What happens to emotionally abused women in their relationship with an abusive partner?

18 Nov 2010

Emotionally abused women are women who become increasingly hurt, troubled, and confused by the way that their partner behaves towards them.  They don’t understand why they lavish their partner with everything they have to offer – love, consideration, even money – and yet that partner treats them badly.

Emotionally abused women are loving, forgiving, and generous – as well as often being successful in their own life.  They treat other people with respect, and they are baffled by the way an abusive partner blows hot and cold with them.  They are determined to see only the best in their partner, and cannot understand why that partner responds so badly to them.

Emotionally abused women are women who become traumatized in their relationship, because they cannot understand why their partner meets their love with anger, hostility, rejection, contempt, criticism, and blame – most commonly for nonsensical offences.

Emotionally abused women live in a more or less permanent state of anxiety, dread, and bafflement.  Their belief is that love begets love.  They do everything they can to make their partner feel safe and trusted in the relationship.  Yet they find themselves living in a constant state of siege with a partner who frequently treats them as if they were his worst enemy.

The thing that emotionally abused women are slow to realize is this: there is no match between what they expect and want from the relationship, and what their partner truly wants.

What an abusive partner wants is someone who will be increasingly compliant in the relationship – or, if you prefer, a cat that he can kick, at will.  He may use the language of love, sometimes; because that is a lot more seductive than the language of anger, and contempt.  However, what he wants is someone he can punish, control, and humiliate, at will.

If you have ever been in an abusive relationship, you will know that that was exactly how it felt.  Although you probably struggled to make sense of what was happening, because someone who loves you shouldn’t treat you that way.


But that is the point: abusive men do not love you – at least, not in any way that is ever going to bring you any joy.  In reality, they despise women, especially their partner.  What they most want from the relationship is someone they can dominate psychologically and, quite possibly, physically also.

So what happens to emotionally abused women?

Almost from the moment they enter into a relationship with an abusive partner, their world is turned upside down.  Very quickly, they find themselves hurled into their partner’s world, which is unsafe, hostile, and cruel.  The shock is so great that they tend to lose their bearings, and become dependent on this person who seems to know his way around.  If they resist his worldview, they will be told how stupid and useless they are.

Emotionally abused women may behave in a way that seems incomprehensible to people who don’t understand the reality of their life.

If you have never been put through the wringer that is an abusive relationship, it is easy to judge; easy to say: “Why do they put up with it?  They must be stupid.”

But it really is not that simple.  Emotionally abused women are subjected to a campaign of fear, humiliation, and brainwashing.  Their abusive partner will set about isolating them and, constantly, turning their world upside down.

And, in the early days of the relationship at any rate, after he has done all this, the abusive partner will say the words emotionally abused women long to hear.  He’ll say: “I love you.”

Small wonder that emotionally abused women, lose all confidence, cease to value themselves, become emotionally withdrawn, and end up emotionally dependent on their abuser.

If you recognise yourself in this description, or if you are wondering whether you might be an emotionally abused woman, you, very likely, are one.  That may not be a pleasant realization, but it surely is a helpful one.

With skilled help, you will be able to get over your abusive partner.  You will also be able to build a far, far better life for yourself than you would believe possible, right now.

It was never your fault that you fell into an abusive relationship, in the first place.  Getting out, and moving on, is the best way of proving to other people and yourself that you are worth so much more than your abusive partner ever said you were worth.

It’s going to happen, so make today the day that you start your healing journey.


Annie Kaszina, international Emotional Abuse Recovery specialist and award-winning author of 3 books designed to help women recognise and heal from toxic relationships so that they can build healthy, lasting relationships with the perfect partner for them, blogs about all aspects of abuse, understanding Narcissists and how to avoid them and building strong self-worth. To receive Annie’s blog direct to your Inbox just leave your details here.

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