Signs of an Emotionally Abusive Wife or Girlfriend

Signs of an Emotionally Abusive Wife or Girlfriend

Are you living with an emotionally abusive wife, girlfriend, ex-wife, or ex-girlfriend?

Or dealing with a psychologically abusive female partner or ex?

Wondering, "Am I being emotionally abused?"

Is a man you know and care about suffering under the weight of emotional abuse from a woman?


This is how one man describes the relationship that nearly destroyed him:

“My ex-girlfriend was an emotional terrorist.”

Emotional and psychological abuses tear a person up inside.

Emotionally abused partners feel drained, distracted, and debilitated. 


What's in This Post

What is Psychological, Mental, or Emotional Partner Abuse?
How Many Men are Psychologically or Emotionally Abused by Wives and Girlfriends?
Psychologically Abusive Relationships are Destructive Whether the Abuse is Coming from a Woman or Man
Is She an Emotionally Abusive Woman or Not? How to Decide.
Emotional Abuse Test
Signs of an Emotionally Abusive Wife or Girlfriend
Why are People Emotionally Abusive?
Examples of Emotional Abuse
Example of Emotional Abuse: False Accusations
Amber Heard's Emotional Abuse of Johnny Depp
Book About Abusive Women


What is Psychological, Mental, or Emotional Partner Abuse?

Partner abuse also goes by the names intimate partner abuse (IPV) and spousal abuse. Domestic violence is another term used for violent forms of abuse between partners. 

All abuse has at its core one or more of these 3 self-centered goals:

  • control,
  • demean, or
  • punish.

Emotional abuse, AKA psychological abuse or mental abuse, causes emotional, psychological, or mental pain. 

All other categories of partner abuse (financial, verbal, sexual, physical, legal, and spiritual) have an emotional/psychological component.

This is true when the source of the abuse is a man and the target of the abuse is a woman. It is also true when the genders are reversed: the source of the abuse is a woman and the target is a man. 

Abused men have the extra degree of difficulty in that it is so hard to get your head around the idea that you, a man, are being emotionally, financially, physically, sexually . . .  beat-up by a woman. Our culture pretends that what is happening is not happening. 

 Abuse OF Men BY Women: It Happens, It Hurts, and It's Time to Get Real About It, signs of an emotionally abusive wife or girlfriend, domestic violence against men


How Many Men are Psychologically or Emotionally Abused by Wives and Girlfriends?

I get into stats more in my post How Many Men are Abused by Women? but there are reliable sources showing that men experience psychological, mental, and emotional abuse from partners as often as women do. 

One example is the Center for Disease Control (CDC) 2018 report on the US National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS). Results from this telephone survey of 10,081 adults:

  • Psychological aggression by an intimate partner during their lifetime: 1 in 3 for either gender (36.4% of women, 34.2% of men)

    Psychologically Abusive Relationships are Destructive Whether the Abuse is Coming from a Woman or Man 

    If you have a bully wife or girlfriend, you are likely feeling extra confused and isolated. But, you are not alone. Abuse OF men BY women is, unfortunately, all too common.

    And, contrary to media representations depicting the actions and attitudes of abusive women as funny and amusing, it is neither funny nor amusing. It is hurtful and destructive. 

    You might find this video enlightening or confirming:




    Is She an Emotionally Abusive Woman or Not? How to Decide.

    It can be challenging to figure out whether a particular behavior is abusive because that same behavior might be properly labeled as healthy depending on the circumstances.

    The Spousal Abuse Continuum

    Behaviors that are potentially abusive can be placed on a continuum that goes from not-at-all abusive to very abusive.


    Spousal abuse, emotionally abusive wife, girlfriend, woman continuum


    Major deciding factors for where a particular behavior belongs on the continuum  are the reasonableness of the behavior given the circumstances and the motivation behind the behavior.

    The conscious or subconscious goals of spousal abuse are to control, demean, or punish. 


    Emotional Abuse Test

    A woman who gets upset and "makes a fuss" when her husband says he's going to go have a beer with his friends could be seen as controlling and demanding (abusive) if the husband is usually available to her and doesn't have a history of overdrinking.

    But if the husband has previously promised not to drink any alcohol because he has a history of drinking and driving, or of becoming belligerent or of having affairs when he's been drinking, then the woman's reaction may be reasonable and belong on the non-abusive end of the continuum. 

    When trying to decide whether something is abusive or not, look for patterns of behavior and attitudes.

    Ask yourself:

    • What would a reasonable person do in the circumstances?
    • Is she being controlling, demeaning, or punishing?
    • Or is she having a reasonable response to a situation given the situation and backstory of your past behavior?

    Keeping the spousal abuse continuum in mind, let's take a look at the ways that women sometimes emotionally and psychologically abuse their partners. 


    Signs of an Emotionally Abusive Wife or Girlfriend

    A woman may emotionally and psychologically abuse a man in a myriad of ways:

    • isolation from friends, family, or other supportive people
    • alienation of his children’s affection
    • minimizing his time with his children
    • playing helpless
    • abdicating responsibility for decision-making or her bad behavior
    • making him feel responsible for the abuse
    • neglect/withholding affection
    • false accusations of abuse (of her or the children)
    • harassment
    • stalking
    • character assassination
    • manipulation
    • distorting the truth
    • unfounded jealousy
    • gaslighting: trying to make him feel crazy
    • unreasonable expectations
    • false promises
    • brainwashing
    • corruption
    • exploitation
    • sabotaging his ability to have another relationship


    Signs of emotional abuse infographic, a controlling and abusive wife or husband, verbally and emotionally abusive wife, girlfriend, husband or boyfriend,


      Why are People Emotionally Abusive?

      If you're a man worn out with being controlled, manipulated, demeaned, or punished, you may be wondering why your girlfriend or wife is abusive. 

      The reasons for an individual's behavior varies greatly. One woman may be driven to be controlling because she lacked control in her early life. Another may be driven to control because she was raised to get her way. 

      While working on my book, Abuse OF Men BY Women: It Happens, It Hurts, and It's Time to Get Real About It, I came up with a list of 72 reasons why a woman might abuse a man. You can see them in this blog post: Why do Women Abuse Men?

      Whatever conscious or subconscious reason someone has for their abusive behavior, remember that reasons for behavior don't excuse behavior. It's every adult's responsibility to notice when their behavior is harmful and figure out why they are doing what they are doing and learn how to make changes.


      reasons for behavior don't excuse behavior quote


      Examples of Emotional Abuse

      I go into detail about each of the 21 signs of emotional abuse in my book Abuse OF Men BY Women: It Happens, It Hurts, and It's Time to Get Real About It, but I'll give you a couple of examples of emotional abuse here.

      Example of Emotional Abuse: False Accusations 

      An abusive woman may pull an end-around play by falsely accusing the man she abuses of abusing her. It’s a mesmerizing circular move.

      False accusations of abuse of her or the children can be conjured up to punish, demean, or exert control over a partner or former partner.

      False accusations of abuse are abuse.


      False accusations of abuse are abuse.


      False accusations of abuse can be used to:

      • extort favorable settlements;

      • discredit him with family, friends, employers, customers, and divorce adjudicators; or

      • get him in legal hot water.

      Threats of leveling false accusations are effective mechanisms of control.

      The last thing a nice guy wants is to be lumped in with members of his gender that do things he finds abhorrent.

      The thought of having to battle an abuse charge in the current cultural climate can strike fear in any man.


      One Man's Experience of Being Falsely Accused of Abuse

      A manipulative woman who had decided she wanted to end her marriage threatened her husband, declaring that if he didn’t give in to her financial demands, “I’ll make life miserable for you! I’ll run you out of town!”

      She made up stories presenting herself as her husband’s victim.

      She told her parents that her husband had yelled at her and been threatening. Her father was aghast and very angry with his “mean” son-in-law.

      The false accusation of abuse motivated the father to try to protect his daughter and helped cement the father-daughter relationship.

      The father joined in the spreading of the abuse stories in the community, trying to undermine the husband’s customer base.

      The wife sprinkled her divorce court declarations with twisted, distorted stories that depicted her estranged husband as an abuser. While this divorce was in a no-fault state (supposedly the causes of deterioration of the marriage don’t matter), painting the man as an abuser was intended to color the judge’s opinion of the husband and result in judgments favorable to the “poor” wife.

      The man was overwhelmed with worry over his livelihood and spent much more time, energy, and money on his divorce than he would have had to without the false accusations being leveled at him.

      Luckily for this man, his business and reputation were so strong that the number of customers who were swayed by the lies was small enough that his business sustained the blows.

      He eventually got a good-enough divorce settlement and has been able to move on with his life. 

      Amber Heard's Emotional Abuse of Johnny Depp 

      Amber Heard emotional abuse of  Johnny Depp


      In 2016, Amber Heard very publicly accused Johnny Depp of abusing her during their short marriage. 

      Many people were pulled in by Amber's stories of abuse. Johnny lost his reoccurring role as Captain Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies and other work because he was labeled as a wife beater. 

      It wasn't until people witnessed the 2022 televised defamation trial and its competing testimonies for, and of, Amber and Johnny that the public got a clearer picture of the relationship. During the trial, people saw a treasure trove of evidence that vindicated Johnny in the eyes of many, including the jury, and demonstrated that Amber severely abused Johnny. 

      I created a summary of the Amber Heard and Johnny Depp cases in this post: Johnny Depp and Amber Heard Relationship and Legal Battles Timeline

      During their relationship, Johnny and Amber were told by a counselor to record some of their conversations. In Sept 2015, they mutually agreed to record a 2-hour conversation that occurred the day following a night in which Amber had hit Johnny and Johnny had fled their home. (A small segment of the conversation is represented in the graphic at the beginning of this section.)

      I transcribed the recording and analyzing its contents.

      This recording gives a lot of insight into their relationship and is an example of many emotionally abusive tactics from Amber. Click here for a link to the recording, transcript, and analysis



       You may also find this post of an abused man's story in his own words interesting: 

      The Pain and Strain of Dealing with an Abusive Wife: An Abused Husband's Story

      An emotionally abused man's experience




      Another story of emotional abuse:

      Dr. Timothy Golden has a TED Talk Suffering in Silence: The Emotional Abuse of Men.

      Book About Abusive Women

      For further explanation of each of the ways women emotionally and psychologically abuse their male partners, and all other forms of partner abuse where a man is the target of abuse and a woman is the source, check out my book:

       Abuse OF Men BY Women: It Happens, It Hurts, and It's Time to Get Real About It


       abused men, abusive women, husband abuse, abuse of men by women book, domestic violence, abusive relationship, emotionally abusive wife or girlfriend, battered husband, signs of a controlling wife, physically abusive bully wife or girlfriend, signs of and how to deal with an emotionally abusive wife, domestic abuse against males, female violence against males




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      • Ann Silvers
      Comments 33
      • Diana

        I have tears running down my face reading these stories. So much pain.
        I am a woman in a relationship with a soft, gentle and sweet man and I am the emotional abuser, because I resent him, and do not love him, do not respect him.
        But I am trapped, financially, cannot leave. Have nowhere to go, and every now and again the frustration erupts into fits of anger, after which I withdraw because I am so ashamed of myself, my behaviour. What have I become! This is not me. I am a good person, a kind person, I worked with animals and disabled people. Why am I so dreadful to the man who shares my life, my home, and is so inoffensive and meek?
        The pain is unbearable. I feel like I am suffocating, or drowning.
        I don’t do it to punish him, the withdrawal, but because I do not trust myself to be near him and not be abusive. It is so awful. We have been together 20 years, I have no job, no prospects, no money of my own, due to illness having ended my career. I have tried to support him in his. But so I get so angry, out of my mind with anger, because I feel so helpless, so trapped, I cannot see any future, it is like a panic. I say horrible mean things to him that make me feel so awful, I wonder why I am even alive anymore. It is so distressing to both of us.
        But I am sharing my feelings here because we all deserve love, but sometimes we are with people who are just not right for us. It can be terribly lonely to be in a relationship with someone who does not love you, or who you do not love. And I don’t believe that people repeatedly belittle, criticize, shout at etc people they really love, unless they are very damaged themselves. I’m not a psychologist. I’m only speaking from my own experience. I do not get those warm fuzzies when I look at him, when he speaks to me, everything about him irritates me, the way he talks, the things he says, I just don’t love him anymore, it verges on disgust, but I am trapped here through financial necessity. I overeat and have become fat and ugly because I don’t want him to come near me. But he still loves me, so he says. How could he love me? This makes me feel more contempt for him. Has he no self-respect?

        If there was some method by which society could manage to ensure everyone had somewhere to live, and a liveable income so they could eat and have their basic needs for food etc met, many of these situations in relationships would not occur. So many of the stories involve money, parasitic and controlling behaviours around money. But we don’t live in such a society, so these things are stressful, difficult, drive people to suicide and drugs and violence.
        I hope this woman’s perspective might help someone.

      • Brandon Posey
        Brandon Posey

        So, in reading all these articles, are these ladies mentally abusive or, are us as men not taking the time to pay the woman the attention she desires forreal? This goes much further than just physically. Of course the subject matter is emotional abuse. I as a man know that my pride is the main factor that can either make me act out in anger or hold back in fear of my fiancé’s reaction to what sometimes are my true feelings about very few yet very specific things privately in our relationship. It’s hard on a man when he is in fear of his next move, next thought and his next breathe because he is constantly answering questions for circumstances he not only causes but has nothing to do with in particular. I love my woman dearly and that is the main thing that keeps me searching for the solution to our arguments rather than hold on to what makes me think and feel I am “Right”.
        From what I hear she says I don’t sleep a specific way or at a specific time. That is because my rest patter is week based and not daily based. This comes from being in the military for infantry and sleep apnea is most likely present here with me. The issue is deeper than this and out of respect for my family and myself wish to keep other aspects of the subject within there but encourage all fellow readers to continue to seek peace and not chaos. Relationship drama itself causes so much to the heart that we have to be careful and acknowledge what’s important. I want to tell my sweet KeKe I love her so much right now even when she has a 😔 face. All that means to me is I have work to do.

      • Ann Silvers
        Ann Silvers

        Jarrod: Sounds like a very unhealthy relationship. I know that it can be very difficult to end an abusive relationship. On average, it takes 5 attempts to end it before it’s really over. Hopefully you can stay apart this time. -Ann

      • jared

        Hello from a guy on the autistic spectrum,

        I found this page after having recurring problems with my (now ex) gf. We met late October 2018 and had sex on Dec 18th. We had been on a few dates, but she freaked out after we had sex as it was “too soon” and then went to her Ex’s cabin for Christmas where she slept with him (apparently, she slept with him to make sure she no longer was in love with him). We were “technically” not exclusive yet, but it hurt me extremely deeply as I had told her I was in love with her, and we had made it clear we were not dating or talking to anyone else. She contacted me in early January and shared the information with me and apologized, we moved forward and i tried to not be bitter, but I was. in march 2019 she began telling me about a coworker Elliot whom she knew for some time, I felt something weird so over the course of a few months i asked many questions and figured out the following, she had told me he had a gf, but wasn’t happy with her and she told me that at an office party at a local bar (a few months before we met) her and him had been intoxicated and decided to go sit in his car, and she told me nothing happened, just that “they just sat in the car for a while and then she asked why are we in the car and he said idk and they got out and went back into the office party that was at a local bar.” I suspect she asked the question to see if he would make a move and he didn’t so they went back into the bar. But while we were together, he would come into work and would tug on her hair or put his hand on her throat when he’d come into the office “jokingly.” I was very concerned about this and felt threatened and let her know that I felt threatened and tried to explain to her that I thought this Elliot wanted to sleep with her, and she assured me he was just a friend. She was also very mean to me and distance and told me regularly how I ruined our romance and the start of our relationship by sleeping with her so soon. All these things made me very uneasy following the events of our early dating. She always told me many details, so I forced myself to overlook these items and try to trust. Unfortunately, I grew bitter, and we began to push apart, she began oscillating between living with me and then leaving back to her mothers. She was angry that I didn’t trust her completely but given the circumstances, I had a very hard time trusting completely. So, we ended up debating, and the debates usually ended up with her threatening to leave me, and then she’d pack up a few bags and leave my home(where she was living) so I would think she may be preparing to be gone for good which caused further pain and fear. This made things worse, we had anger and were absent from one another more than we were together. She would tell me repeatedly how I ruined our relationship early on and how I was treating her like shit (I wasn’t, I would only state facts when she’d ask why I was having a hard time trusting her). When I would tell her I had a hard time trusting her, she would blow up on me and leave. I began to feel isolated alone and like my love was never reciprocated, I kept hoping things would change but they didn’t, at one point she was living out of my home more than she was living in it. In 2020 I ended being a fool and seeking the comfort I wanted from her by sleeping with two other women (I personally did not feel we had a relationship at that point even though I loved her, as it was so dysfunctional and toxic), one who was an ex gf (while on a work trip to her region) and one was a woman i met at an outing with friends. I told her of both occurrences, and she was very hurt and displeased. I felt terrible but tried to explain that the main reason I slept with the other women was that they offered me some form of emotional comfort that I had not received from her in almost 2 years(this does not justify my actions, but it is just the driving mechanism and i believe that is important). After these multiple fallouts we began working to make our relationship better. Things were improving, but now it was she who was the bitter one (I always handled her bitter better than she handled mine). She viewed me as an untrustworthy slut, and made it very clear she did not want me going out drinking etc, I accepted this and became mostly a home body. I actually enjoyed being a home body and I figured as long as I could calm her anger over time things would improve, she would still sometimes get angry and leave, but this was rather common place now. She also dropped college classes many times about 20-35 units worth of classes over the years and always blamed me for dropping her classes, or for not accepting a job. When I got cameras for the exterior of the home she actually became better, because she could keep an eye on me whenever she got angry and left, I accepted this as I had been untrustworthy, and I had gotten the cameras for security so I saw it as a double good. I worked very hard to be trustworthy and just accepted that itd be some time before things got better, but then she began micromanaging, shed ask to use my laptop for hw which I would say okay (I knew my social media was logged in and I had nothing to hide but I didn’t think shed dig). Long story short she went through all of my messages on multiple occasions, and everytime I told her I clearly left the access to the social media to show im not hiding anything, but she always found a conversation with guy friends where we had conversations about women/models that upset her, or comments on friends stories who were women that upset her. It was like she was always looking for a reason to be mad. She’d blow up, try to force me to delete people from my social media and when I said no, shed pack up and leave. This happened more times than I can count. But it felt like things were getting better. Finally, we broke up entirely and I said I had enough, we were away from one another for about 4 weeks, but she had some items she still needed to get from my home, she came by and we talked, and things seemed better, she seemed to accept me more for who I am and to be okay, we ended up spending time together as friends, hiking, going places and it was fantastic for a few months. We ended up being intimate again for a period of about a month, and I was concerned bc it seemed like during our relationship we always had 2-3 good weeks and then hell, and this cycle repeated over and over. So I was waiting for this hell to return but tried to stay as positive as possible to not make it a self fulfilling prophecy. I was playing some video games hanging out with her and she brought up a social media post to show me on her phone, but she was holding it at a hard angle so I went to take the phone so I could see it better and she pulled it back, this was concerning, but I disregarded it and kept playing my game. She was mad at me for ignoring her but I said “I cant see it at that angle if you want to show me hold it in front of me not behind me, so she did and I read it and I said “haha that’s cool” and then I said jokingly, “protective of your phone huh?? Huhhhh? Lol" and smiled and kept playing (kind of my way of letting her know I felt it was weird but I didn’t care and wasn’t going to dig bc I don’t want trouble with us). Then she tells me “Oh well I started this other IG page to promote MBTI” I said oh that’s cool have you gotten a lot of positive feedback from the community? And she said kind of, and I said cool. I went back to playing and she said “I was talking to an ENTP and it was interesting” (My personality type is an ENTP as well so it felt like she was saying she talked to someone like me, shes attracted to ENTP’s, honestly I felt mildly threatened). I said “Oh well ill have to read that im sure it was an interesting conversation!” although I said it jokingly and went back to my game, I actually had no desire to read it, and then she said “really you want to” and I said “no im good lol” and she said why are you laughing. I said “because its just a little weird how protective you were and now you are giving me tidbits of info about someone supposedly like me.” She said “well I want your opinion of the conversation, I said okay, and she laid the phone out and I read it while she played my game, the conversation was definitely flirtatious and after finishing, she said “what did you think about it” I said “its a pretty long conversation lol” and went back to my game (I didn’t want to say it was flirtatious bc I didn’t want to start a fight). She asked me again and said “What did you think of it, why are you ignoring me, look at me” I said “I just want to play my game and would rather not talk about it” She insisted I respond and I said “the conversation was very flirty and you guys had a lot to share with one another but im okay idc about it”. She blew up and said I was attacking her character, she then brought up everything I ever did wrong in the past and said “how can you judge me when you have done a b c d e f g h I j” she then insisted on seeing my IG I told her you already saw everything recently and she said I want to see it now, so I showed it to her, and then she blew up about messages to a friend that were purely friendly, the only issue she raised is that the friend was female and that I replied to her story 8 times in the last month, and that must me I want to sleep with her. She ridiculed me and yelled and I had to keep asking her to stop yelling, but she kept yelling shouting, crying, and accusing me of being a horrible person and how could I ever judge her negatively when ive done so many bad things etc etc and then she packed some things and left. I realized this was too much abuse for me to handle and went to her room, packed up everything in trash bags and put it on the porch (I was surprised how much stuff she actually still had in my house because I never really inspected her room when she had “Moved out”, at least 200 pieces of clothing). I called her and let her know she should grab her stuff tonight and whatever she didn’t grab was going to the dumps. She made two trips, and before she left on the second trip, left the key to my house, and told me that she was going to be leaving and to please never contact her again. She called me about an hour later to let me know she was going to start dating the following night and that she was moving on. This happened last night, and hurt me deeply and im hurting today, but this is the full story of my relationship. I just don’t understand someone who constantly called other women Whores and hated people ever even thinking she could be anything remotely close to slutty, who then blows up on me for saying her “conversation was flirty but im okay with it”, and then leaves, and then gets angry when I pack up her stuff and let her know to come get it bc im not playing these games anymore, and then tells me to leave her alone because in less than 24 hours shell be dating again. That seems like something a slut would do, and I never ever considered her a slut. I just don’t understand the logic of any of this.
      • Ann Silvers
        Ann Silvers

        Hi Patrick.

        From my perspective, partner abuse isn’t always about control. It can have any of 3 motivations: control, demean, or punish.

        It took me a while in my counseling practice to realize that sometimes both partners are being abusive, but I have definitely seen this scenario. Having said that, it is also true that many times one partner is abusive while the other partner has actions and reactions that fit on the non-abusive side of the continuum.

        As I said in the post: “Major deciding factors for where a particular behavior belongs on the continuum are the reasonableness of the behavior given the circumstances and the motivation behind the behavior.”

        Another consideration is that there can be an accumulation effect that adds together many potentially-abusive behaviors that could be seen as normal if taken one by one, but it’s the repetition of the behavior that tips it into the abusive category. One of my clients calls this “The death of a thousand cuts.”

        Everyone will react with anger sometimes. You have to look at the whole pattern of behavior to figure out what’s really happening. Often, learning to check your reaction helps show more clearly what the other person is contributing to volatility.


      • Patrick

        Hello there, not sure if i agree that there can be a mutually abusive relationship. If abuse is centered around control, there can t be two people who have control in a relationship. The abuser is abusive because it gives them this control. I suppose if there is a power struggle the lines of what defines abuse in a relationship can get blurred but typically, and in my case, there is no confusing or distorting who has control. From what i understand, there is abuse from the abuser and often times, defense from the victim that can be used by the abuser to"flip the script", allowing the abuser to make false allegations of abuse against the victim. I know when i have been on the recieving end of an intentional and calculated campaign to control, demean, and punish me, it is sometimes difficult to refrain from yelling or namecalling. I feel backed into a corner and that i ve exhausted all other resources and sometimes i can t help it. Now i don t exhibit all the other cluster traits of an abuser and i could care less about control, so do these occasional reactions qualify me as an abuser? Any insight will be appreciated. Thanks.

      • Ann Silvers
        Ann Silvers

        Hi John. Sorry for the pain you are going thru. Your story brings up some important things.

        1) Abuse can be mutual. Both people in a couple can be abusing each other. Possibly to different degrees.

        2) It’s important to get a handle on our own anger. If we are wondering who is abusing who in a relationship, we can only see the answer clearly if we stop reacting with angry outbursts. (My book “A quick look at Demystifying Emotions: Simple Powerful Tips to Boost Your Emotional Intelligence and Help You Stop Overreacting” could help to understand your partner’s anger and your own anger. )

        On a different note, I wonder if your partner was using you to get a child and once she got pregnant she was done with you because you had served her purpose. (You might want to check out another of my posts: “8 Red Flags the Pregnancy is a Trap”: )


      • John Smith
        John Smith

        Really feel for all of you, thanks for sharing your experiences. I think reading this stories has made me realise that I have also been emotionally abused. It is quite frightening, as my partner has fully convinced me that I have been the problem all along.

        We have been in a 2 year relationship (not married but living together in her home). I often ask how she is doing, especially as she often looks to be quite sad, so naturally I want to check in with my partner as I actually care. I accept that she has recently had a difficult period as she had an invasive procedure on her knee resulting in some time off work and has also been going through IVF (we have also had some trouble conceiving). On one occasion, after asking how she was feeling, she started shouting at me stating, ‘How do you think I feel!!’ Noticing she was upset and more distressed by my questions, I walked away to allow her to calm down but instead she followed me in an aggressive way continuing to shout and scream at me. Unfortunately I retaliated by throwing an empty pizza box against the wall that I was holding at the time. Since this happened she has accused me of being an abusive and scary person and no longer feels safe with me. A part of me feels the right thing to do is to leave her. The complication that has arisen, is that the IVF has worked and she is currently 8 weeks pregnant. I was so pleased since hearing this news and expressed this to her and that I am looking forward to raising this child together. However, since then we had some further arguments where I expressed some of my recent concerns about her behaviour and also how this has resulted in me feeling unhappy. Following this, she made a unilateral decision to end the relationship expressing that my previous behaviours/words to her have been abusive and that she does not feel safe to have me in the home around her especially as she is pregnant.

        I accept that my behaviour has not been perfect but quite frankly her own behaviour has not been exemplary. The difference is that I listen to her concerns and accept areas that I will focus on to try and change. However, should I point out her misgivings then I am further labelled as being critical and abusive and also continuously reminded that she went through IVF and this is the reason for her own outbursts and mistreatment of me. This definitely now feels like an impossible situation and as difficult as it is, I am having to contemplate that I may never see my child grow up or be a part of its life apart from a source of financial support. This makes me deeply sad, as I had always been looking forward to becoming a father as part of a family unit. She said there maybe some hope to salvaging the relationship, however my instinct makes me feel that this is untrue and that in fact she has truly disengaged. I do question if there really was ever any love in the first place.

      • Stan Miller
        Stan Miller

        Sad to read those stories, there is real suffering there. I have been at the receiving end of that too. Seems to me that it happens when you give away your power. Sometimes you just put up with stuff because you are a nice guy and want to accept the other person, and forgive their behaviour. But it’s insidious, it builds up over time starting from small things that you let pass without addressing them. Maybe there are other aspects of the relationship that are convenient and comfortable. And it may take sacrifice to cut the connection. I think that you can not (or should not try) to control the other person’s behaviour, to make them “improve” and stop what they are doing. You can only control your own actions and responses. Once you have broken free, you discover yourself again— it’s a great feeling.

      • John Robertson
        John Robertson

        my wife and I are in our early 40’s and have 2 children together, I sat right behind her in science class in Jr High school and have always had a crush on her and my love for her is without limit and there is nothing i wouldn’t do for her
        She is a very independent person and she waits for nobody to do anything, she also makes major unilateral decisions for the both of us. She will listen to my opinion but Never takes them in to consideration when making decisions here are few examples of the decisions she has made knowing i didn’t feel the same

        Our Home we live in now was bought by her without even talking to me about it until the paper work was almost done and i only saw the house after it was bought

        She bought the car I drive knowing that i didn’t like it or want it and would rather have a cheaper car that i was able to work on myself because that’s what i like

        I was my oldest son’s kindergarten teacher and loved the one on one time i was able to have with him and wanted to have the same time with my youngest son and i told her this and tried to emphasize this as something i really wanted but she disagreed with me and made the decision to send him to school knowing exactly what i wanted but went and did what she wanted anyway again

        During her second pregnancy she pretty much quit having sex with me after our second child was born sex pretty much came to sputtering halt with me always asking for it and her perpetually rejecting me…
        and then came the 2016 elections… My wife is a liberal and I liked the idea of a non politician getting in to stir things up, Well it wasn’t long until she started labeling me the same way CNN and liberal talk show hosts were labeling anyone that supported the idea of Trump being president and started making accusation about me and attacking my character and acting like I was the one who has changed

        and at this point i have already been rejected more times than i can count and it not only did it effect my self esteem and confidence but it effected my mood and has made me feel angry and resentful It’s been 4 years and i can count how many times we have had sex on both hands and out of those times she was the one who decided when where and if it was going to happen
        and now she has created requirements that first need to be met before she will consider allowing it to happen and even then there is less than a 10% chance she will let it
        and she still demands that i not express how it makes me feel and to just deal with it because it makes her even less willing and puts her in less of a mood to even want to try

        I don’t want to even try out of fear of being rejected by her again and i hate feeling like i am forcing her to do something she does not want to do

        a little over a year ago my wife decided to get a marriage counselor and totally did not expect me to be so willing to participate and definitely did not expect me to be so open minded about any of the ideas that were presented

        At that point my wife refused to do anything that might involve being intimate or anything that made her feel like she had to compromise in any way even if it might help the relationship and improve the way i feel unheard, undervalued and unappreciated by her
        She rejects my love language and has even told the therapist that she does not and will not acknowledge physical touch as a valid or real way for someone to feel loved by someone else and accuses me of only wanting her for sex knowing how much it hurts my feelings
        She knows i do not like to receive gifts, I love giving them but I HATE RECEIVING GIFTS because it makes me feel worthless because i have no way to do the same for her and she demanded that i accept gifts and told me that it was stupid for me to feel that way….
        She told me that she needed me to go for walks with her and i have been whenever she wants
        She told me that she needed quality time with me so i have been giving it to her whenever she wants it even if it doesn’t fit in with what i am doing… I still do it for her….
        She wanted words of affirmation so i make an effort to tell her how much i love her and to make it a point to tell her the things i lobe about her.. and i still try
        and i even try to buy her gifts even tho i can not afford them…but i still do it
        I have been doing all of these things because she has told me that she need for me to do the but she still refuses to do the one thing that i never stopped telling her i needed and now she has added things i need to do for her to her list like "doing things around the house before she feels she thinks she needs to ask me to do them

        She has told me that “She needs me to be okay” and that she does a Million things to make me feel loved by her like “paying the bills and going shopping” should be enough for me to feel loved and valued by her

        despite all of my efforts to do everything she told me would make her respond differently to me and make her feel more loved and valued by her she refuses to compromise and anything more than what she thinks should be good enough for me and is now telling me that when i tell her how i feel and what i need from her makes her feel gross and disgusted

        and 3 weeks ago when i told her that i would like for her to at least try to be intimate with me at least 2 times a week

        She literally laughed in my face and acted like i was asking her for something she was unable and unwilling to provide for me and not only rejected another one of my ideas but tried to say i was only asking her for sex and that she will not do anything for me unless i successfully make her feel like she can allow herself to give me anything i feel i need…. just not sex because sex is not a way someone should feel loved by someone else and there is nothing i can do or say to change her mind…. Not just about what i want but change her mind about ANYTHING… She does not let the way i feel or what i need effect anything she wants or decides to do even when it involves mostly me and doesn’t effect her in any way

        She has left me with nowhere to turn with no ability to effectively communicate how i feel to her and she refuses to compromise or do anything i feel i need from her because she knows for a fact that she does more than she should for anyone to feel valued and loved by her and there is nothing i can say or do that will change her mind or change what she is willing to or unwilling to do for me and i can’t even tell her how unfair that is without her getting upset and telling me that if I tried harder and did more for her then things might be different

        It feels like she really doesn’t love me or doesn’t want to love me the same way i love her

        I don’t ask for anything more than what i feel i need but she demands that i fulfill every request she makes in order for her to even consider doing anything i might feel i need but never follows thru with her side of the deal leaving me feeling rejected unheard and unloved and alone with nobody that cares because what i need is not something that anyone should need to feel loved and valued by anyone ….but somehow all of her needs must be met or else the world that revolves around her will stop and be destroyed and it will have to be rebuilt even better just not by her because she shouldn’t have to do something like try for someone else for them to feel loved by her

        Sorry i have nobody else to vent to and my wife would only get mad at me and blame me for everything she sees as wrong and push me further away then she already is … i just want her to love me the same way i love her and try for her and to stop acting like I am the only one that should be held responsible for fixing the way she feels while being hurt because she refuses to even try for me

      • Nick

        I’m in the same situation. My girlfriend is 8 weeks pregnant, we got into a fight the past week and reasons being that I gave her a call at an inappropriate time. That became a huge argument, she started insulting me and so forth until she even stopped communicating with me and eventually blocking me from contacting her. She made me feel so guilty and I blamed myself for her reaction. It’s just so confusing, I don’t know what to do.

      • Ann Silvers
        Ann Silvers

        Hi Anonymous Victim. This sounds like a hopeless situation. There are so many negative signs that it seems unlikely that things will get better — and more likely that they will stay as is or get worse. It’s difficult for me to go into all the ways to work through your decision making process, but my book “Abuse OF Men BY Women: It Happens, It Hurts, and It’s Time to Get Real About It” has a whole section on how to decide whether it is time to end the relationship, and how to prepare for ending it if that’s the direction to go in. -Ann

      • Anonymous Victim
        Anonymous Victim

        I was with a woman for over ten years, and for most of it she was wonderful. However, over the past year, she lost her job. After multiple months, she got another one that pays $400,000 and started going out multiple nights a week with sketchy people she refused to let me meet for more than a second. She also started dealing marijuana. She also has family-of-origin issues (her dad was abusive), so I asked her to get into counseling. In the process, she rediscovered that she had been raped in college (for which I have a lot of sympathy) and now she is not only withholding sex and looking outside the relationship, but she wants me to do the same. I don’t want to. She is also entertaining the idea that she is gay. Since getting her new job, she has become financially controlling and I only realized recently that all the savings we had had been put into her retirement account, leaving me with nothing. She has put innumerable charges on my credit card because I was nice enough to support her when she was irresponsible and would lose her. She continues to charge things to it. I was also supposed to get half of our savings upon the dissolution of the relationship, but through shifting money about, the $125,000 I was initially promised has dwindled to $60,000. Since last year, she has pushed me, withheld intimacy, lied about things she didn’t need to, and deprived me of any kind of emotional support. She yells at me, starts fights, and then blames me when I try to explain my perspective. I daily fear her financial control and verbal aggression. I know she’s suffering and that hurt people hurt people, but I really feel like I’m being punished for someone else’s crimes and have no way out. I’ve always dealt with depression, but I’ve never had such a good reason to be in its clutches. I have a network of family and friends, but I’d trade them all to have the woman I fell in love with back in my arms. Sadly, that is apparently not an option. How do you finally decide when enough is enough, and how do you stop loving someone who doesn’t love you back?

      • Ann Silvers
        Ann Silvers

        To T.B. Thanks so much for sharing your story. So much of what you say fits the stories of other abused men that I’ve talked to. The cultural blindness to the reality of women abusing men makes it incredibly difficult for men to recognize what is happening to them. I’m glad that you have been able to go on to have a happy relationship. I created a journal for helping people process the emotional baggage left from traumas. You may find it helpful. “Learn, Let Go, Lighten Up: Silver Lining Emotional Detox Journal & Workbook”


      • T.B.

        It’s been sixteen years, but I have finally come to understand that I was in an abusive relationship. It lasted only 9 months, but I’m afraid I’ve been scarred for life.

        We were in our early twenties, in film school and it was my first relationship. The sex was good, but everything else was horrible. I wasn’t allowed to meet my friends outside our art circle. Female friends were all untrustworthy and just trying to break us up, she explained. She publicly put me down and humiliated me in the circle. She would invite me too her apartment in the city and then throw me out after sex or when somebody else would call her. When I received a grant for an art project she demanded me to give the money to her for her film project. When I refused, because I had to account for the grant, she became furious and, as I found out later, started cheating on me with the DOP of her film. I also worked on her film and after our break-up she intentionally misspelled my name in the credits, as my surname can be turned into an insulting term. She even submitted the crazy credit to IMDB.
        We first broke up when she and the DOP were caught by a fellow student. I was weak and we would still hook up, but she never said she was sorry. After hooking up, she said something about me making the DOP jealous and I actually felt bad for him. When she finally dumped me for the DOP at the end of semester I went a bit crazy. I begged her to come back, despite hating her. She told everyone that I was the abusive one, I was ostracized from the circle, ended up transferring to another school, attempted suicide and eventually gave up on art.
        Now I feel ashamed that I put up with it, but somehow I was convinced that it was all part of a normal relationship. I somehow thought that she can’t be abusive, as everyone else adored her, and that I was just being overly sensitive. Now I know that I was actually very depressed, codependent and that I had internalized the abuse.
        About a year after my suicide attempt I met my now wife, but for the longest time I was convinced that she too would just end up hurting me on purpose. We started as long-distance friends, which probably lowered the bar just enough for me to take the chance with her. It took too much time and a lot of CBT and meditation to allow myself to trust again. Actually, I still have trouble trusting people. It is a constant battle not to remain a bitter hermit.
        Even though it was just a nine month relationship sixteen years ago and I have completely moved on, I still have occasional nightmares about my abusive film school ex. It happens whenever I have a depressive relapse with suicidal thoughts. I don’t know if having nightmares about the abuse makes me suicidal or if having suicidal thoughts makes me have nightmares. The crazy part is that when I’m ruminating while being depressed I still want to contact her to tell her how much damage she caused, as if that would inspire her to apologize. I still crave acknowledgement from her. Maybe deep down I still believe that I was the abuser and that I deserved everything that happened.

      • Ann Silvers
        Ann Silvers

        To Anonymous: Life is an experiment. Ideally, we’re always looking for what’s working and not working, then create new plans based on that information. It sounds like you’ve run the experiment of being in a relationship with this woman long enough. If you don’t want this to be what the rest of your life looks like, then it’s time to make an exit strategy. -Ann

      • Anonymous

        This is happening to me. My girlfriend will fly into a rage if things don’t go her way. In the year and a half i have been with her, it was a struggle to get her to get a job. She is 27 and had never worked in her life. Finally she got the idea it was important to pay for things and not let me do it all as I was going to go under. But in this whole time, who do you think has had to drive her to work because she never bothered to get her license? This has stressed me as she is more codependent than independent.

        Then she kept looking at diamond rings and wanted to get engaged. I found a beautiful timeless diamond that really didn’t cost much. She was happy for about a week. Then that quickly faded. She works all week and everytime a weekend comes up she will ruin the whole weekend by picking fights. She has talked to her therapist about this. But its not helping.

        I am disabled and struggle with my own issues. All I wanted was happy, healthy, and a loving relationship. How could this happen? She got everything she wanted. She wanted to live with me at my apartment. I allowed it. I have supplied everything. Our home. Our transportation. I ask very little of her and she is never happy.

      • Ann Silvers
        Ann Silvers

        To the person who left the comment entitled “Impossible Abuser”: Sorry to hear about the abusive trap you are in. It is very challenging to be in this situation. Hopefully you can find some ways to not take the raging personally. -Ann

      • Impossible Abuser
        Impossible Abuser

        I have read the lines above and I find myself exactly in the same position. We have a 1 year baby and she is completely impossible to live with. She continously screams and rages very often to me and to the baby.
        I wish that I could leave house and go away, but have no solution at the moment.

      • Jeffrey

        I have a girlfriend who is 9 months pregnant and I think she has been emotionally abusing me. She often makes me feel like it’s my fault so I want to educate myself to make sure I’m not the terrible person she makes me think I am.

        We will get into a petty disagreement and she will make an assumption based on my response, usually a vastly exaggerated summary. She will then use that summary to inform me of what my own thoughts and feeling are. Anytime I confront her about my actual feeling and thoughts, and that I do not think it’s fair that SHE defines them, it always turns into a huge blowup in which she; becomes destructive, makes ad hominem arguments, threatens to leave me, and now uses my unborn child as leverage to control me.

        I feel like I’m backed against a wall to just deal with it among other things she does, I walk on eggshells to not upset her, and I’m so invested in what life we have built together that I don’t know how I could even start over alone – not to mention that I’m afraid I won’t get to be a major part of my daughters life.

      • Ann Silvers
        Ann Silvers

        Thanks for sharing your story Harry. – Ann Silvers

      • Harry

        I am in a relationship and my girl friend is still abusive. Apart from work I always hangout with her, keep myself available for all the time. Yet at instances when I hangout with friends she picks up a fight out of nowhere with abuse. When some good is about to happen for me, she is happy genuinely and all of a sudden picks a fight out of thin air and spoils the moment. When her good moment happens, she wouldn’t spoil it. I recognised this pattern and tried spoiling it for her. Later told, I deliberately did that as a lesson for her. She wouldn’t realise though. I have quit and come back to her a couple of times. I have taken her to three different psychiatrists in the last two years, she wouldn’t continue but quit. The psychiatrist told its called adjustment disorder. She is been taking pills and it calms her down. People like this need professional help. We love them for who they are. I always have a great time with her. We love each other so much but its in a wink of time, she changes to another person I suggest everyone to get professional help to sort it. Love can heal , at least hoping so.

      • Harry

        I am in a relationship and my girl friend is still abusive. Apart from work I always hangout with her, keep myself available for all the time. Yet at instances when I hangout with friends she picks up a fight out of nowhere with abuse. When some good is about to happen for me, she is happy genuinely and all of a sudden picks a fight out of thin air and spoils the moment. When her good moment happens, she wouldn’t spoil it. I recognised this pattern and tried spoiling it for her. Later told, I deliberately did that as a lesson for her. She wouldn’t realise though. I have quit and come back to her a couple of times. I have taken her to three different psychiatrists in the last two years, she wouldn’t continue but quit. The psychiatrist told its called adjustment disorder. She is been taking pills and it calms her down. People like this need professional help. We love them for who they are. I always have a great time with her. We love each other so much but its in a wink of time, she changes to another person I suggest everyone to get professional help to sort it. Love can heal , at least hoping so.

      • Ann Silvers
        Ann Silvers

        Hi Jack

        It’s difficult to know what to do in your situation. There are many extenuating circumstances. Of course, she should not hit you no matter what, but sometimes people are genuinely remorseful and do change.

        I suggest that you read my book “Abuse OF Men BY Women: It Happens, It Hurts, And It’s Time to Get Real About It” if you haven’t already. It will likely give you more insight into your situation and has a chapter on steps for thinking through options. Here’s the link for the book on Amazon:


      • Jack

        I know my ex girlfriend for 5 years, we have been living together for 3 years . We went though a lot of things. Especially me, she sacrificed many things for me. The thing was that I cheated and after that this crazy psycho behavior of hers started to blossom up.. She started controlling me, acting differently, saying nasty comments regarding me cheating and sometimes bullying on me just to get back on me. Which I understand, I wasn’t honest with her and should have been better because she really did everything she could to be there for me, even my family hated her. So nothing was easy for her. Then now recently she got pretty sick and we both were worried she had cancer and went to hospitals many times. During this period she became so weak, lack of sex between us because of her pain, stressed, worried and mean. So I couldn’t handle it anymore. I felt I did everything for her but she couldn’t be thankful or appropriate what I do. We had an argument, I tried to tell her she should help around more in home, then before I even knew it I called her bitch accidentally but on purpose still somehow.. She freaked out and hit me. Then I left her and never tried to even hear her out, she tried to reach out to me to apologize and talk out about things but I just got so feed up and was scared she wouldn’t listen to me or understand me. Now being alone for some weeks I have to admit I do regret leaving her especially in the way I left her in. She was always there for me, she was just being worried about her health condition would get worse so she acted very aggressive lately by freaking out.. I’m not in denial, I have tried to talk to friends and family but since they never knew or liked her they don’t see the whole picture. Off all the wonderful things she actually did and how lovely she can be. I would like to give her a second chance but ofcourse I would lie if I didn’t say I was scared she would continue this bad way. The key to a successful relationship is to talk to the partner about the issues. And that’s something I never actually did. I just left her with no warning. I would appreciate if someone could help me to tell me how to reach out to her but in the same time make her understand that this is serious and have to be obeyed. I’m not doubting she won’t change it’s just that I made such a thing of it .. I told everyone what happened. But that shouldn’t matter I shouldn’t be worried to get judged by them for going back. Thanks for taking the time to read this!

      • Antonio

        James, my girlfriend would do the same. I would try and walk away and she will just follow and yell and try to make me feel bad. She also will cry to the point where she’s weeping and will tell me that I’m not a good person. I try to apologize but she will continually tell me that I’m not doing enough to make up for it. All this just continues and continues. I broke up with her about a month and a half ago because I mentally couldn’t take it anymore, but I really do love her and have been trying to get her back. I thought things were going to change as we both said we’ve made some changes, but just yesterday she said that I wasn’t doing enough and started accusing me of not changing and telling me that I’m the same person as before, all the while crying and yelling at me. I’ve remained calm through it all, and have tried to apologize, but at this point I don’t know what else to do. In the past, she has hit me and thrown things at me, to the point where I had to goto the hospital for a stitch on my lip because of something she threw at me. I’m at a loss for what to do. She keeps telling me it’s my fault and that I need to make up for it, when I just feel hurt and drained.

      • Ann Silvers
        Ann Silvers

        James: It is hard not to retaliate when someone abuses you, but it’s important to not engage. It will only backfire on you and potentially on your child. It’s an unfortunate reality that when we mate with abusive people we have to deal with them as a co-parent forever. It’s somewhat easier once you recognize their patterns of behavior and are less taken by surprise.

      • Ann Silvers
        Ann Silvers

        Tom: Good to hear that you have gotten away. Stay strong if she tries to woo you back. -Ann

      • Tom Hohman
        Tom Hohman

        I am a day removed from this. She was psychologically and very physically abusive. She bit my private area and entire body to excrutiating pain. I believe even tried to sever my achilles tendon in my sleep with a knife. I’ve had to lock myself in the bathroom to escape, now I’m gone for good and hopefully safe. Needless to say I’m still very shaken up. I can’t tell anyone because of the male stigma of being tough.

      • James

        I have been suffering for years and always ended up having to take the responsibility. Arguments would push me to my limit where I’d walk away but she would follow, continuing to verbally abuse me. It was an attempt to get me to snap and then the worst of the culpability would fall on me and all the power was with her. She had a history of this and I ignored it for years – always apologizing. I left her and that abuse has turned into deviousness and using our 18month son as a weapon against me. I even took a huge financial hit on the house so that she had enough money to raise our son in his home. I still get mentally abused now because I’m now happy and she’s bitter and miserable. It’s hard not to retaliate to her abuse.

      • dh1786

        Verbally and emotionally abused by my ex gf for 8 years. Finally kicked her out of the house but now my life is a living hell sharing my son with her. She alienates me, refuses to coparent, always instigates, continues to insult me, manipulates others and even invites them to join her in character assassinations.

      • pablo morales
        pablo morales

        My girlfriend and i just broke up and she verbally and physically abused me time after time i try to justify it by blaming myself i even try to address it and she didn’t feel she was behaving that way she used personal things against me to hurt me emotionally

      • Awesomecat

        My gf is all of this. I’m leaving her when she goes on holiday to see her family. I refuse to be here and break the news that I am leaving based on her past record of physical abuse towards me.

        It disgusts how abuse to men is ignored.

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