“What Would Happen If I Stop Letting My Abusive Partner Get To Me”

by Annie Kaszina on November 11, 2009

Dear Annie,


I would like to know what would happen if you all of a sudden just stop letting the abuser get to you? To take whatever sick pleasure they get from abusing you away from them.  How do you think they would react?

I truly love this man, and I do stand up for myself when he verbally attacks me, because fortunately, I have not let him ruin my self esteem.  I recognize that he is mentally ill, but I let him know that I won't be treated that way.  He will be better for awhile, but eventually the abusive behavior comes back.  I was just wondering if I stop reacting to it, would it take all the fun out of it for him?  I would appreciate any input that you may have on this matter. Thanks so much! 



Hi M,

Not letting an abusive partner get to you is a great idea.  But unless you were born a saint it probably won't happen.  An abuser will always up his game to make sure he does get to you.  


(And then there is the point that he might just turn more aggressive and/or physically violent in the attempt to get his most desired reaction.)

What do you truly love about this man who takes a 'sick pleasure' (your words) from abusing you?

And how do you know he is mentally ill?  People who perpetrate domestic violence – which includes emotional abuse – may be 'bad', but there is nothing to suggest they are mad.

You say you let him know you won't be treated that way.  And each time he does it again.  Could it be that he is letting you know that he has no intention of paying attention to you long term and stopping?

If you stop reacting to his abusive behaviour, what will happen to you? 

What do you really gain by staying in this relationship? 

What might you lose if you left it?

And what might happen if you made it very, very clear to him that you will not stay to be treated that way any more?  Of course, you would have to prove to him – and yourself – that you are prepared to follow through.

I'd love to be able to offer you the honey words of reassurance that I am sure that you want; especially since you say that you love him.  But it would be irresponsible of me to do so. 

Nobody has ever yet transformed an abusive relationship into a functional one by sticking around to try and take away from the abuser the 'sick pleasure they get' from abusing.  

That, unfortunately, is the way it is.

One more thing: you suffer from the typical abused woman's syndrome of focusing exclusively on your partner.  Don't you think it would be more constructive to focus on yourself?  

Try as you may, you will never change him.  But work on yourself, and you may well find your path to happiness.  

Just don't imagine that he will be walking down that path with you, holding your hand.  More likely he will be lying on the ground, grabbing your ankles and doing everything he can to either immobilize you, or knock you to the ground.

I'm sorry.  That's the best I can offer you.  If someone had said that to me when I was where you are now, I would have absolutely loathed them.  but weeks, months or years later, I would have acknowledged that brutal as what they said had sounded, the advice was accurate.

Warm wishes,





Previous post:

Next post: