Emotional Abuse: The Invisible Train Wreck

In hindsight, I never felt my relationship with my husband of 22 years was abusive. One would certainly think it would be so easily detected; so easily felt. I would have never believed it could have been part of my life. The abuse crept into my life effortlessly and I subconsciously learned to survive through the horrific dysfunction. I despised it, yet couldn’t give it up.

Unlike physical abuse, emotional abuse is often more difficult to recover from, as the scars can often be more self-destructive. There are no visible marks and friends and family can barely detect your pain.

In the beginning, I thought my relationship struggles were the typical marital woes everyone faced as newlyweds. I felt determined to work through the battles I constantly faced. I thought it was that part of my marital journey where I would suffer through and learn to accept my significant other’s faults. I was proud of my ability to survive. The scars on my heart began to thicken and block my ability to love this man. The mistreatment felt so wrong, but my learned ability to forgive trumped all my instinctive feelings.

The turmoil was relentless. The few people I shared this with were oblivious to any abuse. Their empathy quickly turned to excuses for my husband’s irrational behavior. They’d never witnessed any of it, so I am wondering if they ever really believed me or maybe thought I exaggerated the truth. The ups and downs became a regular gig in the days and months of my marriage. It never stopped or slowed down. It was and is a toxic cycle in any abusive relationships. We would have great normal days, but then someone or something would cause a trigger reaction where there would be arguing, threats, and intimidation, then denial, blaming, and saying I caused him to act that way. There was never an apology, but there was always a guaranteed silent treatment that followed and lasted for days. The communication would just stop. I became invisible, as well as my feelings.

The times I wanted to leave were immeasurable. He was an expert at convincing me I would never make it on my own and that the kids would hate me forever. Self-doubt was inevitable. The abuse became such a profound part of my life, yet I stayed. The level of toxicity increased through the years. I became very depressed during our last years together as a couple. At one low point, I developed shingles. I felt trapped and unable to see how diminished my self-respect had become. I lost my ability to be combative in arguments, because I’d have rather kept the peace than trigger an emotional outburst.

The joy and happiness in my life was trapped underneath the misery. I worried more about my kids’ and my husband’s lives than my own well being. It was pathetic, but it became my normal. Truthfully, I did not even know what emotional and financial abuse was, or that it was considered domestic violence until I finally broke down and secretly went to a local women’s abuse center for counseling. Knowledge became power for me. I began to research and read up on the issues. They all resonated with me. I learned the best way to handle an abuser and how to leave an unhealthy marriage.

My husband’s goal was to gain control and power over me through all the belittling, financial control, and manipulation. His behavior had become unpredictable and troublesome. The more I pulled away from his grip on me, the tighter he held on. I had to carefully plan my escape. The last few months we were together, I had to act like I would try to work on our relationship. I pretended to care, when deep down I hated him, and I hated myself for allowing this man to tear apart my soul.

I began regular therapy, which gave me instant perspective. Every time I left the sessions, I felt more powerful. Just having an outsider view my marriage, who acknowledged my disheveled marital unraveling and allowed my doubts and fears to slowly dissipate. It was if when I was inside the confines of his delusional world, I couldn’t think straight or function as the strong woman I once was. His constant barrage of hurtful words kept me fenced in on the emotional merry-go-round. My therapist explained once that this vicious and toxic cycle was what we needed in each other as partners. He needed to be in control of my life, and I became accustomed to forgiving his bad behavior.

It took me an excruciating year of facing my fears to realize I had to leave or I would never make it out. I was afraid I would become seriously ill from internalizing the abuse for all those years. The strong fist of domestic violence would end up costing me my life, my soul and my being! It wasn’t up to me to help him see his evil ways or making him better. That was his karma. He had to help himself, and I knew I had to jump off the merry-go-round no matter how difficult it would be.

I blindsided him and left while he was away one day. With the support of family, my therapist, an attorney, and friends, I am starting a new life. It was the scariest decision I had ever made, but I now consider it to be an exciting new beginning for me. A new chapter has begun. I now write my own future and that is the power of self.

Emotional and financial abuse is real, and is as destructive to a human being as physical abuse. Here are some sane and loving directions for anyone who may be on the same park ride as I once was:

  • Get an attorney. If you can’t afford one, there are pro bono attorneys available.
  • If you love your home and find it too difficult to leave, or if the abuser refuses to exit and makes more money that you, you have to have to walk out the door. Make a plan, find a place if even temporary. It’s just a material item. Your sanity is far more important than any replaceable structure.
  • Do research information about emotional abuse. Call women’s centers in your area for free counseling and support. Knowledge is power. They can even help you with housing, finding free attorneys and filing a PFA if your situation warrants that.
  • Do not engage in any conversations with the abuser, especially after you leave. It’s their tool for getting you back on that detrimental ride of abuse. I blocked my abuser immediately from my cell phone and emails. My boundaries were not strong enough to guard off the hurtful words I wanted to leave behind. It has to be an abrupt cut off of all communication. If you have kids, the abuser can communicate through attorneys.
  • Learn how to love yourself. Involve yourself in a great support group or with others who have gone through similar situations. Most importantly, don’t look back; you are not going that way. Get therapy and work on YOU.

About the Author | Mary Elizabeth Robinson

Leave a Reply

63 comments to "Emotional Abuse: The Invisible Train Wreck"

  • diana

    Thanks so much for this article. I lefty husband one month ago and for the same reason.. I’m starting to feel better about myself!!


      Thank you Diana. It is not a matter of wanting a divorce, it is a matter of taking care of yourself emotionally and physically. Marriage should not make our emotions invisible. Everyone’s situation varies, however, I was unaware that I was even in a manipulative, and emotionally abusive relationship.
      Thank you for your comment.
      Blessings to you and your family.

  • Betty

    My story is so similar to yours, I felt like I wrote it. I have been out of the abusive marriage for four years and am happy and safe. It is scary, but you must protect your children’s mother.

  • Thanks so much…a great article explaining every emotion u go thru.. My husband is a sociopath too.. and hv been facing a similar issue..unable to break off because of lack of support frm my side of family and no financial back up snc last couple of years..am well educated but not confident.

  • SK

    This is a great article Mary but I noticed that the entire article is one sided; relationships are never one sided. You will have numerous women coming here searching for answers but they must see that your life choices may not necessarily be for them. Not once have you mentioned what you may have done to contribute to a single issue that you mentioned. I am pro-relationship and pro-working through issues. Having been to counselling, I must say that it helped us to the extent of identifying reasonable ethical boundaries for both partners. The ONLY way our issues are ever truly resolved is through both partners taking responsibility and getting their ethics sorted, not just one partner…. and it is ONGOING. Please finish this article with a few comments about how you may have contributed to the ending of your relationship. Also maybe include some advice for people that want to save their relationship. Here’s a start (one of thousands on the internet)… https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/01/how-to-save-marriage_n_3444602.html

    You’ve only given divorce advice. Based on what I have seen with a number of my divorced friends, your readers must understand that life is definitely not always greener on the other side.

    • Kat

      When you are in an abusive marriage, there is no saving it! Abusers don’t change, that’s a fact. Ladies, if your man is abusing you in any way, run as fast as you can no matter what anyone else says. “Two sides to every story” is the BS that allows women to be systematically abused and keeps manipulative, lying men unaccountable for their actions.

      • TruthSerum

        No, there are not two sides to every story; there is only one…The abuse from the abuser. There is no such thing as taking responsibility for abuse, unless you are the abuser. I have yet in my 60 years and as a former psyc nurse EVER seen an abuser take responsibility for their behavior AND CHANGE PERMANENTLY. Don’t hold your breath; hold your position to get out, instead.

      • Brenda Lee Baxter

        Ladies, please understand that no matter how much abuse we encounter, “we can’t keep anyone who doesn’t want to be kept”. I divorced my husband after 19 years of marriage that was very emotionaly abusive. I ran as fast as I could and it hurts to look back. Keep the faith.  BB

        • S.

          I need to do this. My marriage has been emotionally and verbally abusive for eight years and next week makes her 14 wide anniversary. We have two beautiful children 10 and 12 years old I have to get out. My parents turn a blind eye and do not seem to want to financially help me. I’m a stay at home mom. We are financially well off. I’ve been in therapy on and off for the last five years where do I start ???

    • Patsy Thompson

      I don’t know if you are a man or a woman, all I know is you immediately started to bully this lady, do you really think that people just up and leave their whole life behind for the fun of it! Yep you are defiantly in the abuse family,

    • BG

      No! You do not get to tell a woman who has been emotionally abused that she HAS TO do it your way. She stayed for YEARS. An unhappy marriage may be fixed with effort on both sides. A toxic abusive relationship can only be fled.


      this article is hardly one sided.

      read between the lines.

  • Shelley Chapman

    I am a 13 year survivor of domestic emotional abuse ! You’re writinf a spot on. I was physically abused for four years then he got in trouble and it became emotional . my story is a story of survival and you just touched my heart because our stories are identical . I read the book the verbally abusive relationship written by Patricia Evans and it changed my life . I had nothing and three daughters and I left and God took me in his arms and took care of every single detail . I am now married six years to my soulmate my best friend and the most amazing kindest gentlest man you could ever me . It took a while for me to be able to be in a healthy relationship because my thinking was very unhealthy and the fact that someone didn’t belittle me was crazy . Not only was I abused by my husband but by mutual friends because he would make fun of me and they would laugh and I became the punching bag or the doormat to all our friends . My life has changed 100% I spot an abuser before they can even get in my personal space and I’m free and I daily teach my children my daughters not to allow abuse in their lives . Congratulations to you for your Courage to leave I know how difficult it is. You were in a trance and now you’re out and your story gave me chills from head to toe . You’re free indeed! “LOVE SHOULDN’T HURT”


      You are 100% right; Love should not hurt. It not only took me so much courage to leave the dysfunction, but it also took a lot to recognize my life and soul was not in a good place emotionally.
      I appreciate your comment. It means a lot. I wanted to share this with others who may be struggling.
      Much love and blessings to you and your courageous journey.

  • Jean

    SK….!! You obviously have never been in a verbal and controlling situation before!!!
    You are so wrong!!!
    When you’ve been in an abusive marriage!
    There is no two sides about it!
    it’s all about them!!! Trying to control everything and anything you have and do!!
    Every situation is different!!
    But stop trying to defend the Bully!! The abuser!!
    Mine just laughed in my face when I wanted us to see a marriage counselor.
    nobody was going to tell him what to do!!
    And as he’s gotten older…..he’s worse than ever!!!
    Nothing makes me madder then Hell when you have someone come along and try to feel sorry for the Bully!!! (The Abuser) !!!!

    • Sue M

      You are spot on! There are no two sides about it when you’re dealing with an abuser, no matter the circumstances. I endured emotional abuse (passive aggressiveness) for far too long. I am free now, and feel peaceful for the first time in a very long time. The truth is that it crept up and escalated throughout the years, and I kept trying to ‘please’ As soon as I said “no more!” and decided to just be happy, that ended things. His response was to have affairs. One of the many things I learned was to let go of somehow trying to fix or compensate for the other’s behavior, and concentrate on my inner well being and peacefulness. In my case, nothing stopped this narcissist from hurting me, except me. I chose to be at peace and free. I highly urge others to be brave and make this choice. It changed my life.

    • BG

      Loved your response — SK’s answer was crazy. Go read the abuser’s blog if that’s where you are in your craziness. You spoke from your truth with wisdom and strength.



  • Jamie

    I was 17 and met a guy. We were at a party and he came up to me. He was so cute, tall, dark and I couldn’t take my eyes off of him. He and I were talking and exchanged numbers. He texted me, “I think you’re really cute.” I blushed and he called me that night. We went out a week later and he was the most amazing guy ever! I met his family and they loved me. Invited me to everything like family dinners and so much more. We hungout like everyday and we instantly developed feelings for eachother. He was Prince Charming. Bought me flowers for Valentine’s Day, jewelery for my birthday, perfume, theater tickets, and so much more. After about a month, I felt hard for him. I was so in love with him that he was falling hard for me. We talked about marriage, children, house, cats, pets, and he even told me that we we’re gonna be together forever. I know as a young teen that it probably won’t happen but I thought I had found my soulmate. I never would have thought he was going to be Satan. We got along great but then one day, I gained a little weight and he called me fat. I cried. He begged for forgiveness and I did. He said he was just joking and I take things too serious. That was the start of this behavior. We never argued but all of something, he would pick arguments with me like everyday. He would yell and scream. I would cry because who likes to be yelled at? I didn’t do anything wrong! His behavior got worse and I will never forget when his true colors came out. We got into an argument and he was now screaming, yelling, cursing and threatening and the worst part of that was HE ALMOST HIT ME! He had his hand near my face and hit the wall. I was crying so hard and ran from him. Hid in the bathroom and crying my eyes out. He was chasing me and kept apologizing. Said he took it out on me because he had a bad day. I forgave him because I loved him! I remember feeling so shaky and heart was beating because I had no idea what just happened. Things eventually calmed down and he would be so romantic. Buy me things that I didn’t want. Like a new outfit or makeup. I thought maybe he’s sorry for what he did. So he was starting to act like Satan again. Calling me names like ugly, stupid, fat, worthless, and would always critisize me. He would be so jealous and possessive over who I could talk to or hangout with. I remember if my friends or family were texting he would take my phone and try to block everyone. I would still talk to them and he said to never have communication with anyone. I only have to be with him. That part wasn’t the worst part. I have friends who are guys and he would accuse me of cheating! Just because I have friends! I never cheated! His parents who I thought liked me, now accuse me of cheating! I would have to show proof. They hated that I’m a different religion and always told me to date guys my religion. I didn’t want too! He would constantly call and text and if I didn’t answer, he’d find a way to find me. I felt like he was being the devil and I didn’t want to accept it. I kept thinking what could he do next? Well he told me I couldn’t dress the way that I wanted too. He would buy me clothes but they were so ugly. Like a turtle neck dress or a tank top with jeans a jacket because he didn’t want me to look cute. I couldn’t wear makeup because he would say it’s a mask and you don’t need it. I will wnwver forget when it was my birthday and he called because he was invited to my birthday dinner and he gave me a time to be home so he could see me. If I didn’t get home at that time, he would yell in my face. I got some cute clothes for my birthday and he disapproved everything! I kept everything because I was finally feeling confident. But he made me feel so insecure. I felt like hiding in an eggshell. I cried all the time. Had a hard time sleeping. Couldn’t eat. I was so afraid. He would come to my job and look to see if I was actually working and if I was helping a customer, he would get mad. My job is to help customers. He would tell me to quit my job because I have to be a housewife and he would take care of me. I didn’t quit my job because I love it and he didn’t want me to succeed in life. He would tell me that he makes more money and wouldn’t need my money. He would always talk about his ex gf who left him and he would say how’s beautiful she was and not me. I kept feeling like he’s making me feel ugly. Constantly was mean to my family and would raise his voice to them. I felt like I couldn’t talk to him or feel safe. I was constantly thinking what he was going to do next. Well he said that I was going crazy and I chose to be with him. That’s what I was going to get was how he was treating me. We don’t have kids but there were times when he would tell me that he wouldn’t raise them. I would. By myself. With no help from his family. So I finally got braces and a new hairstyle because I hated my look. He made me feel so self concious and the braces were making me feel so confident. He hated it. Told me to take them off. I didn’t want too. His parents found out and they said I look too sexy for other men. I think the whole cheating allegation against me was because he was being unfaithful and he was! Because I found an email that said I miss you to another girl. I never knew who she was and the message said thanks for the fun time. I confronted him. He was like oh you’re crazy. She’s a friend. I didn’t believe him. He called me from her house and she was saying that they were spending the week together and I instantly hung up the phone and cried. HE CHEATED ON ME!!!!!!!!!!! He didn’t confess but I heard strange noises over the phone. So after that, I finally told my mom. She was in so much shock. She told me everything is okay and he’s a monster. She never approved of him so she said she’s going to help me get out of it. We had a plan. I had enough of his behavior and couldn’t be with him anymore. So he called. He was yelling, screaming, threatening to hurt me and the family. I cried and told mom. She texted him it’s over and it was the best decision ever! I cried after the breakup and he tried to get me back but I said no! I couldn’t do it anymore. He hurt me so bad. I’ve went out with different guys but none I really like. I know this is probably going to haunt me forever but I have my friends, family, job and I’m alive!

  • triciawood_07@hotmail.com

    What a great arrival. Spot on! I’m going thru this same right now. It’s been hell but I finally got the strength to file for divorce. It’s not over yet, but looking back I don’t know how I did it. Educate youredelf. It’s what saved me.

  • Fi Fi

    I could have written much of this myself. Very similar story to mine. Married 22 years before I realised I could have become a murder statistic. I had very poor support when I was trying to escape. I have to say that what he did to me in the years following our separation was so abusive in so many ways – vexatious litigator, extreme financial abuse, stalking, terrorising me, spreading terrible viscious lies about me, lying to the children and more. I was a well educated professional with three children. He went bankrupt so I would get nothing. He haunted my every living moment. I was diagnosed with PTSD. I am so grateful for your post. To know that others have experienced this abuse is more than sad but also a comfort because knowing someone understands what you’ve been through is so important. My daughter said a few years ago how proud she was that I got out when I did. The boys have been amazingly supportive too. I have managed to turn my life around somewhat. The emotional scars are there still and sometimes I still suffer from anxiety. I hope the black hole of depression doesn’t return. My children are now all in their thirties. They have struggled with demons too. They are the mainstay of my existence.
    I do what I can now to support victims of domestic violence.

  • Shannon Q

    I just saw this perfectly written piece. I’m struggling in my life. He treats me horribly. I’m very aware of the manipulation/control. I have an attorney, just need the strength to file

    • Sonya Ramos s

      I’m in denial still holding on to the memories of the year and half we spent together before the marriage. I keep waiting to wake up from my nightmare. I’ve never shared that kind of love, or felt that kind of hate with anyone in all my 45yrs

  • Naomi

    Reading your story was frightenly like mine.
    Therapists have told me to leave and I will be ok and happy again.
    He is a special brand of abuser as he is a manic-depressive, intelligent and cultured, fun personality that people love. He saves the real person for what his mom called kitchen talk. He goes up and down. When he’s up he is happy-as-larry, but when he’s down he has tirades and takes everything out on me.
    I’m a smart businesswoman but have become isolated by him. He tells me I’m crazy, not articulate, can’t understand anyone…he has-lights. No one knows except 1 girlfriend.
    It’s eating me up inside….but, I find it hard to let go.
    I see it. What’s wrong with me?

  • Victoria Brown

    I just got out of an abusive relationship. I’m twenty four years old. Thinking about the abuse sucks so much. One day it got so bad that he pistol whipped me. I had this man back. I was his home when he was cold. For him to do such a thing like that is heartbreaking. I’m still in the healing stage and sometimes it becomes hard. Some days I want to call him and tell him how much I miss him, then other days I hate him for what he put me through. Reading other people stories helps me heal because I know that I am not alone and that we can come together and give each other advice.

    • Women For One
      Women For One

      Hi Victoria, thanks so much for your comment. We appreciate your courage and honesty in sharing your voice (and your own story!) with us. The healing process can be very tender, and we encourage you to reach for whatever support you need—from reading the stories of other Truthtellers to getting professional guidance for your situation to seeking communities of people who honor you and your experience.

      Our founder, Kelly McNelis, also recently contributed to a piece about how to recognize emotional abuse (whether you are currently in a situation, out of it, or wanting to help others who are experiencing it), and perhaps it will offer you some solace and tips on moving through to find the light at the end of the tunnel. https://www.mydomaine.com/signs-of-an-emotionally-abusive-relationship–5a8cec3877509

      Thanks again for connecting with us, and for being brave enough to begin your healing journey.

  • Elizabeth

    Hi, thank you for your story, I’ve been searching for reasoning and help as I believe my husband is a bully but sometimes he makes me think I’m the crazy one. He’s older, a widow, with grown up adult children ten years younger than me and we have a two year old and I’m pregnant again, 4 months, though neither of us planned this time. He constantly tells me I’m crazy, I imagine things, I’m selfish, I’m trying to make him sound crazy, he didn’t say or do that. In the space of 5 minutes he tells he is happy about the new child and then tells me he wants me to get abortion when I don’t agree to other things he way he wants. He has told me he shouldn’t have married me, a week after our wedding when I was 8.5 months pregnant, he doesn’t love me, he tells his children I pressured him or anything not to make him seem anything other than loving and kind. They hate me, especially now with the second child, in all honestly I have done nothing to them but support them, be nice, include them in everything, constantly tell my husband to call them, involve them. I don’t think they have any idea really of what goes on sometimes but still they blame me for everything and I have destroyed the family. My husband refuses to acknowledge any pain and constantly tells me I don’t make them a family or don’t try while he sits back and does less than zero and even says he doesn’t want to make an effort. He told people the first time I was pregnant a lot of untruths and will do again. He is a scary man, I don’t know why I always believe him when he suddenly seems normally again and says lovely things like he wants us to be together and a family. If I ever correct him about what has been going on I get a torrent of accusations none of which are true. Sometimes I feel I’m the crazy one. Trying to find the strength to leave while not angering anyone further, he will take me to court and fight me on every level as he doesn’t like to lose. I guess we have to go through the storm to find the beauty the other side. I’m nervous he will take my children, although rationally I know he can’t, he has a lot of resources and I have very few. Mostly I’m so sad as once I was very much in love and believed he wanted to get married and have more children, now he says he never promised anything, I still have the messages. It’s so tough for anyone in this situation, I feel very abused by the whole family and think if only they knew the truth of who and what he is it might all be easier, I would never do that though to them about their father. I am going to protect my children from being rejected anymore and pick up the pieces. Nice to vent, thank you for reading x

  • maria

    Thank you so much it helps me to read about what is going on in my life,I am trying my hardest to get him out I moved out of state with him one year ago big mistake am all alone 6 states away from my family and friends ,My fault I seen the red flags but ignored them .I own everything I still can’t get him out called the police they did nothing,He has broken a lot of my stuff he screams at me bully me belittles me threaten to burn down my house along with other things.Now he is saying if I give him 10,000 he will leave I hate his guts

  • Una

    I feel like I’m reading my own story I’ve left him after discovering he’s been texting and seeing other women as well I was devastated away nine weeks still difficult but getting stronger I’ve got a very supportive family behind me always had just didn’t realise they are the ones who loved me I do now

  • Gail

    My story is so similar after not speaking for past 3 weeks because of cussing name calling degrading my family he tells me he wants out cares nothing for me says he will not live this way and my story for 22 years was so much like your I say I hate him but my heart is crushed I feel ashamed of me don’t want to be without him don’t want our home gone I feel so responsible I have been called liar shit nogood dor 22 yrs and I’m scared to death and so hurt please help me

    • Marie

      Hi Gail – im in the same sinking boat. Married 27 years to an emotionally abusive man. When I think about the things he’s said and done to me, I get so angry and deep sadness and I want to begin a new healthy life. The sick part is that I still have hope that he would see what he’s done and ask for forgiveness and seek help and we could have that happily ever after , I too don’t want to be without him but it’s causing me such heartache, I see your post was only a few months back and curious if anything changed.?

  • Lori Rux-augustine

    Reading this, I could have easily written every single word.. I’m at the point of obtaining the lawyer. The real battle has yet to begin with him legally, mentally I have won that war! In hindsight, the fog that blinded me and engulfed me nearly took my life and my sons for 2 very different reasons both caused by him. And that was day fog began to lift. When I could focus? I’m still in shock finding out the things he did, that I didn’t know l. Who was this man? How could he? And why hurt those that loved him? I’ve stopped trying to rationalize such an irrational thought!!!

    But thank you!
    Articles like this, give me strength to keep pushing on!

    Lori Rjux

  • Valerie

    Thank you for this article. I’ve recently started going to an abuse center. My husband of almost 31 yrs has kept me in a so called plastic bubble until I try to pull away which causes so much arguing. I was never allowed to go to school, have a full time job, go with friends alone, make decisions on our home, watched the clothes I wore, jealousy with him is horrible, he’s not loving, compassionate, doesn’t want to hear my feelings and says I abuse him. It’s always about him. I always felt isolated in our marriage but just continued on. He lied to me about having cancer 2+ years ago, I must have been talking about splitting up only for him to be diagnosed this year with Hodgkins lymphoma. At first I cried and wouldn’t leave his side, then anger built as though he was purposely doing this to keep me from ever leaving. My emotions have been on a total rollarcoaster on how do I leave now. I really don’t feel anything for him, I love him for we had 5 children together but the resentment grows every day. I’m 51 and I want to be happy and not have fear of him watching my every move. He seems to hold tighter the more I push away. My heart is so empty and I fear getting sick due to all the anxiety I have around him. There’s so much more and I hope I can find the strength to move on. Thank you

  • Sonya Sagehorn

    Thank you for your story. I’m in s verbally abusive relationship with my husband and have lost of who I was and am. His hatred has followed me in different meanings and his words towards me will forever follow and haunt me. All of the party’s and I will work on this or that never seem to own up to it. I’m trying to be brave and think about my poor precious 5 year old who hears her daddy talk so badly to me her mother it sickens me and I cry myself to sleep thinking how much I hate him and want to leave and start a life with my daughter and soon to be son or daughter. But then the next morning I think damn I complain to much is life really that bad? Maybe I make myself believe this is the norm? Idk I just know that I’ve never felt so hurt and disrespected in all my life . Thank you for your story ❤️

  • Lee

    Your story is mostly my story. I’m still stuck in this a ubusive marriage. Trying to make my way out soon. I resent him for all the destruction he has caused. At the moment I am going through such a tough time. My days vary. I mostly have days when I am ok. But the last two days I have been at an all time low. Where I feel stuck and numb. I want to vomit when he is near me.
    I am planning my exit.

  • ME

    THANK YOU SO MUCH. I am going thru an awful situation as an American Brazilian citizen here in sao paulo and this has really touched me. Its like you guessed how I feel. Thank You

  • Dawn

    Dear Mrs. Elizabeth, I found your article for the first time today and it was like reading an autobiography. Could you possibly e-mailed me? I am a Christian Women who has been married 22 years this last April. I have 7 children with my husband, but only 3 daughters left at home. I am from Alaska and had to leave for medical reasons, I have Crohn’s Disease and haven’t worked outside of the house since college. I have homeschooled all my children all the way through school.
    Which means I am desperately alone. My mother is mentally I’ll and divorced my step dad for sexually abussing me. I have no family support. My husband has been with me 25 years but more I try to please him the worse he gets. Help! Do you know of any counselors in Valdosta, Georgia?

    • Lisa

      Honey watch Fried Green Tomatoes, the movie. The help you need can be found by contacting The National Domestic Violence Hotline, by phone or internet. 1−800−799−7233 https://www.thehotline.org/ They will help you find help close to you. Good luck, may you know peace again soon.

  • Whitney

    Thank u. Your a strong woman. I read articles like this alot..it makes me happy. And i can admit and realize i am in an abusive relationship and its scary its hard but to read stories such as this makes me happy for you and every women who was strong enough to leave. Im not strong enough.

  • Constance McLearie

    I want to smile again.

  • Zoey

    That was super difficult to read because it mirrors my situation. I am so alone and he has turned into a completely different person. He legitimately doesn’t care that he is constantly hurting me and then will go days without speaking to me completely unapologetically. As I’m left crying and alone he goes on about his days per usual. I live in a very small town and there are not many support services in place. Since he’s an officer, the service that are in place are not safe nor confidential. It’s a miserable situation to be stuck in. I’m so angry with myself for allowing myself to get stuck in this awful position.

  • Jadwjga

    I agree with the sentence about the karma. I met my husband almost three years ago , fell in love so much than within a month th we were living together in his house , I left my work and life I knew for him . He is 21 years older than myself so I thought he is trustworthy, successful and felt privileged he wanted to marry me . First 6 months were a bliss and then all the hell broke loose . I have tried to leave every month and every time went back.
    I found the article very helpfu in understanding how important it it to think of our health and mental well being in the face of the abuse. I am just about to start a new chapter in my life…goodbye to the past …welcome to my future.
    Thank you for this article ,it made me realise how I should not feel or be treated by a husband.

  • Jennifer C Poulin

    well I will try to write but seems your website has been in active for a few years . I just got out of a 34 year relationship ( marriage ) and seems I can’t find anyone that put up with it that long . You are the only 1 I found . I guess I am just crazy . If you do get this I would love to hear back . Your writings are spot on , but you must know easier said than done . Thanks , feel a little better just to write – Jennifer

  • Susan Hoefer

    Thank you Mary for sharing your story and your strength. I too have been in an emotionally abusive marriage for 28 years. And, I have been emotionally abusive in many ways myself. Dysfunctional, abusive , ways of relating. I realized that , at the core, I was/am abusive to myself. Much self criticism, internalized perfectionism, bullying really. My husband is more passive in his forms of abuse. More controlling tendencies, he too is very hard on himself. Our healing has happened with distance and individually and as we both learn about the abusive parts we each have we are both discovering that we are each responsible for changing our relationship with ourselves first. Learning about self love, learning to control the inner bully, inner critic… inner bitch:) Fortunately, we both have many parts inside, many loving and redeeming qualities which are influencing our way of being in our individual lives. Healing can happen. Because we are both healing and changing and learning as individuals, our marriage is becoming deeper and more loving. We both realize fear was running our individual lives and our marriage. Of course, if he was not able to heal and grow along side my growth, I too would decide to leave , as you did. For now distance and individual healing is changing my individual life and my relationship with my husband.

  • Trish

    I wish I had the wherewithall about me sooner. I agree. Wholeheartedly. Same situation here. Sucks that it is all the forms of abuse except the one that is most recognized by others, but it is most definitely just as if not moreso hurtful and more difficult to explain/prove to others.
    Currently fighting this divorce battle now. Hope to be a ray of sunshine/hope to others struggling someday!

  • Melissa

    I know this post is from 2015, ironically the year I finally divorced my husband of 23 years. As I read this I felt like you were writing my story instead of yours. So, fast forward 3 years and I am now faced with all the issues that I have not been able to reconcile – and I feel I may never- and I am in a relationship that I do not want to bleed all over with my old wounds. Is there book or something you would recommend that could help me with healing some of those wounds. I go to counseling, but I feel like I need something to cling to between sessions that can help me to work through stuff as it happens.

    Thank you

  • Lisa

    I am still in a toxic relationship of 24 years now. I was violently abused by our father growing up, so I ignored the red flags. I was used to them. He used to hit me, but I had him arrested. So he had to do Anger Management. The only thing he learned was another guy in there for Domestic Violence taught him to Belly Bash me. Told him it doesn’t leave visible injuries. So I spent several more years being rammed into by my 6ft. 2in, 275 lb nightmare. While I was 5ft.6in. & 130 lbs. Then after I finally had him arrested yet again, because he could not control his rages after a while, he went into full blown emotional abuse. Gas Lighting all the time. Told everyone, even neighbors I was crazy. (We had a son, and he told them to keep an eye on me for our son’s sake. Truth was he just wanted me watched to see if any men came around while he was at work.) I had several neighbors throughout the 2 decades tell me that after they saw me with our son, and how I was always taking care of him, and our home was spotless, and I took my son everywhere I went. (I could only go to grocery stores.) My millage would be trip metered every time. I would be in for it if I took too long or went to a Dollar store as well as the grocery. He poured Lemonade all over me when I pulled into the driveway one time with our son in the backseat watching. Just walked up to the car, I rolled down the window and he tossed it all over me & the car because I took too long. And it was never him, always me that caused every argument. He would pick fights to leave & go out & then he would stay gone overnight. I did not know until years later that he would park down the country dead end road we lived on & walk back home & sleep in his camper trailer next to the garage. He loved to torture me, I was just glad he was not home. He also hung with his ex in laws family constantly whom I was not welcome with. Who does that anyway? Then there was his porn addiction. I will spare you that one, but I will say I was just happy if he was leaving me alone. But I was afraid our son would find it so he kept it in the attic! Our son never went up there. Then I find out him & his ex were wife swappers, and he still was friends with the two couples they did it with! I mean can this nightmare get any worse? Yet I was the bad egg to everyone he knew. I had to just keep my mouth shut & take it for years. He would explode if I said he was being mean or abusive to me. He has a bottle rocket reaction to anything negative about himself. I finally really started standing up for myself & we would fight verbally a lot at that time. I now had no friends, no family, no one but him & our son. I was stuck, I got a job at a country club to try to make enough to leave him. He would spy with Binoculars from the back parking lot through the large window of the dinning room & hall on the other side. He beat me up several times for being too friendly to guests. Even though I was just trying to get better tips. No flirting, just friendly mind you. I was forced to quit the job after he blacked both my eyes and broke 3 of my ribs. He was arrested again, I was in ICU. cost us thousands of dollars every time, but I was not going to just take it. He told his family I was a nut case & trying to control him by having him arrested on false charges all the time. They treated me worse than dirt. i had only been working weekends so his older daughter from his 1st marriage could babysit, but I was making very good money. So once I healed I went back. But he did it again before I had enough to leave. Now my work new it was no car accidents happening. The management offered me a job at another club out of town and paid for my son & myself an apt. in that town. No strings attached, I finally had escaped, until we had to go to court for child visitations, and support. He was being nuts & threatened our child while he would eventually have visitations, so when the judge said he had never harmed his child he could have regular visitations every wkend~! So I went back to him to protect my son, just as he planned I would do. I could not stand the thought of him possibly doing it to get back at me. So at that point once he knew I could leave he straighten up a bit, no more violence physically for about 5 years. Just the verbal onslaught. At that time he choked me almost to death. I fought back & nearly ripped off his man hood & he finally stopped. That time I had him arrested they told him prison next time. So he never has hit me again. But the psycho of this horrible relationship did scar me severely. I cannot sleep without meds, I have PTSD, I shake & quiver inside when he is around. I have to take nerve medications. Antidepressants did not help the Dr. said because it was situational not my body really. Our son grew up not seeing any of it. My abusers was very crafty. Only bad when our son was out of earshot & eyesight. Then as he grew up he tried to turn even him against me but he couldn’t. Our son caught on to what was happening about 13 to 14 years of age. And has buffered for me ever since, trying to keep him in a good mood, or just staying with me so he would not start on me. Which no child should have to do. He stayed home to this day because of it. While he does go to college. He finally grew up into a wonderful young man. He is just the opposite of his father, thank the good Lord. I always told him I had to raise a gentleman and my life would be complete. We were not allowed to go to church but we would sneak out & go many times during my abusers famous golf outings on Sunday. I would just reset the millage trip meter and park exactly. One time i forgot to lock the car & he knew we went somewhere. So I said I left my purse in the car and just forgot to lock it. By now I am disabled. Mostly from those fake car accidents. I had pain constantly throughout my entire body, mostly bone & joint sever pain from the ribs being broken so much. My knee was broken once, and I now have severe Arthritis, along with type 2 diabetes from gaining weight from one of the meds I had been on for years. Plus I am sure the depression & misery didn’t help me stay thin. But I loved my son, and I had that joy. But now I have a little dog, no apt places that are 55 and disabled will take. She is my support dog, I could never leave her. Plus I checked and because I worked very little I would make only $760. a month on disability if I left him. So I have continued to stay for the home & the money, & to keep my dog. But I am on an emotional roller coaster with no brakes. If I do not get out soon, I fear when he retires in 3 years he will end up killing me. I know I have to do something but it is so hard. Please if you are living this way get out & do not waste your life like I have to end up practically crippled from it in every way…

    • Women For One
      Women For One

      Thank you so much for sharing a piece of your story with us. Because we cannot offer individual feedback, we encourage all women in our community to reflect on their experiences by sending us a Truthteller story submission and gaining the support of our larger community. Here’s the page where you can submit your story, as well as access our submission guidelines: womenforone.com/share.

      Most of all, we encourage our tribe to make truthtelling an integral part of their lives. Truthtelling is all about sharing from the heart with vulnerability and courage. It’s also about finding the silver lining and lessons learned from otherwise painful experiences—while locating the support we need.

      Also, if you are currently experiencing a lack of resources and support, we encourage you to check out our Crisis Resources page at womenforone.com/crisisresources/, which we created especially for our tribe.

      Women For One is committed to helping women from all walks of life make happen on their own terms. But we also understand that our life stories encompass challenges, trauma, and circumstances that can sometimes feel inescapable. We are here to let you know that there is help, and there is hope.

  • Kathryn Stolz

    This sums up my life! I am 63 and I have lived this life. I want out. I live in Central Florida.

  • Reem

    I am in the middle of this same situation..

    Reading this helps me a lot. Thank you for sharing your strong. It gives me power to stand up.

  • Carolyn Bennett

    Wow, a great article, but I’m locked in here, just since he retired from DEA, this started, and I’m a behaviorist. I’m destitute he has all the money, suddenly, he stood up on the lanai and tore my beach dress off. It had begun, I’m 74 and he is 80. Never had this happened when he was working,,,it happens,, followed by several venues, that broke me.. my doctor at Fl. Behavioral, Dr. Nihal Shah. Was a friend, I have trouble going out and facing my neighbors. Self esteem has flown.
    Carolyn Bennett Faddis Clearwater Fl. 727-772-5815. Grand Venezia at baywatch

  • Patricia White

    This story is me… 25 years. I’m going through a hard time but will overcome.

  • Debbie

    My hole family have been in emotionally abuse for 20 years with that my dad already suffers from depression on top of the abuse . It’s not fair . That he has done this and needs to be behind bars .

  • Nicole

    Thank you so much for this. Words cant express.

  • Eli Richardson

    Thanks for your suggestion about finding a group that shares similarities to your case. My sister had enough of her toxic relationship. I know it won’t be easy for her, but at least a therapist could help her understand not to look back. 

  • Misty

    Thank you for sharing your story. I have been married for almost 20 years. I am just starting to understand why I have been so unhappy for so long. I was physically abused by my mother growing up and after I divorced my 1st husband thought I found a prince in my husband now. He is a monster in disguise. I believed all the things he does is because he loves me, but both of my sons saw it years ago. They took off as soon as they could find an escape and I don’t blame them. I have become a miserable person and dread going home. I feel guilt because he is now unable to work. That just started a whole new type of abuse. I even feel guilt for writing these words, like I’m somehow betraying him. Why is it wrong to want happiness? I just want to be able to smile and laugh like the happy person I was. To sing with the radio and drive just for the fun of it and not have to report in. To finally have a friend and go to a bar for a drink if I want. I’m a grown ass woman, why can’t I?

  • Hope

    Most of what you wrote resonates with me. I’m still stuck in my own prison… i hope one day i can have the courage to leave…

  • Dee

    Oh goodness how real this is. It is a cunning way of pushing responsibility for the abuse onto some one else. He is the victim or so he tends to make one believe.
    Fear of the aggression and the tantrums are devastating especially the fact that no one stands up for you. They are powerful as they make their mark outside by helping all and sundry while you are left dying inside and having to cope on your own. There is no cure for this and when you are in your sixties you are too tired to fight back.

  • Dee

    Thank you for your honesty I have been dealing with a man that when I look back has like 2 sides he is a man that has to touch other woman and I guess you do make excuses I loved our children he loved his job so he was was a man with 2 sides we had good times and I loved the kids. But after 60 years of marriage I now saw for the first time a man that got caught lieing at a assistant living place. The director called a meeting and she questioned him several times he lied he said he did not remember he wanted telephone numbers to call the help and she asked another question and he said I never touched her tho and finally admitted his words said to a woman that was hired to assist him , that was only afew days at this place so he was a christian man one side and a lier woman lover other side I wanted him to die and take his dirty laundry to the grave but God had other plans. He is a man that kids looked up to him he has education etc etc and he made me feel like I could do nothing because I never went to many years of college. He finally admitted something after 60 years of marriage. Here it is end of my life and I do not want to live in hate toward him I am a christian woman and only want to put Jesus in my life yes emotional abuse is a killing everyday situation. But after he did this and lied to all of us I can not continue to live with this man. After 2 weeks of hearing this if i have to call him he says he is cured and all he wants is his cell phone and computer. I sure would love some advise. I pray pray and God is leading only christian men to do work that I have to get work done on home in order to perhaps sell I don’t know what to do. We are not going to tell Grandkids several of them. I am in late 70’s.

  • Dsj

    Reading this blog really resonates with me, and as I read, I feel as if I was reading my life with my ex, almost perfectly! I too was married for 22 yrs to my abusive husband. It took me so long to figure out what what was going on in my life. From the day-to-day stress of the situation, I developed shingles 2 x’s, and it got to the point where my doctor told me that I had to find a way to eleiminate my level of stress or it would develope into something much more serious. At that point I broke down and ask how that was possible since my stress was coming from my husband (it hadn’t even occurred to me that my leaving was an option), and I felt trapped. My friend encouraged me to go to the Aware Shelter for free counseling, and I began to start my journey to take my personal power back. Thank you for sharing your story, and for the strength you acheived, as this has been encouraging to me. In a couple days is our 1 year anniversary since we divorced, and I have been feeling a bit blue. Your blog lifted me up and helped me to know that I am not alone. I really felt like you were able to express the exact words that I wanted to say, but couldn’t. Thank you so much!! You derserve the personal power you have taken back. I am still recovering, but am ancouraged by your example to know that a healthy view of myself is within reach! Thank you, thank you, thank you, and best wishes!

  • Christine

    I love your article! I am in a similar situation. However I have two children 16 and 13 he threatens to take them away from me. I know he can’t. Just afraid of how cruel he is thinking. Please help. I have friends and family support. I’m strong just afraid I won’t be able to handle his rath.

  • Katy T

    I appreciate your story. Especially the part about the silent treatment for days. I endure that 85% of my marriage. For me it’s so difficult bc my husband moved me to a whole new state where I don’t know anyone and have no friends or family here. Just me and my kids and I can’t go back to my home state bc I can’t leave and take my kids due to “his rights”. I can’t afford to leave either unfortunately. I have reached out to a few lawyers but to no avail. I am going through some health issues right now and my husband threatens me and gets very mean and nasty when it’s hard for me to care for our 1 yr old when he doesn’t want him around. He also refuses to help me in any kinda way. For example he said he won’t pick me up and drive me home from a fairly serious scheduled surgery I’m supposed to have in a few weeks. I’m still unsure how I will navigate through that. As I don’t have anyone to ask. I’m kinda scared to be home in such a vulnerable state. He definitely has convinced me that I’m completely psychotic and even as I’m writing this I wonder if I am. My home is basically a prison and you could cut the tension with a knife. I would love to go out but I don’t know anyone here. I’m 25 hours away from home now. My husband won’t go out w me anywhere. I run errands and work. That’s it. I take my kids out sometimes but I can’t remember the last conversation I’ve had with an adult that didn’t involve work. It’s been years though. I realized I was in an abusive marriage the day I came from having a procedure done and I was really struggling but still trying to do what I needed for the kids and myself. My husband said he would kick in my stomach where I had the procedure bc I mentioned I may not be able to handle our 1 yr old that night. That was a defining moment for me….I cried for so long that night. Most of the time I just sit and look outside wondering what it’s like to be ok or normal or happy and I hate that this is what my life is. I know I can’t leave for the next 13 years or so. I always heard of abuse growing up and never thought it would be me.