How Much Do You Need to Hurt in an Emotionally Abusive Relationship?

08 Dec 2014

“I have to give him another chance’, she said.  “I’ve promised.”

He, needless to say, is a man who ‘has his moments – that is to say, an emotionally abusive partner’.  He can promise her the good stuff: the Together Forever, the Everlasting Love, the Happiness Ever After quite convincingly.  He’s just not terribly good at the Happy Right Here, Right Now.

But then, she felt she  couldn’t blame him for that.  He’d been horribly hurt by a previous girlfriend.  And his background was tough, too. And he’s under a lot of stress at work.  And…

It’s not really his fault – is it? – when he flips?

Besides, she’s no angel.  She gets angry and she fights back: she fights back verbally, and if he starts pushing her, she replies in kind.

So, they’re both as bad as each other.  Right?

But, afterwards, he’s really, really sorry.  He wants to do better than that; and be better than that.  So, she has to give him one more chance.  And if it doesn’t work out, she’ll walk away and bounce back.  She’s had to do that before .  It will be easier this time…

Are you hearing what I’m hearing?

  • Emotional abuse
  • Denial
  • The Hopium addiction that ravages so many women

I listened to her for a while, sadly.  No matter how many times I hear a story like this it still saddens me.  I described to her – accurately – the dynamic of the relationship.  I pointed out the danger to her.

And I asked her how long she had been in the relationship.

From her high level of distress, the fact that she was talking about it, and the kind of behaviors Mr Love’s Young Dream exhibited, I guessed a bare minimum of 12-18 months.

“5 months”, she said.

5 months!!!

I pointed out that a relationship that was barely off the starting blocks and already causing such pain boded very badly indeed.

And I saw the barriers go up.  I saw it in her eyes and on her face:

“Who was I to tell her that Love’s Young Dream was, in reality, the Nightmare Between Four Walls.  (In the public arena, he is the soul of charm.  No surprise there!)  Who was I to tell her that her relationship is speeding along the Highway to Hell?  How can I possibly know what is going on in her world, and in His head?  I’ve only spoken to her once, and I’ve never met him.”

The wasband often stated: “Common things occur most commonly.”

Domestic violence is, sadly, a very common thing.

I accept that that is not good enough: it affects a MINIMUM of 1 women in 4.  That one fact should be enough to concentrate any woman’s mind.

So, let’s look again at this sorry situation: 4 months together and she is already in agony, barely able to keep her composure in public, sending out unmistakeable distress messages, whether intentionally or unintentionally.

How is that situation going to change for the better?

Mr Love’s Young Dream has three options:

  1. He can take a long, hard look at himself, decide to work on himself, and own his profound nastiness. Doing that will lead to a MAJOR loss of status in his own eyes.
  2. He can carry on getting angrier and angrier with her, blaming her for everything, and therefore seeing himself as White by comparison with her alleged Blackness.
  3. He can resolve the problem by replacing her with someone else, and starting the whole process over again.

Which do you think is likely to make more sense to him and – even more importantly – hold more attraction for him?

Remember, this is a guy who isn’t looking for self-improvement but G-R-A-T-I-F-I-C-A-T-I-O-N – the quicker the better.  What he loves is having his monumental ego massaged.

If he hangs around, something will have to give.

Some of the first things to go will be her self-respect, and her confidence.

Next up   – will be her mental health.  The chances of her becoming depressed – an appropriate response to a toxic situation – feeling like she is going crazy, and being impaired in her day-to-day functioning, will grow ever higher.  At the very least she will run on empty until she ends up burnt out.

It is, of course, her right to stay in the relationship for as long as she wants.  Whether leaving it and ‘bouncing back’ will be quite as straightforward as she imagines is another story, entirely.

The question she needs to ask herself – and we all needed to ask ourselves in that situation – is:

“How painful does it need to get before I finally walk away?”

Speaking personally, it took until I finally, truly, believed that the pain would destroy me: and, given my background, I had an extraordinarily high threshold of tolerance for emotional pain.  Although, in my defence – at the time – I didn’t realize that any emotional abuser worth his salt will simply keep on ratcheting up the pain.  (It’s just something he has a natural talent for.)

Humour me for a moment: imagine you truly believe that your Mr Nasty WILL keep ratcheting up the pain, and the rejection, and the humiliation until you finally walk away.

How long would you stay?


That’s exactly what he will do.

So, what are you waiting for?

How much do you need to hurt before you commit to putting your life back together the way you want it to be?



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.

Leave a comment

The 5 Simple Steps to Healing from Narcissistic Abuse

Over the next 5 days, I'll send you some lessons and tips that I've found have really helped women to heal from narcissistic abuse.  Starting with the basics.

Connect with me on Instagram

Want daily reassurance and inspiration? Sign up to my Instagram account. @dr_anniephd