3 Things Manipulative Men Say To Keep You Stuck
3 Things Manipulative Men Say To Keep You Stuck

Trying to discern if you're being manipulated by your husband? An abuser emailed Anne - an her response may help you identify manipulation.

Is your husband listening to the BTR.ORG podcast?

Is he claiming that he’s “changed”?

Has he confessed his affairs, pornography use, abuse, and sexual coercion to clergy and now claims a “change of heart” or other spiritual epiphany?

Often, abusive men use our content as well as other educational abuse material (like Why Does He Do That by Lundy Bancroft) to learn how to groom their wives. Tune in to the BTR.ORG Podcast to hear what one abuser shared with Anne in a recent email and read more below to learn three common phrases that abusers say when trying to manipulate their wives. 

“It Breaks My Heart That Men Abuse Women (Like I USED To Do)”

Abusers will acknowledge that they used to be abusive, but will subtly remove themselves from the identity of “abuser” to “non abuser” by:

  • Showing immense (false) compassion for abuse victims;
  • Showing immense (false) compassion for abusers, offering spiritual, religious, or emotional support to them and offering to be mentors, or other sources of support on their “journey to change”;
  • Bearing testimony or other public forms of admission of their prior life as an abuser (even if it was last week);
  • Enrolling in or starting a program to help abusers change (becoming a life coach, counsellor, or religious leader);
  • Insisting that others do not label them as “abusers”, but rather someone “who used to be abusive”

“I Want to Be a Leader & Teacher to Other Men Since I’m So Enlightened And Changed” 

Abusers will often claim to have received some kind of spiritual call to teach or guide other men into the enlightenment that they have now achieved.

Many will become (or try to become):

  • Active or more active in their church communities
  • Leaders in their churches
  • Life coaches, abuse coaches, or fitness coaches
  • Yoga gurus, new age coaches
  • Cult leaders
  • Social media influences
  • Self-published authors
  • Therapists, counselors
  • 12-step sponsors 

If they are unable to find success, they often claim that it’s because they are victims, thwarted by those who have ruined their reputations. Perhaps they were excommunicated from their faith community or lost credibility in their community due to an arrest. 

“Don’t Be Afraid of My Reaction if You Choose Divorce”

Be warned: if the abuser says this to you, there is a high, HIGH probability that you are being groomed.

Abusers use this line to find out if the victim is seeking a divorce. They know that domestic violence victim advocates warn victims to keep their divorce plans top secret until the last second – in an effort to keep the victims as safe as possible.

Abusers feel entitled to your privacy and your marriage – this is their subtle tactic to take your autonomy and your safety. 

If he says these words, hear what he’s ACTUALLY saying:


BTR.ORG Is Here For You

We know the shock and pain of realizing that the abuser is not actually changing, but is just trying to manipulate you into believing he’s changing – and we don’t want you to go through that alone.

Attend our BTR.ORG Group Sessions and find the community that you need as you make your way to safety.

We love you. We believe you. 

Full Transcript: 

Anne (00:00):
Welcome to BTR.ORG. This is Anne. If you’re new to the BTR podcast, you may wanna consider starting with the oldest episode first and then making your way forward chronologically. If you do that, you’ll take the journey with me as I learn more and more. You’ll hear a change in my voice as I grow in confidence and skills. It’ll be like a friend holding your hand as you make your own way to peace. So it’s just gonna be me today on the podcast. I had an abuser reach out and say that he really liked the podcast and he has some questions and he wanted to come on the podcast to talk to me about it and I was like, Hmm, I’m not gonna have you on the podcast, but let me see if I can address these questions and also the entitlements behind them. His first question is, “If every man says that I used to look at porn but I no longer do is lying, what I am hearing is that Anne does not want any men in recovery to discuss it, which leads me to the challenge of withholding the truth, which is what I was doing and no longer want to do anymore.” Uh, I don’t understand what he’s saying here. 

I don’t remember saying that. If I did, it was it taken out of context And then he goes on to say, or why should any man even try to stop? Because there is no hope. And once an abuser, always forever will be an abuser, a lying porn user. In other words, as a listener, an abuser trying to work recovery, I am receiving a mixed signal. Okay, so do I think a man should discuss it, yes or no? Um, what I’m concerned about is grooming with a goal. So I’m hoping abusers do not listen to this podcast. First of all, it’s not for them. It’s to keep women safe and I don’t really wanna give abusers a checklist of things to do to appear to be safe when they are not. The thing that concerns me is any talk, whether it’s about what they quote unquote used to do or what they’re working on not doing.

Why Is Your Husband Disclosing Information To You? What’s the Intent? 

Now as grooming, I am not opposed to honesty, but what is the intent of the honesty? Is it a fake sort of vulnerable honesty to give the victim the impression that he’s honest because he told me these certain things, not realizing that there’s a whole lot of other things that he’s keeping secret. The whole thing is very problematic. I do think that abusers can change, but the question for victims of abuse is, are they safe currently? Is this grooming or is this current safe behavior? If it’s not safe behavior, then we need to distance ourselves, set boundaries, take a step back and observe from a safe distance. We have an amazing boundaries workshop. It is the surprise surprise BTR.ORG Boundaries Workshop that will help you know what boundaries are actually effective for keeping you safe. So many women are setting what I call “Floundaries” and you can learn about that in the workshop and they’re not working, they’re safe, they’re still being emotionally and psychologically abused.

So check that out; words just don’t really matter so much. We need to watch actions. So the best thing for victims to do I think, is to not try to ask the abuser, are you in recovery? What are you doing? But just make boundaries for her safety and from a safe distance observe, what types of actions does he take to ensure her safety? For example, if she says, “Hey, I feel unsafe. I would feel safer if you would move out of the house.” So he moves out of the house. Does he shut down our bank account? That would be a sign that he’s unsafe. Or is he making sure that she has enough money for food, housing, all the things that she needs? Watch the actions. Okay, here’s his second question. He says that on one of the episodes that a guest says something to the effect that men in recovery like to go around and talk about themselves and when they do talk about their recovery or where they are in recovery, they have really not changed and they should not talk about it.

“Don’t Put Too Much Stake In ANY Of His Words, Regardless Of What They Are” 

I am not saying these men should not talk about it. I am saying that it doesn’t matter if you do, that’s all. You can talk about it all you want, but women don’t listen to their words, watch their actions. Whether or not he wants to talk about recovery is up to him. I, I’m not saying whether he should talk about it or not because words have frequently been used for grooming. I’m telling victims don’t put too much stake in any of his words regardless of what they say. Let’s say he says, I hate you. I’ve always hated you. You’re unattractive. You’re the worst. That’s also something to just dismiss because he’s saying that on purpose to harm you. There’s always a goal. He says, can’t I be excited about all I have learned and share it to try and pass the word and teach others before they end up like me or worse? Go ahead. What is the goal? Is it to manage your image? Is it because you’re genuinely excited? Are you genuinely changed? Take some time, observe your own behaviors.

And again, this podcast isn’t for abusers, it’s for abuse victims, but that sounds kind of dangerous to me. What are they doing that for? Were they caught and they’re trying to tell everyone how amazing they are? He says, I also think of it as accepting Jesus and wanting to tell the world what I did. Most victims have heard: don’t you believe in Jesus? Don’t you believe in the atonement? Uh, it’s just spiritual abuse. If an abuser believes in Jesus and accepts him, great, his behavior should change. The interesting thing about these questions he’s asking is he’s not even mentioned doing, which is what concerns us as victims, right? That’s what we wanna see. He says, I’m so excited about learning what it was that he was an abuser and I want everyone to know what I’ve learned. And then he says something interesting.

“Less Talking And More Doing From Abusers – That’s What Victims Need to See” 

I honestly do not care if it’s brainwashing. As if what? Women are brainwashing him to think he’s an abuser? So is there this element that like maybe it’s not true, but I’m going to do it. Cause then he goes on to say, if it works and changes me to no longer abuse or rape my wife and to be completely open and honest, living authentically in all areas of my life and being an example to my… and it goes on and on about how to correctly love and treat my wife and to me it’s just all talk. That’s what concerns me about these questions – less talking and more doing from abusers is what victims need to see.

Then he goes on to um, talk about other people that look at porn and what he is learning from BTR, but why is he telling me this <laugh>? I’m like, what? Why are you telling me this? Sorry, this is gonna sound very harsh, but like I don’t care if you told another man about BTR. BTR is for victims of abuse. So like that’s just weird. This also concerns me because he says, “After one of the podcasts that discussed planning for divorce secretly, because they do not know how the man will react,” (yes, that’s what all domestic abuse advocates and experts recommend, right? You need to plan ahead), and then he says, “so I asked if my wife or ex-wife,” (he doesn’t say like if they’re in a divorce proceedings or what), “will let me call her.” If she doesn’t want you to call her, then don’t ask her if you can call her – that’s not respectful.

When Abusers Weaponize the BTR.ORG Podcast

If she says, please don’t call me, and then you say, well, can I call you? And you think, oh, I’m being respectful because she said not to call her and I’m so I’m just gonna ask her, like, no, this is a very gaslighty quote and this is one that I hear abusers say a lot that are not changed and he says this and I’m just gonna read it. He says, “At this point, I made the hardest decision against my wants and desires and let her know that her feeling safe should she decide to divorce me is very important to me and I did not want her to be worried about how I would react.” Basically he wants to say, look, I wanna find out if she wants to divorce me. I’m afraid she’s gonna surprise me and so I’m gonna try to intervene here and manipulate her into telling me when she probably shouldn’t be telling me. I’m really worried that this guy’s listening to my podcast in order to weaponize it against his wife or soon-to-be ex-wife.

That’s my main concern – that this guy’s weaponizing it and if he’s still listening, please stop. Don’t listen to my podcast anymore. If you really have changed, then stop listening to the podcast in order to weaponize it and bear up your reputation. It’s scary. Then in his own abuse, he says, it breaks my heart that men continue to abuse as I had done, but in very nasty ways and goes on to say, you know, a bunch of stuff that I’m kind of thinking he does. The reason why I did not want him to come on the podcast is cause I’m worried that he would use the podcast and try to act like he’s so changed through his words to manipulate his wife into staying with him when she does not want to because I’m not able to observe his actions or talk to his wife or ex-wife.

Has Your Ex-Husband Done This, Too? 🤪

These types of messages that I get are very problematic. So I just wanted to share with you that those are some of the things that I receive from abusers and I don’t wanna give them airtime to further manipulate. Here’s another one from a wife whose husband was like totally into BTR saying he was and he was like, Hey, I’m completely into BTR. It’s amazing. I’ve listened to it, it’s changed me. And then his wife said, be forewarned my husband or ex, has gone completely off the rails. He’s now actively calling men that he recommended BTR too and telling them how incredibly horrible and damaging it is. It’s interesting because he was trying to groom his wife and be like, I listen to BTR, it’s amazing, you know, and he had a goal in mind and when that goal did not work, I don’t know exactly what the goal was, but like maybe to move back in or maybe for his wife to talk to him again when it didn’t work, instead of staying the course and saying, okay, yeah, BTR is fine.

I’m sad she didn’t wanna let me back in, but that’s her prerogative. He decided then to be like, never mind, BTR is bad, and call everyone and say, you know, that thing that I told everyone was amazing. It’s actually really bad. Who knows if he actually did that? That’s another question I had. He says he called everyone and told them how great BTR was, but my guess is he called like one person or two people and now he’s calling them back and telling them it’s bad. Apparently BTR teaches men that they just have to lie down and take any and all abuse from their crazy wives simply because they made a little mistake by cheating. This is a very classic abuser move that when faced with their abuse for a minute, they might groom in order to see if they can get back in the house or have the goal that they want and then they don’t want to give up their entitlements.

Abusers Really Hate BTR (Shocker, We Know) 

They don’t wanna give up their exploitative privilege at this point, and so once they’re faced with what they would have to give up in order to stop abusing, like, wait a minute, I can’t even call her to ask if she wants to talk to me, even though she’s already told me she doesn’t wanna talk to me. Wait a minute, I can’t move back in the house. Wait a minute, I’m not gonna be able to talk to her every day in order to manipulate her and convince her of my point of view. The wife was concerned, so she reached out and she said, I have no idea if he’d actually be bold enough to make a public statement against BTR, but just so you know, he’s actively trying to turn men against you and now he’s saying that everything is the wife’s fault because these men just have to lie down and we complain that they’re not flat enough.

Abusers want control, so they want power-over when things are equal, when the truth is laid bare, when you observe their actions for what they are and you are on equal ground, that feels like oppression to them, that feels like someone is having power over them because in order to feel equal from their perspective, and this is explained very well in the book The Verbally Abusive Relationship by Patricia Evans. In order to feel equal for an abuser, he has to feel over. If he actually is equal, like the truth is out, you see him for what he is. You’re both living in reality. He feels abused, he feels oppressed. That does not feel like equality to him, and so that’s when you hear abusers say things like, I’ve given up everything and it’s not good enough and now I’m the one being abused. That’s just not the case.

This is Why Abusers Ask Questions

They’re just not able to live in that space where they don’t have power over. It feels very uncomfortable to them and it feels like they’re being oppressed. The wife, the one that was warning me about him, she said when he said this, I laughed out loud. His brain is so twisted right now, it’s insane. He thinks he’s lying so flat, but in reality he’s not. He still hasn’t given his entitlements up. He still not telling the truth. He’s still gaslighting, he’s still lying. The reason I’m bringing this up for all the women victim listeners, abusers ask questions for a purpose and usually it’s to groom or to get information to weaponize. We cover this in the strategic thought and communication tactics workshop. I would highly recommend that everyone listening take that workshop. It’s really good. We have a section about abuser questions and what they are for.

You can observe from their behavior everything you need to know. That is the point of this episode. Even if they seem like they’re doing great and they might be, we don’t know. That’s the problem with abuse is that because grooming is part of that cycle and they’ve used it before, we are incapable of being able to decipher grooming from true change at the beginning of recovering from abuse. It takes time. It takes time for a victim to get out of the abuser’s realm of manipulation and step into reality and become strong and become grounded to be able to tell. There’s no short term way to know if what he is saying is grooming or if it’s true change because any abuser, they can groom with their words, but they can also really act like it for a certain amount of time, and then <laugh>, when they feel like they’re in control, when they feel like they have their goal, then you’ll see the behavior shift back to the obvious abuse, all the kindness, the questions, the nice understanding behavior is abuse.

“Get More Education About Grooming” 

If it has a goal, if the goal is power-over, moral of the story here with this episode, get more education about grooming. Take the Strategy Workshop also read the book, The Verbally Abusive Relationship by Patricia Evans. I may have mentioned this before, but we launched a new podcast page on our website where you can read and listen to the podcasts in chronological order. You can start from the the first one and go through all of them. You can hear the change in my voice. You can hear the change in my confidence level. I am so, so grateful for the whole community, for helping me as I podcasted, you can hear me changing in real time to the person that I am today and I can’t wait to find out who I am tomorrow.

With your help, as one of us has an epiphany, we all have epiphanies. I’m so grateful that we’re sharing and teaching each other and that we have each other’s backs because my only goal is your safety. That’s it. I care about women in general and victims in general, and I might not know you specifically, but I know what you’re going through. My heart goes out to you and I want you to know that BTR, me personally, the coaches at BTR, our whole content team, we care about you as an individual. We care that you’re safe. We care that you feel safe in your home. We care that you’re not being emotionally and psychologically abused and we don’t want you to experience sexual coercion in the form of your husband’s secret pornography use or his secret sexual basement. So know that you are loved and I’m praying for every woman in this situation every day that she can make her way to emotional and psychological safety. If this podcast is helpful to you, please support it. Until next week, stay safe out there.

1 Comment

  1. Marci Putman

    This is a guy who is trying to become a better manipulator. The lack of awareness is truly fascinating! I won’t help him by saying more!


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