Cutting The Ties Of An Emotionally Abusive Relationship

by Annie Kaszina on June 21, 2010

I’ve worked with many abused women who want to be free of their emotionally abusive partner, or ex-partner, and yet can’t quite let go.   From a logical standpoint it makes no sense at all.  But why should it?

 One abused woman’s words sum up the problem perfectly:

 “What is that part of me that endlessly holds out the hope that he has grown and won’t be a jerk?”

Now, she is not even with her abusive partner any more, nor has she been for quite a while.  Yet the hope persists.

Or, perhaps, more correctly,  she still has the habit of still seeing this abusive man as somehow playing a central role in her life.

Why should it be so hard to cut the ties of an emotionally abusive relationship?

There are lots of possible answers.  It could have to do with not really holding the center of her own world for herself.  Or it could have to do with still according him a power and authority that he never deserved. 

In the end, the only important thing is that, for whatever reason, women who cannot quite let go are still enmeshed.  And, because they are still enmeshed, they still look to their abusive partner to free them.  If he will only stop calling, or doing whatever it is he does to remind her that his hooks still bite into her flesh, then she will be free. But that is exactly what he is unlikely to do. For as long as he can still have his bit of fun tugging on those hooks, he will continue to do so.  It goes with the territory.

When my divorce from my abusive husband finally came through, I wanted closure.  (Prior to that point, I had done at least my fair share of mentally asking him how could he?)  But I had a strong sense that I needed to sever the line of communication – on my side at any rate. I sent him a carefully crafted letter telling him that the connection between us was completely at an end. 

Being really quite astute, as most abusive men are, he sensed that I meant it.  Over the years, he has engaged in a little low level provocation and he has bided his time waiting, and plotting the day when he would…  I’m not even sure what: get his revenge, hit me hard emotionally, or whatever.  As he said to one of our very few mutual friends: “It ain’t over till it’s over.”

Please understand that I am not suggesting that he has spent all his time plotting my comeuppance; I’m sure he hasn’t.  But it has been a nice idea for him to play with – he doesn’t have a problem with the notion that revenge is a dish best served cold – and the time finally came when he could twist the knife.

What does all this mean in practical terms?

It means that he has been instrumental in creating a rift with someone that I love – it also means that that person has their own share of responsibility also; as do I.

So where am I going with this?

When this rift started I made a conscious decision that I was not going to be drawn back into any of the old stuff, including Poor Me Syndrome. We can ascribe whatever meaning we choose to what happens to us. I chose to believe that there was a gift in the situation, I simply had to find it.

I had a vision of my ex-husband standing with the end of a cord in his hand, jerking it very hard, because he believed that the other end was tied firmly round my throat. 

I don’t have to tell you that the other end was once tied round my throat, in the same way that it may well have been tied around yours.

No way was I going to pick up ‘my’ end of that cord.  That would have been suicide.

You cannot just pick up‘your’ end of that cord, and hope it will stay inert in your hand.  It will coil itself around your throat, or whichever part of your anatomy it was ever attached to – or may still be attached to. 

You have only to touch that cord for it to develop a life of its own – a life that is intent on squeezing the life out of you.

As I write this, I am aware just how dramatic it sounds.  But is it far fetched, or is it accurate? 

And if you feel it is accurate, then isn’t it time you cut the cord in your own life, once and for

Ah but, how to do it? 

CLICK HERE to discover how.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Kosmicegg July 16, 2010 at 8:40 am

great article. but what if the cord(s) are your children? just let them go?


Debbie July 19, 2010 at 8:33 am

My abuser & I are going through a divorce after 32 yrs. Our child finally graduated college; I announced I was divorcing him the next day. This was 1 yr. ago. He immediately turned our daughter against me w/lies he’s made up, in addition, we are no further w/our divorce even though we have been to court 4 times. The judge says Mr. A you need to cooperate; Mr. A leaves the court & says “FU” under his breath & continues w/his abusive, scummy ways. We live in a 50/50 state although you’d never know it. I’m wondering if I will ever be free of this idiot


Cathy December 23, 2011 at 6:29 am

The cord analogy is very very appropriate, around your brain, neck and heart. Thank you Thank you Thank you Annie, you not only understand, you have dynamic ways of dealing with this dreadful waste of years.


Tracy March 24, 2015 at 6:59 am

My husband and I divorced in December 2014 which was rather rushed and quick divorce because he used threats and mental abuse against me, but he verbally tore me down to the point of not taking care of myself nor the house and when things did not go his way he would use manipulation to obtain his way.both sexually and mentally. I hated going out in public with him as if something went wrong he would curse me out and basically embrass me to the point of someone I did not know and even though we are divorced and I am living somewhere else it is like he can still get to me by the phone he has it in his head that I am controlling my nephew’s mom and my nephew and I am not doing that… How can I free myself from 18 years of abuse


Annie March 24, 2015 at 8:49 am

Hi Tracy,

If you want to free yourself from 18 years of abuse, there are two things you need to do right now:

1) stop him getting to you by phone. Unless there is a very good reason why he needs to contact you by phone – and I don’t see it in your question – then block him. You don’t have to listen to his garbage.
2) You need to do the work on rebuilding your self-worth and breaking free of the abusive mind-set. At present, it sounds like you are still living in the Abusive Kingdom. That has to change – or else you won’t be much freer than you were before. So, you need to either work through your issues 1-2-1, or else do something like my “Ultimate Emotional Abuse Recovery Program”.

Warm wishes for your healing and happiness,



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