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13 Signs Your Abusive Husband is Changing

Abusive men CAN change. Learn what real change looks like.

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Many women desperately want to know if their emotionally abusive husband is changing, or if he even can change. Learn the 13 signs of change in this episode of The BTR.ORG Podcast and read the full transcript below for more.

Can My Abusive Husband Change?

The short answer is yes. The long answer is, it’s complicated.

Yes, abusive men can change. But as Lundy Bancroft explains in the book Why Does He Do That?: true, lasting change is a deeply transformative process. It requires “deep work” and a commitment to living amends for a lifetime.

Few men choose to take this road. Staying in your relationship because he might be changing or has committed to change may not be the best option for you.

Instead, take a step back. Consider setting firm boundaries to keep yourself separate from abusive behavior.  From a safe vantage point, you can live your best life while also watching to see if he is truly changing.

How Can I Know if My Abusive Husband is Changing?

Detecting real change can be extremely difficult, because for most abusers, the “love-bomb” piece of the abusive cycle includes:

  • Promising to join an abuse cessation program
  • Commitments to never doing that again
  • Partially or fully admitting to what he’s done and the hurt it has caused you
  • Joining 12-step groups or starting therapy

These actions may seem like signs that he really wants to change. But unfortunately, most of the time it’s just abusive grooming. The abuser does enough to keep the victim close.

The 13 Signs Of Change Can Help Victims Understand What Real Change Looks Like

Lundy Bancroft’s ’13 signs of change’ are extremely helpful to victims who are caught up in the abuse cycle and may have difficulty discerning reality due to gaslighting and constant devaluation.

BTR.ORG Supports Victims of Emotional & Psychological Abuse and Sexual Coercion

At BTR, we understand the “hopium” that most victims experience. The painful and deep desire for their partner to change and stop hurting them.

That is why our BTR.ORG Group Sessions can be accessed daily in multiple time zones. We want women to receive the daily support, validation, and answers that they need.

Full Transcript:

Anne Blythe: For the first few weeks after my husband’s arrest, I felt like the domestic violence shelter wasn’t really helping me. I couldn’t get answers to my questions. They looked at me like I had some disease.

I know now why they were looking at me like that – they were very concerned. They were concerned because I said things like, “My husband is such a great guy! He can’t be abusive. He has an anger problem he’s been working on, but it’s not abuse.”

Then I learned more and I realized that he had been abusive since before we married. So then I said, “Well, he’s not the typical abuser.”

“Why Does He Do That” by Lundy Bancroft: Must Read For All Victims of Betrayal

I said, “He’s struggled with a pornography addiction and comes from an abusive family; he needs help! How can we get him some help?”

Basically, they kept saying, “You need to read this book. Have you read the book yet?”

The book was Why Does He Do That? by Lundy Bancroft. And no, I hadn’t read it yet.

And then I read it. I understood why they were worried. Because I was in denial. And I was in danger. I was the one who needed help. I needed some serious help. Around this time, I started working on my own recovery.

Here are some excerpts taken from Why Does He Do That? by Lundy Bancroft.

Abused Women Need To Know What To Look For

Bancroft says, “My fifteen years of working day in and day out with abusive men have left me certain of one thing: There are no shortcuts to change, no magical overnight transformations, no easy ways out. Change is difficult, uncomfortable work. My job as a counselor is to dive into the elaborate tangle that makes up an abuser’s thinking and assist the man to untie the knots.

“The project is not hopeless – if the man is willing to work hard – but it is complex and painstaking. For him, remaining abusive is in many ways easier than stepping out of his pattern. Yet there are some men who decide to dig down inside themselves, root out the values that drive their abusive behavior, and develop a truly new way of interacting with a female partner. The challenge for an abused woman is to learn how to tell whether her partner is serious about overcoming his abusiveness.

You Cannot Control Your Abusive Husband’s Decision To Change

“The first challenge with an abusive man is to motivate him to work on himself. Because he becomes attached to the many rewards that his . . . intimidating behaviors bring him, he is highly reluctant to make significant changes in his way of operating in a relationship. This reluctance cannot be overcome through gentle persuasion, pleading or cajoling by the woman. I am sorry to say that I have never once seen such approaches succeed.

“The men who make significant progress . . . are the ones who know that their partners will definitely leave them unless they change, and the ones on probation who have a tough probation officer who demands that they really confront their abusiveness. In other words, the initial impetus to change is always extrinsic rather than self-motivated. Even when a man does feel genuinely sorry for the ways his behavior has hurt his partner, I have never seen his remorse alone suffice to get him to become serious [about changing his behavior].

Abusive Men Must Do “Deep Work” To Change

“After a few months of deep work . . . some men do start to develop intrinsic reasons for change, such as starting to feel real empathy for their partners’ feelings, developing awareness of how their behavior has been harming their children, or even sometimes realizing that they themselves enjoy life more when they aren’t abusive, despite all the privileges of abuse they have to give up. But it takes a long time for an abusive man to get to that point.

” . . . the majority of abusive men do not make deep and lasting changes . . . For an abusive man to make genuine progress he needs to go through a complex and critical set of steps . . . ”

BTR Does Not Advise Victims Giving This Book To Their Abusive Partners

When I learned about these steps, my first thought was to give my husband a copy of this chapter of the book. Then he would know what to do! I thought. But my victim advocate, my sponsor, and my therapist advised against it. Over the seven years of our marriage, my husband had become expert at mimicking healthy behaviors without really changing. He was an actor. And I did not want to give him the script. I needed to see real change to amend the “do not contact” order, and he had to figure that out for himself.

Same goes for you. It is not advisable to give your abuser or the addict in your life this list. The wise thing is to set boundaries until you see the following behaviors. That is the only way you can know if they are really changing.

13 Signs Your Abusive Husband Is Changing

Taken from Lundy Bancroft’s book, Why Does He Do That?

1. Admit fully his history of psychological, sexual, and physical abusiveness toward any current or past partners who he has abused. Denial and minimizing need to stop, including discrediting your memory of what happened. He can’t change if he is continuing to cover up, to others or himself, important parts of what he has done.

2. Acknowledge that abuse was wrong, unconditionally. He needs to identify the justifications he has tended to use, including the various ways that he may have blamed you, and to talk in detail about why his behaviors were unacceptable without slipping back into defending them.

3. Acknowledge that his behavior was a choice, not a loss of control. For example, he needs to recognize that there is a moment during each incident at which he gives himself permission to become abusive and that he chooses how far to let himself go.

Most Abusers Choose Not To Progress Past Number 3

4. Recognize the effect his abuse had had on you and your children, and show empathy for those. He needs to talk in detail about the short – and long – term impact his abuse had had, including fear, loss of trust, anger . . . And he needs to do this without reverting to feeling sorry for himself or talking about how hard the experience has been for him.

5. Identify in detail his pattern of controlling behaviors and entitled attitudes. He needs to speak in detail about the day-to-day tactics of abuse he has used. Equally important, he must be able to identify his underlying beliefs and values that have driven those behaviors, such as considering himself entitled to constant attention, looking down on you as inferior, or believing that men aren’t responsible for their actions if “provoked” by a partner.

6. Develop respectful behaviors and attitudes to replace the abusive ones he’s stopping. You can look for examples such as improving how well he listens to you during conflicts and at other times. He has to demonstrate that he has come to accept the face that you have rights and they are equal to his.

Abusive Men Must Have a Full Change of Habits And Perspectives

7. Re-evaluate his distorted image of you, replacing it with a more positive and empathic view. He has to recognize that he has had mental habits of focusing on and exaggerating his grievances against you and his perceptions of your weaknesses to begin instead to compliment you and pay attention to your strengths and abilities.

8. Make amends for the damage he has done. He has to develop a sense that he has a debt to you and to your children as a result of his abusiveness. He can start to make up somewhat for his actions by being consistently kind and supportive, putting his own needs on the back burner for a couple of years, talking with people who he has misled in regard to the abuse and admitting to them that he lied, paying for objects that he has damaged, and many other steps related to cleaning up the emotional and literal messes that his behaviors have caused.

9. Accept the consequences of his actions. he should stop whining about, or blaming you for, problems that are the result of his abuse, such as your loss of desire to be sexual with him, the children’s tendency to prefer you, or the fact that his is on probation.

Relapse Is NOT A Part Of The “Change Process”

10. Commit to not repeating his abusive behaviors and honor that commitment. He should not place any conditions on his improvement, such as saying that he won’t . . . [swear] long as you don’t raise your voice to him. If he does backslide, he cannot justify his abusive behaviors by saying, “ButI’ve done great for five months; you can’t expect me to be perfect,” as if a good period earned him chips to spend on occasional abuse.

11. Accept the need to give up his privileges and do so. This means saying good-bye to double standards, to flirting with other women, to taking off . . . while you look after the children, and to being allowed to express anger while you are not.

12. Accept that overcoming abusiveness is likely to be a life-long process. He at not time can claim that his work is done by saying to you, “I’ve changed but you haven’t,” or complain that he is sick of hearing about his abuse . . . and that “it’s time to get past all that.” He needs to come to terms with the fact that he will probably need to be working on his issues for good and that you may feel the effects of what he has done for many years.

13. Be willing to be accountable for his actions, both past and future. His attitude that he is above reproach has to be replaced with a willingness to accept feedback and criticism, to be honest about any backsliding, and to be answerable for what he does and how it affects you and your children.

Your Abusive Husband Is Changing If He Has Given Up His Sense Of Entitlement

Bancroft asserts that, “Abusive men don’t make lasting changes if they skip any of the above steps, and some are easier than others. Most of my clients find it fairly easy to apologize, for example. In fact, an abuser may weave apologies into his pattern of abuse, so that when he says “I’m sorry” it becomes another weapon in his hand.

His unspoken rule may be that once he has apologized, no matter how cursorily or devoid of sincerity, his partner must be satisfied; she is not to make any further efforts to show her feelings about his mistreatment, nor may she demand that he fix anything. If she tries to say anything more about the incident, he jumps right back into abuse mode, saying such things as, “I already told you I was sorry. Now shut up about it.”

An Apology is Not Enough To Show You That Your Abusive Husband Is Changing

“But even a genuine and sincere apology is only a starting point. Many of my clients make it through the first three steps: They admit to a substantial portion of their abuse; they agree that their actions resulted from choice rather than a loss of control; and they apologize. Then they dig is their heels at that point. An abuser’s sense of entitlement is like a rude, arrogant voice screaming inside his head.

It yells at him: “You’ve given up too much already. Don’t budge another inch. They already talked you into saying your abuse is all your own fault when you know she’s at least half to blame because of [what she does]. She should be grateful to you for apologizing; that wasn’t easy to do. She’s lucky you’ve gone this far; a lot of guys [wouldn’t do that]” And the voice drags him back into the mud that he had finally taken a couple of baby steps out of.

Your Abusive Husband Is Changing If He Actively Listens & Thinks About What You Have To Say

“Step number four, for example, demands that the abusive man accept his partner’s right to be angry. He actually has to take seriously the furious things that she says and think about them rather than using her emotional pitch as an excuse to stuff her opinions back down her throat. When I explain this step, my clients at first look at me as though I had an eye in the middle of my forehead. “I should do what?? When she is yelling at me, I’m supposed to just sit there and take it??” To which I reply, “More than that, actually. You should reflect on the points she is making and respond to them in a thoughtful way.”

Abusers often think, “I don’t mind changing some of what I do as long as I don’t have to give up the attitudes and behaviors that are most precious to me”

Most Men Will Not Fully Change: Be Prepared

“At some point during the first few months that a man is in my program, I usually stumble upon the core of his privilege, like a rear bunker on his terrain. He may abandon a few of his forward positions, but this fortification is where he surrounds himself with sandbags and settles in for protracted war.

A client may agree to [answer his wife’s questions in a calm voice], for example, but when I tell him that he needs to [stay engaged in a conversation, even it it’s uncomfortable], he draws the line. If being a respectful partner requires [he stop stomping out of the house when his wife is trying to talk to him], he’d rather be abusive.

“An abuser who does not relinquish his core entitlements will not remain non-abusive. This may be the single most-overlooked point regarding abusers and change. The progress that such a man appears to be making is an illusion. If he reserves the right to bully his partner to protect even one specific privilege, he is keeping the abuse option open. And if he keeps it open, he will gradually revert to using it more and more, until his prior range of [intimidating] behaviors has been restored to full glory.

Your Abusive Husband May Be Changing If He Is Surrendering His Privileges

“Abusers attach themselves tightly to their privileges and come to find the prospect of having equal rights and responsibilities, living on the same plane as their partners, almost unbearable. They resent women who require them to change and persuade themselves that they are victims of unfair treatment because they are losing their lopsided luxuries. But they can’t change unless they are willing to relinquish that special status.

Signs Your Abusive Husband Is Not Changing

Mr. Bancroft gives a list of things that indicate for certain that the abuser is not changing:

  • He says he can only change if you change too.
  •  If you “help” him or give him emotional support by offering reassurance, forgiveness, and/or spending a lot of time with him, he claims “can” or “may” change, but it’s dependent on YOU
  • He criticizes you for not realizing how much he has changed.
  • If you do not trust that his changes will last, he criticizes you.
  • He criticizes you for considering him capable of behaving abusively even though he has in fact done so in the past as if you should know that he “would never do something like that”, even though he has.
  • He reminds you about the bad things he would have done in the past, but isn’t doing anymore, which amounts to a subtle threat.
  • Your husband tells you that you are taking too long to make up your mind, that he can’t “wait forever,” as a way to pressure you not to take the time you need to collect yourself and to assess how much he’s really willing to change.
  • He blames his behavior, the situation, or his choices on you.
  • “I’m changing. I’m changing,” he says, but you don’t feel it.

Lundy Bancroft’s Book Can Help You Determine If Your Abusive Husband Is Changing

I encourage you to read Why Does He Do That? It helped me put all my husband’s past and current attitudes, behaviors, and choices in perspective. It gave me a way to tell, even with a Do Not Contact Order, if my husband was safe enough to interact with. I held my no contact boundary and will continue to hold my boundary until my husband exhibits the recovery behaviors from this list.


  1. Mysha Blair

    I am so heartbroken. I have been struggling with his promises to never go back to porn and he has gone baxk at least 3 more times amd aleaya a sorry. I fpund out 6 monyhs after we started dating and it dis not stop. It has been almost rwo years aince we started dating amd only 50 days from his last “mistake” as he calls them. Blaming me for not supporting him, not recognizing all the he progress he has made, telling me its in the past and he cannot keep living like this. I said i meedes space amd he immidiatley watches porb again and said he qas going ro commit suicide if i didnt come pick him up. I love him amd i sanr ro belwibe bur my jeart says the sex dreams havent stopped and he still gets very angry because i am not always sweet. He hates me questioning him and says i just have ro believe him

    I am angry mean and i yell a lot because I dont understand how he can semd me forgiveness scripture to help me forgive him and walk in love…. he sent it MINUTES after looking at porn. I found the history on his phone a week later. We faught and I have attacked him physically. I am ashamed because he doesnt seem to understamd I cannor trust him and je isntbactimg in a way tjat builds my trust back. He just walks away and says he has nothing to say. He is done apologizing and sick of repeating himself. It has been 50 days since last time I know of and I have told him I need A lot more time, maybe years of apologies, reassurance and patience. He wants me healed now and upset I am not ready yet. I love him… and i am so sad. I dont feel strong enough to heal myself on my own and my heart says he has good intentions bur that he will comtunue to break my heart

    • Mysha Blair

      Sorry for all the typos. I was typing fast through tears. I feel like a horrible woman who failed heee man in every way. I feel ashamed for feeling thianiant good enough. All men cheat and i just wanted one that wouldn’t… i am sad that they dont exist and i have to find a way to forgive or live alone. I am happier alone but i still feel the need to love someone the way i want to be loved….uncondituonally. i feel like a hypocrite

      • Anne Blythe

        All men don’t cheat. You deserve the best. And it’s not true that you have to find a way to forgive or live alone – that’s the abuse talking. You can do this. Have you joined the Recovery Group?

      • Al

        Oh to be in the place you are right now. You are not married to him and do not have kids with him. Just think, down the road in 5-10 years, if this is the life you want and the way you want to be treated. It’s not going to change – he’s not going to change- unless he does it on his own. Please protect yourself and your future kids (who will learn from his behaviour patterns, and be treated the same way he treats you- with lies and anger).. You deserve to be loved and treated with kindness and honesty and faithfulness and not cheated on!
        – from someone who has been there and wished I’d taken a stronger stand before the kids!

    • Anne Blythe

      I am so sorry for your pain. You can do this. There is a way out.

      • Mysha Blair

        Thank you for the supportive comments. I wanted to give a follow up. It has now been 16 months since my last post. I got pregnant last August with twins. This cycle hasn’t changed. He says he gets angry when i question him and i have uncovered more lies. I had unexplained seizures in sept 2018 and one of the babies passed away. The ER said I was under too much stress. On Nov 29th I had another 5 bad seizured and almost bit off my tongue. I dont remember it and it made me have memory loss. I dont remember thanksgiving with my other three children. They are so important to me and they have gone thru too much already. I lost my driving job because of the seizures, wenlost our house and had to sell almost everything. We had to move back to UT and got help from my family. I had to go a specialist to moniter tge baby because i was high risk amd they said the second set of seizures should have killed me and my baby. I asked many questions about what happened ro me and hiw he did with having all the nurses around (one of gis many fantasies). He refused to tell me anything because he said “i dont want to tell you anything you can use against me later”. I has been so hard. I didnt have all the details to tell the neurologist about what happened.

        He has confessed thru anger and rage that last year he had an emotional affair, wanted sexual favors from another eoman and the third he eanted ro start a relationship with (but said it was only because he found her cute – he said he never spoke to her). He also admitted that he watched porn the whole time and was just using me. He said if I accused him then he relapsed. I saw him treat me with dishonor almost everyday… he pretended and admitted his stories changed and he lied to shut me up. He just wanted to tell me what i wanted to hear. I wanted the truth but he refused. He still cannot confess to all the lies about past or present. When i catch him, he still denies or minimizes. Now our baby is almost two months.. born healthy and beautiful. I am still discovering more about his infidelity but only when he is angry with me. I am so ashamed that i couldnt leave. I am nit safe and beginning to rralize that i was “groomed” from the very begining. He agreed to go a therapist finally but he is still relapsing. He saysbiys not a rrlapse because he was looking at pictures of me and didnt actually masterbate. He swears that he hasnt relapsed or even looked at anotherbwoman in 470+ days and that he is doing great. I still dont trust and he wants me over it now. He says he is suffering when i am not rwsdy for sex and i feel obligated to keep him satsified so he doesnt have another excuse to cheat and blame me for it. I am devastated and a crazy mess. I cant swem to break free. I gave him anal anf haf sex too soon after the baby. My sutures got torn and I hemmoriged for 5 days ( still spotting) i am so afraid of nurses i just rode it out. I was exhausted and needed to sleep… that is when he resorted to going into the bathroom with nude pictures of me he took of me last week. He did eventually tell me but doesnt see my concern that may open the door for him to search for other photos. He said he was horny and mad at me. I should just be happy it wasnt another woman. I am lost, tired and still trying.

        Please pray for us

        • Anne Blythe

          I’m so sorry! Have you considered filing a protective order and filing charges for the nude photos he has of you? And rape? You’re caught in the abuse cycle. Do you know where your local domestic violence organization is? They can help you. One of the tactics of abusers is to wear you down so much you don’t have the energy to get help. I totally get that. I will pray that you have enough energy to get to safety. Prayers are coming your way!

          • Mysha

            Abuse? Rape? I am confused … we went to therapist after i posted and i read your comment after we got home last night. I told him everything i told you and he told us it may be a relapse but its a “step in the right direction” because he told me and it wasnt another woman. I triedbro find out more info about the photos and my bf got angry (frustrated) and saud it wasnt more than twice but refused to answer them again. The therapist asked hiw he was feeling abiut my questions and he exclaimed “it feels lije i am under interrigation and she is only asking to catch me in a lie!” Tge therapist didn’t make him answer insteasd he nodded and said “so it feels like you are on trial for murder?” I began to cry silently – tears running down my face. I said he is on trial for murdering my heart. The therapist told tyen said we need to work on our communication. While i a still silently crying – he led us in a meditation to accept our feelings and let them go. He said to keep meditating and to keep a journal. He also told me i need to accept that if i stay, the relapses are going to continue and he needs to know if i am strong enough to handle that witbout belittling my bf. I said i felt ashamed, ugly and i need saftey now. I have been enduring this for years. He said we both have to ro work on our childhood issues first so my bf wont pay for the sins of my past partners. I need to control my self. He never said i was entitled to the truth now or in the past.

            I am so confused. I never want to refuse sex or favors. I would rather act out his fantasies and trybro give him what he drsires from these women. I feel if i did all thosw things then he wouldnt have a reason to cheat. When he was still watching porn and looking for other oartners – i was giving him sex all the time. Sometimes 3 times a day. I gave him permission and i still do to try and find some sort of safety. It’s not rape if i allow it.. he doesnt hit me – no black eyes or broken bones. He is very sweet and kind unless i bring up infidelity, ask questions or remind him i still have triggers every second of every day. He said we wouldnt fight if i just let it go and trust him. Which i need more proof of honesty and commitment befoee i feel i can trust again.

            I cannot go to a shelter – they will think i am ridiculous. Everybidy knows him and his mom she doesn’t feel porn is bad and just wants me to stop sskimg him questions too. She isnt concerned at all. I will be told i have no bruises and theu wont believe me. Plus the entire town will be against me. My familu feels sexual abuse is okay also and that i must keep my man satisfied to keep him from cheating. I feel i have given everything (physically emotionally mentally and spiritually) but i am not getting honesty and commitment to change in return. What am i doing wrong?

            He listened to your podcast about abuse and grooming with me. At first i thought abuse was too strong of a word but you described our relationship . At the end he chuckled and said > i guess i abuse you… he does try – but i have seen him fool me hundreds of times and continue to lie – make excuses – change his story or tell me i am crazy for acusing an innocent man. I am all alone. Help.. thebtgerapisy didnt say anything about me feeling obligated to have sex and very painful sex at that. He tries to be gentle. He just moved onto that i need to accept this is how he is and to be patient while he works thru his own trauma. Now i feel selfish and abandoned. If i didnt value myself then why am i fighting so hard for him to treat me with honor and respect. I dont want to be just his sex toy… i want to be woman. A lady. A mother and a suppotive wife. I feel foolish – alone – selfish – and that i caused this by asking him to respect me. He said i am too demanding aand controlling and he has already changed. Sex is his reward and i seem to agree as that is more scary to say no. I feel the fear come flooding in uncontrollably when i want to say no and demand respect. He says he is waiting for me and sometimes he has to wait a week or even two weeks! It is torture for him and i feel so guilty… then i am afraid that he has another reason to cheat.

            I am lost and feel so alone. I love him… your comments help and i keep reading my post to makw surr i am not making him out to be a monster. He isnt a monster and i still feel i deserve a faithful man but i also have never met one willing to wait for me. LORD HELP ME

          • Anne Blythe

            I’m talking about going to the police. If he’s taking nude photos of you, it’s a crime. They might not press charges or do anything, but the therapist isn’t recognizing the abuse or harm. This therapist isn’t recognizing the situation for what it is. You need a therapist who is an expert at emotional abuse and sexual coercion – in other words, rape. Sexual coercion is a form of rape. Have you listened to this podcast on marital rape? The Truth About Wife Rape

          • Anonymous

            Hmmm.. i am in a relationship now where my husband when angry said things that are terrible, he never hit me but broke earphones i bought him, broke some other stuff. It was not like i kept silent but it was him more times that started a fight just because he was angry that day. He knows how to be nice and good, but also i guess he needs to learn that when things don’t go the way he planned that being angry doesn’t help….

            For me it was so hard sometimes. I felt mistreated, crying because his words hurt…. today i decided to separate myself emotionally from him. I believe it all hurt more cause i expected love from him. And yes we should love each other but also be aware that he is not just imperfect maybe has some bigger flaws. I married him so i have to find a way to deal with this and pray for him to change his ways. I am not delusional about the change – it is possible since I was abusive toward my mother and I changed with the power of Jesus.

            Now God has put me in a situation where I feel like i am verbally misused and i often think if this is some sort of punishment from God. I know its not I just attracted the person who was similar to me. I have to somehow care less about him cause I cared too much and I believe that made him more arrogant toward me. I want to care less not to hate him but to stop treating him as a center of my world. He has his own decisions, he is not a baby, he can do stuff without me always trying to do everything to satisfy him.

          • Jessica

            My boyfriend of three years emotionally harasses me every time I’m “annoying” or starting a “pointless fight”. I always thought that I was the reason for his emotional abuse (even though I didn’t know to call it that) and that I was triggering it. It’s really hard to leave because we also had good times and laughs. He cooked for me and spoiled me and stuff like that. And I’m so confused. He made me feel love so many times and cared for me when I was insecure and never cheated on me or watched any porn or whatsoever. Until I found out he did.

            I really don’t know what to do. I told my family and they want me to leave him, but its so hard because I still love him. My question: can a person love you even if he’s emotionally and psychologically abusive? He said a 100 times that he would change, but it’s only got worse. But now when I really wanna leave him, he texts me saying that he’ll change and begs me for one last chance. He takes me out on dates and buys me nice things. He talks about traveling together. He says he’s really sorry. Please help.

          • Anne

            Jessica, I’m so sorry you’re going through this. What your describing is a man with exploitative privilege who doesn’t want to lose the ability to exploit you. His “kindness” and “promises” ARE part of the emotional and psychological abuse because they’re calculated to trap you. If he actually wanted to be a different sort of person, he would be already. They’re promises to change are manipulative lies to trap you. If someone is emotionally dangerous NOW, it doesn’t matter if they’ll change or not, it’s not healthy NOW to be around them. If they change, it would take years and when you met them after they really had changed, you literally wouldn’t recognize them they would present so differently.

            Although you are lovable and worth cherishing, the only thing he loves and cherishes is the ability to use and exploit you. My guess is, in reality, he knows nothing about you, who you are, what you want – but he just mirrors it back to you to give you the impression that he does. The only reason he finds knowing about you useful is to use that knowledge to manipulate and exploit you.

        • Mary

          Please please find a way to leave this man!! He is a classic abuser who thinks of no one but himself. Your therapist is not educated about abuse. This is not a communication problem- it is an ABUSE problem and a horrible one at that. You are caught in the cycle, believing his lies, and unable to see a way out or that you need to. Please find a Domestic Violence shelter or call a hotline who can point you to help. And the most important thing is you cannot tell him; he will use it against you and look for ways to keep you trapped. He will only get worse. You deserve better!!

          • Morgan Hunt

            Your couples therapist is doing what a lot of couples therapists do, which is to misunderstand, dismiss, invalidate and blame you. Every single thing that therapist said to you was wrong, unethical, and deeply harmful and re-traumatizing for you. I know it’s so mich easier said than done, but BELIEVE YOURSELF. Get out of the therapy and out of that deeply abusive relationship ASAP.

        • Warning

          I would be very careful. I was having unexplained seizures. Turns out my abusive spouse was choking me in my sleep. Get out.

        • Sas

          Please leave him. I stuck it for 29 years because we had children. I should have left years ago before more damage was done to me. Our children did not benefit from watching a toxic relationship and seeing their mum be manipulated

    • Tisha

      I’m so so sorry you have been through this. I too have been through the same and it’s unbearable. Please know you are not alone 💜

  2. Lydia Clark

    All of these descriptions sound like things I do to my husband. Does that mean I am a narcissist?
    I hate my husband and blame him for everything. I believe it is all his fault, because I do not have any problems at all, except him.
    I don’t understand why my children prefer him over me. I am beautiful and kind, and deserve the best the world has to offer. I am so glad I found your site. Now I know that my problems will go away if I just divorce him and take away the children. Thank you so much.

    • Anonymous

      I had to spend hours talking myself into looking for help – weighing the fear of my children carrying any burden for their fathers actions against them growing up either repeating his behavior or allowing themselves to be treated poorly due to my inaction. I am disappointed that I allowed this to undermine my intent by showcasing the unctuous oblivion that awaits me in 90% of the things I am reading. Maybe tomorrow.

  3. Kimberly

    I just want to THANK YOU, all of the BEAUTIFUL and COURAGEOUS WOMEN that are struggling as I am, doing your best to recover and being living proof that recovery is more than possible for each and every one of us. It has given me incredible strength to read your stories and feel your pain as if it were my own. I too am doing my best to recover from a 5 year long narcissistically-abusive relationship that took almost everything from me. Thank you for your strength and perseverance. YOU ARE FAR STRONGER AND MORE BEAUTIFUL THEN YOU COULDVE EVER IMAGINED POSSIBLE. GOD BLESS YOU.☆

    • Anne Blythe

      Thank YOU. You are brave and strong!!

  4. Sassy Pants

    To the author: There is good information in this article. I’m currently unraveling away from an abusive marriage. Going on 2 1/2 years of no contact (except a brief attempt of his in a series of emails I finally had to block).
    Two criticisms: can you please edit your article to fix grammatical and spelling errors to maintain is credibility so I can use this info with other women I know struggling with similar issues? I want to use it as critical thinking and sound psychological assistance. Secondly- I’m the think provided at the end (how do you know if your abuser isn’t changing), you use significant excerpts from your Book of Mormon. While it’s anecdotal in nature, it again undermines the sound psychology I am in need of as I secure my boundaries and healing, not based on a scripture story, but evidenced-based research and theory. Please consider reinforcing the content with stronger theory and credibility.

    • Anne Blythe

      Thank you so much for your feedback! Can you please email your feedback to anne.blythe @ btr.org and I’ll send that over to our editor right away! Thank you!

  5. Mysha

    How about another update. It’s sad for me but now my baby is 4 months. I went to a woman’s shelter and he watched porn again and said it was because he was lonely and he was worried about me. Ironically – i wasnt going to file a protective order but I had an overwhelming need to. I was filling out paperwork at the exact time he was binging on several videos. I was gone less than 24 hours and the cops took me home after he left. My other three children were visiting their dad and I didn’t want them to come home to a shelter.

    I did not do a no contact. I was over at his parents house letting him have a supervised visit with our baby when him and his very physically abuse father got into a bad fight. Body slamming – clothes ripping- punches and biting. I knew this was his life and much worse as a child and it was horrible for him and us. His dad got arrested and blamed me as he walked by in hand cuffs.

    My bf couldn’t stay there and so I amended the protective order to get him our of there. He got to come home but our fighting continued. I’m a bad woman for putting him thru that and I still feel bad about his life and how hard it has been. My other three children came home and as long as I didn’t try to talk about his infidelity then we wouldn’t fight. He would be sweet and tell me loved me and say I was so beautiful. Sept 13th we had another bad fight.. the cops were called and his dad picked him up. He was asking his dad for advice and his dad said i am just bored and I am not a good woman. If I won’t let him watch porn then he will get prostate cancer. He said men have needs and if she wont meet them then you are allowed to masterbate. He also said that if I talk to other men then he should leave me because a good woman wont talk to men… confusing .. yes. I had two guys try to message me and I told them both I was working with my ex and I am not wanting to get support from another man and I don’t trust people anyway. That sounds like an emotional affair and so I deleted them and made it so no one could contact me.

    He left and would pretend to tell me about his day and how good he is doing. Well 3 weeks later he had the baby overnight and binged for 5 hours on porn. And again in the morning. His excuse? I rejected him. I was appaulled and he cannot have our baby overnight. He said he kept her safe because she was asleep – he had head phones on and she couldn’t see him. His therapist said this was not bad enough to not allow overnight visits!! The therapist said i shouldn’t do that and it’s not bad. I disagree on every level.

    He still lies and hides even little things from me and only tells me what will make him look better. He lied and said he did good that day until I saw something on covenant eyes. He then said he wanted to tell me to my face instead of over the phone or via text. He then said he knew he was busted and couldnt delete it from covenant eyes so he just binged all night. Even the women he could tell didn’t like it and they were very young. He said he knew he was caught and so it was a free for all.

    I took the baby and my 19 year old has been babysitting her because I work 6 days a week. My ex bf just sends me texts like he will never give up and he will never do it again… I have heard that so many times I could puke. The problem I have is that i feel so bad for him sometimes because of his home life and being forced to live with his father. But I refuse to let him stay here. I let him over last night fot dinner and to visit and more lies were discovered. Movies and shows he swore hr would never watch – he said he was testing himself and training to look but not undress them. He also has been hanging out with a young man who parties a lot but didn’t tell me they hang out in the middle of the night.. not until I asked about the texts on his phone. He still plays innocent and I said ANYTHING he hides is not good. He said he doesn’t have to tell me if it’s not pornography…. I said in order to build trust he cannot hide anything. He said He is just to afraid to cause a fight so he doesnt tell me unless he gets caught.

    Be careful ladies. His words are covered in sweetness but inside is a rotten sour bit of candy. As much as I want to believe his continued promises to change..
    Things actually got worse when I set boundaries and kept them. I tried to encourage him but it did not help me. It actually enabled him.

    I think I am done for good and he cannot stand it. Calls and texts all the time. Pray for me so that I can remain strong and not fall for the false kindness. He may have a good heart and his past was horrible but i also had a horrible life (As many know too well). And I won’t be a sex toy or manipulated anymore. My kids deserve to live a safe and healthy life. I ALONE will give that to them. I hope they will understand someday that I was not being selfish.. but instead standing strong for them all. I will defend their honor forever.

    Stay strong… it’s harder than you first think but you HAVE to!

    Blessings to all

    • Anne Blythe

      Have you considered blocking him on your phone / email? I did that and it’s helped so much!

    • Autumn

      He’s sick. Please tell me you’ve left him. He sounds sick. You and your babies deserve better. He won’t change. Porn is cheating, I have been through that hell hole many times. Find a better man. He’s disgusting. Please go. Is he faithful with God? Is he leading you to a great direction? No? Leave him. Lead your family to success and a brighter future. You do not need him to do this. Find another man who will respect you and your children and lead you to happiness. A father does not have to be blood related. No father is better than an abusive father. Repeat that to yourself. I hope you have found some sort of peace and have at least taken your babies as a priority above this abuser. They don’t change. Especially your plight with porn, I know it all too well.

  6. Claudia

    Hi Anne, without giving the playbook to our husbands on their changing how do we go about letting them know that they need to take and do all these steps?

    My ex is not going to have that epiphany. Loosing our marriage was not a deterrent.

    He filed for divorce thinking that I was…to “beat me to it” so to speak. He cared more about being the “petitioner” than our longterm marriage and three teens.

    He could not answer why he pushed that nuclear bomb button instead of addressing his issues.

    I see it as fear, cowardice, lack of integrity and fortitude.

    His abuse is escalating with stopping all support.

    He recently sent a text to our youngest teen, who lives with me, that was all about being the victim. He wants to “win” him into his camp. My 16 yr old gets it btw!

    So yes, how do you let the abuser know they have to do those steps authentically and be accountable without giving the script?


    • Anne Blythe

      The short answer is, you don’t. This list is for victims to be able to recognize when the abuse has stopped. Even if you gave him this list, he would either 1) use it as a weapon against you and tell you you need to do the things on the list or 2) tell you that he’s done the things on the list or act like it as a way to groom you. The only way you can know if he’s really exhibiting these behaviors for real, is to observe from a safe place (not giving him the list) and if the behaviors start, watch over time to see if he consistently acts in this new way over time, especially during stressful situations or arguments – for at least two years. Good question!

  7. Joel Hill

    This is good information. But it sounds like you give the abuser no hope. I was the abuser. I have change my ways. The problem I’m having is I’m fighting for my marriage. I’m praying that God allows me some mercy that I can keep my wife. I love her I would die for her. Any advice?

    • Joel Hill

      Thanks. Good advice. I’m in it for the long haul.

    • Shari

      I have been in this situation for 23 years, years of multiple different counselors (together and individual) and I feel as if I have FINALLY found my supporting hope. This country (world) is not designed for a woman to get mental, emotional and true support when leaving an abusive situation. I am so thankful and will be connecting directly here. I needed this so much and I extend a very warm and hopefully “thank you”!!!

  8. Madison

    Hi there Anne. I was just married this last summer, and a couple weeks ago I left my husband. He has been both physically and verbally abusive since earlier this year. He would continue to tell me that he was going to change and that he would get the help that he needed, but he never did. He was on a 2 week abuse cycle. None of the injuries were serious enough for me to go to a hospital, but the physical abuse, verbal abuse, and manipulation and control were too much for me to handle.

    I left and went to my parents house, where I refused to answer his calls and texts as advised by family. Last week I had to text him about the divorce papers and we started to talk more. He has expressed to me that he will do whatever he needs to be able to change. He is now meeting with a leader from the church we attended together, he is meeting with a counselor every week, and is figuring out how to get into a batterer intervention program. He has apologized and recognized that what he has done wrong, and has told me that I have every right to be mad at him. When I get upset with him about what he did to me, he doesn’t try to flip the blame back onto me like he did when we were together. It seems like he genuinely wants to change and is doing everything that he can to change and realizes that it would mean that we would have to be separated for at least 6 months to a year before we could even think about moving back in together. I want to believe him that he is changing and will continue to change, but I’m not sure if I can believe him. He was a narcissist when we were married, and I really felt that he only cared about what he wanted, and not about what I wanted. Even sexually, it was all about him. I’m just so worried that he won’t be able to change his behaviors and I’m not sure if I should just let go of our relationship and move on, or if I should give him a chance to be a better man. Since we weren’t married for very long, we have no kids together, no house together as we were living in an apartment, and not even our bank accounts are shared. Really the only thing tying me to him is the legal paper that says we are married. It would be very easy for me to get out of this situation, and I even have the divorce papers sitting in my room, signed by him. I just don’t know if I should give him that chance to make things better, or if I should try to move on with my life. I am still in college so I would be able to move on easily, I just don’t know if that is what I want. I want to believe that my husband can change the way that he used to treat me. He has contacted the Domestic Abuse Hotline, and they’ve helped him find a program that can help him and he is planning on signing up next week. I told him that there is a very large chance that I will just want to move on, but he has made it clear that no matter what I decide, he is going to get the help that he needs. I just don’t know if I can believe him, and any advice that you can give me relating to this would be so appreciated!

    • Anne Blythe

      Madison, the time to get out is now. If he changes, you will know – give him about five years. Separating for six months is not long enough to see if he has truly changed because they can groom for long periods of time. If you have no children or assets together, the time to get out is now. Don’t look back.

      • Madison

        Thank you Anne. It is just hard for me because I’ve read so many church talks about the power of the atonement and how people can change through Christ and I want to believe that my husband can change and that I could have a happy life with him. I’m still really young though, I’m only 19, and I know that I could have a different and happy future if I finalized the divorce. Just having that feeling that I wish I could have a happy future with him is what’s pulling me back. I married him because I loved him, and I still have many of the same feelings I did then. I have just been struggling with the idea of not having my husband in my future and it scares me. I read talks from the church about how marriage is so important, and I know that it doesn’t excuse abuse in any way, but I just wish that my husband and I could have the type of marriage that I read about.

        • Anne Blythe

          I understand what you’re saying. I’m an active member of the church. He isn’t safe right now to be in a relationship with. The atonement can change people, but he hasn’t changed. He would need to regain your trust over a period of years. Have you been listening to the podcast? Start with this episode about grooming in adult relationships.

          • Madison

            Anne, thank you for what you said in response to my posts. I actually did make the decision to move forward with the divorce and I’m not looking back as you suggested. I am now looking forward to a relationship where I am loved and respected! Thank you and thank you for your podcast, I have been listening and loving what you’ve said! It has helped me realize so many things.

          • Anne Blythe

            Good. I’m praying for you and all the survivors. I’m so glad you can get out and move on. I promise it would have been worse if you would have had children with him and stayed. I’m so proud of you. You are so brave!!

        • Anonymous

          Note: forgiveness and reconciliation are two different things. Pray to forgive, that is for your mental, physical, and spiritual health, but it doesn’t mean you have to “get back together” and be with him..pray for him always.

          You are precious to God.
          You have worth and are valued.

          Christ says, “love your neighbor AS yourself”. We often confuse loving ourselves as being narcissistic, but it is not loving ourselves MORE than others…be gentle with yourself.

  9. Diana

    I have been married for 5 years with 3 children. I have been enduring years of verbal, emotional and mental abuse. This past December his anger went further than ever and he picked up a knife and meat tenderizer and threatened saying he could kill me. Even after a therapy session he tried to say I wasn’t recalling the events correctly. He spanked my daughter so hard he left marks on her- and when I asked if he thought it was abuse his initial response was no. We did on therapy session together where the therapist said she had hesitation about counseling a couple so far down this road. I have filed for divorce out of the safety for my kids and myself. It’s hurt me so much to do this. It’s just now that he says he will change. I want nothing more than to believe him but deep down I know he won’t or can’t right now. I haven’t asked him to do an abuse intervention program because part of me is afraid of his reaction and the other part of me knows he won’t want to do it. For so long he’s downplayed how he has made me feel, making me feel like I was inferior to him, making me feel like I was to blame for everything wrong. I just want peace and tranquillity in my life for my children. I love him, despite all he’s done, but I just can’t endure this any longer.

    • Anne Blythe

      Welcome, we’re so glad you found us. We will walk with you through this pain and chaos and help you make your way to safety. Hugs!

  10. Anonymous

    I started dating this guy 6 months ago. He is 19 years older but I fell in love quickly . He soon started to invade my privacy , show jealously, and behave like a complete narcissist who had finally found the love of his life . His ex-wife left him and his kids didn’t talk to him. That sounded weird to me, but I decided to give it a try.

    Last week, he humiliated me at a wedding . He called me a BITCH FUCKEN WHORE. Said I was a son of a bitch and *********** more things. Then he stood up, picked up a chair and SLAMMED it next to me on the floor. In front of EVERYONE. My family , my parents . EVERYONE.

    I stayed at the wedding for 20 more min after he stormed off. I smiled, said bye to everyone .

    After I left, I texted him “thank you for showing me who you really are.” I blocked him on EVEYTHING imaginable and haven’t talked to him since.

    I will NOT be a domestic violence victim. I am young. Smart. Have a degree and my own place. I am beautiful, kind, and I am also talented .
    So NO.
    NO ONE will EVER talk to me or treat me like that. NO ONE. That wasn’t a “mistake”. That wasn’t a a slip up. That was a BLESSING, being able to see who he really was. And I deserve MORE than that. I WILL get more than that.

  11. Candace F

    I have a close friend going through physical abuse. And everything that you wrote describes my friend’s marriage (in the negative way. Not changing for the better)
    She recently became very upset with me because I don’t care about her abusive husband. I care about her, but not her husband. And she tried to twist the conversation around making me look like the bad guy. Pretty much made me feel bad that I’m not in his corner. I had to take a step back and think “am I thinking rationally?” And I decided her wanting me to be in his corner wasn’t a reasonable request or something that she should expect from me.
    I tired to speak to her to help her understand but I’m not getting through to her.
    Do you have an article about what abused partners should recognize normal behavior from their loved ones?
    And possibly write the physiology as to why they might get upset if their loved one doesn’t think their spouse is “sick” and needs help.
    She means the world to me. Please if you can, write an article about this so I can show her. (She goes by experts opinions most of the time)

    • Mo

      If you know that your friend is being abused in any way tell her family. Tell someone you know she’s being hurt. That is love and friendship. Never be afraid, and, never give up on her. She told you for a reason. You can hate him all you want…that won’t change a thing. She may have loved him and needs help. Give that to her….I promise she will thank you. I speak from experience. If he is physical, I can only imagine the emotional, mental abuse she is living as well. Wishing your friend the courage to love herself and walk away.

    • MissieChrissie

      I don’t feel like I’m recovering in any way..
      Nor my Children..
      I blame myself for everything he has done too the Children and me and want to kill myself every day but cannot find the opportunity because I have been left with my Children becoming constantly ill..
      I Loved being single before I met him..
      Now I Hate it..
      I feel Ugly
      I feel like I have put my Children through this..
      I cannot see any light at the end of the tunnel..
      I feel like I’m constantly falling deeper into a pit closer to hell every day..
      I have lost everything but my Children and feel completely inadequate to look after them..

  12. Jewel

    I didn’t quite know where to start but here it goes.

    I have a boyfriend. We’ve been together for 22 months now (11 months in a long distance relationship, 11 months living together). From the first 3 months, I found out that he had affairs with another two women. I had instincts that something isn’t just right because he seemed emotionally distant for some days and weeks. 2 months early in the LDR relationship I found out he has a son (about 8 year old at that time) that he didn’t told me about. I found it from his other inactive Facebook account. Yes, I know right! We girls can become really good detective sometimes, even better than Sherlock Holmes. He told me that it was his fault he didn’t told me and that he would told me when we see each other in person. He said that he was afraid of loosing me that’s why he didn’t told me the truth. He was separated with his ex and his son because they two didn’t worked well. He said that his ex had cheated on him that lead to their separation.

    Few weeks after. I found a weird account on Facebook as a friend suggestion with his second name and his mothers maiden name as the account name. His picture was also there. When I stalked the page, I found a woman’s face (seems like a screenshot) as his posted status in his timeline.

    I didn’t know how to react but I felt ashamed and confused. Few days later, I confronted him via chat and sent him the girls photo. Sarcastically asking him to explain everything. At that moment he won my empathy and my side by telling me that it was just his friend and that was just a long time ago.

    Still, it brewed for another questions and mysteries in my mind. Long stories short, we had a huge fight because I got postponed to visit him on his birthday because of itinerary misunderstandings. One month after, a girl messaged me on Facebook, confronting me about all the whereabouts of my bf with all the screenshots and recorded calls of his infidelity. That girl found out and dumped him 2 months after.

    I got really bruised and broken hearted that I even have to meditate for straight one month just to win back my sanity, wholeness, and my healing from the wounds of betrayal. I shut him off in all contact sources and blocked him in everything. We talked and I confronted him about everything. But before that he was able to call me and had his last few words as “I love you and I miss you”. That I didn’t believed, his last words has resonated with me for the “No contact” phase of our relationship…but to my surprise I still have feelings for him, and honestly loved him, accepted him and forgiven him. I viewed him as a human being with faults and failings and I viewed him as a brother worthy to be loved and all that. My meditation and prayer has helped me gain back my emotional and physical stability.

    30 days after our “No contact” rule I mentally and physically imposed. But I am guilty as I realized I may be kind of manipulating him in any way. I was surprised that he contacted me after a month. We talked over the phone for quite long and cached up. Long story short. We ended back together.

    2 months after I visited him in his place after I decided to join the awaited festival event in their place. We caught up and really had a great time. We had future plans and really talked heart to heart about each others hopes and dreams. That was the greatest moment so far in our relationship. Our catching up and getting back together physically and emotionally.

    One month after, I came to visit him again for my review class that I had to stay in his place for a month. Due to the pandemic, I wasn’t able to come home during the lockdown so we lived together for 11 months. During that 11 months I can describe as a roller coaster ride. At times though, he could be really very angry he would yell at me and call me names as “dumb” or “immature” or “irresponsible”..Those I consider as verbal harassment. He realized his mistakes and he always give apology for his misconducts.

    There was a time that really scared me. Due to his temper he tried to hit me with a laptop I was so scared. Also he tried to scare me by using the knife to wound me..but I don’t know what is his intention of doing it. We tried during that day to slaughter a chicken but due to his anger, he said he will slaughter me instead. But I was so scared because his eyes were really provoking during that time and he was yelling at me.

    I remember also one time he was so angry that when we were riding the motorcycle, he tried to scare me by trying to maneuver the ride. I got so scared that I broke to tears to apologize because I have wronged. Okay, I had a mistake here. My travel was cancelled but I didn’t expect it to change the last hour so I didn’t checked my phone. So, literally he blamed me for not checking my phone that he got so angry. He blamed me for everything including the lost keys. All because of me.

    We talked after that incident. It never happened again. I hope so. Because now, we are on a long distance relationship. He advised me to go home to my parents house because we agreed to live together after a few months or years, here at my place.

    Now that we are in a long distance relationship, he seem to always check on me and accuses me of cheating every time I was like couldn’t give an update for like 2-4 hours or more. I really don’t understand why. But, I am really a loyal and faithful person. He always “accuses” me of chatting with someone else or video calling someone else even though he has no solid proof. Is he insane? or what? Many times I tried to assure him and reassure him of my affection and feelings for him but I get frustrated every time he always use the “A” word against me. It hurt me so bad that I blocked him on everything. But I know I couldn’t do that forever either. I know something isn’t quite right but every time we have an argument. he always seem to gas the light. I searched in the google to find answers and I found out that making repetitive false accusations are a form of abuse. I haven’t talked to him about that just yet. And I honestly don’t know how to open up to him about the abuse. I think he knows what he is doing because every time we argue and catch up, we always seem to admit his wrongs and he does make apologies. On the bright side, he takes responsibility of his bad manners. With regards to his history of infidelity. He opened to me that he didn’t want to make the same mistakes of hurting people and breaking Gods law by sinning. I still am into him. For now, I’m blocking him in social media. He tried to contact me through third persons. I am confused. I needed prayers and help. I do not know how exactly to put up an effective boundary between my rights and his rights. My feelings and his feelings. Please tell me if there is hope because I honestly think there is. We are both active in the church and we are both active everyday in reading scriptures. I hope that this story could inspire people also in their journey of love, relationships, trust, and hope, self-love and emotional and mental health. God bless you all and I welcome your replies. Take care.

    Proverbs 3:15
    “She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her.”

    • Anne Blythe

      There isn’t a safe way to talk about abuse with an abuser. We do not recommend “talking about abuse” with your abuser here at BTR. We recommend setting boundaries: no contact, separation, blocking him on your phone, etc. All the “good” you are experiencing seems like abusive grooming, and any time you give him an opportunity to apologize or groom you, he will abuse through with manipulative “kindness”. Have you read the book Why Does He Do That? by Lundy Bancroft?

  13. Mary Anne

    My boyfriend and I started dating in February and have been inseparable since. We spent everyday together and started looking for places to live in late March. We moved in together mid-April and have lived together for 2.5 months. I lied very early in our relationship that led to him not being able to fully trust me but I promised him it was because I was afraid of losing him, and haven’t lied about anything else.

    He told me that me lying had brought feelings of his past relationship up which was an abusive relationship. When we argue (not very often, maybe every 2-3 weeks) he tends to get very angry and shuts off. I have done a good job (I think) in diffusing the situations.

    There are times when we or he alone would drink and when conflicts arise while under the influence and they tend to escalate and lead to very aggressive behaviour and words. The last time it happened he promised he would never let it get to that state again. He did however get very angry during our next fight and did it again. He never belittles me. Never embarrasses me. Always speaks highly of me to me and others. He acknowledges what he does is wrong and says he doesn’t want to be this person and that it isn’t the true him. He has accepted that he has not forgiven me for lying to him early on and said the only way for things to be better between us is if he lets go of the past and truly moves forward. (I have moved out at this point and told him I need to take some space. It hasn’t been very long (2 weeks.)) He is working on communicating with me more and expressing why he got mad in our last fight. He doesn’t blame me for his anger but his lack of communication and letting his emotions bottle up. He tells me he just wants more of my attention as he feels I am very distant even though we live together – which I can be at times. He always compliments me and I rarely return the favour. He cooks for me everyday and always makes sure he is taking care of me and says he only wants to make me happy. (These have been everyday things from the beginning. Not when we fight)

    He has been open and I want to think, honest, about his past trauma and how he is dealing with it. He made a list acknowledging the things HE wants to work on and I had asked him to elaborate on it and he wrote a very detailed list with everything I asked. I recommended we start journaling together so I can support him at a distance. I really love him and want to have a future with him which is why I have removed myself from the situation so soon and plan on getting him the help he needs. I think he wants to change but I know it is too soon to tell.

    He supports me, motivates me and lifts me up. In my opinion he has underlying trauma which he’s never dealt with which led him to be aggressive with me. Not because of me. Am I naive for thinking he wants to and will change?

  14. Anonymous

    It’s been almost a full year now since the abuse. Strange enough, the physical abuse didn’t happen during the relationship- only after.

    I had trouble letting go and seeing him move on so easily- it hurt but we kept in touch and continued to hang out. He would tell me how he still has feelings towards me and wishes we’d fix things, but they were just words to toy with my heart. I wanted him back so I forgot about my self-worth and allowed things that I probably shouldn’t have. It led to an unexpected pregnancy and depression. To which he told me to “get rid of it”.

    I felt pressured and alone because I had found out he was happily talking to somebody else. When I talked to him about the other options besides abortion he became angry and finally, abusive. In that time I had to think of what’s best. I had to think ahead and think not only for me. I couldn’t do it alone but that was all I was. After all this happened, we spent some time apart until recently. We’ve begun keeping in touch again.

    He’s been going to therapy and openly talks about the mistakes that were made. I see him taking accountability for his mistakes. He’s less closed off than before and talks to me about his emotions. I’m convinced he’s made good progress. However, I find myself often saying how I don’t recall much each time it’s brought up. I don’t know whether it’s because I have trouble accepting what’s happened or me wanting to avoid an emotional conversation. Either way, I will work on it.

    As of today, we are rebuilding our relationship. It will be difficult as it’s no secret with what’s happened between us but I have faith that we can get through it.

    From reading this article I found clarity. Thank you!

  15. Jane

    Hi, I am 23 & am 10 months married. I have been with my husband since 19. We have always had a very great relationship, but just about last year whenever we would argue he’d lose control & eventually he started emotionally & physically abusing me. He does it when he gets stressed, but what’s it have to do with me? He shouldn’t blame it on that. I don’t know why he loses his temper so fast. I don’t want to end our marriage, He’s a good person & it doesn’t happen often, but it’s something that shouldn’t happen at all. I feel like he has many issues because of his childhood & family problems he’s had that can contribute to why he gets like this. I’m hoping that this will stop, but how can I know whether he’s going to change or not? Should I wait to see if he can actually change, I believe he can but I want him to start changing already.

    • Anne Blythe

      What you’re saying sounds so familiar! So many women in abusive relationships have this type of thinking. We advise that you get educated about abuse through the books on our books page: wwww.btr.org/books That will help you understand better what is happening and what to do. You are brave, you are strong, and you deserve a loving, caring relationship:).

  16. Christopher Gutierrez

    This is not so much a comment but a plea for help. I’m a man that was abusive to my wife and children. I have listened to this broadcast and truly want to change, I’m not sure how to start. Please if you would give me a hand. I don’t want to live life hurting the ones I confess to love.

  17. Rocky lynn

    This podcast saved me. I haven’t been with my ex in over 11 months, although we were only together for 4-5months the trauma still affects me hugely! I’m 22 & he is about the same age as me, 1 yr older, anyways while we were together I got many red flags about him. He was controlling; wanted me to be submissive.

    Super toxic, many others. He broke my bedroom door, my vanity, hurt me and my beloved sweet dog..

    Last year, was the most traumatic I’ve been through in a while. He looked as if he was the devil. I still am in fear of him to this day. I am afraid. I’ve got ptsd from it, more depression since.

    I’m still trying to get better each day. But today I texted him. I do not know why. Something in me misses him, I don’t know why that is… quite ironic. He has been telling me that he has “changed” I do not believe him. Something in me so badly wants to; but I cannot!

    I still feel the hurt I felt that day. As many days before in the past.. he’s constantly texting me every month once or twice a month, for the past year now! Trying to get me back. This podcast has helped me to realize that he has not changed! Now that I know this, no matter how much I may miss him, or how much I care, I will not get back with him. I do not think we will ever be together again, but I do hope and have faith he will change one day. Maybe not for me, it hurts, but maybe for another woman he can treat much better in the future. To all the loved lost, I gained strength. Thank you GOD. Thank you Anne! Much love to all.

    • Anne Blythe

      Thank you so much for sharing! If you’re getting texts from him, have you considered blocking him on your phone, email, social media? That will help you not get groomed again:). Just a thought. We’re here for you! Hugs!

  18. Ella Natth

    Thank you for this podd/post. I was truly inspired and touched by your strength and honesty to keep the no contact order while still loving your husband. I have myself left an abusive relationship a couple of months ago and wanted to create something in the spirit of your notes to your husband. Ever since I heard your approach I’ve been feeling a peace inside of me which I haven’t for a very long time and it gave me a way to handle all the emotions that I can’t deny. I was wondering if you had something special in mind while creating these notes, some guidelines, or if it was just what came to your mind?

    • Anne Blythe

      Just what came to mind. I’m so glad you found us! Welcome:).

  19. Anonymous

    “The men who make significant progress . . . are the ones who know that their partners will definitely leave them unless they change…”. Well, I guess I’m finding that hard to believe because I left my husband 5 times in our 40 years of marriage and finally filed for divorce in 2016 and it never phased him.

    Probably because he knew I’d come back eventually, which I always did:(

    I just never could understand why anyone would not want to better themselves? But I know now thanks to all your podcasts!!

    He used porn for 50 years (says he miraculously and forever quit in August of 2018), has cheated on me at least twice, is a pathological liar and an expert gaslighter.

    He would promise and promise, ad nauseam, to change and that, I can only guess, had a lot to do with what kept me in this sick marriage. (I did read the How He’s Grooming me article. As well as at least 25 others all in the past week. Finally, I feel understood! Thank you!)

    But he would also do the opposite: try to push my buttons to get me to go back to my/our old ways.

    But I thought I was so “strong” every time I’d stand my ground and persisted in my quest to make him believe he could change with my help (pardon me while I go throw up).

    So here I am, age 64, living with him, but currently not even talking to each other. Because I refused his request to sit down and “talk” a few weeks ago because “talk” is all he’s ever done.

    He retired last year so he’s home every day. My physical health has declined to the point that I can’t drive, I can’t work and I have no friends or family for support. I do have 3 adult kids, but he lied to them so much that year I filed for divorce. Even though we talk and see each other, they would never believe he abuses me in any way.

    Of course, I thought it would be wrong (and he would have lied anyways) so I never told them of his porn use or cheating.

    Looking back of course, I know I just didn’t have whatever it was I needed to stay away from him (i.e., support from friends/family, ANY self-esteem, no fear of abandonment or rejection, true awareness that I was being abused, etc.).

    I’ve always been an optimistic person and, since 1992 when I became a Christian, a person with faith “for the impossible.” But I have to admit, things are looking pretty grim right now:(

    I read about the Psalm 82 (81?) Initiative and downloaded the Application for “The Refuge,” but who am I kidding? My health prevents me from a car or plane ride to get there, let alone walking around once I got there.

    And to just say honestly what I’m thinking right now, what could anyone say that could get me to a safe place? I can barely walk and as you might now surmise, I’m pretty depressed.

    Alright, well sure hope you’re not just seeing excuses! Because if you knew me, you’d know I am not one for passivity or being in denial or not being teachable. It does perplex me, though, with all the counseling, support groups, books, podcasts, etc. that I’ve invested in for 30+ years, why am I where I am today?

    All I can think is that I NEVER heard what I’ve heard in all your podcasts this past week, Anne. But I will be praying that maybe, somehow, “better late than never” can and will apply to me!

    So, wow, I’ve written a mini-book! I haven’t been “heard” in a long time, so thank you!

    If anyone’s out there “on the fence,” listen to Anne! And listen to your gut!!

  20. Anonymous

    I did 3 years – was called horrific names if i didn’t want to have sexual intercourse. In the end, I just didn’t want to have sex because he killed all my love with his abuse.

    Just as I was about to leave, he went to a psychotherapist twice then stopped. He gave up drinking. But then took up drinking again. He said sorry after every episode, but then did it again. Sorry means nothing to me now. We always talked bout his actions, but that didn’t stop him repeating them.

    The abuse started off as emotional then it just got worse. I made check points in my mind to remember how bad it all was … the last time he called me horrific names all night – he was upset as it had leaked out that I had told someone about his actions.

    I then emailed him and explained I couldn’t go threw it anymore. He then harassed me – damaged my car again and threatened my only friend.

    I rang the police I got a protective order. He has now been charged. Hopefully he will now get some help. But the worst is that he assaulted his ex partner before me and he used coercion to stop her from going to court. He fed me lies at the start of our relationship telling me she was crazy and a alcoholic – I know realize all of it was lies.

    I have moments I miss him deeply, but I have to remind myself of the abuse and how dangerous all of it was.

    • Laura

      Thank you for this list and all the comments.

      I am very confused like many others. I am 26 years into marriage my husband and I started recovery 12 steps. I am in CODA.

      We went to marriage therapy. Drug alcohol pot and porn addiction along with a massage happy ending. Recently an emotional affair that escalated to a physical affair. We have been separated.

      On our anniversary last year, he didn’t take no when I said I didn’t feel good for sex. He filed for divorce is accusing me of abuse. Saying since he can’t come home I am abusing him.

      He accused me last night again of being a narcissist and that he is trauma bonded. I know I am far from perfect. I have taken so many tests to see if I am a narcissist and asked my therapist if I am. I feel guilty he has recurring depression and has attempted at committing suicide. He says he shouldn’t be alone – “What wife doesn’t let their husband come home when they have depression!”

      We still see each other. I’m afraid its love bombing. We are at the tail end of the divorce and he wants me to withdraw, 5 months since he filed it. Accusing me of divorcing him when he hired the attorney. I have been looking up is it abuse or depression? Am I the toxic one?

      I feel guilty he is hurting. I asked for consistency he is nice for a week then gets angry saying I am controlling because he can’t come home.

      I said I need to feel emotionally safe. He says he has never hit me. But he has broken pictures of me and the kids and threw things across the room in rage. My therapist after that happened told me to do an intake at the woman’s shelter which I did.

      How did I get there?

      I feel so confused. I could really use support. What is wrong with me? I can’t live with him and can’t live without him.

      • Laura

        Just adding that he did grow up in an alcoholic abusive situation he watched his mom get beat when he was a small child. Promised to never hit a woman not sure if he learned some of those behaviors. He has had 4 or 5 relapses in 2+ years with alcohol or pot. Did see a therapist after the emotional affair and has a sponsor. After this list though I am concerned since all he wants to do is accuse and blame me and call me an abuser.

  21. At_a_loss

    After much reading and searching for why I feel the way I do about my husband and if it is me or not, I have discovered I am in an emotionally abusive marriage.

    We’ve been married for 7 years, no kids together but I have a son from a previous marriage that is 16. I have not been happy for a long, long time. He has history of explosive tirades, spinning arguments back on me, minimizing fights making me think maybe it’s not as bad as I think and maybe I was the one making too much of it.

    He also has a history of critiquing how or when my son does his chores and even how I cook. He makes the biggest deal and would ride my son and leave notes about not putting dishes in the dishwasher properly. Then there would be an argument over that. I slowly started resenting him for the lack of peacefulness in the house.

    My son chooses not to be in the same room as him except at dinner, which I don’t blame him, and I feel like I am torn between the two. I do think my son should do chores, but I do not feel I need to ride him over the quality of his work because it doesn’t suit me. He’s teenager for heaven sake. I have a great relationship with my son and I refuse to jeopardize it to please my husband and so therefore there is constant arguments about me not making my son do what my husband expects.

    During arguments he would curse, yell, hit stuff while looking right at me, get up in my space and puff his chest while looking down at me. He would say demeaning things about my son and me, mock me, and accuse my son of doing certain things to make him made just so we would get a divorce. Basically blaming my son for his anger and behavior.

    He finally stepped over the line by accusing my son of something absolutely ridiculous and started to curse, yell and even tried to bait my son to come downstairs after I told my son to leave the ridiculous display of outrage. I told my husband I was not going to talk to him in the state he was in, he proceeded to try and bait me, turned his radio up super loud to some rock music and started making up his own words reflecting our argument. The dogs were scared and hiding at this point.

    I then told him if he was going to act that way I was going to leave the room. He proceeded to follow me. I left that room and he kept following me, so close that had I stopped he would have run into me. I then told him I was trying to set a boundary and that he needed to respect that. He then blew up about he’s the one that needs respect. I asked him to stop following me or go outside. He refused to do both. He finally went outside but only after I asked him if I needed to call the cops. I was very close to doing so because he was acting out of control. I thought about leaving that night but decided to give him the time to sleep it off and see how he would be the next day hoping he would realize how out of control he was and apologize. He didn’t so me and my son packed some stuff and left.

    He blew up my phone via text and email and a few days later he was still acting indignant. Then he calls me crying saying how sorry he is and didn’t realize the impact his words and behaviors have had on me and my son and is probably the reason for his other failed relationships. He then follows that up with telling me he is taking an anger management course online with a book. Then tells me he wants to go to church with me. The following conversations he is practically lecturing me on “Isn’t Christianity About Forgiveness”?

    I am at a loss here. His words, those words, make me want to scream. When I confronted him about what he wrote he just replied, “I am not saying anything about you that is just how I feel,” even though I told him the past hurts run deep and my feelings feel destroyed over it.

    He says he’s not pressuring me to make a decision, but just today he was telling me how hard it was to keep up the house and asked if I would be willing to pitch in on a maid because he couldn’t keep up with that and the yard work. Really? Then he says again, “that doesn’t mean I am rushing you but the longer this goes on the harder it is on everyone involved.” Does that or does that not sound like I am being rushed?

    It seems like every conversation we have I am just silently screaming inside because he doesn’t seem to think there is anything wrong with what he says. Am I looking too much into this? or am I legitimate in my feelings?

    I am a Christian with a strong faith and relationship with God and I know all things are possible through Him. I have been praying and have people praying for me, but I just don’t feel his change will be lasting. My biggest concern is for my son. My son has never seen or heard my husband to that extent before but has heard plenty of his tirades and does not want to go back. My family doesn’t want me to go back either because they are worried about our safety.

    • Anne

      Hello! Welcome! From this post, the situation seems like a textbook abusive relationship. I’m so sorry. I believe too, that with God all things are possible! Have you considered that with God you’ll be able to get to safety and make a new life for yourself and your son? So many women are in this situation, and need support. Please consider our daily, BTR group sessions.

      • At_a_loss

        Thank you for your reply Anne.
        I will check out the BTR group.
        I have. That is the path I am gravitating toward. He keeps trying to plead his case on how much he is changing and that we need to give counseling a chance now, even though for years I have been suggesting this. I have told him I am worn with all the back and forth and essentially done but he keeps pushing. After my last response he says, “I appreciate the thought you put in your response and some things I agree with but there are some things were I am being misunderstood.” I am trying to shake him without being mean but I guess I might not have a choice, maybe not be mean but very firm I guess.

        • Anne

          During this time, I’d suggest quietly preparing to leave, without confronting him much. Some women even go to counseling (for safety reasons), just to pretend while they’re preparing to leave. Confronting him or talking about the situation now is not strategically advised. Get the divorce papers ready, get everything ready, and then be out of the house on the day a server serves him the papers. I’d suggest a BTR individual sessions to help you prep everything and make sure you have everything ready to go. Now is the time to lay low until you have your ducks in a row:).

          • Leya

            I’m 18. My “best friend” was verbally and emotionally abusive towards me for years and then began sexually assaulting me, indirectly coercing me to be with him, while lying to me about talking to his ex and other girls and abusing me emotionally in other ways.

            The sexual assault occurred many times and when he orally raped me a year ago, I stopped talking to him. Two weeks later he hooked up with a mutual friend we had three times. A couple months later I went back to talking to him because o attachment issues, but he was still abusive and acted as if now everything would be okay and still lied about his past and talking to his ex and more and downloaded tinder while promising me he’d never do anything like that.

            He kept trying to get me to believe he loved me and wanting chance after chance and had us do sexual things on call without any aftercare and then months later admitted that he didn’t really love me. He also talked badly and sexually about me to all his coworkers. It’s been months and months now and he’s claiming he has changed. He agrees that it will take time and consistency and tries talking about some themes and how he wants to be better so we can have a healthy relationship and he sends me a lot of updates and loving words everyday, but I don’t know. Everyone who knows about my situation at all has been begging me to stop talking to him for over a year, but I don’t want to leave if he really is going to get better. And what if me leaving is the reason he goes back to other girls or loses hope in his self improvement journey because he stops seeing a point, when otherwise maybe he’d stay at it and make it?

          • Anne

            I agree with your friends and family. Get to safety now. If you don’t share children, there’s no reason to wait and see if he improves. You can check back with him in 20 years if you’re curious.

      • Katherine

        Wow….reading this along with the comments have made me feel less alone. I have been married since last April (14 months now) and things have only gone downhill fast since the wedding.

        My husband and I started dating in 2018. There were a few things then that I should’ve thought more about, such as him staying out super late and not telling me who he was with. There were times he would yell and lash out at me for no reason. One time he locked me out of our house we rent together (back in 2020 after we were engaged), and there was also one time he pinned me on the floor when he was yelling at me. In hindsight, I should have called off for engagement. But he showed his regret from those situations and there were no other physical altercations.

        It really has been a whirlwind of me trying to figure out how to make things go smoothly, because I don’t want my husband to lash out and yell and cuss. He will yell about anything, whether it’s directed toward me or yelling about dropping a spoon. He yells cuss words at me when we fight, and tells me that I’m too sensitive. He regularly makes jokes at my expense and tells me he’s only kidding and that I should find it funny, too. For example, he made a joke that I don’t know how to drive at all because I’m a woman. He regularly will drop a sexist comment or joke and if I roll my eyes in disapproval, he will laugh and say “oh I’m just kidding!” There are times that if I don’t answer his call, he gets angry, too.

        There are a lot of layers…and in those layers also are good times with him. Times that he is understanding…kind, compassionate, and shows remorse. I’m currently in therapy to learn how to approach all of this, and I know my next step is to ask him to go anther it is alone or together. I just am daily asking myself if I am in an abusive relationship or not.

        • Anne

          Katherine, the good times you’re describing sound more like grooming (sometimes called hoovering or love bombing). Please consider that the “good times” are also abuse. I’m so sorry you’re going through this. We’re here for you!

  22. Anonymous

    Hi. I strongly suspect that I am a narcissist and I hate it. I want very much to be a better person but my instinct keeps coming back to “me me me”. I could list a million excuses for it but I recognize that every behavior is a choice and I have been choosing my own interests my whole life.

    Here’s the problem. I saw the “13 Steps” mentioned in a link while searching for effective treatment plans for narcissism. Only after I began reading did I see the statement that the article was not intended for the narcissistic partner. I should have stopped and exited there but – big surprise – I was unable to do so.

    I already second-guess my every thought: “omg am I faking? How can I know?” Especially now that I have the proverbial playbook? Is the difference in how I feel as I try to choose the right thing, e.g. resentful or reluctant, or when I try to empty my head of expectations and entitlement and just ‘do’?

    Currently I’m revisiting my active listening skills. When my partner is talking, I try to stop whatever I’m doing, take a breath and just listen, and dismiss whatever I may feel about the pause. I feel like it’s helping but I constantly doubt myself.

    I’ve never yet found an active self-improvement program for narcissism but I THINK I’m being genuine in my efforts. I know this will be a lifelong process but will I ever feel like I’m actually on the path?

    (Even now, I count the number of references to ‘I’ or ‘me’ in this writing, with a sense of worry.)

  23. Eve

    I am glad to come across BTR and this podcast in a very bleak time. I am not bound by the wedlock, only dating a boyfriend for 4 years and I discovered his abusive character just recently.

    Everything you described in the 13 signs of men who are changing, is exactly what my boyfriend said, promised, failed to keep promise and defended for himself.

    We started dating at a the senior year in college, at a pretty young age. When we first started dating, I noticed that he was short-tempered in the way he communicated with his parents, connections issues, debates with his parents could get him to start cursing. But I overlooked it cause he seemed to regain his calmness and came to them to apologize very quickly. But that was probably a red flag that I should have paid attention to. He did not show that side of him towards me at first.

    The earliest sign of abuse that I had was when we had a fight 6 months after officially went out with each other, I insisted on leaving the heated conversation, but he grabbed my arm and thrusted me into the floor. It did not hurt or leave any bruises so I quickly forgot about that since he apologized right after.

    After that event, we went on for another 2 years without any physical abuse. The transformation from college students to working adults was quite a challenge for us, so we just, argue a lot. He was depressed cause he quit a stable job to run a small food business which later failed and he was in his parents’ debt. He had a hard time looking for job, either worked a job he disliked or couldn’t find a job at all.

    I worked at the same company and got promoted, so there were times I tried to guide him into doing exactly what I believed to be safe and progressive in the career path. But his determination came and went very quick, one moment he decided to seriously look for a job, the next one he decides to settle with the job he hated. As a result, I was very frustrated cause I felt like he was giving up on himself. I tried to encourage him by reminding him how boys at our ages are making progress in their career path.

    He beat me up for the first time earlier this year, same old argument, but he thrusted, dragged me across my room, and punched me until I kept my mouth shut. He regretted that and apologized the next day, promised he would never do that again. But the 2nd, 3rd just came even after I said I don’t accept an abusive partner. He recently got his stable job back. I thought we could finally leave the dark time behind, but he still abused me.

    Then causal factors became more ridiculous everyday, it’s his hunger, the rain, the sex. I broke up with him and the next thing I received are death threats for my parents. I sent his text to them, and they filed a report to the police. After that he started to behave exactly like what you describe in this podcast and the others saying how he’s a changed person (in 2 days), he is sorry for his conduct, he will change for the better, including with that that “you need to (conditions)”, and how much progress he has made….trying to groom me. I’m also confused because the good times are intertwined with the bad times.

    It hurts me like hell to see us going from the lovebirds in university to perpetrator and victim. If I did not listen to your podcast, I might have forgiven him and asked my parents to withdraw the report. Thank you for pointing out the pattern of an abuser and where things could be tricky. I hope this is the last time I have to deal with him and he will no longer appear in my life.

    • Anne

      I’m so happy you found us!! Please consider that the “good times” were grooming – so never “good”. That may help you process what happened a little faster:). We’re here for you!

      • Eve

        Hi Anne! Thank you for your reminder. My heart is warmed up by reading your message. Thank you.
        Just an update. Last time, my parents filed a report to the police and my ex boyfriend changed his attitude, from insanely agressive to apologetic. But after he talked to an acquaintance, who is a policeman, he flipped again. Since the evidence is not enough to prosecute, he was no longer apologetic and even planning on revenging me.

        I was so shock cause when he was so afraid for his future at the workplace (they don’t accept staff with criminal record), I picked up his phone, listened and comforted him (although we broke up and he threatened my family, yes I still picked his phone). It felt like a stab on my back. I tried to close the final conversation with kind words, but he kept responding in a defiant manner.

        I guess he won’t take whatever advice I gave him to change his abusive attitude. He blames me as the trigger of his abusive nature.

        Honestly I’m quite hurt. I have been harmed in so many ways for a long time, and my abuser feels absolutely no guilt.

  24. Anonymous

    Once a man crosses the line physically, emotionally, financially or spiritually it is time to leave. Do not wait for him to get better. Love yourself and children. They may start a new relationship and never beat berate degrade or knock her teeth out. That does not mean it was you. Do whatever you need to do and get out. Any man that did harmful things to you physically or emotionally and you stayed, will never be a person on your side. Leave and never look back. Love does not hurt. Know that you are beautiful and worthy. Never take responsibility for someone’s hideous behavior.

  25. _Modawan_

    I have been in a relationship for 11 months now. Three weeks ago we were invited for my boyfriend’s brother’s birthday which we attended. There was alcohol and me and my boyfriend drunk and we both got tipsy but he was more drunk than I was. The party ended at around 10 pm and everyone left the vicinity apart from us because I was ordering an Uber for us. As we waited, I noticed he had gotten more drunk than he was because he had smoked weed around that time before everyone left. We got Into an argument because I was asking him to get up so we can leave the place as it was beginning to get late. I remember the argument made me give him a middle finger and that’s when he got angry and pushed me as he tightly held me hand towards a tree that was close by and strongly slapped me three times. I remember crying so much after that because I didn’t expect that from him. I finally ordered for the Uber and it was around 12 midnight. We got home, I tried to confront him, he was talking to me as I was wiping my make-up off then he told me that I’m not concentrating on what he’s telling me that’s when he took everything I was using to remove my makeup and threw the stuff across the room and told me to look at him as he’s talking. The night passed and the next day we woke up and I immediately started the conversation on why he hit me. He started defending himself saying that I provoked him because I showed him middle fingers and that to him was very disrespectful and we continued arguing but didn’t come up with a solution. The next day I really wanted to leave him and go to my place that’s when he saw shit was getting real and he started crying …he cried so much while apologizing and telling me that he’ll never do it again and told me how he’d never want to lose me and blamed his actions on the alcohol that he drunk that day and I ended up forgiving him and decided to stay. It’s been three weeks now and I’m confused because I love this guy but I’m scared he’s saying he will change then years later another abuse might happen. I talked to my friend and she encouraged me to leave but I currently don’t know what to do. This guy is good, cares for me but I’m just confused atm… I need advice

    • Anne

      The grooming – the part that causes you to see him as “good” is abuse too. Abuse happened before and after – emotional and psychological. The dismissing your concerns. You didn’t just have one incident of abuse – you’ve had loads of it – the entire 11 months.

  26. Rientjie

    I’m married more than 25 years. He still lies and said he didn’t. We bought a home and he borrowed a lot of money without telling me.

    When I resigned from my job and bought flats to renovate, he said it is fine – the flats income will make up. Then he started threatening me. I found out about the loans and filed for divorce. He asked for another chance. I agreed on terms that he listen and help me. But four months later he started verbally abusing me. I have to get over 25 years of neglect and lies. He now buys flowers and says he knows we must work on communication. When conversation gets tough, he threaten to leave me. How can I be certain of any future support from him?

    • Anne

      From what you’re saying, he’s still actively abusing you. So getting to safety now would be our recommendation. Hugs!

  27. Anonymous

    I’ve been married for three years. He got depressed and our connection deteriorated as he played videos games and stayed on his phone all day. He suffered from bad anxiety as well. He started medication and then stopped one month later and stopped therapy after one session. I am tired. I am completely shut off from him and I wanna leave. I have family, but my mother drilled me instead of offering to help. So as of now I need to get things in order as I have no funds or car. The last day, he acted like the emotional abuse never happened. I need to get away because my kids and I deserve so much more than this.

  28. Michelle

    I have been married for 24 years. My husband was verbally abusive to me 20 years ago. We went to counseling with our pastor and it stopped for quite awhile. Over the last at least 8 years, it started up again. But now he is verbally abusive to our children and verbally and emotionally abusive to me.

    I confronted him 4 months ago and he was quit the name calling, but comes in my room at all hours of the night to tell me what he is thinking or wakes me up at 6am to talk before he goes to work. Insists I wait until he is in the room so he can watch me undress or comes in the bathroom right when I get out of the shower. I told him this week I was done, and he told the kids (22 & 16) that I was done.

    He put me on the spot with them and they guilted me into working on it since he is trying to change and not calling us names. They don’t see what I go through behind closed doors and how much I am suffering. I don’t want to throw him under the bus, but I don’t know what do. I’ve read your 13 ways and he does some, but not others and reminds me that he might slip up sometimes and I’m to hold him accountable. I’ve already told him I don’t love him. He thinks by doing all these great things around the house that I’ll fall back in love with him. I cry everyday at work and don’t want to go home. He says he will go to therapy finally, but I think this marriage is beyond hope.

    • Anne

      Michelle, I agree. You’ve been abused long enough:). You are brave and you deserve to feel emotionally and psychologically safe in your own home.

      • Michelle

        Thank you. I’m glad I found your website. I listened to some of the podcasts yesterday. They gave me hope. Now I just have to find the strength to do this.

        • Leah

          Michelle, I hope you can stay strong and get out of the toxic relationship. I was in one, with a newborn, and managed to get out. I would have gone back multiple times if not for my sister making me stay with her. It takes support. I used all the friends and family I had to stay away . . . it was sooooo hard! It felt way harder than staying and being abused. But I have a wonderful life now with my 6 yr old. Thankfully he has not had to live in a home with lots of yelling daily.

          I used to second guess my ex’s actions, wondering if they were abuse or not. If you have to do that, it’s abuse. And regardless of how you define it, it will deteriorate your sense of wellbeing. You’ll be your best self without that kind of energy in your life. When I first left, it was really helpful for me to go to a support group where others who were dealing with abusive partners to get support. Until then, I didn’t realize how NOT alone I was. Good luck and stay on the path to emotional safety. It’s worth it!

  29. Alexandra

    My boyfriend of nearly 3 years used to be emotionally abusive and controlling (due to being abused in past relationships himself), but has been doing therapy and is no longer abusive. In fact, he is very sweet and loving one one of those rare people who are actually able to see and admit their faults with pure honesty and do everything they can to do better. 🙂

    My problem is that even though we’re happy now, I can’t look back at the first two years of our relationship without feeling pain. We had both good and bad times those first two years, but it’s hard for me to separate the two. I feel like a couple should be able to look back at their early years together and feel happy about it and want to talk about it with others, but I can’t. I feel like it’s spoiling our relationship in the present. We talk about marriage, but I need to know that our relationship isn’t spoiled because of its past. How can I move on and just be happy in our relationship as it is now?

    • Anne

      From our experience, the pain lingers most the time because something still isn’t right. We recommend a period of separating from the person to get some space, clear your head, and heal a little. Then if you want to date him again, you’ll be able to see things with fresh eyes.

  30. Anonymous

    I have been with my boyfriend for 2 years now. At the beginning of the relationship, it was clear I was emotionally more mature than him. I noticed he had insecurities and he said he wanted to go get them sorted out. He said his previous girlfriend cheated on him.

    Everything seemed fine until it wasn’t. He shouted at me about why his friend was texting me (we were just trying to figure out dinner reservations). He was asking about why the man was texting me.

    I am so confused, I’m normally a strong person, but this has thrown me. He’d seen texts like that before between his friend and I arranging stuff, and didn’t care one bit. Or if he did he would have asked in a normal manner.

    Is this just a mistake that needs to be worked on? If I did this, I’d expect someone to leave me. I know the right answer but just can’t get there myself.

  31. Joanne

    There is life after divorce. I was married to my abusive husband for 25 years. We had four amazing children together. . My husband was apparently “repulsed” by me, and I was very submissive and broken woman. It is a soul destroying.

    My deliverance from emotional and psychological abuse and sexual coercion happened rather quickly. God opened the door and said “it’s enough and you are strong enough”.

    In May of 2019, I told him I was leaving. He became everything I had always wanted in a husband. He was sweet and kind and helpful – and I was very confused. My therapist kept telling me that this new man was NOT the man I was living with. So with her support, despite his attempts to manipulate me, amazingly I stood my ground and I left. I knew after reading Lundy Bancroft’s brilliant book, Why Does He Do That?, that my husband was still making excuses for himself and the niceness was only goal oriented to manipulate me.

    Even still, it wasn’t an easy decision. I actually ended up for a time feeling like I was the abuser because my husband would gaslight me, saying, “You’re taking everything from me. Please just leave me the house”. He would say it through crocodile tears, and in that moment I would cry with him and feel so bad for taking things from him during the divorce process.

    I’ve been out for 4 years now and I am a new woman. Oh, it took time, but wow, I’m happy and confident. I never thought I’d survive divorce, but with God’s support, I’m thriving! Give yourself time to see the forrest for the trees. “Niceness” is not a sign of change. Lundy’s list is remarkably accurate. Abusive men knows what they’re doing. Best to you my dear friends. You are stronger than you think you are. Surround yourself with women who can abuse more clearly. Abuse causes some major fog and it’s very difficult to see things as they really are. And don’t be afraid to be alone. What you’re experiencing in an abusive relationship is far far worse emotionally than being physically alone!!



  1. Benchmarks Vs. Boundaries | Betrayal Trauma Recovery - […] His benchmarks are not your responsibility. You can make safety requests, such as requesting that he join and attend…
  2. What Is In-Home Separation? | Betrayal Trauma Recovery - […] It is important for victims to understand that abusive men hitting benchmarks (going to therapy, attending support groups, etc)…
  3. Is My Husband Grooming Me? | Betrayal Trauma Recovery - If your partner has ceased in all abusive behaviors for at least two years, and is living the 13 signs…

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