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Jun 27 2011

Spinster aunt answers eternal question “when should I dump him?”

Got a mean boyfriend who gets mad at you all the time?

DUMP HIM. DUMP HIM NOW.

Reluctant to completely change your life based on the exhortation of some random Internet feminist? Then at least try out youarenotcrazy.com for some No. 1 Verbal Abuse Information. Tragically, the entire website suffers from gratuitous Flash, which makes it challenging to navigate (and copy text from), but slog through it anyway, because I promise you, you don’t deserve the shit that asshole is dishing out.

An excerpt from the “Defective?” section:

The ramifications of abuse are yours, and the payoff is his. If you feel crazy, he’s in control. These things add up to an all-around anxiety of being crazy:

• I often feel disconnected and confused, wobbly.
• I engage in introverted dissections of our conflicts to figure out what went wrong.
• I’m wary and distrust my own ability to form friendships.
• I feel as if an important dream shattered, but I can’t remember what that dream was.
• I have a growing doubt in myself and my self-respect.
• I feel like the whole world is muffled and out of my reach.
• Emptiness lingers around me like an endless fog, and I’m afraid to tell anyone.
• I must carefully edit anything I say because I’m not normal.
• I used to love doing some activities, now I just can’t muster the enthusiasm.
• I don’t know why I’m not happier within my relationship.
• I’m ill at ease in his presence, but I know I love him.
• I often don’t trust that my perceptions are valid.
• I have an intense desire to NOT be the way I am (as in “too sensitive”).

As the alumna of several abusive relationships (hell, who isn’t?), and as the observer of about 1753 more of my friends’ abusive relationships, I am the world’s foremost authoritative expert know-it-all wise old crone on the subject. I can attest that the information contained in youarenotcrazy.com is quality stuff.

The “Quiz” section, for example, contains an actual audio recording of an actual dickhead boyfriend verbally abusing the author, and will make you throw up as you play “spot the abusive tactic”. It’s awesome (if navigationally confusing) because the author’s hypothesis — that women often do not recognize verbal abuse when they hear it — is spot on.

Another of my favorites is the “Abusers Are Rarely Motivated To Change” section. I love this section because almost universally, the abused woman thinks her abusive dude can be turned into a nice guy if she can just get him to understand that he’s been acting like an entitled prick. For instance, she wants dude to go with her to couples therapy, where she believes the therapist will validate her concerns in front of the dude, whereupon she will be vindicated as not-crazy, and the dude, confronted with his horribleness at last, will be shamed into changing his ways, and they will be a happy loving couple again.

Say I: Don’t waste your time! Dump him now!

Says our author:

It’s rare for an abusive man to truly become nonabusive; even men that take part in renowned abuser programs. Sadly, in therapy, most men just learn to abuse without looking bad, using new skills and psychological jargon to avoid taking responsibility for the pain they inflict.

One thing I didn’t see at youarenotcrazy.com is the “but he’s not like that all the time” bit. Sometimes abusive dudes go through phases where they act like they like you. This can be mistaken for love, but listen girls, love is not sporadic episodes of quasi-decency punctuated with rage. A pal of mine recently called me up in tears because of her mean boyfriend. She told me “he can’t help being mean to me, he ran out of weed last week.” All his empathy and compassion were in that dime bag, I guess.

DUMP HIM.

Tangentially, I would like to take this opportunity to pooh-pooh self-help books that purport to take you inside the mind of your abuser so that you may understand his motivations. Who cares about his motivations? DUMP HIM NOW.

Shout-out to veteran blamer Jezebella for hipping me to this website.

95 comments

1 ping

  1. allhellsloose

    Very quickly:

    “Abusers are very rarely motivated to change”, but when they dump you, usually they have someone else they’ve hoodwinked lined up, the rallying cry is “I’ve changed and this relationship isn’t working now”.

    Also, I had a dude who would be nice to me when we had sex and within minutes of it finishing (which increasingly only took minutes) would revert back to meanness. He went on the hunt for another after he did this three times, and I pointed out to him his distinct pattern of ‘foreplay’.

    And I’m not apologising for it taking three times for me to see the pattern. So there. Not even mentioning it.

  2. Lidon

    I would have to agree with you regarding those self-help books. FUCK motivations. I wish I had come across your blog years ago. I DID dump, but sadly it took longer than it should have.

  3. Judi

    Here’s a true proposition, a handy rule of thumb to remember: The question “should I dump him?” answers itself, and the answer is “yes.”

    If you’re involved with someone whose conduct toward you is sufficiently troubling that you’re even considering dumping him, you should dump him. Don’t second guess yourself; just dump. You don’t need him, for any purpose, and he’s hurting you in ways you can’t even see. You have no idea how grand your life will become without him. You owe it to yourself to find out who you are when you’re not being made small by abuse.

    A relationship is only good enough to keep if it’s so consistently and clearly so good that the “should I dump” question just doesn’t even come up. Otherwise, you’re way better off on your own.

  4. nakedthoughts

    looking through the quiz, I can’t quite articulate what I feel thinking back on past relationships. It is amazing what one can ignore when they are in love. It wasn’t physically violent. I did resent his guilt trips and manipulative nature. I “let” him do things to prove I cared. The further I get from the situation the more i realize how fucked up it was.

  5. Sarah

    Peruse the list, ladies. Peruse it good ‘n’ proper. If perused properly, you may find that more than one relationship in your past was abusive. The “I’m wary and distrust my own ability to form friendships,” one was particularly resonant with me – one of my very first boyfriends, who I loved very much, and I thought loved me – made me feel this way. At the time, I felt despair – not at his assholery, no, but at the fact that lo, I had no real friends (as he had convinced me). And sure enough, a long enough time went by and indeed I had no friends as they were sick of listening to me whine and constantly bagging out on social engagements to appease his need for me-alone-time. And lest you think only menfolk are capable of abusing you, ‘tis not true. Women can hate you too. My next girlfriend was 100x worse. Thanks patriarchy!

  6. Abadalabadally

    ““Abusers are very rarely motivated to change”, but when they dump you, usually they have someone else they’ve hoodwinked lined up, the rallying cry is “I’ve changed and this relationship isn’t working now”.”

    Ha! “It-isn’t-me-it’s-you, and you’re beyond hope, you need professional help.” Although in that case, he came back and admitted that the real reason he’d moved out and stuck me with the rent was just he’d already pulled the old girlfriend switch-a-roo.

    Oh, for a time machine to tell my 18-year-old self how formulaic it all is. I wouldn’t have listened, though.

  7. buttercup

    that website has a lot of good info on it, I just wish it were more user-friendly.

  8. LS

    I haven’t been in an abusive relationship but reading that list, I feel like I did/do those things to myself! Sigh… I still BTP

  9. lizor

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

    I really need to read that right now.

    Thank you.

  10. Raven

    Thank you for making more people aware of this site. Yes, the flash can make your eyes fall out of your head, but the information is so dead on. In fact, reading this site helped me stand firm in my decision to file for divorce from the raging asshole narcissist to whom I was married for seven years.

    Y’all, let me tell you one thing for certain; you will be shocked, amazed and horrified when you finally DTMFA (dump the motherfucking asshole) and start thinking and seeing the world without the blinders and distortion of an emotional abuser. It took me a good two years away from that assclown to feel like myself again. It was just little things like, he hated mayonnaise, so it was forbidden in our house. He used to monitor everything I ate or drank. One day I was shopping and it was like a light came on. Holy shit, I could buy/eat/drink anything I wanted, and nobody was going to judge, complain, bitch, or moan when I got home.

    Emotional abusers keep you in your place by taking over every detail of your daily life, so no matter what you do, you consider their wants and needs first, and above your own. Even the most basic thing like buying groceries feels like walking on eggshells not to disturb or upset this person. You spend so much time trying to avoid setting them off, that you lose yourself completely.

    So, yeah, getting to the point, I guess, is that as Jill says, and as I tell anyone who asks me that question. DUMP HIM. You will be amazed how great it feels to be in control of your own life. IBTP that these fucking dirtbags think they are absolutely entitled to turn someone they are supposed to love into little more than an indentured servant. I think it was Jill who once made the brilliant observation that if you asked any of these asshats about why their wife divorced them, they will be stunned. In their mind, they had a wonderful marriage.

    DTMFA, today. Trust me, it is the best decision you will make.

  11. janicen

    It wouldn’t make any difference what Sean, in the recording, said to me, his tone of voice would be enough to make me run in the other direction. If only to avoid assault charges for punching him square in the face. I can’t imagine talking to another human being in that tone of voice, much less someone I loved.

  12. ew_nc

    My moment of realizing what hell my marriage had been was when I pulled into the driveway after work one evening, and I felt elated that I had the evening to myself. Previously, pulling into the driveway meant pushing away the dread and preparing to walk on eggshells. It’s only when you’re on the other side do you really see how bad it is.

    I know someone in particular that needs this website right now. Thanks.

  13. ruby

    I agree, if you are asking the question, you know the answer. And I think if you are going to endure the burden of being the woman in a relationship, you had better at the very minimum be getting a supportive and healthy partner out of it or you are getting twice shafted.

    The abusive v. healthy tab, the abusive sums up my relationship with my mom. How come I figured out the guy stuff quickly but still let the mom stuff furk with my head?

  14. Tanya

    I wish I had read this blog post about sixteen years ago back when I was wondering if I should dump him. I had many people talk me out of it. At the time I thought they had my best intentions at heart. I would read Twisty and know that dumping him would have saved me years of anguish. They were being tools of the patriarchy. Of course a woman is better off if she is paired up. Being a single mom is apparently the worst thing ever. Fear and social stigma kept me from dumping him. But don’t worry I did finally smarten up and dump him.

    Thank you so much for writing this. I’m going to make my kids read it. It could save their life one day.

  15. slashy

    I normally hate to be all “but women do bad things to each other too” when people are talking about men’s shit behaviour, but being a survivor of an incredibly damaging and abusive dyke relationship (four years ago and I’ve been single since: recovery is not fast), I want to point out that if your female partner is saying these things to you and making you feel these ways get the fuck out of there as fast as if it was a dude. Seriously DUMP HER before it escalates (it will). And then good luck finding resources/support/recovery assistance in the aftermath that even makes an attempt at including your experiences, because that landscape is dire. I mean. I guess there’s not much out there for het ladies escaping abuse either, but dyke survivors of domestic abuse seem to be as mythical unicorns to service providers, writers of helpful ‘recovering from abuse’ books, healthcare professionals or anyone else you might try to seek assistance from.

  16. Mary Tracy9

    It’s not always easy to dump him. You may have nowhere else to live, for example.

  17. Kea

    Great advice. Reminds me of one time I told a young woman to dump her Extra Cool Dude boyfriend, while he was standing right there with his friends. There were some very strange looks on the faces of the dudes.

  18. Spewey

    Thank you for linking to that website. The audio clips were especially devastating. He sounds so “calm,” and acting out as if he was being “rational.” I think generally when we think of abuse, and specifically forms of verbal abuse, we tend to imagine it must have to be shout-y and loud to qualify as abusive behavior. And too often through pop culture, it’s represented soley in the form of directness when undermining someone, i.e. through swearing and profuse name-calling. Like, as if there’s only one way for determining how, or calculating if, abusers can manipulate and maintain control over their victims and the witnesses to that abuse!

  19. stickypaws

    Mary Tracy9′s spot on. When entangled with an abuser, dumping can be a long process, one that often requires financial help from friends. If your abuser is an A+ student, he (or she) has already made a concerted effort to separate you from everyone who may have helped you.

  20. ruby

    Slashy, a friend of mine has a blog called Violence Unsilenced which features personal accounts of abuse(domestic and sexual). Check it out and you might think about posting because it is a resource for all women(and men) looking for info, help or just to be heard and other people might benefit from knowing about your experience. I don’t know if she has any other LGBT abuse accounts but I know she is would find it important for you to be heard.

    http://violenceunsilenced.com/

  21. yttik

    “Who cares about his motivations?”

    That’s a huge obstacle for many women. Women tend to think rationally, like, “if I can just figure out what causes this, I can make it stop.” The problem is an abuser’s motivation is really quite simple, they believe it is acceptable behavior and they can get away with it. Nothing less, nothing more. A lot of women tend to contort themselves into pretzels trying to come up with cause and effect.

    “Dump him” is sound advice, but to help a friend reach that point where they start to realize that they aren’t the problem, we need to help them do something good for themselves, focus on something positive other than him, connect with other women. They aren’t going to dump him until they realize it’s not their fault, they aren’t crazy, and that they deserve better.

  22. Comrade PhysioProf

    That audio tape is horrifying. You can hear the total emotional emptiness and calculated destructiveness in his tone of voice. I am very familiar with that tone, having dealt with a lifetime of it from my mother. And the sentence structures themselves are so discursive that it takes all of the listener’s attention just to parse them.

    This is all by design. The words and the tone are intentionally constructed to disrupt and disturb the listener’s perception of reality and confidence therein. I would bet a fair bit of money that the d00d is somewhere on the spectrum between narcissistic and borderline personality disorders.

  23. thebewilderness

    I only know one self help book worth reading when you or a friend are in an abusive relationship.
    “Why Does He DO That” helps you figure out how to disconnect enough, plan enough, to get out and maintain your sanity while you do it. It also explains how to avoid adopting the abusers perspective which is pervasive in our society.

    There is also a support website with a forum, whether you are still in or out. Sometimes it helps to be able to talk about it anonymously.

    http://www.drirene.com/

  24. Jill

    “That audio tape is horrifying. You can hear the total emotional emptiness and calculated destructiveness in his tone of voice.”

    I know, right? The brutal, bloodless monologues — holy shit. A flippin psychopath. And I bet I know why Eileen taped this exchange. She wanted to be able to play it back to him so she could prove he said the horrible shit he said, and he couldn’t deny it for once, to prove she wasn’t crazy. It just nauseates me.

  25. stickypaws

    One more comment about dumping:

    While I’m onboard with the whole “If you’re even thinking about dumping him, DUMP HIM!” motto, there are consequences to consider. And by consequences, I mean men who won’t/don’t go away, even after being dumped. Men who will punish you for having dumped them: who say things to your friends, family or coworkers to destroy your reputation; who stalk you; who may hurt or kill you (or your children, or your coworkers, etc.).

    I’m not saying you shouldn’t dump him. I’m saying this issue has more facets to examine.

  26. Citizen Taqueau

    Borderline Personality Disorder is nearly always classified as a Female Problem. This is, I suspect, linked to the myth of male invulnerability, patriarchally encoded in a calculated disappearing of the fallout of men’s abuse issues from childhood and the complementary stigmatization/slut-shaming of women’s. The constellation of “borderline” behaviors occur in men as well as women, and in my anecdotal observation they do so about as frequently, perhaps equally. As most of us are probably aware, it’s linked to a crushing sense of emptiness and inarticulated terror of abandonment, behaviorally expressed in superficially charming behaviors that can’t be maintained since genuine affection is too frightening to feel on a gut level, plus a reflex towards (pre-emptively) hurting and frightening intimate partners or dependents and orchestrating an environment of total control over others. Combine this set of reflexive and desperately calculated behaviors with a culturally inculcated sense of entitlement, add narcissism, and you’ve got yourself one scary MF, because there’s very little social motivation to get better.

  27. Boner Killer

    More and more women I know from my childhood are ending up in relationships such as these – they seem to be more “normal” now, since you know, dudes are checkin’ out the latest porno flicks of women having their head shoved in toilet bowls. It’s become uber-sexy to see half-beat up women and women being called “stupid cunt” over and over and so now dudes feel even more entitled to treat their female partners like complete shit. Should I even be so surprised when woman-abusers like Charlie Sheen are so revered in our society? Oh…damn it all!

  28. lady b

    “Borderline Personality Disorder is nearly always classified as a Female Problem.”

    Yes, this is so frustrating! Of course, it’s a lot easier to find what you’re actively looking for: women live under a lot of pressure to be demure, so if we ruffle any feathers, men are pretty quick to pathologize it. People actively try to reinforce the cultural narrative that women are essentially volatile and manipulative, but there is no such effort to police men’s behavior. If a man exhibits borderline behaviors, people might take notice, but would rarely find it odd enough to diagnose.

    At least, this has been my experience; my (pretty obviously) borderline ex-boyfriend was misdiagnosed his whole life until quite recently, since it had just never occurred to anyone to explore that possibility, but I can name multiple women in my life who have been accused baselessly (often by their abusers) of having the disorder.
    When I was looking for resources on how to get out of that relationship, it was pretty alienating to only find literature written for men, about women. IBTP.

  29. Z

    It’s a great site. I found it when I was in an abusive relationship and it caused me to get out, pronto. Years later I had been in a different kind of abusive relationship (i.e. not a love relationship) and a pamphlet, simpler than this site but with the same concepts, got me out of it. Now I came on IBPT because of an interaction with a *worker* (someone I hired) that felt really abusive and presto – the post of the day is this site, it seems like synchronicity.

  30. Mortisha

    Best buzz of all is that first breath of complete freedom when you come out of the fog and the foot crushing your neck is burnt off.

    These are the real vampires folks, the ones that hone in, hook on and steadily drain you drip by drip of your will to be yourself, your ability to see and in the end your very life.

  31. Z

    @stickypaws, consequences, yes, and that was why I was so nervous about dumping my abusive X and procrastinated about it. Leaving is a risk. But staying is also a risk.

    I hate to say leaving him was the best thing I ever did since I have far more interesting accomplishments than dumping men. However staying on would have definitely been the worst thing I ever did for myself.

  32. allhellsloose

    Yes Mary Tracy9 and sticky paws are right, especially if there are children involved. It does take a lot of planning and money. And if there are children involved you’re never going to be totally rid of him, which makes revcovery much longer.

  33. madeleine

    This blog changes lives. Recently after I witnessed a couple of exchanges between a very dear friend and her nigel, she asked me seriously what I had seen/heard: was she crazy? This blog gave me the vocabulary and the context to tell her that what I had witnessed was mental abuse, and this gave her a lightbulb moment. She hasn’t dumped him yet, but she kicked him out of her house and put an au-pair in that room. Thank you, Jill.

  34. ivyleaves

    Listening to Sean made me want to fall asleep. Anyone who talks like that is a whiny, boring asshole who doesn’t deserve the time of day from anybody. But, I think it would be even more instructive to see how he acted at the start of the relationship when he was nice to her. And also what his “explosions” are like. Clearly an entitled jerk. Someone needs to make a movie about this to show as part of a sex education class.

  35. Z

    @BonerKiller, do you really think? I’ve made that observation too, but didn’t know whether it was generalized. Hmmmm….

  36. DrSue

    Re Comrade PhysioProf and Citizen Taqueau: Yes, both narcissism and borderline personality disorder are considered to be primarily female issues and are often unrecognized (and dangerous) in men.

    I have also come to believe, though, that there is such a phenomenon as “induced BPD,” though I have never found any research on this. I think this happens when certain men (not necessarily overt abusers–for example, a “tormented” married man who dangles a girlfriend for years and the relationship becomes about his “deep conflict” about leaving the marriage) drive women crazy by inducing them to trust and rely on them, and then abandoning them at critical times. The woman’s legitimate hurt/anger and legitimate experience of abandonment are then diagnosed as borderline rage and abandonment issues, and she becomes the crazy one in the relationship, the one who has to seek therapy and apologize repeatedly for losing control.

  37. Femdoc

    It’s horrifying to see the amount of women who are on psychiatric meeds because they come to their doctors with the complaint that “my boyfriend/fiancé/husband says I have a problem and I need some help.”. What those “significant others” want is not real help for the woman, but a Stepford wife. I’d have more to say on the subject, but I’m on this freaking iPad, and the typing takes me five times as long as a normal keyboard…

  38. Citizen Jane

    The problem is that he is the sweetest, cuddliest, charmingest guy in the beginning. He makes you feel so special and you think you are so lucky to have him. When the abuse starts (usually after you have made a commitment like moving in together), you think you already know him. So you make the reasonable assumption that this new behaviour is a result of something in the relationship.

    As the abuse continues on, you try desperately to figure out how to get “the real him” back, the one you fell in love with. What you don’t realize is that this is the real him. The one you fell in love with was a puppet.

    Finding out that someone you love is not actually real is pretty traumatizing in itself, even without all the trauma caused by the abuse. It’s no wonder that so many victims are in denial about it even if they could have figured it out.

  39. Jill

    “Dump him” is sound advice, but to help a friend reach that point where they start to realize that they aren’t the problem, we need to help them do something good for themselves, focus on something positive other than him, connect with other women. They aren’t going to dump him until they realize it’s not their fault, they aren’t crazy, and that they deserve better.

    Which is precisely why I wrote a consciousness-raising post on verbally abusive boyfriends, with a link to a verbal abuse awareness site explaining that the abused girlfriends are not crazy and deserve better.

    Sadly, you can’t make your abused friends focus on anything other than saving their desperate situation with their beloved abuser. Believe me, I’ve tried. They have to want out, but they never do. Usually all they can focus on is the many futile ways they might change the dude into a nonabuser.

    For instance — and this is but e pluribus unum; I’ve had abused friends out the wazoo — I have this friend whose dickhead boyfriend was mad all the time and said hateful things to her even though he was charming to everyone else — it was classic stuff. She was crying all the time and miserable. Well, we had the usual conversation, wherein I tried to demonstrate that her situation was abusive. She believed it deep down, but didn’t want to believe it, and managed to rationalize staying with him. No matter what I said, I could never get her to believe that she deserves a better fate than life as a hate-sponge for that asswipe.

    This was months and months ago, and she’s still with him to this day, for all the usual reasons: She doesn’t want to admit that she has made so grave an error in judgement as to hitch her wagon to this jackass; she can’t make rent without him; she doesn’t want to be alone; she loves him; he can be really nice sometimes, etc.

    Sometimes all you can do is show’em where the coffee pot is and hope that at some point they’ll wake up and smell it.

  40. Jill

    “I’m not saying you shouldn’t dump him. I’m saying this issue has more facets to examine.”

    Obviously physical safety is the primary consideration. What this post addresses is verbal abuse perpetrated by an otherwise non-violent bully. I agree completely that in situations where physical violence is a component a more nuanced approach is indicated.

  41. Lisbeth

    “It’s rare for an abusive man to truly become nonabusive; even men that take part in renowned abuser programs. Sadly, in therapy, most men just learn to abuse without looking bad, using new skills and psychological jargon to avoid taking responsibility for the pain they inflict.”

    This really resonated with me. I separated from my husband nearly a year ago, but I should have done it sooner. I went through every relationship advice book, sought the advice of my friends, reasoned, pleaded, bargained and begged him to change. We also went to two marriage counsellors in an attempt to salvage something I thought was worth the energy. He was one of those guys who used psychological jargon to try to manipulate me – “You’re projecting your anger onto me”, “I’m sorry that you are angry” rather than “I’m sorry that you are working nights while studying to support my lazy, selfish arse”. And “I really think that you need to seek help for your depression”. It’s kinda funny how “my depression” was non-existent before I met him and magically disappeared shortly after I kicked him out. He would pathologise my anger and resentment toward him in a cool, calm and collected voice. He had nothing to be angry or resentful about. He had a cook, cleaner and breadwinner all rolled into one. I’d have been pretty cool, calm and collected too. The longer I am away from him the saner I feel. But of course, I never was crazy. I had a crazy person telling me I was. IBTP

  42. Nepenthe

    Psychopath awareness education should be taught in schools, except that it would teach the psychopaths how to hide better. If anyone ever cares to know what the shithead who abused me looks like, I’m sure his picture is printed in the DSM-IV right next to 301.81 (Narcissistic Personality Disorder).

  43. Jezebella

    This whole thread is bringing a tear to my eye. I confess that I have never had the nerve to click and listen to the audio recording, because I think it would probably trigger a giant anxiety attack.

    My bestie, a dude, is currently in a verbally abusive relationship, and while he agrees with my assessment of it, he won’t leave it. It’s driving me mad. I can’t be around them, she’s such an asshole to him. He says all the usual stuff: well, sometimes she’s really nice to me, oh, she’s only mean to me when other people are around, oh, she doesn’t really *mean* it when she calls me names, well, but she LUURVES me, really she does, but, see, I’m her only friend, she’d be devastated if I left…. I guess all I can do is be there to pick up the pieces.

  44. IrishUp

    Regarding BPD, Marsha Linehan (the woman who developed Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) has modeled it as (briefly) developing when the person encounters an invalidating environment. An invalidating environment is where A) your emotional reactions do not seem to match others’ (expectations of what they should be) to a given circumstance or event and B) others’ reactions to your reaction is not to support how you feel, but to blame, shame and/or correct and question. Sounds familiar. It’s an escalating vicious cycle. The less validation you get, the bigger the mismatch between you & your environment, the less validation you get, et cetera, ad nauseum.

    Linehan’s model may be subject to some of the same method/theory flaws that Freud was, insofar as she developed it and DBT because her clients were women with severe, “intractable” *cough* self-harming/suicidal BPD. So there is room for legit critique over whether this is how ALL BPD develops – well shit, there is a lot of room for critique of the whole diagnosis of BPD. However, once you learn to blame, Linehan’s model makes perfect sense, as does the fact that BPD is diagnosed in women more often than men. And IBTP.

    “That’s a huge obstacle for many women. Women tend to think rationally, like, “if I can just figure out what causes this, I can make it stop.” ”
    So true, but it seems less about how rational women are, and more about the fact we’re socialized to put our talents into the service of P, and conditioned to expect to be blamed and punished if we’re not sufficiently compliant.

  45. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    Nepenthe, I think we may have dated the same psychopath.

    Another fact verbally abused people don’t want to grasp is that it ruins a part of you forever. And just as sure as shit sticks to a blanket, no one wants to fess up and admit they’ve wasted a buttload of time either.

  46. Bushfire

    You know what else is to blame for people staying in abusive relationships? Godbagism.

    Of course, for the creation of godbagism, I blame the patriarchy.

  47. julybirthday

    Holy crap, this info has sucked me in (I feel so VALIDATED!) and repelled me (I remember how much it SUCKED)!

    I relate to constantly feeling confused, and eventually DESPERATE, to PROVE that I was not all the horrible things he was accusing me of. He used to ride me about working out, then when I got home, quizzed me on how many exercises I did, how much cardio. And I always needed to gauge his mood and meet him there EXACTLY. Otherwise I wasn’t tuned in, I was distant, I was self-absorbed. The accusations of selfishness finally broke through, since I still had lots of friends, lots of people in my life, and somehow, *he* was the only one who’d singled me out as selfish. Everyone else thought I was fantastic. I finally believed it again myself after I DTMA.

  48. laxsoppa

    “I would like to take this opportunity to pooh-pooh self-help books that purport to take you inside the mind of your abuser so that you may understand his motivations.”

    Just reading this makes me feel at least a little bit more validated for not fucking giving a shit about the feelings of those who abused me verbally or otherwise. I recently dumped an second-hand abusive dude who was insinuating that I should just try to understand the people who hit me or screamed abuse at me when I was a child. The biggest abuser in my life has been my mother, and yet so many of the settings and tactics of abuse she employed against me were exactly the same as you could see in the exchange between Sean and Eileen. I think the site could be expanded to cover a bigger variety of close relationships (friends, family, etc.) with relatively little trouble – but even if it doesn’t happen, it’s a valuable resource.

    It made it easier for me to accept later in life (or therapy) that it wasn’t anything I did, that I couldn’t have made it stop, because in a parent-child relationship the child can never be the responsible party. Makes sense especially now that my friends and cousins are starting to have kids and I get to see the whole web of responsibilities that come with a family from a different perspective.

    It gets murkier in relationships that are supposed to be between equals, and I can confess that getting into another one after that snide dude is not high on my list right now. I shared some of the worst experiences in my entire life with him and he chose to treat it as something he read on a celebrity tabloid.

    I can whole-heartedly agree with the “if you have to ask…” sentiment about dumping the arsehole, and while I do appreciate that kids and other mutual commitments are an issue, I don’t think it’s a choice at all.

    stickypaws – “While I’m onboard with the whole “If you’re even thinking about dumping him, DUMP HIM!” motto, there are consequences to consider. And by consequences, I mean men who won’t/don’t go away, even after being dumped.”

    The consequences of leaving an abusive relationship may include abuse from the dumped party? As I see it, the consequences of NOT leaving WILL include abuse; by leaving one has at least a chance to be rid of it. To pretend that this is anything else than further incentive to put on your good jogging shoes or pack the car and kids and step on it is beyond ridiculous.

  49. laxsoppa

    And I would also add re: kids that leaving that abusive relationship will be the best thing you’ll ever do for them. Whether they are also being directly abused or not, they will certainly suffer because of the abuse.

  50. allhellsloose

    After this post “a thousand flowers could bloom”.

  51. angie

    Oh, where was this site when I was in my early 20s? It could have saved me a lot of years and money with my therapist, who basically told me: (1)You’re not crazy, he’s an asshole; and (2) DUMP HIM!

  52. Killerchick

    Jill wrote: “Which is precisely why I wrote a consciousness-raising post on verbally abusive boyfriends, with a link to a verbal abuse awareness site explaining that the abused girlfriends are not crazy and deserve better”.

    (Atheistic) amen, sister.

    This post is a perfect counter-example to those who pop up from time to time to tell us that blogular feminism is just “chewin’ the fat” and isn’t “real” activism. I’ve sent links to this post to three of my friends who are currently in situations of exactly this sort with banally sociopathic Nigels. I hope they find the strength to leave.

    It’s the apparent inconsequentiality of verbal abuse that is the real head-fuck isn’t it? The hurt and confusion wrought by the disparaging tone, the female-specific insult, the “it was only a joke” retort after you pick them up on a cruel put-down. I recognise these techniques only too well from male relatives (whom I don’t see any more).

    Thanks, Jill.

  53. Rashwanton

    I was married to the same guy some of the rest of you dated. I have two kids with him. I left when they were three and six. Now they are ten and thirteen. Leaving him was the best thing I ever did for me, and it will eventually be (have been?) a good thing for my kids, but I feel compelled to say that if you are in one of these situations with kids, please take into account the possibility that he will use the courts and custody to continue to abuse you. My “Sean” actually married a woman with family law training, “so he could take me to court whenever he wanted to.”

    It is possible that if I’d known what a hell he would create for me and my children, I would have chosen to stay until they were older. At least from within the marriage I could protect the children.

    In any other case, dump him and DON’T LOOK BACK, but if you have kids, especially little ones, talk to a very, very honest lawyer before you make any decisions.

  54. Notorious Ph.D.

    “You’re too sensitive!”

    “Teasing is a sign of affection.”

    “That’s stupid.” [where "that" = volunteering at a homeless shelter on Thanksgiving when family are 1500 miles away]

    “I know you want support right now, but I’m at the airport and have to deal with a problem with my bags.” [where "now" = "just had a bike accident and am waiting for the ambulance"]

    “Get back to your stupid conference.”

    “I don’t feel like talking about it.” [where "it" = anything going on in long-distance partner's personal or work life]

    I learn slowly, but I do learn: mejor sola que mal acompañada.

  55. Kara

    Totally agree that “how to recognize abusive assholes” should be taught it school. What percentage of people are abusers? I’m guessing more than 1%. Every young person is going to meet an abuser, quite likely date one. And we just leave them to fend for themselves, it’s awful. They have horrible experiences, spend 5 or 10 years just trying to put their lives together, then end up writing very earnest comments on feminist blogs* as if that could somehow make up for all those wasted years. And the whole cycle begins anew.

    *I might be projecting slightly here.

  56. Laughingrat

    Thanks, IrishUp, for posting some accurate, useful info about BPD. A great deal of mental illness is almost certainly induced; we live in a “crazymaking” society–a culture based on oppression.

    You don’t have to be mentally ill to be an abuser. By those standards, the vast majority of men, and a huge number of women, would be mentally ill. No: all you have to do is have lived in a toxic culture of domination and submission, and be shaped in ways that make you more likely to victimize others. You don’t have to be a “psychopath,” and persons with BPD are more likely to have been abused than to be abusers now. The narrative that all violent persons are mentally ill is one that not only actively oppresses an already marginalized group–and justice, by the way, isn’t “justice” until it’s for everyone, even mentally ill people–but keeps us from actively engaging with the cultural causes of oppressive behaviors. In other words, “S/he’s just a crazy asshole” is hardly a radical interpretation of abuse.

  57. Cyberwulf

    While trolling an antifeminist community many years ago, I ran across a guy who was absolutely convinced that all the women he’d ever been interested in had BPD. It couldn’t possibly be that they sensed what a creepy, vindictive, tantruming child he was and backed away politely/ran for the hills at the first opportunity. No, he was “drawn to wounded birds”, trying to help them, only to have his eyes pecked out by those UNGRATEFUL BITCHES, HOW DARE THEY, HE’D SHOW THEM.

    He was fond of blaming feminism for everything, and would tell a sob story about how he was kicked out of college for simply saying “hello” to a woman who’d taken out a restraining order against him for like, no reason at all. My fellow feminist trolls and I didn’t believe this for a second. Our belief was vindicated the day he went off on another member of the comm, threatening to call CPS on her because she didn’t want to be friends any more. He also capslocked at anyone who told him to back off, raging that this was “a private conversation”. It wasn’t too difficult to imagine him on that college campus, getting right in a woman’s face and screaming “I SAID HELLO, YOU FUCKING CUNT” before being escorted off the premises.

  58. CassieC

    I’ve been there, and one of the things that kept me there was the terror of being single. You see, ever since a wee thing of 17, I had not really spent more than a couple of weeks in singledom, and here I was, 30-something, and I didn’t know how to do it. Most of my boyfriends had been fine, really lovely, but the last one was the WORST. Also one of those liberal overtly feminist dudes, just for extra layers of mindfuck.

    I would recommend, as part of the upbringing of any sane functional human, not just to be able to play “spot the abuser” game (which is important, no doubt), but also extensive training in being single and happy. Single as in financially independent, good social circle, capable of one’s own interests and initiatives and activities. Happy as in really happy on one’s own terms. Until you’ve practised that for a few years, you don’t really know how to do it. Once you know how to do it, you never need fear leaving a horrible relationship, because a relationship has to be really damn good for you to give up the perks of singledom.

    Anyway. I did it, it sucked at first and then it worked somehow, because I figured out I could go out and do things on my own (go get coffee: on my own! go to movies: on my own! go to concerts or events: on my own! go make friends: on my own! oh, the exciting adventures of my 30s). And then I found some better dudes, and now I’m engaged to one, and intending to cohabit and procreate and all that, not because he’s perfect or I am or our relationship is, but because it’s quite decent and we’re grown-ups. And we’re keeping our friends and favourite activities of our singledom. That’s a non-negotiable part of a decent relationship.

  59. Stella

    Echoing, Angie, where were you in 2005, Jill? You could’ve saved me months of anguish, a bloody nose, and $20,000.

  60. Tehomet

    A lot of the difficulty involved in leaving the abusive partner is to do with the Patriarchy’s conditioning of women to believe that a romantic relationship is the most important situation in one’s life. The subtext is that one is supposed to be either a wife and mother or planning to be. Look at how spinsters such as myself are reviled simply for not being partnered up, and how people who don’t have kids are seen as lacking in some way. One of the results of that disparagement is the pressure one feels to maintain a romantic relationship even when one is being abused. If the abuse is ‘only’ emotional, it’s harder to get away from because it’s easier to rationalise. It would be better if we were taught that love is important but self-respect is much more so.

  61. nails

    I wanna peek my head in to recommend The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout. She doesn’t fool around with worrying about the motivations of those who hurt others. She has a lot of tips for spotting them and dealing with them (meaning, avoiding them). Emotional abusers aren’t always sociopaths, but recognizing one before you invest yourself can save you heaps of trouble.

  62. laxsoppa

    “One of the results of that disparagement is the pressure one feels to maintain a romantic relationship even when one is being abused.”

    And the key ingredient of this disparagement is the twisted patriarchal logic that there is anything even remotely romantic (or any love worth sticking up for) in an abusive relationship.

  63. angie

    Just want to co-sign nails’ recommendation of “The Sociopath Next Door.” Although it was published too late to help me with my ex-husband (I sadly had to learn based on experience, with my therapist’s guidance, that he was, in fact, a sociopath and left him, 10 years before the book was published), I think the book can be very helpful to any young women out there to help them avoid the lessons I learned the hard way.

  64. Z

    On difficulty of getting your abused friends to leave, this is such a famous difficulty that I find people don’t just say dump him now enough. That is why I found this post refreshing.

  65. Jezebella

    “If the abuse is ‘only’ emotional, it’s harder to get away from because it’s easier to rationalise.”

    Exactly. If he had hit me, I would’ve walked out the door and never looked back. I still, to this day, have told few people in my ‘real life’ that he was abusive, because he was such a charming dude, and the time I told my mother, she was all, “But he loooooved you, J! He really did!” She just didn’t want to hear it, you know? Truly, I did not even know that what he was doing was abusive until I was directed to that website years ago. It was hard to use that word – me, lifelong feminist, in an abusive relationship for SEVEN YEARS?! How could that be?! It was hard to admit to myself but then it was incredibly liberating to realize that, indeed, *I* was not crazy, and *I* was not at fault.

  66. pandechion

    The dead sound in her voice whenever she speaks in monosyllables makes my blood run cold. I know what it’s like to feel infinitely small like that.

  67. Yardshark

    And sadly, there are tons of other “relationships” which aren’t quite so bad as to be identified as *abusive* but are still steered by selfish assholes who use some of the techniques in milder ways. These kinds of relationships are still soul-killing, if not quite as damaging. It’s not enough just to be not-miserable, ya know?

    My former marriage ended up being one of those not-miserable ones, and after some years of believing that I would get more out of it if we “worked” on it, I woke up enough to realize that whatever positives I could count were just not worth the effort. I finally saw that he had no actual interest in my happiness and was fine with things just as they were.

    Women are so socialized to invest their precious resources even in relationships that are merely acceptable. Don’t make that mistake either! We all deserve better than that. Let’s add that principle to the awareness class.

    That relationships take lots of “hard work” is an endlessly repeated mantra. In my experience, the better the relationship, the LESS work it demands. Believing that we have to exhaust ourselves trying to get things to the level of satisfactory, we put far too much effort into what isn’t worth it in the first place. That only keeps serving the P and the lazy assholes who benefit by it.

  68. Foilwoman

    Jill was Twisty right here in 2005. She helped me get through my separation and divorce (and I’m a single mom and much happier now)without ever having an email exchange. Just reading the blog helped. And no, I don’t have a new Nigel, and I’m better off because of that.

    Thanks for the link to the website, and I’m glad this is helping other other women.

  69. tinfoil hattie

    I think there are ways to offer help without sounding judgmental. To a woman with bruises all over her body, and black eyes to boot, I said, “I can’t help but see that you have been injured. Is there anything I can do to help?” She was incredibly grateful, and was getting help, but was so glad I actually said something instead of averting my eyes and whispering. For another friend who thought there was no way out, I said, “Yes there is, and I’ll help you,” and she and her four kids moved out not too long afterward. She did most of it herself, but was able to ask for the help she needed because I had offered it. So sometimes a woman is ready to leave, and can do so without fear of being killed or having her kids stolen or other horrible things – she just need validation.

    I too found this post and the comments very helpful. Thank you, Jill, and fellow blamers.

  70. Eirwyn

    Echoing another blamer here: Please don’t conflate abusive behaviors with mental illness. A better phrase might be “you’re not imagining it” than “you’re not crazy”. Because some of us ARE crazy and that just gives our culture, and our abusers, more fuel to invalidate our experiences.

    I lived for years and years with a verbally abusive parent while my more supportive parent gently and kindly reinforced the idea that it was a “two-way street” and that I was responsible for handling my mother’s moods correctly without, myself, resulting to abuse. I have a diagnosis, one that’s taken pretty seriously (but in an “OH MY GOD, SHE’S CRAZY, SHE’S GOING TO KILL US” way rather than in an “Oh my god, let’s give her all the help and support we can” way, naturally), and because of it my father regularly sided with my abusers as if they could provide any relevant information about my behavior. Because I was crazy, and they weren’t- supposedly the only thing you need to be not-crazy is a job and relationships with the opposite sex.

    Anyway, yes, some of us are still crazy, and that still doesn’t mean the abuse doesn’t exist. Abusive behavior should be the one thing that is pathologized, not being neuroatypical.

  71. Jill

    Good point, Eirwyn.

  72. Alex B

    Can I interrupt the advanced blaming with a request for personal advice? Are the things on the “defective” list really only such a big deal if they apply to your primary romantic relationship? Because I count 11 of them that apply to my work situation. Should I Dump It, Dump It, Dump It Now?

    I think I already know the answer to that question, but since the second one from the end (“I no longer trust that my perceptions are valid”) is one of the eleven that applies, I’m not sure.

  73. Z

    “That relationships take lots of ‘hard work’ is an endlessly repeated mantra. In my experience, the better the relationship, the LESS work it demands.”

    THANK YOU, Yardshark! So true!

    And Alex B, yes, if you can Dump It, Dump It, Dump It Now!

  74. Elise Effoff

    That recording resonated with me. The tone in that man’s voice and the tone in her’s reminds me of my last relationship.
    He wooed me in the beginning, the sweetest, most adoring, charismatic man. But after living together for three months, that was enough for me. I never thought, “he’s emotionally abusing me.” I just thought, “what the f*ck am I doing wrong?”
    Then there were the little things, like belittling me in front of friends, and getting angry for no reason, or physically restraining me in front of my friends–I didn’t understand why. It was to knock me down, notch by notch.
    I increasingly felt like I was losing it, going crazy, with a demanding work schedule and no consolation from him. He even withheld sex, which I now believe was a power issue.
    I cried a lot.
    Eventually, I dumped him. After visiting him at his mom’s house, he gave me a few “playful pats” which actually really hurt. So the next day, I was giving him a ride to work, we were arguing, and I told him to get out. He told me I was an immature b*tch who “lives in a fantasy world.” I said, “Get the f*ck out. Have a nice life.”
    And that was it.
    I endured a deep depression and many “what ifs” and self-loathing after this breakup. What did I do wrong? I loved him, how could I have saved us? But now that all this time has passed, I see that I made the right decision.
    This blog saves me, time after time. Thanks, Twisty/Jill and blamers.

  75. I love my labrador

    There are so many women to whom I would like to say everything on this post.

    Unfortunately, I have found that uttering the word “abuse” to a woman in denial can often backfire. You really can hear it only when *you* are good and ready for it.

    Life-long feminist coming out of a 12-year abusive relationship here. He was an avowed feminist too. Just goes to show that abuse happens on an emotional rather than an intellectual level.

  76. Ottawa Gardener

    That was difficult to listen to. I had to turn off the audio so I couldn’t hear him endless berating her over nothing as far as I could tell. This was a great and clear example of a verbal beating. Kudos to the maker of this website.

  77. JBT

    @ Alex B

    Abusive behavior saturates society, because society is a patriarchy. Every institution is rife with it, both with top-down and with horizontal abuse and violence. These are the values that patriarchy instills and enforces. Studies have shown that just thinking about work can bring on the “fight or flight” response in many people, and the constant stress engendered by workplace abuse is deadly over time. If you have the means, get the fuck out of Dodge. No one deserves to be bullied and derided for a paycheck, although patriarchy guarantees it will happen to most of us.

    Sadly, as adults, we are made to feel “unsure of our perceptions” because bullying is not taken seriously. We are just expected to “handle it,” or to accept it as part of the race to the top of the shit-pile. Dump it now!

  78. meerkat

    “I have an intense desire to NOT be the way I am”

    Tangent: My school has posters declaring this to be the key to success. (What you want to change is unspecified, so when I see the poster in the elevator I always think, if I desire to become a serial killer, but I desire it very strongly, that’s awesome? I am not in a relationship at all but I am still sick of being told that whatever way I am right now is definitely not good enough and never will be.)

  79. procrastinatrix

    Another request for personal advise here. A friend of mine has is married to a verbal/emotional abuser, I’ve known them for more than 10 years. She knows it but is scared to leave, mostly for economic reasons and fears about custody of their kids.

    Something that really got to me about that website was the assertion that silence is supporting the abuser. See, her husband never abuses her when anyone outside the family is around. I have asked her if she’d like me to talk to him, even though I haven’t witnessed any of this (truly vicious stuff, to the kids as well as her), but she says no, but at the same time resents that I engage with him politely when he’s around–thankfully that isn’t much. I’m afraid of making it worse for her, and she has asked me not to say anything. But now the website strongly asserts that this silence benefits the abuser and he even incorporates it into his system of abuse. YUK!

    Also, I just wonder, how do these assholes figure this stuff out–all that stuff about invalidation and control? Is there some kind of manual out there for fuck’s sake? My dad physically and emotionally abused my mom til we finally got out when I was 14, and later when I started reading about abusive relationships, it was like he must have been working from a check list it was so standard. Weird.

  80. Keri

    Yes that website audio is chilling. And dear lord, I have been mind effed all I am ever gonna be by dudes. Dump him indeed…do it now. Go on to live a happy free existence.

    I read this article today (bad idea I guess) about how men are shamed and can’t open up and think I threw up a little in my mouth:

    http://www.elephantjournal.com/2011/06/maybe-we-need-to-ease-up-on-our-men/

    What are they…infants? My teats have been all suckled down by the kids I gave birth to already…Don’t have any left for some a-hole dude.

  81. Z

    I also am amazed at how standard the things abusers do and say are. Once you’re hip to the lines, I guess, it is sort of helpful. I would love to know how they all know these things but I suppose the answer is they have picked it up from other abusers.

    Your friend, procrastinatrix, is confused. Of course you should engage politely when he’s around, as you would anyone, and I don’t think approaching him and talking to him would do any good at all. What does she want you to do, be rude to him or something?

    If it’s about money then she should start saving up to leave, and the kids should be in contact with non abusive adults. She should have them involved in activities to that end, and she should have such activities herself.

    Also, if she’s talking to you about leaving then maybe she’s willing to contact some sort of counselor who will help support her to do so. This is not going to be easy, though, and probably the most useful thing you can do is support her sense of reality. If she isn’t sure something he said was mean, and it was mean, don’t justify / defend him, support her. Point her to material support and give her moral support.

  82. admirer of emily

    My father was an abusive crazymaker, particularly to my brother. And now my brother is doing the same to his wife. They have a big mortage, and three young children and both work full time. She is constantly exhausted.

    The other day he was in full flight on some bullshit abuse to my sister in law, whilst I was playing Barbies nearby with the 4 year old girl (ok, so Rapunzel is in the castle – hey maybe Rapunzel can jump onto the roof! She’s very strong and brave isn’t she! Look how high she can jump!) and we ignored it.

    He’s such an agressive asshole I just don’t know what to say. She says ‘he’s tired and stressed’. And he does do some stuff around the house and takes a lot of interest in the kids.

    I’m the ‘bossy older sister’ and if I want to retain some kind of supportive relationship I feel I need to just support her as much as is possible for someone who lives hours away from them.

    She is so tired I’m sure that website would be impossible for her to take in. What a waste of ideas it is to be so surrounded by those horrible graphics. Will see if the other ones recommended are any good. I guess she could just kick him out. Plenty of others have and somehow manage I suppose.

    Both my other sisters have been in abusive marriages (our father trained us to understand we were stupid and worthless) and had kids. Once my sisters each divorced their husbands, one ex spent the next ten years taking her to court and the other threatened to injure her and didn’t pay any child support.

    Having kids makes it very hard.

  83. Jill

    “Having kids makes it very hard.”

    Yet another reason to eschew reproduction altogether.

  84. Mortisha

    Uneasy about the pathologizing of abusing behaviors.
    He is a “narcissist / sociopath / whatever.”
    They pick their targets and are amazingly logical and sane with their behaviours when in the presence of someone who could kick their scummy butts, like other entitled males. It seems WAY too many of these dudes can switch it on or off at will.

    Do peoples suffering mental pathologies really have that luxury?

    Acts out like freewill to me. Sure use the diagnostics tools to help you identify and name the abusive techniques. But really, to me, they are just entitled pricks being the enforcers for a abusive patriarchy society.

  85. gingerest

    Yeah, but it’s not like you can retroactively eschew reproduction.

  86. laxsoppa

    My parents were never married and the justice and social security systems in my country favour women disproportionately in custody battles, which is why many men don’t even try it, even in cases where St. Mum is the actual whackjob. But this:

    “Both my other sisters have been in abusive marriages (our father trained us to understand we were stupid and worthless) and had kids. Once my sisters each divorced their husbands, one ex spent the next ten years taking her to court and the other threatened to injure her and didn’t pay any child support.
    Having kids makes it very hard.”

    Looks more like *marriage* makes it very hard in these cases, not having kids per se. Which is one more reason to eschew it.

    That aside, please, if you have children and are in an abusive relationship and have the possibility to walk away without the imminent threat of being stalked or murdered or bankrupted by court and lawyers, grab the children and walk away now, and never look back.

  87. Donna Freedman

    Dump him, ladies. Don’t be like me and stay in the marriage for TWENTY-THREE years before finally coming to your senses.
    I’m happier now than I’ve ever been. And sometimes sad about the years I lost.

  88. procrastinatrix

    Thanks, Z. Thanks for the post Jill. Had a(nother) talk with my friend. We’ll see.

  89. veganrampage

    It WILL get worse. It WILL NOT get better. It WILL get physical. You WILL get hurt. GET OUT as fast as you possibly can, and take your goddamn kids with you no matter what.
    Please.

  90. Kathy

    I noticed abusive men (i.e. trolls) love to uppercase words and use quotes when they shout an obscenity at women.

  91. Tanya

    Why is it that the courts allow abusive men to have custody rights and visitation? If they treat their wives like crap they are going to do the same thing to the kids.

  92. Doctress Julia

    Oh, wow. Thanks for the post and the link. Most of my exes were abusive to me (I don’t know if I know what a non-abusive rlationship is like).

    My ex-roommate/’friend’ abused, harassed and stalked me for the entire year we roomed together. It started with endless note-leaving, then escalated to drunkenly berating me when I walked in thew door of the apartment, trying to hijack the attention of my friend when they’d visit, handling my laundry, going into my bedroom with an ex-boyfriend of mine when I wasn’t home… he’d also come to my work (a bar) and badmouth me to my customers and co-workers. After a long and convoluted series of abuses, I called the police on him (this was after he called my cell to inform me that a friend of his was moving in, and that I had no say in the matter). Even that didn’t stop him. The most recent thing he did was take a voicemail recording of me calling him and essentially BEGGING him to leave me alone/stop being passive-aggressive towards me, and turn it into a ‘song’ which he posted on Sound Cloud (I asked them to take it down and they did- now he’s griping about it on his FB page, saying I’m ‘being vindictive’ (ME?!) and ‘trying to stifle his artistic expression’) and even had the local student radio station play. All this just to continue to abuse and ridicule me. It makes me nauseous to think of it. He just won’t stop.

  93. Doctress Julia

    Oops, I meant ‘friends’- there was more than one… sorry about all my typos in there. :P

  94. Dana

    Chalk me up as another one for whom it’s too late to decide not to reproduce. What I’ve learned about biology over the years, also, tells me that my children are MY children–well *over* 50 percent of their cellular material comes from me (50% of the nucleic DNA plus mitochondrial DNA, other organelles, the cytoplasm and the cell membrane–a sperm cell *disappears* after delivering its nucleic DNA!), I carried them for nine months, mine was the first voice they ever heard and we just have that relationship, OK? I feel I need to separate the patriarchy’s expectations of me as a mother, and the godbags’ delusions about what reproduction means, from the biological and social and emotional reality.

    It’s just having children. The only thing that makes it a death sentence besides the occasional Thing Going Wrong is the entirety of society arraying itself against me because I dared reproduce even though that is supposed to be my highest and best purpose in life.

    It never ceases to amaze me that women who are willing to eat all wrong for their biology and destroy their bodies *that* way have the horrors of becoming mothers because *that* changes their bodies. As for the complications that arise with men as a result of childbearing, well, there are sperm banks now. Don’t think I’m not tempted to do that if I ever have a baby again. I’d pick one that let my child look up their sperm donor someday.

    Definitely, though, the way things are set up, it’s so difficult to leave and it doesn’t matter if the a-hole tries to *kill* you. The judge will still consider them *equally* if it goes to court. I’m sort of lucky; I live in Ohio where, if a woman has never married the sperm donor for her child, she has primary rights over that child. But that presumes the sperm donor never goes to court to contest the custody arrangement. At that point all sorts of things can go wrong if your lifestyle is the teeniest bit unconventional. And oh look, I’m a feminist. That’d go over real well. IBTP.

  95. qvaken

    Wowzers, I realise that this thread is long dead, but thanks for reminding me of that website http://www.youarenotcrazy.com. I discovered it via Google three years ago when I was in the midst of an abusive relationship (I was actually paranoid that I had abused a previous partner so was anxious to learn what constitutes abuse, but as I read more and more, I got even more anxious when I realised that my then-current boyfriend did an awful lot of those things to me…). When I mentioned to him what I’d been learning, he shot me down and made a few nasty jokes to embarrass me for talking about it, naturally.

    Honestly, I think that it was another 3-6 months after discovering that site that I actually left him. That brainwashing is hard to overcome. I actually remember mentally puffing out my chest and thinking, “I don’t need him – I could find a place to live!” and checking out a couple of prospectives, only to find two old run-down overgrown-garden homes with unfriendly-sounding older men who would have been my housemates – and going straight back to him. Or there was also another time that we broke up and I thought: “I’m sure that he’s wrong about me – I’ll bet that somebody else WOULD think I’m attractive and likeable, and WOULD go out with me!” only to hook up with a clueless annoying drunk guy at a party who assumed that I was his property after I kissed him once, and wouldn’t leave me alone, and he even followed me to my car and kissed me a number of times though I kept moving my face away to escape him, and it was only once I’d closed my car door that I was free… So, yep, I went back to Abusey The Abuser.

    So even after boldly convincing myself that No! I am worth something! I’m sure of it! I can be independent! then I would still ultimately succumb to what I REALLY believed about myself, and would go back.

    What made the change? He just got me so angry one time – letting a person stay in our house for a whole weekend who I had already told him I felt really uncomfortable around, without discussing it with me at all – and I got horrendously drunk, passed out on the couch (deliberately, because I knew that he’d be embarrassed that his friend saw that I didn’t go to bed with him that night), woke up at 5am, vomited, then went to his bedroom to antagonistically push things off of his bedside tables and pull the finger at him and hold it there for a few seconds less than an inch from his nose (while saying, “Fuck you. FUCK. YOU.”), then angrily tell him in detail how horrible he’d been to both myself and his son for the past year – and just to piss him off and scare him, I threw in the parts about hooking up with other guys when we were on breaks, and about attempting to kill myself 5 months earlier because I hated myself so badly when I was with him.

    That’s probably not funny, and this is a dead thread anyway (why am I suddenly sharing here?), but to me it’s a really amusing night to remember – I just loved being such an asshole and pissing him off so much.

    But yeah, then I regretted it in the morning, cried and cried, cried to him all disoriented and confused, he maliciously told me that I need to go to a mental institution because a regular psychologist won’t do for how bad I’ve gotten, then the next day I chased him down the driveway on his way out to tell him, “I don’t need to go to a mental institution – I just need to get away from YOU.”

    And that was that! Off to my parents’ house I went, I got all aggressive about house-hunting, and found a place in no time.

    So not that simple to leave an abusive relationship – but you do get there. And you’re not bad for staying in the meantime.

  1. These are the links that bind « Grumpy rumblings of the untenured

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