Home > Abusive relationships, Borderline Personality Disorder, relationships > Is Your Girlfriend or Wife a Professional Victim?

Is Your Girlfriend or Wife a Professional Victim?

Does your girlfriend or wife blame you for everything that’s wrong in the relationship, yourfaulteven her bad behaviors? Does she refuse to take responsibility for her own actions, especially the hurtful ones? Do you frequently feel forced into a role of contrition in which you have to make up for some wrong or “owe” your girlfriend or wife?

If so, you may be involved with a woman who is a professional victim. Don’t be fooled, she is no victim. Victim-hood is a powerful role. In fact, women who play the victim are often the aggressor in relationships. They play the “victim” to manipulate and control others by holding you emotionally hostage.

Professional victims are stealth bullies. Being caught in a never ending blame game with one of these women is a form of emotional abuse for the man at whom she points her finger in accusation.

The following characteristics are signs that your girlfriend or wife may be a professional victim:

1) She never acknowledges when she hurts others. She has exclusive rights to the role of “injured party.” When you call her on her  behavior, she provides ample excuses for why she’s not accountable. The excuses she provides assign blame for her actions to someone else, usually the person she’s wronged. It’s always your fault or someone else’s fault, but never, ever is it her fault.

2) The victim must be victimized. If you’re not an abusive person, she’ll pull it out of you in order to play the victim script she has in her head. For example, she needles and needles and needles one of your sore spots, until you can’t take it any more and snap at her in defense.

Presto! She just got you to “victimize” her–never mind the previous 2 hours in which she psychologically tormented and bullied you into it. She needs to play innocent victim to someone’s bad guy. It’s the foundation of her identity.

This is a very primitive defense mechanism called projective identification, which, if you’re on the receiving end, is truly awful in that it makes you feel like the crazy person. It’s a self-fulfilling prophesy whereby she believes you’re a “bad guy” and she’s a “victim.”  She then behaves or interacts with you in such a way that you change your behavior in response to her actions and become the “bad guy.” A telltale sign is that you feel like you’re being coerced into being someone that you’re not. It’s highly, highly emotionally abusive.

3) She blames others and circumstances for her own shortcomings or failures. The professional victim lives in “Never-Never Take Personal Responsibility Land,” which is bordered to the North by “The Land of If Only.” This allows her to blame her parents, siblings, co-workers, bosses, professors and you for her life, career and relationships not being as she thinks they should be.

She’d be running the business if only her boss recognized her talents. She’d have graduated from culinary school and been wildly successful if her prof hadn’t looked at her cross-eyed. She’d have sex with you more often if you did more of x, y, and z. Don’t fall for this malarkey, men. She’s right in that there’s someone to blame for her sad life. She need only look in the mirror to direct her blame accurately.

4) She admires and respects people who actually treat her badly. This is a fascinating aspect of the professional victim: They defend those who harm, exploit and bully them and vilify and lash out at those who want to help and care for them. She may fondly describe a relative or ex-boyfriend who sounds like a real S.O.B. and follow it up with, “but he’s such a good person.” Meanwhile, you bend over backward to tiptoe around her extreme sensitivities and she accuses you of “beating her down” and “not being supportive.” Huh?

The fact that she admires and respects bullies and people who abuse their power is a huge red flag because we emulate those we admire. Let me make this point crystal clear, SHE ADMIRES BULLIES AND ABUSERS BECAUSE SHE IS REALLY AN EMOTIONALLY ABUSIVE BULLY IN VICTIM’S CLOTHING.

It’s impossible to have a loving relationship of equals with a professional victim. She goes through life feeling slighted and angry, never taking responsibility for her actions or life. Good luck trying to talk to her about this. You’ll meet with extreme defensiveness and more blaming behaviors. Her only identity is that of victim: If she doesn’t believe she’s being victimized, then who is she? Someone who treats other people like crap and who is pissing her life away. It’s a matter of psychological self-preservation versus ego annihilation.

You can’t have a healthy and happy relationship with someone who holds you hostage and controls you through guilt, emotional blackmail, and blame. This type of person rarely changes and usually has characteristics of one of the dramatic cluster B personality disorders, including Borderline Personality Disorder, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Histrionic Personality Disorder, Anti-Social Personality Disorder or some variation.

If you’re involved with one of these women, I encourage you to reconsider the relationship. When I come across them in life, I try to avoid them altogether or, at the very least, minimize contact. It’s really the only way to deal with them.

by Dr Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD

Private Consultation and Coaching

I provide confidential, fee-for-service, consultation/coaching services to help both men and women work through their relationship issues via telephone and/or Skype chat. My practice combines practical advice, support, reality testing and goal-oriented outcomes. Please visit Services and Products for professional inquiries.


If you find the information I provide free of charge helpful and valuable here on Shrink4Men, please consider making a donation via PayPal to help me maintain the site.

Photo credits:

Your fault on freerepublic.

  1. Jhan
    June 15, 2010 at 11:25 pm

    The reason why so many women get away with this stuff is because we LET THEM get away with it. If men ‘Manned up’ and took charge again, this stuff would happen a lot less.

    Sorry – but the ‘equality’ thing doesn’t work. Men built the world – men should run the world. End of story.

    • jp
      June 16, 2010 at 12:13 am

      Yet this site is run by a woman.

      Don’t be ridiculous. Returning to outdated gender roles, ie. stripping half the population of their rights and dignity and forcing them back into some kind of weird indentured servitude, is not a solution and it’s not an option.

  2. Jhan
    June 13, 2010 at 2:32 pm

    The best thing a man can do is learn the early tell-tale signs of the professional victim and STAY AWAY. As in – TWO OR THREE DATES INTO IT – you should see the sings and RUN!!

    Unfortunately, the current generation of wussified males has no help to offer young men on their way up. That’s just the way it is. Young men will have to seek help elsewhere – on forums like this.

    As for men who are already in deep with professional victims (marriage, divorce, court, etc) you’re already screwed. You’ve allowed yourselves to be professionally manipluated and there is NO GETTING OUT WITHOUT PAIN (emotional, financial, etc). Again – that’s just the way it is. Learn from it, get out, and move on.

    The good thing is that you can still be in great relationships – as long as you learn to spot professional victims EARLY on. EARLY means before you sleep with them or get into anything resembling a relationship.

    • sm
      June 15, 2010 at 11:12 pm

      The best thing to do is shut off the “emotional cycle”. My STBXW are divorcing but it’s a live in divorce…think it’s hard living with someone when married? Try a live in divorce…it’s barbaric. It’s taken me almost a full year to accomplish this goal and i’m still not there. To the general public she’s a “nun” but privately she can be the grim reaper. The double standards never cease to amaze me. Example…a few weeks ago I took our sons to the beach via a ferry. Since we were coming home late I told her we would take a taxi from the ferry terminal to our home..10 minute ride. Unacceptable she said…she will not allow HER children ride in taxi cab so late at night (1030 PM)with strangers, it’s dangerous! I stated the obvious but dear “I will be with them” where’s the danger? Needless to say not wanting to incur the wrath we came home early. But when it came to her travelling out of state only two weeks later to the midwest from the east, travelling through two major airports with our sons on two airplanes at 35,000 feet with 300-400 strangers, well that’s ok…HUH? This is just one example of many that I’ve lost count. There are rules…her rules for her and her rules for me. Try address the issue…forget it. The most frustrating part is that she doesn’t even realize it. Hired a lawyer behind my back, accepted monetary gifts from my family for Xmas the same week she signed her retainer with her attorney, used a family ski condo, a beach house, had me paint a room that she moved into, borrowed a family car to escort her visiting family in the day prior to handing me divorce papers..then tells me she hasn’t done anything wrong. You can’t make this stuff up…

  3. Dave M
    June 13, 2010 at 4:15 am

    I have an ex who, in response to my attempt to get us into mediation so I could get more visitation, filed a BS domestic violence TRO “protecting” her, her new husband, my 2 kids, their school and my church. It included a lot of flat out lies. Reading your description of the Professional Victim was like reading a personality description of my ex! Right after we started dating, she needed my help with bosses at work that were “out to get her”. This was the first of five jobs with that very same kind of boss, amazingly.

    Her teachers in Grad School were against her getting her Masters, her parents gave her an abusive and horrible childhood (actually this one is true), and I am sure that she justifies this lying to the courts because I am the most recent reason in her life for unhappiness.

    Wondering if there is more substatial research available on the Professional Victim, and its relationship to Parental Alienation Syndrome?

    • jp
      June 13, 2010 at 4:10 pm


      How long has she been involved with her new husband? It should only be a matter of time before she decides he’s the cause of her misery and unfulfilled potential. Based on her past patterns, how long do you think that will take? This problem may go away on its own. When she turns on him, she may be amenable to all kinds of changes in visitation, custody, etc. You may just need to wait her out.


      • Dave M
        June 13, 2010 at 8:10 pm


        I know he is her next “mark”, and that the hourglass on the realtionship is already running, but I can’t sit by and let my 4 and 5 year old be brainwashed into thinking that me and my entire family are bad people who don’t love them. If her DV claim is successful (apparently if I said, “boo!” to her in any of the 10 years of our relationship, the court usually gives the one without a penis pretty much the keys to the kingdom), she may have unchallenged time with my kids to begin this brainwashing.

        I know in the end, I win once they are old enough to see and understand the truth, but do they, me, and their entire paternal family just have to suffer between now and then?


        • jp
          June 13, 2010 at 10:52 pm

          I certainly hope not.

          Check out http://www.dadsdivorce.com/father_divorce_forum/ . There’s tons of great tough practical advice and support there for guys in similar situations.

          Rooting for you!

          • Dave M
            June 14, 2010 at 4:07 am


            Thanks for the good thoughts. As a follow up, this has so upset my Mom, who spent 30 years as a Kindergarten teacher dreaming of the day that her own grandkids would benefit from that experience, that she was admitted to a psych hosptial on a suicide watch last week, threatening to drive her car into a brick wall beacuse there was nothing left for her.

            I can’t help but think that my ex’s first thought about this, was she to know, would be, “I wonder if I am on her insurance policy or named in the will?” Before all this stuff started with the false Domestic Violence charges started, I thought my wife was just a bitter woman from a bad marriage (for both of us) that had remmarried.

            Now I honestly wonder if I should fear for my life, because as part of our divorce agreement, we kept our life insurance policies in each other’s name for the sake of the kids. Now I walk around with a $400K pricetag on my head wondering if my kids will one day remember me by watching “Daddy’s Story” on “48 Hours: Hard Evidence” kept on TiVo.

            She’s gotten that nuts that quickly.


            • jp
              June 15, 2010 at 2:02 pm

              If the agreement is still being ironed out you should see about naming a trustee for the insurance instead, someone other than her who can administer the money on the children’s behalf in case you end up in a shallow grave out back.

  4. Jon Little
    May 8, 2010 at 6:18 pm

    I got one for you. If you say “The relationship failed because my girlfriend was a b*tch, and a professional victim, and its HER FAULT, and IM THE VICTIM”, does that make you a professional victim?

    • shrink4men
      May 8, 2010 at 9:35 pm

      Ending an abusive relationship moves you out of victimhood and into being a survivor. Professional victims aren’t really victims. They’re aggressors/predators who play the role of innocent injured party to control, manipulate and abuse others.

    • Lighthouse
      May 9, 2010 at 6:09 pm


      I agree with Dr.T’s comments as far as they go and offer th efollowing suggestion for an extended recovery roadmap…

      1. It makes you a martyr (compensatory narcissist) if you continue to complain about the state of your relationship yet stay.

      2. It makes you a professional victim (narcissist) if you leave the abusive relationship yet you use your resulting fears to justify mistreating your partner in your next relationship.

      3. It makes you a survivor (antisocial) if you defend against all relationships by being critical of others in order to avoid risk being a victim again.

      4. It makes you an enlightened survivor (avoidant) if you recognize that by undermining your words of complaint by staying you enabled the abuse to continue for so long and learn to respectfully and assertively say no and act no in the future to avoid all relationships and the risk being a victim again.

      5. It makes you a thriver (mentally healthy) if you learn to love only people who treat you respectfully and assertively as an equal.

      Good luck on your journey.


    • onemoreguy
      May 20, 2012 at 4:21 pm

      thank you for putting this. This is THE GREATEST FEAR I’ve had to cope with. Everything that I have said trying to tell people what really went on makes me look just like her. Makes me appear unaccountable. By telling the truth, I’m the one made to look crazy, and I lost it. Hell I’ve really been so affraid that I was a monster, and with everything that I’ve been put through, that even if I wasn’t a monster, I’m going to become one. ABout the ONLY difference I could see is that from the beginning I did say that I made mistakes and wasn’t perfect. And of course that was used against me in a court of law as evidence that I really was abusive. What a load of SHIT! The way all this plays out is to make honest people dishonest just to save themselves. But then that just supports all the erroneous information and actions by the legal and other systems, and the crazy bitch. Shit when I met her I was still poorly handling problems from a previous relationship. No matter how hard I tried to work through myself and her, I couldn’t disengage that. And the deeper she and I got into it the more I was confused as to what I was doing to either help or hurt, and sometimes it seemed that using her tactics as my defense were the only way to manage, but when I actually tried not to play the game she would get even MORE insane. I don’t call myself a victim, and I disliked it when others told me I was a victim. Hell we have not been in a relationship for a year and a half and she and the court system still are getting in the way of my life. And I am so sick of feeling powerless and that I am not allowed to fight for myself because every time I have it has made things worse. But by doing nothing, things don’t get better. Yes the personal stories help some to know that other people are going through this… but that is only a minor panacea. Something has to change, something has to be done, about her, about the others, about the courts, about something. I’ve refused to respond to any of her bait for this entire time, and it still does not help. However she is clever enough that lawyers have told me there is nothing that can be done. Anyone know of a good referral/review of good/corrupt lawyers who can win in these situations? What about a database of the “serial victims”? They are not invincible, and however good they are at concealing the truth, there is always something that can eventually be put together to “out” them.

  5. NiceGuy408
    May 3, 2010 at 4:18 am

    Thank-you for writing this! It helped me to realize the magnitude of what I was dealing with.

    Let me say…I am a confident, successful, and self-respecting guy; however, I truly did feel like I was going crazy. I could be in the middle of saying how I feel, only to have her interrupt and turn it into how she was being hurt. She would needle and bully issues she developed/invented until I had enough and stood up for myself…Then, she would play the victim. This would go on for hours, even days. Oddly, enough, she did it exactly how her family does to her, but then deny she was even doing it. Her actions also shed light on her abusive past with romantic relationships. It all made sense after reading this, and I needed to get out.

    You are right…you cannot change people with this condition…you cannot fix this relationship nightmare. This article couldn’t have nailed it more accurately. It’s like someone was listening to the conversations my now-ex gf and I were having. At first, I wondered if I could have been reading into this…like a horoscope…something loosely written. However, I did additional research in order to understand some of the conditions, like Projective Identification. In the end, it all made sense.

    I put an end to that relationship, because of my self-respect, and what I learned here. Thanks again for writing this Doc!

  6. jham123
    April 29, 2010 at 12:22 am

    We had the “Last ditch” effort with “her” counselor JUST NOW!!

    Her counselor started to ask her “if there was one thing that John could change about himself what would that be and what might this do for the marriage??”

    I interrupted in a laughing tone…..”I’m done changing…there is no more change left in me”

    Counselor: “Well then, this marriage is done then isn’t it??”

    Me: “That is what I’ve been telling you for 45 minutes”

    My STBX has walking around as if she has had electro shock therapy ever since the meeting…LOL

    I asked her on the way home…what was revealed inside that session that wasn’t the same before we went in?? I mean…what revelation about “I’m moving out” did you get inside the session?? Did you think I was just kidding with all that talk about getting my own place on Sunday??

    She gave me the silent treatment and stated that she would rather not talk…..

    What a riot.

    • Mr. E
      April 29, 2010 at 4:55 pm

      The peace and quiet must have been nice! ;)

      I’m mildly curious to know if her counselor ever asked you if there was anything that SHE could change and what it would do for the marriage. Not that it would have been likely to improve anything…

  7. jham123
    April 27, 2010 at 5:41 am

    Thanks as always DrT.

  8. Roy
    April 4, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    Thank you for this; this very accurately describes a coworker of mine. It’s amazing how these people can play victim to everyone in their life. Even though I am not dating her and see her for roughly an hour a week in broken twenty minute path crossings, she has managed to exhibit all of these forms of behavior within each meeting. I’m now aware that she wants me to snap at her, and will resist more heartily not to be “professional” but as a matter of self-preservation. There’s no reason to let her create tensions and blame me for any new office miseries in what is an office setting I love and a great job. She may still be whiny, annoying, and insufferably negative and two-faced about our superiors (I am in the very fortunate position of even liking my boss and superiors!), but just having an understanding of the situation makes grinning and bearing it much easier.

  9. Ohmy
    March 24, 2010 at 6:48 am

    I feel sick to my stomach after reading all this. I can pick at least 5 items described as sympomts and paint a picture of my wife. Looking back, I wonder why I didn’t see any of this, but now… It’s a matter of how do I deal with all of this. I realized the other day that no argument will ever, ever be over until she is the victim. No matter how much I appologize or how many positive things I say, until she get the satisfaction of me being an a$$, it’s not over.

    I’m working on adopting a new slogan. “You can’t reason with unreasonable people, doing so will only escalate the problem”. This has been affirmed in the previous posts and it seems that not giving her the satisfaction of being the PV is the best way to squash the onslaught.

  10. Ann
    March 23, 2010 at 4:06 pm

    Good advice, except DO NOT STEREOTYPE, mental illness, emotional abuse, and yes, even physical abuse (although a LOT less for women) is committed by BOTH SEXES EQUALLY! It’s mostly ALL in the UPBRINGING–people usually learn bad behaviour from their parent/s! It’s all about MANIPULATION, CONTROL,/ENVY, EXCESSIVE COMPETITIVENESS & JEALOUSY/ENVY, & INSECURITY/SELF-ESTEEM! The cycle of emotional abuse is a viscious cycle…..that’s why I believe that NO ONE SHOULD HAVE CHILDREN WITHOUT A LICENSE….too many dysfunctional people……who do NOT even know they are dysfunction……they repeat their EVIL to their children! I reiterate, NO STEREOTYPING; I am a woman and I admit that there are BOTH men & women who play games, manipulate, etc…….! BULLIES ARE EVIL and should be STOPPED! CONFRONT THEM AND DO NOT LET THEM GET AWAY WITH ANYTHING! They attack good unsuspecting people who do not confront!

    • jham123
      April 28, 2010 at 3:18 pm


      Abuse is not equal. Numbers show that the majority of abuse is initiated by women over me.

      just 2 cents.

  11. Ty
    March 3, 2010 at 4:11 am

    This morning I typed in “borderline wives” and Dr.T’s site came up first. I feel like I struck gold. I live in rural Montana. I’m one of many out of work loggers. A lot of guys turned to booze. I turned to reflection. My wife has this Borderline. In 2003 her counselor told me. That explained the rages. She gave a list of books to buy and read. I ignored the list and her advice for me. She told me my wife was not fixable. In 2005 my wife hit me in the head with a cast iron pot and knocked me cold. The doctor told me I suffered a serious concussion. It scrambled my brain and left a dent in my skull. She to this day denies she did it. Her story is I stood up from the kitchen chair too fast and passed out hitting my head on the table. We were sitting at the table because I was telling her I wanted to leave her. That was not a good idea. After six months of treatment with a nuero doctor I started to get better. I stayed quiet and continued to work and raise my three children. Been married for 17 yrs and been with her for over 20. My whole adult life. If you asked me if I had the opportunity to do all over differently…I would answer you yes. Good luck gentleman!

    • June 14, 2010 at 3:48 am


      I pray you haven’t given up entirely…as Maya Anglelou once said, “Did you wake up today? Then it’s not too late.” Keep Reading, please and keep yourself safe.

  12. February 10, 2010 at 7:28 am

    My girlfriend of two years exhibits virtually every one of the behaviours except one that never ceases to amaze me. In public, with her parents, my parents and out with friends she is so different that she creeps me out. Quiet,reserved, doesnt belittle or argue. I find myself staring at her when we are at her parent wondering why they arent wondering who she is. Is this normal? She is a monster otherwise. There is no nice way to describe her. The weirdest thing is the “gaslighting”. Before reading your site I had never heard the term and have never met a person that could look you ( or anyone apparently) dead in the eye and swear on the bible she did not do or say something that she did or said. She seems willing to die before admitting to a lie or apologize for anything. Why do I still have feelings for her? What is wrong with me?

  13. Michael J
    February 10, 2010 at 7:17 am

    After being in a relationship just like the ones described here for two years, I have to ask,why do I

  14. Mellaril
    February 4, 2010 at 8:39 pm

    Art imitates life. In 1984 the Thompson Twins did “Hold Me Now.” The last verse goes:

    “You asked if I love you
    What can I say?
    You know that I do and that this is just one of those games that we play.
    So I’ll sing you a new song
    Please don’t cry anymore.
    I ask your forgiveness though I don’t know just what I’m asking it for.”

    If that’s how you feel, it’s not a good thing.

  15. Lorenzo
    February 2, 2010 at 4:41 am

    Just to follow up. Today I spent a few hours researching her actions. It came out to that I believe it is Narcissistic Victimhood without a doubt. I read a few hours of articles. Tonight was a follow up to last night’s incident BUT I handled this differently. During her torrid volcano explosion of 45 minutes of her saying she was leaving to killing herself and on and on I stood my ground but in a mature way. Every issue she brought up to blame me for I gave her a resolution that I would do. Not because i was being a push-over but rather I wanted to take away the ability for her to have the power to complain as a victim. She wanted more money for us and hated her job : I told her I would get a full time job at night and work during the day my small business and that she can resign Monday morning and find a fluff job….that didnt go over well. She took back her emotional demand for Marital Counseling once I agreed by saying I would go in there and blame her for everything. I asked her if she thought the Therapist would let me just go off on a rant and then he/she would get up and point the finger at her blaming for all of world’s problems. When I agreed to Therapy she flipped out even more, whaling and crying about how she doesnt want to go and I kept saying “but you suggested it”. Therapy would never be agreed upon by a Narcissistic Victim b/c it would show her issues, it would take her power away. There were many more examples of me doing this tonight. For the first time I felt empowered, I felt like I the bully was losing and I was holding my own for once. I know Im still in this situation but I have other stuff that I am trying to piece together as well…for one her faithfulness…I have decent evidence of her infidelity. Im not looking for a new wife here so after dealing with this for 8 years today became my “ah-ha” moment and I put it to use and it felt so upsetting that I was doing this to my wife but I told her this statement “I am tired of the emotional abuse, the verbal abuse. I am a person and I deserver better”. She went into her “oh you are giving me an ultimatum” which it wasnt but I was taking the power away from her and she didnt like it.

  16. Lorenzo
    February 1, 2010 at 6:03 am

    Thank you Dr. T, thank you so much for at the very least letting me feel its not just me.

    My wife has tons of rage. She will flip her mind by any comment within a conversation at any time. She blames me for not making enough money to why she must work where she does. I have told her for 5 years to quit the job, the I would take on a full-time job at night while I worked in my small business from home all day but she would rather flip out weekly for the past 7+ years about everything. Im not really doing justice to my situation b/c I just dont know what to do when within the Lion’s Den.

    She will turn bright red, she will start saying a few words to a sentence very slowly and as she gets a few words she will blow up. She will start hitting herself, she will call me every name in the book, she will say “Fuck You” in the most demonic way possible over and over, she will fall to the floor and start screaming how she wants to kill herself, she will scream more vulgarities, she will respond to my hopes of her to calm down by becoming more enraged, she will blame me for everything in her life, she will berate me over and over again….Doc what do I do…not in general b/c I know the answer is to leave but Im scared to leave b/c Im scared she will do something to herself but that is not even my question….what do I do when this is happening. What I have done to try and ask her to calm down and after she has “pushed my buttons” enough I may yell to “Shut Up” because of 20 minutes of this abuse and then she gets the Win. I now am the person who yelled last, even if it was only 2 words and now I get the abuse again of how much everything is my fault. How does one handle it when in that moment, that moment of getting torn apart? Do I leave the house? Do I go outside? Do just sit there and take it? What does one say? I know 100% this is a broad stroked question, we are talking about specific situations and I am asking for your “solution” when I know there is no “magic phrase” you can tell me but is there a basic guideline to go with when dealing with this kind of person in the heat of the battle? We have no kids, together 8 years, married 1.5 years, she is 34, I am 37. I guess maybe even no answer that helps is fine, being able to write this helps so much.

    • free2beYou
      February 2, 2010 at 3:23 pm


      Great post. I have been reading this site for a long while now & I must say that your questions here are some of the best, bravest & most honest questions I have ever come across. It is in the moment & in the heart of the abuse that a compassionate person needs to know what to do in order to deal with the abuse, without having the guilt & horror if God forbid the abuser really did take their own life in the heat of the moment or whatever other turmoil they threw at you. I am sure there are many, many others like myself who are also very curious about this. For compassionate people being abused, it is not the abusive person we truly despise deep inside, but it is their illness & how they use these fear tactics & manipulations to back us into a corner, so it is ALWAYS a Win situation for themselves. Compassionate people want to believe there is good in everyone & that everyone can change to be a better person. The hurt you see in her when she acts this way in her darkest hours of abuse, is what is mindboggling. To think a BPD/NPD person who actually may premeditate this sort of behavior is truly acting in order to get their way, is enough to make a compassionate person ill enough to go crazy themselves(it is not in our nature to be this way). Anyway, your posts really grabbed my attention & I am sure many others are also dying to know how to survive a typical BPD/NPD full blown tantrum/ suicide threatening/pity provoking scene in the heat of the moment. Much Luck & Peace to you.

    • June 14, 2010 at 3:45 am


      Good questions. Here’s a link to another page of Dr. T: https://shrink4men.wordpress.com/2009/07/14/breaking-up-with-an-emotionally-abusive-woman-video-and-suicide-threats/

      She knows her stuff, and covers it all. I suggest reading the comments after the article from the men who have been through it–personally, I find those the most powerful.
      Take care,

  17. metalman
    January 6, 2010 at 5:53 pm

    Man, so much good advice on here from so many informed people! I’m especially happy to see folks taking action and making decisions!

    The tragic consequences that can be avoided by opening one’s eyes are immense!!

    I wish I had opened my eyes a lot sooner . . .

    Here’s part of my story. I think it’ll help.

    I was married for five years to a Proffesional Victim. After about two years, my instincts started to perk up at her M.O. Tellingly, I didn’t notice her behavior until after I STARTED TO BECOME DIRECTLY AFFECTED BY IT. That’s a huge mistake a lot of men make; during the courtship phase, our eyes are closed and our brains are on idle. We ignore what she DOES, how she treats OTHER PEOPLE, how she actually LIVES.

    As they say: there are no victims, only VOLUNTEERS. I dug my own hole, and I had to climb my way out of it.

    As time passed, I got sick of her interminable whine-fest. I grew tired of bailing her out of her problems – emotional, financial, etc. I sickened at listening to her blame every one of her problems on SOMEONE ELSE.

    Even though I had done nothing bad to her (apart from the normal human foibles), I soon became the PERPETRATOR. Every PV needs a perpetrator – otherwise, they can’t be victims. You can be the nicest, most decent guy in the world. No matter; the PV MUST convert you into a perpetrator in order to play her game.

    Our marriage grew worse. Things with a PV Always get worse. They never get better.

    We went to councelling. Soon it became apparent that I was the one with the problems!! I WAS THE ONE WHO WAS SICK!!

    I was given medication. I was told I had to modify my behavior. Little did I know that was part of the PV’s plan: to modify MY behavior so that I would become more compliant. You see, I was starting to call her out on her behavior. Often, when you do that with PV’s, they up the ante and raise the stakes.

    I took the medication – WHICH I DIDN’T NEED – and commenced to walk around in a pharmaceutically induced plastic bubble.

    Her problems of course continued. Despite the fact that she had a tenured teaching position, she was a financial train-wreck. Everyone was ‘against’ her. Etc, etc.

    After a while, I told the therapists and the psychiatrists – TO THEIR FACES – to stick in in their asses and go f__k themselves. They kicked me out of their offices. Heh!!

    I told my ex I wanted a divorce. She cried, etc. A few days later, she was suddenly over it and started explaining how much alimony she’d need.

    I knew I wasn’t going to get away cheap. Family court judges LOVE to give away men’s hard-earned money to undeserving women.

    We went to mediation, where my ex of course played PV. The mediator fell for it. I told the mediator and my ex to stick it.

    The big problem was this: I had a BIG pre-marital family asset in my name, and no pre-nup. This family asset was in my name so that I could perform my business. The asset in truth was my father’s, and I always considered it my father’s. In fact, it comprised about half of what would constitute his retirement.

    Not that pre-nups matter. Judges can do whatever they want with them. Think I’m wrong? Go ahead and see.

    Anyways, you know where this is going . . . She had that hanging over my head, threatened to rape my dad’s retirement, etc, although she had no moral right to it. This is AFTER my father had loaned us 15,000 to buy an apartment. Think she remembered that? NO! PV’s have amnesia when it comes to the good things good people do for them. That’s called ‘Lack of Conscience.’ It’s a standard part of the PV’s MO.

    I wrote her a huge check out of my own money in the agreement that she would go away forever and leave my family alone. I’ll tell you the amount: $85,000. I did this to protect my dad and my family. She accepted the offer after the mediator convinced her I was willing and eager to ruin EVERYONE’S life out of sheer spite if she didn’t.

    I got off cheap.

    She’s clear across the coutry now, probably mining for another sucker – if she hasn’t found one already. God help him. And God help whoever is stupid enough to hire her – if she even concedes to ‘work’ for a living. This woman is a walking lawsuit.

    I spent a good deal of money to make sure our separation agreement was airtight. I wrote whole sections of the thing myself, considering I’m very familiar with the asset I had to protect. I spent at least two thousand more than I needed to – just to make sure my family was safe. That’s what you have to do when dealing with a PV. If they see a hole, they’ll aim for it. A PV would rather pour all of their energy into getting something from someone else rather than working for it themselves. PV’s are LEECHES who live off of honest, hard working people.

    There’s a lot more to the story. I figured I’d get personal, because that’s the way to really drive a point home. I NEVER call myself a victim, though. I warn all you men – in the beggining stages of things, KEEP YOUR EYES OPEN. Don’t allow yourselves to become anaesthetized by the courtship rituals of sugary words, sex, and promises. LISTEN to what a person says, and check to see if it adds up to what they actually DO.

    Watch for the signs:

    1) Constantly embroiled in dramas with: friends, family, employers, co-workers, exes, etc. The PV’s M.O. is to create a drama in which they are the victim, so that they can gain something from the fallout. It almost ALWAYS works this way.

    2) Everything is always everyone else’s fault. (This is an easy one, but sometimes hard to detect. The PV is a GREAT con-artist.)

    3) LOVES lawsuits, and is often suing or threatening to sue one or two people/organizations.

    4) Very quick with emotional intimacy in order to suck you in.

    5) Will use YOUR intimate information against you during conflict, or if she simply isn’t getting what she wants. will employ FEMALE SHAMING TACTICS against you for the same reasons.

    6) Treats you like her ‘knight in shining armor’ during the courtship phase. She does this to suck you in quickly.

    7) Expresses values and moral beliefs, and then violates them whem something is in it for her. The ‘rules’ apply to everyone else BUT HER. If you have the brains and the guts to point this out to her, she’ll feign ignorance/innocence, or look at you like you have two heads. The REALLY good PV’s will flip the script and make it out that YOU’RE the one with the problem – and you’ll believe her.

    6) Often has family members who are PV’s. Watch them.

    If you become a man with eyes open and brain on alert, you’ll be able to spot PV’s in the beginning. The absolute best thing you can do with a PV is immediately GET FAR, FAR AWAY FROM THEM FOREVER. Once you become heavily involved with a PV, she will not leave until she gets her pound of flesh.

    • Daric
      January 7, 2010 at 2:01 am

      metalman, I think you’re going one step further than just considering this a learning experience and moving on. Your experience and advice should definitely help someone out there who is wondering whether his girlfriend is a PV or if he is just crazy. That’s how I was when I stumbled onto this website, and everyone’s advice has really helped me to “wake up”, so to speak.

      Thank you for sharing your personal experience and advice. Hopefully, maybe it can spare at least one man/woman from having to go through the same.

  18. Daric
    January 5, 2010 at 10:08 pm

    I see what you mean. I think I’ve always been one to think “well, how does this person feel/need/want?” rather than asking myself “What do I feel? What do I need/want?” I guess that’s how I was able to be blinded for several months into this relationship.

    Dr. T, do you have any advice for someone getting over a relationship with someone like this? I’ve found that I’ve been so emotionally abused and manipulated after trying so much to show that I loved and cared that, for the moment, nothing really seems to matter, and hopes of a normal, loving relationship in the future are basically nonexistant.

  19. Daric
    January 4, 2010 at 9:44 pm

    With a lot of BPD’s, apparently from what I have read, they are very open and willing to share their past to gain a close relationship. That’s what my ex did with me and my family to draw us in and to get closer to her.

    The problem is that I can’t be angry at her. Sure, it is up to the person to take responsibility when they do things that are wrong or hurt others. But I can’t be angry at this person when I know that all they have known is a painful or terrible childhood (such as growing up in a broken home or with parents who weren’t much of parents at all). If their life has been abnormal from the start, it’s kinda hard to expect them to be normal all on their own. They see their abnormality as normality when their parents did the same thing to them as they do to their loved ones and friends.

    I tried to understand why her behavior was like that, because I think a small percentage of people with these types of disorders develop them on their own; it has to come from somewhere. If it doesn’t come from their parents, it comes from having to develop these characteristics to survive (emotionally speaking of course).

    Why be emotionally unstable, unhappy, and alone when you don’t need to be? That’s where these type of people end up. Call me crazy, but after all the fighting and the pain she made me go through, I still have compassion for my ex. I know she will never have a normal healthy relationship her whole life unless she changes. The change will be hard, but it’s possible. But do they want it?

    These people have been emotionally neglected or abused, and so they find ways to deal with it. Because I grew up in a well-to-do family with stable parents, I obviously can’t judge her character off of the same measuring stick.

    Does that make their actions right, or absolve them of responsibility? Of course not. But it should be taken into consideration when judging a person’s character, in my opinion.

    • metalman
      January 4, 2010 at 10:23 pm

      Adults are responsible for their own behavior. PERIOD. End of Story. You are caught up in the Psychological Paradigm, which posits that people are not responsible for their own behavior if bad things happened to them in the past. This is is utter nonsense. As adults, WE ALL deserve to be measured by the same standards. That’s why adults are called ADULTS and children are called CHILDREN.

      “These people have been emotionally neglected or abused, and so they find ways to deal with it.”

      I’m sorry to say, but this is also nonsense. Because someone has been treated poorly in the past, it doesn’t give them a right to treat others poorly. If a person has a functional inability to treat others decently, they need to be locked up. In fact, that’s what society already does!

      1) You don’t have to be angry at someone to take care of YOURSELF. You just have to TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF.

      2) Don’t worry about the ‘other’ person changing. As the old addage has it, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.” Ahhh, good old homespun wisdom! We got by pretty well on that stuff for a long time before therapy! Just change yourself. It’s easier.

      3)”Why be emotionally unstable, unhappy, and alone when you don’t need to be?”

      Not only does the Proffesional Victim NEVER ask themselves that question, they never ask that question about anyone else – because they don’t care about anyone else.

      Proffesional Victims are NOT BPD. They suffer from POOR CHARACTER. They are covert aggresive people who ruthlessly and consciously manipulate others to get what they want – regardless of how negatively their actions affect others. To argue about the roots of their behavior and try to figure out WHY is a meaningless endeavor. As you’re wasting time doing that, the Proffesional Victim is spending time figuring out ways to get over on YOU. Instead, focus your attention on HOW they do what they do, and how you can combat it. Even better, just get far, far away from them. Life with a Proffesional Victim usually does not get better. It only gets worse. As time goes by, the stakes get raised, and the battles become more dangerous.

      As for BPD:

      I’ve found that people who truly have BPD are usually not ‘together’ enough mentally to pull off the fancy footwork required to be a Proffesional Victim. Being a PV is full-time work, and it’s a subtle and effective form of warfare when performed well. (And WARFARE it is – make no mistake.) People with BPD are usually too crazy to be effective Proffesional Victims.

      Believing that Proffesional Victim status is caused by BPD is a HUGE mistake. Right away, that pulls most people into the Psychological Paradigm, whereby CHARATCTER no longer exists and all we are is an amalgamation of our past experiences. NONSENSE! Character is innate. Some people are good, some are just ok, and some are BAD. That’s the way it is.

      • free2beYou
        January 5, 2010 at 12:04 am

        Hooray Metalman! Your post is Great & refreshing to see….

        Yes, It is NONSENSE why these monsters are being pitied…this is exactly what they want & how they work. They are the best actresses around. They feed off of other people’s fear & they continue to get their way through bullying. The more you all comply to their abuse & demands, the more they win. I am so tired of evil people like this winning…regardless of their pasts(they lie so well most of their stories are most likely made up anyway so they can work their deceptive magic to hook you in). Face your fears, leave & go no contact if you are able. They are winning because you are complying and staying.
        Like I’ve said & others have stated, someones past should not reflect on their present if they have empathy & compassion for others. They do not want to change b/c they are getting what they want. These evil beasts are not kind & they do not deserve your pity. Pity yourselves if you are staying with them…that makes you even sadder than they are. I apologize for being so harsh, but all the information you need is right on this website…why do victims continue crying abuse if they just keep having compassion for these monsters & keep complying to their manipulative tricks. If I had this information at my fingertips when I was dealing with one particularly abusive relationship, I would have saved myself lots of heartache & grief.(luckily I learned quickly with the little no contact info I found on other sites) Please for the love of God stop pitying them & just save yourself from their abuse. You cannot change them(they are getting their way so why change?..would you??)… The only person you can change is you. If you want to change your outlook on their abuse, accept it & tolerate it for as long as you live, than pity yourselves for thinking so lowly of yourselves & not loving who you are. You deserve to be treated with love & respect, or you are cheating yourself of compassion. It is not narcissistic to love yourself when it is to protect your soul from evil & abuse… it is a healthy & compassionate love for yourself.
        GREAT post Metalman!

        • metalman
          January 5, 2010 at 4:11 am

          Cheers! If more people listen, less people will suffer!!

          • shrink4men
            January 6, 2010 at 6:33 pm

            Absolutely true. However, “there are none so blind as those who will not see.” (Jonathan Swift)

            If a person chooses to ignore what they already know they are just as complicit in their own suffering.

            Dr T

  20. Mario Beckles
    January 4, 2010 at 6:16 am

    Dr. T,
    I came across your blog on sex and control recently. After reading that blog I was totalling enlightened as to what I have been living with for over 10 years now. My wife displays all of the characterstics of BPD/NPD personality. Since being in this marriage I have been torn in two, mentally and emotionally. I have considered leaving my wife many times , leaving the country and even thought about faking my own death. I have lost family and friends because of this relationship. I can’t begin to tell you the deep pain that my marriage has brought to my once close knit family. Every single thing in each of your blogs explains my wife accurately. Over the years I have even developed, through much trial and error, some of the exact same coping mechanisms that you have recommended. Sometimes they work, however, not always. She is very unpredicatable and you never know what may set her off. Sometimes she tells me I am a “good man” or a “fantastic man” and then the very next day, I am worse than Satan himself. My family won’t come to my home to visit on holidays and I prefer not to visit them because it is just to difficult to deal with. She has no respect for them and I am made to feel uncomfortable even when they call me on the phone. She is very jealous and does not even like the idea of me having friends. She will not say it of course but if I befriend someone at work it won’t be long before she starts finding fault them. She wants to be in control of everything I do. Sadly I fear that many men in this country are experiencing this very same thing. I can never tell her how I feel about anything; only she has that right. We don’t have children, but I do not even look forward to having them. There is no solice Dr. T. I have always wanted children. I only see dark days ahead for my life. I have read your blogs and the only conclusion I have seen is to either leave or stay and die slowly. Is there no hope at all for a woman like this?

    • jp
      January 6, 2010 at 3:54 pm


      Do NOT have children with this woman. Every problem you have with her will only get far, far worse. And the pain of divorcing her now, while significant to be sure, would be nothing compared to the agony of divorce with children when you’d most likely no longer be able to live with them and would be reduced to “visitation” with its attendant loss of parental authority and ability to protect them, etc. Plus you’ll become her financial serf and indentured servant.

      There are plenty of woman out there dying to have children.

      Get out now. The dark days will lift after you heal. If you stay with her…nothing but dark days.

      But beware…if she knows you want children, and you attempt to leave, she will very likely get pregnant just to keep you under her control.

      Good luck,

    • January 6, 2010 at 4:03 pm


      I hate to be such a downer, but doors were invented for a reason… I suggest you use it.

      Life is too short to do things you hate or spend time with people that make your life miserable. Cut your losses, and move on.

      Kids will only make this situation worse. If you have them children with this woman, she’s got you on the hook until the kid(s) turn 18 and you will never be able to break free of her shenanigans. So better to move on, find yourself a lovely woman who you cherish — and reciprocates every day — then do the kids thing.

      I say again… life is too short to be with people that makes your life a living hell.

      • shrink4men
        January 6, 2010 at 6:46 pm

        Love the line, “Doors were invented for a reason.”

        Great advice, Matt.

    • shrink4men
      January 6, 2010 at 6:30 pm

      Hi Mario,

      I’m very sorry to read about your painful marriage. The coping mechanisms I outline in other posts are meant to be short-term coping strategies while you plan your escape; not lifelong. Women like your wife don’t tolerate boundaries for long. You may get a few days respite, but they soon revert back to form and you have to reinforce your boundaries again and again. It’s emotionally and physically exhausting.

      Mario, I don’t know for certain if there’s any hope of your wife changing. However, the behavior you describe seems to fit many of the cluster B personality disorder traits. A person is unlikely to seek help and change if they won’t admit or can’t see that they have a problem. Will she have a “light bulb” moment one day, see herself clearly and change? Probably not. It’s been a decade already. How much more time do you want to invest?

      Let’s say she sees the light 25 or 30 years down the road. Do you really want to endure another decade or two of what you already have if not worse? Don’t you deserve some peace and happiness? Do you want to be a martyr.

      I agree with JP. You are VERY, VERY, VERY fortunate you don’t share a child/ren with this woman. Be VERY careful re: contraception. These women have radar or some 6th sense about when their target is about to make a break for it. Many men have been entrapped by “accidental” pregnancies. In other words, if you’re still having sex with her take every precaution. Don’t trust that she’s on the pill or that the diaphragm doesn’t have little pinholes in it.

      Only you can decide if you want to leave and have brighter days ahead or stay for more of the same or worse.

      Kind Regards,
      Dr Tara

      • martin
        March 7, 2010 at 4:56 am

        Wow Amazing advice , true from my experience

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