Emotional abuse: Unspoken words that hurt


When I agreed to marry Pat I expected to live a long and happy life, just like my parents. Pat was handsome, charming, witty, intelligent, good with money, and was a go-getter. He was gregarious and confident. I thought he was perfect for me and I thought I was going to be well taken care of for the rest of my life. My mother knew better and tried to warn me before I married him. She said he didnt treat me right. I was oblivious. I was in love.


I thought he was wonderful. When things went his way he WAS wonderful. When they didnt, well, he snapped at me and blamed me whether it was my fault or not. If I got upset or challenged him, he would get even angrier and then shout and threaten until I backed down. He took to ordering me around instead of asking, and if I complained or didnt jump when he wanted something I would get a downpour of verbal insults, so I learned to jump really fast. I would still get the insults, but the faster I jumped the faster it would end. He felt that since I was his wife he didnt need to be polite, and I soon discovered that trying to convince him otherwise was a useless proposition, so I eventually gave up. In social situations I was often the centre of his jokes, and some of them hurt. If I got upset he would make it look like I was the crazy one by loudly proclaiming that he was only kidding and that I was being too sensitive, so I taught myself to keep my mouth shut and brush it off whenever he said or did something that hurt.

Subconsciously I started to build a wall around me for protection, and it got thicker and thicker as the years went by. Unknowingly I began to retreat behind it more and more, too. Eventually my wall got so thick and I became so firmly entrenched behind it that I lost the ability to think or feel I just did what I had to do or what I was told to do. On the outside I may have looked happy and smiley, but on the inside I was numb.

Imagine feeling like you had to walk on eggshells all the time. Thats what it was like living with him. I never knew what would set him off and no matter what I did it was never right or good enough or fast enough and that just triggered more insult. He would complain about the tiniest, stupidest things, and make me feel like an idiot. It seemed like he enjoyed pointing out my shortcomings and mistakes and was constantly referring to me as stupid, idiot, or moron. Pretty soon I believed it. I had always been extremely self-critical, but after a while I began to hate myself for being such an incompetent fool who couldnt do anything right. And even when I did manage to do something right it was still never quite good enough for him, so I was still wrong. I became afraid to do anything or make any decisions because I knew they would be wrong and then I would be lectured and overruled anyway, so why bother? Eventually I just

stopped trying.

Our family life revolved around what Pat wanted, how he wanted it and when he wanted it. Our three kids needs and wants came next, and I came last. Dead last. My needs basically never got addressed because I wasnt important, and since I wasnt important, they werent important. And the funny thing is all I ever really wanted were things for the family or for the house, never specifically for me. The few home improvements I did get required years of begging and pleading, and even then, when they finally did get done they came with a cost. They were done how and when he wanted, and he made himself so disagreeable to be with that it was almost not worth getting.
On those rare occasions when I did allow myself to think, I felt that someday I would finally get the things that I asked for – a nice house and a workable kitchen. All I ever heard from Pat whenever I brought up the kitchen or any other home improvement project was that we couldnt afford it. We both worked and I was not a lavish spender. In fact, I hardly bought anything for myself in the way of clothing or jewelry, nor did I receive them for that matter, either.

Most of my clothing was hand-me-downs from Pats sister, and the amount of gifts and jewelry that Pat voluntarily gave me after our marriage was practically nothing to write home about. Knowing what I know now about our finances, I should have expected and demanded more. Since he had me convinced that we were so tight for money, I figured that Id rather spend my share on home improvements instead of on clothing or jewelry, so I didnt ask for anything.

I finally opened my mouth. He didnt see anything wrong with what was going on because, as far as he was concerned, the kitchen wasnt important to him, so therefore, it didnt need to get done. In spite of the warning bells furiously clanging in my head at that point, I still couldnt imagine a life without Pat and I
The final blow came the next morning while we were driving to my hometown to see my parents. Pat gave me such a vicious verbal lashing over how I didn’t pack his shoes in the box in front of the kids and that was it. My wall came tumbling down, and I snapped. I didnt scream; I didnt yell. I just calmly looked at Pat and told him not to speak to me like that, especially in front of the kids, and if he continued to treat me like that he was going to lose me. I had had enough. He didnt listen to me of course, and continued to treat me the same way or worse for the next 18 months until I finally found the courage to leave.expected to grow old with him. Secluded behind my wall, I convinced myself that we had a wonderful marriage. Many people thought so too, because we seemed so happy.


I began fighting back. Instead of backing down right away and jumping to do his commands, I began standing my ground and arguing back if I felt that he was being unreasonable, but that just made him even angrier and nastier and more intimidating and threatening to the point where I was afraid that I was going to get hit.

I could see that I was fighting a losing battle. It was time to get out.

I used to pride myself on being tough, emotionless and hard as nails. I was a rock. Now I was a blubbering, out-of-control mess, and dealing with emotions that I hadnt allowed myself to feel in over a decade literally hurt.

After several near hits, insult, washing down and hurt – I finally left him. I was lucky, many are not. I do forgive him now, and I wish him well, but I’m glad I don’t have to be part of his life or his family anymore

I just thought to share my story because I was a strong believer that this kind of thing will never happen to me. Most people look out for physical abuse from their partners because it can be seen and many are unaware of the emotional abuse that is being metted out on them. ‘After all he has not hit me’ you will say. But are you happy? You deserve to be happy, you deserve to be loved. Look out for the warning signs and stand up to it, most importantly seek for help before it robs you of everything you are.

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