Controlling Relationships

Just over ten years ago I was looking through the chat section on a dog forum, and I came across a post with this heading. A lightbulb came on for me and I realised for the first time that I was OK, and 'he' was not.

I left. I had to break into my own house with the help of a locksmith to rescue my dog. I moved three times in 9 months to get away. I had to call the police several times. I had to go to court to get the house sold and my share of the proceeds.

When the scales fell, I could not understand how an intelligent woman like me could have allowed him to get away with it. But emotional abusers are very clever, and sneak up on us!

One or two threads I have come across have rung warning bells for me. So I think it time I speak up.

Here is the post (reproduced with permission) that started my journey. I will be forever grateful to the lady who wrote it - and supported me through the process of regaining my me.

"I got out of a violent relationship in 1999 (wooohooooo :biggrin: ).I have several bits of info that I find very useful.I know women I have shared it with have found it a real eye opener,I swear these men all went to the same 'charm school' :rolleyes:

domestic abuse isn't just about physical abuse it's about running people down emotionally and psychologically

See below

What abuse is'nt:

Talking and acting so that she feels safe and comfortable expressing herself and doing things

Listening to her non-judgementally

Being emotionally affirming and understanding

Valuing opinions

Supporting her goals in life

Respecting her right to her own feelings, friends, activities and opinions

Partner accepts responsibility for themselves

Acknowledges past use of violence/abuse if this has occured

Admits being wrong when they are

Communicates openly and truthfully

Sharing parental responsibilities

Being a positive and non-abusive role model for the children

Mutually agreeing a fair distribution of work

Making family decisions together

Making money decisions together

Making sure both partners benefit from financial arrangements

Solving conflicts together in a way that helps both of you

Accepting change

Being willing to compromise

What it is:

Making her afraid by using looks, actions, gestures, smashing things, destroying her property, abusing pets, displaying weapons.

Putting her down, making her feel bad about herself, calling her names, making her think she's crazy when she isn't, playing mind-games, humiliating her, making her feel guilty for no good reason,accusing her of affairs etc.

Controlling what she does, who she sees and talks to, what she reads, where she goes. Limiting her outside involvement. Using jealousy to justify actions.

Making light of the abuse, not taking her concerns seriously, saying it didn't happen, shifting the responsibility for abusive behaviour, saying she caused it.

Making her feel guilty about the children, using the children to relay inappropriate messages, using visitations to harass her, threatening to take the children away.

Treating her like a servant, making all the big decisions, acting like the master of the castle, being the one to choose men and women's roles in the house.

Preventing her getting or keeping the job she wants. Making her ask for money. Giving her an allowance. Taking her money. Not letting her know about or have acess to family money.

Making and/or carrying out threats to do something to hurt her

Threatening to leave her

Threatening to commit suicide unless she obeys

Threatening to report her to the police/social services etc on made-up reasons

Making her drop charges against her partner

Making her do illegal things


Accept that you will never find rational motives behind irrational people (abusers), but you will drive yourself crazy if you try.

Accept that you will never understand why or how he can be so cruel and lack remorse, and let it go. You can only learn to understand yourself and your own behavior.

Accept that you cannot control or change an abuser (not with any amount of love, money, or attempts to be the perfect mate), but you can control how (or whether) you react or respond toward him.

Accept that your abuser has nothing you need or want. Each time your bruised psyche attempts to convince you that you want or need him, use your brain. If you stop to think about what you really want and need, you will find that these are things he cannot give you (love, honesty, respect, kindness). He does not have them to give.

Know that these needs are normal human needs (the desire for companionship, intimacy, love, honesty, respect, affection, kindness) and that you can have these needs filled. Learn to find these things from within yourself and from people other than your abuser.

Remember that if you try to get anything at all from him, you are giving him immense power, because he then has the choice to either give it to you or withhold it. Don't give him that power in the first place! Besides, why negotiate a deal with someone who doesn't have what they are negotiating to give in the first place?

Remember that it is always wiser to risk long-term happiness and leave that it is to risk long-term unhappiness (or worse) and stay.

In the beginning, before you learn to love yourself again, remind yourself that although the most difficult and heart wrenching thing is no contact, it is also the healthiest choice and the only true way out.

Always know this. They need us more than we need them! We've just been brainwashed into thinking the opposite of what we now know to be true.

Admit to yourself and to trustworthy support persons that you need love, concern, understanding, support, and especially validation to make it through recovery from abuse.

Finally, remember that asking for or expecting any kindness, honesty, love, maturity, reason, or other unselfish behavior from an abuser is like trying to get blood from a stone.

Try something you've always wanted to try. Take time for yourself. Take care of yourself. Do whatever it is you want to do. YOU ARE FREE NOW!

Start to consider what you want from a healthy partner in your next long-term relationship. If men want to establish an intimate and/or long-term relationship with you, let them know that you are available as a friend right now - and more may come later.

Learn to love and respect yourself. Give yourself all of the kindness and love he never did.

Soon you will see him for what he truly is, and you will see yourself as well. This I promise.


This one I find the best for those who aren't sure or are newly involved with someone.I use this one a lot at work.

Abusive Behaviour – checklist

If you are uncertain whether your partner is abusive or if you want to be able to tell at the beginning of the relationship if the other person has the potential to become more abusive, there are behaviours you can look for, including the following: (remember, you don’t have to tick all the boxes – it’s a list of examples of abusive behaviour.

1. Jealousy. An abuser will always say that jealousy is a sign of love. Jealousy has nothing to do with love; it’s a sign of possessiveness and lack of trust. In a healthy relationship the partners trust each other unless one of them has legitimately done something major to break that trust (like actually having an affair).

2. Controlling behaviour. At first, the abuser will say this behaviour us because they are concerned for your safety, a need for you to use time well, or to make good decisions. Abusers will be angry if you are “late” coming back from the store or an appointment. You will be questioned closely about where you went, who you talked to. As this behaviour gets worse, the abuser may not let you make personal decisions about the house, your clothing, or going out. They may keep all the money, or may make you ask permission to leave the house or room.

3. Quick involvement. Many abused people only knew their abuser for a few months before they were living together. The abuser may come on like a whirlwind, claiming “you’re the only person I could ever talk to” and “I’ve never felt loved like this by anyone”. Abusers are generally very charming at the beginning of the relationship. You will be pressured to commit in such a way that later you may feel very guilty if you want to slow down or break up.

4. Unrealistic expectations. Abusers will expect their partner to meet all their needs: the perfect partner, lover and friend. They say things like “if you love me, I’m all you need and you are all I need”. You will be expected to take care of everything for them, emotionally, physically and sometimes financially too.

5. Isolation. Abusers usually try to cut their partners off from all resources. If you are a woman who has male friends, you are a “whore” a “slut” or “cheating”. If you are close to your family, you’re “immature” or “still mummy’s little girl”. The abuser will accuse people who are supportive of you of causing trouble, and may restrict your use of the phone. They will gradually isolate you from all of your friends. They may not let you use a car and may try to keep you from working or going to courses etc. Some abusers will try to get you into legal trouble so that you are afraid to drive or go out.

6. Blames others for problems. If your partner makes a mistake, it’s your fault for upsetting them in some way so they can’t concentrate on their work, or didn’t have what they needed immediately to hand. It is your job to be at fault for everything that goes wrong, and totally responsible for ensuring that their lives are perfect for them. (after all, they’re not adults capable of doing small things for themselves like the rest of us!)

7. Blames other for feelings. Abusive people will tell you “you MADE me mad” and “I can’t help being angry”. They use phrases like this to ensure that you feel guilty for their inability to do what the rest of us manage to do perfectly well – behave sensibly round other people. Abusers like to see themselves as the “victim” of your “failings” and they do not take responsibility for their own feelings and behaviours.

8. Hypersensitivity. Abusers are easily insulted, and may take the slightest setback as a personal attack. They will rant and rave about tiny things that are really just a part of living.

9. Cruelty to animals and children. They may punish animals and children brutally, They may expect children to be capable of things well beyond their years, or of behaving to impossibly perfect standards (of course, if they don’t, it’s all your fault, (not theirs – they’re not a parent, after all!!). They like to tease animals and children until they cry or yelp in pain and then say “oh it was just a bit of fun”. They may be very critical of other people’s children or any children you brought into the relationship. They may threaten to prevent you from seeing your children or helping them when they cry, they may punish the children if you do something wrong, or prevent you from being with them as a punishment for you. Abuser who beat their partners usually also beat their children.

10. “Playful” use of force in sex. This kind of abuser lies to act out fantasies during sex where they are in charge. They like to tell you that the idea of rape or acting it out is exciting. They show little concern for whether you want sex or not, and use sulking or anger to get you to give in. They keep you awake until you do as you are told, or wake you up, no matter how exhausted you are. They also use sex as a way of “making up” after violent beatings – “there – see – I love you after all because I have demanded sex after hitting you”. All makes perfect sense really (not!).

11. Verbal abuse. In addition to saying things that are meant to be cruel, this can be seen when the abuser slags you off or swears at you, belittling your achievements. They may accuse you of “not being a real woman/man” They may threaten to tell others secrets you shared with them in happier times in the relationship. The abuser will tell you that you are stupid and unable to function without them. They may tell you that you are fat, useless, ugly, that no other person would want you, that you are lucky that they are still around because no-one else would bother with you. They will keep you awake for hours to yell at you or force you to do extra work around the house or for them, etc.

12. Rigid Sex Roles. Male abusers expect their partners to play the traditional role in the household. Male abusers will insist that women obey them in all things, and see your role as being servant to them.

13. Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Many survivors of abuser are confused by their abuser’s sudden changes in mood, and may thing it indicates a special mental problem. Abusers may be nice one minute, and explode the next. Explosiveness and moodiness are typical of people who beat their partner. Many survivors believe that if their partner would only give up drinking or using drugs, the abuse and violence would stop. It usually doesn’t.

14. Past Abuse. These people say they have hit a partner in the past, but the previous partner “made them do it”. This is never true. The fact is that they will begin to hit any partner they are with as soon as they have reached the right stage of abuse in the relationship – by following all the patterns above until they feel like they have complete control and no chance of being caught. Then the violence begins. You cannot “make” someone hit you – it is always their choice to do so.

15. Threats of violence. This could include any angry or frightening threat of physical force meant to control you – “if you don’t behave I will slap you/hit you/kill you” . This is not normal behaviour, but abusers will tell you that “everyone talks like that” and that it is “normal” or “didn’t mean anything”.

16. Breaking objects and wrecking/throwing things. This behaviour is used as a punishment and to terrorise you into submission. The abuser may tell you that it proves how much they love you because they haven’t actually hit you, have they? But they are using violence and terror to control you, and they know it. It indicates great danger to you when someone thinks they have the “right” to punish or frighten their partner by doing any of these things.

17. Any frightening use of force during an argument. An abuser may hold you down, restrain you from leaving the room when you are afraid, push you, shove you, pin you to the wall, trip you up, chase you threateningly.

18. And we haven’t even got onto the subject of the violence that comes next, or the way they control people by stopping their money or food....

And all through every stage of this, you will be told that it was “all your fault” and that “they can’t help it”. Two of the greatest lies ever told. The reality is that they are incompetent and pathetic people who lie a lot.

Life isn’t about threats and fear. If you are afraid of your partner, or what they might do to punish you for getting something wrong, this isn’t normal, it isn’t acceptable, it isn’t how other people live, and it ISNT your fault. You have been caught by an abuser, and this is what they do to each of their victims in turn. It just happened to be you this time.

If they help just one person then it's worth it."

Anyone who needs to can always PM me

67 Replies

  • Ruthi, thank you so much for this, I'm going to send it to someone I love & needs support right now.

  • You are welcome! Remember that people have to be ready to hear this. If she isn't all you can do is be there for her (or him) until the time comes.

  • glad you added the bracket section .... because this will apply to both men AND women , albeit more so to the detriment of the female -- but also to some men -- and it is a very complex issue that has one main goal which is for the perpetrator to TOTALLY CONTROL another , which is in my opinion the 11th sin , just my personal thoughts on the matter ...... alan x

  • alangardner we all know that YOU are lovely and marvellous and adore and respect your partner - your posts here telegraph this - but I will say that although of course anyone can abuse anyone else of any gender, there are some gender issues that don't go both ways, and even if they occasionally seem to, the argument is not helpful.

    As much as we strive for and deserve equality, there are still some situations where gender does not lift right out. History counts.

    I know from reading your other posts that you are not a #NotAllMen type and I'm not trying to 'school' you or whatever the kids are saying these days, but just for the sake of putting it out there for all of us, some food for thought:

  • And let's not forget our old friend gaslighting, used to such wonderful effect by doctors (oops did I say that out loud?):

  • what exactly is gaslighting?

  • manipulate (someone) by psychological means into doubting their own sanity

  • Gotcha.

  • I'd like to add that it doesn't always get this noticeable or extreme, but that doesn't mean its not happening. It can also happen with people other than a partner, and as you said to men too. Sometimes the abuse is purely emotional. Another thing you have to watch out for is that these people learn how to act like the first list, as though they're listening and caring, and its all just to draw you in further. Sometimes I do wonder if these people even know what they're doing. The point is it doesn't matter. The result is you feel like your life is being remote controlled. You might get so used to it you don't notice; just try getting out of there for a minute and you'll realize how much compensation you are doing all the time.

    Respect yourself.

  • thanks for this ruthi. this is all very relevant to this forum actually. dr. myhill wrote in her book about CFS/ME that fatigue related problems are usually a result of emotional or immunological traumas.

    and a very important point that alan has brought up is that of just how the controller, usually the male, is as much imprisoned as the one being controlled. in fact trying to control someone else is often a result of having lost control of their own lives so rather than face up to their own problems, they will look outside of themselves because its always easier to blame someone else for your own shit. chances are that the controller went thru a similar cycle of abuse in their own life.

    i realised a long while ago that i am presently in such a relationship, the fine details very different to the one you have described, but some of the fundamentals are very similar. i took steps back then to assert my self and establish a healthy balance which only went so far. i didn't realise that i need to go the whole hog. but i do realise it now and am actively taking steps to lay down an ultimatum. its a scary threatening journey but i will come the better for it, i need to do it for own good.

    i hope you're in a safe place now.

  • Rainbow100, please be very careful . It's when you leave that the violence escalates. Make sure you have (physical) backup when issuing ultimate, or moving out.

    I am very much in a safe place now, but my heart still races when I see an older man in a baseball cap!

  • Not always! I had an abusive husband for 5 yrs, I can check off nearly everything in that checklist in the first post. Fortunately we did not have kids nor pets. I got away eventually after realising what he was doing was abuse (I was very naive and had no family in the UK to help). However once we were apart that was it, he moved on immediately to another woman and later got married again, so I believe. Poor girl!

  • Yep, they do tend to leave a trail of destruction!

  • How desperate for you, a stranger in a strange land, to have to try to get away. and what an amazing, strong, intelligent and brave woman you must be to have done so. Women need role models like you.

  • That's really nice of you to say, Schenks! :) Mind you as an Aussie I hope I'm not THAT different! :P But yes, horrible times, my mother was in Oz and worse still, she'd gone through an abusive relationship with my father, and I didn't want to tell her about it because, well I felt I had failed somehow by falling into the same trap, and also didn't want to traumatise her over it all.

    I remember watching a Kilroy Silk discussion program one morning whilst in the relationship (maybe 3 yrs in?) and it was about abusive partners. I sat there thinking, hang on, that behaviour... is my husband's!

    Don't know if I'm much of a role model but what I have learned is that an abused person will not initiate the change readily. Some sort of 'threshold' has to be passed. for me it was the day he kicked me in the ribs. That was my 'red line'. It was months before I managed to get away but that was the turning point, instead of trying to explain away his behaviour.

  • You might not have looked all that different to the dominant culture, but you were still in a foreign land. I stand by what i said. And very often adults who are products of a violent relationship go on to become victims, more so than perpetrators. In my case it was my mother who was violent.

    You are dead right about the threshold. But my trigger came when the b**tard threw me out in the snow without shoes and I walked to a phone box and called a taxi to take me to a friend's. The taxi cab driver was a women who eyed me in the rear view mirror and said, "You're having a tough time." She listened as I poured it out to the first person in 18 months I had come across whilst being alone (they isolate you, these abusers) and whilst she didn't say much other than that she'd been there, her parting shot was:

    "You'll never get out."

    "Why?" I asked.

    "Because you're stupid," she said, quietly and evenly.

    That did it for me!

  • Oh that's a dreadful experience Schenks, but that taxi driver did you a big favour!

    It is true, my mother had a violent father (just towards her, he didn't like her very much and it had a terrible effect on her. If anything I had a lucky escape as my father was not around, my mother took me far away to escape, and that was back in the 50s when it wasn't so easy.

    Anyway, we are survivors! And now we must survive dim-witted doctors and health challenges. :D

  • You come from fine maternal stock, girl!

  • Rainbow100 if an abuser has been abused of course we make the connection and use the knowledge to attempt to prevent that outcome for others, but we mustn't retrofit an abusive situation with a handy explanation that takes the responsibility out of the hands of the abuser.

    There is nothing more empowering than knowing our behaviour is not predestined by our history and we can change the outcome through self-knowledge and effort - as you are doing for yourself.

    Just fyi, Relate was brilliant for me (I went about 12 years ago). You *do not* have to go as a couple - you can go on your own - and they will give you a lot of constructive support, like ground rules and how to keep yourself safe, to help guide you through ending this relationship.

    I wish you the best.

  • p.b. re: " but we mustn't retrofit an abusive situation with a handy explanation that takes the responsibility out of the hands of the abuser."

    i have not said anything like that at all.

  • We can pity the abuser without needing to play their games. Mine had a terrible dysfunctional childhood. I am truly sorry for that, and for him. But he knows right from wrong, and has chosen (although it's all my fault in his eyes).

  • agreed ruthi. it helps to understand why they behave in this way, thats all i was saying.

    i have decided that the abuser can choose wtf they like in terms of excuses, its their choice.

  • you have hit the nail on the direct head , ..... as a hypothetical example --- if a rapist had been raped in their upbringing == WOULD THAT BE AN EXCUSE OR REASON for them doing the same thing to anyone else, or indeed putting the blame on the victim .... IN MY HUMBLE OPINION NO, NO , NO .....that person has still committed that abhorant CRIME , everyone has the free will to be classed as a real human for themselves as well as everyone else ..... sorry for my rants on this , but it is something that I feel very strongly about ...... alan xx

  • Rainbow, what Ruthi has taken such care and time to outline is a person termed a sociopath (used to be a psychopath). These people often do not have abusive relationships that formed them, and are absolutely not open to rehabilitation. They do, however, often have a history of some degree of head trauma, in their youth, but this type of personality disorder is not something that can be worked-through very often.

    Only a percentage of men who are aggressive towards women will have been the product of violent backgrounds. There is no trap that the controller is in other than that of being a personality type - this is not an illness. The only recourse for women and sometimes for men in this situation is to get out, and to do so safely, with the support of others, such as Women's Aid, for example. If a sociopath receives an ultimatum to change they will bring to bear every manipulative tool in their box, the ultimate tool is one we read of every single day in the news - murder. And I exaggerate not.

    Be very, very careful.

  • According to my reading the most common personality disorder displayed by controllers is narcissistic - in which the needs of the perpetrator override anything else. But of course sociopaths also regard their behaviour as perfectly justifiable to achieve their ends. They are usually better at hiding their sins than narcissists, and much less likely to be violent - unless they decide to murder someone, of course. But spur of the moment angry violence isn't their style so much.

    Mine was most certainly a narcissist. He knew right from wrong, understood the concept of empathy, and in fact, if his needs weren't involved, could be very empathetic. But when his needs came in to play, any behaviour was justified because his need was so strong. And because he had endured a childhood in which he was genuinely deprived of expressions of love (his mother was schizophrenic and simply not capable of normal behaviour for long periods) his needs revolved around affirmation and expressions of love and respect. Of course that meant he needed to be the centre of my life to an extent that was totally impossible - and when he felt excluded or neglected his behaviour ranged from tantrums to violence. And, of course, he needed to control my life and associations lest I withdrew attention or love.

    He had a peculiarity which I am not sure is typical in that, because he did know at some level that his behaviour was out of order, he would re-invent history. Mostly the new version would justify his behaviour. It was a classic case of 'look what you've gone and made me do'. In contrast sociopaths plot and plan - not something mine was capable of, he was just a mass of emotional reactions.

  • hi there p.b. , no iam not ''LOVELY etc. '' I am just someone that respects fully , and understands [ hopefully ] all others and mine , positions on ALL situations , be they hubby & wife / partners , gender , race , colour , or lifestyle choice ,and yes I do realise that the majority of this particular issue emanates from the ''MALE PLEBS '' , and in my personal view IT SHOULD HAVE NO QUARTER IN our civilised society .... after all ''' do we not all breath the same air ''' ...... and I consciously strive to keep to them views with pride ...... alan xx

  • In addition to being respectful, you seem lovely to me (maybe those two things aren't very different, Idk), but if that's a term you object to I won't use it.

    None of us can understand everyone's situation - some things have to be lived to be understood - but the desire and effort to do so is where real change comes from.

  • no sorry you don't have to live through the '' problems & foibles '' you just need to fully understand both sides and make meaningful contributions to both sides -- education & training for the betterment of everyone , as well as understanding [ which is by far more important ] of the other side , for each and everyone ....... b.t.w. the ONLY 2 things I will always object to is if someone ----- calles me too late for dinner OR if its after the bar has shut !!!!!..... anything else aint a problem ==== I have been called worse and will be no doubt , but will always have my dinner [ even if I have to cook it ] and will never go thirsty ..... just my weird humour there ...... alan xx

  • Alan, just as there is no substitute for education, there is no substitute for 'the lived experience' so I think we will have to agree to disagree, but I am glad I didn't offend you with what I said earlier. :-)

  • exactly , there is no substitute for education OR experience both go hand in hand -- if you actually learn from BOTH -- and no you never offended me [ you only gave your honest opinion , which I really do appreciate ] in any way , as I hope others think about myself , we all need to understand others as well as our own situations and be , hopefully , helpful to someone else ...... altruistic maybe ,but , we all live in some hope ...... alan xx

  • My experience was pretty bad for the 5 yrs I was married, but not nearly as bad as some, my abuse came mainly in the emotional category, although the physical began to escalate, and at that point I knew I HAD to get out or I was in real trouble. My partner wasn't poorly educated, he had a degree, and wasn't an abused child, if anything he ran rings around his family and siblings getting his own way. He actually confessed to punching his (very petite) sister when he was younger and gave her a black eye. It was just his personality. Things were always someone else's fault. I am extremely glad to be rid of all that - was 20 yrs ago now, and after a two year break when I analysed how I came to be in that type of relationship, I met a wonderful guy who I am still with.

    Also to add it can apply to other relationships as well, I began to get that type of abuse from an online female friend, and as you can imagine I cut that pretty darn fast. No-one will EVER do that to me again. But I was surprised at the fear it brought on, though. Flashbacks I suppose. Also a couple moved into our street and he was a real psycho. Saw him actually try to run her down one day. I was very upset at that. She passed by our house in tears (with a three year old in tow) and of course I asked if she was ok, to which she sobbed yes, then very quickly told me to keep my nose out. I totally understood why, but I'll bet she had no idea that I understood that fear so very well.

  • I think the technical term for these abusers is NARCISSIST and there are female as well as male narcissists sadly as I know only too well. The main difference I guess is that females don't have the physical strength advantage (but that doesn't always stop them from being violent).

  • In French they are called 'Pervert Narcissistic', which I think sums it up very nicely. Because it is perverse.

  • As most of you probably know, I always refer to my ex husband as 'The Psycho'. He didn't, of course, run round with a chainsaw, chopping people up. But then, the majority of psychos don't do that! And there are far more of them around than anyone believes!

    I don't know if he was truly mentally deranged. I used to think he had multiple personality disorder, but through it all, I truly believed what he told me : it was all my fault! If only I could be a better wife, a better mother, a better cook, hostess, housewife, gardener, nurse, secretary, motor mechanic, etc, he would be a better husband. And I believed all the lies he told me about my family and friends and all the nasty things he told me they'd said about me because they hated me, really, despised me, wanted nothing more to do with me! After all, why would he lie?

    The crunch came after 27 years, when extreme circumstances - which not only affected me and my children, but a whole lot of other people, too - forced me to see him through other eyes. And I realised - although, only partly, at the time - that I no-longer respected him, or wanted anything more to do with him, or even wanted to be associated with his name! And that, in actual fact, none of it as my fault, after all! That's the way it was! And I told him I wanted a divorce. He didn't say anything, just continued eating his egg and bacon, the egg yolk dribbling down his chin, appearing to fight back the crocodile tears. (I think that's what I hated about him the most, the way he would force himself to cry when the occasion seemed to call for it, when in fact, he was incapable of feeling anything that didn't directly affect him. He had no genuine empathy.) Then he asked if I wanted any breakfast! I just walked out and went to work.

    It was later that the threats and menaces started : you're nothing without me; you'll starve to death on your own because you're useless; what exactly are you trying to prove?!? I ignored them all. He threatened to take my car away - which, it turned out, was still registered and insured in his name! I hadn't known that. But he didn't. And then it was stolen, anyway, so I eventually bought my own.

    I left the house with just a bag of clothes and a duvet in the boot of my car. I would slink back to the house - our house! - when I knew he would be away, and carry off more of my stuff. He chucked a lot of it out, of course. And, to this day, I am still occasionally thinking, didn't I use to have one of those? I wonder what ever happened to it...

    I lost a lot, of course I did. But, I gained even more. My freedom. The only problem has been, that ever since, I've been terrified of losing my freedom to someone else, and have never been able to totally commit to a new relationship.

    The learning curve was steep. And I wasn't at the end of my light bulb moments. From time to time I would read a testimony like the ones above, and think yes! That was me! That was him! That was exactly how it was. I had written about it, but had still to fully understand it. And still had to get over the feeling of guilt and shame. I wasn't fully reassured that it hadn't been all my fault, and I felt guilty about not standing up to him sooner - not understanding sooner that there was something wrong, that my situation wasn't normal or right. But, I'm getting there. I no-longer feel a compulsion to talk about all he did to me, to people who couldn't possibly understand. I bored my friends rigid, and they would say : 'did he hit you?' 'Once or twice, yes.' 'Is that all? He wasn't really abusive, then.' People cannot understand that mental abuse is just as wrong as physical abuse - even though you don't have the bruises to show for it.

    I suppose I had an advantage in that I've always been a boshi bitch, and there fore his plans for subjugation often went wrong, and turned around to bite him in the bum. He wasn't very clever, nor very intelligent - in fact, he was downright stupid! But the damage was still done, and I'm still fighting to regain my sense of me. And then, there's the damage done to my kids, that I can never repair. And that's my deepest regret.

  • Oh GG! I'm not surprised you haven't entirely shaken it all off after 27 years! Mine was less than 7, and I still have to work at self esteem.

    With all due respect to you Alan, no amount of education can replace living through something like this. And although the details differ, the pattern is always depressingly familiar. Sadly I often recognise the feeling, (my emotional shell is very porous) but it's rare that I have the right to offer help or support.

    They pick their victims very cleverly (not that they are clever, but they home in on certain weaknesses) and we all have to take responsibility for allowing them to start. But I still find it hard to understand how I fell victim. It made things hard for my now husband in the beginning, but eventually I learned to trust him. But he isn't allowed even normal griping, poor man!

  • I think it's easy to understand how I fell victime. He was so charming! He lavished money on me, expensive restaurants, weekends away, the lot! It was two weeks after our wedding that things started to change. And, what I really don't understand is, why I allowed it to continue for so long!

    Having said that, I didn't really have much choice. I had a baby pretty soon, and I had no job - things were so different in those days. My mother refused to help me, and I didn't know where to turn. And, soon, I had three children, and it was even harder to get out. We moved to France, and that made it even harder to get a job and be independent. I finally stayed at home for 21 years, which affected my French pension. And, when I finally got a job, his behaviour got even worse! He didn't like me having a job. And all this time I was still struggling to 'make it work'! With people telling me 'it takes two to tango', 'marriage is for life, I don't believe in divorce' and other such gems of wisdom! Even in this day and age, certain people looked down on me because I got divorced. There is still a stigma. They behaved as if my ex was the victim, and I the wicked harridan. They didn't understand that, not only was I saving my life, but I was also saving his, because one day, god help me, when he went off on one of his rants, and I was standing at the stove with a cast iron frying pan.... I'll let you imagine the rest for yourselves. And, yes, I was capable of doing it. I'd had enough!

  • Being charming in the beginning is a hallmark - my poor husband couldn't understand why I was dubious when he wanted to take me to a posh restaurant for my first birthday with him!

    It isn't that long since smacking the wife around was regarded as normal. As long as there were no visible bruises or broken bones it was fine, it seems. Not for everyone, of course, I can remember my father being quite disdainful of someone who knocked his wife about. And of course in that generation the idea of a violent or controlling woman was unheard of! But times have changed, thank goodness.

  • Yes, I know of a female narcissist who is even worse than my ex was! It certainly works both ways.

    I have never been able to tolerate a man that hits a woman. It happened once, in my house, during a party. A man hit his wife in front of me! Knocked her down. I hit him, full in the face - yes, I know you shouldn't meet violence with violence, but... He couldn't believe I'd done that. He just stood there, gawping. I said no, I will not tolerate that in my house! Now get out! And he left without a word. Got outside and punched the first man he saw on the nose! Broke his nose. Sick, sick, sick. Some party that turned out to be!

    And now I feel like such a hypocrite, because all the time I was being abused by my husband, and because it wasn't physical, I just didn't know it! And my ex sat there, all the time this was going on, loving it! He loved to see me get into an argument. He used to orchestrate them, just for his own pleasure (although he had nothing to do with that one). I don't know if that is typical behaviour, and I couldn't see what he was up to for a long, long time. But when I look back, it's as plain as the nose on your face. I wonder if other people saw it, too...

  • They may well have seen it but if you weren't ready to hear the truth anything they said would have fallen on deaf ears. Certainly my children saw it but didn't know how to say anything, and assumed that I was happy with him.

    Your ex does sound unusual. Mine wasn't clever enough to orchestrate anything. He was (still is) an amazing artist though.

    You weren't hypocritical because you didn't understand that you were being manipulated and abused. And we all go through that stage. And when you have young children leaving really isn't that easy, especially when there is little or no violence. Mine were already young adults and had left home by then.

  • Yes, l suppose you're right. And it would have been very difficult to have left at that point.

    My ex didn't have any talent at all - apart from making trouble for other people, and disappearing when things got out of hand. Because he was a terrible coward! But then, all bullies are! But he took it to extremes. And the fact that he didn't have any talent for anything was part of the problem, because l did! And he didn't like that.

    But, l definitely think hevis in large part responsible for the state l find myself in now, healthwise. Always walking on egg shells, never knowing which foot to dance on, took its toll. I'm sure I'd be a lot healthier today if I'd never met him. And I'm sure that's true for most victimes of these people. But, then again, l think it was my disease that drew him to me. I must had exuded an air of vulnerabiliy, a hint of lack of self esteem, that made me an easy prey. Impractically jumped into the snare he laid! There were other reasons, of course, but I'm sure that was a big part of it.

  • fair point ruthie , but, my entire point is that correct education+ experiencing the situation [ could ] === go some way to understanding and [maybe] resolving the issue for the actual people involved ... I don't know but if it helps even 1 its a start ---- personally I cannot get my head around anyone or why they actually do it , as with many other things that everyone of us cannot understand why others do some of the things they do.

  • Been there Grey more times than once, I could write a tome but suffice to say like you I have to work on my own power every day, but thankful living to tell the tale and grateful I found the courage to escape.


  • Yes, it takes a lot of courage! And I wouldn't have been able to do it without the help and encouragement of my son and daughter. I hope you have someone to help you. :) xx

  • In this post, and all the posts that follow, I see not one mention of THYROID. I have read them all, learned from them, and could write similar things about my divorce, but shouldn't we be posting about our thyroid problems?

  • If this post makes you feel uncomfortable or unhappy or bored, just don't read it. There are thousands of others about the thyroid.

  • I maintain this post, in all its wisdom, should be on another forum. What's wrong with saying that? I could just as easily post that my cleaning lady is having an affair with my neighbour.....

  • I disagree. Being ill makes us far more open to abuse. In my case a severe virus infection was the start of my overt hypo symptoms, and left me so much more vulnerable to the abuse. Suddenly I wasn't able to be the model girlfriend any more, and the novelty of being the caring supporter soon wore off. On top of that I was gaining weight and less decorative than I had been. None of that met his needs, and things went downhill.

    We regularly see posts on this board about how the illness is affecting relationships. In some cases, not just mine, the onset of illness aggravates the situation and serious abuse starts. By the time someone arrives on a discussion board dedicated to the victims of abuse, a post like this is unnecessary - they have already worked out what is happening to them. I posted for the many that are in denial, or suffering believing their abuser that it is all their fault. We all need a lightbulb, maybe many, to show us the way out of our hell.

  • Well said, Ruthie, this post has everything to do with thyroid, as l explain in my last comment.

    Tigreg, you have been on here long enough now to have realised that we talk about everything and anything on here. It's importantto be able to do that. But no one obliges anyone to read every post. There are thousands of posts on here about thyroid, but there's more to life than that. And everything is intertwined with everything else. And half the problem with medicine these days is too much specialisation, and little realisation of how things interact with each other. All things are relevent to everything else in the final analysis. But if you are only interested in thyroid, please feel free to read another post. :)

  • Well said !

  • Actually Tigreg there is a correlation between stress and thyroid conditions, this has been well documented, same for fibromyalgia type conditions. I agree it is not good to continually dwell on negative situations but sometimes posts like this give credence and insight into peoples' current conditions. The reasons for stress can be many but our environment and living conditions/relations are profoundly important and need to be recognised so that hopefully their importance is understood in improving the health of future generations together with altering attitudes in society. We can take our Levo/T3 or whatever helps us feel better but never under-estimate the importance of emotional health.

  • Apart from physical abuse, so much of what you've written rings very true in my experience with an abuser - not a partner and not male, but my brother's wife. So two-faced, devious, manipulative and a consummate liar. When I became very ill with undiagnosed thyroid disease, on my own and unsupported, unable to think for myself or make any decisions and my brain even more addled by several psychotropic drugs, my brother also became an abuser and between them they wronged me dreadfully, changing my life. The pressure they put on me was obviously stressful (although at the time I couldn't recognise the stress) and made my illness even worse. In fact I could have died, but won't go into the details here.

    After I was eventually diagnosed and treated I confronted them, but all they did was tell lies without even realising that some of their lies contradicted others, and, as you have written, made out that the fault was mine and I'm the villain of the piece. I never want to see or speak to them again and since the end of last year I'm trying to forget them, but so far it's proving impossible.

  • Your brother probably felt he had no choice. One of the emotional abuser's main techniques is to isolate the victim from friends and family. If he was in denial about what was going on then siding with her was probably his only option. Not laudable but understandable. If he ever leaves her, I hope you can find a way to repair your relationship.

    Abusers control because they fear what will happen if they give us our freedom (we'll leave!). They are effectively stuck emotionally somewhere in early childhood, where their needs are all consuming, and parents provide all the care and security they need. We can make moral judgements, or we can pity them in their state of perpetual fear and loss. I choose the latter.

    Which doesn't condone the behaviour, or make it any less painful for you, Trixie64. But the attitude has helped me to forgive, if not forget. My fear is still very real - and I can't think about him without it all coming back (no wonder my adrenals are in a state of permanent overdrive!). But I understand how he became like he is, and I feel sorry for him. I have escaped from him, but he has to live with his demons to the end.

  • For quite a while a part of me was feeling sorry for my brother. However, what they did when they knew I was so vulnerable involved illegally flouting my late father's wishes and depriving me of a huge amount of money. My brother knows that as a result, I'm in a very unhappy situation, but he's not prepared to do anything about it, even though I've told him that being so unhappy makes it much harder for me to cope with my illness.

    Some ex-friends of my brother told me that they'd known for many years, even before I became so ill, that I no longer meant anything to him, and after the last communication I had from him, which was so venomous, I have come to realise they are right.

    He'll never leave his wife, but if anything happens to her, things might change.

  • Ruthi , how brave of you to tell your story and so provide guidance for others in that position . I am so lucky that I met the love of my life at the age of fifteen and here we are nearly fifty five years later .

    It's so easy to judge abused people from the safety of a happy marriage . I hope you go from strength to strength . You deserve it ! 🌹

  • Its easy to judge because the whole thing is so unimaginable until you find yourself in its midst. These things don't happen to people like us - before it happened to me I neither believed myself at risk, nor thought it could possibly happen to me. I was/am (if my marbles don't desert me) highly intelligent, with no need to be feminist because I could out-think almost anyone. People like that don't fall victim that that sort of thing, do they?

    Pinkpeony you are truly blessed!

  • Thank you for taking the time to post this. Many years ago I was in the classic abusive controlling relationship. I got away through pure fear, if only I had read these words at the time. Thank you

  • This for me was heart-rending, and l had lived this life with my ex husband for 17 years i was happily single for five years then over two years ago my hell began again. I didnt just let this happen once im in it again. All of the above reading has brought me to sobbing and realising i need to get away from this abusive man. I can see now that whats been written above is him clear as day . And why have i allowed it contemplating forgiving him AGAIN. After reading this im getting out before its too late im distraught but so grateful for coming accidently onto this post. Thank you.

  • Michelle, I am so sorry to read you are going through this. It's why I posted, but I hoped no-one would need it.

    If you need a shoulder, just send me a message.

  • Thank you so much, i have booked councilling tomorrow, i will stop this madness as i can see clearer after reading your post im very grateful and know it has to stop. X

  • Good luck!

    Since you have been through it before, you will know about being careful when leaving. Don't give him (it is him?) any warning, and move out while he is out of the house.

    I'm not suggesting it is guaranteed, but when the victim is leaving is when the violence escalates(or starts if its been control up to then). And two women die at the hands of partners or exes every week.

  • Michele do not be hard on yourself it is not uncommon to find yourself in yet another abusive relationship, you need to get into counselling to find out why and also read as much as you can to understand destructive patterns. Some of us persistently end up in addictive situations time and again, often carrying on patterns from childhood, it is easy to become a rescuer and attract those who want to be rescued rather than stand on their own two feet. Co-dependency is more common than realised and society just loves a woman to be more compliant, why only yesterday on the main news was an article on women who have children are likely to be years behind in wage earning salaries. Times are changing but it is slow and indeed tough to go it alone for many of us, but by golly many of us have been brave and gone through the mill just to get some identity and dignity back, so power to your elbow. I have not been in a relationship for years, yes it get's lonely, but there are compensations, I close my front door and enter a lovely stress free zone and can do as I please, priceless!

  • Thanks for your response, people are very kind on here i dont understand why i give my all to make a man happy and take so much abuse. I really want to stop this pattern. Ive shown my children its ok to take it because now my beautiful daughter is going through the same thing at just 19 years of age. I'm gutted and embarrassed . Thank you again your reply is very helpful and has given me determination to change x

  • Michelle I have tried to break patterns but like you my own daughters tend to be enablers and have attracted partners with addictive tendencies, all I can say is with my own hard earned searching for answers I have managed to pass on some of my knowledge and raise their awareness, although patterns still exist they do not appear to put up with as much as I have tended to do in the past. A good book to read is Co-dependent No More by Melonie Beattie. It is good to discuss boundaries with your daughters, making them think, as this is what is missing, reinforcing the belief that certain behaviours are unacceptable and will not be tolerated. Sometimes our tolerance levels are ridiculous, living in hope things will change, this can go on for years, we have to learn to face reality and our disappointments and make a determined effort that we will not put up with so much pain.

  • Gutted and embarrassed is part of the process. It shows that you have seen that the situation is not acceptable. And you are still in the mode of thinking it has to be your fault. It is not, you simply followed your destiny - but now it has changed.

    Our experiences make us. And I rather like myself nowadays, so I cannot entirely regret the experiences that formed the person I am now. I rather wish there had been an easier way, of course! Of course I am still rather embarrassed, not least because I know that most people simply cannot understand how I could have brought that on myself. I am careful who I tell, most don't need to know.

    Michele, this time will be different. You will learn to protect yourself, and hopefully your daughter too. And her daughter may not need to go through the same. And I promise you, there are good men out there (although I have nabbed the very best one!).

  • Ruthi, what a fantastic, important and visceral post. I utterly applaud you. I experienced being in such an abusive relationship, getting out of it by losing everything other than the clothes I stood up in and, the thing I recognised was absolutely irreplaceable, my life.

    And whilst I don't need to expand on an already brilliant discussion, I'd like to add maybe my tuppenceworth.

    This personality type is not necessarily termed narcissistic - a narcissist may be violent and manipulative but it is not necessarily a marker of the personality type.

    This personality type used to be called a psychopath, before it was recognised that the 'path' part, coming from the word 'pathology' or disease process, was wrong in that context of nomenclature. That was because it is not a disease. It is called a personality type, indeed, but is not subject to a disease process per se. Because of that, it is now termed sociopath - the pathology is to be found within how their relationships - the abuser's familial/social/work setting - are conducted, and the pathology lies within the sickness of those relationships.

    What you have taken such time and effort to raise should be taught in secondary schools and your piece would be well worth using to create such an inclusion. I hope you don't mind if I add a couple of pointers, but reading your post, I doubt if you would mind.

    A sociopath is defined by a couple of striking markers.

    1. They have no conscience. This is evidenced by their being able to justify their actions by their own logic according to their own perception, interpretation and needs, which also means that:

    2. They have no empathy. The result of this means that, other than what it might mean for them, they don't care about the effect their actions have on others.

    3. They have little foresight, being unable to comprehend the potential results of their actions for others, as opposed solely for themselves.

    And lastly they are, oddly enough, often very intelligent and physically attractive.

    Sociopaths can be very successful people since lack of empathy and conscience is very useful in the business/corporate/legal world and of these 'top of the tree' ers, many (and some are quite famous) are high-functioning sociopaths. And not all sociopaths are violent and abusive - they are very much shaped by their childhoods; these can be abusive, but they can also be simply less-than optimally nurturing. But of all adult sociopaths, few are open to rehabilitation - which is long, involved and costly and merely aims at behavior change. nothing can instill empathy.

  • I've obviously been reading out of date books.

    But by these definitions mine was no sociopath

    1. They have no conscience. This is evidenced by their being able to justify their actions by their own logic according to their own perception, interpretation and needs, which also means that:

    He did have a conscience, although it was quite limited. The re-invention of history was his attempt to salve his conscience, and when challenged he even admitted it a couple of times. It had to be challenged quickly though, before the new story became his reality

    2. They have no empathy. The result of this means that, other than what it might mean for them, they don't care about the effect their actions have on others.

    As I said, he did have empathy, he just felt justified in his actions because his needs were so overwhelming.

    3. They have little foresight, being unable to comprehend the potential results of their actions for others, as opposed solely for themselves.

    Mine had no foresight at all - he couldn't predict the results for himself either. The pressure of his need in that moment overrode everything else.

  • Yep, figures. But the reinvention of history may well be described to have been more to reframe consequences to suit the egocentric logic, and the becoming the new reality of the reinvention fits into the lack of conscience. True conscience is the recognition of the effect of actions on others and apprehending, not just comprehending, that effect; that is not just recognizing it. It's like saying that people who have not been abused can comprehend the situation of an abused person, but people who have been abused themselves can apprehend another's situation.

    Remorse, in various degrees, is also generally present in a prick of the conscience, for which true empathy is required.

    Empathy vs recognition of another's pain are similar but different; the justification of actions through the individual's needs are exactly what I was trying to describe in 1. so whereas a sociopath may comprehend they have hurt another, their lack of genuine remorse as opposed to expressions of sorriness means that they are likely to repeat the abuse.

    And lacking in foresight doesn't necessarily mean they have some reserved for themselves. Lacking in foresight for themselves is just a more pronounced form.

    What you describe still fits into the parameters - it is a question of degree, I think.

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