Home > Abusive relationships, Borderline Personality Disorder, Marriage, relationships > 10 Signs Your Girlfriend or Wife is an Emotional Bully

10 Signs Your Girlfriend or Wife is an Emotional Bully

mood-swingsDoes your girlfriend or wife yell, scream, and swear at you? Do you feel like you can’t talk to anyone about your relationship because they just wouldn’t understand? Is your relationship making you feel like you’re slowly going crazy?

If so, you’re probably involved with a woman who is an emotionally abusive bully. Most men don’t want to admit that they’re in an abusive relationship. They describe the relationship and their girlfriend/wife using other terms like crazy, emotional, controlling, bossy, domineering, constant conflict, or volatile. If you use words like this to describe your relationship, odds are you’re being emotionally abused.

Do you recognize any of the following behaviors?

1) Bullying. If she doesn’t get her way, there’s hell to pay. She wants to control you and resorts to emotional intimidation to do it. She uses verbal assaults and threats in order to get you to do what she wants. It makes her feel powerful to make you feel bad. People with a Narcissistic personality are often bullies.

Result: You lose your self-respect and feel outnumbered, sad, and alone. You develop a case of Stockholm Syndrome, in which you identify with the aggressor and actually defend her behavior to others.

2) Unreasonable expectations. No matter how hard you try and how much you give, it’s never enough. She expects you to drop whatever you’re doing and attend to her needs. No matter the inconvenience, she comes first. She has an endless list of demands that no one mere mortal could ever fulfill.

Common complaints include: You’re not romantic enough, you don’t spend enough time with me, you’re not sensitive enough, you’re not smart enough to figure out my needs, you’re not making enough money, you’re not FILL IN THE BLANK enough. Basically, you’re not enough, because there’s no pleasing this woman. No one will ever be enough for her, so don’t take it to heart.

Result: You’re constantly criticized because you’re not able to meet her needs and experience a sense of learned helplessness. You feel powerless and defeated because she puts you in no-win situations.

3) Verbal attacks.This is self-explanatory. She employs schoolyard name calling, pathologizing (e.g., armed with a superficial knowledge of psychology she uses diagnostic terms like labile, paranoid, narcissistic, etc. for a 50-cent version of name calling), criticizing, threatening, screaming, yelling, swearing, sarcasm, humiliation, exaggerating your flaws, and making fun of you in front of others, including your children and other people she’s not intimidated by. Verbal assault is another form of bullying, and bullies only act like this in front of those whom they don’t fear or people who let them get away with their bad behavior.

Result: Your self-confidence and sense of self-worth all but disappear. You may even begin to believe the horrible things she says to you.

4) Gaslighting. “I didn’t do that. I didn’t say that. I don’t know what you’re talking about. It wasn’t that bad. You’re imagining things. Stop making things up.” If the woman you’re involved with is prone to Borderline or Narcissistic rage episodes, in which she spirals into outer orbit, she may very well not remember things she’s said and done. However, don’t doubt your perception and memory of events. They happened and they are that bad.

Result: Her gaslighting behavior may cause you to doubt your own sanity. It’s crazy-making behavior that leaves you feeling confused, bewildered, and helpless.

5) Unpredictable responses. Round and round and round she goes. Where she’ll stop, nobody knows. She reacts differently to you on different days or at different times. For example, on Monday, it’s ok for you to Blackberry work email in front of her. On Wednesday, the same behavior is “disrespectful, insensitive, you don’t love me, you’re a self-important jerk, you’re a workaholic.” By Friday, it could be okay for you to Blackberry again.

Telling you one day that something’s alright and the next day that it’s not is emotionally abusive behavior. It’s like walking through a landmine in which the mines shift location.

Result: You’re constantly on edge, walking on eggshells, and waiting for the other shoe to drop. This is a trauma response. You’re being traumatized by her behavior. Because you can’t predict her responses, you become hypervigilant to any change in her mood or potential outburst, which leaves you in a perpetual state of anxiety and possibly fear. It’s a healthy sign to be afraid of this behavior. It’s scary. Don’t feel ashamed to admit it.

6) Constant Chaos. She’s addicted to conflict. She gets a charge from the adrenaline and drama. She may deliberately start arguments and conflict as a way to avoid intimacy, to avoid being called on her bullshit, to avoid feeling inferior or, bewilderingly, as an attempt to avoid being abandoned. She may also pick fights to keep you engaged or as a way to get you to react to her with hostility, so that she can accuse you of being abusive and she can play the victim. This maneuver is a defense mechanism called projective identification.

Result: You become emotionally punch drunk. You’re left feeling dazed and confused, not knowing which end is up. This is highly stressful because it also requires you to be hypervigilant and in a constant state of defense for incoming attacks.

7) Emotional Blackmail. She threatens to abandon you, to end the relationship, or give you the cold shoulder if you don’t play by her rules. She plays on your fears, vulnerabilities, weaknesses, shame, values, sympathy, compassion, and other “buttons” to control you and get what she wants.

Result: You feel manipulated, used, and controlled.

8 Rejection. She ignores you, won’t look at you when you’re in the same room, gives you the cold shoulder, withholds affection, withholds sex, declines or puts down your ideas, invitations, suggestions, and pushes you away when you try to be close. After she pushes you as hard and as far away as she can, she’ll try to be affectionate with you. You’re still hurting from her previous rebuff or attack and don’t respond. Then she accuses you of being cold and rejecting, which she’ll use as an excuse to push you away again in the future.

Result: You feel undesirable, unwanted, and unlovable. You believe no one else would want you and cling to this abusive woman, grateful for whatever scraps of infrequent affection she shows you.

9) Withholding affection and sex. This is another form of rejection and emotional blackmail. It’s not just about sex, it’s about withholding physical, psychological, and emotional nurturing. It includes a lack of interest in what’s important to you–your job, family, friends, hobbies, activities–and being uninvolved, emotionally detached or shut down with you.

Result: You have a transactional relationship in which you have to perform tasks, buy her things, “be nice to her,” or give into her demands in order to receive love and affection from her. You don’t feel loved and appreciated for who you are, but for what you do for her or buy her.

10) Isolating. She demands or acts in ways that cause you to distance yourself from your family, friends, or anyone that would be concerned for your well-being or a source of support. This typically involves verbally trashing your friends and family, being overtly hostile to your family and friends, or acting out and starting arguments in front of others to make it as unpleasant as possible for them to be around the two of you.

Result: This makes you completely dependent upon her. She takes away your outside sources of support and/or controls the amount of interaction you have with them. You’re left feeling trapped and alone, afraid to tell anyone what really goes on in your relationship because you don’t think they’ll believe you.

You don’t have to accept emotional abuse in your relationship. You can get help or you can end it. Most emotionally abusive women don’t want help. They don’t think they need it. They are the professional victims, bullies, narcissists, and borderlines. They’re abusive personality types and don’t know any other way to act in relationships.

Life is too short to spend one more second in this kind of relationship. If your partner won’t admit she has a problem and agree to get help, real help, then it’s in your best interest to get support, get out, and stay out.


Dr Tara J Palmatier_Shrink4Men_02Counseling, Consulting and Coaching with Dr. Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD

Dr. Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD helps individuals work through their relationship and codependency issues via telephone or Skype. She specializes in helping men and women trying to break free of an abusive relationship, cope with the stress of an abusive relationship or heal from an abusive relationship. She combines practical advice, emotional support and goal-oriented outcomes. Please visit the Schedule a Session page for professional inquiries.

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Photo credits: Mood swings on ccmbuzz.

  1. AnonFather
    April 17, 2010 at 1:11 pm

    I agree that abuse can be one-sided. It is incredibly difficult to experience couples counseling from the “it takes two to tango” angle, when one partner is abusive and the other is somehow trying to survive. The “surviving” partner gets labeled as an “enabler,” which I find counterproductive. Basicaly, it comes down to “umm…my mere presence makes me an enabler? I am not doing anything to attract an attack.”

    Maybe that’s true. My mere presence makes me an enabler…so I need to leave…period. Maybe that’s a healthy way to look at things…

    Regarding “You can keep your victim status, Nikki, and all of the entitlement and sympathy that comes with it.” Dr. T., Nikki may very well have been “beaten, pushed, slapped; emotionally, verbally and psychologically abused.”

    Basically, Dr. T., is that a “lashing” of Nikki…can you explain? From Patricia Evan’s work, isn’t your statement “You can keep…” considered verbal abuse?

    Dr. T., you write “I don’t want the men who come to this site for help to be victims. I want them to be strong and healthy and to get as far away as possible from their abusers.”

    Yet, if I search for a definition of abuse on this site, I can’t find one. I see examples that support men who feel abused, and I see very enlightening articles about abberant, narcissistic behavior (which I am deeply deeply grateful for).

    However, I don’t find a definition of abuse, and because of that, we don’t know what to “go on.” The fine line between responsibility and blame is thereby blurry.

    Can you help us with a clear definition of abuse?

    • shrink4men
      April 17, 2010 at 3:40 pm

      Hi AnonFather,

      Here is a link to an explicit definition of abuse: http://www.mincava.umn.edu/documents/dap/img5.html

      Abuse is defined throughout this site. The aberrant narcissistic behavior described on this site is abusive. I don’t know how to make it any clearer for you.

      As for Nikki’s statements, there are many women who refuse to believe that men can be abused and are almost territorial about who gets to be the victim of abuse. Perhaps she really is suffering abuse at the hands of her husband. If she is, she has my sympathy. If so, why isn’t she more understanding and supportive of men who suffer the same abusive behaviors from their female partners?

      I haven’t read Ms Evans work, so can’t comment. I find it hurtful and abusive that Nikki would come to a site for men and try to cast doubt over their experiences. Other women use this site as a resource and do not do so.

      Best Wishes,
      Dr Tara

      • anon.father
        May 3, 2010 at 7:36 pm

        Thank you for the link. It does contain a definition, which is: “Abuse is defined as the systematic pattern of behaviors in a relationship that are used to gain and/or maintain power and control over another.”

        OK, that’s pretty good. Is it a standard? Can men use it in court? How can men use it in court? How do men not wind up being whining little “I feel abused” wimpos in court where over 90% of custody cases go to mothers?

        I’m looking for help here. For real, solid, help. Not just blame-game bashing BS.

        And as good as it feels, and as clearing and true as much of the content on this site is. Without a real solid, stand up in court definition of abuse, men who visit this site may wind up better off, but may also wind up living in a whirlwind of myth, feelings, and loss.

        You’ve maintained that abuse is defined throughout this site. I certainly see examples of abuse, but I do not see an attempt at a definition. Examples support a definition, but they aren’t a definition. Where have you defined abuse on this site?

        It’s tiring, I understand, and I find it unfortunate that you state that you don’t know how to make it any clearer for me…I mean…does that mean that you are actually “gaslighting?”

        I was tested as a very smart person, let’s put it that way. And sometimes, my wife will be like “I don’t know WHAT you are talking about!?!?!?”

        …and is that because I am just smarter?

        I mean, I’ve been so consistently demeaned and controlled by my wife, and frankly, my wife just went through a spiral of ridiculous BS that could make any sane man’s head spin. She talks over me, doesn’t let me speak, then she’ll talk in what she describes as a “kind tone,” making insults all the way, replete with unchecked projection after projection, and then she’s o so shocked that I’d be agitated by being told what I think and feel and do…and not getting a chance to actually speak. And then when I say I have no chance to speak, my wife says “SPEAK THEN!!!!” As if I were her subordinate…and that is the pattern.

        So, I’ll go back to where I was. Yes, I am very “smart,” so to speak. Lightning mind, high test scores, academic wiz…ok…

        Now, people often feel demeaned by me…but what was is there around it? Dr. T, you have not defined abuse on this website. I feel you would do great job of defining abuse for the men and women that visit this site, and you may very well influence policy if you take the need for a concrete definition of abuse seriously.

        You may gain from looking up what a definition actually is. An example is not a definition. And as right as you are that the aberrant narcissistic behavior described all over your site is abusive, it doesn’t matter…that serves to exemplify but not to define.

        …and yes, sometimes it takes years and years and years of effort to define something clearly, but I truly feel you could do it, if you take what I am writing to you seriously.

        I also feel like there is high significance to your work. I could go deeper into that, but I won’t right now.

        It seems to me that you have been resisting my comments, and that is fine. Please understand that I see a real possibility for helping others through you…through the aha light going on about a rock-solid definition of abuse.

        You project into NIkki in an unfair way. Maybe you aren’t capable of the work I am suggesting.

        • shrink4men
          May 4, 2010 at 12:09 am

          Hi anon.father,

          You write:

          Thank you for the link. It does contain a definition, which is: “Abuse is defined as the systematic pattern of behaviors in a relationship that are used to gain and/or maintain power and control over another.”

          OK, that’s pretty good. Is it a standard? Can men use it in court? How can men use it in court? How do men not wind up being whining little “I feel abused” wimpos in court where over 90% of custody cases go to mothers?

          The above definition is pretty standard. Abuse is an established pattern of behavior over time. Losing your patience once in a blue moon with you spouse is probably not abuse. It’s abuse when you’ve told your partner that her/his behavior is hurtful, that it’s damaging to you and the relationship, you ask her/him to stop and she/he doesn’t.

          Two telltale signs of an abusive personality are the refusal to be held accountable and zero to little capacity for empathy. This is why the “You’re hurting me-please stop or be more sensitive to my feelings” conversation is usually a) ignored, b) ridiculed, c) turned around on you to make you out to be the controlling, insensitive bastard (see link re: DARVO http://dynamic.uoregon.edu/~jjf/defineDARVO.html), d) met with tears and other forms of emotional blame/manipulation and/or e) some combination of all of the above.

          Here is a link to a more comprehensive definition and history of the term emotional abuse from wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emotional_abuse) with which I agree.

          Unlike sexual and physical abuse, there will probably never be one definitive and conclusive definition of psychological/emotional abuse. Most emotional abuse occurs in private and doesn’t leave tangible physical scars, bruises, cuts and other injuries. Therefore, it’s easy to deny and hard to prove to others, including the family court system, without witnesses or video/audio recordings.

          I wish I could give you a landmark definition of emotional abuse that the court would recognize and then grant you full custody, but I can’t. I don’t think anyone can. Even if I could provide you with such a definition, the onus of work would be upon you and your attorney to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that your wife is emotionally abusive toward you. The judge may or may not care even if you can prove it. That’s how biased the courts are. Judges are typically more interested in whether or not the woman is abusive to the children.

          Even if you can prove she’s abusive to both you and the children, she may still get custody. Look, I think you know you’re in an abusive relationship whether or not you have one magical definition that’s accepted universally by the psychiatric/psychological/medical/legal fields. If you’re serious about ending your abusive relationship, your time would be better spent finding an attorney who specializes in fathers’ rights and family court judges who offer presumed 50/50 custody and then build your case from there. A definition of abuse won’t get you custody of your children. A highly competent attorney who is respected in your family court system and has experience dealing with “high conflict personalities” is what will serve you best; not a definition. You will also need records that document how much time you spend caring for your children (e.g., bathing them, feeding them, going to swim meets, driving them, etc.), character witnesses and video/audio recordings and hostile/threatening emails/voicemails/emails/texts.

          Rather than belaboring the question of what is abuse, why not join fathers’ rights advocacy groups who are working hard to make the system more equitable and just? Have you even talked to an attorney yet? If and when you do, it won’t matter what my definition of abuse is, which I’m sure any counsel would tell you—especially if you’re in a no-fault state. You need concrete evidence of her in full psycho mode and of her engaging in these behaviors in front of the children, which still might not be enough.

          Referring to the men who share their experiences of abusive women on this site and in court cases (or anywhere for that matter) as “whining wimpos” is incredibly offensive. Targets of abuse are not whining wimpos, especially not the ones who make the courageous choice to extricate themselves from their abusive relationships.

          You write:

          I’m looking for help here. For real, solid, help. Not just blame-game bashing BS.

          My site isn’t about blame-game bashing and it’s not BS. This site is a resource for men who are in abusive relationships to share their stories, reality test, receive validation for what they’re experiencing, realize that they’re not alone and that they don’t have to suffer in an abusive relationship—that there are other options. This site unequivocally states that it’s unacceptable and abusive for a wife/gf/ex to deride, berate, demean, withhold affection, gaslight, intimidate, and any other hurtful, crazy-making behaviors.

          You write:

          And as good as it feels, and as clearing and true as much of the content on this site is. Without a real solid, stand up in court definition of abuse, men who visit this site may wind up better off, but may also wind up living in a whirlwind of myth, feelings, and loss.

          The stories, anecdotes and examples on this site are not myths; they’re real and they happened. Whenever a relationship ends it is experienced as a loss, which requires one to grieve—even an abusive relationship. There are many feelings that arise throughout the grieving process (is this what you mean by “feelings?”), but it’s a natural part of the process and can’t be avoided. I hope the men who frequent this site end up better off even if they have to go through an initial rough patch in order to do so. That’s the whole point of my site.

          You write:

          You’ve maintained that abuse is defined throughout this site. I certainly see examples of abuse, but I do not see an attempt at a definition. Examples support a definition, but they aren’t a definition. Where have you defined abuse on this site?

          The following posts all contain examples and effects of abusive behaviors:


          You write:

          It’s tiring, I understand, and I find it unfortunate that you state that you don’t know how to make it any clearer for me…I mean…does that mean that you are actually ‘gaslighting?’

          Hopefully you will find this response more clear. If you don’t, you will need to look elsewhere.

          You write:

          You may gain from looking up what a definition actually is. An example is not a definition. And as right as you are that the aberrant narcissistic behavior described all over your site is abusive, it doesn’t matter…that serves to exemplify but not to define.

          Oftentimes, the best way to define something is through stories and examples. Let’s start with the first definition above: “Abuse is defined as the systematic pattern of behaviors in a relationship that are used to gain and/or maintain power and control over another.” Then: “Psychological abuse, also referred to as emotional abuse, is a form of abuse characterized by a person subjecting or exposing another to behavior that is psychologically harmful.” “Emotional Abuse is the willful or reckless infliction of emotional or mental anguish or the use of a physical or chemical restraint, medication or isolation as punishment.” “Humiliation or intimidation of another person.” (http://www.psychiatric-disorders.com/dictionary/acutemania-eyemovementdesensitizationandreprocessing.php) To this I would add, “as typified through overt and covert abusive behaviors such as gaslighting, projection, pathological jealousy, withholding of affection to punish, isolating the target from their friends and family, control their time and mobility, controlling their finances, exploitation of property or assets, chronic devaluation, threats, intimidation, the silent treatment and a host of other behaviors. Consequences of prolonged emotional abuse include chronic feelings of overwhelm, stress, fear, anxiety, depression, fatigue, confusion, inability to make decisions, the erosion of self-esteem and confidence and stress related physical illnesses.
          You write:

          You project into NIkki in an unfair way. Maybe you aren’t capable of the work I am suggesting.

          I don’t believe I was projecting onto Nikki. I already explained my position on this a few weeks ago.

          I’m not capable of giving you a definitive once-and-for-all definition of emotional abuse that will help you obtain full custody in court. If there is someone who can do so, hat’s off to him or her. In order for men’s odds of receiving custody to change, legislature needs to change. This means that both men and women who recognize the injustices of the family court system need to organize and put pressure on politicians to change the laws—including custody and support laws. It also means that they need to put pressure on politicians to regulate and disable the moneymaking divorce machine. Why aren’t attorneys who encourage their female client to fabricate abuse charges to get custody and a bigger settlement being prosecuted and disbarred? These laws will not change based on a definitive definition of emotional abuse no matter who writes it. Furthermore, the courts seem very able to identify abuse when the victim is a woman, but overlook it when the victim is a man.

          Best wishes to you,
          Dr Tara

          • anon.father
            May 4, 2010 at 12:29 pm

            “Why aren’t attorneys who encourage their female client to fabricate abuse charges to get custody and a bigger settlement being prosecuted and disbarred?”
            —It’s easy to fabricate accusations of abuse because abuse is not properly defined.

            “I’m not capable of giving you a definitive once-and-for-all definition of emotional abuse that will help you obtain full custody in court.”
            —Why would you attach a projected end result to my aims? You ARE capable of defining abuse in your own way, and you are starting to do a pretty darn good job of it, when you try. Your list of links contain supportive research, effects, examples. The body of work you’ve put together is EXACTLY what an effective definition can be built upon. The sentences that start with “abuse is…” are definitions.

            I apparently have more confidence in you than you at least are displaying publicly. Your paragraph that starts with “Oftentimes, the best way to define…” is really really good start…may even be a framework (or a foundation).

            “Furthermore, the courts seem very able to identify abuse when the victim is a woman, but overlook it when the victim is a man.”
            —Define abuse and that will not be the case.

            My references to “whining wimpos,” “blame game bashing BS,” and “myth” are in no way attempts to belittle men’s experiences. I mention them in that way because I am sharing what heading into conflicts without solid resources (definitions) leads to.

            With a concrete definition of abuse, men do not need to be whining wimpos, they do not need to enter into or engage in or even be exposed to blame game bashing BS, and separation from their abusive partners does not need to be based merely on feelings.

            What I mean by “feelings,” when reduced in a crass way is: “stuff that won’t stand up in court.”

            Feelings are important, I have them, you have them, we all have them. Many people are “stuck” in their heads, in their minds, we live in an age of information. Yet, my experience with my wife’s behavior leaves me having physicalized my feelings into physical trauma and stress-related illness…with a disconnect from my head…from my mental capacities.

            So, yes, I’m still looking for help in defining abuse, and your response is pretty darn good…I wish it could go further and become something more whole, more complete, because solid mental thought defining abuse lets us figure out whether we really are being abused on a purely “mental/intellectual” level (absent of feeling or emotion), which helps us clarify where we are and what to do.

            The court system is also based solidly in the realm of mental thought. So that’s an important access point for many of systemic changes you desire.

            …I’ll need to come back to your reply though, because where you do attempt a definition…I feel you are moving things in a very very good direction.

            • jp
              May 4, 2010 at 2:08 pm

              Here’s a definition for you:

              anon.father: pedantic, obtuse bore who wastes people’s time with pointless, pseudo-intellectual posturing, and who should be banned from this site for his shameless display of discourteous ingratitude in response to one of the most comprehensive and detailed responses Dr. Tara has ever posted.

              “…where you do attempt a definition…I feel you are moving things in a very very good direction.”

              What a jackass.


              • anon.father
                May 8, 2010 at 7:44 pm

                JP, where Dr. Tara said she feels she’s not capable, I say she is. Where Dr. Tara begins with defining, I say “great job.”

                You can call me whatever you want, and if you can’t compliment the profound good that is coming out of this dialogue, my questions and what you call “posturing,” then so be it.

                The definitions are a good start, and don’t tell me Dr. T’s response doesn’t help you. Don’t tell me it doesn’t begin to move psychological abuse from a vague feeling of victimhood into a real palpable fact.

                Definitions are used in court. Laws are created in the realm that you call “pseudo-intellectual posturing,” and your perception of ingratitude is unfortunate

              • anon.father
                May 8, 2010 at 8:49 pm

                at best.

                …Truth tends to bubble up in these situations.

                Does whether or not I’m a jackass matter?

                Which is more relevant, JP’s rant or the progress made here?

                Am I displaying ingratitude or consciousness?

                …And as pedantic and pseudo-intellectual as it may come across, definitions are HARD.

                Which is more courteous, coming from a place of knowledge, understanding of logic, and a solid foundation in science…or name calling fellow site visitors?

                Sometimes people need credentials in order to “respect” others. My credentials are not listed here. The merit of what I’ve written can be assessed without bias of who I may be, what degrees I may have, and the number of people I may help.

                JP has displayed where he is willing to go, and how he is willing to go there, and it’s hard for me not to want to help you JP, and as repulsive as that may sound to you…I’m doing it right now…and appeal to the masses or even appeal to authority won’t help us get closer to truth.

                Anyway, what’s more important, to cheer Dr. T on to a potential landmark bestseller entitled “Abuse Defined” or to let JP pull the conversation down to the realm of name calling and projection?

                Sure, maybe Dr. T won’t take the challenge I’ve presented any further, and maybe she won’t write that book…or even that post…but someone will…and someone HAS to…

                …or many of the unfortunate realities Dr. T is working so hard to correct…will flourish.

                And too many people are suffering to allow that. At least that’s my opinion…and again…the paragraph that starts with “Oftentimes…” is a dern good start. Might already be “it.”

                …Needs some testing, some refining, some contemplation, possibly some revision…and we’ll see how it holds up.

                It’s already a way better definition than when we started.

            • Lighthouse
              May 9, 2010 at 7:11 pm

              As a society we have agreed that the final arbitor of definitions is not the Miriam-Webster dictionary or technical experts, but the court system. If you’re in doubt, just see who issues enforceable remedies to social situations.

              As such, they do their best to define emotional abuse through the case law system to avoid eroding our constitutional right to freedom through legislation.

              Like the famous quote about pornography, abuse falls into the “you’ll know it when you see it” eye-of-the-beholder test. While unfortunate in cases where clear abuses have occured, this definition is the societal norm and is as such applied to all. As a result, even if one person had a good definition it would be worthless in reality except as a metaphysical concept for further discussion.

              I believe it has value nonetheless. That said, there remains the technical problem of defining a term that describes a spectrum of unmeasurable (and often unconscious) intentions. Under such circumstances working definitions need to be developed based upon observable, quantifiable mediums of exchange – knowledge, words, money, assets, time or effort and what a reasonable person would do. Even if the societal norms were consistently applied by all, given the subtlty and complexity of the task the case law system appears the best solution to define the currently acceptable norms. That said, it is ripe for abuse by judges who can use trials as events for promoting personal agendas rather than applying good judgment.

              The test Dr.T suggests appears to suffice, but I don’t think it is warranted (given her training, workload or chosen responsibilities) to expect her to provide a clear definition for something our society has an entire legal system struggling to articulate for over 1,000 years in case law.

              I realize this response doesn’t answer your question, but it does respectfully answer why a response would be impractical to develop and non-axiomatic for all practical applications even if achieveable.

              For what it is worth, the evolving field of positive psychology will most likely contain the nearest thing to normative answer to your question, but I will leave that for you to research as I believe my time is better invested influencing those closest to me by respectfully applying my own beliefs.


              • shrink4men
                May 9, 2010 at 7:36 pm

                Thank you, Lighthouse. Very well-stated. I agree with you 100%.

                I have privately speculated re: why anon.father continues to belabor the issue. My conclusions may or may not be accurate. Therefore, I will continue to help those who are seeking help because they’re ready to make the necessary tough decisions to live an abuse-free life.

                Kind Regards,
                Dr Tara

  2. Nikki
    April 16, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    Read this article carefully: Quite a few women will employ these strategies as a coping mechanism as a result of being the subject of an abusive husband.
    #2: My husband told me constantly that I demanded WAY too much of him: yet things such as asking him to help even 30/70 (him doing 30%, me doing 70%) with the housework was “unrealistic” and “asking way too much” even though we both worked full-time.
    #4: He constantly told me that things didn’t happen the way I had “imagined them” in order to down-play his abusiveness.
    #5: Unpredictable responses: An abused woman will try to appease and cause as few waves as possible, then try to see if she can regain some control. This may present as “unpredictable responses” even though her spouse is telling her one minute he wants to hear her opinions and the next exploding if she so much as walks in the room the wrong way.
    #8: After enough abuse by her spouse, a woman is terrified of doing ANYTHING to upset him. I found it hard to meet my husband’s eyes after being told I was constantly inferior, stupid, worthless, not doing enough, etc. And within 30 seconds of the abuse, the husband can’t understand why the woman isn’t affectionate.
    #9: What woman who is beaten, pushed, slapped; emotionally, verbally and psychologically abused WANTS to be affectionate with the monster that has made her feel utterly worthless and degraded?
    Just read through these and understand that there are two sides to every story…

    • shrink4men
      April 16, 2010 at 3:17 pm

      Yes, Nikki, and sometimes the abuse is really one-sided and it is the woman who is perpetrating the abuse.

      If you indeed have an abusive husband, you have my sympathy. I encourage you to find a website that helps women in these situations. There are scads of them on the web. Coming here and attempting to de-legitimize what happens to men at the hands of abusive women is not okay. To me, it just seems like blaming the victim, which, based on your comment, seems to be okay if the victim is a man.

      This reminds me of the “reactive abuse” claim some other woman posted last week. Maybe your husband behaves this way in reaction to your abusive behaviors as you suggest is the case with men. You can keep your victim status, Nikki, and all of the entitlement and sympathy that comes with it. I don’t want the men who come to this site for help to be victims. I want them to be strong and healthy and to get as far away as possible from their abusers.

      Dr T

    • Alnico
      April 17, 2010 at 3:57 pm


      Your response describes how I respond to my ex. In case my moniker does not give it away: I’m a male.

      If you are demanding at all, then you are demanding too much IMO. If you feel like you are doing too large a share of household duties, why not do less without demanding he do more. Yes, it really is ok if the dishes do not get done, etc. Perhaps your husband is comfortable a household less organized, less maintained, etc. Your husband might be lazy, or perhaps he is feeling henpecked because whatever the effort put forth – it is clearly not enough or good enough.

      As Dr. T has said, there are many websites for women who feel abused — but few for men. Believe it or not, abused men often try to apease thier abuser and may also be seen as passive agressive as they try to gain some sense of normal life. After enough abuse, abused men can be terrified of doing anything, as it might upset her: they may be afraid to meet her gaze as well. They may reach the point they feel like thier skin will crawl off if she so much as touches them. A man’s sex drive may be completely shut down for days, weeks, or months, or even years because of the abuse he endures – just as a woman’s can. What man who is abused wants to be affectionate with the person who has made him feel so inferior, so inadaquate?

      There are indeed two sides to every story: However, Dr. T. is right: There is a myth in family counseling and self help books today that “It takes two to tango.” Contrary to assertions otherwise, by many well intentioned counselor or book: It only takes one bad communicator to break down the communication. Sometimes it is both who have problems, sometimes it is only one, sometimes one’s problems pale in comparison to the problems of the other. Sometimes the only good choice is to end it immediately and as completely as possible.

  3. Stephen
    April 2, 2010 at 4:27 pm

    The one thing that I am dealing with that I have hardly ever seen on abusive women websites is the “I do it, but I am going to accuse you of doing it so that I can justify why I did it.” Regardless of whether I did anything or not. Examples: lying, deceiving, she accused me of not trying to work on our relationship when she was in the process of consulting with an attorney about divorce. She justifies her behavior by blaming me.

    Good news is that I am getting out. I have a group I attend for abused men. I have friends who are supporting me.

    My advice above all other advice: get support. For some reason you are reading this and have recognized the need for help. People on the outside have not been in your situation. They have not been through the trauma you have. They can be the ones to keep telling you how wrong this situation is and keep encouraging you. When you start standing up to her, when you start letting her know that you want your life back, all hell is going to break lose. If you thought she was bad before, you will see a side that makes you want that past person back. This is the trap. She is going to do everything in her power to destroy you. Get support. Friends, family, support groups, victims assistance. Anyone. Keep going. And if you have made it this far, focus on you. You will never change her. All that you can do is lessen her impact on you. And I agree: GET OUT OF IT.

    • Lighthouse
      April 3, 2010 at 4:08 am


      What you are experiencing has a name. It is called ‘projective identification’. Here is a link that you may find helpful:


      As you will read, the hallmark of this ego defense mechanism is that the only distinguishing feature between the acccusation its realization is order… and as you have experienced, that is a very difficult one to defend against with someone whose recollection is impacted by emotional state.

      I hope you don’t have to go to court, because your disordered ex- will make such compelling drama on the stand and proving reverse causation is almost impossible. I believe (not based upon experience) that only an impartial, effective psychological evaluation will undermine the basis for the myriad of accusations you will face, but I’d sure like to hear some anecdotal or professional comments to bolster or repudiate my opinion.

      I am glad that you have found a support group. Recovery sure can take longer without (from personal experience).


  4. MON
    April 1, 2010 at 9:14 pm

    HI, i am not in an abusive relationship but I am the daughter in one, and only about five days ago did my father realize he was in that kind of place, any idea how i can get help for him?

    • shrink4men
      April 1, 2010 at 9:18 pm

      Hi MON,

      First, give him links to this website and others like it. He needs to realize exactly what’s going on and then start to make some clear, strategic decisions. He could probably benefit from speaking with others via blog threads and forums who have been in similar situations.

      He’ll need a lot of nonjudgmental support. It’s wonderful that you want to help him, but he may not feel entirely comfortable speaking to you. I suggest he seek professional support by screening potential therapists. It’s important that he find a therapist who believes can be the abused party in a relationship.

      Kind Regards,
      Dr Tara

  5. Tammy
    March 25, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    I have a son who is almost 18, a jr. in h.s. this year. He has a girlfriend who has most of the traits of bpd. He has suffered through a year and a half of this controlling relationship. He is a straight A student, and very athletically gifted. At Christmas, she began creating all of this drama in our family. Making up stories which weren’t true etc. She now has succeeded in alienating him from his family and friends. My son and I have always been close. He has never wanted to be with his dad. She attends a college 15 minutes from where his dad lives and he has now gone to live there. He is fixing to throw away everything we have worked for his entire life. She is slowly but surely destructing him. She now has him totally isolated from everyone he loves and respects except for her. She used his little brother (15) his best friend, as bait to seperate him from us. I don’t know what to do for him. Any advice?

  6. Trane
    March 24, 2010 at 4:26 am

    I was in a relationship with a woman that fit your description and more. After 4 months i left. She would get pissed and call me a bully whenever i stood up to her and called her on her bull shit. In fact she was the bully, saying insulting stuff about me, my job, my family. I noticed she would bully her friends and family members. She was an weight loss instructor and would tell me some horrible stuff she insulting crap she would do and say to female clients. Three months ago I blocked her phone and e-mail and suggested we not contact each other. She has e-mailed me each month. Her biggest thrill is to let me know that she can still write me and “do what ever she wants”. She starts her emails with… “I know you are hurt and angry but you’ll get over it” :-) it is so self delusional. I am embarrassed to reveal to anyone that i know her let alone dated her. Her e-mails seem so immature for a 42 year old. It’s like she is a teenager. My brother told me to go on line and goggle abusive women and i found your post. Very good stuff. Thank you.

  7. Shivering fool
    March 13, 2010 at 5:18 am

    I found this site because, obviously, I am desperate. My wife was my first girlfriend out of engineering school back in ’96. We got married in ’01 and came to the US from a Latin American country for my MBA in Babson College.

    This is the first time I find a concrete description of how I have felt over the years…which means I have wasted many years of my life. Now that I think of it, I can count true moments of happiness with my 20 fingers (yes, I still have them ;) ).

    I am very easy going and open minded, thus tried to adapt my lifestyle to hers to make our marriage work. Of course, she consistently say I always put her and our 1 and 3 year old in the back burner, because I ask her to not setup appointments DURING MY WORKING OURS (I now work from home). I’m exhausted. I want out. Being 36 and living this hell does not make sense. My two daughters are true angels and it is they who deter any action to end this.

    On top of that, my work visa expires this year, which means I will depend on my wife to stay in the U.S. What the hell should I do? I have been slowly abandoning my relationships with friends and family. Not because I want to, but because is a pain to schedule anything with them. She will find any excuse to make meeting someone just impossible, even a play date with the 3 year old a former female co-worker. As an example, one superbowl, a friend traveled from Dallas to Boston just to watch the game with me (he was on a biz trip, but took a d-tour). My wife did not want to help me clean the house, and she was not willing to allow him to come in unless the house was impeccable. When I started cleaning, she began to add tasks that made it humanly impossible to finish. She also threatened me with a very hellish future if I did not, by my own account, realize that inviting him was wrong. Like 5 year old boy that peed on his pants (what an idiot I was, man) I contacted my friend and told him he could not come. I lied to him saying I “had to work on an important deal” BULL SH*T”. She said “it’s your problem, you invited him without my consent” WTF! (sorry for cursing a bit, I am usually very polite and well mannered, but I just want to grab my kids and move.)

    Anyways, her father is a bipolar dick, smokes 1 pack a day, has 3 heart bay-passes, high blood pressure and type II diabetes. Her mom is an angel trapped in their hell. She is peruvian, well mannered, easy going and incredibly nice. She is a victim of significant emotional abuse, and of course, tells me to take the heat, for the sake of our two daughters (she has seen and is fearful of her daughters crazy outbursts of idiocy).

    My wife has threatened to make our divorce (which I floated 5-6 months ago) a living hell. Man, my dad once told me: “don’t marry her, you will be sorry”. Dad, you were right. I am sorry. My goal, as many men in this fine post have asserted, is to ensure the happiness and wellbeing of my daughters. What to do? Should I talk to a close friend about this problem? I have never, ever told anyone, but people know something is wrong. Especially my mom. What should I do? I live in MA, a mother friendly state. I don’t have evidence against her (only hearsay). Should I install computer tracking programs? She is currently staying at home and has a way to always be burdened with work (she self-diagnosed she has women’s ADD – and complains that I don’t love her enough because I have not helped her deal with it). But when I finish working my two home-based jobs, she expects me to help 50/50 with the kids, clean dishes, think what’s for dinner, etc. I never complain. I work like a dog, am working on my own startup – on top of my two jobs (which could significantly change our lives if it goes well) and still find time to do chores. In contrast, she plays farmville regularly and will not admit she wastes time (she is one of those who takes 5 hours to shop for shoes, buys 3 pairs of the same brand, different sizes/style, to try them on and then return the 2 she was not planning to take). Our weekends are for “I need to go to the mall and return a bunch of stuff, or to organize the house, or to do chores, or go to costco, etc. When a friend of her calls, she suddenly wants to go out and have fun).

    She never takes constructive feedback well and is very difficult to please and help. Drs, men, women, children, trolls, computers, anyone reading this, please help. I am very desperate. What to do in the next 30/60/90 days? Talk to attorney? I have a friend specializing in family practice/divorce.

  8. Smeee
    March 12, 2010 at 10:47 pm

    Some of this is really awful indeed!
    Sometimes if she see’s she’s not getting any attention from her craziness it will help her stop.. although sometimes that can bring about the suicide threats as she feels she is not getting any attention. 9 times out of 10 she won’t do it and if she attempts, there is no way she loves you.. that is when u force her to get help and then RUN
    I guess I just had a bit of a revelation when my partner threatened to leave me .. the guilt was not a nice feeling though!

  9. MarkF51
    March 12, 2010 at 11:37 am

    hi, for now I need to read this page, then go from there. thanks and if
    needed i’ll contact you.

  10. MarkF51
    March 12, 2010 at 3:35 am

    For some reason or another I searched for abusive mates and came across this
    article. I think I need some help.
    Thank you.

    • shrink4men
      March 12, 2010 at 3:42 am

      Hi Mark,

      How can I help?

      Dr Tara

  11. Ches
    March 11, 2010 at 10:54 pm

    Thanks Smee. I agree leaving is not the only option especially if you love them. The problem with my wife is she is always right and whatever she says or thinks is FACT.Whatever I say or observe is dismissed as selfish crazy talk.

    I have told my wife on many occasions that she is a control freak & she bullies me. She flat out denies it and says I am the bully & I`m in denial. Back in 2005 or 06 I suggested we go see a marriage consellor to try and get things about each one of us clarified by an independent person. She flat out refused.

    How do you tell someone that they have a flaw when they believe they are perfect & you wrong them all the time?

    Recently I found an entry in her diary that said If something were to happen to her pls insist on an autopsy, check for cynide. That freaked me out.The reason she thinks I`m capable of bring about her demise is I love watching Discovery Crime channel & 48Hours Mystery. She then states; the diary should be given to our two sons when they are in their early 30s. Imagine if I`m not alive then, they will always think our daddy was capable of killing our mamma. How do you deal with such. Pls can someone tell me!

    After reading that I was ready to part ways. This is not normal by any standard. The sad thing is she has poisoned most of our friends into thinking I am the monster in the marriage. How do I undo such damage.

  12. Smeee
    March 11, 2010 at 10:00 pm

    hey there
    I have noticed here that everyone keeps saying it will only get worse. It will if she doesn’t know about it. Giving up and divorce is not the only option.
    I used to be an emotional bully , awful in fact. But I have managed to turn myself around drastically when confronted and told that’s what I was. I hated myself for it, and years of guilt later I am a changed person who rarely gets angry and loves life.
    I am not saying all women will change like this, but sometimes all it takes is the words ‘you are an emotional bully’ for them to realise this.

  13. Ches
    March 11, 2010 at 6:18 pm

    My my my!!! I found this website this morning whilst trying to find something to confirm I am not the monster & demon my wife has made me out to be over the past 9 yrs.

    When I met her I was a happy,life loving, positive person. Today I am a wreck of a man battling depression, feeling alone, sad & nearly broken. I have come to accept and believe she is right. I have found her behavior comforms to almost all the signs in the articule.

    After about 4yrs of being bullied, being mentally tortured during repeat arguments every week or other week I decided to fight back & argue back. Oh she does not like that. She gives me the silent treatment four up to 4-5 days then on Sunday around 10.30pm(she knows that when I`ll be in bed winding down reading or watching TV) she will come and say I want to talk to you.( Mind you I don`t know the reason why I was on silent treatment other than I have been bad. Over time I learnt to read her face for the subject matter for the silent treatment i.e the money argument face, the insecurity argument face and so on) For the next 2hrs I would get a verbal lashing & believe my wife is good.

    I would go to work stressed & go home from work stressed because of the uncertainly of what mood ypou will find her in or she will be in when she comes from work. My hair greyed within 3yrs of being together.

    The good one is I am an alcoholic & have alcohol dependence. Over the year she has made a concerted effort to convience of this & I almost believed it. How can I be an alcoholic on a beer or two after ding some garden work or going to a works function where one would obviously drink.

    I had to be home all the time. If there was drinks after work I ask my manager to speak to her & explain where I was because I had to be home period. I would get a tongue lashing for that as she would say you are making me out to be a monster to your work mates. I was in a no-win situation. In order to control all aspects of my life she would transfer all my salary from my account on pay day so I had nothing on me & had to ask work mates for money so I could make my lottery contibution to the work lottery syndicate.

    She earns more than I do but that has never been a problem with me or her(so she says)She has accused of not contributing anything toward the household or the kids.I paid for a Christmas Holiday to England in 2005. In 2006 I paid for the family to fly to Scotland for one of her cousins wedding.In 2007 I paid for her to fly to Spain to visit one of her dear friends who had a miscarriage. This is on top of giving her all the money I earn all these years because from the beginning I felt mponey would be a problem issue so I gave her full control. Yet today my contribution toward the family has been negligable.

    She`s filed for divorce on the following grounds:

    1)Emotionally/mentally abusive/Unstable.
    2)Finacially irresponsible
    3)Alcohol Dependency

    When I saw this I was shocked to say the least. I was hurt because that is what she has been telling her family, my family(my family are enermies because they got your back)and friend. This is cruel & vindictive behaviour and nothing short of character assasination.As far as she is concerned she a very wronged woman & I am responsible. Go figure??

  14. Dan
    March 8, 2010 at 1:21 am

    I was with a women for 4 years, she has had several rocky long term relationships as well as I. She lost her home about 7 years ago and in order for her children to stay in the school dist, the children needed to live with her ex. Since he worked full time and she was without a home, she moved in to the ex’s house to be a mom to the kids, but had no desire to reunite with Ex, but the ex want to get back together and used to touch her pull up her Pj tops etc, plus he was very abusive verbally , in front of the kids. Now here comes me we meet and in 5 months she moves in with me, we really didnt know each other so it was trial and error, with in weeks in wanted her out, she freaked to the point pured pills in her mouth and said she wanted to kill herself. I freaked . She has moved in and out of my house 10 times over 4 years, some from me having enough and some from her, when we break up she is so frig n nasty with 100 texs a day calling me the devil, i am emotionally abusive , a loser , a liar, cheater, a skank, the list goes on. then she will want to fix things and stay together, sex was great never a problem, but it was everything else, I would say to her if I am all those things why do you want to stay with me. I could not say hello to a attractive women or talk to one, even with my GF with me, I would here oh you want to F her. Her jelousy was off the charts, sh would fight me me if I was attending an event with out her. I hated this relationship, I love her but was distancing myself from it. Last week I find out one or two nights a week she was sleeping at her ex’s house , not because of him but she would takecare of the kids age 22, 19 and 16. She told me she was staying with her sisters house which is 15 mins from her ex, the reason she stays at her sisters is I live one hour away . I found out she has been sleeping there and when I asked she lied to me and said she was at her sisters house, at this point I ended it and the wave of vile insults from abuse to abandonment to cheating which I never did, was all posted on facebook she is 45 . then she wants to get back together . I wont

  15. ph
    February 24, 2010 at 8:28 pm

    I just discovered your website, feel better already, Thank you. It’s been so illusive and frustrating. Your explanation for what i’ve been experiencing with my wife, in the 2 1/2 years we’ve been married, is enlightening and filled with integrity.. So many things about your articles resonant, not sure where to begin. For starters my wife has tried to delete my family from my life, and now from our 14 month old son’s life as well.(reduced to an occasional holiday) We’ve been going to counseling for almost 2 years, 4 counselors and it seems there is no relief in sight. One counselor called her pathologically stingy. I have a close loving family. Only my father is left who is 83 years old, and not that well. My mother passed last year, and I have an older sister, our older brother died 7 years ago. They are good people, polite, and don’t interfere with us at all, I hardly see them. Yet, at our last session my wife tells the counselor “My son will not step foot over his families house without me,.. This was in response to the counselor asking her to go somewhere fun for herself (mall, friends..etc), and leave me at home with the baby. She said “he’ll sneak over there behind my back”. My wife has this adversarial attitude toward my whole family, but try’s to put on a friendly tone to their face. I’ll briefly mention a few things she’s said to me. “You should have had intercourse with your sister, and raise children with her, she’s your other wife,.. I hardly see my sister. We lost our mother to cancer last year, 3 days after we buried her my sister was texting me that she found something in mom’s dresser and wanted me to know. My wife walks into the room where i was relaxing texting my sister back.. She asks “what are you doing, i thought you were working” when she found out it was my sister, she said, “She’s up your a___, you cant do anything without her?” Four days ago i was off from work for Presidents day, and thought it was a good time to visit my dad (havent seen him for 2 months), and take my son as well since he hasn’t seen his grandson for months either, my wife after deliberating a while decided to put conditions, like “no one is to take pictures with their phone ever, and my sister will not give him sweets (she never does), she then started screaming at me when i asked what her concern was about my family .. and started insulting me, my sister, anyone. In contrast i see HER sister everyday, because we pay her $800 a month to watch our son. I say nothing and am friendly to all of them. There are soo many ways she tries to control me with her emotional outbursts, and reprimanding me constantly, i don’t know where to begin. But i am going to see a lawyer now. It’s too stressful and constricting of a life. I am always on edge waiting to see what sets her off. My cousin and best-man at our wedding was coming to town, (see him a few times a year maybe) I mentioned politely to my wife that he called and said he was coming in,.. when i expressed an interest in meeting up with him and his wife, WITH my wife.. she had a melt down that it was a waste of her weekend. When i went to meet him anyway, she told me to “Pack my crap and leave, and i’m not taking the baby either..” then mentioned something about my sister not raising our son (who was going to be there just visiting?) bizarre. Sorry for the long post. I’ve been feeling pretty empty lately.
    Thanks much

    • B2
      March 31, 2013 at 4:23 pm

      PH, reading your thread makes me wonder if these women view us having anyone else in our life as a direct threat to them. She may be afraid that your cousin/sister/friend may encourage you to leave her because she is crazy.
      Looking back on my marriage, my wife gradually weeded out my friends and filled our calendar with stuff involving her friends and family. I was so busy working trying to make enough money for her that it just seemed to happen without my awareness.

  16. Nick
    February 23, 2010 at 8:27 am

    Wow!! Is all I have to say, Thank you for posting these 10 results I am now going through a divorce with a girl who it seemed no matter how much i ever did in the 2 years we were together was ever enough. I am a very selfless person who gave her everything but she didn’t care regardless. I read this list and I can give you several examples of “ALL” 10 of these attributes in the 2 years we were together. I Feel much better seeing someone truly understands this as people tend to always blame men when i would lay nothing more then a loving hand on a woman to comfort her, It feels sometimes my friends and family didn’t understand the extent. Thank you!

  17. BEC
    February 2, 2010 at 12:06 am

    I have been reading these posts, and at this very moment things are becoming clear… I am a strong individual. I have been through more than most people should have to, and I have come out on the other side stronger. I know myself very very well and I have very broad shoulders for carrying the weight of a bad day. I think that is why it surprises me to realize that I have been emotionally abused for the past 3 years. Checking the house 3 times before leaving for work to make sure I didnt leave anything out because I didnt want to get yelled at later. Having to really think about what just happened because I KNOW I didnt say or do what I am being accused of. Being berated… and I mean that exactly as it is defined… for hours because I simply washed the wrong sweater. Being told that I would “be cut in to pieces and sent home to my mother in a box”…. I cant believe that I let it go like that. Making excuses… the typical “hormones” thing. I think the hardest pill for me to swallow is that she never realized until I just starting acting like I was “Over it”. Then it snapped her back to reality…. The statement ” I grew up using words as weapons” was said to me. My response was “Why do you need weapons at all? I just forgot to turn a light switch off!” The sad thing is, though I still love her, I do not know if I have anything left for her. Having my emotions chipped away over the past couple of years… it is hard to even want to make an effort to “fix” things. What I think is… it isnt my problem to fix at all….

    • RC
      February 2, 2010 at 12:45 am

      I hear you. I have been at it for 18 years and it did not get better, at least not consistently. What caught my attention in your post is that you still love her. Maybe a separation would help. This is what I am doing. Why? Because I still love my wife very much. I also took my vows very seriously even if it seems she had a different take on them. She, of course, perceives all of this in a negative light on my part, but that is to be expected. I will give it time to see if she comes around to at least being willing to hear my perspective and begin to show me some respect. From my perspective, it takes more than human strength and will to heal problems like this. I hope the best for you.

      • BEC
        February 2, 2010 at 12:58 am

        Thanks RC. I have actually been staying at a hotel for the past 2 weeks now…. I see some improvement, but inevitably the sniping and snide remarks leak back in to our conversations. My simply calling to say good night brought on an angry response from her. People say that “You dont deserve to be treated this way” and I believe them, but I find myself wondering about if I had said something earlier, or been more direct in my informing her of how it makes me feel when she tears me down…. but then I think to myself: How could she NOT know that speaking to ANYONE that way is unacceptable? How could she be oblivious to it all? When I tell her that it makes me feel inadequate and imcompetant that I want to see a couples counselor and she literally laughs at me, it is hard to see how it could work now that she claims to understand what she did. The whole things just troubles me…. RC, I hope that things work out for you. Be it starting over, or working through it.

  18. Robert
    January 26, 2010 at 2:01 pm

    I’ve found the information here a real shock….sat reading every line and nodding. I recently left my wife just after xmas, we have 2 small children and it’s been a really awful time.

    Reading the above has made me realise I didn’t leave because of the reasons my wife has repeatedly given me –
    1) I just want a single life and don’t want the responsibility of children
    2) Some of my friends don’t have kids, so I don’t want them either
    3) After 10 years together I should be trying harder to make it work

    I have had 10 years of been made to feel worthless, unattractive and selfish. 3 years ago I started to turn my life around, lost weight, got in shape, started to develop a good career, buying nice clothes, etc. That’s when the problems really started.

    Rather than supporting me and feeling happy for me I have had the following responses –
    Weight loss and shape up – I’m anorexic/obsessed, and my personal favourite – gay
    Work – it’s not fair that I’m doing so well, because she’s better at that job than me, I’m just getting lucky
    Hobbies – started singing and playing guitar again in a band (a real passion in my younger days), friends in the band are idiots, lyrics we write are rubbish….we should get her to write them because she’s great at it…and of course, like my music taste, the songs are rubbish. I put the music before my children (we practice for 2 hours once a week on a Sunday and sometimes I enjoy writing songs in the evening rather than watching tv)

    About 4 months ago I stopped giving in to it all, stopped trying to achieve the unachievable goal of making her happy….that’s when things really got worse. She’d either be asleep, drunk, or drunk and asleep. The criticism of family and friends continued, but I stopped the defence with them…I started to react when I was criticised in public (mainly in front of her family). Eventually about 4 weeks before xmas she broke down in tears saying I was bullying her and making her life a misery…which stupidly I apologised for and started going back down the same road again.

    Eventually I realised I couldn’t go on for the rest of my life like this, and left. I’ve made every effort to see the kids, and I still pay for the home/bills/etc, I’m currently living with my parents again.

    One of the big comments I’d give, thanks to this information, is that I’ve stood still on this now for 6 weeks. I’m a Senior Manager with a responsible job, and I’m living with my parents, going back to the family home to see the kids twice a week to put them to bed, and have them on my own for 4 hours on a Saturday….and she appears to be quite happy with this arrangement…unsurprising, as she has me to come and babysit when she’s goes out, enjoys a house I’m paying for, takes the kids to the swimming pool at the Hotel I pay membership for (it’s worth mentioning that she works and earns roughly the same as me)…and the reason I’m doing nothing about it…I’m terrified of her, that’s the truth, via the kids and threats of money she has me right back where she wants me. Also, after years of being told it I still (deep down) think that I’ve left because I’m an egotist/bully/arrogant/bad person.

    Thanks to the above I’ve just booked an appointment with a Divorce Lawyer for tomorrow, if I can quantify what she can/can’t do at least it may help to take some of the fear away.

  19. JON
    January 14, 2010 at 8:18 pm

    You don’t know how much of this article is so true! When I got this page up on the internet I did nothing but cry because for so long most of these point have been happening to me in my marriage!
    The sad thing is I have tried so hard in every way to be the best husband and father but as a result she files for divorce and for un- reasonable behavior stating I am abusive! It has infact been her doing all the abuse metal and physically and has reduced me to felling worthless and a nervous wreck.
    I am currently seeing a councilor but could not believe on reading this page that I am not alone and should not feel ashamed to admit what has happened to me.
    I know that I have to maintain some form of relationship with her as we have two very young children but she still uses this as a defense shield and is often very cruel towards me.
    One thing I have learnt is not to blame yourself and don’t make excuses for them..

    • shrink4men
      January 14, 2010 at 8:23 pm

      Hi JON,

      Welcome to Shrink4Men. You’re not alone. In fact, your experiences are all too familiar. I encourage you to keep reading and participate in the discussion threads here and on the forum (just click on the tab on the top of the page to join).

      You’re absolutely right re: not blaming yourself and making excuses for their bad behavior.

      Kind Regards,
      Dr Tara

    • Shark
      January 26, 2010 at 4:04 am

      HI JON,

      I am sorry you are going through this difficult time. Don’t blame yourself. I strongly encourage you to see a therapist so that you may have someone to talk to express your feelings.

      I always believe when you get made you lose…don’t let her get the best of you as she will continually try to push your buttons to get a reaction. Don’t giver her the bait because by doing so you are giving her the power.

      Remember…don’t give her the reaction she is expecting. That is power. PERSONAL POWER. Lastly, don’t be upset at her. She is ill in some form and perhaps needs help. Time heals all wounds. Love your self first so that you may be healthy enough both mentally and physically to love your children.

      Start doing things you enjoy doing that you have not done in a while or begin excercising…the point is it will make you feel good. Get together with friends and family when you can and try to get out a bid and socialize. It is a healthy thing to do.

      I feel your pain JON. Keep your headup. You have lots to be thankful for. You have two angels! Enjoy them…they get big quick!


      • Matt
        November 25, 2012 at 6:22 am

        Just checking in as its been a frustrating night for me ..Got berated and insulted and had to read some insane texts yesterday and they are so damn depressing..but I know its just her trying to push my buttons again.. Why do women have to behave like this.. I did have a question though..? Should I share with her that I have discovered the true answer..?? I am guessing the answer is no because then she would argue every single one of the 10 reasons of emotional abuse and deny them all and may even accuse me of them.. Anyway…I also am taken by the seemingly ruthlessness of Jon’s relationship & now divorce.. Be Strong Jon.. It Not You My Friend.. Its ALL Her.. She sounds like a real witch.. You can break her grasp on you by doing what us men have to do.. First if at all possible ..No Contact. I find my wife uses every emotion known to man and simultaneously trying relentlessly to get me engaged in a quarrel again…because to her. I am an easy target and victim of getting reprogrammed and back under control by her.. She’s better at that than I am..hence the genesis of the abusive relationship.. She won the first argument and I went out and cut the grass 15 years ago…. But now this pattern is breaking because I found this site and these boards to talk on and help others.and my FB friends and a few to text with.. All combined I know I can get through this.. She knows something is UP to and has accused my of having an affair.. I don’t talk to her anymore much.. but I feel like saying… Yeah its with other men and women on the Internet.. Multiple partners..lol. ..Jon there’s a country song.. If your going through hell, just keep on going.. .That is so true.. Jon seriously she has brought your self worth down to nothing over time by emotional abuse and its sooo confusing and don’t feel embarrassed to have finally figured it all out that its all her.. I am speaking for myself there too.. and even now she still maintains that I need help badly..I know I am on the right path now to freedom from it all .. But Its not easy at all.. so we do what the moderator and others suggest on here and stay close to these board posts and share and help others and in turn you shall get the inspiration and strength you need.. Glad you finally found this board and we are all here for you Jon..)

  20. AnonFather
    January 14, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    Dear LonelySoul, I hear ya. I feel lonely too. Very lonely and isolated. So much help for abused women. Abused men: ha ha. She acts out physically, oh, poor woman. If I act out physically: jail time!

    I can also say that I am a good husband and father. I did act out physically, and that’s held over my head. That’s another factor, though she is consistently physically aggressive (not necessarily hitting), and certainly both emotionally and verbally abusive, during one of her tirades, I threw my wife down on our bed.

    So, then, “poof” she has a “weapon,” and I’m just as guilty as she is. How would it be seen in court? I never actually hurt my wife, caused bruising, etc. She has caused bruises, welts, etc. So does it matter that I “acted out in frustration half a decade ago” but she has maintained consistent abusive behavior? Does the amount of physical damage done matter?

    Our progress has been so incredibly slow. She has these moments where it’s like she’s normal. I say something, and she responds to what I said, not to what she thinks I said or to some contorted version of what I might “mean by” what I’m saying.

    It’s this super-slow progress that has me somehow continuing. Also, feelings of guilt and culpability.

    So, I really have a lot of compassion for men who feel desperate for affection.

    Men expressing emotional needs is not a very “manly” thing, and then to wind up so desperate for kindness, it just makes you feel like some kind of washed up wimpo.

    I really do feel desperate for kindness. It’s not comfortable at all…

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