The Truth And Your Abusive Spouse

June 11, 2012 Kellie Jo Holly

The truth. What is the truth when you live in an abuser's fantasy world? How do you tell the truth to an abusive spouse who does everything they can to deny it?

The nature of control is to deny the possibility of options. When you're trying to control a person, the name of the game is to deny them the idea that there is an alternate plan of action.

How to Abuse the Truth Right Out of The Picture

If you tell your victim you want the dishes done, not only do you dictate that the dishes be clean, but you dictate exactly what steps to take, down to the amount of cleaning liquid to use, to get the dishes clean how you want them to be. And if they dare use more than your "suggested" amount of dishwashing liquid... tell them they're going to drive your family into the poorhouse with their poor financial management skills and the addition of the extra liquid means there is more soap residue on the dishes that you can't rinse off so, in essence, your victim is not only not doing it right, but they're also trying to poison you and your children with chemicals in the dish washing liquid! How selfish of them to not care if you or the kids get sick! How stupid of them to throw away your financial future!

Not that I've ever heard that speech before.

How To Get In More Trouble With The Truth

After his over the top reaction, was it wise of me to waste my time finding out how poisonous Dawn dish soap could be? Was it wise of me to spend my time figuring out just how much money I wasted "doing it my way"?

Better yet, was it wise for me to confront him with the information I garnered or to compare dish soap expenses to his Jim Beam expense?

No. Because abusive people who seek to control you do not care one bit about the truth. Their objective is to deny the truth. They must weave a web of lies, sticky and thick, to give the illusion of truth if they hope to control you. Abusers aren't interested in the truth or cold hard facts that go against their position.

Telling the Truth in An Abusive Relationship

Mark Twain wrote in his journal, "If you tell the truth you don't have to remember anything." I adopted this idea for myself when dealing with my ex-husband. The pattern went like this:

  1. Tell the truth because I'm not doing anything wrong (he always found something wrong).
  2. Tell the truth because I don't want to get into trouble for someone else doing the wrong thing (still, he blamed me when his friend kissed me).
  3. Tell the truth because I am doing everything I can to live by your rules and I think I'm doing a smash-up job of it (see number 1 - there's no winning with an abuser).
  4. Tell the truth because because then you can't twist my words into lies to use against me (but he found ways).
  5. Tell the truth about how I feel so you will understand me better (he did come to understand me better, and used that knowledge to diminish and insult me).
  6. Tell the truth because if I don't you'll find out anyway (paranoia about his "reach" and power set in).
  7. Tell the truth because this is it. This is your last chance to treat me better, and if I have to leave, I want you to be clear as to why I left (he didn't care about the truth, he cared about controlling me at any cost, and when that didn't work, he cared about controlling the spin of our divorce).

The only thing I gained from telling the truth is that I know, in my heart, that I sustained my honest streak no matter what else in me he destroyed. He may have ripped away my naivete, my hope, and my creativity, but he never got my honesty. He didn't destroy all of me.

Oh. Wait a minute. Mark Twain also said, "A man is never more truthful than when he acknowledges himself as a liar." Note to self: in the next post, I will acknowledge myself as a liar.

APA Reference
Jo, K. (2012, June 11). The Truth And Your Abusive Spouse, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, May 29 from

Author: Kellie Jo Holly

Sharlene Harrison-Hinds
September, 6 2014 at 3:44 am

I am so glad to have found this site. I identify with so much of what I read. Thank you for having this site and thank you for all the wonderful insight into my life with a control freak suffering from PTSD. As many others have said, everything is my fault. The truth is never respected but only demeaned. The worst thing for me is that it has made me mean and violent to retaliate or protect myself. This is what I hate the most. Respect has been eroded and dignity is cowering in the corner. It is true what others write -- if you react and fight back, it does gives your abusive partner control. He cannot stand being ignored or getting no reaction. Had another episode yesterday which caused me to look up 'foaming at the mouth angry'. Now I get it -- when asked why he stayed with me, he replied that he did not have enough money to leave. I told him to take his next cheque and start looking for a place to live. Most of you can imagine the reply I got. Thank you again for being there.

July, 11 2014 at 10:23 am

My husband will put me down one minute then act like nothing is wrong and expects me to be OK with him can someone tell me if its part of a mental illness?

June, 14 2012 at 7:29 pm

After finding this site and others and reading a book, I've now come to realize that I don't know when my wife is telling me the truth and when she's not. She mostly lies about things I did or didn't do or said or didn't say. I used to always believe she was right. But now when she tells me this stuff I'm not so sure. I have now come to suspect that more of what she says is lies than I did before.
I also don't want to tell her anything unless it's on a need to know basis. Because it will come back t bite me in the A$$ at some time in the not too distant future and many times more than once.
I've considered the tell the truth at all costs theory, but so far haven't been able to bring myself to actually do it.

Feather Lite
June, 12 2012 at 4:46 am

The lies, distortions, exaggerations, minimizing, the complete annihilation of the truth. I remember them well. Any time I had the nerve to express my disapproval with something he did, it turned into a table turning, deflectathon that left me holding the bag and being accused of all kinds of things that never even happened. It got to the point that I would hang up the phone or block his number and every other form of communication the minute it started. And when he would show up at my door (because hanging up and blocking him translates to "Please come over and disrupt my quality of life in person." in loser-speak), I'd tell him the first lie he hurled at me would get him a door slammed in his face. It was amazing, he had nothing to say. I took control away from him. It was liberating. In my world and my personal space, I really can decide how much one can get away with. Whoodathunkit?

June, 12 2012 at 3:11 am

Mark Twain also said, “A man is never more truthful than when he acknowledges himself as a liar.”
My Understanding of the Quote:-
I think what this means is that -
Everybody has a Tendency To Lie (for fear/shame/guilt driven) and can CHOOSE To Lie.
So the first step to being truthful is accepting what lies you may have told in the past, and then making a CONSCIENTOUS EFFORT OF NOT LYING under any circumstances unless Critical Reasons.
Abusers Never Accept they are lying or twisting the truth - their words, actions, thinking as far as they are concerned is never wrong/false.
The abusers who can change their behaviour first accept that they are abusers and have lied etc to hurt others.

June, 12 2012 at 2:55 am

LOL - I advised my x- husband to put the liquid on the sponge not the dishes so as to make it last longer (that's logical/rational right?) - He thought I attacked his intelligence/cleaning skills and had a childish tantrum. Enough to say I decided my advice was never needed and from then on didn't bother.
I believe in all the reasons above for speaking the truth (nothing to remember/hide, loyalty & trust) and it played out very much as mentioned above when I spoke the truth in my marriage which he denied/avoided/twisted it.
At the end of the day I let him divorce me on the basis of lies but I knew I had always maintained the truth when possible (so no guilt/blame for myself) but he twisted it all to make them into reasons for getting a divorce.

Erin Chavez
June, 12 2012 at 12:45 am

I recall some of the things "he" would say. When he would say them, I felt like saying, "are you crazy?!" But then he would explain his position and it would suddenly make perfect sense - even though I *knew* it was wrong. Very weird and surreal...

Noel Reck
June, 11 2012 at 8:17 pm

My then husband (now ex-husband) had made plans with my daughter and I to take us out to dinner. Once again, he decided that going out to the bar with the boys was far more important than plans with his family. He didn't even bother to call us, so we waited until 8pm before we just made grilled cheese.
He tried to lie to me when he came home. Claimed he worked late, got stuck in traffic and then that he forgot his phone in his work truck.
I was so angry that after he went to bed, I went down into his blazer found his cell phone and the receipts for the bar. $66.00 for beer and a meal after he claimed he didn't have money to take us out to dinner as promised.
I confronted him with his lies the next day when he came home and found that I didn't make him dinner or do his laundry. He exploded, calling me a useless cunt that didn't deserve to be taken out to dinner. He told me I should "Shut the F*ck up and do as I was told". My daughter remembers me standing my ground yelling back at him, "Truth? TRUTH? You can't HANDLE the TRUTH!"
My daughter and I left, went to dinner ourselves and then rented movies.

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