A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

How to Spot an Abuser Who Claims to be the Victim

Update added 12 March 2019. These guidelines for spotting a pseudo-victim, while valid, are not universal. Read this comment for an example of how they don’t fit every situation.

(My thanks to Barbara Roberts for her help with this post.)

I am sure that you have watched police SWAT teams in action at a hostage situation. As the hostages emerge, a strange thing happens. The police treat them as if they were the bad guys. They have them kneel down, hands in the air, frisk them and handcuff them. Why? Because if the police have never actually seen the suspects, they want to be sure that the bad guys aren’t trying to escape in the disguise of one of the hostages. And that is how we need to handle abuse situations, because it is very, very common for the abuser to claim to be the victim — and his disguise can be pretty ingenious. Many hostages are thrown in “jail” while the bad guys go free when it comes to how our churches are dealing with abuse in their midst.

It really is not that difficult to recognize an abuser. Their mentality of power, control, entitlement and justification always betrays itself in their speech and you can hear it if you know what to listen for. To show you what I mean, let me use an example for a not-so-well-disguised abuser who wrote to me recently. He claims to be the victim of his wife’s abuse. I will just paraphrase him so as not to publicly identify him. I suppose on a  blog like this I have to protect the guilty. Oh well. Here’s his opening line:

Too bad you don’t really know what you are talking about. You do not have much discernment and have bought into the lie that all or most domestic violence is perpetrated by men against women, nothing could be further from the truth. I can also tell you don’t have any personal experience in this area, and I do. You, like many others have bought into the lies about DV and you say it’s mostly women who have come forward to you, therefore it must be only or mostly women that are abused.

And then:

She lies, deceives, manipulates and much of what you say of what happens spiritually is true, but I am the Christian and she unfortunately is not. I suggest her Catholic upbringing may have something to do with that. Her family are liars and deceivers….she would come to you and say how I beat her, the kids, control the money and more….and you would believe it….like her family and few friends….but most neighbors, our children and their friends know the truth.

So, when you are confronted with a man who claims to be the victim, here are some pretty reliable tests you can apply to see if you are talking to a real victim, or an abuser who is playing the victim (thus attempting to win you over as his ally) —

  1. Abusers evidence a mentality of superiority and certainty. Notice how this fellow goes right on the attack to exalt himself, his knowledge, his wisdom as opposed to our ignorance. He knows. We are fools. In contrast, a real victim is most often confused, uncertain, and has a low self-image, putting themselves down.
  1. Abusers will evidence a demeaning attitude toward women in general and their victim in particular. They insist that radical feminism has us all duped and that they are the victims of some widespread anti-man conspiracy. Victims don’t see things this clearly and thus are not so dogmatic. They will be more demeaning of themselves if anything.
  1. Abusers attack their victim with nasty, cruel allegations. For example, the abuser may say “My wife is a drunk, a whore, a lazy $^%$ who only thinks of herself and lies to everyone about me.”

We need to ask ourselves, is what this guy is saying about his wife really believable? Often the abuser’s accusations are bizarre and outlandish. Real victims do not exaggerate their abuser’s conduct; rather, they tend to downplay or not report all the evil things the abuser has done because they are trying to not tell lies and because they may have suppressed memories of abusive incidents while trying to walk on eggshells and survive.

If a victim may has come to the point of realizing the evils the abuser has done, the victim may report the abuse to others to seek help and support, but the victim won’t exaggerate and invent lies like the abuser does.

  1. Abuse victims, and perhaps especially genuine male victims of abuse, exhibit humility and shame. They are far more reluctant to open up about what has happened to them. They will not insist that they have lots of people who believe them! Real abuse victims, you see, often lack allies. It is the abuser who has them!

If any readers would like to help us identify more signs of an abuser-in-disguise, we would love to hear from you.

[May 14, 2022: Editors’ notes:

—For some comments made prior to May 14, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be an exact match.
—For some comments made prior to May 14, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be found in the post.
If you would like to compare the text in the comments made prior to May 14, 2022 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (May 14, 2022), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]


Further reading

The language of abusers who portray themselves as victims

Marks of a pretend victim versus a true victim

How easy is it to spot an abuser when he is both Jekyll and Hyde


UPDATE Sept 2021: I have come to believe that Jeff Crippen does not practise what he preaches. He vilely persecuted an abuse victim and spiritually abused many other people in the Tillamook congregation. Go here to read the evidence. Jeff has not gone to the people that he spiritually and emotionally abused. He has not apologised to them, let alone asked for their forgiveness.


  1. Marianne Lordi

    You are so right on with your assessment of abusers. They look around for any willing ear willing to let them bash their spouse and by telling them what they feel is wrong with their wife. The saddest part about an abusive spouse is that they treat their wife as the enemy.

  2. Yes. The hesitancy of the true victim is a real pointer. It’s the classic iceberg illustration: most of the iceberg is below the surface and you only see the tip above the water. The true victim will drop a mere hint about the tip of the iceberg, a small allegation about the abuser’s conduct, or a small hint about her own feelings, to see how the listener reacts. If the listener reacts without judgement but with interest and concern, then the victim may reveal a little more of the iceberg. She may go into more detail about what the abuser has been doing. Or she may talk more about how she feels (her emotions or mental state) – eg. that she thinks she is at fault, that she feels she needs to try harder in the marriage, and she is finding the marriage difficult. She may not make any direct allegations about the abuser’s conduct if she is still in the fog and hasn’t woken up to the fact that she is being abused.

    Phoney victims jump in with all guns blazing when making their allegations. They are not hesitant.

    • Merlin

      Me and my wife are both the abuse victims of others in our situation. So in order to be a real victim you have to keep your mouth shut? I for one have had it up to here with their ___, and if I get loud and open about it, I must be the phoney victim? … the abuser wants secrecy and isolation to continue the abuse. Speaking up loudly with guns blazing is what the abuser doesn’t want. To not do so is to further submit to the abuser.

      • Hello Merlin, I edited your comment a little before publishing it.

        You might like to read our new readers to check out our New Users Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

        Also, please bear in mind that while we understand the anger that victims have, we prefer our commenters not to use swear words most of the time. And we try to encourage our commenters to speak about their own experiences, but not to tell others what to do.

      • itaketoflight

        In a more gentler way, I have to agree with Merlin, my first husband was an incredibly abusive and violent man. He gave me serious injuries that are beyond the point of fixing (four surgeries already, and will eventually need another when I can no longer tolerate the pain but will still end up in a wheelchair eventually anyway). I was the passive meek victim who was ashamed and quiet – until the day he attacked our daughter. And then the mumma bear came out. All the pain of nearly a decade of suffering spewed out that no way in hell was my daughter going to suffer the horror of what I’d been through.

        God help any abuser who hurts a mumma bear’s child! Guns ablazing is putting it mildly!

      • Hi Itaketoflight, welcome to the blog. 🙂

        We always like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

      • Chris

        Exactly what I was about to say. It never fails, the minute you reach the point of frustration and finally say something all of a sudden, you’re the abuser.

        I guess it’s white male privilege again. Yeah, except the suicide statistics speak a completely different story. It’s no wonder we keep our mouths shut and end up taking our own lives. With incentive like this TO shut up, who would dare speak up?

      • Hi Chris, welcome to the blog. 🙂 We always like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

    • Kate

      In some respects this is true, but I advise caution before you judge the one who is making allegations, as the true abuser. It is a sad fact that once a victim, it is easy to become a victim in another relationship. Having already experienced abuse, it is easier for the [second time around] victim to identify abusive behavior. While she is somewhat reluctant, and certainly embarrassed to be in the same old situation, she is also frantic for help to put a stop to the abuse in whatever way she can, and needs to tell someone.

      If she chooses you, please listen. You may be the only person she feels she can trust, or even the only person she has been able to be alone with (because of her partner’s controlling behavior). A woman in this frantic situation will be making allegations, and sometimes seem to jump in with guns blazing. LISTEN, and please, don’t tell her the Bible says she must stay with her husband and obey him!

      • Hi Kate, thanks for your comment. I appreciate the push-back on my comment. It is valid. And it’s good advice for those who may be hearing the disclosures of victims. 🙂

        Welcome to the blog! I changed your screen name a bit, to protect your identity. Unless one is really safe, it’s not generally a good idea to use one’s real name on a blog such as this. If you want us to change your screen name from “Kate” to something else, just email TWBTC (The Woman Behind The Curtain) — twbtc.acfj@gmail.com — she will be happy to assist. 🙂

        We like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

        And after reading the New Users’ Info page, you might want to look at our FAQ page.

      • Penina

        Yes! This is exactly what DID happen with my mom and when she left my NPD stepdad the entire group of church women encouraged her to stay and work it out and restore their relationship.

        He sexually abused 3 little girls in his care over the course of two years and when she told them that, they STILL thought she should stay and restore…

        NEVER tell a woman that is ready to leave and brave enough to come forward that G-d would want her to stay. That is a lie.

      • Hi Pepina – welcome to the blog. 🙂

        We like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

        And after reading the New Users’ Info page, you might like to look at our FAQ page.

        If you want us to change your screen name to something else, just email TWBTC (The Woman Behind The Curtain). Her address is twbtc.acfj@gmail.com

    • Amelia Bedelia

      Jeff & Barbara, When a female victim comes to terms with the abuse, they often become more confident, clear and outspoken, hoping to find support. But it seems like when the abuser is in a position in society in which higher integrity is assumed (clergy, military, police) the listeners doubt the woman unless they have been a victim themselves.

      • twbtc

        Hi Amelia Bedelia,

        Welcome to the blog and thank you for your comment!

        We like to encourage new commenters to read our New Users’ info page as it gives tips for staying safe when commenting on the blog. Also our FAQ page may be a good place to start when exploring the blog.

        Again, Welcome!

      • You are quite right, Amelia. And that is one reason why many abusers choose those professions. They know that the cover of their ‘highly respected’ position in society will make it easier for them to get away with abuse.

  3. Jeff Crippen

    Yes, Ida, thank you. I read that just the other day and as you say, the difference in the tone struck me very plainly. After hearing just a few of these genuine stories, it seems to me that the false “victim” is really pretty easy to spot. Every young woman who has met a “too good to be true” man who oozes charm, but tells her how rotten his previous wife / wives were, should run! The phony victims are full of themselves and full of hate.

    • Bob

      I wish I read what you said, Jeff, when you wrote it… 10 months later, that’s exactly how I met my wife, and future abuser. She said everything I wanted to hear, told me how she too had been through an abusive relationship that lasted nearly a decade, and recently escaped him (funny how I had just gone through a 5 year abusive relationship, followed by a 4 year abusive relationship)… I thought I was talking to someone who finally understood what I had been through, and could never do that to me, having had it done to her…

      I found out, after I caught her stealing money from rent, for drugs, and she ran off with my daughter, claiming abuse when I tried getting her to get help, that that’s [the] way happened in her previous relationship too… He caught her stealing his paychecks, and buying drugs. He tried getting her help, and she took his two girls and screamed abuse. She did this to us both, same circumstances, everything…

      There was a couple years of abuse I went through up to her leaving with my baby, I’m not 100% on her ex, but I can only imagine, having gone through it myself, and the stories she made up about him when we met. She thought she was going to lose him, her girls, and her home (he was trying to get her help to prevent that though), so she took their girls to get free housing, money from the state, etc., but she ultimately was figured out in court, and wound up losing her girls, and everything. She’s now doing it to me.

      It is unfortunate we hear what we want to hear, and fall for it… I look back, and think how stupid I was to be so easily fooled, but I hoped during all that time things would change, that maybe it was a weird phase, and things would get better. It took a while to figure out it was drugs being used, and she hid the loss of money well… Well, seemingly well at the time; now it’s obvious, the lies. What’s worse, is I even ignored the warnings and offers to get out, from my counselor… I was in bad denial.

      Anyway… I hope more read this thread, and see what you and others wrote, before it’s too late. The only thing is, I wish your post reflected not just young women, but men too… Women equally can have that deceptive charm. 😉

      • Hi Bob (I changed your screen name for your safety).

        Welcome to the blog and thanks for sharing.

        We do recognise that sometimes the abuser is female, not male.
        In our sidebar, under the heading What Is Abuse? we say:

        The definition of abuse: A pattern of coercive control (ongoing actions or inactions) that proceeds from a mentality of entitlement to power, whereby, through intimidation, manipulation and isolation, the abuser keeps his1 target subordinated and under his control. This pattern can be emotional, verbal, psychological, spiritual, sexual, financial, social and physical. Not all these elements need be present, e.g., physical abuse may not be part of it.

        The definition of domestic abuser: a family member or dating partner (current or ex) who has a profound mentality of entitlement to the possession of power and control over the one s/he1 chooses to mistreat. This mentality of entitlement defines the very essence of the abuser. The abuser believes he is justified in using evil tactics to obtain and maintain that power and control.

        1Sometimes the genders are reversed — see our tag for male survivors

        We most often use the male pronoun for domestic abusers because that reflects the most common situation, and because it’s linguistically awkward to keep saying over and over again, “he/she”, or restating in every post “we know that sometimes the genders are reversed” like a mantra. If you read our blog regularly, you’ll see that we don’t dismiss the fact that males can be victims of domestic abuse.

        We encourage male victims to reverse the genders of the pronouns in their head, where need be.

      • And btw, we always like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

    • Continuing as Bob

      Thank you, very much Barbara. I’m sorry to reply to Jeff again, but was not given the option to reply to you.

      I guess I understand where you’re coming from, with the gender thing. I think just far too often people forget that abuse can go both ways, and being new to blogs, and information about abuse, and being a male victim of abuse, it was just a little surprising is all… I guess it’s no different really, than baby boards, where babies are commonly referred to in the male gender, in open general discussion (that got to me too at first, being the father to a baby girl. Hahaha!).

      Anyway, I just want to thank you, for starting, and running this page. I’ve not looked to others for advice, comfort, or information really, at all, since I’ve been going through this, and I really just got to a point that I had to confirm that I’m not crazy, and that I’m not alone in this. (I can’t even write that without crying)… This has been by far, the worst thing I’ve ever had to go through, and having a severe anxiety disorder as it is, it’s been that much harder. I’ve successfully made it through addiction, child abuse when I was younger (not sure on successfully made it through, but I’m here still, so that has to count for something, I think), and a lot of other things in my life, but this is the one thing that seems to have destroyed me inside the most… I just feel so numb to things that once brought me joy, and the guilt I feel, for not doing anything sooner, and the far too long time of denial, is horrendous, no matter how much I’m told in counseling it’s not my fault, or how much I try to tell myself… I just can’t let go of that it is my fault. I just feel so lost, like that I can’t really imagine it going away. I’m afraid that it will ultimately affect my ability to cover my daughter 100%, and that she’ll somehow resent me for all that she has to now go through in life, because of what happened.

      Again, thank you. I really am happy to find some comfort in this blog… I hope that doesn’t sound wrong? It’s horrible anyone’s gone through this; I’m just grateful that others have come to be able to share their knowledge and experiences on the matter, is what I mean. Sorry, this is a flustering thing, and I get super nervous being so open, so I can be known to ramble. Hahaha!

      thank you.

      • Thanks Bob! And no worries about you replying to Jeff not me; that is an artefact of the blog — we have comments nested up to three levels only. (And if you don’t know what that means, don’t worry!)

        I’m glad you are finding comfort here. Stick around and keep reading and commenting — I think you’ll find a lot of support from other survivors. 🙂

        I just can’t let go of that it is my fault. I just feel so lost, like that I can’t really imagine it going away.

        That’s a VERY common feeling for victims as they come out of the fog. Here is a post you might find helpful: Car Problems (an analogy): Problem Solving in Abusive Relationships

      • And btw, many of us here were sexually abused in childhood too. So you’re not alone on that, either.

    • Anonymous

      Bob, as I read your comment I wondered if you’d met a member of my family. The woman you describe could be any one of dozens of women in my family. They are all psychopaths by the way, and if you don’t know what this means (if you think it’s an ax wielding murderer) you may be surprised once you start to research it.

      The women in my family do a rendition of what you describe and some of them really have it down. They know just how to game the system and just how to use others to get things they want but like your ex, the façade ends up slipping away and the victims (men like you) end up holding the bag. The children of these women were always just pawns in the game, used to getting money from the welfare system or empathy from others, or to use in other ways, and left to be molested and then blamed for having problems. Those few of us who managed to escape and see the truth of what’s really taking place, are deeply wounded.

      One of my aunts was a pro at it. She was stunning to behold (physically) and with a vivacious personality that really reeled in the men. Someone once said of her, “She threw away more good men than most women will meet in a lifetime!” And boy oh boy was this true! (I have no idea where these men are by the way.) At the end of her life she had “wet brain” and was on heavy medication. She’d been married several times and her children were either just like her or refused to have any contact with her. She had a “weakness” for (she preferred) alcoholic, abusive men that she met at the bar. The nastier the better. This is true of most of the female psychopaths in my family. They knew they needed to net good men, but these men were simply toys for them–they counted on them taking care of the many children they had as well as doing the right thing. But they always had a “whore” on the side….usually a man who’d been in prison or who treats them like garbage. The weirdest thing is that this nasty type of man is the only one they will eventually settle down for–it’s so gross to me now to see it. By the way, she died “falling” out of a window. It may have been suicide but for most of those who knew her there was nothing but relief when we heard this. It was also when some of us finally started to heal–we knew she’d never have access to us again.

      A different aunt had been married several times, but finally married and is faithful to a convicted child molester. This man molested his own daughter and granddaughter. My aunt knew about the molestation and it didn’t “bother” her and when his daughter took him to court, she stood staunchly by him.

      My family used to try to employ me as part of the “clean up” crew….to help them when they were in the skids. I was far too destroyed to do it and had to make a living so I left, and that was what helped me escape.

      I just want to say that I believe you and also that I’m so sorry. Prior to God waking me up to the truth about evil that’s written about PLAINLY in the Bible, that goes along with the truth about the nature of some permanent mental / spiritual disorders that will never be “cured” by psychotherapy or witnessing, I too kept trying to deal with and help these people. Not any longer. These are people who have no desire to change because at the foundation of what they are—they don’t think there is anything wrong with themselves. Just like their father the devil who (like his children–like the woman you describe) actually feels sorry for himself because after all he really believes he is better than every other being created–and as such should be worshiped by all! Anything less is not good enough and this is what we need to keep in mind–that evil ones will never be satisfied because as the Bible tells us–they are not able to be appeased due to the choice they made to have the nature they chose. 2 Tim 3:3, “…unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good…” just to list a few of the characteristics of these people. 2 Timothy 3 Using this link simply click on each word and it will send you to the Greek etc. to help you understand the deeper meaning.

      Thank you for sharing your heart here. We all need each other and we need the truth that’s written in God’s word and taught to us through the Holy Spirit, in order to help us understand the truth.

    • Continuing as Bob

      Thank you, Anonymous, for your reply. I really can’t put into words how to respond, or say how sorry I am for you, concerning this family issue, without it coming out sounding wrong… Narcissists, sociopaths, and psychopaths are a scary need indeed, and those who suffer from either, or any combination, are truly lost / tormented souls… My ex-wife is what my therapist classifies as a narcissistic sociopath, and her addiction only makes it that much worse (so nobody gets the wrong idea, my therapist has met her, and has done multiple joint sessions with us, and has had enough interaction, to have been able to make a professional assessment. Her assessment is not based on just what’s gone on in my personal sessions)…

      I pray every night, still, that she will one day truly get the help she needs, but I have, after many months, finally accepted that I am unable to reconnect with her, as we once were. I almost feel silly, that I was actually willing to try to work things out… It really took a lot to realize that if things never changed over those years, why would they now all of a sudden, especially learning that I wasn’t the first she’d done this to. Sadly, I don’t think these types of people ever really do change, and with the lack of empathy, I doubt it’s something they’d ever want to change.

      Again, thank you. I’m very grateful that you’ve all been so kind, and helpful. You’ve all really made this a lot easier, joining such a discussion board, by being so understanding, and welcoming.

      • Hi Bob, if you haven’t already done so, you might like to subscribe to (‘follow’) the blog. This page explains how — Following the blog.

  4. anon

    It took me a long time, but I think that my ex boyfriend was emotionally abusive. I just wanted to know, do some abusers claim emotional abuse to control their victim? Any time I got upset over anything, my ex would accuse me of trying to control or manipulate him. I was so paranoid about it I started hating myself whenever I got upset, trying to suppress whatever was bothering me, and tring to act like a perfect understanding and supportive girlfriend. Even still he would accuse me of it if I ever let any sign of it escape. For example, say I was hoping to spend time with him, and he told me he was making plans, if my face gave it away that I was disappointed he would say that I was trying to guilt him into not going, even though I would tell him to go and have fun, and I’d try to say it in the sweetest most genuine tone so he didn’t think that I was saying one thing but meaning another.

    Even now that I’m not in a relationship with him I find myself constantly paranoid about it. Our mutual friend told me that he was telling everyone that I was abusive, and thankfully she came to my defence, and reminded him that I have a permanent damage on my body because of him. That damage to my body he caused a while ago: he either accidentally or intentionally hit me with a hard object, causing a broken bone and a laceration that required medical attention. [details of this incident removed as they might have identified the commenter, but I – Barb- who read the post before editing it, definitely think it was a wicked and intentional choice on the part of the abuser to injure his victim, and he did it to exercise power and control and intimidate her from voice her totally reasonable opinions and requests].

    He also used to get anxiety attacks where he would get mildly violent, but never towards me, where he would throw things, and yell at me, and then when he realised I was scared he would tell me that he needed to be held and that it was the only way for him to calm down.

    I just don’t know if its something I should try to work on or if he was emotionally abusing me. I guess wven still I try not to but if it is me I would want to get therapy about it. My biggest thing is that I worry it may have been true during the time when I was depressed, because I needed constant reassurance and I worry that I forced him to take care of me, and that I manipulated him into giving me attention. I was never like ‘spend time with me or xyz’ but I know it made him worry enough to take care of me. I’ve been very upset because one of my best friends chose to stay neutral, and I feel like a true friend would have taken my side, but if I was in the wrong I would expect her not to. How can I be sure?

    All of the definitions on the internet are so vague I feel like anything could be considered emotional abuse. Like, ‘oh you’re trying to MAKE me happy? That’s so controlling, you can’t manipulate other people’s emotions like that! Emotional abuse!’ Someone who knows please help me 😫

    • do some abusers claim emotional abuse to control their victim? Any time I got upset over anything, my ex would accuse me of trying to control or manipulate him.

      Yes, this is very very typical of abusers. They falsely accuse their victims of lots of things, to put the victims off balance. And the abuser’s most common false accusation, when his partner is trying to overtly stand up for her right to be treated with respect, is to claim that she is abusing him. It is a totally false claim. It’s a manipulative lie. It’s wickedness on the part of the abuser, to make this claim. He is trying to put her off the scent: the true scent that she is sniffing: which is that HE IS ABUSING HER!

      Most of us survivors have been accused by our abusive partners or ex-partners in this way. But I can assure you, having read your comment before I edited out the identifying details, that you were not abusing him; he was abusing you.

      Welcome to the blog. 🙂 You’ll notice that I changed your screen name to anon, for your safety’s sake, and I edited out some specific details in your comment. I encourage you to read our New Users Info page as it gives tips for how you can guard you safety while commenting on this blog. 🙂

      If you haven’t yet done so, I strongly suggest you read Lundy Bancroft’s book Why Does He Do That [*Affiliate link]. You can find it under our Resources tab if you dig down into the books section.

      *Amazon affiliate link — ACFJ gets a small percentage if you purchase via this link.
      • Me Too

        Hello there, mine did that too:

        Any time I got upset over anything, my ex would accuse me of trying to control or manipulate him. I was so paranoid about it I started hating myself whenever I got upset, trying to suppress whatever was bothering me, and trying to act like a perfect understanding and supportive girlfriend.

        In fact he did something that upset me and when I got angry about him he turned the tables like Anon described it.

        I believe it was a tactic of trying to control me- he wanted me to “back off” and keep my mouth shut.
        Regarding this I once told him: “You are emotionally abusing me” and he said “so do you” (i.e. me getting angry about his awful behaviour was emotional abuse).

      • Welcome to the blog. 🙂

        We always like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

        I changed your screen name to Me Too as a precaution. If you want us to change it to something else, just email The woman behind the curtain: twbtc.acfj@gmail.com — she will be more than happy to assist. 🙂

        And I encourage you to read these posts of ours:

        Right Back At Ya! The Abuser’s Tactic of Reflective Blaming

        My abuser says I am the abuser!

        Are Abuse Victims Codependent?

    • itaketoflight

      Yes, you have described exactly what I have been through. With not one but two husbands. It doesn’t matter how violent they get, no matter how serious they injure you, according to them the assaults are “just a normal response not abuse” but telling them their behaviour is unacceptable and needs to stop is “abusing” them and trying to “manipulate and control” them.

    • findingmyselfagain

      I’m so sorry that you had to endure that, what a living nightmare. It does sound like what you are describing is a form of manipulation that [often] comes with narcissistic personality traits. Which is definitely a form of emotional abuse. It varies from person to person. Sometimes they only have 1-2 traits, or many. There is a difference between a openly rageful narcissist, and a quiet, manipulative covert narcissist.

      It seems once we realise this has actually happened, many of us swim around in countless support groups and Facebook memes to validate our unsaid, unseen abuse. But I realised after awhile, it started taking over, and I wasn’t actually moving forward into healing, the validation actually became a bit of an obsession – because I had thought for so long it was just all in my head. So I started researching more healthier ways to counteract the damage that was done to my self-esteem, self-doubt, self-hate, anxiety. Which is living life, experiencing and embracing all things that you love to do, and always remembering it was always them, NOT you.

      Good luck and I hope this helps. xx

  5. carol

    one common identifier of an abuser who is passing himself off as a victim is what I call “soliciting pity without ownership” —- it is all “poor me” and no humility or responsibility = he is perfect. My experience with true victims of abuse is they are humble and take too much responsibility.

    • Lillies

      I absolutely agree with your statement.

  6. Marie

    Thank you for giving me the right to be the real victim in my past abuse story… I was programmed to believe that I was the problem… this article is deeply touching me and validating me… it also makes me sad to see how I did not see the difference before between a real victim and a man who claims to be one… all my past relationships have been with abusers in victim’s skin: they were all narcissists just like the father who taught me well.

  7. Rebecca

    I am currently going to counseling with my ex-husband to work from supervised visits to unsupervised for my son. The counselor hired told me he would likely be biased towards my husband because they were both military, but I hired him anyway hoping my ex would connect with him and we could work things out in the best interest of our son.

    In joint counseling, he will talk about abusing me and how I did things to deserve it. He will talk about following an abusive act, how he collapsed in despair. The joint counselor has never said anything to him.

    I kept leaving sessions and I felt pretty confused since it appeared to me, my ex was justifying things. On top of that, he regularly wanted to talk to the counselor alone. I can only assume because he didn’t want my input if he made accusations regarding me.

    I was with my ex for almost 12 years. It was so hard to leave and I still have a hard time at times understanding things. He regularly told me I was the abuser and I spent months with a personal counselor trying to understand if there was truth to his accusation.

    With the encouragement of my personal counselor, I stood up for myself in joint counseling sessions with my ex and said it was harming me to allow my ex to continue to blame me for his actions.

    I realize now, except I still have doubt at times, that probably most of the things my ex said was harming me. Even saying things like, “I hope you know I have never wished you harm,” when so many things happened that were harmful is probably an attempt to confuse me.
    I don’t understand how he can make such a comment when he physically hurt me and said things to me that were so harmful.
    I read your blog and it has helped. I still have bad days but I have hope. I am still trying hard to understand things and appreciate any information you provide or if you suggest any reading material.

    • Hi Rebecca, I know you’ve been reading the blog for some time, but since this is your first comment I’ll say Welcome! 🙂

      Do check out our New Users Info page if you haven’t already done so. It gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

      With the encouragement of my personal counselor, I stood up for myself in joint counseling sessions with my ex and said it was harming me to allow my ex to continue to blame me for his actions.

      Good for you!

      …probably most of the things my ex said was harming me. Even saying things like, “I hope you know I have never wished you harm,” when so many things happened that were harmful is probably an attempt to confuse me.
      I don’t understand how he can make such a comment when he physically hurt me and said things to me that were so harmful.

      Your “I don’t understand” question is the one so many victims ask. That is why Lundy Bancroft titled his book Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men [*Affiliate link]

      If you haven’t read it yet, we advise you to do so. It will take you far in your journey to wise up to the deceptions of abusers. Just be aware that Bancroft’s books contains some vulgar language because he quotes abusers.

      Also, I suggest you look at our Resources (tab in the top menu) where we list recommended books, websites, and articles. But actually, if you dig into our older posts, I think you will find many more of your questions answered. Search for what interests you via the Tags (another tag in the top menu), categories or put key words into our search bar.

      *Amazon affiliate link — ACFJ gets a small percentage if you purchase via this link.
  8. KM

    In reference to #4. My father abused my mom, sister, brother and me. He also was abusive to people outside our immediate family, including his own parents. So yes we can say many people know we were abused. Also, some of his abuse was over the top, and may seem “made-up” to a normal person, but it did happen! To this day if he is confronted with things he has done, he either laughs and says we are sick and crazy, or becomes extremely angry and threatens us. More than once he threatened us with, “I am a powerful international business man. No one will believe you all.” At 54, I am still dealing with issues as a result of his abuse.

    • Hi KM, welcome to the blog 🙂

      Good for you for resisting the lies! You are not crazy. You can see your father’s pattern for what it is: abuse.

      We always like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

    • itaketoflight

      Yes KM, I went through this with both my mother and my first husband, and also in a non-family relationship situation. Sometimes abuse is kept so secret that no one except the perp and the victim know, other times many people DO know. With my mother, my father knew but actively supported it (he was brought up to believe a man never hits a female, but was more than happy to have my mother beat me badly), my siblings all knew, but were brought up to believe they were the only ones being abused badly, that what the other siblings were suffering was just discipline, my grandparents knew but thought it was acceptable “spare the rod and spoil the child” rubbish, family friends knew some of it, but just made excuses “oh your mum can’t help herself, she’s just mentally ill” etc.

      Many people also knew of my first husband’s beatings of me – my parents would say crap like “I’d beat you too if I was married to you”, his immediate family’s attitude towards domestic violence was as long as they weren’t the victims, then they were okay with men beating their wives, and his extended family actively took the view of “don’t want to know / don’t ask don’t tell”, and many of my friends knew but again took that same attitude. Abuse isn’t always well hidden – maybe it’s just here in Australia, but there is that big “mates don’t dob in mates” attitude, which also means so many family and friends stay quiet when they see domestic violence.

      As for a more recent relationship, I ended up telling my partner’s parents as they seemed so passionately against abuse. But I found out the hard way, that they didn’t believe the abuse they didn’t see (the physical abuse), and being “good Christians” (in their own minds), things like emotional abuse, financial abuse etc by men against women, is seen as normal wife submission to a husband. I wish I hadn’t spoken up, but I can’t take it back now.

  9. KM

    And yes, he claims he is the one who is the victim, which hurts even more. We tried so hard to get his love and gain his acceptance.

  10. john

    I believe I am a victim of abuse. I am screamed at, called horrible names, belittled and recently started getting hit. My wife grew up in a bad situation and says we get loud and are harsh so get over it. I have left several times, but she has always talked me into coming back. Then she uses me “abandoning” her. When I try to talk to her about it I’m told to Go to God. I have always yelled back after she kept pushing. I tried to talk to her about emotional abuse and was told to never mention abuse to her again and stop being a p____y. After the hitting and clawing started happening I have lost my temper and really fought back (verbally) people don’t understand how helpless it feels to be hit by someone 1. That you love and 2. That you can’t hit back. After hitting it becomes a mixture of love and hate. I have never touched her. But now she is telling me I’m abusive. That she may say a few mean things but I took it to a new level….

    The things she has said to me has destroyed me for the past two year. I fear calling her because of the constant yelling. I fear telling her any bad news because she will blame me and start yelling. Of course all her friends and family side with her. I tried to talk with her parents (because her childhood is a lot of her problem) was told that she would get mad and this is between us….

    • Hi John, welcome to the blog and thanks for sharing your story.

      Readers: we have had email contact with John in addition to this comment he submitted, and we believe he is a genuine victim.
      And John, I’m saying that because most of our readers are female victims of abuse whose husbands have claimed to be victims, so we need to be careful to reassure them we are confident that you are not a pseudo-victim, to try to prevent them being unduly triggered. I hope you understand. 🙂

      John, you may also like to read our posts about male survivors of domestic abuse. And we always like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

      • qvaken

        Have you confirmed John’s wife’s version of events? They may be very different to John’s. And certainly, his wife has every right to set a boundary whereby he mustn’t approach her parents to discuss “her childhood” and how it’s “a lot of her problem”.

      • Hi qvaken, no we didn’t get John’s wife’s version of events. She didn’t contact us, we wouldn’t know how to contact her. But more importantly, we read John’s comment and he used the language that we typically hear from genuine victims. Our experience has taught us that victims say very similar things, regardless of their gender. And our experience is confirmed by what I have learned from professionals. See these posts for more info:

        The language of abusers who portray themselves as victims — Vagueness & Contradictions

        Marks of a pretend victim versus a true victim

    • Free

      Hi John,
      I’m so sorry this is happening to you. In many ways from what you shared your wife seems very similar to my husband. I know women abuse. My XMIL called me names, degraded me, accused me, blamed me, shamed me, guilt-tripped me and in disguised ways even threatened me. She tried to rewrite my own past to suit herself. XH covered for her and tried to solicit sympathy for her because she’s “so lost”. Oh the lies he made up on that subject alone. Meanwhile they were both the evil behind it all. I really think they are messengers of the devil. Proof?- No conscience, no empathy, no accountability, etc. Sounds like characteristics of a demon / child of the liar to me. Who else could do such calculated and evil things? Not a child of God that’s for sure. And you’re either His or not. No in between.

      She also refused to listen when I cried out for help and I revealed her son was abusing me. Instead she bought him the best lawyer money could buy among many other things as long as he was against me.

      She abuses her husband. I’ve heard her be angry and nasty to him for no reason (not in defense as in resistance of abuse I mean) and he just takes it. No reaction. She goes on hateful rants about him to make herself look good. He acts like nothing is happening. When approached with something that is clearly wrong he refuses to distinguish right from wrong. He’s so diplomatic it’s nauseating. He excuses everything she does. They hold none of their children accountable. All of them have been or are in serious trouble with law enforcement. But Noooo it’s not their fault. It’s the law’s fault for being there in the first place. He’s actually said that! The illegal things that go on in the home, arrests and the allegations made against them by those in the community are then in turn used to solicit empathy from others. Everything they get caught for is somehow never their fault. They’re so generous and spiritual and wise, etc etc. Ha! By the way the XMIL speaks you’d think she actually believes she’s “god.” Well isn’t that the whole point for the abuser. There’s one god and it’s certainly them in their mind.

      None of her children will ever be able to stay with a spouse because XMIL has to be god to her children and extended family. And another spouse gets in her way of that. She will never let her children be free or be married. Not that they want to be free. XH actually said “why would anyone leave when they have everything they need there?”

      None of her adult children can stay married or out of legal trouble but their ex-spouses move on and [if they remarry they] stay married that second time round. Interesting! With no conscience and a mom with money you can do what you like and suffer no guilt or even consequences. No problem there. Yeah right.

      … Followers of Christ FOLLOW Him ONLY. they don’t pretend to be Him or think they actually are Him.

      Also interesting to note: I used to be plagued with random perverted and evil thoughts while with the abuser and without the truth and under his control. I used to feel condemned and ashamed. Now that I’m gone I’ve been plagued with NONE of that. Interesting, right? I’m not condemned anymore because I have the truth now. No one can take this away. And guess what? He was the one that had the perverted and evil thoughts and beliefs – not me. It was his influence. Because now that I’m gone from him I’m not plagued with them anymore. I remember telling the truth I felt possessed. They told me that was impossible bc I was in Christ. Well SOMETHING evil was going on. The evil I felt was certainly the abuser’s evil chains keeping me captive because I’m free of it now since he’s been gone. Thank you.

      • Lou

        Several of the character traits you described regarding your ex-husband’s family members resonated with me on a personal level. I can personally relate to most of the outward behaviors of your ex-father-in-law, in particular, that you observed.

        I was very much like your XFIL during my marriage. I was living a lie with my ex-husband, essentially – and it was a long time before I could see this. Abuse of many kinds, (not only domestic violence, but also alcohol and drug addiction abuse, etc.) creates dysfunction throughout the family system, and the chaos affects the mental health of all the family members, to varying degrees. Distortion of reality and what is true, abounds!

        Like your XFIL, I used to “Stand by my man”, to the point of incredulity, looking back on it now. But at the time, I barely realized it. Had I been in touch with myself then, I’d of been able to. But since I was adhering to the “terms” my ex-husband set about our relationship, as well as the terms of what I believed society and the church expected me to abide by, I could barely hear the voice in my gut, telling me the truth, that backing him up, was wrong. I was so enmeshed in all those false doctrines then, and the potential for immense guilt if I’d dare to question the validity of those false doctrines, was significant. Add to this that who I was as a person was steadily being emotionally killed off as I was a victim of domestic violence, and that’s a recipe for enormous confusion. It was so dysfunctional, that words truly fail me.

        Your XFIL likely has different reasons than I did, for staying in the marriage, and for living his own lie(s). I have empathy for all that get sucked into it. The old adage, “abuse begets abuse”, is true – but not always. If you can get out and face the truth, and keep doing so, you can interrupt the cycle. But some people cannot get out.

        My family members back then, let me know that they believed I was in a bad marriage. I knew in my gut that I was, but I denied it adamantly to others and to myself. As the years went by, the volume of that voice speaking the truth in my gut decreased, until it was down to a whisper. I tried to ignore the mental confusion which resulted from the lies I was living, for many years. But as the abuse increased, my confusion also increased, to the point where I feared I was losing my sanity (I was).

        Thank God that He answered my prayers, which were prayers seeking wisdom, as I was very confused. But for years, I didn’t even realize I needed to pray for wisdom! God sent me a social worker who was able to identify the sources of my confusion. It was too coincidental for me to believe that she had not been heaven-sent. By the time I saw her, I was hanging on to sanity with my bare teeth – that’s how lost I was. Anyway, that was the start of my journey out of the abuse spiral I was in, and it took years after that before I could hold my head above the toxic water I had been drowning in. But not everyone can get out of it, and those who can’t are no less deserving of my understanding now, that they are in a very difficult place. It’s definitely not OK to be harmed by anyone, however, even when that harm is caused by ignorance, or what-have-you. I can have empathy for my ex-husband, but I cannot expose myself to him nor his supporters, either.

        You have to have boundaries, and with some people, outright barriers, as they’re going to cause harm to you. This includes those who support abusers, even when they do so unwittingly. It’s a sad situation all the way around, for the family members who live with an abusive person(s), and for all the people affected by the fallout.

  11. Survivor

    Spot on, haha, there are many more but this is super good! We need more articles like this!

    Another good one is the person openly displaying their emotions in court is the abuser. No one getting out of an incredibly abusive relationship wants to cry in front of anyone. Or if they do they are often saying sorry or holding the tears back. An abuser will put on a show to convince you.

    DV survivor
    NOT a victim.

    • Hi Survivor, welcome to the blog 🙂

      I changed your screen name for your safety. We always like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

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    • itaketoflight

      Survivor I’m sorry but I disagree. Sometimes a victim is pushed too far and lets it all out without shame or guilt. For me, with my first husband, it was him bashing our daughter. A decade of repressed emotions from him abusing, beating and even trying to kill me, were all let out in court after he savagely attacked our young daughter.

      For some people the trigger can be their child being abused, for others it might be a family pet being abused, for others it might be a certain type of abuse such as threats to loved ones or a change in the type of abuse (eg emotional to physical, or physical to sexual) etc, or others just reach the point where enough is enough. Others just have been through intensive counselling and are finally at the point where they are comfortable with their emotions.

      An abuser will use the common situation of a victim being hesistant to show their true emotions to discredit the uncommon but very real situation of victims who are open with their emotions.

      • I appreciate what you’ve said, itaketoflight.

        I think you might like this post of ours, Defining domestic abuse by a list of behaviors is never going to capture it as it relates to what you are saying.

      • And btw, I cried on the witness stand during my Family Court Hearing. I didn’t let rip, but I sure did tear up and was unable to speak. The judge called for a break, bless him.

      • Seeing the Light

        Itaketoflight – I agree with what you are saying here. I was in the fog for about two decades. I was self-blaming, self-condemning, submissive, confused…I could go on. Then I spent a few years learning about what was really going on in our home. I do believe it was God removing scales from my eyes and revealing truth.

        During those few years, I was trying to carefully challenge my anti-husband abuser. I felt myself responsible to reach him with the truth about our lives. (No brainer, that did not go well.) The last few years since then I have been through every variety of emotion. Sometimes that means I try to stand up for myself and push back. Sometimes my insides match my outsides; other times I am finally defending myself on the outside while condemning myself on the inside for doing it. It is all over the place. I’ve read that with the “Water Torturer” type of abuser it often take years to figure out what is happening, and if the victim finally leaves the water torture she may experience intense periods of delayed rage as she becomes conscious of how quietly but deathly oppressive he was.

        I haven’t left yet, but I feel like only recently do I realize the deep anger I have over this. Sometimes it comes out in me speaking harshly about him to counselors, family, and friends. The anger at how he is affecting the children and the remembrance of all my submissive wife years as I defended him and his parenting tactics to them stimulates the strong protective mother instinct in me that I squashed for years in the name of obedience to my role, and I don’t look much like the victim for a little bit even though my heart is racing in fear of him.

        If you were to observe me from the outside at this point in processing all of this and where my kids and I still are, I might not look like the typical abuse survivor, and with him being so very adept at playing the victim and invoking the pity of others (as many sociopaths do), an audience in court or anywhere else could easily be confused as to who is predator and who is prey.

      • Hi STL, Evan Starke and other professionals in the DV field have rightly pointed out that many ordinary people, including journalists and professionals, have an image of what a domestic abuse victim looks like (she must conform to the ‘battered woman syndrome’ description: passive, timid, bruised, maybe a little tearful, certainly not angry!) and that if the victim doesn’t fit that image, people tend to think that she isn’t really a victim.

        So when victims are out of the fog enough to feel and express their anger and be setting strong boundaries, they are not deemed to be victims by most bystanders.

        And don’t the abusers love this state of affairs! They can slander the victim for being ‘crazy, wild, outrageously angry, etc’ and put on their poor-me face to get pity from bystanders — “Look how crazy this woman is that I have to live with!”

  12. julie

    Please do an article like this that doesn’t deal with male only victim and victimization. Will symptoms look different when coming from a female?

    • Julie I don’t think we have heard enough accounts or stories or reports from male survivors to be able to write such an article. We would only be guessing and speculating. We don’t have enough experience to be able to write anything that would be reliably useful.

      We do have a tag for Male Survivors on this blog, which has some posts written by men who we are confident are survivors of abuse from their wives or ex wives. That’s all we really can offer.

    • Bob

      Hello Julie!

      I too would love to see more about male victims of DV, but like Barbara said, unfortunately there aren’t enough openly reported incidents, or really reported at all. I can say, that being a man who has escaped my abuser (physically anyway… She still abuses me via our daughter, and harrasses from a distance.), I was honestly surprised how accurate this article painted a near perfect picture of my abuser.

      My abuser will never be held accountable for her crimes, which is unfortunate. This only perpetuates the fear, and stigmas around male victims, when their abusers aren’t held accountable.

      • Hi Bob, thanks for your comment and I’m sorry it took me so long to publish it. I hope you will forgive me.

  13. Jen

    The smear campaigns, gaslighting and the recruitment of other people to join their attacks is so damaging to a person. Once you start confronting them with their lies and insinuations they turn on you with anything you have shared personally to them. They will use those confidential conversations to attack you and make themselves look like the victim. They will twist words to their benefit. They will contact your closest friends in an attempt to alienate everyone around you. They are spiteful of who you are and what they are not. They will use you till they have no further use for you and leave you in silence as now they have everything they want. Your kindness, your soul and your integrity. Nothing that they have in their being.
    Walk away, run if need be because these people are cruel and vicious. They are monsters.

    • C

      Yes. I also had the smear campaign against me. We kept our problems behind closed doors, a lot was humiliating and I didn’t want anyone to know about the things because what if things got better? Our children, our church members, all but one of my friends believed his vicious attacks and slander when I left with my youngest two to go stay with adult son after he became violent “unprovoked”. I still heard “unstable” and “overreacting ” and “liar” from them-words directly from him when I finally had the courage to tell them basics of what was happening. I was shocked at how the dismissive attitude he had was rubbed off on them. But as time heals wounds when you remove yourself from the equation, enough time also exposes the true nature of their character too. This extremely intelligent white collar professional just got arrested for a DUI [Driving Under the Influence], speeding, not reporting accident, etc as well as totaled his sports car. Everyone is in shock but me. Time really will tell. I am not to blame for his bad behavior or attitude or actions. It has taken me about 15 months to really believe this, after 30 yrs of marriage. I’m so glad we are separated, otherwise I think this also would be twisted to somehow blame me too.

      • Jeff Crippen

        The one who exposes secret evildoers ends up being the target of all kinds of accusations and so often is alienated from people who used to claim to be friends. At the root of it is the deceiving wicked work of the abuser as he constantly works to demean his victim

  14. Falsely blamed

    This is so very true! The emotional abuse I suffered occurred in front of my kids but now tells me, the kids and family / friends that we are confused and we don’t know the “truth.” The only truth is his inability to say he was wrong or admit wrongdoing.

    He has no accountability and now I am an awful unChristian woman who chose to leave. He states “God have mercy on your soul” to me and the kids and how one day I will see the error of my ways!!! The blame is nauseating. Besides there is never any appreciation or thankfulness that I stayed home with my kids for more than a dozen years before I went back to college. He blamed college for ruining me!!! More blame.

    Abuse is abuse and they will never admit to it. I have to hold my head high knowing I did my best… Now God has to do the rest as the saying goes. One day maybe he will get it but I will have moved on. Thanks for sharing this article!

    [Details airbrushed for commenter’s safety.]

    • Hi Falsely Blamed, I changed your screen name for your safety. Welcome to the blog. 🙂
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  15. Challenge Newtown

    I come from a DV relationship. It has been 5 years since I left and still get emails from my ex husband on a regular basis. Sometimes one a day that always starts off regarding the children but some how ends in me and my behavior. I am currently going to court regarding his DV towards the kids and myself. I feel at times scared that his email of accusations will count against me.

    • Hi Challenge Newtown, welcome to the blog — and thanks for sharing 🙂

      We always like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

      And you may like to check out our Resources page where we have a section called Legal Issues.

  16. I got free

    This so describes my relationship with my ex. I was so broken and thought everything was my fault, and every excuse under the sun he used to the police and courts! The same with the women hating and saying “every body believes the woman” — he told people I was the abuser but fortunately at the end they saw through that!

    I think for any victim to realise what’s happening, especially for me I needed the help of a domestic violence worker! Don’t be afraid to ask for help and they can make it all anonymous 🙂

    • Welcome to the blog. 🙂
      I changed your screen name to I Got Free — for your safety.

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  17. Sheri

    The abuser will attempt to manipulate as many of the children as possible. A victim will encourage healing and want the children to attempt to form a healthy bond with both parents in the new normal. An abuser will force the kids to choose all or nothing and take every opportunity to recruit them to sides.

    • Free

      Agreed. I think you said it clearly, Sheri. Have seen this the whole length of my marriage with the abuser. I NEVER encouraged favoring a parent. The abuser however made sure he was the center of attention at all times and the abuser made sure it was if I did not exist.

  18. Cat

    If the man in question is trying to get you to do something that would otherwise be immoral, something that is only excused by the woman being an “abuser”, then that is a giant red flag. For instance, let’s say you’d never have an affair with a married (or otherwise involved) man. But this guy says that his wife is the Devil incarnate and he’d have left her several times over, but she won’t let him get a divorce. That makes it okay, right? Nope. Save your sympathy for someone else; he’s the abuser. Or it would normally be wrong to gang up on a person you don’t know at a social event, but that same buddy from work who is “trapped in a loveless marriage” has made it known how much he wishes he didn’t have to bring along Beelzebub as his date to the holiday party. It would only be right to gather your friends togethee and blackball the evil witch… right? Nope again. You’re being manipulated into isolating the real victim further.

    When someone is truly a victim, they are constantly trying to do the right thing. Part of the problem for them is trying to figure out what the right thing even is. The person who is abusing them is someone that the victim genuinely loves. They don’t want their abuser to be mistreated, they just want the abuse to stop. If someone is urging you to join them in hurting their partner, that’s an abuser posing as a victim. Don’t fall for it.

    • Hi Cat, welcome to the blog 🙂

      We always like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

  19. Sherry

    Thank God I got away from my abuser.. He was a narcissist and yes this article is true he goes around and tells everyone it was me.. But people that truly know me know I am beautiful inside and out and I have always loved to be helpful and happy. He was trying to take my spirit away because he was not a happy person himself. He did a very good job there for a while. Plus many numerous times of physical abuse not to mention the put downs especially in front of family… I have had post-traumatic stress for over a year ever since.. Thank God they gave me a restraining order in court and told him to stay away from me.. I have had to go through counseling and they have made me aware of red flags to look for next time.. God bless the other women who have to go through this and I pray they get help as well

    • Hi Sherry, welcome to the blog. 🙂

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      If you want us to change your screen name to something else, just email twbtc.acfj@gmail.com .

  20. Relieved

    My abuser is covert. I grew up with a very verbally and emotionally abusive father who bragged, hit, yelled, screamed, and demanded. I told myself I would never marry someone like that. So when i met my husband he was quiet, reserved, and never said much. Looking back now, the word is passive- but I didnt see it that way then. The abuse was subtle, never came right out and said it – but there were passive aggressive sighs, eye rolling, withdrawal, silent treatment, and withholding sex and affection. I felt for 12 years that there was something wrong with me- that I wasnt a good wife, I wasnt attractive, I was worthless…. It was at the 12 year mark that I became aware of his lies, deception, and I sought counseling.

    From that point, the next four years were about me coming to realize what the abuse really looked like, and in my naivety, trying to encourage him to change. I became needy, demanding, argumentative, and at times sullen- all in an effort to change him (which of course didn’t work). He eventually divorced me, and I was left confused and rejected because he left instead if trying to improve / change.

    Btw, after living without him for 6 months, the feeling of relief I feel is overwhelming. I really had no idea how bad it was, and how stressed I was, until I wasn’t living with it.

    • Hi Relieved — I changed your screen name for your safety. Welcome to the blog. 🙂
      We always like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

      If you want us to change your screen name to something else, just email twbtc.acfj@gmail.com .

      And here is a post of our which I think you may find helpful:

      Covert aggression is not the same as passive aggression

    • itaketoflight

      Hi Relieved, sadly I know EXACTLY what you’re talking about. Having an aggressive abuser for a mother and a first husband, I swore I would NEVER get involved with another man like that. The man I got involved with after my first husband appeared to be the total opposite – reserved, shy, never touched drugs, rarely drinks, seemed responsible financially etc…. but it turned out he was a covert aggressive abuser instead!

      Different but just the same. The abuse might be very different when dealing with a covert aggressive abuser versus an overt aggressive abuser, but it hurts so much just the same. The sighs, the eye rolling, locking himself in the study for days at a time (only coming out to go to work), withholding of sex, and of course the financial abuse as well, knowing I was unable to work but refusing to even let me having money for basics like food and medication… in many ways it was worse than the years of beating from my first husband because at least with my first husband I knew it was abuse (even if I wrongly thought for years I had to endure it because I didn’t think it was a valid reason to divorce), and with my first husband, I knew that sane people would think it was abuse even if they couldn’t care less I was being abused. Whereas most people just dismiss covert aggressive abuse (I swear every time someone in his family in his said “oh it’s just anxiety / depression” I wanted to scream at them “I have far worse anxiety and depression and I also have severe PTSD but you don’t see me treating him like that!”).

      But anyway, yeah, it’s so hard to explain to people what being married to the non-typical, covert aggressive abuser is like. It’s soul destroying because most people don’t even take seriously it is abuse.

  21. PersecutedWife

    My soon to be ex-husband, got me to America then started with welfare checks by the police on me and the kids when he was conveniently at work. He recorded me when I defended myself against him and told me nobody would believe me because he has all the evidence. Got me arrested for domestic here in ___ county and lied, even the police lied in their reports. The case was dismissed but he and his family got me recharged for domestic disturbances…. He filed for divorce not long after my arrest and now I can only see the kids for a short time supervised. He turned my cellphone off on my birthday and announced he is in a relationship on Facebook. His family has a lot of influence in ____ County and I am trying to fight back. He told me before he was going to drive me to suicide because I can’t just help myself because I am [that is, he claims I am] crazy.

    • Dear PersecutedWife,
      I changed your screen name for your safety. Welcome to the blog. 🙂
      I urge you to check out our New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.
      If you want us to change your screen name to something else, just email twbtc.acfj@gmail.com

      We know that some male abusers use this tactic of taunting their wife till she retaliates verbally or physically and then recording her behavior on audio or video … then showing the recording to the cops as evidence that the wife has committed domestic violence.

      I do sympathize with you! What you are undergoing is horrific injustice.

      Here a some links about this kind of twisting of the justice system.

      Hanging on by my Fingernails: Surviving the new divorce gamesmanship and how a scratch can land you in jail [*Affiliate link]– a book Janie McQueen.

      How does the US legal system respond to domestic violence? And how can it be improved? (a post at this blog)

      “Representing The Domestic Violence Survivor: Critical Legal Issues; Effective Safety Strategies” another post on this blog.

      The Legal Issues section of our Resources

      *Amazon affiliate link — ACFJ gets a small percentage if you purchase via this link.
    • Still posting as Bob

      I know exactly what you’re going through. My ex-wife started pushing me, and provoking reactions from me, and recorded them too. I actually noticed a couple of times, she would yell at me and degrade me, make threats, etc., and when I would reply to it, she was holding her phone weird in her hand, and it turned out, it was to audio record my reaction. Fortunately, in our court case, they will not accept her “evidence”, because she would always pause the audio, or cover the mic, whenever she would say anything to further provoke a response, only clearly recording anything I said, as well, nothing I said was threatening, or what she claimed I said in the recordings, and she alleged some heinous stuff.

      There’s something to be said about random “perfect” recordings of “abuse”. It just seems too convenient most times.

      I’m nearing the end of my court “battles” (I hate to use that word to describe it, but it is pretty fitting), fortunately. The only plus to having been over a year of court dates, is that abusers being faux victims, don’t tend to plan on the long game, thinking they’ll get their way quickly, (which does happen, making it harder for the actual victim to move forward), so when it goes on longer, they make mistakes that let out who they really are. They have to keep adding more lies, and try remembering them all, or start adding more elaborate, over-the-top pieces to the original story / allegation(s).

      Anyway, I’m sorry you are going through what you are, but know that you aren’t alone (unfortunately, but fortunately)… It is not easy, but don’t give up. It’s really hard, but you can do it. It’s not easy to finally break free of your abuser, only to have them still be able to abuse you, and through the system meant to protect you… Just have faith, and hang in there… The truth has a way of coming out eventually. Don’t lose hope. Hope and faith are stronger than even I ever thought they could be.

  22. Tess

    This is a really helpful post for those of us who spend a lot of time doubting ourselves. Thank you.

  23. Anonymous

    Hi, I have been thinking about a scenario of emotional abuse between two siblings, which [I believe] has prenatal origins.

    The first child had a very happy prenatal experience, a happy stress-free mother. The second child had a terrible, extremely stressful prenantal experience as the mother was emotionally abused by [a member of the mother’s family of origin].

    These events occured about 1 month after the second baby’s conception. […]
    The second baby thus arrived in the world, afraid and unhappy, with learning difficulties. The first child in contrast was relaxed, secure, happy, capable, bright and quick etc. This set the scene for envy and jealousy, from the younger towards the older. But, the younger had no way of comprehending any of this because its origins were prenatal. In fact none of the family had any comprehension of the dynamics, implications or consequences.

    The two siblings never became close, but the older one never suspected the jealousy harboured by the younger one. They grew up. The older one was on top of the world, thriving, and fell in love in a very happy relationship. But the younger was jealous and poisoned the parents against the older sibling’s love interest, … and the parents fell into the trap, and the younger orchestrated the parents into a vicious condemnations against the older and her love. The relationship foundered and the older lost all her confidence, unable to properly make sense of what had happened.

    Meanwhile the younger rose up on the wave of comparative “mental stability” and continued to run down the older behind her back. The older experienced a sense of rejection from family and family friends and did not know why. The older felt as though she would never find love again, but did, in her late 30s and had two children. … I am going to stop there. I am “the older” I am now nearly 50 and have just in the last week realised that my whole life has been ‘under attack’ by my younger sibling,, for reasons which had their origins in devastating prenatal experiences… the banality of it all, in contrast to the impact on me, is just so wicked.

    I so badly want to send love to that little brother of mine who was emotionally damaged in the womb. But I truly thank God for this insight and the opportunity to make contact with others who understand. Now for the job of deciding what to do next and extracting myself from it, and healing… Do I tell me theory to my sibling??? I don’t know. Sending love…

    • Hi Anonymous, welcome to the blog.

      I don’t think it’s wise to tell this theory to your sibling, because abusers don’t want insight, they just want to keep abusing their targets. If you told the abusive sibling your theory, the abuser would probably just take what you’d said and twist it and shape it into bullets to fire back at you.

      I would like to encourage you, as a new reader, to check out our New Users Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

    • Anonymous

      Your story is similar to mine in that I had a younger sibling that was evil. I do not agree with the prenatal thing however as that totally dismisses the HEART of an abuser. My sibling and all of the children in my family could be considered “not loved” while in the womb as my parents do not love others including me or the numerous siblings I have.

      This sibling is a psychopath. She has never loved anyone else and is as the Bible describes in that she loves only herself. The problem is that I was never told that some people are simply full of greed, envy, strife and quarreling (Romans 1:29) and that it has NOTHING to do with me or God or not getting perfect treatment or anything. It is a decision THEY made / make to have a hardened heart.

      I just wish someone could have told me about these evil ones when I was young so that people like me with a heart to love, could at least try not to invest our hearts in them. She actually tried to destroy my marriage (cheated with my husband), and both she and my husband wanted to keep me from attending college. She wanted me to be a nanny to her children and thus “own” and control me all while she was bad-mouthing me. I would have had no one to believe me or any money to escape.

      People like this CHOOSE to be what they are and it’s wrong biblical and psychological teaching that has kept us making excuses for them. If you pay attention you will see that your sibling LOVES what he is. You just happen to be where he focused his evil. You don’t need to take personally if you don’t want to, as you just happened to be the one he caught in his sites. It’s hard for them when they’ve been used to abusing one who can truly love others to “settle” for abusing those who happen to be around them now, so they will not let go easily. But again, it is HIS heart that you are seeing not the result of not his being loved in the womb. Psalm 58:3 “The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray from birth, speaking lies.”

  24. C

    I find it very interesting how you like to use the word him or his when describing the abuser as if it’s never a female and you olso don’t take into account that diffrent people react to abuse diffrently not everyone cowers to it as you suggest expecially when they feel embarrassed that can actually add to the frustration felt while trying to describe what they are going through.

    • C, please read our definition of abuse in the sidebar. It says:

      What is Abuse?

      The definition of abuse: A pattern of coercive control (ongoing actions or inactions) that proceeds from a mentality of entitlement to power, whereby, through intimidation, manipulation and isolation, the abuser keeps his1 target subordinated and under his control. This pattern can be emotional, verbal, psychological, spiritual, sexual, financial, social and physical. Not all these elements need be present, e.g., physical abuse may not be part of it.

      The definition of domestic abuser: a family member or dating partner (current or ex) who has a profound mentality of entitlement to the possession of power and control over the one s/he1 chooses to mistreat. This mentality of entitlement defines the very essence of the abuser. The abuser believes he is justified in using evil tactics to obtain and maintain that power and control.

      1Sometimes the genders are reversed.

  25. SomeDay

    This probably was written by my ex. He was always the victim and I was the abuser. He controlled everything down to how our hair looked and when I did finally leave he had a gauntlet of stories for our friends / neighbors. At first I was angry and wanted to lash back but now I have come to understand that when you’re a Narcissistic Sociopath you can never see your flaws and you project yours on to others. I went from anger to understanding of his mental incapacity and felt no need to fight for the truth with others. Keep on believing the lies because I did for 12 years of the abuse. Some day it will all come back and abuse victims understand that. We should all “lash back” by over coming and realizing we are more than what they made us!

    • Jeff Crippen

      SomeDay – I changed your screen name to be sure you have anonymity. Thank you for your comment and for overcoming!

    • twbtc

      Hi Someday,

      Welcome to the blog! We like to encourage new commenters to read our New Users’ Information page as it gives tips for staying safe when commenting on the blog.

      Again, welcome!

    • Hi Someday, I encourage you to read Dr George Simon Jr’s series of articles about Commonly Misused Psychological Terms. The term ‘projection’ is one of those terms. I think you will find his series enlightening. Click here [Internet Archive link] to find the one where he talks about ‘projection’.

  26. TakenAdvantageOf

    Excellent text! I was born in a narcissistic family so I hadn’t better bases. Had experiences with other narcissistic people.

    I feel frustrated because when I get involved emotionally, I have difficulty to impose myself and takes me a while to get out of the complicated situation. Generally, it’s until they themselves decide for go away b/c I get anxious to talk to them honestly, mainly b/c last times a I was honest with narcs, they took vantage of it and made me a fool again. Now I am able to recognize them in time and better preserve my personal space and don’t be so easily influenced.

    With the last one, I felt annoyed that she was offended because I just did not give her attention when she wanted and say that I had my own space and that she should respect it as I respect hers. […]

  27. Curtis

    I woild like to add onto #4 you are absolutely correct on lacking Allies, and there would be NO way that they could even possibly believe us due to the fact that we ourself dont believe us. And not only that it is very hard to even discuss what has happened in such a way that any normal person could even understand, I have beem seeing a councelor once a weeks for last 3 months and the only thing I can do is give the details in very generalized words. It way to hard to describe the details.

    • Hi Curtis.
      Welcome to the blog. 🙂
      We always like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

      If you want us to change your screen name to something else, just email twbtc.acfj@gmail.com

      And you might like to check out our Male Survivors tag.

    • Kay

      Nailed it!! Lack of allies because we are confused, conflicted about discussing what happened because our logical mind cannot comprehend what happened. Thank you for your comment.

  28. SeeingThrough

    It appears that you’ve met my husband.
    I’m very glad that, for your own sake, your seeing through him.
    I wish I had.

    • Welcome to the blog dear sister. 🙂

      I changed your screen name for your safety.

      We always like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

      If you want us to change your screen name to something else, just email twbtc.acfj@gmail.com

  29. Dee

    He tells everyone that I am a narcissist…and that I want him back and can’t move on. (I left him) He brags about himself constantly -everything that I can attest to are lies. If someone defends me, he tells them they are being manipulated by me and can’t see it. He’s told all of our mutual friends that I’ve said horrible things about them or their children; he’s telling them the things he always said about them. Now that I’ve divorced him, he’s turned his attention to our adult child and ruining that adult child’s life — he can’t abuse me anymore so now he does it through our adult child.

    • Hi Dee, welcome to the blog! 🙂

      We always like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

      If you want us to change your screen name to something other than Dee, just email twbtc.acfj@gmail.com

      And btw, I airbrushed a few of the details in your comment, to help protect you from being identified.

  30. SleeplessNights

    The article and comments here really hit me tonight of all nights. I sit awake at 5 am not because I woke early, but because for more than a decade my sleep patterns are extremely skewed. Working a job in a 24 hour cation on the ‘graveyard shift’ for almost three years did not help either. Buti read this and I see me and my abuser. No contact from him in many years, but the attitudes were there. His former coworkers would see bruises on me and tell me I didnt have to tolerate that, I could leave, he would have to support our child, and I could get a job, it was doable. I continued though to try to make it work. It wasnt until our child resorted to the same abuse that he did, did I make any changes. A toddler does not know abuse or hate unless they see it. Smacking their parent, pulling hair, biting, using foul language is not something a toddler knows unless they hear / witness it.

    But then I had to navigate the false victim narrative from him, and yes from many of those who had just a few months previous had advised me to leave. He took an admission of being traumatized due to previous life experiences (documented diagnosis of CPTSD with bouts of depression) and twisted it into bipolar diagnosis, with various unlicensed people perpetuating that myth. I had to endure the false abuse investigations. Hundreds of them. (Trying to keep this as non descript as possible, yet still keeping details so people understand the false victim narrative). The self doubt that would hit – was it really that bad. The anger that would follow – why dont people believe this? Most did believe me but those who didnt were the ones who society teaches us should believe (family).

    Even today when I read a false abuse allegation, whether from a man or a woman, the anger boils. Because for every allegation (thankfully there are not that many) that is false, there is another ‘me’ out there who is living a life of agony. Who is awake at 5am because her sleep patterns are so completely skewed and her internal clock is so fried due to over a decade of court approved/ignored abuses that she doesn’t know which end is up. Counseling has helped immensely with this, but sleep issues, I have just sort of learned that this is my life. I will be awake when others are sleeping and I will sleep when others are awake, and sometimes our schedules will collide and I will be ‘normal’. Whatever that is.

  31. TreeHowz

    This is an excellent article. One caveat though–in the first item you mention that a “real victim is often “confused, uncertain…” which is true, I often felt that way after interactions with my abusers who enjoyed devaluing, slandering, blaming then gas lighting (couldn’t hide their little smirks). After years of this I had enough and finally stopped engaging in their madness.

    BUT, one part of this cycle is my abusers will seek out others and claim how “puzzled and confused” they are as to why I don’t reciprocate communication with them. They fake being sad, puzzled, and confused so they can steal more “information” about their targets. The clever beasts make sure to assign my healthy no contact boundary with the label “anger” too.
    It is invalidating because after many, many attempts in opening up what was hurtful in hopes of reconciliation – surprise surprise – they attacked each item on my vulnerability list. It really does make me feel stupid for trying when it clearly would never work out.

    Anyways, yes they are haughty and arrogant, but they sure know how to pull the “confused” act when they want to dupe someone else’s support system into allies. The tactic does betray them though. It is a bit comical to see that arrogant bully pretend to be the confused victim when they know damn well what they did.

    They know their victims very, very well. So don’t put it past an abuser to act puzzled at someone else’s “unfair wrath”….Liars.

    • Thanks for your comment TreeHowz — your caveat is good.

      And welcome to the blog. 🙂 We always like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

  32. TreeHowz

    After reading this I now know that my abusers know their victims better than we know ourselves. My abusers are masters at playing the “puzzled” card with others they want to manipulate. I know that confused feeling after dealing with these covert attackers, it’s hard to explain in words.

    BUT, after I stopped engaging, my abusers would loudly profess to others they were “confused and puzzled” that I stopped communication. They demanded more information about my “upset” under their phony guise of “confusion”. It was almost comical to hear these arrogant bullies claim, “I have no idea what I did, I’m so sad and confused…” Sometimes there is a little smirk on their face too. Truly deviant behavior.
    It is meant to invalidate all those conversations where I opened up my heart and vulnerabilities, what hurt me most, only to have them attack each item on the list. To play clueless tells their victim they don’t listen or want to change.

    This hit the nail on the head…

    They are far more reluctant to open up about what has happened to them. They will not insist that they have lots of people who believe them! Real abuse victims, you see, often lack allies. It is the abuser who has them!

    Sadly, these deviants know their targets too well, and they do PRETEND to be confused by their targets “wrath” aka boundaries of no contact.

    • woundedbychurch

      Yep. Abusers will pretend to be clueless as to what it is they have done wrong. They claim they didn’t intend to hurt the other person, thus the person couldn’t be hurt. Only if that was their intent could the abused have a legitimate complaint.

      The, “I’m confused and puzzled; I can’t understand what went wrong” statements do invalidate what has been shared before in private or in counseling, but they also discredit the person who says them. If they are that clueless then they must not be listening well or care enough to do the work to understand the person they claim to love.

    • Lillies

      THANK YOU!! This clears everything up so much- playing that “puzzled” card I know so well.

  33. Lillies

    Another sign of the abuser posing as the victim is that they start defending themselves even before any accusation has been made. No-one really has to say much before they jump in and start justifying their actions and attitudes. They almost always talk “around” a certain point, creating doubt in the one who listens. They are very cunning in recruiting allies and states that they don’t know what went wrong- they always play the innocent one. True victims are much quicker to put blame on themselves and actually try to protect the abuser- as bizarre as that may sound.

    • Anonymous

      Oh my, Lillies! We are dealing with a very similar person. I just want you to know you are not alone, and I totally hear you and understand you on this. I hope you are doing okay!

  34. Lillies

    An abuser also states that they had “good intentions” when enforcing the abuse. Because their “intention was pure” their behaviour is justified. And their behaviour is only a “reaction” to what you did to them- so actually, the true victim “caused” the abuser to act like this or that. The abuser states that they are misunderstood and that you didn’t see “my heart” when the abuse was enforced. As if the abuse was “necessary” to get the victim back in line for being so “harsh / cold / demanding / insensitive” towards the abuser. Very confusing for the victim and leaves so much guilt and shame!

    • TreeHowz

      Lillies, all of what you say is so true! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the “good intention” line when justifying an act of meanness. It’s a cop out. I almost fell for it the last time, but my abuser got sloppy and I overheard her telling outrageous lies and joking about a new way to mess with me when she thought I was out of the house. I knew then she didn’t have “good intentions” or my “best interest” at heart. It’s interesting how abusers follow the same script though.

    • Anonymous

      Oh goodness! Yes! When you finally start to call them out on their abusive behaviors: “well, that’s not my intention. My intentions are always pure”. With a their smirk on their face. You can only use that excuse for so long before you have to start taking accountability for your actions! It always bothers me when he says that…like “well i didn’t mean to destroy your soul and then pour salt all over it” somehow exonerates him from any and all wrong doing. Mind you, he never actually apologizes or shows any compassion for what he’s done.

      I genuinely believe it’s all a game in their minds. It’s a con job. But, I could be wrong. I don’t know anymore…

  35. Becca

    One more… the abuser’s accusations are vague and generalized. The victim has specific complaints about repeated and traumatic behaviors and can recall and present them when asked, “What did he / she do?” The abuser will rely on charismatic speech to convince without really saying much. “Oh, she was horrible. She lies. She’s an evil *****. I’m not sure I’ll ever date again because of what I went through with her.” It’s a powerful statement, but gives the listener no evidence.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Becca – thank you for this very insightful comment. It is absolutely true. I have been the target of this vaguery as well. “I don’t like his style.” What does that even mean? They can’t give specifics, because if they did the truth would be out. That is to say, they would have to admit what they don’t like about their victim is that she speaks the truth. The enemies of Jesus searched and searched trying to find some crime, some grounds of accusing him. They couldn’t, so they ended up condemning him for the truth he spoke. We all need to learn to pin these evil ones down and demand that they give specifics to support their slanderous charges. Of course we must also realize that their “specifics” (if they ever offer any) will be manufactured lies too.

  36. C

    Thank you for helping me understand what I am experiencing right now.

  37. Luke

    My father had Narcissistic Personality Disorder… I spent my entire childhood being abused and being accused of being the abuser. You pull that “come out with your hands up” crap when I am NOT the gunman (and YOU point guns at me while you do it) (metaphorically). I will never trust “the police” or the people sent to help again. When a child is being abused you DON’T EVER BLAME THE CHILD!

    • Hi Luke, welcome to the blog. 🙂

      We always like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

      I altered your screen name a little for safety reasons.

  38. RT

    Wow! Loved the article.

    It has taken me years to feel angry towards my abusive mother and sibling because of their victim personas.
    They had always pressured me to move myself and my daughter back to where they live. When they learned of my teen daughter’s sexual assault they accused me of being responsible in hopes that my daughter would live with them. Even though I had the had the perpetrator arrested and he is still in prison. (The wife of the man who committed this crime blames me too, a woman from Church who says I ruined her life.)

    My daughter was placed in foster care because of my family’s allegations. I fought for years to get her help […]. It was a nightmare, though she and I are starting to recover. The shame of it all left me unable to speak with almost anyone for years, apart from my therapist.

    I spoke with another of my relatives a few years ago — she said my mother realized that my daughter was a liar and had issues, and she urged me to contact my mum. … I could not believe that they would now blame the teen who was assaulted for the events that happened. As the victim with all this shame and devastation in my life, I have rarely said much to extended family and they don’t know anything other than what my mom and my sibling report. I still have to remind well-intentioned (abuse apologist) that my daughter and I were victims of abuse and crime, and that I am not responsible to reconcile relationships with people who still pretend to be victims.

  39. Boris

    I am sorry but this contradicts a huge amount of what I’ve read about abuse and seems largely prejudiced in favour of a female perspective. Simply the language that you use reflects this. In fact in some ways it actually mimics the pattern of an abuser. When men get depressed or become abused, they often react with anger as this is more commonplace with them, abusers often use a victim’s anger against them, accusing them of being abusive when they react angrily to abuse, weakening them and undermining their resistance. Often abusers actually don’t behave imposingly or angrily, they undermine someone with subtler abuse, snide comments or shaming that doesn’t even require they raise their voice. I genuinely believe your page here will actually make things worse for domestic abuse victims who do the best they can to reach out for support and try to avoid the manipulative gaslighting that female (and male) abusers often perpetrate. I suggest you try a more gender neutral format. As a victim of domestic abuse myself, I found your page incredibly difficult to read and can see it being harmful to men trying to escape similar situations.

    • Hello Boris,
      We realise that some husbands are victims of domestic abuse. We have a tag for Male Survivors. The posts under that tag may help and encourage you.

      In our definition of abuse in the sidebar of this blog, we say that sometimes males are victims. We know that some abusers are women. But our experience and the experience of many many others who work in the field of domestic abuse, is that largely the majority of perpetrators of domestic abuse are male. We do not go into the details of the statistics other than saying that. There are plenty of reputable secular websites which deal with the statistics on gender and domestic abuse. We leave detailed discussion of those statistics to those professionals who have more expertise in that area than we do.

      Also, we can’t help the fact that the English language has no gender-neutral personal pronoun. We encourage male victims who read our b blog to reverse the gender of the pronouns in their heads where necessary.

      • Layla

        To the contrary, “they / them / themselves” is a suitable gender-neutral pronoun often used to obscure the identity of people where gender is an identifying factor in the English language.

        I’m not a man, and I have been abused by a woman. Many people have been abused by women. … To say men are more often abusive is ignoring quite a few studies on it out there, and it might be worth looking into these as to better support a wider range of victims.

    • itaketoflight

      To Boris: I would agree except to say that the experience your referring to also is not gendered. It is the less common but very real experience of some abusers / victims.

      And it’s not just the lack of raising their voice…. with one abusive partner, he would deliberately talk more and more quietly, the more abusive he got. I have mild hearing loss and it embarrasses me greatly to be young and going deaf and I find it painfully shameful to have to ask people to repeat themselves. So when he was in an abusive mood, he’d deliberately talk softer and softer so that I would get more and more embarrassed and ashamed about not being able to make out what he was saying. If I asked him to repeat himself, he’d say it again even softer, and then eventually just “oh doesn’t matter” even on things that I really needed to know what he was saying.

      Things like anger, raising one’s voice… they don’t define an abuser. It’s all about context

      • Things like anger, raising one’s voice… they don’t define an abuser. It’s all about context

        I second that!

  40. Hi Layla.
    I agree that “they / themselves / them” can be used to obscure the gender of the perpetrator and the gender of the victim.

    And I am a female who suffered sexual abuse from a female as a child, so I have something in common with you in that we’ve both suffered abuse from females.

    We have quite a few readers at this blog who were abused by females: some of those readers are men who were abused by their wives, some are people (of either sex) who were abused by their mother or their sisters or their mother in law.

    As for research and statistics on the gendered rates of respective victimization and perpetration, I have read a LOT of that material. We have a policy of not discussing it in detail on this blog because if we did it could easily soak up too much time and become too heated. The statistics are contested hotly by abusers. Some abusers put a lot of effort into presenting distorted interpretations (cherry-picked statistics) from the research, which is one of the ways myths about abuse are spread among the general population. We try to make the blog a supportive and safe place for all victims / survivors so we steer clear of that hotbed of debate. I hope you understand. We believe that the professional researchers are quite well able to defend and explain the findings of their research, and we leave it to them. Their job is to present their academic and research findings. Our job is to support victims.

  41. Me Too

    The abuser [may] also move on very quickly (with a new girlfriend, boyfriend) and [if so, may] rub the new women / man into the victim’s face while the victim suffers PTSD and is unable to trust other people. Abusers also state that the victim drove them to act a certain way i.e. to to be abusive, unfaithful, disloyal…
    They usually also claim that the victims feelings (that the abuser provoked) are abusive as soon as the victim expresses those.

    • Hi dear sister we suggest you don’t use your real name on this blog, unless you are 100% safe from retaliation from your abuser. I changed your screen name to Me Too, which is the name I gave you last time you commented on the blog.

    • C

      Yes this is so true. The real abuser will use every single thing the victim says and does in reaction to their treatment to cry ‘abuse’. The hardest thing is when the abuser has good standing in church and family while the victim withdraws and becomes reactive to all situations. How easy it is to claim that the victim’s attitude and actions are abusive when everyone ‘sees’ good on the surface of the real abuser. This is almost unbearable to endure.

      I separated from my husband until he gets real help. I am still blamed and shamed for the entire split when actually I have tolerated this treatment, albeit not very well, for over 30 years. Through the years, he blamed me for his porn, gaslighting, neglecting, financial control, lying, stealing, cyber cheating, etc etc, all secretly, behind closed doors. When I have reached out, no one believed me and blamed me instead. A good therapist and a deep strength in spirit is the only way I am surviving my own children and church believing him. To twist our separation into his gain, he is now divorcing me instead, citing abuse as the reason, even though I cited abuse as reason for temporary separation. My family is unbelievably supporting him in divorce. Instead of him getting help, I was told to get help. I did, still am, and trust the Lord knows best in this divorce which I never wanted. I am a Christian stay at home mom. I only cried out for justice and healing.

      I hope time will tell and expose this harsh dealing. Maybe he will get help. But I believe a person has to believe they need help in order for them to get it, so I’m not holding my breath now. This is all so overwhelming at times-has all the earmarks of PTSD in experience. How does anyone survive this when no one believes you? Thank you for writing this article. I don’t feel so alone now.

  42. Bob

    Thank you for posting this… It is good to be reassured that there is hope that these faux victims are being seen for what they are, abusers. These descriptions, and examples, are exactly what the DA in one county superior court pointed out that my abuser was doing, as she tried playing the victim… It is a very scary position to be in, as sometimes, it takes a while for these professionals to catch on, and see what’s happening, and so much damage can be done by that time, and there’s no traking it back. It isn’t right that these types of abusers, continue to try to abuse their victims, through the judicial systems, in such a way, and more awareness should be made. The terror these actual victims live each moment of every day, now not only worrying about their abusers, but now that those abusers are using the police, prosecuters, and judges as weapons against their victims, is a HORRIBLE place to be.

  43. ReachingOut

    I am a victim of abuse. I lie about most of my bruises and talk very highly about him to his friends. However, I made the mistake and confided in one of his girlfriends, which totally backfired. I, admit, I drink a lot and so does he. Most of the time, I vaguely remember how I got a bruise, but I know he has done it. He usually admits to it later, or slips up. I do love him, but I don’t think I can make this person change. He cusses me every night, calling me fat, old, etc. I’m [only few years] years older than him.

    [Eds: the age difference is not significant.]

    • Dear commenter, I hear you. I hope you ticked the ‘notify me of future comments’ box so you will read my response.

      I believe you. I honour your honesty in saying that you drink a lot. I believe you when you say that you lie about most of your bruises and talk very highly of your partner to your friends.

      I think you are RIGHT in assessing that your partner can’t / won’t change.

      From what you said in your comment, I get the impression that you are reaching out of the fog and trying or hoping to find some freedom, some release from the bondage of abuse and addiction. And I honour your for that!

      Here’s what I know:
      1) A victim of domestic abuse (that’s you) is not to blame for the abuse her partner inflicts on her. It is not her fault.
      2) A person who uses alcohol to self-medicate (or avoid) their pain and problems, is not likely to make much forward progress in character development and well-being in their life, unless they decide to address their alcohol use.

      All substance-abuse habits are quick ‘escapes / fixes’ for the problems we face in living in a sin-sick world.

      I don’t know how much you know about Christianity, but Jesus is the Son of God and He offers forgiveness for all who turn from their sins and seek forgiveness through Him.

      I encourage you to spread your pain and distress before Jesus and ask Him to reveal Himself to you, so that you may truly repent of (turn from) your sins —such as your habit of overusing alcohol to get temporary avoidance of your pain. I urge you to come to Jesus with all your warts and ask Him to be your Saviour and help you live out whatever days remain to you on this earth with Jesus as your Lord.

      He is faithful and kind —

      If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
      (1 John 1:9)

      I know the pain, and the impulses to escape it, are coming thick and fast. But if you have a moment when you want to dig into answers to some of your questions about this weird thing called Christianity, here are some videos:

      [Links to Bill Medley’s video series were deleted after discussion between ACFJ blog moderators. Editors.]

  44. Bleh blah

    Was looking for help with the same topic.. ended up just reading (from what it seems) a close narration of what I’m undergoing, but entirely directed at men.

    • I’m gathering you are a man, and are objecting to the way we use male & female pronouns in this post. We do recognise that men are sometimes victims of domestic abuse and women are sometimes perpetrators. We state this in our Definition Of Abuse in the sidebar of this blog.

  45. Elizabeth

    Hi, I have a question in terms of allies? I had a good support network. In fact if it weren’t for my close friends, coworkers, (one told me I wasn’t the same anymore and that I had mentally checked out when I came to work, I didn’t even realize it showed) and family voicing their concerns, I would still be in the relationship, but does that mean I’m the abuser? Is an Ally the same thing as a support network? Am I in the wrong?

    • Is an Ally the same thing as a support network? Am I in the wrong?

      That’s a very good question! Many many victims of oppression and abuse wonder if they are in the wrong — which is not surprising, considering how often the oppressors and abusers criticise them. No; you are not in the wrong. And your abuser IS in the wrong. Here is why.

      The abuser’s network of supporters (we call them “the abuser’s allies”) are supporting the abuser in his lies and manipulative behaviour. They are either wittingly or unwittingly supporting him. If they are supporting his evil wittingly, they are abusers themselves or too cowardly to stand up to him and they know they have too much to lose (personally) if they stand against him. If they are supporting him without knowing he is evil, it is because they are not astute about the tactics of evildoers and have been snowed by him. But whether they are witting or unwitting in supporting him, the end result is that they are allies and enablers for his evildoing.

      But in your case, you are standing against the abuser and all the evildoing he tries to get away with. That is a GODLY stance. It is the stance Jesus takes. And your supporters are supporting you in the fight against evil.

      Hope that clarifies it for you. 🙂

  46. e31978

    Great article. Very accurate.

  47. Elizabeth

    I was beaten for so long that I became an abuser. I was so hurt that turned into anger and has just began to change. DV is destructive and…..I want it to die. The scars the pain the fear the fight. I wonder everyday who was that person who didn’t have to evolve around abuse. Thanks for thus article and the like. I am a mother and that cycle cannot pass on to my children. Thank you.

  48. Disbelieved

    Thank you for this, I can’t even explain how it feels to be betrayed as the “evil” person when all along I just believed in his lies, promises and I even gave excuses for his behavior. Going through a really horrible divorce. What type of professionals should I look for who can help support the facts since my husband has so many enablers. I pray to God and I know He will not let me down. I just want to not let our kids down either.

    • Hi and welcome to the blog. 🙂

      We always like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

      I changed your screen name to Disbelieved as a precaution for your safety. We wouldn’t want your abuser or his allies to be able to identify you on this blog. If you want us to change the name to something else, just email The woman behind the curtain: twbtc.acfj@gmail.com — she will be more than happy to assist. 🙂

      You may find this page of our resources helpful: Legal Issues

  49. Won'tGiveUp

    Thank-you for posting this. I wish the family courts had this training maybe I wouldn’t have lost my babies to a monster, everything you said is so true it gave me a sense of relief that someone might one day see what he’s really like … my poor babies though are forced to be with him for now I won’t give up trying to bring out the truth for their sake, I just wish the family courts realized that they give abusers more power and control when they ignore what’s really going on for the sake of NOT ALIENATING THE FATHER. instead they alienate the mother who’s trying to break the cycle.

    • Welcome to the blog. I changed your screen name to Won’tGiveUp, to disidentify you for your safety.
      Like I have encouraged others in this thread, here is a page of our that you may find helpful: Legal Issues

      We always like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

  50. AmWil

    I would agree to an extent. There was a time when I was ashamed and hid the truth but years later and far more educated […] I am very angry and outspoken about these things. And yes even at times get irritated with all the misinformation that gets spread around on social media and the internet in general. So it could just be some one who has discovered his self worth and is now angry about what happened! Not to mention many abused people take their anger out on others. So maybe he is redirecting his anger at you because he fears her. Idk.

    • Hi AmWil
      I’m not clear who you are agreeing with here, nor who you are referring to when you say “So maybe he is redirecting his anger at you because he fears her.”

      Since this is your first comment, welcome to the blog. Please check out our New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

      And I encourage you to read the links on our page Are Abuse Victims Codependent?

  51. Candis

    Many psychopaths and “almost psychopaths” believe themselves to be victims. This allows for all kind of vicious retribution toward the rest of us. Logic gets lost in this, and abusers like to confuse and blame. Smoke and mirrors are their motto! Most seem to have trouble hiding their Narcissistic and smirkingness (may not be a word). Be careful. They do not follow any rulers and can come after you for foiling their plans. Confronting a psychopath with your knowledge of who they are, does not always work out as well as you might hope.

    • And welcome to the blog too! Didn’t realise you were a newbie.

      Please check out our New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

    • I like the word smirkingness! Who cares whether it’s in the dictionary or not — we get what you meant.

      The smirk of the abuser is something I think all of us have experienced if we are victims.
      They have a way of doing it which cuts to the quick. And they can do it so quickly: it’s there and then it’s gone.

  52. itaketoflight

    How does one deal with an abuser who honestly believes they are a victim? An abuser who believes telling him his abuse is wrong and needs to stop, begging him to stop, begging him to deal with it, is “abusing” him?

    It’s like he rewrites events in his head. Even when he has given me serious injuries from physical abuse, he denies it happened at all. When the bruises are severe and can’t be hidden he just claims that I must have done them to myself. This includes one of the times where I had torn ligaments and one mass of bruises […]. The doctors repeatedly said the bruises were crush injuries […] but he has stubbornly stuck to his story that I got these bruises […] when I was trying to stop the assault. No matter how many people have tried to explain to him that my injuries were not self-inflicted. And yet he still goes around and tells everyone that I must have done it to myself and he didn’t do it. And I think he’s told that lie so many times that he has come to believe it.

    It’s been the same with all the other times he has physically attacked me. If there is no visible injury, he denies it happened at all, if there is visible injury but no witnesses, he claims I did it to myself, and the one time there were witnesses (sadly our children), he has come up with every excuse under the sun to justify why he did it.

    What hurts so much is his parents, who claim to be very passionate, serious, genuine Christians, just excuse and defend his violence. For the last months (since I opened up and told them about the violence, hoping that they’d help stop him before he injured me even worse), they would call me delusional to my face. Even pointing out that they’d done the exact same thing for years when the verbal abuse started and I’d tried to turn to them for help then, telling me at first that I must have misunderstood, then that I was mentally ill and delusional etc, and only stopping when he finally admitted that he would yell and swear at me when he was in a bad mood (even then lying about how often it was), they still turn around and said again exactly the same thing when I had tried to get their help about the verbal and emotional abuse.

    When he punched me in front of the kids […] and couldn’t hide that he is violent any longer, as much as it breaks my heart that my kids witnessed it […] I thought now that his parents couldn’t deny his violence any longer, that his parents would finally intervene since they have claimed before to be very much against abuse.

    But to my horror, instead of condemning his violence, all they did was make excuses for it and blame me for it. So on top of dealing with a husband who has become so violent he would punch me in front of the kids, an older daughter who is very traumatised by what happened (the younger thankfully I don’t think was paying any attention when it happened), my own parents who don’t want to know about it (it happened in their house but all they can say is don’t talk about it because they didn’t want “that kind of stress” at the time), I have to deal with finding out his parents, the people who I thought would finally intervene once they finally could see that the abuse was real not imagined, just made excuses for him punching me, and tried to blame me as having “made” him do it for […]

    All this time, as stupid as it might have been, I had always counted on his parents realising one day the abuse was real and that they’d step in when they did. I had no idea that they’d excuse him […]. But it’s just made him more determined to believe he is the victim.

    Quite simply I don’t care about the physical abuse. I have so many permanent injuries and serious medical problems, I don’t care about a bit more pain. It’s the emotional abuse I can’t handle anymore. But I thought if his parents intervened about the physical abuse, they’d also realise the other abuse (emotional, financial, and so on) was real too and not my imagination and intervene about that. But all they’ve done by their comments is lead him to escalate the non-physical forms of abuse extremely.

    I can’t take it anymore. I developed serious headaches from the stress of it all. An injury he gave me a week ago, I found out […] will nearly definitely need surgery […] Last week’s injury he claims is my fault not his because him pushing me into something is my fault for not getting out of his way fast enough.

    I’m not coping with the fact he has no remorse for any of the violence he has done to me, no remorse about the severe pain I’m in from my injuries, no remorse about them being serious injuries, and not just no remorse but pretending he is the victim, and going out of his way to punish me with threats of throwing me, him demanding a divorce etc, all because I’ve told him the abuse is wrong and sinful and it needs to stop. I don’t even want to stay with him or be married to him anymore, not for me anyway. But I have nowhere to go (no room in shelters and they only let people stay a few weeks, and because I have a part time job, I cant’ get government housing, I can’t afford private rentals, and he has said he will use the family court to block me from taking my toddler and leaving for somewhere cheaper – and after the hell I went through with my first husband, I know he can do that – my first husband got the family court to do that even after he was convicted for assaulting my older [child] when she was not much older than my younger daughter is now).

    But really it’s not about me. If it were just me, I’d leave and live in my car, but I have my kids to think about. They love him and I wouldn’t want to take them away from him, even if I was allowed to. He’s not like my first husband – I have no concerns of my second husband being physically abusive to the kids. Otherwise I’d leave in a heartbeat.

    But I can’t leave because the choice is leave the kids with him (and he is extremely neglectful of them, especially emotionally) or to take the kids and have them live in a car with me.

    I mean, I don’t want to get in a discussion about the supports out there for single parents. I have professionals trying to help me find a way to leave that doesn’t put the kids and I in an even worse situation. I’m tired of hearing “if you really wanted to leave, you’d find a way”. I’ve tried, I’m trying, but I refuse to make things worse for my kids so that I can escape the abuse. I also know that them seeing me abused is bad for them, but there are worse things.

    The only way out of this that I can see that doesn’t leave the kids hurting one way or another is for the abuse to [be] addressed. But as long as he thinks he is the victim because I tell him the abuse is wrong when he is abusive, I can’t see him changing.

    So how can I help him see that what he is doing is abuse and that me telling him his abuse is wrong is NOT abuse?

    I really and truly could handle the physical abuse, but the emotional abuse is eating me up inside and honestly, if I didn’t have the kids and a supportive workplace where I can escape the abuse [a few days] a week and be around caring, supportive people, I think I would have ended things permanently long before it got to this point.

    I’m just so sad. I just want the abuse to stop. I thought he was a loving caring Christian before we got married. He swore he would never be like my first husband, that he’d never hit me, that he’d never be verbally or emotionally abusive, he swore he took his faith seriously too. And he acted like all of these things. Right up until the day after our wedding. Now all I see is a hateful, spiteful person, obsessed with being able to do whatever he wants whenever he wants and claiming he is being “controlled” and “abused” whenever asked to do otherwise (eg helping look after the kids while I cook dinner or similar, because I can’t do both at once). He knew about my health problems when we got married […]

    I don’t even know why I’m sharing all of this. I don’t even believe any more there is anything that can change what is going on. Pinning my hope on his parents intervening was all I had left. (He worships his parents and will do anything they say, even when it’s ignorant and damaging). Now I have no hope left. All I can do is wait until my youngest starts school and my oldest finishes school in a few years so I don’t have to worry about childcare fees for the youngest and school fees for the oldest, so that I can leave and not end up with me and the kids homeless.

    I just want him to stop emotionally hurting me. My physical pain is permanent, the only difference he makes with his abuse is to make it a little bit worse which I no longer even care about. But I just want him to stop the verbal and emotional abuse before it breaks me.

    I feel like I should know how to make it stop, but I never could stop my first husband. No matter how I treated him like a king, did everything he asked no matter how wrong, he was terribly abusive. And with my second husband, he keeps saying he’ll change if I promise not to talk about the abuse with him ever, but we tried that [for a while] and the abuse only got worse not better. He was happy as I put up with the abuse and never said a word, but the kids and I were miserable and the abuse just continued and got worse during that time so it’s no solution.

    I just can’t take having my heartbroken over and over. […] My heart hurts so much.

    [Editors note: details removed to protect the identity of the commenter.]

    • how can I help him see that what he is doing is abuse and that me telling him his abuse is wrong is NOT abuse?

      You can’t help him ‘see’ — because he already sees, he just disagrees. When he says he is not an abuser, he is not in denial — he is simply lying. He knows he is mistreating you. He mistreats you intentionally. He chooses to mistreat you. He knows it hurts you. He enjoys maintaining power and control over you and he does not want to change.

      Here are two posts which explain that the abuser sees that he is behaving badly, he just disagrees that he needs to change his bad behaviour.

      The Frustration of Explaining things to an Abuser

      Denial versus Lying

      Furthermore, he knows you are not abusing him when you complain about his abuse. He falsely accuses you of abusing him, because that tactic will probably put you on the back foot, throw you off balance, make you doubt yourself, and most importantly it will DIVERT you and others from insisting that he is the abuser, by diverting you into defending your own honour, dignity and reputation.

      The abuser makes false accusations about the victim as a tactic of Resisting Responsibility. Abusers usually have multiple tactics by which they resist taking responsibility for their evil conduct. They actively fight against having to change themselves into better people. And they use many covert, overt, devious and wicked tactics to fight against those who are calling them to change.

      His parents are his allies. If his parents DID start properly admonishing him and holding him accountable, he would start hating them. His parents, and your parents, are not safe people for you to seek support from. I honour you for seeking support from professionals who may be able to help you get safe housing. I encourage you to keep persevering in trying to get the professionals to help you. You probably know all about the DV hotline and other DV resources, but if you want to find quick links to phone numbers and websites for that, go to our Resources page (it is one of the tabs in the top menu).

      I honour you for weighing up the risks of staying versus the risks of leaving. I encourage you to keep doing that… and if possible to do it with the help and support of specialist DV workers. I know the shelter system is often overloaded, but maybe one day it may be able to help you find a way out AND the workers in that system will also help you get into affordable, safe, longer term accommodation as well. I WISH the shelter system and housing for victims of domestic abuse was better funded!

      You said, “I feel like I should know how to make it stop…”.
      I would like to encourage you to stop ‘should-ing’ on yourself that way. Most or all of us who have been abused have felt like we ‘should’ have been able to make it stop. But the only person who can make the abuser stop is the abuser. Law enforcement can restrain and punish abusers; but laws and punishment don’t make abusers stop.

      Rather than tell yourself that ‘you should know how to make it stop,’ may I urge you to honour yourself for how creatively and prudently you have resisted the abuse? Here is a free pdf which will explain more about what it means to honour women’s resistance to abuse — Honouring Resistance: How Women Resist Abuse in Intimate Relationships [Internet Archive link].

      And please please forgive me for taking so long to reply to your comment. I got diverted by the pushback we had on the post we ran about Gary Thomas recently.

  53. Misjudged

    My ex managed to convince social worker and psychologist that he is the victim and not me. Because I wasn’t articulate in what I was saying; because I didn’t record “facts” or have evidence of emotional / physical / mental abuse. Because I didn’t get things “quite right” when telling the professionals. They accused me of being a fabricator and a liar and a manipulator.

    I have left him several years and still it goes on where he tries to control me. Social services are still in my life although are backing off, as they I think are now seeing inside the real picture having got to know me and him well. It’s been horrendous and awful and at times I’ve doubted myself. If I hadn’t the support of the few people close to me I would have cracked up.

    • Hi and welcome to the blog. 🙂

      We always like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

      I changed your screen name to Misjudged as a precaution. If you want us to change it to something else, just email The woman behind the curtain: twbtc.acfj@gmail.com — she will be more than happy to assist. 🙂

  54. findingmyselfagain

    I grew from a strong, outlandish, loud, outgoing, expressive, staunch woman – to acting timid, fearful, confused, doubtful, a shell of myself, high anxiety, and gave up trying to tell people what was going on because they just couldn’t get their head around such a ‘good act’ of the abuser. I was made to feel like no one wanted to hear about it anymore. Not to mention the constant denial that things were said they way I heard them. This continued over 15 years with full on covert narcissistic abuse. Until last year when I stumbled across narcissism, the signs, and the victims ‘side-effects’. Then I realised what was really happening and cut the abuser out of our family. Everything seriously was so textbook, it was easy to go no contact in the end – only my husband and I know the horrendous things that were said to us and about us from them in the month as we confronted, exposed and set boundaries respectfully to the person and the behaviour.

    Thankfully in that last month this person fully and undoubtedly showed all of their true colours and cruelty to my husband in a last bid to gain control, and the things that were said, the deep insults, the accusations that we were operating out of the demonic, that I had this spirit, that spirit, every other spirit operating within me to my husband, really could never have come out of a ‘nice Christian woman’, we actually witnessed two blantantly different and seperate personalities finally. We’ve never really told anyone all that happened, NO ONE would believe us, seriously. I’m disappointed I didn’t learn about it sooner, and get out sooner. 😦

    I am now the very opposite of quiet about my abuse. I have been lied about, made to look mad and nasty, and had every number of accusations made about me to my face, to my husband, to our family members, and to other people in the Christian circle of our city, blatant lies to save her own skin from being exposed from the appalling behaviour and words that has occurred in secret. The grand famous smear campaign.

    I will not go running around bagging her, but sure am not putting up with one more distorted manipulative lie about me. I am probably a bit of a monster at the moment, because I’m angry, I’m feeling pain, I’m feeling betrayal, but because now I’ve cut the supply – she’s now doing the exact thing to other family members – the control, the insults, the guilt game, the lies, the smirks, the blaming of us still even though we’ve had no contact for a year, the manipulation, the victim card, the tantrum card, the silent treatment, and around the merry-go round again – and I’m nowhere to be seen so I can’t get some weird blame anymore for that either – everyone IS starting to realise “it wasn’t just me and ‘all my issues’ and being difficult” all these years – as it was portrayed. It’s all blown up into being fully exposed. And now they’re having to find a way to deal with it all, ’cause I’m not going near it all. I’ve done my time. It’s over. So now I’m feeling vindicated a bit, I’ve calmed down because I no longer have to prove what was done, said, denied, manipulated, whispered in my ear, insinuated to others around me. They all have their own mental stories now. TRUTH takes care of itself. In the end TRUTH actually does prevail.

    My point Is…I actually sent a similar message to a estranged family member that we have nothing to do with at all who decided to message me at Christmas, who thought it was their right to come out of the blue and tell me that everything is in my head, and I need to get over what I think this person does because they just aren’t like that (remember we have nothing to do with this person…so somehow they know ALL about what is going on apparently) – my message was very much like the message you have posted as an example for a covert abuser. I have no sympathy at all. Which makes me look very cold and calculated to those who only get a quick glimpse and a sharp word, if they stick their noses uninformed little beaks into it as flying monkeys. I’ve had to turn that part of me off, so people don’t further make me feel ‘guilty’ out of their misunderstanding and total lack of really knowing what we’ve had to deal with.

    However I wrote my message out of confidence that NO ONE any longer will tell me my abuse hasn’t, didn’t, or can’t have happened – especially when they don’t even live in the same city as any of us. No one is going to tell me that I just need to do something that will actually magically make everything better because it’s not really what I think has gone on. No one is going to tell me diddly-squat anymore. It near destroyed everything within me – and no one is going to ever get the footing again.

    I have A LOT of healing to do. A LOT of forgiving to do, and A LOT of balancing of peace within me to find in Christ. I can get bitter about it big time – but I am trying to concentrate more on growing my self-esteem and my life and our family again, and less on what has been done, said, or taken from me all these years. As I gain, as we gain our lives back from their constant carnage and onslaught, I think less of what I’d lost, but can’t seem to forget it all.

    I can see where this email example is full of haughty, superiority and deflection, and belittling to make the receiver feel they don’t know enough to ‘have an opinion’.. But it shouldn’t always be brushed off in case it really screams survival, determination, no more self-blame, no more illusion or deceitful veils, and fed up frustration at people who choose to not see what really has been going on. There is such a fine line. Questions for ‘more understanding’ is needed. And I guess this is where a Pastor decides to dig deeper, ask more, pray for further discernment, and gain an understanding on whether the person is operating out of hatred and deceit, or hurt and new-found survival, again I believe it’s a really fine line that can’t be established with just one email, or one visit. Sure the person is still operating out of hurt somewhere in their life – both abuser AND victim. 😦 People who are moving from victim to survivor and not timid, shy, unsure, broken, self blaming – that’s victim – survivor is fight, survive, assert, no more crap, still broken, hurt, sometimes very angry, and a re-building of strength that has been diminished, looks very off to those who don’t understand. It comes off looking crazy for awhile. With support, good Godly company and submission to Jesus to heal all that has been wounded in us, it WILL balance out again.

    Abusers are like chameleons. You need A LOT of experience and / or discernment.

    • Anonymous

      Findingmyselfagain, Lovely comment!

      I’m grateful on your behalf that your spouse was with you and that you were able to completely leave (escape) from the environment that clearly fostered and nurtured this abuser.

      What you are going through is so healthy and so NORMAL, and in time you will see the beauty of it all. For now, you are seeing and feeling the “right” emotions to the injustice that was perpetuated by this person by the willing and / or unwitting allies. Going no contact is the best way to “drop the end of the jump rope…” and get out of the game. It will get better and you will gain tons of wisdom and tons of insight. And because of this when (not IF) another abuser starts trying to sell you their wares, you will more quickly clear out and refuse to play –AT ALL COSTS– because you know that ANY price is too high to pay to be in a relationship with these evil ones.

      I’m so proud of you!

    • Kay

      I don’t think you come across haughty or uncaring—at all. I “see” a person who has had time & the wisdom to deeply understand the gravitas & reality of what happened & what you have to do to ensure your personal / emotional safety.

      I’m aiming upward and hope to eventually make it to your level of strength!
      This is me bowing to you!!

  55. Brooke

    Isn’t it possible for a “victim” to gain some emotional strength and start advocating for himself or herself? Victims don’t have to hold onto shame and humility to be real victims, do they? Isn’t it healthier to replace that shame with esteem and one’s own worth?

    • A victim can indeed strongly advocate for himself of herself. And victims don’t have to feel shame to be ‘real victims’. What makes a person a victim is the fact that someone else has victimized them. Victims may have many different responses to being victimized. Shame, fear, anger, self-advocacy, advocacy for other victims…. those are some of the many responses victims may have.

      Regarding humility, that is a virtue which all Christians, including all victims who have suffered abuse, are encouraged to cultivate. But humility is not the same thing as being timid, or being quiet, or being complaisant with abuse.

      In regards to the idea of “replacing shame with one’s own worth” — I think I understand what you mean by that but I may not.

      On this blog we advise the abused person to “hand the shame back to the abuser”.

      …”one’s own worth”… if by that you are referring to our worth as individuals created by God in His image, our worth as people who have been been saved from the penalty of sin by the substitutionary death of Christ, and our worth in that we can rightly be honoured for all the creative and prudent ways we resisted the abuse, I am completely in agreement with you.

    • Brooke, to follow up my earlier comment, here are some links which will amplify what I was talking about.

      Prayerfully hand shame back to the abuser

      Honouring Resistance: How Women Resist Abuse in Intimate Relationships [Internet Archive link]

    • And please allow me to welcome you to the blog, Brooke! 🙂

      We always like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

    • Hi Brooke, we received a comment in the last 12 hours or so from someone who used the screen name Brooke but used a different email address from the one you have used in your comments that have been published on this blog.

      If that comment was from you, this is to let you know that we can’t publish it because it named the abuser by name and we try our best on this blog to prevent any victim being identified by her abuser or his allies.

      Furthermore, the comment was asking for prayer for the abuser. While of course it is fine for anyone to pray for an abuser, we do have a couple of posts about that which you or the other Brooke (if she is reading this) might find interesting and / or helpful.

      Here they are:

      To pray for our abusers… or not? (we don’t need to pray for the sin that leads to death)

      Have I prayed enough? – a question often asked by victims of domestic abuse

  56. DEZ

    Sooo true… why is it that so many people generally side with an abuser?

    • Hi Dez and welcome to the blog. 🙂

      We always like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

      If you think the name Dez might identify you to your abuser(s), please email The woman behind the curtain: twbtc.acfj@gmail.com — she will be more than happy to change it for you. 🙂

      why is it that so many people generally side with an abuser?

      Because abusers are very skilled at manipulating bystanders and authority figures. They often do this by telling a teeny-weeny bit of the truth about the bad things they’ve done but massaging the story to make it look like ‘It wasn’t that bad — And my partner is really crazy — And my partner is making up so many lies about me — And I’ve told her I’m sorry — And I’m even going to counselling. So I really am serious about changing!”

      Lines like that suck the bystanders into thinking that the person isn’t an abuser, and he’s such a nice guy anyway (his public face is nice, it’s part of his manipulative strategy).

      And there is a LOT of ignorance about the dynamics of domestic abuse in the community. There are lot of myths about it. And abusers help perpetuate and disseminate those myths.

      Here is a good page about MYTHS and FACTS about DOMESTIC ABUSE [Internet Archive link]. It comes from Australia, where they prefer to use the term ‘family violence’.

  57. Olivia

    You basically already said this but it’s true real victims somewhat stick up for their abusers, saying “he / she so not like that all the time” or “he / she is usually so good I don’t know why …..” or similar. All designed to make him / her not look so bad to others. The real abuser wants everyone to think badly of her / him.

    • Hi Olivia, welcome to the blog. 🙂
      We always like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

      If you want to change your screen name to something else, just email The woman behind the curtain: twbtc.acfj@gmail.com — she will be happy to assist. 🙂

  58. Olivia

    The part about being angry is true too. The real victim expresses “hurtful anger”, and the abuser shows “hateful anger”. You can tell the difference.

  59. lovingheartjournal

    Reading this type of thing helps so much with the healing process, thank you. ❤

    • twbtc


      Welcome to the blog! I’m glad you are healing!!

      We like to encourage new commenters to read our New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for staying safe when commenting on the blog.

      Again, Welcome!

  60. Aro

    About 4 years ago, I had a friend whose abuse consisted of playing the victim. He was the only friend I was able to stay in touch with when I started college, and we were in a class together. If I didn’t want to talk or hang out with him, I had better have a good excuse, or he’d type out entire pages of how exactly I’d hurt him. He ended up trying to monopolize all of my free time and following me around on campus whether I wanted him to or not. If I didn’t want to talk, or if I vented about something on the internet instead of to him, he’d sulk and give me the silent treatment. Then he’d go on monologues telling me how selfish, spoiled, and terrible I was and how much I’d hurt him until I was crying from guilt and shame. He’d go into detail about how he prayed for me and how after everything he’d said to God about me, I had no right to be treating him like this.

    But it’s kind of funny, because eventually, I figured that if I was hurting him so much, we should just stop hanging out. So I told him that. It didn’t even occur to me until after it was over that I had been abused.

    • twbtc


      Welcome to the blog! Glad you were able to get safely out of that relationship!

      Also, we like to encourage new commenters to read our New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for staying safe when commenting on the blog.

      Again, Welcome!

  61. Paul Barrett

    As a man who is proud to work in support of a feminist domestic violence charity in England, I can confirm every point you make is absolutely spot on.

    I teach professionals to identify the early signs of DV and in very simplistic terms one of the key features I highlight how perpetrators will often present to professionals as the victim and / or demonise the true victim by claiming the victim’s alcoholism / post-natal depression / poor house-keeping / poor parenting etc…

    It’s all very clever and plays on the psychology of the mind to further isolate the victim.

    I liken the tactics of coercive control to that of a magician on stage… we watch a magic trick by falling for sleight of hand or clever tricks… but once we deconstruct the magic trick it’s all very obvious. We all need to deconstruct the behaviour of perpetrators to expose their tactics so we can all act as early as possible to support the victim.

    A great article… thanks.

    • Thank you so much, Paul!

      We are happy for people to republish our material, so feel free to repost this article so long as you give the URL and name of the website.

      And you might also like to know that we have an FAQ page and an extensive list of resources, some of which are secular and some of which are Christian.

  62. Lucinda

    Male victims when questioned about bruises will often be defensive & say none of your business or tell you to butt out. I found they have low self-esteem & are very timid in their opinions – they are wary how they voice opinions. Basically the same as women [Added by ACFJ Eds, for clarity: that is, basically the same as women victims are wary of voicing their opinions.]. I have known two such men during my life. Wife of one & girlfriend of the other — both women crowed about being ‘entitled’ to this & that. One man is dead. His woman found out how to induce epileptic fits. That’s what killed him. She played the grieving widow better than an actress. The other man is still trapped.

    PS I am a victim myself. I was conned & trapped by two unspeakable men who got away with the abuse of me & basically got off with little or no penalty because one convinced people he was the victim & the other that he was insane at the time of the abuse. I am in hiding from both because of threat of retaliation. After more than two decades they are still looking for me! Obsessive only just begins to describe them. I have been here several years. Longest I’ve lived anywhere since escaping. I am ill but I have to move again! I have had too many near misses & have had to deny who I am too many times. The PTSD has started again – nightmares!! Crying myself to sleep, waking up in terror screaming he’s in my room & has a knife!! Etc. My wall is paper thin. I feel sorry for my easy-going neighbour.

    • Hi Lucinda, I assume that you’ve not used a name that would identify you, but if you want us to change your screen name we can do so — just email twbtc.acfj@gmail.com

      Welcome to the blog! 🙂

      We like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

      And after reading the New Users’ Info page, you might want to look at our FAQs.

      btw, I airbrushed a few small details in your comment, for your safety’s sake. 🙂

    • Lucinda, I believe you. Your testimony is important. Thanks so much for sharing!

      And you may like to look at our Resources section for PTSD …. though you may have read heaps about it already so you may well and truly know a lot about it, from personal experience as well as your own reading on the topic. 🙂 Since you’ve been dealing with high risk and horrific abuse for so long, I’m guessing you’ve read a LOT about it already!

      And what you are experiencing is not POST-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but CONTINUING traumatic stress disorder, because you are still at high risk of being abused by those two men. They each sound like they are dedicated long-term stalkers, the type of abusive man who never gives up seeking to punish his victim for leaving him.

  63. DaughterOfAbuser

    Often abusers claim mental illness as justification for the pathetic behavior. My step-dad is the worst type of abuser. The “victim” who victimizes other people…including me and my mother. He claims he has PTSD but he doesn’t. He’s a lying, manipulative sack of horse*****. He’s seeking sympathy to make others think he really is a victim.

    • Hi dear sister, I changed your screen name to DaughterOfAbuser as a precaution for your and your mother’s safety.

      You are right that abusers often claim mental illness as a justification for their evildoing. We have a tag about that: Mental Illness In Abusers.

      Welcome to the blog. 🙂

      We like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

      And after reading the New Users’ Info page, I suggest you look at our FAQ page.

  64. SharpeningEyes

    They love to be in the spotlight as victim — loving attention of law enforcement, medical assistance, etc..

    • Hi; and welcome to the blog since this is your first comment! 🙂

      I changed your screen name to SharpeningEyes, as a precaution for your safety. If you want us to change it to something else, just email TWBTC (The Woman Behind The Curtain) —twbtc.acfj@gmail.com — she will be happy to assist. 🙂 It’s not often a good idea to use your real name on this blog, especially if you are in any way in danger from an abuser or the abuser’s allies.

      We like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

      And after reading the New Users’ Info page, I suggest you look at our FAQ page.

    • itaketoflight

      Yep, whereas those of us who are actual victims get treated like crap by the police because we don’t carry on, we just want help not attention

      • The police in my state (Victoria, Australia) are FAR better than they used to be in how they respond to victims. They’ve come a long way. They still have a way to go, but they have new policies, better laws and far more training in how to respond to domestic abuse and sexual abuse than they had in the past.

  65. hjogia78

    Hi. Really enjoy your website and your thought provoking articles. Keep up the amazing work.

    I have been a survivor of a narcissistic sister who is constantly abusive, demeaning, loud, brash, obnoxious and of course self-centered. Those are some of the good qualities. Lol.

    As I am maturing I have realized the importance of self care. My need for self care is something I value more then anything. It’s the healing that I have appreciated more than anything.

    As they say hindsight is 20 / 20 and at first when you are in the war zone of the abusive personality you don’t even realize or remember how it got to the point where you start questioning your own self worth. I say this from a male perspective.

    It is such a devastating effect on your life which takes years to recover from. My sister is an abusive narc who I have set no contact boundaries with. There was a time I felt guilty but that’s what she would want.

    My sister lives away from me in another part of the country but when we lived together the abuse was constant enough that it felt as if it was normal. Which is what she wanted me to feel. The yelling the screaming, the snapping, outbursts etc. This is part of a bigger package which ultimately was the need for control. Not only that but also her own mental health perhaps dealing with an unhealthy marriage as well.

    As I was growing older and was stepping out into the world, I knew enough of myself to have a firm grip of how to conduct myself. This of course was not appreciated. I tried my best to understand the situation and although I couldn’t put the proper words or terminology to it I knew something was wrong.

    If the situation was addressed to family they would simply say oh it’s your sister etc thus enabling her. So I slowly detached myself as my spiritual practice gave me enough awareness to become more humble and walk away. I became more aware at her attempts to bait me and provoke me. She needs power over my emotions which I refused to let her have.

    After she moved away, my self worth, esteem etc grew and [I] didn’t know why. It felt different.

    A few years ago, she came back to town and although I had moved away she still needed to control and have power over me. When I told her I was getting married she wanted control which she never got at the end. This of course brought up more resentment.

    We went to a friend’s house and for no reason she started screaming “we gave up on him years ago.” I was shocked and surprised as were other people. My mom told her to shut up. Of course she is married and has a child and all the constant screaming and yelling was in front of her. She was 2 at the time.

    Bullies are always insecure and need power. They have a need to be recognized with whatever they do. She would randomly state she is a lawyer and a psychologist (Which she is not) to feel important.

    So when incidents like these occur it brought back a flood of memories and I actually understood that what happened to me was abuse.

    When any discussions would occur she would always start with a loaded question and try to bait me into arguing with her. She would start arguing randomly when your defenses are down. She would use terms like “we” “us” “people” etc to manipulate because she knows her words do not carry weight. I realised looking back best to ignore and walk away. Especially when the body language is haughty and other signs that the person is trying to manipulate you. It’s a no-win situation.

    Silence is the best reply to a fool.

    I am more mature now. Have a healthy outlook. I am married with 2 kids. I keep no contact boundaries with her. I know it’s sad that the cousins won’t be able to have a relationship but I have to raise my children in a healthy environment.

    Any advice is welcome. There is more to this story but that is it for now.

  66. Terrie

    “I will not talk to you without a counselor present.”

    “You’re bipolar”.

    “How do you think it makes me feel?”

    “You’re having another episode.”

    I found most couple’s therapy or counselors will not see you if there is DV present. I encourage victims of DV to not lie to the counselor just to be able to speak without fear of violence…[in my experience] it will hurt you more in the end.

    In my case I also allowed his sister who lives with him to join in on family counseling to share how it affected her. I was left with the thought “Can I let you know how it physically felt first, then I’d love a chance to let you know how you witnessing without helping makes me feel”.

    • Hi dear sister, welcome to the blog!

      I changed your screen name to Terrie because it looked like you’d given a name that would identify you. If you want us to change Terrie to something else, just email TWBTC (The Woman Behind The Curtain) twbtc.acfj@gmail.com — she will be happy to assist. 🙂

      I also edited your comment a bit, to put it more into the first person.
      Thank you for sharing your experience! 🙂 We agree with you that couple’s therapy is NOT appropriate for domestic abuse.

      We always encourage new readers to check out our New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

      And after reading the New Users’ Info page, you might like to look at our FAQ page.

  67. Anonymous

    Yes, I think sometimes an abuser has learned he can get a lot of sympathy and attention through pity, and through setting up a situation so it looks like he is martyring himself. So, he may do something outlandish, but when confronted, he will run to his allies claiming that he ‘doesn’t know what else to do’, and saying he ‘doesn’t know how much more he can tolerate it’. I think if he has financial control, it’s a lot easier for him to make these claims too, because the true victim does not have much power in that way, and he can paint her as weak and incompetent.

    They do this often when confronted about their behavior, and they tend to get a lot of support from their allies who have now all turned against her, thinking she is the abusive one. I don’t think this person is worried about truth, or honor, or integrity. I think all they are thinking about is: “How can I retaliate and get back at her for confronting me?” And, when he paints himself as the helpless martyr / victim and others buy it and console him…he wins. And, that’s all he wants.

  68. FalselyAccused

    Please help me, I was with someone for several years who I know abused me but him and one of his friends just came forward saying I was the one who was abusing him or started the fights. Most people didn’t know about the abuse or only saw a few things until I left about a couple of years ago. I just feel like I’m crazy that the memories I do have maybe I was the one who was at fault and I don’t want to hurt the one who I love now. Is there a test or something to make me feel normal again give me some answers?

    • Hi, I changed your screen name to FalselyAccused, as it’s not safe to use your real name on this blog. We don’t want your abuser or his allies recognising your comments! And I also airbrushed details in your comment for the same reason.

      There is no ‘test’ to make you feel normal again, but we have plenty of stuff on this blog which will help you see the abuser’s false accusations for what they are: a bunch of cleverly crafted lies, mixed with maybe some half-truths to make them more ‘believable’ to bystanders.

      You are not crazy. You were abused and your abuser clearly has recruited his friend to be his ally in slandering you with false accusations.

      I encourage you to look at our FAQ page. The top item on that page is a link called What is abuse? How can I identify an abuser? How can I tell if I’m the abuser? Click on that link and there will be heaps of material which will allay your doubts and help you know you are not crazy.

      Abusive men specialise in making the victim think she is going crazy. So you are not alone. I reckon almost every woman who has suffered domestic abuse has felt like she is going crazy. It’s the intention of the abuser to get her to feel that way, and abusers have numerous tactics to achieve their goal.

      I also urge you to read our New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

      Welcome to A Cry For Justice! 🙂 We’re glad you found us.

  69. HisWordWereSmoothAsButter

    I’d like to point out that there is a covert type of abuser who does not display what’s listed in this article. They aren’t showing their superiority, instead they are quiet and sometimes agreeing with the counselor when corrected (their vengeance to the victim will come later – privately). They look meek and extremely remorseful and battered down…in the counselors office. In the parking lot, afterwards they are smirking at another “victory” of deception. In the meantime the true victim is screaming to be heard. They look like the crazy one!

    Abusers can be very cunning wolves in sheep’s clothes. They’ve learned how to mimic the sheep but they do not hear the Shepherd’s voice and do not have proven “fruit”.

    The existence of covert abusers is rampant and insidious and only the truly discerning will see through the act.

    • twbtc

      Hi HisWordWereSmoothAsButter,

      Welcome to the blog! Yes, indeed, there are those abusers who are quiet on the surface, especially when they are being confronted. My ex- was like that. In fact, in one counselor’s office my ex- was in tears before we left (and we weren’t there very long). He never went back. He was never wrong. He never changed.

      We like to encourage new commenter’s to read our New Users’ Page as it has tips for staying safe when commenting on the blog. And you may find our FAQ page helpful.

      Again, Welcome!

  70. Olga

    This was so helpful, thank you.

    I think I had gotten to extreme point of confusion and accepted some of blow backs as I am the problem. Reading this article reminded me and opened my eyes to what is happening and how to take control.

    In under of two years together he broke up with me over dozen times and under 24 hours he was back and pleading to forgive him, which I did all the nasty comments, disrespectful statements to my character, my family and children. It had take me a while to build myself back up, and show unconditional love and respect every time we were back together, but I also [lost?] a piece of me and who I was. On the third breakup my kids [teens and young adults] and my close friends had rejected him and never had respect since, which was deserved yet I kept going back.

    We were very good together because of a mutual hobby, we both are outdoorsy and adventurous — we traveled together, participated in many adventures and it was always fantastic time — I had always gone back because of that very reason and sex was fantastic too. Though anytime I had a concern that I voiced and wanted us to be better and stronger couple, it would always without fail end up in breakup, full blown him taking his every piece of belongings and leaving forever, removing and deleting all social media connections, tearing every postcard I gave and every note I wrote, and dry gift I gave, extreme!!!

    Over time I started to share my feelings less for the sake of the peace. Btw I’m in the middle years of my life and have been through this before so I wonder how did I not recognize these Red flags early enough … but I know that the thrill of having a partner in adventure was so powerful that to this day I wish I wish… I wish I was the relationship I hoped ending in forever! I believed the forever promises and “you’re the only one for me”.
    I honestly will say that after one more last and final blow up, he promised to see a therapist as I was DONE, and that wheeled [reeled?] me right back in… we were officially broken up… I set boundaries: no sex, no overnights, no dates, not even participating in our hobby, which we did every single day [details of hobby deleted by eds].
    He agreed, and in the mean time saw his therapist once … he felt as one week was enough of being apart and I allowed / I broke my rule and spent two nights out of town while on business trip with him… that was last time… it not only made things confusing but allowed him to beat me down one more time– as though I broke the rule of no sex, yet I stood firm on he’s not allowed at my house, no overnights at my house, no weekends together and we are still broken up– his expectation was for things to go back as normal was.

    What followed after was — he told that his therapist believes he is in an abusive relationship, and how dare I put him through all the things he had to breakup with me for…how dare I not be forgiving him…and a load of disrespectful statements to my character and my children. That literally shut me off, I wasn’t able to answer or speak but he demanded answers as we were lying in bed of my hotel room, he grabbed and shook me stating that I better repair him and give him an answer (that behavior happened before) even though I was answering politely and quietly, which made him even more loud and angry. I was looking for it to [be] over… so I stated that I WILL go to therapy with him, and we’ll work on it. He was mean at first, as to find your own therapist, at least be good for something, if I cared enough I would have done it already. After long convincing he calmed down a bit and after few min of silence he wanted intimacy, which was absolutely wrong time, I was broken hearted and really confused… he wouldn’t take no for an answer!

    He knew and voiced that I will change my mind and will put an end to this relationship and was looking for assurance through sex.

    HE was RIGHT… in the middle of that one last night I KNEW.

    I waited all following morning and was collecting my mind and body about what to do and how to end it for once. Unbelievable sense of perplexity, confusion, numbness — no more tears, no more sadness, no pain — from words said to me…I felt numb inside but I still had this living thing attached to me that continued hurting me.
    So long story short, I came across this article where I found exactly what I need, and with no hesitation I cut every string off.

    There were couple of emails asking why I blocked him, also one saying that he found an affordable counselor for us and he was willing to pay for both of us! Some goodnights and I love yous, which I have been ignoring!

    Thank you for reading and allowing me to share, just putting in writing was important to voice it!

  71. Freida

    Sometimes real victims are in such denial that when they do come forward, and their children and themselves have suffered such horrific abuse it does seem bizarre .. […]

    I thought everything I discovered was bizarre.. I didn’t discuss much abuse against me because I had tunnel vision and became hyper-vigilant looking for things I had missed. I did blame him, not me because I finally felt relieved from blaming everything on myself. You see he had me convinced I was crazy.. I believed everything was my fault.. I had seen things that were off, but he told me I was sick.. I felt ashamed I had these thoughts. I kept feeling like something was off, so I became possessive, jealous and crazy..


    My point is that sometimes the victims are so confused and driven crazy that it’s difficult to recognize who’s the abuser. […] I agree that she doesn’t disclose it all..

    Also, reactive response to his long silent treatments, lying, secretiveness, facial expressions, crazy making is real and can’t be helped. Anyone would react badly to this treatment especially after years of taking it.. when the victim reacts she is left with guilt from her outburst.. guilt from letting the kids see her explode.. while he smirks calmly…

    It has taken me over a few years since our separation to come to realize this.. and only with the help of a psychologist … […]

    • Dear Freida, welcome to the blog. I removed portions of your comment in order to protect you and your children from being identified.

      I totally believe everything you wrote. What you have been through is horrific.

      We like to encourage all new commenters to read our New Users’ Info page. It gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on his blog.

      • WiseToTheBait

        This is amazing. Just wanted to ask that, as I have set no contact boundaries with my abusive sister, I have noticed that a sense of calm and peacefulness has been part of my life.

        I hate not having a relationship with family but my mental health and well-being is important. Now I tend to feel guilty from time to time, but what I have realized from the past is that the abuser lays in wait for that to occur and then takes advantage.

        Now it has been more than half a dozen years and I have been educated, I know how to recognize the baiting tactics. But out of curiosity, if the abuser tries to bait me what is the best thing to do?

        I mean they may start with “why don’t you talk to me” and if I point out the abuse they may say “how is that abuse” etc and off we go?

        What is the best thing to do? Walk away? Ignore?

      • If the abuser starts with “Why don’t you talk to me?” and you respond by pointing out the abuse and the abuser then says “How is that abuse?” etc., what is the way to respond from there? Good question!

        That ploy by an abuser is a tactic to put you on the back foot by making you doubt whether you really have a good definition of abuse, and to get you to fall into the ‘explaining trap’. It is a trap because no matter how much you explain things to the abuser, the abuser will pretend to not understand or not agree with your explanations and will keep challenging your explanations to get you to say more explanations.

        The important thing to bear in mind is that this a trap. The abuser doesn’t really need explanations. The abuser doesn’t really WANT explanations. The abuser pretends to want explanations, but what the abuser really wants is to bamboozle you and get you to keep interacting with him (or her, in your case, since your abuser is your sister).

        The longer the abuser can keep you interacting with him, the more chances he has to reshape the things you said into bullets he can fire back at you now or in the months and years to come. The abuser retains a very clear memory of all you said and stores it up in case it becomes useful ammo in his arsenal.

        So, when an abuser tries to get you to fall into the explaining trap, you could simply say something like: It is abusive because it disrespects my personhood and my legitimate rights and human dignity. You know that very well. Stop pretending that you don’t know it!

        And if the abuser persists in asking another curve ball question, you can simply say “Stop it!” And then walk away.

        If you choose to verbally ignore the abuser’s question, you can at least eyeball the abuser with your spine strong and your neck like brass and show them through your eyes that you will not put up with their cr##. And then walk away.

        Here are some posts about The Explaining Trap.

        Thursday Thought — The Frustration of Explaining things to an Abuser

        Trying to explain, and trying and trying and trying

        And here are a few more links which you might find helpful:

        Don’t Get Sucked in by the “Hoovering” Vacuum of the Abuser

        The Abuser’s Goal – A Master/Slave Relationship

        Does the victim recognize the abusive patterns? Yes, and no. And then, by degrees, YES!

        A Review of “BIFF: Quick Responses to High Conflict People” by Bill Eddy

        High Conflict Institute: BIFF Responses [Internet Archive link]

        Children & Extended Family

        One last thing. Is your screen name safe? We can change it if you wish. You might like to change it to WiseToTheBait. If you want us to change your screen name, please email twbtc.acfj@gmail.com

      • WiseToTheBait

        Wow thank you so much for your reply. Really appreciate it and needed that. I knew that was going on but now I know the term for it. There is no winning in that situation. I have kids and when she used to start her abusive ways it was in front of her young daughter at the time. So now I need to keep my kids safe. She may start or use abuse by proxy and send someone to convince me it’s ok now, as it was years ago.

        Thank you so much for the links.

      • You’re welcome WiseToTheBait. In fact, you have helped me. Your question prompted me to write a post titled The Explaining Trap. Not sure when it will be scheduled yet.

        If you have not yet subscribed for email notifications for new posts, you may like to do that. Here is our page which gives instructions for how to do it. Following the blog

      • WiseToTheBait

        Wow amazing. What to do with abuse by proxy or those that say it was so long ago? Someone may say its not happening anymore which is rather silly, as that is because I set boundaries. Equivalent to how can someone commit anymore crimes if they are in jail.

      • Hi WTTB,
        Abuse by Proxy: check out our posts about Parental Alienation and perhaps also the post which mentions Munchausen’s Syndrome by proxy (which is the story from Friend in Need from Europe – link).

        Those that say it was so long ago: I suggest you look at our posts with the PTSD tag and see if there are any there which may be appropriate for you.

        Anyone who admonishes you for talking about it obviously has no understanding of how long-lasting the effects of abuse can be especially in situations where the abused person has seldom been believed when they have told others about the abuse.

        You might also find useful things in the links on this page Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

        And here are some links which may give you ideas about how to push back against the person who is admonishing her for talking about it because ‘it was so long ago’:

        The Holy Spirit Calls us to Expose Evil — People Tell us to be Quiet About it

        Vengeance and vindication: what is the difference?

        Anger, hatred, vengeance: – am I feeling them? are my feelings wrong?

        Wise as Serpents: Why Do We Keep Silent About Evil?

        If You Refuse to See the Ugliness of Evil, You will be the Ally of Evil

      • WiseToTheBait

        Wonderful hearing from you. Thank you for the support. It’s hard to believe yet becoming acceptable to see now that there are many who are suffering from these people. When I say acceptable I mean the fact that there are so many and I am not alone. No need to feel shame especially because I am a male who has experienced this.

        Now there are some who may say or use the cultural aspect. Or in our culture elders have a right to treat you like this etc. Now I know that is not the case as I have studied the culture and it has no room for abuse, but rather it’s about self-control, self-discipline, being humble etc.

        Of course I realize not everyone will be like this so perhaps its best to smile and nod. lol. Silence is the best reply to a fool.

      • Hi WiseToTheBait, I changed your screen name again. If you could make sure that when you submit a comment to our blog you put WiseToTheBait in the ‘name’ field of the comments form, that would save us time. Thanks!

      • WiseToTheBait

        Ok done. Sorry.

  72. Anonymous

    I do not totally agree with your statement that victims are more likely to present themselves more ashamed and showing humility in sessions.

    I am deeply ashamed and I am feeling guilty about my failure to comply with the abuser’s demands and meet their emotional needs or trying to set boundaries only to discover that this was only an invitation to trespass my boundaries. But because of these feelings I expected to be attacked and rejected when I disclosed the abuse.

    In the past some people reacted hostile when I tried to disclose the tip of the iceberg of the family abuse in an effort to gain some support. And because of that rejection and accusations of finger-pointing to my “concerned” family I decided to remain silent. So I was conditioned to react in a fight-defence modus (like abusers do) when I talked about the abuse in sessions. Therefore, I was quickly labeled as the abuser myself while in reality I was just overwhelmed with emotions in sessions in which I was labeled “psychotic”. I was not, but that label made me psychotic because I received no treatment for C-PTSD but instead was pathologized and stigmatized for life and that all was just making things worse. And this just confirmed the “diagnosis”. This made me really angry and I was feeling desperate for there was no hope for escape.

    My whole life I was severely abused by narcissistic family abusers because of my hidden visual disability. My self-esteem suffered and and that was used against me by another perpetrator, my boy-friend who raped me. My narcissistic parents do not wanted to hear about his evil behaviours.

    I decided to tell no one because of the shame and guilt until more than 20 years later when I developed a reactive depression from severely suppressed feelings. I was send to a psychiatrist and I realised what the underlying cause was of my depression. When I finally dared to disclose the prolonged abuse and the rape in a severely dissociated state, which I realised but was not recognized by the psychiatrist, I was immediately misdiagnosed bipolar, paranoid schizophrenic and later severely personality disordered.

    Talking about the abuse was so frightening (because I was never allowed to express my feelings whatsoever) that I burst out in rage because of the emotional flashbacks. When I tried to explain that my reaction in sessions was not really me, no one believed me. I was put on heavy medications which did not help at all and their accusations that I was not looking at my part of the story were really crazy-making leaving me in a state of total despair and confusion.

    Because of this reaction and emotional numbing due to C-PTSD and the unnecessary medication it confirmed their diagnosis of my “severely defective and disturbed mind”. They did not listen to my history of abuse and they were saying that I was just “exaggerating things” and “making things up”. My symptoms of my [missing words / diagnosis?], diagnosed by an ophthalmologist, severe congenital visual disability were interpreted as “delusional” and recently as “autism” because of my impaired ability to read body language which causes some communication difficulties and because I am not really outgoing because of the socially non-acceptance of my hidden disability. The C-PTSD and my visual disability caused social withdrawal because people just do not understand.

    Sixteen years of mistreatment by psychiatry caused loss of my job and career, income and retirement finances. My family confiscated most of my possessions, clothes and pictures when I was hospitalized and they took away my access to my bank account and my money and opened my post with no reason and without my permission and without the acquired supervision by law. I was not allowed to have a life of my own or to possess anything. I told my psychiatrist but he said that I was “just imagining things”. He tried to convince me that my family was “only trying to help me” and they had “only good intentions”. This drove me almost crazy.

    My family behaved “severely concerned” about my mental state and were playing the victim in the presence of the psychiatrist, but behind closed doors their masks disappeared. And no one noticed and believed me. No allies or support network while my family had lots of allies (enablers). But my psychiatrist argued that my social withdrawal is caused by autism, however I never had any relational problems with colleagues and I had a successful career before psychiatry entered my life.

    Now my life is completely ruined by re-traumatization by psychiatry. Recently my psychiatrist accused me of not marrying my rapist almost to the point that he chooses the side of the rapist. He also became hostile to me because of the abortion after the rape. But at that time my rapist threatened my life. My psychiatrist often says that I could also pray and commands me to forgive my abusers. If I cannot forgive it’s all my fault putting more blame on me that I am already feeling. As if instead of a psychiatrist I am talking to a priest whose moral standards are to forgive and forget, deny the abuse, stay silent and to pray. That confuses me and I feel dehumanized.

    Psychiatry never really believed my history of abuse but commands my forgiveness to my abusers paradoxically.

    Now I am off all medication because his newest “diagnosis” is autism (severely congenital visually disabled patients are oftentimes wrongly labeled autistic) but due to the ongoing psychiatric abuse combined with ongoing family abuse (disability dependency) I am suffering of severe anxiety, depressed feelings, burn out, insomnia, palpitations, severe stomach and abdominal pains, despair, nightmares, emotional flashbacks, dissociation, loneliness, helplessness, emotional numbing, hypervigilance, social withdrawal, rage.

    Another psychiatrist who treated me for a few years drove me to suicide when she wanted me to commit in a long-stay mental hospital for personality disordered patients and again on heavy medication and tried to strip me of all my human rights. Luckily she was fired herself from the mental institution she worked for.

    The psychiatric treatment is full of contradictions. Psychiatrists say one thing and do the other. Just like the abusers.

    They indeed do not know what the are taking about. Beware of Christian psychiatrists!! They are always push you to look at your part of the abuse when thee is no part in a power-imbalance relation.

    • Dear Anonymous, I have read your story carefully and to me you do not sound crazy. You are very coherent in the way you have described what happened to you and all the ways people have mistreated you and misunderstood you. To me, your account has the ring of truth.

      I know that the field of mental health — like all professions and workplaces — has its fair share of abusers who are abusing the clients in the system. We call this systemic abuse. Systemic abuse is also taking place in the family courts in the USA. And systemic abuse of women and children by (mostly male) abusers is rife in many many societies. The power that professionals have in the mental health system is immense. And the field of psychiatry has a long history of discounting and disbelieving victims of abuse and labelling them with incorrect diagnostic labels. It goes right back to Freud…who initially believed the accounts of his women patients who were telling him they had been sexually abused by their fathers, uncles, grandfathers, cousins etc. — but then under pressure from his male colleagues he renounced his belief in the women’s accounts and started saying they were fantasising and delusional. Only a minority of psychiatrists are asking the right questions of the clients to explore whether the clients have been abused by wicked people and are responding properly to the reports of abuse when they hear them from the victims. You have probably heard of Judith Lewis Herman. She is a psychiatrist (or psychologist?) who has believed the victims and has worked hard to get the diagnosis PTSD and C-PTSD into the diagnostic manual so it is recognised by the profession.

      I do know a few Christian psychiatrists and mental health professionals who do not tell a victim “Look at your own part in the abuse.” But I believe you when you say you have not encountered any like that yourself.

      Thank you for saying “I do not totally agree with your statement that victims are more likely to present themselves more ashamed and showing humility in sessions.”

      I said ‘more likely’… so I’m not saying it is universally the case that victims present themselves as more ashamed and show more humility than abusers do. That’s the complexity of abuse. The abusers can fake ANYTHING in order to manipulate the impressions of others. And victims can respond to abuse in many different ways. The guardedness, the fear, the hostility you showed when you were in ‘therapy’ sessions or elsewhere was a VERY healthy way for you to respond to situations you were in, given how much scorn and disbelief you had encountered when you had disclosed a bit of the abuse on previous occasions. You were doing your best to keep safe in situations where there was every likelihood you would be re-traumatized yet again.

      Welcome to the blog. 🙂 I strongly encourage you to read our New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog. I edited your comment a little bit I think (for your safety), so please re-read it and see if you are okay with the way it has been published. We can change it if you want us to. Just email TWBTC (The Woman Behind The Curtain) —twbtc.acfj@gmail.com — she will be happy to assist. 🙂

      Also, after reading the New Users’ Info page you might like to look at our FAQ page.

      And here are a couple of posts which I think you may find helpful:
      The Effects Of Disabilities On Women Trapped In Abuse

      The Myth of “Stockholm Syndrome” and how it was invented to silence an indignant young woman

  73. ExPrWife

    Dear Barbara,
    I wish more people realised this. I watched helplessly while my husband shared many reasons for our ‘marriage problems’ making sure that when I finally tried to get help that I would not be believed. He had, and continues to successfully, paint himself as the victim. So many people have bought into his lies, to the point that I have had to walk away from my own church to protect myself and my children.

    • Hi ExPrWife, bless you and welcome to the blog. 🙂

      Here is our New Users’ Info page. It gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

      And after reading the New Users’ Info page, I suggest you look at our FAQ page.

      • DEZ

        I’ve had to deal with someone like this that tried to sabotage my career and when I called him on his garbage, he played the victim getting upper management involved which sided with him. I completely understand what your scum ex-husband is doing and he probably likewise enjoys the games and manipulation as it elevates him from being the small man he is. However these types don’t see how they burn their bridges because when they need something, you aren’t available. I still have to see this man around the office but when he needs me to cover him etc…sorry busy can’t do it.

  74. Patricia

    Abusers are avid liars. They even appear to believe their lies. That upsets the victim and if you show that emotion you look unstable. Domestic abuse needs to be taught to our young women early. Red flags of controlling behavior need to be addressed early in a young woman’s life. Too many of us are sent out into the world completely unaware of the dangers that some men are capable and willing to unleash on their wives especially after she has small children that without a good income of her own lock her into an abusive marriage. Shame on anyone who questions women in these circumstances. They obviously have not spent enough time with real victims before taking jobs and collecting pay checks that place them solely in roles to help those victims.

    • Hi Patricia, welcome to the blog. 🙂

      We like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

      And after reading the New Users’ Info page, I suggest you look at our FAQ page.

      If you want us to change your screen name from Patricia to something else, just email TWBTC (The Woman Behind The Curtain) —twbtc.acfj@gmail.com

  75. WiseToTheBait

    Just out of curiosity, how to respond to those who say its “part of our culture” as an excuse? For example someone might claim that “in our culture elders have a right to treat you like this etc”. Now I know that is not the case as I have studied the culture and it has no room for abuse, but rather it’s about self-control, self-discipline, being humble etc.

    So what is the best way to understand that.

    • If someone says “It’s part of our culture” as an excuse or an explanation, I would reply, “Doesn’t that mean our culture needs to change? And if you think it does need to change, what are you doing to help it change?”

      • WiseToTheBait

        Interesting point, although I would think saying something like the culture needing to change will raise their anger and they will go into a fit. All due to fanaticism, ignorance and insecurity. Usually these people are some mentally unstable individuals who hide behind the word culture to justify abuse, like honor killing etc.

        Knowing and studying the culture, I would attempt to educate them, ask where and what context, etc. Although that probably won’t help. Best to smile and nod and walk away.

      • Yep…it’s always wise to know the mindset of one’s opponents and deal with them accordingly. 🙂

  76. DefinitelyAnonymous

    So sad. Being trapped and abused is hell on earth. My ex abuser’s Dad was a judge. The judge molested my son even. These people had power and influence. It took years to get away and free. The judge got off scott free of course but has no contact with child. Father lists all rights to son. After the divorce I finally got a protection order and they finally saw in court how dangerous my abuser was. All those years the courts re-victimized me and my son. We are damaged and I doubt we will ever get to live normal lives. It took lots of money (debt) to fight for freedom. So many women have no means so they stay trapped. Women haven’t come as far as some think. Men control the courts and laws so women are still less. We were lucky and grateful. Sorry for all of you here.

    • Thank you for sharing this!

      I changed your screen name to DefinitelyAnonymous — for your safety and for the safety of the blog administrators. (We don’t want to get sued by abusers.)

      We like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

      And after reading the New Users’ Info page, I suggest you look at our FAQ page.

  77. DEZ

    Yes…I’m beginning to think that the reason why victims are villainized within the system of society is because to do otherwise would impose a void for needful change and soo many people fear change to the system that favours them. Not all, but most men unfortunately stick together no matter what, even the ones that I thought were particularly good guys, in order to preserve themselves as the favoured elite. I’ve experienced this on many levels, that for most, they will stick up for the pack no matter what.

  78. Sophia

    This article is spot-on…my daughter’s husband is an incredible ACTOR. He texts her the nastiest, vile, horrible things…accusations and insults that no man who loves his wife could ever say. But, after brutally assaulting her, he would speak to the police like the model husband and father. Telling them she is a drug addict and he has just tried so hard to help her and keep the family together.

    Recently she finally had the courage to leave after nearly a decade of abuse and he immediately went to the authorities saying she is mentally unstable, an addict and he was afraid for the kids because be didn’t know where they were. He slandered me to them too. They hunted her and the kids down and never gave her a chance. They took the kids on his lying statement, further abusing her!! It’s all such a mess and she is so lost without her babies, all alone in the house … and now she thinks she should have stayed b/c at least she would still have her children. I’m not any of the things he falsely accused me of, nor is she, and they have played right into his abuse of her.

    • Thank you for sharing, and welcome to the blog. It’s wonderful you are such a supportive mother for your daughter. 🙂

      I changed your screen name to Sophia (which means wisdom). It’s probably not safe for you to use your real name on this blog — it might endanger you or your daughter if the abuser identified you and tried to retaliate. If you want us to change the screen name to something else, just email TWBTC (The Woman Behind The Curtain) —twbtc.acfj@gmail.com — she will be happy to assist. 🙂

      We like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

      And after reading the New Users’ Info page, I suggest you look at our FAQ page.

    • Whatbecomesofthebrokenhearted

      Hi, Sophia, that is nearly exactly my situation except my [missing word?] snatched my toddler – I wanted to flee the abuse but had no money and nowhere to go.

      • twbtc

        Welcome to the blog, WBOFB!

        We like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

        And after reading the New Users’ Info page, I suggest you look at our FAQ page.

  79. Anonymous MeToo Rape/Severe Domestic Violence Survivor

    Severe Batterers / Sexual Abusers Will Claim to Be the Victim:

    My rapist claims to have PTSD from being with me. This man has punched, strangled, smothered me, kicked in doors, threw me against a wall causing an open head wound (and likely lifelong migraines after that healed), then after his arrests raped me repeatedly while blackmailing me and threatening my children and myself that he would kill us.

    This monster then took a plea bargain and was sentenced to [several] days in jail with a year or more of probation …. He denies all of the assaults despite admission letters, the above sentence, and a recorded rape […]. I had hidden a tape recorder. At his preliminary inquiry the crown attorney was going to increase his charges to several rapes – […] the process was unbelievably traumatizing. He kept his ‘supporters’ – family and a girlfriend outside the courtroom so they didn’t see or hear any of the evidence. Then he said the tape didn’t exist.

    After all of this I was awarded the limit for major crimes for counselling.

    My abuser / rapist / batterer […ACFJ removed identifying details of the abuser requesting very costly services, paid for from public monies, which the abuser claimed he needed because of PTSD.]. He says he has severe PTSD from being with me – and posted this on a radio station and online on other websites.

    I cannot stress enough the red flags for women involved with ANYONE with a history of domestic or sexual violence. I know he will repeat his pattern. Unfortunately the girlfriend did not listen to my warnings.

    “Some people stab you, then pretend they are the ones bleeding”

  80. twbtc

    Dear Anonymous MeToo,

    Welcome to the blog!

    You will notice that I have edited some details in your comment as they could easily identify you. We caution commenters from giving identifying information in their comments as this is a public blog and at some time, now or in the future, your abuser and / or his allies could read this.

    We like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

    And after reading the New Users’ Info page, I suggest you look at our FAQ page.

    Again, Welcome!

  81. WantToHeal

    I was married 20 years to [the] man who mentally abused me and at times physically strong-armed our kids. At the time everyone knew he had an anger issue. I moved [several] states away to be free of him.

    Our kids stay, one moved on their own, another was w/ family but now lives with him. And I’m the bad guy. I’m so confused how do they not remember what he was like. Why do they believe his lies about me?
    I was caring nurturing and left before I hurt myself. He was angry, not involved. And yet he’s the hero and I’m hated.

    How do one heal?

    • twbtc

      Welcome to the blog, WantToHeal,

      You will notice that I changed your screen name as it appeared that you gave your real name. If you would like a different screen name, feel free to contact me at twbtc.acfj@gmail.com

      We caution commenters from giving identifying information in their comments as this is a public blog and at some time, now or in the future, your abuser and / or his allies could read this.

      We like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

      And after reading the New Users’ Info page, I suggest you look at our FAQ page.

      Again, Welcome!

  82. ThreeDecades

    My husband left me after three decades. I was baffled by his sabotaging behaviour for years…one of the most bizarre was his damaging items that were of personal value or significance to me [details redacted].

    He was Jekyll and Hyde.

    I told the authorities at his workplace…found out he had lied to his workplace in the past…he had made up stories about stress at home affecting him…

    I am someone who is a peaceful happy person…I meditate and am grateful for so much… He tried to create drama out of nothing… He finally got my attention by [details redacted].

    Yet he is now living many miles away from me and kids. … I keep wondering if he is a narcissist, in a mid life crisis or has Dissociation Disorder. Whatever, it is no doubt his new / old girlfriend will not know he has a web of women online and on his phone I discovered.

    Yet at times he was a wonderful family man and husband, hardworking and generous. Appeared loving and held my hand always outside. We walked side by side on many walks and he spoke of plans for his retirement. Now he has gone and I am so confused…

    • Dear sister, I believe you. You are not alone. So many of us have suffered similar stuff to what you have suffered.

      Welcome to the blog. 🙂 You are not crazy. You husband is a liar and an abuser. It is not your fault.

      If you want to receive email notifications for new posts on the blog, we give step-by-step instructions for how to that here: Following the blog

      We like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

      And after reading the New Users’ Info page, I suggest you look at our FAQ page.

      I changed your screen name to ThreeDecades. It’s probably not safe for you to use your real name on this blog.
      If you want us to change your screen name something else, just email TWBTC (The Woman Behind The Curtain) —twbtc.acfj@gmail.com — she will be happy to assist. 🙂

      I also airbrushed some details from your comment that might have identified you to your abuser and his allies.

      Again — welcome! 🙂

  83. Bryan

    It is true what you say about abused victims. We are isolated, confused, shamed, and tell truth not lies.

    After therapy however we can turn it around, be open about our abuse, build coalitions of allies, and confront the abuser with what they have done. I can say almost the same things as your “fake” example, however I am telling the truth. This is 4 years on and after more than 1000 hours of individual and group therapy work. I am a male and I was victimised by a female. However I refuse to be her victim.

  84. Uncertain

    My husband has recently decided I’m abusive and all his damaging behavior is because I’m breaking him down as a person. This is hurtful as a victim of previous abusive relationships and because being told I’m destroying someone I love needs to be looked at even if I don’t agree. If I ask for a thank you or help around the house he says I’m entitled. If I ask for him to not use my trigger words he says I’m controlling. I’m beginning to see he is quoting articles and got in his head somewhere he’s a victim. Over the years he has walked out on me several times without warning. Turns off phone and refuses to tell anyone he’s alive. He throws my past abuse in my face to justify that I have become the abuser. I feel like I don’t understand reality. Is he becoming an abuser? Or is it me?

    • Dear sister, you are not the abuser; you are the one who is being abused. I can say this with confidence because of what you wrote in your comment. No abuser examines himself when his wife tells him that his behavior is damaging to her. Whereas victims typically examine themselves when accused of being abusers.

      Your husband is telling you that you are the abuser in order to evade having to take responsibility for his wicked behaviour. What is more, he is intentionally using your past to trigger you, to make you doubt yourself, to throw you onto the back foot, to destabilise you. The more you feel unstable, the more you feel like you are going crazy — the more he can keep you in self-doubt and fear and on tenterhooks — the easier it is for him to continue abusing you.

      You are not crazy. You are not to blame for the deterioration in the marriage. You are not at fault. Your husband is lying to you when he claims that you are abusing him and ‘breaking him down as a person’.

      Welcome to the blog! 🙂

      We like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

      And after reading the New Users’ Info page, I suggest you look at our FAQ page.

      I changed your screen name to Uncertain, as a precaution for your safety as you had given your real name.. If you want us to change the screen name to something else, just email TWBTC (The Woman Behind The Curtain). Her address is twbtc.acfj@gmail.com

      I strongly encourage you to read all the posts that are listed on this page: What is abuse? How can I identify an abuser? How can I tell if I’m the abuser?

      • anonymous

        Great response, Barbara. Even if one comes to a place of some understanding, it is so easy to fall back into believing lies. Your response applies to so very, very many abused victims, if not all. This is such a ministry of yours and TWBTC.

      • Thanks, Anonymous. 🙂

  85. Maggie

    I would apply these principles to narcissistic, parental abuse too. Both of my parents were determined to be narcissists by a former therapist. (I have several former therapists for various reasons, including retirement and moves.)

  86. Finding Answers

    NOW I get it!! The term “crazy-making”, I mean….

    I have spent most of the day reading through this post and the comments generated, taking brief breaks to process all the comments.

    Reading through the comments generated was like listening to a verbal tennis match in my head – “my voice” excusing the abuser, the “not me voices” abusing me. Sometimes, I was left with a bewildered sense of “What just happened?”

    I guess I have shifted enough old baggage to actually be conscious of previously internalized conversations.

    I once was blind, but now I see….

  87. Lou

    My husband did this (claimed he was abused by me). This had went on for nearly 10 years, behind my back, before I found out about it. I’d had my suspicions he was doing this, but since I couldn’t “prove” it, I chalked up my suspicions to being yet another paranoid delusion of mine. I truly wasn’t paranoid nor delusional at the time, but back then, I wasn’t sure of myself, nor my perceptions, at all. I was so beaten down and my spirit so crushed, that I’d taken on this label and many other flaws he’d attributed to me, as being yet another “gospel truth” of his, about how defective and messed up I was.

    But gradually, tiny slivers of the real truth began to emerge. At first, these slivers of truth confused me, as they were in sharp contrast to what he’d preached to me; but at the same time, they spoke to the harrowing depths of my wracked soul, and actually FELT like the real truth. When I’d recognize these slivers, I kept them to myself, as I inherently knew it’d be dangerous to me, if he suspected I’d caught onto his game.

    One of those slivers was my recognizing a common thread, in the people that he was making his abuse claims to. He was definitely selective in his choices. They were all people that were: a) abusive and covertly deceptive themselves, as he was; or b) they were people he knew, and who he visited frequently with, but I was merely acquainted with them; or c) they were people that were distanced from us as a couple, whether that distance was geographical, or were distanced emotionally from being able to realistically view our marital situation; and d) they were always, always, people he could hoodwink in some way. He was amazingly adept at convincing certain others that he was victimized by me.

    So slowly over time, I secretly began to absorb this truth. Privately, I was incredulous, but I concealed this from him.

    The proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back (which confirmed my real truth), took place in another counselor’s office – the 3rd counselor we had gone to over a 10 year period. We’d already seen 2 counselors before this one, for marital therapy….the 1st counselor had made some positive headway, but it was apparent the counselor often had to circumvent manipulative moves my husband made to shift his accountability onto me. The counselor at first redirected my husband; then he’d mildly remind him to focus on his behavior and actions. Finally, the counselor strongly confronted him about his attempted manipulations – which resulted in my husband’s refusal to see him, or us, ever again. The 2nd counselor we saw a few years after that, but she was so swayed by my husband, that she actually allied herself with him, and together, they verbally berated me – for not appreciating my husband’s many attempts over the years to improve me as a person, and also they attacked my alleged paranoid belief that he’d been bad-mouthing me to others. I refused to go back to see her. (20 years later, I learned that her license to practice therapy was revoked by the state due to malpractice.) But back then, I didn’t know this, and I sunk deeper into despair.

    So when I once again attempted marital therapy with him, for a 3rd time in 10 years, I was fearful and war-weary. But, I was pleasantly surprised. To this day, I consider our 3rd counselor’s response to be a gift from God.

    She had “played along”, with my husband’s allegations about me. She didn’t question a thing he said, nor did she ask him to elaborate his claims. It was evident that he assumed she believed in him, and his victimhood. I was in the room, sitting there speechless, as he rattled off a laundry list of my flaws, which justified why he had to treat me as he did. Incredulously, during some of his “reporting” to the counselor, he repeated verbatim, (and in detail), incidents of what HE had said and what HE had done, toward ME – but – he had switched the roles to where he was the victim and I was the perpetrator! – but the incidents themselves, were absolutely correct, and true. This blew my mind, and it occurred to me that this switching of perp and victim roles may be what he had told others, that I was allegedly “paranoid” about. I stayed silent throughout all of this, though, awaiting my turn, but half-expecting that I’d be lambasted, when my turn came.

    But amazingly, after 30 minutes of this, the counselor let loose on him. She did this without raising her voice, and without malice. She succinctly let him know that this wasn’t a shared marital problem – that his treatment of me was his problem – that he needed intervention and individual therapy with a male counselor for batterers, at our local domestic violence agency. My husband was shocked, and mumbled that he’d think about it (he went once, and never returned).
    She then turned to me and said she’d see me for individual therapy, if I wanted to. I said yes. And that was the beginning of my getting my head above the dark and murky water in the marriage I’d been drowning in. It took 8 more years, though, for me to leave him for good. I’ve often thought, though, that if she hadn’t crossed my path, I might not be here today – or if I was here, I’d have wound up insane.

    It’s not easy to find someone – even a counselor, sometimes! – who can see through a skilled manipulator, and their smoke and mirrors. I thank God for sending her to me, and for every other person who, in one way or another, encouraged me, or edged me, toward the reality of the relationship I was in. Your website is one of my encouragers. Thank you so much, for the knowledge you impart, the unwavering support you give to victims, and your continual teachings of what the Bible actually says about domestic violence. I was so fearful about divorce, (that God would hate me), that I endured such a wracking on my soul in my marriage. It has taken me several years to recover from those soul injuries. I frequent your blog often, as it inspires, teaches, loves and preaches, who God TRULY is.

    • Thank you so much Lou for sharing this! And since this is your first comment on the blog, Welcome! 🙂

      Your third counselor — wow — she was superlative. I have never heard a story like that. The way she dealt with your husband and with you was BEST PRACTICE in my view. Every marriage and family counselor should take a leaf out of her book. I wonder where she learned how to be such a superb counselor in domestic abuse situations.

      You probably know this already, but we like to encourage new commenters to check out our New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

      And here is our FAQ page as well.

  88. anon987

    I have been dealing with abuse for a few years now. There’s a lot of times where she will even make me feel like the abuser. It leaves me doubting anything I think and value.

    I often find myself swimming in my own thoughts because I’ve been conditioned to not say anything. To do so just brings on more drama than there was to begin with.

    I remember the first time I tried to nicely and lovingly say that the lack of work getting done around the house was bothering me. My exact words of “Babe, it’s kinda upsetting that I am the sole provider financially, while you are the homemaker, but I still have to come home and do the dishes that were in the sink from last night and then make dinner myself.”
    That instantly got turned around to her saying “I’m just a piece of s#!t mom and wife”. She would then turn around and call and message all her friends and sister to tell them I said she’s a piece of crap.
    This would happen all the time with anything I said. I would say something completely respectful and it would get turned into something completely far fetched from what I said. Then not only would any [many? all?] of my concerns go ignored but I would be crucified for all these things I never said to begin with.

    It made me want to just shut down my feelings towards anything and keep my mouth shut. The backlash from having an opinion just isn’t worth it.

    Then things started getting physical. There have been numerous times where I just don’t want to take the yelling and swearing. Especially in front of the kids. She’s hit me, shoved me, spit on me, all because I want to walk away from the hostility for a while. That’s not allowed with her though. She can shut me out when she runs out of excuses but I can’t walk away from abuse. I don’t even dare put my hands up to try and defend myself anymore. On multiple occasions I’ve been cornered, beat on, yelled at. I once tried to put my arm up while being attacked, for not wanting to keep arguing, and I was accused of hitting her. She immediately got on the phone and had to tell everyone what a wife-beater I am.

    The crazy thing is that everyone believes her! Her friends and family will all play devils advocate to her and buy into everything she tells them. I used to get mad about it and insist that if she doesn’t want to tell the whole story then leave everyone else out of it. That too just got twisted around to me being the abuser trying to isolate her from everyone else.

    So I’m the physical abuser for her hurting her hand while trying to hit me as well as the emotional abuser for her twisting my words around.

    I can’t speak for every man in every situation but what I can say is that there for sure are instances when it isn’t always the man’s fault.

    I sometimes blame myself for my situation. I grew up with a mother who was in many ways the same. In my teens, I remember a conversation I had with my mom when I was in my teens: “Mom I don’t care about big tvs and nice furniture. I don’t want to raise my little brother while you work 3 jobs to rent that stuff. I just want a mom.”
    “You ungrateful little bastard. I work my ass off so you kids can have nice things”

    From my experience narcissism and abuse go hand in hand. Its easy to build walls of shame and anger when you deal with people like this in your life. Sometimes people who seem angry are the victim. Sometimes we do seem quiet. Sometimes we do lash out and get loud after we can’t take anymore. I don’t think its always so clear and absolute when dealing with abusers. They REALLY are good at not only making others think you’re the bad guy but they can also make you feel like you deserve to treated the way you are.

    Real victims will gladly tell the whole story, either you agree with them or not. I’ve seen how abusers will only give a little bit. If their listener doesn’t bite then they move on to find another who will sympathize with them. They test the waters with everything. They are quick to pass judgement and will never be sorry for anything they do. YOU brought it out in them. If you are lucky enough to ever get an apology for anything, it’s with a mocking tone and an eye roll. That’s abuse.

    • Hi Anon 987, welcome to the blog. Sorry your comment was sitting for while in moderation. I’ve been very busy.

      This thing you said is really good….it’s helpful to me, as it is another way to distinguish real victims from phoney victims —

      Real victims will gladly tell the whole story, either you agree with them or not. I’ve seen how abusers will only give a little bit. If their listener doesn’t bite then they move on to find another who will sympathize with them. They test the waters with everything.

      Yep, there are instances where it isn’t the man’s fault. We know that. At this site we try to support all victims no matter what their gender. And from what you have written, it sounds to me like you are a victim. E.g. you said “Sometimes I blame myself for my situation.” That is typical of victims.

      Abusers never blame themselves, they put the blame on everyone else. And if for a few moments they think that maybe they are at fault, they very quickly reject that idea and come up with all sort of ways to excuse themselves and blame others.

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    • Now Free (formerly struggling to be free)

      Hi anon987,
      Thank you for your post. It has encouraged me and may I commend you for your bravery in speaking out.

      I know in the circumstances it is extremely difficult for a male to say anything. There is so much fear mixed with confusion and emotions.

      I can identify with a lot of what your are saying and I commend you for your willingness to hold back and not defend yourself physically. I know only too well how hard that is and how difficult it is to defend and the abusers rant that you are threatening with physicality, if you dare move a muscle.

      I often had to flee as soon as I could out of extreme fear. Often sleeping in car parks until I felt safe to slip home, hoping all had died down a bit. It gave me a little breathing space but it never got any better.

      That real fear of retaliating in a man is a horrible place to be in. It takes a real man to have the ability to hold back and refrain when placed under such constant pressure and abuse.
      I know many of my colleagues believe that in these circumstances it is ok to fight back in defence and “give her what’s for!”
      I totally disagree and always try to make an escape route if I can. I know only to well it’s not always possible if cornered.
      In such circumstances I always say if possible at all, get physically away. I know it’s not always possible and certainly if faced with a life threatening circumstance a whole host of other factors may come into play. That is a different scenario.

      In my case it did not get any better, but thankfully although often close to it there was never any physical violence. However, the threat was always there and intensified when I was sorting out my separation. So much that I still get flashbacks that put me to my knees of terrible in-your-face threats.

      Please just stay safe and continue to get help. This is very much abuse and you need to be wise and get help to plan that escape.

      I can say it was the best decision I ever made apart from trusting Christ as Saviour. You are not alone.
      All the forces of hell are against you but all the forces of heaven are with you. Please continue to read here and receive strength for your soul.

      May God continue to give you inner strength amidst adversity. It’s not easy but there is life after abuse.
      Bless you again for sharing.

  89. Laura

    I really appreciate this article.

    Several years ago, I was in a very abusive marriage. I called 911 one night and actually spoke to the 911 dispatcher, literally screaming into the phone “Help, I think my husband is going to kill me”, while I was desperately trying to keep the front door shut, while my ex husband was trying to kick the door down to get to me. I hung up, and the 911 dispatcher tried calling me back several times, eventually I answered the phone again, and told her that I didn’t mean to make the call in the first place and I apologized because I told her I was overreacting to a argument that had gotten out of hand.

    Of coarse I lied to the 911 dispatcher because I was trying to protect my ex husband, and I felt in my heart that she could hear it in my voice, that I was still scared and that I was lying because she asked me over and over if I was sure, and she finally said she would cancel the dispatch.

    At this time my ex husband knew I called 911, because I told him before I answered the call for [from?] the 911 operator. A few minutes later, there was a knock on my front door. I opened the door and there were two officers, one male and one female, who came in the door. I didn’t even know at that time that I had blood on my face and my blood [was] on the floor. The male officer immediately noticed the blood on my face around my nose and on the floor around me, and told my ex husband to stand up and put his hands behind his back, which [and?] at this time my ex swore in a very low toned whispered kind of voice. I don’t remember my ex husband speaking at that time, I don’t think he said anything other than the swear word.

    I, on the other hand, was freaking out in my head because I loved my ex, I didn’t want him to go to jail, I started thinking what if he losses his job, and so my panic kicked in and I was verbalizing it by trying to explain everything away, and throwing myself under the bus to literally try to get my ex husband out of those cuffs. I said he didn’t touch me, I just had a nose bleed and the argument was stressing me out and that’s why my nose had bled so bad, which wasn’t true. My ex husband really did hit me across my face and had busted my nose. I said that I exaggerated the original argument and as proof to show that, I pointed to an open bottle of spirits and told the officers that I had two or three drinks as well, and I was begging them profusely not to arrest my ex husband.

    At that time the male officer had enough of my begging and pleading and asked the female officer to take me outside. At the time, I had no idea, but my ex husband was inside lying to the male officer saying I had put my hands on him and hit him and that he hadn’t touched me. I’m sure my ex husband was displaying his Alpha male behavior to the male cop….

    While I was outside with the female officer, I was still maintaining that my ex husband hadn’t put a finger on me. The female officer and I went back into my apartment and at that time the male officer was talking to me and then said put your hands behind your back like you’re praying. In my head, I didn’t understand why I was being arrested as well. In hindsight, I can’t say I blame the officer because I had literally put myself down and under the bus so much, I’m sure I was convincing. 🙁

    Me and my ex husband were both taken downtown, and I was crying uncontrollably. Once we were at the booking area, the male officer came up to me and asked me if I was still claiming that my ex husband hadn’t put his hands on me, in which I responded that he hadn’t touched me. Then the male officer said, well in that case we’re going to go ahead and let him go but your going to stay here, because he said you hit him. I started crying more and I said, “I love him and I don’t want him to get into trouble”, and that’s when I knew I had to let them know what really happened.

    The male cop was warmer to me than before after that, and he let my ex husband go into the doors that close to [that?] take them to general population, before he made me go too, in order to talk to me. He was empathetic towards me at this point and asked me if I struggled with depression and I said very much so, and he then revealed he too had struggled with depression in the past and how it affected his marriage, and then gave me some advice and then sent me to go through the doors to [the] general population.

    I don’t know if the cop realized how abused I was. And I don’t know if he realized that he arrested the victim, or if he thought we were both abusive, but in my state the laws had supposedly changed from arresting the aggressor to arresting both parties, when both seem to be at fault.

    I unfortunately had also contracted an infection from my 24-hour stay in jail. But something beautiful did come out of this bad story, a couple of months afterwards I left my ex husband because going to jail taught me several lessons, one being that if I didn’t get out of that marriage, I would damage myself even more than I already was. I started kinda seeing the bigger picture. Today, I still struggle with understanding the messed-up games abusive people play, or being able to see those games for what they are. I thank you again for writing this article because I hope, so very much, that it will help an officer to see the abuser who claims to be the victim for what they really are, the abuser.

    • Thanks for sharing your story, Laura. I’m so glad you are out of that marriage – that must have taken a lot of courage!

      Welcome to the blog! 🙂 I hope you stick around and keep commenting. I’m sure what you have to say would help and encourage some of our readers.

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      If you want us to change your screen name to something other than Laura, you can email me: barbara@notunderbondage.com

  90. anonymousD

    Thank you for supporting those of us who are made out to be the abuser when no one has any idea of what we have been forced to endure. I pray for those in my situation, because I know I cannot be alone.

    I was in an abusive marriage for many years but did not realize I was being set up the entire marriage so that if I ever left, he had everything already in place to turn every one against me. It appears to now include the church.

    What do you do if you were manipulated to commit sins, awful things, that you now know were manipulated for the very purpose of making people think you are evil and do not deserve to live? I know in my heart and soul I am not an evil person. I know that God knows my heart and knows I would never have done these things if I were not manipulated. I have committed sins on my own, no doubt. Things I am not proud of. But what I eventually realized is that I was ‘chosen’ by him because of these vulnerabilities. If I ever decided to leave he could use them against me.

    When I finally began to realize this person wasn’t who I thought they were, I decided to stay for the sake of my children but tried to put up some boundaries to protect myself. When he realized I was beginning to see the truth something changed and I saw a darker side than I had ever seen before. I began to realize that he was now on a mission to destroy me and he began to remind me of all the things he had manipulated during the marriage that would destroy my life. I lived in constant fear. My life was threatened on many occasions, one of my children’s lives was threatened, I was physically abused, financially abused, psychologically abused. But the whole time I did not realize he was setting me up to look like the abuser. When I finally began to reach out for help I realized he had already manipulated all of the possible resources for me to get help. He has proudly admitted this.

    The threat was always to leave me homeless and penniless and he had the resources and influence to do so. And he has.

    The worst part was that my grown children were used and manipulated as well. What do I do if I know that God knows the truth? What do I do if I know I would never have committed these sins had I not been manipulated? I know now that he intentionally took advantage of my vulnerabilities. I have prayed and prayed and asked God for forgiveness. What do I do if even the church believes I am evil, but I know I am not? I had never done these things before him nor would I ever have done them. He had a way of making me think things were okay. When in retrospect I know better. Sometimes, I refused. But I was made to feel guilty if I didn’t do it. I was always made to feel like I had to do whatever I knew he wanted me to do. Because if he wasn’t happy it was always my fault.

    I am a strong, intelligent, independent woman. How did allow myself to do things I never would have done? How did I allow myself to be so influenced by someone? I do hate my self for these things. But I also know I was being led down a path that I never would have gone down.

    What do I do if I know (or it appears) that even the church believes the lies and the manipulations, and believes I don’t deserve to live? And I know he is laughing that he has fooled even the church. Because he does believe he is intellectually superior. Do I stand in my faith and my belief that God knows my heart and knows the truth and will take what was used for my harm and use it for my good? Or am I responsible for being manipulated even when I know that God knows it was for evil purposes?

    I am not suicidal. But I desperately need help in figuring out what to do.

    • Dear AnonymousD, welcome to the blog! 🙂 My heart goes out to you. The abusers are so incredibly manipulative….what you have described is pretty typical for how abusers operate. They select their target(s) to abuse, they set them up, they ‘groom’ them by using very manipulative tactics, tactics that are so covert that the target doesn’t realise she or he is being manipulated. And it’s all done with very evil intent: power, control, an entrenched and overweening belief in their “right” to have their “needs” met without having to negotiate. And they are very skilled at recruiting and setting up allies in the community who will condemn and isolate the victim when the victim starts seeking help.

      You asked:

      Do I stand in my faith and my belief that God knows my heart and knows the truth and will take what was used for my harm and use it for my good? Or am I responsible for being manipulated even when I know that God knows it was for evil purposes?

      I suggest you stand in your faith and belief that God knows your heart and knows the truth, and He will take what was used for your harm and use it for your good.

      As victims of abuse, we cannot know for sure how much God may restore our health and wellbeing in this mortal life, after having been through the wringer of abuse. But we do know this: God will bring perfect justice on the Day of Judgement.

      The Certainty of Justice: Reward and Punishment

      And Jesus says that no one can pluck out of His hand the souls that God has given Him.

      We also know that if we come to God through faith in His Son Jesus Christ and we confess our sins, we are forgiven. And God understands that some sins are more heinous than other sins.

      The sins of your abuser are FAR more heinous than whatever sins you may have done during the marriage. Your abuser manipulated you into doing things that were against your conscience – so he was and is a very wicked man. Be assured that you don’t have to keep confessing what you have already confessed. God has heard you, and God knows that you were manipulated by that evil man to do things which in retrospect (now you are coming out of the fog) you realize were wrong.

      The Bible has one law for unintentional sin, and another law for intentional sin

      I encourage you to resist and cast off the words of judgement and condemnation which that church is saying about you. Many of those people have been beguiled by your abuser, and some of them may even be covert abusers themselves.

      Churches are sinfully honoring reprobates.

      I think you would find it helpful to read our Don Hennessy series. We highly recommend Don Hennessy’s work.

      We like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

      And after reading the New Users’ Info page, you might like to look at our FAQ page.

      • AnonymousD

        Thank you for the response. I read the suggested readings and it confirmed even more to me that I must live in faith and trust God. HE knows who the real abuser is and what he has done. And as the abuser uses others to abuse, his true nature is being revealed. God knows who the real manipulator is.

        I once told him, before I realized I was being abused, during the “grooming” phase as you call it, that “if I died tomorrow, I knew I would go to Heaven.” That was before the unGodly sins were manipulated. What does that say to you?

      • An abuser, knowing that his target is a Christian who has assurance (assurance that she will go to heaven when she dies) might think to himself “Ah….that means I can set myself the project of tearing down her wellbeing, her confidence, her personhood.” Some abusers seem to relish the challenge of trying to demolish the stability of people of integrity.

        Like Amnon: he hated Tamar because she was virtuous.

  91. anonymousD

    I don’t know why for sure, but he wants to take away everything I ever loved, cared about, aspired to be, or wanted to accomplish. He will use anyone or anything to accomplish this and has as the last straw even “used” God. He had Christians mocking my faith. Can they not see they were used as well?

    The most ironic thing is that a part of me still very confused. There are times where a part of me does not want people to know the truth because I do not want my child to know the truth about their father because that would just be another devasting blow to the already overwhelming damage that has been done to them, both by him and through the breaking down of myself to where they were hurt by both of us.

    They are the true victims. Please help me pray that God does what is best and what is right for them.

    • Moving Forward

      My heart goes out to you, AnonymousD. I have asked many of the same questions, and been through many of the same things. My ex is also on an all-out campaign to destroy me, and it is hard to bear. I know I will never understand it. He also worked behind the scenes long before he left setting things up at church so that I would be unsupported and he would come out smelling like roses. I continually brace myself for the next assault, not knowing from which quarter it will come from.

      However, God has been faithful. There have been times when all I could do was keep my eyes on Jesus, knowing that I may lose all but Him. That is so hard, but I learned I can’t help my children unless I keep my focus on God. That and the Bible have kept me from responding to my ex in kind when I so desperately wanted to. As my children have told me, they do know a lot more than we think they do. The hard part is not knowing what they will do with that truth. Some see the manipulations and evil and pull away from it and some decide it is safer to go along with it and may become like that themselves. It is heartbreaking. All you can do is walk with God. It sounds so trite, but some days it is simply all I can do through the tears because if I look to the side I know I will crack from the stress and strain, or worse, cave to the temptation of lashing out in my frustration.

      I second Barbara about reading Don Hennessey. I am currently reading his second book, Steps to Freedom. He summarizes very well the patterns of abuse that he goes into in more depth in his first book. If you can safely get either, I recommend them.

      Praying for you today. Jesus is fully compassionate and fully loving and fully accepts you hurting and struggling as you are.

      • AnonymousD

        It is so helpful to know someone else understands. Your comment that your children have told you they know more than we think they do was helpful to me. I always worry that they and everyone else only see the person I “became” and not the person I used to be (not perfect) but certainly not this unrecognizable person I am today. I look back and think over time I was worn down and I just fell into habits that do not represent my true self. That causes a lot of shame and guilt as well. If I said I tried to make sure I was being a good role model (not perfect) he was going to make sure I wasn’t anymore. The hardest part of all of this is not how that hurt me, but how it hurt my children. The sickest part is that it’s not what was taken from me or you, it’s what was taken from our children. Unfortunately, I think the abuser knows this but somehow can’t see that. They are so focused on hurting us they don’t see the collateral damage.

        I have faith that even if my children were used and manipulated their core values will override any influence.

        I completely understand how you feel about continually bracing yourself for the next assault. It is exhausting and keeps you in fight or flight mode as it is meant to do.

        My prayers are for all those suffering and in pain. Even the abusers.

  92. AnonymousM

    Confusion is par for the course. The will to deny victimization is understandable. Nobody wants to be victimized. Nobody wants to be abused. It’s humiliating, embarrassing, and very vulnerable to admit you are being abused (had been abused).

    And you also wish to protect your child against the awful truth of her dad being an evil, wicked abuser…. BUT, I suggest you don’t gaslight your child by denying the terrible reality of who her / his dad is. If you pretend that her / his father isn’t an evil abuser, then your child is duped into believing a lie, is confused, learns to not trust her / his experiences. She or he obviously heard or saw the abuse. To deny it, plays into the abuser’s hands.

    And you can bet the abuser is badmouthing you, lying about you to the kids, smearing you to the kids, and regularly pointing out supposedly horrible, awful things about you to the kids. So, you might want to consider that.

    Truth is a great blessing. If your children learn to see things for what they are, learn the tactics of evil, learn how it came to be that their mom was married to this awful man, they’ll be that much better off in the long run as they’ll be better equipped to spot abusers, know the warning signs, see the tactics, etc.

    Abusers are the devil’s children. The devil (and his children) are murderers, liars, thieves, and seek to enslave, pervert, and destroy. From what I’ve read of your two above comments, your abuser is typical, what you’ve experienced is common, and God knows what was done. God knows your heart. God will repay.

    Your abuser made sure to have dirt on you by causing you to do wrong. This also is common. Manufacturing and engineering dirt on you. Making sure to have something to use to smear you, discredit you, and keep you in check, in fear, under his control.

    What comes to mind is an account I read of this woman who was trafficked and prostituted out by her abuser. Long story short, he forced her to do very compromising, humiliating stuff, captured it on film, and controlled her by that — from then on, she lived under total control, because if she didn’t do whatever he demanded, he’d make sure to show everyone those photos. Such pics were but evidence of a crime, but the shame, humiliation, embarrassment involved (not to mention distrust of law enforcement and the justice system) kept her perfectly in check.

    God knows what was done to you. God will repay. God knows your heart and that you were manipulated, groomed, and setup. Said a prayer for you, AnonymousD.

    • Hi AnonymousM, welcome to the blog and thanks for your comment. 🙂 Your encouragements to AnonymousD are very helpful, and I’m pretty sure they will help other readers too.

      I am sorry that it took a little while for us to publish your comment. It was sent to the Spam folder by WordPress, and I’ve just retrieved it and published it.

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  93. AnonymousD

    Let me rephrase. All sin is unGodly. I had sinned before, and those sins I was responsible for and asked for forgiveness and the strength not to make the same mistakes again. But what happened from the very beginning of this relationship was done on purpose and God Knows that. I think that is why my abuser is so afraid. He finally realized, he can fool man, but he cannot fool God.

  94. AnonymousD

    I was seeking counseling at a religious-based institution and I stated that someone “beat the c&#$ out of me.” I was looked down upon and asked what I really meant. As if a physical assault is defined by the severity. I went to court and was basically told: “if I didn’t have a knife sticking out of somewhere, no one cared.” As if I should be grateful that my physical pain wasn’t enough compared to others. Any woman with a knife sticking out of her body will tell you….it didn’t start there.

  95. AnonymousD

    It is a very sad state if a judge will only listen to us if we are “bleeding”. I had broken bones and a female judge expunged his record, I pray for her daughters.

    • Well said, AnonymousD.

      The abuse you have been subjected to….from your abuser….and the legal system….and wherever else….it was awful!

  96. AnonymousD

    Everyone is stuck on the point if the gun was aimed at my head or my back. Does it really matter? Is that what matters?

  97. AnonymousD

    “was it a closed fist or an open hand?” Is that what matters? When a woman tells you she was hit in the head, I would guess that 99.9 percent of the time she is telling the truth. No woman wants to admit she let that happen. When a woman tells you her child’s life was threatened, don’t tell her “it was just a threat, don’t you know the difference?”

    No, we don’t know the difference when our lives are a threatened on a consistent basis.

    • Now free(formerly struggling to be free)

      I used to just wish I would get hit. Then I just maybe would have some physical evidence that just might get noticed and commented on in order to gain help. However, they were far more calculated and knew exactly how to push my buttons and turn everything around to make me look the bad one.
      No bruises no cuts but a mind and heart wrent in pieces. Clever how they can do enough with little evidence. Masters that have honed techniques to destroy with little or next to no evidence. Yet we know it’s the mental scars and wounds that very often are the deepest.

      I used to think, if only she would hit me and leave her mark.
      We soon find out as you rightly say – that arena is fraught with absurd comments and mindsets that are absolutely crazy and illogical. Not to mention the dangerous and preposterous attempts to bring disregard and disbelief. I used to think….but then I think I already knew in my heart that would not really make much difference either.

  98. PrudentAnon

    I kept the abuse a secret for a long time and only told certain people. After decades of abuse I called the police and then I was too afraid of the consequences if I told them the truth when they got to the house. I ended up telling the police it was just a fight. My abuser was telling the police that I would fabricate stories and make up lies. He even manipulated me by telling the next door neighbor that I was the abuser and he was the victim. In her professional life that neighbor has probably dealt with people who have histories of domestic abuse.

    Everybody seems to pity and protect the abuser while the abused are the ones shunned and punished. I’m actually confused on whether I should speak up or whether I am the one who is wrong. I am actually too afraid to speak up and I’m always thinking I’m wrong or bad. This article is correct.

    • Dear sister, welcome to the blog and I’m glad you found this post helpful. 🙂

      As a precaution for your safety I changed your screen name because it looked like you had used one that was a bit similar to your email address. I gave you the name PrudentAnon….hope you don’t mind. You can always ask us to change it to something else. I thought the word prudent was appropriate because it sounds like you have been cautiously prudent in choosing who to disclose the abuse to. 🙂

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    • anonymous

      You’re not the only one, PrudentAnon. Being too afraid of the consequences to tell the police is common, I believe. Same goes for the grooming of the neighbors to think of you as the abuser. My abuser used to do all sorts of things, like yelling his loudest how I was threatening to shoot him and all sorts of entirely fabricated things. I didn’t dare say anything. So my silence (as anything other than silence would have been severely punished and grounds for further abuse), coupled with his endless strategic moves, didn’t exactly help matters for me. But a person gets used to being lied about, chaos everyday, a living hell that seems too stunningly surreal to possibly have ever imagined was going to be one’s life.

      Your statement:

      Everybody seems to pity and protect the abuser while the abused are the ones shunned and punished.

      –is so, so true. Even when it is clear to outsiders who is the abuser and who is the victimized target, it still is that way.

      Another telling sign is your statements of:

      I’m actually confused on whether I should speak up or whether I am the one who is wrong. I am actually too afraid to speak up and I’m always thinking I’m wrong or bad.

      This, too, is very common. Abusers are great accusers, blamers, [false] guilt-trippers, and being abused inherently robs a victim of her confidence, self-esteem, and self-assurance in knowing what is going down and what is being done and who is actually the guilty party. Abusers are master manipulators.

      I hope the best for you, PrudentAnon. 🙂

  99. AnonForLove


    I agree that these are usually the signs of an abuser.

    However, I also believe that it depends on the amount of time away from the abuse and the state of recovery.

    For instance, I think that I may have been a victim of emotional abuse in a relationship. He never yelled or hurt me physically and he kept our relationship filled with fun movie nights, etc. However, the possible “abuse” was weird. For instance, he would cancel dates at the last minute or just pretend that he never scheduled the date in the first place. He never let me meet his friends but he would pretend that he wasn’t doing this, even though it is a FACT that I never met ANYONE in his life for the entire five years.

    Most of the time, I wouldn’t ask about these things, but when I started to ask, he would say that my “tone” was annoying and then hang up the phone on me or just not reply to anything that I was asking. Yet, he never yelled or did anything that was “actual abuse”.

    I had never done anything remotely sexual and I was clear that I was against this until marriage. He created a fake engagement (I was too naïve to understand otherwise) in order to try to push our relationship toward “everything but”). For instance, he told me to go to his house and then he asked me to take a nap with him, promising that he would not “try things”. I was so naïve that I agreed. He started kissing me and I was flattered until he suddenly jumped to the other side of the bed and said “I’m so embarrassed”. Naturally, I said “what’s wrong?”. He said “this happens all of the time and I can’t stop it” and pointed to his bulge. Being from a very religious background, I was still too naïve and I asked “what’s going on?”. He then suddenly exposed his private parts and said “see?”. I turned my head because I was so surprised that he was doing this because he said that he would not try anything. He then said “grab it”. I was so stunned that I could not speak. I said “I don’t, I don’t – ” and he grabbed my hand and put it on his private parts, held it there, and forced me to make him excite. I could not sleep and even cried most of the night, but he didn’t seem to notice.

    He continued this until I became used to it and he would say “this is what happens in relationships, this is a normal relationship, we must advance in this way and increase sexually”. It was my first relationship and he was 40 years old. When I saw that he was trying to make the relationship “everything but”, I finally put a stop to it. There are some things that I will not do until marriage. I figured out that he was trying to advance sexually while not advancing the wedding plans.

    When he realized that we would not advance sexually, he became distant and would not even kiss unless I initiated it. I felt like a whore begging for a kiss while he acted distant. However, he reassured me that he loved me and would be married.

    When I started to ask questions about why he was not advancing the wedding, he made a few attempts to start nonsense arguments and I didn’t take the bait, then he quickly broke off the engagement by text and blocked all contact so that I couldn’t even acknowledge or ask what his intentions were.

    Immediately afterward, I would have told people that our relationship was wonderful. Now, I can see that most of it was a ploy to try to take my virginity and when I made it clear that it would not happen, he dumped me. Now, I have more anger, even though I still love him. I would say “I’m in love with a bonehead”.

    I do wonder if the fact that I asked so many questions and begged him not to cancel dates makes me abusive. However, I don’t think that calling him a bonehead (only in my mind, not to him) makes me abusive. Also, I am upset by the blindside dumping and blocking my number. I feel like I was used to manually excite him only.

    • Hi AnonForLove – welcome to the blog. 🙂 It is very clear to me that this man was abusing you. And it is equally clear that you were not abusing him in any way, shape or form.

      Asking him so many questions and begging him not to cancel dates does not make you abusive! It was quite reasonable to ask him questions, given that he was keeping much of his life secret from you, by never letting you know about any of his friends, or even know who they were! You were simply wanting it to be a more mutually respectful relationship. You can’t have a good relationship if one person is open and the other is calculatedly closed.

      His pattern of cancelling dates hurt you….which is only natural. It was a pattern of conduct, not just a one-off or a couple of occasions when you KNEW by objective observation that he had a good reason to cancel. You simply didn’t want him to keep on hurting you that way. So you begged him to not do it. That was not you being abusive; it was you expressing a legitimate grievance!

      Since you’re a new commenter, I would like to encourage you to check out our New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

      And after reading the New Users’ Info page, you might like to look at our FAQ page.

      This post will, I think, be particularly helpful for you: Defining domestic abuse by a list of behaviors is never going to capture it.

  100. Susan

    Abusers in disguise are slippery, evasive, talk in circles yet are quite articulate leaving you [to] feel you are the one who is misinformed (stupid). They like to be the FIRST to tell the “real story” before the one they abuse gets a chance.

    • Hi Susan, your comment is spot on. Welcome to the blog. 🙂

      I changed your screen name a bit, as a precaution to protect your ID.

      We like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

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  101. Jordan

    I’m a male victim of systematic abuse as a child. My father was a monster. I could go all day about the things he did to my siblings and myself.

    I have also survived systematic psychological abuse from my ex-wife. The problem was that I had already encountered psychological abuse. She was an amateur in comparison to what I had to endure as a child and adolescent.

    I really think that your points, while valid, are not so universal as your article implies. I will respond to the four “pretty reliable tests”.

    1) Abusers evidence a mentality of superiority and certainty. Notice how this fellow goes right on the attack to exalt himself, his knowledge, his wisdom as opposed to our ignorance. He knows. We are fools. In contrast, a real victim is most often confused, uncertain, and has a low self-image, putting themselves down.

    A. I went on the attack also. Emotional and psychological survival is not a passive endeavor. While I didn’t exalt myself, I’m still not so humble as to pretend to be anything other that what I was. I WAS a victim (now a survivor) of abuse from my ex-wife, and after I realized this, or at least began to get the idea of what she was doing, I was in no way confused, uncertain, had a low self-image, or put myself down. I am a survivor of abuse from my ex-wife, and at the time that I was struggling with it, I never believed anything was wrong with me. Depressed and at times suicidal, certainly.

    2) Abusers will evidence a demeaning attitude toward women in general and their victim in particular. They insist that radical feminism has us all duped and that they are the victims of some widespread anti-man conspiracy. Victims don’t see things this clearly and thus are not so dogmatic. They will be more demeaning of themselves if anything.

    A. I had a demeaning attitude about my ex-wife in general while in counseling. I don’t pretend to understand anything about radical feminism (if any such thing exists). I didn’t see the need to demean myself. She (my ex) did a pretty good job of trying to do that while we were at home. You know, where nobody else can see or judge her for her treatment of her husband. The verbal / psychological assaults that I had to contend with in my own home were undeserved. I would verbally defend and often retaliate. There is nothing wrong with defending your own psyche from someone that {who] wants to make you into something that you are not. Also, bad people should feel badly for doing bad things to the ones they purport to love the most. The problem is that they tend to be so narcissistic that the concept of guilt for hurting their husbands requires the capacity to feel empathy, let alone remorse.

    3) Abusers attack their victim with nasty, cruel allegations. For example, the abuser may say “My wife is a drunk, a whore, a lazy $^%$ who only thinks of herself and lies to everyone about me.

    A. None of my allegations were cruel. They were accurate. I was angry and felt betrayed, alone and was tired of her ill-treatment and then the gaslighting that followed. “I didn’t do that. If you loved me then you know I would do something like that. etc”.

    4) Abuse victims, and perhaps especially genuine male victims of abuse, exhibit humility and shame. They are far more reluctant to open up about what has happened to them. They will not insist that they have lots of people who believe them! Real abuse victims, you see, often lack allies. It is the abuser who has them!

    A. Why should I be humble or feel shame? I was the victim (now a survivor). I was never reluctant to open up about her behavior and its impact on me and our marriage. But yes, I didn’t have any allies. Most especially my female marriage counselor.

    • Hi Jordan, thanks for your comment. I believe you. You come across to me as a genuine survivor of spousal abuse.

      The ‘pretty reliable tests’ that you quote from this post are only that – pretty reliable – but they are not 100% reliable. I think you are somewhat exceptional because you had identified and been able to analyse / see through the abuse tactics your father used on you and your siblings. You were not blocking out those memories, not fleeing from them or numbing yourself to them. You retained a sense of your own dignity and worth and you had had a fair bit of practice in standing up to an abuser (your father).

      It sounds like you and your siblings supported each other against your dad, and so you had allies then. When as a victim you have allies who believe you and stand with you, it is harder for the perpetrator to shred your self-esteem so that you lose touch with your instincts and gut feelings and ‘personhood’.

      So you brought that self-esteem and those skills of recognising abuse into the marriage. And you used them to defend yourself against your wife. That is probably why you didn’t get to the place of low self-esteem and self-doubt during the marriage, which many victims of abusive spouses get to.

      Please tell me if you think I’m on the wrong track with what I’ve said. I have heard from far fewer male victims than female victims giving their stories about having been abused by their spouse. So I’m very interested in your experience. Thanks for sharing it with us!

      Several things you wrote in your comment reminded me of what I wrote about in this post: Defining domestic abuse by a list of behaviors is never going to capture it. I hope you will read that post and give me your thoughts on it.

      Welcome to the blog! We like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

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      if you want us to change your screen name, just email reachingout.acfj@gmail.com

      • Jordan


        Thank you for your response and your empathy.

        Yes, my siblings and I did support one another. Unfortunately, one of them grew in to adulthood and became a person that was as close as my father in so far as personality goes, that we no longer talk to this person.

        I understand that these tests as listed here are not completely infallible. The problem is that it has been my experience that counselors, in general, latch on to these “litmus tests” as if they are holy writ.

        What is more, since I grew up in an abusive environment, it was assumed on the part of the counselor that I was projecting my past experiences onto my wife. The reality is that, in my experience, abusive people employ similar behaviors and tactics to bring about your subjugation. All the while, my wife was talking to the counselor on the phone, and without my knowledge (I believe that this is called triangulation) in order to get our counselor on “her side”. So while I’m relating her outrageous behavior, my wife is crying like a martyr.

        This is / was a no-win situation. I am grateful that after the divorce that I was able to get joint custody, so it’s week on / week off with my kids. They are doing well. Flourishing, making friends, and excelling in school.

        The exact opposite may have been true. She may have contested joint custody. We could have gone to court, and having subpoenaed our marriage counselor, secured testimony against me. Perhaps taken her lies to a whole other level that involved a Lautenberg finding. So in this regard, I can count myself and my kids lucky.

        I will review your posting on “Defining domestic abuse by a list of behaviors is never going to capture it” in a bit. I have much going on right now.

        For anyone else that is in an abusive marriage / relationship. Have courage and follow your own mind and heart. They [your mind and heart] have been there for you before you entered in to this relationship, they are still with you now, and will continue to serve you through the healing process.

        You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection. — Laura Doyle

        Warmest regards


      • Hi Jordan, I appreciate your comment.

        I’ve never heard of a Lautenberg finding. Can you tell us what it is – if you have time? Or maybe some other reader can tell us what it is.

        In regards to the Laura Doyle quote, I don’t quite agree with it. I know you were probably giving it to make the point that victims of abuse can and ought to give love and affection to themselves (which is the opposite of what the abusers and their enablers would have us believe). I only disagree with the idea that there is no one in the universe who is more deserving of love and affection than I myself am. I think the Lord Jesus Christ is more deserving of my love and affection than I am. And the wonder is, He gives me and all of us His love and affection, if we simply repent and believe in His promises.

        Greater love than this has no man, than to bestow his life for his friends. (John 15:13, NMB)

    • StrangeGuy

      Thank you for your post [comment], Jordan. I have to admit that I envy your strength a little. I was in “abusive” situation (I can not say for sure I was just being paranoid / overreacting or if my intuition was right). And my situation lasted [a] much shorter time. Although I left the relationship, it seemed like I was forced to do so (discarded). I never wanted to leave, but eventually she became so unavailable that the discard became pretty obvious to me. However, I am still, after two years, doubting myself and asking myself if it was me who was the abusive one and she was just trying to defend herself from my abuse.

      One thing I know for sure. I am not a person who only cares about himself as she stated.
      As far as I know when somebody call you selfish / self-absorbed it is 99% guaranteed that this is blatant projection. But what if it was not? What if she was accurately describing my behavior? This kind of question torture me every day, and I am happy for you that you have such a clear understanding what was what in your situation. I could only hope I had similar clarity about my situation.

      • Hi, StrangeGuy, thanks for your two comments. I took a little while to publish them because (a) I am on holiday and (b) I wanted to give thought to how to respond to you.

        You said:

        As far as I know when somebody call you selfish / self-absorbed it is 99% guaranteed that this is blatant projection.

        I would like to gently question that idea of yours. I’ll use gender neutral names for the two characters in my hypothetical.

        If Chris says to Leslie “You are selfish/self-absorbed” —

        Chris may be accurately discerning a truth about Leslie’s habitual pattern of behaviour.

        Chris may be falsely accusing Leslie, and accusing Leslie of a habitual pattern of behaviour that CHRIS has.

        Chris’s accusation may be partly true in that Leslie is indeed sometimes selfish / self-absorbed (aren’t we all?) but the accusation may be partly false in that Leslie is does not show a longstanding and habitual pattern of selfishness, because there are many times Leslie put’s Leslie’s needs & preferences second and other people’s needs & preferences first.

        Human beings, when emotionally stressed or triggered, can make ‘black and white’ accusations, e.g., “You never do x,” or “You always think y.” That causes problems if the truth and the facts are not so black and white. People who have character defects – and that includes abusers – often make black and white statements when the truth is much more grey. Part of becoming a mature adult is to reflect on relationship dynamics when there has been a clash or problem in the relationship. People who choose not to or have never developed the habit of reflecting on things tend to go on making black and white statements. And that causes problems for those who are relating to them.

        I don’t know if any of what I’ve said helps.

        You might like to check out some of the books we have on our Recommended Resources list. I think Dr George Simon’s books might be especially helpful for you.

      • StrangeGuy

        Hi Barbara,

        You have a point. However, this is how I see it: “I call you selfish because you do not do as I want or do not give me what I want (hoping that by guilt tripping you I can make you change your mind).” Do you see the irony in this sentence? But, what you describe is the exact reason why I have been feeling confused about this, because sometimes a person is actually selfish and the criticism is therefore reasonable. So, is it projection or not? I tried to solve the problem by asking my family members and friends if it is me who is narcissistic and selfish. The thing is that the people closest to me did not see me in this way although I asked directly: is she right? Am I really this of person?

        By the way, I do not think she never asked this question by herself — and even hinting that maybe there is room for improvement in her behavior too caused more accusations and anger. Nothing was ever her fault. Ever. I just do not think this is normal behavior for women. At least I really hope so.

      • StrangeGuy

        Hi, Barbara,

        I will definitely check those books.

  102. Jordan

    The Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban1 is also know as the Lautenberg Amendment1. Because of this law, anyone that has a profession requiring that you carry a firearm (Police, Military, ect), or anyone that possesses a firearm (hunting, home defense), can no longer work in that profession and that they must either find a way to get rid of or surrender their firearms to authorities should they be convicted of a domestic violence charge.

    The name Lautenberg is tossed around any domestic violence (DV) charge or the possibility of a DV charge or restraining order. Weapons are prohibited to the convicted, they are also unlikely to be able to work in a helping profession. Counselors, nurses, doctors, etc.

    In the instance of just a DV restraining order, the accused can have their firearms taken from them and lose their job pending further review either because they are in a helping profession, hold a security clearance and work for the government, or just not being hired because DV restraining orders show up in most states as part of a criminal background check.

    A DV restraining order or formal criminal accusation does not require proof.

    Given my ex’s penchant for out and out lying to my face, I feared this as a very real possibility for myself. I was a combat medic in the US army and served for 25 years. At the time of my divorce, I had less than twenty years and stood to loose my profession, benefits, and retirement should she have decided to lie.

    1[May 15, 2022: Editor’s note: We added the following links for anyone who might be interested in further information on The Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban, also known as the Lautenberg Amendment. This link [Internet Archive link] is to The United States Department of Justice Archives: Criminal Resource Manual 1101-1199. This link [Internet Archive link] is to the Wikipedia entry Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban.]

    • Thanks for explaining that, Jordan. It’s obviously a USA term that I had not heard before. I am in Australia, so I’ve only gleaned bits and pieces about the US domestic violence laws.

  103. Lou

    I have a question about a married couple who are related to me. Is it possible that a couple can be “co-abusive”? I am puzzled as to which one is the “primary” abuser in their relationship. They both seem to be abusive, to me.

    It’s so hard to tell. He yells, tells her off, etc, but when he is calm and not around her, and I inquire as to how he’s doing, how are you and your wife, etc, he claims everything is lovely. When I dig deeper, and ask more questions, he shuts down, gets quiet, and meekly withdraws. Also, he defends her, overall. With her, she puts on a fake front when he is present, but when he’s out of earshot, she is eager to tell me as well as anyone else in the family, that he’s very much verbally abusive. She seeks allies, regularly. But she’s incredibly manipulative, overall, so that alone causes me to doubt her. And unlike him, she will throw him under the bus, if needed. She’ll throw anyone under the bus, though – doesn’t discriminate on that. My gut tells me they are both dysfunctional, but I’m not an expert, either (no mental health training).

    Plus, both of them lie routinely, in general, and, they both make thinly veiled sarcastic comments about the other one, when they’re together with the rest of the family. If they detect uneasiness from others after they do this, they call it a “joke”. I don’t like being around them, as there’s a constant air of hostility. But, family is family.

    Here’s another thing that makes me uncertain as to which one is the primary abuser – my ex-husband was incredibly manipulative, so maybe I’m more “turned off” to her, as I’m jaded. Since I’m uncertain about all this, the stance I have taken with this couple is that I am not going to get involved. Both of them have tried to get me to take sides, although she has been more insistent than he has been on that issue. I’ve maintained a relationship (of sorts) with them, but it is a much more distant one than it was in the past. What gives me angst about this situation is that I’d like to give the injured party my support, but since I am so confused as to which one is the most grievously injured, I cannot comfortably do so. Maybe I just need to come to terms with this, and accept internally within myself, that I simply cannot fully support either one.

    • Hi Lou, from what you’ve described with this couple, it might be what is called by the professionals “common couple violence”. I am not an expert on common couple violence, but I’ve read the term in material written by professionals who work in the Domestic Violence sector.

      Since you are confused about which one is most grievously injured, and you are pretty sure that they are both unethically injuring each other, and you don’t see enough signs that one of them is the primary aggressor and one is the primary victim, then you would be wise — as you say – to just come to terms with this and accept internally, within yourself, that you simply cannot fully support either one.

      And if either of them asks you for support, or appears to be trying to manipulate you into siding against the other one, then you could simply say, “I am confused as to which one of you is the most grievously injured, so I cannot comfortably do that.” You might also like to say, “As far as I can see, neither of you are being honest.”

      • Lou

        Thank you so much for your thoughtful reply. After I read it, I realized this was what I needed – verification from someone else, that the wisest choice for everyone is for me to not give support to either one. I need to honor my own bottom line, which is taking heed of how uncertain I am about both of them. I appreciate your feedback.

        I’ve never heard of common couple violence, but it makes sense. I’ve known two other couples over the years who were similar to the couple I posted about in that they were both embroiled with one another so much that it was like they were competing to see which one would be the “Abuse Victor”. Crazy! There was a movie in the late 80s / early 90s that reminds me of this. “War of the Roses”, I think it was.

        I can relate to the primal need to strike back at your tormentor, though. Toward the end of my marriage, years of repressed anger started spewing out of me. I tried to “match” my husband’s level of low, and said terrible things to him. I regretted this so much afterwards, as I detested my going that low. Not at all surprising, was that he went even lower, in response. It was just flat out sick. Before I regretted my own actions, though, I recall being so angry that he was so much better than I was at cutting someone down to size, and that I’d never, ever, be able to “match” him when it came to cruelty.

        Then I realized how absurd this thinking was…. I’m upset that I don’t possess his diminished conscience?? I’m angry that I can’t equal his cruelty?? How absurd that is! It’s insanity, really. One of us had to be sane, and he wasn’t going to. It was imperative that I hold tight to sanity, and I did.

        My brief foray into trying to match his abuse, regretful as I was about it, taught me a valuable lesson.

        Abuse is a huge lie, and believing in huge lies can and will take a person to crazy places. It’s demonic! You’ve got to keep your own grip on the truth and hold on to your sanity – God IS the truth! Hold on to the light of God, don’t let the darkness of abuse overtake you. I want this for everyone.

  104. StrangeGuy

    Hi! Do you have any advice how to know if it is you who is the abuser playing the victim. I mean, usually they are in denial of their behavior and genuinely believe that they are the victims. For instance, I believe it was me who was betrayed and discarded without a warning. Well, I tried to talk about my concerns (I don’t know if they were reasonable or if I was being paranoid). What if I’m the abuser and in denial? It does not help that I’m a male and in every article the abuser is “he”. So it is much more likely that it’s actually me who was the abuser, right?

    • Hi, if you check out the links in this page some of them might might help answer your question: What is abuse? How can I identify an abuser? How can I tell if I’m the abuser?

      You said:

      It does not help that I’m a male and in every article the abuser is ‘he’.

      And do we have a page for male victims. Some of the articles there may help you figure out whether or not you were abusive or being abused in your former relationship. There is also the possibility that both you and your ex had character issues which were making the relationship very difficult.

      • StrangeGuy

        Thank you for your response, Barbara!

      • StrangeGuy

        Unfortunately the articles do not give me the answer I am looking for. If I am in denial it does not matter how much I read, the denial keeps me blind. I will probably never know for 100% sure.

        On the other hand, I was never accused of being abusive by her, just a person who only cares about himself. It is true that I said some nasty things I would like to take back (nothing completely out of [line?] like calling her names or stuff like that), but this accusation does not resonate with me at all and I do not think I have ever been called selfish before. Of course it is possible, but in general people do not see me this way.

        When I tried to apologize she accused me of apologizing only to feel better myself. This is completely off and this accusation resonates with me even less than the first one. Although I did want to feel less guilty about the things I said, my main motivation was to admit my own misbehavior and make her feel better about herself (as a matter of fact at this point I was worried that she is blaming herself of everything which I found unfair).

        Well, although people have said to me that the way how she has behaved has been very narcissistic I still find it hard to believe, at least sometimes. As a matter of fact, when I write all of this down I realize that her accusations were about her, not me. Of course there is a piece of truth in what she said, but it is not as black / white as she thinks. By the way, when I met this lady she said that she was thinking about getting pregnant without telling the guy anything. It is ironic that the same person was calling me “a person who only cares about himself”. So maybe this is the answer I am looking for.

      • Once again, please forgive me for taking a long time to moderate your comments, StrangeGuy. I was overseas visiting my daughter. I’m still trying to catch up now, more than a week after I got back.

        I’m so glad that in writing out your reply you got seemed to arrive at the answer you were looking for. Writing or speaking one’s thought out like that can be very helpful in seeing the contradictions, disentangling false ideas from the truthful ideas, and thus dispelling the fog. 🙂 🙂

        Btw, I added paragraph breaks to your comment to make it more readable.

        A woman who plans to get pregnant and not tell the guy what she is planning, is a woman who has a defective character. I believe that you are right to identify that trait of hers as a big red flag.

        The same with a woman who knows she has fallen pregnant by one man, but tells another man that he is the father of the child she is carrying. That is manipulation on the woman’s part. It places the man in a very difficult position.

  105. Linda

    In my experience, men who are abused or victimized are often embarrassed to admit it, because they feel they look unmanly. They might also feel they look needy to others around them. They may not look like they are taking appropriate leadership in their homes. I think there is more of this ‘reverse’ victimization than what we know for this reason. Men who are victims don’t naturally go to other men with this information.

    • I agree with you, Linda, that men who are abused or victimized are often embarrassed to admit it, because they feel they look unmanly and needy. Similarly, women who are abused or victimized are often embarrassed to admit it because they feel that they would be judged as unwomanly / unfeminine / needy. They may fear that it will look like they are taking inappropriate leadership in their homes.

  106. witheringrosebloom

    Even [a number of years] years after our separation and divorce, I do NOT malign my ex-spouse.

    We have [a number of children] children together and I have to painfully pick through the aftermath of what he’s said to them when they are back with me. I’m not sure where the line is at this point between telling them the truth and them having to digest that (“Yes, your dad says some pretty mean things sometimes, I’m sorry you’ve had to hear these bad things, let me help you sort out the lies.”) or just sweeping it away, which has been my approach for a while now (“I don’t want to hear you talk badly about your father or his wife. Sometimes when people are angry they say things they don’t mean.”).

    It seems stupid when I write it out, but I know the damage that can be done to a child when you have to hear conflicting stories all the time. I’m just praying that, somehow, through my example, the way I live, the way I talk to them and to others, that eventually they will understand the truth. Right now he has their favor because he has all. the. things. and mom doesn’t.

    [Paragraph breaks added to ensure readability. Some details airbrushed for safety and protection. Editors.]

  107. Anon 7

    I completely agree with your assessment. I am the victim of abuse, and I am currently trying to move away from my abuser. He has called the police multiple times, asking them to do his bidding (first time they locked me and my kids out of the lower level of the house at his request), then then second time he told them he feared for his life because he claimed I was “pounding” on his door. He had the cops completely convinced that I was a dangerous person and they told me straight to my face that they wanted to arrest me for “domestic violence” even though I was telling them that he was the one that has abused me for [almost 2 decades]. I admitted to yelling a curse word at my abuser, but I never touched him or hurt him at all. The fact that my abuser was very confident in his claims, made the cops think he was being truthful and anything I said afterwards was just “ramblings from an upset woman”. They didn’t help me at all, but stood there scolding me for keeping my children from seeing their abusive father. They left after telling me that if my abuser called them at all, for the slightest reason, they would instantly arrest me.

    My experience is a living nightmare. I never thought my abuser would have such an easy time manipulating cops into intimidating me and bullying me at his request. I have no legal help either, so there is no one guiding me through how I should respond to all of this police harassment from my abuser.

    I am the complete opposite of him and if anyone asks me to describe the abuse I have gone through, I struggle to put it all into words and I feel so raw after revealing anything. So, thank you for writing this blog. I feel less alone, and I can see how abusers can be so successful at claiming they are the victim. What can victims do to protect themselves from these lies? Any general ideas, or does it all lie in the hands of lawyers?

    [For safety and protection, the length of time was redacted. Editors.]


  1. Recommended: A Man’s Point of View: Thomas’ Domestic Violence Story « Thoroughly Christian Divorce
  2. How easy IS it to spot an abuser, when he is both Jekyll & Hyde? « A Cry For Justice
  3. The lying abusers who pose as victims: lessons from Mr Wickham

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