyone help?

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Holly
October, 25 2012 at 4:58 am

Technically, Battered Woman's Syndrome is only a legal defense used when a battered victim kills their abuser. Your girlfriend could be depressed, suffering from anxiety or PTSD, or any number of other physical manifestations of the abuse that a doctor could diagnose if she were to seek professional help. It seems as if your girlfriend is still a victim of abuse although she "left" him 9 years ago. In a way, you are her lover on the side because she and her ex continue to engage in the cycle of abuse. She may as well be married to him. There is nothing you can do until she seeks to break the cycle and move forward.
Make sure you read Robert's question and the response I gave to him in the comment section here: Is Cheating A Cure for Abuse?

August, 28 2012 at 9:05 am

Dear Everyone,
I came here looking for a definitive answer to a question, my Google search was this "Can you be diagnosed with BWS if you were never hit", because I was 2 years ago, and I'm still trying to understand it. I was also diagnosed with PTSD and acute panic anxiety disorder which always made more sense. But I found this thread and I feel intensely like I need to leave my mark here. So here it goes:
I was married for 16 years to a verbally assaultive, emotionally abusive alcoholic; he never once hit me in all of that time. I raised a son in this environment who is now 20 years old. I left in November 2005 when he was 13 years old. We went into seclusion for 6 months after my leaving and never looked back. Why I stayed so long, I'll never know. The damage done to me is nothing compared to the damage done to my child who remains shattered trying to find a way to make this man love him.
While my ex got sober 2 years after I left, it was discovered how primarily dysfunctional he was underneath it all (alcoholism is typically just a symptom of something bigger). You can't fix that kind of broken, he can stay as sober as a judge until the day he dies but the damage that he's endured in his own life, brought on by himself and others is what molded him into the monster he was then, is now and will remain.
I was blessed that he was an alcoholic when it was all said and done, because through his disease I found Al-anon. Al-anon's focus is based and advertised as a support system for victims and families of the chemically dependent. They're true purpose is to support and educate co-dependents and enablers which I guarantee you are if you can relate with ANY of the scenarios in this thread.
My ex husband’s lies, emotional abuse, verbal assaults, etc. are not what got my feet out the door. Understanding my own illness to try to cure, control and blame myself for causing it all, did. When my Al-anon sponsor (who I only communicated online since I was literally and emotionally locked in my house for months on end, not allowed any basic human freedoms whatsoever.... sound familiar?), told me this: "You will only find healing when you understand that YOU are the sickest person in that house, that your willingness to remain ill has directly affected and damaged your child detrimentally on both and emotional and spiritual level. You have not paid any attention to the things that you can control, giving instead, what is completely out of your control all of your power and strength. Get out, save yourself, save your Son and let God handle your Husband."
First of all, let me just tell you the physical reaction I had to this brutal, point-blank statement which I read three times- I hit the power button on my computer after reading it; I shut his voice of reason down completely; what he said scared the Hell out of me because he was spot-on. I did not re-contact him for 3 months (and by then I had left). All the while that statement ate away at me. The truth can be so hard to hear sometimes.
Accepting responsibility for my own lot in life was tougher than anything I'd ever done in my already very difficult existance. While my husband was a drunk, verbally abusive, a liar, a promise-breaker, a cheat, a thief and an emotional criminal; I was just as guilty when it came to the emotional stability of my child. Everything I hid from my then-husband, my son got to see. I cried all the time, I called "Friends" and vented and he heard my words of hate and rage and pain, then when my ex would come home, my dear son watched me cower to his ever demand, take the blame, go numb for the sake of one peaceful night. He watched me hand over my power, my SELF, my life out of fear.
The confusion for him started at 12 years old when he finally realized I'd been lying to him his whole life and that Daddy really wasn't "Working late". At that revelation, his ability to trust me, my words, my judgment was lost. At that point he questioned everything he’d ever seen or heard in his entire life. My son, at 12 years was wracked with emotionally protecting his Mother and worse than that, making up for lost time. The War was on.
The hate for his Father began to seep from everywhere. He was so brave and so open about setting boundaries and rules, he challenged his Father physically and I watched it go to blows. My 12 year old son fighting his 30 year old Father until blood splattered my walls. He went to battle for my emotional protection never once stopping to think about the harm that would come to him. I just sat and watched, paralyzed by the weight of it all. I had physically withered beneath the lies I told him to "Protect" him; my guilt was so heavy I couldn't move.
I was emotionally retarded to the point that the only emotion I really understood was fear of everything, all the time. I lived on the fault line of a constant earthquake. I had forgotten my own power. I had lost all of my strength; I don't know when I turned myself over to the abuse, but I did and I did it completely and I had taken my child with me. THAT is what finally got my feet out the door.
My son was never offered the chance to LOVE, I handed him FEAR from the start. 7 years later, he is so damaged and unable to trust that he hasn't got one person he calls “friend” in the world. He is covered with hate tattoos even he doesn't understand. He uses drugs to medicate. He seeks physical altercations as a solution to emotional pain. He has never had a girlfriend (he claims he is afraid to), he's spent a lot of time in jail. He's been through more counseling then I have, he's been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, Bi-Polar, PTSD and Paranoia. He said to me just last week after yet another episode with his Father "I don't know why I need him to love me so badly; this has to stop.".......
My heart was on the floor. He tells me point blank that while he wishes he could, he can't trust me, he can't trust anyone. I lied to him out of love. His Father lied to him about EVERYTHING for control. How could anyone expect him to trust anything? His entire life was a lie.
So, my answer to how long this lasts is this: Forever. Damage so deeply done to ones soul is a permanent fixture once it's so wholly engraved in us. Leaving an abusive relationship can only be compared to the process of grief; it has no end, only acceptance.
As adults we make choices that don't always benefit us. If we are lucky (and I am),if we had an example set before our abusers entered our lives that made us know that what was happening to us was wrong. If so, healing and gaining acceptance is very possible. We can actually love again. We can understand our fears through counseling and time enough to live the normal, happy life we deserve. We can find someone who'll love us enough to understand our triggers and accept them and find ways to work through them (Again, I am lucky).
But for our children- standing still is unacceptable. You must get out and stay gone no matter how hard or scary or painful the process. Call Women's Crisis,call Al-anon ASK FOR THE HELP YOU DO NOT KNOW HOW TO GIVE YOURSELF! Don't worry about your "Stuff", worry about the souls of the human beings in your care. This includes your own. You are as sick as you feel. You are never going to cure your abusers control issues, you will never love them enough or give enough or change enough. Never.
If you are reading this thread now in search of feeling less alone, know that I sat where you're sitting. For years I let the stories of other women being abused comfort me. I actually swaddled myself in their pain and told myself that my situation wasn't as bad as theirs, so I'd survive. If you are in enough pain to seek the advice of strangers on the internet your abuser has successfully broken you. You need help. You've stopped talking to the real people or you feel like they've stopped wanting to listen.
Understand that the abuse you're enduring doesn't hurt them; but you're not leaving does, they don't understand. They cannot help you if you are not willing to help yourself. Once they’ve tried unsuccessfully to help you, they have to back away to protect themselves. They do not love you less. They will be there for you when you’re “Out”. Trust in that.
You are beautiful, powerful and ABLE. Ask yourself if anything that life can toss at you is as hard as what you will have to endure if you stay? Don't leave until you know you won't go back- your situation will only gets worse, your resources will be depleted and your strength, tapped. Your abuser will step up their game. Yell louder, suppress harder, lie more and create more fear so you never try to leave again. They know what they are doing to you. Let me say that again- They know damn well what they are doing to you!!!
If you are a man or a woman, a Mother, Father or a Child, a friend or a lover and you are being abused- GET OUT. The opposite of love is fear, fear rules your abusers because They know you should run. They will continuously apologize and make promises they are too sick to keep, to confuse you and gain control. No one who loves you will try to suppress you (To keep down, stunt, inhibit your growth). No one who cares about you will hurt you in any way so stop listening to the lies. Use your resources; listen to your friends and family. Stop tuning them out and start asking for help. If you have children, do what I did- take a good long look at the cycle you're creating in them. Ask yourself if they can handle it because if you’re reading this thread, you can’t- so how could they?..... Get out now.
You are worthy of the love you long for.

August, 1 2012 at 12:21 pm

A little poem:
For those who feel lost - hope
Hope can bring you a rainbow spanning the continents of despair and fear.
Women together with their sons an daughters can All Live.
It takes time, to leave, to learn how to live
To learn how to breath, it takes time
To trust and learn with great clumsiness and foreboding
What is love?! We can actually find love again -
Our abusers biggest fear, so remember this,
For every hour of the day they spend their time telling you
That you are unloveable, remind yourself that the time will come
Where you will find the Olive Bridge to the heart and make the crossing
Here they can not follow you. Children thrive here and you become
a home, a hearth, a place where you know, you belong.
Do not rush this journey, but dare to hope
for hope is the path to the Olive bridge. Look to the future
We are all there waiting for you. You are amongst good company.
trust. You will make this journey x

June, 2 2012 at 5:43 am

after leaving several times have become very anxious and severely depressed dont know which way to turn no friends or family no inerest in anything

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Holly
June, 2 2012 at 12:56 pm

Joanne, I am so sorry that you're feeling so down! I've been where you are. Why don't you call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE for help. They can tell you where to find resources in your area and lend an ear. Talking helps a LOT. Could you see a therapist? There are free groups offered at your Department of Social Services, so call there too. Are you out of the relationship now or back with your partner? Either way, it's okay. You can feel better whatever your current situation if you reach out to those who can help you.

May, 15 2012 at 12:32 pm

My heart cries out to you all. I am still in my situation. The depression increases with each day. I feel less than human. Like bruises, my soul is fading away. I do not get hit, but my mind is under constant attack. I have a son and daughter, I am terrified. How is it though, that this insane person is able to convince the world I am crazy. I wonder if he is the type who would take my life. Of course they all say they never would, but I'm not so sure. I went to my local resources and was turned away due to lack of proof. He has a strong religious background in his family and they own a lot of property around here. I have no friends, they are usually not approved. I have no family. I have no way out. I'm so tired of this shit. Why won't anyone believe me? Why can't I get help? This is such a sad society. Myself and my children are good people. We don't deserve this.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Holly
May, 15 2012 at 1:36 pm

Teresa, I found the most community support after I left. It was like people in the help agencies were waiting to see if I was going to stay with him (where they cannot help) or leave him (where they can help). For example, after leaving, I qualified as a "displaced homemaker" and found help putting together a resume and with interview skills. Also after leaving and due to my lack of income, I qualified for food stamps. Additionally, I acquired a rental home after telling the landlord outright that I didn't have the money to pay and as of yet had no job BUT handed her my resume and promised to have the money to her in short order.
People can display a miraculous amount of goodwill when you tell the truth about what's been going on in your marriage. Chances are my landlord had been exposed to domestic abuse at some point (1 in 4 women experience it) and kind of understood my position.
Sometimes we need to take a leap of faith, trusting that the safety net is there in case we fall.

August, 14 2011 at 6:24 am

I can't help but wonder what happened to Sadeveryday - I hope she was able to get out. I just made this transition myself last year - I know it's so hard and scary, but so very worth it.

April, 19 2011 at 9:21 am

Just checking back to see if anything has changed sadeverday....

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Holly
April, 24 2011 at 12:18 pm

I'm writing blogs in a series called "How to Stop Verbal Abuse". I hope it helps.

March, 29 2011 at 9:32 am

sadeveryday my heart is breaking for you. I have avoided such chat rooms because I never have any answers as I was in the same boat for 16 years!!!! I have been out on my own for 4 months since the 18th. I'm proud to say I made it out alive. I needed the courage. I surrounded myself with good women first online and then met them in real life. They were my saving grace. They didn't harp on me to get out, leave, talk badly about him, they just LISTENED. Every time without judgement or advice. Our men were good at isolating us. I so get this article. I pray it doesn't take me that long to function normally again. Only you know when you've had enough. Until that day comes you will keep taking it. I'm sorry.

March, 18 2011 at 9:45 am

get out! are not nuts. he is manipulating you. go wherever..even if it's to a shelter. take the kids and get out!

March, 17 2011 at 2:38 am

i am with a verbally abusive man and am truly hating myself because [1] there are children involved and [2] I saw the signs in the beginning when I would hear him speak about his kids' mothers. It used to be every few weeks and now it's gotten to be day in and day out. He calls me everything but a child of God but only in the presence of certain family members of mine. He starts arguments, then blames them on me. I try hard most times not to say anything but even when I don't sometimes that makes it just as bad. I am currently on anti-depressants and medications for anxiety and see a therapist regularly due to a series of unfortunate events in my life beginning at birth. I have been diagnosed as bipolar and suffer from social anxiety and without meds, agoraphobia. [Things I believe he uses to his advantage against me] I've also gotten my oldest children in counseling as well. My question is... HOW DO I LEAVE? I've never had stability in my life, so sometimes I know I become too attached to trying to make the best out of a bad situation. PLEASE GIVE FEEDBACK AND I AM OPEN FOR COMPLETE HONESTY ONLY!

Kellie Holly
March, 13 2011 at 9:06 am

Oooh. I found one answer to "How long will this continue?" and the answer isn't so bad, in comparison to living IN the abusive situation. Symptoms of PTSD can continue up to 9 years after leaving the relationship (Riggs, Kilpatrick, & Resnick, 1992; Woods, 2000). [That tidbit comes from another study entitled "Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Associated Functional Impairments During
Pregnancy: Some Consequences of Violence Against Women" by April Harris-Britt, Sandra L. Martin, Yun Li, Cecilia Casanueva, and Lawrence L. Kupper]

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