How Did You Brainwash Me?

June 21, 2012 Kellie Jo Holly

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!

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.

Tags: brainwash

APA Reference
Jo, K. (2012, June 21). How Did You Brainwash Me?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 13 from

Author: Kellie Jo Holly

May, 2 2016 at 8:33 am

I was married for 13months but at 6 months the warning signs emerged. The mask my husband wore slipped to reveal his true colours. I was told 'you're nothing but a fxxxing victim' if ever I protested or tears rolled down my face. I learned to cry in the shower. One argument arose 1week before marriage- it had started three months before and I felt had been resolved. It had not. The basis? I wanted to take 6months of maternity leave which would have been self financed(and was social norm in my workplace). He did not want me to be around the house hence his objection. I am so glad i took charge of birth control.The first time he grabbed me by throat i made allowances and my compassion rose to the occasion. His father had died 6months before, his mother was ill- i turned the other cheek. 6 months later he started to 'role play' with his boss's daughter- his version and the pride in managing to manipulate her did not rest well with me. So I interviewed her when the chance arose-I believed her version. My husband had got her involved in a game without informing her of the rules, to test out clairvoyant theory that 'he would have a happy life but his wife would be sad as he would cheat on her' When the rules were made known to her she rejected him, he then took this out on me the night before the most important job interview of my life. I was grabbed by the throat for the second time, verbally abused and mind games in context of above then progressed to usage of married dating websites, porn, and excessive marihuana consumption. Control, manipulation, trying to make you feel insecure when you are strong and deserve better. I got the job of my dreams and what happened? 'you are nothing but the fxxxing product of society' I earned 4times his salary, he could not cope. How pitiful and pathetic.These men are insecure, justify events after they happen to show themselves in a favourable light, spin tales to confuse you. Form an escape strategy NOW. They don't change. Talk to a few people in confidence but above all rise above it. You are not on this earth to be submissive to a cruel dictator who changes the goal posts/is self appointed judge and jury. Previous behaviour determines future tendencies people!!!! To return to them thinking they will change is deluded. They see this as a further indication that they got away with it, and will do it gain. My husband admitted this in front of a fellow health care professional and still pleads not guilty. Pre trial approaches and he will find a loop hole, but if a polygraph test is requested I will pass this. Stand up for yourself. Respect yourself. You deserve much better than they are or could be or ever will be. I am now 7 months out of this marriage, yes there are odd tears as you remember the good times, but take off the rose tinted spectacles and remember in vivid detail the bad times. It has a somewhat diluting effect and will stop you returning in to the arms of a control freak and manipulator. To do so teaches your children an awful truth- mummy tolerated this and so should I!The manipulator's low self esteem is not your problem. Their addictions are their issues. Teach them by your exit that they don't control you, that their bad behaviour is not acceptable. You are not their doormat for them to wipe their feet on. Your strength reveals their weakness. I am now happier and at peace on my own, looking forward to the future and once I get the divorce(waiting as he uses this as the last controlling factor) it will be the biggest relief of my life. Extricate yourself while you still can. They NEVER change. If this helps one woman somewhere in the world tonight, it will all be worthwhile and not in vain.

Prabhu R
April, 26 2016 at 8:48 pm

My mind fully distrub

April, 25 2016 at 1:27 pm

I'm not sure what I feel anymore at this point. My boyfriend And I have been together for eight years. If I don't like something he either gets mad or ignores me if I do not agree with him. There are things in life I enjoy doing and maybe I'm wrong but it'd be nice if he would do the things I enjoy sometimes but instead if I ask he rolls his eyes or sighs or even gets mad at me. So I don't ask him anymore to do things with me because I don't like feeling like I'm a loser over it. He yells at me all the time. I tried telling him it doesn't matter who is right or wrong I don't deserve to be yelled at bit then he said that he had a right to be mad at me and it was ok to yell at me. I'm not working right now because I'm in school full time and he always tells me if I don't like him yelling that the door is there and I can leave anytime and also that he lays all the rent but I have taken student loans out to help offset the cost of living expenses this year and pay bills also. He tells me I'm being a bitch all the time when I don't want to agree with him but I do it anyway so I don't have to be ignored and yelled at. I'm at a point where I feel like I'm becoming crazy and that I'm starting to lash out at him. This isn't who I am I'm not an angry person I'm not mean I'm not like this. I don't understand why I feel this way. He totally disregards how I feel and constantly tells me I'm doing things wrong and will always make his faults tiny and blow mine up. I want to visit my family together but he says no and expects to visit his by not mine. He banned my best friend from my home. He yells and screams and tells people personal things in public or to his family and humiliates me. He says he doesn't feel embarrassed so he doesn't care but I tried to tell him that I care and it hurts me but he really doesn't care. I feel so alone. I stay inside more because when he yells our neighbors can hear because we live in an apartment and I'm ashamed to go outside. I have two more semesters in school left and I feel it's best to plan to leave when I finish my degree and start working next summer. I'm almost finished. Im going back to work this summer to save money for movin out. Our lease ends next July and I'd like to leave when he isn't home and without a trace of where to contact me. I just want to leave and be on my own for a while just me and my daughter she's 11 (not his). He doesn't hit me but the emotional abuse is wearing me down to a point where I'm scared I won't come back from it.

April, 17 2016 at 7:53 pm

I suffered at the hands of an abusive partner in exactly the ways described in the article. It lasted only 18 months but in that time he managed to convince me to leave my husband for him and set up a new life. At first it was exciting and it seemed like I finally met someone who understood me and wanted the same things from life. Once I was wholly committed and there was no turning back he began the control and the secret drinking problem slowly began to be apparent to me. It ended with 2 violent drunk incidents (him not me) which made me realise I had to get out for my own safety and my kids and also his. He was abusive to his son and extremely jealous of my youngest and I also worried for their safety. 2 days after the second violent outburst he went to bed drunk and got up and left at 5:30 am the next day. That was the last time I saw him. He was found hanging in a hotel room 2 days later. A sad ending but it released me from an unspeakable hell that I could not find a way out of. Now I have a new partner who is the most amazing person but I find it difficult to believe that he loves me and am very insecure. I feel so damaged and I just want to be normal again.

April, 12 2016 at 11:50 pm

I can relate. i am married, we have two daughters. i am a stay at home mom, with no money. thank god i have my mom & church community bc i am leaving today! im sitting here crying. i was doubting myself earler. thinking maybe i shouldnt leave, maybe its me not him, or its not that bad. i think that bc the way ppl look at me when i reach out to them for help. I am amazed im even researching abuse bc i know i am battered, torchered, & beat down to nothing. I love myself & my girls dont need to see the abuse & fighting & me crying for no apparent reason at all (that they can c). so my eldest i fear will not be happy leaving with Mommy today & i pray in a short time i can start to feel normal again & be able to live in the moment with my daughters. your información on abuse is spot on. ive read some new things from you i haven't seen elsewhere which helped me válida te why im picking up & leaving my marriage of 13 years. im worthy of love & respect.
I must go & not feel an inches of sorrow for him losing his family. lord please give me strength!

March, 29 2016 at 4:08 am

I am leaving my husband of 12 years because I don't want my children to grow up believing that anyone should be treated the way I have allowed myself to be treated, but I am struggling right now. We've been apart 5 months and for the most part he's been hostile, threatening but this past week he's been friendly, acting like a normal person and creeping back into my space. Seeing him act normal and seeing my son want to spend time with him makes me feel like I'm crazy. I start thinking maybe it wasn't as bad as I think, maybe I could live with it, maybe I'm overly sensitive. I think about what he's done, smashing my things, yelling, swearing at me, putting me down, cheating, telling me I imagined or exaggerated those things....but I can't seem to get mad and I don't understand. I feel guilty for the lawsuit I am about to file and think maybe I shouldn't do it, maybe he can co parent and be my friend, even though I know it's not true. I feel so confused. I know rationally what he's done but when he behaves nicely, it's almost worse than when he's mean and saying he wishes I was dead. How can I stop myself from having these doubts? What is wrong with me?

March, 16 2016 at 1:31 pm

This actually made me cry. I see a lot of people who have had worse situations than me, I never was physically abused or never have I had to see my ex again. But I was exposed to this exact thing at a very young age. The worst part is that my ex dumped me, I did not do anything to get out of that relationship. To this day I feel some shame when I remember that I let him control me so easily. And some anger, because I would have had my whole life thrown away had he not left me, because there was no way I was leaving him. Hell, for half a year after he was gone, I had constant paranoia that my current partner, or really any other person, would do the same thing to me and I wouldn't realize it. To anyone who is a victim of this, I want to let you know that there is nothing wrong with you. I know that deep down inside I knew he was messing up my life. Find someone to confide in, hide it from your abusive partner if necessary. Just do anything to get out of it. Because it literally destroys your life. I almost lost all of my friends and family, and I would not wish the regret and shame of that on my worst enemy. And remember, not everyone is like that, and the people that are are easy to spot after you know what to look for.

March, 15 2016 at 1:10 pm

To all of you I want to say something. You can and deserve to be happy. You deserve to have a good life, to have yourself back. Abuser's strip you of your identity and I know because I spent 6 years with an abuser. My ex-husband was subtle in the beginning in 2009 and it ended in 2014. I had concussions, broken capillaries, so much sexual, physical and emotional trauma by that point it's ridiculous. When I came home to him hurting my 3 year old son I hit the breaking point. I had reached out to the local family justice center but i kept tittering on the fence until that night. It wasn't easy but I want you all to know right now that it wasn't just hard but it was possible. I got my CPO and got out. Go and talk to someone, document and get out because life without them may sound hard right now but IT IS THE BEST. You are worthy of happiness, you are worry of a good life with good people in it. Never give up, take a deep breathe and go after it. There is so much help out there for you. Break the silence, break the cycle. I love you all, I have been there and you know what?! You are a strong person and you can do this!

January, 31 2016 at 5:10 am

I have left my abuser a month now it hasn't been easy lots of self doubt, confusion, what if he really does love me, what if he has really changed this time?! I was with him only a year and 8 months but long enough to get me to point where I was going to have a nervous break down! I lost my children , my family , my friends he def had me in iosolatiin and would daily break me down. Thank God I held on to my job through this that was the last thing he was trying to get me to lose n he was working hard on that! One of my co-workers is one of my dearest friends and now has given me a roof over my head until I get on my feet! That man had me brain washed and I didn't even realize how bad it was until I read this because even now sadly I feel guilt about leaving him and his pain! He had hit me, called me slut ( and many other choice words), made me think that everything I knew or thought I was was wrong, he would give me daily lectures of what I did wrong and could do better , would tell me if I only did this or that I would have him and his heart forever, he would talk to other women on IG or Twitter , he made me choose him or my children , he would text me all day at work telling that I am cheating that I was probably doing oral pleasures on men at work , he forced me to watch porn while giving him oral pleasure, he would hit me during sex ! The list goes on and on ! I am so thankful I have made it out! Alive !!!!

January, 4 2016 at 11:22 am

Inam hoping someone reads this, I am 8 years in. The the first 5 I had no clue what was going on, I thought I was going crazy, thought I was all these horrible things he said I was, confused and broken I almost had a nervous breakdown. He never hits me, doesn't even really have to yell. Silent treatment, dosas appointing looks, passive aggressive jabs, constantly telling that I'm bad, selfish, bad with money, too sensitive too forgetful the list goes on. I left n I don't any idea why I thought it would be different to come back. I'm an idiot, it's happening all over again. I'm so sick of it yet all I do is feel guilt, over everything. I spend 10 bucks and I'm made to feel like a useless person over it. I work I have always worked.why can't I just cut him off completely, why . Also when telling others my issues with him , it always sounds as if I'm crazy as if mb I am the bad one

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Jo Holly
January, 6 2016 at 10:37 am

Abusers are adept at making you feel like "the bad one." They are expert blamers and manipulators. I suggest you start building a support system so you can run what he says to you past a sympathetic pair of ears. Someone to validate that you are NOT the crazy one and to say, "OMG - I can't believe he said that to you. You know he's an idiot, right?" This validation of what you think and feel is very important to regaining your focus on the truth of your situation. Right now, you're focused on what he says is the truth, but he has no problem distorting your perception and lying to you.
You can start with the NDVH ( and build out from there. Don't enlist his family or friends in your support network because what you're doing or saying will get back to him. Attend groups, call hotlines, speak to your family doctor and get a therapist. If one of your friends takes his side right now, that person is ignorant of domestic abuse and should not be in this support network. Be choosy.
You fear of "sounding crazy" or "like the bad one" is partially based on the fact that abuse makes you feel as if you can no longer communicate rationally with others. The problem is that you CAN communicate with the right people - people who understand and can help. For example, you do not sound crazy to me at all. In fact, I know there are a hundred other little things that happen to you that you didn't include in your comment. It's a big ball of lies made up by your abuser to make you feel weak. But you are not weak. You are capable, responsible, level-headed and completely sane.
Visit the NDVH and start putting together a support system of domestic violence survivors, domestic violence support organizations, a DV support group or two, trusted (and educated about abuse) friends and family, perhaps an attorney if legal issues concern you, your family doctor, a therapist, ... whoever you can think of to support you, validate you, and help you get back on track.

December, 3 2015 at 5:58 pm

I cannot take it anymore... almost 10 years of verbal abuse. .everytime I tried to leave he threatens me with something.. I don't know what to do....

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Jo Holly
December, 6 2015 at 7:21 pm

Call the NDVH or chat with a representative at Tell them about his threats, tell them you can't take it anymore, and tell them you don't know what to do. They will advise you, and I suggest you follow that advice. That's what you do.

November, 29 2015 at 8:08 pm

Thank you

November, 27 2015 at 5:02 pm

I have the same experience. Unfortunately he was a minister in Iran and was very powerful. Now he is teaching in the university now. He was an abuser. He used to make relationships with women and girl..
Every time, I said anythings about his relationships with women and girls or I wanted to see his cellphone, he shouted on me and leave me for several times..
He was in my life for 18 months and during this time, I was very stressful..Each time I complained about any things, he told me: You don't have any things to loose...

November, 14 2015 at 8:49 am

I have been in a relationship for five years now, I read this article because my boyfriend and I are going through a major ordeal. I still find myself more concerned about his well being and how he is doing than my own children or my own. I am currently separated from him and I am thinking how did I become this way and why. I know he has brainwashed me throughout the time we have been together and every step in the process described above fits my life perfectly! I trying to stay strong and this article has helped me realize the hold he has on my concious and sub concious, and the effort he has taken to keep me under his control! I'm so overwhelmed with feelings of failure, and confusion. I am just taking it day by day.

November, 14 2015 at 6:54 am

I am strong. I stand strong against him. All I just read, I recognize. I've left so many times. We went from Oklahoma to California. He called demanded by the courts the kids and I return. I would have never come back. I am trapped. I have been strategically making plans to leave. Saving money, slowly moving out. One box at a time. It's getting worse. He put his hands around my throat and pretended to squeeze. I need out. I can't find anywhere to go. I read articles like this often to keep my strength up. Also to remind me of who and how he chooses to behave.

November, 12 2015 at 3:39 am

I cried as I read the article, as well as many of the comments here, because I've been married for over 34 years now, and I am almost ready to break away. I've tried three times before, even ending up in court once before deciding to stay for couples/individual counseling. It didn't' work. I have lost any sense of who I am, yet I know she's still in there somewhere. On top of that, whenever I am emotionally/mentally abused and get angry about it, I am accused of being "an angry woman," or a person with an anger problem who needs help. I don't go overboard when I'm mad, either. I simply express my feelings as positively and respectfully as I can, or walk away and come back later when I am more composed. Life is a living hell. I know I'm not perfect, but I have changed for the better over the years. People who know me will tell me I'm not an angry person at all, and in fact, I can be too nice. Thanks so much for this article. I feel like a fog has been lifted. God bless.

November, 5 2015 at 3:44 pm

I can't describe my situation - I've literally blocked it out (not totally recommended). I was with him for 18 years. I never knew how to leave, thru the 18 years I planned how I would do it, but always believed I couldn't in the end.
The time finally came, unplanned and over the simplest situation. I walked out the door. I still can't believe it - I simply WALKED OUT the door, (without a plan) He never thought I could do it. But when I did and he knew I was stronger than ever, he knew he had no power over me anymore, and I took the power back.
8 years later I'm still coping with issues, mainly trust and thinking everyone has a motive and doubting myself. Please.... after walking out the door, deal with what's happened DONT
BLOCK IT OUT - it doesn't work.

October, 21 2015 at 1:06 am

It feels like i just woke up from a dream of someone elses life after 12 years. I used to write his words down... i knew they were bad but his words became my words. it started with our first Christmas together. i was wrapping presents and doing a terrible job. he started laughing, said i didnt do anything right. i didnt cook right, didnt dress right, didnt wear make up. after that i became the bad welfare mother he would never take parenting advice from. The night he said that, i cried all night and he sat there and watched. The next morning i was exhausted, red eyed and swollen, i took the kids to school and came back and cried some more asking him why he thought so badly of me why he was with me. He told me he never said it. it didnt make sense to me, nothing made sense. i started seeing everything through his eyes. he attacked everyone i got close to and i started seeing them as a threat too. He told me, look at the way people are looking at you and I did. They were looking at me the way he was looking at me. I was sure of it. I stopped talking to people, i stopped talking to them
mostly because I couldnt explain in my words what he was doing because i had his words in my head. Every time I left him, i was drowning in the misery of his lies. it is only now that I remembered the fear he put in me, how when I started talking to a friend I had isolated myself from, my heart beat out my chest when he found out and I never understood why. At one point i even called a friend to tell him not to post on my status because it would make him mad. I remember now, all of the words other people have said to me, you put up such a fascade... how do you do it? You're in pain and you dont even act like it. You should be screaming at him, it's your life... why aren't you angry? I wasnt angry... i was confused. I was numb with grief. I was silently drowning. I could never understand how my friends could hold me while I cried but he couldn't. That's not true, he held me while I cried about the people i felt completely isolated from, asking me ,"Do you want me to beat them up for hurting you?" I literally had flashbacks about the things people would say, "What's the matter with you?" I told you that you were bad?" All of which confirmed everything he said about me, that there was something wrong with me. I remember all of it, all of the nasty things he ever said to me, did to me and I wonder how long it will stay with me? I also wonder after I leave him when the numbness will come and then the pain, the drowning...I remember I used to watch and wait for his lips to thin out, tried to prevent it with everything i had inside of me because I knew what it meant. It meant that those bad words were coming but would it mean that this time he would ridicule me like a child, point his finger in my face like last time, what name would he call me this time. The worst part is that my daughter will grow up and find a man just like him and he's gonna make her cry and he's gonna steal her joy and her hope and she's gonna wonder why she wants to die.
i just wish he would have just hit me, atleast then I could have found the right words to explain what was happening to me. I tried to tell people but I didnt know
how... i couldnt explain it... all i ever said was he was mean or he doesnt contribute... he's bad with money...or he mistreats me financially because I was trying to make sense of it by looking at his actions but i never thought about the words. I remember when i would pray out in pain, I knew in my heart God was trying to tell me something. All I heard was, finish your book, finish it... what you are looking for are in the words.
I remember when i first move to Texas, God was stronger. i would look at signs find words, put them in my book. And I heard God again. The words are every where.. now that i know and have found the right words... i want to shout it from the roof tops... I'm not crazy.

September, 20 2015 at 3:20 pm

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.

September, 11 2015 at 11:08 pm

#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.

August, 15 2015 at 8:43 am

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.

August, 5 2015 at 4:25 am

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.

August, 4 2015 at 1:09 am

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.

August, 3 2015 at 3:37 pm

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

July, 30 2015 at 4:29 pm

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

July, 25 2015 at 9:15 am

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

azza almatt
June, 27 2015 at 1:24 pm

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 :)))

June, 1 2015 at 3:52 am

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.

May, 28 2015 at 8:29 am

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.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Jo Holly
May, 31 2015 at 10:47 am

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:

May, 24 2015 at 8:30 am

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.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Jo Holly
May, 31 2015 at 10:52 am

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.

May, 23 2015 at 9:07 pm

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.

Sarah J
April, 13 2015 at 8:19 am

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.

April, 2 2015 at 2:03 pm

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

January, 26 2015 at 3:03 pm

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.

January, 3 2015 at 9:43 am


December, 29 2014 at 10:39 pm

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.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Jo Holly
January, 8 2015 at 7:55 am

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.

Jose-Luis Gonzalez
December, 25 2014 at 5:52 am

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 !!! ;)

December, 25 2014 at 3:32 am

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...

December, 10 2014 at 2:37 pm

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.

Just saying
November, 28 2014 at 1:18 pm

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

November, 19 2014 at 7:40 pm

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

November, 8 2014 at 9:36 pm

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.

November, 2 2014 at 7:37 am

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.

November, 2 2014 at 7:32 am

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

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