“What’s his agenda?”

by Annie Kaszina on March 12, 2013

“Am I the emotionally abusive partner in this relationship?” Emma asked anxiously.  She had dared to object to the way her partner was behaving towards her.  His reply was that she was emotionally abusive towards him, which meant she was responsible for his behavior.  

Could it be true?  Could she have been the emotionally abusive one all along?  

Emma had become so good at giving her partner the benefit of the doubt in every situation that she almost believed him.  Hence her email to me.  

It’s tough when your partner’s words just don’t make sense, and you have to look to elsewhere for understanding, and validation.  

It’s even tougher when your partner, the person who is meant to love you most in the world,  sounds so convincing when he is finding fault with you, and saying hurtful things. 

But, then, an emotionally abusive partner is always much, much more convincing than you are, isn’t he?    The weight of his conviction is one of the things that is so confusing. Surely, for him to be that convinced there has to be some truth behind his words? 

Not necessarily. 

Let’s take a step back, and get some perspective:  

Conviction and truth are not necessarily the bedfellows we think they are, where an emotionally abusive relationship is concerned.  

Do you have any reason to believe that truth is important to an emotionally abusive man? 

I very much doubt it.  

One woman, last week, told me she had nicknamed her abusive partner “The Context King”.  For him, truth is purely relative and depends on the “context”.  

One of my ex-husband’s nicknames – one of the more publishable ones – was “Sdifficult”.  For him the truth was “multi-factorial”. What this meant was, only the blessed few who, like him, were clever enough to take A-L-L the factors into account could grasp the True Truth.  (Obviously I wasn’t clever enough.  I’d probably have had to sit for a thousand years in his underpants to be as multi-factorially wise as he was.) 

I bet you never had the faintest idea how complicated and difficult to understand Life truly is until an emotionally abusive partner frogmarched you into his world. 

You need to understand that an emotionally abusive partner “repurposes” things.  

The wasband was a physician.  The NHS used to provide him with an unlimited supply of small screw top ‘specimen’ jars.  He brought home tens of (unused) specimen jars and, oh so helpfully, decanted my entire – vast – spice collection into them.  Every single spice I owned ended up sitting in matching NHS screw top specimen jars!!  

An emotionally abusive man will “repurpose” pretty much everything that passes between you and him, to make it fit with his agenda. 

Words are the key tools he uses to drive his agenda home.  His agenda is very important to him. Obvious as it should be, it still deserves to be stated: 

His agenda is not your agenda.  It never was, and it never will be. 

He didn’t want equality, responsibility, accountability, or the consistent giving of love, care and respect.  

On the other hand, he didn’t have too much of a problem with irresponsibility, non-accountability, and the consistent receiving of love, care, and respect… from little old unequal you.  

Silly person that you were – silly person that I was, too – we didn’t get that: we thought… 

We thought all sorts of things – but that didn’t mean they had any bearing on the reality.  

When he says: “I can’t believe that you can speak to me like that/look at me like that/use that tone of voice to me…” that doesn’t have any bearing on the reality either.  (My ex-husband frequently declared himself “shocked and appalled” by my tone of voice!!!  And of I’d trot, up the garden path of wondering: “what was my tone of voice like?  Was it really so bad?”) 

Especially if you are an emotionally abusive man attack is a great form of defence/distraction/destabilization.  

Does that mean he’s right? 

Absolutely not.  If you needed one simple mantra, here’s one that will probably work: “Mr Nasty is almost always wrong.  What’s more he is wrong for all the wrong reasons.” 

Instead of asking yourself: 

“How could he say that to  me?… And is it true?” 

Ask yourself: 

“What is his agenda that is leading him to say that to me?” 

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