An Emotionally Abused Woman’s Million Dollar Question

11 Dec 2017

“What if the man is doing therapy work?”

Any emotionally abused woman’s million dollar question has to be: “If a man is actually doing therapy work to heal himself and he fully admits his wounds, apologizes, and is willing to heal, then is that ok?  Or do emotionally abusive men sometimes just say that they will go to therapy and heal to please a woman?”   

What makes it the million dollar question?

Because if you can – finally – trust him then it’s all going to be alright.  All the time, energy, love and whatever else you have invested in him is – finally – going to pay off.  And Love, Validation, and the Happily Ever After beckon.  Just like in the fairy tales.  Just like you always hoped they would.  End of…

Simple, right?

Hopium Addiction v Reality

Unfortunately not. You just choose Hopium Addiction over (harsh) reality.  You chose to carry on investing in the One Day lifestyle.  You staked your happiness on a vain hope that your fairy tale will yet materialize….

As someone who has worked with hundreds and hundreds of emotionally abused women and seen how situations play out, I know you ignore – or sidestep – (harsh) reality at your peril.

So, the emotionally abusive partner is doing ‘therapy work’, is that a guarantee?  Absolutely not.  Most emotional abusers don’t seriously commit to ‘therapy work’ – which is often way too short, or too superficial, to produce effective change.

When he acknowledges his own wounds

He acknowledges his wounds.  That sounds great.  But what does it actually mean.  Does it mean he’s saying: “Because I had a tough time of it, I have behaved badly.”  If he is, be very afraid.  Bad experiences don’t have to result in bad behaviors.  They’re not an excuse, or a justification.  They’re simply a – bad – way of responding.  It’s called Kick the Cat Syndrome.

Besides, he’s not the only one with wounds, is he?  You must have collected your ‘fair’ share along the way – quite a lot of them at his hands, or via his tongue lashings. How much does that matter to him?

We know that he is aware that you have wounds, too, because he is apologising.  Too many emotionally abused women have to learn the hard way that an apology or five do not a reformed character make.  Anyone can apologise when they’re in a tight corner and see a convenient relationship threatening to go down the pan.

Beware the enticing form of words

The emotional abuser or Narcissist needs to do better than just trot out an enticing form of words.  It is certainly more gratifying to get an apology than not to get an apology.  However,  how is he going to make reparation? He is talking – in detailed, practical terms – about making amends, isn’t it?

What is going to be different long-term?

Where’s the proof?

What proof do you have that it is going to be different, aside from the token apology?

He says he’s willing to heal.  That’s nice, isn’t it?  However, there is a massive distinction between talking about being willing to heal, and being prepared to undertake the necessary healing work on himself.

Before anyone can heal, they need to take a good long look at themselves and go through a number of painful realisations.  Most emotional abusers have no wish to experience the perceived loss of status that change would entail.  They get their feeling of power and – ironically self-worth – from the control they have over you and the relationship. They are not going to give up that yen for power over you in a hurry.

What does okay mean?

“Is that okay?”  Don’t be fooled by the apparent banality of this phrase.  “Is that okay?” is not just a linguistic tic.  Rather, it is the key to this whole issue.  What it reveals is the emotionally abused woman’s desperation.

Why would a promise, from a proven promise-breaker be okay?  Why would it be enough to negate months – or more likely, years, maybe even decades – of bad and hurtful behaviour? 

All that “Is that okay?”really points to is how low the emotionally abused woman’s expectations are – and how serious her Hopium Addiction is.  If your child had a partner who, over time, had behaved horribly towards her, or him, but then announced that they had seen the error of their ways and decided to heal, would that be “okay” with you?  Or would you want some cast-iron guarantees for your child?

Why do they promise?

“Do emotionally abusive men sometimes just say that they will go to therapy and heal to please a woman?”  Not exactly.  They don’t promise it because they seriously want to please a woman.  Rather, they do it because they do not want to alienate that woman once and for all.

Losing their partner might be expensive – if they have to divide join assets.  At the very least, it will be inconvenient. After all, who else is going to service their needs and be the Cat for Kicking? Who else is going to look after the children?

In times of crisis, emotionally abusive men pull out the hackneyed – but effective – Apology Script: “Darling, I’m sorry.  I’ll go into therapy and I’ll change.  We can still be happy together, you’ll see…” I’ve heard this story from many, many clients.

When the pressure is on, an emotional abuser will make whatever promises they need to in order to bring the situation back under their control. The question is, how serious are they about actually fulfilling their promises?

When it came down to it, abusive partners do NOT make significant changes.  Such changes as they do make are not enough to make their women happy.   

The million dollar question is actually a BAD question

So,  the emotionally abused woman’s million dollar question is a bad question.  A bad question produces bad answers. But how could it be otherwise.  The bad question stems from a relationship that was fatally flawed right from the start.

The million dollar question presupposes that an abuser might still want to make the relationship right – for the partner he loves to victimize. Worse still, the person who asks that million dollar question is someone who does not value her own quality of life enough to listen to her pain and take appropriate action.  Regardless of what her abusive partner is saying, nothing good is going to come out of NOT taking charge of her own life.

Your quality of life should be worth a million dollars to you.  If it’s not, you need to change things. You can bet your bottom dollar your abusive partner is never going to change things for the better.


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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