It’s still really difficult for me to admit that I was abused; that I’m an abused man.”
“My couples therapist told us men can’t be abused and that my wife is just emotional and I need to be more understanding and patient with her.”
“I just don’t how I went from being a happy guy, with friends, family and a great job to who I am now.”
“My wife thinks I’m being abusive and controlling when I tell her her behavior is hurtful.”
These statements are frequent refrains both in my practice and on Shrink4Men. Gentlemen, it’s time to take the blinders off and wake up. Men are just as likely to be the targets of abuse as women. Women are just as capable of being abusive as men. Abuse is abuse and it’s not different when she does it.
Wait a minute, I take that back.
It is different when she does it because she’s more likely to get away with it, for the time being, that is.
Women-centric domestic violence groups and Dr Phil would like our society to believe that only men can abuse and only women can be victims. They are lying to you. In fact, individuals who perpetuate this lie are abusers themselves. Why? Because not only are they denying help to millions of men and their children who are suffering everyday, they’re denying the existence of their suffering.
People who deny that men can be abuse victims are also unforgivable hypocrites.
Domestic violence centers and spokespersons bang the drum ad nauseam about “ending the silence on domestic violence” in regards to female victims, but tell male victims of abuse that they’re not victims and to shut up and go away. The “Men Bad-Women Good; Men Abusers-Women-Victims” mentality is an example of a primitive psychological defensive mechanism called splitting. [*Splitting is also a very common behavior engaged in by many individuals with Borderline Personality Disorder.]
Men in Denial about Being Abuse Victims
Many men recognize that their wife’s/girlfriend’s behavior is cruel, erratic, crazy, demanding, controlling, pathologically possessive, manipulative, passive-aggressive, cold and hostile. They can articulate that their female intimate partners call them names, withhold sex and affection to punish and/or use it as a transaction, lie, cheat, steal, make disparaging remarks about them to others–including their own children, make threats and throw objects, slap, kick, scratch, punch, pull hair, etc., but still won’t acknowledge that their wife’s or girlfriend’s behavior is abuse.
If you’re a man who is having trouble coming to grips with the fact that your wife’s or girlfriend’s behavior is indeed abusive, consider the following questions:
- How does her behavior make you feel?
- How would you and others view her behavior toward you if she were a man and you were a woman?
- Would her behavior toward you land her in jail if she were a man?
1. Helpless and hopeless. If her behavior makes you feel helpless, hopeless, powerless, crazy, confused, overwhelmed, scared, anxious, stressed, fatigued, and physically ill, you may be experiencing common trauma symptoms associated with abuse. Admitting the problem is often the first and most important step you can take to solving the problem.
However, don’t expect your wife or girlfriend to share your view of the problem. If you tell her that her behavior toward you is abusive, she’ll most likely turn it around on you (DARVO—Deny, attack and reverse victim order) and accuse you of being the abuser.
That’s what abusers do. They blame their victims. It’s what the stereotypical alcoholic wife beater does and it’s what abusive high-conflict and/or abusive personality-disordered women do.
2. Role reversal. Imagine if you and your wife or girlfriend could switch genders. How would you and, let’s say, oh, I don’t know. . . the support staff at a woman’s domestic violence shelter view her behavior toward you if she were a man and you were a woman? If the answer is, “He’s an abusive creep. You need to protect yourself and your children, create a safety plan and get out,” then your wife or girlfriend is an abuser and you’re an abused man in the context of your relationship.
Domestic violence shelters don’t tell an abused woman who’s seeking help and protection from her male abuser to stick it out and be patient. DV shelters don’t tell an abused woman to have empathy for her male abuser and to try to understand his feelings and point of view. DV shelters don’t tell an abused woman to stay with her male abuser for the sake of the children and to honor her commitments. DV shelters most certainly do not tell an abused woman that she needs to change her behaviors, so that her husband or boyfriend will stop abusing her.
Enough with the double standards already.
3. Perp walk. If your wife or girlfriend engages in physical violence toward you, it’s abuse, it’s domestic violence and it’s a crime. Period.
Violence is not different when a woman perpetrates it; it’s still violence. If you would be arrested for throwing keys at your female partner, kicking her, throwing a glass of milk at her head, scratching her, slapping her, stabbing her with a knife, biting her, trying to run her down with a car, threatening to kill yourself and the children, threatening to kill her and the children, threatening to kill her pet, threatening to kill her new boyfriend, going after her with a hammer, punching her in the groin, etc., etc., she should also go to jail for these behaviors when she perpetrates them upon you.
Men, I know it’s humiliating for many of you to admit you’re in an abusive relationship and that you’re an abused man in the context of your intimate relationship, but there shouldn’t be any shame in doing so. Your abusive wife/girlfriend is the one who ought to be ashamed. It takes an incredible amount of strength and courage to admit to this problem and seek help. If you can endure the behavior of an abusive woman, you have more strength than you know. You just need to use that strength to get help and get out. Furthermore, the powers that be and DV groups want to maintain the shame men feel about being abused. It makes it less likely that you’ll complain and ask for help. In order for this matter to be taken seriously, you have to redirect the shame at the people who are behaving badly and make some noise.
If you can’t admit that you’re being abused to yourself and take it seriously, then society and our legal system will probably never do so. This means the current extremely biased and inequitable divorce and custody laws and practices will stay in place. If we don’t change the current divorce and custody laws that favor women, then you will most likely be punished by the courts for trying to escape your abusive marriage. It’s not right and it needs to stop. That won’t happen until we raise public awareness.
Once you stop the abuse and take your life back, you’re no longer a victim.
Shrink4Men Coaching, Counseling and Consulting Services:
Dr Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD provides confidential, fee-for-service coaching, counseling and consulting to both men and women via telephone or Skype. Her practice combines practical advice, support, reality testing and goal-oriented outcomes. Please visit the Shrink4Men Services page for professional inquiries.
Ron On Drums says
Excellent post Dr T. While not in an abusive marriage myself this will be very helpful to a lot of men. I originally got here because of a past G/F. But anyway I remember YEARS ago as cop in the Air Force we did see domestic abuse in base housing from both men & women. The victim was almost always the Air Force spouse. If an Active Duty Member male or female dos this their career is over in pretty short order. At least in the service, when their is a sign of physical assault they are apprehended (A.F doesn’t arrest, they apprehend) quickly regardless of the sex. At least they were in my squadron.
But here is where the difference comes in. After we apprehend the person guilty of assault the matter is refered to the active duty members commander even if he/she was the victim. This was because it was done in Base Housing. If the member was the victim the commander would just counsel the member on how best to handle it. No punishment was given at all. But if the victim was male it was almost always as you said. “She is emotional. Don’t break up the family over 1 incident. Don’t press charges with the local police” (if the abuser was civilian that’s where charges had to be handled) etc. But if the victim was female it was ‘Kick him out, press charges with the local police, leave, run” etc etc.
Granted this was all many years ago & in general believe it or not the military actually tends to get ahead of the curve in domestic & societal matters. They were one of the first to put in serious policies on sexual harrasment & yes it could go both ways. To listen to the press you would think they are all a bunch of club wielding cave men…lol
I was married to an Active Duty Air Force Officer (No she wasn’t abusive) for 16years who was female & they take this stuff seriously. A woman in her squadron was charged with domestic assault back in 98, given an article 15, lost a stripe & pay & was discharged (other than honerable). So I guess in general they are trying to do the right thing with it. I wish this was the case nation wide. But sadly it isn’t. Yes I am sure there are places where the police do try but many times get confounded by the courts who side with the female abuser.
Dr Tara Palmatier says
Thanks, Ron. I can’t wait for the day when this particular double standard is the exception and not the norm.
Thank you for the post.
My wife has physically and mentally abused me and I happen to be a service member. One night she got really drunk and hurt me physically not to mention a ton of verbal abuse. Since she was a civilian I feel like they didn’t care that I had to deal with her. They basically enabled her to become more abusive, she would constantly threaten to call them to the point where I was her little slave. I couldn’t reach out for help, i felt like no one believed me and they made me feel that way. Eventually I was able to convince her to move back home and the trouble then became all verbal abuse. She would constantly tell me I was cheating when in reality I was really busy with what I was doing with my career. I would send her money and it was never enough. She ended up in drug rehabs and then she would constantly tell me how much I sucked as a person. When I tried to leave she would get all sweet and lovey dovey then it would start over again. Finally she decided to stop talking to me out of no where. After having a good weekend together she then suddenly and without any reason stopped talking to me, then filed for a restraining order on me for texting her benign messages such as are you ok, im worried, can you tell me the status of our relationship. I just don’t get the service enabled her to abuse me for over a year then I get in trouble for being worried about her. It has helped me finally file for divorce and exit but my career is still undecided due to an abusive women, I feel like they always take her side when I was the one constantly being battered and I was even physically injured by her. In this she still holds all the power and I cant just leave without being judged. Its totally unfair and im not sure what im supposed to do this whole process feels so skewed.
Hey boldpilot, I totally hear what you’re saying. I’ve been married to an abusive woman for 2 years, we’ve been separated for about 5 months now and she has recently been acting very nice and sweet to try to lure me back in – I have to wonder if it is because I just got a new job that pays twice what I was making before (she hasn’t worked since we got married).
After we got married, I had to ignore my family and friends so she would feel secure. She was constantly accusing me of cheating. I spent all my money, retirement, and savings on her and even ended up having to file for bankruptcy (which I just did yesterday, actually).
I was hit with coat hangers, spit on, had cell phones and water and and coffee thrown in my face, and even had a bruise on my face for a week once when she slapped me. She would often yell and swear at me in front of her daughter (she has a 7 year old who’s father lives in Australia – he does not pay child support and has never met his daughter) and she even told me she wanted a divorce and threatened to commit suicide multiple times. I tried to do what I thought was right and just ride it out, trying to show her how much I loved her and would never cheat on her. I tried to prove to her that she was the most important person in my life. Nothing worked. It felt like I was trying to shine a flashlight into a black hole.
One day back in April she kicked me out (I can’t remember exactly why, she was just exceptionally mad that day). I moved in with my parent’s and I haven’t gone back and I told her I want a divorce, my family and friends and even my pastors at church all are on my side and support me, but she has put together a small army of people who think I am a terrible person for leaving her and her 7 year old. I fear she will do something crazy if I have her served and I that will be punished for leaving her and her daughter by the courts.
Im sorry to hear about your plight. I will say everything gets better. When I wrote my post I was a little frustrated with how the legal systems overlook the male(me) not necessarily the state system but being in the service we have a really high moral and ethical standard to live and being the good person I am and living as a good person, its easy for the other person non service member to get one over on people about the situation. In my situation the person has multiple emotional issues (medically), addictions, and history of bad moral behavior and im sure long term she needs to deal with them.
Im sorry your going through what your going through but I do feel like divorce is the best thing for me and I think that most legal systems will help you get through that situation if you choose to do that, I would just get a good family attorney and they can help you get it done. You will be happier and the other person may be able to seek the help they need to live a healthier life, hopefully not doing that to someone else. I was lucky that I can get my finances under control even though the person I described in my earlier post did put me back in debt. Its nothing I cant handle and it seems you have went another route which its obviously the best choice at this time. I would while your doing that, to get the divorce now, when you are ready for another relationship you will know the indicators of abuse and how to avoid being in that again. I would also try to go to some sort of therapy with your congregation or therapist. It may help when you file for divorce and knowing that you have support that the marriage wont work because of those issues, it will make it easier and a healthy way to resolve. I would not go back believe me i tried already in the past and it only got worse, there are plenty of people out there who will not treat you like you were treated. When you mentioned the part about not being able to have family and friends i went through that with my family and friends, it was a huge issue to. Healthy people wont do that to you and Im sure you didn’t do that to that person either so why should you have to be isolated from the world. Going through something similar I would focus on your career, find what makes you happy and reconnect with those family and friends, it has helped me and Im sure it will help you as well. I feared the same thing you did with filing but she will do something crazy before you file and It could be much worse its a matter of time. As far as the child I know its two fold where you also have to say goodbye to her daughter who im sure cares about you as well. Just know its best and healthier for everyone and the legal system should not hold you responsible for someone else’s child like I said an attorney can council you on those rules.
I wish you luck.
Ron On Drums says
Opps I meant the victim was almost always the Air Force Active Duty Member (in the first paragraph. Sowwy bout dat 🙂
I wrote this letter to the Los Angeles times three years ago and followed up a few times but they wouldn’t engage. Two years later I tried to get their attention after the landmark Woods v Shewry case but to no avail. No one in the mainstream media wants to admit that DV is a gender neutral issue…
I am a victim of domestic violence. While waiting for four hours at the police station this afternoon to file a report I read the “Domestic Violence Handbook, A Survivor’s Guide” (a California Attorney General’s Office publication).
I learned that violence may be triggered by a role change, such as when the woman starts school or goes to work. Batterers apparently rationalize abuse to “show the woman who’s boss” and the woman typically accepts the blame.
In an emergency, I’m encouraged to call 911 and say, “My husband hit me.”
I discovered that some women feel guilty and are ashamed of their partner’s violence. I now know that, during the Tension-Building Phase, the woman rarely becomes angry.
It was frightening to read that, following the incident, the batterer may refuse to summon medical help even when the woman’s injuries are life-threatening.
It was reassuring, however, that legal information is available by ordering the Attorney General’s Women’s Rights handbook and that I can find help in the Yellow Pages under “Women’s Organizations.”
This is all very well and good, except that I am male and my abusive wife (now ex-wife) is female.
There was a Spanish version of the booklet available. Why not a version of the booklet for male victims?
A battered husband (now ex-husband)
Dr Tara Palmatier says
Sad, but not surprising, Frog. This is why websites/blogs that tell men’s stories are so vital in raising awareness. The MSM, wholly owned by Corporate Overlords that manufacture products that they tell women they deserve and are entitled to because they “deserve it,” aren’t about to report the truth anytime soon.
I totally understand the text though, as I am afraid to say anything. I was punched in the gut many times once and felt dizzy and sick for a few days and literally would have allowed myself to die without medical attention before telling anyone it was my wife. I have had so many accusations of emotional abuse and then a turnaround where I stop arguing and remain silent and she gets worse and worse. I have to now think, how many times have we thrown things and how it will turn against me and anything she did will be ignored. I don’t have a place to go and don’t want to lose my kids and begin a life where everyone just hears her side of the story. I even began taping her talking about beating me up and caught a lot of the things that she denies doing and saying but then I got rid of it because I thought we were moving on. I moved out before but I have a serious co-dependency problem. I literally had to call on her because when I lived alone for a month, I wanted to commit suicide and she was the only one I could talk to. In my mind, I am to be strong and get through this but she started to say she was going to look elsewhere for affection and that if I don’t change she’s leaving (because I have been so silent lately). If I try to say anything about anything, she has to argue so I thought not saying anything and focusing on my career would help and it makes her even worse toward me. When I moved out, she changed and when I said how I felt recently and threatened I might tell people about this she changed for now. I guess I feel like I have to have some kind of tactic to reset the situation, if I leave then I am doomed to an even worse life. It sucks being a man. I try to figure out in my head how it would work if I could just get her to leave but everything always ends up (in my mind) with me alone or in jail for not being able to keep up with child support or something.
B Experienced says
I am a woman, and I would like to tell all the men out there who feel like less of a man or ashamed because they are being abused by a woman or anybody for that matter that the problem is not because you are a men. The problem is the definition of what a man’s role in society is.
You are first a human being with minds, emotions and feelings. The role of a man should be defined in those terms not in terms of a machine. Only a narcissist would put a human in the role of an unfeeling object and expect stealth endurance in all matters. It is simply cruel.
I have broken down and cried rivers of pain with men in my life. We were equal when we did this. I grew to love men more because of it. We picked each other up and lead each other out of pain with our individual strengths as healthy, normal functional people do. I want you to know that I am not the only woman out there who believes and does as I do. Men and Women are meant to be equal but different in a partnership not servitude. It is part of your constitutional rights as well. No man shall be a slave and has the right to pursue happiness within the laws.
It is simply unconscionable and egregious for anybody yet alone a so called Mental Health Professional to tell you that men can’t be abused. That comment deserves a complaint sent to the State Discipline Department for professional malpractice and legal advice from a lawyer. The person telling you that is putting your life in danger as well as perpetrating a myth in society and going against criminal and civil laws in our society. It is the part of any Mental Health Professionals job to enhance pro social behavior and protect their clients or patients from harm and work within civil and criminal laws. If their judgment is that warped, they are impaired so called professional and shouldn’t be holding a license.
It’s a sad state of affairs that I feel the need to thank you for saying that, but thank you for saying that. It really should be no more than stating the obvious, but there’s been so much propaganda and brainwashing on that score that you’re swimming against the current just by making that observation.
Dr Tara Palmatier says
Ditto. Thank you, B Experienced.
B Experienced says
You are very welcome. I was hoping that insight made an impact on someone. It is the key ingredient in pulling out of the recipe of madness put on anybody involved with any Cluster B or narcissist.
My friend told me that when his wife, who “handles the finances” aka: takes his paycheck every week, pays the bills with it and doesn’t tell him what she does with the rest- including buying four dogs after he said he didn’t want a second one (to the tune of thousands of dollars), saw a strange phone number on the call log on his cell phone bill -she slapped him.
He told her that if she ever did it again he would leave and that was it. However, he continues to endure total lack of physical or emotional intimacy with her, verbal and mental abuse, and isolation from friends and family, except on holidays and special occasions, when she puts up with it for brief visits. If he goes alone she makes sure that she constantly texts and calls until his visit is over, according to his sister and mother, who have both expressed concern about him.
His individual counselor has convinced him to stay with her despite the abuse and “work it out”. Obviously not concerned with his best interests. The man has been suicidal since about the second year of marriage to this monster.
Yet he continues to believe he isn’t an abuse victim in his marriage 🙁
There’s so much more, but it would fill a book unfortunately.
B Experienced says
This article Dr. T really blew my mind. Unbelievable what men are going and put through.
It can be a long hard walk – but I tell you that it is worth it.
He said, “I’ve been told I don’t have any money to spend.”
I asked, “How can you not have any money? You’ve been working 70 hours a week!”
He answered, “*I* don’t have any money to spend.”
I countered, “I thought you said it all comes from the same pot.”
He replied, “But I’m not the one who makes that decision.”
I asked, “Don’t you make alot more than she does (she works 5 hrs/day 5 days /wk. He works as much OT as he can get)? Not hourly, but over a year’s time with all your overtime?”
He answered, “Yes, but she’s the one who makes all those decisions.”
All I could do was think, “That’s one of the signs.” and kept my mouth shut.
Good News: Canada now has officially recognized that men can be abused by women. I’ll try to link their guide, from Heart-2-Heart:
The name of the pdf file is “Men Abused by Women in Intimate Relationships”
Alberta Children and Youth Services
Prevention of Family Violence and Bullying
3rd Floor, Sterling Place
9940 – 106 Street
Edmonton, AB T5K 2N2
Family Violence Info Line: 310-1818
It took me 18 years to figure out that I was being systematically abused, bullied and manipulated by my BPD wife. Once I figured out it wasn’t me I asked her to stop and she wouldn’t. I would get the following response from her: (taken from this blog post) – “My wife thinks I’m being abusive and controlling when I tell her her behavior is hurtful.”
From this site I have learned detachment and how to take care of myself first. I have been trying to get out. It has been very difficult to get her to understand that I want out because of the abuse – we live in a state that makes divorce difficult. Soon hopefully I can be free. She cannot admit that her screaming tirades in front of the kids is a real reason that I don’t want to spend time with her any more (very similar to Lynne in this post -Scenes from an Abusive Marriage: Should You Post an Abusive Wife’s Behavior on YouTube?).
So anyway I would just like to thank Dr. Tara for her work here. And also tell anyone who is reading her site for the first time that just because your abuser tells you that it is your fault – IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT! My wife is so good at playing the victim that often times the next day after a tirade I would be the one who apologized. Now that we are in a high-conflict divorce she has really turned the abuse up a few notches. To stay strong I keep thinking about the day when I can go back to who I was.
Dr Tara Palmatier says
Hang in there, Scouter. They escalate the abuse because they know they’re losing control and they’re trying to scare you back under their thumb. It sucks that she has little hostages that she can weaponize. However, I truly believe that in order to have a fighting chance of not becoming the monsters their HCP/APDI parent is, they need a healthy parent and safe place to go away from the Crazy.
To quote Dr T:
Q: How does her behaviour make you feel?
A: If her behavior makes you feel helpless, hopeless, powerless, crazy, confused, overwhelmed, scared, anxious, stressed, fatigued, and physically ill, you may be experiencing common trauma symptoms associated with abuse
Scenario: I am selling my house and separating from the ex wife 🙂
Event: I just got back from inspecting a house to rent.
Background: I said that I could meet the landlord at 4.00pm. She said that was too early. I offered to meet her 4.30pm or 5.00 pm instead. She said that she couldn’t make it then but did not offer an alternative time. Then she changed her mind and said 5.00 pm would be fine. Then she sent me a text and said that she could make 4.00pm after all. I said fine.
When I met her she said that she wanted a stable long term tenant. When I offered to sign a long term lease she said that she was only prepared to sign a short term lease and would insist on inspecting the house every 3 months.
She said that she had concerns about my ability to pay the weekly rent so I offered to pay the entire lease up-front but she refused to accept it because it was not normal and she was not comfortable with that arrangement.
After interviewing me she then said that she was thinking about hiring a leasing manager. But she couldn’t tell me if she wanted to use an agent or not just that she was considering it. She couldn’t tell me if she was prepared to accept me as a tenant but asked for my references anyway.
Q: Why do I feel so “wound up” after this unpleasant experience?
Q: Why does her behaviour remind me so much of my former partner?
Q: Why do I feel so confused, frustrated, angry and yes…abused…?
You bring up a good example about how interactions with BPD women outside of a partnership occur. These are big flags that you should consider a sign to look elsewhere for your new home.
I would also be tempted to call her out to the carpet and throw down a challenge to how her behavior is emotionally abusive. I suspect no one else in her personal life will do it. I’m sure she’ll get snarky, blame-shift, name call and other 3-year old bully tactics, but at least you will have the satisfaction of calling her, albeit in a civilized way, what she is…an asshole.
My guess is that you are dealing with a person who isn’t experienced as a landlord. They are nervous and scared that they will make the wrong decisions. Odds are they intended to use a leasing manager, but someone told them they’d be ripped off and so are intent on doing the leasing themselves.
I was a landlord once and the experience was so stressful, I would never do it again. I’d attribute your perspective landlord’s behavior to something similar.
My guess is that he is dealing with someone who is putting him in a “double-bind,” at every turn, as regular readers of this blog would understand to be a symptom of an overall personality disorder.
Dr Tara Palmatier says
Ugh. Find another place to live. Whether she’s a PD or just an inexperienced bad landlord—doesn’t matter. You want a landlord who sticks to agreements, makes repairs and isn’t intrusive. 3 month inspections? No thanks.
I once had a landlord who wanted me to agree to random surprise inspections. He still insisted even after I pointed out that this was illegal. I found another place to live. It was a little more expensive, but my LL stayed out of my life and the apartment except to make repairs, which is what you want.
Cousin Dave says
“Q: Why does her behaviour remind me so much of my former partner?”
A: Because it’s the same behavior! You’ve run into another Cluster B. Look at it this way: you are learning to spot them up front. That’s the skill you need to develop to keep from falling into a relationship with another one. You’re making good progress!
I think this is the way I see it too (48 hours later). There is the stereotypical Cluster B pattern double bind a.k.a. “no-win” pattern of behaviour; and there is my pattern of trying to be too fair, too reasonable, accommodating etc. So at least now I am beginning to recognise the old patterns thanks to websites such as this one and the community of men out there who have been there before. Thanks for all of your comments and encouragement; it is progress and being able to recognise this sort of behaviour and curtailing or avoiding further episodes of conflict and struggle is the best course. Prevention being better than cure.
Walk away. Offer no explanation. If asked, just say, “It’s not going to work out.”
Wasting a single oxygen atom trying to explain yourself will be a waste of time, and only start the cycle of ‘crazy’.
Two words: run away!
Great post, and it really can’t be said enough. I think the most important exercise here is turning the situation around: what would happen if it were the man acting this way and not the woman? If the answer is he’d be getting dragged off in handcuffs, then there shouldn’t be any question that it’s abuse.
“My wife thinks I’m being abusive and controlling when I tell her her behavior is hurtful.”
Ive heard that exact phrase almost every time my (now ex) and I would fight. She would get snide and snotty and condescending and I would remain calm for the most part. She would push me to my breaking point with the ugly, snotty and hostile tone and I would finally snap back and raise my voice. She would then swoop in a play the victim role, that I was abusive, that I was yelling, that I was calling her names, etc.
Ive been out for about 16 months now. Almost as long as we were technically married (what a joke that was). I cant believe how much of myself I lost in trying to deal with her.
“I just don’t how I went from being a happy guy, with friends, family and a great job, to what I am now”. Thats a pretty good description of what I became. I tell people now how she broke me. How the constant chaos and constant belittling and constant hostility over the most mundane things eventually broke my spirit. I suffered deprerssion, my self esteem and confidence plummetted. I felt lie anything I did would be the wrong thing and cause a rage, but then I was afraid if I did nothing that would cause one too. It got to where I asked her permission on EVERYTHING, if I could load the dishwasher, if I could make dinner, if I could do the laundry, etc just to try and avoid a rage, that always came anyway.
I didnt even recognize myself anymore. I had aged probably 10 years in the span of 3. I had put on 40 lbs. I would tremble and quiver when i started to see the signs of her getting ramped up for a rage. I became disgusted with myself and what I had become.
Luckily, I was able to dig deep and overvome the FOG (Fear, Obligation and Guilt) of leaving her. I had to leave, things werent getting better between us, things were escalating and reaching an out-of-control place.
I feel so much better after being free for the past 18 months I cant even describe it. I URGE men in these relationships to be strong and pack up and GTFO. I left with nothing. I wanted nothing for her to hang over my head. I left with my PC, a dresser, a TV, couch and my clothes. Eighteen months later Ive bought a new 4 bedroom house. You CAN put your life back after this.
This was the landlord? What a basketcase. I would feel the same way. If she wants to rent that place she needs to get her sh*t together! Inspections every 3 months? That’s rediculous…usually it’s once a year. She said she had concerns about your ability to pay but wouldn’t accept the entire lease up-front? She gives you a problem and you offer a solution and she shoots it down? At first she wanted a stable long term tenant, then said she was only prepared to sign a short term lease? Can she make up her mind? Ugh…time to start looking again….
Free at Last says
There’s a 1993 made-for-TV movie called “Men Don’t Tell” about an abused man (Peter Strauss) and his high-conflict wife (Judith Light). I thought it wasn’t commercially available, but someone uploaded it to YouTube just a month ago. Here’s the link to the full 90-minute film:
This film might be useful to share with family and friends who have trouble believing that women can abuse men. It illustrates all the classic behaviors (jealousy, hair-trigger fuse, gaslighting, projection, DARVO, etc.) and the violent rages. Strauss does a great job of conveying the frustration we feel being in a no-win situation, and how the police and lawyers automatiacally side with the woman. At the end, the wife, after having almost killed herself and her husband and alienated her two children, still refuses to admit she has a problem. The most disturbing part is that she’s far more concerned about being exposed than she is about her own children.
I”d also like to point out that the YouTube version is obviously recorded off a commercial television feed and digitized, so it may not be legal and might be at risk of being removed from YouTube. So watch it soon, and it’s truly a worthwhile 90 minutes.
Just watched it last night. Scary stuff and certainly worth the 90 minute investment.
Sadly, it’s very socially acceptable in our society for women to abuse men. Turn on prime time tv any night of the week and you’ll see examples of women abusing men. It’s often depicted as funny and cute when the angry woman punches, pushes, vandalizes, or verbally abuses her man. Ha Ha Ha. I’m sorry. I don’t find the joke funny at all. If the roles were reversed, the man would be arrested on the spot, physically removed from the house in handcuffs, child protective services would be called, and there would be a social uproar as to how terrible and aweful and damaging this tv program is.
I think once you walk away and close the door.. your life will move on. I look at my – ex as cancer.. do I want cancer .. well no.. why go back to more…
What an amazing post.I really needed to be reminded about how the abuser reverses the blame on to you.I was noticing that something was wrong and point number 1 explained it perfectly.
The cancer analogy is so perfect.She milks the illness card to the max to avoid things and get attention.The latest has been using the electric car at WalMart to get around on.Suddenly the store workers are gushing all over her.
Almost an Academy performance.
Yes,it is time to check out.Thank you all for showing there is relief once away from the verbal abuse.
“and there is my pattern of trying to be too fair, too reasonable, accommodating etc.” is that out our weakness?
i feel i am fair, reasonable,etc.but was abused because of it. after being out of the relationship for over a year,the one thing i learnt about myself was this.i did not set up boundaries…maybe if i had,things would have been a lot different.
Dr Tara Palmatier says
Being reasonable isn’t a weakness—until you encounter an unreasonable person who is intent on steamrolling you.
Boundaries are a good thing. Unfortunately, many parents don’t teach their children how to have healthy boundaries because it involves the ability to say, “No.”
I was married for 30 years and about 27 of those were mostly filled with all types of drama on all fronts; no point in getting into the details; it was always a struggle. She died and 4 years later I am happily married and satisfied at a deeply emotional level I did not think possible which did not occur during those past 30 years. White dating after her death I realized I was seeking to re-create the drama of the past and began to look for a healthy woman; it was a difficult choice to stick to but I did.
But I find the present lack of drama boring. Any advice on how to let go and not let the past be a distraction from the great situation I have now?
I think this is a great forum and is very helpful, although I only have been reading posts here for one day. I clearly recognize so many of the behavior patterns described here as part of my past.
I came across the following while researching business ethics for a class I’m taking. I found the section talking about the way Masters treat Slaves (“What am I? Her Slave?”) fascinating, and eerily familiar….
Direct quotes from the book 30 Reasons Employees Hate Their Managers: What Your People May Be Thinking and What You Can Do About It, by Bruce L. Katcher and Adam Snyder.
excerpted from PART I: EMPLOYEES ARE TREATED LIKE CHILDREN.
“Masters feel they have every right to invade the privacy of slaves.”
“Masters have a dim view of the capabilities of slaves.”
“Masters feel it is within their rights to lie to slaves.”
“Masters tell slaves that this is just the way it is, like it or not.”
“Slaves remain silent for fear of losing their lives.”
“Slaves have no control….”
“Masters do not allow their slaves to escape….”
(female manager): “She is very controlling, constantly second-guesses
his decisions, and wants the final say on everything.”
(male subordinate): “He knows this, but feels powerless to do anything about it.” “He feels trapped.”
“They feel it is safer to just keep their mouths shut.”
“I was lost and you were found
and I never knew how far down
I was kneeling, before the chains of my master…” ~ For Crying Out Loud, Meatloaf
Thank you for raising awareness on this issue. I was first alerted to men being abused by women when first one, then another of my guy friends told me how their wives were abusing them–not just verbally, but physically. Both of the wives would get upset if their husbands were friends with somebody *she* didn’t approve of. The trouble was, the shrewish wife of one of those two guys kept insisting that I be close friends with her, or else she’d punish me in various ways.
She also would get furious with him whenever he told her she was being abusive to the children, calling him controlling, using his own past actions as justification to keep doing what she was doing. I’m almost certain she’s Borderline Personality Disorder. I was disgusted not only by what my friend told me she was doing to him and the children, but by what I actually witnessed myself when they were homeless and lived in my house for several weeks, and at various times after that as well. Because I dared to be disgusted, and she found out about it, she labeled me a troublemaker and began abusing me as well.
It was all quite horrible, and I’m still dealing with the emotional fallout. Her histrionics finally hit a fever pitch, as I saw her abusing her children verbally and physically right in front of me, yelling at my friend, and snarking at me for anything and everything I did or said. Heck, she yelled at me on Facebook in a possessive rage for daring to tell my friend, “I’ll miss you dearly. Have fun [on your trip]!” Then she took an e-mail totally the wrong way and just erupted on me in a rage episode, not even bothering to find out what it was really about first. And while she raged and cussed at me via e-mail, she posted on Facebook, “I’m having a GREAT day! I no longer have to sit back and be quiet and nice!” Meanwhile, my friend–who seems to be infected with Stockholm Syndrome–justified her bullying and verbal abuse of me….My husband and I were so furious that we broke off the friendship right then and there. Which made her even madder, as she made her husband block us both on Facebook and e-mail. She even accused me of needing to grow up. Laughable….
I have my own little website where I blog about life, theology, books, whatever. One section is on abuse, including abuse of men. I post links on Facebook about abuse of men and child abuse. I also wrote a 2 1/2-page letter to Social Services describing the things I witnessed. Because of the state’s privacy laws I have no idea what they did about the letter, but I do hope that at the very least, it’ll work in my ex-friend’s favor if he’s either arrested for fighting back if she hits his face, or gets divorced and has to deal with child placement. I don’t want the kids to end up with her if they do get divorced one of these days. 🙁
As for the other friend, fortunately I didn’t know the wife. It was frustrating, however, when he would tell me things she did, that he left her, then later on I’d find he went back to her–again….What she did, sounded very similar to the wife of the ex-friend.
So even being friends of a guy with an abusive wife can be damaging. 😛 My husband and I want nothing to do with her.
Any correlation between how Cluster B’s act out and Cluster C’s act out? I somehow convinced by wife to see a therapist for her fits of rage, violent behavior, intentionally scaring our kids with the “D” word or saying she was leaving and would never return (I still cringe when I recall their screams of terror when this happened). She’s waived a knife in my face encouraging me to use it on her and has thrown large glass bowls toward me (lest I say AT me as she is adamant that it crashing 2 feet from me could not possibly imply it was thrown at me!). The crux for me is that I suffer from OCD and her trips to the therapist are centered on how my illness makes her crazy. Sadly the therapists are quick to ignore her abnormal behavior (although she also is not so honest about it) and assure her it is a natural response for being victimized by my illness. Just recently she was told that she might have OCPD – a Cluster C PD. I’m perplexed at this preliminary diagnosis as she exhibits many characteristics of a Cluster B. So, is there a correlation?
Dear Dr. Tara
Thsnk you for all the work you do and special thank you to this website. I believe I am married to a narcissist. We are currently seperated although she will not leave me alone. The email and texts have continued with the same old theme, it is all your fault. I have for the last 4-5 been seeking the help of a counceller, which has helped greatly. Would you be kind enough to read the below email and give your professional opinion.
“I don’t know if you just don’t think, or you really don’t know how to be a husband. I think you don’t know what your responsibilities or obligations are.
I will not be making any more attempts to try to connect with you. If you want us in your life then you start acting like it!
I don’t care if you had plans or if you were just tired. If you were trying to get this marriage back, your answer would have been yes to dinner tonight. Actually it
should be you asking me, but it seems I am making all the attempts; well that will now stop! You have no idea how to treat me or what I need.
We may be separated but you still have obligations. Step up or file for divorce. I will not do limbo anymore.
Its bad enough I am doing most things on my own; I will not accept such minimal effort. This is why I believe you are selfish and think what is best for you always.
You should be calling and texting daily even popping in to see if I need anything; these are not expectations these are things that come naturally to a man
who wants to save his marriage. If you can’t be the husband I need then walk away, because I will not accept this!
Even when you came over to help me with the assembly of the unit, you were distant and minimal interaction. Its like it was a bother for you. Get with the picture –
you should be excited helping get the nursery ready. What will it take? Maybe it is not in your capacity?”
I feel your pain. This is exactly how my wife treats me. It definitely feels like a personality disorder, narcissistic or borderline. Right now I’m trying to establish some boundaries and reasonably meet her needs. Last night I told her that I feel her needs always involve buying something to resolve. Unless it involves shopping or spending money she really has very little motivation. If I can’t make it work I’ll have to get myself out of the relationship. I have two kids though I don’t want to abandon especially while they are young and at the mercy of family court and her.
Hi, I discovered this page about 7 months ago, at a time when I was beginning to see there was something bad wrong with my marriage of 8 years. My wife over the course of our marriage has been getting progressively worse in her ‘moodiness’. First I will give a few details on her that I should of taken as warning signs, Her family is extremely dysfunctional and controlled by her mother. I have been told so many tales of cruelty concerning her family, like when my wife moved out of the family home they refused to help her and didn’t speak to her for over 3 months. She told me that her mom beat her father down mentally and controlled all the money he earned and gave him a meager allowance. There is much more but I’m sure your getting the picture.
Our dating and the start of our marriage were very good. We both were hoping for children and a happy future. I think things started quite subtlety with her control, she was and always has been a very poor house-keeper, and she was constantly commenting on how I dressed, that I was always mismatched and didn’t dress too well. She started buying me clothes. Some of them were things I wouldn’t normally wear. She regulated my spending, which at the time I had no issue with, thought it was wise. Well as time went by things began to deteriorate, I began feeling like I was walking on eggshells 5 years ago, we were trying to get pregnant and she was taking hormones. I figured it was just the hormones making her unbalanced, especially since things seemed better after she quit taking them. The peace only lasted a few months, and the moods started up again. The pattern has been persisting to this day with every cycle being more extreme than the last. She has told me I have done and said things that I know I never did (I have a very good memory), I was beginning to doubt myself. I would do laundry or dishes and she would scream at me for not doing things the way she wanted them done. So I stopped doing them for a while She constantly told me I didn’t do enough around the house, I improved the way I took care of things around the house. I wanted to show I was doing my part. I was improving but she was getting worse. I was remodeling a room which she stacked full of her ‘stuff’. And then kept complaining that I wasn’t getting anything done on it. Heck you could barely walk in there let alone work. Well the problems continued on. Early this year I was trying to talk to her about things, which consisted of her telling me how I was hurting her feelings all the time. I finally spoke up and said ‘What about my feelings, you know I have feelings too’ The reaction I got was she chuckled. That sent cold chills up my spine and also made me realize that something bad was wrong. That is when I found this site. I immediately got us into marriage counseling, which she used as a way of ambushing me with lies and exaggerations. In the spring I had a health scare, thought I might have to have half my stomach removed. She was good for the first few weeks then she had me to the point that I was wishing that I would die during the surgery. Turned out that I didn’t have anything thank God but he abuse continued. The counseling was not helping much, the counselor had no idea what she was dealing with. About a month back I think I hit my limit on taking things and told her I was done. Well in a matter of less than a week she was back to like she was when we first married. I don’t trust it. We are now separated, and I am trying to gt this all in perspective. As a man I still am in shock that this happened at all and to me. There are many other things I am not mentioning too. I still feel sad about the whole thing though, I feel bad for her.
Dr Tara Palmatier says
Great news item, Irishgirl. Thank you for posting it.
I’m going to post it as a separate entry.
I have a quick question regarding this post. I have been married for 10 years now and for the past few years my husband has barely worked. We made an agreement that while I worked he would keep the house clean, and take care of our children, and if he started working that I would help clean and take care of chores. Recently he has been talking to other women online and I feel it is unfair that I am asked to pay for the gas for him to go possibly see them. Because of this we are having problems in our marriage and he thinks I am abusive because I tell him if he wants to leave to go, I deserve better, but because again I think it is unfair to continue to pay for his stuff if he moves out of our home he actually thinks I am abusive. Any thoughts on this?
I’ll share with you my story.
I’ve also been a very quiet nerdy kind of boy and my whole life I was taught to treat women with respect and dignity. I really think that I always have. Even so, I’ve always been terribly shy towards girls/women that I was interested in, all the way up until I was about 28 years old. Any women that I wasn’t interested in having a relationship, I didn’t hesitate to talk to them at all. In fact, I would get some anxiety attacks and wouldn’t be able to breath well.
So when I’m 28 years old, for the first time a woman persued me. Why so late? Maybe because I’m a computer guy that is always busy at the computer and doesn’t go out at all.. Or maybe because I’m obese.. Or maybe because I don’t like to go out and get drunk like a lot of other people do.. There’s probably lots of reasons..
Anyway, this woman that persued me ended up being an abuser. I stayed with her almost 2 years and everyday I just couldn’t believe how bad she treated me. It was so unrealistic.. The next day, I can’t even believe my own memories and I kept telling myself that the way I remembered it couldn’t be right because nobody is that bad to people.. It really was that unbelievable. It’s something you don’t even see in movies.. Something you never see in public.. She was just so bad to me.
Everytime I made a mistake or screwed up at something she would grab my hair and make be bend down on the grown and apologize to her. It was horrible. She would get so furious and angry and yell so loud at me.. And all I could do is just sit there on my knees and cry. I lived with her for 2 years and there are times where I would be in bed and ready to go to sleep and she would come in screaming that I needed to take out the garbage or something before I went to bed.. Then she would brutally use all her strength to kick me out of the bed and at least once I smashed my head on a hardwood floor.
One time she was talking to me and I was listening but also using my phone to check my email and she totally lost it. She said “don’t (bleeping) play the phone when I’m talking to you.” Then grabbed my $500 phone and smashed it against the floor so hard it bounced two times on the hardwood floor and then hit a the wall, putting a dent in the wall.
I tried to leave her so many times, but she wouldn’t let me..
She would watch me like a hawk and at the slightest hint I was packing and trying to leave she would block my exit.. With all her strength she would try to block me from leaving and then if I just tried to force my way past her, she would start screaming like I was committing bloody murder. She would scream so loud and fight me as I’m trying to leave, the neighbors would come out and stare. Sometimes the police came and she would always tell them how much I abused her and she had all these red marks on her to prove it.. Red marks she got from hitting me or from trying to overpower me.. And my bag of stuff that I had, she would tell the police that it was hers and I was trying to steal it.. So then she would take my stuff back into the house and unpack it all and hide some of my immportant belongings like my passports, my ID, my PC, or similiar. It was terrible. I don’t even know how I was able to escape, but I eventually did and I’m now living in another country. She can’t reach me here and it’s finally over..
But it’s not over.. She still sends me emails, voice messages, and text messages..
Take a look at this..
[1:34:36 AM] Her: so good at be bad to me
[1:35:02 AM] Her: run run away as soon as possible
[1:35:13 AM] Her: so good at say bad things
[1:35:34 AM] Her: and u said u love me more.such joke right.
[1:35:40 AM] Her: every time i unhappy u run away.
[1:35:49 AM] Her: i never feel your love
[1:36:01 AM] Her: all i feel is your selfish.u just never want make me happy
[1:36:38 AM] Her: man i will never forget u run away before my 2 birthdays.and never say happy birthday to me.
[1:37:18 AM] Her: it is ok if that is what u want
[1:37:21 AM] Her: but it is not what i want
[1:37:40 AM] Her: i dont want my boy run away just becoz he so worry i make him unhappy to.
[1:37:46 AM] Her: i really dont like.
[1:38:21 AM] Her: man i will never make u happy anymore… i am done… coz u run away too much time.
[1:38:24 AM] Her: good lucky
[1:39:27 AM] Her: and i think u such cheater.
[1:39:58 AM] Her: u r the man but Irresponsible.
[1:40:39 AM] Her: i cannot stop angry from u run away.
[1:41:04 AM] Her: Deserter
[1:41:31 AM] Her: reember i will only said a lot bad things if u run away,
[1:41:44 AM] Her: and i only will be more angry and more unhappy.
[1:41:46 AM] Her: and u make me that.
[1:41:53 AM] Her: i dont feel happy with u.
[1:49:54 AM] Her: so good at make me sad and cry .[bleep]!!!
[1:49:55 AM] Her: i hate that
[1:50:04 AM] Her: ok bye!!!
[2:02:05 AM] Her: i am very very very very sad
[2:02:07 AM] Her: u made me
[2:25:08 AM] Her: baby i missed u
[2:25:11 AM] Her: sorry i was so unhappy
[2:25:13 AM] Her: r u there
[2:25:15 AM] Her: i love my baby
[2:25:18 AM] Her: plz dont be unhappy
[2:25:20 AM] Her: i care about ut.
[2:25:22 AM] Her: i sorry
Anyway, just wanted to say that you’re right about everything and hopefully the day will come that abused men can easily get help too without being laughed at.
My name is john and I’m 41…my girlfriend abuses me on a day to day basis…she threatens to kick me out cause she knows I have nowhere else to go calls me hateful names and says if I call the cops she will tell them I’m hitting her when I dont…she is very mean to me when we have a disagreement she blows up and I’m at my ends and don’t know what to do anymore if I Leave I’ll be homeless with nowhere to go