After Emotional Abuse: Do the Side-Effects Ever Disappear?

September 14, 2012 Kellie Jo Holly

After emotional abuse is out of your life, rapid healing begins. Then it slows down a bit and you wonder if this is as good as it gets. It isn't. Read this.

After the emotional abuse, or rather, after I left my abusive husband, I hoped the effects of abuse would disappear. Magically. Without any work from me.

Those hopeful feelings minimized the difficulty of coping with life and relationships after emotional abuse. The intelligent part of me knew that after the emotional abuse it would take time to recover from the emotional trauma and regain my mental health. Alas, the intelligent part of me was correct.

Mental Changes After Emotional Abuse

During domestic violence and abuse, victims, by and large, become people they no longer like. When someone you think you love spews hatred like buckshot, it is natural to retaliate against the abuse. Unfortunately, self-defense can get nasty.

Defending yourself in unhealthy ways can become a habit. Not only can that habit spill over to innocent people (like your children), but those unhealthy habitual thoughts integrate themselves into your brain - they become your new thoughts. In that way, you become someone you do not like.

At one point during my emotionally abusive marriage I wrote:

The abuse is bad, but the things I've allowed to change in my mind and heart are horrid.

That thought started my recovery from domestic violence. I had not left the marriage yet, but with that statement, I took one giant, healthy mental step forward. The understanding I gained was that I, not my abuser, have the power to change and create how I think, feel and act. I'd given my power to change to him. I needed to take it back.

I allowed my abuser's negative thoughts to infiltrate my brain during the emotional abuse. Now it was up to me to deny their ability to dominate me. I had to change my thoughts so I could be who I wanted to be.

My Recovery at 2 Years, 8 Months After Emotional Abuse

After emotional abuse is out of your life, rapid healing begins. Then it slows down a bit and you wonder if this is as good as it gets. It isn't. Read this.

Patricia Evans, the author of several books about verbal abuse, offers a *list of symptoms abuse victims may suffer. Here's a look at that list along with my experience in recovering from them.

A verbal abuse victim often . . .

  • distrusts their spontaneity and suffers a loss of enthusiasm

My enthusiasm for my future returned around three months after emotional abuse was in the rear-view mirror. My spontaneity took a little longer because I believed he had spies watching me. I kept it low-key so the spies would have nothing to tell him.

  • lives in a perpetually in a ready, on-guard state

If you suffer PTSD, this symptom will take time to conquer. For me, eventually, after realizing the spies were phantoms implanted in my head, I learned how to relax. I began to trust the peace I created in my home after leaving emotional abuse.

  • wonders about how they are coming across

Soon after the emotional abuse ended, I discovered that he was the only person who misunderstood what I said or misinterpreted my behaviors. Every new person I met understood me perfectly. Now I'm writing a blog that hopefully, you understand, too.

  • thinks and feels that something is wrong with her

Within the first year, I realized that I am not as damaged as I thought. Yes, I have issues to work through, but everyone does (except for my ex who still loves himself just as he is). I am at peace with myself and my point in recovery from emotional abuse.

  • soul-searches and reviews incidents in hope of determining "what went wrong"

I don't do this anymore. I am able to go through entire days without thinking about my ex or how things could have been. I could go longer without thinking of him, but we have children together and there is contact.

  • hears only her internalized critical voice

The hardest after emotional abuse, for me, is separating my internal nag from his criticisms of me. I sometimes ask myself, "Kellie, is this what he told you?" If it is, I banish the thought without question. Hell, sometimes I banish my internal nag too. Feels good!

  • suffers from anxiety or fear of being crazy

I am sane. I do not doubt my sanity any longer - not for one second. The anxiety associated with the fear that I might be crazy is gone. After emotional abuse ends, meaning I have a home that doesn't include him, the distance lets me see very clearly who is crazy. Not me.

  • wishes she was not the way she is - "too sensitive", etc.

I am perfectly me. Sometimes a person's statement or word choice will sting because they are similar to my abuser's words. Sometimes I overreact. But the people I choose to have in my life are safe; I can tell them exactly what I'm feeling and they respond to me with love. The more I let myself trust them, the less often I feel those stings.

  • is hesitant to accept her perceptions

Now my perceptions are the most important ones to me. I realize that the way I perceive things may not be complete, so I ask people what they meant when they said or did something. I do not try to read their minds. I listen to their explanations. I can tell whether they're lying or not in time by watching what they do.

  • tends to live in the future - "everything will be great when/after", etc.

I do look forward to future events (like graduation and moving to Austin), but I do my best to make now great, too. Life flows, and it feels good to be in the flow instead of predicting what will happen when or after emotional abuse occurs.

  • has a distrust of future relationships

I once thought I was unlovable and couldn't be a great friend because he didn't love me and he didn't want my friendship. After all of that emotional abuse, it is taking some time to trust my perceptions of other people. I'm relearning how to listen to my gut feeling about someone; not perfect yet, but looking forward to testing it.

Is Complete Recovery Possible After Emotional Abuse?

I believe we can conquer all of these horrible side-effects after emotional abuse is out of our lives. Some effects will take more time than others. Trusting myself seems to be at the core of it all.

I'm not done healing, but I will completely heal. I will completely trust myself. It will be sooner rather than later. It can happen for you, too.


See "Do the effects of abuse change you permanently?"

*Evans, P. (1996). The verbally abusive relationship: how to recognize it and how to respond (Expanded 2nd ed.). Holbrook, Mass.: Adams Media Corporation.

You can find Kellie Jo Holly on her website, 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.

APA Reference
Holly, K. (2012, September 14). After Emotional Abuse: Do the Side-Effects Ever Disappear?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, June 25 from

Author: Kellie Jo Holly

March, 2 2019 at 7:19 pm
Not that im trying to compete or relate oranything, but 2-3 years is a very short time to recover for some of the comments/stories iv seen posted.
I almost feel jelous of such short recovery time. That people can keep going on with life and fully recover. Not once did i ever think this was even remotely possible.

I cant.

I struggle with recovering, because of consistant abuse, my brain has become itself a muscle memory to bounce back to the ‘ptsd submissive victim’ after any singular reminder, past events of daily anxiety (and panic attacks due to interacting with 1 on 1 people being extremely dismissive and selfish for years) plus previous people in my life, and the months and years of trying so hard to be me again, and to blossom.

Iv been suffering time and time again since childhood with emotional abuse from my mother, sister, ex husband (physicale abuse, verbal, rape), ex bf (gaslighted), miscelanious exs who have only ever intended to use me for visas, current ex (psychological projection/ defensiveness/ critisizm), all of which made it harder to become aware it was happening or that it wasnt okay, bcs at any time i tried to defend myself or make them realise it wasnt okay, they wd become dismissive. And not once did i ever think to involve the police. Thats how severe my issues were. To not have someone listen or take me seriously i feared it and relived it daily in my head and through the desperate begging and interactinf with others. That i unforgettibly regret on a daily basis for all of them getting away with everything theyve put me through while they continue on enjoying their lives probably doing it to the next person after person they meet. But the likeliness of other people being “street smart”, “self aware” and able to avoid manipulative, cunning people who lurk on others vunerabilites to lure them in; is probably allot higher than my chances ever were.

And fact i never had support from my family, at a younge age even in childhood. They wd constantly alienate me, critisize me negatively and never encourage or praise me when i did anything meaningful or worth praise, which always left me feeling like i wasnt good enough or valued in their eyes ment it kept happening. It left me in constant state of despair that i try and still try to ignore and focus on good things time and time again as i searched for love and comfort and support elsewhere in another human being (because essentialy loving myself was not going to happen bcs i never felt able to grow, feel safe, or express myself without being harshly critisized or punished in order for that to happen). I continualy tried with my family even after leaving home as a teen, and they kept failing me and critisizing me every step i made in life. Like they were poison and didnt want any good to happen to me.and so i had only option to continue cutting them out of my life, and periodicly hope like hell that they wd show me love i deserved. So yes i kept going back. They expected me to be subserviant, obeying, respectful, empethatic, responcible and independant, all while completely being emotionaly void towards me, ignorant, arrogant, dismissive, and selfish always expecting “better” from me and shaming me when i did things wrong even when they were pushing my boundries and speaking out of line towards me bt it was never okay for me to do the same.

So everytime it happened i was essentialy pushed back from all the good effort id made for myself to feel ‘free’ and ‘hopefull’.

Its given me many issues to sort out in myself. And its made me less of a human being and more of a shell of a person who believes that i deserve this and its what i was born for because even the little things that i get happy about dissipear and never last long. (They never do anyways for anyone i suppose?).

But its like happiness never lasts long enough for habitual turnover to take place.

I feel like the whole world is against me, that i will never be able to heal, so over time i have lost my will and given up many times, and just accepted that its what life wants for me bcs of being a realist.
That being in abusive and psychologicly abusive relationships and friendships do change you. Shape you. Without your own concent of change bcs of such subtle process.

Even though iv lernt to adopt the whole “you only live once” rule, its so hard to find things to be happy about bcs of consistant ongoing trauma that i cant escape or that always comes my way with every new person who i carefully let into my life.

The trauma does something to you. I know many cd relate to this. It affects every future endevour, relationship, adventure, hobby and interest you decide to try and take on in life. It shapes your experiences of it. It feels so crucial that i feel desperate wishing and hoping that it turns out to be a good experience bcs it will just go into the “NOPE” pile with the rest of what iv tried to say “yes” to, if it ends up negative, sad, overwhelming, anxiety provoking, hurtful, or frustrating experience. When all i want is to take interest in and to experience all life has to offer in order be happy and grow. Its a terrifying thought to know interactions with others can shape how you feel and possibly destroy your experience and view of how life “should” be lived due to early childhold alienation and “self discipline” anytime you hear someone say something that you should or shouldnt do. (Via psychological subtle consistant habitual suggestion by others that lingers for a while in your subconsious making it re emerge as a good idea after a while, or a hard “NO” when someone denies you a conversation or doesnt like the idea or action that you wish to pursue. Somehow the brain feels complied to obey. Echoing through your thoughts irritating you for a while until you comply. Makes you doubt your own opinions and feelings when everyone you know leads you to believe that your the one in the “wrong”. Regardless of how much you communicate to them that its hurting you. They dont listen and they dont stop. They continue it because your a desperate victim looking for closure and validation.

It leads one, it leads ME to feel useless, helpless, distrusting, even though id tell a perfect stranger anything and everything if they asked bcs of being an open book (and maybe bcs of early childhood guilt and shame and justifying every choice i make to anyone who cant/wont accept me) of being okay with who i am as a person and accepting myself).

I always find myself paranoid having learnt to constantly second guess peoples intent and the words that are left unsaid bcs of psychological games played on me, which makes me both internally and externaly critisizing(though i keep the thoughts to myself unless they r constructive) and judgemental, better or worse, i in no way EVER wish to bring a child into this world just to have them be treated like how my mother treated me and her mother before her. No child shd ever have to go through this ordeal. But it still happens and much of it goes unnoticed.

The cycle has to stop.

In new zealand, abortions are illegal.
(I am infertile anyway among other things and yes i felt robbed of that decision, but
not everyone is ment to be a mother, or a good mother at that).
Some are better off being single or in civil relationships with lifelong friends. Which is what i hope for myself to have a support network. There are TOO many Seniors in the world living alone too, unable to have their own independance but to rely on their families for sustenance and support.

But what can i hope for in life if nothing brings me happiness and i am not only limited by my own desires needs and wants but also because of trauma, lifelong struggles, and roadblocks preventing me from getting on with life?.

Thats what will always scare me the most. People.

I hope whoever reads this finds relative mutual support and is not triggered by what iv said.
May, 22 2019 at 5:41 pm
I just want to say that this is my story in its totality. I understand you completely and presently I am trying to overcome my demons of being mentally, physically, and verbally abused my whole life. It's not easy and it will be a long time before I heal, if I ever heal at all...
jay shaheen
August, 28 2018 at 10:44 am
In brief: my girlfriend has been divorced for 6 years from a 25-year marriage--most of which found her a victim of horrible verbal/emotional abuse and a subservient life. Our 4-year friendship and relationship have been second to none--totally outstanding on all fronts (I am not abusive in any way. I have extended consistent kindness and love toward her as best as I possibly can). Out of nowhere, with little-no warning, she chose to completely end our relationship. No stated reasons except that: she is confused, lost, unsure, not ready for a relationship, needs to find herself...she started to experience frequent, crippling anxiety. Suddenly, cut me out of her life completely. Please recommend reading for me/her on this topic. I love her to death. I do not wish to lose her.
April, 27 2019 at 1:48 pm
My name is Michelle and I too suffered horrific abuse by my husband, even being shot and almost dying I went back for years. I can speak for myself, she is probably scared s***ess at letting anyone that close again. When you have given your all to someone and bared your soul to that person and they stomp on that "figuratively speaking." It can be all encompassing and frightening the thought that I can trust someone and that they may betray that trust. I know it seems illogical, but it's deep rooted from fear. Don't push or force your way back in her life. Send flowers, a card and tell her you love her and respect her decision, but you will wait for her to be comfortable IF EVER. Sounds like there's still a lot of healing to he done inn her heart. You sound like a decent fellow, I pray it all works out for you!!😊
August, 23 2018 at 7:44 am
To any women or men suffering abuse who has posted. You are doing the best with what you can right now. Summon the courage and commit to leaving your situation. You are so worth it.
As a young boy I suffered verbal and physical abuse growing up. As a result I have self esteem issues and abandonment issues. My step father was abusive and my mother didnt stand up for me.
Im yet to have a healthy relationship as a result as I fear I'm not good enough and sooner or later partner will leave me.
After a failed relationship attempt which left me completely broken hearted I'm seeing a psychologist.
Though I'm able to open up easily with friends and write, feel and cry about things this stuff I need help with as it was too much to deal with myself.
It's so sad when you know your an amazing guy with heaps to offer that everyone else sees it but you just don't believe yourself.
Hence the decision was made to change my life and the journey has begun! You can all do this too!
May, 7 2019 at 3:51 am
Hi, I feel I’m reading your post as if it is me. I hope you are doing great man
July, 25 2018 at 10:12 pm
Rachel here again. I am 44. Just to note . Very active after my surgery. A smile that cannot be erased. Despite horrific abuse. I have some emotional scarring but I refuse to let it swallow me. I am more than worth respect and honour. And I will extend that in the face of the lack of righteousness in this society .
July, 25 2018 at 10:06 pm
I am separated from a severely abusive marriage of 17 years. Details are those of a horror story. So I will spare them. I took our son , I took a few things to begin with and I left . Miracles happened . I had just came thru a spinal surgery. Prior to his last assault. The police pressed charges and I have custody of my beautiful 16 year old son whom I lift up daily , he is an honour student and kind and whole. I was given a house to live in with a beautiful yard for three years at no expense ( in which time I healed) and now am proceeding with a court division . I prayed . And I am safe. I work to capacity at a beautiful quilt shop. I am a beautiful woman and I believe I am worth it. I am a believer in God . No one can take my worth . Get out of your abuse. I left with the cloths on my back and my son. Leap. You are worth it . I’m living proof.
May, 13 2018 at 4:40 am
I was with my bf who is now my sons father. I was mentally not well. I lost my virginity to being raped at age 14 and child molested by uncle's., grandfather, and dad. Afterwards a toll of unstable relationship abuse cheat on me everything. I messed up my relationship I had PTSD thought he was gonna be like everyone else and I was so low on myself from everything I cheated had no respect for myself. And just really felt no good. But I left fixed myself and now I'm a beautiful strong woman. None of that was my fault yet I took it out on someone who didn't deserve it. I was stuck everything was my fault I thought. And now I know they were scumbags not me I'm good and damn happy were back together he loves the woman I am. Ladies keep ur head up don't let nothing tear u down nothing ur fault. I've Ben through lotta suff bad stuff but I'm truly proud of myself.
May, 23 2018 at 3:37 am
Donna, I'm so sorry to hear about everything you've gone through. I'm glad to hear you're making your self-care a priority and feel you're making progress toward a happier life. Thanks for reaching out to us, please do so anytime. Thanks again! -Emily
Michelle Fuqua
April, 27 2019 at 2:20 pm
I am really struggling in my life. I left my "husband" who was also my pimp nearly 26 years ago. I was 2 months pregnant. I've never really had support and I've been abused since childhood, I was adopted. Never knew love, always wanted it. My son helped me change my life, I'd been prostituted, beaten, stabbed, raped and shot before I finally left. I also lost or gave up 2 children for adoption because of my traumatic lifestyle. I've never remarried and my husband came to live with me and our son the last 7 months of his life, he has end stage rental failure. It was a nightmare, I even tried to commit suicide. When he died I was relieved. It's been nearly 5 years since his death, and I still can't function normally. This one guy has been chasing me for 4 years, he says he wants to be friends but we had sex the first day we met and it's never happened again because I don't care for him in that way. The friendship thing isn't working because he brings the sexual stuff up on occasion, plus having slept with so many men Ihave no desire for a sexual relationship. I keep telling him I'm not interested, but he still want's to be 'friends ' but I always feel in my guard with him. I'm such a mess, I isolate all the time, because when I let people close they ALWAYS hurt me. I love people, but I can't stand to be around them except in short intervals. To top it off I'm a Christian and I don't feel very loving. I've sought counseling but I just can't seem to gain traction or find anyone who really gets what I've been through and can help me. I'm already 58 and I feel like I'm just existing. I REALLY want to me!!!! I really love to help people, and I do when I can, I just don't feel very valuable and that makes me sad
Gillian Green
April, 29 2018 at 4:21 am
Nearly 4 years ago I left my husband after years of mental abuse. I didn't even know it was that until I went back to college. The staff there gave me the strength to do something as I had lost contact with my friends and family years ago. I'm however still not over it. I'm still afraid to get into any new relationships in case it happens again.However, I'm so glad I did leave him that someone like me who is so "weak" had the courage to actually leave him. To all those men and women out there suffering now, please find the strength to get out of the situation. You deserve a life of happiness and not darkness. Yes, it's frightening, but if you have friends and family who can support you then please tell them and make yourselves a better life. God bless you all.
April, 12 2018 at 5:51 am
I left an emotionally abusive marriage after 28 years. The best thing that helped me was reading a book recommended by my marriage counselor. It is called “The Verbally Abusive Relationship.” I didn’t know that I was living with emotional abuse until we received marriage counseling. This book is older but helped me so much. It helped me realize that I was not the pathetic failure I thought I was & that all his issues were not my fault. I felt as though the author watched a movie of my life to write this book. I highly recommend this book because it changed my dark & dreary life into an adventure I love. This is the first time in my life I can wake up, thank God for the gift of my life, & look forward to my new adventures. I still have my moments of sadness and “what ifs” but I refocus on the present (with the help of my support system) & refocus on the positive.
March, 26 2018 at 12:47 pm
I have been abused for 5 years this December 2018..god help me.juliette

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

March, 27 2018 at 1:57 pm
I have been for about 10 years... don't have the ability to move on, maybe we can help each other

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Gillian Green
April, 29 2018 at 4:23 am
Please find help. You don't deserve this.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Gillian Green
April, 29 2018 at 4:24 am
Please can you find some help. Anyone you can talk to?
March, 25 2018 at 9:12 pm
I’m a man, all I can find is articles written by women, I’m a man that suffers from emotional abuse by my wife.i feel stupid n week for allowing this to take place, I’m so tired of being told how weak n insignificant I am. Being called names I could never emagine a woman saying but I can still hear the words n see her face. I tried fighting back, because I felt maybe she would listen or care but that didn’t work. I came to the exceptence that nothing I would do or say would ever be enough or make her happy. The pain I was feeling by her words n actions was nothing to the pain of her past that must live so deep inside. I came to a point where my heart became hard to the words that were repeated and the situations that could never be resolved, no matter how hard I tried or changed. There would always be something new .it was like a unquenchable thirst that was never satisfied. Always problems with my family and my friends, my job , the activity’s that we’re healthy and good for me . Complaining and wanting me to change myself and then complaining that I changed and wanting me to change back . It’s total insanity and I hope my words can help someone . Thanks for listening .

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

April, 13 2018 at 11:55 pm
Nick, i can so relate. I was with my ex for about 8 years. Damn did she ever screw with my head. I found some books really helpful and also Spartan Life Coach on YouTube. I agree it’s difficult in an entirely different way when it’s the man receiving the abuse. This isn’t to polarize the issue. Abuse is horrible for anyone to receive. I found out there is one organization in Canada that treats men and about 700 for females. Given that’s the stats are pretty much 50/50 that’s a tough reality. I also felt significant shame that I allowed things to get so out of whack and didn’t stand up for myself etc. The truth is abusive people suck and are devestating to those around them. I am 11 months post leaving. I’ve been able to rebuild a fair bit of my life so far but am still dealing with the fallout inside of me. I used to believe that I had intrinsic value but now I honestly struggle to believe that. I took on her constant messages that my value came from what I gave, earned, contributed etc. It’s very difficult for me, now solidly in the dating scene to remember that the true value I bring to being with a woman is simply who I am. Anyhow all that to say, I feel your pain bud. Keep the good fight. I honestly believe that the more difficult the climb the greater the view (but thank god I’m out of that hellish marriage!)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

April, 14 2018 at 1:47 pm
I was a kind hearted man. A little troubled from my inability to succeed in my ambitions. But I still used to stride to make some progress in my idea of success. I ran into my wife after moving to a new state and town. She had 2 children from a past relationship. Her daughter's father "didn't want her." So I signed the birth certificate and claimed her as my own. We got married fast, against my idea. But in her eyes, it was the only way her ex couldn't "take Emma" from me. So we rushed into it. Before the marriage there was signs of her neglect to my emotions, but I used to see the good in everyone. Years went by, things spun way out of control and I became just like her. No regard to her feelings. My defenses were her offenses. No I'm labeled as the abuser. I've been sitting for 3 weeks, getting 2-4 hours of sleep a night. While she's with a new partner and having no side effects of our relationship....Not a soul in that town believes me and the worst part, I had a child of my own with her. So I cut communication, started making progress. Started working out, learning a new skill to chase an unfulfilled dream and began to be "ok" again. I still have unnecessary defences with friends and family. But I was making changes, finally. She started getting back in, letting me talk to my kids again now that I wasn't "manic" anymore. But I was told I couldn't have anything to do with my step children. Well I got a call from my step children yesterday. No contact with my own kid though. Spent the entire night going in circles, worrying at the fact that she's manipulative to even our children's emotions. Scared to death as my step kids show signs of mental abuse as well. Although, I'm a man, I'm the bad guy...
March, 14 2018 at 8:34 am
I have decided to leave my husband after 24 years of marriage. I've never understood why I felt so anxious and unsure of myself all these years. Often felt like I was walking on eggshells because I was nervous for his scolding or berating over pretty much everything. My feelings of loneliness and emptiness have intensified over the last several months and I started googleing my symptoms and low and behold....there I was described to perfection! I am being emotionally abused!!! I've since spoken to a counselor who has confirmed this. I needed confirmation because I always felt like I was crazy or being weak for feeling so effected by his comments. I will be seeking out a lawyer very soon and I can't wait until this marriage is over. I have not had the conversation with him yet as I'm waiting and planning the execution. I am scared, relieved, unsure, excited, anxious....all rolled into one big mess. I am so sad for my 2 daughters, who are young adults still at home, because they have endured his wrath as well. How did I miss this ???? I pray for me, my daughters and all those that have suffered this insidious crime against us.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

March, 27 2018 at 2:03 pm
I can relate as well, I am trying to get out of a 10 year relationship and its so very hard.... he is a descent father but has a very bad temper, I am looking to seek therapy because he has a hold on me that I cannot shake, I feel depressed as well, I pray for all people enduring this
Ame C
January, 21 2018 at 5:52 am
I’m still in the stage of not feeling comfortable for fear he will say or do something else. Or fear he will continue to tell lies to our boys. I stayed in my marriage for years, knowing he was mean. Knowing I’d never be w him my whole life. But I never understood the toll it was taking on me mentally. I stayed for the boys. My goal was to get them to college, then I’d ask for a divorce. I couldn’t take it. I got close. Only a few years away for my youngest. When I went to a psychologist, she told me I was being abused. I left her office and never went back. I am a strong professional woman. Strong women aren’t abused. I was staying intentionally, enduring the pain. How was that abuse. A friend also told me I was being abused. Our friendship suffered a bit, because one again, I didn’t believe. Finally when we both went for joint counseling and, after 20minutes with both of us, the counselor separated us, and told me privately to file for divorce based on abuse...I started to listen. I started to read. I started to come to terms with what I did to myself by staying. When I moved out, he called the police on me...and blamed me for it. He drained our accounts. And turned the kids against me. One still asks why I abandoned them. I will never speak poorly to them about him, nor will I do anything that puts them in the middle. Sometimes the pain I feel is so bad, I can’t breathe. I just want to sleep. I just want to end it all. ...but then he would win. ...and I pick myself up....and try another day .... I’ll keep trying.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

March, 27 2018 at 3:09 pm
Hello Ame, I can only imagine what your going through... I am going through one of the hardest times of my life. My husband is a tricky situation because he does not belittle me or insult me but has a flaming temper. I do not know why I decided to have a child with him. Our boy is only 4 but feels the tension in the home when he explodes. He uses pot daily and becomes belligerent and sloppy but I cannot seem to leave him
I admire your strength and it does get better
January, 18 2018 at 3:08 am
Your bullet “wondering about how they are coming across” made me smile. As did the next. I’ve been so stuck and ashamed of being abused, that I hadn’t even thought it might happen to others. I am strong and smart, very successful in my profession, yet rendered completely useless and insignificant in his shadow. I can’t believe I’ve let myself become that, all in the name of love. Thank you for your words and thoughts! It helped me truly open my eyes to what has happened, and to what the abuse really did to me. I have a tween that I am navigating through the mess as well, and for him, I need to be strong and almost clinical in my descriptions and support mechanisms, but here I finally allowed myself to acknowledge what “he” did to me. I don’t have friends around me, he pushed them all away, and I don’t know how to make friends anymore, broke as I am, but reading everyone’s comments helps me move on. Thank you!

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

February, 6 2018 at 1:07 am
I’ve read so many of the comments and could be literally several of all I’ve been able to read. It’s heartbreaking. It’s devastating. It’s unimaginable, but it’s happened. I too, intelligent, embarrassed, ashamed, because I couldn’t imagine how so much BAD could come from one human, (I’ll never believe they’re human), but didn’t know exactly WHAT I’d been married to for all 18 years until I learned of this and what they’re capable of. Nobody gets me. I’ve lost everyone. Everything I had. Started over from rock bottom or below because the court was ALL in his favor. They’re sick demented demons and we’re finalky free of the daily struggle and pain to some peace of mind. I hope and dream that someday we’ll all see this sooner. This was the defining and breaking point of my 51yesrs at the time. I’m 57 now and feel like I’ve lost so much of me but there’s still time. We’re still alive. I want some happiness someday, and I wish that for you and everyone else here and everywhere to find peace and happiness. We all deserve it so much. Best of all to you.
January, 17 2018 at 1:33 pm
I left my husband 6 months ago and I spent7 years feeling alone made fun of in front of people and lost who I was. I've struggled to go back to work im too scared of getting things wrong. I became a complete prisoner and couldn't look up in fear of being accused of making eyes at people. He would spend full nights making me stay awake while he qiestioned me over and over. I don't know how long it'll take to get over because it took so long to recognise myself. I hope I can move on

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

March, 27 2018 at 2:13 pm
you will definitely move on, I am so proud of how you were able to leave him and move on, you are deserving of a better life, never ever doubt that. I myself am trying to get out of a verbally abusive relationship of 11 years... I have not gained the courage yet to leave, he has a temper and a drug problem... also financially unstable and yet I cannot let go so I when I read stories like yours I am feel hopeful. Keep your head up and pray
January, 16 2018 at 12:26 pm
I left a man I was married to for 41 years about 1 1/2 years ago. Overall I felt that I have adjusted . Every few months I have an emotional breakdown for no special reason. I would like to think this is a release of all of my pain and suffering. I am working on loving myself. I know happiness comes from me and no one else is responsible for my happiness. It is a struggle to not let yourself become emotionally shut off and be able to trust again. I realize this will take allot longer than I though but that's okay. One day at a time. Good Luck and God Bless all of you who are facing these same struggles.
orire omatsola
December, 28 2017 at 6:19 pm
Im so thankful i stumbled on your blog. Its been two years since i left my ex boyfriend who mentally abused me in ways I'm still recovering from. The week i finally left him was the best week of my life until it took a turn for the worst. I ended up having an acute psychotic disorder and was hospitalized for two weeks. The trauma from the mental break down evolved into terrible anxiety and depression. I just feel so damaged having to deal with the trauma of mental abuse, then a mental breakdown to now anxiety and depression. Its just frustrating how one person altered the course of my life and how i feel about myself and now I'm afraid ill never recover from all that trauma. Its affected my romantic and platonic relationships. Now I'm incapable of forming proper relationships with people because i feel so damaged and undeserving of people now. I have a decent enough support system but its hard talking to people who cant familiarize with what I've been through.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Bridgett O
January, 15 2018 at 3:39 am
Orire, Honey, I FEEL your pain! Do not give up on yourself! You are a beautiful, wonderful, worthy human being and you are more than what happened to you. Your ex's estimation of your character is flat out wrong. Love yourself enough to tell yourself the truth about who you are and who God created you to be. Saturate your mind with the truth of how God sees you in scripture. You will make it and you will be a "surthrivor". Great things like at the end of your dark tunnel. Just don't give up!

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

March, 27 2018 at 2:25 pm
Guys I understand and am currently going through that pain as we speak, I feel I am walking in quick sand everyday, its so hard, I do not know why I accepted being yelled at, slapped, spit at and controlled, I feel I cannot get out of this abyss, I am so proud of people who get out of these toxic relationships
December, 18 2017 at 3:31 am
This has really shed some light on my own situation. I left my ex about 2 months ago. He'd been extremely emotionally abusive for the majority of the 3 years we were together. He started doing drugs and cheated on me at the end of it and I had enough. He tried to manipulate me to stay and when I didn't he went around telling lies (although he had done that before also) about me and about our situation and he turned one of my best friends against me and slept with her. It took me a while to accept that I'm a victim of abuse. So far these first couple months have been hard. Adjusting to life now is rough. I had moved across the country with him a couple years back and made so many wonderful friends, but I had to go back to my family and leave all my friends behind. It's been hard having to deal with that. Healing is hard. I hope I can get through this sooner rather than later. I've got other things to focus on now. Sometimes I feel like my recovery is going well and then something comes crashing down and I feel awful again. Hopefully things begin to go smoother. Thank you for sharing this with all of us. It was very enlightening to read. Much love, Lori.
November, 27 2017 at 7:23 pm
I have suffered physical, emotional and spiritual abuse since early childhood. I was not a wanted child and was blamed by mother who had no.oroblem telling me I was unwanted and to blamed for why she had to stay in a marriage she wasn't happy in. I was beaten, dragged by my hair, beaten so bad with a belt for not making it to the toilet on time so.i vomited on the floor and got beaten on my bare fanny until.i wet the floor and got beaten for that. The verbal abuse was everyday. I was called every the book and told to go toy room everyday because she couldn't stand to look at me. There were s many times she wouldn't even en a knowledge my existence. I was choked because my sister's room was a mess. Needless to say I left at the age of 17. I married someone just as abusive. So for the next 18 yrs input up with the second exact treatment and worse. Even though I've been divorced for 18yrs now, I'm extremely sensitive to others comments when they are hurtful. I can't seem to trust anyone. And I'm tired of not being strong enough to overlook other peoples bad behavior. When this happens, I get super defensive and I Rumi ate about it for days.y feelings are deeply hurt and I feel angry and sometimes find dyslef wanting to fire back. I trust no one and am tired of waiting g for the next bad thing to happen. I have been diagnosed with PTSD. But my frustration also comes from not wanting g to feel this way anymore. I'm tired of being the odd duck that can't overlook what I consider inappropriate comments.
November, 21 2017 at 6:42 pm
Hello, I could use some direction in our situation. My wife and I have been married for 12 years and we are in individual and couples therapy over a whole myriad of issues. At first it was infidelity on her part, but then it came out that I had been physically abusive toward her in the first half of our marraige. The infidelity was pushed aside, needless to say. When I say it came out, neither my wife or I understood that what I had done was physical abuse. We were both floored, and horrified. I/we have come to understand that because of both of our abusive upbringings, we normalized the few instances it happened. We knew they were bad and wrong however, so the 3rd time I shoved her in a fight, saw red, and had a panic attack when I realized I had handled her again, I determined I'd never touch her again in anger. I haven't. The problem did persist, we found out, because everytime we'd have a fight during which I'd get angry, she would feel scared because I had put my hands on her before. This causing emotional abuse. I know, I'm a son of a bitch, you don't have to tell me. I hate myself right now and am sick to my stomach all the time over this. We are in a separation stage right now. She may leave me over this when the separation time is over, and she'd be completely justified in doing so. Of course, if she will stay, I want to make this work. I never tried to blame her for my actions, only wondered why I would lose control. I hated it. This is where my question comes in. We have always had a very destructive cycle of unhealthy communication that has lead to psychological abuse towards one another, even before any physical abuse took place. When I read the list of symptoms of the victim of emotional abuse, I can check every one of them for myself. My actions are my responsibility, nothing she has ever done warrants being touched in anger. Having said that, my wife is heavily psychologically abusive towards me, and has been since the first couple weeks we became a serious couple. She knows I am desperate for her and our marraige, and she uses that against me to get things she wants. She withholds affection, calls me names, hits me, and uses me when it comes to sex with almost no return. I've been lectured during sex about how I was not performing well enough. Very uncomfortable. My question is: because my physical abuse is on the table, does that over shadow everything else? Does any of the other abuse have a way to be addressed for my own benefit of healing and recovery, or do I need to set that all aside until we find more stable ground? Until she heals and recovers...or leaves? I just dont want to have a counceling session where I come across as trying to defend or justify my actions...i just know that with this whole situation i'm messed up and need help.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

In a better place
November, 22 2017 at 7:59 am
My current partner was in a very similar situation. All I can tell you is “run”. I’m sorry but the abuse you’ve gone thru will not stop. You are married to a narcissist. I’m not condoning what you’ve done in the past, you’ve accepted what you’ve done is wrong long ago and put a stop to it. You both should have gone to counseling back then. However after living with a narcissist myself for 13 year (I’ve gotten out of the situation), I can tell you the abuse she filed out is far more damaging. For your sake once your counseling is over, I hope she decides to leave. Understood the violence in the beginning...but that doesn’t override the abuse you’ve taken.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

November, 23 2017 at 12:50 pm
Thank you for the comments. I am curious, are you make or female?

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

November, 25 2017 at 5:28 pm
Wow, this was a heavy comment to read. First of all, thank you for reaching out and being so candid. From what I can see, it seems like you are invested in your therapy and trying to find a solution. I commend your ability to accept responsibility for your actions, that's crucial for any changes or improvement to happen. Also, I see your point -- you fear to bring up things that have hurt you, because of the gravity of your own actions; like the things you have done kind of overshadows everything else so it seems like you could be deflecting or trying to rationalize. I think it's fair for you to bring those things up when the timing is appropriate and if you acknowledge that it may be misconstrued as deflection when you do decide to talk about it. I hate to say it because I feel like you are so committed to working on things, but your relationship sounds like it's been pretty toxic from all sides here. I'm also only hearing the bad stuff of course, so I am aware I can't see the whole picture. Have you considered that things may be broken beyond repair? Also, you are correct in her behavior meeting the criteria for verbal and emotional abuse. In addition, her infidelity and emotional abuse should not be deflected from or rationalized either by only addressing your abuse. I think you are correct in handling how you address that sensitively, find an appropriate time and work through it then. Good luck to both of you Dan. Thanks again for reaching out. -Emily
November, 29 2017 at 3:48 am
Thank you so very much. Your article and feedback have been invaluable. What I didn't mention was the time and trust that I have put into God (or attempted to through all the pain), praying for reconciliation of some kind. After a month of wild ups and downs emotionally for us both and a week separation, things have settled down significantly and she and I both have taken a step closer to each other as opposed to apart. The couples therapist and individual therapists have been invaluable aswell. None of this would be manageable without them. I didn't think it was possible to find a place from which repair and recovery could happen, but we are here. The event that caused her to turn back to our marraige and the possibility of success? I finally made the decision that this marraige may not be the best thing for _me_. Something about letting go, about being honest with what is best for me as well, changed the entire landscape of the issue. Being as frantic as I was to not lose her, that was a difficult resolve to come to. She came to me without prompting and broke down, apologizing for her part in our struggles and always drawing out the worst in me. I had done the same once I realised what I had done to her over the years. We are working out a month separation for December to continue to work on ourselves, coming back together for Xmas (4 kids). Thank you again for being here. I assume men in my situation do not have many places to go for advice/support. I wanted mention one thing for any who may read this. There wasnt any constructive advice I could find on how to work through/get over the massive pain of betrayal I was in from being cheated on, until I found a book about a man in almost my same situation. He wrote that we must walk through the pain, not away from it. On his advice, I take time whenever the pain comes back up and is overwhelming to lay down and think through each horrible moment of the affair, starting with her saying "I slept with someone", to every detail I came to find out about what they did together, to her sitting next to me on our bed the morning after acting as though nothing had happened. I let the pain of each memory and image do it's thing. Increase and overtake me, and then after a time subside a bit. Then I move on to the next image and repeat. After I've walked my mind through the entire event, I forcably shake it off and go do something else. Each time I return to that process or an image pops up the sting of pain is less than before, and the most amazing part is that after each time I go through it, I find actual relief, even some joy strangely enough. A month into this I find myself relating to others who have been trying to recover for 6 mo-1 year. I don't know how this guy figured out his method, but it has saved me. One other thing helped immensely. As soon as we were comfortable enough to touch each other, we did. It started with grabbing her hand. I would cry, but that's all I could do. Over time it turned into holding each other until we fell asleep. Sometimes it was difficult. I believe that physical contact helped repair the broken bond between us aswell. Thank you again so much for your help.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

November, 29 2017 at 6:39 am
Dan, I really commend you both on your commitment to couple's therapy and working through so much of this, on your own and together. Also, I must say I agree, physical contact and working on that intimacy can be very therapeutic and healing as well. I wish you both well in the coming month and hope your coming together for Christmas will be exciting and loving for everyone. Best of luck to you! -Emily
November, 18 2017 at 6:32 pm
After 4 years after leaving my abusive and controlling ex-husband I still have some mental trauma due to him. It took a long time to say, "it's ok to leave a dish in the sink. " or to leave finger prints on the faucet. I still can't handle a guy or anyone mad at me or yelling at me. I get frustrated and panic to where I literally freak out on the person. When they ignore me I panic even more and deperately try to fix the issue. I'm very defensive as well, and always try to explain myself. My boss said I always had an answer and tried to explain myself when I did something wrong. I had a man who controlled me and yelled at me daily for no reason. No matter what I did I was in the wrong even when I did nothing wrong. The last time we were together he yelled in my face screaming, "you bitch." over and over again. He blamed me for turning down his stereo when I wasn't even near it. He even threatened to burn my hand on the grill and deprive me of dinner that night. He was very good at starving me and denying me to go food shopping at the grocery store. I had no money or a credit card, and I was only give $20 or less for gas money when I needed to fill my tank. I was only allowed to go to school or my in laws house. I had to fight to hang out with anyone or do school clubs.This was the same man who punched me in the face for lightly tapping his shoulder and threatened to push me down the stairs when I was 8 weeks pregnant all because I wouldn't go with a mahogany crib. I know what abuse is, and I still cry when I tell my story. It will take a long time to undo all the damage he has done to me mentally and emotionally.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

November, 25 2017 at 11:41 am
Erin, that is just horrifying, I am so deeply sorry for your experiences. I am so proud and impressed that you were able to muster the strength and courage to leave. Have you seen a therapist for Post Trauma therapy? That may be really helpful. You are very right, it will take time but you already have four years under your belt and for that you should be proud. Thank you for reaching out and sharing your story with us. Take care Erin, Emily
November, 8 2017 at 4:01 am
Hi there. I am in a pretty serious relationship, we have been together for 7 months now and we're very happy. Prior to that I stayed single for nearly 5 years after my abusive marriage. As the abuse was not physical (although sometimes aggressive), and was subtle and slow acting, it has taken a long time for the enormity of it to sink in. I'm going through a phase at the moment, a big internal shift, and I believe it is my power coming back fully. So while it's very uncomfortable it will be worth it. But the problem is I am finding it very hard to trust my current partner. At the beginning I thought I saw many 'warning signs', but they all keep amounting to nothing. I keep getting surprised by how awesome he can be actually! But I still cannot let go of the feeling that something could be wrong. I cannot tell if my gut is telling me something or if it is my understandable trust issues. I've really no clue and it is putting a dampener on what should be a wonderful time in my life, the first year of a relationship. He is very patient about it, but of course I mistrust that too, thinking he's modifying his behaviour in order to conceal a dark truth. Do you have any advice? Many thanks .

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

November, 9 2017 at 8:23 pm
Carla, Hi, I'm Emily, one of the authors of <em>Verbal Abuse in Relationships</em>. Your comment really struck a chord with me! First of all I think in the first year of any relationship, things will be that way to a certain extent because although we've grown increasingly close to the person we're with and things are feeling serious, I would say the first year is filled with getting to know the ins and outs of eachother and learning the way the other responds to all different types of situations, what upsets them, what they're surprisingly understanding of, etc. So while I think that part is normal, I also think that your circumstance is naturally going to be altered considering what you've been through. It is completely natural for you to be on your toes regarding the way anyone you're in a relationship communicates, handles conflict, etc. We live and we learn and so once we've been through something traumatic, our minds naturally look for red flags as a way to protect ourselves in the future. I think if you're aware that your difficulty trusting your guy is putting a damper on things, that maybe you can ask yourself if you're willing to let yourself be vulnerable and go all in with this, or if you're just not ready for that yet and you really need to take things slow. It sounds to me like you've communicated with your boyfriend that you're having a hard time, I think that's a great way to handle that. Keep open communication so he's not left in the dark wondering why you're put off by something, a little reassurance can go a long way for some of us! If so far he's been wonderful, maybe you can start to give him the benefit of the doubt, while still trusting your instincts, and go from there. Falling in love can be scary! When things feel too good to be true, you can start to feel this overwhelming sense of impending doom, but that's more often than not, anxiety from all the previous trauma. You're recovering!
October, 23 2017 at 11:47 am
Touched base with me! So much so, I put it on Facebook!
October, 7 2017 at 6:14 pm
My ex and I broke up months ago. It was mutual. I didn't feel the pain of what he had done until after he was gone, and now I'm having trouble letting the pain and anger go. I fell like I still need him to understand what he put me through. He never felt as if he was in the wrong. Didn't matter the issue, he was faultless, so I don't think talking to him would change anything.
He began dating a girl we both worked with (one of his rules after the break up was neither of is could date anyone from work), and he dotes on her and she says he's the perfect boyfriend. I feel betrayed and hurt.
I could use the advice. I've been trying to date again, but I'm scared. Can anyone provide advice for me? It's time to move on.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

October, 24 2017 at 7:19 pm
He- what??? One of "his rules after the breakup"?? Honey. After the breakup, his rules don't matter anymore. My ex tried that too- setting rules and boundaries to maintain some leash of control over me even after the breakup. I'm in the same boat, it was months after the breakup before I realized it was emotional abuse, and I still have the temptation to go on his Facebook and furiously inform him of everything he put me through- but the fact is, it won't matter. As you said, "he was faultless." (Seems a common trait of abusers.)
Look, the main betrayal and pain people like us feel at this point is the betrayal and pain from the abuse. The idea that someone we loved and trusted used that to hurt us. The fact they could do that hurts just as much as the abuse- that someone could betray us like that. (I'm using 'us' because we've both been in similar situations.)
I'm also trying to date again; it's been four months, almost five, with the same new person and the main thing that's got me still looking up emotional abuse articles is the jealousy and insecurity. Mold yourself back together into an image you love, and then worry about a new relationship. And when you get in one, remember, it's going to be hard. You'll still have dreams about your ex. You'll still be worried that this new person will turn out just as bad or your trust will be betrayed again. Learning to trust again is the hardest part. Thankfully, the person I'm with is an old friend with whom I reconciled post-breakup (my ex entirely cut off my support systems, to include old friends I hadn't spoken to in years), so there was already a level of trust.
It's scary. And it's painful. And you think you're ready and then you jump in and you're terrified that now you're hurting someone else with all your melodrama tragedy. (Because it DOES feel dramatic- "He wasn't physically abusive, just emotionally... So it wasn't domestic violence and we never had to call the cops... He hurt my feelings..?" And you start doubting the true pain you feel.) But I think every new venture will feel just as frightening after this kind of betrayal; the idea is to lift your courage and power through. Watch out for red flags, make a list of what you won't allow in your new relationship (my list contains things like I wear what I want, my technology/social media is private, only I deal with my family, etc.), heal yourself, mend your broken pieces, and face your fears dead-on.
That's the best advice I've got. Have courage and faith in yourself. Trust is a muscle, not an instinct- it takes time to build up.
You've got this.
Elizabeth Siegel
September, 18 2017 at 9:56 pm
I don't know how to stop being so nervous and afraid of everything. See my thoughts and fears aren't dilusional, or paranoia it's real. My ex fiance mentally broke me down. He became a Jekyll and mr.hyde. I may have hurt him while he was locked up. And I'm not condoning my behavior. I understand I gave him the reason to distrust me firs. We were only together for 9 full days when he went to prison for 6 months. I am wrong and I know that for what I did when he was gone, and I can never change the past or erase how he felt when he found out.i will forever be sorry for that. But he took it to a whole new level.i still was there when he was locked up. I had time on the phone almost every day, I wrote him letters all the time I did visit him. Once but I did. I would carry the couple of clothes that he loved the best and I loved around wherever I went. I even had my dad like himwhich never happens. I became cold hearted in the end because the f everything he did to me or put me through.he stole from me, tried to pin things o. Me that were proven to not be me by his own friends. He became dilusional. I was held captive in what seemed like a rollerdex of pain and made up lies.he lied about damn near everything. Every person I talked to weather I waved at the mail man and said how are you or texted my father. I was living.but I wasn't tho. He stalked me. He manipulated my dad in to thinking everything was my fault. I sold all the I didn't. I broke every phone no I didn't.i owned up to what I broke or gave away. It seemed that no matter what I did I was in the wrong. I couldn't even walked to the mail box and back (5) minutes I'd be gone at tops without him saying you went to fuck orblow every black man in the city. He would sign me up for dating sites I never signed up for under my email he changed passwords to my emails, deleted pictures off my Facebook I will never be able to retrieve. Ever. All of my make up and got stolen because he stole from someone else.and made it look like it was me. I lost a beautiful beautiful apartment because of him and his sneakyness, he treated me like a dirty dog from the street. Physically hurt me. Had me in a curled up ball in the shower balling my eyes out his hand around my neck all because I decided to take a shower and get pretty up for him while he went to the store. I can't just put it behind me.i can't I tried...I loved him and will always love the part of him that's long gone.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

September, 20 2017 at 1:41 am
Hi Elizabeth,

Well done for reaching out on this site. I'm Emma, new author of the <a href="" rel="noopener" target="_blank">Verbal Abuse in Relationships blog,</a> and I too have struggled immensely with the side-effects of emotionally abusive relationship, as well as the conflicting feelings of love and hate you describe.

It sounds like your ex-fiance is a dangerous man, and I hope he is no longer a part of your life. Having said that, I know that recovering from domestic abuse is not black and white. I know there will be times when you miss him, despite that he hurt you physically and emotionally. But please bear in mind that What you are describing is not a loving relationship. It's also far less than you deserve. The way your ex-fiance treated you is not OK, and it's no one's fault but his.

I have to ask, are you seeing a therapist? It sounds you're experiencing some symptoms of PTSD and could use some help managing your feelings about your ex -- I know this because I went through it too.

If you do one thing to look after yourself this week, Google domestic violence therapists in your area or call a <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener nofollow">Domestic Violence hotline</a>. Recovering from abuse takes time, and it is definitely not a straightforward process. But it's the small steps that will, over time, restore your happiness and sense of self.
September, 17 2017 at 5:26 am
THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS. You just articulated everything beautifully and are giving me hope that I'll get through this. thank you so much

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