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I'm Speaking Out About Psychological Abuse

Updated on February 1, 2018
JJNW profile image

JJ has written over 600 articles published online and in print. She is the survivor of spousal domestic abuse and speaks out to help others.


The Domestic Violence No One is Talking About

Psychological abuse, verbal abuse, ambient abuse, controlling, manipulation: these are all forms of domestic violence. Much of this kind of DV happens behind closed doors. It happened to me and to my children.

So continues my series on the aftermath of destruction left in the wake of my being basically abandoned, along with our two wonderful kids, by my long time husband. It turns out that the man I spent over half my life with is a very skilled manipulator, controller, and liar. In fact, he is so good at being quietly abusive that my extended family and friends didn't even see it happening. That may be the most challenging thing about being psychologically abused. There are rarely any witnesses.

I hope the worst of it is over now. I have been shocked, furious, confused, devastated, hopeless, needy, numb, frustrated, and often terrified. I have had flickers of hope, of joy, and of comfort, but they don't last. What keeps me going is the love I feel for and from my children, my mother, my sister, my family, my friends, and the people here online. Almost everyone I've shared with has been incredibly supportive. That means so much.

I am writing for the women who are not as fortunate as myself, in that they have no one to speak for them, validate their true stories of trauma, and may even be afraid to escape. Victims of emotional, psychological, and other quiet types of spousal abuse must speak out when they can and help each other.

About the image:

The Bruno Mars song "Grenade" hit home for me recently ("I'd Catch a Grenade for Ya, But You Won't Do the Same"). I've never actually had the need to catch a grenade for anyone, but if someone had thrown one at my husband, I'd like to think I would have caught it (out of bravery, not stupidity, mind you). After giving birth to his children, a woman has pretty much already proven she will lay down her life for her man, but if I had needed to reprove my love, I would have.

Hit to the Head - Photo by Janienne Jennrich, 2012
Hit to the Head - Photo by Janienne Jennrich, 2012

Another emotional whack to the head...

Today I feel strong. I have not felt strong in a long time. I feel hopeful. And a little mad. In a new assault this week, my abuser chose to call my 82-year-old mother, who has always treated him as family and with love.

There are not many things that will make me as strong as standing up for my mom or my kids. He is totally out of line trying to pull my mother into his web of twisted lies, denying any wrong doing.

I mean, seriously? Who does he think he is?

"Who do you think you are?

Runnin' around leaving scars"

Who Do You Think You Are? - This is a very powerful song. I love this version.

Giving All Of My Love by xXPrettyWhenUCry via DeviantArt
Giving All Of My Love by xXPrettyWhenUCry via DeviantArt

We would have all done anything for this man.

In my family, loves means putting the other person first, being thoughtful and caring, and being willing to tough out the hard times. Family is forever.

There are no divorces in my family. In fact, even when I began to see the abuse clearly, divorce did not enter my mind. If someone is behaving badly, they need love and support. That is the way I was raised. Do unto others as you would have others do unto you; The Golden Rule.

In my family, "inlaws" are family. My husband was taken in with open arms. My parents treated him like a son. They would have done anything for him and for us.

Our love is pure and unconditional. In fact, we still love him and probably always will.

But now we're not sure if the man we love even exists. Perhaps what we have loved is a sort of costume he wears in order to hide what a controlling and self-centered man he really is. As he has gotten older, his mask has begun to slip. Our kids are older. They are my witnesses. Now that we push back against being controlled, he is no longer interested in us. He will not support us with money. He will not communicate in any civil and normal way. This kind of abandoning is apparently fairly common among personality disordered individuals, psychopaths and malignant narcissists.

I had to figure that out on my own.

The irony of the whole thing is that he wanted control, but he already had it. All he had to do was ask and we would have done almost anything for him.

I'd have caught that grenade. But I won't be abused.

"I would die for you, baby,

but you won't do the same."

Grenade by Bruno Mars - Various Versions including Behind the Scenes

Have you ever loved anyone with all your heart?

See results

"I gave you all I had

and you tossed it in the trash."

-- Bruno Mars, Grenade

Have you ever had your heart broken by someone you loved?

See results
Queen of Trash 2 by SamuraiChopstick via Deviant Art
Queen of Trash 2 by SamuraiChopstick via Deviant Art

I do feel tossed in the trash.

After 28 years of marriage and two great nearly grown kids, you feel pretty certain you'll be with a person forever, ya know?

I could not be more shocked at the way my life is heading. My kids and I have been blind-sided. We have been stunned and are picking ourselves up off the floor. It's like being stuck in an unending really, really bad movie. Our favorite character in the movie turned out to be the evil villain...and that's a lot to take in. It's a plot twist we never saw coming.

This photo is called Queen of Trash 2. The woman floats in emptiness above piles of debris. She is in limbo. She is alone. Some days I feel like that.

Have you ever felt blind-sided by someone you thought loved you?

See results

Remember --

People who love you

-- truly love you --

will build you up over time,

not tear you down.

One day when I "escaped" I took photos of my eyes to remind me what sorrow looks like.

One day when I "escaped" I took photos of my eyes to remind me what sorrow looks like.
One day when I "escaped" I took photos of my eyes to remind me what sorrow looks like.

I want to remember

so I don't forget.

We Deserve to Be Loved Just the Way We Are - Cuz We're Amazing

Bruno Mars, Unplugged Version of "Just the Way You Are"

© 2012 JJNW

Please Share Your Thoughts - Thank You & Be Well

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    • JJNW profile image

      JJNW 4 years ago from USA

      @jerrieclapp: What a lovely note. Your words lift my heart and will help others know they can some day get past the abuse. Thank you.

    • profile image

      jerrieclapp 4 years ago

      Thank you, JJNW,for being willing to share with us. My first husband of 31yrs died of a horrible physical painful death. Several years later I remarried and started my journey of horrible emotional pain. I never saw it coming. Well, I saw it but didn't recognize what I was seeing. I prayed for him, forgave him, excused him, until he had killed any feelings that I had left. I was walking through Barnes and Noble bookstore and I was praying , Lord, is there something here you want me to read? Then I found Patricia Evans book on Verbally Abusive Relationship. Wow, as I read it I found myself on every page!! Divorce wasn't ever an option for me until the verbal abuse became physical and I feared for my life. After 9 years I got out. I really think I should have drawn the line sooner. Looking back now I saw it even before I married him. Now I just want to creat an awareness for trusting people who want a relationship with someone else. I think you are doing a great job with this lens to get the word out. STOP LOOK LISTEN, save yourself pain and heartache. Learn what the warning signs are. I will keep you in my prayers. There is healing, there is hope, there is love.

    • JJNW profile image

      JJNW 4 years ago from USA

      @anonymous: Thank you so much. I agree, we have to get the word out. The abusers rely on the silence about this issue. I do wish I knew some resources for the young ones. My own kids have decided never to have contact with their father again. They saw the abusive behavior with their own eyes and know we gave him thousands of chances to change, get help, or whatever it took.

      Being a good mom is all I know. Hopefully these personality disorders are not passed on. Your children and mine have been loved and continue to be loved in a real way that our abusers perhaps can never understand.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Thank you, JJNW, for your courage and the heart that you have to help others. Is it not unbelievable how MANY women have and are going through this nightmare? I left after 23 years in November of 2012 and am still coming to grips with the idea that there is no fixing it. This is who my husband is, and apparently always was. Coming to terms with "this is done, I need to move on" and taking care of the damaged heart are not all we deal with as we leave (which, ladies, you MUST do, but do it safely). I cannot fathom the WHY. How do so many men become these self-destructive and family-crushing monsters? And I want to help my teenage, almost-grown sons to understand their dad without being spiteful. This is their Daddy. But they have to understand that what they don't get from him isn't their fault and that they are not destined to be like him. We play an enormous role in putting an end to this by naming the monster and pointing it out. Especially to the young men who might follow in their father's footsteps because of their own hurt and deep-down unmet need for real, unconditional love. And how do we put a poster on the wall for women everywhere who are looking for love, how do we show them the warning signs? How do we tell them to GET OUT the minute they begin to see the manipulation or confusion or hurt? What you are doing, JJNW, is invaluable, and we need to speak up and tell our stories.

      If you have ideas or resources for the kids who are escaping the hurt, I would love to hear! My heart aches for my sons and the confusion they must feel about the man who is supposed to be their protector and provider and an example of manhood.

    • BigRedDomino profile image

      BigRedDomino 5 years ago

      Good idea taking a picture of your eyes. I see him in mine every time I look in the mirror.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      A parent can act this way toward their child or it can be to a spouse or other person close to you. They take advantage of the other person's goodness and attempts at loving, helping, and making things work and twist everything to serve their ego and lust for power and control over others.

    • profile image

      TanoCalvenoa 5 years ago

      I was a bit surprised, but perhaps shouldn't have been, that the last two polls about broken hearts and being blind-sided have received 100% yes votes so far.

    • soniathereviewe1 profile image

      soniathereviewe1 5 years ago

      I think you're absolutely brave and brilliant. I've been through it too. Reading your words gives me strength to know people like you have been through it too and are creating a new life.

    • siobhanryan profile image

      siobhanryan 6 years ago

      I am revisiting as in today's quest i feel it is the best lens I have read-Bye

    • profile image

      three-em 6 years ago

      sometimes we have to be reconciled with the wrong people, before met with the person who is really appropriate for us, thanks for sharing and strengthen others.

      You deserve the best.

    • Lee Hansen profile image

      Lee Hansen 6 years ago from Vermont

      It sucks to have your life turned inside out like this, to be blindsided by someone you thought was your life partner. You will be stronger, better and happier. Your writing helps you to work through the feelings ... all of them. The Christina Perri video just hit me like a ton of bricks. I feel it for you. Visualizing you and yours laughing and happy and not looking back.

    • CCGAL profile image

      CCGAL 6 years ago

      Wishing you only the best from here on out. So sad that you're going through this, and amazed that you are able to turn it into something that will help someone on down the line.

    • siobhanryan profile image

      siobhanryan 6 years ago

      I can't give enough praise for this Yhumbs upof work. Many of us are or have being involved in abusive relationships-


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