Years of Emotional and Psychological Abuse

Her’s a great question I received a short time ago.


I have been married for over twenty years. In the last ten years my wife has turned into a different person from the one I married. She feels the need to control me more than ever. When I confront her, she tells me to get therapy. She does not want any part in admitting that she may be the problem or at least part of it. She has alienated me from my family as well as my friends. She incessantly tells me what to do. We can only get together with people who she approves of. I have tried to sweep much of this under the rug to keep peace and harmony in the family, but lately I feel as though I am bursting inside. I recently had a friend say he thinks I’m a victim of emotional abuse from my wife. Do many men get emotionally abused? At what point do I just need to say this is not working.

Thanks for all you do, Joseph

Joseph – thanks for your question as well as your honesty. That must have been difficult for you to write this. I can identify with so much of what you have asked. Yes, men can absolutely be abused in a relationship. Unfortunately I have spoken to many people lately, both male and female, who find themselves in similar situations.

How do you or anyone know if you are being abused? Here is a little checklist. Take a look at it and see how many of these apply to your life. It’s not a scientific list but obviously the more you can check off, the more likely it is that you are being abused. I am wondering which ones apply to your situation:

  • Calling you insulting names
  • Yelling and screaming
  • Repeatedly putting you down
  • Comparing you with others
  • Intentionally hurting your feelings
  • Socially isolating you
  • Belittling you on a regular basis
  • Ignoring you
  • Disapproving and contemptuous looks
  • Blaming you for their problems
  • Controlling you or punishing you for small things (not getting dishes washed or something cleaned well enough)
  • Threatening to leave you
  • Lying to you
  • Intimidating you
  • Breaking things
  • Correcting everything you say
  • Always taking the opposite view from yours
  • Cutting you off from your family and friends
  • Giving you the silent treatment for hours or days
  • Forcing you to own responsibility for every problem
  • Checking up on you and being overly suspicious
  • Nitpicking and lengthy interrogations or lectures
  • Refusing to honor your requests for time and space
  • Withholding affection
  • Demanding sex
  • Temper tantrums to get what they want
  • Discounting your perceptions and feelings
  • Constantly denying anything is wrong
  • Verbal abuse that attacks your nature and abilities, so you begin to believe there is something wrong with you.
  • Out of control or irrational behavior and physical violence of any kind whatsoever — these should not be tolerated.

If you find yourself checking off even a few of these, it’s probably time to run… not walk to the nearest EXIT!!! From my life experience, there is usually NO FIXING a person who demonstrates this type of behavior. If you stick with him or her, you are enabling the abuser. I know this sounds very cold and cruel, but the people I know who have moved on from an abusive relationship have learned to become whole and happy again. Those who simply stay in the situation hoping it will get better end up sick or worse.

I hope this helps you and anyone else reading this who may be in a similar situation. Sending you strength.