Tag Archive | toxic relationships

Abuse – Power and Control – The Handmaid’s Tale

Recently I have been binge watching The Handmaid’s Tale. I must say this is probably not the best show to binge watch because it is tale of a very dark totalitarian society. Nearly every episode is dark, disturbing, and rather abusive. However, there are may parallels between the abuse of power displayed and what life was like with my abusive ex. There was a day when an unhealthy life with him didn’t seem crazy or abnormal. If your life is crazy every day, eventually crazy can become a normal day. Also, growing up with my abusive father as an example did not give me any insight or knowledge to recognize something was wrong in my relationship.

In this story, the character June (or Offred), continues to learn through pain what will and will not be tolerated. She has been deprogrammed about any previous beliefs, learns a new way of thinking, and eventually adopts this as a new way of life. In reality, this is not that different to life with an abusive person. The abuser continues to reprogram you to a new way of thinking. Their way of thinking. Your views are no longer allowed… unless they match their own views.  Just like in this show, the rules may not be stated or even clear, but you learn them just the same. However, the game is always changing and that continues to keep you off-balance. On more than one occasion, I remember feeling it may be easier to give in rather than fight.

My abusive ex did a great job of isolating me from my family and friends. In this story, you can see a similar thing where she has been removed from any other people that might make her question this reality. Outside influences are a problem for abusers, this may make you question your life. In fact, in this story, if anyone became too much of a problem they were discarded. Not so different with an abusive person. Perhaps the story is you cannot trust particular friends or family members, that the abuser is the only one who is on your side. If you are the one to leave the Narcissist first, you may be subjected to stalking or their Narcissistic rage. In the early days, I remember breaking up with my ex on more than one occasion. Somehow he would convince me to return and how things would be different. In those days, I didn’t stay away long to realize life could be healthier without him.

Just like in the story, my abuser would make me question my own reality. My abuser was really good at leading me into thoughts that he had planted in my head. In old journal entries, I can see all statements that seem like they were ‘suggestions’ put into my head by my abuser. I had never thought of myself as a vindictive person, but I wrote this in my journal  more than twenty years ago.  It was also interesting to see that I wrote “he picks me up when I fall down” and looking back I realize he may have been the one knocking me down.

September 23, 1996

I feel like there is a hole in my heart. I do not feel good. Even though I am the one who thinks we should break up, every feeling in my body hurts without him. If love is supposed to be a wonderful thing, why does it hurt so bad? He’s right I do not have anyone to compare him off of. I have never been in love before.

I do not know what to do, it’s not fair to him that I can’t let the past go very easily. I’m so afraid I won’t be able to let it go. I want to but it’s not that easy to forget. I dated him because I liked him so much. I stayed with him because he was there for me. I feel horrible inside. I want his arms around me right now for support.

Why is it that I can’t let go? What is so wrong about him that I want to break up? He is so supportive of me, then picks me up when I fall down. He loves me! Am I just crazy or scared?

Maybe it is better for him that I end this. Can I treat him well? Can I forget the past? Can I love him like I used it? I wish I knew all the answers. I love him so much I don’t want to hurt him. So why do I? Where are the answers?

September 24, 1996

I feel much better now. He came over earlier and we talked and he helped me with my homework. I love him so much it hurts. Why does love hurt so much? It is supposed to be a wonderful thing, but it hurts a lot. I am really going to work on my being vindictive, and I will start recording things in my journal more often. So I can look back and she what has changed on his part & mine. I am going to sleep now. I am tired.

In one episode in season 2, you can see where she starts believing that past actions are the reason why deserves mistreatment and that is her fault. During our marriage, I remember actually thinking that my ex was God’s punishment for some of the bad choices I made in life. My father was good at preaching about a punishing God and how my mother deserved horrible things. If that were the case, would my past actions warrant this daily abuse? In fact, you can my comments sprinkled throughout my blog posts where I blame myself for picking this man in the first place. It was was easy to start blaming myself for all the problems, pain, and suffering. In this video, you can see where June seems broken and unable to fight.

The main character Fred, uses religion as a way to control and justify his behavior. However, the show continues to show us that he is less pious than he pretends to be. In fact, the show does good job of showing the character’s weaknesses that he does not display on the surface. My ex often gave me glimpses of his inner struggles after having too much to drink. Or how often he said how important our family to him, but his actions rarely match his words. Or similar to my father who was always preaching about the bible and how I should “Honor thy father…” He used religious as a weapon for control others and didn’t really live a Godly life himself.

Elizabeth Moss also mentions in an interview that the worst thing is the sense that everything is normal when they are not normal at all. This is very similar to what it is like to be with an abusive person. Your inner gut instinct continues to scream at you that something is not right about your relationship with your abuser. The abuser often gets you to second guess yourself, doubt your instincts, and deny your intuition. The abuser needs  you to believe that you are the one who is crazy and not the situation. If something is repeated often enough it can eventually seem like the truth. Journaling for all these years has helped me keep track of what really happened so I can remember the truth.

In reality, how different is this series to life with an abuser? An abuser often consider themselves above you or that you are their property and not their equal. You are not entitled to independent thinking or allowed to have your thoughts and opinions. Oftentimes, I remember thinking that maybe life didn’t have to be this way. Maybe this wasn’t what marriage was supposed to be like. He would say, “Everyone has problems. You don’t know what goes on behind closed doors.” These words seemed true and made sense. Although, I would see the neighbor across the street come home to be with his family or spend time outside playing with the kids.

This tale of abuse of power and control isn’t so far from the truth. In reality those of us who have encountered abuse know these tales all too well. Now I just pray my daughter will begin to see the truth about her own experiences. Otherwise she too may end up living a unbalanced life full of too much power and control.

Reasons For No Contact With Abusers

There are several reasons why you should consider going No Contact with Abusers, Narcissists, and Emotional Manipulators. There may be reasons why you cannot block the person, but you can take steps to ensure you are not surprised by their emails.

Emotional Health

You deserve to protect your emotional health from abuser, narcissist, and/or emotional manipulator. If they send emails that are not constructive and do not offer any value you may want to consider blocking them completely. If this person cannot behave properly and uses emails for personal attacks, threaten or bully, emotionally blackmail, or send blatant lies; you may want to keep these messages out of your life for good.

Lets face it, this person has learned enough about you to know exactly what to say to hurt you, push your buttons, or make you feel bad. A person who is constantly using email to lash out to hurt you is not emotionally well or healthy and has not earned the right to continue contacting you. This is a perfect time to create some boundaries to protect your emotional wellbeing.

Boundaries – a line that marks the limits of an area; a dividing line. This is like setting up a wall to protect yourself from people who are not trustworthy or are unhealthy. This wall can serve to allow healthy inside this wall and keeping unhealthy people out.

Another reason, lets say you receive an hateful email, and you choose not to respond. You may find yourself playing those hateful messages inside your head all day long. There is no reason for that and it is healthier for you to go No Contact instead.

Do This

Block Them

If you do not have any good reasons to receive their communications, it may make sense to block them in your phone. There is no reason to allow them to call or send you text messages. Phone calls are harder to control with an abusive person. Even if you have mentally prepared yourself for this phone call keeping the call under control can be a challenge. Text message are similar to email, but it is harder to save these message unless you screenshot all your messages. You may be resistant to blocking them off completely, but this will help you move on and become stronger.

Email Hacks

If blocking them is not possible, here are some email hacks to help control the situation better. You may want to consider creating a special folder and create a rule when those email(s) show up it automatically moves it into that folder or smart mailbox. By keeping these emails out of your Inbox, it will give you time to mentally prepare yourself before reading those messages. This will prevent the email from popping in the middle of the day when you are unprepared. If you are unprepared, you may find yourself reacting in you response instead of responding.

Reacting vs Responding

Reacting means than you are not in control of you response. For example, if you received a hateful email and sent an immediate reply, you response may be full of anger, frustration, and may provoke back and forth. For example, if you were having a bad day and this email showed up unexpected, you might be more apt to react to the situation.

Responding means you are in control of you response and tone. You may have received a hateful email, but you take time, pause, take deep breaths, or maybe even respond at another time or day. When you take time to think about how you would like to respond helps you reply with controlled responses. Taking time will help you avoid responding when you are emotionally charged with fear, hurt, or anger.

Maybe, Don’t Do This

Yesterday, I received an email from my abusive ex-husband’s wife. Whenever she sends me emails they are condescending, rude, an full of personal attacks. Although I have received less emails than I used to from my ex-husband, it hadn’t occurred to me to create a special folder for her emails into. There is no reason for her to talk to me. She is extremely abusive and unhealthy and I really do not need that in my life.

I didn’t exactly react, but I didn’t exactly respond either. So you can see why putting this in a special folder to avoid random emails. As, I mentioned in one of my previous posts, it seems like his wife is doing my ex-husband’s dirty work. I consider her like his personal minion and doing his bidding.

[To Me]

It has been over 30 days since a payment has been received for [daughter’s name] medical/dental expenses. Please advise when a payment will be rendered.

[From Minion]

My response:

[To Minion]

Check your mail.

Ask your husband, maybe he is hiding money in another account like he did with me. (include a screenshot of this payment sent out by the bank 7 days ago on Oct 13th) This message was truthful, but I really didn’t need to say it, but my frustrations were high after receiving another email from her and this is how I responded. So of course she is going to strike back. 

[From Me]

Her response:

[To Me]

My husband is an amazing man. He would give his right arm for me. He showers me with gifts all the time just Bc he loves me.  No deception in our marriage. The man I know would push someone in front of a bullet and save himself. We have never talked about these things, maybe deep down she knows there is a problem.

We have only receive a payment of $100.00 from you. Should I make a google spreadsheet for you to keep a running outstanding balance for you?  I don’t think I need to. Stop playing games and step-up to your mothers responsiblilites.

[From Minion]

My response, I have really grown tired of her bullying:

[To Minion]

My motherly duties exist since I gave birth to her and raised her for over 17 years with just a smidgen of your involvement. I will always be a REAL mother and have the responsibility as a REAL mother.

Oh my! Someone went on a tangent. Insecurities much?? How did you go from payments to “he showers me with gifts.” Weird. I did voice these thoughts with the help of a dear friend. There are so many things I would love to say, but I continue to hold back. 

[From Me]

Her response, really hateful and full of lies:

[To Me]

You make me laugh. [Daughter’s name] is healthy and thriving living with us. Everyday we peel back the layers of damage you have done to her.  No one falls for your victim act anymore.  Take a look in the mirror.  I’m sure you don’t like what’s looking back.  

I know you will respond to this bc you have a “last worder” personality & that makes me laugh, too. This was a low blow and my good friend even said, watch out when she replies, they will hit below the belt… and she did. 

[From Minion]

Get Healthy Support

After sending this message to one of my trusted friends who has known me for more than ten years she sent a text back saying:

Oh, she is lying!!!!

She is using a strategy of the narcissist (and some addicts): they don’t accept any responsibility for what they did (THEY damaged [daughter’s name]), but they are quick to say “It’s all your fault.”

It’s a sick game. Sick, sick, sick.

Another good friend said this:

Just remember they may try to hit below the belt like they have done in the past. Don’t let it get to you.

If they reply, just laugh because you will know you got to them.

All email screenshots were sent to my counselor along with this comment:

Okay. Trying not to let her message affect me. I know I didn’t damage my daughter. I did thrown the ball back a few times. I know better. I am just tired of being bullied by them.

My counselor replied:

I think it is okay to fight back. She sounds awful.

Last Response

There are no regrets over sending this message. Plus, there is no sickness in my stomach. Also, I thought about it carefully and waited all day. A good friend helped me with the wording and this was not sent when I was angry. Now their email will go to a special and forgotten folder. Once my daughter has graduated I will block the both of them completely. I also know this response is hitting her below the belt and isn’t exactly that nice. I am just sick of being a doormat for my ex-husband and his wife. There is no reason for them to speak to me the way they do. In the past, I have always taken the high road and it doesn’t stop them from attacking. So, I realize no matter how I respond, it will not have a positive response ever.

Closing Thoughts

So, do what you need to do to create a healthy atmosphere. I have created my folders and rules for both my ex-husband and his wife. I am not going to be caught off-guard again. It is time to stop allowing their emails to show up unexpected. It is time to set up healthy boundaries to prevent toxic elements from entering my life.

Verbal Abuse Stories: Blame-shifting

Here is a story about verbal abuse from one of our readers:

I read this blog and it was like putting a mirror in front of me. I had never seen so clearly before what my ex was like…

I split up with my ex about 2 1/2 years ago during the death of my father. This was an incredibly stressful time in any case, my dad was extremely ill and wheelchair bound with cancer, my mother who has Alzheimer’s didn’t understand what was happening and was suicidal. My ex chose this time to ramp up the pressure on our failing relationship big time until we ultimately split, an event which he carefully timed for my birthday.

He then refused to move out of the house and used my fathers illness as an excuse to “blame me” for not sorting out the divorce quickly enough. Frequently he used to say “so your dad’s dying? I suppose that trumps everything does it, see how patient I am being” in a very sarcastic way.

A couple of months later my father did die in the early hours of one morning. I spent the day taking my mother to the chapel of rest to see him and sorting out a death certificate with my sister. On my exhausted drive home I was an hour later than planned. I rang him and he yelled at me because I had stopped him going out to a pub quiz that evening. Again I got the “Your dad dying is more important than me is it?”. Yes really.

It took a year after that before he finally moved out. During that time he spent every moment he could putting me down, refusing to sort out any of the finances or paperwork, and criticising my progress when I actually was able to do so. He tried very hard to ruin my new relationship, whilst embarking on his own and telling her she was the love of his life.

The bit that chimed most was the refusal to arrange anything for kids pick up or vacation. He is constantly refusing until the last minute to say which of us is picking them up, refusing to keep to regular agreed times on his side, won’t say yes or no when I try and plan to go on holiday… and so on.

Last week I finally saw the light properly and clearly. I was sent an email in which he accused me of making him angry by not getting angry, and that it was a form of my ongoing abuse of him. It was so bizarre and funny that I laughed, and suddenly realised I had still been looking for approval, still allowing myself to be put down even all this time after we were divorced.

Enough is enough. Somehow because he had never hit me I didn’t view it as abuse. I forgave the angry outbursts at me and the kids, the controlling behaviour, the constant put downs whilst positioning himself as a saint. I told myself over and over again he had changed, but he hasn’t. I don’t suppose he ever will. I feel sorry for his new partner but interfering would only open me up to more abuse.

Thank you for posting these thoughts. Thank you for helping me see I am not alone.

Strengths Gained by Overcoming Verbal Abuse

trustOn some days, I feel very sad and on those days I allow the regrets to plague my thoughts. My regrets are that I choose to marry an abusive man and now our daughter is affected by his psychological abuse. However, since I cannot change the past, it does no good to think of past choices.

Yesterday is gone, there is only today. Although we can make plans for the future, we have no control over what happens in life. We must trust that everything that has happened or will happen is for a reason.

More than ten years ago, I remember one night laying in bed, thinking I was going to die one day. Living with my abuser had profound affects on my health and I continued to get sicker by the day. The doctor’s had no idea what was wrong with me and therefore there was no solutions.

My ex-husband seemed to be unconcerned with my illness and would often bring home Starbucks or food. At some point, I wondered, “Maybe he is doing this to me?” My ex-husband seemed to hate being married to me, but had no desire to get divorced. He also had made it clear that he would get custody of our daughter if I decided to leave. I had thought that I was rather crazy to think of such things.

Who thinks their husband is poisoning them? Today, I doubt he was actually feeding me poison, but once I got away from him I began to feel much better. Dealing with my ex-husband is so toxic, I realize that living with him would have eventually killed me. I would have ended up with some debilitating sickness or cancer due to the stress.

So on one day when I felt incredibly sick, I remember thinking, “God, please come into my life and show me how to believe in you.” Looking back now, that is when my life began to change in a way that would allow me to leave my abuser and start a new life. That day I began to take steps that would make me a stronger person. This is a day I would begin to grow in my own personal faith and spirituality.

Dealing with abuse is too much for one person to handle and it is so comforting to believe there is something greater than myself that can help me and guide me. This trust I have in God also helped me overcome the fear that made me sick and often kept me paralyzed and unable to get away.

They say that Religion is for those who do not want to go to hell and Spirituality is for those who have already been to hell.

So, am I sad that my teenager decided to go live with my abusive ex-husband. Of course! On occasion I feel like I must have done something wrong for this outcome to happen. The truth is, I was simply outmatched in a game I wasn’t playing. Teenagers can be challenging in the best of circumstances. So, when you have a person who is working against you and providing a teenager’s dream life (no rules, no responsibility, freedom, a car), you are simply outmatched.

Now, I can only hope that our daughter grows up and can determine when she is being manipulated. That she hopefully won’t make too many bad choices or perhaps avoid any permanent consequences. The truth is, I have no control over our daughter’s choices and this point. Now, it it time to keep her in my prayers and hope that she realizes the truth. I also must trust that this same God is watching over our daughter and protecting her too.


Journal Entries from a Recovering Domestic Violence Victim

journal entries abuseI have begun writing a book because there must be a reason for this journey. Perhaps my book can help someone understand they are not alone and can help them validate their experience. Maybe a book will help someone avoid a few minutes or learn a few lessons quicker. This book will dig deeper into my insights and choices while with my abuser.

There is no understanding why I wrote this journal entry and then continued trying to have a relationship with this man. However, he was so good and making me believe the truth wasn’t what I saw. My journal post really says a lot, even though it is written from a victim’s point of view.  Less than a year later I would give birth to my daughter, I wasn’t pregnant yet when I wrote this entry. My old me just couldn’t stay away even though there was no absolutely no reason to stay with him. At this time in my life I was able to verbalize all that was wrong and there was no reason to continue subjecting myself to him. I believe during this time, I would rather have been miserable with him than miserable without him.

May 7, 1998

I just wanted to thank you, Sam. Thank you for showing what an asshole is. Someone who cares more about themselves than others, some who takes, yet does not give. Someone who chooses not to learn anything or feel they know everything.

Thank you for showing me what it is like to be used. Someone who takes and does not give, takes for granted, and makes not effort to try. By showing me using I have learned that is not something I will accept by someone nor will I deliberately do to other people.

Thank you for showing me unhealthy love. In a relationship that has so many problems that it exhausts energy more often that giving any. Thank you for showing me manipulation, of one form, making promises that are not kept. Saying things for your own benefit rather than that of others. That it is selfish to think of your unhappiness without the other person, than their happiness without you.

Thank you for showing me things I want in a man, yet more than I do not want. Thank you for giving me that strength from experiencing something I do not want. I cannot thank you for my ability to hate, the anger that takes a while to heal and burn out.

Thank you for this rotten experience of love, pain, using, manipulation, and anger. From all these things the experience and change it brought to me, hopefully I have learned to be a better judge of people. So I will not wasted time with anything that is wrong, so I can learn eventually be the right. Thank you for being a person

Dealing with Abusive Emails from Father

In my blog, I have mentioned the difficulties of dealing with my abusive ex-husband and also my abusive father. Obviously my relationship with my father had a lot to do with my selecting my abusive ex-husband. My relationship with my dad was very unhealthy, and it was the only example of a relationship I had during my childhood.  So when I met my ex-husband I had no point of reference for a healthy relationship. hateful abusive poem

Today, I received a hateful poem from my father (see screenshot). I only included the first few verses, and that is a perfect enough example of the rest of the poem. My father sends this poem to his daughter to send to his ex-wife of nearly 40 years?  He has been saying hateful statements about my mother sine I was five years old. Inside the email, he says; “I hope this answers your big question. Daddy”. Even that statement is dripping with sarcasm.

My father is mentally ill, has vascular dementia and has diabetes. So he is not doing so well but that is no excuse for his bad behavior. He is currently living in an assisted living home near my Aunt’s house because the police picked him up one night driving aimlessly and was involuntarily committed.  He believes my Aunt plotted against him, and everyone else (doctor’s, police, judge) are all wrong and he is perfectly fine.

His poem was a clever rhyme about my mother being a whore. Funny, I probably shouldn’t feel angry after all these years but I wish he would move on.  It has been nearly 40 years now since they got divorced, and he can’t get over that.  He is now twice divorced because his last wife couldn’t take living with his abusive behavior.  She has sent me letters saying how much respect she has for my mother because she know first hand how my father can be.

Anyway, I do feel some old feelings of anger. My aunt expects me to take care of him? When I was sixteen years old, I had very little contact with my father by choice.  I just didn’t want to hear this hateful stuff about my mother anymore.  I don’t care what happened when I was a little kid.  I know he was physically and verbally abusive, and perhaps she did have an affair.  Maybe she was seeking kindness from someone else.  Knowing my father, I can hardly blame her.

He is mentally ill, and I can ask him not to send things like this to me, but he will do it again.  These past two days he has sent me all sorts of bizarre emails with titles like; ‘honor thy father and thy mother’, ‘the real war’ and ‘prayer to the holy spirit’. He often gets religious in his bouts where everyone is going to hell if they don’t repent.  Of course, he never means that he should repent for the things he has done. Always somebody else’s fault and somebody else to blame.

Sorry to rant, but that just made me mad.  I am supposed to send a card out for father’s day, and now I feel like sending ‘Happy Father’s Day, Asshole’ to him.  Just as I did when I was a child, I will keep this poem (comment) from reaching my mother. Mentally ill is no excuse for his abusiveness.

Perhaps an abusive (man or woman) will truly never become less abusive.

Abusive Relationship – Warning Signs

abusivechecklistOne of my biggest concerns is my daughter will grow up and marry an abuser herself.  All I can really do is teach her the facts and perhaps inform her of the warning signs.  After all there were early warning signs in our relationship, when we were dating, which I  missed or chose to ignore.  Several websites, have very good lists of warning signs,  this one is from the Red Flag Campaign.  Let me go through the ‘red flag’ list and see how many were present in my relationship.

I also listed many of these resources at the bottom of this post that discuss the various ‘red flags’ of abusive relationships.  The warning signs are almost always there but usually the abuser keeps themselves in check for a while, however they always slip up here and there and can’t keep up the act forever.  As I was writing this list I noticed many things were much worse after we were married.  The relationship did not get better after marriage, only worse.  My ex-husband was never physically abusive with me but he was abusive in every other way.  The emotional  verbal abuse caused me such physical illness I was almost certain I was dying of cancer.  I also truly believe if I had stayed in that relationship I would have ended up with some permanent physical illness because of the constant emotional stress.

*Note* As you will see, most of these ‘red flags’ are checked off as being present.  I might have been able to justify a few of these away, but this is a pretty long list an I could think of examples for almost all of them.  Of course, I never had a ‘red flag’ or ‘warning signs’ list when I was dating my ex-husband.  I think that is why it is so important to share this list with our daughters and perhaps even our sons.

Red Flags ‘Warning Signs’ of Abusive Relationships

  • Abuses drugs or alcohol – √
    • My ex-husband was drinking excessively since the moment I met him.  In fact he knew ever bartender in town very well.  They would often give him extra shots for free because he tipped so well.  This was a big time red flag.
  • Have history of trouble with law or getting arrested – √
    • This is another issue for him, in fact I think he thought his acting aggressive was admirable.  He was in very good shaped and worked out all the time and I was blinded by the fact that in my early 20’s I thought he was so attractive
  • Don’t’ work or go to school
    • This would not be a red flag because he graduated from college and was a very successful salesman who made a lot of money.
    • However during our marriage he lost a job where he was one of the top salesmen in the company.   The company had to let him go because some woman turned him in for being dishonest in which he said, “everyone at work does it.”
  • Blame you for how they treat you or anything that happens – √
    • When we were dating he would say that I was just confused and he needed to give me some time to think.  Not that he was doing anything wrong.  He often said that I was too sensitive and could not take a joke.  His jokes were often mean and very personal.
    • I also do not believe he thinks he did anything wrong during our entire marriage or since actually.
  • Abuse siblings, other family members, children or pets
    • There was nothing while we were dating that I could point to but he most certainly emotionally abuses our daughter since our divorce.  He has been putting her in the middle since she was 5 years old.
  • Put down people, including family & friends or call them names- √ 
    • While we were dating he started telling me that my mother did not understand me anymore, but that he understood me.  He definitely put everyone down from people we knew, acquaintances, co-workers, etc….  He still does this today as if he is something perfect and everyone else in the world is beneath him.
  • Are always angry at someone or something – √
    • Yes I cannot think of him ever being happy.  He liked to fight, he liked drama, and he made sure our lives were full of chaos.
    • Even today he buys Rolex Watches, expensive cars, country club memberships and he seems like the most miserable person I know.
  • Try to isolate you and control who you see and where you go – √
    • When we were dating he did not want me to talk to other guys.  I use to go play pool a lot and he really gave me a hard time I eventually gave it up.  My world revolved around him and I am not sure how much was my doing or his influencing.
    • While we were married I know my living so far away from my family was a control factor for him.
  • Nag you or force you to be sexual when you don’t want to – √
    • I do not know about when we were dating but for sure when were married.
    • He slept in another bedroom in the house and would complain he didn’t want us to live like roommates.  This meant he wanted us to have sex but it was okay to sleep in different bedrooms.  He also would show up drunk, late at night and knock on the door until I would unlock it (warning flag if you lock your own bedroom door at night) and I would let him do what he wanted to get it over with.  Very impersonal & uncomfortable sex that would leave me crying when he left.
  • Cheat on you or have lots of partners – √
    • This is another one I am not sure about while we were dating but I am positive he had an affair while we were married.
    • He was calling another woman for a year all the time, had his cell phone bill sent to his work, and when I downloaded his bill I found all the calls to a number at 2 & 3 am.  Then after seeing that I realized he was calling her all the time for an entire year.  When I confronted him about it, he said “She was like one of the guys.”  Plus, I overheard on a telephone call telling someone , “My wife is bitching, she is suspicious, we are going to have to cool it for a while.”  No matter what I know the truth an I knew long before I got a hold of the cell phone bill.  For a while I just wasn’t ready to deal with his affair, so I stayed in denial.
  • Are physically rough with you (push, shove, pull, yank, squeeze, restrain).- √

    • Not while we were dating he never laid a hand on me.
    • Even while we were married he did not physically abuse me, his was one of mental abuse.  However, he did kick a hole in our bedroom door, physically block me from leaving the house with his body, threaten to hurt me with words meant for intimidation.  My ex-husband was most certainly a bully.
    • Our daughter is even very worried about making him angry and keeps her thoughts to herself.  She has learned to just agree with him even if she doesn’t.
  • Take your money or take advantage of you in other ways. – √
    • I guess while were dating he took advantage of my wanting to buy sometimes.  I didn’t mind at first but certainly had a problem after a while I just never said anything to him.
    • When we were married he was extremely Financially Controlling in many ways.  Hiding money, keeping track of what I spent, keeping us broke as I mentioned earlier, making sure we stayed in debt, buying whatever he wanted but I had rules, etc…  When he was happy with me it was our money, our house, our stuff.  When he was pissed it was his money, his house and his stuff.
  • Accuse you of flirting or “coming on” to others or accuse you of cheating on them.- √
    • I had  not thought about this but he was always accusing me of cheating on him, in a ‘joking’ way.
    • Even at the end of our marriage he was accusing me of having an affair and threatened divorce.  Of course I had already filed for divorce at that very time.
  • Don’t listen to you or show interest in your opinions or feelings. . .things always have to be done their way.- √
    • In our household he was definitely the rule-maker, not me.  He was extremely manipulative and would say he didn’t expect anything from me but his actions made sure I knew different.  When I complained about our marriage he would simply reply, “Every marriage has problems, you don’t know what goes on behind closed doors.”  He made sure he knew me well enough to use anything personal I said against me in a hurtful way.  Other than that he did not know me or listen at all.
  • Ignore you, give you the silent treatment, or hang up on you. – √
    • I think did ignore me a bit when we were dating.  Although I mostly remember him knocking on my door & calling my house from his cell phone outside door until I opened door, often at 6am in the morning.
    • When we were married he would just ignore me when I would try to talk.  Eventually I would get mad and yell at him and then he would make me feel like I was the crazy one.
  • Lie to you, don’t show up for dates, maybe even disappear for days. – √
    • I don’t know about this one while we were dating.
    • However, when we were married never came home when he said he would.  He always made promises and never delivered on any of them.  I eventually knew I couldn’t’ believe a word he said but felt the disappointment anyway.  He often used our fights as a reason to justify staying out late & drinking and not coming home.
  • Make vulgar comments about others in your presence – √
    • I seem to remember he would say things deliberately that he knew upset me, only to get a rise out of me.  Including using racial words that upset me.  He told me once, “I don’t really care, I just like getting you upset.”
  • Blame all arguments and problems on you. – √
    • Everything was my fault or ‘our fault’ and never his fault.  I know many of his reactions were meant to set me up to get angry so he could say I was wrong too.  When I finally figured this out I had to work very hard to not react.  He was very good at pushing my buttons.
  • Tell you how to dress or act. – √
    • While we were dating he was very controlling and would want me to get my nails done, my hair done and tan.  I did so much of this to please him.  He wanted me to be his little showpiece.
    • Even when we were married he would bring me out to show me off, not to spend time with me.
  • Threaten to kill themselves if you break up with them, or tell you that they cannot live without you. – √
    • He definitely put on a guilt trip to get me to go back to him when we were dating.  He was so in love with me.  Yeah right!
    • Also, when we were married he made himself sick to try to get sympathy.  The last time I was so ready to get out permanently I could care less.
  • Experience extreme mood swings. . .tell you you’re the greatest one minute and rip you apart the next minute. – √
    • When we were dating his moods were not quite as extreme, although I remember we fought a lot when he was drinking.
    • However, when I was married I swear he was completely unpredictable.  Get pissed about the tiniest things or be completely calm about something I was sure he would freak out about.  Every day his behaviors were very extreme. Working out all the time or never at all.  Eating really healthy or nothing but junk. Home all the time or never home.
  • Tell you to shut up or tell you you’re dumb, stupid, fat, or call you some other name (directly or indirectly). – √
    • He did this plenty while dating and when we were married.  He still does with our daughter.
    • When we were married he didn’t say directly I was stupid but that I didn’t have a degree and nobody would hire me without one.
    • With our daughter he wouldn’t tell her I was mean but that she would get in trouble I was going to be mad at her.  Always highly manipulative by saying things without saying things.
  • Compare you to former partners.
    • Not sure about this one but I remember him blaming his inability to commit to the relationship or treat me right was because he was treated wrong by former relationship.  This was just an excuse really.   Oh but he did say that my not having orgasms was my problem because he never had this problem before.
  • You feel afraid to break up with them. – √
    • I was so afraid to break up with him because he was harass me.  Call me continuously or show up at my door at the crack of dawn.  Sometimes it seemed easier just to stay with him.
    • I was really afraid to divorce him too because he made me feel like I would lose my daughter.  Common abusive fear tactics.
  • You feel tied down, feel like you have to check-in.  – √
    • I certainly felt like I couldn’t make a move without checking in with him first.  If I did anything on my own I would get in trouble.   I felt like this with our marriage, like I had rules but he didn’t.
  • You feel afraid to make decisions or bring up certain subjects so that the other person won’t get mad. – √
    • I use to believe I was responsible for making him angry.  He had made that very clear.  
    • This is another issue for him, in fact I think he thought his acting aggressive was admirable. He was in very good shaped and worked out all the time and I was blinded by the fact that in my early 20’s I thought he was so attractive
  • You tell yourself that if you just try harder and love your partner enough that everything will be just fine. – √
    • I really think I believed I somehow could make things better.  I always tried to work on our relationship but what good did that do when he never made an effort.  It took me many years to realize he was not going to change and I didn’t like one thing about him anymore.  I knew if I couldn’t accept things the way they were and I knew I could never do that.
  • You find yourself crying a lot, being depressed or unhappy.- √
    • I was definitely upset a lot, crying often, and very depressed on many occasions.  I also felt physically sick throughout most of our marriage with stomach problems, anxiety, panic attacks, migraines, etc…  Amazing how much better I felt after I left.
  • You find yourself worrying and obsessing about how to please your partner and keep them happy. – √
    • When we were dating I went to great extremes, cooking him dinner, planning evenings out, surprises.  He never really did any of that in return.
    • When we were married , still my entire world revolved around what he would do or how not to piss him off.
    • Even when we were divorced I was always trying to figure out how to communicate with him without pissing him off.
  • You find the physical or emotional abuse getting worse over time. – √
    • The emotional abuse certainly got worse over time.  Especially after we were married and he felt he had me trapped.  Plus, I think he cared even less as time went on.  Not that I think he ever had empathy but I think he just didn’t care if he upset me or not.


History of Abuse Leads to Tragedy

My father and I recently had an argument about whether a women should or should not get divorced from a person who is abusive.  The story is posted under Abusive and Controlling Emails – Email Traps.    I had stated my personal belief that a women and her children (should she have any) should leave and get to safety.  My father mistakenly believed I was advising anyone reading this blog to get divorced.  No matter what I said to the contrary he was unwilling to hear anything else.

I have not replied to my father’s latest attempts at contacting me because I really do not want to argue.  I almost sent him a message telling that but I really do not want to stir anything up again.  I spoke to my mother about the conversation because it was really odd how angry he was.  She wondered if he was really angry at her for divorcing him but was directing it at me instead.  In my entire life I do not think my father has ever lashed out directly at me like that.

Today I was watching the news and heard a disturbing report about a women shot by her husband in Brookfield Wis.  The story describes a history of abuse, jealousy and threats. There is even a sentence regarding a threat of throwing acid on her face.  Anyway, the story says she was in the process of getting divorced.  The report stated she was able to get a protective order against him after he slashed her tires.  The story ends with the husband going to the Salon she worked at and opened fire. Several people died and others were injured.

These types of stories just break my heart because I understand what it is like to be harassed and tormented by an angry ex-spouse.  My ex-husband never physically hit me but he did enough things to make me afraid of him.   I feel equally as frustrated that there isn’t enough protection against abuse.  I also know I was more afraid of leaving my ex-husband than of staying with him which sounds strange.  I was afraid if I told him I would leave then he would do something crazy.  Like my staying with him was keeping in under some sort of control.

My ex-husband took Kung Fu and would describe how he could kill a person with one hit to the throat.  He use to say things to me like, “I have been so pissed at you at times, I could have thrown you through a wall, but I don’t.”  Why would anyone even think  or say such a thing.   He also said that he could be my best friend or my worst enemy.  Looking back I am not sure why I was so afraid of him physically hitting me, I guess because he was so unpredictable.  I never knew what made him tick.  He would get so pissed about the smallest things and stay perfectly calm about other things.  The times I was sure he would flip out he stayed calm and vice versa.  Plus, he drank and awful lot and I am pretty sure he was doing drugs too.  I have more understanding about the Domestic Abuse and the Alcohol/Drug usage as being two different problems.  I had also questioned at times if he was Bi-Polar or if it was the effects of alcohol and drug use causing his erratic behavior.

When I left him the first time I remember his behavior being extremely erratic.  I am not sure what the problem was at that time.  I just felt very afraid of him and wanted to avoid him as much as possible.  I had even planned to tell him I wanted a divorce at our marriage counseling appointment and then leave to go visit my mom straight after.  I really believed he might hurt or kill me for wanting a divorce.  He would often explode in anger after drinking too much and I had started bringing my daughter into our bed, sleeping with the door locked and the cell phone in my hand.

Some of that fear was built up over time and I had become chronically anxious, had migraines, stomach problems and panic attacks.  Getting a protective order would not have been an option for me because he had never hit me or threatened to hurt me.  He had kicked a hole in our bedroom door, physically blocked me from leaving the house with his body, hovered over our daughter when I planned to leave.  Some of the fears were just ‘implied’.

It is odd to think how much time I spent thinking about how to not make him angry.  Yet, I know now I had no control over his emotions.  I really believed I could somehow cause or even prevent him from getting pissed off.   We have a child together and on some occasions I am forced to contact him.  Even today I will spend extra amount of time carefully composing my email to present the topic in the best way I can to prevent him from being stirred up.  Ironic, his temper is 100% not in my control.  Although I know better I will still try to carefully approach him.

My ex-husband has backed off a lot in the past few years with directing his anger at me.  He has opted for more subtle forms of abuse, like using our daughter to upset me.  I hate to admit that is a pretty effective way to upset me.  I really hate him for doing that to our child because she should never be in the middle.  Sometimes I have a temporary breakdown and say this will never end… then afterwards I calm down, regroup and choose to get stronger.

Ending the Cycle of Abuse

One of my greatest fears is if my daughter picks someone like her dad who is abusive.  My grandmother and mother picked husbands exhibiting abusive behavior very similar to my ex-husband.

My parents divorced when  I was about three years old.  My father began using me to abuse my mother when I was four or five and put me in the middle of his attacks on her.  Every-time I visited my father he would grill me about religion, unfaithful women and basically did everything he could to turn me against my mother.

In the end my father’s actions did not have the effect he desired, in fact I rarely spoke to him for about twenty years.  My mother never attacked him back through me, so I did not get angry at her for doing the same thing he was doing.  When I was very young and my father told me the hateful things and I did not have anyone to talk to about this.  I was an only child and did not have any adults to help me.  I felt very alone.   Nobody ever told me what my father was doing was not okay.

My mother had several relationships when I was growing up.  She always picked the wrong men, guys who wouldn’t commit, or my step-dad who was an alcoholic.  In the end she always ended up alone.  What my mother did was a great deal of time focusing on whatever man she met instead of me.  This was very hard for me as a child.  I think I felt pretty alone and probably abandoned.  Actually I still have some unresolved anger I am finally dealing with now as an adult.

My father spent my childhood pouring all his hatred of my mother into me.  I learned at a very early age to protect my mother from the things my father would say.  I think I learned to protect my mother from my father and even my own feelings.

As a child I remember being angry a lot.  Especially when I became a teenager.  My mother moved about eight times when I was a child.  I remember about four different men that she had longer relationships with.  I am pretty sure my father painted her out to be a harlot & promiscuous.  Undoubtedly he was probably pumping me for all the information he could get when I was a child.

I attended three different schools before 7th grade, one junior high and at least some of our moving kept me in the same high school.  Every time I made friends it seemed we had to move again.  By the time I was in high school I was a pretty pissed off kid and I was left unsupervised a lot.  I ended up associating with the wrong kids, drinking a lot when I was a sophomore in high school, pretty much rebelling against the rules.  I also associated with the wrong people right out of high school and got in a lot of trouble.

I moved to another state when I was twenty and left all my friends.  I did not get in trouble again and became pretty responsible.  Unfortunately this is when I met my ex-husband.  Our relationship was a roller coaster and went from good to bad to okay.  We never really had a good relationship.

My problem was two things.   My ex-husband was very much like my father, which probably felt pretty normal.  I also had no example, while watching my mother, of what a good relationship looked like.  I had also learned that I would rather be miserable with my ex-husband than miserable without him.

I left my ex-husband plenty of times, but I always took him back or went back voluntarily.  As I mentioned in a previous blog post, women leave 7 times on average before they finally leave for good.  My instincts were right, although he would tell me things like, “All relationships have problems, you don’t  know what goes on behind closed doors.”   I always would reply, “Yes, but I just don’t think it should be this difficult, this hard, we should get along better.”  If you are with an abusive man, this is not what will happen, probably not ever.  The rules are completely one sided and they were not in my favor.

Fear of my ex-husband kept me there, fear of how to survive on my own kept me there, fear on how to raise my daughter alone kept me there, fear kept me pretty paralyzed.

The real turning point happened when I remember making the decision that I would rather live in my car than live with my ex-husband any longer.  That was when my ex-husband lost me for good.  I knew that I would never allow myself to trust that man again.  That was the time I knew I would never go back.

Things worked out pretty good for me.  I had a business I had built that took off, I purchased my own home and I began setting boundaries for what I would accept and not not accept.   I was also attending Alanon and going to Domestic Abuse counseling.  When the domestic abuse counselors described my relationship in detail, it was more than disturbing, as if they had a window into my life for all those years.  How could complete strangers know my relationship so well.

My abusive ex-husband is not very special at all.  In fact, he is simple a classic domestic abuser.  I do not like my ex-husband very much but I do not hate him.  I hate the things he does to my daughter.  I know he is a weak person to do these things.  I also know part of the reasons he attacks me like he does is because I left him and I am doing well without him.

I dated a few men after divorcing my ex-husband.  I was really worried about getting into another unhealthy relationship over and over like my mother did.  I finally decided that I would be perfectly okay alone.  I made the decision that I was done dating and if I was meant to have a relationship… God was going to have to send him to me.  You know what… God did.

So maybe what I am doing for my daughter by giving her tools on how to get out of the middle, giving her and example of a healthier relationship, and I believe I am provided her with a bit more stability than I had as a child.  Just maybe I have changed my life enough that my daughter might not pick an abuser.  I have prayed to God to let the Cycle of Abuse End with me.

I guess, now, that too I must turn over to God.

Was My Husband Poisoning Me or Was the Relationship Toxic

You may find this shocking to believe that I once use to question if my ex-husband was poisoning me.  I actually thought it was pretty crazy to think such a thing.  I certainly did not think a normal person would even consider such a thing.  I cannot tell you how many doctor’s I visited during those years of my marriage trying to figure out why I was so sick.  I never could figure out what was wrong, no real medical explanation and I continued to get sicker.  The symptoms started not long after giving birth to our daughter in 1999 and I began feeling sick later that year.

Dear Reader: If you can relate to what I am posting, please do not dismiss your symptoms as being ‘in your mind’ and consider your body may just be warning you of a present danger.

Post Update: It is strange I finally decide to post this and then I read this article: Tennessee woman accuses physician husband of poisoning coffee with barium.  The story is about a women in Tennessee that says her husband was trying to poison her through her coffee, slowly and over time.  It certainly makes me wonder how many people’s illnesses may be a result of a toxic marriage which can actually cause the same symptoms as true poison.

Real Physical Symptoms

Some of my physical symptoms included:

  • Migraines
  • Blurred Vision
  • Light Sensitivity
  • Heart Palpitations
  • Stomach Problems
  • Intestinal Problems
  • Full-blown Anxiety (felt like someone was sitting on my chest at all times)
  • Blood in my Stool (this was one red flag symptom the doctor dismissed)

When the initial symptoms started they were very faint.  I almost felt this weird faint pulsing somewhere in my body.  I could not quite identify where they were coming from.

Initially, I thought perhaps I had some cancer that they had not discovered yet.  I also went through all the logical conclusions of food intolerance, reaction to sugar, checked for diabetes or hypo-hypoglycemia. During this time I started to have new symptoms that were probably anxiety over the symptoms.

“Crazy Making” & “Gaslighting”

I guess what really began puzzling me was my ex-husband at the time really did not seem to be concerned that I felt bad.   It was almost as if he was glad that I was not feeling well.   In fact, he often gave me a hard time and would tell me it is probably caffeine.  So I stopped drinking diet cokes and avoided caffeine. He really made me feel like my symptoms were all in my head and I was some sort of hypochondriac.  So many little things he would say would make me feel like I was just imagining these symptoms.

At this point the thought of poisoning had not crossed my mind yet.   One mistake I made during this time was not getting a second opinion.  I trusted my doctor.

When I first began seeing the doctor I told her about the blood I saw when I went to the bathroom.  She dismissed it and said that was normal.  That continued to happen throughout the year and she kept saying it was not anything to be concerned bout.  So the doctors continued to do a series of tests to figure out what it wasn’t; ultra sounds, EKGs, giving me pills like Wellbutrin…   I think the pills only masked my symptoms and prolonged the issue.

Towards the end of 2000 I had finally figured out that this was digestive related.  The doctor tried to explain it away as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). This conclusion sounded logical as I had most of those symptoms.  However, when I read about it, one of the comments said that blood should never be present that indicated there may be another problem.

So I contacted my doctor and told her about what I had discovered.  I told her I wanted a second opinion from a specialist.  She told me, “Okay, but I don’t think they will tell you anything different than what I have told you.”  Glad I ignored her and proceed with visiting the specialist.

So I went to see a Gastroenterology specialist.  He said that seeing blood is never normal and had me in for a Colonoscopy four days later.  Apparently I had a polyp in my colon that was the size of a plum in which they removed.  The doctor said that was the largest polyp he had seen in someone so young.  He said it was large enough to block my colon completely.  It was also ulceric which was why I saw the blood and it was spasming which was the reason for the strange pulsing symptoms I had felt.

It took me about 7 months to completely recover after having this surgery.  My body simply could not function the way it should during this entire situation.  So I began to feel better temporarily then I started to feel worse again.  My symptoms continued from 2001 through the end of 2003.

It was not long after this I started to wonder if my husband was causing my illness.  I could not understand why I was unable to feel better.  I was only 25 at the time and it seemed I shouldn’t be so sick so often.  During this time we had our typically verbally abusive fights.  It almost seemed like my husband hated me and was at war with me.  Yet he did not want a divorce.

He would make many manipulative comments to try to drive fear into my divorce thoughts.  All these comments were meant to make me afraid of how I would support myself if we got divorced.

  • My co-working just got divorced and he got custody of his kids.
  • I can be your best friend or your worst enemy
  • You don’t have a college degree, no one will hire you, we should work on that
  • If we get divorced how will you pay your bills, I do not want you living in a roach-infested apartment, why don’t we get you a degree

I also remember another comment very clearly, and it disturbs me to this day that he would say something like this to me:

“You know I have been so pissed at you at times, I could have thrown you through a wall, but I don’t.” he said to me.

“Emotional/Psychological abuse is referred to in the professional literature by many interchangeable terms such as: emotional abuse, covert abuse, psychological maltreatment, coercive abuse, abuse by proxy, and ambient abuse.”  – CourtWatch, Emotional/Psychological Abuse Fact Sheet

So anyway, we would get in these awful fights.  Then right after he would show up with food from a restaurant he went to or a Starbucks coffee.  I think these were all typical domestic abuse reactions where they feel guilty and try to make it up.   These fights were not occasional, in fact they were more often than not. I still describe my marriage as never being really good, it would go from bad to okay then back to bad.  It never really had a good point.

I remember one night I couldn’t breathe and it was really scary.  I called my ex-husband and told him I was afraid and to please come home.  I think I was having a panic attack at the time.  I ended calling 911 and they sent paramedics who sat and talked with me while I breathed into a bag.  They stayed amazingly calm and helped me through it.  My husband still did not come home after this.

At this point my migraines had gotten really bad and caused light sensitivity, floating spots and blurred vision.  At some point the doctors wanted to send me in for a Catscan to try to figure out why I had migraines.   During this time I was clenching my teeth in my sleep and breaking my own teeth but did not put the symptoms together.

I remember my mother was visiting me at the time.  I also remember my ex-husband was out golfing and drinking with his buddies.  So my mother had to watch our daughter and I had to drive myself to the appointment for the Catscan.  They put me in the big machine where you have to lie completely still.   I was kind of scary because it seems like you are in their forever and you have no concept of time.  I was also afraid it was taking so long because they had found something.  I also remember feeling really pissed that my ex-husband did not seem to care and should have been with me.  Even that he was not home meant my mother couldn’t come with me and wanted to.

Anyways, yes I really began wondering if my ex-husband was doing this to me.  I remember looking up the symptoms of arsenic poisoning.   As crazy as I felt considering this I wondered how many other people had actually been poisoned and did not think they were.

When I left him in the end of 2003 and drove to my mother’s was when I began to feel so much better.  I wrote in a previous comment that the further away I drove from my ex-husband the better I felt.  As I was driving in my car at some point I remember my chest released for the first time in years.  Apparently I had chronic anxiety that never went away until that moment.  It was at that time I realized no matter how, my ex-husband was contributing to my symptoms.

During that time away from him I continued to feel better and started to get my strength back.  I guess I had been living in such a toxic home environment that was so oppressive that it is no wonder I was sick all the time.  I stayed away for 7 weeks and came back home in February 2004.  I allowed him back into the home in the end of February and we stayed married until November 2004 when I finally left him for good.

I will say that when I first left him and got into my own house I went through a new set of symptoms.  I think I dealt with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) for several months.  I truly believe the reason I suffered with that was because I left a home that was in constant chaos, turmoil and flat out war-zone… and moved into a home that was quiet and peaceful.  I think my body had a hard time processing that change.  I had been so use to living under constant stress.

I am happy to say I began to feel much better throughout the year of 2005.  My ex-husband continued relentlessly to attack, threaten and harass me and would often trigger symptoms.  The good thing is they did not last and I knew he was a big trigger for me.

Today, I still feel good and I am also glad to say I can write about this stuff without feeling the pain and anger I once felt.   I can even respond intelligently to my ex-husbands outbursts and my feelings of frustrating do not last as long.

So was my ex-husband poisoning me?  I would have to say, yes perhaps he was.  Whether it was poison delivered by his own hand or just the constant exposure to a toxic relationship.  I do not remember ever feeling so sick before I met him nor since I left him.  Either way he was pure poison for my body.  I can tell you, his new wife, seems to get sick quite often.  She even had a huge tumor removed from her stomach last year and I find it to be a strange coincidence that I had one removed from my colon when I was with him.

 Facts About Psychological Abuse: