8 Steps That Explain Why Women Stay in Abusive Relationships

5414866453_b6270ea1ce_zThis article was first published by The Huffington Post

The question that is always asked of victims of domestic abuse is “Why don’t/didn’t you just leave?” I know sometimes even victims don’t really understand why.

I’ve heard that question over and over. While there are many different reasons we give for not leaving, there is a “scientific explanation” for why it is so difficult to leave an abusive situation. I will explain the cycle of brainwashing as studied by psychologist Robert Jay Lifton, but will be discussing it as it specifically pertains to domestic abuse.

Last year, after years of hiding my abuse from almost everybody I knew, I decided to publicly share my story. Recently, after my research on brainwashing, I went back to read the story I had written last year. I was shocked. Each experience I described was a step in the brainwashing process. What’s even more shocking is that my abuser was only 15 years old.

I am not a psychologist, I speak from years of personal experience and from spending time with women who have endured domestic abuse. When somebody’s only objective is to keep you loyal, they will go to great lengths to achieve it.

This is what the brainwashing process looks like:

Stage I: Breaking Down the Self

Step 1: Assault on Identity

When somebody is trying to control another, they begin to attack their sense of self, their identity. They start to say things that cause the victim to doubt who they are.

“You are a slut.”
“You’re worthless.”
“You are not a good mom.”
“You are ugly, nobody will want you.”

The attacks are repeated consistently for days, weeks and sometimes years. As a result, the victim becomes disoriented, confused, and begins to doubt everything they believed to be true. Eventually the victim will begin to adopt these same beliefs.

The idea of brainwashing is to destroy the old identity and replace it with a new one, one that matches with the beliefs, values and ideas of the manipulator. The effects of an attack on the identity can last long after the victim is no longer in the abusive situation.

Step 2: Establishment of Guilt

Guilt is an effective tactic in mind control and is introduced in different ways. The abuser criticizes the victim for any reason, small or large, and sometimes no reason at all.

“This is your fault.”
“You made me do this.”

The abuser will take a small flaw and embellish it to the extreme. Abusers will shift responsibility for their actions to the victim or justify their behavior by blaming the victim.

“If you wouldn’t have talked back, I wouldn’t have had to hit you.”

An abuser will make the victim feel guilty for disagreeing with them or not meeting extremely high expectations.

An abuser may blame the victim for the abuser’s transgressions by making the victim believe they deserved it, or are a result of something the victim did. After the assault on identity, the constant criticisms cause the victim to believe the punishment and mistreatment are warranted.

Guilt can easily turn into shame when it is internalized. Inducing guilt, humiliation and shame destroy confidence and self worth. A victim begins to feel culpable all the time and everything they do or say is wrong. When shame sets in, the victim no longer feels bad about things they’ve done, they begin to feel they are bad.

Step 3: Self-Betrayal

Once a victim is overwhelmed with guilt and shame, they begin to abandon their own needs and make choices that are harmful to their well-being. The victim is bullied into cutting off communication from friends and family who share the same beliefs or behaviors. This is when isolation begins: The abuser believes the victim’s friends and family are a threat to the relationship. The abuser will blame friends or family for problems in the relationship. The victim’s betrayal of their own beliefs and the betrayal of the people to whom they once felt a sense of loyalty increases the feelings of shame and guilt, which further destroys their sense of self. As a result, the more isolated a victim becomes, the more dependent they are on the abuser.

Step 4: Breaking Point

At this point, the victim no longer recognizes themselves, they don’t know who they are any longer. They may have lost their grip with reality. Gaslighting techniques are used to push the victim over the edge. Gaslighting is an attempt by one person to overwrite another’s reality.

“You’re crazy—that never happened.”
“You’re making that up, it’s all in you head.”
“You’re paranoid.”

The victim is confused and disoriented from gaslighting and from being fed a distorted version of reality. The victim questions themselves constantly and feels like “the crazy one” and/or feels depressed, anxious, traumatized and other negative emotional and physical symptoms like insomnia and paranoia.

Some may call this a “nervous breakdown.” A nervous breakdown is the point of exhaustion reached after an extended period of extreme anxiety. The overwhelming anxiety, depression and stress lead to a sense of hopelessness, helplessness and absolute exhaustion. The victim’s ability to think and reason at this stage is severely compromised and they become temporarily unable to function normally in day-to-day life.

Stage II: Possibility of Salvation

Step 5: Leniency & Opportunity

Just when a victim can literally take no more, the abuser offers leniency. This is when the abuser offers a small act of kindness amid the psychological abuse and the victim feels a deep sense of gratitude completely out of proportion to the deed.

Because the victim’s perception is so skewed, the small act shifts emotions to relief and a sense of admiration. Since these small acts of kindness are so infrequent, the kind gesture is magnified. It can be something as small as offering a glass of water, a hug or a compliment. This can lead to a sense of false hope. It puts the responsibility on the victim to do things better, to try harder, in hopes the acts of kindness will become more frequent.

These unpredictable responses are detrimental to mental well-being, confidence and self-esteem. The abuser can have an extreme reaction one day, and then the next day have the complete opposite reaction. This unpredictability can cause a great deal of stress and anxiety.

Step 6: Compulsion to Confess

The victim is so grateful for the small gesture between abuse and manipulation, they begin to agree with the criticisms. For the first time in the brainwashing process, the victim is faced with the stark contrast between the harsh criticism and abuse, and the relief of leniency.

This is when the victim looks within and tries to find those “evil” parts of themselves and attempts to remove them from every part of their being. This leads directly to their “new” identity. The victim begins to acquire the beliefs and values the abuser has ingrained. At this point, the victim is willing to say anything to recreate those moments of leniency.

Step 7: The Channeling of Guilt

The victim does not know what they have done wrong, they just know they are wrong. They begin to feel guilty for who they are and about the beliefs they’ve held. This creates a blank slate so the abuser can attach the guilt to whatever belief system the abuser is trying to replace. The victim comes to believe it is their belief system that is causing all of the problems; the more they accept the abuser’s way of thinking, the more shame they feel about who they were. Essentially, this is when the victim begins to adopt the new way of thinking and relinquishes their old way of thinking.

Step 8: Releasing of Guilt, Logical Dishonoring

By this stage, the victim has come to believe that they themselves are not bad, but the belief systems they held are wrong, and they can escape that wrongness by completely changing their belief systems. They denounce their former belief system and the people they associated with. They confess to acts associated with their former belief systems. After a full confession, they complete the process of rejecting their former identity. Now, the abuser offers up the new identity.

These tactics are very similar to those used on prisoners of war or members of a cult. In a domestic abuse situation, the brainwashing process becomes a cycle and the steps continue to be repeated. The moment an abuser begins to feel the victim is “slipping from their control,” they will re-assault their identity. This will begin the process all over again. Victims continue to believe in the ideas of their abusers long after they have left the abusive environment. The new belief system has been so deeply rooted, it could take years to change.

There is hope. Abuse thrives only in silence. If you are healing from an abusive relationship, know the most important thing to do is forgive yourself. If you find yourself in this situation, please seek support. An extremely effective way to get out of the darkness of guilt and shame is by shining a light on it. Start talking about it, don’t keep the feelings inside. Shame can only survive in darkness.

If you are in an abusive situation…
The National Domestic Violence Hotline

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Photo courtesy of Flickr user Keirsten Marie licensed under Creative Commons 2.0


Crystal Sanchez is the founder of Believe Bliss, a platform for domestic violence survivors to share stories, heal wounds and find their way back to themselves. Find her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.


  1. Kim Holleman says:

    Hi. The very first time someone calls you “a slut” who is claiming to be your “boy friend” you pick up a rock, smash his teeth out and tell him to call you a slut one more time.

    • WRONG! The first and last thing you do is LEAVE and never look back!

    • Sarashni says:

      I feel you Kim Holleman!

    • The article about abusive relationship by Crystal Sanchez is very much like my life story….unfortunately I can’t leave him because of my kids and financial dependency.

      • Their is hope and help. It will not be easy, but there is hope. Reach out 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE)

      • Please do not use kids and finances as an excuse. I did for 20 years untillI saw it repeating in my children. I left with 3 kids,3 suitcases. I rebuilt my life remarried to a balanced and stable man. However I’mseeing the same thing happening in my daughter’s life. Get out if not for your sake for their’s. God bless Krista.

        • You ask them not to use kids and finances as an excuse, yet you did it yourself for 20 years. Clearly you had no one to help you get out sooner and had to rely on the finances to stay until you found a window of opportunity to leave. That’s good that you’re out but not everyone has the same opportunities, lives in small towns with zero help, zero family or friends to help and eventually die because no one else pays attention to help them get out. If you’re daughter is going through it, HELP her get out of it now instead of pointing fingers at why others stay. It’s never the victims fault.

          • Thank you. You can never truly know someone else’s situation, and I hear from others to get out, but these are people who are not in my shoes. I am disabled, cannot work, and I have an ex who is an abuser. My husband is making our situation worse because if my child is upset, then my ex has a foot in the door to take her from me, and she doesn’t want to be with him. I have run the numbers many times. I have no idea of our finances. Good ole internet online documents so i never see them. I keep seaeching for how I could possibly get an attorney, live on what amounts to less than minimum wage. My family is several hours away, so I couldn’t take my daughter. So finances are a huge problem. I am close to retirement age with no retirement income. He is very mean, and he knows I am stuck now so it is getting worse. Someday

        • Who knows says:

          My first serious boyfriend was really charming and I moved in with him at 18 he started using drugs and became really psychologically abusive and then physically abusive. He bit a chunk out of my leg, slammed my face into a table and broke my nose, calling me a slut was minor to me which now sounds crazy, pulled my hair out, punched me lit my cloths on fire eventually got arrested because my neighbors called the cops came back out flipped out. Eventually we broke up from family getting involved my sister saw him rip my necklace off n slash my neck, basically force sex. I never actually wrote any of this or said it all I just blocked it out for years. I found a new boyfriend I was with him for 8 years we got married and he was my best friend the love of my life. I felt we we’re the same person, he always had a hot temper but it seemed like once he had to perform and I’ve always worked and provided for myself as he did but when it was like we had to put things together he became really crazy and mean. He blamed me for all our fininacial problems. Ruined my credit took out credit cards on my name. When I would tell him we just needed to talk he would basically tell me it was my fault that I deserved this. Never obviously understood that just walked away because I had nothing to say recently after a lot of fighting and back and forth he choked me and spit in my face and then a week later he was ranting calling me names n I went to knock his hat off his head and he just slapped me across his face his mom came outside n I just got in my car and drove away I just don’t care anymore we were best friends i don’t no what happen – who knows why people stay I mean it’s not a life time movie where it’s roses and then the next day ur getting beat up it’s never black and white if it was it would be cut and dry people would leave or call the cops who knows- I never feared for my life – men always said you can handle ur self I don’t want to handle my self I’m small very small five foot small smh what a mess…

          • You are not a mess. You are more than enough. Valuable things often come in small packages.

          • Thank you for sharing. I really like what you said about, it’s not black and white, otherwise people who are the victims really would just leave, and when you left your husband, you wondered what had happened since he used to be your best friend. That made me feel really sad, too, and I hope there will be other people in your life who care for you and love you. What happened with that man wasn’t your fault. He had problems of his own, and maybe you know that already, but I want to just restate what people are saying and say that you didn’t deserve all that shit that’s happened to you.

            I have not been a victim of domestic violence before, so I was trying to understand how come a lot of victims don’t end up leaving immediately. Many victims are women, and I didn’t want to believe that maybe women are just dumb or something (I’m a woman, too, so my thoughts discouraged me) and now I definitely don’t believe that. Because of your story, my thoughts are: it’s hard to leave because people are social beings, and our relationships are intricate and complex. That’s something that’s really awesome, but only possible because we are emotional beings, and unfortunately, people can target our emotions as a vulnerability. Maybe what I’m saying is really obvious, but I think there are so many stereotypes about emotion and how showing it makes you weak. There aren’t enough people saying that something beautiful about humanity is their way of expressing a variety of emotions and having such complex relationships. When someone hurts another person emotionally and or physically, it’s so unfair of them to do that. People in general are vulnerable to emotional attacks, and it sucks when an abuser exploits that

          • Synnove Zeepvat says:

            You did the right thing, LEAVE. A woman should never be abused, as you say being small in size, if a man wants a contest go to the gym and lift weights with other men, play tennis against other men, do basketball, racquetball, jog or race against other men, dozens of competition-ally psychical actions to inflict motion, energy, movement and manly force against another male.

            Using illegal drugs is a sickness, drinking to the point of alcoholism is a sickness. Those also, are the components of men and women who need help on both sides.

            This is a sickness, when a male beats up a women and for a woman to take it, stay or go back for more, reach out and contact her psychical abuser, this too is a sickness, (the set of symptoms, injuries, and signs of mistreatment seen in a woman who has been repeatedly abused by a spouse, partner, or relative is called Battered Woman Syndrome). The woman should call the police after the first incident, have the male arrested , get a restraining order and move away from the male abuser. Male abusers never change, the woman has to attend counselling for abused women, and cut all contact, get a restraining order, press charges criminally and then only then came she move on.

            You can not , White knuckle it, and think the drugs, alcoholism and being battering will just pass.

        • I did the same thing. “How will the kids (4) be without their father, I can’t leave him for their sake.” When I did the first thing my youngest said was “Mommy, our new place is so quiet and there’s no yelling anymore, I like it here.” We were poor as it gets. They know what it’s like to go to bed hungry and I had no help from friends or family but we made it. That was in 1985. I have stories that will haunt me for the rest of my life too. Unfortunately my daughters have followed my footsteps and it sickens me to the core. When they were teenagers they confessed to being sexually molested by their father. They were 8 and 10 years old when I left that SOB and they followed my footsteps. Now my granddaughter is following there footsteps. I don’t know how to end the cycle.

      • TheSadWife says:

        It is my life story too and I have lived it for 20 years. My oldest is now 18 and out of the house and the guilt of how my husband treated him is crushing me. I can barely stand to look at myself in the mirror. I didn’t leave. I stayed. My little boy has grown up and is treating women the way I was treated and I let it happen because I was pathetic. Please find the strength to leave, Crystal.

        • TheSadWife says:

          I meant Paddy. My response was to Paddy.

        • I am in the same boat TheSadWife. I have been with mine for 32 years and we raised a son, who was treated horribly. I tried and tried to work things out and we did the counseling, etc…our son is now 30 and a very angry man. Angry at his dad, angry at me for allowing the behavior towards him growing up and for allowing it to continue with me all of these years. I would give anything to go back and change things. I am so disappointed in myself for not protecting our son from all of the abuse. It was one thing for me to stay, I chose to, but I didn’t give him a choice. I too would suggest to anyone who is staying for the kids to get out now, it is far worse for the kids to keep them in such a toxic relationship.

      • Paddy,
        I felt that way too. But when I called the police after an incident he was put in jail and there was a no contact order as part of his bond, so he was not allowed to contact me or I could have him re-arrested. He has to go to a court ordered family violence intervention program for 24 months. I have filed for divorce, and due to his violence will likely get the majority of the time with the kids, and with the court ordered program I will still be nervous, but think things will be okay. If not, we’ll go back to court. Because I have no income right now, he will have to pay me both alimony and child support. Set aside some money in an account in your name only, and turn him in the next time he hurts you. In some states, even throwing things is considered domestic violence. You and the kids deserve a life of peace.

        • I’m scared. I don’t have the energy to say more at this time. I’m just really really scared.

          • I too was scared after being in a toxic relationship for years. He was so charming at first then one day, he slapped me because i was talking to a friend. I went from being a happy put going person to a scared little girl. He would spit on me, burn cigarettes out on my arm, force me to have sex with him, isolated me from family and friends. I moved to another state with the help of my family and he found me. I will never forget that night when he pounded on my door, I had to let him in because I didn’t want to wake up my son, he asked if we could go outside to talk, I said yes, sat him his car but not all the way and had the door open, all of a sudden he pulled me inside and took off with me in the car. Something inside me snapped, I did a Tina Turner on him, kicked him punched him, did everything I could to show him, I wasn’t afraid anymore. We got to his hotel and I ran inside, bloody but still alive, thank god. You just have to say, enough is enough. I understand your svared, i really do because I was there emotionally but I didn’t want to be treated like that anymore because it wasn’t right. Its never right for a man to hit or emotionally abuse a woman. Please get out of it. Your worth it.

      • You are never financially dependant on ten. Don’t be like me and get thirty years down the line and ‘wake up’
        And think why? You have not only damaged yourself staying, you will be eternally guilty that you have damaged your kids. They may have every toy, holiday or car but every time they have a blip in personality you think is this because of me staying.
        Get out

        • Everytime we argue all i think of is leaving but i dont, i feel as if im still staying because of the kids. He just recently maybe any hour ago hit me, argued, my eyes is swollen half way shut my check is swollen my lip is cut, i have a big bump on the back of my head, and my but feels bruised. It all started with me sleeping, he comes home after drinking comes straight into the room slaps me in the face and yells come now, turns out he drove his truck with a flat tire and ruins the rim and the whole side of where the tire is. And blamed me for not catering about him. I dont want to leave because we have been togeather for 10yrs have 1 daughter and raised each other’s daughters from previous relationships togeather. We both didnt have nothing when we first got togeather and accomplished to have a nice house and new cars after struggling for so long. We have argued before plenty of times and honestly as im writing this here im realizing its been getting worse. I dont want to lose what i currently have and i dont want to be separated from my 3yr old, i feel that if i do leave he would do his best in keeping her from me. He did that with his first born from a previous relationship where the mother ended up giving up on her daughter. He’s never hurt me before like he did tonight and i want to leave because of it but like i said I’m scared and dont want to lose what we both worked hard for. What do i do?

          • Don’t stay because eventually it gets worse. I’ve been with my husband for 12 years I finally called the cops on him 2016 he hasn’t hit me cents but is very Verbally abusive to my children we have five together one with cancer. Doesn’t care about anyone but himself. I finally said I had it last Friday when he left my three-year-old and my five-year-old home alone to go to a trap house and do drugs. I can’t do it anymore I’m drained he puts more stress on me then my sons diagnosis with cancer. My nine-year-old is currently acting out beat up his sisters not good and it’s all my fault for staying and trying to save my marriage when I look back I was never happy it was all an allusion

          • My heart breaks for you. Please make a plan to get out.

      • Diane Duffield says:

        I stayed for my children,I stayed because I believed it was a lot easier than dragging 3 young children from what I brushed under the carpet as normal, it was far from normal when I look back, but I do blame myself for their childhoods, and there mental state of mind, I was a strong headed young woman at first, by the time it came to an end, I was a woman with 3 teenagers who really didn’t know we’re to start, my eldest son was a victim of his abuse as well, and it’s him that freed me if I’m honest, but I spent weeks wondering what was ahead of me, because I knew of nothing else, I can’t hold down any relationships, I don’t trust no-one, infact I’m frightened I won’t ever be able to love, I never loved my husband, I was bullied from the start, then my son wasn’t his either, he knew that of course, looking back that wasn’t a normal thing to do, taking some man’s child before it was born, but I went along with the fact he wanted us both, how wrong I was, I truly believe I was abused, and hit, punched, tortured, brainwashed, and everything else because I had my son, I never once asked him for anything for him, within 6 months or so I was trapped, and 22 years later it became a normal life, or so I thought, I still question myself why, wat did I do, and now my son has mental health issues and blames me, and it’s true what people say, it’s harder to deal with life after an abuser, especially when he’s abused your son too, but in reality I made there young lives worse, they are adults now with their own children, but only have bad memories,

      • Abused wife for too long!!! says:

        I am living this life as well .. my oldest child is almost 16 and I feel bad cause she is so anxiety ridden about her parents staying together she cries to me sometimes that she hopes we learn to get along and don’t get divorced… she also says she knows her father is a bully… I am 19 years in and don’t know how much longer I can take the abuse and I attempted suicide last year in March of 2017… I have since been seeing a therapist who always tells me I am not to blame and it’s not my fault he is a domestic abuser… I am gaining my self confidence back and will leave soon when I get all in order… no one will ever push me to the point of wanting to not be alive again!

        • I lived a life of abuse for 8 1/2 years. Attempted suicide twice, but somehow survived and yes, took him back. Finally, when I turned 62 I took early Social Security and with the help of my youngest son, moved 4 states away. Left with nothing, but worked hard and got enough money to get a divorce in 2017. He got extremely angry when I took my maiden name back and dropped his. It was worth losing everything I had, to slowly gain my self confidence and peace of mind. I still deal with the lingering affects of the years of physical, emotional and mental abuse but am proud of myself for knowing I will NEVER, EVER go back or get into that kind of relationship again. Now if I could only get rid of the night’s sleep…

      • Brittany Garcia says:

        Yes but i in my mind actually thought that leaving him making my kids fatherless was worse then staying tqking the abuse if hid good from kids and keeping thier dad in their life.in reality and eventualy i forced myself litterly to leave thinking a father that abuses thiier mother is not the right choice but leaving and saving my mental being what i had left then and not damaging them any further so.i packed up and took them.to the womens abuse shelter and ignored his pleas and his brother in laws advise wow but was the hardest thing ive ever done and i am the healthist mind wise at this very moment from the scars it caused w the mental abuse more horrid then any of the phyical or being pounded in the head where bruises did not show

    • Cassie nicolardi says:

      Okay so my girlfriend sends me this link I read it totally agree,I send him the link tell him read it an tell me if that sounds like our relationship,you know what that Narssist bastard says yes there’s alot of that artical about the things I do to him I said are you freaking kidding me.

      • Omg that would something this bastard would say

      • Omg, I’m in another bad relationship and here we go again. He never admits he’s wrong, twist it back on me and I’m again fighting a losing battle. In 57 yrs old now, been with this man for 19 yrs, I’ve always been in abusive relationships. I don’t know how to stop repeating the same thing. I’m too tired now so please, don’t stay until your too worn out to do anything about it. He’s never hit me but I feel its only a matter of time. Hes full of rage and I’m scared. You would think I would have learned, why do I always find the bad ones that need to hurt you. I’m going to go to counseling because there’s something wrong with me that I keep picking these kind of men. My children’s dad hit me, cheated on me. I finally left him, then my next boyfriend was both physically and emotionally abusive and now, I’m living it over again. This guy just will never admit his wrong doing, won’t talk to me, is very moody, breaks things, he is really starting to scare me, I’m disabled and now I think this is how its going to be for me. Please don’t wait to leave, if someone can’t treat you with love, respect and admit when their wrong instead blame it on you where you start doubting ypurself, leave don’t wait like I did. I’m stuck with living like this now I feel.

        • Number one WRONG STATEMENT you made was – There’s something wrong with me that I keep picking these kind of men. You didn’t “pick” a bad man, you didn’t “chose” to find an abusive man. People like us who have lived through abuse are quite likely to gravitate towards abusive relationships in the future, as we think that is “the best we deserve”. IT IS NOT OUR FAULT!!! We are kind, loving people who a: are usually very nuturing, believe we can “fix” our spouses, who feel for whatever reason that we don’t deserve better. But we DO deserve better and no matter what we do, we can’t “fix” a broken and abusive person. You need to find your self-confidence, which I know personally is not easy. Take baby steps. Mine started when I stopped reacting to his violence and angry and abusive words. I didn’t yell back. I just simply let him rant and left the room. The more I did that, the more he got confused and the more I realized that I had the control – not him. And eventually I gained the courage to leave. Even if you have to go to rock bottom to restart your life, it is so much better than the life you are living. Take care.

      • My husband twists my words, says that I did or didn’t do what he did or didn’t do. Accuses me of something, then asks me a question for me to say yes to, so that he can say that I admitted I did the first thing he accused me of. I see the game for what it is now, thinking of ways it will work against him.

    • Yasmin Calle says:

      This is very hard to read, I am writing an Essay on being married to an addict. Everything you describe is what i have endured for almost 11 years. I am not physically abused, in the past years ago he laid his hands on me twice. He has been verbally and emotionally abusive always. I have three kids and financially I am stuck in this marriage, but also my kids have anxiety and though people tell me to go to a shelter I can’t bear putting them through anymore pain and am trying hard to get a better job and finish complete my Bachelors Degree while online while I work in the day. I couldnt even finish reading because I felt so much pain and hurt inside. Thanks for sharing and I pray with Gods help soon things will be good for my kids and myself.

    • Ok here goes. Got married almost 26 yrs ago. I am in my 60’s now and I was a single mom for years working 2 jobs. then got married and decided to be a stay at home for a while as my son was 13 and wanted to spend time with him. Then my dad got sick and my mom so both died. fast forward 2000 he lost his job and his dad died. He was a pretty good drinker and quit and went to work making a lot less money screaming at me to get a job. it took a few years and I found a small office position. He became more verbally abusive over the years. He would not go any where with me and started telling me he wanted to get rid of me but I could not financially take care of myself. then he said an engineer was interested in him at work. I had no money and wished I had divorced him right then. so next thing a man called asking why my phone number showed up on his caller id. I asked him to call me back and he did not. One day I got home my husband said a guy came over out of the blue and started accusing him of seeing his wife. I believe that he this could have been the woman’s husband possibly. My husband said I was sitting in the garage and he walked up from his car and I told him I loved my wife. I said I would have loved to have talked with him and later he said he was cutting the grass and the guy stopped and accused him of seeing his wife. Knowing my husband never goes out I believe it could have just been starting and they got caught. now years later he tells me he made it up. so fast forward my neighbor had a girlfriend and every time she was out with her dog he would run outside and help her get her dog. she was suppose to be an accountant but turned out to be a drug addict drunk and he was likening her until he found out what a mess she was. so fast forward again he has decided his ex girlfriend’s husband came over here because she had a thing for him and he was jealous. so now they have split up. So again we went on through the years and I started my own small business trying to make it on my own. house almost paid for and he won’t file for divorce but constantly degrades me. my pup became ill and I just lost her and he stuck me with her Bills as he makes twice what I do. It’s all good I think I can do this if I could keep the house as I bought a new car on my own etc., insurance in my name but he is going to try and keep the 401k and the house from me. I don’t know if I can make it out of here and not end up on the streets but trying. Oh about 2 months ago he told me he would be better off if I was dead. he said it twice now. I can’t make this stuff up but if something breaks in the house he calls me names. for instance the front picture broke and he called me a stupid B., and it broke because the house settled as the window company said. Anything at all the basement flooded same thing. so much I could go on and on but Feb my pup was rushed in and she had a tumor in her liver as her spleen was removed earlier. This man stood up and paced waiting for the vet as I knew it was time and said he should have taken us first. There was waiting room full of people and he was quiet but it was not about him. a man ahead of us lost his dog too then ranted about shoveling the snow. so we drove separately and got home he said you’re really going to get it now you thought you had it bad before. I did not say anything as I had just lost my little friend. let me go back though for a moment about 3 weeks earlier I had asked him to take her outside pee. It was a cold day and she was sleeping behind the couch favorite spot. He said DIG HER OUT! I said never mind though you were ok with it as you were outside. so I laid her sweater down and ran in the bathroom and was going to wake her slowly. I heard all of this screaming he was screaming from the back door at the top of his lungs. I came running out thinking something happened and had no idea he would act like this. my pup was barking. I could go on and on. all this mental beat has caused me to be really mean and short with him. it’s changed me I just want to get away. Thank god I am healthy but my social security is not going to be as much as his. He will try and keep the house it will be paid for next fall and his 401k. I would be willing to split as I came in the marriage with the money furniture and car. He won’t if I tip him off I will be done. I won’t make it long if I stay here twice he has told me he would be better off if I was dead. He won’t file he will lose the house, I need it because of my income as the taxes are cheap but he wont let me have. I could go on and on need some opinions here. I know this is looking like a mess but I am working on my taxes and typing. thank you all in advance.

  2. Thanks for your article, I have found this site to be very useful too: http://outofthefog.website/

  3. OMG! I am overwhelmed by the information here and sad to say that I recognize myself in this article. For years, I suffered abuse exactly as described at the hands of my stepmother. I feel like I am reading about my everyday life with her. People close to me keep saying “you need to get over it!” Easy for them to say!! They have no idea what it’s like to have another person work tirelessly to extinguish your spirit to the point where you have no light in your life; only darkness. Where you abandon your identity and try to become whatever you need to be to stop the constant attacks on your being. Where your dreams die and all you have are nightmares about whether you can stay strong enough to survive another day! I have tried to get beyond my past but my highly emotional reaction to what I just read tells me I am still not there many years later!

    • Rebecca Clark says:

      Sending you prayers of healing. I experienced this from an ex but I cannot imagine it from a parent. Sending prayers for your healing.

    • Christine says:

      Recognizing the abuse cycle and identifying yourself in it can be the first step in healing your heart. May you find the courage to face your truth, and continue your recovery to being the whole, beautiful woman that you are!

      • I am being abused even now mentally at first it was physical but now mental my children are older they lived though it to I waited so long 30someing years now her is running around with women and standing me to telling people am crazy and I am not I want to leave but where do I I go for help I have been to houseing social service no help I have swept in my car in the winder I think he has someone following me I have attend the house of Ruth meeting but no help sometimes I feel lonely I don’t understand it’s like am program he was27i was 17 please help

        • Would he allow you to go to therapy? Maybe for depression or something? A therapist can help you start to get stronger and set some boundaries. In most states there are domestic violence shelters you can escape to also. What about a friend or co-worker? You need to get some distance to see the true impact of what is being done to you. You deserve to be free. You can be free. Get out first, then deal with the rest.

    • Ruth Miller says:

      I agree with you sandy I too my whole life took abuse as a child now 2 nd marriage again for 26 years first marriage 11 years I live day to day and I have nothing to look forward to i feel when the sun is shining I have a black cloud I carry with me and yet I can’t leave? I know I need help but everyone listens but can’t help me I have no where to go and have 2 dogs

      • Ruth,
        This breaks my heart to hear that you have nowhere to go – Where do you live, what city? I am in AR – I can help you and your fur babies are welcome. I am starting a ministry where women have a place to go at NO charge – a house of their own. Not a shelter, but a home just for you and your family. I am in the process of rallying volunteers to serve on CARE TEAMS – I myself am an overcomer of domestic violence and you can get through it, i promise! WE can do ALL Things through CHRIST – Phil 4:13. my # is 870.530.9713 if you are interested in a solution and a new beginning.

        • Where are u located?

        • Cassie nicolardi says:

          Oh thats so good to here I live in Oklahoma I moved away from Pennsylvania he was in jail he got out an came here IAM being abuse mentally an physically I have no one my mother died when I was 3 father died when I was 15 my life has been a living nightmare,I ask God all the time what did I do in a past life or something because IAM now 47 an now IAM being tortured in the worst way.i have 3 children an run someone’s buisness an he does to if I could pack my bags tomorrow an know I had a place without going into a shelter id leave this son of. A b….,but my job provides my housing an I can watch over my kids,what a wonderful thing your doing for women an children.

    • Priscilla says:

      I feel the same way I’m smart and intelligent and can’t leave why!

  4. Ysabel de la Risa says:

    This is a brilliant piece. Just brilliant.

  5. Daniel S. says:

    Thank you for the information provided in this article. It answers many questions that I had concerning a very, very dear personal friend. She has had a lifetime of abuse as your article outlines and still she has a great deal of difficulties avoiding being involved in relationships that ultimately turn into extremely abusive, both verbally and physically. It is as if she is somehow drawn back into the same relationship, even after being seemingly rescued and givin a safe environment to recover from the abuser. As a very concerned friend, I find myself facing much difficulties in trying to understand my friends behavior in being compelled to return to the the very negative situation. My friend is soon going to enter Domestic Violence counseling in an effort to find answers for herself. I can only prey that that she finds those answers for herself. As for myself, I shall continue to investigate this incredibly baffling cycle of submission to repeated abuse. I would welcome any additional information you would direct my way.
    Again, Thank you for a most insightful article.

    • I, too, have been trying to help a friend going through the exact same thing. I was in a verbally abusive relationship on and off for 10 years. After having enough, I finally left and never looked back. Each day got easier and easier. I still to this day cringe when I hear words or phrases that bring me back to the old days. It does take time but healing happens. Good luck to you and your friend

  6. Lawson Bettis says:

    I am 16 years old and I do see myself in this article. I am in a abusive relationship right now, his name is Damien and reading this article has helped me understand that I can get out of this relationship. Thank you so much for writing this, it has helped me so much.

  7. Weston McSheridan says:

    I have a close friend going through this right now. I’m doing everything i can legally do. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I truly fear for her life. This is absolutely mind blowing!! I don’t understand why she keeps going back. She actually laughed about him pistol whipping her and telling her he should kill her. What can I do? Cops won’t do anything till she says she’s pressing charges. And even the she drops them in no less than 3 days. Help me!!

  8. Every situation is different, there are many reasons why an abusive person can act the way they do… I myself are NOT perfect by no means, do I love My Wife ? Of course I do, have I. Even a dick ? Yes, have I said things that never should be said to a person you supposedly love ? Yes.. When a person feels that they are no longer treated the way they should be they can get angry and say horrible things, did i for 1 minutes ever Stop loving my Wife ? Absolutely Not, but I didn’t know how to control the situation so I would scream and yell, was that the rite thing to do ? No, but at that moment it was all I knew.. I believe any kind of abuse weather Physical or mental is WRONG, but people make mistakes and can change…I only regret that I didnt realize the correct way to handle the situation till it was too late…. So all I’m saying is that abuse is wrong, and couples need to communicate better and avoid the bad situation before it becomes one..

  9. Sadly, I recognize myself in this article and I’m living it now. And I don’t know how to walk away

  10. Catherine says:

    I’m not sure as far as the next person goes , but as for me, God control’s all ! When abuse is so daunting , yes it effects a woman’s mental health. I myself have grown to the point of wanting my husband dead as hell, even tried killing him . But there’s a higher power ! Something just came over me , Honey just walk away, I’m financially unstable , but I keep saying, remember all what was done. He’s not worth receiving not one penny from . Just remember what he has done to your esteem , your life altogether . Start asking , why was a demon as such was ever allowed to walk this earth ? Importantly, who are you ? I am a woman ,a mother , a person . I deserve way better , and from now on , it’s what I want , and that’s a DIVORCE !!!!!!!

  11. Janice Jacobs says:

    I have a 32 year old daughter that is in a abusive relationship for 6 years…I’ve received so many calls from my daughter to say she’s scared, she locks herself in the bathroom or her room…her partner is been an acholic since they met and now my daughter is an acholic…her partner calls her all kinds of name and acuses her of cheating…my daughter can’t talk to me or my family or friends…her partner smashes stuff in the house…my daughter did leave to live with me for 2 months and one day she told me I’m going back cause I love this person…in the night she’ll would call me saying she’s scared and says shes leaving ..I’ll have to stay on the phone for hours until things calm down the next day everything is okay…how do i get her away from this abuse…desperate mother…

  12. Broken hearted girl says:

    I made a list of the pros and cons of my 7 year long relationship that ended recently and I’m trying to come to terms with the fact that he firstly left ?and secondly why I put up with it for so long? I’m also scared that even though I’ve made this list I’ll end up going back to him, which is crazy. I know it’s crazy yet I go back each time, why? What’s wrong with me?
    – he made me laugh at times.
    – I had someone to come too.
    – he give me hope that I would have the little family everyone has.
    – I had someone to hold at night.
    – someone to go on date nights with
    – he loved me
    – he encouraged me to do well in life

    – he had major trust issues
    – he had drug problems
    – he made me feel sad
    – he made me feel overworked
    – he wouldn’t ever care enough to listen to what I felt about things
    – he only thought about what he needed or wanted
    – he was controlling
    – self centred
    – made me feel bad about myself
    – called me names
    – wouldn’t let me go out and see my friends without coming home to drama
    – he made me feel extremely unhappy to the point where I felt like taking my own life.
    – I couldn’t be myself
    – he took more than he gave
    – he was immature
    – he took unnecessary risks like taking drugs abroad or bringing them back
    – I felt like I lost my self and identity
    – I had to be what he wanted
    – he took the fun out of sex
    – he was always telling me he was gonna leave
    – he made me feel insecure
    – he made me feel like nothing I did was good enough
    – he made me feel negative about my home
    – he made me feel like he would replace me if I didn’t give him what he wanted
    – he at times moaned about son being home on the weekend
    – he wanted to take drugs and have sex
    – he would emotionally abuse me if I didn’t do things how and when he wanted
    – I couldn’t express myself verbally or via my appearance in what I wanted to wear or how I wanted to paint my nails.
    – he was stubborn
    – he hated my mother
    – he put me down in an underhanded way
    – he didn’t contribute to household bills
    – he treated me like a slave and then wouldn’t understand why I was exhausted
    – he made me feel bad for being exhausted
    – he refused to stop doing drugs
    – he made me feel worthless and like I could easily be replaced
    – he moaned
    – he blamed me for his drug problems
    – he blamed me for why his life was going wrong
    – he thought I was a lier
    – he thought I didn’t want him to do well in life.

    So the question is what am I lacking that I stayed for so long and put up with it?
    What’s wrong with me?
    I’m attractive
    So what am I lacking? Why would I go through the hurt and pain? Be torn apart only to go running back into the arms of the man who did these things to me?
    Am I sick in the head? Like drama? What?
    Why would I want to be with a man who made me question who I am on a daily basis? Who would stay with a man like that? Or a relationship so negative that it questioned my every existence?
    Forced me to do things and put up with so much stress, lack of sleep, made me so miserable, why would I stay? What did I get out of this? I want to understand, I need to know why? I’ve been so unhappy I tried and each day he picked and picked away at me until I had no fight left in me. Am I the problem? Am I not good enough to be loved unconditionally? What’s wrong with me?
    Was I the problem? Are the things he said to be true?

    • Beginning of healing says:

      OMG! I could have written this word for word. I ended up getting an order of protection to keep him away from me. I’m going to reread your post again later.

    • …get away from him now !!! …save yourself you are so
      worth all the love and beauty life can give …get out now .. walk away and keep walking !!! ..you can’t save him …God loves you …love yourself first so the right person will love you …go now !!! now !!!

    • Maybe you should try going to a psychologist to find the answer to why you kept going back to him. There’s no shame in that, their job is to help people.

    • I never post but you are me, I am you! I’ve been asking myself all the same questions for months. With me, I think I just desperately want to be loved. He was so nice in the beginning, I keep hoping he will go back to that person. But I actually think the relationship I had with my father as a child has something to do with picking the wrong men. Or putting up with so much for so long. I think I’ve tried to block out a lot of my childhood memories, but I do remember feeling neglected and rejected from my dad. And I really do think this is playing a massive part in why I am willing to put up with so much just to feel a little loved. Hope this helps by just sharing. I have not had the courage to leave my abuser boyfriend yet, anyway now hopefully. I know I’m getting nearer, but I am scared how much more I can take. How much more of myself he will destroy. My advice to anybody going through this is, get help from where you can. Talk to someone. Just because you can’t leave yet, your working towards leaving – hang on to that hope and do as much research as you can. Start forgiving yourself that you let this person do this to you. He is the one with the problem not you. You just wanted to be loved. Love yourself. Good luck x

    • You did an absolutely fabulous job can’t imagine how long you sat there and analyzed yourself. I was exactly like this article and the man I was with finally broke us up just a few days ago. I am struggling with it but know it is for the best because of the exact reasons Broken Hearted Girl has listed. One has to wonder to oneself if we have a bad side that we really struggle with because that’s where my problem lies. I’m an older woman and it gets to the point where you live life and you want to have fun so part of that fun it’s with that person aka the abuser when things are going good it feels good. I am struggling staying away from him but know that I need to. It started out as physical abuse not much just a little and slowly but surely went into verbal and then into gaslighting. You can see as many counselors and psychologists that you want but only until you realize to yourself that you’re hurting yourself will you ever be able to get away. I was in counseling for over a year and I’m thinking about going back. Like her article said it takes years to get out of it. Ladies I wish you all the best let’s get our act together

      • I’m an older woman and can relate to Pauline. When my life is together he calls & comes by constantly where I give in. It only lasts a day or 2 & he runs to someone else. 1 of his daughters broke the abuse but the other helps her dad & is even more verbally abusive. For decades I decided to quit dating abusers but this Dr didn’t appear that way. Then I thought I had to change as he has onset of dementia. I quit dating anyone else. When he came by tonight I stayed strong but after he left I came close to giving in. Heard that bad habits you’ve had are magnified by dementia, but I know I need to be strong. When I date others I miss him – maybe its the challenge.

    • Jan Tobin says:

      You are being abused, that’s whats wrong not that there is anything wrong with you.
      Girl, I read your list and I’m shocked at some of the things I thought was just me going through.
      It’s going to take me years to get my head on right again but, I’m so ready to walk.
      I cant go back again, and I won’t. Not This Time!!!

    • I’m currently in hospital for severe depression and a suicide attempt. I’m in the exact situation you describe Broken Hearted girl.

      But I can’t leave. I have tried so many times but the keep running back and asking for forgiveness for things I didn’t do. The last incident that brought me to hospital with this break down was him attacking me with a knife. I locked myself in the bathroom and he stabbed the knife through the bathroom door. In the process he cut three of his fingers badly and almost severed one off. I took him to the hospital and apologised all the way there.

      He threatens to leave me if I mess up one more time but he always comes back. What he means by messing up is of I go out with my girlfriends for coffee, spend anytime with anyone but him. Don’t answer his text withing a few minutes. He won’t let me speak to any male, even friends I’ve known for years at gym. And I have to send him pictures of what I’m weating before I go to gym. Often he tells me I am dressed like a slut when all I have ate long tights and a t shirt on.

      He is also a drug user and is constantky asking me for money and to buy him things. He is 10 years my junior and extremely good looking. When I threaten to leave he sends my videos of him with a handful of pills and threatens to kill himself after he knows I just lost my best friend and roommate to suicide.

      Why can’t I leave? I love him? Or am I just attached and afraid to be alone.

      I’m successful, intelligent and attractive. He has nothing to offer or bring to the table except that he says he loves me….

      I just feel so hopeless. Even here in hospital I beg him not to leave me. When I should be there one leaving him.

  13. Bernaette says:

    It’s good how they get you.. form of brain washing .
    They thrive on sensitive forgiving people . They very sad lonely damaged .
    Insecure narrsassist. .
    The best you can do is leave RUN . Cos they will never change .go no contact ….. get help if you can’t womens domestic violence. . If u don’t free yourself your wasting your life away time passes quick . Read Web sites books anything that will help you along .

  14. OMG! This describes our relationship with our President!

  15. Unfortunately, the walls between apartments are not sound proof. I hear the man ( Boy), bad mouthing this young woman to a point of tears. My fear is that he will someday hit her, I heard her say “don’t” push me. He is disrespectful and oh so harsh to her. my heart weeps for her, yet, I can not interfere, so sad!! The only way that I can help, I believe, is to pray to God, for a hedge of protection around her. I pray that this young man’s bitter background can be changed by prayer! Amen

  16. Thank you x 1 million. You have clearly and concisely unraveled the madness. I was so deeply ashamed for allowing myself to be sucked in by the lies and false promises time after time. Your article should be read by everyone who misunderstands abusive relationships. It’s not because you love them it’s because you’ve been systematically brainwashed. I’m going to keep coming back to this article to reinforce my resolve never to allow this to happen to me again. Thank you.

  17. Sheila johnson says:

    It is so hard not to go back You remember the good times and their good qualities time makes u forget how miserable you were Then you start feeling sorry for them I am intelligent enough to realize that they will be super nice and loveable then after a while the abuse will restart Last time I went out the abuse increased in severity till he tried to strangle me to death He’s going to anger management but I don’t think that will help him U lose one whole side of your family It’s so hard and m homesick and I want to go home

  18. I cant leave. There is no hope. No way of support. It seems that I would be better off not existing. Every day brings torrents of emotional and physical pain. He is an emotional abuser. He is permanently angry. Everything, tiny things, cause him to gnash his teeth and to curse me vilely. I am useless.

    • You have to understand they are the idiots that are not happy with themselves. Don’t let them break your spirit!

  19. I have been in an abusive relationship for 39 years. We have a business together and all my life I have worked there he runs it and I handle all financial issues. Thai last time he through the remote at me and broke my wrist. Anyone in a relationship thats just starting justt leave after the first slap because they never change. Save yourself some years.

    • I am so heart broken reading your statement. I have been searching for a scientific explanation to why we smart and amazing women seek back these sick man. Are we more sick or same as they are? I know it is very cumbersome. Please be happy alone. You will need to mingle with other women that will help you without knowing much about your situation. Travel abroad.

  20. Oh honey, get out of it. Use a friend or neighbor, get out while you can, fly sista fly!!!

  21. Hi i dont know.where to begin.i have been in an abusive relationhip both mentally and physically. And i dont know how to leave.i am scared. I lost my family and friends.i lost myself.one tume i reached out to a womens shelter. For abused women and i was asked when was the last time he beat me.i said it had been a few months.but i told her thats how he is.she said well your not in danger so call back when you are.i have lost hope faith .

  22. Wendy, do not lose all hope. I can’t imagine how you felt being turned away from the shelter like that. It’s hard enough to gather the courage to even think about leaving. There is help out there, people who really do care. This is the number to the National Domestic Abuse hotline: 1-800-799-7233 ask them about how to contact an advocate in your area that can help you develop a safe exit plan. The best thing I ever did for myself was leave an abusive relationship, it’s been a year now and I can’t believe how free I feel. I never thought it was possible, but it is! Don’t give up. Was it hard? Yes! Was I an emotional wreck? Yes! Did I make it through it? YES!!! The time is now, not tomorrow or next week or in a month. Take one step and then another. Develop your plan as best you can…. but get out at quickly as possible!
    “Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but ANYBODY can start TODAY and make a new ending”

  23. Brokenhearted says:

    Ladies, sisters, please please leave and don’t go back. All of the characteristics of the abuser and the victim are exactly what I believe my sister lived until her husband woke up on August 4, 2017 and stabbed her to death in front of her to small children, changed cloths and left the house in a cab. We knew he was crazy but didn’t know how dangerous he was. We knew he had brainwashed her and we could not tell her anything. I am willing to say that hundreds of people told her to take the kids and leave. She would not. She had no problem telling anyone who would listen how awful he was to her but she would not leave. Now she’s gone and her children are struggling everyday, but God.

  24. Brokenhearted says:

    To top it off she had a very good job and he would not lift a hand to work. I just don’t understand. We are a large loving family and while we knew the marriage was dysfunctional, we did not see physical abuse but we tried to explain that verbal abuse was just as bad if not worse. She was a beautiful God-fearing woman with low self esteem. He ravaged her in every sense of the word. Thank God he was recently caught by the FBI and is behind bars. Every single day I ask why? why couldn’t we get through to her? why did he have to kill her? why didn’t she leave? Come to find out the children were petrified but we never knew it until after the fact. They were too afraid to speak of it. Leave ladies, leave before it’s too late. Please.

  25. Diane Duffield says:

    Children don’t need material things they need love and security, I found over the years that the less a family had the happier they were, and the more respect they shared with their mother, it’s damaging staying for a good lifestyle, I’ve done it myself my son, has now been diagnosed with a personality disorder because of the past. I’ll blame myself until I die x

  26. Broken hearted girl, thank you for sharing that. I felt like that is me in a nutshell. I was with is man for 6 years before we got married. I thought he was perfect and I was the lucky one. After we got married everything seemed to go down hill. Drinking was more frequent, he quit his jobs after I became a nurse and then physical abuse followed. I was in a state of shock and frozen. I didn’t call the police not even sure why, I still feel disappointed in myself for not. After the first time he promised to never do it again. But we all know that is never true but I believed him and we even went to counseling. However, the drinking did play a major role in everything and the 2nd incident of abuse occurred where this time he chocked me Luckily let me go before I passed out. I filed for divorce shortly after. He tried to kill himself after I left which some how made me feel extremely guilty, ( fucking crazy I know). After a year of living separately he showed me he was going back to school, quit drinking, and had his life together. I thought maybe if I gave him another chance things would be different. We took it slow went on dates and I saw the man I meant in the beginning. We later decided to move in together, with a list of boundaries, no drinking etc…. BIG MISTAKE. What on earth was I thinking!!! I haven’t a clue. A foolish heart I suppose. Within the first month he was sneaking around drinks after I would go to bed thinking I didn’t notice. At first I confronted him in an mature way but that didn’t work. It got to the point were I did call the cops cause He started destroying the apt. And I got scared. Eventually he sought help and treatment but moved out. He still keeps in contact, but my feeling for him are no longer the same, I feel like he killed me inside, I lost myself somewhere and I dont where to find me. I been trying to go no contact, but it only ever works for like a week. He thinks now cause he doesn’t;t drink that I should be there for him I just don’t get it. I feel numb. There was a point before he moved out where I felt the switch of feeling turn right off. I stop caring, yet I feel trapped in not being able to let go. I know I dont want this in my life. Easier said than done to just get rid of someone. I am seeing a therapist whose bring my actions back to my childhood. I just dont know what I am afraid of, I am a strong successful women going now for my Masters for NP degree, financially stable, an apt by the beach, a nice car, and a dog that loves me unconditionally. The only thing I’m lacking is a stronger support system but I am trying to reach out anyway I can. I have to move forward. I can’t let this man ruin me constantly manipulating, gaslighting the situatuion. I need to start seeing through all the bullshit. My dreams even have me getting ready to say this is over for good. Please pray that I make this a reality. I shouldn’t feel stuck/ trapped I should just do what I have to do for me and stop this vicious cycle.

  27. Thank you so much for sharing this. I was also in an abusive relationship that I couldn’t leave because of cultural reasons and our son. Through those hard times, I was able to write a book to hopefully help others that are going through the same thing that I went through. It’s called: He Never Deserved Me.

  28. Uduak Udoffa says:

    Thank you for the article. I don’t believe anyone should accept the tag of ‘victim’. And nobody should go through life saying someone ‘made them’ do and feel things they did not want. In order to have any chance or hope of freedom or healing, one has to accept responsibility for ones life, and take back control. An abuser has no power if the abused will not allow the abuse.
    If you are locked in to a cycle of relationships with abusive partners, do not surrender. Seek therapy and get help. See a counselor and learn to get back your self esteem. It is absolutely imperative.
    A relationship has absolutely no value once abuse starts. It is definitely much better to be alone and single than to be abused. I am single and would like to be in a relationship. But I love my peace of mind and health far tooooooo much to hook up with an abuser just to have a man in my life.
    Seek therapy, get help. Come up with a plan. Fight for u yourself. Fight for the right to be happy, at peace and to live life on your own terms. Without fear and shame. You deserve it. So go on and fight for it!

  29. I went for help to a twelve step program called Alanon. One thing My first meeting the women were reading out of a book- it said I could have hope. I cried so hard I could not talk. I didn’t know there was hope. I thought I was gonna have to roll over and die in my marriage – I didn’t know my options except divorce and I wasn’t healthy enough to do that and face that pain attending to four young children. Thru this program and those wonderful loving people helping me I became the woman God intended me to be. I knew if I didn’t get better I would only show my children divorce after divorce . I had to heal so I could see myself as God sees me and make healthy choices for me and my children.

  30. Atlantis Jones says:

    My boyfriend won’t let me leave. He says he will kill me. He will make my life a living hell. He knows where I work and he knows my house address. I’ve done nothing to physically or mentally hurt him, he’s stole from me and lied about it, he’s made me spend my money when I had none. The little money I did get from my paycheck for work, he says I have to leave my phone at his house, I want out of this relationship, his dad is a cop. Help me get out I don’t wanna die, he’s told me he killed people he killed an ex of his he killed a random person because he felt like it…I don’t wanna be controlled I can’t go anywhere with out him asking who are you with let me see send me a video, he’s always taking my phone and looking through it, he’s spit in my face he’s taken a know to my throat, but he says every time he tries to kill me he says he hears a voice telling him not to. He’s told me he would rip out my throat he killed a rat and showed me he told me that should have been me…I don’t wanna die I don’t want wanna be buried I don’t wanna see him emotionless as he strangles meto death he’s tried multiple times….I don’t wanna be another body that can’t be found…

    • Nicole Caraccilo says:

      Um ur relationship sounds just like the one i was in with my childrens father. I know you feel like there is no way out, but its not true. All that stuff he says about killing you, killing other people, its a way to intimidate you. Can you contact me? I think i may be able to help you. Reply to this comment and i will give you my phone number. You need to get out fast. Your in danger.

  31. Nicole Caraccilo says:

    Wow this is sooo true and validating. Was with my kids dad for years, i can really look back and see all these steps happening. But i still wonder, did he really think those things that he criticized me for? Even when I tried to be the best mom, wife, etc. That ibcould possibly be?

  32. Keyantha says:

    I wish I had a way out , but now it’s too late he has legal power over me if I don’t do what he wants or says he can get me arrested at any moment

  33. It is breaking my heart reading all of these posts. However, I have to say that it has been very, very helpful. Bless you Crystal for giving us this outlet, and also with your courage for speaking out. Here is my story – similar in many respects, but this is the first time I have actually told my story. I am soon to be 65 years old. I grew up in a very small town in PA with 3 sisters and 1 brother. I was sexually abused by my father for pretty much all of my childhood. I have memories of as early as 3 years old and I left home 3 days after graduation to get away. In our day, and in a small town we didn’t talk about those things. I spent the next year being sexually active (in High School, I was a “virgin” not counting my father) because I thought that was what I was supposed to do for love. I married at 19 to a wonderful man who was 10 years my senior (dad figure). We stayed married for 10 years, but I was not in love with him, just needed love. We divorced amicably and remained friends until, unfortunately, he passed away young with a heart attack. I remarried at 30, for 19 years and had 2 sons. This husband was passive and non abusive, but was a severe alcoholic. We got divorced and I was a single mom for 7 years. Then I met a man online, in my 50’s. After a very short courtship we got married. And that is when my life disintegrated rapidly. He soon showed his abusive nature. Quit his job, so I supported him, myself and 2 sons, as well as his 2 sons. The sons were like him – bullies, abusive and con artists. My husband was a retired cop so anytime I called them on the abuse, he talked his way out of it and convinced them I was “crazy”. After we married he ran up my credit cards, destroying my excellent credit, started showing up at my job and ruining my relationships with friends, drained our bank account. When he physically abused me, it was “my fault”. He convinced people that I was making it all up. I left with my 2 sons in the middle of the night, taking only what I could fit into our van, leaving everything I owned behind including a job that I had worked at for 20+ years. Within a year, he talked his way back into my life. So we began more years of abuse. In those years we were homeless, and he was jailed for Terroristic Threats. That meant that even though he didn’t physically touch me, he threatened to kill me. Sent me texts saying he would chop me up in pieces, make sure no one would ever find my body, etc. He spent 10 months in jail for that, but (again the ex cop thing) convinced them it was my fault and got his record deleted. Eventually he finally became physically incapable of hitting me but the emotional and mental abuse became so bad that I was warned by my doctor that if I didn’t leave him I would die of a stroke. Even though I once again left everything behind and went to a place where I knew no one, I FINALLY left. It has been almost 3 years and I am finally free of him, even though he has tried to find me. I started trying to date again 2 years ago, but found that when a man started to “love me” and wanted a future, I ran like a scared rabbit. I am now resigned to the fact that I will be alone, but wouldn’t trade that for anything since I am at peace and am safe. Don’t give up on hope – I had done that – but there is always a way out depending on what you want to sacrifice. Good luck to all of you.

  34. Jessica M says:

    My Boyfriend broke up our relationship on September 2017. I love him so much wanted us to get back together and with the help of dr_mack@ yahoo. com, my boyfriend was mine again…

  35. Mental State says:

    Why the hell did you guess basically make a how to guild in how to do it instead of how to fix it?

  36. Carolyn Williamson says:

    I have a niece that’s in an abusive relationship, the guy she’s seeing is in jail for robbing a sweepstakes place. He calls her all kinds of names and he doesn’t trust her. I hear her on the phone 4 or 5 times a day arguing with him, I just don’t understand how a person can take being belittled like that. I’ve tried talking to her and she acts as though I’m the one belittling her. I’m so afraid he’s going to really hurt her when he gets out of jail.

  37. I am currently going through an emotionally and psychologically abusive relationship. For the first year or so, everything was okay. We did fight sometimes but that’s normal in every relationship. The second year seemed to just keep getting worse. It was the year we finally got our own place. The fighting happened more frequently. He started opening up about things he hated that I did. There were times he openly insulted me. His family insulted me often, but he never defended me. Little did I know I was going through these very steps, and have been for the last two years. We’ve been together for three years. Recently he stopped talking to me. Whenever I asked what was wrong when I knew something was up, he’d ignore me or tell me it was fine. For a few weeks he stopped sleeping in the same bed as me. Where I had surgery on my knee on the 27th of March, so I haven’t been able to do anything but sleep and therapy. April 2nd was our anniversary, and there wasn’t really anything I could do with him. I had been feeling upset and he never really comforted me, so my parents came to take me up to their place for the weekend. At this point, all that’s really on my mind is getting better. I’m tired of sleeping on the couch. I’m tired of not being able to go out. All I can really do is watch movies or read. Recently he told me that there had been a problem going on well into last year. He fussed that I didn’t remember to tell him happy birthday until the evening. He fussed that I like being on my computer and doing what I like. Reading, video games, movies, anime. He hated it. I had gone up to my mom and dad’s because I was feeling restless again, and by the time I came back, I’d seen that he hadn’t cleaned up after himself over the four days I had been gone. Lately, even before the surgery, I had felt like nothing but his maid. I cleaned up after his cat. I did his laundry. I washed the dishes. I started to lose motivation in doing anything because he never even tried to help. When I confronted him about it, his excuse was that he was working two jobs. His second job he only works twice a week or three times a week at most. But he does have time to clean up. He recently told me that he was disgusted of me and could barely stand looking at me. He didn’t want to be with someone who can’t stand being touched sexually. (I don’t participate in sex anymore because of trauma back in highschool) He told me he didn’t want to be with someone like that… He also kicked me out of my own home, but he states he had removed me from the title long ago. The park manager won’t talk to me so I can find out the truth. He took my phone and my house key and mailbox key. I gathered what I could before I left. He wants the relationship to work out but I don’t see how that’s possible anymore. It’s been almost a week since I was kicked out and he still won’t talk to me. I just now found this page and can’t believe I’ve been going through these steps repeatedly for years. Everyone may say it’s easy to get out of, but it’s not. Everyone keeps telling me to leave him, but it’s stressful trying to explain why I can’t. This has shed some light on the situation and I’m glad I could go somewhere to talk freely about this.

  38. Desperate mom says:

    Daughter has been in abusive, controlling relationship for 10 years. Boyfriend has never held a job in his life. She has tried to support them but never enough money as he takes it for drugs & video games, whatever he wants. He has isolated her from us, her family. Won’t allow her to call us or see us. They have been evicted several times, daughter keeps staying as she now has 3 kids. He has put her up to shoplifting . She was on probation but he told her to run because he never took care of kids & he would have had no money. Neighbor called cops after argument and they arrested her for warrant. I found her in jail started visiting her and she told me of all abuse but he had kids. She had a guy friend set up dropping off money so kids would be taken care of. Boyfriend never gave kids a Xmas or Easter, tOok money for himself. She now got out after 4 months in jail. Had to go back to make sure she had kids back. Promised me I wouldn’t lose her again cause she was stronger & saw things clearly he was doing. Now she has no job and of course he has never worked in 35 years so he is making up stories to guy who wanted to help my daughter like I was there Xmas shopping and needed more money. I had nothing so I couldn’t help financially.knowing abuse daughter was in, this guy continued to give money.He takes my daughter phone, checks texts, he has pretended to be her sending a text. She is scared to death for herself & kids! He is threatening to kill them if she leaves. He times her to go get money And come back while he is holding kids hostage there. She told me she wants to leave him but can’t get away as he takes car keys, phone, and only lets her out to get money. How do I rescue her & kids out of there, as he is there 24/7 controlling things. I now have no contact & I am in Florida and he had them leave to run off to Tennessee. I know she suffers from Stockholm syndrome and doesn’t know how to get out with 3 kids. What can I do as I feel this is false inprisonment & holding small kids as hostage. She is is meal ticket & he has no one to live off of if she leaves. So he is using her to support him & habits. I am desperate for help! People say she has to just leave? How when he is taking keys, timing her outings, has phones and children. He never leaves house unless they are with him at all times. Can I go to police or can I get court order to take them out of there, due to these dangerous conditions. Kids have had to live with violence & psychotic behavior. I have never even as their grandparent been allowed to see them. He has complete control! Please anyone who has real knowledge of definite plan I can take, I need advice. If I go with police she is to afraid to say she will leave with kids. He has many guns and is crazy enough to carry out threats. Please I need advice as her mother as I feel I am leaving her & children in danger.

  39. Jane Doe # 198,584 says:

    I had to turn over my cell phone 6 months ago. friends or family were a threat to the continued control, brainwashing, and abuse were permanently deleted. plus i forfeited my rights to call for help during an attack. Loss of idendity. When he attacks I morph into different women. mostly i become a woman named “Marrissa” the Bitch.and I recieive the verbal and physical assaults that “Marrissa” deserves. Sometimes I become a women who has sex with African American men behind his back.She doesnt have a name but shes got it worse than Marrissa. He always says to me I ruined their love and their relationship with this woman and it really hurts- but Im not sure who I am when he says that.at no time am I called the birth name my mother gave me.

  40. penelope says:

    I want to leave him but he keeps having horrible things happen to him. He had a health scare, then his grandmother got sick, and now his sister is in trouble with the law.. he is a mess emotionally, and extra demanding on me! He says I don’t prioritize him at all, and that I am always trying to get away from him and be with other people. I don’t do either of those things! He just doesn’t like it when I see my friends. He and I aren’t even technically together anymore, but he is so controlling.

    I want to get out, he cries and yells at me, says I am liar and a horrible person. I had financially supported him for years, then he took a turn helping to pay me back. But I still buy all of his food, make his lunches… I try to be a good friend, but I don’t ask him first before I make plans with other people weeks in advance. I need to check to see what he would like to do that day first.

    He is having such hard times right now, he asked me not to make them any worse. I should prioritize him and not see my friends and spend all my time with him while he is going through this. He didn’t want to make solid plans for vacation time we were going to spend together (did not want the pressure, wanted to wing it – he said) and now he is screaming at ME because I didn’t suggest anything.

    How do you leave someone who is always in a crisis and blames you for making it worse? Like his whole world is falling apart and I am the only thing keeping it together while he insults me, yells at me for wanting to see friends, or says mean things to me because I asked for a little time to myself during our week vacation off at home?

    • penelope says:

      I am so depressed, I am on medication. I cannot function. I feel numb and cold inside and I want to give up. I don’t want to be a bad person and hurt him even more, but he is killing me. I don’t find any happiness in life because he will ruin it immediately, crush it under his foot, and remind me how horrible I am and how he suffers while I am out “having fun”.

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