Surviving an abusive relationship

The blog Hoyden About Town posted an really, really good essay about relational abuse and the manipulation and the pain it causes. The paragraph that stood out the most for me was this one:

“Over and over, when a manipulated partner finally manages to find the personal conviction/strength/opportunity to get out and stay out of the relationship with the Manipulator, the Manipulator is the one who plays injured party and turns their entire social circle against the partner they dominated for so long. The Manipulator first gets all the emotional kicks through abusing/controlling their partner in the first place, and then gets all the ego strokes of all that sympathy offered for being “left for no reason after all you sacrificed”, with an added layer of still being able to punish the ex-partner for non-compliance by telling lies so that many/most mutual friends will shun the ex-partner as being the one who broke the Manipulator’s heart.”

I have a very dear friend, Kitty, who spent 15 years in an emotionally abusive relationship with a narcissistic asshat, whom I always referred to as the Thunderdouche. When she tried to leave him, he did the very common abuser ploy of threatening to kill himself. Then he blamed all their problems on the fact she was cheating whore who was talking to her ex-boyfriend on Facebook. NOTHING was his fault. EVERYTHING was her fault.  They tried couples therapy where , after he insisted that his suicide threat was no big deal and Kitty was a scumbag who should be nicer to him, the therapist tells Kitty that Thunderdouche has Narcissistic Personality Disorder and that Kitty should run for her life. So Kitty, whose career had been derailed more than once by Thunderdouche’s demands, made a break for it. Because she is a nice person and had been warped by the abuse, she let him get away with financial murder during the separation. He threatened to make things difficult for her. He wouldn’t “let” her keep their cat. She cried all the time, and finally fled to another hemisphere to be free of him.

I tried to get her to fight back at the time of the separation, but I knew it was unlikely. After all, a person who has been bullied for years thinks the bully really IS as powerful as he proclaims. He told her he would make things “worse for her” if she tried to get her financial share of their assets. He then slandered her wherever he could, although he was so generally disliked that it didn’t work for him as well as he hoped. You know what he didn’t mention? The fact that she realized she need to leave him when he tried to emotionally blackmail her out of seeing her family and coming to see Baby Spock, because she was supposed to save all her time off for vacations with HIM. Thunderdouche was never very good with telling the truth, because the truth made him look like the asshat he really is.

Anyway, Kitty still feels guilt that she “hurt” him. She remembers the nice things he would do when he felt like it. My job is to reiterate the catalogue of horrible things he did, which reminds her that she did nothing wrong by leaving his controlling, abusive, manipulative ass. I also point out that every nice thing he did for her was a reward for her compliance and surrendering yet another chunk of her autonomy.

How I fokking loathed him for that, BTW.

She is with a very nice man now, who loves her and supports her. She occasionally tortures him on accident though, because she will lash out from her years of abuse and he is left befuddled why she is yelling at him about the fact she had to give up a nice job to move back to the USA. She always feels bad after this kind of thing, and knows he is cashing Thunderdouche’s checks, so to speak. I am glad he loves her enough to know she is worth these (hopefully temporary) crazy times. 

Here’s hoping that Kitty is completely free of the guilt she feels about “abandoning” her abuser.

Because she has nothing to feel guilty about.

About Betty Fokker

I'm a stay-at-home feminist mom.
This entry was posted in Feminism, I've been thinking too much. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Surviving an abusive relationship

  1. lee says:

    I’m grateful for your descriptions of various abusive relationships, and the fallout from them. Have you run across Making Light’s Dysfunctional Family Day? There are a lot of comments, and a lot of stories, and it felt important to read them all, to witness. The url is:

  2. Mandy Clarke says:

    I’m glad your friend got away from him.
    I had a relationship with such a man.
    I realised what was happening and got out after two years. Unfortunately I had my son to him.
    Believe me, the guilt trips and manipulation a child provides a thunderdouche is no picnic.
    He managed to turn my parents against me for a few months as well.
    Luckily my Dad realised what an ass the man was and came back on side, and I met a man who is a psychiatric nurse.
    While he wasn’t my happily ever after, he gave me the tools to defang the thunderdouche’s guilt trip hold on me.
    This also meant some boundaries were set and I was able to free myself mostly of the dramas relating to co parenting with such a man.
    Yes, in Australia unless your ex is a known pedophile or axe murderer the child has the ‘right’ to see the person.
    Even if they are a mongrel to the child.
    Fortunately, my son is now nearly 20 and has grown up to be a fantastic young man.
    No thanks to his father.
    I hope your friend can leave her horror ex behind. I hate to think what state I would be in if I’d stayed.

  3. sheri says:

    Been there. Twice. I did an informal survey of other otherwise strong, intelligent women who had multiple marriages and found I was not alone in marrying #1 very young and finally getting out, then marrying #2 who was even WORSE- the only thing we could think of is that as (otherwise) competent women we felt the (unconscious) need to punish ourselves for not being able to “make the first marriage work”.
    Third time’s a charm- and yes- he does suffer the fallout (still) if he unwittingly hits a trigger…even after almost 20 years :(

    • Betty Angel says:

      You give me hope. It’s the first time I’ve ever heard of anyone else’s experience mirrored so closely to mine. Well now I don’t feel so silly and hopeless that I’m still looking for number 3. I can openly feel Strong and Faithful about believing the third time’s a charm and this relationship will be the best one the one I truly deserve.

  4. I had an experience much like Kitty’s when I was younger (before Husband came into my life.) I had some “friends” who, after I broke up with him, insisted things weren’t that bad seeing as there were no bruises. Fortunately, Husband was not one of those “friends.”

    Here’s to hoping Kitty continues to recover from her abusive relationship.

  5. Errrmmm…. I want to clarify in that comment that I’m talking about when I broke up from my abuser. Husband has never abused me, ever

  6. London Mabel says:

    Ohh such sad stories, though with happyish endings since everyone got out.

  7. Robin S. says:

    My what a week. From eels in really bad places to this..ugh. I’ll linger on the cute.

    From both my personal experience and also that of a friend, hats off to you for sticking by your friend. It is devastating when people you think love you and believe in you, turn away because of a good ‘poor pitiful me’ routine. You are a good friend. {{{HUGS}}}

  8. BarbN says:

    this is exactly what my dad did to my mom when she finally got up the nerve to leave him. It’s the one thing I’ve never been able to forgive him for. Great description, thanks for the link.

  9. inkgrrl says:

    I so fokking wish I’d known you 20 years ago.

  10. Pingback: Kitty and the Rain | The Stay-at-Home Feminist Mom

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