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I Did Not See I Was Being Abused by My Husband for Over 20 Years

Updated on August 26, 2015
Psychological, verbal and emotional abuse are severely damaging.
Psychological, verbal and emotional abuse are severely damaging. | Source

Ambient Abuse, Gaslighting, Crazy-Making, and Controlling as Spousal Abuse

If you would have told me a few years ago that my husband of 28 years, and the father to my children, was abusive and would abandon us a year later, I would have never believed it.

"That would NEVER happen to ME!" Or so I thought.

I am an intelligent, reasonably strong, outgoing woman with a B.A. degree in psychology. I have had over 500 articles, photos, and web sites published. I've raised two great kids as a full-time stay-at-home-mom who works from home.

I am no sap. I do not cower in corners. I am not "the type" that people imagine as being a victim of spousal abuse. And yet...well, I was. And it has taken a long time to get free and make headway in recovering (as of August 2015).

Ambient abuse (also called gaslighting, crazy-making, emotional abuse, psychological abuse, mental abuse) is about manipulation and control. It is very hard to see because the abuser is extremely skilled at hiding his true nature, lying, and twisting the truth.

I want to share what I am learning about the cruel mind games run by husbands, controlling spouses, malignant narcissists, sociopaths and psychopaths. When my own abuser's web of lies began to fall apart, it took me months to figure out what was happening. I hope to save others from the same maddening crazy-making journey. I want to speak out to spread awareness of this surprisingly common (but mainly silent) kind of emotional and mental abuse.

Need Help? Call the

U.S. National Domestic Violence Hotline at

1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or TTY 1-800-787-3224

(Link to my page with more worldwide hotlines & help near the bottom of this page)

On twitter, please speak out with the hashtags #SpeakOut, #DV (Domestic Violence), #Abuse, and #VAW (Violence Against Women) if it is safe for you to do so.

("very professional" drawing and image by me [call it therapeutic] - ©Janienne Jennrich, 2012)

This book helped me understand and escape abuse.

After months of agonizing torture,

keeping written records,

and comparing notes with my children,

I finally figured out

what my husband was doing.

He was TRYING to hurt us

and drive me crazy.

I was shocked later to find out

that his cruel behavior and thinking

already had names:

Gaslighting

Crazy-Making

Ambient Abuse

Narcissistic Abuse

Controlling

-- Author of this Page

What is Gaslighting (or Ambient Abuse)?

Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse in which false or distorted information is presented with the intent of making a victim doubt his or her own memory, perception, or sanity - having the gradual effect of making them anxious, confused, and less able to trust their own thoughts.

Gaslighting is about

getting and keeping

power and control

over another human being.

Other Definitions and Descriptions of Gaslighting by Those Abused

  • "Abuse can be by stealth - ambient, a kind of background, permeating everything."


  • "Gaslighting is systematically lying to control another person's entire experience of them...not just one part, one situation, one consequence. To manipulate their entire self-image to another person, and tell them the moon is the sun from insistence (including discounting, dismissing, disparaging and debasement tactics), relentless insistence, repetition, even over years or decades, that is closer to brainwashing than lying."


  • "Gas lighting is a conspiracy to deceive. Lies are a big part of it, but there are other elements (omissions, misdirections, abuses, etc.)"


  • "Gaslighting attacks a person by attempting to alter his or her perception of reality."


  • "...this form of abuse can be torturing especially if you do not realize what is going on; yes I believe that a person could really lose their mind."


  • Gaslighting is a kind of torture and brainwashing. Control freaks and narcissists do and say odd things over and over to keep another person feeling confused, enraged and under their control.

    Gaslighting may consist of (but is not limited to):

    - lying and covering lies

    - manipulating and controlling situations

    - manipulating and controlling people

    - attempting to confuse

    - mind games

    - hiding or moving items to make someone off-balance

    - telling someone the are forgetful (when their memory is fine)

    - saying things that make no sense (crazy talk)

    - double talk, fast talk, talking loudly to change the subject

    - denying things happened that did

    - attempting to make someone doubt themselves

    - making someone feel fat, ugly, stupid, weak, sick

    - getting angry for no real reason (which may be a distraction)

    - storming off when asked something to avoid answering

    - getting mad when caught doing something wrong (which may be a distraction)

    - changing the subject when asked a question (which may be a distraction)

    - misdirecting attention to something or someone else (another distraction)

    and more, all with INTENT to distract or harm another. Why? Because they are extremely self-centered, they need/want control over others.

    -- Janienne Jennrich

  • Gaslighting is the practice of systematically convincing an individual that their understanding of reality is mistaken or false.

    -- outofthefog.net

My children and I

named these constant attacks "paper cuts."

One paper cut is annoying.

Five paper cuts hurt.

Thousands of paper cuts could kill you...

or at least, drive you nuts.

In My Case... Specific Examples of How He Hurt Us through Gaslighting - "Death by a Thousand Paper Cuts"

Abuse hurts.
Abuse hurts. | Source

Keep in mind that these sorts of weird things were going on every single day, without us seeing that they were intentional and meant to cause us harm and distress.

Some of the many things he would tell me:

"You just want to cause trouble."

"You can't handle a job." (when I felt strong)

"You have horrrrrrrible headaches." (often)

"You're out of control." (when I got rightfully angry about the things I did notice)

"You keep pushing my buttons."

"You're just trying to make me mad."

"Fine! Don't believe me."

"You never listen to me."

"Back off."

"Drop it."

and as it got worse,

"You're weak."

"You're delusional."

"You're crazy."

I was told over and over for years that I was "sooo sick" (and it seemed like sympathy or normal frustration). I must have heard those words a thousand times, easy.

When I began to challenge him on being abusive, the verbal abuse escalated. He began telling me over and over that people did not like me and weren't calling me because they didn't like me or thought I was the abusive one (when he had intercepted calls or knew something I did not know).

Some of the things he would do:

(many of which often seemed, for years, to be simple thoughtlessness, forgetfulness, or preference changes):

Deny he said things and tell me my memory was faulty (constantly).

Deny rude and mean things he did, even in the rare times when there were witnesses ("You're mistaken," "You misunderstood").

"Forget" things we asked for at the store or bring home something slightly different ("Oh, sorry").

Kept the house too cold (often 63 to 66 degrees) and made us feel bad about wasting money on heating it.

Make the coffee obviously too weak, too strong (on purpose) and then act offended and mean if I mentioned it tasted "off."

Tell me on different days that we made the coffee with "3 1/2 scoops," "6 scoops." or "4 rounded scoops" until I wrote the correct measure on the lid of the coffee maker.

Yell at the kids about something trivial (like the dishes), every day, just to upset me.

Accuse me of "bringing up ancient history" if I needed to talk about something that we disagreed about 2 hours before.

Move things slightly off from where they were (like holiday decorations I had placed carefully).

Snap at me out of the blue, as if I "started something."

Change the temperature of the kids' bedrooms.

Outright lie to my face.

Tell the kids and (in a sympathetic tone) we did not have enough money for decent, nutritious food. in the last year he was doing the grocery shopping and trying to keep us on a budget of $200 a month for 4. According to the USDA, a thrifty plan (lower than "low cost") for our family budget should be about $470 a month. http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/usdafoodcost-home.htm

Constantly "forget" to close the kids' bedroom doors, even when they repeatedly asked him to or yelled after him.

"Accidentally" step on and break my son's toys when they were left on the floor.

Any one of these things may not be all that offensive or hurtful, but they were all being denied and it was happening many times a day. They were also meant to keep us (and especially me) off-balance. Why? For control and power over us.

My children and I named these constant attacks "paper cuts." One paper cut is annoying. Five paper cuts hurt. Thousands of paper cuts could kill you...or at least, drive you nuts.

My kids were being hurt in this way about twice a day. I was getting it about ten times a day, with more major offenses thrown in. If we noticed and asked him to stop, he did stop that one behavior...and then simply switched strategies. In the last six months, we stopped letting him know what we noticed.

It took me only seconds (just as I was writing this!) to find out that this is not a new concept. Wikipedia has this explanation of how small things can add up to huge change over time:

Creeping Normalcy refers to the way a major change can be accepted as the normal situation if it happens slowly, in unnoticed increments, when it would be regarded as objectionable if it took place in a single step or short period. Examples would be a change in job responsibilities or a change in a medical condition.

Wow. Scary.

Emotional abuse is the systematic, patterned and chronic abuse that is used by a perpetrator to

lower a victim's sense of self,

self-worth and power.

(Mezey, Post & Maxwell, 2002).

Are you a survivor of some kind of psychological abuse?

See results

What Others Have to Say About Gaslighting (Crazy-Making, Ambient) as Abuse - (These statements echo my own experience as well.)

These are personal accounts and observances by people on online forums, wishing to remain anonymous.

  • "Victims of gaslighting don't "ignore" reality...if they did, that wouldn't be gaslighting. It would be "denial"....completely different concept.

    Gaslighting is the systematic attempt to erode the reality of someone. By definition: To deliberately drive someone insane by psychologically manipulating their environment and tricking someone into believing that they are insane. It's a form of intimidation and psychological abuse."


  • "It's scary how someone can look you dead in the face and lie about something that you know isn't true."


  • "Gaslighting is not just 'lying'. It is manipulation and control."


  • "The person doing the gaslighting does not have a personal view of reality that is different, but fully understands that they are falsely representing reality for the purposes of deception... They are in fact attempting to deceive a person, to deny reality, by trying to make that person believe that their own perceptions and experiences are false and presenting alternate memories, incidents and time lines."


  • "...telling me over and over, for decades, that I am delusional - that that ripping comment in front of my friends or family was just teasing, or meant to help me..."


  • "He would deliberately work me up so that he COULD tell me I was crazy. If it didn't bother me, he'd keep going until it did."


  • "I would try to validate and verify my reality, but such great pains were taken to keep me from finding out the truth that the lies looked more plausible even though my instincts were screaming they were wrong. I honestly felt like there was something wrong with me and I have never felt that paralyzed. But I kept looking and looking....no matter how crazy I was starting feel...and eventually was able to uncover what was really happening. At that point....I was able to come out of it really quickly."


  • "Gaslighting 'works' because often the victim doesn't recognize what is happening....it is a slow process, with the gaslighting being built up in slow increments."


  • "Gaslighting can also be poisoning or drugging in small quantities to induce confusion, hallucinations, or panic. It can include altering reality to undermine confidence and believability, especially when a victim stands up to hold an abuser accountable."


  • My very first boyfriend in high school was overtly abusive. I remember being nervous that I would not have GUM in my pocket because he would get kind of angry if I did not have some when he wanted it. Is that nuts or what? He was obviously mean...even my friends could see he treated me lousy. I ended that easily. But my husband? Nope - he had everyone fooled, even though we all knew he could act thoughtlessly and rudely at times."


  • When an abuser refuses to listen, appears to misunderstand what he is completely capable of understanding, or declines sharing his emotions, he is "withholding" a part of the essential intimate actions of the relationship.

    -- The Extremes of Emotional Abuse By Jeanne Sparks-Carreker


  • "They twist facts so they can blame others for their unhappiness, when in fact the sufferers themselves are the key contributors to relational problems. But this insight into the truth would require them to change."

    -- Dealing with the CrazyMakers in Your Life: Setting Boundaries on Unhealthy Relationships


  • "Every statement has a hint of truth to hide its deception. He lies about the most trivial thing. He lies about his flight times, "I'll be home by 9pm on Tuesday." But he arrives around 6pm instead and claims I misunderstood. Or he'll say he hasn't talked to his mom in a while; yet, she calls & mentions just talking with him."

    -- September 3, 2001 Gaslighting to Hide a Duck


  • "I was constantly told that I was wrong and he was right, and the fact that I didn't even understand how wrong I was just proved that I was much better off listening to him instead of thinking for myself. He controlled EVERY single aspect of my life this way."

    -- Forum Post


  • Slowly, my sense of self-worth was eroded by this needy, manipulative, narcissistic man.

    -- wiki.answers.com


The techniques of brainwashing are simple: isolate the victim, expose them to inconsistent messages,

mix with sleep deprivation,

add some form of abuse,

get the person to doubt

what they know and feel,

keep them on their toes,

wear them down, and stir well.

-- bpdcentral.com

White Roses photo by Janienne Jennrich
White Roses photo by Janienne Jennrich

In My Case...

Before I proved to myself what was really going on, did I think I might be crazy? Yep, sure did. In fact, I repeatedly asked my adult daughter (who lives at home) if it could me and not him. Without her constant reassurance and the support of other family, he might have actually convinced me to check into a mental hospital.

I think my children saved my life many times.

(I took this photo of roses in the grocery store in one of the few times I left the house in a year.)

Have you ever experienced this type of manipulation and control?

See results

"...there are individuals on this earth who have been taught from infancy that control is love, and extreme control is extreme love, which includes justifying any action in the crusade to control."

-- Abuse forum post

A Good Explanation of Ambient Abuse - (Caution - this video may be a bit disturbing if you have been abused)

Why We Didn't See the Abuse for What it Really Was - Things Survivors Have Said and Written (and my comments)

  • "He lies with ease. There is no pause, no slipping up. It is as natural to him to lie as it is to him to walk. I assumed my husband would be honest with me." (It can be very hard to see.)


  • "I became this dependent, fearful, insecure person about one year into my relationship. I did not trust my thoughts, my feelings, and my intuition." (It is hard to see clearly when you are kept afraid.)


  • "I believe now that he was changing my medications, in order to keep me off-balance, busy with doctor visits, and confused." (Hard to believe, but it does happen.)


  • "You expect your true love to love you back in the same healthy way." (That is normal and healthy.)


  • "I was purposely distracted in discussions, disagreements and conversations by subtle interrupting and demeaning phrases like 'You just want to cause trouble' or 'You're delusional; I didn't say that.' (It is hard not to be 100% sure)"


  • "He is REALLY good at being manipulative and fooling people." (He has been doing this all his life.)


  • "I was once such a happy and confident person... I didn't know people could be so nasty... I just didn't want to believe she was the way she was... Everyone swore she was so "great"... she is the opposite... " (They are experts at hiding their true self-centered personalities and intents.)


Do the examples and descriptions above help make this kind of abuse more clear?

See results

In My Case...

I trusted this man and loved him with all my heart. You're supposed to be able to trust your husband to be an authentic, loving person to you. It is healthy and normal to assume your husband wants what is truly best for you and your family.

The fact is, I don't think he ever did truly love us in a normal way. I think he looked at the kids and I as possessions, like favorite toys. When we were not exactly as he wanted us to be, or if he needed to release anxiety (for whatever reason), we were "broken" toys that were no fun, disliked, and even punished.

It's not like I thought everything was perfect, but neither did I think everything was bad. While I often considered my husband's actions and attitudes to be too harsh, rude, or somewhat self-centered, I saw these as personality quirks. He was a tough guy, but I had seen him be soft and gentle as well.

I did stand up for myself, all the time. I was often unhappy with how my husband would treat the kids (beginning about the time they could talk back; before that he was a great dad). That was a constant point of discussion. He claimed he had no good role model to follow and vowed to do better. I believed him, of course.

Looking back, though, I can see that the change in him would be short-lived. He would get involved with our son in some activity for a couple days, for instance, but then things would go back to the way they were. And knowing what I know now, when my confidence got stronger, most likely so did the cruel crazy-making techniques.

I did not see any obvious cycle of abuse. The manipulation and control were very covert. Lies were unnoticeable. Mean and nasty attitudes and comments were explained away as bad moods, stress, hypoglycemia, or a misunderstandings. Demeaning words were often masked with concern or dismay. No one saw his true nature, but him.

-- J. Jennrich

"Gaslighting attacks a person by attempting to alter his or her perception of reality.

There are not alternate realities.

Only what is actually real is reality."

-- abuse forum post

Some Reasons Ambient Abuse is So Devastating

A few good descriptions from other survivors...

* "At one time you felt great love and passion for this man, and there is some part of you that WISHES he wasn't what you know him to be, WISHES it wasn't all true, that it didn't happen the way it did, and that you could GET BACK that guy you thought he was. I was always tempted to think maybe this is some sort of aberration, something going on in his life, stress, mental illness, and that the OTHER GUY, the one I fell in love with was the REAL HIM. I hated having to finally face the fact that I fell in love with a Jekyll and Hyde facade. It absolutely sucks."

* "It was the losing of myself that caused me the most anguish. I could feel it, like a brain washing, like a vampire, and he claimed he didn't know anything was wrong, didn't know what I meant when I said I was sad all the time and couldn't trust a word he said."

* "...this crazy-making gaslighting is really hard to explain to someone who has never been on the receiving end of it. So, we keep quiet, which makes us even more crazy!"

* "Even after the abuser has left, the survivor is subjected to ongoing trauma via legal hassles, having to explain his or her confusing situation to friends and family, and re-abused accidentally by people who take it too lightly or do not believe this could have happened."

"To deliberately drive someone insane by psychologically manipulating their environment and tricking someone into believing that they are insane.

It's a form of intimidation and psychological abuse."

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE RIBBON Pictures, Images and Photos
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE RIBBON Pictures, Images and Photos

In My Case...

The abuse seems as if will never end.

Once we saw the abuse for what it was, our abuser stopped communicating with us on any rational level. My husband - and my kids' dad - just dropped us completely.

The kids and I have no real sense of closure. We have no answers about what will happen to us in the future. He refuses to admit any fault. He cut us off from financial support in December 2011 (divorce was final in May 2013, with no alimony). He will not talk to our kids without twisting the truth or saying something hurtful. At this point they have chosen not to speak to him.

My son says our situation is like one of those movies where you find out your best friend is the horrible, evil villain. It breaks my heart, and it's true.

I did lose the person I thought was my friend for life, my true love, and the person I thought I could count on in hard times. It hurts so much to realize we cannot lean on that person...because he is also the man who is hurting us.

It is nauseating. It is unfathomable. We are wounded beyond measure.

Still, we do our best to move forward without him.

Domestic violence causes far more pain than the visible marks of bruises and scars. It is devastating to be abused by someone that you love and think loves you in return.

— Dianne Feinstein

What's in a Name? A LOT! - Please share here.

A clear name helps people become more aware of an issue. It seems to me that "Gaslighting" is difficult to understand. I have also heard this kind of manipulation and control "Ambient Abuse" and "Crazy-Making." Crazy-Making seems too whimsical to me. "Ambient Abuse" seems better, but vague.

What should this be called? Do you think Gaslighting is good enough? Feel free to add your answer to the comments section at the bottom or tweet it to me on Twitter @JJNW.

Thank you!

Why I Am Sharing My Story...

"I decided it is better to scream. Silence is the real crime

against humanity."

-Nadezhda Mandelstam

Thank you for visiting. I hope this page helps you or someone you know avoid or escape an abusive atmosphere.

To my online and real life friends and family: All of you are so caring, loving and nurturing. You help me on the path to freedom from pain every single day. Thank you so very much. You make a difference.

The secret to having a good marriage is to understand that

marriage must be total,

it must be permanent,

and it must be equal.

-- Frank Pittman

Sources & Disclosures

Sources:

Families Against Court Travesties, http://www.factscourtwatch.org/Emotional-Psycholog...

Dealing with Toxic People, http://dealingwithtoxicpeople.blogspot.com/2010/04...

Identify "The Gaslight Effect" March 19, 2009 by Robin Stern, Ph.D., Psychology Today Online

Gaslighting, http://www.eqi.org/gaslighting.htm

Gaslighting is Psychological Abuse, July 23, 2009, Cassandra, Voice of Cassandra

Disclosure: Janienne Jennrich is a domestic abuse survivor with a B.A. degree in psychology (the survivor part being most important to this page). She is not a mental health professional.

If you or someone you know is being abused, please - when you are ready - contact your doctor, local abuse program, YWCA in the USA, or someone who can help you get help, safely. You deserve kindness and respect.

deadbeat

-adjective, a parent who neglects parental responsibilities, esp. one who does not pay child support: deadbeat dad.

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    • Andosia profile image

      Andosia 23 months ago

      I didn't see it either.

      18 years.

      It was like watching some horrifying balancing act, the gas lighting, with long periods of silent treatment, and countless infidelities. Eventually he was diagnosed with BPD.

      I am still trying to escape but I'm not doing well.

      I never tolerated any toxicity. I stood up for myself my entire life. I was strong, passionate, brilliant, so I heard. Now here I sit, isolated, confused, and a shadow of myself, all because I was manipulated, lied to, and abused, so severely, in such a deceptive manner, for nearly two decades. I am a prisoner in my home.

      I can no longer tell which way is up and now... I trust no one and I no longer feel emotions, only a strange numbness. Most days I am aware I am waiting to die, the few days between I pretend to forget.

      I can't believe this is what took me down, after everything I survived. I just can't find a way out. I won't stop looking but it's been 3 years since I finally realized what was happening. Not seeing, not knowing, has made me feel like a failure to myself and my children. I was duped in the biggest way. Now I just want to be free.

    • JJNW profile image
      Author

      JJNW 24 months ago from USA

      You are so welcome. Your words mean so much to me. Please keep trying and be safe. They can escalate and get more dangerous. But get out - yes, yes, yes. ((hugs))

    • profile image

      Carrie 2 years ago

      Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for this. The thing we need most is validation and I've been suffering with these seemingly "minor" things he has done to me, and when I bring them up with my therapist, they seem like nothing to her. He does bigger things to me as well, but these little things day in and day out is what wreaks havoc on your mind.

      These examples are SOOOO validating to my experience!:

      "Forget" things we asked for at the store or bring home something slightly different ("Oh, sorry")

      Constantly "forget" to close the kids' bedroom doors, even when they repeatedly asked him to or yelled after him.

      I don't know what else to say, I feel like I could write a book on al the things he's done to me. He does so many cruel things, then sits back and acts like he's the innocent, nice guy, while I'm irrational and out-of-control.

      I have become dependent on him and physically sick. The dependence is from feeling like I'm too incompetent to go back to work, plus the physical pain I'm in from all the emotional abuse I've received (my family too). But, I will get out. Thanks again for the validation.

    • profile image

      finally free 2 years ago

      Thank you for sharing your story. I am recently divorced from a man that tried to ale me think I was going insane. I have MS and was using my disease to intensify his abuse. I had no idea there was a name for the kind of abuse he was doing. I'm not sure he was smart enough to know what he was doing. The lying yeas he was smart enough but I believe the rest just somehow fell into place, maybe he liked to see me doubt myself. I was a song independent woman when we met and I am again but it has taken so much time and I may never get completely back to myself. Thank you for enlightening me. This will make my journey back to myself much easier.

    • Kalidescope profile image

      Kalidescope 2 years ago

      Although I have not experienced abuse as an adult I watched my father abuse my mother. He was violent and used gaslighting to also torture her. I do not know how I managed to be married twice as well as have relationships that have been free of any type of abuse, my partners never even called me a foul name during arguments. I guess my message is that we CAN break the cycle and find loving, fulfilling relationships.

    • JJNW profile image
      Author

      JJNW 2 years ago from USA

      You are not crazy. He is disordered. Empathy and ((hugs))

    • JJNW profile image
      Author

      JJNW 2 years ago from USA

      I'm not sure if it is possible to be that type of person without knowing. Certainly my husband knew he was playing weird mind games on us because if we would see them, he would change tactics.

    • profile image

      Kimmyrose 2 years ago

      We were married to the same person - took me years to realize what was happening! The sad thing is, he has most people around him believing what a nice guy he is - and how crazy I am!

    • profile image

      Anonamous 2 years ago

      I pray that i am not that person that you have discibed. Is it possible to be that type of person without knowing? I have always loved my wife and best friend. But the thought of being the perp instead of victim is very scary. Even though our devorse is said and done and we are not together any more. I can't help but wonder was it my fault or hers? Even now after 7 years i am still seeking answers to our failed marriage. I constantly think of my ex and even have dreams of her I just don't think I will ever get over losing her and in the same year I lost my oldest sister, and i feel that i have been depressed ever since. I don't know about the answers to my lost marriage but im glad you were able to find your answers. I pray and congratulate you for publishing your article, I can relate to some of the things you discibed but still not sure of what i could have done better. I pray i will find answers soon. THANKS AGAIN.

    • JJNW profile image
      Author

      JJNW 3 years ago from USA

      @Opheilia: Absolutely it is a crime. Emotional abuse is now considered a crime in the UK. We need to speak up and spread the word. Thank you for your post and all my best in your recovery.

    • profile image

      VooLoo 3 years ago

      Thank you for sharing your story. I am completely devastated......

    • profile image

      Opheilia 3 years ago

      Thank you so much lifting more of the veil. So frighteningly accurate. I had no idea there was a name for the evil methods my husband used. It is impossible to explain to someone who hasn't experienced it without feeling like you must sound like the crazy he says you are. And even if you get out, if the physical abuse doesn't stack up, he still gets to torture you through your children.

      This is the worst kind of abuse because as a victim, you are left with no damage weighty enough, visible enough, to be afforded the protection other victims can get. I used to hope someday he would just beat me instead, so I could prove i wasn't crazy and the kids and I really did need to leave. Finally it did progress, (though he was equally sneaky here, with technicalities and excuses for everything. i.e. "she started it" or "I never Hit her"). Because i finally endured some physical pain in addition to the rest, Maybe, I Might be able to use courts to protect my kids from being tortured by him x number of weekends and holidays til their grown. Without that one little chance, I would feel sunk. How do we get more understanding and help for victims of this, dare I say it...Crime?

    • Aladdins Cave profile image

      Aladdins Cave 3 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

      Great lens. Well done. Keep at it !!!

      I have tweeted this, and will do again later

      Cheers from DOWNUNDER

    • JJNW profile image
      Author

      JJNW 3 years ago from USA

      @HVABastard: My kids and I are not financially stable by a long shot, but we are safe and healing. If I had known what was going to happen in the long run, I would have liked to have stashed away some money. That being said, your safety and the safety of your child are the most important. Maybe try calling a hotline where people are trained in helping women escape abuse. There ARE options. It's a challenge, but we can do this. Best wishes.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 3 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I know that sometimes my husband and I have some difficulties but we try very hard to be more understanding. I suppose some people have not learned how to do this and it is a pity you landed with one. I hope that the future will be better for you and your kids.

    • profile image

      HVABastard 3 years ago

      Thank you so much! I really felt like I was going crazy. I have from the getgo felt like their was something off about how my husband treated me. I have been afraid to talk on the phone with friends or family because he would get subtly angry even though he talks for at least an hour daily with his family. I am an MD and he literally does not even have a GED however I have been walking around feeling like I am worth less, not good enough for him, ugly and unattractive. He made a plastic surgery list of body parts I could get fixed once I finished residency and was making a doctor's salary. He throws me off balance by alternating between cruel and mean and kind and compassionate. When I try to express how hurt I am by any mean actions during his "kind" moments he instantly goes back to being icy cold and mean so that now I have become reluctant to mention anything that bothers me. On numerous occasions I have tried to talk about how I feel depressed and he either ignores me or listens for a second and then changes the subject. I think a real wake up call for me happened a month ago when I left my last licensing exam feeling like I failed because I literally had not studied because I was subconsciously afraid of displeasing him by spending time studying instead of being attentive to him. I complained that I felt like his behavior was controlling and he casually stated that he already controlled me. He makes cruel comments to me and then acts like he was joking and I am overreacting. I won't even talk about sex between us. It has left me so psychologically scarred that I cannot imagine ever sharing that intimacy with another man without wanting to hide. I know I am not ugly but I feel very, very ugly with him. The problem is that we have a beautiful 4 yo boy that I cannot take care of during residency without his help so I do not know how to survive and appease him so that he will stay long enough for me to finish and be financially stable. Any ideas anyone?

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      JJNW 3 years ago from USA

      @anonymous: Thanks so much. Hugs back, too. : ) I was around a lot of people most of our marriage, but he was a master at hiding manipulation and control. I think it got worse towards the end, too - and way more obvious. The kids and I have pretty much walked away with nothing, for sure. We are trying to move on, but it is very hard. No, he does not want to change or even acknowledge that he is the problem (even with all three of us begging in front of a psychologist... sigh).

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      anonymous 3 years ago

      I am speechless! Of course, I had no idea you were going through any of this, and apparently for a very long time neither did you. I can relate to just a small number of the behaviors but I am not being subjected to most of the stuff you went through. I had moments when I questioned what I believed to be true, get tired of him always needing to be right, and supposed to be able to read his mind. I feel trapped at home at times, but I think these are just incidental and not an attempt to drive me crazy. I wonder if you could have been more aware if you had not been at home for so much of the time. If you had been interracting with others in a work situation on a regular basis, and been able to mention some of the behaviors to other women, they may have been in a position to advise you that it was not normal.

      Anyway, the worst of this is over. He has very little control over you now. Even if you and the kids have to walk away with nothing, it is better than staying in such a situation. Sadly, he will most likely find another 'victim' and start all over again. From my understanding his behavior is not something he wants to change. {{{{hugs}}}}

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      JJNW 3 years ago from USA

      @EannHill: I was advised not to try. Maybe in the future the courts will get it, but right now, they just don't. I heard that in Europe psychological abuse is now a crime. I hope more places will start to see it. All we can do in the meantime is present the facts, like the empty bank account. My (now ex) husband lies with ease too, and it is had to beat someone at something that comes second nature to them. Sigh. Best of luck.

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      JJNW 3 years ago from USA

      @anonymous: A lot of the answer lies in Personality Disorders. I think they are much more common than the public currently sees. Try reading about Narcissistic Personality Disorder and also about Psychopaths.

      I was very "sick" a lot of the time I was married. Interesting how I have not been to a doctor now in over a year. Hmmmm....

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      JJNW 3 years ago from USA

      @anonymous: Hi Renee - I am sorry not to have responded sooner. My computer died and I was offline for a while.

      When the kids and I left, we escaped to my Mom's house for a month and a half. It helped me to be surrounded by "normalcy" and people who show love in a normal way.

      The domestic violence women's shelters are one place to go. They vary a lot, but I was able to find one. The YWCA has meetings and advocates. They helped me a lot.

      Please be careful as it can be very dangerous to be around someone who has dropped their "mask" and has nothing to hide.

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      JJNW 3 years ago from USA

      @anonymous: Lisa, I mourn too. OUR love was real. We love the man we thought he was, I guess. It hurts so bad, I know. All we can do is take care of ourselves and keep walking forward, sometimes. This experience has spun the whole world for me, and rebuilding is incredibly hard. It IS happening, though. ((Hugs))

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      JJNW 3 years ago from USA

      @anonymous: If you call a domestic violence hotline you can find a trained advocate to help. They can at least listen and may help you sort things out and help you make a plan to get out safely. I know it's so hard. Keeping good notes helped me sort out what was real. All the best to you.

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      JJNW 3 years ago from USA

      @anonymous: Wow. What an incredible post. Thanks you so much. You made my week.

      It is so weird (that's an understatement!). I am still afraid no one will believe me. Some people (my ex mother-in-law for instance) just turned on me. But my kids and I know who in our lives is supportive. You are not alone. It may take a while for the masses to understand that this type of strange mind control is going on... but a lot of us do. I am so honored to have helped you in some small way and I so appreciate your telling me so.

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      JJNW 3 years ago from USA

      @anonymous: You are special too, Karla. Please take care of yourself and get away.

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      anonymous 3 years ago

      @JJNW: My father used to tell me I was lucky he fed me. My mother used me to deflect abuse from herself by "telling" on me... No crime was too small to be reported. to this day they continue to say and do preposterous things. My father calls me evil and delusional. try to remember that the most important part of being strong is having a good solid identity and many people in your life. If your abusers isolate you it will be hard to put yourself together in time to attract anything more than pity parties or more abusers.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      I have been a victim of domestic violence in my first marriage as well as my current marriage and after reading this information I can clearly see some of the manipulating tactics that have been used on me as well as my step-daughter. The worse of it is there was a period of time when I became abusive verbally to my step-daughter and wish I never did. I love this little girl and she is precious to me and once I realized what I had done, I felt ashamed and asked God to forgive me and now have a healthier relationship with her.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      My husband of 28 years recently left me and our teenage son for someone who is 20 years his junior. Throughout the marriage he used this ambient abuse to control me and was beginning to use it on our son. He could be quite loving at times and then just switch off, I found it unsettling at the best of times but when I recognised what was happening I began to turn the table on him by pointing out his short comings and laugh.

      Hence him leaving I suppose, his new victim will soon be a party to this game because she's fresh blood and young, although she played a part of splitting the marriage I can't help to feel sorry for the poor creature. It is a month since my husband left us but looking back I wouldn't wish this form of abuse on anyone, I'm well rid!!!

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Thank you for your post. I am also a former victim of gas lighting and dealing with the jerk has been tough given that he's still power hungry and completely lacking control in my life now and we have a child to co-parent still. Please leave if you think you a victim of domestic violence. The time you put into the abusive relationship will only make you feel more broken as a person later on in life and the time you spend being unhappy can't be gotten back once it's wasted during the horrible time you spent. I know because I left a horribly abusive relationship that I was in for about 5 years and ended it 3 years ago and I'm still dealing with the sadness and emptiness that it left me with. Stay strong and remember that YOU are worth it to he treated better!

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      25 years and I'm so desperate now. I knew something was wrong immediately, but I convinced myself I could change him, fix it, and ignore it around my kids. Long story short-my kids are mad at me for staying but are now acting a bit like that in their relationships. All grown men now. Oddly they all 3 are making efforts to side with him and showing me no love as the worry turned to anger. I have no family to help and my friends, where did they go?! I spend my days praying for help in some form. Therapy is the last thing we tried and it was almost the worst feeling yet as he is so mean before and after therapy, but in therapy he's so interested in fixing "us" as he's telling her that I have a lot of issues and seem To mad to fix our marital issues so what is he to do. It's such a bad feeling as I sit there wanting to scream at the top of my lungs-that man is evil. He's sick and he's abusing the crap out of me. Please! Help! Me! For god sake! I am at the end as I can't go on. I told him that and he said that's a shame cause he thinks he's close to being able to fix himself so to bad I can't hold on as he walks away to watch TV or go to sleep in the guest room for 5 years after 25 years of the same problem every time the sun comes up and the moon sets. I am at the end. Please ladies. Don't die for any man. I am a Leo who was once so full of life, hope and positive thinking. Even a Leo can get beat up so run away now. It does not ever stop. It does not ever stop!! Do you hear me. Stay well and don't be a victim! Your to special for that.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Thank you so much for posting your story. I am trying to build an escape plan to leave an abusive marriage. I happened across this article & cannot describe how relieved I felt when reading this. So many of the smaller details (the morning coffee, the thermostat, the grocery budget, doubting your own sanity & being reassured by your daughter, and on and on...) are exactly what my family is experiencing between periods of physical abuse. I was certain that no one would even believe me if I tried to explain what was happening. Until reading this article, I didn't even have a word for what was going on.

      I can't begin to tell you how comforting it is to know that we are not alone in this experience & that other families have overcome this and are doing well. Thank you so much for lending just a little bit of your strength to so many people when they need it the most. You rock, JJNW.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      So I need to know...do you get a sick feeling in your stomach when you think of all the years you spent in confusion? I personally can't seem to shake this gut wrenching feeling from being duped, now that I'm more clued into the toxic marital dynamics I've been experiencing for years. Maybe it's a feeling of shame, or regret, or maybe fear that I'll experience more of the same. Outwardly I handle it better, but inwardly I'm still fearful.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      I can really appreciate your expression of your pain. The confusion, sorrow, disappointment and absolute shock over your beloved's sinister, really, behavior is overwhelming to say the least. I am seriously worried about myself now, because I married such an unfeeling, bizarre human being. Part of me realizes he is sick and feels sorry for him because honestly, facing the reality of his abusive personality is difficult! I can't at this time, trust myself let alone others, I am doubtful about my future, and I think I have become quite paranoid being isolated by this individual. I have a lot of healing to do. And, I have shame about my experience, because you are right, other people find this all confusing, unbelievable and messy. And, I think some of them blame me to some extent. Yep, got that too. Anyway, my husband left me for a 65 yr old woman. He is 53. She bought him new furniture out of the kindness of her heart. Lie. I just got thrown out like the trash. And, he told me he left because: he cannot fulfill my expectations (how vague is that?), or its my menopause, or he doesn't feel good and I should be more sympathetic (he has been sick and unemployed for most of our 5 1/2 yr marriage) and he just can't handle my parenting style because he doesn't like my children (while he completely ignores his). So, it's all my fault. And I have no say, no voice. Anyway, hoping to repent and rebuild.. Thanks for your story. God bless.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      I am Susan Ellis. 33+ years of gaslighting. I have Myotonic muscular Dystrophy and he tells me I'm imagining it (properly diagnosed in 2009). He left me with no money, nothing and bought a house with his pregnant girlfriend. She left & he wants me to take him back. He pushes me down, chokes me, makes sure I fall and then tells me I deserve it. I'm trying to sell my home, bought with moms inheritance money that he had demanded I give to him because I owed it to him for supporting me in marriage. He told dr I'm nuts and imagining everything wrong with me. Dr even told me the 4 weeks I spent in traction in '73/74 never happened! My cousin could not believe it til she read the text he sends me. I am terrified he's going to kill me as he really doesn't want me to sell the house. Have to be careful as he bought a gun. DV told me to humor him til he signs the papers for sale of the house,even thogh I asked him to sign a quick claim form giving me full ownership & he refused. There is so much more!!!!! Thank you for your web site! !!!! Sincerely, Susan Ellis

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      I think the word "Covert" is the key to understanding. If there can ever be true understandingâ¦.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Thank you. Just discovered this site. Not ready to talk. Just breathing. Just so good to know 'not alone', 'not stupid or mad'.

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      Linda Jo Martin 4 years ago from Post Falls, Idaho, USA

      Thanks for the information! I have a similar relationship with a man I let move in with me seven years ago. Right now we are moving out of the house we shared, and the plan is that I will get an apartment and he will find some other living arrangement - but he still wants to remain friends with me. We'll just have to wait and see how that works out. There are many things I like about him but I cannot live with him any longer. This is a very long story... I am writing about it, but only privately, for the most part.

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      Rosetta Slone 4 years ago from Under a coconut tree

      I thankfully don't experience this in my marriage but I saw it first hand in my mother's second marriage. Thank god she had the strength to leave him. It always seems to be the strongest, most vivacious women that attract these type of men.

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      Ellen Gregory 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      Thank you for sharing this. I helps me see some things very clearly for what they were. Luckily, for me, this isn't happening now. But I understand it completely.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      @anonymous: I wish I could get to know you. I've been through 25 years. I've always known something was terribly wrong but I loved him and thought he was just "screwed up". He's deteriorated though & in the last 6 months the dual-personality is getting more pronounced or shall I say, obvious; and he's not even trying to hide it so much and it's very wicked. I need the strength to get out but I'm soooo worn down. Is there a place for women like us to escape?

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      I've been figuring this out over several years as I've tried to understand why my marriage is failing no matter what I do. I have tried so hard to be the wife that my husband wants me to be, and tried to love and understand him. I am not pretending I am the best wife in the world, but I care so much! But he is never happy and says I'm either pushing his buttons or kicking him in the nuts (disrespect). Part of the gaslighting is always moving the target and not admitting that he is asking for conflicting behaviors from me. I should know what he wants before he asks for it, but then he calls me the assumption queen. I should be more demure and sweet, but I should drill-sergeant parent our sons. If I cook healthy, he's back in the fridge for more to eat but his high cholesterol is due to what I serve him. It never ends. Twenty three years. And the physical violence had it's intended effect, he now only needs to use physical and emotional abuse to keep me scrambling. I can't tell you how many times I left to get his attention, cajolled him into counseling and finally marital therapy, sought the help of our pastors and friends. Nothing helped. Nothing. There is so much to say about how it has destroyed the person I was, and I weep for our sons who want a Dad to love and pat them on the back with pride, and now that I have walked out (7 months ago) finally, I have worked through the pain and the anger and mourning our family's destruction, and the years that I lost myself. Now I am heart-broken over the man that I once loved so completely and devoted my life to. I thought it was for a lifetime and forever. I thought he loved me. I am mourning my lost love.How can we love someone so much despite the crushing harshness and how can anyone be so broken that they will for a lifetime hurt the people that love them so unconditionally? I pray for him, that he will find forgiveness and find the love that he has buried so deeply to keep himself from feeling.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Same for me .Husband comes off as the sweet sweet soul. My boys know the truth but will not go there. Daddy controls the money, cars and lets them do as they like as long as he has his top athletes to perform. Breaks my heart . God Bless you.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      My husband has the amazing ability of recruiting what I call, his minions. I can't even begin to express how skilled he is at it. His family, his friends and worst of all a few of his friends wives that I became close with and confided in. YES, confided in. I'm sure no further explanation is needed there. I'm at the absolute ROCK BOTTOM. So shattered and have absolutely no idea how to even begin picking up the pieces of "ME". I feel so utterly ALONE!! My faith in God is all I am hanging by.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      I found your site today and while it feels good to read, it brings tears to my eyes. I am currently in the middle of a divorce. It has been long and tragic. . . and just as abusive as the marriage. For years, I had no awareness of what was going on around me with my husband. I lacked self esteem; I cried myself to sleep; there are days I just wanted to scream or curl up in a ball; I became entirely confused and feared leaving and didn't even know how to do it. I knew something was wrong. . . but couldn't even acknowledge what because my husband was so convincing. It has been a long 25 years dealing with this man since I was 16 years old. I was too young I suppose, but I thought I married my best friend. It changed pretty quickly once married. Our marriage was only "okay" for about 3 years and then it all began. . . the control, the lack of emotions, the cold shoulder, the demands, and the lies. Then it spiraled even further with years of excess and chaos. He became consumed with everything but our family. It was so painful. He clung to everyone I loved and had everyone convinced he was absolutely wonderful and always telling the truth. My gut told me something was wrong; my heart loved the man that I married who I made vows to; and my head was somewhere else. I began to have nightmares. . . and dreams of how I could get away. I didn't know what was going on. When I listened and trusted, he was kind to me and would spend a little time with the kids and I. When I didn't believe him and asked questions, I was bad and he would then manipulate the kids in front of me beckoning them to call me names. Manic depression set in. Days I could not even get out of bed and nights where I was in such excruciating pain that my mother would have to take me to the hospital. It went on and on and on until finally my body had enough. I was suffering from so many ailments and it was almost like he sought pleasure in it. . .. even mocking me throwing St Johns Wart at me and calling me a "crazy psycho". Then boom, another level. . . threats. I have been riding this roller coaster up and down and up and down for years. Each time I was about to leave, I would be pulled back in with either "but I love you" or " I will become a better husband" or "if you leave you are leaving without the kids". This is when I became almost angry, bitter, resentful. I felt so trapped. . . there was no way out. I couldn't speak. If I spoke, I was disloyal and betraying him and a "bad wife and mother". About five years ago, the lies became continual. I couldn't see through them. I had to go on medication to just calm myself so I could even think to try to filter through everything he told me. Finally, it got so bad and I was down; he got me to where he wanted me. . . basically on the ground. Then . . . the affair in my face. . . and an affair with a man. All the signs were there for years. He had been doing it for years. Things suddenly began to make sense. The lies began to come together as lies and I know longer saw them as truths. I just wanted "out". He sought to keep me there saying I had to work for him and that I had to be forever loyal to him. I couldn't. I don't think many people understand but for years and years I had been suffering from panic attacks each time I was near my own husband. It was a fear and confusion I can't even describe. I have been embroiled in a 4 year divorce for which my husband just sought to torture me. He had been planning this for years. I have come to terms with this. Hence, all of my breakdowns. Hence my emotional instability. He has carried this on to the point that I feel so isolated; he has disparaged me everywhere; he has sued me for disloyalty; he has done to me what he always promised to do. I never understood what he meant by "you can never divorce me" but I knew I feared those words. I have been in and out of therapy for about five years now. Therapy does help because on my own I relive the trauma again and again and again. I internalize all the words I heard over the years. By the end of my marriage, I was screaming and fighting right back. I never understood because I have never fought with a friend or a family member or anyone, but he could rattle me so much that I felt constantly under attack. There are days I feel like a survivor and never thought my body would make it. I was young and thought by 31 years old that I was dying with ailments from it all. Once my husband was finally gone, I felt relieved that there was no more face to face provocation, communication, psychobabble, and torment. For this divorce, I have been forced to relive some of the moments that I cared not to recall. It has brought me right back to where I was married. . . . feeling confused. My question is why do people marry and why do they stay married when they have other intentions? Why do they seek to do harm to their spouse? I hope someday to understand this.

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      EannHill 4 years ago

      My husband has been using ambient abuse on me since we married. I am now 50 years old and have three young children to raise. The court has issued an emergency protective order, yet they cannot find him to serve him the papers. In this time he has cleaned out the bank account. I am fearful of facing him in court because he can lie with such charm and ease. I am screaming for advise from anyone that understands the problem. How can you prove this type of abuse in the courts?

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      Thankfultw 4 years ago

      I read this lens, and left without comment. I had to come back and say something. I hope I am not a gaslighter, I was told for 15 years how controlling I was by my best friend. I broke off my relationship, and even quit my job. Now she has my job (I originally hired her), my old friends, and I'm still not sure if it was my fault or if she was ever my friend. It still causes me lots of guilt and pain. This is a hard subject for me. Thank you.

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      JJNW 4 years ago from USA

      @anonymous: Me too, Erin. I wish we could all meet! Maybe some day! Hugs.

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      JJNW 4 years ago from USA

      @Cari Kay 11: So glad to have helped! You are very welcome.

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      JJNW 4 years ago from USA

      @anonymous: Please just be very careful in therapy. Abusers can use therapy against their partners by simply learning new tricks. If a therapist can get him to face his need to control... that is really the issue. But many therapists do not yet understand personality disorders and covert controlling behaviors.

      My very best to you and your children. You deserve to be treated with dignity and loving kindness. Hugs.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      My sister helped me find this article just this past weekend. I have been living with this for 19 years and only in the past 8 months came to some realization that something was seriously wrong in our marriage. I started annalyzing many things and slowly came to understand that my husband has been gaslighting me all this time. We are expecting our 7th child and I'm very scared. Most of the things you experienced I have and am experiencing now. I also have been a very confident, outgoing and active women. (no I didn't have all these kids because I'm being forced). It wasn't until a chronic illness took over my life three years ago that I actually started noticing that these things my husband did weren"t just personality defects that i must over look. When my illness kept me bedridden and took away a lot of my freedom I had to rely on him greatly and I saw the real him, slowly. I am recovering/dealing with the illness and getting my strength back so I'm back fighting the good fight. I realize I can't go back to the way things were because now I know what I know. It's very hard. he says I'm delusional, emotional, looking for fights, etc., yet I know I'm just standing up for what is right. We are headed to intensive marital therapy. But I haven't mentioned to him that I believe he has and is gaslighting me. (yet) I thought I might mention it to the priest and counselor on my own first. I have 7 kids to think about and no form of providing for them without him. Please pray for us. I can't leave my email as he might see what I've done. I'm actually at the library on a public computer so he won't know I've been researching all of this. I will check back to see if you reply or have any advice. Thankyou

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      Kay 4 years ago

      Wow! I grew up with a form of this. Perhaps a little different because it was my mother but huge lightbulb moment reading your page! Thank you!

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      imagelist lm 4 years ago

      wow...great lens...

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      BarbsSpot 4 years ago

      @Lensmaster...This well deserved Purple Star effort is a tribute to your own recognition and action on spousal abuse. Good for you in improving your life!!

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Enlightens, un-muddles, re-focuses what is real. Puts the words you couldn't express into context. Explains what you couldn't explain.

      Life changing and life saving advice...Amazing

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      @JJNW: My experience is so very similar to yours. Especially when he was confronted, he left and never spoke to the kids or me again. Also the broken toy reference is spot on to my experience. I wish we could meet and talk. I feel like we lived the same craziness.

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      RaniaCalvenea 4 years ago

      Consider this the rabbit of approval like on Annie's snacks boxes.

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      JJNW 4 years ago from USA

      @anonymous: Thank you for your kind words. I am so glad you are beginning to heal.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      i had a lightbulb moment in january, 39 years of marriage, 39 years of confusion, thinking i was 'not quite right'. always apologising for everything, not even knowing what i was apologising for.laying awake at night trying to phrase sentences so i did not say the wrong thing. just to avoid the 'looks' and silent treatment.almost everything you have experienced i have too. but i have nobody who see's this. my husband is good looking, charming,'mr nice guy', to everyone. everyone that is except to me. thank you so much for this article, having the strength to write this.i wish you well, you deserve all the happiness in the world.

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      JJNW 4 years ago from USA

      @anonymous: I think that where she is denying and switching up things, that would be considered gaslighting... but whatever you name it, these are controlling and crazy-making behaviors. Not having contact is a good choice!

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      I don't know if this is quite the same thing as gaslighting, but I think it is pretty close. When I was a kid, I remember my mom asking how my day at school was. The second I started to tell her, she would immediately start talking to someone else. I would have to try to tell her about 3 times before she would listen to the whole story. As I got older, she started making comments about my stomach, that I "needed to start doing sit-ups". I was maybe 115 pounds and she was picking on how I looked. Again, as I got older, she started telling me that I wasn't capable of becoming an electrician, even after I told her I was going to try and start an apprenticeship through school. She kept telling me how bad an idea it was and how I couldn't do it, so I gave up. She wouldn't let me take the bus home from work in the evenings, but would get angry about having to pick me up. Then when I was 24, I became pregnant. I told her, and at first she was happy, but a few days later, she started telling me how incapable of raising a child I was going to be. How I was going to end up with a child with major disabilities, and that my boyfriend was going to leave me, and that the only thing for me to do was terminate the pregnancy. For 3 months, she hounded me and counted down the days I had left before they wouldn't do an abortion. I had my daughter, married her father and we're happy. She's denied most of this when I tried to confront her about it, to get it off my chest and try to get closure. It's always "I don't remember ever saying that". I just have to pretend everything is fine when I see her because "it's all in my head" and I should just "let it go" even though there's nothing to let go of according to her. We rarely ever see her, so it makes it easier to deal with.

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      JJNW 4 years ago from USA

      @anonymous: I am glad you are being safe. I hope you can get free and start rebuilding your life. The anger and fear and all the rest come in waves as we heal.

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      JJNW 4 years ago from USA

      @gracezylb2: Wow... strong? : ) I don't feel all that strong a lot of the time, but thank you so much. I suppose I am growing stronger, whether or not I want to! Seriously, though, I appreciate the kindness and support. It does help give me strength.

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      gracezylb2 4 years ago

      wow, you're strong. God bless you and hope you can move on as fast as possible.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      thank you for this. i cannot follow you on twitter because my abuser will see but i will check in. everything you posted is true. i left. i have no children by him (or anyone) so i am free to walk away forever. but i have a lot of anger and am struggling.

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      JJNW 4 years ago from USA

      @anonymous: Big hugs, Tipi. You are such a sweetheart.

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      JJNW 4 years ago from USA

      @anonymous: I would be honored to be of help to others. Thanks, Tipi.

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      JJNW 4 years ago from USA

      @TanoCalvenoa: How very kind of you to say. Thanks. That means so much.

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      JJNW 4 years ago from USA

      @anonymous: Carrie, you and your kids are worth so much. I am so glad my words could help. Keep learning and healing.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      wow i actually thought i need to be taken to a mental hospital reading this has really hit home me and my husbnad split 5 weeks ago after me finding a photo of another woman on his phone. he played so many mind games throughout the realtionship hid my items made me and the kids feel worthless made me feel isolated telling me people wernt really there for me telling me that he would be but then making me feel awful about the weight id gain body changes etc have bookmarked this page as a constant reminder that i am not alone

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      TanoCalvenoa 4 years ago

      What an awesome lens about such a serious topic. As a victim, it's amazing you could create something like this and use your experience to help others. Well done!

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      FB liked this excellence...20 years of torture, takes a very sick mind to do to someone. May many find the path out through you.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Thank you for shouting out. This was a tough read because I could relate to so much personally and to you, I had to take it in pieces....may this be a help to many, a stepping stone on the way out and to healing!

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      JJNW 4 years ago from USA

      @anonymous: Oh, I am so sorry. I thought I was going crazy too. If you can find professional help or call an abuse hotline, they can help you make a plan to be safe. It helped me so much to talk to people and keep learning. Hugs to you and your boys.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      I thought I was going crazy until I found this article on the web, This is what I am going through right now! this is my husband in a nutshell, we have been married for 11 years with two young boys and things are just becoming worse! I feel so confused and depressed.

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      JJNW 4 years ago from USA

      @anonymous: Wishing you all the best, Rae. It takes a long time to process that someone we loved with all our hearts was wearing a mask. You are getting stronger, indeed. Hugs.

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      JJNW 4 years ago from USA

      @anonymous: So weird, isn't it?? They do a lot of the same behaviors, which is why I have been able to figure this out given time. Some day I would LOVE to get a bunch of us together to talk and talk and talk. Thank you for speaking out.

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      JJNW 4 years ago from USA

      @anonymous: I am so sorry you are in this situation. This line is, to me, the main "tell" that this man is ongoingly abusive: "I argue with him and after lots of yelling and tears he tries for a few days then back to being a tyrant."

      If they "try" and be nice and can't stay that way... then it seems to me that the true self is not nice. He returns to "normal" (for HIM) fairly quickly. I can see a pattern like that in my own situation. You should not have to beg someone to e kind to his own child, you know? It was knowing he was hurting the kids that gave me the strength to get out.

      Please be careful. Abuse tends to escalate and, quite bluntly, abusers kill their spouses some times. In my case, I did not see the abuse as abuse for a long time. If you know you and your son are being abused and you are unhappy, it might be time to be forming a safety plan and an escape plan.

      1000 paper cuts will kill you or drive you crazy, for sure. Thank you for sharing.

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      JJNW 4 years ago from USA

      @john9229: Thank you. Still struggling daily, but improving monthly. : )

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      JJNW 4 years ago from USA

      @anonymous: Dearest Sydney,

      If not for my college-age daughter seeing the madness for herself, I would be in an institution myself. I can't remember id I have written about it yet, but at one point my husband my husband convinced me he should take me to a mental institution. I sort of gave up and started getting dressed to go. My daughter was sitting our bed listening but not talking during the previous conversation. She called into the bathroom, "Mom, what are you doing?" I said "Getting dressed so Dad can take me to the mental hospital." She said "Dad is not taking you anywhere. YOU are not the one who needs mental help."

      Having anyone believe you helps you hang on. You must hang on to those people who can validate you knowing you are being victimized and are not the disordered one in the relationship. I don't normally give advice, but I think that is important to say to you.

      I BELIEVE YOU. Most hotlines WILL help if there is psychological abuse. Try again. I was able to escape to a shelter at one point. They can help you make a safety plan and help you work out how to protect your children.

      None of this is easy when you are living in a crazy-making and controlling relationship. Taking notes helped me a lot and so did reading about narcissistic abuse.

      Thank you for sharing your story and please check in when you can.

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      JJNW 4 years ago from USA

      @Rosanna Grace: Thank you for the kind words and for reaching out to others with your own stories, RoseGrace. I do believe we can make a difference.

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      JJNW 4 years ago from USA

      @RedHairedRockHead: Much more common that the majority of society realizes, sadly. Your friend is lucky to have such a supportive and understanding friend. That can make all the difference in someone's healing.

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      RedHairedRockHead 4 years ago

      Just recently I have been spending more time with a friend because of a crisis in her life, and got a good look into her relationship with her husband. His behavior is a lot like your husband's, it is really frightening. It makes you wonder how common this kind of abuse is.

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      Rosanna Grace 4 years ago

      Great lens! As a survivor of such abuse, all of what you have mentioned resonates with me! It is so difficult to see the trees for the forest when they bombard you with these demeaning tactics! Good on you for writing so eloquenlty on an issue that affects many of women all over the world from all sorts of socio-economic backgrounds. You might like to visit my lenses on called Signage and Stepping Stones (a personal review about a book that helped me understand gaslighting) and Why I love text about how my daughter and I have healed through immersing ourselves in "text"

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      When my respected and well-liked husband attempted to have me involuntarily institutionalized (I awaited Court for almost two-weeks in a hospital I used to work at as an rn) for twisted half-facts, and a retracted Bipolar II diagnosis; I was told in the hospital-under heavy & unnecessary medication I needed to watch the movie "Gaslight". "Gaslight" was mentioned by Staff on more than one occasion. I watched the movie last night, at home. I googled what I was to take from the movie and discovered this term "gaslighting". Fascinating stories. All variations of my marriage and family. I'm scared. I'm always scared and it's paralyzing. I have been abused every way but physical-long list of 'abuses'. My husband will let me leave, but promises I'll never get one of the two children (The oldest is 19 y/o). He's right, too. I've been so isolated and labelled that my family and friends have believed the insanity of me and have stopped calling or corresponding. My psychiatrist states I'm not mentally ill, and a good mother. He wants me off medication but I assured him if my husband found out I was sane again he'd lock me up for good. Note: My psychiatrist had just gone on vacation out of the country the last time my husband tried to have me committed to the State Institution, my medical record of "This woman is sane and doesn't need psychotropic medication anymore" couldn't be obtained. I was so scared and all alone, luckily the psychiatrist assigned to evaluate me concluded, not that I DIDN'T need to be on medication, just that my husband was [paraphrased]-gaslighting me and was not good for me. My husband said he wouldn't drop his case unless I went to a different psychiatrist (one that thought I was actually crazy) and STOP seeing my psychologist, for whom also thought after a year of psychotherapy said he didn't see the signs and/or symptoms of a Mood Disorder. So, I got to keep my psychiatrist because...no other psychiatrists would take me on as a new patient (divine intervention?), however, I'm no longer allowed psychotherapy/group therapy/"talk" therapy. Now THAT'S crazy. This little bit of release feels good, given that I'm actually sane. I am a tragic case. No one can/will help me. Not even the "Crisis Intervention Hotline". They said they would help if there was physical abuse, but there isn't. Thank you for allowing me to vent and good luck to the ones that can free themselves from this "Gaslight".

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      john9229 4 years ago

      After reading your story... I hope you doing well.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      I read your post after I googled "my husband drive me crazy and somehow it all ends up being my fault". I am AMAZED that this is so prevolent that it has a name. My husband is mostly a very sweet man. He was not my usual type- he was less outgoing and not as phisically attractive as some of my other boyfriends but he was kind, sweet andpersistant to win me my love. Imagine my shock that within a month of saying yes to marrying him, that he would snap at me for something small but in a really weird way. I am a passionate person and I do explode, if eg he continually left his shorts and briefs on the floor in the bedroom. He'd deny doing it all the time then jsu block me (ignore me, or twist what I say, talk over me, call me unstable). The fights with us have always been not about anything big but would esclate and I would be so upset about how cruel he is in the way he argues I would want to leave him. I knew his behavious was not normal. After one such argument he walked off and left me alone on the downtown street at 2am and walked home (I had very high heels on and it was winter to go barefoot). Once he fell asleep naked on the covers and I woke him up to cover him and he punched me in the stomach. Not ever the victim I slapped him across the face and my ring left a little bruise. I ended up apologising and showering him with sympathy- he hit me first! After we had my son born by c section, he did not want to spend much time in hospital. It was not comfortable and the food was bad he siad and he chose to go out celebrating instead. The day after I got out of the hospital I wanted to go for a long light walk. I am tough and fit. But after walking for almost 3 hours I said hon can we start heading back now. Why he said, you wanted to walk. He of course knew that only 4 days before I had a c section but he wanted me to say that I was in pain, to braek me because I am indeed very tough. When my son went to day care (we both worked full time) he never volunteered to pick our son up. I am a lawyer and work longer hours. Day care closed at 730pm and it was walking distance from work for both of us. I'd call around 6-ish to check if he picked our son up and he'd be in a pub with guys from work. I'd say are you going to get him and he'd say "maybe" or "what's it to you". I'd get angry and though a couple of times I'd say he's your son too you pick him up, I always had to do it because I love my son and the thought of him being the only baby left at 730pm upset me. Then he'd say he'd meet me for dinner but would go out instead and show up late if at all. I'd call and he'd ignore my calls I'd block the number he'd answer and be rude call me a psycho. A few times I did not call and was determined not to get angry when he showed up almost 2hrs late but could not - it is normal to get angry at that type of behaviour! He does not get so angry now. He's quit his job and is a stay home dad, to spend more time with me and our son (he travelled a lot). He yells at my son for smallest things like sniffling and often looks at him with so much hatred. I argue with him and after lots of yelling and tears he tries for a few days then back to being a tyrant. He still sometimes gets angry at me for objecting to his rude or bad behaviour but mostly he just switches off when I want to discuss something. If he speaks he twists my words and goes off on a tangent and it drives me insane. Quite literaly. I then get worked up and he keeps prodding until I explode (it is hard to talk to a wall or someone who twists everything you say) and then he call me insane. And I must admit at that point I am. Lately I have have slapped him a few times. He retaliates and has given me a fat lip once. I guess I want him to hit me then I can end this as all of the "abuse" I now get is trivial in isolation. I love your paper cut analogy - that is exactly what it is! He gives me half truths, tells me he iis on his way home then shows up hours later after football training. I then can't sleep because I am worried something has happened and when I realise he is just drinking I get angry - why keep me waiting? To everyone else he is a sweet man, kind, everybody loves him. If I am angry at him, poor him, she is such a bitch to him. He never apologises immediatelly, used to apologise never, the on average 48 to 72 hrs later. Now usually within 12 to 24 h. He told me once that he does not want to say sorry because he knows I want him to, I need him to. I guess that is another way of making me suffer. Now he claims that I am aggressive and psycho and has told our sone that I have hit him. My son adores him even though he yells at him and pushes him around a lot. And then two days later sweet as pie and will say that he'll do anything not to lose me and that surely I will not throw it all away on something so small. And the initial object of the argument is indeed small but he drives me crazy quite deliberatly and then laughs and mocks me as I sit there crying in a heap. I hate what I have become. I hate that I have swung at him. I hate that I am unhappy all the time. I hate that he keeps saying "I don't see what the problem is. You are just looking for excuses to end our marriage". Some paper cuts!

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Hi, I have been married going on 30 years, I was an airline pilot, female, strong, independent, smart. My husband retired 2 yrs. ago. I am home full time now. Since he retired I noticed him getting more negative, angry. It got really bad, and I started going to a shrink to get strong. I then realized this manipulation was so subtle it was going on for years. But due to my flying, I was never with him a lot, so did not realize what was happening. Only when he retired and when I stopped flying I noticed his "gaslighting", and it got to be on a daily basis. It started with him not happy with the temp of coffee, to me clipping a bush, to him calling me nasty vulgar names when I asked for a hug. This past Christmas, he took down all the lights (outdoor), christmas tree and ornaments, all my wreaths, just to hurt me (emotional abuse), then he made fun of my disability. That was enough, it hurt so bad, but he did not care. He then threatened to lock me up in the attic. He pushed my buttons to the point of me saying "Get out". Which he did gladly.

      These type of men are extremely insecure. They have no self esteem and the only way they feel good about themselves is to put down/manipulate/abuse women to feel superior. It is NOT LOVE, NOT CARING. It has been two months, we have gone to marriage counseling, he manipulates and gaslights and lies during the sessions. THEY DO NOT CHANGE. I have read people saying to run away fast. I did not believe it until now. After 30 years with a man I thought I knew. I have started my divorce. It is hard, you have to feel it in your heart and mind to know this is the best thing for you. You must stay strong. I pray a lot, I am getting stronger, but now I know how sick this man is/was. He did not want help, he did not want to save our marriage. He was selfish and only thought about himself and the mind games he could play. Be careful. Stay strong. Be smart. Love to all who are going through this. Rae

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      I left my husband (which I sware you were also married to) in 2008. It got A LOT worse for a very long time!!! Especially for the year he started dating my friend that I had met at the Domestic Abuse Center 2 years prior. She swore he had changed, that he had cried about how he treated me, that he was now a Christian, etc...A year later, she is suing him for embezzlement and found out about how many women he went after after their first breakup. He came back and asked her to marry him (he denies that)...just trying to keep up with him (let alone please him) was exhausting. I had stomach aches, his ex-girlfriend swears she has fibromyalgia now because of her year with him. My stories are oh so similar....especially what he would say to you!!!

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      JJNW 4 years ago from USA

      @anonymous: Yes, it is. Unfortunately, controlling partners are all too common. It can be very devastating, and I am so sorry this is happening to you. Keep learning, stay safe!

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      I'm just reading up on this because I wondered if anyone else had experienced such a controlling type of partner. It mentally drains me, and then I'm at my worst with the kids. Imagine not working (because he thinks its best for a family), and then being told that 'Your memory is really poor. You have to check yourself out!' Its shattering to know that the person you do everything for says something like this!

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      The personlity change really gets you off guard. Somehow,, my son and daughter are against me now--the abandoment hurts like death. They punished me with agnoring calls, not retuning calls, writing nasty notes on my computer,etc. I put my foot down to my son through a note lately and told him I was through with the games. If he ever need a mother and was through playing mind games, give me call. My son was once a sweet caring perso I suffered physical abuse from my daughter for years. She was young, I tried to help her and I stuck by her/

      No support now. When she is around me now, i get little insults and digs/ When I go to my husband for support, he says I am c reating problems/ So, the once so happy and proud mom is an outcast. It is the most hurtful

      experience I have ever, ever had/. Entire family gone.

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      JJNW 4 years ago from USA

      @CristianStan: It means so much to hear that one more person sees. Thank you.

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      JJNW 4 years ago from USA

      @anonymous: Good for you for speaking out! You are so right...the secrets are why they seem so different than they really are. Best luck with your eBook. I would love to read it if you want to send me a review copy.

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      JJNW 4 years ago from USA

      @anonymous: Gaslighting, to be sure. Please be safe. Once my husband saw that we knew who he really was, things escalated. You may really have no idea who this man is. The kids and I are very broke right now, but I know we are much safer. Calling a domestic violence hotline can help because they can help you make a safe escape plan and give you help. Hugs. Let us know what happens!

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      My fiancé and I live together. My engagement ring went missing about a month ago and then 2 weeks ago he "found it" on the closet floor. It went missing again just the other day. My hands swell at night that I have to take it off when I go to bed. I noticed the other day that I was missing some important papers...He stared at me when I stood in front of him and cried so hard and said "I feel like I am totally going insane." He said nothing. It was just yesterday that I found some papers in his dresser drawer that he had taken from a shoebox of mine that had "important" papers in. He's been going through my things. I faced him with it last night and basically said "I'm sorry, do you still love me"? My ring is still gone.. My son's birth certificate is still gone. My house contract papers I do have in my possession..which are the ones that he took as well., He denies anything to do with my ring being gone. I'm not insane...he's crazy! He had me quit my job when I moved in because he would "care for" me and my son. I depend on his money weekly to pay all bills. I'm now looking for work and just pray that something breaks immediately so that I can get him out. In the meantime, I'm buying a safe and keeping it in my truck!

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      JJNW 4 years ago from USA

      @anonymous: Your note brought me to tears. Wow. It is so kind of you to share this. I think you are right, They don't understand love; they understand control.

      It sounds like you and I got free about the same time and have the same sort of legal messes. It is unbelievable to most people that someone that seems normal can be so sick and cruel to someone he professed to love. It is very hard to come back from and you are doing so well. It helps me to hear that. Life will get better. I am so glad you are finding answers and are Finally Free. Hugs.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Your articles here brought me to tears. Everything I have read is exactly how my husband of 15 years treated me. I had tried to leave several times, but his threats made me stay, as he used our child like a pawn. Close friends started seeing what was happening, and helped me get out, but it's already been close to a year of ugly legal matters and complete defamation of my character. He made me feel like a terrible person, and would tell me daily that I was worthless, but then the next minute would do something nice. The worst part of it, is that his mother would do the same thing to me. But even with all the drama and chaos going on, life is still better because I can finally see clearly for the first time in a long time.

      People who try to destroy you as a person don't love you, and I'm pretty sure they don't have a clear understanding of what love is.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Fantastic article, this really nails it. So many people fail to understand why people stay in relationships with these types of abusers because they just cannot comprehend the control that the abuser has over the victim. They have often been manipulated into a situation they cannot get out of. It's when gaslighting is combined with consistent pathological lying and secret affairs and peculiar behaviour in the long-term that there's a chance the abuser may be a narcissist (or sociopath/psychopath) which is something I write about at Hubpages. I have also just released my first eBook on Narcissistic Personality Disorder, it's called Know Your Enemy: Reflections Of NPD.

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      CristianStan 4 years ago

      Wow... I am in awe after reading this article.. I had no idea abuse could be taken this way

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      JJNW 4 years ago from USA

      @RuralFloridaLiving: Thank you so much.