How Did You Brainwash Me?

June 21, 2012 Kellie Jo Holly

Brainwashing is commonplace in abusive relationships. The abuser doesn't have to study mind-control in school to know how to use it in life. Watch out for this!

When people ask, "Why do women stay in abusive relationships?" the answers are often too simple. There could be financial reasons, but if the abusive spouse died, would the victim wonder if they could support themselves to the point of doing nothing to advance their employability? (No.) There are the children to consider, but if the abusive spouse died, would the victim insist on finding a replacement right away? (No.)

Although finances and children are reasons victims cite for staying, one true reason they stay is a deeply implanted fear that they cannot make it in the world alone. My abuser implanted this fear so deeply in my mind that instead of recognizing the abuse in my relationship, I instead prayed that he would die. I consciously acknowledged the fact that he made my life hell, but the thought that I could divorce him remained outside my realm of consciousness. Abuse causes illness of the mind and body, and brainwashing sets both illnesses in motion.

What is Brainwashing?

Merriam-Webster's concise encyclopedia states that brainwashing is a

"Systematic effort to destroy an individual's former loyalties and beliefs and to substitute loyalty to a new ideology or power... The techniques of brainwashing usually involve isolation from former associates and sources of information; an exacting regimen calling for absolute obedience and humility; strong social pressures and rewards for cooperation; physical and psychological punishments for noncooperation, including social ostracism and criticism, deprivation of food, sleep, and social contacts, bondage, and torture; and constant reinforcement...."

I could have asked, "What is Domestic Abuse" and posted the same definition.

Brainwashing Works Best On A Special Type of Victim

Brainwashing is commonplace in abusive relationships. The abuser doesn't have to study mind-control in school to know how to use it in life. Watch out for this!Sandra L. Brown, M.A. says in her book Women Who Love Psychopaths that the best victims for brainwashing are women who are:

  • perfectionists, and/or
  • hold themselves to high standards, and/or
  • persistent, and/or
  • resourceful, and/or
  • goal-directed, and/or
  • self-sacrificing, and/or
  • previous victims of abuse or neglect, and/or
  • experience dependence, vulnerability, or incompetency issues.

If you are in an abusive relationship and do not recognize yourself in the first five or six bullet points, think back to the beginning of your relationship. Do you recognize aspects of who you were?

How Abusers Use Brainwashing Techniques Naturally

According to Ms. Brown's book, abusers do not feel the way we normally think of what it means to feel. Due to childhood abuse or perhaps mental disorder, many if not most abusers detach from their feelings at an early age. Instead of feeling, they observe how other people behave, and then mimic those behaviors appropriately. In this way, abusers become expert behaviorists without taking a step inside a classroom.

They know what works and what doesn't work to manipulate you to do what they want. And because they've detached from their feelings, abusers do not feel guilt for their manipulative actions. This is probably why abusers cannot take responsibility for what they've done to you or admit they abuse you (with lasting regret). They do not comprehend that any wrong took place and may think that your fear and tears are merely a show designed to manipulate them, and baby, they ain't fallin' for it.

In short, abuser's use brainwashing techniques naturally because "the set-up" is all they know.

Lifton's Brainwashing Technique

Robert J. Lifton was an early psychologist who studied mind-control and brainwashing. He broke the brainwashing technique down into the following categories. I'm going to change the descriptions to align with domestic abuse. (See the original list at

Assault on identity

The abuser attacks the victim's self-identity by making statements that define the victim, eventually causing the victim to break down and doubt their own perceptions of who they are. ( i.e. "You're not good with money" "You are a slut!")


Arguments in which the abuser expresses hurt or discontent leads the victim to feel guilty (these complaints may be completely fabricated or loosely based on fact). Eventually, these arguments cause the victim to break down and feel guilt and shame for almost everything they do and come to feel they deserve punishment.


"When the person is forced to denounce friends and family, it both destroys their sense of identity and reinforces feelings of guilt. This helps to separates them from their past, building the ground for a new personality to be built" (quoted straight from Changing Minds because I couldn't say it any better - a.k.a. isolation)

Breaking point

The breaking point is best defined by it's symptoms: Depression, crying jags, a nervous breakdown or panic attacks, vague overwhelming fear or explicit fears of dying or loved ones dying. Unconsciously, victims begin losing their sense of "who they are" and experience the fear of "total annihilation of the self".


Just when the victim can't take it anymore, the abuser offers a small kindness. The victim feels a deep sense of gratitude (more gratitude than is justified by the abuser's act). Does it feel like a honeymoon? Yep.

The compulsion to confess

The victim may feel a compulsion to offer up an act of kindness to the abuser, as if the pain the victim caused the abuser is anywhere near the pain the abuser caused the victim. The victim, knowing that nothing would make the abuser happier than to agree with the negative statements made early on, may "confess" to being exactly as the abuser said they were ("You're right, I did act like a slut by wearing that dress" "Please take over all the bank accounts - I don't understand money")

The channeling of guilt

The victim's overwhelming sense of guilt and shame combined with the assaults on their identity and unsubstantiated accusations cause major confusion. In time, the victim feels that everything they do is "wrong" and "I can't do anything right!" After the victim enters this state of confusion, the abuser can redirect the victim's guilt toward anything the victim thinks, feels, or does. This causes the victim to wonder if everything they were taught or learned previously was "bad" and that maybe the abuser's take on life in general is "good".

Reeducation: logical dishonoring

The victim thinks, "Hey - if I am such a mess because of what I was taught, then it's not my fault that I'm so messed up!" The victim finds relief for their guilt by thinking such thoughts, so they "confess" to their abuser more of the "stupid" beliefs they hold but now want to rid themselves of. In this way, the victim begins to deny their own identity and willingly take on portions of the identity the abuser wants them to have.

Progress and harmony

As the victim empties herself of previous beliefs, the hole left inside of her acts like a vacuum, sucking in the abuser's ideas of good/bad and right/wrong. The abuse eases because the abuser sees less of "her" in her and more of "him" in her. The victim receives a pleasurable response in his lack of abuse. There's not more love, just less abuse.

Final confession and rebirth

Typically, the above steps will recur repetitively in the abusive relationship. "Final confession and rebirth" cannot be reached until the victim is completely and totally brainwashed to be exactly who the abuser wished. This is the point of no return.

You are reading this. You are not at the point of no return.

You can find Kellie Jo Holly on her website, Amazon Authors, Google+, Facebook and Twitter.

*Both women and men could be abusers or victims, so do not take my pronoun choices as an implication that one gender abuses and the other is victimized.

Tags: brainwash

APA Reference
Jo, K. (2012, June 21). How Did You Brainwash Me?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 23 from

Author: Kellie Jo Holly

Chad Fisher
March, 25 2022 at 7:53 pm

This article contributes to the stereotypical gender usage, which does not aid in male abuse awareness. I personally do believe the article is good, but there are women who abuse men as well. Even a simple disclaimer AT THE TOP of the article about this awareness would be greatly appreciated.

May, 25 2022 at 12:19 pm

I agree wholeheartedly. As a man who is barely a year out of what I’m now realizing was an incredibly abusive relationship I’m hurt to see that many of these articles don’t take men into consideration. The amount of guilt, shame, pain, and suffering I’ve endured has led me to believe that we don’t spend nearly enough time as a society recognizing and dealing with the depths of suffering men endure in many seemingly “normal” relationships. I have all the traits listed above as the “perfect victim” and tried for years to please someone who I now know was incredibly abusive. I don’t think anything in my life has ever been more psychologically damaging to me than my 8 year long abusive relationship - and that includes my alcoholic father. The worst part is I still feel TERRIBLE for leaving. I had nothing but love for my SO and was pushed to the breaking point so many times I lost count I was depressed, anxious, living with daily migraines and barely able to hold down a job. Men don’t realize they’re being emotionally abused…that their partner is using their love as a manipulative tool. They’re told from an early age “sticks and stones…” Many times I was told I was the abuser in the relationship, that I was horrible, had mental disorders, etc and because of my history with an alcoholic father I bought it hook, line, and sinker. I felt like I’d always worked so hard to love and care for my partner because I was always afraid I’d be an abuser myself because of my childhood and it wreaked havoc on me. The absolute frustration of never being able to do the “right” thing in the eyes of your abusive partner is something that I can’t even explain. I remember finally after all those years just asking “what do you want me to do? Tell me exactly what you want me to do please?” while in tears because I always just wanted so badly to make them happy and do the right thing. I’m now wrestling with guilt because I’m still afraid I could be a bad person. Emotional abuse is every bit as harmful as physical abuse. It can leave you walking around feeling like a shell of who you once were and guilty for hurting your abuser by leaving. I live with fear, guilt, and anxiety but I’m also making a life for myself, doing better at work, and able to devote time to helping others because I have my mental bandwidth back. To anyone who reads this DON’T UNDERESTIMATE EMOTIONAL ABUSE. It’s not gender specific and it takes a serious toll.

April, 23 2023 at 12:20 am

It contributes to the tendency we see for everyone to assume " it's automatically the man's fault", leading to all sorts of negative stereotypical assumptions about men.
You know when you run up against asymmetrical thinking minds are already made up and there's nothing you can do.. I've always supported women in their struggles and consider myself a feminist ("but you can't be a feminist because you're a man") but when I read this stuff I can't help but see how there's an overwhelming amount of statements and assumptions that are prejudicial and just flat out wrong that contribute to the demonization of men....... even in the eyes of other men. When you see this kind of asymmetrical thinking that it's a waste of time trying to point it out and attempting to do so will only result in you being attacked.
Furthermore it results in marriages and relationships being destroyed when the woman may just want to vent to third parties who often seize on some stereotypical "fact" and then proceeds to brainwash her by claiming cause and effect associations that simply do not exist. Whether the third party means well or is doing it for an ulterior motive makes no difference when the result is the same. When that result is the woman coming back and using that misinformation against you then you are being abused by society and popular culture and it's an uphill climb at best to recover your relationship. If your SO chooses to listen to the echo chamber there's nothing you can do that wont be seen as you confirming the bias. If you defend yourself in any way it's seen as confirming the stereotypes and if you don't it's seen as your agreement that you are indeed, evil so it's very difficult to bring the conversation back to a place where reason prevails.
Knowing that the Universe doesn't have anything personal against you is no comfort when it's grinding you up.
Where do we go for support, comfort or just to understand what is happening? If we go to other men often they've been damaged beyond repair and are blaming everything on "all women", if you look elsewhere you end up in places like this where even though it's not said the implication is that "all men" are at fault. Everyone interprets everything through the filter of their own past so some of that is only natural but if you're someone that has made an honest effort not to be caught up in that it's painful on multiple levels, especially if you expected others to share your open-minded way of looking at all things or even to recognize that. Pointing out one's own part in the situation in good faith often results in the other person to use it against you. You don;t have anywhere to turn because you don't want to be "that" guy.
Dare I point out that sometimes it really is "everybody else" although I think the only reference that supports that is a quote from Freud about laymen diagnosing themselves with conditions when they are if fact surrounded by (expletive omitted) and it's disputed whether or not he even said that..... which really doesn't matter because Science hasn't decided if he was a crank or a genius, which is the case with a lot of those figures in Psychology the average person can name.
In psychology and related disciplines there's a lot of Science happening but there's more room for misinterpretation than in any other scientific field. Concepts are often ambiguous, definitions change and the public perception is distorted by our entertainment using dramatic license as an excuse to further superstition and stereotypes, and distortions of cause and effect. In that respect Psychology itself can be said to be schizophrenic as it often doesn't agree with itself.. Some areas point to others as "pseudoscience" while accepting or tolerating the principles involved. Is hypnosis real or not? How do you know? I can show credible peer-reviewed evidence to support either position.. Psychology has value but it's the most imperfect of the sciences. Unfortunately it's had a detrimental effect on our justices system, our politics and our understanding of each other almost as much as the benefits..
I'm not ready to throw the baby out with the bathwater but I think it's useful to know what you're looking at when it's also looking back at you..

March, 18 2019 at 12:42 am

As a cult survivor, I’m not entirely sure that everyone has a “point of no return.” It depends on the person and their psyche. I believe that in at least some cases the brainwashing can be undone once you are out of the situation. Just my two cents.

March, 13 2019 at 2:17 am

This is my life right now. I’m hoping this article, along with many others I am collecting, will give me the strength I need. I am a severely strong woman in every other aspect except where my husband is concerned.. I’m trying to build and find the strength within and outside myself to stand up against not only the emotional and mental abuse, but the physical as well. We have 2 small children and he’s slowly made me financially dependent on him. The physical abuse is ramping up and I know I need to get out - soon. This article has been very helpful.

August, 14 2019 at 2:15 am

I feel you exactly. He’s made me financially dependent and knows I cannot stand the thought of going back to work and leaving my kids w a stranger/loosing the quality time we have together. I have a 15mo and I’m 7mo pregnant w #2. Luckily the physical abuse isn’t there like it was in the past. But he definitely tries to scare me with threats of physical abuse or throwing and breaking things. I hope you have been able to leave safety already. I haven’t made it that far but he “moved out”, took a good amount of his main belongings and expensive art, left the rest. But I think it’s just for show- for scare. Since he’s been nice and cooperative...trying to win back my good graces. It’s so confusing. But I’m aware and awake now. So I keep reading these articles to remind myself of the reality of things. Not to get sucked back into his manipulation. Because it IS so easy to surrender and sweep things under the rug. Can’t allow that to happen for the sake of my babies. Keeping positive thoughts for the both of us.

Analise A.
May, 18 2022 at 8:15 pm

I'm in the same kind of situation but with just one 23 mo old child. My abuser has been gaslighting me to the cops and everyone else he talks to. He even messaged me last night in the middle of the night telling me everyone will agree that I was the one manipulating HIM! Saying things about the Bible and God when he isn't at all religious, just trying to sound holier-than-thou to try and make me look bad. He knows I have severe anxiety and ocd and so when he took his stuff out of my apartment (luckily I was smart enough not to put him on the lease) he took my mattress, all the fans(we don't have central air) along with a bunch of our groceries and is holding my ebt card captive and just spent nearly $500 of it,blaming it on his brother and left the place an absolute mess. I have blocked his number and soci media but am scared to even leave because we live in a small town and I am bound to run into him at some point. He isolated me so completely that I no longer have any kind of support system left and even the amazing guy I have been lucky enough to find I keep at arm's length , afraid to feel for another and be hurt again.

May, 23 2022 at 12:02 pm

Hello Analise, I am Cheryl Wozny, current author of the Verbal Abuse in Relationships blog here at Healthy Place. Thank you for reaching out and sharing your story. It takes courage to take that step. I encourage you to explore some resources that can help you heal and move forward from this negative situation that you are facing. You can view many of them here:…. Know that there are people to support you and help you, no matter where you are. Be well.

December, 7 2018 at 5:27 pm

This eases my mind a bit - just the knowledge. I've been "coming out of the fog" for a few months and this article describes exactly what my mother did to me.
This will help me in my healing process . . . I am very grateful to have this an amazing comfort that it wasn't me.

Mr puppet
November, 13 2017 at 11:00 pm

I no longer knew Who I was. All I knew was who she wanted me to be. It didn't matter whether it was right or wrong only that it stopped her from leaving again as if I did something wrong. I never know what I do wrong I only knew that how I reacted determined my punishment and my only reward was a lack of it. This was our love this was my everything.
She knew I needed her, she made sure of that. She was the only one I could talk to or rather it was the only choice she gave me. I was young I didn't know jealousy was her fault she had me believe it was my fault for making her jealous. She'd given me an ultimatum the first of many to come. This ultimatum only had one condition, to get rid of anyone else she thought would ruin the person she wanted me to be.
I felt alone, completely alone in the world when she was not there. She became my world and without her I no longer knew Who I was. Whenever I met someone new, someone threatening to her she threw a melodramatic fit and left and she knew my world shattered each time.
It was my punishment after all. All I could do was stop making friends and also eventually stop bonding with anyone else close to me.
I felt isolated... but it pleased her not upset her, its my fault she's jealous... I was rewarded contact with her after that.
Finally my world made sense again she was here and I could speak and laugh and be myself... This seems odd... I no longer know who I am why is it that I'm "myself" around her.
I guess you could say she's the only one who knows me she's the only one I can share myself with. After all if a give a piece of myself to anyone else I feel guilty and afraid of upsetting her afraid of her leaving... I need her.
Oh no! No! It's like she can tell, she knows I was thinking about it again. I'm sorry angel. Please don't leave please don't get angry. I have confession to make, I ... I ... I felt something today.
She's left what do I do, I don't know what to do. I can't have feelings of my own. She's right I am not like him he's perfect and I'm too soft hearted she's right I'm not a man. I can never please her everything I do makes no difference. I'll never be perfect as much I want to be as much as I try. I don't want her to leave again what am I doing wrong.
I know what to do now, I have to be perfect. I have to do then maybe she won't leave again then maybe she'll love me the way I love her. Yes, that's it, that's perfect, I'll be perfect I was messed up before but now I know what's perfect, she tells me because I ask her otherwise I know nothing, only she knows... Of course idiot ... I can only share myself with her. She's the only one who knows me...
Years have passed I still wonder what I did wrong, what I did to make her cheat, what I did to make her lie, what I did to make her leave I still don't know what to do to make her love me.
I guess I'm not perfect... Nobody is. But she still calls and I still try to convince her how perfect I am. She's gone now and I'm finally free I don't miss her but I need her to be me.
I'm lost without her, she's my purpose, my reason for living. I'll do what can to please her when she needs me, although not so often since she's gone but I'll be in waiting until we meet again.
I am hers and she's not mine, I'm her puppet, she's my sweet innocent angel.

August, 25 2017 at 3:05 pm

Guys, everybody! You are not alone. I had experienced this one too, like every single thing in the signs was all here. How this person brainwashed me is a pure psychopath, Its a nightmare to deal with that draining ex, until I fought for my sorry ass through getting into my safe haven preparing for the worst. It lasted for about 18 mos.

Shera George
August, 21 2017 at 11:00 pm

OMG as I read this I began to cry I can't believe how brainwashed I was n more then likely still am by my ex I met him when I was seventeen he was twenty three we were together six years recently broke up yet still in contact with each other I still think if him dream of him etc but back then I was crazy about him I gave him access to my bank account I lost a baby by him in two thousand twelve he calls me names and leaves me at hotels tell me to find away home he argues with me then when I'm really down he gives me nice compliment and make me feel good about myself he tells me if I love him I'll go places with him n sneak out from with my parents just to be with him he ask me for money if I say no he will have sex with me roughly and ask me again then when he's done he sneaks into my bags and get my money and bank card and leave me almost broke then I get in arguments with my family cause I don't have money to help with bills then he leaves me homeless at a hotel I tried to commit suicide got sent to the hospital he came and got me when the discharge me. He asked for gas money and food and sex etc I lost my job he needed more money for his other kids etc so I end up making five hundred dollars he spent all of it on himself then called me his h** and we broke up I ended up getting with someone else then later he got jealous n got back with me then he asked me who have I been with saying I belong to him then later he hit me up talking about he was burning so I got tested found out I had an std I told him then he laughed in my face n called me a bitch saying he was just playing n he wasn't burning but he knew I had some s**t cause he called me a cheater saying I f*cked around on him after we got back together which I didn't he humiliate me yet sometimes I find it hard to get over him before I met him I was raped before that I was bullied in school n told no one would ever want me so he was the longest n in my eyes realest relationship I ever been in I didn't n still don't want to let anyone else in like I did with him..

The Abuse Cycle – Dot's Writing Dojo
August, 10 2017 at 9:06 pm

[…] do. Get help immediately by contacting the correct authorities because you might get thoroughly brainwashed if you decided not to take timely action. And, I request immediate intervention in one form or […]

May, 8 2017 at 12:13 pm

My father did this to me. I was always told I was lazy or stupid or that I could not focus. When I did something to offend him, like "having an attitude", he yell for hours. When I broke down and cried he would become upset at me for crying. He said things like "one day your boss at work won't feel sorry for you if you cry". I stopped crying in front of anyone when I was ten years old, when I broke down I would berate myself for being a cry baby and isolate myself from the people who saw it. He always made sure that me and my sister knew his things were more important then us but then turn around and say that he was a very good father because he spent time with us instead of buying us things. I am 21 years old and since this has been happening to me since I was so young, I think it severely impacted my self-perception. I don't know how to "find myself" (sorry for the cliche). I know logically that the things i think are ridiculous but I cannot help but to believe them. I have tried speaking to a psychologist but I am so used to this fake me that even when I tried to be honest and get help, he couldn't help me. How can one move forward without a sense of self?

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Livia Chan
June, 23 2017 at 10:30 pm

Hi Clare,
I appreciate how brave and honest you are, to share your stories here. I am a psychotherapist in Vancouver, BC, and I have written an article about abuse and trauma ( Childhood abuse involves many layers of suffering, and one of them is an impaired sense of self, as you have described. Recovery and healing takes time and practice. I hope you will have the courage to try talk therapy again; sometimes, it takes a while to find the right therapist for you. If you would like, art therapy is also another option. Wounds from childhood abuse, if left untreated, can affect people in different areas of their adult life, so I encourage you to seek and persist with psychotherapy.
Healthy self-esteem can be built, with affirmations, positive social relationships, hobbies that interest you, etc. CBT is an evidence-based therapy style that is found to help increase self-esteem. Perhaps you can discuss this further with your therapist.
I wish you all the best, Clare. Hang in there. There is help, and there is hope!
Remember, you are precious. You deserve love, respect, and kindness.
Warm Regards,
Livia Chan

September, 26 2016 at 6:09 pm

It is disheartening to see so many well spoken women (I know there r men who r abusex too) having their spirits crushed by abusers. A counselor told me my soon to be ex was tapping into my sense of shame. My abuser swept me away quickly (standard) and al.ost systematically crushed me in every way. Its as if I was watching what I thought to be the most handsome man on eartth (ha!) become the Incredible Hulk. Where wax my whini g and dining dati g dynamo? Incredible article. Any understanding from insightful people helps. Its true doesnt help -they do t understand - and many become secondary victims I too blame myself for his crummy behavior but thanks to articles like this ....the self blame is gradually easing. They KNOW what they r doing. There is real evil in what an abuser tries to do Mine would do anything to save his own skin...he would cry to me from the jail (where he belongs) I am not the 1st nor (sadly) the last to be abused by him The legal system here is overwhelmed and even he will get a plea deal. Dealing with him for 2 years causex me to become an angry person myself and I found myself on the other side of the law Still I deal with the repurcussions of guilt in my "poor choice" Ever so slowly I am getting better. To he!! with these people. Where was their sympathy/empathy on the ones they hurt I love seeing people heal and move on Dont let them steal your dignity anymore. We only get 1 life and all deserve respect Hugs to all and stay strong and keep getti g stronger!

September, 22 2016 at 2:05 pm

Emotional abuser? I'm beginning to think so. I'm in my 30s now and an ex and I have been going back and forth since 2005. It's 2016 and I'm done! I do blame myself for being stupid & blind. My ex Persued me hard. He worked with me. I was admin & he was a Police Officer. It's started out slowly, friendship, then casual dating... Dinner and a movie and talking & texting everyday all day. He told me he felt with depression at times but is talking with a shrink about it. I should have know then he was trouble. Though he was nice, funny and sweet back then. As things started to progress he told me he & his ex broke up because he has commitment issues. Another red flag however at that time I was falling for him. He also was telling me he cared about me. I believe him because he visited me at my work area in front of everyone 3 times a day. We were with each other a lot. I was never one to evolve my life around a man but we started hanging out more, he wanted too . Then I noticed he was coming around less. I would invited him places and there was an excuses. So I did my own thing thinking he'll come around and he did. Then one day I text him on a weekend to see what was up. He was going to DC. I asked and said that's cool, what's going on up there. He then cursed me out and said," do you want me to get into an accident and freaking die." " why are you texting so much." I told him I didn't know he was driving but thought someone else could be and then why did you reply then. Text back later then. My heart sank. I didn't call him for a long time, and when he called me I thought I was going to get an apology. I didn't I told him that it hurt me and he knows my brother died in a car accident and I would wish that on anyone. I forgot how that mulled over, but I didn't get the apology I deserved and I believe he somehow made me feel it was my fault. "When did I get so weak?" So two years went by and I was starting to feel unloved and appreciated. I mentioned how I feel but didn't say the L word. I was afraid of his reaction. But he assured me he cared for me, but he would mention two past relationships. I ended up getting slightly jealous of these two women at times. One a blond. And German decent. I ended up hating my dark hair and dark features and ethnic look though I'm part white too. He praised these types. Also his life without me was a big freaking secret. I never met anyone close to him, he mentioned a guy friend and telling him about me but we never met. I only met a few friends and it was a couple at the guys bday party. By this time I was head over heels for him. I noticed him hanging less with me, and calling less and when I called or text him. He would Ana at me then I'm busy. But he came around when he waged too. And I was head over heels for him but getting sad and a nervous sick feeling. Boom! I was pregnant. I was scared for weeks and didn't know what to do. I didn't want him to hate me and I was nervous and afraid. When I finally got the courage to tell him after crying at work in the bathroom puking. I miscarried a couple days later. I told him when he asked me what's going on with you. And he held me, and I told him I loved him then. We were intimate that night. And he avoided me after that. I didn't even see him at work. When I got the courage to call him. He said what do you want from me, blood? You're not my girlfriend and it takes more than that for me to love someone. I fell into a deep depression and ended up getting push out of my job by his friends. Later years later he pops back into my life. Comes to my home, asked to see me on my porch, hugs me-shaking and says he nervous. He told me he did love me then and still does. We spoke a little more then he hops in his patrol car and leaves. Weeks go by and I contact him, oh he said he wanted to be with me too that I was the biggest regret of his life. I text him, he ignores me. Then gets mad and mean, though I wash nice. He tells me he's in a relationship. He does love me but not in the same capacity. I'm hurt again he says it's not going to work for me... And I'm like why? Hurt again. I leave him alone. Then months later he's driving in patrol up and down my street and one day drives down it looks at me when I'm talking to male (old) neighbor. He drive by slowly stares me down head on. I was talking so I didn't react. He's was on patrol and doesn't patrol my area. Well I text him, hi... Just saw you you can say hello. Then a few days later the same thing, but this time iPhone shows nothing message undelivered. I then stupidly send him an email saying that was cruel or rude to block me, (see that was his big thing in our relationship... Ignore me to punish me or tell me he can't bc his issues & everything was I don't know) I also told him if he actually loved me still regardless of can't be with me he could be cordial with me, he'll you just saw me and you can't save or say hi. He then tells me I don't know how I can say it any nicer but don't contact me anymore. I went off. I told him was a evil nasty ass liar he was. Then he threatened to get a protective order against me and have me arrested if I contact him again. He's a freaking manipulator right!?! I'm so mad at myself. I was always so afraid to hurt his feelings. Also he told me is brother died at 19 yoa I. Front of him, my brother died at19 too but in a car accident. I think that's another way now he played the sympathy thing. It was always about him. I turned into a low self esteem, timid person bc of this jerk. This time I spoke my mind. He's a narcissist sociopath and I fell into his trap. Beware ladies. Actions speak louder than words. Love yourself more.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

October, 5 2019 at 5:08 pm

Hi I relate the emotional abuse that you received by your ex. Me and my ex started dating in 2014, early July and corresponded via date site the month prior. I thought his profile was just something as he mentioned about stopping drinking after his son said to him daddy please don't drink anymore cause he didn't want his dad to die,. That pulled at my heartstrings plus other things he had mentioned . So we start to message and chat for a month and I remember I remember he had asked me if I was on birth control and when he asked me in my head was very odd and inappropriate but stupid me to keep the peace just answered him without saying something like why does this apply to anything as of now anyways. So we went on our first date on motorcyle taking me to lunch and ride the ferry too it was a beautiful day out. So I immediately fell for him his smile the romantic quality's he held my hand which I was in heaven and he was a genteman during 1st date., Anyways see I waitressed making it hard to get together but once or twice a week never over the weekdays as I am a single mom too and had my children certain times and he did too with his ex so very hard to make dates . We went on another date at night on his motorcycle and we had a great time and anyways he was now texting me morning in between noon and in between night also went to his home to see where he lives and we mostly alwaye were him and I going forward. I met a few friends of his and his mom only once . Regarding our children I was gonna wait around 6 months and felt if we were good then I'll introduce kids either way but he was adamant and so he talked me into bringing kids over to meet his and it went well and after that night I had to work so he kept saying everyone trusts him he's the Mr Mom and all the women trust him to take their kids so now he asked to watch my kids when I was working so thenI can come back to his place ., So this was starting to get to me as full speed ahead as quickly as possible texting 24/7 flirting complimenting me a lot and sending cute text messages showing his interest in me . So kids stayed at his home I was so very nervous I went against my own boundqries to appease him and I worried the entire night I was working . I guess it went well but I never felt good about it . Sex came and in order to go there I said I don't do this unless in a monotonous relationship and I would want a commitment and he agrees so sex came which was out of this world . Everything was on high speed ahead instant relationship then shortly after he tells me when our kids playing outside that he's falling in love with me . I was so happy cause everything although quick was going great I thought so I in response that I too am falling in love with him and I'm so happy. He bought me presents made me morning breakfasts lunches if I stayed for the weekend . I had my own place with kids and he would tell me you can stay here whenever I want he wants me too . We went for morning walks 5 miles always as he held my hand and things were great . Something happened in my life which was embarrassing and hqppened due to my ex husband manipulating me to do it so I was in trouble regarding if I am a bad parent which was to do with my ex conned me into doing this so anyways I had to take behavioral classes and so he was so supportive empathy over the top he made it feel like your fine I'm here for you. So everyday he told me he loved me I was involved with his kids and life seemed good .then he started seeking moody at times and would disapear hear and there never hearing from him for 4 days and I wasnt gonna pursue him. He went from texting 24/7 and inviting me over to not so much. So I felt weird and slowly he would slightly insult me almost jokingly sarcastic humor I guess . It would sit in the pit of my stomach because I was jolted by these derogatory remarks he made towards me which were slight although confusing ., Then it was something we were chatting in the morning I had slept over so he goes that I'm not a lifetime partner because I have too many issues seeing I was at fault for something my ex had me do for him . That truly made me feel bad and my ex husband had purposely set me up so he could start the smear campaign in our small town and make me into the bad parent although it was him . So basically I had shared that scenrio plus childhood crap which wasn't great coming From addict parents and my brother died in a car accident at 17. Which when I told my guy about my brothers death he acted like it wasnt anything and proceeded to crack a joke and I was shocked. Then more insults. He said he wants his life partner to be a happy girl that hes worked to hard on his life to have me as his life partner .I was shocked and kept it inside. The moodiiness increased and saw the tiptoeing with his son as my guy napoed on the couch trying not to upset his dad which I had witnessed him yelling at his kids and mine too and made me very uneasy . So I became so depressed and wasn't as energized and excited as I was seeing these insults and moodiness and now wasnt consistenlty sending me txt messages as much . He also kept mentioning a couple ex's as like so and so called me out of the blue telling me her breakup hqppened so now his ex GF is single and she hurt him ., Then again another ex stopped out of nowhere to make amends to him for stealing money from him and she had lived with him because she had no where else to go but basically a hot sexual relationship although he was still drinking . So I became insecure and during this he had for the first time after I asked him on the phone if he missed me he didn't answer me and said gotta go and hung up .I was devastated tried calling him he didn't answer the cell so I texted him and nothing .we went from a dream come true to datubhy worst nightmare. I really know in my heart that I loved him sincererly and was shocked at his change of mood towardsm me. So he started making busy excuses for our date night and if not that night I had to wait until the weekend so tuesday to weekend . So I was now crying quite a bit not understanding this change of attitude towards me which now the irritation I felt when we did see each other mixed with bringing up either one ex or this other ex GF every single time We were together acting almost excited like he was hiding something from me and it made me very sad I remember asking him what's up why are you talking so much about your ex are you wanting to see her again or something . Of course he would say stop it you have trust issues and stop being jeoulous not an attractive quality . I that week seeing I was we sad that he basically told me I'm not are staying around forever just a filler I texted him that I'm done that you need to find the happy women that You told me I'm not and I don't want to bring you down so I'm letting you go so you can be with what you want . So I ended it but felt bad about texting him so I asked to meet him for coffee . He jokingly said who's this ??? So he was messing with me once again so he agreed to see me .but to come to his home .so I went over and he was walking out to the kitchen from his bedroom and was very rude to me saying well he says I guess you beat me to breaking up with you which I was afraid to because you have been so depressed I wouldn't want you to kill yourself if I broke up with you .then saying that I really should look at how much I put up with and that no other man will ever put up with my issues that he tried to help me and no one ever will do that for you ever doing the walking and breathing and stretches excerixes and he did yoga too so he was.always going to yoga never invited me to go with him as I never was around anyone he knew . I invited him to meet my friends and was shot down with excuses always .so he Got me to sleep with him and I left shortly after with him stating were not in a relationship that he's fine .he said I am fine as I cried and went home . It was over I had thought . This was the initial 8 months and basically he was texting me 3 weeks later and I was relieved to hear from him it was energizing and I became very familiar with the terms narcissistic personality disorder and sociopathic personality disorder . My ex -husband is to a T a text book sociopath and my ex bf is a covert narcissist ., I was diagnosed with c-ptsd after both of them abused me my ex husband still emotionally by using kids as pawns to ruin me and my ex bf keeps reaching out to me after I think it's over and we end up seeing each other I've been trauma bonded to him with the push pull fight/flight crap .my life is horrible I'll never meet anyone again too scared as these people are magnets to me

September, 21 2016 at 9:42 pm

According to Ms. Brown’s book, abusers do not feel the way we normally think of what it means to feel. Due to childhood abuse or perhaps mental disorder, many if not most abusers detach from their feelings at an early age. Instead of feeling, they observe how other people behave, and then mimic those behaviors appropriately. In this way, abusers become expert behaviorists without taking a step inside a classroom.
They know what works and what doesn’t work to manipulate you to do what they want. And because they’ve detached from their feelings, abusers do not feel guilt for their manipulative actions. This is probably why abusers cannot take responsibility for what they’ve done to you or admit they abuse you (with lasting regret). They do not comprehend that any wrong took place and may think that your fear and tears are merely a show designed to manipulate them, and baby, they ain’t fallin’ for it.
Is that the case for all abusers?

September, 19 2016 at 8:09 am

I think I have reached my breaking point today. After sobbing uncontrollably in the bathroom at work for 5 hours, binge eating, purging, I came back to my desk to read this. I pray that I can find the strength that you all have.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

May, 19 2017 at 6:22 pm

You can do it!! We are all strong women to have survived this kind of nightmare! ! You have the choice to get your life BACK!! Been gone from Mr. Ass 3 weeks now and so glad!!! My son lives with me now and i am getting stronger every day.....bad days too....but it is better than last 5+years of his anger.??I pray for anyone that goes through domestic violence like this.?

J. H
September, 10 2016 at 3:52 pm

Thanks so much for this article! I'm fine ally separating from my husband and was beginning to doubt my decision and maybe all the things he did and said were for my own good because he loves me and were in fact true but reading this has reminded me of so much and I know I am right it isn't love it's abuse and control. I find strength in knowing my mind will be my own again in the near future.

August, 21 2016 at 12:54 pm

From those who left, Id like to know how you did it. Did you have a conversation or did you simply just not go back home. I want to leave so desperately, but im so scared to tell him. Im not in fear of being injured, it just kills to have to tell him that I want out

August, 17 2016 at 4:16 pm

This is very interesting, the way you took brainwashing and mapped it to abuse. I was abused by a therapist while in my 20s. I've been working with a therapist now who specializes in molestation and domestic abuse, but it's been hard to unravel this for me. It keeps getting stuck.
One problem is that I see descriptions of domestic abuse and sexual all over the internet. I don't see my story, to read and start to absorb. Are there resources, books, stories? I will look into that book you got the brainwashing from, because it was a brainwashing, just without the sleep deprivation and physical assault. (It wasn't not a sexual relationship.) I can't figure out how she get me pulled in and manipulated into "alternative realities" so quickly. She had my family falling for the garbage or struggling, without knowing what to do with it. It took 3 sessions to get me to see her full time, and maybe 1 to start the alternative realities. I was an emotionally healthy person when I started, and my family was a good one (with it's issues but healthy). I never disconnected from family, though that's certainly part of what she was trying for. I'm intelligence and capable (honors student, etc.)
It's similar to the stuff that people accuse the book "Courage to heal" of creating for them in conjunction with psychopathic therapists. Only she pushed that book at me, and the idea that maybe all my problems were from a sexual abuse. I read the book, and every creepy event in my life flashed up, and none of it remotely was sexual assault. So I knew that wasn't my problem, and ended that sequence she was pushing. There's so much more to tell. They had me in with them (group too with two other therapists) for a total of 3x a week for a bunch of years.
I finally left. I tried putting it behind me. But something's kicking up and messing with me, and working with my current therapist, this is definitely the cause, and it's deep.
We've pinpointed a few of the "how it was done." One, that I was directed to her and only her by a "colleague" from the Employee assistance program. I was young so didn't know how to judge her. She redirected conversation in that first session in ways that were setups (or seem to be.) From there it gets hard to sort out what she did. Some of the items here have parallels. I'd like to dig in and figure out some of the brainwashing and how they played out with her. It's verbal and hard to remember (I do have notebooks I kept from a year into it and on --- so I have records of how intensely creepy it got.)
I just want to figure this out. So if you have any resources to suggest, please do. Right now I don't have any specific questions on what you wrote and how it played out, but i"ll come back if I do. However, it helps to see it in the less than usual "abusers do this" format, when with her, it was not as easy to spot the elements from those usual words. Thank you.

August, 11 2016 at 1:21 am

I have been married to a verbal abuser for 23 years. It never ends. My 2 sons have experienced it. There is a pattern. A few good days, then weeks of bad days, silent treatment because I have done something wrong. Now on last day of vacation, that he has made horrible for me. Because I have done the wrong thing. Stupid stuff, like going to the pool with the room key accidentally. Or not hearing my phone that he needed something, & I did not see the text. I feel sad I have endured this hell so long now. I hate that my boys have dealt with it. How can I get out?! I am now 62 years old?!

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kristine Marie
August, 11 2017 at 7:31 pm

Tonya, you just described my relationship exactly! We have been together almost 8 years total, 7 yrs engaged and married last October. I am 33 and see no way out. He is the meanest person I have ever met when he gets mad. It can be over anything. He obsesses that I do nothing... which he means sexually. I am so far gone emotionally that I have to force myself to be intimate with him just to alleviate some of his aggressiveness. If I do give in and have sex with him he will find somethikng else to be mad about just to pick on me it seems. I have no self esteem and hate my body because I have let it go over the years. No matter what I do he makes me feel like crap about myself. After a night of the normal name calling and cursing I will be tired of it but he always acts back to normal the next day and I fall back into the routine of checking in and muttering "I love you " because we have been through so much together. I could go on and on about my sad situation but there is no point, I won't leave. I have 2 dogs and 3 cats and they are my children. They are also his Loves and I can't bring myself to take them away from him. I tried for one night and couldn't do it. I felt so sad because as mean as he is to me, he loves our babies and they love him. The topic of money is something else. I started a new career which he supported me in doing. It wasn't as easy as we planned and he has had to pay the bills this year because this career change is expensive to persue. He hasn't let one day go by where I forget that he pays every bill. Now he just opened the bedroom door and saw me on my phone while typing this and he is calling me a dirty c*nt. He doesn't ever want me to show him what I am actually doing on my phone because then he can't accuse me once he sees I'm really not texting other guys like he says.

July, 27 2016 at 9:44 am

Hi, i have read the comments from this article. My story is i met my husband when i was 18, he was safe . I had a condition which meant i couldnt have sex and the medical profession didnt have a clue, my husband stood by me and never pressured me, he even married me knowing it may never happen. He has always had a temper and i saw it 6 months after we had been together, when i was trying to find my friend to say goodbye one eveing and he was angry about this and shouted at me all down the road, even grabbing me by the shoulders. I forgave him but never forgot. I evenually was able to have sex and had a daughter . We were happy enough, i never felt quite settled. We moved south and i stayed at home with my little girl, i remember things being ok. Sex was still not good and i still felt a lot of pain, but desperate for another baby i got pregnant, i knew something was wrong and i said in the waiting room for the scan i was worried ive been so ill and they havent been able to find the heart beat. He turned to be and shouted for f×××k sake stop being so f×××king negative. Never the less i was right and he was devastated but he never apologised and thats when i can pin point the start of the things going wrong, and remembering other times, when he got mad because i left the table to speak to my cousin at our wedding and his mum rushed out behind him to defuse the situation. When we had my son, i nearlydied and he never bonded with him. When he was nearly 3 he stouted in front of both kids in a aggressive stance with fist clenched, i hatehim, i f×××king hate him. Five years on and one break down lots of therapy and meds, i have finally seperated from him, we have at this point been together for 23 years. It seemed amicable, he did ask me how long had i been seeing my friend for, i have lied and said im not. But i have found this man who is so kind and allowing me to be me, not this downtrodden exhausted woman (please forgive me for the affair) we seperated 6 weeks ago and i want him to know ive met someone, but i am terrified of him shouting at me and twisting my words, making me feel like the slut i already think i am. I cant bare the agression and not quite sure what to do.
Sorry for the lengthly message

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Jo Holly
August, 3 2016 at 3:10 pm

You aren't a slut. You are a woman who did what you needed to do to save your soul from the darkness of abuse. You aren't a serial cheater, you aren't trying to manipulate or take advantage of the abuser while you sleep around. The only forgiveness needed is from yourself. (And yes, I would say this to a man, too.) I didn't feel sorry for my affair for years, so I didn't ask forgiveness from God until 7 years after the fact. When I did finally seek it, I heard a voice saying, "You've been forgiven since it happened. You only needed to accept forgiveness to feel it."
Anyway, you don't have to tell your abuser anything. You don't owe him even one peek into your private life. You can choose to continue lying to him or say, "That's not your business," or "I don't talk about my private life with anyone anymore." Or something like that. Say what makes you feel empowered.
Alternatively, cut off all communication that has nothing to do with the children. Every time you open yourself up to him, he files the information away to use against you later. Or gets aggressive immediately, as you fear. So stop giving him ammunition. Speak only of things concerning the welfare of your children.

July, 19 2016 at 10:33 pm

I read the story carefully, and I would only offer my opinion, that we all (including me) we add this disclaimer "Both women and men could be abusers or victims..." in the beginning of our story. My self, have had terrible time to prove I was the victim. From what i have heard from others, men, when they decide to seek help, they are looked at as monsters that try to come out clean. In most cases I have heard, including mine, men must collect a whole lot of evidence when women just get a friend or sometimes even their affair and that will do just fine. Dont get me wrong, I have suffered greatly in my relationship, i got hit, pushed down the stairs, have marks on my body will never go away, had my family attacked, abused in emotional ways you would never believe can get to anyone, had my religion, country and beliefs crashed. And i still care if this person (we ex-wife) is still well. They call it Victim's guild, and come those who suffered the most, from what I'm told. I think this is what brainwashing is at its last stage. I wish you all to be, remain and always be, really free from the past.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Jo Holly
July, 21 2016 at 11:50 am

In reality, both male and female victims of abuse have a difficult time "proving" anything. Women are thought to be making stuff up to get a man into trouble, and men are thought to be, as you said, trying to flip the tables. As you know having left your abuser, the ultimate "help to leave" is yourself. You must wade through all the legal and social BS and decide to be free no matter what anyone thinks.
I hope this stage of continued concern for your abuser disappears soon so you can be free from the past, too.
What are the people you're talking to advising you to do to get through it?

July, 19 2016 at 8:39 pm

Excuse me? "the best victims for brainwashing are women who are" WOMEN? If you think only women are victims, you need to go back to school. In fact, after 9 years with an abusive wife, having met all the people I met in groups of abused people, let me tell you the way women abuse men, is far more destructive for the man himself but mostly for the children that witness it. You should be ashamed for that discrimination of sex. There are pigs on both sides of the river.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Jo Holly
July, 21 2016 at 12:04 pm

Alex, that is a paraphrase describing Sandra L. Brown's book, "Women Who Love Psychopaths." And the statement "the best victims for brainwashing are women who are..." describes the findings of Ms. Brown who extensively studied, well, WOMEN who love psychopaths.
Keep in mind that male discrimination over what women should and shouldn't be has effectively minimized the study of women psychopaths until fairly recently. For example, it hasn't been that long since female reporters were shooed out of trials that involved pedophilia, molestation or rape to protect their "delicate constitution." For whatever reason, in the beginning of psychology (a relatively new science), men were studied and men did the studying. Now that society considers women to be (almost) equal to men, there should be more studies that go into the female psychopath's mind-set. I hope.
All that said, I believe the male and female propensity for psychopathy goes deeper than gender. I believe, in the future, studies will show that both males and females can be abused in equal proportion, as well as an equal proportion of males and females as abusers.

July, 15 2016 at 10:26 am

I was in court this week with my ex partner. We were together for 6 years and I left him 1.5yrs ago. And i still live in confusion about whether it was all in my head. But when I read this article all of the steps made sense to me, it was exectly how I felt. Always in a state of panic. Hypervigiliant. Living my life to please him. He was always putting me down or what was even more painful was when he just didn't even notice me. Just ignored I was even there, or pointedly ignored me when I had been 'disrespectful'. It was a relationship where only he existed.
But then in court even the Judge says that the way I perceive the relationship is not reality and he is not this person, and I go back to doubting myself all over again.
And I'm trying to remember situations that happened in our relationship and how I felt and if it was in my head and what was going on and why is he so nice now and why can't anyone else see it and it must have been in my head because nothing makes sense and I feel like I'm going crazy. And I'm now the bad party for making these allegations and he is the victim because he has 'only ever been a good dad.'
But then when I read this article it all makes sense again because its exactly how I felt. But its just so painful that even the courts are telling me that he isn't this person so it feels like I have to suffer in silence and that I'm not entitled to feel this pain. And I just have to continue having him in my life as the father of my children and him just pretending like nothing ever happened. And I don't feel like I can cope with that. And he tries to involve himself subtly in other ways instead of just contact with the children. I feel like he has been given the power all over again and that I will never get my strength back.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Jo Holly
July, 18 2016 at 11:11 am

You can take your power back by accepting the court system is a joke. You've been abused by him and the court, and the court doesn't deserve any more of your headspace than he does. Now, you have to work withing the court's guidelines. That's all.
Learn to recognize abuse (verbal, emotional) and detach yourself from it. Ise this page is a guide:

July, 14 2016 at 3:17 pm

Thank you for this article. It helps knowing others are out there who deal with verbal abuse. And I do have a story to tell. But, Its not safe for me to do so yet. Unfortunately, people who you speak to regarding your spouse behavior cant imagine that very nice guy ever doing such things. Lol
At one point my own couselor, didnt understand about verbal abuse.

July, 12 2016 at 7:26 pm

I tried to leave 6 times. When I did leave, he met someone else and now he's having the relationship of my dreams. I have no idea what I did wrong but I read articles like this and I resonate so deeply that now I'm just lost.
I came across this article because I googled "was it me? abuse". I think the fact that I'm googling stuff like that indicates that I'm trying to understand what happened to me because I have absolutely no idea.
I can't remember what I was like before. I have anxiety now and I never had it before him. I doubt myself so much. I am constantly in low mood and depressed. Not sure what to do. I take antidepressants and have therapy but it's me. It doesn't feel like a normal break-up. It feels heavy and dark.
The problem is me now. He's gone. He's left me.
I wish I was the one who was dead.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Jo Holly
July, 12 2016 at 8:30 pm

You are far from the first wonderful person who wondered "was it me?" The answer is no. It was not you. Nothing you could do would make him stop abusing, controlling, manipulating. You can't love a person out of his/her personality.
And I'll go on record saying that it only appears that he is having the relationship of your dreams. You are on the outside now. The outside is not allowed to see what is going on inside the relationship. Do you remember your happy times with him? Well, he is pretending to be exactly the man he thinks the new woman wants. If he hasn't started the abuse yet, he's priming her for it. If he's actively abusing her, he and she have the convoluted agreement to hide the abuse and to carefully guard the truth. Remember how confused you were when he changed? She will experience that too.
There is nothing wonderful about that man. It was an illusion. That's why it feels so heavy and dark now. The full weight of the lie he wove for you is easy to feel now that you're out from under it.
Instead of asking, "was it me?" ask to see the truth of your abusive relationship so you can come to terms with it. Feel the betrayal, the dark lies, the loss of the future you thought you would have. Mourn it all so you can move on.
You will move on. You will reclaim yourself. When you say "it's me," I understand that you know you're fighting your own mind on this one. It's okay. You'll get through this. You'll feel better on the other side.

July, 5 2016 at 1:08 am

I experienced this, but in an academic environment rather than a relationship.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Jo Holly
July, 6 2016 at 10:52 am

It's damaging to your mind and soul no matter where it happens, isn't it?

June, 24 2016 at 5:32 pm

I wany to reply to Ella of March 29th, 2016:
Thank you for posting that! My husband of 5 years I left in January, and it's now been 5 months. He was at first super super hostile, he was angry and starting dating other woman but still wanted to reconcile. I stopped talking to him entirely and he asked to seem me in a counsellors office after 2 weeks of that, and now it being 5 months he's normal again in temperament towards me and says "He cares" but doesn't want to get back together. When I got to the session the counsellor asked me why we were there and turned out my husband told him I had wanted to talk with him, which I have a recorded text conversation that it's the opposite. So maddening. Anyways, perhaps after being violently angry doesn't work they go back to being "normal", it's just more manipulative tactics of behaviour mimicking, "ok that's not getting the result I want, I have to do something else... let's try this...." It's not a game, but this description also gives me cautious compassion - I know my husband turned off his emotions early as a child at 5 as he told me and why (it's sad why) - GREAT ARTICLE and thank you.

Saskia Ulbricht
June, 24 2016 at 3:35 am

I've been reading posts and articles on verbal abuse connected to HealthyPlace off and on for a few months.
I'm in therapy and my therapist believes I am being emotionally abused. Sometimes I see it and others >I don't. Because I don't want to, I'm aware of this.
I feel so angry at myself for not being able to get it together to leave him.
We met when we were coming out of a drug rehab period. I guess I was a harder for me than for him... or that is what he made me believe, or lead me to believe, that I would relapse again if I wasn't with him. Never clearly stated... but implicit all the time. That was 5 years ago, going on six... and I haven't relapsed, but a part of me does believe that it's thanks to being with him.
It was easy for him to isolate me from most of my friends because they were, in fact, toxic. I really did have to start from more or less scratch at the age of 51... I am not the person I was, but who am I? I'm lost and totally taken up by keeping my head afloat, keeping my job, because I also support him...right now I'm scared he'll come up and ask what I'm doing.
He has never laid a hand on me, nor does he really insult's all more subtle than that. Irritated, angry tones of voice all the time.
Ughhh, I'm feeling like shit putting all this into words here; I cannot abide the fact that I can't seem to get out of this situation.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Jo Holly
June, 24 2016 at 12:49 pm

I'm so glad you're talking to a therapist. It doesn't sound like his/her honesty is making much headway with you. I mean, you're suffering from the conundrum many of us do: you don't want to believe your head over your heart.
The good news is that it sounds like your heart is switching sides. The confusion and self-blame you're going through is typical for people who "know" something is right but can't justify "feeling" it is right. And the inability to "feel" that it is right comes directly from the emotional abuse. You've been trained to doubt your feelings, to doubt your intuition. To doubt yourself.
I'm going out on a limb to guess that he has relapsed whether you know that for a fact or not. He desperately needs you to stay with him so he can continue using you like the drug he attended rehab to free himself from. One of our bloggers said that addiction is a behavior, not a substance. He's addicted to the relationship he has to you. You give him a sense of control over his world - perhaps a replacement for what the drug did for him. That makes sense because when you suffer an addiction, your ideas of healthy relationships gets all mixed up in the behavior of addiction. You came out of rehab together, so this relationship has been unhealthy for you from the start.
Anyway, my thoughts on the matter aside, it is time for you to give your brain, your "knowing," a chance to be heard more loudly. Purposefully stop listening to your fearful emotions (Who am I? and I can't get out of this, etc.) in favor of brain-truths. Compare what he does to what literature says about abusers and what they do. Rethink your past: where were your successes? List them so you begin to regain the knowledge that you were successful before him. Write out what you WANT in a relationship and then compare that to what you have.
Does your therapist use cognitive behavioral therapy with you? Ask him or her about it. Tell your therapist that you need help battling back your emotions and enriching what information your brain is giving you.
I hope this is of some value to you. I'm so happy that you've kept your sobriety. That takes guts, strength, and the ability to manage the "knowing" vs "feeling" aspects of yourself. Basically, you already have the skills you need to separate from the abuse. You only need to learn to apply them.

June, 23 2016 at 5:27 am

I was abused and deserted as a child but I persevered and came out strong... or so I thought. I was in fact almost all of these: "•perfectionists, and/or
•hold themselves to high standards, and/or
•persistent, and/or
•resourceful, and/or
•goal-directed, and/or
•self-sacrificing, and/or
•previous victims of abuse or neglect, and/or
•experience dependence, vulnerability, or incompetency issues" so I was one of those women who wondered why women never leave. Then I met Troy and he systematically took me down to the point of wanting to die, wanting him to die. Life was so hard. I was so depressed and crying all the time. I was like a robot pretending everything was ok because I was ashamed. Then one day (after 8 years of constant emotional and physical abuse) I just knew I had to get out or one of us would die. I needed to live. I was a mother. Plus I just wanted to live again. It was so hard but I finally did it. It's been a couple of years now. I appreciate my life and my freedom so much now. If I could say one thing to women, know this Love does not hurt. When someone loves you they do not hurt you.

carissa minnick
June, 14 2016 at 6:03 pm

Oddly I only know my being sexually abused by dad but mom made me feel like I was liar or stealing her man,to me not being around after married with my other kids from 3rd marriage,need to make sure I didn't screwup has only had opposite kids see me as crazy,repating emotional breakdown of sleep health inability is now in cycle where I am destroying myself and happiness it feels in my house,get nervous can ramble,feel I'm literally going insane everything my husband tells me I do wrong try to fix only rules change my kid now call me names use emotions to get me back down feel desire if hope to finally after recently seeing if I talk at all I'm always feel can bring out worse in others,like I'm a kid,guilt,mistakes totally my fault repeat can't seem to have normal conversation,i am of zero value to this family want set them free to do that can't afford do not feel value can be put on my love for him or kids and truly don't know how real normal mom or dad is,or love,losing desire of only able to seem can actively try but less than few weeks if it without more time cutting self off,health is deteriorating I only wish punishment for myself death not by my hands but God to end suffering I cause or chaos,risk I'm not sure I am going to be able be sure they won't suffer same fate unless set free,im in treatment bit nothing matters but what they feel I am never will knowing it's unhealthy for us all I have no body I can vent to,scared of what feels brain defective memory,fear controls me, please no I don't feel anything but great ful got be mom,will never see anyone but I as the problem now scaring more since lost almost all what i little will power I got to keep going on realized no way out my tour cher soul cause without them I have no body hate feel I'm burden put on them finally end by end of. This yr due to health I'm ok with only parts of memories except long term have short term almost destroyed nothing works,hoping for this my last wish,dont let it be for nothing lety kids be happy self assured

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Bod Sheridan
April, 29 2017 at 9:52 pm

You are in a place where you see little light. yet the light is there, nonetheless. start keeping a journal, each day, mark in, to do, P.E.G. (personal evolution Goal) which is a goal you set for yourself that day in order to slowly overcome your perceived inadequacy. Then write in the days observations/events.. Perhaps something that you saw, a flash of colour in the passing of a butterfly say, that caused you to pause and enjoy the now... at the end of the day, mark in the following 3 items.. TTW (things that worked, TTDW (things that didn't work) and WWIHD (what would I have done different, where you put down how you would have done different) I found that doing the above, along with an "attitude of gratitude" got me through some very hard times and enabled self growth to overcome the issues in the future.. Good luck and try to find something each day to be happy about.

May, 22 2016 at 10:45 pm

Worst feeling when this person is your mother. How do you break away from your family claiming they abused you when they convince everyone else and nearly yourself that you're just making things up, taking them out of proportion etc..

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Jo Holly
May, 23 2016 at 3:42 am

Unfortunately, your family isn't interested in helping you heal the trauma of abuse. It won't do any good to talk to family or the family friends who believe them. I know it hurts, but you need a support system of people who DO believe you.

May, 18 2016 at 8:11 am

I have had much experience on this very subject and it wasn't until I read this article that I really begin to understand exactly what kind of relationship I had been involved in and how lucky I was to have escaped so quickly. Back in 1994 when I graduated from high school I had met a guy from that school who I thought was absolutely amazing. My parents and my friends immediately did not like him. I ignored anything and everything that could have been a warning sign. Back then I was barely 17 going on 18 and I was a vivacious, well educated, and extremely talented young woman who was ready to conquer the world. No one was allowed to tell me no and I always had something to prove. As I look back at that time I realize now that it only took 6 months for me to become completely immersed in my relationship until I begin to lose myself. Every single aspect of my relationship reflects the article on this site. I managed to push my family and my friends completely away. I was not allowed to use the phone unless he was in the room and he could hear my conversation. When I did make new friends I was only allowed to spend five to 10 minutes at their house and then returned home promptly. If I did not return within an allotted amount of time he would come and get me. Anytime I went to the grocery store after arriving within 10 minutes my name would be paged on the overhead and I would have to go to customer service only for him to ask me when I was supposed to be home. I never did tell him where I was going or which grocery store I was going to he would just call around until he found me. At the time I only thought of this as a major annoyance but looking back now I realize that it was all apart of his controlling. I wasn't allowed to have a job and he liked the fact that I was dependent on him and his income even though it wasn't a lot. He cconvinced me that I was crazy. He lied about everything you can think of but because my mind was in a different place back then, I bought into a lot of it. No one believed me when I complained so I stayed with him because many people encouraged me to find fault within myself first and because we had two children I felt like I could not live life on my own. Then something amazing happened. He cheated on me. I found out and my mind snapped out of a huge fog. I was elated because this meant that I now had a reason to be rid of him. I got a job, paid for a small apartment and left. I threw his whole world upside down! He pretended to cry, have feelings and begged me to stay. But somewhere along the line I found my old strength. It was as if my mind was out of the fog and I knew that I never did need him to begin with. The end was in 1999.
Since then he continues his same pattern with numerous women. I have received phone calls from various ex-lovers or wives of his recounting their own relationships with him. I have turned into a sort of beacon of hope and validation that they are not crazy. He has 7 total children from three ex-wives, and he has numerous lovers all over the country. He has profiles on various dating sites and cheating is easy for him because he is in the military. He has broken up women's marriages and he never leaves one woman without having another two or three standing by. He proposes to all of them and even buys them rings. He talks with them about having more children. I have not seen him since 1999, and I have always been cordial with him. He had no idea I knew about anything in regards to his life until the very last girl he was with spred his business all over social media and then contacted me. He truly is some piece of work.

May, 15 2016 at 4:11 pm

I have been married for 24 years. When I got married I had a 6 year old daughter from a previous marriage. A year after I remarried we too had a daughter. My husband was a manipulator. He made me believe all kinds of things so I would feel sorry for him. I am very compassionate and he took full advantage of that. All through the marriage he played the woe is me card and I fell for it. In 2006 he was found to have a motor neuron disorder
He did not seem to be that bad but read articles on the Internet about it and took on these symptoms. I don't know what to believe.
He has been manipulating me with his disease for over 10 years now. I did everything for him but he could still do the things he really wanted to do. He was verbal abuser, he would make me and the girls feel guilty all the time. They could not stand him but I would make excuses for his behavior. Nine months ago our 23 year old daughter who graduated collage became pregnant. It was consensual but she was not actually with the boy. He became furious and ask her how she could do that to him. She had ruined her image. He began telling his therapist that she was raped. I guess he wanted sympathy. My daughter found out and was devastated. He tried to cover up the lie by saying they made it up and tried to have one of the therapist fired because she would not back up his story. That was the final straw. I was not going to let him make a hard situation even harder so my daughter and I moved out. It was so hard and still his because of his disabilty, and I continue to feel quilty. My grandson is beautiful, my daughter is becoming successful in her job but I still feel quilty because he brainwashed me all those years.i have talked to over 30 people we know and everyone of them are so glad I left and tell me I did the right thing, but it still hurts. I wonder if I will ever get over the guilt.

May, 10 2016 at 9:50 am

I have been living nightmare for all of the almost 12 years that I have been married. He definitely brainwashed me because I was already an easy target. My father was an alcoholic and abused my mother, me and my sister both physically and emotionally. I remember being quite young and trying to pull him of my mother, that in turn would enrage him further and he would turn his assaults on me. I remember us begging mommy to leave, but she never did. She remained by his side until his death a few years ago. Not surprisingly, I followed in my mother footsteps, it seems that I have been primed to be with abusive men. I've been in three relationships with abusive men. But this marriage now almost made me lose my mind. I have a teen daughter from a previous relationship and she has also witnessed the physical abuse,verbal and emotional. I also have two autistic boys from this marriage, I am a stay at home mom, and boy has it been awful. I took beat downs when I was pregnant with both boys in my third trimester for fighting back and trying to protect myself, and almost a lamp to my skull. But I find the emotional abuse to be the worst...I've had enough. I don't have any money of my own and I've lost all my confidence to take care of my kids and I but I am still leaving because I see the effects it had on my daughter. She became suicidal and had to spend two weeks in the children psychic ward because he began to turn his emotional abuse towards her...But not never again. She and I have joined forces and we are standing up to him. We support each other. I've reached out for help but friends donor believe us, they believe his act. So now I am seeking outside help. Thank you for validating what I've known deep down.

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