It is a strange thing to invest so much energy into convincing yourself that your relationship is normal only to one day be jolted by the reality that there is nothing normal about it, to be forced to admit that your relationship is patently unhealthy, destructive, and yes, abusive. Continue reading Three Words Every Abuse Victim Needs to Hear
If you put together a list of all the primary strategies that abusers use to keep their victims living a life of emotional paralysis, 99% of them would probably apply to the man to whom I was married for 20 years. But as I read and hear other women’s stories, other more subtle patterns emerge, and among them is a practice I have struggled to identify even in my own history, a bizarre combination of passive and controlling abuse. Continue reading Passive and Controlling Abuse: A Dictatorial Form of Emotional Violence
“Love…is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own…”
I Corinthians 13:4-5 (in part)
The abuser claims to care, but it is not love that motivates him. His end-game is to assume total domination and control over his victim, to coerce his bride into accommodating his egocentric agenda and surrendering to his all-encompassing will. To accomplish his purpose, he has at the ready an arsenal of verbal strategies and cues designed to invoke a predetermined response in his victim. His design is to dismiss, disarm, distract, confound and ultimately intimidate his victim into forfeiting her person-hood and assuming a role as his powerless possession.
Bearing these things in mind, here are 101 things you might hear an abuser say.
- You’re a nag.
- You’re a witch.
- You’re a whore.
- You’re a liar.
- You’re a loser.
- You’re fat.
- You’re ugly.
- You’re stupid.
- You’re lazy.
- You’re selfish.
- You’re crazy.
- You’re sick.
- You’re deluded.
- You’re psychotic.
- You’re worthless.
- You’re pathetic.
- You’re a horrible wife.
- You disgust me.
- Shut up
- Leave me alone.
- Go away.
- I don’t care.
- Stop wasting my time.
- Don’t even think about it.
- You don’t want to go there.
- If you don’t like it, you can leave.
- I don’t know what you’re talking about.
- Whatever gave you that idea?
- I never said that.
- Don’t be ridiculous.
- You never make any sense.
- You are always exaggerating.
- Everyone agrees with me.
- You’re wrong, and that’s all there is to it.
- How dare you.
- You should be ashamed of yourself.
- This is all your fault.
- Who do you think you are?
- You got what you deserved.
- You don’t know how good you have it.
- I don’t need you; you need me.
- After all I have done for you; this is the thanks I get.
- You should be apologizing to me.
You just need to be more…
- I said I’m sorry.
- It’s not that big of a deal.
- You need to get over it.
- You’re always overreacting.
- You’re overly sensitive.
- All you do is complain.
- Nothing I do is ever good enough for you.
- What more do you want from me?
- You can’t take a joke.
- You expect too much.
- You are never satisfied.
- You’re not perfect.
- You just need to trust me.
- I make the decisions around here.
- I don’t care if you made plans; I just changed them.
- This conversation is over.
- Stop talking.
- Just do as I say.
- There is nothing you can say that will make me change my mind.
- Don’t ever bring it up again.
I’m telling you right now, you’re not going to…
- …get your degree;
- …get a job;
- …make me look bad;
- …leave me with the kids;
- …spend time with your friends;
- …spend time with your family;
- …have people over to the house;
- …go anywhere without my permission.
I never said you could spend money on…
- …household repairs;
- …social outings;
- …clothing or personal needs;
- …medical attention;
- And by the way, we’re moving away.
- You have no idea what I am capable of.
- You wouldn’t want anything to happen to the children.
If you ever decide to leave me…
- …you’ll be sorry;
- …I will make your life a living hell;
- … you won’t get a dime from me;
- …someone’s going to get hurt;
- …you will never see your kids again;
- …no one else will ever want you.
- …no one will ever find you.
- I am the head of this house.
- You must submit to me.
- Your body belongs to me.
- If you divorce me, I will make sure everyone knows you’re the one who gave up on our marriage.
- I have already talked to our pastor, and he’s on my side.
- You know I love you.
- I promise it will never happen again.
These comments that correlate with an abuser mindset only scratch the surface of the array of verbal and non-verbal means an abuser will use to intimidate a bewildered victim. Other tactics include raging, cursing, isolation, the silent treatment, posturing and physically blocking, glaring, terrorizing (throwing things, slamming doors, harming pets, etc.), destroying or selling personal property, material deprivation, neglect, financial hoarding, and sexual abuse.
If this pattern represents the kind of relationship in which you find yourself, I have given you 101 reasons to get out.
Copyright 2016, All Rights Reserved
“There smites nothing so sharp, nor smelleth so sour as shame.” William Langland (English poet, 1332-c. 1386)
It ranks among the most painful incidents of my life, an event I never could have foreseen. It happened during a grueling, four-hour counseling session with my abusive husband – the day before I left him.
At several points in the session, my then-husband stood and raged at me, arms outstretched as I sat terrified in my chair only a few feet away. The counselor did nothing to calm or constrain him (which I now know was highly unprofessional of her). Over so many years, I had grown accustomed to his blistering, if false, accusations, and was so beaten down I didn’t dare offer a defense. When my husband finally sat again, awaiting my response, the counselor turned to me where I sat trembling and asked, “What are you feeling, Cindy?” and at that moment the weight of years of torment shredded my composure. I could muster only, “I’m afraid in my own home.”
“Strange game. The only winning move is not to play.” WarGames
You may not even know he holds them, but the odds are good that, if you are in an abusive relationship, you have had these thrown at you more than once.
They are trump cards.
Abusers almost always have a trump card or two tucked into their pockets. Just when you think that your reasoning might bring about a favorable resolution to a conflict, he pulls one of these babies out and drops it on the table. Then what do you do? You’ve just been undermined, shut down and dismissed. The conversation is over, and you have lost.
“I don’t care what you think.”
“I didn’t ask for your opinion.”
“You don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Just go away and leave me alone.”
“I’m done talking to you.”
“I have made my decision.”
“Just do as I say.”
“You will submit to me.”