You would think you would know if you’re a victim of emotional abuse. I thought so, at least, and so for many years did not realize what was actually happening to me. I still have difficulty with accepting that I was abused even though I have more than enough evidence that it did, in fact, happen.
It’s important to understand that a relationship with a personality disordered individual (PDI) does not start off abusive. In my case my husband seemed absolutely perfect in almost every way. This in itself can be a red flag because NO ONE is perfect but I was fooled right from the start. This phase of the relationship is often referred to as “love bombing” and is intended to draw you in and ensure that you begin to trust the PDI. This can last for any length of time; in my case I believe it extended until we had our first son about three years after we married. (The PDI will return to this phase often in order to hook you into believing he is actually the person you thought he was at the beginning of your relationship. It’s a horrible, repeating cycle.
I was in labor for 16 hours before the doctor decided we needed to do a C-section as I was not able to dilate fully. Instead of being concerned for me (a C-section is a MAJOR abdominal surgery so you would think he would be) he needed to be tended to by his mother because he felt faint. This was BEFORE we even entered the operating room. Things in general when downhill from there; he left me alone in the hospital for several nights because he “needed his rest.” Once I came home with the baby he quickly realized that the world and I with it no longer revolved around him. He was not pleased.
His first reaction was to get “sick.” Now, I put that in quotes but I do have to qualify the statement by saying that many of his ailments were actually real. The problem I had with them is that, with behavior modification, they were completely avoidable. For instance, he went from pre-diabetic to diabetic to insulin-dependent before he decided it was finally time to take things seriously. Not surprisingly, this didn’t happen until after he moved back in with his mother. It didn’t matter how many appointments I made him, how often I filled his prescriptions, how many times I begged him to PLEASE take care of himself. He had a vested interest in being sick so he made sure to stay that way.
Around this time I also became aware of his tendency to lash out at me if I did or said anything that “hurt his feelings.” (Honestly, how many adults do you know of who actually say this? I would expect it of my kids, maybe even my teenager, but not an adult.) His reaction to his “hurt feelings” was to lash out and say something that would hurt me even worse, like the ever-popular “You’re acting just like your mother.” This behavior is quite effective at distracting the victim and placing their attention on something that is generally not related to whatever issue started the disagreement, assuming there even was one. Eventually I stopped even bringing things up that might upset him because it wasn’t worth being attacked; however, near the end of our relationship I began speaking out again and this infuriated him to the point that I worried that the abuse would become physical. I am almost certain it would have had I stayed with him even a few weeks longer, not that it matters. Emotional abuse is just as wrong and as painful as physical abuse; it just doesn’t leave visible scars.
I’ll continue with more of my initial red flags in the next entry. I have to say that this has not been easy to write about and this entry in itself took three days for me to complete. To be honest, I don’t want to remember but I know I must if I’m ever going to heal.