PTSD from Emotional Abuse

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD, is mostly associated with soldiers returning from war. After the horrors witnessed in such an unnatural setting, many wo/men have a difficult time returning to “normal” life, often suffering from flashbacks, panic attacks, and severe anxiety.

Contrary to popular misconceptions, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Acute Stress Disorder (or Reaction) are not typical responses to prolonged abuse. They are the outcomes of sudden exposure to severe or extreme stressors (stressful events). Yet, some victims whose life or body have been directly and unequivocally threatened by an abuser react by developing these syndromes. PTSD is, therefore, typically associated with the aftermath of physical and sexual abuse in both children and adults. (Source)

Any traumatic event can trigger it. Rape, assault, acts of physical or verbal violence, even repeated emotional abuse or the sudden split of a significant relationship, especially if abuse was involved.

Repeated abuse has long lasting pernicious and traumatic effects such as panic attacks, hypervigilance, sleep disturbances, flashbacks (intrusive memories), suicidal ideation, and psychosomatic symptoms. The victims experience shame, depression, anxiety, embarrassment, guilt, humiliation, abandonment, and an enhanced sense of vulnerability. (Source)

I’m rather ashamed to admit that I’ve experienced them all. These last few weeks have made me realize just how deep the auctioneer traumatized me. It was my husband who noticed, actually. He said that I was exhibiting symptoms of PTSD, and he was right. How embarrassing to be experiencing PTSD because of such a short-lived relationship.

But there it is.

However, this reaction doesn’t reflect me or my ability to cope as much as it speaks to the depth of the abuse. The depth of the trauma caused by covert emotional, cruel verbal, and even borderline sexual abuse, not to mention the sudden change in his personality and subsequent abandonment.

The first phase of PTSD involves incapacitating and overwhelming fear. The victim feels like she has been thrust into a nightmare or a horror movie. She is rendered helpless by her own terror. She keeps re-living the experience through recurrent and intrusive visual and auditory hallucinations (“flashbacks”) or dreams. In some flashbacks, the victim completely lapses into a dissociative state and physically re-enacts the event while being thoroughly oblivious to her whereabouts.

In an attempt to suppress this constant playback and the attendant exaggerated startle response (jumpiness), the victim tries to avoid all stimuli associated, however indirectly, with the traumatic event. Many develop full-scale phobias (agoraphobia, claustrophobia, fear of heights, aversion to specific animals, objects, modes of transportation, neighbourhoods, buildings, occupations, weather, and so on).

My fear has been so great, that an email from him throws me into a panic attack, knowing that it just contains more pain. I don’t read them when they come in. In fact, I no longer know if they do or not, thanks to email filters that just delete them before I even see them.

Thank goodness for technology.

Emotional abuse, like gaslighting as well as so many other insidious forms, is hard to recognize and even harder to prove. Often, the only indication that your partner is causing emotional damage is to trust yourself and how you feel.

  • Are you asking yourself if you’re crazy?
  • Are you questioning reality?
  • Do you feel blamed for everything in the relationship?
  • Do you feel unsafe to talk with your partner about anything?/li>

Remember…is s/he charming? That is a huge red flag and a sign of an emotional predator. Certainly not all charming people are predators or abusive, but it is something of which to take note, especially if they are particularly charming. Please, please look closer, or perhaps, take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Find out about their past relationships. How many? How did they end? Do they take responsibility for their actions? Their words? Are they relatively consistent in their words/actions?

#1 indication: They don’t take responsibility for their actions.

Please read these links on Emotional & Sexual Abuse and learn to recognize the signs early so you can get out before you fall in love. Sometimes the signs are so subtle you miss them. We must learn to protect ourselves and strengthen our armor against this insidious slings and arrows.

Please believe me when I say that these actions are insidious. I mean it. They are so subtle and often covered up by grand gestures of love and excessive affection. Sexual ecstasy and talking of how special you are mixed with the depth of connection & intimacy. It is very intoxicating and convincing, but beneath it all there might be a constant assault on your sense of self through gaslighting and other forms of covert abuse.

The first step is recognizing abuse as abuse. One very surprising thing I learned about myself over the past few weeks is that some types of emotional abuse feel like love to me. Another reason the trauma is so deep: it’s not just the damage from the auctioneer, but it is unhealed damage from a lifetime of emotional and sexual abuse. So many people don’t even know what a healthy relationship looks like because most of what they know has been dysfunctional.

Research PTSD and Emotional Abuse. If you are exhibiting any of the signs, you might be trapped in a betrayal or trauma bond with the abuser. This makes it even harder to get away and heal.

Let us all learn how to protect ourselves from such people, for in this society, there is no other recourse. No way to prove it. No way to make them accountable for the damage they cause. Our only hope of defense against this type of abuse is to recognize the danger early, reinforce our armor, and get away before a trauma bond can be created.

In solidarity…


**update 7/25/12** It has since become clear that it wasn’t borderline sexual abuse. It was sexual abuse and even sexual assault that last week, which does explain the depth of PTSD, although emotional abuse alone can cause PTSD, as emotional abuse can do enough damage on its own. Plus, the worst, long-lasting effects of any physical, verbal, or sexual abuse/assault is the emotional and psychological damage. May you all find peace.
**update 1/27/13**I’ve now been through six months of intense rape recovery therapy since the above update, and I’ve learned a lot more about PTSD. Become familiar with terms like flashback, dissociative state, cognitive dissonance, depersonalization, hyper-vigilance, etc. These are all symptoms of serious PTSD. I’ve learned that I have chronic PTSD from a lifetime of abuse that I didn’t consciously recognize as abuse, as it’s been systematically normalized by family and society, in many cases. Chronic PTSD leaves a person very vulnerable to further abuse and assaults. Please seek out a licensed therapist who can help you work through your PTSD and break that Betrayal Bond, if you’re still trapped with your abuser.
You can follow my journey with the links from the post called Polyamory Podcast Hiatus, also anything with the tag “austin poly rapist.” It’s an interesting one, and it might be helpful to you, reader, as it shows how one is in so much denial at first because of the shock, and how, if you commit to healing, you can uncover some pretty horrific things and extensive PTSD. Still, I’d rather know, accept, and heal than to fall into the same trap with another predator.

~ by omgrey on April 16, 2012.

198 Responses to “PTSD from Emotional Abuse”

  1. I wish I had heard these words 30 years ago. I might have been able to break free and not be the wreck I am today. Of course I would have fallen hopelessly in love with you, but that’s beside the point. I grew up in a toxic emotional environment. My family was not just dysfunctional, it was totally broken and no way to fix it. Generations of abuse got heaped upon me and my sister, because it had been heaped upon our parents. Even when they knew better, they didn’t stop. I think they couldn’t. It was like they didn’t care who they hurt anymore. They abused us and each other. It was all very sick.

    However, I have been diagnosed and I am getting help. the healing is slow and often fraught with more tragedies that make it hard to healing slow if not stop.

    I am so glad you have started to discuss this. I hope to see more of it.



    • Hugs back to you, Clint.

      The healing is slow, but it’s not too late by any means. Even 30 yrs later.

      Thank you so much for your comment. I’m so pleased you find the blog helpful. Hearing that is more helpful to me than I could ever express.


  2. I was diagnosed with PTSD after a relationship about 5 years ago. By the time it ended, my ex had convinced me that I was completely nuts and incapable of being happy. As it turned out, all I needed was decent medication, good friends, and a significant other who actually cared about me and didn’t try to gaslight me at every opportunity. I can only offer you hugs and sympathy. Most people who suffer through this kind of trauma and aftermath, however, do it alone, so you are lucky to have your husband to lean on. The healing, however, you will have to do yourself, and it will come with time. I’m still, 5 years later, reluctant to run into my ex or his wife (who was as much to blame for my trauma as he was), but I no longer obsess about it or elect to stay home from events where I might run into them. That’s progress.

    • That is progress.

      I am very lucky for the support of my husband, friends, and readers. Seriously grateful.

      I’m just back in Texas at an airport in another town, and I’m already afraid of running into him. I avoid events I know he’ll be at, or might be at, because a panic attack in public is highly embarrassing.

      Unfortunately, he emailed me twice two weeks ago. I don’t know what they said, as I didn’t read them, but just seeing the subject line & first line in the preview was enough for me to panic. Then he showed up at a community poly event and had the nerve to try and speak to my husband after the way he treated and abandoned me. Honestly.

      Yes, that whole ordeal caused a serious relapse that I’m starting to come out of two works later.

      Seriously thinking about moving out of state just to stop worrying about the possibility of seeing him.

      • It is helpful to think I’m not the only person that feels this way. After a horrific divorce 12 your battle fighting for custody. Every time I moved I moved further away from where he lives. It’s now been 25 years and I thought I was so over it. But I just ran into him at Costco and he informs me he’s moving down the street from me. I’m so ashamed that but I’m still not over it! Intellectually, I get it emotional is a whole different subject. The hardest part is no one understands why he’s moving here upsets me. I just don’t know what to do hello

      • PTSD often lasts a lifetime. I understand why you’re upset. Sadly, people can be very judgmental and cruel. I’m glad you got away, and I’m glad my words helped in some small way.

        May you find peace.

  3. Difficult subject, making it hard to press the “like” button, but truly a good post. I have been in the same situation and feel for anyone that’s been through similar. That type of abuse can utterly destroy a person.

    • Indeed it can.

      The hardest part for me has been that the abuser get away without any responsibility or even acknowledgment of the damage they caused.

      I don’t suppose it would change much if he would admit it and apologize.

      • Him apologizing would mean additional contact for you. From my experience, any contact is bad. They’ll go through great lengths to avoid taking responsibility. Their minds are off-kilter. (To put it nicely.)

        Even a case of mistaken identity was once enough to stress me to the point of headache.

      • Agreed. I’ve had the mistaken identity thing, too. Especially without my glasses. 🙂

        And, you’re right. There is nothing to support any benefit of the doubt on his part, yet I still want to give it to him. Id give about anything for it to be other than it so obviously is, but that’s the part of the PTSD.

        Off-kilter. Yes. Different reality, actually. My husband uses the word lunatic. My life coach: whack-job. My psychiatrist: sicko. And my counselor: mind-fuck.

        They all fit, I’m afraid. And here I am still in love. But getting better.

        An apology or any contact would just be a further mind-fucking. No doubt.

        Thanks for the reminder.

  4. I’ve been thinking of this post all night; it strikes really close to home. Have you found that at times you wish things could go back to the way things were–for better *and* for worse? I know it’s utterly irrational but at odd moments I find that desire almost irresistable. Perhaps not quite Stockholm Syndrome, but another type of conditioning (I know you’ve touched on it previously).

    Knowing that it would be another mind-fuck, but probably worse, doesn’t really help. Like there’s some nugget of cancerous thought that overrides the intelligent decision to stay the fuck away.

    I’ve struggled in the past and failed to stay away before. Other times, I’ve done better. Each “failure” has done nothing but made things worse, for me, in the long run.

    (Not preaching, just sharin’)

    • Thank you for sharing.

      Yes. Exactly. I said those exact words to my husband last night. I’d take the abuse back if I could just have the joy and bliss and love and ecstasy back, too. It is precisely Stockholm Syndrome, better known as the betrayal or trauma bond in situations like this.

      And yes, it would be another mind-fuck, and part of me just doesn’t care. That’s how deep the damage is.

      Thank you for telling me how going back has made things worse. It helps me stay away. Because the urge to do anything to recover even a bit of it is very, very strong. My heart and soul still feel the love, but my mind and body feel the effects of the trauma. I’m being torn apart.

      • I hesitate to call it Stockholm Syndrome. Something about that label doesn’t sit completely right with me. For me, at least, I don’t have a conscious or subconscious affinity with my ex. The way someone described it to me was like a drug dependency or addiction. I had grown used to the batshit crazy parts of life, and it had become the standard. Now that it was gone, I felt dissatisfied or lost–even though I knew it was better for me in the long run to be away from the fuckin’ insanity, I still craved it because I was /used/ to it.

        I’m very, very glad that hearing it helps you stay away. That’s what works for me too; the support/reminder/affinity of others who have been through similar. Especially when I’m close to throwing in the towel and set myself up for another round of hell.

        I don’t know if you’ve been through the next stage (at least, the stage that was next for me) when the abuser senses or manages to time their attempts to reengage when you’re very susceptible to being reengaged. That is the worst, because you *want* it and it’s offered… though, you know inside yourself it’ll just end up bad again.

        Hell, I know you don’t know me from the average Internet crazy, but if shit gets too overwhelming and you need a sympathetic ear or someone to talk *to* you who has been there before, this is a standing offer.

      • No. Stockholm Syndrome isn’t the word I’d use either. But Stockholm Syndrome is a type of betrayal/trauma bond. I do see it as a trauma bond, though. Look up those terms instead. You’ll see the similarities.

        And, yes, addiction is quite accurate as well.

        I spoke with a friend yesterday who validated this yet again, the need to disengage and stay away. Inviting them back in or even allowing them back in is just another round of hell. Well put.

        As far as the “next stage” you mention, I did have a taste of that two weeks ago, and it set me back a month of healing. I didn’t want it, nor did I welcome it, talk to him, or read his emails, but it affected me just the same. I suppose it would’ve been a lot worse had I truly engaged. I’m glad I didn’t.

        Thank you for the offer. I might just take you up on it.


    • I know I have PTSD. But it’s form is mainly the GOOD memories. Intrusive memories. I did things with him I never experienced with anyone else. Like something out of a fictional romance novel, so much laughter, making love under the stars in a cool patch of grass in the summer, long walks hand in hand at midnight to go to the corner store for candy, getting caught in a down pour and seeking cover under trees and making out in the pouring rain, we could hardly wait to get home. We shared everything, secrets, thoughts, we even ate our dinner off the same plate. I can still smell his skin if I think about him. Why do I love someone who was so cruel to me? Why can’t I get past this?

      • It’s called a betrayal bond or trauma bond. I’ve written about it on here, and what you describe sounds very much like love bombing, something sociopaths excel at. Even if he’s not a sociopath or narcissist, it’s something that commitmentphobes do, too. I’ve written about all those things.

        May you find peace.


  5. Whew, glad to know I am not alone in suffering from PTSD due to a relationship. I have been able to overcome it’s effects in most situations. The perpetrator is now dead (at the hands of one of his victims), but occasionally, still, a situation will begin to bring up the panic. Fortunately I can just leave and it will resolve its self in a relatively short time and I thank the Gods for my therapist who finally figured out what was going on and gave me the tools to deal with it.

    • Oh my! At the hands of one of his targets! Wow.

      I’m glad to hear you have a good therapist to help you past this. Thank you for your comment.


  6. […] PTSD from Emotional Abuse […]

  7. […] PTSD from Emotional Abuse ( […]

  8. I learned alot, thank you so much for this post! I found your site on Jesse Jeanine’s site. God bless!

  9. I have found myself far too often in the position of watching a person I care about being verbally/emotionally abused by their partner/spouse. Generally, nothing I do or say is helpful, and often only makes the victim angry with me and cling ever closer to their abuser.

    I wonder if there’s anything a person can do or say that would be helpful in a situation where they see someone being verbally abused and publically humliated by their abusive partner…to let the victim know it’s NOT OK for the abuser to act that way, that the victim isn’t doing anything wrong, that the distress that is felt by witnesses is not embarassment that the victim is doing something wrong, but that the abuser is behaving so far outside normal boundaries of decency that onlookers are just totally at a loss as to how to respond appropriately?

    • That’s a very good questions, and I don’t know if there is an answer. When a person is trapped in a trauma bond (and still in the relationship), their view of the reality of their partner is very skewed.

      What’s helped me in the past is seeing it from the outside, like observing another abusive couple and recognizing the behavior as similar to my partner’s. Still, it often is after the relationship is over, and I’m struggling to alter my perception to the reality of the abuse/r.

      Another thing that might help are support groups, for a similar reason, but that still will require the person to acknowledge that there is something amiss.

      One day ask her if she thinks her partner is good enough for her mother or sister or daughter. And see what she says. Often times that will help break the veil at least a little bit. Likely she will say she wouldn’t want this relationship for someone she loves. And that then begs the question if it’s not good enough for them, why is it good enough for her?

      • Surround yourself w positive people at home and work. Don’t get caught up listening to someone complaining. It’s a domino affect and mood change. One person can make anyone’s day go to shit. We all learn the things that bother or make another person uncomfortable. These types will learn it then use it to sick the life out of you. The thought alone is embarrassing but don’t think about it. Practice striking back. Look in the mirror and do to them as they just did to you and yell as loud as you can to get others attention. Then watch how fast the color in their face turns gray and walk away. 😉

  10. I am not sure I’m comfortable with the idea that charm is a red flag. Yes, predators try to be charming because that gets them what they want, but if you make charm a negative trait, it encourages people to be rude. People are too rude as it is.

    No answers here. I just miss common courtesy as a way of treating people, rather than a justification for more entitled behavior.


    • There is a difference between charming and nice; charming and polite; and charming and friendly.

      Very much so.

      Agreed that people are too rude as it is. I also miss common courtesy. What I do like about rude people is that they don’t hide their assholery. At least we know they are assholes up front. The ones who hide it beneath a false face and turn on the charm, those are the dangerous ones.

      Like I said, not all charming people are predators…and not all predators are charming. But the most convincing ones are.

      Think of the word “charm” – it’s conjures images of magic and sorcery. Things that aren’t real, casting a spell, and that’s often what these people do. So very convincingly.

      Charm is not a negative trait, it’s just a warning sign to look more closely.

      • My ex husband was/is a big charmer. He could lie and manipulate anyone anytime. It was disgusting and terrifying. He made me believe I was crazy, that things were always my fault, he’d break my stuff, my heart, and call me horrible names, cheat on me repeatedly, raped me, and the list goes on. With everyone else he was such a good guy that nobody would have believed me had I opened my mouth and said something. But looking back on it I don’t know if that’s true, it’s just how I felt and I wish I’d been brave enough to stand up for myself somehow.

        But in between the emotional abuse he could be good to me and I clung to those moments. It was like he kept just enough hope in me for me to stick around. Here I am three years later and still a broken, sad, scared mess with trust issues and I’m remarried to a great guy but for some reason I can’t bring myself to tell him everything that happened. I’m nervous and my hands are sweating just typing this. And somehow when I see the ex even now, three years later, I still feel panic and fear. I thought over time that would ease up and go away but I think it’s worse or the same if I’m being honest.

      • I’m so sorry to read you went through such a nightmare with that “charmer.” Sounds like a sociopathic narcissist, like the man who raped me. There was a lot of gaslighting going on, judging from your description, as well as sexual, verbal, and emotional abuse. You were unable to get away for so long because of the Betrayal Bond. It creates a deep bond that’s extremely difficult to break.

        I’m so glad you got away from him.

        It was brave of you to write this comment. It’s so scary to come out into the open about these things, as most people will dismiss and minimize your experience, causing more damage. Therapists often will, too. Find a good somatic therapist who specializes in PTSD recovery, and you’ll start to heal. PTSD, unless it heals in the first few months, won’t heal by itself over time. New traumas will accumulate over the old ones, deepening the damage.

        Unfortunately, it’s up to us to repair the damage others caused. Look into Somatic Experiencing and interview therapists before you commit to one. At the very least, get The Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Sourcebook or The Betrayal Bond, and you’ll start to understand/heal. It might give you the strength to talk with your husband and seek out a therapist. You are not alone. When you read these books, you’ll see that.

        I’m glad you’re with a decent man now. May you find peace.

  11. […] PTSD from Emotional Abuse ( […]

  12. […] Normally, the Allegory of the Cave brings to mind the unexamined life, those who hide from their fears and live in deep denial. But this is also very accurate, in relation to being trapped in a trauma bond and the struggle to first see and then break that bond. […]

  13. […] I can’t engage in such an intimate act with someone I deeply care about. It’s too much. More fun effects of the PTSD. My husband, of course, has been nothing but supportive. He just held me and reassured me that it […]

  14. […] PTSD from Emotional Abuse ( Share this:TwitterMoreEmailPrintFacebookStumbleUponDiggRedditLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

  15. […] Last week, I wrote a post called Ethical Responsibility: STI Edition. As I type this out, I’m sitting in Planned Parenthood waiting to go in for STI testing. As anyone who is sexually active, it is our responsibility to be regularly tested and share those results with partners. Today I’m a little nervous thanks to my former partner having genital herpes and not telling me about it. I’m sure it’s fine, but still. He deceived me. He deceives others. As I’ve written about in other posts, the abusive nature of this man doesn’t end there. […]

  16. […] PTSD from Emotional Abuse […]

  17. […] PTSD from Emotional Abuse ( […]

  18. […] I’m feeling so much better over all. Truly. I do still get triggered from time to time, as is expected with PTSD, but each time, although the intensity is frighteningly the same, the duration is considerably […]

  19. […] you might be suffering from chronic PTSD from a lifetime of unrecognized abuse rather than a chemical imbalance. It’s been quite the […]

  20. i met a woman almost a year ago who after a few months revealed things that were happening in her marriage. it turns out she was in a verbal/emotional/financial abusive marriage and had been with her spouse almost twelve years. growing up in that enviroment i knew the signs and steps to take. after listening to her tell me everything i pointed out the things that were abusive to her. which was about ninety percent of any website that describes abuse. they tried to work on it twice but it failed. everytime she would come to me when things went bad because i tried and could always build up her self esteem faster than her husband could lower it. over the next few months…well, we fell in love and she decided to leave him seeing there was more to life than what she had been getting. divorce papers was filed and things were going along smoothly until he decided he had to get her back. he used everything he could to drive her back to him without any remorse. he tried taking the kids away twice. constantly using them to come around her. one time he’d be charming the next looking to bring her down. he even charmed her family into convincing her he had changed and had them telling her to work things out. two months ago he said he felt bad for not paying child support and promised to start. that same week his lawyer asked for and got the right to have custody of the kids if she didn’t have a place of her own to live. two weeks later when she asked about the money he promised, he said in front of her family that he never agreed to that and she must be losing her mind. that left her with two weeks to find a place to live and no money to get one but he offered a solution. move back in with him and try to work things out. i stepped in then and offered her the money she needed and she accepted it and was happy and excited about it. two hours later she disappeared. that was a month ago. i haven’t heard from her at all. i did hear from her husband though. i don’t know what happened that day but the first thing he did was isolate her from everyone and everything. only allowing her to talk to her family if he’s there. completely controlling her and making her depend on him for everything. two days ago i talked to her brother. he said she is working on her marriage and that things are going better. she thinks he has really changed this time. she doesn’t love him and don’t want to be with him but that didn’t matter to him. now she’s stuck there thinking she has no other option but to try and make it work. i have no way to communicate with her. this absolutely broke my heart. i’m so in love with her. i’m lost without her but there is nothing i can do but never give up hope. i wish i knew a way to help.

    • Oh, sweetie. You sure are heartbroken! And I can see why. That is a miserable situation, and her husband sounds like an abuser of the worst kind. Using his kids as ammunition? Deplorable. Everything you describe I’ve read again and again on what abusers and psychopaths and narcissists are like. How they establish control and isolate. How they make their targets dependent and utilize emotional, verbal, and sometimes physical threats.

      I’m so sorry you are in the middle of this. It must be agonizing. May you find peace.

      • thank you. yes it is agonizing. not knowing anything is the worst part . it has been going on for so long that she didn’t realize he was being abusive until i pointed some of it out to her. she was so close to being away from it. once he started his manipulation tactics it didn’t take long for her to become so emotionally unstable that she would have a hard time even making rational , easy decisions. i knew i was losing her when she asked me “well, what if he has changed? don’t i owe it to myself to know for sure?” it was all downhill from there. she’s been back with him almost five weeks. i’ve seen what he can do to her in just fifth teen minutes so five weeks she’s completely brainwashed by now. i feel so sad for her. when the “honeymoon” stage ends i’m afraid it’s going to be worse than it ever has been before because now he thinks he can validate her “punishment” for leaving him. i’ll never give up on her. i still have some hope for us.

      • It will likely be worse. That’s what I’ve read. The cycles get increasingly worse as their control over their target deepens. Her saying those things is a selection of the trauma bond. Unless one (and one’s loved ones) is aware of the trauma bond (betrayal bond/Stockholm Syndrome) and its effects, it’s impossible to resist. It’s very, very strong indeed.

        Had it not been for my support network, I would’ve talked myself back into my ex’s life as well. I still struggle with conflicting feelings 5 months later. My love for him is still so strong, but it’s undeniable now that he’s not only an abuser, he’s capable of rape.

        And you’re probably trauma bonded to her. This has been very traumatic for you, and your connection with her is not only the love you have for her but also the pain you’ve experienced with/through her. Take care of yourself.

        I’m so so so sorry you are in this position.

      • yes, i’m very aware of the trauma bond i have with her. the bad thing is i was her support group. he even used her own family and made them believe she was blowing it all out of proportion. i finally told her brother most of what has been happening all these years. only now i’ve been made out to be the bad guy in all of this and that it was me who was doing the brainwashing. now her entire family is ignoring me. as hard as it was i had to step back and distance myself from it all. her family has known him ever since he was a kid. they don’t know me at all. i can’t stand it when i here “i just can’t believe it. he’s such a nice guy” it’s frustrating. they don’t see what happens behind closed doors. i said to her brother “you don’t have to believe me, but what if i am telling you the truth? isn’t it worth keeping an eye out for her to make sure? because it may be too late when you do see it.” maybe he’ll keep a watch on her. there’s nothing more i can do while she is with him. if i try to interfere now i’ll cause more harm than good. i’m glad you were able to get out. there are so many women who don’t. i have a good friend who barely escaped. it took her laying in a hospital bed in a coma from being beaten so bad by her husband to make her leave. i had my friend talk to her back in december to share her experience. it helped in her deciding to leave him. it’s horrible, almost half the women that’s been in my life have suffered domestic abuse or violence. it’s like it has always been a part of my life. thanks for listening and sharing your past. sites like yours eally do help. the awareness has to be raised because it’s a huge problem that needs to be seriously looked at because it’s around almost everyone.

      • Anytime, Jason.

        Yes. I’m appalled at just how prevalent domestic abuse and sexual assault both are in this society, and people just turn a blind eye. Thinking it can’t happen to them, I suppose.

        It can.

        I hope it never does.

        Don’t get me started on how law enforcement handles it, or, rather, doesn’t.

        May you find peace, my dear. May we both.

  21. […] and smaller. I went through extensive therapy and counseling and healing and such to deal with the PTSD and fallout of the trauma this man […]

  22. hi grey. thought i might give you an update on my situation. it has been seven weeks today since she left. the only word i’ve gotten about her is that she is trying to “work things out with him” and that she really believes this time he has changed. this came from a family member who pushed for her to go back to her husband saying to her, “even if he ‘s only changed a little bit things will be better. you have to try and give hm a chance.” it eats away at me to think about it but it is an example to your last post on narcissist, psychopaths, and sociopaths on how they are able to exploit others sympathy and manipulate them into helping obtain what they are after. no one is able to see him for the monster he is, but i’m afraid one day they will. i just hope it isn’t after something bad happens to her. finding this blog has helped more than anything so than you.

    • Abusers are indeed very good at what they do. And families are often not supportive of the victim. I’m appalled at their comment. Even if he changes a little bit? So, instead of beating her with a trash can lid, he’ll only slap her from time to time, right? Or instead of hitting her, he’ll just torment her emotionally and put her down so there are no scars to show for proof. Right?

      How horrific.

      Thank you for the update. She’s lucky to have you there for her, Jason. Unfortunately, so little can be done outside domestic violence situations until the target gets out. I’ve had friends (plural) who have been in horribly abusive situations. A few of them got out, but it took things getting very extreme. One of them is still in. Living her every moment in fear.

      She knows that I will drive across the country to pick her up and take her wherever she wants to go as soon as she says the word. Until then, anything I try to do can just make it worse for her.

      Domestic Violence: Helping a Friend

      Thanks for saying the blog has been helpful. I’m so pleased to hear it. It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do: warn and help other people from falling victim to what I did. Let them know they’re not alone, as well as have a safe place to speak…and for them to do the same.

      • about fourteen years ago i found out an old friend was in a very bad abusive marriage. i was young and thought i knew how to handle it but i had no clue how wrong i was. my actions one night caused him to take it out on her and he beat her so bad it put her in the hospital. but, the next day she had him arrested and filed for divorce the following week. about once a year i try to reach out to her some how but still to this day she blames me for what happened to her and hasn’t responded. i can live with that because she went on to remarry and has a wonderful life and has been happy ever since. i blamed myself for a very long time but finally realized it was her husband to blame. he was the one that beat her. he was the one that put her in the hospital. i’m a lot wiser now because of it.

        not only has your blog helped but you yourself has made what i’m going through a bit easier. sometimes it helps just knowing their is someone out there who listens and genuinely seems to care and wants to help. so, thank you. really thank you.

      • Really, thank you, too. Just for saying that. 🙂 I’m glad you don’t feel alone, and when people comment, I don’t feel alone either.

        Yes. The abuser is to blame. Always.

  23. I lost my 10 years relationship during April. My ex left me with so many pains and since then i have been heart broken and shattered. I have contact 15 spell casters and 10 of them has rip me off my money without any result. I have Emailed so many sites online looking for a good spell caster till i was directed by a 16 years old girl to At first i never believed him because he was requesting for some amount of money to buy items, it took him three weeks to convince me and something occur to mind and i said let me give him a trial.
    I was very shocked when Ruben called four days after i sent Dr OMO the items money. He apologies for all he has done wrong and i am very happy that we are together today because he proposed to me last night. I will advise you contact Email because he has done wonders in my life and i believe he can help you out in any problem

  24. I know I suffer from PTSD from every kind of abuse & other bad experiences, but can seeing a psychologist or counselor REALLY help? Does it help those of you who have gone/are going?

    • Yes. Most emphatically.

      First, if for nothing else than the validation. But even moreso, techniques like somatic releasing and EMDR and others truly help.

  25. Reading this has made me realize that ALL of my relationships have been in some way abusive. I, for a long time, thought it was me who was abusive. But it was me defending myself from an onslought of demeaning hurtful words, all that were disguised as “helpful” words. But in reality all they were doing was beating me down. No wonder i never felt happy or really loved in any of those relationships. I’m not proud to say when my last relationship failed i crossed the line and she got a taste of her own medicine. I regret crossing that line. But, i will never, NEVER, do that again. I am a better man than that. I am learning to love myself and respect myself these days. I will stand up for myself and not let myself get abused or taken advantage of again. It’s comforting knowing there are others out there who know what it’s like. Especially hearing other men have gone through it. I would rather be happy single, than being miserable while with someone who doesn’t love me.

    • Yes!!!

      And you likely were abusive, too. Perhaps not the aggressive abuser, as you stated, but abusive. That’s what we’ve learned love looks like. I’m abusive at times, and I catch myself sooner and sooner now. Self-awareness is just the beginning.

      I think being single for awhile and really exploring the abuse in your past relationships and growing up would greatly benefit you and your future relationships.

      You likely are drawn to women who will play out your unresolved childhood & past relationship issues. Your brain recognizes the danger, but the signal is interpreted as sexual attraction and “chemistry.” It’s really the fight or flight reflex, as you’re subconsciously reading cues of what this woman is like, even though your conscious mind thinks you’re avoiding the same trap.

      It’s a lot to work out, to separate love and abuse when the two have been merged for your entire life.

      Not to excuse chronic and habitual abusers, for it is a choice, but they too were victims of abuse. They just developed into the aggressors. And the cycle continues.

      Some compassion is called for, but my compassion ends when they’re hurting other people, again and again and again.

      • With this last woman, i know she has had a rough history but she, like i used to, buries all the pain and hurt. I am learning to actually talk about things and releasing my past. It pains me deeply that i turned abusive, and you’re right, it was my fight or flight response. I said many hurtful words to her. Deep down I now see that it was me trying to get away from her. for my heart knew she isn’t what i wanted. But while we were together, she wouldn’t ever really say much to build me up, until I got to the point of thinking on leaving. I am 29y/o and she is 32. But I am seeing that in many ways she was immature. And in some ways i was. I’m done pointing fingers at either her or I, because it doesn’t get you anywhere. I’m seeing the facts and yes, I thought i was in love with her. But when I look back on it i see that she passed all the “blame” onto me. That the things i did are the reason for what she said or did. Even to this day (it’s been 7 months since we split) whenever we talk it always gets turned back onto me. I have made apologies for what i did, i don’t expect her to forgive me, but i just wish she could stop throwing everything back onto me. I made a decision that I am done talking to her so that the cycle ends. I can remain calm while I talk to her, but things i say still set her off and all comes back to being “my fault”.
        While her and I were together anytime i would try and bring up how i was feeling about things that were going on I heard, “You’re wrong” or “No, that’s not true”. Now yes I admit i let my jealousy get out of hand and I made my share of mistakes, and I tried to atone for them. But it was as if she held EVERY mistake against me. Then when I tried to turn things around it was as if everything i did wasn’t “good enough”. Even before it got rough between her and I, I would do little things and make comments to help build her up. But even then she just seemed to not appreciate it.
        I am now becoming content on staying single for awhile and taking care of myself. I know growth isn’t easy and it’s a tough path. But I know i will be stronger. So many of the people closest to me have noticed a change in me. I am just so happy that I have so many people around me that are so loving and supportive.

      • Good for you.

        People who can’t or won’t apologize and who refuse to take responsibility are people to stay far, far away from. They are at best completely unaware abusers and at worse psychopaths/narcissists/sociopaths. I’ve written extensively on the symptoms of those pathologies on this blog.

        Regardless, yes. You apologized. You tried to mend fences and salvage some kind of relationship. Now it’s time for No Contact with her whatsoever.

        No Contact & get into counseling. The further you get away from her and the others, the clearer the abuse and signs will become. The clearer they become, the better chance you will be clear-headed enough to see them next time before it’s too late.

        No Contact (NC) means no Facebook, unfriend and block, no Twitter, email, text, nothing. For at the very least 3 months.

        I’m happy you have a strong support network. You’ll need them.


  26. All I can say is it’s like I was reading a page from my own life in this entry. The panic, the fear, the isolation, all too familiar. Gaslighting was a favorite of my ex and had I any idea what it was at the time I might have changed course, but you really do start to believe them. You really start to question everything you know or thought you knew about relationships, what is appropriate behavior and reality. Thank you so much for sharing, we are not alone.

    • I’m so sorry to hear you went through this. But you are not alone. This post, along with “Pathology of the Commitmentphobe” are the two most-read posts on this blog, and all found through search engines. The search terms that lead people to my blog daily are heartbreaking, so we are not alone.

      I’m glad you found validation here. Please spread it around. The more people learn about PTSD, emotional abuse, and predators, the better chance we have at stopping this horrific cycle.

  27. […] and a very important one at that: People Who Hide Behind Poly. Overall, my most popular post is PTSD from Emotional Abuse, followed closely by Pathology of the […]

  28. […] this is my most popular post, along with PTSD from Emotional Abuse, I thought I’d write an […]

  29. Learning how to deal with stress is important. If you have gotten to the point you dread certain situations because you had an attack during those circumstances, you should start looking at those times differently and for what they are. Many people get troubles built up in their minds and those thoughts take over when those people least expect it. These are the thoughts that pave the way for serious attacks. When you know the source of your pressure, dealing with it head on is necessary sometimes to take it away. If you are having issues at your job, talk to your boss or other co-workers about it. Talking and counseling are great ways to relieve the pressure that may be causing you to suffer severe anxiety. The same is also true about family problems. Making sure you take the time to talk to your family about what is bothering is of the utmost importance.^

    • Talking to people, especially bosses and family, about any mental illness is terrifying because of the stigma associated with these things. Anxiety and depression are very common, but so many people who suffer from it still feel shame around their illness.

      I agree, though, talking about it — to people who will understand and support you — is essential. That may or may not be your boss or family, though. In my experience, it’s not, save my husband. Certain family members will listen to a point, but they don’t know what to do to help and they can’t understand that just listening without judgment or blame is often all that’s needed.

      Since this post is about PTSD, those who are suffering anxiety and depression because of having endured trauma can experience secondary trauma, exacerbating their condition and symptoms, if they trust the wrong person and are blamed or not believed. Even therapists are tricky. I’ve had therapists tell me I need to have compassion for my rapist and the rape has traumatized me because I think rape is a bad thing. If I didn’t consider rape to be so bad, I wouldn’t be so traumatized. You see, it’s my ego that’s the problem.

      I’m not kidding.

      So even licensed therapists can do more damage.

      I’ve learned that no matter how little I trust, it’s still too much. When you find the one or two or, if you’re really lucky, three people you can trust, keep them close and treat them well. Show your gratitude. It is so very fucking rare.

  30. […] around it, and how distressed I was about that. He said that was a common response in cases of PTSD and Rape Trauma Syndrome. Because of the type of rape and betrayal by The Rapist, aka Austin Poly […]

  31. I feel stuck and dont know what to do. my “deceased spouse” was verbal, mental, financial and sexually abusive (made me “please” men unwillingly). he has been dead 7 years but i feel the same about myself and have lately found myself reliving the situations and falling apart crying still feeling as though it was my fault he was that way towards me. i continue to have very low self esteem and feel that i should be treated the same way-even though i know this is wrong…..i still walk on eggshells. i am just stll lost……………….

    • I am so sorry you’re dealing with this. Sounds like a horrible man!! I’m glad he’s out of your life.

      Part of the problem is that you never got to confront him. He caused all this trauma, and you’re stuck in part because you can’t finish the fight with him. Can’t fight back.

      You’ve likely got chronic PTSD from all his abuse. It takes a lot to work through that and uncover what’s beneath it.

      Do a little ritual. Write a long, let-it-all-out letter to the bastard, telling him exactly what he did to you and how you’re still struggling because of his abuse. Then burn the letter, cursing him. Get angry. Dump the ashes on his grave and then dance on it. Spit on it. Tell him you’re glad he’s dead.

      Next, get into therapy. PTSD recovery therapy, preferably somatic. If you can’t afford it, go to domestic abuse/rape counselors in your area. Call RAINN to find ones in your area. They’re free. They understand.

      Anyone (including therapists) who tells you to let go and move on, to forgive him and all that crap, cut them out of your life, too. You don’t need anyone who normalizes abuse and suggests that you’re doing something wrong. There will be a time to let go and possibly forgive, but that time isn’t now while you’re still so affected by the extensive abuse.

      May you find peace.

  32. […] my most popular post is “PTSD from Emotional Abuse.” Understandably so. We’re a culture immersed in so many types of abuse, PTSD is truly […]

  33. […] almost exclusively discussed as a phenomenon experienced by soldiers after enduring war, but it is far more ubiquitous across our society. Even our soldiers, however, experience ostracism and cruelty at the hands of their loved ones, […]

  34. This post is amazing. I am sorry y’all are going through this but it brings me comfort to not be alone. When diagnosed with PTSD I thought it was unfair to compare me to those who had been through battle. Unfair to them, that my condition was minimizing their experiences.
    After two years of trying to get away from the magnet of mental abuse, I finally did at 20. THEN, I discovered I was pregnant. His response was “so when the fuck are you gonna marry me?” Of course, out of fear, I married him. I cried for days leading up to the wedding but hoped it would get better. 10 more years and 2 daughters later it had progressively gotten unbearable.
    While my father was in hospice we was unwilling to “babysit” the kids while I spent time with him. But he mad no bone about it, pointing out his annoyance because I was not there to cook dinner asking “when the hell is this gonna be over”. Luckily for his convenience my father passed within a few days.
    Once I left, he slashed my tires, tracked my car (following me), broke my windows and accused me of abusing my children by taking care of my mother during her final months before breast cancer took her. Saying it was cruel to make my daughters be with a dying woman- their grandmother. My mother passed a month after I filled the divorce papers because, as she said, it brought her peace knowing we were away from him and that she didn’t need to protect me anymore. His abuse kept her alive which pisses me off and I am grateful simultaneously.
    Every day I was convinced I was insane (and he was eager to verify). We (meaning he) were always surrounded by “friends” who loved the fact that inevitably he would do something so outrageous, dangerous and costly- it was like watching a train wreck- attracting a crowd, not friends. But at the end of every spectacle, it was my fault. The weather changing, causing him to drive off a cliff, was indeed somehow my fault. Him losing a job due to felony charges (DUI w concealed weapon while I was at home with the babies) was my fault for not being able to get the charges expunged, wearing eyeliner made me look like a whore…and so on, and so on, every day.
    And no one ever stood up for me, which verified my insanity. As he was hunting me down, gun in hand, while I hid under our trailer in the sand, because I was talking to a mutual male, married, friend of ours- no one pointed me out, but no one ever tried to stop him.
    Only after he began abusing meth, making me fear for our safety was I able to find the courage to leave. I was relieved he was using. It finally gave me an excuse, proof that I was justified in leaving. He never beat me physically, so I couldn’t use the bruises or broken bones. He used prostitutes, so I had no proof there. I’d get tested for STD every few months praying I contracted something but he was careful.
    For years after I left he would threaten anyone I befriended, claiming I was his property and no one takes what’s his. Finally karma caught up to him and he went to prison. I took the opportunity to move from Oregon to Florida, which was a lonely move but a smart one. It is definitely a marathon getting over the instinctual fearful reactions every time I see a possible confrontation or I make an honest mistake, but the best thing I did was marry a mellow, understanding man and get my children and myself as far away (3000 miles) as possible.

    I too am angered that not one time has he apologized or even acknowledged his “participation” in ruining our lives. To this day, the antidepressants (that I hid taking from him) made me crazy and that’s why I left him- end of story. After all nothing is EVER his fault, nothing.

    • I am so sorry you’ve had to endure this. Truly sorry. He sounds like a real monster, only worse. Monsters have no choice but to be monsters.

      He has a choice.

      He chooses to abuse and assault and terrorize.

      You likely have complex PTSD. Please find a PTSD specialist who can help you work through your trauma. Also seek out a domestic violence counselor, they are usually free under state grants.

      I’m so pleased you got away. It took unbelievable courage and strength to do so.

      May you find peace.

  35. I am in the middle of a panic attack, which has been the norm for years now. I have homework due. I just want to be successful. He doesn’t care what I need or want, he pressures me for sex, to comfort him, to give him affection, that it’s my fault he is mad at me. He says he loves me so much, know one knows him better, no one would want me more than him. I am so tired I finally got the guts to block him out of every part of my life. He is of course carrying on as long as he has some woman at his beck and call.
    I am just doing my best to forget him but I am in full blown panic mode and tempted to run back. I’m blaming myself for the whole thing, deep down I know it’s not all my fault but I can’t believe that right now. I am so sad.. how can he call being selfish love? how can he claim to love me so much, that I’m so great but wants to be with other women all the time? I don’t know what real love looks like. I don’t know what it is to be in a mutually respectful and loving relationship. I’m scared, and I feel alone and afraid to talk to anyone about this. I am so scared to open up but I want to so bad. How is he so okay right now?!?! I’m not okay. I have not been okay for over three years. I am falling to pieces. I was never good enough, right enough, pretty enough, smart enough, special enough. Sure he could tell me I was but I didn’t feel it when he told me he didn’t feel attracted to me but he felt attracted to some girl he’d never met and wanted to initiate a relationship with her. When she didn’t work out he came back to me and I was stupid enough to let him back in. I know what I need to do but I don’t know how to do it without losing my mind. Tell me what to do please…

    • Breathe.

      Touch something very cold or rough or hard and focus all your attention on that sensation.

      More to come….

    • You were so brave to get away from this creep.

      If you haven’t yet, please read my posts on Pathology of the Commitmentphobe & The Betrayal Bond.

      The most important thing for you right now is not to let this toxic, horrible person in your life no matter what. He’s caused so much damage already. He is poison, please remember that.

      It isn’t your fault.

      He can say he loves you and the rest because those words are meaningless to him. My ex told me he loved and adored me right after he raped me. Those are words used for manipulation from their mouths.

      Pressuring you into sex is a form of rape. If he loved you, he wouldn’t do that or any of the things. He uses those loving words to manipulate you under his control.

      Anytime you feel like this, do that exercise to get you right here, right now…just to get you through the panic attack. Then read read read up on abuse and other horrible people like that.

      Learn about betrayal bonds. You’re trapped in one with him. You have to stay away for a long time, months to a year, for it to break and clear away. Then you’ll see this more clearly, when you’re out of it.

      In the mean time, just get through each day without going back. **There is no such thing as too much support** during this time. This is intimate partner violence. Go to a domestic violence center and talk to a counselor there. It’s free. Call RAINN to find one in your area.

      I’m right here. Talk to me as much as you’d like. Email is fine, too.

      May you find peace.

    • Also, read up on narcissists, as that is what it sounds like he is. They’re so dangerous. Look up Lisa Scott on Google. She has forums full of N-victims. You’ll find you are not alone & have much support there.

      Find a therapist who specializes in PTSD recovery, preferably one trained in somatic experiencing. Start seeing them once a week. They will help you to begin teasing apart love and abuse, as those two things are one in the same to you right now, largely because of this narcissistic fuck.

      Glad you’re away from him.


  36. […] is a constant assault on your sense of self through forms of covert abuse”.  A fellow blogger, Caught in the Cogs, has an excellent post on this phenomenon.  In fact it was her blog that started me on my path of […]

  37. […] it and justify it, primarily with love. Abuse like this is cumulative and contributes to Complex PTSD. If I look back over my life, in my teens and twenties, I would have to say that about 1/3 of the […]

  38. […] traumatized by the sexualized violence either. Trauma is cumulative. By the time it happened again, and again, and again, and–yes–again, in my early 40s, it all had caught up with me and […]

  39. […] […]

  40. I have read about what emotional abuse is and I know I’ve been abused since childhood, and still have family members who treat me that way. I married once before and he was a very scary binge drinker. The marriage was brief. My longest relationship before my current one, I was physically abused time and time again to the last time when he put me in physical shock and I would’ve died had he not known how to clear my tongue from backing into my throat. My first love ever, raped me twice. Yes, I know how to pick them.

    My current marriage is of 20 yrs. 2 kids out of HS now. Drug addict/sex addict husband for most of these yrs. Relapsed w/ sex addiction 2 yrs into marriage, relapsed drug addiction starting 5 yrs into marriage. On and off of drugs throughout the past 15 yrs, in and out of work. I was diagnosed with clinical major depression and hospitalized in and out for a yr 6 yrs into the marriage. When I came out of the deep part of the depression he was on so much drugs he would walk into walls, slur words, had wide gait, paranoia, anger bursts. I went to six years of solid therapy. Still from time to time in touch with same therapist.I decided to stay with him, because addiction is an illness and he kept trying to beat this.

    The years i have had with him have been marked with great love and giving and respect and friendship, along with lies about relapses, well into the cycle of the drug abuse. I kept asking him if he was on something, he said no, it’s me, nothing is going on, etc. I questioned myself time and time again, lived through his rages, watched my words, walked on the eggshells. Lived thru bankruptcy, you name it. At this point, he says he’s not on anything, though I’m wondering because I see some subtle signs, but his anger is completely paralyzing me. I pretend I’m asleep when he is around. I shake, I am petrified of another outburst. I have nothing to show for 20 yrs. No retirement as I stayed home raising the children. The home is not in my name. I don’t have anyone to help me. I know I’m not alone in this situation, others have the same or even worse going on, but I am most definitely alone in this life.
    He is ready to inherit a small fortune very soon and now told me in marriage counseling, he wants a divorce. He has and now is in full bloom of blaming everything that is wrong with life on me. Hard times, my fault. His addiction, has nothing to do with anything. I’ve been unsupportive and fell short. There is something about me that is not right. I am “not right”. This is what I was told by him. Its been said everytime things are tough, then we get through them and we are proud that we loved each other to get through it. Then they get tough again, and so on and so on. Now, he’s just had it with me and he’s done.

    Of course part of me wants to stop living in fear. I read about PTSD from abuse and I have all the signs. I’ll get help for that but I’ve been afraid these past couple of yrs to even go out very much. I’ve no where to go, no one to turn to and I refuse to kill myself for the sake of my children. That was a decision I came to a couple of weeks ago, when I thought I was seeing my last sunrise. On top of this, I was given an ultimatum to quit smoking so after being a lifetime smoker I’m not able to smoke. That part sounds all good but under these circumstances, I think it’s a miracle I can even write this post. I just recently lost my father who was the only member of my family that loved me unconditionally. We were very close, he lived here with us in his own apartment, never intruded was kind hearted and he and my husband loved each other. My kids are starting to become a mess now. Everything is unraveling. My youngest daughter just asked me how counseling went. I said we are going back. What else could I say without knowing how to deal with it myself. I need to help them when they hear this.

    I don’t want to feel there is no hope, no future for me, but it isn’t looking very good. How do I not fall apart and dive into a major MAJOR depression now?

    • I’m so sorry to read about this. What a horrific situation.

      Your husband sounds like a complete sociopath. I’m glad you’ll be rid of him, then at least you won’t be newly traumatized over and over.

      To answer your question, it will be one moment at a time, I’m afraid. Get angry, if you can, and funnel that anger into formulating a case to take the abusive bastard down. Gather up all the evidence of his drug addiction, sex addiction, abuse, and gaslighting bullshit. Chronicle how his abuse has affected you on every level. Show how you stood by him through his struggles for him to just abandon you after a windfall. Speak with a domestic violence shelter and legal advocate. Fight. Fight. Fight.

      Doesn’t sound like you have much more to lose because of this creep. He’s taken so much already and done so much damage to your psyche and soul. Fighting back can only help you recover your seance of self and worth.

      Do it legally and ruthlessly. You matter. He doesn’t.

      p.s. It does sound incredibly stressful to have to quit smoking in the middle of all this. Nicotine will contribute to you depression, however. Best to get away from it if you can.

  41. So how do u suggest to address all these symptoms ?

    • Seek out support from a domestic violence counselor, they’re usually free. They will validate your experience rather than dismiss and minimize it. They will help you get out, which is ultimately what I hope you choose to do. It’s the last thing you want to hear, I know. I’ve been there. You’re likely trapped very deeply in a betrayal bond if you’re still with your abuser. It’s blinding and extremely difficult to break. There is no such thing as too much support during this time. After The Austin Poly Rapist raped me twice and I began to accept that’s what happened, I was in rape recovery therapy three times a week for months. Before I accepted it, when I was still trying to break that betrayal bond with him, I was in therapy at least twice a week.

      Therapy is essential. As I said, domestic violence centers usually offer it for free. For the PTSD, I highly recommend a somatic experiencing therapist and/or someone who specializes in EMDR. Some therapists are judgmental and awfully and they should have their licenses revoked. I’ve been further traumatized by several therapists, like the one who told me to have some compassion for my poor, poor rapist and that I was only traumatized by it because I think that rape is a bad thing. Those kinds of therapists are dangerous. Others won’t hold the therapist/client boundary and establish secondary relationships with the client like friend or, worse, lover. Highly damaging.

      Don’t be afraid to interview your therapist and try more than one. Get references. They’re working for you. I went through several damaging ones before I found a therapist who’s helped me (and continues to help me) recover. A good somatic therapist will help you understand how PTSD has affected your nervous system over the long term and how you’ve developed certain behaviors and thoughts for survival through the abuse.

      As you heal and become stronger, you will likely lose friends. In fact, you will quickly see who your real friends are. If it was like me and every other survivor I’ve ever met, they’re far fewer than you thought. Ultimately, those faux friends are better far away from you. You’ll start becoming angry at first and more self-protective, cutting toxic people out of your life before they can hurt you. You’ll keep those few trusted friends close, as they are extremely difficult to find.

      On the other hand, if you want to try to save the relationship and make him aware of his abuse so that he’ll stop, I’d suggest reading up a lot on abusive relationships and get into couples counseling. My guess is that he’ll refuse such therapy or just show up & sit there to be “supportive” with the belief that its all your problem anyway and you’re overreacting (i. e. more gaslighting bullshit), but he might surprise us both, although I highly doubt it.

      Hope this helps.

  42. Reblogged this on lexalayne.

  43. why would a person re-enact the last horrific night of their marriage 15 years later (beaten in front of 4 children 1 of which finally dialed 911) and have absolutely no memory of doing so? In my mind my boyfriend (kind, considerate, nice) became my ex husband. I called him by that name, screamed for help from the child that dialed 911, threw things to slow him down so he couldn’t get his hands on me again, screamed the same things as I did that night, things I had long forgotten. This was 2 days ago. I’ve made it thru these years, raised my children, fended off the ex’s never ending court attacks (gotta love the legal system) got help for my 2 children who have completely blocked out their childhood when living with him, found treatments for the one who turned to drugs and the other who became anorexic. Didn’t do much for my oldest son who was arrested for domestic violence, of course charges plead down to anger management like his father and so the cycle continues. (same judge as daddy, thank you, your honor) These things weren’t in recent history.

    Why did I re live it now? There were two triggers that day but really not very different than any other day. I’m easily startled, claustrophobic, and anxiety prone but still managed to raise 5 kids, run a fairly successful business, and found counseling, day treatments, drug programs, psychiatrists, when my children needed help. And honestly, the damage had been done by very early ages and I only have 1 able to attend college, barely coping as it is.

    What is this? And why do I have NO memory of doing this to him? He repeated the events to me almost exactly as they happened that night years ago. WTH?

  44. I divorced this type 15 years ago shortly after he beat me in front of our 4 children. The years previous to this were much of the same, isolation, verbal abuse (all of us) black eyes, head poundings etc. The last night My 7 yr old dialed 911. The divorce took years, I retained custody of our children. He plead “no contest” to his domestic violence charge, and sentenced to anger management. 2 of my children have completely blocked out the time we lived with him, although they are no longer children and are now caught in their own versions of hell. Another one developed anorexia and other eating disorders. My oldest son was recently arrested for domestic violence. They have all received counseling / day programs / treatment programs / and only 1 is coping well enough to go to college, barely. Court dates became a normal way of life throughout these years dealing with attempts to attach my assets or have me prove my stability, sanity etc. Small town life, once safe and comforting became the smear campaign on my reputation, never ending relentless attacks on my character, fueled further by his relatives. Some of my children withdrew into drugs while another hated me. Life became about survival.

    Now flash forward 15 years. I’m in a great relationship with a kind, considerate patient man. 2 nights ago, I am told, I called this man by my ex husbands name and followed the exact same events of the last night of our marriage, screaming for my son who called 911, running and screaming to stay away from me and throwing things at him to slow him down so he couldn’t get his hands on me again. I have NO memory of this whatsoever. Why did this happen? Other than being easily startled, claustrophobic, and anxiety prone I’ve managed to keep it together, support my children and run a fairly successful business and attempting to find them the mental health treatments they needed.

    I feel like my mind snapped. Why did this happen? I got chills when he told me what I did because it was exactly what happened years ago. There were 2 triggers that day, but not much different than other years.
    Did I divorce the monster, raise my kids, finally be happy, only to descend into madness?

    I feel fine today, confused yes, but fine otherwise. And it helps that my boyfriend is understanding. Small town, he knows the history. Is this PTSD? AND if so why years later? And I didn’t have nightmares about it I actually re-enacted the whole god awful last night.

    • Yes. This is PTSD. It sounds like a severe dissociative episode.
      All those other symptoms you mentioned are also hallmark PTSD symptoms. You might be in a great situation now, but your nervous system is still holding all that trauma from years past.

      Why years later? Because your nervous system is in a place to fully deal with it now, likely. You need to find a therapist who deals in trauma recovery. Somatic Experiencing or EMDR. Trauma is cumulative, and it doesn’t go away on it’s own, even if you bury it for 15 yrs. Your kids, too. They may have consciously blocked it out, but subconsciously it’s still there. They need to deal with it, too, or it will come out in horrible ways.

      Therapy is great, but you all really need to find someone who specializes in trauma recovery.

      Remember, you’re not mad. You’re dealing with horrific events this monster forced upon you. It’s far from fair, but only you can work through those. Finding some professional support will help you do that. I highly recommend finding a somatic experiencing therapist.

    • This is what is called a disassociative episode, a sub psychotic trauma reaction. I do NOT recommend EMDR. It is a practice of sustained memory floodin, staying in a specific hellish moment and using eye movements throughout being absorbed in the moment. Flooding is very controversial as it literally recreates the trauma. Common sense it’s a bad idea. Deal with the reactions but dont step into the trauma at this stage. It will set you back.

      • I don’t recommend EMDR either ever since the PTSD/EMDR specialist I went to retraumatized me by telling me to “have some compassion” for my poor rapist, and that the only reason I was so upset my lover betrayed and raped me is because I think that rape is a bad thing.

  45. Are you a therapist? You are incorrect about PTSD not being a product of prolonged abuse. It is a diagnosis, it is called Chronic PTSD, and often people develop PTSD after the events, in a place of Safety. Their conditioning is misplaced, they are confronted with unfamiliar stimuli and since it was prolonged they have far more potential triggers for the rest of their lives. I have been in treatment for PTSD for 17 years. I’ve dealt with all manner of specialist/practitioners. It is actually far more common now for a victim of a trauma of any kind to absorb the term into their lexicon long term, such as in a car accident in which they were not injured, a run of the mill divorce, even a disappointing wedding. I find it offensive. Please educate yourself. Just because you assume prolonged abuse is consistent it simply belies your ignorance. My abuser was sadistic and mercurial, it went on for 10+ years until I got away.

    • Yes. I’m well aware of that having been diagnosed with C-PTSD myself after multiple sexual assaults and a very abusive childhood.

      The bit you cite is actually quoted from another source, as you’ll see the (source) link at the end of the quote. Many of my other posts on PTSD talk further about it and my own experiences in dealing with and recovering from the abuse.

      I’m sorry to hear of your troubles; however, this blog is my space, and I expect all commenters to show basic respect and manners. If you cannot do that, I will delete your future comments.

      Take your chiding and judgments elsewhere.

    • Also, here’s a tip, if you’re offended, there’s a whole internet out there. You can choose to leave this blog and not read it.

  46. […] PTSD from Emotional Abuse Here is a link to an article I found to be interesting on the link between PTSD and abuse… PTSD from Emotional Abuse | Caught in the Cogs […]

  47. Reblogged this on morenathomas84 and commented:

  48. […] […]

  49. I removed myself from an abusive situation about two years ago and have been doing pretty well for the last 8 to 10 months. Lately, I’ve been feeling anxious again though. I’ve always had a tough time classifying what happened to me as abuse because it was a friendship, not a romantic relationship, and there was no physical violence. What I do know is that his behavior turned cruel and manipulative as soon as he started dating someone. I was deeply depressed and on the verge of suicide for about a year because of how this couple treated me. After a few weeks of no-contact, I finally started to see how I was being manipulated and covertly abused. It took me some time to finally be able to tell some close friends what had happened. They’ve been supportive, but I feel afraid to talk too much about it because I don’t want to be seen as “the crazy one.”

    I work at a fairly large arts complex, and recently this ex-friend has been coming around to seek freelance work there. It makes me super anxious (and I kind of see it as boundary-busting), but I deal with it. One of the groups he’s been working with just finished a big project and there’s pictures of him all over my corner of my social network (I have him blocked, but we have a large amount of mutual friends). What really bothers me is that he seems so successful and together. I realize that most of social network is a big “best of” program where people put very little focus on their shortcomings, but it still messes with my head. If he’s this happy, creative, successful guy and I’m still picking up the shattered pieces of my soul and desperately trying to trust again, maybe it was me that screwed everything up. Maybe I am as crazy as he said I was after all. I guess I’m filled with a lot of doubt right now.

  50. I have been in a very close intense relationship with a divorced woman for 8 yrs. Her father was a terribly abusive man. She married a man who put her down for their entire marriage then had an affair with her co worker in their own business and they are now married. Periodically she pulls away, withdraws and goes silent and won’t talk to me.

    It’s now been a month and no headway. Way too much to type. How do I win her trust and break down this wall. We love each other. She is my best friend. I am her best friend. She won’t talk to me because she knows when our hands touch she will not be able to say no because she loves me too. She has said to me that she never knew how a man should treat a woman until she met me. I love her with all of my heart.

    • Your partner is likely suffering from Complex PTSD from a lifetime of abuse. When she pulls away and withdraws, she might be retreating into a safe place within. Perhaps even a dissociative one.

      Find her a somatic therapist who specializes in PTSD recovery. They will help her recover from this extensive trauma. Touch her and assure her you will not go further, then don’t. No matter what. You must be there for her tenderly, be a safe place for her that doesn’t end in sex. Sex might feel very unsafe for her at times because of her past abuses. Make an agreement that you will not have sex for three or six months, and you will just hold her and touch her lovingly and tenderly, not sexually. During that time, get her into trauma recovery therapy.

      Read these books:
      Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma, by Peter Levine
      Healing Trauma, by Peter Levine (comes with CD for helpful exercises you can do together)
      Healing Developmental Trauma: How Early Trauma Affects Self-Regulations, Self-Image, and the Capacity for Relationship, by Lawrence Heller

      This will give you a beginning understanding of what has to happen for healing to take place.

      May you find peace.

      • I am 25 and I have suffered from Ptsd for a few years which stemmed from a childhood sexual assault and kidnapping. I got into a relationship at 19 which lasted five years. He was really sweet at first but quickly moved me away and isolated me from my family and friends. I opened up about my rape experience and he began to get more controlling calling me a whore and I deserved it no one else would want me. I was getting over the nightmares of the rape, now I was being hit with a hell storm with someone that I loved verbal and physical abuse. He will lock me in the room and corner me yelling, I hated feeling like no way out, it drove me crazy and he knew it. I would get into fight or flight mode, jump out the window break doors to escape. People see the broken things and just think I’m a nut job but they don’t know what happens behind the walls that pushes me to that limit. When I’m depressed he just tells me I’m worthless and miserable instead of being positive. I left him for a year but recently started seeing him off and on. Everything’s worse but he says it’s all my fault so I feel guilty and stay but I know I deserve better, but it’s so hard I yearn for his approval but he can’t be pleased. It’s like he’s gets a thrill out of seeing me emotionally damaged… ugh, I need strength!!!! Thank you fir sharing this blog. It helps to know there are others to talk to and support.

      • You are not alone. I’m so sorry you’re going through this.

        You’re right, he gets off on the manipulation and control. He’s a predator, and if you can get away from him, get to a woman’s shelter. They can help keep you safe and keep him away.

        You will never earn his approval, and once you’re away for a few weeks, you’ll see you’ll no longer want it. He’s dangerous and a horrible person who brutalized others.

        Call RAINN when you have a chance. They’ll find the nearest shelter. They’re good to talk to as well initially. You’ll be able to see an abuse counselor for free to help you with the transition.

        Please get yourself somewhere safe.
        Unfortunately, you are the only person who can get yourself to safety and away from him, and I know you can do it. You’re a survivor. You didn’t survive survive those horrible events to live like this. You deserve so much more. You left him once, you can do it again.

        The effects of PTSD are debilitating, so you need to get trauma counseling that will help you stay away from this disgusting human being.

        I’m so, so sorry all that happened to you. You are not alone.

        May you find peace.

  51. I don’t know if what I have is PTSD, as I have never been diagnosed (The first step is going to a counselor). I broke up with my incredibly abusive ex almost a year ago, and it took approximately 5 months after that to finally be rid of him for good. I spent two months after we broke up helping him, because he was on the verge of homelessness and was jobless, only to be used over and over again, and it got worse. He just expected I would bend over backwards at his command to help him. I gave him money, gave him rides and he showed no appreciation for anything I did.

    I finally disconnected from him and was hounded for another three months of harassing phone calls on my cellphone, to my parents and on my work phone. All of them telling me it was my fault our relationship failed, he’s going to come to my house/work and cause trouble, how my life is over, how “ugly and fat” I am, accusing me of sleeping around with people I never heard of (Yes…even though I broke up with him two months prior, I guess he saw my helpfulness as a a sign that we were still together- foolish me, I should have known a controlling man will always want to control).

    I am in a great relationship now with a man who loves and respects me, but I am worried about the impact my ex had on me. I am very scared of running into him, I avoid places that he used to live in and for the longest time I was terrified to go to work because I didn’t know what threatening message would be on my phone ( When I left him the very last time, I refused to drive to work for fear he would find me and do something).

    This man has tried to coerce me into a vehicle when I tried to leave him, shoved me, and then proceeded to joke about how he is “probably going to jail” after he was done with me, accused me of many affairs throughout our relationship, used to drive fast to scare me, stole from me and my family, lied numerous times about his alcohol and drug addiction, and threatened to kill himself and/or others. I became terrified of driving because he used to try and follow me anytime I left him and made up lies about using GPS tracking devices to stalk me. Sometimes I used to think he would try and tamper with my vehicle and/or steal it. I think about what he did almost everyday, and it pains me how much I put up with. I contacted the police about his criminal behavior towards me, and got NO help whatsoever.

    I guess what I am saying is I don’t know what I have, if anything. I really enjoy and I am very happy with my current relationship, but sometimes I feel so out of touch, lonely and depressed. I have been terrified of becoming abusive myself, because I was never allowed to talk about how I felt and didn’t know how to deal with problems. I was never allowed to be upset with him, never allowed to be discontent and if I showed anything other than happy, well I guess I was the one who was manipulative and unappreciative.

    I have been diagnosed with OCD in the past, which might explain any obsessive thinking I have, but I am not on any medication at this time. I have avoided a counselor because I thought I was doing fine on my own, and that most people generally don’t understand what I’m talking about unless they have been abused themselves.

    It takes a lot of courage to stand up to these evil people, and I am glad we’re not dealing with this alone.

    • I’m so sorry you went through that, but I’m glad you’re away from that scumbag (& found a good guy). You likely have PTSD after such an ordeal. There are done great books on trauma recovery, and although finding a decent therapist is difficult, if you can find one they can be so helpful.

      Thank you for writing. It helps me feel less alone, too.

      May you find peace.

  52. Does anyone know of a therapist between ventura and los angeles california that is experienced with treating the victims of emotional abuse ? I really need help to deal with this. I’ve been tramatized by a man I work for, who clearly has some personality defects. It’s gotten so bad that I can’t think at work. I don’t remember things, I can’t get started, can’t finish, can’t sleep and cry constantly. I don;t know what to do becasue I need the job, but I’m losing it here.

  53. My husband and left me on 12-23…..I exploded on that day and caused a world of havoc. …I had had enough 6 yrs worth….but the worse thing this we adopted my two granddaughters in 08 and took them along for the ride he taught well…it was 3 against one…there was no way in he’ll I was ever gonna win…I have medical issues to which made it worse….but I have on the internet day and night a cell phone in each hand I was dam determined to find what I was looking for…and u can’t imagine the load that came off my shoulders….six yrs of weight…he don’t know if he will realize what he has done after he is charged….I hope so and I hope he falls on his knee and just cry cry cry cry…I want him hurt once I want him in pain once…I want his heart to fall to pieces…..we been together for 22 yrs…we never had kids I couldn’t and he didn’t want any……but my girls is what I have to take care ..I have no idea how they r gonna handle this he is their king….I want someone from social services to be there

    • I am so sorry to read all this! You must be in so much pain. Although it sounds like you’ll be much better off without him, it will take a lot of healing and time to fully realize that.

      May you find justice and peace.

  54. Thank you so much. This just confirmed my four year ordeal. I had PTSD. Just discovered it was abuse. You are not alone.

    • I’m so sorry to hear about your ordeal. It’s a harsh awakening, indeed. Now that you know, you know where to start for healing.

      May you find peace.

  55. im really confused,im getting 1 bit of information from my doctor,1 bit of information from hospital,i have been suffering from depression for years,but had it in control.i was given stertraline 50 mg tablets to take 50mg in morning,n 50 mg at night,for ANXIETY PANIC disorder,n PTSD DIOGNOSED to me 3 years after was depression,said I had?then I started feeling bad gut feelings in stomach,freightning feeling like something bad going to happen?Also I started getting feelings of tightness n middle chest n a feeling as if someone had there thumb stuck ryte in my throat ,as if choking to death,if a was just going to loose concionseness,i thought was going die?sore abdominal pain,dizziness ,pins n needles in my fingers,n lips go blue,cant breath,n if sit down the gravity keeps me as if parylised my body n a cant beat it.ryte side face went numb,heart racing,n went hysterical,never knew what was happening was the worst thing ever experienced in my life,.ambulance came took me to hospital,said panic attacks,i really never thought that was panic attack.i thought was heart sent home said I was fitter than them,made me feel as if was waisting nurses time,esp when askt if id been drinking,i don’t drink.Anyway that was sunday,went to doctors told them what happened at hospital,he was young doctor,he gave me 8 white 1mg diazepam said take another 50mg the wednsday took another really bad attack went straight back doctor ,this time got usual doctor.n he said to me?tracey why have you not been reffered to hospital,you,v been here 6times from janrary about pains n chest,this shoulve been checkt 3rd time.Told me heart was racing,gave me BEETABLOCKERS 10mg,now up to 80mg 3 times day for panick anxiety disorder.WENT to hospital got the treadmill thing,again ,was fitter than them?i was very frustrated no one was giving me answers,i felt stupit.then 1 Friday afternoon,i had pic wee girl up from school,n out of nowere ,in taxi I felt an attack coming on,i had to get dropped of docs asap n got took straight away.had daughter wiyh me,state I was in was really bad couldn’t breath,all infront doctor,so atlast it got witnessed,now iv got real diagnosis/PSTD /high anxiety panic disorder,n manic depression anti social behaviour,reclused cant go out till dark,its horrible,i need therapist as I cant n don’t want medication all life.can I get information on if im allowed to work?or try?with all these meds?plz help me x

    • I’m so sorry you’re going through all of this! How horrible.

      Coming from a person who is not a fan of medication for several reasons, I’d consider weaning off the meds and increasing therapy with a good, trauma-recovery therapist who will give you tools to manage your anxiety attacks. Meds, in my experience, almost always exacerbate the symptoms and/or cause new ones. That said, I’ve known many people who do much better on meds, so it depends on your diagnosis and physical needs. If your diagnosis is PTSD and Anxiety Disorder, I think the doctors are attempting to mask the symptoms with meds without addressing the cause: trauma and fear of more trauma.

      But, if you decide to go off the meds, you will have to take responsibility for your healing 100%, and that means altering your diet as well. For at least three months, I’d recommend you give up all alcohol, drugs, and any drink that isn’t water. Even coffee and tea. Herbal tea, unsweetened, is okay. Go vegan and gluten-free, eating only whole foods and drinking a shitload of water. Take a oregano oil with each mean, and a probiotic and 5HTP at night before bed. Meditate at least 10 minutes each morning and evening. Do Tai Chi. Walk. Keep track of your food and moods/symptoms daily.

      After those three months, reassess your health.

      May you find peace.

    • TraceyFame,
      I am not a professional. I am a 44 year old woman who has PTSD w/Agoraphobia. I understand how you feel. when I read your post I felt like I could picture my self in your place. First know that you are NOT alone in this. What you are feeling is common. I don’t know your story and I don’t have to to understand your situation. I understand that something happend and it has caused your mind to react in a very extreme way. I was raped by several people who went to my church one day on a break from college. This came after years of molestations from a member of my family. I pretended as if nothing happed and went on with my life at first. I then began to feel that despite my intelligence, my beauty and my worth that people only saw me for my sexuality. At that point I became very cold and hypersexual.Never wanting to feel joy or pain again. I was unable to really focus on these feelings at that time. I was very good about pretending to be ‘normal’. I became a person who lived to please everybody.I got married to a man 16 years older than I and soon found out how controlling he was.(He was also a minister). After almost 10 years of marriage the abuse got so bad I exploded. I went into a fugue state for almost a week. I don’t remember what happed but when I came out of it I was in a mental institution where they forced me to face what had happened to me. The anger I had was so great I did not know how to deal with it . I had developed agoraphobia and stopped leaveing my room. I had panic attacks in the store or church or any where there were men that got too close too me. I did not understand why my body and my mind seemed to start falling apart. Up until that time I was not ready to go in to counseling. I did not feel I needed it. It took this to happen before I saw how this inicidient had taken contol of my life and I had to make the decision to try to take back some of that control.
      I started seeing a thearapist and dr. who worked together to help me. I took as few meds as possible but I understood that at that point my mind needed help so I could not let the shame of mental illness stop me from getting better. I fought my thearapist so bad but she fought right back. I am so greatfull. I had to go to a dark place and remember terrible pain. I had to expose what I felt was the most shamefull things in the world to someone else. But with out judgement this woman gave me the power to start to address these demons. (I don’t know what else to call them.) Due to my insurance changing after about 5 years i had to stop seeing both drs. Was i fixed? no. will i ever be fixed? no I think of Ptsd like an addiction. It is a condition that I will always have to monitor. I may have times when things are great but my life is now a new ‘normal’ . I know that there are places that i can’t go and that’s ok. I know that i have a need to ‘control’ my situation but i can never truly control anything and my constant struggle to try makes my life very stressful. I must every day reaffirm that i am worthy of the effort to try to make the best of today because somewhere deep in the back of my mind i question if that is true.
      I said all of that to let you know that you can have better days. I will not tell you there is a miracle cure because I don’t think there is. But sometimes knowing that you are not the only one going throuth something gives you the strength to preservere. If any thing I have said can do that than please push foward. It is hard not to let our past not rule our future but know that your future is worth the effort, You are worth the effort to work on it. It will be hard and there will be tears but that’s ok. I promise you will find joy again. Don’t worry about trying to make your life like it used to be. Sometimes you have to accept a ‘new normal’ and that’s ok.

      • The new normal is okay, indeed. Sometimes, I think it’s better. Like you, several men I loved and trusted raped me. One was a sociopath that got in very deep and caused psychological damage. Now I’m intensely self protective. There are places I can’t go. Things I can’t do. I spend most of my time isolated in silence, and I prefer it.

        I’m so sorry all that horror happened to you. We are not alone in this. That’s for sure. I wrote this post three years ago after the first rape and just weeks before the second.

        Through this blog I’ve been able to express myself and connect with so many other survivors. We’ve helped each other feel less alone.

        Thank you for sharing your story.

        May you find peace.

  56. Reblogged this on dancingwithlincoln.

  57. Reblogged this on 3 Beautiful BAMFs and commented:
    All of this is so important

  58. Thank you for this. I made the mistake somehow of assigning my father the same ringtone my ex had and my phone just rang. It was my father, but hearing the ringtone caused me to shake and my heart to pound so hard I thought I was having heart palpitations. A couple of weeks ago, I burst into tears while I was out with a friend…embarrassing…because he sent an email telling me my account was hacked, and seeing he’d emailed at all was enough to set me off. I don’t really understand my reaction because he hadn’t done anything particularly violent or scary in about a year before I left. Anyway, it’s comforting to read I’m not alone in reacting this way.

    • I’m so sorry to hear you went through that and you’re still experiencing the after-effects. Our nervous systems recognizes and reacts to the abuse even if our conscious mind dismisses and normalizes it.

      It can be so healing to realize you’re not alone, that this is a natural reaction to danger, emotional, mental, or physical.

      May you find peace.

  59. I don’t know if I qualify for Complex PTSD. I don’t have enough free time for a therapist right now, so I’m in no position to ask for a diagnosis from anyone. I’m rather tired at the moment, so this might be disjointed or rambly.

    I’m the youngest child in my family. All my siblings are much older than me. I never visited the homes of friends, so I spent most of my free time during childhood around my siblings. The majority of the time they simply disregarded me because the age difference made it hard to relate. Days often passed where they didn’t acknowledge me at all. Whenever they did interact with me, sometimes they were civil or even kind (I do have memories of them being protective of me and defending me from others), but they were just as often very cruel. They’d all suffered their own traumas and were rather bitter people. They could be very mean; I remember one instance where they spent several minutes discussing the things they hated about me and how badly they wished they could disown me. I was kept on eggshells constantly because I never knew what to expect from them or which side of themselves they’d show me that day. (They’ve mellowed with age and we are much closer now.)

    The sense of belonging to my family and being loved by them eroded as my childhood went along, since I was largely ignored and being belittled or mistreated wasn’t rare. I started to think of people as scary and unpredictable, and the world itself was painted as cold and scary by extension. I started thinking of myself as defective and that there was something wrong with everything I thought, said, or felt. By the time I was 10 I’d become very withdrawn and never spoke unless spoken to.

    My emotions became more constricted as the years passed, and by the time I was a teenager I almost never felt strong emotions at all. There was a perpetual numbness that almost nothing could pierce, which kept out almost all feelings both good and bad. Things that should have made me happy I appreciated only on an intellectual level, and things that should have hurt badly didn’t faze me much. Looking back, I was something of a bully magnet during middle school and high school (there were a few who persistently harassed me, and the number of people that treated me badly during isolated incidents probably reaches the several dozen), but I was so dead inside that the emotions such treatment stirred weren’t particularly strong.

    I wasn’t completely immune to positive sensations or anything, but those kinds of feelings did make me uncomfortable. The world was a dangerous place in my mind, and whenever I felt as though I was relaxing and letting my guard down, I became very nervous. My ego was also rubbed so raw during my childhood, and the feelings of shame burned within me were so intense, that being shown love or affection – while on one hand making me so deliriously happy that I could start trembling and grow teary-eyed for close to an hour – also made me sick because I simply couldn’t stomach the idea that I was worth loving.

    I made a close group of friends during my 20s. I found happiness and felt safe for the first time in a long time. The emotional constriction disappeared to some extent and I felt alive again. Newfound symptoms developed after this happened, though. I started experiencing nightmares on a fairly regular basis (on average one night a month, maybe?) that centered around feeling unloved and rejected by all those around me. Things that didn’t bother me much during the time period where I was dead inside came to effect me much more; I flew into a rage once in private after an off-hand comment someone made reminded me of a certain form of bullying I went through during high school. I also developed a strong aversion to the past. At age 18, I could’ve thought about the good things and bad things from age 10 or 13 or 15 very easily. Now, though, I try to avoid reminders of things from before the “safe” years of my adulthood.

    Emotional flashbacks can be triggered by very abstract things. Sometimes things like feeling happiness or pride can make me remember how those emotions scared me when I was younger; of the way that letting my guard down in a world I considered dangerous used to scare me so much, or how pride was always mixed together with shame because I felt as though I didn’t deserve the former. Sometimes things like being awake early in the morning remind me of waking up around that same time for school, the chain that tethered me to the world I considered so scary and unsafe. It’s a horrible, complicated maze. Sometimes I wish that my upbringing was more singularly horrible because at least things would be less complicated and easier to understand that way. The good memories mixed together with the bad ones just confuse me. Sometimes they temporarily make me want to warmly embrace those years… but there’s another panicky part of me going “No, no, those were painful times, stay away from them! The present is so much better!” I try to keep myself busy and physically active because I do much better whenever I’m not allowed to slow down, but unfortunately certain life circumstances at the moment prevent me from being nearly as active as I would like.

    I’m 33 now, and my self-esteem and contentment with life have improved a great deal. I just wish the emotional flashbacks weren’t so frequent… sometimes they can make me so panicky that I just want to crawl into bed for a few hours until I calm down. I wonder if anti-anxiety medication would help with this? If I could just alleviate this one symptom, I would have peace of mind.

    • I’m so sorry you’ve gone through all this. I can understand the cost of therapy is a deterrent, especially when it’s truly difficult to find one worth their fee…

      Steer clear of anxiety meds if you can manage things on your own, as they’re a band-aid with horrible side effects.

      Get these books:
      Healing Developmental Trauma
      The PTSD Sourcebook

      Read up on EMDR and other PTSD recovery techniques.

      You can take control of the flashbacks when they come and process them yourself by just learning a few skills like EMDR and present awareness.

      May you find peace.

  60. I just found your site and I am so thankful. So sad to learn how often this kind of abuse occurs. Knowing that I am not alone and my experience, which you describe to a tee, was real is relieving. It has been 10 years since I left and divorced my abuser but I am now just starting to experience the horrible symptoms of PTSD. I guess I am now just beginning to realize that he was abusive.? Yes, the trauma bond fits me as well. I always kept in touch with him, always felt love for him. Ten years now, 3000 miles away, happily remarried, and wham! It’s all coming back to haunt me. Disrupting my life completely. I am searching for the right therapist especially now I know I am suffering with PTSD. But why now after all this time? Is that common?

    • Trauma is cumulative. Perhaps your nervous system just reached it’s breaking point, and something triggered the flashbacks. Search for a somatic therapist, or one who specializes in trauma recovery.

      I’m so sorry that happened to you, but I’m glad you got away so long ago.

      May you find peace.

  61. I left an abusive marriage 10 months ago and today I was told by a cousin with psychology in his background that I probably have PTSD from it. My mom(who I live with) says I do and has it herself from her first marriage 25+ years ago.

    Reading the comments, I can hear my own thoughts in what I read. I panic when he sends me emails, that one was a biggie.

    My problem is though, I have 3 kids by him so I can’t get away that well, seeing as he has supervised visitations with them-that I thankfully do not supervise.

    I was pregnant when I left, so it’ll be 18 years before I can even think about it.

    I have been in domestic violence therapy once a week for since about 2 weeks after I left.

    Since leaving I have developed panic attacks and I hate it. But I feel like saying that I regret marrying him means I regret having the kids I’m raising myself, which couldn’t be farther from the truth.

    So good to hear I’m not alone in experiencing this. I was waiting for it to fade with time or something but it just seems to get worse. Doubt it helps any that he uses the kids to keep messing with my mind.

    • You are most certainly not alone. Unfortunately, there are far too many who can relate.

      Although you’re tied to the abuser through your children, you can create extremely firm boundaries with him and teach your children to do the same. For example, he may never call you unless it’s an emergency with the children. He may only text or email in a very business-like time regarding only the children. There are some great examples on how to do this…maintain “no contact” when you have to stay in contact for children…on Lisa Scott’s Narcissism site. Great resources. Read it all. Seriously.

      Just as your mother is also suffering PTSD from an abusive relationship, your children will when they grow up as well unless you start to teach them how to recognize abuse and the difference between abusive and loving behavior. It might seem obvious, but it’s not. When caregivers are abusive or one lives in an abusive household, the love and the abuse generally come from the same person. In order to survive, their nervous system organizes in a way that makes it near impossible to avoid abusive situations as an adult.

      As you learn to deal with your PTSD and panic attacks, as you learn how to create and maintain boundaries (this will feel like you’re being “mean” at first, but that’s just a lie we were told to keep us controllable), you can teach your children to so the same.

      You can certainly regret the relationship and cherish the children. As you heal, you will start to tease apart these things that seems so intertwined. You will start to accept the phenomenon of cognitive dissonance.

      Read all you can about PTSD and recovery from it. You will learn a lot about yourself and what you’re going through.

      Read books by Peter Levine and Lawrence Heller.

      You will get through this. You will heal. It takes longer than you’d ever like to admit, but you will heal as long as you work on your healing. That comes first. There’s no such thing as too much support during this time.

      May you find peace.

  62. I am dealing with what I can gather is PTSD after around 6 months of emotional manipulation and rape. How do you get over it? I am looking for a therapist but the people in my life offer no support. I want to get over it, for the flashbacks to stop. To be able to make friends again without remembering that he was the last friend I thought I had made and could trust. The people in my life haven’t removed him and my mom just asks “Why did you let him do this?” He used gaslighting like he smoked. Constantly. I want to feel like a person again, to make real friends. How do you move on?

    I wish it was even my first rape.

    I wish my moms abuse and gaslighting hadn’t made me more susceptible.

    I wish I wasn’t alone.

    • I have come to loathe the word “let.” It sounds like your mother has made it worse, indeed.

      How do you get through it? There’s no other choice except to die. I’m so sorry you had to endure this, and I’m glad you’re away from that rapist.

      Here’s what I did to recover: cut anyone and everyone out of my life if they even breathed in an unsupportive way. Fuck that and fuck them. That includes your mother. If she wants to be part of your life right now, then she has to show a modicum of compassion and support.

      Next, heal. In this safe space you make for yourself, take time to heal. Get support. There’s no such thing as too much support at this time. Call the RAINN hotline and fine a rape counselor in your area. They were lifesavers (literally) for me in my recovery…and free. Every single therapist I paid to see did more damage than they helped. From abandonment to outright saying I needed to “have some compassion!” for my rapist and said the reason I was so upset was because I thought rape was a bad thing (it was all my ego, you see), I learned that the best therapists are the rape recovery counselors.

      Research PTSD. Get the PTSD Sourcebook. Great resource and you won’t feel so alone.

      Surround yourself with supportive people, including me.

      Stay away from self-medicating, as it will make the pain worse and keep it around longer. When the wave of grief comes, turn into it. Dive into it. Scream and wail and curse until it passes, and it will pass. When it does, don’t hold onto the tears if they’ve gone for the moment, as they’ll be back soon enough.

      I’m sorry I got this so late. I hope you’re okay. Email me if you need someone who understands.

      May you find peace.

  63. I love this post! Some days are extremely trying for me with the memories that wont go away (even three years later), the panic attacks that -seem- to come out of nowhere. I am in a great supportive, loving, open. honest and most of all UPLIFTING relationship with the man i am going to marry. He has been really amazing through everything, he is the only one that can coach me down from panic attacks. He encourages me to be myself and live my dreams the way i want to. I don’t talk about what all happened anymore to anyone really… occasionally with my best friend i will share when i have to fight back against raging memories. Sometimes i wonder if i do have PTSD from what happened and the prolonged emotional/verbal abuse or if it is just normal for it to be like this. Today was one of those “hard” days for me, had strange dreams last night and a long struggle while driving trying to get the thoughts/memories out of my mind. Days like this make me a wreck.

    I am grateful for you and your post. There are some things you mentioned here that i never even thought about in such a way. Sometimes the best moments of healing is when you realize that you aren’t alone in a journey… that others are dealing with it too. Even if you don’t know them personally.

    • I couldn’t agree more. That’s what got me through the aftermath of my assaults. I spent so much time reading the stories of others and researching sexual assault recovery and PTSD, and I swear that’s what helped me deal more than therapy.

      I’m so pleased that my words can do the same for you. I’m so sorry to hear that you went through something so dramatic that you are now struggling with PTSD as well, but I’m thrilled to hear you were in a very supportive relationship now.

      May you find peace.

  64. I just found out three years after the fact that my abusive ex is dead. He was hit by a train. I’m having a really tough time dealing with it. It’s been 15 years since I cut him out of my life completely. Things moved so fast. A month in he was in love and planning our family. Then out of the blue one day he started calling me horrible names and when I tried to leave he pinned me down and wrapped his hands around my throat. Then he cried and begged for forgiveness. It quickly became a pattern. My neck and arms would be covered with bruises. One night I managed to get away and I walked home, diving in ditches when I saw headlights just to avoid him. He wrecked his car, broke his nose and tore is arm up while looking for me. Another time, after I refused to go out and party with him, he got a DUI in my brand new car. I let him sit overnight in jail. We had a major fight on my 21st birthday and I was done. When I told him it was over, he convinced me to come get my coat from his house. I got it but he wouldn’t let me leave. He starting shoving me. I got outside and he pinned me to a tree then knocked me down to the ground. I kept saying it was over and he kept begging me to stay. I made it to my car and he jumped on the hood. I took off and kept going till he slid off, I was terrified. He wound up in jail after a bar fight a few weeks later. He wrote to me admitting he was an alcoholic. He was getting help and he wanted us to work it out. I wrote him back, saying it was over and I never wanted to see him again. I stuck to it. I moved away, I got married and started a family of my own. But every time I came home I worried about running into him. Now I know that I won’t. I am surprised by the guilt, sadness and regret that I feel. Yes he hurt me deeply and he scared me but there was a time that I loved him and it still hurts. I would never change my decision to leave, it was the right one but I miss the good parts of him that he shared with me. And I never thought I would feel that again. I felt nothing but anger towards him for so long and it’s gone now.

    • I’m so sorry he did that to you, and I can understand your mixed emotions on hearing about his death. Loving the person who hurts you is extremely confusing and traumatic on it’s own. It normally causes a betrayal bond (trauma bond), which are very difficult to break. It also sounds like you have PTSD from the event, which is very understandable.

      I still fantasize that I’ll hear my rapist is dead and that I will rejoice, but who knows if I really would. My guess is that I would feel similar mixed emotions about it. I’d welcome the chance to feel those and know he wouldn’t be hurting anyone else.

      May you find peace.

  65. I’m dealing with a lot of issues after getting away from my abusive husband. It’s been almost a year since we’ve been speperated but my emotions depression and anxiety are just too much to handle alone. I’m starting counselling next week and started zoloft. Hope these help me. I’m free physically and I want to be mentally as well.

    • I’m so sorry to read about your situation. I’m glad you’re going into therapy, and I’m so glad you got away.

      Please be careful with the Zoloft. Those drugs are for chemical imbalances, and you’re dealing with trauma recovery and likely C-PTSD. Unfortunately, there is no shortcut to heal from such abuse. The only way out is through, I’m afraid.

      Feel the pain, turn into it. You’ll get through it faster that way. If you run from it, it will exhaust you and bowl you over, much like a wave.

      I’ve written much about grief, trauma, and recovery on these pages. You are not alone.

      I hope your therapist is helpful. If not, as many many many are abusive and narcissistic, fire them and find another. Consider Somatic Experiencing therapy, as its specific for trauma recovery.

      May you find peace.


  66. I’m new here and suffering from PTSD so badly after a 6 year relationship with a sociopath/narcissist. It ended for the last time right before the Holidays, so I got to spend them all alone. He was verbally abusive, mentally cruel, humiliated me, and in the end I feel like I have no hope. I can’t even leave my house. He isolated me from all my friends so I have no one. Now my distrust for people is so bad I don’t want to try to make friends. He betrayed me so badly he had me wrongfully arrested to get me out of the way so he could carry on with a child just a bit older than his 18 year old daughter. Please someone talk to me. I can’t leave my house to go to therapy.

    • I’m so sorry you’re going through this. You certainly are not alone. Feel free to email me for support and validation or just to vent. there is an email link in the right sidebar.

      May you find peace.


  67. What kind of therapy are you going through? I really need help. My first boyfriend I dated 4 years almost and a couple weeks before we broke up he tried to rape me because I wouldn’t have sex with him. My sister wasn’t home and I’d stopped bywith him to grab something and he took advantage… I still don’t know why he stopped, but before he fully went in he did. I didn’t tell anyone at first, tried to act like everything was normal, we fought a week later he said he was done with me and I threatened suicide. I went to a hospital for 18 hours on suicide watch… I didn’t tell anyone about what happened. The next week he left me for a girl he apparently had been cheating on me with. I moved to California…. and I thought I healed. I got married and am so happy but we came back for school and I saw him at the store and I had a panic attack. I was so terrified I was shaking. Now I’m so scared to go anywhere he might be, avoiding stores and areas of town. Looking for him everywhere I do go. I’m so terrified of him bringing me back into that dark place of my life. I don’t want him to scare me. I need help. I’m not the first girl he dated that he tried to rape. The other he stopped too. But idk why.

    • How horrific. I’m so sorry this happened to you.

      Attempted rape is highly traumatic. When you said “before he fully went in,” it made me pause. The definition of rape is penetration, no matter how slight. Regardless of rape or attempted rape, you were traumatized by this pathetic, dangerous man’s actions and choices. Not only because of the assault, but also because of the profound betrayal.

      I’m happy to read that you got married and are happy now. As for your reaction of seeing the rapist again, I’m so sorry your PTSD has been triggered. PTSD can not show its symptoms until years later, which is what happened with you. You’re now hyper vigilant, and you’re probably having invasive memories and high anxieties, if not outright attacks.

      You’ve commented on my “PTSD from Emotional Abuse” post, but I’ve also written extensively about rape and the recovery from it on this blog.

      Try somatic experiencing therapy, as it’s focused on trauma recovery, based on Peter Levine’s work. A Google search should teach you more about it and give you a list of practitioners. Another thing that can work for PTSD is EMDR. Look for a therapist that specializes in PTSD recovery. Also, check out The PTSD Sourcebook, as it’s very informative and validating.

      May you find peace.

  68. Reblogged this on Parrots, Prose, and Poetry and commented:
    Nails it.

  69. I just read this and I want to commend you on your insights and facts to this terrible thing called PTSD. I am an abuse survivor and as you know I work with women dealing with this often. I have a disability as a result of prolonged intense abuse. PTSD and Anxiety. Everything here is true. Unfortunately unless you experience this first hand it is so hard to understand. Especially Trauma bonding. This is why it is so important to shine a light on this. It happens to so many people everyday. In reaching out you connect with those people and are able to help them just by being a witness to the fact that you can survive and move on in spite of the trauma.
    Thank you for a great post. I shared on Twitter and I will also be sharing on the Rebel Thriver FB page. xo Ella

    • Thank you for your comment, Ella, and for sharing it on Twitter and FB. I’m so sorry to hear you went through this. It is debilitating and difficult to understand until you experience it. That’s for sure. Trauma bonding is horrible. I share your trauma-caused disability with PTSD and anxiety.

      May we both find peace.

  70. Im currently in a relationship with someone that has abused me in the past before bring released from prison the abuse that i encountered was from unanswered question by me and infidelity by me. now that he has returned he again has questions rather ive been faithful to him i tell him the truth that i have been faithful to him also letting him no that me being faithful to him while being locked up in prison was the most important thing in the world to me because i felt that i was part of the reason for him serving a year sentence but because of the past actions of abuse send me into a panick attack ? my partner believes that i do this because i am guilty of something ir witholding information from him i know i havent been unfaithful to him but he doesnt because everytime i go into a overwelming panick attack

    • You are not responsible for his choices that landed him in prison! Predators and abusers like this guy love to try to make other people responsible for their poor choices. It’s always someone else’s fault. They also love to make infidelity accusations. It’s part of the way they control through fear.

      It is not your fault. If you can, get away from this guy. Cut him out completely. Don’t answer his calls or emails. Block him from social networks. Go into NO CONTACT MODE immediately. Look up a women’s shelter or domestic violence center in your area. They are very helpful and give you validation and the tools to get away. If you don’t know how to find them, call, and they’ll put you in touch with someone in your area.

      May you find peace.

  71. My ex husband passed away in 2008 he was emotionally abusive made me feel bad about myself cheated on me many times I met my currant husband in 2010 he treats me like a princess. But since we met he noticed I have fears of the dark, being left alone, I often dream of my ex still being alive and cussing me waking up in a bad mood, forgetfulness double checking everything I do. My doc put me on meds for PTSD which I thought was just soldiers too. I’m hoping I get better because i have a good life now!

    • I’m so happy to hear you have a good life now. That’s often when PTSD rears it’s head, once you’re safe because you’re no longer in survival mode. PTSD is serious, and it’s often thought to just be what soldiers experience. However, any trauma can cause PTSD, especially prolonged trauma like you experienced. I’m so sorry you had to endure that. You likely have what they call C-PTSD: Complex PTSD. It results from prolonged, habitual abuse or trauma.

      May you find peace.

  72. I just found out today that I have PTSD symptoms after an abusive relationship that only lasted a year. That was 15 years ago! I’m so grateful to have found this blog. It makes me feel validated! Thank God I got away when I did, but now I’ve been married to a wonderful man for 10 years. It’s time to deal with the PTSD so I can bring healing to my marriage.

    • I’m so pleased you got away and are married to a wonderful person now. I’m so happy my words helped and you feel validated, as well. Our culture is slowly starting to understand PTSD.

      May you find peace.

  73. I believe that I am a victim of emotional, mental and verbal abuse. The abusers was my husband of 23 years. I got out of the relationship over 6 months ago. I honestly didn’t know I was a victim until a friend gave me a pamphlet in regards to abuse. The more I read, the more I realized That was me they were talking about. The abuse is causing me to lash out at the wrong people , that don’t deserve it whatsoever and I feel horrible for doing it. I need help before I lose those who really and truly care about me and love me.

    • I am so sorry you went through this. Many people don’t know they’ve been a victim of abuse or even sexual assault. We’ve been socially conditioned to minimize abuse and apologize for assault in most cases. Only about 25% of rape victims whose experience meets the legal definition of rape consider themselves rape victims. We’ve been that brainwashed, especially as women.

      Emotional and verbal abuse are even worse, especially if it’s the only thing you’ve ever known.

      I’m so pleased you have a friend who helped you see. Call RAINN and they will get you in touch with a local woman’s shelter with free counseling. You likely have PTSD, so read about it as much as you can and focus solely on yourself.

  74. I was in an emotionally abusive relationship with my ex. The relationship started out fine, but very suddenly their attitude changed. They completely ignored me most of the time, and then would send me pictures of people self harming because they knew that I had issues with self harm in the past and that images like that made me want to relapse. Eventually I came very close to attempting suicide because of how they were treating me. After this, I told them that they needed to stop treating me so badly, which caused them to break up with me since I was finally standing up for myself. I exhibit many of the symptoms of PTSD. Any time they try to contact me or I see them I start having a panic attack. I have frequent nightmares about the relationship. I also ‘zone out’ a lot where I’ll be very still and stare without blinking. I am seeing what’s going on around me (I’m not hallucinating) however I’m not really processing anything I’m seeing. Instead memories of the relationship bombarde me and it takes a lot for me to snap out of it. I want help but I’m scared. Writing about my problems online is easy but to talk to a doctor face to face terrifies me, because actually talking about these issues is still very very hard for me. Everyone thinks I’m doing better since I got out of the relationship and for the most part I am but very few people know how abusive my ex became. I just want to be able to live my life again without this constant fear that I’ll run into them again or end up in another relationship like that. I’m tired of being scared all the time.

    • I’m so sorry you are going through this. There is no question that you have PTSD. Your symptoms make that quite clear. Don’t talk to a doctor about it, as they are usually no help. Find a somatic therapist or one that specializes in PTSD and abuse recovery. They are very validating and can help you start healing.

      Read up on PTSD, everything you can get your hands on, as well as trauma recovery. Look specifically for Lawrence Heller and Peter Levine’s work. Understanding that you are not alone and there are ways to manage and cope help a lot.

      May you find peace.

  75. I am SO GLAD my husband is dead! I just can’t say this enough! He abused me mentally, sexually, physically, and emotionally. Thank god I am FREE! I am free of that abuser!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  76. all those false promises and hopes?
    How could i allow them.
    From people who hated me?

    • Not quite sure you “allowed” anything. People choose to lie and deceive. It’s not your fault for trusting.

      May you find peace.


  77. I came across this article and I have to say, it changed my life and has made me feel like I’m not crazy and it’s not “all in my head.” I was diagnosed with depression, severe anxiety and PTSD last summer of 2014 after dating a guy. When we first met, I thought he was the perfect guy you could ever meet; CHARMING as can be, called me beautiful, kissed me at every red light while riding in the car, took me for long walks on the beach. It was one night a week into our relationship (unfortunately, I already felt in love with him… how CRAZY is that? a WEEK into it? I felt like I knew him and he made me feel SAFE), I had gone out with him and his buddies out for drinks. One of his friends had made me a drink, and after that, I don’t remember a thing.

    I blacked out because something was put into my drink. I didn’t remember a thing; had no control over my body or mind. Come to find out, 5 of his friends took advantage of me and the guy I was dating let this all happen all the while videotaping it. I knew nothing about what happened until I heard they actually had footage.

    After it happened, the guy I was dating (who was supposedly perfect to me), slut shamed me, told me it was my fault it all happened to me, that I was unworthy and not worthy of love and that I would never find love in my life because I was a slut and undeserving.

    The sad part is… I believed him. I blamed myself for everything that happened that night. I spent three months in my room, I did not leave, did not open the curtains. I did not want to live. I felt numb. I felt suicidal. My self worth was SHOT. I felt if this perfect man couldn’t love me and could do this to me, was life even worth living?

    I also blamed myself for falling into his trap and believing he was such a nice person who would never hurt me and would look after my best interest. I was so angry and enraged at myself.

    The sad thing was… I didn’t find myself angry and enraged at him until 4 months after it happened… because it took that long for me to GRASP what ACTUALLY happened to me. I was too busy believing him,

    He told me if I “changed” and stopped being a slut, he would consider taking me back. I spent months of horror of him going back and forth with me, and me begging for him back and begging him to not call me a slut. I felt psychotic. I wanted his approval SO BAD, and had no clue why.

    5 months after it happened, my mom saw the signs and pushed me into going to therapy. She couldn’t take watching me do what I was doing to myself any longer. I was not functioning. I was not living. My whole life revolved around what happened to me.

    The events kept playing OVER AND OVER in my head, and I had horrific nightmares about what could have possibly happened to me that night.

    After therapy, they put me on meds (zoloft, xanax and ambien) and to be honest, they help, but I still get triggers and PTSD episodes…

    For example, if I hear a song he used to like/play, I feel sick to my stomach and go to the bathroom to vomit. If I meet anyone who even remotely acts ANYTHING like him, I feel sick and shut down completely. I have panic attacks.

    I can’t listen to certain radio stations, I can’t watch certain movies, I can’t go to certain places because they trigger me and remind me of him and i know I will panic and not be able to breathe and usually vomit.

    Its been over a year and I’m STILL struggling with it. I haven’t talked to him in five months, yet I still think about it. every. single. day. My brain is wrapped around it. I think about it pretty much every 30mins and it’s not an exaggeration.

    I’m still working in therapy on how to cope when I have these feelings come up; like I was suggested meditation and breathing exercises and reading or thinking of something that makes me happy or makes me feel safe.

    I feel like this disease is something I will always have, but I have hope it will get better… that is one thing; I have not let go of hope.

    I want to be married. I want to be happy. I don’t want to put all these horrible damaging emotions onto my future husband. He doesn’t deserve it. I don’t deserve to feel these horrible things.

    My ex is completely happy with his life and goes on being a complete asshole and using multiple women. He even proceeded to send me a picture of a girl hes seeing and said to me, “why do I need your fat ass when I have THIS” and mind you, I’m not even fat, I’m 140 lbs, I’m a normal girl and I like my curves and in the beginning he claimed he loved my body as well.

    Ever since the break up and rape, all he has done is put me down for my body, my mind, my entire existence and make me feel so unworthy.

    Everyone tells me HE’S unworthy, and I know that deep down in my conscience. Its just hard to get over what has been done to me.

    My insides hurt. My heart is shattered. Some days I don’t even feel alive. I can’t get out of bed or even take a shower because I feel I dont deserve to even shower.

    But back to the happy part…

    Your post really changed my life. I don’t have anyone else to talk to who understands or gets me or who can identify with having PTSD and it’s just nice to hear someone talk abt it, almost soothing in an odd way.

    I’m so sorry to hear what you went through. I think it’s great you have a husband who recognizes what you’ve been through and sticks by you through it all; lifts you up instead of tears you down. That’s an angel. ….You’re an angel.

    I believe us survivors are all angels and stronger than we think because we’re still living and breathing even though some days are harder than others.

    I want to thank you for writing this post. I think I’ve read it about 50 times already bc I can relate so much and it makes me feel so, so understood and sometimes that’s so comforting in itself.

    Sorry this message was so long. Thanks so much for sharing your story. I pray you have found peace and are healing more and more every day.

    Lots of love your way.


    • Dear Ania,

      They raped you. I’m so sorry they did that to you. We live in a very victim-blaming culture, and rapists love LOVE LOVE to blame their victims. They are repugnant, and I’m so sorry they did that to you. I’m a survivor, too.

      Unfortunately, too many women surrounding us are survivors, too.

      It is hard to get over rape. It’s been 4 years since mine, and I still struggle some days. It ended up claiming my marriage, I think. After 15 years of being happily married (or so I thought), he now says he’s been pretending to be someone else. He had a traumatic brain injury after a near-fatal fall 3 years ago, and that changed his ability to cope with pretty much everything. Since I was still in fairly-fresh recovery (just a year after the rape), it all took a toll on our marriage. Heartbreaking. The one thing I thought was unbreakable.

      These rapists take everything from us. Don’t they?

      Of course your ex is happy. He’s a rapist living in a rape culture, which to him is like Disneyland. He can offend and offend and rape and rape …. and he continues to get away with it. Please go into NO CONTACT. Delete him from social media, block him from your phone, distance yourself completely from him. It’s the best chance you have of healing.

      Please find a good somatic therapist, as they specialize in PTSD and traumatic events like this. Please, please. There is *no such thing as too much support during this time*

      There are lots of rape recovery programs for free. Call RAINN. Call your local women’s shelter. Use every single resource you can.

      Also, I apologize that it took me this long to answer. Something went wrong with WordPress, and I wasn’t being notified of new comments. I’m really, really sorry.

      May you find peace.

  78. I have been with my girlfriend for five years, she had an traumatic experience with a neighbor and later on it hit her. She developed ptsd from it. Except I have been the main source of her trigger I argue with her alot over stupid things and she has said I have caused her much emotional abuse. I want to help her and I don’t want to loser her but I fear I may need to get out of her life. Maybe I shouldn’t be with her. I just want to help. I love her

    • What a heartbreaking story, Alex.

      Are you still with her? Trauma (like the kind you’re probably talking about, given the staggering statistics and from personal experience) is devastating at the deepest levels of a person’s being. It affects her very identity, and she becomes susceptible to further trauma easily. She’s been badly burned on a spiritual, psychological, and physical level, and every act of aggression and argument is like someone slapping a third-degree burn.

      Also, I apologize that it took me this long to answer. Something went wrong with WordPress, and I wasn’t being notified of new comments.

      May you find peace.

  79. Thank you for this article. I am in absolute horror as I read this at 3am while my world crashes down around me. I came looking to see if I truly was the abuser my wife has accused me of being . I spent a night in the hospital last week with a nervous breakdown after she declared her love for another man, but said he was unavailable so she would like to stay with me and keep the relationship sexless, because raising kids is to hard on her own. I told her that I could not handle the info and that my DBT training (I’m borderline personality) was not strong enough for me to contain my emotion over this, while in a car on a 3 hour drive. I was not allowed to question her about anything, she said that was just me trying to punish her . She said the sexless part was because I abused her for 10 years, it had nothing to do with her man (he lives several states away, and is scared of me because she told him I’m a violent abuser).

    For 10 years I owned abusing her, because her rational behind why my arguing was abuse, and NY screaming was abuse and hers was not made sense after that perspective being rammed down my throat for a decade. She established to her friends, her family and tried to make my family believe I was an abuser.

    Now, I came here, because I don’t believe it anymore. When I was released from the hospital, she told me that she wanted a divorce because I had abused her for the last time last night, and that it had nothing to do with her man. (She woke me up in our hotel at 4 in the morning and slid into bed next to me. I woke wide up angry, she started picking and I started accusing, she started threatening and she called the police. I went downstairs, waited for them, introduced myself and told them I would like to go to the hospital because I have bipolar disorder and borderline personality due to sever trauma and I am losing my mind because I am being goaded by my wife .

    They shook my hand, thanked me and took me to the hospital.

    This exact same happened 1 year ago with the same man. Months of lies and deception blamed on my abuse. She stopped having sex with me after 3 weeks when we made up. Took me to couples counseling and sold her abuse story. They said she could withhold sex.

    So, the day I was released from the hospital I offered her a complete divorce, shared custody and no unnecessary contact . She flipped. Called the cops, tried to get a restraining order and had the police “advise me” to stay somewhere else .

    Now I am back in our home, she is standing form on she did not do anything wrong and her man is simply not an issue. She is demanding that I continue to acknowledge my past abuse, and will argue to the point of rage that my abuse is the only cause for us to not be together. I am trapped. I can’t get out

    Here is the rub . We just moved to a small town 6,000 people. We both are very high profile in the community and we own one of our businesses together ( though she now claims it is all hers, BUT if I stop doing what I do, it will fail. It is our major source of income)

    We have 2 beautiful children.

    Am I the abuser? I honestly thought I was, and I am honestly scared to say I am not. I have Bi-polar, BPD, and for two years I suffered with a traumatic brain injury . For those two years, I would rage and not know why . I was verbally dangerous . That started 8 years ago and ended 6 years ago. I am loud. Opinionated, argumentative, brash and sometimes an asshole. But I never try to control her (except to get her to cut this man out of her life. A form of abuse she claims). I never intend to hurt her. I promote her. We follow her interests in life. I put her first . And I can argue, and yell and get mad, though from NY point of view she is an exact mirror (she says she learned it from me)

    Our marriage was so dangerous from my abuse, and I am always on the verge of being a threat. But, she came home, sat me down in front of my kids and told me (without anyone else in the room and no one notified that she might be in danger soon) that she loved another man and it was my fault because of my abuse and that she didn’t want to be close to me anymore. Who does that? I would have had a friend watch the kids, and at least one other standing beside me while I told my abuser something like that. Especially since the man, is the same man that her first husband divorced her Iver.
    I need to know, am I an abuser, being abused, or are we abusing each other???? Someone please help

    • From what you’ve described, it sounds like there was abuse coming from both sides. There is an excellent book called The Emotionally Abusive Relationship by Beverly Engel about the dynamic between BPD and NPD. It might be beneficial to you.

      I’m impressed that you own your mental illness and seek help for them. That’s a great sign of self-awareness and responsibility on your part.

      I’m so sorry she said that to you at all, let alone in front of your children! That’s highly abusive and insensitive on so many levels! This is a heartbreaking tale.

      Traumatic Brain Injury? I’d like to talk with you more about that. My husband had a brain injury, and although it took two years after to really show beyond a doubt, he’s a different person now. He claims he’s been pretending to be someone else for our entire marriage. He also suffers from mental illness and psychiatric injury, as do I.

      We’re all such a mess.

      May you find peace.

  80. Is avoidance productive or unhealthy? I’m asking honestly, with no sarcasm. My situation has gotten to the point where I no longer want to return home, ready to leave a large part of my recent past behind. But is this just burying the darkness, or will space help the healing process?

    I don’t want to get too far into it, but my PTSD stems from emotional abuse from a step parent.

    • That’s a great question, Brian. It depends on the type of avoidance and why you’re avoiding. If you’ve been traumatized, as you’ve been, it’s very healthy to stay away from the abusers to heal. Avoid those people and situations that trigger you until you’re further along in the healing process.

      After my traumas, I cut nearly everyone out of my life if they were in the least bit unsupportive or cruel. No time for that bullshit anymore. It’s part of healing for PTSD. Seek out therapy, especially somatic healing from a specialist.

      If you’re avoiding your feelings and facing the grief and trauma, that’s problematic. Escaping through drugs, alcohol, sex, or other types of avoidance will exacerbate the problem in the long run. You must work through the pain. Let in come in waves and dive into it. You will see it’s not bottomless, and it will pass soon. . .until the next wave. Those waves will come further and farther between over the months and years.

      That’s how you heal.

      May you find peace.

  81. […] Unclean language? Damaging the emotional health of another person is never a good thing, and can cause a host of mental disabilities such as PTSD. Adultery? The emotional fall out of that betrayal of trust causes issues in the relationship if […]

  82. […] abuse is tricky, and insidious. As blogger O.M. Grey says in her post on PTSD and emotional abuse: “…(it) is hard to recognize and even […]

  83. I needed this.

  84. I have been experiencing sudden flashbacks to my last relationship for the past couple of months. I would see something or hear something that triggered me and suddenly I couldn’t breathe and started crying. I don’t know why I get so affected by the little things that remind me of the relationship but I’m scared that whatever is wrong with me, I can’t fix.

    • It’s probably PTSD. There are loads of great books, websites, and resources. It helps to understand, then you can start healing.

  85. I am really worried after reading this. I am ending a very emotionally abusive relationship with someone exactly like this to a T. The scary part is he is actually an auctioneer, a real one by trade. It seriously made me question if it is the same man.

    • I’m so sorry to hear this happened to you. I’m glad you’re getting out of it. Watch the betrayal bond. It’s extremely strong, but you got this.

  86. I a realizing I have PTSD. I fell in love with a charming man like this. 13 years ago. But it took me 13 years of running away from the relationship before it became serious. We used to “hook up” and have amazing sex. He always made me feel loved and I did love him. But I never gave him a real chance before, I never took him seriously. I decided to give him a chance after seeing him and still feeling hopelessly attracted to him. He convinced me to move to the middle of the Pacific Ocean with him, and we were engaged so suddenly. After a month, his emotional manipulation and abide turned physical. Then he started to rape me. No meant nothing, he would threaten to kill me if I didn’t let him do it. Sometimes he would choke me until I could no longer breathe. I managed to escape my abuser, but if I hadn’t flown across the ocean, and all of the USA, I would never have left him successfully alone. Sometimes he calls me. I don’t always answer, but sometimes I do. Then I can’t sleep that night because I have anxiety, and fear that he’s going to grab me the moment I fall asleep. I have to constantly remind myself where I am, and that I’m okay now. He’s not here. I’m not there…

    • I’m am so sorry this happened to you. I also apologize it took me this long to reply. I didn’t get the email notification, so I didn’t see it until today.

      You have PTSD for sure. Please call RAINN for support in recovering from these horrific acts, and you should also seek out a therapist who specializes in PTSD or somatic experiencing. There are lots of free resources for abused women and rape survivors. Use them. There is no such thing as too much support right now.

      The love bombing and sudden change sounds like he’s a sociopath. I’ve written on sociopaths and narcissists, so reading those an other things online might help. It helped me.

      I’m so glad you got away from him.

      May you find peace.

  87. […] abuse is tricky, and insidious. As blogger O.M. Grey says in her post on PTSD and emotional abuse: “…(it) is hard to recognize and even […]

  88. Is this topic still watched? I am currently trying to find out if I can get any help at all from my wife I would like to know more of what a man can do in this kind of event and if what type can be discirbed as my wife since for the past 8-9 years I have been with her even in highschool it seems that I was always trapped by her even to this day I feel like I won’t be able to move on with my life without her. She is the mother of my kids and all so that makes it all the more harder for me. In highschool as it turns out that she was going around and ether beating up or have her friends do it any girl who took an interest in me even if it was just to be friends I never knew this until much later. Most of the bad things she did to me was forgotten because I was just trying to focus on the good times I thought we were having. She has even forced herself to have many miscarriages and had later told me that I made her do it because I would not go hangout with my friends or something like that or even that it was because I was a bad father even though that at that time we had no kids. Most of the time she was getting pregnant by waiting until I was asleep and getting me then other times were of course the normal planned way because she always told me of how good a dad I would be and how much she wanted to have my kids. There has been many different times when she has done cruel things like that to me like stabbing me with penciles and screwdrivers and even shooting me with bb’s which nearly cost me my eye if I hadn’t blocked it in time for it to instead nearly take my hand and recently she had been waiting for when I went to sleep and would “conveniently” let a hammer or some kind of heavy object slip from her hands right on my face (needless to say I am missing most of my front teeth) we now have two little girls but now she has disappeared with them after one of her “oops I couldn’t hold the brick right” sometimes it was a smaller TV rather then a brick but she wanted to watch TV so she didn’t use that much (the hammer and brick stuff did mostly happen in the bed room. Don’t know why she needed to have bricks or hammers in there in the first place) I tried to go to the police about it but in one area we lived in the chief was her cousin and the place I am at now the police said that I would be the one going to jail if I tried to file anything against her ( at the time I didn’t know I was speaking to one of her boyfriends/ girlfriends) so I must suffer with that. That is just some of what is going on but is it possible to get ptsd or something similar by acts like these and/or having you kids disappear all of a sudden like that? How would I go about getting help at least the ptsd part of it. Do I call a doctors office up and say I think I need to be checked for ptsd? I dont know what really to do

    • I’m am so sorry this happened to you. This level of continued abuse has no doubt resulted in Complex PTSD. There’s not only physical abuse, but she’s also been emotionally manipulating and abusing you for years. What you describe about her action when you’re sleeping is rape.

      Please call RAINN for support in recovering from these horrific acts, and you should also seek out a therapist who specializes in PTSD or somatic experiencing. There are lots of free resources for abused women and rape survivors. Use them. Even though you’re a man, they’ll be able to direct you to resources for spousal abuse specially for men.

      There is no such thing as too much support right now.

      It sounds like she’s a sociopath. I’ve written on sociopaths and narcissists, so reading those an other things online might help. It helped me.

      It must be very difficult with your children, but please find a way to get away from her.

      May you find peace.

    • Additionally, you can go to a doctor about it as well. Search for resources on Intimate Partner Violence. There are help lines to get your started.

      There are resources for men, and I urge you to reach out. Here are a few to start:

      Please find help so you can get away from this continuing abuse.

      You are not alone.

  89. I have been raped multiple times, and I dont know what to do. I am drained all the time. I see counselors, and am on tablets and everything, but I just dont know what to do. I have been diagnosed with ptsd, and everyone keeps saying I will get better, yet I havent. I was first raped when I was 9 till I was 11, by a neighbour, and nothing happened to them, and it wasnt till I was raped by my best friend and her boyfriend that I began to get upset that people have been getting away with rape. The police officer who took my case said some really nasty things to me, and I have been feeling more emotionally unstable since then, instead of actually feeling better like I was told I would. I dont know what to do…

    • You’re suffering from Complex PTSD. I’m so sorry to read of history of repeated sexual violence. So very sorry.

      I’m also sorry, although not surprised, the police treated you that way. It’s a secondary trauma that invariably deepens the first.

      You are not alone.

      The fatigue is part of the PTSD, and I recommend you listen to your body the best you can. Also find a licensed therapist trained in somatic experiencing or some other kind of trauma recovery. EMDR works for many people with PTSD.

      Complex PTSD likely never goes away, as such repeated abuse that causes it alters our nervous system and ability to cope with stress permanently.

      You can learn how to cope with it most of the time and survive the dark periods. DBT. CBT.

      Radical acceptance.

      May you find peace.

  90. As old as this post is I still feel inclined to leave a comment. I am so grateful for the writing of this post and even as I type this tears are coming because of how familiar the words and scenarios are. Thank you so much

  91. I was taken to hospital, waken by restraints. I didn’t realize it was the hospital security and felt I was under siege, the next day wife had been told o was taken to jail.When released I had been beat,chained to a metalchair all night. I went straight out of chains to outdoors. I still don’t know what hat happenened, I clearly thought I’d been taken. I spent the next 10 completely scared it was going to happen again. Then I went to court and was told I was charged with intimidating, and assault. I’m still half rattled, but I was defending myself and remember the story fabricated.

  92. Who do you turn to if society is involved with gang stalking your whole life friends, family, clergy, doctors, law enforcement, and trained members of the public in general.

  93. I have lived with pts for 25 yrs. I triied living a normal life but it is like those who don’t understand make it worse. I also tried to get. Help more for my family than for me but they shot. A friend of mine just for his disability check. So that ended every thing. And I got tired of embarrassing my family. So here i am as far away from home as I can get. So that my enemy’s and my afflictions wont be a burden. Maybe someday ill learn to deal with it but I doubt it so if you have any advice it would be greatly appreciated thanks

    • Yes. Others who don’t understand, which are most people, definitely make it worse. I’ve stopped talking to people about it, and then when I do again, I remember why I stopped and stop again. It prolongs the dark times and makes it worse.

      Sadly, I don’t have any great advice in dealing with it. I deal with mine by a lot of self-isolation. I’ve also learned to care for myself and I live mostly in the present, doing whatever necessary in that moment to get through to the next.

      Fortunately, the darkness always passes, but I know it will return. When I’m in that dark place, I ask myself, “if you can do anything right now, what would it be?”

      Then I do that very thing. This self-care helped me get through many dark times.

      May you find peace.

  94. Hi. I’m a college student here and I’m trying to understand what is going on with me before I go to a psychologist. Is it possible to have PTSD even if you were in a healthy relationship that just got torn off abruptly and harshly? Or would that just be anxiety? (There was no physical or mental abuse. I just had my heart shattered and completely torn in two.) Unfortunately, I do not have many people I can talk to about this problem, because I mentioned anxiety to my parents and they knew nothing and could offer nothing. I just would like to not be completely clueless when I walk into a councilor’s room at my college.

    • Dear Courtney,
      Forgive my delay in response, as I didn’t get this message until today.

      Yes. It’s entirely possible to have PTSD from that traumatic event. See my posts on the Pathology of the Commitmentphobe and others. Something changed drastically, without warning, and there was considerable confusion and pain because of it.

      Hopefully you’re feeling better by now, but if not, please don’t hesitate to contact me and we can talk further.

  95. […] When I see Red Flags, I don’t run like other people, I *try harder,* and that is due to a history of abuse and trauma which has caused my […]

  96. im constantly exhausted. to the point i can wake up after 8 hours of sleep and be tired enough for bed after an hour or two, and i have what i would describe as an emotional processing problem, though disorder would probably do better in the description

    i was emotionally abused by my mother and a few other people with some verbal abuse for quite some time ((around 18 years, i am soon 22) but i was wondering , would that even cause this level of exhaustion? im honestly just looking wherever i can for answers

    • Yes, Raleigh. That certainly can cause that level of exhaustion. In fact, I’m certain that is what’s causing it.

      From what you’ve described, you are suffering from depression, like as a side-effect of Complex PTSD from your history of emotional abuse.

      When you’re constantly in a state of fight or flight, it’s exhausting. If you are not yet seeing a therapist, please find one. Preferably one who specializes in PTSD and abuse recovery.

      May you find peace.

  97. I’ve cut off all contact. And he left me with a parting gift of STDs and had to tell him about it and he laughed and said it was me that cheated and/or a ruse to get him back. I almost married this man.
    I have panic attacks about being touched and hate touching myself or thinking about bing in a sexual relationship ever! I’m not sure how to get past this and I’m not sure what to do. I feel completely disgusting and damaged.

    • I am so sorry he did this to you. It took me a long time to even feel safe alone in a room with a man again, but it will happen. Try to focus on what you can do today, in this moment, to heal yourself. There is no such thing as too much support. Call women’s help lines. They’re free and they understand. You are not alone.

      May you find peace.

  98. […] comment. It’s difficult to break that betrayal bond, as we all know. Once you already have PTSD and a history of surviving emotional abuse, sometimes you still can’t see it when everyone else can. The worst is when you can see it, […]

  99. I’m surprised there’s no comment on this article. Just came across your blog and it’s very well written and describes in frightening similarity my experience with my abusive ex who i dated for only 8 months yet left me with lasting trauma I’m still working through. I’m almost convinced emotional abuse is the worst kind of abuse. It is so insidious as you rightly mentioned and unseen thus making it harder to recognise and do something about. It chips away at one’s sense of self so gradually that by the time one realises it, a lot of damage is already done.

  100. I brought ptsd upon my own wife. When i read hyper vigilant that was the word i was looking for. She is not the same person, i feel like i lost her, i want to help her heal but all i know is dysfunctional stuff due to my upbringing. I dont deserve her. I hope she can heal. I am aware of the abuse now, but i feel handicapped , being corrected so many times by her that caused alot of fights. I think i have ptsd too. She gets alarmed when i check out the bay window every time someone walks or drives by…. im a wreck. I should have just married …. nobody.

    • I’m so sorry to read you and your wife are struggling so much. You’ve already taken the first step, which is recognizing the problem.

      Next— therapy (together or separately) with someone who specializes in PTSD and domestic violence.

  101. dr brian neil talarico north bay suffers from a traumatic brain injury, and seizure disorder especially after he received a massive beating from someone who thought he was making a voice for vulnerable children…. …. dr talarico sexualized many young children… dr talarico covers up his crimes by making malicious false statements and lies under oath… dr talarico is not to be trusted around children. dr talarico especially has an obsession, or sexual preference for younger boys.

  102. […] years ago I wrote a post called “PTSD from Emotional Abuse” on O. M. Grey’s blog, a name under which I published Steampunk romance. At that time, […]

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