How Did You Brainwash Me?

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

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

What is Brainwashing?

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

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

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

Brainwashing Works Best On A Special Type of Victim

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

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

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

How Abusers Use Brainwashing Techniques Naturally

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

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

In short, abuser’s use brainwashing techniques naturally because “the set-up” is all they know.

Lifton’s Brainwashing Technique

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

Assault on identity

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


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


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

Breaking point

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


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

The compulsion to confess

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

The channeling of guilt

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

Reeducation: logical dishonoring

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

Progress and harmony

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

Final confession and rebirth

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

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

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

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

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98 Responses to How Did You Brainwash Me?

  1. Kati says:

    I was in abusive marriage for 10 years and I’ve been out of it for 4. Healing takes a lot of time. Even my family expected I’d be better immediately after the divorce and thought there was something wrong with me. It’s completely normal to need time to get healthy. I have supportive friends and my faith in God that helps me know that goodness will prevail. My ex has targeted my kids to turn them against me and tells all mutual friends that I’m crazy. I have to document everything and keep taking him to court. It’s a hard road, but you can and will get your life back if you continue to persevere and keep hope. Pulling for everyone here!

  2. Risa says:


    WOW!! You have done such a Great Job on your Posting!! I have just learned SO Much about Abusers and Victims!! I was trying to locate some information because I Truly believe that My 22 year old SON is being Mentally and Emotionally Abused by his Girlfriend of almost 4 years now and it just Breaks My Heart!! I am a Single Mom and I raised My 2 Boys Completely on My Own, with NO Help Financially or Emotionally from their father that walked out when my oldest son was 12 and my youngest son was only 2 years old. I often wonder If my youngest son is Allowing this Abuse to continue because his father has Never been a part of his life and he has become Close to his girlfriend’s father!!?? Could that be a Factor?? His girlfriend started off acting as if she really did Like Me and Our Family, but then things began to Change!!?? Over the past couple of years my Son has become Very Distant with Me and We used to be Extremely Close. I had noticed that She would always say things around me like “You Are Such a Momma’s Boy” and he used to smile and say “Yes I Am”!! You could just Read the Expression on Her Face that those words and Our Close Relationship just Infuriated Her, but I honestly Never Understood until Now!! She has also Never been Close to her Own Mother, but Very Close to Her Father. Her Parents were also Divorced when she was 3 years old, but her Father uses “$Money” as His Way of being Close to Her and she Uses It, letting me know now that this is probably how she first learned how “Manipulation” was done!!?? She has Totally Isolated My Youngest Son away from ME, His Brother, his Entire Family, And ALL of His Friends!! She has even Started Arguements with Me and turn All of the Blame on Me and then I have had to actually watch My Own Son Totally Take Her Side and Take UP for Her on Everything! I have even witnessed Her Yelling and Screaming at Him and watched Him just Sit There and Take It and Not say One Word back to Her!!?? Does this All sound like Abuse to You?? I Don’t know What to Do and he Won’t even Talk to Me Anymore! It’s Heart Breaking for Me because My Son was Always Such a Great Kid and Very Outgoing with Lots of Friends!! Help Me Help My Son!!!

  3. Roz says:

    I KNOW that I’ve been brainwashed in this 17 year marriage, now living in a state where there is no family to go to for help. I want to have a life before it’s too late, but how does one “break away” from a brainwasher? Thanks

  4. Koko says:

    OMG! It’s so good to hear another person say that they wished that their abuser would just die! I always felt so awful for feeling that way, but it is SO hard to leave it would be easier if he just dropped dead. My abuser got sick and nearly died and I felt bad, but inside I thought “at least now it can truly be over!” There is that fear of doing life alone, but there is also the fear of what terrible thing he might do. It seems irrational to think that way, considering it has never been a physically abusive relationship, but he has done such terrible things to my psyche that I find myself in an almost catatonic state when I think of having to face his abuse, especially if I left for good. I really have no clue what he is capable of as his abuse sometimes feels SO random. I want out, but I also love him (when he is not abusing) and don’t want to lose the man that I love, so instead I keep deceiving myself that if I “let sleeping dogs lie” and jump through all of his “hoops” maybe I can keep that good side of him in control. It never works. He will blow. And then I wonder why I have stayed so long!

  5. chris60 says:

    This is an interesting article and clearly explains the tactics and outcome of abuse. It is easy to repeat abusive tactics as they give someone a sense of power, and the world seems to find the victim weak instead of recognising the way that abuse erodes their sense of self and demanding that the abuser enter therapy instead of opening the door to treat the victim’s wounds. The best tip is to be by yourself for a period of time and to educate yourself about abuse so that you can recognise the warning signs and change your own behaviour to enable healthier interactions. My family is highly abusive and in denial about the fact that incest and domestic violence occurred and still occurs. I have opted to remain away from the crazy-making behaviour and refuse to appear like a happy good daughter to mask the truth in public.

    Unfortunately, finding help can be hard as many therapists also come from abusive backgrounds and are blind to their own desire to maintain control and have you comply with their world view and assumptions about your character and motivations. After seeking help from a sexual abuse counsellor, I left with my head reeling after being accused of being an observor, when in reality I do engage emotionally in relationships and am wary when others display red signs. The fact that this lady then proceeded to attack me for agreeing to seek help – Do you do whatever someone wants? Demanded to know what I wanted, and then ignored my requests for information about meditation and boundaries, claiming not to be a relationships counsellor – heck, how can you deal with sexual abuse and incest with no understanding or relationships? – and proceeded to claim that people from abusive homes have been hard-wired to repeat the abuse or be just like their parents as they grow up with that schema, shocked me. Her refusal to listen or validate my feelings, as well as her insistence that intimacy means ‘sex’, left me stunned. She then claimed the principal who attempted to syphon money from my contract and then attacked me in private was “clever”. I left the office disappointed and confused as I had hoped to receive support instead of feeling invalidated and accused of being foolish and overly compliant for agreeing to seek help. Walking away is not a cowardly act but a sensible choice if you want to regain your sanity. A healthy moment arises when you start to recognise abuse for what it is: an attempt to erode your sense of self to make the other person feel more powerful and in control. Please learn to believe that you are better off alone than in a bad relationship, and do not give a hoot if people find that odd. Communities have been brainwashed people to believe that having a partner is a sign of being normal instead of something that often suits one person at the expense of the other. Most abuse happens within personal relationships rather than at the hands of a stranger. This is a fact that people need to consider seriously before diving in and then floundering with the reality that many people are abusive and all of us have the ability to hurt those we claim to love or want to help. An appreciation of difference helps a lot in overcoming the abuser’s desire for us to share and mimic their world view and be a slave to their needs or a mini-me.

  6. Mel says:

    I have been in an abusive relationship for the last 23 years of my life and still don’t know how to get out. I haven’t lived in these years at all just merely existed. I was 15 when I started dating him and moved away from a dysfunctional family at age 16…from the pan to the FIRE. At first he told me all my gf were sluts and if I hung out with them, that I would be one too?!! Btw my gf were nice girls and to this very day I still regret leaving them for him cause I have NOBODY in my life anymore!:(. One day he had some friends come to our apartment to buy some weed from him, when they arrived I said hello and offered them something to drink….WOW…that was the first and last time I ever did that..after the guys left he went upside me and down the other calling me a dirty slut and that he could see the way I was looking at them?!!! Called me a slut and said he knew I wanted to sleep with them??? I didn’t realize saying hello and offering a drink really meant I wanna get naked and have you right now?!!! After a few other incidents like this I started to learn to NEVER talk to the opposite sex and I learned to hold my gaze to look at the ground so I wouldn’t accidentally look into the eyes of the opposite sex and be accused of flirting with them. I was still in high school when I moved out and in with him, he would drive by my school on breaks and make sure I wasn’t talking or hanging with anyone he didn’t approve of, he never took or let me go to my prom or graduation…things I still regret to this day!!:( one day I was putting my makeup on and getting my day started..he came up to me and said..who are u trying to impress? I said nobody this is just how I start my day..we’ll u don’t need that anymore now that your with me he said…after that day it’s was no more hair and makeup..which I loved to do and only baggy jogging pants and oversized t shirts…I was a 16 year old girl?!!!! Who does that to someone??? He did..TO ME!!:( and I was so naive and had such little self confidence I guess I believed I deserved to be treated this way. Eventually I became pregnant and threw my life into raising our kids…we had 3 kids in 4 years…I kept busy for years being the best mom I could be…he settled down a bit during these years but only cause I lived exactly how he wanted me to. When my youngest was about to start school I got scared thinking what will become of me…I didn’t continue my education after high school, I lost all my friends? I needed something more, I told my husband I needed a job or to continue my education…he wanted nothing of it, just happy to have me stay home and have him take care of everything. I ended up getting deeply depressed and eventually kicking my heels down and insisting I needed a job, eventually I got one and it did wonders for my self esteem, I finally had friends again and felt worthy. Eventually I took this strength and decided to further educate myself for a better job and better opportunities, my husband kicked and screamed and tried to manipulate everything I did, but at this point in my life I had gained a bit of confidence and just went forward, it was all great for awhile that is until I made some amazing friends at work and they started wanting me to go out with them..he caved letting me get a job but no way was he caving about letting me out with friends…I had gained confidence but not enough to go out and have fun…eventually my friends started getting upset with me when I would never do anything with them and eventually I lost work wasn’t so great cause I felt isolated there too. I’d love to keep writing and tell you all the hell and pain I’ve suffered and continue to suffer but because of my husbands abusive ways I cannot even finish writing this post because I’m not allowed to be doing this and he is almost finished his shower, please if you find any of what I’ve written to be familiar of what your going through, find a way to get OUT…I’m still looking!:( but have to go before he sees this!:(

  7. Amy says:

    Dear Kellie,
    I’ve been with my bf for about 7 months now and the last month has been utter turmoil. Everything seemed great and I had a decision to make and job offer in another state and was debating on going (a conflict I had before even meeting the bf). I decided to stay for myself, family and seek out this new relationship as I’ve never felt this before. Anyway, so when the bf asked me to move in, I was ecstatic, but told him although it’s a little premature, I’ll think about it. We agreed if I did stay that I’d move in 6 months later, but that he felt that’s the direction that our relationship was headed. Anyway, fast forward to last month. I came to find out he was still in communication with his ex (rebound -who is engaged and in another state) and speaks to her once a month, on the dating site we met on. When I confronted him, he gave me the excuse if “well, I didn’t know if you are moving or not and we haven’t decided on what we are doing?” Let me preface all this by saying I didn’t want to date him at first because I didn’t want to get attached and he pursued, wanted to “label” us and be with me. It just flowed, felt amazing and was so easy and natural. I’ve never felt this before. So once I told him I still want to be committed and serious even if I move, he agreed to stop communicating with the ex and deleted his dating profile.
    That same night I found out about his communication with the ex and dating profile, he said “if you leave me-you’re replaceable.” I was in tears. Who would think that if you are happy?? Then he goes on to say “well, it’s true, everyone is.”
    He apologized for the comment and said what we have is special, but it still hurts me to this day and I wonder if I should still be with him.
    What does he want? He was married for 8 yrs, divorced for 2 and had a rebound last year before me. I don’t think he’s ready for a relationship of this caliber and needs to date more.
    Please advise-he hasn’t said I love you yet and when I ask “what do you want or are you looking for?” He responds with “I want a gf.” Which to me, just means anyone, he didn’t say “I want you as my gf and I’m happy.” Am I wrong???

  8. kathy says:

    Is there some serious advice for me.legally sep.frm a severe narcissistic abuser with 9 kids,he has tortured me with mind games,brainwashing of myself and children,who hr uses at times to help him bring me down.they are vjctims being used by him.i mved to another state and he followed.he is 3 miles away,he has isolated and made all my friemds and family and neughbors not be a support for me anymore.he has dragged me to court
    Spent all our money,caused me to lose my apartment,then called social services and said i was homeless and he wanted custody.he caused thr breakup of older daughter to her fiance just to get to me as a warning for me to stay in line.he will not be ignored
    No contact doesnt work.and i have a restraining order against him! He has coached the kids that if i turn him in for violating restraining order,he will lose his job and he wont be able to help them financially so they are to defend him of mim gets crazy again and falsely accusing him. He is the victim,i am mentally ill, how can i be free,

  9. mustafa says:

    I always wondered why women stay with abusers and I discovered why when I became a victim myself. It’s incredibly difficult and exhausting. It’s the most difficult thing, relearning everything and trying to find yourself again. An awful trial in life, but light at the end of the tunnel. If it wasn’t for my faith in Jesus i have no idea where I would be right now. He has been with me through it all. Such peace comes from crying out for Him to save you. He does just that. Through Him I have strength. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

    Reach out to Jesus to save you, and He will :)

  10. I’m sure my husband is brainwashed to leave me and his children and has married his cousin ( who has brainwashed him). We rarely hear from him and hardly ever see him. We had a good marriage which has fallen apart and has been destroyed by his cousin. I love him desperately and I know he loves me too. His three children love him and miss him desperately. He left us fifteen years ago and I haven’t stopped praying for him to turn around and come back to us. Please tell me what I can we do.Thank you

  11. FiFiMomma says:

    Wow, so much recent feedback from so many people. I’m glad a place like this exists so women can share their testimony freely without consequence (hopefully). I’d tell my story but I think I’d rather just post my progress at this point cause I think I’m finally getting to the point where I’ve had enough. Last night I took the initiative and filed a police report for electronic eavesdropping (he bugged me with a small recording device to spy on me-crazy right?! Its a class c felony btw in my state that is punishable up to 15 years in prison and fines of 10k per day that I had been recorded without consent) and domestic violence-verbal.

    I then returned home formally emailed him that I had filed reports and I would continue to file them for **Every Incident** future forward. The following day (today) he didn’t say a word. It was a very empowering feeling during a long stretch of feeling very powerless.

    Even though I’m not ready to leave right at this moment at least I have begun legally documenting abusive incidents so that, if need be I will have records.

    I’m hoping with these actions, if we did actually split-that monitored visitations and domestic violence courses would be a requirement by the courts.

    Anyway, I hope someone finds this useful. I’ll have to come back and update this later and keep reading these posts to keep me motivated and hopeful. Thank you for this virtual safe haven.

  12. Jennifer, it’s been 15 years. It is time to move on. He will always be the children’s dad, but he hasn’t been your husband for a very long time.

    Have you considered the possibility that he is using you for something? What do you give him when he comes around? Anything from attention to money could be his reason for keeping you on the leash. Or maybe he likes knowing you are waiting for him.

    Could you be romanticizing the relationship you had 15 years ago?

  13. Mahlo says:

    I have been with my boyfriend since 2005, moved in with him in 2010 after giving birth to twins in 2009. Kids live with my mom. I have been working since 2007. He was working full time as well. He then left his full time job after getting a part time one. He used to complain that I don’t buy anything for the house. I then started by buying small things and then even bigger things from the kitchen unit, couch, wardrobe to a kitchen stove. He started by borrowing small amounts of money then changed to bigger then biggest. I would get a loan for him and he he wouldn’t pay me back. Then he stopped buying groceries promising me that he is saving to pay lobola. He now does not want to reason with me about anything. He doesn’t like when I ask him where he is going or how did his meeting go if he had one.
    he would make comments like “I don’t like driving with chicks next to me cause they are irritating” that’s if I comment about him drinking while driving.
    I am currently expecting another child.
    I feel like he is using me for money and possesions but it is not easy to go back to my mother’s house. I also don’t know what to do. I think he does not love me any more but I don’t want to accept it.
    He would come home and ask me whether I have been crying for him.
    I lost all my friends a few months after meeting him and now I am lonely all the time.
    I threatened to take the kids if I leave him.
    I feel much better when I am at work because I do customer service and after work I don’t look forward to going to that house.

  14. Ana says:

    My dad abused me nearly the whole time I was growing up (3-16, and im still 16 now) and for the longest time, i thought that he was right, and that i was a dissapointment. I started to hate myself, and blame myself for everything. And i was becoming who he wanted me to be. And unfortunatly what he wanted me to be was the perfect wife. I didnt start to realize that something was abnormal until i started dating my boyfriend 10 months ago. He told me nice things, and encouraged me and complimented me, and geniunly loved me. I had never had anyone treat me that way before and at first i was shocked-but then I started to realize that things werent as they seemed to be. I still have a hard time trying to figure out what is and isnt abuse, and what is and isnt wrong. but i just moved out 5 months ago, and stopped speaking to him three months ago. All of that now seems a lifetime away. And im persuing his arrest-for he did much more than brainwash me. I still have moments where i get caught up and think that perhaps im wrong in my perceptions, and that I should go back though, and i feel exessivly guiltly for leaving. But im doing my best to recover, but part of me is still what he made me. Im a perfectionist, i want to know everything-if i dont i feel stupid. Im ashamed to dress well, and I want to be the absolute best at everything. I think that part of me may have been lost, but im starting to get some of me to show through.

    Anyways, i want to thank you for writing this article, when i read it i was able to see what my dad did to brainwash me, and the effect it had. And it helps me to believe that it was wrong.

  15. Rebecca Herrick says:

    I’m in process of getting my things from my soon to be ex boyfriend. I find myself feeling guilty for giving up on him. He’s verbally abusive and after a year I have decided to leave. I recently found out he was physically abusive with his ex and he eventually had to admit it to me after I found out. He didn’t fully sound remorseful either about it such was odd. He truly can be the most loving and caring person one moment and a completely cruel human being the next. I don’t understand how he is the only person to say the most amazing things about and to me and also the worst. It’s confusing to say the least. I found by reading sucks online that our relationship had become text book for verbal abuse. I find my heart in literal pain at the idea that I will be losing the most loving man I’ve been with. Yet he’s caused the most pain. I need someone to offer me some advice so I can go through with my choice to leave when my heart is painting me to try again.

  16. Rebecca Herrick says:

    *articles, not “sucks”

  17. password for says:

    It’s great that you are getting ideas from this article as well as from our discussion made at this place.

  18. anon says:

    This… Helps me understand why my mom stayed with him so long. I recognize all of this but the poor woman jumps from one form of abusive relationship to another like some kind of junkie.

  19. M says:

    It’s irritating to see this brainwashing /abuse directed at women. I read a review where this is happening to men more than women. My brother is going through a divorce where he was primarily taking care of his kids wellfare, by her brainwashing verbaly & physically abusive & now turned their 15 year old son against his father (parential alienation). She Is trying hard to turn their 6 year old also, but she loves her father. He has recorded his daughter saying things like “my mommy said you didn’t want me to be borned”. The difference is after 15 years she prepared herself, wanted a new man. Which is another thing she also did while in the marriage, she cheated! And he forgave her. Basically he is financially broke. It’s worse on men! He has to pay for her attorney her car her hlth ins until divorce is final

  20. M says:

    I want to see an article on How to Use the same type of methods to un- brainwash. My brother doesn’t know what to do or say to I brainwash is 15 year old son.

  21. Karen says:

    I have been with my husband for 20 years i was a positive person knew there was something not right for years but he kept on saying i this i’m that i dumb crazy sending all the money so he took over paying the bill shopping ever thing so it left me with nothing and keeps an eye on his back accounts so if i do spend any thing he goes off yes i can stay at home because it costs money to go out reading all about this has given me hope and i don’t feel like it is my fault any more it is with my husband not me so thank you so very much.

  22. deb says:

    my name is deb. ive been with a bf like this for 2 years and am 7 months pregnant with his child. hes not only acted like this described here hes hit me too. while ive been pregnant too.hes missed alot of the best part of it. hes not bought anything despite tellin me he loves me and the baby. ive bought everything carseat clothes diapees bottles butt cream he has however bought phonesfor people and doesnt have a decent one hisself. which really lets me know his priorities are on bs. ive tried keepin it goin with him but i always end up sayin sumin hurtful to him after i listen to him talk an everything he says is just one built up lie. or what i feel like is lies. i ask him bout stuff sometimes an he gets all uptight an says i should trust him that i have nothin to worry bout. i have a gut feelin hes cheatin jus based on how hes done me an things hes said. hes even spit on me. :’( i break up with him an he talks me back in an it just keeps happening over n over. he gets mad alot even wen im not on break up mode with him. ive got to where sometimes im sweet to see if his reactions r different towards me an theyre not. i told him oncd that everybody else gets the best of him an i get whats left over. just the other day months from wen i told 1st said that he said i was right that. its because ima bitch that cant be happy..if ur bf had been physically abusin u verbally abusin an makin you think it was your fault ud b confused too..ud wonder if u should try too. please help me some one. talk to me bout this

  23. Just saying says:

    Some of the comments are sad stories of real emotionally scarring abusive relationships. Some others sound like typical Girlfriends that need to come to terms with the fact they are being played and trying to find other excuses for their partners behaviour because yes, it may hurt in some kind of way but that is not an abusive that will ruin your life. The pain fades but the scars of abuse? whole different story

  24. jana says:

    Just remember that if you are a follower and don’t have a mind
    of you own then someone else will be making the decisions for you.
    Take responsibility instead of blaming others.
    I was in an abusive relationship for ten and a half years.
    I was 18 years old when it all started. I have been out now for 8 years and have transformed. I am the one who did that, I took the responsibility as I had to.
    I had no one else to blame so had to look within.

  25. Julia says:

    This describes exactly what happened during my 26-year marriage. The divorce has been final for 4 months now and we were separated almost a year before that, but the pull is still there. He is soooo sorry, he tells everyone it’s all his fault, and he’s sooooo nice.. I sit over here and feel like a stupid fool, and doubt the things that happened; I still don’t trust myself to get things right. I’ve got a lot of healing to do, and so do my daughters. I am terrified of relationships and I don’t think I’ll ever trust myself to know if a person is safe or not…

  26. Jose-Luis Gonzalez says:

    Yep, it happen to me also but i am so strong headed that between progress hormany and final rebirth i freacking blowed up ! I scared her the look in her eyes damn…. And was confused…. she didn’t just brainwash me she also did 3 other types of abuse on me she was an expert at it XD I didn’t know i was being abused since that damn sense of guilt and shame wow.. i was wrong.. she was rigth, unconditional love can be so dangerous sometimes, took me 4 months to clear my mind it started whit paranoia, emptyness, identity crisis and ended feeling so good ! It made me such a great guy ! Probly any woman dream, self confident, i love myself enuff to give the extra to her, i laugh alot make alot of jokes i wasnt like that before, it showed me what living is !!! Life is so full of wonders !!! I am still attached to her due to the beleives she put in my head but i love myself alot more than her and i am rdy to love and i know i will be such a good boyfriend but whit1 condition she is a nice gf too no to abuse !!! ;)

  27. Chavez says:

    I am in a emotionally/verbally abusive marriage. My husband and I were both active duty military when we met. Before we were married I prided myself on being a strong independent woman, I loved my job. I was one of a few females in my career field, I was respected. I had a bright strong future in the military ahead of me. When we met he loved all that about me then one day he hated it. He beat me down emotionally until I literally could not recognize myself in the mirror. He controlled me in every way possible. I walked on eggshells to make him happy, I was hyper sensitive to his moods because if I wasn’t there would be hell to pay. It destroyed me. I gave up my career, I gave up my friends and almost completely lost my family.
    My husband destroyed my sense of self to the point where I almost committed suicide while I was pregnant. At that point I sought out help.
    I was told then I was in an emotionally abusive marriage. A light clicked on. I don’t know how I didn’t see it before. Years later I’m still recovering but I can’t keep from feeling broken. And I’m still here.
    I want to leave, I need to leave but I have nothing. I gave up my career, I don’t have any job prospects as I’ve been out of the workforce for nearly a decade. He even ruined my credit score because he controlles the finances and dictates how and when bills were payed and nothing in the sphere of me mattered including my bills. I have small children. One who is too young to be in school so I’d need daycare. I don’t have anymore friends. My family can’t take us in.
    And now that my husband has destroyed who I used to be, now that he has removed all the chances I ever had to live independently of him, it’s like he’s lost interest in me, I’m something to be discarded, he treats me like I’m a Leech. If try and stand up for myself now he says I’m abusing him! He nullifies what he did to me but tells me I’m abusive towards him and he’s a victim?!
    To make matters worse we live overseas and I can’t just pack up the kids and drive away. I’m stuck. He’s already told me if I get his command involved he will cut me off financially. He will keep the kids and call my ex and tell him I can’t take care of my child with my ex. I know his command won’t do anything if I ask for help anyways.
    He has threatened to kick me out. (ERD if you’re familiar with the military) If I don’t stop (fill-in-the-blank-of-irrational-demands) he also said he would invoke the Soiliders & Sailors Relief Act when I leave so that I can’t divorce him while he’s stationed overseas. He knows that would effect my GI Bill benefits, social services everything. I’m trapped.

  28. michelle says:





  29. Please go to the military hospital and seek out their department of social services. I can’t be sure, but it sounds like he is feeding you a bunch of bull. You leaving him cannot affect your GI Bill; I know that for sure. Please go get some first hand information.

    I was a soldier and a military wife. There is little my ex could have done to my career besides talk badly about me, and that wouldn’t have been enough to take away any of my benefits. And once a military wife, with access to dependent services such as the social services offered at the hospital, there was nothing he could do to me without it hurting HIS career more than anything else.

    He tells you these things, in part, because he knows HE is the one who is “stuck”. He wants you to believe the opposite.

  30. Brian says:

    My wife was a professional victim. She abused me for 14 years while being an alcoholic. She sleep deprived me for the last 6 years, controlled our finances, kept me away from my friends and family, went out on benders every weekend, had affairs (which I only found out about recently) and finally accused me of abuse!?! WTF?! Cops investigated and dropped all charges, cleared my name but my wife sold the house, took the children and I found out it was to make more money as a single mother on social assistance. I Love this woman but it seemed to me that she is not all there. She acts differently in front of different people. It was like her personality changed overnight. I feel like I am crazy. I lost everything! My children, my wife and best friend (or so I thought) and my home. I am broke, in court for separation proceedings and my wife admitted to setting me up! Hey, I wasn’t perfect, I yelled because of her crazy spending, her drinking and neglecting the children and me, but for what? It did no good and only hurt her feelings. We both destroyed our marriage by being childish and now we all suffer. She is in the hands of really bad abusers now and my children are angry with her. I forgive her but really what else can I do? I’m sorry for acting like an ass when we were married, for not seeing her pain, for not realizing she was abusing me, for not getting out sooner for our children’s sake. GOD have mercy on us all.

  31. Derek says:

    Wow. This article is my relationship to a T. Thank you so much.

  32. Sarah J says:

    I was in an abusive relationship for 14 yrs, married for 12 of them. I left him at the end of Feb 2012. Reading this has explained so much to me. I feel like I understand why I always justified his abuse (which I was obviously to until I ended up in a mental health facility for a week and they explained that I was feeling extremely depressed and suicidal because I was being mentally, emotionally, and psychologically abused) and I even thought it was normal. This June will be 3 yrs since I divorced him. Sadly I still have to deal with him since I have 3 sons with him. And he’s still very controlling and abusive towards me. Right now he is trying to get sole custody of all 3 boys. It’s like he lives to make my life a living hell. He can’t stand the fact that I finally got mentally and emotionally strong enough to leave him, especially once I learned he was abusing me. I couldn’t let my sons think that was how a man should treat a woman, or a woman treat a man because it can go both ways. I think they should educate our youth about abuse. The different types, signs, warnings, what to do to get help for both the abused and abuser, how to prevent it. It changes you as a person. The road to recovery is long and difficult, and you will never be who you once were. But you will certainly be a stronger new you.

  33. karen says:

    Any ideas on recovering from the brainwashing? I’ve been divorced 3 years now and the effects are actually getting worse. When I stopped believing the things he was saying, he started turning to my friends, my community, and the court system – and he’s really good at it. He’s made my anxiety so bad that I am literally homebound now (I pay someone to do what can’t be done from here). I was diagnosed with PTSD as a direct result of his abuse. He takes advantage of the fact that I panic at just the sight of him. All he has to do is stay calm, look concerned, and point to me to verify his claims that I’m ‘crazy’. I was shocked at how quickly people are to just dismiss me simply because he says that. No one bothers to ask about my side, or why I got hysterical when he may not have even said anything. I really need to get him out of my head so I can figure out who I am now.

  34. Fred says:

    From reading these comments it is assumed that it is the man is the abuser, from personal experience it can be the woman. what has happened to some of you it happened to me.

  35. Mara says:

    I left my husband 5 months ago. When we first met I had just turned 19. Married when I was twenty. At first he seemed to be everything I ever wanted. He was quirkey and fun anf liked music. Which was wonderful. The funny thing is I never noticed the cues that I was being taken advantage of or treated wrong. Until a month into our marriage he came home from work one day and brought me to the floor by my hair because I forgot to fill out a form. He then proceeded to choke me till I passed out. This happened continuously throughout my marriage. He would always apologize and say he had a rough day at work or whatnot and usually treat me better for a little while. And it would usually last until three weeks and it seemed as if he couldnt hold it back anymore. Eventually I was no longer allowed to drive or pay bills. Not because I wasnt capable of soing it. But because he said it was his form of “helping me”. He always made it appear that my isolation was always for the better or because he was protecting me. Anything nice I ever had was broken by him. And he had the best of everything. I wanted to leave but eventually became pregnant. So I thought that it would get better. Unfortunately he lost his job (which happened almost every six months) so I had to work overtime to keep us with somewhere to live. He was never home and I never had any support by him. When he was he would yalk down to me or make me stay home because he would tell me that I wouldnt enjoy it. Which is funny because I had always been so full of life and open to anything within reason. We eventually had to move in with my mother because he refused to find a job and I could no longer work my labor job. He not only treated me badly but my mother as well when we lived with her. And even threatened to kill me with his gun because I had not cooked properly. After I had my son he got worse. I was afraid to act like I enjoyed or didnt enjoy anything. It seemed like he didnt want me to have a personality at all. I felt like he just wanted to use me as his prisoner. Or slave. I never saw any if the money I made working. And when I wasnt working I had to take care of home life such as my son. And eventually his new pit bull. I am not blaming the breed but my family always owned small dogs. So I didnt know how to handle.her. he would beat the hell out of that dog. And I tried so hard to show her what little bit of love I could. Until one day she attacked me with my son in my hands. And he wouldnt allow me to seek medical attention. But hit me because I accidentally got blood on his shoe. I could go on and on about it. And I grew up in a houshold that showed me nothing but love. Until then. I guess I was very naive. . But after being treated like that for seven years I felt as though people eventually saw me as trash and didnt want to be around me. At the very end I was so anxious and deppressed that I couldnt hold food down. And I felt like my body was shutting down on me. . So I took up the courage one night to take my child and leave while he was out “playing music.”. The one question I have is how can I teach myself that not everyone is out to hurt me? How can I find confidence in myself or make myself feel like I csn do the things I wasnt allowed to do? Am I going to be alone forever because I am too broken? I feel hopeless and like scum of the earth. And I just want peace.

  36. You teach yourself to trust again in two ways: 1. Remember the people who you’ve trusted that didn’t hurt you, and 2. Keep your eyes open for examples of people who don’t hurt you from now on.

    For #2, you can start really small.

    Hey, that dude choosing carrots at the grocery store didn’t hurt me.
    Woah. I just spent the afternoon at the park and not one person hurt me.

    Check your current relationships, too.

    Wow. My aunt is really good to me.
    My child loves me.

    You learn to trust again by knowing you CAN trust (some) people. (You revise how and when you trust someone based on what you’ve learned from your abusive relationship.)

    Maybe a mentor would help you as you regain self-confidence. Check out this page:

  37. Fred, you don’t see too many female abusers mentioned because women (who usually have male partners) talk about abuse more than men do. Women are abusive too. I sympathize with your pain, and you definitely are not alone.

  38. Jodi says:

    I was married for 14 years and have now been divorced for 5. I went through all of the emotional and verbal abuse as described by others. Our Daughter is legally adopted and his affair which finally ended our marriage started prior to finalizing our adoption.
    I was so brainwashed at the time of the divorce that I agreed to shared parenting, 50/50 custody, but me as the Residential Parent (at the direction of my Attorney).
    He later convinced me that it would be better for our Daughter if I moved to the same school district where he lived. I did so. Then I tried when our Daughter turned 5, 2 years ago to change the schedule to make things easier for her with not having to go back and forth during the school week. He did not agree. I then told him I had plans to leave the district mid school year and get on with my life with my boyfriend who is now my fiance. We planned to move just 25 minutes away from him to make the commute for my Daughter easy to see her Father. I enrolled her in the new school and had plans to move her Jan of this year. He filed for full custody, a change in residential status from me to him and a motion to prevent me from moving our Daughter mid school year. I moved under the direction of my former Attorney. The motion became an order. As a result, until the custody trial was heard, I had to commute her from Jan to the end of the school year which was last Thursday (as the Residential Parent). We have not yet been to trial. I obtained a different Attorney and because I moved under the order to not move my Daughter even though I commuted her, my Attorney advises I move back to the district where he resides, then refile to move her to the district where I am currently residing. This sounds like much upheaval for my Daughter. However, I am afraid that if I don’t move back and retain my Residential Status that I will be pushed out of her life. He married the other Woman 2 months after our divorce was final and our Daughter started calling her Mom at times. I have grown a lot and learned a lot about myself and why I was a victim to this type of abuse and why I allowed this to happen to me; no boundaries/co-dependent…etc.
    I think it is better for me not to move back, but not sure it is better for my Daughter. At the beginning of the custody case, a GAL was assigned to our case and he manipulated our Daughter into saying things that he wanted her to say, telling her lies about my Fiance and me…etc. It goes on and on. I am tired and want to move on, but unsure if I should return to the school district and keep my Res Status and continue to fight to move her to the district where I am residing (which may create havoc for her not attending the district where he lives and his wife’s kids attend) or stay where I am, continue with shared custody and commute her to school during my parenting time. At least I would have less of him to deal with.

  39. azza almatt says:

    Ihave been abused physically and emotionally ,and financially for around nine years ,been isolated ,raised my three little boys as a single mom during my marriage ,in the year ten I divorced him by law ,I hit him several times ,I took him to courts in several countries ,yes it is a very hard roed ,he threw me in the streets cause I announced before my team in my job that am gonna devorce him ,he kidnapped my three boys and put him in a country away from him either ,I didn’t surrender ,I am smashing nim by law ,and i can tell now that I am A SURVIVOR :) ))

  40. christina says:

    Im so happy to be reading all of your posts. Ive been searching the internet all day about how to not feel guilty in leaving an emotional/mental abusive relationship. This is my story. I met my bf 4 years ago. I was on drugs at the time and he encouraged me to sleep with men for money. At the time he sold drugs and at the time i thought it was cool. Basically i was his hoe and he was my pimp and dealer. Bavk then there was a lot of physical abuse. Then i went to jail. He sent me money so i could get food. Thats when i thought wow her really cares about me. I found out i was pregnant and put myself in an 8 mo. Rehab. I have 2 and a half years ean now. Anyways when i got out of rehab he got me an apartment and has been paying my rent every month. He does not libe here with me by the way so at least i dont have to see him everyday. He helped me get my daughter back and financially provides for me and my 2 kids. My baby is not his but for the last 19 months he has acted as his dad. Any time i have made a friend he has accused me of being a lesbian and has punished me by taking my bed or my tv or not buying food until i act how he wants me to. I am totally dependant on him. I had a really great job offer about 9 mo ago but he told me if i took the job i was to be kicked out immediately. Because of my low self esteem from his constant be littling and him making me feel worthless i didnt have tje courage at that time to take the offer. He has a different girl living at his house every other weekand he has many sexual relationships. He only makes me have sex with him oncd every 3 mo ths but everytime i have to i hate it and do it to get it over with. Just about every month he tells me to get the fuck out he is done with me im fat and ugly im a loser a slut and a liar and a junkie. He says even though i am sober now once a junkie ways a junkie. I forgot to mention when he does his threats of kicking me out after about a week there is no appology but he starts coming around again as if nothing has happened and is.very nice for a few days. Well the last time he threatned me to leave was a week and a half ago. The very next day he showed up to my house at 8 am and took me to look at a 3 bedroom house that he wanted me to move into. Luckily for me the people who hadan apointment before us got the house so we could not get it. He finaly had me reach my breaking point the night before. I cannot do it anymore so i have planned my exscape. I am leaving 9 days from now and am extreemly nervous. I feel a tremendous amount of guilt because i know he has provided me with so much financially for me and has been a great father to my kids its only me he hates. I feel like i owe it to him to give up my happiness for his but i am goi g to leave i am going to do it but y do i feel so bad for him because i feel terrible and i wish i didnt

  41. christina says:

    Update… Just a few days
    left until i leave. Its been pretty easy up until this pint but now he is being nice to me again. I almos wish we xoukd have a huge blowout right beifore i leave. I just wish i didnt care so much about his feelings. Y is this so hard uggghh

  42. christina says:

    Well 2 days until i leave and i finally had the courage to just tell him i am leaving.he doing good best to make me feel extremely guilty and bringing my 9year into it asking her y she doesnt want him as a step dad anymore…. I cant wait to get out of here i do not want to fall for his crap and im afraid the longer im here the more the guolt will attack me these 2 days are going to be the longest 2 days ever

  43. richard says:

    Christina, move on with your life. it is the best thing you can do for yourself and your children don’t allow yourself to be disrespected in this relationship its not healthy for you if you can move on somewhere to better yourself do it go back and get that job; there are other ways to get help if you really want it . Don’t stay with this guy who is misleading your children and hurting your lives.
    All that is going to happen is that it is going to get worse and never at times better; my rule is once a hand has been bought up to hit you in anyway that’s the end of the relationship.
    So think about it, all your going to do is keep on letting him back into your life and putting you in danger and is no good for your children to be put threw nor worth seeing. Being scared is a Suspect of doing nothing about it and is leading you to be guilty more and more and at fault to a point that you will always give in to his nonsense. It isn’t until you move on will you ever see a change or difference within you and children’s lives; it has to start with YOU for the CHILDREN sake.

  44. Riz says:

    Thank you for writing this article, it’s helped me see things a lot clearly. I’m in the process of trying to leave my abusive husband but it is very difficult with little to no support and 2 young children. I’m trying to make sure I know as much as possible and have all resources so once I leave I don’t come back to him again. I still love him though and its very easy to deny his abuse and just listen to him saying he loves me so much and is changing but then I just think of the way I’m feeling and I know if he wasn’t abusive I wouldn’t be feeling awful. I still have trouble keeping up with his abuse cuz he’s just too quick to switch and change but I am clinging to the fact that he is abuse and I can figure the rest out after I leave. I wish the best for everyone else sharing their stories here. Good luck weather you all decide to stay or go. And good luck to me too ..haha.

  45. moodyred says:

    Ladies, I’ve been in the deep of this, all the way to Progress and harmony. Free since 2008.
    If you want to break free, you sever ties. Clean cut. You move out NOW. Not tonight, not tomorrow morning. You grab what you need to survive and you leave. I started by switching apartments with the abuser’s friend who lived in the same block. Lasted a couple of months. Wasn’t easy and he made my life as hard as he could. But after I got to move to another city until, ultimately, I was out of the country (planned trip).
    I understand that some of you have children and I was lucky enough to only have a cat. You shouldn’t stay because of the kids. Make them you’re reason to leave if anything. So my bare minimum was: my meds, my cat. That’s it! Do the same: your kids, your <>. Be ready to start at ground zero. I had NOTHING after leaving…except a new ease to breathe and think. The distance will help. The more distance, the better. Go ahead, you’re stronger than you think.

  46. Laura says:

    #1. Forgive yourself.
    Stop ‘the inner critic’s’ cycle of; How could I be so dumb, How could I have let this happen, How could I not see this: STOP.
    Forgive yourself.
    With a pure and loving heart, you let someone in, you loved and trusted them, and they used, misused and abused you and that trust. PERIOD.
    FORGIVE yourself, first. Do not ‘forget’ what happened, but remember the signs, so that it never happens again.

    Seek out help if you get stuck. Google “abuse advocate ______(your town’s name in the blank)”. They have MANY free services, and many more services based upon your income. It’s an amazing help when you feel like there is no where to turn.

  47. Also, check It’s a shelter search engine.

  48. Texie says:

    Ladies I moved out not long ago and got a restraining order. I was tired of the abuse, it made my health was bad because of it. Most of these abusers are full of lies when they threaten to take the kids. That is their way of controlling. Don’t fall for the old, “I’ll commit suicide if you leave.” And don’t fall for the “I’ll get the kids and you’ll have nothing.” They are all full of bs. Other people can see the abuse, especially with documented proof.

    Document EVERYTHING! Save it for court. I was able to get a 3 year restraining order, and full custody of our son. No visitation from my husband. All the time he was threatening me with owning me in court with his lawyer. He never had one and didn’t even show up to court.

    Move out as soon as possible. From the way it sounds from some of you ladies things can’t get much worse if you leave. If you stay though that is another story. Why waste your life and your children’s life on someone who only wants to use you? People who love you won’t curse at you, hit you, talk down to you, make you cry, or control you. That isn’t love and every one of you deserves to be loved. You’re still with your abusers because you are comfortable with them. Trust me, it might take awhile to find someone new, but it will be totally worth it compared to living with an abusive person. I’d rather live alone the rest of my life than continue being degraded.

    For now I’m single and happy with my infant son. Being a single mother for me is a breeze compared to living with my husband. I go where I want, when I want, and no one to answer to. I can now concentrate on my baby and even my blood pressure has improved since I left. Sometimes I get a little depressed, but you know what? My husband made me cry every day. He didn’t care, and he made fun of me for it. Whatever I’m feeling now is no where near as bad as what I felt when living with my husband. I’m amazed that these abusers haven’t gotten their butts kicked by REAL men.

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