Do you blame yourself for your emotionally abusive relationship?

25 Feb 2014

Do you blame yourself for what happened in your emotionally abusive relationship?  Do you take responsibility for everything that did – or didn’t – happen? 

Do you feel that you’ve failed because you couldn’t create the perfect family unit you longed for?  For yourself and your children.

If you do, you need to know that what you’re feeling is very common.  In fact, it’s normal – whatever normal means – in an abnormal situation.  Emotional abuse is always an abnormal situation.

Because that’s something that I’m guessing you tend to overlook: your relationship was never ‘normal’: you can’t have a normal relationship with someone who habitually behaves in an abnormal way.

Not that I’m saying your emotionally abusive (ex)partner is some kind of freak, or monster, who can’t behave like other people.  That explanation doesn’t work for me.  To me, that feels like letting an emotionally abusive man off the hook of responsibility for his own behaviour.   Just having had a difficult childhood isn’t enough to let him off the hook – you probably had a fairly difficult childhood, too.  Nor is he necessarily a Narcissist.  He may be, but not all emotionally abusive men are true Narcissists.

More the point, could he have done better?

Most probably he could.

Did anything other than his own agenda matter very much to him?


If the only thing that strikes you as legitimate is getting your own needs met, then that gives you the right to behave however you like towards other people.  It means you don’t have to be especially mad, or especially bad, to behave that way.

So, the key to where your emotionally abusive husband stands on the Mad-Bad scale is, probably, how much better does he behave at work?  Does he exhibit the same awful behaviors you know and dislike?  Or does he control himself – and make the effort to project himself – in a more favorable light?

The question is:

Why do you believe that you should be accountable for his bad behaviour?

Of course you don’t want to see your children hurt. 

But you tell yourself that his behaviour is, somehow,  a reflection on you.  If you done a better job of being his wife//nursemaid/mommy,  he would be a nicer person – and, of course, your life together would have worked out much better. 

Why does what happens to emotionally abused women always, have to be about them?

Why do you need to make everything your fault?

Yes, I know that Mr Nasty made a point of telling you that E-VE-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G  always is, was, and will be your fault, but…


That’s what he would say, isn’t it?    (He doesn’t have a problem with being painfully predictable, at times, does he?)  He has his reasons:

When everything is your fault, it must mean that NOTHING is his fault.  That is his perfect outcome, after all.   He gets off scot- free. 

So, if he’s the kind of emotional abuser who always needs to have a woman in tow, he’ll  go off , find someone at least as naïve as you, and feed her his Hard Luck Story.  If, on the other hand, he’s the kind of abuser who can carry on feeding off a Good Grudge for months and years, he might not feel the need to replace you.

I’m wondering if you’re convinced.   I have my doubts…

So, let’s try this another way:

“Could you have managed to undergo all that mayhem, misery, and mischance, singlehanded, if he had never, ever, thrust himself into your life?

You couldn’t, could you?

Mr Nasty has a talent for spreading misery, and stirring up craziness wherever he goes.

It’s not normal to anticipate that kind of man, and that kind of behavior.  Especially, when Mr Crazy-Maker comes along wearing his best I’m-A-Wonderful-Person outfit. 

Blaming yourself is an old pattern.  It’s a damaging pattern.  And it’s going to get in the way of you sharing the life you want with the people you truly love – and who truly love you. 

You’re never too late to stop blaming yourself, and start creating a healthy relationship with yourself.

 It may be a new departure for you, but we’ve all had to face new departures.  We may not like them but, mostly, when we get past the stage of telling ourselves how much we hate new departures, we get on and adapt to them.  Usually, rather better than we thought we would.

If you’re still blaming yourself for not being good enough to turn your man, and your relationship, into the proverbial silk purse, remember: 

It’s not too late to STOP blaming yourself.  Better things lie ahead for you.  You are always in time to change.


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.

1 thought on “Do you blame yourself for your emotionally abusive relationship?”

  1. So, I’m struggling a bit here.

    First off, it’s not what you want for him that matters but what he wants for himself. It’s that old “you can take a horse to water” thing. If he doesn’t want to get help enough to get out and do it for himself, there is nothing doing.

    Second, if he was an abusive husband to you, then I would be asking myself whether he is really in pain or whether he is just trying to exploit your good heart.

    I’m wondering whether you are projecting your own feelings and concerns onto him.


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