Reader writes about her emotional abuse which doesn’t involve physical violence and is therefore not seen (by others) as abuse….

by Rod Smith

“My husband always says how much he loves me claims he lets me do whatever I want. But the reality is that he is disparaging and condescending. I feel I am trapped in a relationship with someone who is totally at odds with my personality. I never discuss anything meaningful with him for fear that he will criticize it. He is also very critical of the children. His discipline is very blame-oriented. He seems to be very angry all the time that the world and everyone in it doesn’t behave according to his criteria of right and wrong, and he is completely dismissive of the idea that different people can have different ideas about what right and wrong are. He always says, ‘There are objective criteria that everyone agree on.’ Sometimes I fantasize that he will die but of course I feel horribly guilty about having such thoughts. I imagine if I admitted such thoughts to him he would leave me but I could never admit them – it makes me sound like an insane and evil person. Is it possible that he is really not that bad and I am the one with the coping problem?” (Extracted from a much longer letter)

I’d suggest you get face-to-face (wiser than you have already had) counsel as soon as possible. You are trapped in a crazy-making cycle that will have you convinced that you are the one who is out of sync with reality. Please read Anna Quindlin’s BLACK AND BLUE. Make personal contact with me through the web. I have no idea what country you are in but I am real and I will listen. Go to to see how it is set up for you talk directly with me.

3 Comments to “Reader writes about her emotional abuse which doesn’t involve physical violence and is therefore not seen (by others) as abuse….”

  1. As always, excellent advice. Seek help now, do not wait another day, do not wait till the holidays are over or till the new year. Act now!

    This is a time for “no excuses”.

  2. She sounds like she is married to my husband. He used to be abusive when he was drunk. I left him because I couldn’t take anymore. A year and a half later, he was sober, going to church regularly, and finally the person I’d prayed for so many years he’d be. I believed that God finally lead us back together (after a year and a half the change is real, right?). Four weeks back into the relationship I realized that I had made a huge mistake. Before he was drunk and mean, now he’s just mean. The scariest thing is that he pulled off this ruse for over a year and I bought it. The saddest thing is that I didn’t rush and made him prove himself (or so I thought). All he did was prove that he’s the best actor in the world. Now I know that I’m stuck because I wore down after a year and a half, which means he won’t leave me alone the next time I leave. The ironic part is that I am emotionally healthy (for the most part). I recognize that his behavior is not my fault, and I know that I’m not responsible for his unhappiness. I understand that he doesn’t define my worth as a person, and my self esteem is intact. I tell him to stop when he’s being abusive and I remove myself from the situation. We’ve been to 6 different counselors who have all tried to make my husband understand how toxic his behavior is. I’ve shown him proof of his actions yet he still denies them. I’ve learned that it takes one to argue. I’ve refused to participate in arguments and have watched in amazement as he answers for me and grows increasingly angry at me for words that he said on my behalf.

    I’m biding my time and will soon be able to leave. This time I will go somewhere that he can’t find me. Maybe then he’ll learn that no really does mean no.

  3. I’ve been there and done that too. It took me 10 years to realize there was a label for his behavior – abuse. It took another 10 before I finally pulled the plug and got a divorce. He snowed every counselor we went to, and there were many. They could/would never see past his perfect Christian facade though the tip of the iceberg was visible. They kept trying to apply standard “marriage counseling” and relationship-building techniques to a much deeper problem.

    20 years was WAY too long. I knew I’d experience rejection from the church for doing it since there was no known sexual adultery – and I did. But I know it was the best thing I ever did and life now is amazingly peaceful.

    I think that non-physical abuse is perhaps more dangerous than physical violence. When there are bruises and broken bones the abuse is clear to anyone. When the abuse is constant emotional, verbal, spiritual, etc. assault day-in and day-out it can be just as literally deadly but there are very few who will acknowledge its reality or power. It’s harder to “see” when you’re in it because we think of abuse as physical violence. But I’ve personally known women with all kinds of physical problems and even life-threatening events such as heart attacks (I had cancer) as a result of long-term non-physical abuse. It is deadly, it is dangerous and it is real.

    Getting out is not an easy answer. I’ve heard so many people say “just leave him,” It is not that simple. But it is worth it. At first (after the first euphoric relief), for me, leaving was harder than living with it. The rejection from the church combined with no resources to get established on my own (and the emotional upheaval!!!) were extremely difficult. But now, almost two and a half years later, it is SOOOOO worth it! My home is peaceful and I’m finally really living and being myself. Amazing!

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