07 Oct 2013

Yesterday, my first blog post for Domestic Violence Awareness Month led one reader to comment: “That was the best thing that you have ever written, that I have read to date.” No pressure, then! 🙂 Other comments from my Facebook page suggest that one topic that interests readers is the effects emotional abuse has on you; the effects you’re probably not even aware of. 

One key aspect of emotional abuse is this: feeling bad comes to feel normal. Absolutely normal. 

So, that is one of the things I will be looking at, not least by comparing the emotionally abused mind-set – because, trust me, there is one – with the mind-set of people who have been spared that trauma. 

Let me share a small, commonplace illustration that speaks volumes. My house is up for sale. It’s a lovely house, and it’s been ‘staged’ to within an inch of its life. A couple of day ago, a woman came to see it who had already fallen in love with the pictures in the brochure. She saw it, loved the house, liked the location, but she didn’t buy it. 

Why not? 

Because the traffic going back into the nearest city was too heavy. We’re not exactly talking New York, or Chicago, here; it’s a small provincial city, and the traffic jam must have added an extra 5 – 10 minutes to her journey. Max. But that was enough. 

nextsmallNext!”, she barked at the estate agent. 

Now, I don’t know whether you would be that sensible about a property. (I’m not sure I would.) But the important thing is the mind-set. 

This woman was coming from a place of certainty, and abundance. She doesn’t settle for anything less than what she wants. Because she knows there will always be something else out there. She has the belief that she will get what she wants. End of. 

She weighs things up in the context of what will fit comfortably with her chosen lifestyle, and then acts accordingly. 

Compare that with the… let’s call it emotionally vulnerable mind-set that characterizes any emotionally abused woman. 

First off, you meet someone. He leaves a few boxes unticked. Perfect, he ain’t. But… 

What do you do? 

No sooner do you notice something about him NOT to love, than you start telling yourself a story. It’s not a story about there being plenty of great men out there. It’s not a story about you having a great life just as you are. What it is is a story about some other aspect of him that more than makes up for the icky, or disturbing, characteristic. You tell yourself a story about loving this guy, and him being the last, half-way decent sprat (no typo, honestly) left in the dating pool. 

Let me give you an example. A couple of months in, I introduced Mr Nasty to my friends. Of course, I wanted him to impress them, almost as much as he – doubtless – wanted to impress them, and me. He was off to a good start, he was a fully qualified doctor in a room full of students. He was 12,000 miles from home, which meant he had to be cosmopolitan, and sophisticated, and COOL. (Even better, he wasn’t wearing the plum dogtooth check trousers made for him, by his father the tailor, without a pattern or measurements…. How could I?) 

The future wasband ended up holding court – he loved holding court – and giving a masterclass in making offensive, and ignorant, comments about the indigenous people of his country. This was a side of him I hadn’t seen before, and didn’t like in the slightest. But instead of adding this red flag to the couple I’d already seen, and saying – as I should have done: “Next”, I told myself a story about his naivete, his good intentions, and him being a Prince among Men. (To his credit, I never heard that kind of racist remark from him again. But I did hear an awful LOT of other ignorant, offensive, and obnoxious comments.) 

The learning point is this: 

nextiismallNext” is a word emotionally abused women don’t use nearly often enough. 

We don’t use it at the ‘courting’ stage, and we certainly don’t use it further down the track. 

The more we become locked into the relationship, the more an emotionally abusive man reveals has capacity for nastiness. And what do we do? 

We utter all kinds of words, like: Love, and Respect, and You Have to. But we don’t say the one word that would really get Mr Nasty’s attention: we don’t say: 


At best, we might whisper it, we might utter it in tones of entreaty, but we don’t just bark it out, like the prospective purchaser of my house.

You could argue, should you so desire, that there is a big difference between a house and a partner. I couldn’t agree more. 

There is an even bigger difference between a property and an abusive partner. One of them has an objective, easily quantifiable value. The other is fantasy, hot air, and broken promises – that is, if you were lucky enough to get a promise in the first place. 

The learning we can take from Madam “NEXT” is this: it makes an awful lot more sense to choose someone, or something, that fits neatly into your preferred lifestyle plan, than it does to try to compromise your lifestyle, and yourself, around a poor compromise. 


nextlevelsmall If you’re not yet able to say “Next” with confidence, then you need to discover how you, too, can go From being at Risk to Peace of Mind.



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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