“How come an emotional abuser gets to walk away, scot free?

26 Nov 2013

“How come an emotionally abusive man gets to walk away scot free, on ‘his’ terms? And then, when he goes around bad-mouthing me, everyone believes him?”  That’s what one client asked me this week.

It’s SO not fair, isn’t it?

Inamedandshamedsmalln an ideal world, emotionally abusive men would get their just deserts. They’d be publicly named and shamed. They would be ostracized by decent society. In fact, such huge pressure would be brought to bear on emotional abusers by the Protectors of the Defenceless that your emotionally abusive partner would soon turn up at your door, dressed in sack-cloth, with a nice, thick coating of ashes on his nasty little head, and – finally – abjectly, beg your forgiveness.

If only!

Reality doesn’t play out like that, does it?

In reality, an emotionally abusive husband does whatever he chooses to do, and then goes off and does what he does best – essentially, more of the same – ALL OVER AGAIN.

Oh, and being who he is, he’ll probably send you a message – either via text, a mutual friend, or a child – that he’s having a wonderful life, and you can eat your heart out.


The issue, then, is about the sense you make of your emotionally abusive relationship, about how you take your life forward and, especially, about how your see yourself as a worthwhile human being rather than an emotionally abused woman.

In Mr Nasty’s mythology, you’re a saddo, and/or a sicko. That’s how he portrays you to others. It’s a nice little piece of propaganda. Given that most people are naïve, at best, and also a tad lazy about thinking things through for themselves, Mr Nasty can count on quite a lot of credibility. Not from everybody – that’s never going to happen. Your friends won’t be fooled by the creep – whoever else will.

The unfairness piece is all about how Other People should see your reality through your eyes. 

So they should!


Mr Nasty is so much more credible than you.  He’s only continuing to project himself the way he always has, remember?

You, on the other hand, have done a complete about-turn. First off, you presented Mr Nasty to the world as Mr Wonderful, as He-Who-Can-Do-No-Wrong. Now, you’re asking them to believe he’s Mr Nasty.

True as it may be, that’s actually quite a lot to ask of other people: you’re asking them to make themselves wrong, in order to make you right.

That feeds into the whole unfairness piece. There are two groups of people who habitually talk about fairness. The first group are politicians – who have no intention of doing anything other than talking – but know full well that the concept appeals to the underdog, The second group are disempowered people… who are the underdogs.

As an emotionally abused woman you have always been the underdog.


You didn’t have a true sense of your own power when you got into your emotionally abusive relationship in the first place – that really appealed to Mr Nasty.

topdogsmallLook back, and you’ll probably realize that Mr Nasty made being Top Dog a pre-condition of the relationship. That made you The Underdog. Right from the start.

No amount of barking is going to change that.

Which means is that there is no earthly point in trying to get Mr Top Dog, or the Bemused Spectators, to change the balance of power in your favor.

That is not going to happen.

This is not a fairy story.

It never was.

Think of it more as a horror story.  

I’ll admit I’m too faint-hearted ever to sit through horror movies, but I have – I think – a fair grasp of the set-up. Everything starts normally enough, with a scenario that resonates reassuringly with people, and then it spirals out of control into something gruesome.

Very much like your emotionally abusive relationship.

There is a lot of blood and gore, and scary stuff.  Finally, I think – never having watched that far – the hero/heroine is driven to find resources within him/herself that she never even knew he/she had. He/she comes out the other side, older, stronger, and wiser.

Do you see the parallels?

Horror stories are, ultimately, a commercial product. They have to deliver a good, solid, meaty amount of horror before they reach the out-the-other-side/happy ending.

horrorsmallMr Nasty will do his best to keep delivering what he delivers best: which is horror, and mayhem aplenty. 

An emotionally man does happy-ish beginnings.  He certainly doesn’t do happy endings.

The question, ultimately, is this: do you want to be a disempowered bit player in Mr Nasty’s horror movie series, or do you want to star in the movie of your own life?

You’re never going to have a starring role in Mr Nasty’s horror movies. Do not delude yourself that he’s ever going to rewrite his precious script for you, so you can share his spotlight.

That way lies madness.

So, you might as well dissolve his crummy contract, walk away, and focus on taking on the lead role your very own feel-good movie.

That’s perfectly doable – however much you may doubt it.

Less than a month ago, the lovely client who asked me this week’s question, was convinced she was a Hopeless Case. Now, she says; “The change is happening… I feel it… I have questions that still pop into my head but, now, they don’t go round and stay there…”

She’s learning how to disentangle her self-worth from Mr Nasty’s horror movie.  You can, too. 


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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