How to Stop Thinking Like an Emotionally Abused Woman

17 Sep 2013

Your emotionally abusive partner, has probably left you with 2 abiding beliefs – both of them false, and potentially harmful to you. 

The first is that, really, he has the makings of a Wonderful Man. But, somehow, the Wonderful Man seed inside your emotionally manurehappenssmallabusive husband has spawned a mutant Horrible Man bush. Still, with enough care, attention, pruning, and fertilizer (should we be thinking horse manure here?!!!) he can still mutate into the highly prized Wonderful Man genus. 

Sounds crazy when you read it, or say it out loud, doesn’t it? But I’ve never come across an emotionally abused woman, including me, who didn’t SUFFER – and I use the term ‘suffer’ advisedly – with that misleading belief. 

The second belief is that your Mr Nasty has a monopoly on awfulness: that is to say, there is only one way to be awful, and that is his way.   

Logic suggests that it should not be possible to entertain two such incompatible beliefs in one head/heart. But logic has little to do with the peculiarities of human hearts and minds. Not uncommonly, our thoughts and feelings make monkeys out of us. This is both irritating, and well worth acknowledging. 

What do I mean that Mr Nasty has a monopoly on awfulness? Specifically, that your Mr Nasty comes to personify the only way that you imagine an emotionally abusive man ever presents. So, if your Mr Nasty had a talent for being arrogant, aggressive, and quick to anger – albeit not necessarily to you – from Day 1, any man who does not initially present as arrogant, aggressive, and quick to anger MUST be a Good Guy.  Unless someone presents in the exact same way as your emotionally abusive ex, you assume the relationship between the two of you couldn’t possibly be an emotionally abusive relationship, could it?.  

Theoretically, that makes sense. In practice, it may not work out that way. A while back, I spoke with a woman whose first violent and abusive partner was a stereotypical Alpha bully: one of those tiresome creatures who remind you constantly of their masculinity. Just in case you were unobservant enough not to have noticed for yourself that he is not your female friend! (D’oh!) 


She left because her life was at risk, and rapidly found herself a very different kind of partner. No 2 presented as softly-spoken, a guy who’d been hurt before and just wanted to have the perfect relationship – with her. He came across as someone with a hunger for the whirlwind romance and for everlasting love and devotion, who was happy to put her on a pedestal. 

Almost before the ink had dried on the marriage certificate, she discovered he was a different kind of bad. So devoted was Mr Devoted Beta Male that he couldn’t bear anyone or anything to intrude on the perfect – exclusive – happiness he envisioned for them. In other words, he was pathologically jealous. He was, also, every bit as violent as No 1. 

Now, I’m not saying there aren’t good men out there. There most emphatically are. But it pays to be very clear about what you do want. And what you don’t want.  It pays to STOP thinking like an emotionally abused woman for one simple reason:

If you’re still thinking like an emotionally abused woman, you’ll live like an emotionally abused woman.  

‘Not like his predecessor’ is not a recipe for success: it’s a recipe for disaster. 

There are awful men out there, and wonderful men. 

The wonderful men, as a rule, aren’t in a rush to take on someone who presents as needy, vulnerable, insecure and broken. Why on earth would they be? 

For the awful men out there, ‘needy, vulnerable, insecure, and broken’ is the exact ‘job description’ they have in mind for their next partner. ‘Needy, vulnerable, insecure, and broken is their IDEAL.


Because it gives them all the scope they could ever want to deploy their Alpha Bully ‘skills’. 

So, the important question has to be this: 

Where does that leave you? 

The short answer is that it leaves you very vulnerable if you’re running the rebound program that goes by the name, “The Opposite of My Nemesis Is My Savior”. 

You need to know that not all emotionally abusive men present in the exact same way. But they all come with a number of red flags attached. Your job is to NOT to make assumptions – assumptions are a dangerous short cut. Instead, you need to take all the time it takes to run a thorough list of checks on their history, behaviors, and temperament. After all, your happiness, your self-worth, and even your health and financial well-being depend on you getting it right. 

Can you afford another abusive relationship? Ever? 

Your duty is to liberate yourself from the traps of The Abused Woman’s Mind-Set so you can think clearly, feel good about yourself, make informed choices, and set the bar HIGH, for once. That is your best safeguard against the 50 Shades of Awful that are knocking around out there. 

(In case you’re wondering, there really IS an Abused Woman’s Mind-set – and it really gets in the way of recovery.)

What if you’re not remotely interested in another man, right now? How is this relevant to you? 

sabbaticalsmallWell, first off, hooray to you for taking a Sabbatical from relationships. Every woman needs a Sabbatical, at least once in her life, to discover who she really is. 

But there’s something else, as well: 

The 50 Shades of Awful thinking applies not just to men. Most of us have tolerated bullying, and abuse from other people in our lives, such as friends, family, children, and co-workers, because we told ourselves that since that other person was not Mr Nasty they could not be violating our boundaries. 

Yes, they could. 

The 50 Shades of Awful can turn up in any area of your life. You’re only safe from them only when you step out of the Abused Woman’s mind-set. 


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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