Emotional Abuse And Abandonment Revealed

19 Jan 2016

Why abandonment escapes attention

Emotional abuse and abandonment go hand in hand.  Yet abandonment is not something that most people give a great deal of thought.

Why don’t we make that association between emotional abuse and abandonment?

A couple of reasons spring to mind.  First, doubtless, because of the understandable, human desire to see things as we want them to be, rather than the way they really are: some things are just too painful to look at, and admit to ourselves. We try our hardest not to learn the lessons of an emotionally abusive relationship.

In all my years of doing the work that I do, nobody has ever told me that their treatment at the hands of an abusive partner did not hurt them deeply.  Everyone feels that pain keenly.  Where they struggle is in admitting to themselves that the root cause of the pain is what it is; emotional abuse caused by their partner’s carelessness as regards their feelings.

We cleave (to use the old-fashioned term) to our partner for fear of feeling something worse.

We cling to our partner for fear of abandonment.  We tell us it’s one of those “it ain’t over til the fat lady sings” scenarios.  If we are still with him, and still trying to make it work, then it can’t possibly be emotional abuse and abandonment.

A different definition of abandonment

I’d like to invite you to consider a different understanding of the word “abandonment”.  Of course there are the dramatic abandonments that are the stuff of film and literature where someone turns and walks away from the one(s) who love him/her, never to return – leaving a gaping hole in their lives. But that is not the only kind of abandonment that exists.

An emotionally abusive relationship is made up of an endless series of abandonments.   They may well be quickly reversed – because that is in the abuser’s best interests – but still they happen over and over again.  In case you aren’t entirely clear what I mean, let’s take a whistle-stop tour of some of the classic abandonments perpetrated by emotional abusers:

  • The first disagreement when Mr Wonderful vanishes, leaving Mr Nasty  centre stage.
  • The first time he betrays your trust by abruptly siding with family, friends etc, out of the blue.
  • The first time he trashes the relationship.
  • The first time he spoils what you reasonably expected to be a wonderful, joyful time together, for no good reason.
  • The first time he trashes you for being a lousy lover, wife, mother, or whatever else he knows really matters to you.

Can you even remember your first experiences of emotional abuse and abandonment in the relationship?

Possibly not. Because they were only the first of a long, long series.

For the sake of clarity, let me share my own road-map of emotional abuse and abandonments.  Not because it is anything special – it absolutely isn’t – but because concrete illustrations always seem to work better.

My abandonment experience began with:

  • The first time Mr Nasty appeared for a ‘test sulk’ because Mr Wonderful was’ tired’.
  • Being told to take a back seat (metaphorically and in reality) to my in-laws from the moment they first appeared on the scene.
  • The full-blown 24+ hour sulk on honeymoon.
  • The first “I do everything I possibly can for you, and you throw it all in my face” rebuke.
  • Being labelled the enemy, on a secret mission to undermine him – because it had taken me longer than it should have to prepare his dinner, and I failed to pair his socks!

Once Mr Nasty gets a taste of the spotlights, there’s no stopping him.  The emotional abuse and abandonments keep coming, thicker, faster, and bigger.

The really important piece about emotional abuse and abandonment

That brings us to the really important piece about emotional abuse and abandonment: an emotional abuser doesn’t just abandon you; he teaches you to abandon yourself.

Every time you tell yourself, “I’m worthless because he doesn’t love/value me.” or other similar things, you are abandoning yourself. 

In that moment, you give up on yourself.

In that moment, you give up on your happiness.

In that moment, you give up on your life, and your belief that you truly deserve a good future.

Emotional abuse and abandonment leave you cringing with a shame that you try to hide from the world.

It was never about you, anyway.

The truth is, it was never about you in the first place.  Emotional abuse and abandonment occur not because of who you are, but because of who the perpetrator is.

The antidote to abandonment can only be learning to value yourself.  Look at it this way, if someone came up to you and told you that your beloved child (or pet) was a worthless, disgusting, waste of space, you wouldn’t believe it.  You’d remain loyal to that person (or creature) and your belief in them.

You are as deserving of your own unconditional loyalty as anyone else.

Nobody is in greater need of your unconditional love and appreciation than you are.  Do NOT let emotional abuse and abandonment tell you otherwise.

PS If you find this article helpful, please do share it on social media.  This week, I’ve been deeply touched by the number of women who’ve emailed me, personally, to tell me what a difference this blog has made to their lives – women who have found the courage to leave abusive marriages because of the information they’ve read here.  When you share on social media, you have the chance of helping not just the people who you know – who you know have this problem – but the people they know, too.  Which means you can help educate other women and help them to overcome the torment of an emotionally abusive relationship.



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.

3 thoughts on “Emotional Abuse And Abandonment Revealed”

  1. What I think you are saying is that you chatted with someone on a dating website who promised you The Happily Ever After but ghosted you the day before you were due to meet in person.

    Anyone who does that is clearly NOT perfect in any – way – apart from spinning a great fantasy.

    So, you have received a painful – but useful – lesson to beware of anyone who falls for you too hard, too fast. That sounds remarkably like a time-wasting Narcissist.

    You feel abandoned but in truth you were never really abandoned because that person was never really there for you.

    Warm wishes for your healing and happiness,


  2. I was continuously, religiously broken up with over 10 over the course of 10 years. At one point when I had ghosted him he told himself I was dead and told my family and friends I was dead. At the final year of our relationship he finally proposed but continued to verbally abuse me and emotionally abuse me. I snapped and reactively started insulting him, I did the same things he did to me. One day out of the blue he told me he is once again leaving me and accused me of abusing him. He never answered my questions of why he constantly came back and broke up, but he always demanded apologies from me. He hates his mother and calls her nasty names and told me women who are mothers disgust him. Is this indicative of a mental deficiency or personality disorder?
    Please help.


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