Emotional Abuse And Abandonment Revealed

by Annie Kaszina on January 19, 2016

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Why abandonment escapes attention

Emotional abuse and abandonment go hand in hand.  Yet abandonment is not something that most people give a great deal of thought.

Why don’t we make that association between emotional abuse and abandonment?

A couple of reasons spring to mind.  First, doubtless, because of the understandable human desire to see things as we want them to be, rather than the way they really are: some things are just too painful to look at, and admit to ourselves. We try our hardest not to learn the lessons of an emotionally abusive relationship.

In all my years of doing the work that I do, nobody has ever told me that the treatment at the hands of an abusive partner did not hurt them deeply.  Everyone feels the pain keenly.  Where they struggle is in admitting to themselves that the root cause of the pain is what it is; emotional abuse caused by their partner’s carelessness as regards their feelings.

We cleave (to use the old-fashioned term) to our partner for fear of feeling something worse.

We cling to our partner for fear of abandonment.  We tell us it’s one of those ‘it’ain’t over til the fat lady sings’ scenarios.  If we are still with him, and still trying to make it work, then it can’t possibly be emotional abuse and abandonment.

A different definition of abandonment

I’d like to invite you to consider a different understanding of the word ‘abandonment’.  Of course there are the dramatic abandonments that are the stuff of film and literature where someone turns and walks away from the one(s) who love him/her, never to return – leaving a gaping hole in their lives. But that is not the only kind of abandonment that exists.

An emotionally abusive relationship is made up of an endless series of abandonments.   They may well be quickly reversed – because that is in the abuser’s best interests – but still they happen over and over again.  In case you aren’t entirely clear what I mean, let’s take a whistle-stop tour of some of the classic abandonments perpetrated by emotional abusers:

  • The first disagreement when Mr Wonderful vanishes, leaving Mr Nasty  centre stage.
  • The first time he betrays your trust by abruptly siding with family, friends etc, out of the blue.
  • The first time he trashes the relationship
  • The first time he spoils what you reasonably expected to be a wonderful, joyful time together, for no good reason.
  • The first time he trashes you for being a lousy lover, wife, mother, or whatever else he knows really matters to you.

Can you even remember your first experiences of emotional abuse and abandonment in the relationship?

Possibly not. Because they were only the first of a long , long series.

For the sake of clarity, let me share my own road-map of emotional abuse and abandonments.  Not because it is anything special – it absolutely isn’t – but because concrete illustrations always seem to work better.

My abandonment experience began with:

  • The first time Mr Nasty appeared for a ‘test sulk’ because Mr Wonderful was’ tired’.
  • Being told to take a back seat (metaphorically and in reality) to my in-laws from the moment they first appeared on the scene.
  • The full-blown 24+ hour sulk on honeymoon.
  • The first “I do everything I possibly can for you, and you throw it all in my face”.
  • Being labelled the enemy, on a secret mission to undermine him – because of a later than planned dinner and unpaired socks!

Once Mr Nasty gets a taste of the spotlights, there’s no stopping him.  The emotional abuse and abandonment keep coming, thicker, faster, and bigger.

The really important piece about emotional abuse and abandonment

That brings us to the really important piece about emotional abuse and abandonment: an emotional abuser doesn’t just abandon you; he teaches you how to abandon yourself.

Every time you tell yourself, “I’m worthless because he doesn’t love/value me.” or other similar things, you are abandoning yourself. 

You give up on yourself.

You give up on your happiness.

You give up on your life, and your belief that you truly deserve a good future.

Emotional abuse and abandonment leave you cringing with a shame you try to hide from the world. .

The truth is, it was never about you in the first place.  Emotional abuse and abandonment occur not because of who you are, but because of who the perpetrator is.

The antidote to abandonment can only be learning to value yourself.  Look at it this way, if someone came up to you and told you that your beloved child (or pet) was a worthless, disgusting, waste of space, you wouldn’t buy it.  You’d be loyal to that person (or creature) and your belief in them.

You are as deserving of your own unconditional loyalty as anyone else.

Nobody is in greater need of your unconditional love and appreciation than you are.  Do NOT let emotional abuse and abandonment tell you otherwise.

PS If you find this article helpful, please do share it on social media.  This week, I’ve been deeply touched by the number of women who’ve emailed me, personally, to tell me what a difference this blog has made to their lives – women who have found the courage to leave abusive marriages because of the information they’ve read here.  When you share on social media, you have the chance of helping not just the people who you know – who you know have this problem – but the people they know, too.  Which means you can help educate other women and help them overcome the torment of an emotionally abusive relationship.


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