Was I Emotionally Abusive?

06 Sep 2016

Was I emotionally abusive? is something that emotionally abused women ask themselves – often over and over again.  The fact that the victims of emotional abuse repeatedly ask themselves, Was I emotionally abusive? Is what happened my fault? should tell you everything you need to know. Not least that they could not see an emotionally abusive partner coming and, therefore, blame themselves for everything.

An emotionally abusive relationship is one in which truth is turned on its head. Or, more correctly, there is only ever one truth in an emotionally abusive relationship.  It is a truth that always belongs uniquely to the abusive partner – and it looks quite unlike anything you believe to be true. Those are the only constants.   For the rest, an emotional abuser’s “truths” can shapeshift from moment to moment.

You ask, Was I emotionally abusive? because you cannot understand how your life went from (the promise of) Love’s Young Dream to Sleeping With The Enemy.

An emotionally abusive man performs his own version of that old song “Never, Never, Never” through the life of an emotionally abusive relationship. (If you have not heard that thoroughly nasty little ditty, you can check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CDgTvPY1bso)  He loves you, hates you/ hates you hates you/ ‘til the world stops turning/ but whatever you do/he’ll never, never, never stop/ controlling you.

Now,  the love-hate volte-face  is pretty crazy-making all by itself.  Unfortunately, an emotional abuser does not stop there.  He wants to make absolutely sure that you never get your bearings in the crazy parallel universe of his making.  So he starts telling you that you are the one with the problem.  In fact, you are The Problem.

Little Mr. Loving Heart just wanted to love the socks off you, but you spoiled it. You are the one who causes all the fight etc. etc. The way you talk to him – or respond to him, or look at him – is just SO wrong.

An emotionally abusive partner has a genius for drawing up the battle lines in his relationship.  The relationship becomes a fight to the finish between the Forces of Good (him!!!) and the Forces of Evil (you!!!).

An emotionally abusive partner paints you  as the villain of the piece and himself the victim.  He constantly bludgeons you  into submission with his – very considerable – powers of persuasion.  It is all so destabilizing you can end up forgetting that you had a life, and an identity of your own before you met him.

When women ask, “Was I emotionally abusive?” it is a mark of their extreme self-doubt. When you have forgotten who you are and what matters to you, you feel that you cannot be sure about anything at all.  If he can be so categorical about what he is saying, when you are so hazy, then he must be right. Or, at least, you must be wrong.

Interestingly, no emotionally abusive man will ever ask, Was I emotionally abusive? He will not ask because he does not care.  For him,  the question simply does not matter. You and the relationship are not that important to him. (Although when he is having one of those increasingly rare, “I love you” moments, he would swear blind how important you both are to him.)

If he trains you as well as he intends to  – and an emotionally abusive partner is a very, very effective trainer – you will agonise constantly about whether your alleged awfulness. You will ask yourself frequently, Was I emotionally abusive?  Plus, you will live with an (almost) pathological fear of upsetting people.

You may not be able to think straight. However, your emotionally abusive partner has taught you –  through a thousand object lessons – that “people” are very, very easily upset, and they will punish you for upsetting them.

“Yes, but…” women often say, after they have been in an abusive relationship for a while. “I’ve said and done things in the relationship that I am not proud of.  Was I emotionally abusive?

Do you notice the rush to self-blame, here?

Rule #12 of an emotionally abusive relationship is that sooner or the later, the victim will likely do something that she is not proud of. That does not make her abusive.  Rather, it is a wake-up call. It is a warning sign that she has been pushed past her limits. It is a sign that the relationship has become a very dangerous environment for her. An abusive relationship is a place in which  she has no space to be herself.

When you ask, Was I emotionally abusive? it is a sign that you are losing sight of yourself, and your right to be treated like a human being.  It puts you at a crossroad.  You can either turn back along the road that got you to the crossroad and obsessively run through an endless “He said, I said”, rumination. Or else, you can stop trying to rewrite a toxic relationship as chick lit and move forward. The choice is yours.   But remember this, rumination really is an endless, thankless process. Everything you ever wanted for yourself lies on the road that leads forward into the future.  If you are still struggling to get an emotional abuser out of your head, there is a proven way to do so.  You cannot afford to waste any more time or energy worrying about a relationship which was predestined to fail.


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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