Emotionally Abused Man

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    I am a 56 year old married man suffering from chronic depression and in an on-going state of very high anxiety. I am suffering with this situation on a daily basis and it has been going on for many years. Much of what is behind this I believe comes from the fact that I consider myself to have been in an emotionally abusive relationship for around 35 years. For me, the relationship has always been very difficult at best and has made me very unhappy. I have always wanted out for as long as I can remember and had great doubts about marrying in the first place.
    Much of the abuse took place decades ago but I am still suffering the consequences of it today. For me, the relationship went bad right at the beginning and quickly became very controlling to the point where I would agree with almost anything and everything that was asked of me, even when it was the opposite of what I wanted. This is because, for a very long time, my wife used emotional abuse and psychological aggression against me on a daily basis. For some reason this made me feel very bad and it took me a long time to recognise it for what it was. She seems to have had an overwhelming need to control me and has been prepared to go to great lengths to exercise that control. Her difficult behaviour has had a very bad effect on my mental health and I find that I am actually afraid of her and her behaviours. This fear has been with me for a very long time and is now happening even in the absence of any abuse. Clearly, the relationship is very unhealthy as I have been walking on eggshells for as long as I can remember and the control is ever-present even when the abuse is now largely absent.
    Right from the early days she displayed the characteristics of a Jekyll and Hyde personality with a mixture of nice and nasty. The abuse has typically taken the form of excessive criticism and explosive anger including yelling, screaming, temper tantrums, tears, bad moods and the silent treatment. This started before we were married and my reaction was always to apologise for upsetting her and try to appease her and calm her moods. Looking back it seems obvious now that much of this behaviour was fabricated out of nothing as she could always find some reason to give me a hard time. I have never understood what drives this within her.
    I was in my early 20’s when we first and met and was exposed to this behaviour and I had never had to deal with a situation that was anything like it, or deal with any person that behaved like this towards me on an on-going and regular basis. The intensity and frequency was overwhelming and I did not know how to cope with the situation and managed it badly. It was very disturbing for me and very quickly my behaviour and personality was changed, as I tried to avoid anything that would trigger the aggression. I began to relate to her as a person, in a way that I had never interacted with anyone else.
    After much soul-searching, it is clear to me now that my behaviour has been driven by a disproportionate fear of her bad moods, which still drives things to this day. There has never been physical abuse or the destruction of property but I have always thought that she often gets to the point of being very close to crossing that boundary. I find that being around her at such times is a truly awful and very traumatic experience. I know that the fear imprinted upon me is not rational but it is also very real in the way that I am always deeply upset by it. Logic seems to not come into the analysis of the situation and I know that it is very irrational to feel this way but I cannot seem to help myself. I presume it is much the same when other people suffer from deep-rooted irrational phobias that cause panic attacks.
    Before the marriage we lived apart and would see each other at weekends or sometimes less frequently. Often we would talk on the telephone and many times she would find some reason to become very upset with me and end the call abruptly by hanging up. Invariably, I would call her back immediately to apologise for whatever was wrong and many times she would not answer the ‘phone. When we did meet at weekends, she would often launch into an immediate verbal attack showing her displeasure with clear signs of intense anger at something I had or hadn’t done. As a result of these attacks, which started very early in the relationship, my behaviour became almost totally controlled as I always tried to appease her and avoid whatever triggered the abuse.
    The control was to such an extent that we eventually married, which is something I definitely did not want to happen. It is such a long time ago that I don’t recall the exact circumstances of the “proposal” but I am assured by my wife that I asked her to marry me. This could very well be true but it would have been under the duress of her controlling influence. By my recollection, marriage was clearly what she wanted at the time and I obliged by doing what was expected of me. The controlling fears had me well and truly brainwashed by this point and I knew something was very deeply wrong with our relationship and what was happening to me. Despite going along with the marriage, I am absolutely certain that I did not want to marry her as I knew I did not love her as a man should love the person he is about to marry. Marrying someone I did not love, who often behaved in emotionally abusive ways, typifies just how controlling, toxic and unbalanced the relationship had become. She had developed the ability to make me feel fearful and overly anxious and I invariably responded in ways to ease the pressures generated within me by her behaviour. I had become her compliant victim, which happened over 30 years ago. No one else has ever had the ability to influence me in anything like the same way.
    Shortly after we married and were living together things got much worse as her bad moods escalated beyond my wildest imaginations. For some reason there was constant anger directed at me. One time she locked me out of the house after she had started an argument over absolutely nothing. She seems to have no recollection of this event, which in anyone’s eyes would be very memorable. Things were so bad around this time that I developed a significant health problem. The stresses were so high that my heartbeat became very irregular. The problem was checked out by a cardiac specialist and it was suggested that it was probably stress related. At the time I didn’t recognise the cause and did not relate it to the stresses of my marital situation. I was still in my 20’s at this point in time and should have been enjoying life to the fullest. The abuse was relentless and eventually I began to realise how toxic the relationship was and realised that it always had been. What intimacy there was in the relationship was completely gone after just a short period of marriage as her behaviour was so ugly that she became very unattractive to me.
    Invariably in her eyes, there has always been some very good reason why I have been on the receiving end of her aggression. Often I have been accused of doing something to deliberately annoy her, which makes it all my fault. For example, giving Christmas or birthday presents was usually a very big problem. First there would be a look of huge disappointment followed by an interrogation as to why I bought whatever it was and would then be told how inappropriate it was. Gradually this would escalate into a full dramatic “performance” with huge amounts of tears and much yelling and screaming about what a bad person I was. Eventually I would be accused of making the particular purchase as a way of deliberately annoying her. In reality I didn’t need to do anything to annoy her as a reason could always be found.
    Holidays were also a big problem with the tension gradually building from the outset as a predictable pattern would unfold. The bad mood and tension would escalate to around the middle of the holiday week at which point she would find a reason to start an abusive and highly venomous verbal attack with a declaration that she would never go on holiday with me ever again. Upon returning home she would often say what a good holiday we had had and I would be expected to go along with that view when asked if I enjoyed it. It was as if the ugly episode had never happened or was completely forgotten about. The reality for me was very different as it was always a nightmare, which had followed all the classical signs of the “cycle of abuse”. For many years, almost every holiday and every birthday and Christmas followed the same pattern and these are just a few examples of what must amount to hundreds if not thousands of similar events over the years. Just about every shopping trip used to be an awful experience and in the early days, hardly a day would go by without some form of abusive outburst that left me in a state of great emotional turmoil.
    One of the worst examples of her behaviour was a few years ago during a day trip to London. As usual, I didn’t really want to go along with her plans and would have preferred to be on my own. Naturally I complied with her wishes rather than stand up for myself. We took the short train ride to London, which was very busy and due to a simple misunderstanding and limited seating, we ended up sitting in different parts of the train. Upon arriving in London, I was subjected to the humiliating treatment, in full public view, at a very busy railway station. To say I got a dressing down would be a gross understatement. It was a truly horrible experience and she seemed to be totally out of control. Having experienced many similar situations, there was nothing that unusual in this behaviour other than it was particularly venomous. What made it especially upsetting was that it was only eight days after my father’s funeral. He had died following a long battle with cancer. I was completely devastated by the experience and this emotionally abusive episode was one of the worst I have ever encountered from her. True to form, at the end of the day she asked me if I had enjoyed our day out in London. What twisted mind would have thought that was an appropriate question? Presumably the same sick mind that thought the abusive episode was justifiable behaviour to be inflicted upon me during a period of intense grief at the loss of my father. The effect of her behaviour that day was truly horrible for me.
    The criticisms, abuse and bad moods went on for many years and at times on an almost daily basis. Any mistakes on my part would be met with an overbearing critical reaction no matter how minor the infringement. I became frightened of getting even minor things wrong and have now been afraid for most of my adult life. Occasionally, I would summon the strength to challenge her about her behaviour and attitude only to be told I was being overly sensitive and getting things out of all proportion or there would be some excuse about stress at work. She seems oblivious or uncaring about the effect she has on me and I can never recall her ever apologising for any of her appalling behaviour.
    Only recently have I tried to understand what has happened to me and discovered the impact of emotional abusive on a person’s wellbeing. Everything I have read on the subject describes my situation. During my search for answers, it has become clear that the reasons for her bad behaviour have often been completely fabricated and very much about control. I could never understand why anyone would behave in such a deeply disturbed way towards someone in what was supposed to be a loving relationship. During disagreements, any resistance from me would always result in escalation of the situation to the point of abusive behaviour. She has always had to win and get her own way. At times, life has been a never ending conflict over anything and everything. Eventually, I gave up and became very compliant and would reluctantly agree to whatever it was she wanted. These days, the best resistance I can manage is to drop hints that I am not keen on whatever it is she is suggesting. She never takes the hint and probably sees it as a challenge and will not let the subject drop until I give into her demands. This she then takes as my full agreement. In reality it is easier just to give in, which is a very different thing to agreement. Compliance makes life easier but is probably the worst thing I can do as it reinforces the controlling behaviour and it has created great resentment within me.
    Clearly, part of the problem is that I have always been very sensitive to her outbursts, which make me feel very bad, so I developed behaviours that tried to avoid her difficult outbursts of anger. In the early days when she started a fight I would stand up for myself but she would never back down and was always prepared to escalate things to a higher level than I would be prepared to go. She had to win all conflicts that she invariably started. Very occasionally I have tried to discuss these behavioural issues with her only to be told that I am overly sensitive and I am always questioned as to why the difficulties from years ago have any relevance to today. She seems unable to understand that her behaviour has been in anyway detrimental to the quality of our relationship and rather bizarrely seems to think we get along together reasonably well for most of the time. She attributes little significance to her overbearing manner. In reality, I no longer want to have anything to do with her and do not want to be around her. For me, the abuse from the distant past is still very relevant today as it has changed me from the person I once was to the fearful and anxious person that I am today and that I have been for decades when around her. The damage has been done to the point that I doubt I will ever get back to being the real me and the on-going relationship will always be very strained at best.
    Much of what I have read about on the motives of emotional abusers seems to focus on their overwhelming need for control. Whilst I can recognise this in my situation, I also believe her behaviour has had a lot to do with her getting some gratification or release of inner tension from the process of abusing me. Beyond that, I don’t know what has driven her behaviour, which is completely alien to me. At times I believe she has engineered situations to bring about a particular outcome, which in her mind then justifies the abuse. I have a strong suspicion that she would fantasise about abusing me during this tension building phase of the process. Whatever the reason, there seemed to be a strong compulsion for her to behave as she did and occasionally still does. The result is a very one sided and loveless relationship with a parent-to-child structure based on dominance and underpinned by the psychological damage done to me. Admittedly, the frequency of abuse has diminished over the years and is mostly absent these days. However, the need to control seems never to be far away and it extends to just about anything and everything no matter how big or small. It’s as if the drive for control has been a never ending constant within her.
    Naturally I want to leave and have had thoughts of leaving for almost as long as we have been married, which is over 30 years. Although I want out of the relationship, I have been brainwashed to the point that I cannot seem to go through with the process of leaving. I have tried but I am stuck for reasons that I don’t understand other than it is associated with a deep-rooted, fear-based, psychological problem. Despite multiple attempts to leave, I have either not been able to go through with it or sustain it. I have left a couple of times but have always gone back with my tail between my legs. I believe I have developed what is known as a traumatic bond or something akin to Stockholm syndrome. I become particularly fearful and anxious with severe panic attacks when I leave or have serious intentions of leaving. The forces within me become overwhelming and I suspect that the prolonged stresses that I have lived with have resulted in something that is described these days as complex post-traumatic stress disorder. Living with my wife’s angers and behaviours has always been very stressful for me and I believe it has caused the type of psychological trauma associated this disorder. To put it in layman’s terms, I am seriously screwed-up by it all.
    I suspect that very few people are aware of my situation but some close relatives are familiar with her difficult behaviours and have been on the receiving end. I think that some family members sympathise with me, as they know how difficult she can be. One time a close relative told her how hard she was on me only to be told that she didn’t really mean it in a nasty way and that I knew as such. Clearly a complete denial of reality and very far from my experience of the way she has related to me. Also, she has had very strained relationships with other close relatives and was hardly on speaking terms with her brother for a number years and, for the last 10 years or so, she has not had anything to do with her sister. Needless to say, she blames them for these situations and seems to be completely untroubled by the obvious upset it has caused her elderly mother and I’m sure her father his turning in his grave over this.
    There is another very big part to my story. Around 25 years ago I met someone to whom I was immediately attracted, in a way that I hadn’t experienced before. It really was love at first sight. I thought she was wonderful and after a few years of knowing her we started an intimate relationship. Time spent with her brings me great happiness and we seem to be very compatible in many ways. We get on very well and she is such a pleasure to be with. It’s a very loving and caring relationship. What more could anyone wish for? It has been an on-going on-off romance for over 20 years. At times the relationship has ended for extended periods but we have always remained close and got back together many times. Throughout this time we have wanted to be together more permanently but I have never managed to break free from my marriage. Wanting to be with her is a big part of wanting to get out of my marriage but try as I might, I can’t seem to get away. Why I can’t leave my wife for someone I truly love is completely beyond my comprehension. I’m very conflicted and torn apart by it. I don’t feel any guilt about this relationship and I am certain that it has not been the cause of my bad marital relationship. The fear of my wife’s abusive behaviour pre-dates this extra-marital relationship by several years and my marriage was in a very bad state long before I even met my lover.
    I am at a total loss to understand why things are the way they are other than it is all connected to my wife’s bad attitude towards me. I cannot work out why her anger makes me feel so bad. I do not have problems dealing with others who show similarly aggressive characteristics and I can clearly spot the absurdness of their behaviours. With others, it’s like water off a duck’s back. With my wife it’s very different and completely the opposite as I take things deeply to heart. It really is as if I am under her hurtful spell because that is what it feels like and it’s an explanation that fits many of my symptoms and actions. I can fully understand why some people might believe in witchcraft and evil spirits, as an explanation for such feelings and situations. Clearly this is a completely absurd idea but it summarises perfectly what I feel and is one of the best ways I can think of for articulating what I feel and what has happened to me. I am damaged by it and have been conditioned by it and it is clearly a form of brainwashing that I have experienced. My wife has done this to me or I have allowed it to happen. Either way, the outcome is the same.
    This is my life and it has been for 35 years. I am totally and utterly miserable and have been for a very long time. I am stuck in a prison without bars. No wonder I am such a mess having lived with this problem for so long. It has been such a huge burden that I seem unable to carry anymore and I am at breaking point. I’m afraid of what will happen next as my head is often filled with dark and disturbing thoughts. I feel like I need to get away from my overwhelming feelings and emotions, which now seem to come over me, for no obvious reason, on a daily basis. The constant anxiety causes surges of adrenalin several times every day and my body aches all the time and is weakened by it. I doubt if I will ever recover under any circumstances. I just need to get out but can’t. When is this nightmare going to end? I feel completely broken.


    Dear jjcooper789:

    What a read! My goodness! I read your post very attentively. It is, of course, a sad story of abuse.

    Your description of your wife’s behavior is very similar to my mother’s behavior. Your insight is extensive. Like you I also came to the conclusion that what I suffered from, as a result of being with my mother, was Complex PTSD. I gained many of your own insights that you detailed throughout your post.

    You asked at the end of it: when is this nightmare going to end?

    Hopefully before you die. Hopefully, as soon as possible.

    As I read your post I saw in my mind’s eye the image of an elephant that was chained to one place by a lock around its ankle. As a baby elephant, that was enough to prevent it from breaking free but as an adult elephant, it doesn’t. Why? Being locked, imprisoned has become what is Normal for the elephant. It adapted to the imprisonment. Breaking free would expose it to a life that seems Abnormal, unfamiliar, unpracticed.

    There is a physiological mechanism in living things called homeostasis. Our bodies operates so that its temperature is the same no matter if it is summer or winter; our blood glucose is the same, or strives to be the same no matter what we eat. In a similar way, our brains strive for sameness, mental-homeostasis (my term). So when you have been imprisoned for so long in your marriage, your brain adjusted and it became normal.

    If it didn’t become normal for you, it would have been way more distressing than it has been. Can you imagine? Not much different from a prisoner getting institutionalized: if not, the imprisonment would be unbearably distressing. So the prisoner makes the best of the circumstances: gets lots of pleasure from eating or making alcohol from fruits served at lunch… from playing chess with other prisoners and so forth. And when released from prison many experience so much distress that they commit a crime just so to go back to prison.

    When will this nightmare end? It will take courage on your part; courage to break through the distress of exiting the Normal to the Abnormal, the fear of leaving the sameness. Help from another person may be necessary for you. In the US there are shelters for abused spouses, designed to help the spouse in this transition from the normal to the abnormal.

    Would like to communicate further with you and hope you will post again.


    Adam P

    Hey JJ,
    After reading your life story, there’s too much to write to help you out, but rather this:
    I’m in my twenties. I experienced a smaller sample of what you are going through, but was still left with a big hurt. You know what helps:
    -No Contact
    -Pray/or meditate for them
    -Don’t worry about getting final say

    Call Me Ishmael

    Dear jjcooper7889:

    The sympathy and empathy I feel for you and your situation, on many levels, made your post very hard for me to read.

    For me to say that I am so very sorry for the terrible abuse you have suffered and endured for so long is wholly inconsequential in the face of all that you have been through. Nonetheless, I am sorry that you have suffered so much.

    First, I want to be clear and say that I am not an expert on any psychological disease or issue, and that I am in no way a professional, or even an aspiring amateur, in the fields of Psychology or Psychiatry. The thoughts I offer below are based only on my own personal experiences, and the research I have done to better understand those experiences.

    Many things you wrote suggest to me that your wife has a personality disorder, or a combination of personality disorders, possibly borderline personality disorder (BPD), narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), or anti-social personality disorder (APD). From what I have read, it is possible for people to have a double diagnosis of more than one personality disorder.

    Other psychiatric disorders can co-occur (can be comorbid) with personality disorders, too, such as: affective disorders (depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder) substance abuse disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, major depression, bulimia nervosa, etc.

    I urge you to do the research on these disorders, particularly BPD and NPD. There is plenty of information freely available on the Internet (including support websites and forums) and much more detailed information available in books that you can purchase. I think many of your questions about why she behaves that way will begin to be answered.

    I also very strongly urge and encourage you to explore the possibility of you finding—as Anita so rightly defines—“a competent, empathetic psychotherapist” to help you better (and eventually fully) understand and effectively process what you have been through and suffered. From what I have read, it is very common for folks to greatly benefit from therapy when decompressing from relationships (particularly long-term relationships) with people who have personality disorders. I urge you to consider finding a therapist not only because it has been of benefit to others, but also because of the “dark disturbing thoughts,” the “overwhelming feelings and emotions,” you feel on a “daily basis,” the “constant anxiety” and “surges of adrenaline” and “body aches” you are experiencing. I fear for your short-term and most definitely for your long-term well-being.

    Please empower yourself with research and knowledge, and particularly with the professional help of someone who is knowledgeable in the things with which you are dealing. I suggest that by doing so you will take the first steps to facilitate your extraction from the relationship, and ultimately recovering from what you have endured.

    For what it may be worth, I believe that you CAN extract yourself from this, that you CAN recover, and that you CAN have a much, much, MUCH happier life afterward.

    I hope the very best for you.



    Adam P

    Piggybacking off what Ishmael posted, I would recommend help. If you go to YouTube and search “Robert Wong self redirection” channel you will find hundreds of videos on overcoming toxic relationships and self improvement. If you wish to improve, this is a great first step that requires nothing more than an internet connection. Once you have established your mindset the rest will follow. All the best to you.
    Thank you and take care


    Thanks to all for the responses. I have researched extensively on anything and everything that I think is related to both my behaviour and that of my wife. I have tried therapy and medication and found no answers to my dilemma. I know that the solution is to leave and never look back but that never seems to work out or I can not bring myself to do it again even though I have managed to leave temporarily on a couple of occasions. The long term problems have brought me to this point. I know I am brainwashed, conditioned, institutionalised and totally screwed up by it all.


    Dear jjcooper7889:

    Your situation is very difficult but not hopeless. Clearly you don’t need more information and intellectual insight into your situation. What you need, if I may state it this way, is a safe place where you will be protected and comforted during a time of transition from the old to the new, that is a person to help you. it can be a competent, empathetic therapist and/or a friend who will open their home to you for the long time it will take for you to transition.



    Dear Anita,

    All the things you suggest have been in place for a long time. I have a wonderful friend with whom I have confided and she is very understanding. My therapist was very sympathetic but I’m not sure she really understood the problem. She focussed on CBT and strategies to face my fears and overcome what she diagnosed as a phobia. She seemed to think that my negative feelings were a result of my thoughts, which seemed to be way off the mark as the bad feelings seem to come over me in a spontaneous way even when I am not thinking about my situation. Also, I have moments of clarity when I think about my problems and the bad feelings don’t always emerge and at such times I wonder what I have been struggling with all these years. At such times all my problems do not exist but this feeling never lasts long. My therapist seemed to think that facing my fears would help in the same way that other phobias can be overcome through gradual conditioning and gradual acceptance that nothing bad is going to happen. The reality is that everyday I am exposed to the source of what causes my anxiety and have been continuously exposed for 35 years. If anything, the exposure is now making things worse. It’s as if the fear feeds the phobia and the phobia feeds the fear so it is a feedback loop that is spiralling out of control. Something is out of control within me and the only thing that brings very temporary relief is alcohol. Fortunately, even relatively small quantities can do this and I know there are no answers there. I seem to be stuck in this place like the chained elephant and have recognised this behaviour in me for several years. There is nothing stopping me leaving right now other than myself. I need to do something to make the problem go away but first I must find the key to unlock the chain within me. I feel that something might happen soon as the pain of staying is becoming so great but part of me thinks that nothing will change as I have lived like this for such a long time. Leaving? How hard can it be? Impossible it seems, as every few days I set myself leaving deadlines, which come and go like night follows day. Then I set myself a new deadline. The idea of leaving has become an obsession that is also out of control. I know what needs to be done but can’t seem to do it. I must be an extreme co-dependent, people pleaser, or rather a person pleaser as it only seems to apply to my wife and not to the other people in my life that really matter to me. I know it is all tied up with the emotional abuse and psychological aggression that I was subjected to for a long time, which is largely absent these days and nothing like it once was but the damage that was done years ago has permanence. The conditioning lasts a lifetime once it is hard-wired and the training is complete and the behaviour has been learned.


    Dear jjcooper7889:

    I think you are ready to move out, to leave this hellish marriage. I get this feeling, that you are ready by reading your last post. Just when it seems so impossible, once you leave, you will wonder (this is my prediction): how can it be so easy? You will be amazed by how easy it was.

    It seems so difficult from where you are now, but once you cross to the other side (away from a life with her), it may boggle your mind: why didn’t I do it before? It is so easy…

    Like the elephant, I suppose, with the ankle chain, breaking free was so easy: the chain was not even felt. It just lifted its leg and it broke. It took a step forward, no problem. And it exclaims: That is all? That was all that was too it?

    Your therapist may not have been correct in her analysis. She may have had a limited understanding of you and your situation, focusing on one corner of the picture, persistently shedding light on that corner and ignoring the rest of the picture.

    At this point, if you get into a robotic mode of action: removing your own focus from your thoughts (in your head) to your chained leg (back to the elephant comparison), and lift that leg, take a step forward…. no thinking, just doing the steps to get out… not thinking until you are on the other side.



    I hope you are right in thinking that I am ready to make changes. Emotions have been running high for a long time but the intensity seems to be escalating even further to the point that I need to do something to make things different than they are at the moment. I am wondering if the tipping point is when the emotional pain of staying becomes greater than the emotional pain of leaving. I am resolved to try to get out but then that has always been the case for a very long time.


    Dear jjcooper7889:

    I hope I am correct as well. I think you have a good point about the pain in staying being greater than the pain of leaving. It is exciting, really, the idea that a man who has been severely abused like you have been for three and a half decades will probably break free of the abuse. The values of Freedom and justice come to mind. If you only fell in love with the value, the principle of Freedom and then just followed that value blindly, at this point. You’ve done a whole lot of thinking and it did not serve you at all. All that thinking… maybe following that value, like a robot, or an automation, as I suggested before. Make a plan, a very simple plan: 1, 2, 3.. one step at a time, and execute without thinking.

    From slavery to freedom. There is no way to intellectually prepare to free yourself. If there was such a way, you would already be free. You thought enough.



    Last night I tried to discuss my problems with my wife. I tried to explain to her about my deep emotional pain and turmoil and that the source is rooted in the abuse I have suffered and my overwhelming desire to escape from the anxiety. I explained to her again the deep traumas that her behaviors have inflicted upon me. I’m terrified of her, which is totally irrational. It’s like a poison in me. I just want to run away and never look back, which is clearly a result of our unhealthy and toxic relationship. I raised the subject in the hope of getting some agreement on what we should do next. It’s as if I need her permission to leave and without that I will go nowhere. She holds the key to my brainwashing and it feels like she is the only one that can set me free from this prison without bars. Needless to say she got very upset and at times was clearly angry with me. It turned into something of a lecture about herself and her issues totally unrelated to the relevant topic. She will not release me by giving me the permission that I need in order to be free. I wish she would throw me out on the street as I am at a loss as to how I can achieve what needs to be done. I’m still stuck. Just like I have been for over three decades and I am sick of it.


    Dear Broken Man:

    What will be the end of this, I wonder. Will you stay in ” this prison without bars” for the rest of your days and nights with her? Maybe. Maybe this is it for you.

    To think that in reality you have the key to your freedom, but … if you believe the key is with her, then your belief is all that matters.

    Fear is what’s keeping you in this prison. Maybe anger as well. Maybe you believe that you deserve it. And your hope is that she will decide one day that you no longer deserve it.

    Do you deserve it?


    Yasir Khan

    Dear Broken Man,

    I registered on this website only so I may reply to this post. I have been exactly in your situation. To the ‘T’. I am 31 years now but was with this girl for like 5 years and frankly I don’t know what deed of my ancestors was loved by God that fortunately the circumstances didn’t allow us to get married. I didn’t understand this 6 months back when we broke up. I was devastated. For the last 5 years we were on and off. On times were the best. But off times were the worst. And the off times were triggered by Her and her controlling behaviour. I was someone who was so emotionally entrenched in the relationship that I couldn’t leave. She cheated on me again and again and I took her back when she came crying crawling back. The worst part is that I was walking on egg shells every time I was with her. A small trigger (and no ones fault) could have been sufficient to trigger her worst side and if a week would pass by in romance, the next 3 weeks would be me trying to communicate and get through her, or pacify her down. We would have broken off and got back like a 100 times through out these 5 years.

    After thorough investigations on my side I concluded that she had BPD. Of course there is no evidence or clinical investigation behind this, but having known her so well and reading so extensively about personality disorders, this is the closest explaination I can give to her behaviours.

    We broke up 6 months back, I was devastated, finding it very difficult to leave, had tendencies to keep going back again and again. I am living in a different country than my family/relatives/friends for 6 years now and no support group made it worst.

    I agree with you completely on the fact that its really difficult to leave. The guilt trips they leave for us are so dangerous to navigate that you have tendencies to never leave on your terms or even if you leave you tend to keep going back. But post breakup therapy help me a great deal. It was only after a few months that I started coming out of the FOG (Fear, Obligation, Guilt, search for this on google) and I started seeing the relationship for what it is. And it is remarkable how you have such a clear understanding of what is happening to you WHILE you are in the relationship, because most people are not able to see clearly unless they don’t come out of it.

    I am not as experienced in life as you are, but let me tell you one thing that I know. There IS peace and love on the other side. Peace of moving away from abuse, love of what YOU can provide to YOURSELF. And believe me, not even a single day in such a relationship is worth it than compromising your own self-respect as a man by being in such a relationship. One thig I have learnt out of this sad but great experience is that I will NEVER let anyone, NOONE treat me like how my ex treated me. Contrary to what I had thought for all these 5 years that she loved me, she didn’t. Because control, manipulation and pain is never love. You have loads of time in front of you, time to give yourself and the world your best. You still can get out, recover and take back control of your life. But remember that recovery is possible only when you get out and maintain no contact. Thats only when therapy will work. Not when you take therapy for 1 hour to go back home and suffer abuse for 23 hours of the day.




    Thank you for your words on the subject and I am sorry to hear of your problems. The FOG certainly messes with ones head to the point of irrational behaviour. Seeing things as they really are helps a lot but doesn’t alter the fact that immense psychological damage is done by such people and their behaviour. Why they carry on as they do is a complete mystery to me but they must be very twisted people themselves. I have studied just about all the relevant information I can access through the internet and found some answers and insights. As with your situation I have wondered if my wife has a personality disorder but what I have found doesn’t seem to quite fit exactly but certainly something has been very wrong. Around 6 months ago I left for 4 weeks but went back. Since then, her behaviour as been that of a normal person and the attacks have stopped but it feels very false. I sense that she is holding back all the time so I am still walking on eggshells knowing that inside there is a rage just waiting and building as in the cycle of abuse.

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