symptoms

Early Warning Signs of Emotional Abuse

John Folk-Williams Community Member June 29, 2010

  • In a comment to my last post, Merely Me posed a key question about emotional abuse: How can you tell whether the behavior is abuse or genuine love “since an abuser can have periods when they act lovingly ....apologetic ...charming ....buys you things to make up ...always sorry.  And you are right ...it is for control. An abuser can also shift their behaviors and quite dramatically.  And this is what makes things so confusing for many women.”

    (Men would face these same dangers in dealing with abusive women, but, as I pointed out last time, the available evidence shows that the overwhelming majority of abusers are men.)


    What are those warning signs that can alert a woman to the possibility that the man she’s getting to know is an emotional abuser? They can be identified, but it’s often hard to see them for what they are. For one, men who are not at all abusive might do some of the same things, so it becomes confusing. The second problem, though, is a bigger one.

    A woman might quite naturally focus on the person behind the behavior rather than what he’s actually doing at any one moment. Especially after a dazzling early period of getting to know him, the impression goes deep that this is the guy she’s been hoping to find, and this is the kind of relationship she’s always wanted.

    I think the intense feelings surrounding the “person” and the “relationship” come out of hope as much as reality. In fact, these are ideals that take on a lot of psychological and emotional power. Once the belief is there that this man fulfills that ideal - and this seems confirmed by all the love and attention he lavishes on her - it’s much harder to admit that she could possibly be so wrong in both feelings and judgment.

     

    Even when the man starts revealing his more controlling and abusive side, the hope remains that she must be able to do something to bring back that wonderful person behind the immediate problem and restore the relationship as it had been at its best.

    It’s hard to imagine being so rational at a time of intense emotional response, but it’s much safer to avoid relying on the hopes about the “person” and the “relationship”. Assume the man is what he does. The early behavior that seems a little strange for such a wonderful guy is exactly the tip-off you need to pay attention to. That’s the behavior that will become more and more frequent and come to dominate the relationship. That’s who he is, and that’s what the relationship will be like.

    Here are a few of the most important warning signs. (It will take another post to summarize the others.)

    • He can arrive as the knight in shining armor. Many abusive men are attracted to women at especially vulnerable moments in their lives. Perhaps a long-time partner has abandoned her - or died. Perhaps she’s just gotten out of an abusive relationship and feels she’ll never be able to trust another man. Maybe she’s been lonely for years, drifting from one failed relationship to another, worried she’ll always be alone. Perhaps, she’s been depressed and feels she isn’t worthy of being loved.
    • Whatever the reason, an abuser is quick to pick this up and move in to become her rescuer. She really needs support and love, and, all of a sudden, here it is. He’s incredibly loving and attentive, takes her out on the town, gives her gifts, helps to solve practical problems, does all sorts of things for her. He’s a take-charge guy at a time when it helps to have a strong man in her life.


    But there are some odd things:

    • He makes all the plans, decides where to go on a date, gives her things or does favors she hasn’t asked for, all without consulting her first. It’s easy to excuse this as an excess of love or simply out of the woman’s need to let him make the choices, given the emotionally difficult state she’s in. The truth is, though, that he will never care what she needs and will always insist that things be done his way.
    • He talks about his previous relationship as a disaster. After a long period when everything was great (meaning the woman gave into him on everything), the woman turned into an abusive, manipulative monster. He couldn’t understand the change, but all of a sudden she blamed him for all sorts of problems she cooked up. She turned her family and friends against him. Perhaps she stole his children away from him by lying to a court. And on and on.
    • He wants more and more of her time to himself.
    • He disparages friends and family - exactly the people she wants to spend time with.
    • He might even suggest she get a less taxing job so they can be together more often. The fact is he’s nervous when she’s not in his immediate orbit and under his control.
    • He starts to get irritated if she disagrees with his ideas and attitudes about anything - politics, religion, other people.
    • He gets serious too soon about the relationship and starts planning their future together, one that is exclusively his creation.


    These are just a few of the typical behaviors that may not seem ominous at the time but are sure signs of what’s to come. The immediate question is: What should you do if picking up these signals?

    Here is a summary of the advice of Lundy Bancroft, a psychologist who has spent years working with abused men and the women they have victimized. You can find these ideas and a wealth of other material on emotional abuse in his comprehensive book, Why Does He Do That?

    • Talk to him as soon as possible about behaviors that make you uncomfortable and that you just can’t accept.
    • If he keeps on doing the same thing, stop seeing him for a substantial period of time. If you simply give warnings about ending the relationship but keep on seeing him, he’ll assume you don’t really mean it.
    • If he still doesn’t stop or instead goes to different behavior that is also a warning signal, the likelihood that you’re dealing with an abuser is very high. If you keep waiting to see if he’ll change, you could well get in too far and be trapped.

     

    Remember, if you accept him despite misgivings, you’re fulfilling his fantasy as the compliant woman. If you object and resist, you’re ruining that fantasy, and he’ll get even.

25 Comments
  • Merely Me
    Health Guide
    Jul. 01, 2010

    I am so glad that you are continuing to delve into this topic as it is such an important one for so many women.

     

    The National Coalition for Domestic Violence has a checklist as to how to know if you are being abused.  Here is some of that checklist:


    Does your partner...
    ____ Embarrass or make fun of you in front of your friends or family?
    ____ Put...

    RHMLucky777

    Read More

    I am so glad that you are continuing to delve into this topic as it is such an important one for so many women.

     

    The National Coalition for Domestic Violence has a checklist as to how to know if you are being abused.  Here is some of that checklist:


    Does your partner...
    ____ Embarrass or make fun of you in front of your friends or family?
    ____ Put down your accomplishments or goals?
    ____ Make you feel like you are unable to make decisions?
    ____ Use intimidation or threats to gain compliance?
    ____ Tell you that you are nothing without them?
    ____ Treat you roughly - grab, push, pinch, shove or hit you?
    ____ Call, text, or email you several times a day or show up to make sure you are where you said you would be?
    ____ Use drugs or alcohol as an excuse for saying hurtful things or abusing you?
    ____ Blame you for how they feel or act?
    ____ Pressure you sexually for things you don't want to do?
    ____ Make you feel like there "is no way out" of the relationship?
    ____ Prevent you from doing things you want - like spending time with your friends or family?
    ____ Try to keep you from leaving after a fight or leave you somewhere after a fight to "teach you a lesson"?

     

    The primary goal of an abuser is control and when these ways are more of the person's normal actions than not...you may be dealing with an abuser.

     

    Thank you for continuing this very essential conversation.  The more we talk about this and bring it into the light the more we can help people.

     

     

     

     

    • jpw2008
      Jul. 08, 2010

      hi MM

      I had a friend like that.

      I got a couple things checked off on the list

      He tried to control me

      I was with him for 3 years off and on

      Memories don't go

      I said My life is nightmare

      A woman at the therapy group said I choose what to make of it

      My thought was but how

      It seems that she thought I wasn't working on it

      I am very scared

      Everywhere I go I find...

      RHMLucky777

      Read More

      hi MM

      I had a friend like that.

      I got a couple things checked off on the list

      He tried to control me

      I was with him for 3 years off and on

      Memories don't go

      I said My life is nightmare

      A woman at the therapy group said I choose what to make of it

      My thought was but how

      It seems that she thought I wasn't working on it

      I am very scared

      Everywhere I go I find people that want to control me

      Where do you learn assertiveness?

      Jon

    • Anonymous
      Dawn
      Jul. 08, 2010

      I too am going thru being with a abuser. I have been with him for 9 years and only since we got married 3 years ago did he truly show his true self. He has been taking care of me and my son and I have worked here and there. I have had him arrested twice for hitting me but my dumb self continues to take him back. It has gotten to the point I am being accused...

      RHMLucky777

      Read More

      I too am going thru being with a abuser. I have been with him for 9 years and only since we got married 3 years ago did he truly show his true self. He has been taking care of me and my son and I have worked here and there. I have had him arrested twice for hitting me but my dumb self continues to take him back. It has gotten to the point I am being accused of messing around and I can't even talk on the phone without him listening in on the conversation. He hates my family and of course they don't like the way he treats me and I know it is bad for my son to be surrounded by this. I feel trapped. I am in therapy and my 11 year old son is as well.There is just so much going on that there is not enough space. Basiclly I am stuck for the moment and he is now hanging it over my head that the lease is up the end of August and it is just like he is tormenting me. I will pray for all of us to get out of these horrific relationships.

    • John Folk-Williams
      Jul. 11, 2010

      I'm so sorry to hear about your situation. The one saving thing is your ability to see through this and try to get out. So many people get drawn in and sort of brainwashed for years and years - one woman wrote me about a 37 year marriage to an abusive man. I hope you don't stay stuck for long. Keep writing here - I think you'll get a lot of support, maybe good...

      RHMLucky777

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      I'm so sorry to hear about your situation. The one saving thing is your ability to see through this and try to get out. So many people get drawn in and sort of brainwashed for years and years - one woman wrote me about a 37 year marriage to an abusive man. I hope you don't stay stuck for long. Keep writing here - I think you'll get a lot of support, maybe good advice too.

       

      John

    • John Folk-Williams
      Jul. 11, 2010

      Thanks, Merely Me -

       

      That's a great reference to have. It's strange that this issue doesn't get more discussion and action - before it turns physically violent. It's interesting that domestic violence is talked about in a way that seems almost independent of the emotional abuse that leads to it. I suspect that's because people just don't want to talk...

      RHMLucky777

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      Thanks, Merely Me -

       

      That's a great reference to have. It's strange that this issue doesn't get more discussion and action - before it turns physically violent. It's interesting that domestic violence is talked about in a way that seems almost independent of the emotional abuse that leads to it. I suspect that's because people just don't want to talk about how widespread abusive and controlling behavior is and make a psychological jump when things get violent. All of a sudden that's criminal and the justice system comes into it.

       

      You're completely right that health sites like this need to look at the broad effect on a person - at many levels - so much more intensively.

       

      John

       

      Also please accept my apologies for taking so long to respond - my reply to Donna says a little more about that.

    • Donna-1
      Jul. 11, 2010

      John, regarding your comment, "people just don't want to talk about how widespread abusive and controlling behavior is" -- it took a long time for the fact to sink in that my husband was abusing me.  As if a part of my mind said, "Oh, I'll just ignore that because surely I misunderstood."  Like it was partly my fault.  And after it happened dozens...

      RHMLucky777

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      John, regarding your comment, "people just don't want to talk about how widespread abusive and controlling behavior is" -- it took a long time for the fact to sink in that my husband was abusing me.  As if a part of my mind said, "Oh, I'll just ignore that because surely I misunderstood."  Like it was partly my fault.  And after it happened dozens of time, it just got to be a part of the routine.  I became tolerant to a great degree, even though his behavior made me angry.  I think if I had either been older or younger, I would have seen what was really going on.  But at the time, I had been depressed for years and I thought that at last here was someone who could shoulder some of the burdens of life with me.  I thought marriage would lift the depression.  ("A burden shared is a burden halved.")  But the burdens became tenfold.  At least, then I had someone to blame them on!  lol

       

      Donna

  • PeteM34
    Aug. 07, 2011

    As a victim of domestic violence in my previous marriage, I wholeheartedly take offense to your assertion that the overwhelming majority of abusers are men. 

  • hulber524
    Jan. 25, 2011

    While all of these things are true, I think it is important to point out that friends and other family members can dole out emotional abuse as well. For instance, I have a daughter who was so emotionally abusive, I had to leave my own apartment and get a new one-bedroom apartment elsewhere. She is still abusive, but I have begun setting boundaries and limits...

    RHMLucky777

    Read More

    While all of these things are true, I think it is important to point out that friends and other family members can dole out emotional abuse as well. For instance, I have a daughter who was so emotionally abusive, I had to leave my own apartment and get a new one-bedroom apartment elsewhere. She is still abusive, but I have begun setting boundaries and limits to what I will accept from her. For example, if she begins to yell at me on the phone, I tell her she can call me the next day when she has calmed down, say goodbye, and hang up.

  • Anonymous
    poetlore
    Jul. 13, 2010

    I feel that I am in a relationship with the potential for emotional abuse and I am becoming increasingly sad and depressed.  My partner lately has begun to show very little physical affection for me, which is crushing to me--I feel I have suddenly become ugly or something. 

     

    I have also begun lately to feel more like an employee of his than...

    RHMLucky777

    Read More

    I feel that I am in a relationship with the potential for emotional abuse and I am becoming increasingly sad and depressed.  My partner lately has begun to show very little physical affection for me, which is crushing to me--I feel I have suddenly become ugly or something. 

     

    I have also begun lately to feel more like an employee of his than a lover--when I come over, he says things like, "The garden needs watering," abruptly.  No hug, not even a smile when he sees me, just basically orders to do something around his house that needs to get done.  I feel I am buying into increased subservience to him.  In addition, he will fire off venomous emails rather than talk to me in person about problems, which I think is very cruel and has often just crushed my heart.  He also recently used the "silent treatment" on me when he claimed I ruined his evening for a concert we attended--I was very ill and should not have attended the concert, but it left me feeling that the concert was a lot more important to him than I am. 

     

    I don't yet know what to do--I am always hoping someone will change, and I will try to find time to talk to him, as I do feel he listens to me much of the time and perhaps will take in what I need to tell him.  Things are still early with us and perhaps there is room for things to get better--I have not given up on someone I love very much.

     

    Thank you for listening.  I guess when "things" become more important than our partners, that is a sign of a definite need for an "attitude adjustment"!!

    • longstobefree
      Jul. 13, 2010

      Poetlore,

       

      I am concerned for you. "People make time for the things that are important to them." "The one that loves the least controls the relationship." "The one who talks first loses." Three quotes for you to think about. Your significant other's actions are very domineering. He is showing you very little respect. I know all about the "silent treatment"....

      RHMLucky777

      Read More

      Poetlore,

       

      I am concerned for you. "People make time for the things that are important to them." "The one that loves the least controls the relationship." "The one who talks first loses." Three quotes for you to think about. Your significant other's actions are very domineering. He is showing you very little respect. I know all about the "silent treatment". My ex will walk in and stand there, hands on hips and glare at me or the kids and not say a word. He never gives an introduction, just remains silent and waits for one of us to break the silence. It is all about intimidation. It's a power play. Getting you to bend to their will. Making demands, giving orders. A big warning sign is accountability. Never taking responsibility for their own actions!!! Placing the blame on someone else (usually you). You will never be able to do enough for this person. You will never be pretty enough, thin enough, good enough in bed, a good enough cook, and the list goes on. You will bust your ass and wear yourself out trying to please this person to no avail. You will never be able to do anything right in his eyes! He will always, always, find fault with everything that you do! Yes, you will have heart to heart conversations and he will listen to you and he will make you feel as if you are being heard. Perhaps promises of change will be made. Typically, men in this situation do not change. No one changes unless they want to. They might alter their behavior for a short time in order to keep you but they will quickly go back to their normal ways. I know I'm judging without knowing this person. I just want you to be aware so that you can keep your eyes open, look for any other warning signs so you can get out of this relationship quickly, if need be. No relationship is worth it. You deserve better. You truly do!

  • Anonymous
    poetlore
    Jul. 13, 2010

    I feel that I am in a relationship with the potential for emotional abuse and I am becoming increasingly sad and depressed.  My partner lately has begun to show very little physical affection for me, which is crushing to me--I feel I have suddenly become ugly or something. 

     

    I have also begun lately to feel more like an employee of his than...

    RHMLucky777

    Read More

    I feel that I am in a relationship with the potential for emotional abuse and I am becoming increasingly sad and depressed.  My partner lately has begun to show very little physical affection for me, which is crushing to me--I feel I have suddenly become ugly or something. 

     

    I have also begun lately to feel more like an employee of his than a lover--when I come over, he says things like, "The garden needs watering," abruptly.  No hug, not even a smile when he sees me, just basically orders to do something around his house that needs to get done.  I feel I am buying into increased subservience to him.  In addition, he will fire off venomous emails rather than talk to me in person about problems, which I think is very cruel and has often just crushed my heart.  He also recently used the "silent treatment" on me when he claimed I ruined his evening for a concert we attended--I was very ill and should not have attended the concert, but it left me feeling that the concert was a lot more important to him than I am. 

     

    I don't yet know what to do--I am always hoping someone will change, and I will try to find time to talk to him, as I do feel he listens to me much of the time and perhaps will take in what I need to tell him.  Things are still early with us and perhaps there is room for things to get better--I have not given up on someone I love very much.

     

    Thank you for listening.  I guess when "things" become more important than our partners, that is a sign of a definite need for an "attitude adjustment"!!

    • Donna-1
      Jul. 13, 2010

      If he is treating you like this now, there is not only the potential for emotional abuse, it has already BECOME emotional abuse.  If you don't want to continue to be treated like this (with a high probability of escalation in the future) then GET OUT NOW.  There are good guys out there, and although every relationship takes a lot of work, this one...

      RHMLucky777

      Read More

      If he is treating you like this now, there is not only the potential for emotional abuse, it has already BECOME emotional abuse.  If you don't want to continue to be treated like this (with a high probability of escalation in the future) then GET OUT NOW.  There are good guys out there, and although every relationship takes a lot of work, this one is bad from the start.  YOU DESERVE BETTER.  Be good to yourself.  Your good nature says that perhaps he will change, given enough love and care from you.  That's what I thought and went ahead and married the jerk.  Then it really became hell.  And ended 13 yrs later.  I am 52 now and those were the worst years of my life.  It would be easier to end your relationship at this point rather than down the line.  Find someone who is good to you.  As a friend of mine used to say, "There are a lot things worse than being lonely."

       

      Donna

  • Anonymous
    Margaret
    Jul. 08, 2010

    Jon...Thank you for raising this subject. Emotional abuse hurts and in such a different way of course than physical. It is like a cancer that slowly grows and eats away at your love for life and your love for your partner. I have been married over 30 years to a man that I knew on my honeymoon wasn't right for me!! talk about low self esteem. He started out...

    RHMLucky777

    Read More

    Jon...Thank you for raising this subject. Emotional abuse hurts and in such a different way of course than physical. It is like a cancer that slowly grows and eats away at your love for life and your love for your partner. I have been married over 30 years to a man that I knew on my honeymoon wasn't right for me!! talk about low self esteem. He started out with moodiness and became sullen and detached as the years went on. Being the good Catholic girl that I was, I of course stayed praying God would give me the strength and him the things it takes to be a real man. Things would get better for a while and then the darkness would return. Then the kids came 3 1/2 years apart one boy, one girl. Perfect family, right? Oh so wrong.

    He was/is married to his job and traveled like crazy. I worked, took care of the kids, house, bills, etc. Thankfully I had some support otherwise I don't know what I would have done to manage day to day. Things with my husband and his moods only got worse and became an all the tine thing. My children by then were in middle school and then H.S. I didn't want my children to be another statistic or "children of divorce" so I still stayed and took the beratement, embarrassment, coldness, and gradual and increasing lack of intimacy. His hobbies are all solitary and things that for reasons explained below; I cannot participate in. He withdraws to the point that I have been suicidal at times thinking it is/was me?

    I always worked in one capacity or another as my profession allowed for flexibility. And, I promised myself when the youngest graduated college if nothing had improved that I would leave and start MY life. Well life can be very tricky because I suffered a severe injury at work and was diagnosed with a chronic degenerative illness. Now my time when I thought I would FINALLY be free of this loveless emotionally abusive marriage ~I instead became dependant upon him for benefits, a home, finances, etc.

    Since my health problems began, he has only become worse with his distance and beratement as if I am somehow to blame for the situation. No intimacy, no loving hugs, words, nothing. I feel trapped now because of following what I thought at the time was the right thing to do. My children are now one by one leaving home and it will be me and this man. This person who I feel has no love or compassion for me, and though I still have love for him as the father of my children; there is little else but respect for him being a good provider as my Mom would always say. I would rather have a real loving man that made  a pittance compared to this long living hell.

     We will be cohabitants~roomates~strangers in a cold war that will probably never end.

     

    Run like a Rabbit...I am so sorry you endured 13 years of that abuse ; and all the trauma that follows. I hope you can some day find peace and solace and let your experiences set you free rather than haunt you. I know what that is like and it's almost worse than the abuse itself....God Bless

     

    Merely Me...I could check off about 3/4ths of the checklist you provided regarding my husband of nearly 31 years.  So sad that I wasn't strong enough to leave.

     

     

    • longstobefree
      Jul. 08, 2010

      Margaret,

       

      My heart is breaking for you! You spent your life "doing the right thing" only now to be left at the mercy of this monster! I can relate to your story in so many ways. I fear for you though. Who is to say that he will continue to provide for you? What safeguards do you have in place in case he decides to leave? Can your children help you at...

      RHMLucky777

      Read More

      Margaret,

       

      My heart is breaking for you! You spent your life "doing the right thing" only now to be left at the mercy of this monster! I can relate to your story in so many ways. I fear for you though. Who is to say that he will continue to provide for you? What safeguards do you have in place in case he decides to leave? Can your children help you at all? I realize they are just starting their careers but perhaps you could go for extended visits.

       

      I, too, am disabled and my biggest fear is having to become totally dependent upon someone. I've already been sentenced to a life of extreme poverty because I was raising my children when I became sick so I didn't have enough work credits to qualify for regular disability. I receive SSI.  Although I'm divorced, I'm still dependent upon my ex for several things and we have young children. Because this type of abuse is "unproveable", the courts will not allow my children and me to be free of him.  We still have another ten years of abuse ahead of us. I don't know if I'll live for another ten years, but my children have that long to deal with it. We recognize the abuse and my children are accustomed to it, which is wrong. They don't know any other way of life.

       

      Every agency has told me that they can't help me because there's no "real" proof of abuse. We're engaged in a custody battle right now. I can't even afford an attorney and legal aid won't help me. He has access to a ton of money and hires top lawyers. He does everything wrong and gets away with it! My children and I count day each day as we get closer to the ten year mark when we will finally be free. I'll be in my late 50's by then. We feel hopeless most of the time.

       

      I understand your situation. I wish I could help. I wish I could help us all. God knows none of us deserve any of this! A lifetime of abuse............................ it's insane...........................................

    • Donna-1
      Jul. 11, 2010

      Why 10 yrs?

       

      I attended group therapy at a women's shelter, for free.  The group was for abused women.  If there is such a shelter in your area, you might benefit from the therapy.  You would probably make friends there, too, which everyone needs.

       

      Best wishes to you.

       

      Donna

    • longstobefree
      Jul. 12, 2010

      Ten years untilmy youngest turns 18 and then we are finally free. Thanks for the suggestion of the group. There is one, and only one, in this area. Unfortunately, it is limited to survivors of sexual abuse only (incest-I do qualify) but that is not the issue at hand. I'd rather not go into those issues at this time but would rather deal with this the problems...

      RHMLucky777

      Read More

      Ten years untilmy youngest turns 18 and then we are finally free. Thanks for the suggestion of the group. There is one, and only one, in this area. Unfortunately, it is limited to survivors of sexual abuse only (incest-I do qualify) but that is not the issue at hand. I'd rather not go into those issues at this time but would rather deal with this the problems with my ex and how to help my children (and me). The service in this area are terrible at best. Believe me, I've tried to make friends and make them easily but this area does not take kindly to strangers. You have to be born and bred and be able to trace your roots to this area in order to be accepted or, you have to be wealthy. (Money always talks, doesn't it?) And after 14 years here, volunteering in the comunity, always lending a hand, has not done a damn thing to endear me to anyone. I'm still considered an outsider. Being poor certainly brings on more prejudice. If we could only move just 50 miles away it would be a completely different world.....................but without help or resources of any kind..........we are stuck...............I've even appealed to the local clergy of all faiths to no avail. I will scream if I hear one more time, "We can't help you", "We don't offer that", "We don't do that", "No one has ever asked us that before" or, the really good one, "Who do you know?" "Who are you related to?"

    • Donna-1
      Jul. 12, 2010

      I'm so sorry.  You have my support/our support here at this site.  It does sound like you are in a nightmare.  You sons need you -- hold on to that.  I have never lived in a place where my "lineage" was more important than my expressions of kindness.

       

      Donna

  • thomasbipolar
    Jul. 08, 2010

    Men may be emotionally abusive in the ways you describe, but women and be equally abusive in completly other ways.  Men my try to control or dominate directly, but in my case my ex control indirectly through all of our friends and family.  Many women do not understand how emotionally destructive it can be when a women confides your secrets about your...

    RHMLucky777

    Read More

    Men may be emotionally abusive in the ways you describe, but women and be equally abusive in completly other ways.  Men my try to control or dominate directly, but in my case my ex control indirectly through all of our friends and family.  Many women do not understand how emotionally destructive it can be when a women confides your secrets about your relationship issues.  Especially when it is a "night out with the girls" and drinks tend to make for loose lips.  I is hard to face people in public when this occurs as it makes us feel worthless.  Also many women who are primary care givers of the children use that very privilage as ammunition against the working husband.  While I understand how challenging being a mother can be, most women in this situation do not understand the pressure that puts on the man to succeed to support a single family income.  That being late sometimes or being out of tune with worry sometimes is not an excuse to berate a spouse.  Especially in front of the children.  Men tend to internalize most of their worry over work and when the women shuts him down at home it almost becomes natural to shut down at home as well.  Over time this builds up and I guess it causes what most would call "passive agressive behavior".  I call it self preservation.  I have been diagnosed for 12 years as being bipolar, I hold a steady job, and I take my medication, but that is not always enough to prevent the cycles.  What is worse is that when you have to live in fear of the cycles and not be allowed to feel them, because you are afraid of being called "crazy".  I other words I was never allowed to be bipolar but whenever there was a fight and got upset is was becasue "see you are bipolar".  Fortuanately I left my ex 8 yrs ago and have a much more stable life with a women how understands what it is like to be flawed.  So emotional abuse can be a two way street it is just that the streets may be different and it has nothing to do with being bipolar.  When another person does not let the other be "who they really are" that opens the door wide open for emotional abuse.

  • jpw2008
    Jul. 08, 2010

    hi

    I think I emotionally abuse to people.

    I have talked to an associate a women friend

    I had asked where she lived.

    I got the response that there might be issues about that.

    I respected that ,She must have sensed that I might be an abuser

    I still think I am!

    I thought of killing myself because of it

    Jon

  • Judy
    Jul. 02, 2010

    This is a good article, John.  I believe I've also read/heard that women who have grown up with fathers like this are more prone to pick similar men as partners, in a sub-conscious attempt to master the situation.  So, I would think that if you are a woman with this kind of history, you would want to be especially attentive to signs of this and...

    RHMLucky777

    Read More

    This is a good article, John.  I believe I've also read/heard that women who have grown up with fathers like this are more prone to pick similar men as partners, in a sub-conscious attempt to master the situation.  So, I would think that if you are a woman with this kind of history, you would want to be especially attentive to signs of this and your tendency to put up with it.  It might be a "comfortable" situation because that's all you've known, but there are good men out there that are worth looking for.

    • John Folk-Williams
      Jul. 11, 2010

      Thanks, Judy - That's great advice. Why we get attracted to certain people is so mysterious - and unconscious. Since we get into such deep love and relief to find the "right" person, it's so much later that the real character of your mate stands out more clearly. Luckily - after some close calls - my wife and I chose each other because on some level we knew...

      RHMLucky777

      Read More

      Thanks, Judy - That's great advice. Why we get attracted to certain people is so mysterious - and unconscious. Since we get into such deep love and relief to find the "right" person, it's so much later that the real character of your mate stands out more clearly. Luckily - after some close calls - my wife and I chose each other because on some level we knew we balanced each other and could offer help with the similar issues we'd had to deal with. So, we avoided marrying a mother or a father figure and recreating the mess we grew up with. Wish it worked that way for everyone.

       

      John

  • Donna-1
    Jun. 30, 2010

    Wow!  You must have known my ex.  A manipulative, glowering, scary, controlling, jealous, sexually abusive man.  I really had no idea there was such a thing.  I mean, maybe in books and movies or whispered about through the grapevine.  But it never entered my mind that I might fall into that kind of trap.  I considered myself a...

    RHMLucky777

    Read More

    Wow!  You must have known my ex.  A manipulative, glowering, scary, controlling, jealous, sexually abusive man.  I really had no idea there was such a thing.  I mean, maybe in books and movies or whispered about through the grapevine.  But it never entered my mind that I might fall into that kind of trap.  I considered myself a savvy 24-yr-old, in my last year of college, away from home for the first time that year.  I was very depressed and lonely.  You know, now that I look back it was quite obvious what his intentions were and of what his character consisted (= shit.)

     

    It turned out that I was quite savvy about physics, English lit, art history, etc., but very naive and impressionable when it came to realtionships.  My past was utterly devoid of female companionship and dating had consisted of very "safe" dates with guys from my church who knew my dad would kill them if they laid a hand on me.  Out on my own was another thing completely.

     

    Boy, I could write a whole book on the subject (and maybe I will some day) and parts of it would seem ridiculously absurd (my hopes he would change).  My husband would seem ridiculously absurd (he was addicted to cross-dressing and wearing diapers and pretending he was pregnant and viewing online pornography.  What a mess!)  I went along meekly with all his schemes and he treated me very badly.  Our marriage lasted 13 years, at the end of which I had a complete psychotic break and attempted suicide 3 times.

     

    I had been taught that as a "good Christian wife" I should be tolerant and loving and submissive.  That's what the Bible teaches, after all.  I grew more and more livid with white-hot anger, all of which I confined to my journal but never showed outwardly.  I began to dissociate to escape the abuse.

     

    He told me where to work (where he worked so he could keep an eye on me,) where I could go for lunch, that I could not have my own car or bank account.  He never wanted me to visit my nearby family.  Gym membership was allowed only at women-only fitness clubs.  I was to give him sex whenever he wanted, however he wanted it, as many times a day as he wanted it.  Often twice a day.  He told me what to wear, that I had to wear contacts instead of glasses, that I had to get breast implants.

     

    I did everything he asked, thinking that if I could only learn how to please him and do things "the right way" (nothing was ever right) that he would love me in return.  Nope.  It never happened.

     

    Divorce, instigated by my outraged sister, finally pulled the plug on our marriage and let that filth slowly drain out of my mind and body.  But it's still not all gone.  I have body-memories when any man gets near me physically, and want to RUN!  Like a rabbit from a wolf.

     

    The things you said, John, are exactly right and unerringly true.  There are lots of truly narcissistic men out there who want nothing more than to have what amounts to sex-slave wives and someone to do the housework, while looking like a million dollars.  It can't be done.  No one can live up to their demands and expectations.  You are right on the money -- there are hints if only you are looking for them.  If something seems odd or disturbing early in your relationship, it is only likely to blow itself up out of all proportion after commitment to marriage or a partnership.  And it never goes away.  And it is so disappointing and causes such anger.  AND...the only thing to do is to dissolve the relationship ASAP and come away with your life.

     

    Especially for a woman who is already prone to depression, these kinds of abusive relationships are deadly.  Take the warning seriously.

    • jpw2008
      Jul. 08, 2010

      Hi

      I'm sorry you had to go thru that.

      I have no idea what its like to go thru that

      I hope I can get help so I'm not like that anymore

      I dont crossdress or wear diapers.

      But I've thought of being a women

      I don't understand what happens why men do that

      Thank You for your expressions

      I hope they help you

      Jon

    • Donna-1
      Jul. 08, 2010

      jpw, you are a strong person to be able to look at yourself and see what needs to be changed.  You change not all at once, but by making steady steps forward, one at a time.  I believe change is possible.  But you know the old joke: "How many therapists does it take to change a lightbulb? Only one, if the lightbulb wants to change."  Your...

      RHMLucky777

      Read More

      jpw, you are a strong person to be able to look at yourself and see what needs to be changed.  You change not all at once, but by making steady steps forward, one at a time.  I believe change is possible.  But you know the old joke: "How many therapists does it take to change a lightbulb? Only one, if the lightbulb wants to change."  Your desire and willingness to change will propel you forward.  Maybe others that read this will know of some good literature for you to read.  I bet there is some out there.

       

      Donna

    • John Folk-Williams
      Jul. 11, 2010

      Hi, Donna -

       

      First, I need to apologize to all here for being AWOL for a couple of weeks and failing to respond to these powerful comments. A lot's been happening in the family - the important side - and on the computer disaster front. Still not out of the woods so I'll only get here sporadically for a while.

       

      Thank you for discussing this 13-year...

      RHMLucky777

      Read More

      Hi, Donna -

       

      First, I need to apologize to all here for being AWOL for a couple of weeks and failing to respond to these powerful comments. A lot's been happening in the family - the important side - and on the computer disaster front. Still not out of the woods so I'll only get here sporadically for a while.

       

      Thank you for discussing this 13-year hell - it can't be easy to bring that up. Reading your story, I can only imagine the psychological torture and pain. It seems incredible that these relationships can go on for so long when you're an outsider, but I know the psychic impact is overwhelming and completely disempowering - just as intended by the controlling monster who's trapped you.

       

      Thank God for your sister and for your strength to withstand such deep abuse and regain your own inner integrity as a person. To look back on it all and write in so helpful a way for others says so much you.

       

      You are a treasure!

       

      John

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