Seven Reasons Women Stay in Abusive Relationships and How To Defeat Each One of Them

by John Shore on April 6, 2010 · 178 comments

Since its publication thousands of women have used John Shore’s revelatory Seven Reasons Women Find Themselves in Abusive Relationships to completely and permanently turn around their lives. Penetratingly clear and breathtakingly insightful, Seven Reasons is a must-read for any woman ensnared in a physically or emotionally abusive relationship. Such a relationship is like a frighteningly dark cave; Seven Reasons carefully, directly, and lovingly walks any women trapped in such a cave back out into the light. As surely as any abused woman will recognize herself in the seven reasons Shore gives for why people first get attracted to and then stuck in such relationships, she will find salvation in his prescription for defeating each one. A women in an abusive relationship has lost something core to herself; Seven Reasons restores it to her.

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Seven Reasons Women Stay in Abusive Relationships, and How To Defeat Each One of Them, paperback edition, 6 x 9 in., softcover, signed by John Shore and inscribed per your request. (Each book also comes with one of John’s utterly bookmark-worthy business cards, signed and dated on back.) $7.99.

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Praise for Seven Reasons:

This is a very detailed and extremely supportive article about the reasons women tell themselves they need to stay put in abusive relationships. —

An excellent piece of writing that speaks very practically about the reasons someone stays in a bad relationship. Worth looking at, even if you are not someone, nor do you know someone who is abusive. The answers John gives helps us understand how it is that we may do things that do not seem like it’s in our best interest. It is a wonderfully well written, easy to understand and non-clinical approach to answering the question, “Why do some women stay in abusive relationships?” —

Whether this is a problem for you now, or for someone you know, it impacts people too often. There are many reasons we stay in abusive relationships. Shore’s insights, understanding, wit and humor can help all of us—male and female. —

From readers:

“Thank you…your post has helped me finally leave a emotionally abusive relationship with a man. Thanks for describing this dynamic. I’ve never heard it done so eloquently.”— Heather.

“I credit 7 Reasons with changing and saving my life” — Lisa E

“John, as someone who works with DV (domestic violence) victims, I’d like to thank you for this great resource. There is an amazing amount of good, solid information out there on emotional/physical abuse. But your short blogs go right to the heart. Thank you so much for caring about women, encouraging us, and sharing your ideas. You’re right on.” — Anonymous

“Bless you, John Shore.” — Mindy

“John Shore – what comes through the most in these writings is your love and tender-hearted care for women. Wow. It’s amazing. Thank you.”— Rkerstetter1

“I sit here with my mouth wide open in amazement at the way John describes to a ‘T’ the reason why I cannot move “him” out of my life … I don’t really know if I am glad that I have read this or if I am in shock …” — Anonymous

“This is fantastic. Thank you. Mr. Shore, please keep up your beautiful, empowering, compassionate, thoughtful and passionate advocacy of women!” — Lara

“Thank you so much. You deserve an award for posting this info! Great info indeed.” — Anonymous

“I have really, really appreciated finding this.” — christinej

“BRILLIANT! Oh bravo, bravo!!!” — Freda

“Thank you John, for opening your heart to take in some of the pain of we who carry such vile memories deep inside our still struggling and shaking psyches and emotions. You’re a true brother.” — Anonymous

“Are you really a woman? LOL You nail abusive relationships. Thanks for getting it.”– Strong.

“This article is just what I needed to read, just when I needed it! Thank you.” — TS

“Most helpful, strong stuff I have read in a long time. Very sobering.” — Anonymous

“BRAVO BRAVO BRAVO!! Just had to shout.” — Laura W.

“This is an amazing article that I have to view as an answer to prayer. I’ve never before seen your blog or articles and was amazed at the clarity of the truths you’ve written about so well.” — Anonymous

“I posted the link to this wonderful article on my Facebook page, and my son (20) sarcastically commented … ‘I think you should listen to that dude, Mom.’” — Anonymous

“I wish I had discovered your article years ago.” — Sylvie.

“John – Thank you so much for this! I really related to Reason #4 – Old Family Tapes. This site is extraordinarily helpful and I will recommend to my friends dealing with the same issues. Thanks so much!!!” — Maren S.

“I agree very much with what you have said here John.” — Anonymous

“Thank you for posting this information. Thank you a million times. I read it almost daily to keep myself out of the “marinade” that my soon-to-be ex-husband tries to douse me with constantly.” — April

“Having worked in a local women’s shelter, I absolutely applaud your latest opus!!!” — Anonymous

“Wow. Thank you. Thank you for your affirmation.” — Deb.

“Really empowering. Life changing. Something I’ll come back to again and again.” — Anonymous

“Rereading this today, and sending it out to any woman having trouble saying ‘Things Ain’t What They Used to Be.’” — Helen Winslow Black

“Wow. Great stuff. This will be worth several reads.” — Erica H.

“Thank you SO MUCH for posting this … funny stuff, but oh-so true! I’ve only scanned over the article once, but I can already see there is SO MUCH GOOD STUFF that will help me and I think will also help my kids!” — Anonymous

“I just discovered this this morning and I honestly can’t tell you how much they mean and how serendipitous it was that I found them today of all days….Thanks again for your help in all this, it is greatly appreciated.” — Anon.

“Thank you very much for such an insightful article.” — Jose

“WOW. Amazing. So true.” — CJ

“Once again, John, you have truly and bravely spoken words that many are afraid to voice. You can’t even imagine how much your blog-site on this very subject is ministering to women in this situation.” — Anonymous

“John, What a wonderful article and there are so many women going though the deep angst you talk about.” — Lain

“Powerful and profound insight into the nightmare of abusive relationships and the people who inhabit them…..the most loving and thoughtful exposition I’ve ever read about the dynamics of domestic abuse.” — Not AVictim

“John: thank you thank you … so needed to be said.” Anonymous

“Very good summary. I left my 15 years of hell 5 years ago. You WILL survive. You WILL feel better than you ever thought possible. This article is insightful and accurate.” — Flanders

“I very much approve of your way of writing things. I very much approve of your common sense and the priorities you set.”— Jule

“Thanks for the part about power. It has explained a lot.” — Diane

“This is one of the most powerful bits of writing on abuse I’ve read.” — Anonymous

“Thank you for this.” — MHD

“Oh my goodness you couldn’t be more right! I’m going through this right now. Thanks for the help” — Anonymous

“I found your insights helpful in my counseling service to battered women. You are doing amazing work here.” — Greta

“I love the comparison of an abusive man to a rabid dog, it is an excellent one. I have a friend who was in an abusive relationship for about a year. This series has helped me understand her better.” — Melinda

“Wow! this is what I needed to hear, right now. stuff I haven’t heard before about men & power in this context. really, really thank you. only wish I’d known it sooner. thank you John, this has given me new understandings I can really use NOW.” — Merk

“Words can not express how proud/happy/beaming I am that you said what you said John. Just wanna fly to America and give you a big hug!!! Keep preaching preacher, we all love you.” — Anonymous

“Your comments here are sure to help a lot of people, not just women.” — Anonymous

John, why do you understand this subject so well? It’s hard to believe you’re not really a woman.” — HJ

“Thank you John, gonna download this now, know a few people who need to read it. Thank you so much for these posts, you have hit the nail on the head so many times, something I have to say I have never read/heard/seen a man do effectively on this topic before.” — CB

{ 178 comments… read them below or add one }

D Dixon October 6, 2011 at 11:13 am

I’ve always considered myself a fairly intelligent person, a working professional. So how is it that after 30, I could lay awake at night starring into the face of a man I feel I’ve never known and have come to hate. My first lover, the father of child.

First it was drugs, then daily drinking, I’d come home to a “local hangout”. That was only the beginning.. night after night I was shaken awake, to listen to drunken ramplings of insecutites, accusations of affairs, treats of sucide, killing anyone who interferred and unwanted sex… When confronted, he’d claim he didn’t remember, if I threatened to leave, he’d promise to quit drinking. Cry that he couldn’t live without me, that I would ruin our sons life by and that he would come to hate me for breaking our family.

As part of my search for answers, I stumbled upon this article… I couldn’t believe how it seemed to be talking directly to me. It gave me the strength to take a stand up to him and say “that’s it, I’m not living my life like this anymore”. I won’t say it was easy, because it wasn’t, the weeks that followed were pure hell. At his every angle, and he tried them all, I’d come back to the article and re-read it.

6 months later, I’m finding myself and becoming a different person. I’ve let my family and friends into my life, and I realize how foolish I was to keep them out of it, when they’ve been so supportive.

You have two choices: 1. take the necessary steps to save yourself or 2. die waiting for someone else to save you …. Life is to short, and I’ve wasted enough. Last week I got a birthday card from sister-in-law that said “Live your life, no one deserves one more than you”.


Cathy Elings September 11, 2011 at 6:33 am

You can love a man all you want, and you may never stop loving him, but no love in the world can change a man. You can’t let him kill you physically, mentally, emotionally. When you are dead inside, it is only marginally less than being dead on the outside. You may never stop feeling you love the man, but you can’t let him poison your mind, your life, take away everything you’ve ever worked for. No man is worth your life. Let me repeat, no amount of your love, your sacrifice, your pain will change him. He has you convinced he can only be a good man if you are suffering, that you have to prove your love by your pain and sacrifice. That is not love. That is oppression in the worst and most personal sense. Just because he says he loves you, when he isn’t busy treating you like a dog, does not mean his version is love is the same as yours or anyone else’s. Ask yourself, will he suffer and sacrifice for you the way he demands you do for him? He doesn’t love you. He doesn’t value you. He loves the power he has over you. He loves the fear and pain in your eyes. He loves that he is so powerful that you keep coming back for more. Save yourself. Get help. For God’s sake if you have children, get away from him. He will ruin their lives as much as he is ruining yours. They will be scarred and may think that is the way relationships should be, and they will suffer for it. Get friends who DO NOT encourage you to take his shit. Get to a shelter. Don’t let him tie you down with fear of lonliness, lack of money, shame. There is no shame in saving YOUR life. Ever. Anyone who tells you there is is also a LIAR and does NOT love you. Even if it is your parents, your so-called friends, your siblings, your minister, your therapist. Anyone who says you should just stay and take the abuse and be a martyr for the institution of marriage is a fake and a liar. No man who and no person who abuses you or encourages you to be abuses deserves your love, and you don’t deserve his or anyone else’s abuse.


Glenda Theos September 24, 2011 at 2:18 pm

Amen my dear, amen. A person does not hit and degrade a person he loves, period.


sara September 6, 2011 at 5:23 pm

So much attention is given to why abusive women stay in abusive relationships, and at times, a womans intelligence is suspect for staying.

Well, I have an opposite statement. Its the abusive men that are so stupid. How could they act like that and think they are gaining any respect? I know I know, the abusive man does not give a crap about their partner, but 9 times out of 10, if you go around hitting people and being emotionally abusive, etc. most people do retaliate, and the abuser is the one that ends up worse off.

I’ve dated, and had my share of men that have tried to “own” me and act all controlling, etc. and to me, its an immediate red flag, “EWW, stalker, loser, desperate” and I would cut off all contact. The phone would ring, and there would be 87 messages. Really.. Its amazing to me how stupid so many of these guys are!!

But maybe they are so black hearted that they dont have anything else better to do than troll the earth for the 1% chance of getting to beat someone up, (physically, verbally, etc. )

I dated this guy for about a year, and he turned out to be a total yahoo. He felt entitled to act like a jerk. The stupid idiot still calls and leaves messages and its been 7 years!!

Abusive men are stupid, stupid stupid.. I say, cut off all their penises so they dont bring any children into the world!!


BROWN August 26, 2011 at 8:45 am

I feel like such a FOOL for having stayed in this emotionally and verbally abusive relationship for so long. We have been married for 21 years! I am finally working fulltime again and have been saving what I can so I have some small measure of security. I need to end this. I want to end this. How do I get over feeling like such an idiot for having stayed so long? At this point, it is fear of admitting what a dope I’ve been that is holding me back.


Ann Y August 27, 2011 at 7:26 am

You are not a dope or a fool. Plain and simple, his verbal abuse has taught you to believe that. You were duped and fooled. Tell yourself that over and over. It will sink in. We all feel like idiots at some point in our lives, and it is okay. Years after my divorce, I still shake my head in disbelief that I stayed married to him for so long. And, I can laugh about it. Being a child of the 60’s, I sometimes refer to that period of my life as the world’s longest bad acid trip . . .

I applaud you for working full time. That is another proof of your courage and strength. Entering the workplace can be frightening, and you did it anyway! You can leave him and you will. God will always love you and is always there for you.


km August 25, 2011 at 10:14 pm

Just left an emotionally abusive man. Abusive to others besides me, too, like his employees. Thankfully, I have no children.
I’ve moved to a town very, very far north, about 1500miles from where he is.
I have to go back to his place for 3 weeks, and I’m not really sure why I agreed to going back in the first place. He’ll be away (he wants me to run his business while he’s out of town) for most of the time, but still. It’s going to be very strange.
I promise I will read this article daily while I am in his house, to remind me of why I left. And then I will delete it from my browser history.
I promise I will find the courage to talk to him about how I feel, in the hopes of preventing the pattern from continuing with another woman in the future.
I promise I will do the things I need to do for ME, and not worry about how he is going to react.
I promise I will not let myself listen when he tells me the nasty things I am sure he will come up with. I will not let them enter my ears, because that way I will not be able to replay those words long after he has said them.


nhiii September 8, 2011 at 6:10 pm

be careful
he might kill you…i seen it all the time on crime shows…


Glenda September 24, 2011 at 2:26 pm

He sounds dangerous, you don’t have to go back, you are choosing to. At least reconsider where you will you will be staying, his house does not seem like a good choice for you.
nhiii has a valid point – be very careful


Donna Powers August 23, 2011 at 6:03 am

Thank you for writing this; my four daughters and I left our abuser 12 years ago-and not with the blessings of our church-as a matter of fact, I was told I would be taking the children and I out of the hands of God if I left. I was also told that I needed to pray harder for our abuser; that it sometimes took our knees bleeding to open ourselves up to hear Gods answers. Our pastor felt like God had spoken to him and told him no divorces under any circumstances-pray harder. I finally stayed gone for good-by that time I had pretty much lost contact with all friends and family members-moving to another state hadn’t helped-I felt very alone. But I had started taken the girls to a martial arts class months before we left, and had began kick boxing myself. The instructor pulled me aside one day and told me he recognized the eyes of an abused woman-I started to argue, he told me there was no point-he shared with me how I didn’t deserve it, and that he wanted to start teaching me techniques to protect myself and the children; and that’s exactly what happened. My ex was off on one of his “your mother is filled with Satan” speeches to the children and told them they all needed to pray for me to be more like Jesus-this was all happening as he was loading them into the car to get away from me-I remember standing there and feeling hopeless and feeling very sure that he was going to disappear with my girls this time. I barely remember taking that first step towards him, picking him up and slamming him on his back, with my knee to his chest and my hand to his throat-I than let him know that at that very moment his life was in my hands and that if he ever, ever tried to take them again I would kill him-I remember the look of fear in his eyes-and it felt good. I than took my children out of the car and into the house, and locked the door.


Jenn N October 5, 2011 at 7:36 pm

Donna, you’re an inspiration. I am so glad you got yourself and your daughters free of this man and that church that just didn’t understand. Righteous anger is a gift from God! Thank you for sharing your story.


Suzanne Perry August 22, 2011 at 11:53 am

Awesomely amazing, crisp and clear, blatant truth. There is no better way to put it .. I love this write up.
Makes me feel like you’ve said it all, I have nothing to add. WELL DONE. We need to spread it round like wildfire. Truth. Facts. There is a better life out there but you have to take the leap.


eve August 13, 2011 at 12:24 am

ive been out of my abusive marriage for 20 yrs. since then, even after changing my mindset, i cannot find a good man. they all hvae these “requirements’ that are not realistic. looks,money, pooch out babies for them. do everything, while they do , what? donate sperm? ads on singles sites are ridiculous. so, I dont blame a woman when she is afraid to have nothing, after leaving a bad one. thing is, alone is better than alone with the abuser. no argument about it. and you are alone, with the abuser, mor e alone than living alone could ever be. its worse because you expect to be not alone, and you always are. it makes the real alone, look like, lots of company by comparison. because yo u suddenly dont have to exclude others to service him. your world opens up . that is, if you dont go on and look fo r the same kind of man. which many do.
I f you go to a shelter, don t expect that the women you shared this intense adrenalin fueled experience with, will be your friends. mostly they won’t want to see you ever again, because they dont’ want to be reminded of the experience of the shelter. its normal.

no reason not to go now.


eloisa August 6, 2011 at 11:58 am

I have been in a mentally abusive relationship for almost 5 years.. this man has repeatedly cheated, talked down to me and had a baby in the middle of our relationship. his baby’s mother has always been in the picture she created an illusion of by having his baby that he will stay with her and they will have a happy family… I’ve tolerated and accepted they had a kid together and I became so passive that I no longer know how to stand up for my self.. I have watched this man have sex with someone else in the ladies room, caught him flirting on facebook with a numerous amount of girls. Found out he made out with his coworker.. and the most recent thing he has done was I woke up from my sleep with him standing in front of me with bloody hands i found out that he busted two of my house doors and busted through the bathroom window… I became numb to the messed up things he has done and start to think its so us.. its just another one of his cheating days we will get pass this.. I’m hurting when im not with him but im not happy with him.. I just love him so much how could tomorrow be without him… Im doubting my self I dont have faith in my self anymore I dont know how to let go of him my strength is totally gone to stand up for my self.. I asked him to go to counseling with me just to get him to speak up about why is he so troubled and treats his relationships like garbage if he supposedly loves me.. I am scared for my family to find out what he has done to the house they are helping me out with.. I know I need help… Im williing to get help and save the rest of whats left of me. what should i do?


cat rennolds August 6, 2011 at 1:08 pm

You have the right to love yourself. Find a counselor or call a hot line and get help soonest. If I were you I would be very cautious. It sounds like he might be willing to become violent if he thinks you are going to leave. But you need to take care of you. He isn’t doing it. Team, anybody good with the resources here?


Mindy August 6, 2011 at 1:31 pm

Sweetie, listen to me carefully. YOU. DO. NOT. LOVE. HIM. You are addicted to him and you are caught in cycle you can’t see you way out of. But there is a way, and NO ONE deserves to be treated the way you have been treated. You cannot get out of this alone.

I’ve been there, Eloisa. Take Cat’s advice. You need to call a hotline and find a shelter and people who can help you plan and pull off a clean break from him. He’s dangerous. He’s narcissistic and he will try to convince you that all the pain you are suffering is your fault, not his. That is NOT true. This is on him, but he will never own it.

The house is merely a thing. If it is in your name, you will be able to deal with it later – make sure your homeowner’s insurance is current. You will need to pack what you need to live for a couple of weeks. If you have shared bank accounts, withdraw your money and put it in your own name.

For now, don’t tell anyone what you are doing – because if word gets back to him, he will hurt you. I repeat – he is dangerous. Once you are away from your house and safely in a shelter, they will help you contact your family. They will help you do all of this is such a way that he can’t get to you to hurt you.

John – you have my permission to share my email address with Eloisa if she wants it. If I know where she located, I can help her find local help.


John Shore August 6, 2011 at 2:02 pm

Let’s see if she returns.


Mindy August 6, 2011 at 2:09 pm

Of course. Thanks.


John Shore August 6, 2011 at 2:11 pm

(And great answers, Cat and Mindy.)


Allie October 5, 2011 at 9:24 pm

It’s been my experience that men who bust things will eventually graduate to busting people until something happens to change their fundamental belief that they can’t control themselves when angry. Please think hard about this. You shouldn’t have to lie to protect him from the consequences of his behavior in messing up your house, and you shouldn’t be blaming yourself for his wrongdoing. Please please, if you come back and read this, get some help! If your family loves you enough to help pay for a house I bet they would not blame you or want you to be with someone who treats you badly.


maria July 17, 2011 at 4:03 pm

Tomorrow I am going to the library to print out the article , I feel like I need to have a tangible copy of it to highlight, re- read and keep near me, for when I doubt myself. There are stages of grief, when you lose someone you love through death, divorce or separation. Its easy to get out when you are angry, or when he turns on the kids, or the pets, or escalates to name calling, which was what happened with me. But you still have to go through the stages, the grief that follows. Its not just about him, its about your dreams dying, the time you wasted, the letting go and giving up of that love. It helped me to learn about the identity. My mom kept telling me, you need to remember who you are in Christ. I didnt understand why she thought this was important, while I was going through a divorce. Now it is a little more clear. I feel so lost, like I don’t know who I am. for the past four years, since my husband stepped off the plane from colombia, I have been trying to make him happy, as well as keep peace between him and my older kids, keep a job (unsuccessfully) and raise my son. I feel like instead of feeling this burden lifting off, he is finally out of the house, the divorce is filed, he paid me child support last month, I feel completely lost. I don’t even know how to describe it. Shouldn’t I be happy? but of course not, he was the love of my life, I rode his highs and his lows for years, when he was content with me and the house, I was happy. How sick is that? But I still mentally blame myself, if I had been a stronger woman, if I had not let him get to me, he would have respected me, if I had stuck up more for the girls in the beginning he wouldn’t have treated them the way he did. I like what you said about how it happens slowly, bit by bit. I always thought of it as erosion. He wore me down, on whatever issue it was, like a constant drip. Once he had me get rid of my dog, and I actually thought i was doing the right thing, choosing my marriage over a dog. He handed that dog in while I sat in the car and cried, but I got secret satisfaction over the fact that he had to pay ten dollars to do it, which made him mad. when you are in a situation like this, it affects your whole reality, it consumes your thoughts, I’v e heard it described as walking on egg shells. In our house there was always tension, it never felt peaceful when he was around. My kids have just moved on, they are happy, acting like little girls again, like they emotionally went back to a place they were in ten years ago. Im struggling though, i think maybe because we have a son, I didn’t want him to grow up being bounced back and forth between two places, also, I really wanted us to have a happy marriage, it sounds so simplistic and like such a cliche, but it’s true. the question “why” was so prevalent in my mind, why couldn’t he love me, why couldn’t we make it? Why did he push me away, force me to do this? Why can’t I have a normal relationship/ Why did he act like he hated me? And yesterday he cut my grass and put the mailbox up. It is so hard to give up hope, it’s like you are falling, and there is no bottom. while you still have hope things will change, it keeps you going,, its like your fuel every day. Once you make that decision, its like a panic that comes over you. I do feel at times like a lost child, like I lost every thing good in my life, my marriage, growing old, the dreams we had together, this person, that I served daily, that I cooked and cleaned for, its like what do I do now? It’s not that I don’t think I can live without him, it’s that I didn’t want to. its so unfair, how could he do this to us? My situation is different, he doesnt say he is sorry. the day I left the state, to await him being served, he called me stupid. He didn’t know I had filed for a divorce. It helped me realize I was doing the right thing. But it’s like your mind blocks it out. I think it is some kind of coping mechanism, and our friends know it. They say, stay strong, don’t cave. My daughter told me today, who cares why he cut the grass, he made you crazy, you couldn’t even do your job. I just wish I could snap my fingers and snap myself out of it, but it’s not that easy, the longer you stay the more messed up you are, I really believe that. Im glad I didn’t give him any more or my life, I just wish I could stop thinking about it, but it’s like you have to to be able to move on. Sooo, this week I am going to call some counselours and try and get my head screwed back on right.


Tricia July 26, 2011 at 1:10 pm

John, I must say that this is by far the best read that I have found spiritually to date that is applicable to believers and non-believers alike. I am a Christian Family Enrichment Counselor and I can not tell how I so appreciate your forthright style and ability to articulate to people, the cycles, the effects of those cycles, and the practicalities described in moving forward from these ‘deathening’ cycles of abuse. (Especially addressing the reasons why people stay in unhealthy, unrewarding relationships for the sake of God)! All I can say is thank you for allowing God to use you in this way to reach many. I believe and support everything that you have stated in your blog. I pray for every person, male or female that is going through this way of life; to choose life! Please know that God will not ever disappoint you, EVER. You don’t have to stay with an individual who is killing you slowly just because they don’t love themselves. Learn to love ‘YOU’ enough to know that love does not continue to hurt the ones they say that they love. Please just learn to love YOU~ because you are some kinda special! Much affection and compassion to all of you!


Charlotte July 17, 2011 at 9:43 am

Wow, I am a retired therapist and have never seen an article or book as straight forward on the subject as this one. I also grew up in an abusive home and was told the lies you mention. It took a lot of help and support to let myself know that I deserved better. Fortunately I was never physically abused by a male partner but was emotionally and sexually abused until I learned better. How can I buy this article in print? I came up on it with a facebook link but would like to share it with friends. Bless you and I will pray for your work.


John Shore July 17, 2011 at 11:13 am

Thank you, Charlotte. I don’t have “7 Reasons” available for purchase in print; but, of course, you could always just copy and paste the text from the blog into a Word doc, and print it out. I do have it available for e-readers Kindle and Nook, as you see at the top of the piece. Helpful? Thanks again for your kind letter.


Char July 16, 2011 at 9:26 am

Thank u for writing this article, it was an eye opener. I like the way you write, it made m smile a couple of times. Im involved in an abusive relationship myself. Its been 3years. I love this man beyond words but i seem to be miserable everyday becoz of him. I started dating him wen i was young so at times i used to tel myself that maybe he was acting the way he was because of my immaturity. H was 27 wen w started dating. H has given m sexually transmitd infections(nt aids at least) b4, h has beaten m up many times(the last time was ystrday), h constantly insults m(today h cold m stupid), kips on talking bout how im a whore, thrown m out of his house… The list is endless! Oh, i even caught him with anatha woman in his house! Thts where i am rite nw, in his house.. On his bed. I even saw anatha girls shoes in his room today. I feel so stupid! I read al these articles, i knw i must leave him bt ive tried to so many times only to go back! I dont think im able to move on, h means the world to m. one of my friends saw him picking up a prostitute.. I just dont understnd myself. Who stays wit a man like tht? Im jus so young! Maybe its because i grew up without a father. Im not looking for a reason to justify but im jus rily desperate to get out of this relationship! H makes m feel worthless but.. I see a good side. and when h shows it to m i feel real gud. Its like a heroine rush. H was once wealthy but now hes broke, people laugh at him but i feel like i should b there for him. I kip in hoping tht h will apreciate m. Ive prayed and prayed for the Lord to change him but.. Ive even tried to b more mature.. I went to skul and now ive got a job and i take beta care of myself. I even ask him to let m spend sme time wit his daughter. My wory is i know two of his exes and they too complained about abuse. Im scared its who h is. H blames m for the state of our relationship. At times i think hes mentaly unstable becoz wen clearly smthing is his fault h makes it look like im victimising him. I feel so helples and h knows it. H dumped m today but i dnt believe we will ever break up. Im trapped. My mother and al my friends dislike him. I see why bt i dnt feel like im able to get out. I am frustrated, its sad. I know i dont deserve this.


DR July 17, 2011 at 10:13 pm

Char, don’t think about all of the other times you tried to leave and it just didn’t work. Don’t be ashamed of those times, they required bravery. It only takes one time for this to stick.


Char July 21, 2011 at 12:06 pm

Thanx DR, ive left him again. Yesterday h tried to col m a couple of times and i ignored him. H then textd m. Cold m a lunatic in tht text. Never replied tho. Hpe this time it wil stick. I feel very optimistic and much happier. Even people at work have noticed.


Jessica July 8, 2011 at 12:47 pm

Thank u so much for writing this and the way u wrote it truly captured my attention, and now I feel I have some wisdom and am stopping this relationship it only gets worse the abuse spaces out a few months but then it happens again and yes its very embarrassing to have to tell people but I dont care Like u said they should be happy and if anything my kids need to see me happy not putting up with this anymore!!!


The Rev. Dr. Larry Bunnell July 1, 2011 at 8:07 am

I spent 30 years in an increasingly emotionally abusive relationship, so I object to the idea that women are the only victims of abuse.


DR July 8, 2011 at 12:59 pm

Who suggested that?


Debbie Kos June 24, 2011 at 2:27 pm

Wow. All I can say is that, though, the physical abuse was limited to two instances of trading punches, I endured eight years of emotional abuse and have experienced most, if not all of what you describe here. Raised as a catholic, leaving my husband was never a thought in my mind. I had succumbed to the “this is my life now” mentality. The first blessing, the first Divine intervention was him divorcing ME. I was in a panic because I also never had to take care of myself, I was isolated. I begged him not to leave me, but to no avail (thank you, God!). I even agreed to stay the house during tax season because he didn’t want the house to be empty fornthose long hours. Yeah pitiful. I’ll not clog up any more space here, but it does have a happy ending. I’m married now to a good man for almost as long as the other, but every minute has been filled with love and respect for each other… Even when we argue, which we hardly do… But now I have a VOICE.


S June 21, 2011 at 1:26 pm

How do you know all of this?! I can’t believe some of the references and metaphors that you use in this post, it really hits home and are the SAME EXACT ones that I have used to try to deal with this very sad/hurtful/unhealthy situation that I am in. Specifically, the “dangling carrot” that of course, I can never seem to catch. Thank you so much for writing this and reaching out to help so many women. You are amazing!


COnfidential June 13, 2011 at 12:10 pm

Wow, getting out of one now. I’ve had to find a new church because of the GOd thing. The abuser, though it was only verbal and emotional abuse, continues to condemn me and tell me I’m going to hell while he goes to church with the pastor that told me “God ALWAYS hates divorce” even after I told him I’ve lived with Domestic violence and abuse for 20 years! I am getting stronger and glad to know I am finally confident enough to get out of it though I still have my rough spots.
Awesome article!


DR June 13, 2011 at 12:55 pm

You go girl. Seriously, women who do this have some SERIOUS strength, Let it rise in you, stay true to your intuition that an institution designed by a loving God would not enable or foster emotional, verbal, spiritual, sexual or physical abuse. Much, much love to you.


Don Whitt June 6, 2011 at 11:01 pm

Why do men stay in abusive relationships? Maybe you could craft a version of this for them?


DR June 13, 2011 at 12:55 pm

What a great idea!


D June 3, 2011 at 4:02 pm

Perhaps one of the BEST articles on abusive relationships I’ve ever read. I’ve been through much of this (was married to an emotional abuser for many years).Thankfully, that is the past! The future is bright! I encourage any women who are stuck, please value yourself. Please begin planning. Please keep asking for help (discreetly) and you will not regret getting out. As for him (your abuser), he’ll get over it. He may act like he is dying, but he isn’t. His welfare is no longer your concern. Yours and your children’s is your main business now. Let God handle the man. I can now wake up in the mornings with something to look forward to! Hurray for freedom!


A August 24, 2011 at 8:26 am

D….you give me hope. Thank you.


Christy June 1, 2011 at 9:40 pm

Brilliant, John. Just brilliant. Thank you.


Sussana Aristondo May 28, 2011 at 9:14 pm

It’s incredible but the more I read the more I realize that my life is been completely same as you ladies, I made my self believe I had this perfect marriage even though I spend 8 years been abuse by my husband, mantaining this perfect couple look in front of my family and friends, yes he always will make bad coments about anybody that will get to close to my especially ,my family, yes I believe in his tears of guilt and yes I believing in his lies and promises.
I finally got the balls to leave him, I couldn’t do it anymore, my body was telling that something was wrong, I started to getting sick without been sick, I would not sleep terrified of the arguments, manipulations, and the constant feeling that He was never pleased with nothing until finally in one of those arguments he turn aggressive and something inside of my exploited, I went crazy ,I run away I got to a lawyers and I file for divorce, we are in the process now,
I fighting with constant feeling of guilt, confusion, fear and deception at the same time, I grow weak one minute and strong one minute, I haven’t been able to find that power in my to completely detach from this monster, he has destroy my self esteem, but I would not let him destroy my daughter,she needs to know that mammy has balls and will no let her grow up like this, she may not understand it yet she’s only 4 but later in life she will, I understand that she must have contact with her father, that the law right, but at least he will see her knowing that is because of him we end up like this, he probably blame me like always but Hey! believe when he got those papers of divorce at his mother house, that was victory me I never felt so reproved in my life, hopefully he will realize that he destroy our family and hopefully leave me alone for once, I don’t even want to see his face since I’m still scare he might have some power over me,and he does I will do everything in my power to convince myself that is just an illusion that he’s that monster that hit me.
I promise this time around I will fight like a tiger, I’m claiming my life back.


Don Rappe May 30, 2011 at 4:17 am

Yes, fight like a tiger!


Sephera Giron May 19, 2011 at 10:48 am

I love this article. You put concisely into one place many ideas that I’ve been reading about over the past couple of years. I put a link to it on facebook because I’m hoping that women who are in abusive relationships may see it.

In many articles and books that I’ve read about abuse, narcissists, psychopaths, cheaters, and gaslighting, it “feels” like the writer is “attacking” or “blaming” the victim. It may feel like this because of the truths of the nature of these dances we do. However, the reality is, as pointed out, is that we can only fix “us.” Only I know what is in my head, how I dance or don’t dance with others, and if I keep choosing the wrong partners, I need to learn new steps in my dance. It’s not blame, it’s reality and human nature. We can wish it could be different all we want, but it isn’t.

We can wish the abuser will be cured one day, but in most cases, they can not. So we can only take care of ourselves, our thoughts, and our reactions to those around us.

Getting away and staying away is a whole different ballgame then recognizing and taking steps towards independence. Certainly no one should expect to find the solution to all their life’s problems on a blog. Every situation is unique and every woman and man who has been abused should take advantage of the social services that are available to him or her in the community whether it’s the cops, a shelter, friends, psychologists, welfare, job retraining programs, free babysitting swaps, and so on. Once you recognize your situation, you will be amazed how much help is there for you to start a new life of freedom and happiness.

One last thought I wanted to point out was the section about who your friends are when you break up with your spouse. It’s so true that people you would never suspect come out of the woodwork to love you and help you. Embrace this reality, that we all touch other lives and never know what effect we have on others until a time of crisis. Like the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life,” if you’ve been kind and helpful to others, they will rally around you when you are ready to spread your wings towards a new life.

There are truly angels here on earth in our day to day friends. Reach out and help each other. Life is too short and precious to be living one minute that isn’t authentic.


Becky May 18, 2011 at 10:15 am

This article is infuriating. Why is it the woman’s fault? Why does society not ask “Why does he do that?” Did you know that the most dangerous time for a woman in an abusive relationship is when she leaves? 75% of domestic violence homicides happen AFTER the woman has left her abuser. She is actually safer staying in the relationship. Also, when she does decide to leave, where can she go? Abuse shelters are available, but not always practical. More often than not the abuser has all control of the money. There are very few housing resources available and because of the social stigma attached to DV, the woman may find herself without support from family or friends. Please stop blaming the woman–if you were in her situation, what would you honestly do? The answer is never as simple as “just leave.”


trapped May 25, 2011 at 9:25 am

I’ve been married 22 years and tried leaving my husband a few times.

I spent my 18th anniversary in a shelter for abused women. That was not easy. It was like living in a house with 20 female versions of my husband; ie, mentally unbalanced, angry, unpredictable and bi-polarish.

When I was able to move back into my own home, my husband began breaking in daily and terrorizing me.

I want to leave him, but I’m convinced he would track me down and kill me. No one could protect me.


DR May 29, 2011 at 8:56 am

Dear trapped,

There are other women here who can provide excellent counsel, but it seems from what they’ve indicated the first step in getting out is trying as hard as you can to change the mindset that you’re trapped. When we feel powerless, we lose our ability to think creatively. I would bet a thousand dollars that before you were married, people recognized you as bright – smart – funny – capable. I’m sure many still do. I bet there were people in your life, perhaps your family, that challenged that belief and made you doubt it but there are memories of others recognizing all of that in you. And something happens in the abuse process where we hand all of the best – the strongest of ourselves – to our abuser. So we actually stop believing we can get out.

FInding the power to connect to resources that will help you, finding the energy to do that is gargantuan-sized difficult. And none of this is your fault. Your job now is to take back the strong parts of yourself that this man has and to turn off the part of you that became convinced she doesn’t exist anymore.

Please keep us updated and let us know how you’re doing.


Jeannie May 29, 2011 at 8:05 am

The shelter situation is very difficult. The first time I left my husband my children and I stayed in a shelter. It was a very difficult place to be. It smelled bad. There were no locks on our door and I would sleep with my back to the door to keep someone from breaking into our room.

They gave me a list of chores to do in order to earn my “keep”. Many of the chores I was physically unable to do due to phyical disability. For example, I cannot climb a ladder to change lightbulbs in my wildest dreams. One of my children is a high functioning autistic. She was having a particularly hard time coping with all the changes. One of her responses to extreme stress is to twirl and flap., The shelter people kept on asking me to make her stop. When I replied I couldn’t, that was part of who she is I was told that we would have to stay in our room then. Overall the enviroment felt oppressive and threatening – just like my marriage.

My first attempt to escape my husband failed largely because of that shelter experience. The whole thing of the devil you know is better than the devil youdon’t is true. I went home to my familiar devil. But I learned something for the next time. The next time I left I had planned for a to leave him that involved getting my own place right away. No shelter for me or my girls ever again!


Julie June 17, 2011 at 8:47 am

Like Jeannie and trapped, there are MANY women who are trapped in situations where it really is safer to live with their abuser than to flee.

I am only alive today because of a miracle – not because there was any help for me.

I stayed with a violent animal of a man because for years, there was NO other option.

Like Jeannie, I have physical disabilities and an autistic daughter. Even if we could have found an available shelter (which would have been a miracle in itself), there is no way we could have gone into one. For years I was having operations every 1-2 years. I’d just finish recovering from one and need another. While my husband beat me (on a daily basis by the end), at least he helped me out of bed in the morning (most days anyway – something I couldn’t do) – enough that I could just manage (despite agonising pain) to get our daughter off to childcare in the morning and care for her in the afternoons and evenings when she came home.

Shelters in this state are simply not set up to help women with disabilities and children with special needs. My daughter’s autistic behaviours would have seen us kicked out of any shelter we managed to get to, and they simply would not have taken me in in the first place with my disabilities. I’d have ended up in disability care facilities where children are not allowed, and my daughter would have been taken away and before being put in foster care, they would have offered her to my (now-ex) husband to “care” for. And he would have just taken his vile anger out on her.

The family court doesn’t protect children from violent monsters here. The “right” for a convicted child abuser to have shared custody is considered more important than the genuine right of a child not to be abused. I kicked my ex out after he bashed our daughter in the head when she was 5yo. He plead guilty in court to do so and got a criminal record for it (only for violating a DVO, not for assault which is what he should have been charged with). But the family court didn’t care that he’d been convicted for bashing a 5yo in the head as hard as he could, that apparently doesn’t make him a bad father, nor does his many convictions for bashing me.

Had I left him before I managed to care for myself, he’d have got custody of our daughter, and she’d have been dead within weeks. As long as were together, every time he became violent, I could step in and take the beating he’d gone to give her. In the end, I left when I realised I was so physically broken, I was no longer quick enough to step in and threw my daughter on the mercy of the family court – of which they had none at all. Again, my daughter would be dead if they had their way.

But I got lucky to leave exactly when I did.

Another problem is that had I left any earlier, I would have had no income at all. Not just reduced income, but NONE ZERO not a cent.

We had no assets for me to get any of when I left. In fact, he ran up nearly $100,000 of debt in my name by the time I left. They don’t have alimony here in australia, and when it comes to child support, he deliberately got himself fired so he didn’t have to pay more than the maximum of $12.76 a fortnight. He’s not stupid – if he quit, he’d have to pay the same as if he’d been working, but becuase he got fired, he could claim he couldn’t help being unemployed.

Despite my disabilities and being totally unable to work (I could barely look after myself), I ended up battling for four YEARS to get a disability penson. Many disabled women I have met stay with abusive husbands because they spend a lifetime disabled but unable to get a disability pension because of the cruel way centrelink treats applications (they’ve been known to knock back people who were dying and only had months to live).

Had I left before I got my pension, my sole income would have been $12.76 a fortnight child support and around $140 a fortnight in child benefits that all parents get. That wouldn’t even cover food.

I dunno about shelters elsewhere, but here, shelters will only take people for a few days or a few weeks maximum. After that they, they move you into short term subsidised accomodations – like a shelter but for periods of 1 week to six months, and while the accomodations is very cheap, they expect that your minimum income is unemployment benefits and charge accordingly. They refuse to believe that people have no income – they forget that sole parents benefit get cut off when your child turns 6yo, and to get unemployment benefits, you have to be applying for 10 jobs a week, going to interviews and doing unpaid work – when you’re too disabled to care for yourself, doing job interviews and unpaid work is just not possible – and they refuse to acknowledge that many disabled people can’t get the disability pension.

And there is as was said, the danger period for battered wives being killed is AFTER they leave. I am only very lucky that my ex is an extremely easily manipulated person by others who are willing to be manipulative and when I kicked him out,one of his mistresses convinced him that he’d chosen to leave me to be with her in a ploy to get him to pick her over his other mistresses. if it weren’t for her convincing him that he left willingly rather than the truth which is I threw his sorry self out, he’d have stalked me to the ends of the earth. he’d have been back to beat me to a pulp the instant the police left and would have continued to do so until I took him back or was dead or he was in jail (and would have kept doing so the instant he got out of jail).

Even after wards, he still harassed and stalked me, but not to the same extent as he would have done if he hadn’t been tricked into thinking he chose to leave.

And that’s the only was I was able to escape – had I left any sooner, I would have no income, no shelter to stay in for more than a few days financially and none that would have taken either my daughter or I with our disabilities, he would have stalked me til I was dead and he would have ended up with custody of our custody of our daughter and she would have definitely been killed by him. I had to wait til I was healthy enough to not need much help and til I had a disability pension in place and I needed him to believe he chose to leave. Any sooner and it would have not been possible.

As it is, our daughter still wasn’t safe with the family court fools giving him weekend custody, but thankfully his psycho violent mistress got jealous of our daughter and insisted he cut off contact with our daughter altogether. While the psycho thinks she’s somehow “won”, I celebrated that day he called to say he wasn’t allowed to see our daughter anymore. That woman is more violent and abusive than my ex (who is now the battered spouse in that relationship) and had my daughter had to go there (and there is no arguing with the fmaily court – it’s hand your kid over or the police can forcibly do it), she’d have been abused by that woman, seen her father abused by that woman and had her father abuse her to cope with being abused by that woman.

Had I left any sooner (before the day he attacked our daughter), he’d have been granted equal shared custody instantly, instead of supervised visits for two years and then every second weekend for a few months, and she’d have been killed by him or his psycho mistress in a very short space of time – he could barely manage her autism for the two days/one night a fortnight he had. having her every second week for 6 nights at a time and he’d have lost it within days.

So many women are in this situation – if they stay, their husband beats them and leaves the kids alone, if they leave though, the husband is automatically granted share custody (because wife beating doesn’t make you a bad father according to the courts) and he abuses the kids instead. And again, disabled women are in an even worse situation – if they leave, they have to go into care and their exes get full custody of the kids, and even if they aren’t quite that bad physically and can care for themselves and the kids, most of them can’t work, and then as soon as their child turns 6, they are cut off from parenting benefits, can’t access unemployment benefits and can’t get a disability pension and they end up homeless, living on the streets and hteir children taken away and either put in foster care or given over to their father to abuse.

Women with children or women who have disabilities (or the poor women who have children, are disabled themselves and/or have disabled children) often simply cannot leave. There are no services to support them. People need to realise this and tackle the problem.

Making women feel bad, telling them they can leave and putting them down when they don’t, only makes an impossible situation worse. No wonder so many of thse women attempt to kill themselves to try and find a way out.


Trying May 9, 2011 at 4:15 pm

I’m so glad I found this website and at last people who understand the dilemma of whether to stay or go.
I’ve been with my partner 9 years and have a 6 year old. Although there is marginal physical abuse (recently he’s become more agressive but left no marks), he regularly chants to me about how I have no friends or family who care and how he has hundreds of friends (he does, where as I have key close friends and no mother or father), he makes racist remarks about my eastern European descent, the very thing he adored when we first met. He says I’m crazy and f@@@ed up and always will be, that he decides when it’s over, one day our daughter will grow to hate me too and see for herself how wicked I am. He says if I die I’ll only have a handful of people mourn my loss whereas he would have about 500. He recently recovered from debilitating illness which resulted in him losing 8 stone and having to learn to walk again along with horrendous surgical procedures, everyone said he would be humbled and changed, but a year on he’s back to full physical strength and arrogance, yelling at me and calling me thick and dopey, im a terrible cook, fat, bad breath, big ears, criticises my genitals and breasts, ( I am size 10), says I talk like a mouse, claps in my face “your mom’s dead and dad doesn’t give a sh&& about you” and says I will always be nothing but a tea and coffee maker ( I’m finally in a managerial role after working very hard to get here) had helped nurse him back to health and took our daughter to see him at a hospital far from our home each weekend and I also work full time and visited him twice in the week alone (she didn’t believe it was her daddy at first) while he was in a critical state in hospital (not while he was attached to frightening equipment and in intensive care, but back on a regular ward) and got my happiness and independence back while he was away. Many will think it wicked of me but i truely believed him being so close to death (doctors said he had 24 hours and made a miraculous recovery) would make him turn his life around, and value us ( he begged for us and said all he wanted was to be a family man, that we meant the world to him and promised he would prove he was a changed man) but I’m slowly and sadly being forced to realise it has not. He hacked into my facebook account and publicly humiliated me by putting up a status update from myself airing dirty laundry about our relationship so now I’ve removed myself from there out of total shame as I have work colleagues and elderly relatives on there, he hated me being on there, saying it was because I have no real friends, when it really cheered me up and helped me feel less lonely seeing what everyone was up to. He also condemns all my friends as ugly/boring/thick/calls them racist names/invents cruel nick names.
I’m going to my doctor to look for a support group, I can’t lose any more friends or family over this, I’m trying so hard to be strong, I made him stay at his mom’s mid week ( I feel I’m making the break more gradually this way, I also found out he had been smsing a nurse and arranging to meet her- all the time he was ill- the discovery of numerous infidelities/inappropriate flirtations throughout our relationship- I estimate he must have cheated- and I mean sexually- on me with anywhere between 5 and 40 women but of course as I’ve never caught him in the act he says therefore there is no real proof, even though I’ve received calls from women to tell me in the past) he’s also verbally abusive to her and his father, the only others who are aware of his true colours but also allow him to treat them the same) indeed he is the natural charmer with the looks of a movie star. He saves his venom, and I truly believe, self hatred, (where did it come from? I too try to analyse and save him from his demons) up for me where it is released. Even as I write this I miss him, his cuddles and warmth and power, terrified to be a single mum and wishing it could work, but I refuse to be tragic, I will
do it, I really am trying, for the sake of my child, I won’t let her carry on this pattern. Thank you for being
the first step in me recognising abuse is not just physical.


DR May 29, 2011 at 9:25 am

These comments made me cry. It’s so brave that you women are stepping up and finding the determination to make a different kind of life for yourself and your children. I’m prone to loving men who treat me terribly – I guess I’ve known that enough about myself so I stay out of relationships as a result – but I understand the confusion that you’re all feeling to a small degree, I think, and the strength you are finding is inspiring as well as motivating.


Nikki September 11, 2011 at 6:10 pm

I understand you, believe me, i didn’t even realize the toll it had taken on me, my man is terribly addicted to lortab taking 40 plus a day, and i feel so stupid not to have recognized it when i met him 5 years ago, When I met him it was just weeks after Hurricane Katrina wiped my whole life out ( I was 35 years old with 2 teen age sons) and i guess this is an excuse but i think the trauma from that made him look like a knight in shining armour, he came from out of town as a contractor for the storm damage, (from 9 hours away) therefore he kept a good cover….and it wasn’t until i fell deeply in love with him when I realized what a monster a person addicted to pills of the magnitude he was was capable of & when I managed to help get him clean of drugs it turned out that there was no wonder why he was drugging himself to the degree that he was. & I just got him out of my life, i almost married him, my heart is totally broken, & not one person next to me or in my professional life has had one good thing to say about him, and over time I have found out that he is a predator on women just like me & uses trauma as opportunity to “slide” right on in under the radar & “swoo” you and make you think that he is the source of your security at a time when tragedy is surrounding you, …once I went to his home town to live with him there is when I found out about his long trail of destroyed lives he left in his wake of “charming, cuddles, warmth & power” of decent very nice women he literally robbed of their sanity, money, reputations,….when I felt like I was the “special one” then I was totally under his spell….I finally have broken free from the madness, but the pathetic thing is I like you miss him terribly, even at this moment he’s only been gone for 3 months, & he is as i’m writing this with yet another woman, his next victim, who is as i write this, not even realizing she’s enabling him to do drugs at her expense & it will literally cost her her hard earned money, her sanity & her reputation, he picks out people who are “dumb” to the drug world & then isolates his “prey” from her freinds & family & the rest is probably the same as your story, and i’m trying to keep from dying of a broken heart, I know i’m not a stupid person, I hate myself for missing him, and am doing my best to get over this…….I never understood mental abuse, and sooner or later the mental abuse does get to be physical abuse & the mental abuse trickles right down to your kids, they see the torture from the name calling, false accusations, blame, and in my case 5 years my young boys have turned into young men, and when they began to step up to defend me even when I didn’t even realize i had been assaulted, that’s when I didn’t really understand why, but I knew someone had to go, & since I know I didnt raise stupid kids, and my friends arent stupid, and I’m not stupid (even though i sincerlsy feel like I am) that he had to go, I hope I can stand by this, 3 months seems forever & I’m back to my cheery self (I cover my pain with laughter unless i’m behind closed doors, i save the tears for privacy) but to be honest I don’t even know why i deserve to be grief stricken, that’s what so sucks about this, he had me convincd that I needed mental help…now i’m wondering if i do, i sometimes feel like i made a mistake, but i truly know i didn’t….the confusion is sickening to me, because i know i made the right decision & i’m lucky i didn’ wait until something seriously bad happened, so if i know those things, then why am i so damn sad? —i’m glad you have this blog…. thanks, at least i can see that i’m not alone & maybe not so crazy after all


Diana A. September 11, 2011 at 7:35 pm

Nikki, you probably do need mental help, but only because this man did such a number on you. It’s hard to find the right counselor, but well worth it when you do. I would check with some of these groups that work with women who have been in abusive situations and see if they have any recommendations for someone who can work with you to help you get back your sense of worth–your sense of deserving much better than what this man was dishing out to you. You’re on the right track, but you could do with someone in your corner, someone who can help you remain strong in your decision while empathizing with the pain you feel in spite of having made the correct decision. Take care of yourself, Nikki. You are worth it.


SJ May 5, 2011 at 9:11 am

You forgot reason #8 Staying for the children, so they could have a whole family and not be those kids that people whisper about, from a broken home. As it turns out this reason is completely faulty, as the kids get damaged too, and will turn into the next generation of abuser/victim. The only way to stop this dynamic is to get out, and to them teach the kids the right way to treat people, so they can identify abusers and not be a victim.

My only regret, having been in an abusive relationship, is not leaving sooner, for me, and for my kids.


Matthew Tweedell April 9, 2011 at 12:40 pm

Hi, Gina.
I’m no expert, but I hope my two cents might be of any value.

You said, “He is sorry for how he acted….”
Although I don’t know him, or your situation, is it possible that what you’re really saying is that he acts like / says that he is? Perhaps God only knows. Maybe he’s sorry that it’s led to the consequences that it has for him but not really sorry about what he did to you.

You said, “I don’t know that that will ever change.”
And I don’t know if it’s wise to take chances then. You’ve only got one life to live right now. If I’ve only got one dollar, I’m not headed for the casino. When you can only make one investment, it’s prudent to avoid investing in any significant uncertainties. I understand that emotions tend to interfere with such cold calculations: that’s what leads to gambling addictions and overexposure to subprime mortgages in a bull market, and that’s what compels us to try to love people in ways that they aren’t really ready, able, or willing to be loved.
I’m not saying that love itself can ever be given a “rational” basis, but there are rational and irrational ways to express it: It might be more loving of your neighbor AND yourself if you stayed away from this neighbor, so he’s forced to get his own house in order rather than project his unclean spirits onto you. Again, I don’t know your situation: perhaps you should at least wait until you can be as certain as the sunrise that he’s got a long term commitment to sobriety, isn’t after anyone but you, and values you for who you are—a masterpiece by the very hand of the Almighty; or perhaps you should move on with someone else.

God bless, Gina.


DR April 9, 2011 at 9:14 am

What a powerful note. I’m not John, but this sentence stood out to me: “Part of me loves him like he is my own child. I have a lot of empathy for his past.”

In ALANON (for family members of addicts), we learned that love is not pity but that addicts and people supporting them often mix the two up. You do seem like a lovely, deeply sensitive woman. Empathy comes naturally to you, I’m sure of it, that is probably a gift in your life that serves you well and makes you really wonderful to be around. But how much of this empathy is pity for him? That is not love. That is not a reason to stay in the relationship. You can know him, for sure, support him for sure, but for me? I’ve dated someone who made me feel stupid before. I was diminished and depressed as a result for a very long time. When someone cuts you down in that way, they often are simply hoping you’ll feel as miserable as they do so they don’t have to change.

John will give you some great advice, I’m sure. Take care.


Matthew Tweedell April 9, 2011 at 12:41 pm

What if there is no John? It’s important to consider this, just in case, because it means we have to help one another and to rely on one another and not to think, “oh, John will take care of it”. (And perhaps that’s exactly what John wants us to do and so is why he doesn’t step in and make his presence known, though he may be watching these comments from afar and might return to them when we least expect him.)


Still Struggling to Stop March 20, 2011 at 8:07 am

I found this today after watching the SFC on HuffPost. I was married for 24 years before filing for divorce. it took more courage to do that than anything I have ever done in my life. My husband was physically abuse only a handful of times (slap/push/choke–never any marks left), but emotionally and verbally abusive. His main form of abuse was neglect and ignoring me, telling me I was intolerable, a pest, a spy, a terrible housekeeper (meanwhile, my house was cleaner than most), and then the swear words were always things that would make a sailor blush. And then the next day it was how wonderful I was, how beautiful, how smart, how capable, why, I could be a president’s wife! Or the president herself! But it was the infidelity–again–that finally made me summon up all my courage to file. Addiction, lying, deception, you name it. I gave up all those years of my life to make HIM successful, to help him achieve HIS dreams, and all I got was blame that I had not achieved anything myself.

I am 53 years old. I started counseling within a couple months of filing for divorce when I realized I could not stop obsessing about him/us/life. I went to counseling weekly for about seven months, then on and off for about a year, then took some time off (no insurance), and then finally went back some months ago (still no insurance but the need outweighed the finances). I feel like a failure in so many ways even though I never wanted anything but happiness and to make him happy.

I went back to counseling this last time because the man I met and fell in love with discarded me after I was done being of any use to him, and I had fallen in love with him. Very powerful, well-to-do, moral (antithesis of my ex), my intellectual equal, and yet, I ended up feeling awful all the time and yet longing for him to just SEE me and WANT me and LOVE me.

Sometimes I think this lack within us, from a childhood absence of unconditional love (Gee, you mean like when my father got angry at me for writing poetry about the father-daughter relationship, when I was 11? Or when he told me no man would ever love me or want to marry me because I was sick, like my mother, and like her mother before her, when I was 17? Or like how my dad could never ever hug me or kiss me or say anything nice about how I looked so I felt like the ugliest girl around and was ashamed of my sexuality?) anyway…sometimes I think that this lack within me is one I cannot overcome. I feel like I am paralyzed by indecision and I am watching my life go by while waiting for my youngest to finish high school this year…and then? My hopes to move away, to try to do something for myself, to try to live with joy, instead of always with such deep sadness–and this from someone whose touchpoint in life was a relationship with God through Christ (and nothing I was raised with but rather through a born again experience followed by 30 years of deep faith)–I do not even believe the same way anymore, and just can’t anymore. I hover between atheism and belief most days, with an undercurrent of failure, rejection, and longing.

But you are right–it is ALL UP TO US to rescue ourselves. It is hard to know how to do this, even though we may have spent a lifetime rescuing someone else.

I am over my ex-husband now–I think–but I am still struggling to stop caring about and longing for the man who suddenly broke up with me (after telling me when he was with me, he felt the cares of the world lift off his shoulders) and who cannot understand my devastation. He hopes I find the serenity and happiness I am looking for…

God have mercy. If there is a God, that is.


Heather March 6, 2011 at 3:05 pm

Thank you…your post has helped me finally leave a emotionally abusive relationship with a man. Even though it was from a distance, he somehow mananged to gain power over me by constantly making plans for “our life together” and then canceling them, teasing me, or denying me the things he promised and knew I wanted. I’m a really strong woman, generally, but I’d just lost my job and was in a vulnerable place.

Well, never again! Even though we were introduced by “family,” and he came with a very nice (albeit fake) resume/sales pitch, I’ve come to realize he is someone who has absolutely no power in the world, not nearly as much as I do, and was using me (a powerful woman) to lift himself up. Thanks for describing this dynamic. I’ve never heard it done so eloquently.


Julie March 5, 2011 at 3:37 am

I have enjoyed reading John’s article and the posts through the night. Pulling strength together to follow through with going back to an attorney I consulted with in October of 2010. I left my husband for being abusive after our first year of marriage and he received 21 weeks anger management. Victom’s advocate helped me too. Six months later he moved in with me. Nine years later I made him leave. We went to couples counceling, but it wasn’t that useful. I just got to hear in front of someone else everything I don’t do right. I can’t possibly keep it under control. After he physically fought with my 17 year old son I made him leave in October with police escorts – but we tried to work it out a month later. My husband has never worn a ring, never given one to me, calls me the most horrible names in front of our four children. This week my daughter said my husband always says he’s just here for them. In front of my kids he said my only value to our family was to be the driver. He says ge can replace me by hiring a nanny and she’ll never complain. He follows me around to critique my approach on dealing with the kids. Approves or disapproves of the amount of work I accomplished in the day. If he’s in a good mood I can rub his back while we watch tv and snuggle and that’s how I feel loved.


DR March 5, 2011 at 11:29 am

Julie, how awful. Let the strength you discovered back in October rise again, in new and powerful ways that will move you and your kids to a new, emotionally safe place.


Wise Fairy April 2, 2011 at 9:33 am

Julie, I lived with being told I was wonderful, beautiful, could do ANYthing, so talented…and then told I was a M-Fing B***ch, how any man married to me would not have been able to stand it, how any man married to me would have had affairs long before he ever did, that I was intolerable and no one could stand me–and then maybe the next day it was how great I was. Crazy making, and SICK. My ex-husband also fought with our son, reaching for his neck and choking him. When I think about this, the feeling inside of me is something I cannot explain. My son was about 19 when it happened. My ex-husband would also say, from the time our son was about 4, “Why did I have to get a son like HIM?!” because our son was easily overwhelmed–probably had some ADD and/or slight autism–and which mother can stand hearing it? Meanwhile, he also told our youngest that she was the only thing that made him happy. Heavy load for a little one.

I have a friend whose marriage sounds like yours; her husband routinely demeans her in front of their children. She says that she made the decision to marry him and has to take responsibility for helping to create the situation. She is from the Middle East, as is he (as is my ex) and cannot give herself permission to divorce so she goes along telling herself it’s not so bad.

it waxes and wanes, as did mine. Your life goes by. None of the time can be recaptured. Abuse chips away slowly but SURELY as the soul. It eventually kills it. If you had a horrible cancer that the doctor said had to be cut out in order for you to have a chance to live, you’d have to consider if you wanted to live. If the doctor told you the cancer was in a dangerous location and they’d have to do the surgery without anesthesia, the choice is harder. The pain tremendous–you don’t know if you’ll survive–but it’s your only chance. That’s how my divorce was. I am so grateful I did it, but it doesn’t make life perfect.

I hope you will find a way to value yourself, and find your self respect–I know it has been destroyed–to finally fight for your life and get out. And your children. Give them an example of a woman who has had enough and can leave, even though you will be ridiculed and abused by him–and maybe them–for having dared.


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