The Many Faces of an Emotional Abuser Part 3

If only emotional abusers came with such a warning label! To the contrary most abusers put forth a charming, quite likable front. They are masters at winning a woman's trust.

Once the abuser has won his partner's trust he uses a variety of tactics to damage her soul through isolation, corrupting her moral compass, and exerting a false male privilege. He insists that no one else could ever love her and that she is not capable of taking care herself. She is truly lucky to have her abuser!

Three strong forms of emotional abuse that are especially confusing include isolation, the male privilege, and corrupting behaviors.


The emotional abuser intuitively knows that he will not be able to adequately control his partner if she retains strong contact with her family, friends, and healthy interests. Her loved ones will notice the changes in her behavior and will coax her out of the situation just as the abuse is starting. The abuser must, therefore, physically and emotionally isolate or alienate his partner from her family, friends, and life dreams.

It is not uncommon for an abuser to move his partner to another town early in the relationship. He will be quick to insist that his partner change churches, community groups, or regular lunches or other gatherings with girlfriends. He will insist that she quit her job or drop out of school. If he allows a social life for his partner it will likely be quite controlled and will be filled with unwitting "proxy" abusers.

When he cannot completely isolate his partner from her previous life he will ridicule and criticize her friends and family; he will point out every flaw and insist that his love is the only love she can count on.

Male Privilege

The male privilege is a common form of abuse used by abusers within the Christian community even though it is an absolute perversion of the teaching of scripture. The abuser insists upon all sorts of privileges because he is the head of the household and therefore the supreme boss.

The abuser insists that because he is the man and earns the money he gets to determine how the money will be spent, what vehicle the family will drive, and what type of rules govern the home. He determines the music and television programs his partner might enjoy and what clothes she will wear. He comes and goes as he pleases, even to the point of taking elaborate vacations without his partner. He lives his life as a single man and when questioned will pronounce, "It is none of your damned business. I am the head of this home."

The abuser is typically the breadwinner while his partner takes care of the home and children. He publicly claims to value her role and praises her cooking and nurturing role. Behind closed doors, however, he berates her for not knowing what it is to "put in a day's work." He lets her know that she is an inadequate mother and homemaker.

He insists that her duty is simple obedience to his every whim. He rules with an iron fist; too often under the guise of Christian teaching.

Corrupting Behavior

Some emotional abusers insist that their partner and children participate in his own immoral, illegal, or dishonest acts. This is typically reinforced with other abusive tactics.

One emotional abuser insisted that his role as head of the head was so supreme that his wife and children were obligated to obey him even if his commands were contrary to God's ways. He used his minions to cover his corrupt behavior or participate with him. To do anything less was an assault against God and was not acceptable in his home.

One woman described her abuser's penchant for petty thievery. She witnessed him using his company credit card to fill their personal gas cans, slipping odds and ends into his pocket, and taking advantage of every opportunity, ethical or not, to further his cause. She spoke out against his thievery only once. His tactics of intimidation were so strong that she found it more palatable to suffer his thievery than his brutality. She laughs that she is relieved that the statutes of limitations has now passed. He is on his own when he gets caught!

Some abusers introduce minors to alcohol and expose them to pornography and other corruptive sexual behaviors. I spoke with one woman who described the desktop background on her ex-abuser's computer that depicted the Peanuts characters in vile sexual acts. She cringes a full 9 years later when she speaks of these innocent children engaging in an orgy and her husband's lack of concern at exposing his teen-aged son to this. She now wonders what sort of pornography might have been hidden deeper in his computer.

If you or your children are exposed to this sort of corrupting behavior remind yourself that healthy behavior and a healthy relationship will not require you to violate your personal, moral, or legal boundaries. It is vile to expose children to corrupting, harmful behaviors. if you are hesitant to get out to protect yourself then get out to protect your children. They are counting on you!

I highly recommend all the Patricia Evans books listed below. She has defined verbal and emotional abuse in common language that cuts to the heart of the issue. I had wondered for years what was so wrong in my own home. The great IT that I lived with defied all rules of common sense and human decency. I searched for answers but was told to clean the house better, cook more, take better care of the children, and give him what he wants and then everything would be better. I tried. I really, really tried but my life only sank deeper into an abyss of evil. A counselor finally suggested that I read Pat Evans books. "This," I told him at the next appointment, "is my life!"

I could not begin the process of changing my life until I could define what I was facing. These truly are excellent books and they are worth every penny. I caution you, however, if you think you are living with an abuser then do not let him see these books. Read them on your own time with a pen and highlighter in hand. Mark everything that applies to you and then decide what you should do.

Support groups are in every community. They are well equipped to provide you with confidential information and to help you along your way of regaining your life.

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Comments 13 comments

anonymous 17 months ago

Is there a book on emotional abuse that you could recommend?

Mary Stuart profile image

Mary Stuart 18 months ago from Washington Author

I hope you have found your way out. Emotional abuse is a soul killer.

Dee 23 months ago

I came across this article some how, call it fait. As I began to read it. My heart started to beat faster. Like the other lady all I could say to myself is this is my life. This is my husband my abuser.

There is not one sentence I have not lived. It was as though I wrote it myself. I am still in shock. This is me !

Mary Stuart profile image

Mary Stuart 4 years ago from Washington Author

It is disturbing but thank goodness you are done with that part of your life. It has been disturbing to me to walk myself down memory lane. My goal is to launch a ministry designed to serve and nurture domestic abuse victims. I have to retrace my steps if I want to help others.

Gareth Pritchard profile image

Gareth Pritchard 4 years ago from North Wales

Hi Mary,

After reading these 3 of your Hubs about abuse more than once over the last couple of days it has taken me down memory lane and it has been disturbing but useful.

Thank you, Gareth.

Mary Stuart profile image

Mary Stuart 4 years ago from Washington Author

This is a great link. Thank you for sending it to me. The cycle of violence and the many checklists for abuse were very helpful to me when I was in the process of defining just what I had been facing those many years. It is odd that despite the misery of being in an abusive relationship it is very hard to define just what is wrong. It all seems so clear now. At the time I was in a deep fog and was in simple survival mode. Just get through today...

Mary Stuart profile image

Mary Stuart 4 years ago from Washington Author

Thanks. I certainly do hope to bring awareness to the issues of domestic abuse. I want to bring an understanding of the issues to the forefront and encourage the recipients of abuse to take control of their lives.

Mary Stuart profile image

Mary Stuart 4 years ago from Washington Author

I agree. No one deserves to be abused. There are many reasons why people choose to stay with their abuser. For the most part I think women are afraid of leaving. They are afraid their abuser will seek repercussion and they are afraid they won't be able to support themselves. It is frightening to leave. I finally left when my fear of staying exceeded my fear of leaving.

louiseelcross profile image

louiseelcross 4 years ago from UK

No one deserves to be abused. Those that stay, stay because they are afraid. no one should ever feel afraid. You deserve to feel good and happy. Do not settle for anything less because you deserve the best. We all do. Take care.

Mary Stuart profile image

Mary Stuart 4 years ago from Washington Author

Hi Diana,

Thank you for writing. We each make the decision to stay or to leave based upon unique circumstances. You had to do what was best for you at the time. I hope you are able to pursue a lot of your own interests and find affirming friends. I think it takes a long time to get over the worn practiced abuse tactics. Please feel free to keep in touch. I will soon have a facebook forum for women who have experienced domestic violence.

Do something nice for yourself today! Mary

Diana Lee profile image

Diana Lee 4 years ago from Potter County, Pa.

Emotional abuse can hurt as bad as physical abuse, it is often worse. A lot of these things you mention I have lived myself. The constant ridicule can turn love sour. Although I stayed with him I often wonder why. We're older now and I no longer let him control me. But the low self esteem I placed on myself still surfaces sometimes and I still blame him. I'm working on it stronger than ever to perhaps feel like I'm as good as anyone else. The writing projects have helped a great deal and blogging with others who treat me equal.

Mary Stuart profile image

Mary Stuart 4 years ago from Washington Author

I am so sorry you had to go through it, too. Emotional abuse is one of the most insidious forms of torment. I once heard that the definition of torture is that it lasts for a prescribed time and then it is over. Torment goes on without end. That is what it is like to live with an emotional abuser. It is a torment that robs you of your life. I want to help others escape their precarious situation.

calpol25 profile image

calpol25 4 years ago from Edinburgh, Scotland, UK (At Home With My Wonderful Partner)

Brilliant hub!!

I am someone who has survived emotional and physical abuse from my ex partner and can honestly say that this hub explains it all as its quite difficult to write about it unless you have experienced it.

I found this link quite useful and helped me to understand what i was going through and may help many others -

I have voted this hub up and interesting thank you for sharing it :)

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