Actually, emotional abuse is personal – but not in the way you think?

04 Nov 2014

This week I experienced  a powerful revelation that I want to share with you: emotional abuse really is personal…  But NOT in the way you think.

As I write this, I’m exhausted and exhilarated, having spent the weekend on a wonderful, personal development training.  I’ll admit I went in a sceptical frame of mind.  In an emotionally abusive relationship you quickly learn to be very sceptical – usually about exactly the wrong things.

An emotionally abusive husband will teach you his scepticism very early on.


Because denying that other ideas and ways have any validity or value really serves him.

Among my Mr Nasty’s favourite refrains (aka Hymns 35 and 36 from the Emotional Abuser’s Song Sheet) were:

“You can’t believe that?” and

“You’re not going to do that, are you?”

Of course, you know exactly what happened next.  If I ever ‘stood up for myself’ and said – a hesitant:

“Well, yeees…”

He’d tell me exactly why I couldn’t and shouldn’t believe – or do – that.  As well as how conclusively it proved my feeble-mindedness.

One of my ongoing learnings since I left my Mr Nasty is this: I’m not feeble-minded.  Nor are any of the emotionally abused women I’ve worked with since to help them recover from emotional abuse.

Most every one of them feels feeble-minded -but that’s just programming.

As regular readers of the e-zine will know, this has not been an easy year for me.  It’s been Blast- From-The-Past time.  My emotionally abusive ex-partner has kept out of things, but all the pre-conditioning from my family of origin surfaced as my mother declined into dementia and death.  My siblings responded to the trauma of it all by dredging up old resentments and making them current – after all, what’s a decade or several, when you’ve got a good, strong grievance?

Was I shocked?  Absolutely.

Did I make it about me?  No.  But there was a job of work to be done to remind myself that it wasn’t personal.

So, what was my revelation all about? 

It came when we were exploring self-judgement.  Once upon a time, I was drowning in self-judgement.  These days, I don’t have much at all.  However, as we worked through a specific exercise it suddenly struck me that hate still played a part in my life.

Now, this is the curious piece; it’s not how I live my life.  When I sketched out my road to recovery, all those years ago, I realized that Love and Service were the only way to go.  And that is, largely, what I’ve been doing ever since.  But I realized that I’ve still being living in an internal micro-climate of hatred that is not mine.

Now, this may sound crazy. That’s reasonable, it is crazy.  But here’s the thing: I know that I have things in my house that I’ve bought because I loved them so much and found them beautiful and/or meaningful enough that I just had to have them.  Time passes, while those things sit on my wall, on my bookshelves or in my wardrobe, and I stop seeing them.

Familiarity blinds us; it dulls our senses.  Familiarity blinds us to the good – and the bad.

Hence I’ve done a huge amount of work on myself about learning to relate to others with love and trust… But that climate of hate remained, unnoticed and unchecked.

Despite all the work I’ve done, at one level I was still living in that micro-climate of hate – where I was concerned.

And I wasn’t even aware of it.

(It’s an emotionally abused woman thing; it’s like being brought up, all your life, in an extreme climate, and nobody has ever told you that there is central heating/air conditioning that can be turned on to make the environment comfortable.)

But here’s where it gets really interesting: why have abusers behaved as they behaved towards you?

Because of their own internal micro-climate. 

Do you think they might have an internal micro-climate of H-A-T-E?

You bet they do.  And do they believe that living in that climate gives them permission to visit that H-A-T-E on you?

So, what does that mean for you and me – and every other person who has been through ill treatment at the hands of an emotionally abusive partner?

It means that the treatment was personal, all right.  It spoke volumes about the abuser’s internal micro-climate.

And it was never about you. 

You were convenient, because you were there, and you’d put up with a lot.

But they did what they did because they have a need to externalise their micro-climate.

You must know one or two people, at least, who spread sunshine wherever they go.  Well, emotional abusers spread hate and darkness wherever they go.


That’s them.

The only thing that you need to focus on is how to create a healthier micro-climate for yourself.






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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