Yes, He is an Abuser! How to Leave Him

By Josie Brown

pic1Lydia S. always considered herself a strong-minded, self-sufficient person. “I own my own business. I’ve always made my own way. I even paid all my own college expenses.”

Then about a year ago, she met the man of her dreams. “Henry was a handsome, charming take-charge kind of guy. In no time at all we became exclusive, spent every waking (and sleeping) moment together—to the point where it was a no-brainer that we move in together, and I gave up my place.”

Within a year, though, she regretted this decision. “It was almost as if I was living with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Whereas before he worked hard to win over my friends and family, within months Henry made it clear that he’d prefer we spend all our time by ourselves.  If I didn’t call him when we were apart, he pouted. And when we were in public, he said the most inappropriate things—or the most hurtful. Once he accused me of having an affair—with my boss! He didn’t speak to me again, until I begged him to.  If I pulled back, he came on strong with the compliments, to the point that I’d fold. After awhile I came to feel like a yoyo!”

When Lydia finally mentioned her boyfriend’s personality swings to an old pal, the woman’s reaction surprised her. “She told me that I was being emotionally abused. Granted, he had never hit me, but I was feeling just as bruised as if he had. Suddenly I realized she was right. I left him, and never looked back. But I carry to this day all the emotional scars.”

Lydia’s experience isn’t that uncommon. In fact, according to the Family Violence Prevention Fund, as many as three million women have experienced domestic violence in the United States.

And just because a woman is a force to be reckoned with in business doesn’t mean that she can’t be vulnerable to passive-aggressive behaviors that gnaw at her personal insecurities. In fact, Henry’s description fits that of an emotional abuser to a tee. Such behavior is meant to undermine the victim’s self-respect, all in the hope of making her more submissive.

And why? Because this type of guy gets off on the power trip his manipulative games produce.

Whereas physical abuse leaves visible bruises, Emotional abuse leaves bruises, too—on your psyche.

Here are the warning signs that he is emotionally abusing you:

  • He can be loving one moment—and cruel the next.
  • He wants to alienate you from your friends and family.
  • He’s constantly jealous of other men in your life.
  • He makes fun of you in public.
  • When you disagree with him, instead of simply explaining his point of view, he can be needlessly hurtful.
  • He tracks your whereabouts—by phone, email, IM, or even GPS (Don’t laugh! He may have hidden a GPS tracking device in your car, or your cell phone.)
  • During sex, he pushes you out of your comfort zone.

Remember this: abuse—in either word or action, is inexcusable.  The quicker you lose an abuser the sooner you’ll regain your self-respect. Redoing your living is a passing inconvenience. Staying with an abuser in the long run is a much bigger headache. If the current man in your life fits the description of an abuser get out of the relationship just as fast as you can.

Does He Beat You?
How to leave a Physical Abuser

Plan your exit.
Open a bank account in your name only. Ask a friend if you can bunk on her couch, or rent a room for a month or two. If you’ve got nowhere to go, seek out a domestic violence shelter. There you’ll get a place to stay, and counseling. In any event, don’t let him know where you’re going under any circumstances. And certainly don’t let him know where you are once you get there. If need be, leave your possessions behind. The only thing that is ultimately of any real importance is your safety.

Let those you trust know the truth.
Let your boss know. Let your friends know. And certainly let your family in on this turn of events. Those who love and respect you want to protect you, so instruct everyone to ignore his calls and his requests to know where you now live. Don’t worry about the occasional friend, or family member for that matter who simply has to greet your news with a condescending “I told you so.” Your safety is more important than your ego, so share your situation without hesitation for what others might think.

Play it safe.
If he stalks you, call the police. Also, file for a restraining order. It may save your life.

Don’t feel guilty.
That’s what he wants, but it’s not what you deserve.

Don’t go back.
You deserve better.


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