What Happens To Emotionally Abused Women?

04 Aug 2015

worried womansmall“What happens to emotionally abused women?” is such a vitally important question that it can be answered in several ways.   In this article I’m going to relate it to the question that emotionally abused women inevitably ask themselves in one form or another:

“What has happened to me?”

When women ask themselves that question underlying it is always the sense that they have fallen apart, or more precisely that they have allowed themselves to fall apart; when they should have been able to do better.

In fact, that question alone is a clear pointer to what happens to emotionally abused women. They start to believe that they are weak, crazy, and emotionally out of control.  In reality, they have simply lost their footing because they are living in a world that is out of control.

It doesn’t take long before an emotionally abusive partner starts to skew the world so that it is totally out of his target’s control.  You, his woman, are that target. It is a sobering thought to consider yourself his ‘target’ rather than his partner.  It is also a helpful one.

It matters very little whether or not your emotionally abusive husband is clinically sane – although he most likely is.  What matters is that the world that he constructs around you is far from sane. Having listened to the stories of many hundreds of emotionally abused women (in addition to reviewing my own experiences) the world of emotional abuse is a crazy one.  Everything is turned on its head.  You are expected to take the blame for causing your partner’s bad behaviour.  Whatever happens, or doesn’t happen, is your fault.

What happens to emotionally abused women is that they soon realise – if only at the unconscious level – that they live in a world of blame that is always looking for a cause.   Whatever you said or did (or didn’t say and didn’t do)  is bound to be WRONG.

The more you get to know that blame is always with you, the more tempted you are to hide yourself away in the smallest possible space in a vain effort to escape blame.  Of course, you can just as easily be blamed for not showing up… to be blamed!


You go into the relationship with the – sane – belief that you share the same beliefs with your partner, about the relationship, and about him.  You want to have shared beliefs.  That way, you imagine, lies harmony.  However, your emotionally abusive partner quickly sets the rules of engagement: the only powerful, compelling beliefs come from him.   Increasingly, those core beliefs hinge on how wonderful he is, and you are NOT; and you accept them.  Almost unquestioningly.

What happens to emotionally abusive women is that they make their partner’s toxic world view their reality. So, they come to believe that they are the multi-faceted failure that he says they are.

What we believe is what shows up in our lives, time and time again.  Not because it is true, but because it is what we focus on.  By focusing on the bad, and the destructive, we exclude the good,  the positive, and the sustaining – without even being aware that we do it. It is as if all the bad that an emotional abuser projects onto us is playing out on a huge screen; and that is all we see. 

When I speak with clients they are always amazed to discover how worthwhile, and loveable, they really are. When I speak with women for the first time and say;

“You can be far, far happier than you could possibly imagine right now. You can start to believe in yourself and, finally, own your true place in the world,” as often as not they don’t believe me.

Their rationale is: If Mr Nasty believes only bad things about me, how can the good things possibly be true?

Training you to believe only bad things about yourself is Mr Nasty’s modus operandi.

That is how it works in the crazy world of his making.

What happens to emotionally abused women is that they tell themselves that his world is the World.

If you’ve been living with an emotionally abusive partner, chances are you have no idea of just how much your emotionally abusive partner has distorted your view of yourself and the world.  What happens to emotionally abused women is they develop a massive capacity for denial, and minimising.

On the one hand they feel the agonizing pain that their emotionally abusive partner inflicts on them; on the other, they tell themselves it’s really not that bad – other people have it worse.  That’s not the point.

Since you only have one life anyway, and since your emotionally abusive relationship, ultimately, is destined to implode, it makes no sense to put up with it any longer.

What happens to emotionally abused women when they finally walk away is that they discover they can have a much, much better life without their Mr Nasty than they would ever have dared to dream.


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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