I was young when I was completely swept off my feet by a manipulative, narcissistic man.   I was also naïve.

The relationship was intoxicating at first.  The sexual chemistry pulled me to him with such force it was exciting.  I’d never felt that intensity before.  But then things started to change.

I wasn’t even aware there was such a thing as emotional abuse.   Like many women I questioned:  ‘Am I in an abusive relationship?’   After all, so many other women’s stories were worse than mine.  ‘He hasn’t hit me’ I thought.  Besides, I wasn’t ‘that type of girl’ to fall for an abusive guy!

I’d had no history of domestic abuse in my family or previous relationships.   My childhood was a happy one; I grew up in a comfy middle class home.  I went to an elite girls’ school and spent holidays abroad.    My grades had been good and I was popular with most of the kids in my year.  My life to date was pretty cushy.

I learnt the hard way that domestic abuse is not always violent.  But emotional abuse can be a precursor to it.    I wish I’d known the warning signs.     So, how do you even know you’re in an abusive relationship, in the absence of violence?

I’d never heard of the term ‘coercive control’.   But in the United Kingdom it’s now deemed a crime, since the Serious Crimes Act 2015.   That is, ‘controlling coercive behaviour in an intimate or family relationship’.   In other words, emotional abuse is now seen to be up there with physical violence.  Punishable by a prison sentence, in the severest of cases.   But what is emotional abuse and how do you know it’s happening to you?

Here are 12 signs you are in an emotionally abusive relationship.  That your partner is establishing coercive control:

  1. The relationship is intense from the start

You’re swept off your feet.  They’re larger than life, charming, funny and usually, the life of the party.  They’ll shower you with flowers or gifts early on.  They’ll focus their undivided attention on you.   Then things move fast.

You’ve not known them for long.  But, before you know it, they’re talking love, marriage, babies.  You’re moving in together.

The sexual chemistry is off the scale.   You are the only one for them, the one they’ve needed all along.   They put you on a Madonna-like pedestal.

For me, this made me feel wonderful, special.  Although, to the outside world, I appeared confident and outgoing.  On the inside I never felt like I was good enough.  But here was this man who needed more than anyone had ever done before.  It filled the emptiness that gnawed at me inside.

These early days feel so good, you’ll do anything for them.  If they have no car, you’ll drive them around.  No money, you’ll pay for everything.  Nothing matters except seeing them again, feeling the intoxication of it.

  1.  They question your behaviour

Before long, they start to question your behaviour and your past.   How many people you’ve slept with before.  They may imply you’re not the ‘Madonna’ they expected you to be.   Having put you on that high pedestal, they’re now judging whether you live up to it.  But their bar is high.

They insuate you may be ‘like the others girls (or guys)’ they’ve dated before.   You’ve not even known them for long, but already you have to defend yourself as a ‘good girl (or boy)’.

  1.  They isolate you

They criticise your friends, implying they’re a bad influence on you. If you go out with your friends alone, you face the Spanish inquisition when you get home.    ‘Who were you with?’ ‘Did you talk to anyone else?’.  It becomes easier to avoid the implications and stay at home.

They do the same with your family, criticising what they do or say.  Even for who they are. They embarrass you by not turning up to family events, or behaving badly if they do.  Again, it’s not worth it. So you start to making excuses and limiting contact with them.

Your partner justifies it all by telling you you only need each other.   No-one else.

  1.  They are jealous of others

When you are out with them, they monitor who you talk to.  What you say. They insinuate that you are flirting if you even speak to another guy (or girl).

If you take a bit longer than usual to return home from work, they’ll imply you’re having an affair.  They may justify it by saying they trust you, but not other guys (or girls).

It’s a double standard, as they have no problem flirting with others. But you daren’t question them about it.

  1.  They micro-manage you

They make it clear what clothes they approve of and, if you are female, the ones which make you a ‘slut’.   They hate you wearing makeup.

They decide what you watch on TV, who you speak to, they monitor your texts.  They listen to your conversations and question who you’re talking to and why you said what you said.

They use their moods to control you.   You try to second guess them and attempt to manage them.   You change your behaviour, what you say and do, to appease them.   To try to please them.  To do everything you can to make them happy.  So as not to inflame the anger they’re now starting to reveal.  The anger that frightens you.

  1.  They move the goal posts

They expect you to live up to their rules, sometimes rules that to you, may seem a little random and crazy.   But as you try to understand what they are, they shift the goalposts.  They need to keep you on the back foot at all times.  None of it makes any sense to you.

  1.  They justify their anger

They justify their bad behaviour – ‘I was tired’; ‘I was upset’; ‘You did x or y’. But they never take responsibility for it. It’s all about ‘Me, me, me’ – everything revolves around their needs, their wants. Not yours.

  1.  Your self-esteem erodes

Your sense of self starts to erode, your confidence to whittle away. You can’t do anything right and you are always to blame.  But you still have hope.  They give you enough glimpses of the charismatic person you first met. Enough to stay and give you hope that man (or woman) will come back. If only you can behave in the right way, to make them happy.  But nothing ever seems to work.

  1.  They use intimacy as a weapon against you

They want you to prove you love them, so you show your vulnerability. But any intimacy you trusted them with gets later used as a weapon to hurt you.   Your body issues get hurled back in your face.   Any sexual desire only proves that you are a ‘whore’.  Their words hurt as much as if they’d hit you.  Sometimes you even wish they’d hit you instead.

  1.  The first signs of violence appear

They destroy things that are meaningful to you, like a gift they or someone else gave you.  They tear your clothes, sometimes when you are wearing them.    Then one day in a fit of anger, they’ll give you a push or a shove.   They’ll be full of remorse as soon as they’ve done it, though.  There may even be tears.

They apologise over and over.  But again, it’s your fault that they’ve hurt you.   Or they blame an ‘unhappy past’.  Anything but take responsibility for it.

  1.  You keep their secret

You keep what is happening to you a secret.   You lie to others about their behaviour.    You feel ashamed about what is happening to you. But you start to believe what they are saying about you.

  1.  The lows get lower

The fights become more frequent.  The lows get lower and the highs further between.  The verbal and/or physical abuse has escalated.  You are walking on eggshells by now.

By now, there is little of you left.   You feel trapped, with no way out. They’ve got you where they want you.  They have complete control.

 

It takes courage to walk away from an abusive relationship. It took every once of strength that I had to do so.  But the first step is to recognise you are in one.

Even if there has been no violence in your relationship to date, you should heed these warning signs.   If they are familiar to you, I would urge you to get out.  There might not be physical violence now, but emotional abuse can be the precursor to it.  (And the shocking statistic remains: their partners or ex-partners kill 1-2 women every week).

But please bear in mind: of all the domestic violence homicides, 75% of victims are killed as they try to leave.  You need to take care.  Don’t do it without support, advice and help, particularly from the Family/Domestic Abuse resources that are available to you.  It will be the hardest step that you take, but no love is worth dying for.

Are these signs familiar to you?  Let me know in the comments below.

If you need further help or counselling, please refer to the following (or the equivalent in your country):

AUSTRALIA:  
1800Respect: 0800 737 732  https://www.1800respect.org.au
Lifeline: 13 11 14  https://www.lifeline.org.au

UK:
National Domestic Violence Helpline: 0808 2000 247 http://www.nationaldomesticviolencehelpline.org.uk
Paladin National Stalking Advocacy Service 020 3866 4107  http://paladinservice.co.uk

US: 
The National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233  http://www.thehotline.org

 

 

 

 

 

Are your relationships – past or present – good enough for you?  Do you deserve better?  Try my FREE QUIZ to find out!

Written by Vivian McGrath

Vivian McGrath is a TV Executive Producer who makes documentaries for major US, UK and Australian broadcasters.  She is also a survivor of domestic violence.  Her book ‘Unbeatable (How I Left a Violent Man)’ – her story of surviving abuse to finding success in love and life – will be published soon.  She hopes this blog will help others to become strong, fearless and successful too.  Find out more about Vivian Here.

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21 thoughts on “But they don’t hit me! How do I know I’m in an abusive relationship?

  1. I have never been in an abusive relationship that involved violence. However I suffered horrible emotional abuse from my husband over a period of years. Looking back I cannot believe that I put up with it for so long. I worked out in hind sight that it was because of his depression and his own lack of self esteem. But I am sad to think that i was such a doormat emotionally that I allowed him to undermine me so completely, that I tolerated it for so long instead of telling him to get over it or get on his bike.

    1. I think we put up with it for too long because we’re hoping for the ‘old them’ to come back i.e. the non-abusive person we were first attracted to. We do anything to try to please them and make it stop. We change our behaviour in the hope that we can manage theirs. But only they can take responsibility for their behaviour. We can take responsibility for ourselves, by learning to say no to the abuse.

      1. I think it is also really important to learn to recognise that their behaviour IS abuse. I came across a book by a marriage counsellor called John Gottman. He talks about the “four horsemen of the apocalypse” with reference to what can break relationships. If you have all four in your relationship you are in big trouble. They are contempt,defensiveness, criticism and stone walling. My husband frequently behaved with contempt towards me. One example- one year I went to a Melbourne cup lunch. I was dressed to the nines. I won a prize for being the best dressed woman on the restaurant . When I told him he just shrugged and rolled his eyes. I felt crushed .

        1. That’s so interesting, I’ve never heard about these ‘four horsemen’, but that really does make sense. I’ve experienced similar reactions to things I was proud about. It does crush you. And it starts to whittle away at your self confidence and esteem.

  2. I have been with my boyfriend for 8 years now, the first 5 seemed normal yeah we had the odd argument as all couples do. though I’m now struggling to understand what’s going wrong he blames me for every thing if he gets up late, if we run out of milk, if I leave a chair 3 inch away from the table. when I say blame I mean I get hurled insults he snarls he humiliated me, only the other day he slammed the brakes on in moving traffic demanding I get out in the middle of nowhere. I love the man I fell in love with but I don’t like the person he has become. he had an abusive childhood and has smoked weed to cope and he smokes more so now…i wanted to fight for whats we once had but he’s so lost in anger rage and blame. if we argue he then goes straight for the weed which I know makes him worse but he claims there are no side effects. I’m struggling, he calls me crazy, psychotic and blames my anxieties for his anger. how do I get him to get help for his anger issues?

    1. I’m so sorry to hear what you’ve been going through. I’m not an expert, so all I can tell you is what I have learnt from my experience. I spent many years and a lot of energy trying to fix my Ex. Trying to rescue him and help him become the man he once was to me i.e. the lovely man I first met. I kept trying to change myself, to not do the things he said caused his anger etc. hoping that this would make him happy. But no matter how hard I tried to do this, nothing worked and I was always to blame. And as the years went by, his behaviour and the relationship only deteriorated.

      The sad truth is we can’t fix anyone. I learnt the hard way. I know now how impossible this is and how much of a toll it took on me, trying to do so. Whilst we focus on them, we neglect ourselves and our own happiness. I became a shell of the person I thought I once was. And as I was blamed for all the problems, my self-esteem was whittled away. If we have little self-love, then we are not in the best position to have a healthy relationship. If we have little self-worth, then others treat us as worthless.

      The only person you can change is you. There was nothing I could do about the chaos my life had become or that I could do to fix him. The only thing I could be responsible for was myself and my own actions. So I had to let go of the rest. That was actually a relief for me to realise.

      I would suggest you take your focus away from him and his behaviour and put your own wellbeing first. I needed help to build my self-esteem and that was a crucial first step to my recovery. For me, it was the support group Al-anon who really helped me to understand this. For others it may be a counsellor or via the various domestic violence support helplines.

      A relationship can only be a healthy one if each person takes responsibility for them self and their behaviour. If we love ourselves first, then we are better for our partner. When I took responsibility for my side of the relationship and worked on myself to become someone with a healthy sense of self-esteem and self-love then my boundaries changed. I no longer accepted the unacceptable behaviour and way he treated me. Either he could do the same – work on his issues, self-esteem and take responsibility for his actions for us to have a better relationship. Or not. So, in a way it’s leading by example. For me, it led to end of our relationship. But for others I have met, once they changed, their partners followed, sought help as well and their relationship got onto a healthier footing.

      I have written about more on this in some of my other posts, which may be of help to you. But I would urge you to seek support to accept the things you cannot change (him) and work on what you can change. And that is you.

    2. Dear Jodi,
      I spent 26 years married to, and 2 years before that dating, a man who sounds a lot like your boyfriend. I too struggled to get him help for his anger issues.
      He was never physically abusive to me, but he did plenty of psychological and emotional damage with his skillful manipulation, bullying, lying, gaslighting, betrayals, rages and projection. “It” was and is always my fault. Over time, he broke me down. My emotional and psychological suffering has manifested in my body, and I am struggling to recover.
      As is typical in abusive relationships, we were very compatible when he was not in attack mode. But I never knew when the attack was coming, and he could go weeks and sometimes even months without an attack.
      I finally realized that he was operating from a totally different set of beliefs than I was, and that I could spend the rest of my life trying to get him help for his anger, and he would never be helped. I also realized that he had taken my finest qualities, my empathy and my kindness, and he used them against me to confuse me, and to control and manipulate me, so he could feel powerful and avoid his own pain. For me to go on trying to get him help for his anger was an exercise in futility. Despite him directly telling me that he wanted and needed my help, the only help he ever accepted from me was me acting as his emotional punching bag. He did not love me and was incapable of loving anyone, even our daughter. Love does not hurt. It accepts, encourages, embraces.
      I hope you take your love for him and give it to yourself. You cannot fix a broken person unless that broken person is you. You are a caring person and you deserve the same.

      1. This is so well said. It resonates a lot with what I experienced and I agree. Unless we love ourselves, no-one can love us in a healthy way. The only person we can fix is ourselves. Thank you for sharing that.

  3. I had cancer 5 years ago. When I met my ex I had just lost my hair. He lived in the same apartment complex as me. I had always thought he was cute and I was overjoyed that someone like him would want to be with the “ugly bald girl”. He seemed like my night in shining armour. Until my hair started coming back. Thats when he would get upset if a guy even glanced my way. There were many red flags. The first being that his ex wife had to get a restraining order against him when they first got divorced. Then his mom would always ask if he was being nice to me. He quit his job when he met me and told me he could not find one. Miraculously when we finally broke up for good, after being called everything in the book and he hoped i died, he suddenly found a job. He never physically hurt me but sometimes I actually wished he would. That sounds crazy. I have not seen him in a year and a half. I am working on myself now. I have not dated anyone since him and I am kind of scared to get out there again. I had always told myself that i would never stay in an abusive relationship. I didn’t even realize that i was in one until it was too late. Luckily i have good friends and family that welcomed me back into their life even though i had pushed them out of mine years ago.

    1. It doesn’t sound crazy. I felt the same when faced with emotional abuse sometimes. I’m so glad you recognised it was not healthy and you are working on yourself, with strong support from family and friends. It is scary dating again. I tried to push my now-husband away for a while as someone emotionally available was terrifying for me. But the more we work on ourselves and find a strong self-love, the more we start to recognise the signs are what is ‘not good enough for me’ (read my Bridget Jones post). So keep going with healing yourself first. Your gut instincts will sharpen and you’ll start to see the red flags more clearly. You’ll know to avoid them. They too will start veering away from you, as they will see you’re not vulnerable and able to manipulate.

  4. Your story sounds so familiar…I too am from a middle class family and suffered no abuse from my parents. They are kind and loving people….
    I met a woman online and we “connected” – she was bright, talented beautiful, funny and she thought I was too. I was so flattered and my heart was set afire..
    It was long distance but we saw one another about twice a month..
    There were some signs but she had been open about her struggle with an Eating Disorder so after one rage, she apologized the next day and explained it with the ED and some triggers. I actually felt closer to her as a result of her sharing this with me and taking responsibility etc..

    Fast forward to a planned trip overseas to celebrate her bday..I went insane..I shared a simple insecurity with her and some of my background and she just lost it…Asking what she did “wrong” – i kept reiterating it had nothing to do with her etc. and then the relentless rage…mocking me and my “abandonment issues” (I’m adopted), telling me only a desperate stripper would want me …
    Then a few days later she was “ok” and then really went off the wall – threatening suicide, vomiting (in front of me), claiming she was hearing her grandma (who passed away), self injured (again in front of me) had a panic attack, weeping uncontrollable and then she wanted to make love…
    It was terrifying…

    Eventually she “dumped” me during that trip – leaving with a “youre a big girl you’ll figure it out”.

    I’ve heard from her a few times since then..Even spoke in January and got the I love you i never stopped…It was all I wanted to hear…Eventually (quickly) I was discarded again..coldly and cruelly

    She isn’t the issue..i am…I cannot seem to pull myself out of this dark despair…I ruminate about her constantly.. I am in therapy and have been for 4 months (the sum total of our relationship)..but I’m not improving…

    The concept of “loving” myself feels foreign… Ask me if I love other people and I could rattle off a novel…

    I am bright, attractive, successful, kind, funny. I have had a blessed life and lots of good friends and family…yet I still give all my hopes and dreams of love to this very disordered person…

    How can I start on the path of letting go and loving myself even a tenth of what I gave out?

    1. I’m sorry you’ve been through such an awful experience. And like me, with no history of it, there’s no frame of reference when it comes out of the blue. I’m glad you recognise that she isn’t the issue. We can’t rescue others, only look after ourselves. I too saw that I had to start with me and change me, in order to find healthier relationships. But I do know how hard that is too, as the pull back is so incredibly strong. Even when we know it is no good for us. I’m not an expert, but I will say this. I couldn’t have done it without support. I would urge you to get help from a relevant support group (Al-anon for me was a life-saver), a counsellor or just by phoning some of the DV resource lines and ask them for guidance. Don’t try to do this alone.

      It also takes time. It took me years to heal, I did it little by little and with help. But start by just taking one day at a time, one hour if you have to. And do one thing nice for yourself each day. With the right help and support you will get there. The biggest step is that you recognise this is not healthy and are looking to change it. And you know you are bright, attractive, successful, kind and funny and that you deserve more (which you do). So, get help and support and keep walking forward and you will gradually find the love for the gorgeous woman you are.

  5. It took me years to realize that I was in an emotionally and verbally abusive relationship. My spouse does not fit 100% of the criteria – he’s not jealous, he does not isolate me, etc. However, one by one, I realized that all the other pieces fit.

    He’s controlling in ways that took me a while to recognize: I always use the wrong words, the wrong tone, to express my thoughts. God forbid I should express (no matter how non-confrontational) an opinion different from his – all of a sudden, I’m an idiot. When we get home after a family or social event, he will “dissect” things I’ve said, how people “laughed at me behind my back” and how I was too stupid to see it (none of this ever happened).

    His anger got progressively worse over the years. He was repentant at the first 2 or 3 meltdowns, but after that, his meltdowns were somehow always my fault. It didn’t matter how much I twisted myself like a pretzel trying to conform to his communication style, his timing, etc. Nothing made a difference. (Because I don’t give up easily, I just kept trying until I completely lost myself and my self-worth flew out the window).

    He has never hit me or thrown things at me. He has smashed a couple of things around the house to intimidate me when he saw that his bullying wasn’t working. How pathetic.

    Now, 14 years later, he has no hesitation to tell me to “shut the f*k up”, “f*k off”, etc. He repeatedly tells me he doesn’t give a rat’s ass how I feel, that I’m uncomfortable with his rudeness, etc. Yet, when I bring up the fact that he doesn’t care (only because he told me 287 times), he accuses me of “twisting his words” and “blowing things out of proportion”. I used to get really confused, but now I know it’s his gaslighting tactics.

    He will take the liberty of expressing what he’s upset about, going on a 15-minute rant, then say “OK this conversation is over. Now f*k off”. If I dare say “I too have something to say”, he invariably says “I don’t care, I’m not interested in anything you have to say.” HIs nastiness literally makes my stomach turn at times.

    Yet, I’ve been good to him. I’ve loved him – physically and emotionally, for years. I take care of things – I cook all the meals, pay a housekeeper to keep the house clean (and right after she leaves, he will walk in with his snow-covered boots and tell me to stop “nagging” him about the clean floors). I work a full-time + 2 part-time jobs (he’s retired with a full pension and we share most of the household expenses), yet he calls me selfish when I say I need my downtime on Sundays.

    I am still there, God only knows why. I still love him, but I don’t like him anymore – he really isn’t a nice person at all. Even his 2 adult kids wonder why I put up with him (they both told me he was a jerk and I deserve better – they’re right!).

    I am often very sad and feel very much alone at home. I am truly blessed, though, to have family and friends who seek me out and we enjoy each other’s company immensely.

    I sense that it’s not the sadness that will make me finally walk away, but being really good and mad and not willing to take it anymore. I sense that this day will come soon.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your story and it breaks my heart to hear this. A lot of it is very familiar to me too. I got to the point where I loved him but no longer liked him anymore. So, I know what you are saying. In fact, that was the turning point for me. I’m so glad you have strong family and friend connections. We all need that support. I can’t advise anyone as to what to do or not do in their relationships, as I’m not an expert and everyone is unique. But I will say this – it’s not selfish to put ourselves and our wellbeing first. It is self-caring. Look after yourself first and find the way to build your self-esteem again. Years of emotional abuse does strip this away from us. I write about this in other posts which may help and this one may also resonate with you https://www.beingunbeatable.com/tattoo/

  6. I was once a self assured person who received accolades for my work but after two ghastly marriages where I felt used, unheard and purposeless desperately trying to please and support my spouses as I had seen my mother do with my father, a gentle man who rarely showed anger, I was reduced to a heap.My mother was a depressed , unfulfilled ( after giving up her interesting job to raise my sister and myself) lady and chose me to mainly take out her frustrations while my father worked long hours and was rarely around for long. I couldn’t concentrate at school which fuelled her abuse, verbal, physical and emotional and only leaving home gave me a chance to start rebuilding my self belief. Being very empathetic and sensitive made me a target to get reactions from which I endured from two guys at Art School and throughout my life from others and I am still vulnerable to anything aimed at me negatively.
    I can see why I fell for both husbands, thinking they cared for me offered escape and a chance to rebuild my life in a loving relationship. Both marriages were terrifying and now in my early seventies I prefer life on my own. I have two grown up children, lovely young people and a new grandchild to cherish but do not trust myself to risk a relationship again. I am more content this way but after being told I have post- traumatic stress by a counsellor once I find crowds and social occasions often frightening. I am naturally needing of my own space but also quite gregarious. I just don’t have any reserves of mental or emotional energy to cope with people for too long and have to run for air. I seem to be one whom others come to share their problems but switch off if I need someone to listen to me. That’s ok, I am glad to do that within reason but I know my background has worn me down. I found your ( Vivians ) story in the Mail so similar to my own it was a shaft of light and I am so grateful for it. My second husband, so like Vivians, I believe may certainly have had Aspergers on reflection with the moods, jeering,volatile outbursts and violent tempers and difficulty with social situations etc. I didn’t realise at the time. Just so relived to have a gentler life if rather late in the day. Thankyou for allowing me to share some of my life and love to all who have similarly suffered.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I’m so sad to hear of what you have endured. Emotional needs not being met in our childhood does play a significant role here. It’s no you suffer from PTSD. I have been hearing this from others as well, so you are not alone in that. It’s good to know you are seeking professional help. I am so glad you have a gentler life now as you deserve that. Thank you again and I hope you stay strong x

  7. 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

    1. I am so sorry to hear your story Jamie. I am so glad you got out of this relationship. This is coercive control, or emotional abuse. His manipulation was also about controlling you. Coercive control is now deemed a crime in the UK, which, at worst can lead to a gaol sentence. I hope you are okay now. It’s important you now work on your self-esteem and sense of self-worth. I say this as when we have low self-esteem we attract those who treat us as worthless. We also tend to repeat negative patterns like this and often go for the same type of guy every time. Until we work on ourselves and break this cycle. I am creating a course now about how to do this. It’s called Start with Me: Survivor to Staying Strong. If you subscribe to my blog then you will be alerted to when it launches, which will be in early October. I think it will help you. There is life after and you can find healthy love again. I am proof of that. Thanks again for trusting me with your story x

      1. I gave up eating and lost weight. Felt nauseous and shaky. Heart was pounding. I didn’t know what to do. But I am eating and gained the weight back. I’m actually still not 100% and still think I am everything he said. Do you think I’ll ever get over it?

  8. I have been in a relationship for 5 years and it has really gotten bad. Both of my kids left because of him, and he acted like he thought it was funny. We ended up raising his 2 grand kids and i have felt so guilty because i didn’t have mine with me. He gets mad if i have anything to do with my kids or my parents, the whole time i am visiting with them, he is texting very ugly texts. And i go thru HELL when i get home it last for days . HE is constantly accusing me of seeing someone, but that is not possible i have to text when i get to work, on my way home , so there is no time to do anything. I never do anything but stay right up under him. But he is on disability and stays home every day and he is never home, its like he has does what he wants but i cant do nothing. I just need the strength to walk out and never look back.

    1. I know exactly what you are going through and feeling right now. It can be overwhelming and you may feel trapped, like there’s no way out. This is not a healthy relationship based on an equal partnership. He is not bringing out the best in you or good for your wellbeing. Finding the strength and courage is a huge step. But you can do this. I would urge you to get support and help. I have listed Domestic Violence helplines here: https://www.beingunbeatable.com/domestic-violence-resources/ I promise I am not trying to do a sales job on you but I really do think you would benefit from my online video course: Victim to Survivor, in which I guide you step by step how I was able to understand what was happening in the relationship, how the cycle of abuse worked, how to assess my level of danger and leave safely (leaving can be a very risky time). You can find out more about it here: https://www.beingunbeatable.com/start-victim-survivor/ There is a secret Facebook Group with the course in which I am there to help guide you through it too. You deserve to be happy and treated with respect.

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