124 signs of an abusive relationship
After five years, maybe it’s time to burn those old letters.
We hadn’t been together long when Mister Ex started picking fights with me. Shouting and raging. Then one night he got really mad and shoved me into a wall. I left him. Then I started putting together the list.
It was therapeutic. Soon I was able to breathe and think again. He was sending long angry letters. That’s how the list started. Looking at the letters and thinking about how someone could say those things to a lover. How someone could think that was OK.
He tried to convince me to come back. He would promise and plead. Then the insults again. This time, I agreed with him. “You’re right,” I’d say. “I am an awful woman and a terrible person. You obviously deserve better, so I’m setting you free to find your soulmate.” That enraged him. (Everything enraged him.) The list grew longer.
Months later, he showed up at my door to demand that I move back in and accept him on his own terms, or else. I said no. I showed him the list. He blew up and ordered me to destroy it. I didn’t.
The list was done. I moved and left no forwarding address. I boxed up his letters and locked them in the cabinet under the basement stairs with the spiders. Today they’re going into the fire.
This is what verbal abuse looks like
Mister Ex says
You are this:
Brainwashed by feminism
Blinded by your emotions
On the attack
Not loving enough
Incapable of loving anyone
Full of hatred
Malicious, self-centered, petty, arrogant, unforgiving, cruel, and unjust
In need of rescue
You do this:
Laugh at my pain
Enjoy playing the victim
Take cheap shots
Deform your soul
Assassinate my character
Twist the truth
Shit on me
Taunt the monsters of your own creation
Stretch the truth
Designate me as the enemy
Make me the scapegoat
Don’t face yourself
Get defensively angry
Don’t accept my very best efforts
Believe that I’m trying to ‘get you’
Believe that I am bent upon destroying you
Don’t listen to me
Shut me down
Display intemperance and injustice
Arrive at premature conclusions
Don’t put the relationship first
Don’t acknowledge the things you did wrong
You treated honesty with contempt, love as deception, loyalty as bondage, kindness as cruelty, compassion as stupidity, and caring as violation
You wronged me
You abused me
You thwarted the growth of all that could be good and wonderful between us.
You insulted me and the love I brought
You let our love die out of foolish pride and arrogance
You brought dishonour and shame to both of us
Doubted, attacked, hated, loathed and despised me
Exercised your control and power to destroy, harm, punish, and dominate in a murderous fashion
Concocted elaborate stories of abuse
Laid the complete burden upon my shoulders.
Denied the truth
Denied me access to work I love
Broke our agreement
You had power over me
You left me because you felt restricted
You used me
You defeated yourself
You packed me up
Despite your words, you truly love me
You have these problems:
You cannot compromise
You’ve picked up some shit karma
You carry your anger for a long, long time
Your behaviour precipitated the trouble between us
Pieces are falling off of you
The relationship was secondary
You can’t handle (my anger)
You have a “dating fantasy”
Weakness, captivity, compulsion, and immaturity.
Unnecessary concerns about my character and intentions
Pain and anger
You cannot be cured by psychoanalysis
No man, woman, or child will ever love you again
Your writing is this:
An act of hatred and revenge
Crazy malicious crap
Comes across like you’ve turned into a NAZI
You have to do this:
Put aside your anger, distrust and negativity towards me.
Learn how to compromise
Eat more sugar
Listen to me
Pay attention to me
Stop attacking me
Strive to overcome (your pain and anger)
End the endless freak-out
Get past this shit
Take on some of the responsibility.
Put the relationship first
Put away all your anger and character assassination
Face yourself and find the truth
Constrain your public contempt towards me
Get over it
Don’t talk about me to your friends
Don’t talk about me to anyone who is not a counsellor
Just do what I tell you
Just be normal
Five years later, I realize he’s only talking to himself.
Why Do Men Do That?
- THEY CHOOSE TO. In the same way that they choose NOT to blow up at the boss when they are angry.
- IT WORKS. They get what they want (in the short-term) – release of tension, submissive behaviour from others.
- THEY GET AWAY WITH IT. If there are no negative consequences such as police arrest and charges, then the message is that abuse is acceptable.
- ROLES AND HIERARCHIES. Traditional gender roles teach men to dominate and women to submit. Our society also supports hierarchies, with the belief that every group, family, or relationship should have one person in charge and it is acceptable for this authority figure to use force to ensure their power and control over others.
Secondary or less important factors may include alcohol, drugs, stress, loss of control, poor anger management, mental illness, and an abusive childhood.
(Battered Women’s Support Services handout from “When Love Goes Wrong,” Ann Jones and Susan Schecter, updated 2013)