advertisement

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
Jo, K. (2012, September 14). After Emotional Abuse: Do the Side-Effects Ever Disappear?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, February 24 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/verbalabuseinrelationships/2012/09/emotional-effects-abuse



Author: Kellie Jo Holly

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

Carla
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 Verbal Abuse in Relationships. 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!

Abigail
October, 23 2017 at 11:47 am

Touched base with me! So much so, I put it on Facebook!

Kalyn
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)

Bella
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 laptops.no 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 Verbal Abuse in Relationships blog, 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 Domestic Violence hotline. 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.

ri
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

Mica
September, 7 2017 at 4:09 am

I could identify with everything u said mostly the part about having people in your life that are safe; and u could tell them exactly what your feeling and they respond to u with love. I cried...I can only feel that way around my mother And everyone eles around me makes me feel like im crazy.

Maria
September, 3 2017 at 6:37 am

I was in an abusive relationship for four years. He could not get over his now xwife.. But in the mean time i tried to love him through the whole mess. However as time continued through these years a friend of "i though" that we both knew spoke to both of us. The person i was involved with had put the mask on of his friend. Im going to school then and still now learning psychology.. I learned how this could be possible. I met them both at the same time.. As time continued my eyes began to open. The friend we had .. Had always gave me advice and told me what to do to get out of this relationship.. As time continued the friend would say things under his breath. "Wasting my time"... Being coxy.. And became arrogant. Not only did i have to go through the abuse of the relationship i was in.. But also then from the friend. He would call just to pick at my brain and noticed everytime i got of the phone i would cry. A few times felt dead and helpless.. So depressed. Now the "friend is gone"..because i told the truth. N the relationship i had with the narcissistic, he keeps violating the pfa. There are morning and nights i go to work n the anxiety is overwelling. I been through trauma therapy n now going through therapy. I really hope one day the physical and mental abuse thats plays in my head each day goes away.

Lee Barnitz
August, 29 2017 at 4:13 pm

I read a lot of the comments and the ladies have to at the first sign of mistreatment call the police. I did and the man who raped me is serving a 20 year sentence for all of his wrong doing. Anything that a man does against a women , he means exactly what he is doing. It's not the women fault. A lot of mean believe that being cruel is manly. But mean is mean , compassion is kindness. Love isn't painful . Name calling happens in grade school and high schooler do that when they are jealous. If a grown man does that dump him right away. Every women deserves respect.

Jamie
August, 16 2017 at 6:18 am

I was in an emotionally abusive relationship for 4 years and still think I am everything my ex said. Will I ever get over it? I dumped him last year.

Angela
August, 9 2017 at 3:24 pm

I have been in 4 abuse relationships in the past and my last one I was in totally damaged me as a person. I have not been with him since I left him in 2006. He always called me every name in the book, threatened to kill me many times at the time and would even spit in my face. However through the years I have not been able to keep friends, live a good life, be happy and I'm hard on myself as well as I can't even be in a relationship. Been single for 11 years and I'm 41 years old. I'm tired of living this way and I always tell myself I'm not good enough or pretty enough. PLEASE HELP!!!

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Helen
September, 2 2017 at 11:40 pm

There are ways to heal if you willing to let go of the past and do the work. Check out www.esteemology.com as this contains posts detailing the many ways you can heal, and is written in a very accessible way. I'm 1 month out of an abusive relationship & I now meditate daily, keep a gratitude and affirmation journal, have done regression therapy and am looking into ways to release my grief energy. It's early days for me, but I'm determined to get there. If you're determined, you will get there too - good luck, you deserve to be happy and have a good life.

Chris carreno
August, 3 2017 at 7:35 pm

I iii I don't have 2 years, my current love said I have 2 mounts to recover from a life time of emotional abuse

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Harry
August, 6 2017 at 1:59 pm

Giving this sort of deadline is unfair and puts additional pressure on you. If your love was injured physically, would you put a timeline and say "you have 2 months to recover".....what if it is not possible to recover in 2 month????

Mary
July, 15 2017 at 4:48 pm

Thank you for this. My 9 year relationship has recently turned even more abusive since my boyfriend decided to "leave" me for a much younger woman, The problem is that he won't move out and even brings her over to spend the night a lot of nights. I just recently realized just how emotionally abusive he really is. I don't think I ever saw it before because for the past six months I was doing everything I could to reconcile our relationship. Now that I finally see things for what they are I actually feel slightly better. I'm just scared that I will never live a normal life again. For the sake of myself and the sake of my children I hope I can heal in time

Cheryl
June, 19 2017 at 7:32 am

I was emotionally abused for four years when two former coworkers set up a gang stalk and cyber attack against me. I feel so ashamed. I don't know how to begin to stop the mental trauma this has all caused me. I kept thinking justice from the law would make it easier to heal.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Susan
July, 10 2017 at 11:58 pm

I have worked with vicious co-workers and I understand, to some degree, the pain. I eventually left the job. I loved because of the problems these two women caused. They slandered me and turned people against me. .my only solution was to leave. The scars are still there and I am trying to learn to rethink how I view myself. I am sorry you went through that.

Ann
June, 17 2017 at 12:15 pm

I have just recently left a 33 year verbally/emotionally abusive marriage. I know it was the right thing to do but at times I feel a dark cloud of sadness. It seems like it has divided our family. I have read the books but I would just like to be over the hurt.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kari
July, 10 2017 at 9:52 pm

I left a 10 year emotional/verbal abusive relationship 11 years ago. You are very brave to leave. You are not dividing your family. You are showing a good example of healthy behavior. I cried every day for the year prior to leaving Dave because I was terrified that i was tearing my family apart and damaging my children. The truth is I was modeling good behavior and teaching them no one should have to put up with abuse. Now my children see me as a strong and well adjusted mom. I did was my therapist reccomended. I got myself healthy with help from weekly therapy sessions a d anti depression meds. I became a much better mom/ friend/ family member because of it. My kiddos are happy and well adjusted now. .....I know it's scary. But cry out to God for help! He will walk you through to fire.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Char
July, 26 2017 at 12:22 pm

I left a 15 yr emotionally abusive relationship two and a half years ago. I have been with my fiancé for a year and he is kind. That is all I need. There are kind men. I still trip up and it's been tough for him but he gets it. My ex was a bastard ... not all men are. Learn to love again.

Jenn
May, 16 2017 at 7:05 pm

It's been 2 years since my split from my husband going through the divorce now. I am single handedly raising my 3 year old daughter. I spent 10 years with him emotional abuse thankful it never got to physical. But after two years I haven't even begun to heal. Whenever I finally feel ready to move on I see him with his new fiance and his two new kids in the store. It's not love I feel anymore once he was gone the denial lifted. Now it's fear an anxiety. I'm not sure I'll ever cope. His new fiance will approach me like I'm her friend and hell stand there eyeballing me and my daughter not speaking his look alone caused a panic attack it lasts for hours after the meeting. For months I felt safe and happy moving on but the last two days we've crashed into one another and it just brings all those bad memories back and I have to fight my inner demons all over again trying to claw my way out of that dark space in my head.

Reeya
April, 1 2017 at 12:36 pm

After 10 years of emotional abuse I had started hating myself. Though my inner voice always told me, it's not me but then I couldn't help blame myself for being weak and not being able to leave. I hated the person I had turned into, angry, frustrated, sad, depressed just all emotions one can feel except happiness. Now after taking this first step towards recovery, I remember how I used to be, a happy go lucky social person. Your blog has given me hope that I can still be a wider version of my older self some day. Thanks to all of you for giving me hope

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Reeya
April, 1 2017 at 12:37 pm

Wiser*

Yosef
September, 25 2016 at 3:01 am

I was married to a woman for 24(!!??) years who was extremely emotionally abusive. I stayed with her because we had children and I felt it was important for the children to have two parents, and because I naively thought if I was nice enough to her, she would gradually come around. So this being abused thing also can happen to a guy.
Instead, she got nuttier with time. She would stop talking with me for days, and I rarely knew why. If we had intimacy once a month, I considered myself lucky, and even then, it was something she did because she felt she had a religious obligation to have sex, not because she wanted to be close.
When our youngest turned 13 she went uber bonkers, accused me of having an affair and secret bank accounts. Thank God I gave her a divorce and am now remarried to a woman who loves me. I was awarded full custody of the younger children.
It was like those 24 years with the first one I was never married. We've been married for 12 years and still feel like newlyweds. It is really a blessing. And our children, each of whom has had counseling to help cope with their mother's strangeness, are doing fine, thank God.
And the first wife? Gets nuttier by the year. She has cut off all communication with our children save one, and she spends her time harassing people on the telephone. And she still creeps me out, even though she lives 7,000 miles away.

Edna
September, 11 2016 at 3:16 pm

thank you for allowing me to share. if anybody knows where i can get hellp and go e-mail me

Edna
September, 11 2016 at 3:14 pm

I feel like Im dying inside and what scares me most is being unhappy for 20 years is way to long to dream or believe I can or will be able to welcome with open arms and embrace life as I did one day a long time a go. MY body is in motion but my heart and soul are rolled up in a ball in the depth of where we go to protect what ever we many have left but am I really breathing?

Suzie
September, 8 2016 at 1:13 pm

I have tears running down my face having just read your article. I went to a women's centre appointment and told them everything and they confirmed it was emotional abuse when I finally asked my husband to leave the marital home after a very lonely unhappy 19 year marriage and told him I was fed up of his affairs lies and emotional abuse he told me I was insane and did not know truth from reality and lots of other things too numerous to mention....... I believed him! I told him about my appointments and he said they only thought my husband was emotionally abusive based on what I had told them and that there is two sides to every story. He often says that one day he will tell my family and friends what I am really like and that our children are already beginning to realise...... I began to believe I was bad and had done something wrong.... Your article felt like you was writing about me, so accurate, thank you

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Slowly Disappearing
July, 24 2019 at 2:18 pm

Did you survive? Did you get away?
I’m going through a divorce. I keep telling myself I’m not crazy, yet he makes me feel crazy. Just like in your situation “they only thought my husband was emotionally abusive based on what I had told them and that there is two sides to every story” this. I’ve heard this line so often that I believe it. If we would get together with people who “knew only my side” he would talk circles around me and people who I thought I could lean on looked at me like I was the villain, like I had made everything up and that I was crazy. How do you survive this? I’m so lost. People are pulling away from me because I don’t understand how to not be talked under the table by my ex. I’m miserable.

July, 24 2019 at 6:23 pm

I'm so sorry about what you're going through right now. My heart goes out to you. I can relate to that feeling of being made to feel crazy and isolated. I encourage you to see out a support group in your area or a therapist who can help validate your experiences. Please stay strong and know that you are not alone! -Kristen

Amu
August, 20 2016 at 5:00 pm

I've been with a verbal abuser for 13 years. I've experienced everything mentioned in this article. The thing that stuck out to me is the part about abusers convincing the abused that they can't make it without them. Another thing mentioned in the article is how the abuse has changed me to the point that I am someone I don't recognize and do not like. It has made me act almost as badly as him at times. When I have talked to him and explained that I think we're better off apart, he tells me I'm like my mother (married 7 times) and that I want to leave at any sign of trouble (even though he's the one who used to tell me to get out over any little thing that made him mad). I've raised his daughters, and sacrificed attention I could've been giving my son and myself for all these years. I feel crazy most of the time. Two of his daughters have moved out because they can't take his constant criticism. I'm afraid to leave because I know I will begin grieving over the time I lost, the way I've betrayed myself for allowing this to happen to me for years, and the unanswerable "why". He has mellowed out over the years, (especially after watching me have a nervous breakdown) but I'm still not happy and I feel like I need to get away to heal.

Joyce
August, 16 2016 at 4:34 pm

Saw this article by chance online. Thanks for your advice and all the others' sharing. It helps a lot to know that I'm not alone in this kind of horrific experience. I was in love with a classmate for 4 years, but we never dated. He's verbally abusive, often calling nasty names and trashing everything I did. He would call me "fat", "annoying as hell", "shallow", "superficial", "stupid" and many more, Even if I was one of the best students in my school, and got a loving family, I still felt complete worthless. We separated since graduation and he was dating one of my friends. I once confronted him about he lying that he never wanted to date her. He said this was all my fault of being too gullible and annoying.
After I left, he contacted me once or twice, especially when he knew I was struggling on the professional side. He preyed on my vulnerability, my constant desire for his approval and support. But I was too exhausting to allow him to be back in my life. I pushed him away and he never contacted me again. I have been happier ever since, with my loving family and many supportive friends who share similar interests and worldview with me.
8 years later, I learnt about emotional abuse, I realized he is an abuser. I am not the problem, but he is. I have been working on healing for 4 years now. Sometimes I still have nightmares about him, waking up wondering if I'm worthless and unlovable. I also have difficulty in finding partners. I can't help but keep finding something trivial on every guy I met and like reminding me some parts of him. This makes me so scared to start a new relationship. I'm still very young at 22, I'm afraid that I'm too emotional damaged to even find my first ever serious date. Honestly I don't know what to do, even if he's no longer in my life.

Jackie
August, 16 2016 at 11:24 am

I have just read all of this and can't beleive it ...after 13 yrs of not being with my abusive pattner now he is trying to control my son who is 18 which he left when my son was 3 ..don't know what to do

sharon
August, 9 2016 at 7:29 pm

I was married to a doctor for 13 years, didn't know he was BIPOLAR......he refused treatment, he was a spend a holic............out of control.........slept with over 16 women that I knew about ........most were patients and old fat and ugly,,,,,,,,,,,,,threw things at me, screamed at me daily, belittled me, when I was ill he let me rot, never once tried to give me medication, he used my sick time as perfect for going out with women.
My cardiologist told me if I didn't leave I would be dead in so many years.
Seven years since the divorce, still in a legal battle of my life, he spent over half a million in legal fees seven lawyers later and still won't settle, for the first four years he paid me at will my alimony. He moved in with one of his women the night I booted him, ten months later he dumped her for someone else...........It took me years to learn how to be calm,
he lives a lavish lifestyle while I struggle. But I wouldn't change my life for the world, I never look back.
I have been told that he lives with a woman that he fears, SHE TREATS HIM LIKE HE TREATED ME...............KARMA CAN BE A GOOD THING

Michael
July, 30 2016 at 7:28 am

I have never felt so much resonance with an article in my life. Most of you and the author suffered emotional abuse from your partners but I was a abused by my father from as early as I can remember till I left home at 20. It was strictly verbal abuse except once when I was a teenager and I almost killed him. My mom was his punching bag though till I was big enough to to scare him physically. From the age of about 7, I knew I was differebt from all my friends and classmates. I would be crying on my way to school but somehow become
normal by the time I got there, laughing and playing like normal. By the time, I was 13, I had completely withdrawn from my family and friends and started hanging with people who got high.....and boy was that wonderful. Beautiful escape from reality for a few hours. Anyways am now 29, and suffering from all the above symptoms. Probably a borderline alcoholic as well ( i Binge drink about twice per month). could anyone of you good people reccomend an online forun like this where I could get some sort of therapy. I live in Uganda, Africa and therapy is not as advanced or regulated as it is in the west. When I was in high school, I spoke to the school counsellor about the abuse at home and she told all the other teachers. Thanks!
"Weep not child, these dark clouds shall not long hold the sky"

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Jo Holly
August, 3 2016 at 2:50 pm

Michael, I can't help you find anything in Uganda because I'm ignorant of the country's services. I'm sorry for that. But, you can contact the NDVH at http://thehotline.org and perhaps they can help you find some support.
Maybe you could find an AA group or something similar (online or in Uganda) to start. If possible, take a chance on the best therapist you can find in Uganda, within reasonable traveling distance. I'm sure there are good ones despite regulation and advancement in general. Don't lose heart - some of my best therapy hasn't come from therapists but from people who have been in my shoes.
I sincerely hope you find some beneficial contacts in Uganda. A quick Internet search didn't turn up much for me, but I did find one page that may get you started: https://recoveryministries.wordpress.com/ministries-2/aa-support-group/aa-meetings-uganda/

Anne Moyer
July, 8 2016 at 10:56 am

Hi everyone,
I ended my second marriage almost 6yrs. I have three daughters and he had two, my eldest were the same age as his and I gave my heart and soul to welcoming his daughters into my life and our new family together. It happened right after I married and he changed at a drop of a dime with my second daughter. I was emotionally, verbally and stolkhome sydrome to this man. He was trying very hard to seperate me from my siblings, my parents my own daughters and wanted me all to himself. His words they grow up and we dont need them it is our time and they will not be apart of it. He constantly kept me close by at all times and wanted me to be friends with people he wanted me to be friends with, only to get ahead for himself in business. I moved far away, changed my last name, again and kept thinking his constant loud preaching to me was going to change because we were a blended family. My youngest daughter was threatening to kill herself, my middle daughter got bullied by her step sister who was the same age and he continued to yell at me and start fights to control me. I have to admit, I was. He also did domestic violence on me twice, now I cannot hear to well in one ear. Long story short, this is what I did.....first of all I got a prenup done, trust me he fought and yelled at me alot on this but I succeeded and got it done. We moved out of his house to have more room for all the girls, since the family was alot bigger, so I bought a big house but here is the good part.....I have the house in my mothers name. I came from a wealthy family and that wealth came from alot of hard work so I am blessed as some people who go through this are not. For the almost 6yrs this is what he did on top of ailenate me from family, friends and anyone I liked. He yelled, screamed, preached, ask me for alot of money, oh yes, alot of money for his own personal gain. I spend money on trips (vacations), not with family. He would rip apart my house and not finish it. I did help since I was under his spell and thought he would be helping. Anyways, I said no to give him money which was the last straw and the domestic violence, which at the time I did not know I could have called the police. My greatest fear was telling him I do not want to be married to him anymore period. It was my biggest fear because who knows what he would have done. I ended the marriage almost 3yrs ago and kicked him out, that was in the winter. I ended up having him back as long as he and I went for marriage counselling and we did, but only two maybe three sessions and that was it. He lied completely to our counsellor and I was stunned and feeling I would have to defend myself. Anyways, I kept going back and when I went alone the first time to the same counsellor, that counsellor said, he needs serious help. Anyways, I was in counselling for over a year and found that I can either live my life like that or stand up and walk away. I walked away. I have my home and my daughters and all my past friends and siblings. My youngest daughter was being abuse by him as well, but she stood up to him and tried many times to get me, which I did but lead to more abuse. I thank my daughter and her courage to continue to stand up for abuse. This daughter was my youngest as she was living with us most of the time except when she was away at school. The best thing I did was send her off to boarding school, my old school, she stayed here one year of high school and I sent her away to be safe and to focus on herself and her schooling. My other two were older and they were having their lives but still would come home for holidays and it was not great, as the anxiety level was high, as we were all walking on egg shells.
I have learned one thing from all of this, it is not my fault and I did not ask for it. I am still going to counselling as it helps me in the aftermath of all this. I told my counsellor at the end of one of my sessions, "Thank you for helping me help myself". This is my life and I only have one life to live. I go through a bit of lonelyness right now and sleepless nights but I do not think about having this person come back ever!
I lost alot of friends/aquaintences where I live, it is a small community, but I stand proud and I am always nice, polite and smile. I do not do what he is doing, abuse still even though he lives in a different house. I hear what people say to me, that he is telling stories and lies and making me sound like Im crazy. Well, I dont care, cause really when they tell me, I just say, Im happy and it is no ones business. They always look good in front of others, clubs, bars and anywhere, even with their own family members but they never married him, nor saw or heard what was going on behind closed doors.
I am happy I did this, I feel so more relaxed and I do not feel fear, I don't shake like Im scared. I want anyone to know that these people do not change, even if they say they love you, they dont change. All they care about is themselves, image and their drugs and alcohol. All I can say is I "PITTY" him.
I may be alone but not really, I will get through this and I will never have another human being treat me like this ever again. I love life too much and I love to see my daughters success and enjoy seeing them grow and maybe a grandmother someday.
It is my life and I have one life to live!

sophie
June, 23 2016 at 5:26 am

Hello. I've had a good 4 years of emotional abuse and some physical.. I've only moved away fully now, but he still gets in. I am so glad to have read this because I shut off and I havent gone to get help and so I didn't know if what I was going through was normal.. I can't breath even writing this.. but reading it have me hope..I look in the mirror now and I'm scared at what I see, I look grey and old and miserable. And like a shell..I haven't left my house too much in a year, same paranoia..and everything I still try to do is conrolled by what I think he would say about it...no one understands and I can act tougher than I am, so everyone just tels me to get on with it, but I am broken...I keep trying to get on with it, but I can't I literally feel broken, like I don't work correctly anymore... I also hate who I became the thoughts and actions I have taken on now, and I can't make new friends and I am sabotaging the old ones..I feel a bit lost and alone and ignored, but then I close off anyway...I'm glad things get better, it still doesn't give back what they took but it gets better... he still gets in now he will stop to and go he can't stop..but the hard thing for me was I loved him more than anything so it hurt the most hearing it from him and recieving the hatred day in and day out..I got psycologically damaged from it, and I believed a lot of what he said, to the point I wanted to kill myself at one point..it has taken me everything to get away, and I still think of him now, but I still know he is still out to hurt me or damage my life even through friends..I did find faith through it all..but I am more damaged than I have ever been, but because I have become not a great person to be around and I've lost myself everyone just sees it as me and won't listen to what happened to me..I know I need to see someone or get help..I just feel broken and heart broken..thank you for writing this..I'm tired of acting strong infront of people like it hasn't effected me when actually it has completely destroyed me. Xx

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Jo Holly
June, 23 2016 at 11:30 am

You are not destroyed. If you were, you wouldn't have commented. You wouldn't have reached out.
Lately I've been so depressed I can't hardly move. I know I need to see someone, and I've made an appointment to do that. It is coming up in a few weeks, and I know that no matter how much I want to stay in bed that day, I will get up. I will get help. And the thought of it keeps me going.
Tomorrow morning, or after you've woken up, call someone. You can start with the NDVH (http://thehotline.org). Tell them your situation and that you need help, and if they can, they'll refer you to someone. If they can't, don't give up. Call one of the resources they will undoubtedly give you, and don't stop calling until you can make an appointment. The appointment may be a month away, but that's okay.
Knowing you're going, and then going, will help you. Remember, you aren't destroyed. Maybe dimmed a bit, but your light can come back. It will.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Joyce
January, 7 2019 at 1:54 pm

My 18 year marriage/ live together first before committing to common law marriage. Has really destroyed me. I started therapy today. And I still have a lot of issues. Pray for me. I just wish I knew what I was thinking when I chose to love Jeff.
Thank you everyone for sharing. It makes me realize I am not crazy.

Sarah
June, 23 2016 at 4:41 am

Thank you Kelly, I think you're right and it may be nearly impossible for me to heal while living with him; I did bring up separation with our couples' therapist last week, but bc I don't trust my ability to make good decisions anymore, I'm worried about taking care of three littles alone in my current depressive state (on top of which I don't have my own income and maintaining two households is so expensive), and bc my husband is so adamant about his change and has finally been helpful in active child rearing and housework for the last few months, I gave in this week and said I would do my best to work on our marriage for six months, even if my heart is not in it. I don't actually have much hope that I can love him again (even if I can believe and trust he's changed), but I feel like I owe it to our kids and to him to give it my best shot. I'm in individual therapy as well, and my therapist is constantly on me to stand up for what I want, not just what I think is best for our kids, and I try to do that with him, but it's so hard to get out of that old pattern of putting my wants last. Plus my family really thinks he's changing too and have told me over and over again that I can't handle all three kiddos on my own and I believe them! I just can't seem to make a decision that feels true to myself and stick with it. I wonder if I can continue to stay emotionally detached while working on improving our relationship - like a mental instead of physical separation. I guess we'll see. I put caveats onto this six month period: if he has a single abusive outburst (part of his abusive tendencies is to hold me hostage during his extreme temper tantrums, sometimes for hours) or if he instigates a fight in front of the kids, that's it, I'm gone. i just hope I can stick to my guns.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Jo Holly
June, 23 2016 at 11:41 am

Sarah, did you see the post that includes the detachment meditation? The audio has helped quite a few people. It could help you stay detached. In Al-Anon, they call what you're talking about doing "detaching with love." You could attend an Al-Anon meeting for support if you wanted. My ex is an alcoholic which is why I went, but I found that MANY of the encouraging readings and discussions in group mirrored my experience with abuse.
Besides that, here's the link to the post I mentioned: http://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/verbalabuseinrelationships/2011/02/detaching-from-verba…
Also, write down your boundaries. For example, the deal breakers you mentioned (hostage, instigating fights) and what you can do when you feel triggered by actions or words (or smells, movies, whatever). You can take care of yourself first while living there. It will be hard, and you'll have to do it EVERY DAY. It takes nothing from your children. In fact, a mom who loves herself can take even better care of her kids. I know that from experience.
Also, hoping you can stick to your guns will work better if you rehearse it in your head. Visualize yourself feeling twisted and tormented, weak, and then doing it anyway. Then skip ahead a period of time and visualize yourself at peace. That last part is important, because you want to come out of the visualization strong, not tormented. Visualization works. It puts you on autopilot if the feared situation occurs. You'll be able to stick to your guns because you know you can - you've done it in your mind 100 times.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

John
May, 28 2018 at 9:46 pm

holds you hostage? when he is abusing you? that would be a criminal act. his latest "i'll work on it" is him manipulating you once again. brutally. he won't change and you have to leave.

Sarah
June, 22 2016 at 9:21 am

How do you recover from emotional and verbal abuse while still in the marriage? My husband was very controlling and abusive for the majority of our 11 year marriage, but after I finally stood up and told him I didn't love him anymore and wanted to leave, he did a 180. He's working hard at changing (acknowledging his behavior, not blaming, seeing a therapist, etc), and I believe he can, but I just can't trust him anymore and I'm not sure I can love him again. I've agreed to stay and work through our problems for 6 months, but my heart isn't in it and I just want to get away from him. He feels such guilt at how he treated me and now he showers with me compliments and praise and affection, but I'm just not interested in it anymore. I still hear his voice in my head and I feel traumatized by some of our particularly bad past fights. How can I not only forgive him but see him differently? I guess it just takes time, but I've already given so much for so long, and my self-esteem and self-worth is so low that I don't feel like I can give anymore. We have three young children and I want them to grow up in a happy stable home; maybe we can get there again, but how do I get over this wall of resentment, anger, and bitterness towards him?

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Jo Holly
June, 22 2016 at 2:26 pm

If he's truly changing, he'll understand you needing some time away. It sounds like you want to love him again and tentatively hope for the best. Moving out could give you the distance you need. The distance will help your perspective on the matter and help you gain confidence in yourself.
After a year or so, you may find the relationship is too badly damaged. Or you could find that you're able to trust him again. But if you stay in the traumatizing environment, you'll always wonder if you're seeing things "correctly."

Monica
May, 17 2016 at 1:19 pm

I am a 50 year old woman who let someone abuse me physically for the first 15 years or so of my marriage and the rest verbal and its going on 30 years. I have 4 kids 2 of which do not really talk to me because of it and the other 2 put up with it cause he holds all the cards. I have no money no job and need so much to get out. But I feel I have no where to go at this age. I really don't want his money I need a peace of mind. But where do I start. What do I do before I go crazy!!!!! Cant go to counseling no money cant go to rehab for the abuse of alcohol no money. Any words of advice would help.

MC
May, 5 2016 at 1:41 am

Thank you so much for this. It helped me get through one more day.

Leave a reply