Harassment and emotional abuse of women by manipulative men

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Harassment and emotional abuse of women by manipulative men


Issues Pages: 

Another woman-only thread, please.

I became an excellent apologizer during one of my co-habiting relationships. I lived with a very emotionally-manipulative, abusive man who used to cross-examine me on everything. No issue was too small or petty for him to try to catch me in lies (and I didn't lie to him - I was young and stupid and thought that you didn't really "love" someone unless you shared absolutely every thought, every secret, every everything). He read my diaries without my permission (I eventually threw out all my old diaries so he couldn't read them), and he was constantly insulting me, harassing me, calling me names, saying terrible things about me.

And so, before I got the gumption to leave (actually, before I even recognized that there was a problem), I became an expert at apologizing. I learned to tiptoe and hope that nothing set him off. My friends and family have told me since that time that it was getting so that they didn't even recognize my personality anymore because I got so timid and apologetic.

Some guys really get off on any reaction a woman gives when he is manipulative and emotionally abusive. Eventually you learn that no amount of apologizing or placating will ever be enough, because they have to control you. You have to agree with them about everything, and even if you do, they try to find ways to make you wrong about something so that they can berate you for it. Nothing you say is ever correct, and god forbid you try to defend yourself against their onslaught - that just becomes more proof that you are wrong and that you are a bad person, and that you need to acknowledge their superiority and apologize.

Eventually, of course, I left. Just before leaving, I realized, I didn't give a shit anymore what he thought, and so I just responded to his berating with, "Okay, whatever." It used to enrage him like nothing else. I realized soon after leaving that the reason it enraged him is because I was disengaging, and he didn't want that! He wanted attention! He wanted me to engage! There's no satisfaction in abusing someone if they refuse to respond!

So, afterwards when I had to deal with this person, I quite consciously disengaged. If we were on the phone discussing a matter that needed to be resolved and he got abusive or angry, I told him calmly that I had to go (right in the middle of a conversation), making it clear that I was not going to deal with him when he was being rude or unreasonable.

I refused to play his headgames by reacting whenever he was accusing or cruel. I refused to react in ways he was trying to get me to react. I simply ended the conversation and walked away.

I could feel his frustration when I first disengaged. And so, when I did, he ratcheted it up a few notches, trying to get me where it would hurt, constantly trying to engage me. The more I refused, the more manipulative he became.

But I was free. By disengaging, I became free.

And now, whenever I have to deal with emotionally abusive and manipulative people of either gender (but usually men), whether in personal relationships or in the workplace, I find that this technique works. Of course, the reaction is predictable, and most abusers, when you disengage, will try harder to force you to engage.

But now I recognize these patterns very, very well, and while I'm still triggered by it whenever a guy pulls this shit on me, I can handle it.

I'm sure other women have experienced this too. Since I've been thinking a lot about this experience of mine over the past few days, I thought I'd share here.

[ 27 February 2008: Message edited by: Michelle ]


P.S. About the apologizing - I have now learned to apologize only when I am wrong (or when there has been a misunderstanding on both sides).

But I never apologize now in response to bullying, the way I used to. Because it doesn't work. Bullies will bully you until the end of time no matter how much you apologize to them. Because that's the way bullies are. They get off on it. And I refuse to give any bully more whacking material. That's part of disengaging when you are being abused or harassed.


You're a strong woman Michelle. When I was 18 (just turned) I met a man who was 35. I was a single mother from a relatively troubled background and felt that this man could rescue me from becoming a statistic.

What ended up happening is that I moved in with him and was emotionally, sexually and physically abused and I began to not be able to think for myself. If he asked me which way was left, I would not be able to say so out of the fear that I may just get it wrong (even though I knew which way left was). I allowed his infidelity, I allowed his extreme emotional abuses upon me. Mainly because he told me I was a slut, a single parent who no one would want, and most of all, I was a "bubblehead" and therefor far too stupid to do anything on my own.

I would say yes to everything he said. I would go along with all of the degradation he did to me because I was too afraid of what the consequences would be if I didn't. Worse, I believed what he said about me.

It got so bad that I could not make a single decision for myself. On top of that, he was an excellent father, so I just sucked it up, and started to believe that I was nothing and that without him, would forever be nothing.

I endured rape, whippings, extreme sexual torture, the whole lot. I thought he may kill me eventually. He allowed me out only once every three weeks and only on Fridays. If my friends went on a Saturday I had to wait another three weeks. He isolated me from my family and my friends. He followed me when I went out.

Three years of this went by, and one day he called me up and asked me if I was basting the turkey (it was easter coming up). I told him I didn't know how. He mind fucked me on the phone (that's the best description I can come up with, because the way he talked to me left me always thinking there was something I had said wrong) and said that once he got home I would be beaten for not basting the turkey correctly.

I called family and finally, they agreed to help me. They came that same day before the monster finished work and I moved out. Put what little things I had into storage, and moved to my mom's until I found another place.

Ironically, to get back at me for moving out he had his biker friends follow me around everywhere I went. They would literally stand inches from my face and threaten me, intimidate me, and leave me crying so bad I hyperventilated. He also took me to court for custody of my own child, which was not his biologically. I was by then a complete psychological mess, although I managed to finish my grade 12 equivalence and two years in college (I completed it later on).

Despite the fact that he beat me, and tortured me sexually, the judge decided that wasn't a factor to be concerned with and let him have visits every second weekend. The judge also dismissed my concerns about his racism, and extreme sexism. That didn't matter either.

It took years of work to undo the damage, but it was finally undone.

Unfortunately for me, disengaging was not an option as I was too scared to do that. But what I did do was to speak to him like he was an intelligent person, and challenge his notions of women and people of colour. Because he had a Mensa IQ, he started changing. When I left, he called me up and said I had brainwashed him, and that all the anti-racism and anti-sexism was my way of changing him, and he wasn't going to allow a mere whore to do that.

This story does not end well. He was killed in a bike/car collision not long afterwards. I was not allowed at his funeral because his friends all assumed he was a great guy and I was an evil witch.

I made peace with him in a dream, and from that day forth, I let it go. That was extremely hard, because he was the ultimate master of manipulation.

Like you, I said sorry constantly, and I still have that problem to some degree now.

[ 27 February 2008: Message edited by: Stargazer ]


Hi Michelle, good post, It is hard to learn how manupulation works, for me I got too soon old and too late smart. However I have improved things for myself.

Filling in our income tax forms for instance. Since I have the largest income I am required to use all the deductions. We have very little in savings with interest so that does not enter into it. But because of my income I get to claim the Ontario tax benefits. I do pay the mortgage and taxes so I do not feel this is wrong but my better half seems to think this rebate should be his money. I used to believe him but now I could care less. One big step for me

Maysie Maysie's picture

Michelle: Thanks for starting this thread, your experience has taught me and reminded me of what we can do to break patterns and stop unhealthy emotional dynamics.

Stargazer: Your post has touched me very deeply. Thank you for your courage to post it here.

rural - Francesca rural - Francesca's picture

Hey, what were you doing with my ex-husband?

My kid's dad was an expert at the [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socratic_method]socratic method[/url] of asking a question, I could never 'win'.

I have a psych degree and I was a waitress at his parent's gas bar and store. If I found another better job, in my field, it would have meant a second car, and a cramp in his lifestyle, and I'd be out being 'impressive'. So he killed every job I went after. Didn't want me to take it for various, somewhat logical, but not really, reasons.

I was married just over 9 years, and I had wanted to leave at 7 but he persuaded me to try and work on things and he'd get better.

When I left, and that was pretty ugly too, it was pretty hairy for a while. But six months later my parents visited (they were not impressed I'd left) and in about an hour my mother burst out "oh my God, you're back!" She like myself, had not realized how much I'd suppressed my personality to fit the marriage.

Both my parents saw the light as to why I left and there was much joy!

My last boyfriend was a nut-bar. He'd have these conversations in his head and would convince himself I was cheating or what have you, or didn't love him, or didn't care. He lived 40 minutes away and resented that I bought my own house within months of us starting to date. It meant I wasn't thinking of moving in anytime soon. Why would I???

He got into text messaging and if I didnt reply within minutes he would get furious and say horrible things. Meanwhile I'd be in a meeting and it would just get crazy. I'd need to give him my meeting schedule so he knew that if I was in a meeting I wouldn't reply.

He'd go get a load of groceries for me and then when I protested, would let me know I could just pay him back later. Well there never is 'later', my budget is tight and I don't have extra cash flow.

He resented the time I spent with my kids and felt they were old enough that they could do without me.

It was awful. Again I let it go on 6 months too long. The funniest was when I broke up with him he met with me to 'appeal' and wanted to put my name on his boat, because if he screwed up again I could then sell his boat as punishment.

He then emailed my mother and told my mother that I 1. spent too much time with my kids [and what grandparent wants to hear that?] 2. I worked too hard and too much [again such shame for a parent], 3. that I put him in debt buying things for my kids [oh excuse me, it was on my VISA card]

This within weeks of confirming my father's Alzheimer's diagnosis - like my mother needed to read that crap.

Then he emails me a few weeks later and says he wants another go around as all the women online cared about was how much money he made - in other words - the other women are worse than you so I can settle for you.

He got told.

I hate the controlling crap, I hate the abuse, I hate the constant freaking out.

You're so right about the 'engage' bit. When I would ignore him and his text's when he got nuts he would freak even more. My ex-husband hates that I will hang up on him, it's so freeing. Took him years to get it through his head I will not play his game and he no longer can yank my chain.

There are many days I miss having a man in my life, but those days are pretty rare. I just am so tired of compromising what I want out of life so they feel in control.


My first serious boyfriend from high school to 1st year was a manipulator. It took me a few years to get it.

We went to different Universities and he met someone, I think it went on for a bit before he broke up with me over it and I was heartbroken. So when he came back crying that she forced him into a sexual relationship, he was sorry would I take him back I did. And over the next few months I was sure he was still seeing her. So I'd call him on it and he'd turn it back around on me. How could I not trust him, was I crazy to be imagining such things. He made me feel bad for not trusting him when I had no reason to trust him.

One day she answered when I called him, told be she was his girlfriend and to stop calling. I laughed at her and asked if she knew where he'd just come from - my bed. She said I was lying. I realized in that instance he'd been screwing us both around. I hoped in a friends car and went to confront him. Boy was he surprised.

Sadly I was too stupid and messed up. I ended up taking him back one more time, and eentually he dropped me off in Guelph on Sunday afternoon and disappeared. I knew then that he'd likely been seeing her all that time and I felt liberated and moved on. I also got friendly with his Ex before me, we went to the same Uni and had friend in common and found out that we overlapped as well. We actaully had a good chuckle over it.

The idiot contacted me several months later and asked if we could get together so he could return some of my stuff, I agreed but took his former best friend with me. He wanted to get back together, he said she was gone, he was living alone and I could come by and see that. he said he had an engagement ring for me, oddly he didn't have it with him though. I asked him who he thought he was fooling, I told him I was happily in another realtionship with a deccent guy who I loved. He cried like a baby, and I was unmoved. I wasn't about to be manipulated again and I felt nothing for him anymore anyway. I wasn't even angry, I just felt pity.

Turns out he married her, he contacted me a few years ago to apologize, he had a string of excuses including depresion, none of which I believed after all his lying and manipulating. I think he just felt guilty and wanted to make himself feel better and to make sure he hadn't fucked up my life. As if. Irked me too no end that he got in touch, he even wanted to buy me a wedding gift. No thanks. You tried to make me think I was unstable so I would catch you cheating, I don't want a wedding gift from you around to remind me of the mess you made of what should have been an awesome year.

I never doubted my instincts again, I think I have a pretty good set.

And if you can believe it he poked me on Facebook a couple months ago. Why? Who knows as I am not interested in engaging him and chatting about his wife and kids. [img]biggrin.gif" border="0[/img] It's been 15 years and he still can't get over me I guess. [img]wink.gif" border="0[/img]


What a terrible experience, Stargazer. I'm so sorry. I guess in a way I was lucky not to have been physically abused.

margrace, that's interesting. That's another experience I've had in my cohabiting relationship - being the main wage-earner. But in this relationship I was describing above, he tried to control all the money. Like to the point near the end where he basically gave me an allowance and demanded that I write down and account for every penny spent.

Thanks to others for sharing your experiences and affirming mine. Sometimes I wonder whether there are ANY women who have not been dominated or controlled by men in their lives at some point.

Just wondering - has having these experience with emotional abusers changed the way you deal with it when confronted by a controlling, manipulative, or abusive man in your personal life or at work now? What's changed?

For me, what's changed in my personal life is that I no longer jump head first into relationships or allow myself to be "rushed" into anything. And I am wary of men who pour on the charm or flattery to extremes, or try to get you to commit, or who show any signs of being unreasonably possessive. Those are big red flags.

In my work life, I am flexible but when I sense that I'm being bullied, I stand up to it. Sometimes I can feel myself falling into old patterns before I recognize that I'm being bullied or harassed, but as soon as I realize it, I consciously stand up to it by using the tried-and-true techniques I've figured out. And they almost always work.

rural - Francesca rural - Francesca's picture

I'm not afraid to walk away.

I realize that 'stuff' is just stuff and I can replace it, I'd rather be free and poor, than secure and controlled.

My kids know when I start saying "oh really" the you-know-what is going to hit the fan - they like it directed at teachers and the like, not themselves.

I have no intentions of entering into a serious relationship, and I mean it this time.



Just wondering - has having these experience with emotional abusers changed the way you deal with it when confronted by a controlling, manipulative, or abusive man in your personal life or at work now? What's changed?

I wish I could say yes, and be honest about it. The fact is, to some degree it has but to a larger degree I still find myself questioning my instincts. Sometimes to the point of not being able to determine when something bad is happening to me. Well, I can think something is not right, but question it. I need to work on standing up for myself a lot more. Work is no different. Abusers come from that realm too, unfortunately.

But, I no longer jump into relationships. I wait a long time to get to know someone and I absolutely have to trust them.

remind remind's picture

Thanks for sharing and hearing is hard to take actually, I mean WTH are these type of men cookie cuttered out? As it is certainly a relevation hearing other stories that are so similar to my own, and indeed my daughter's.

In my case, it was an abusive 1st serious boyfriend, who sounds much like the boyfriend in scout's story. However, he continued on for 25 years stalking me, even when he was involved with another women, or rather women. This was after he kidnapped me off of a train, raped and held me for three days and was about to beat me to death when for some reason his estranged brother showed up at the abandoned family farm and literally saved my life. I had bruises and cuts from the top of my head to my feet.

Sadly, I was too ashamed and fearful to press charges. But I did become a strong woman because of it.

Fast forward to today and my daughter, after being raised in a feminist household, got involved with a man about 8 years ago now. She had thought ALL men were like her father and all families were like ours.

Her story played out almost exactly the same as Michelle's, and Stargazer's. However, in her case her first husband, who she left because he was insanely jealous, and who was the father of my granddaughter and who had died as a result of a car accident where he was not found until too late and died from hypothermia. It happened here in the mountains where it does sometimes drop below freezing in the summer and that night it did.

Anyhow, as soon as my former son in law died, the new guy stepped up his abuse, as he felt my daughter was now trapped with him and he was the only "father" my granddaughter now had. My daughter changed until she was a person I did not know. He was able to allienate her from her family as well, after all, according to him her feminist family caused all her mental health problems. Of course she had none until she met him, and had suffered from his abuses.

Finally last summer she left him, because she could not handle the way he treated my granddaughter, his abuse and stalking her has not stopped, and 2 weeks ago he applied for full custody of my granddaughter, again only to try and control and manipulate my daughter. It remains to be seen if he does get visitation, or not. He of course won't get custody, but it is unbelievable how far some, perhaps many, men will go to try and control women.

And I won't even go into friends stories that I have watched over the years.

The pattern of harassment, stalking and neverending verbal abuse as a start to further abuse, is easily recognizable to me.


Wow, remind, your daughter's story is almost identical to mine. What lengths some people will go to to continue their control.


All three of my daughters got into bad relationships. My oldest skipped herself out and lived alone for a few years, raising her son herself. She eventually married again but it has been a much different relationship. Interesting at time but they seem to compliment each other.

My second daughter got into an abusive relationship and moved right from that one to a different relationship. A very explosive one at times but they both seem to want to keep it going. The problem with this one seemed to be your kids and my kids.

My third daughter left an abusive relationship and married a controller. But their main interest in life was their two children. When they left and I mean left for another province I wondered how long the relationship would last when they had no common interest. Well it lasted 5 more years and then she just packed it in and left, he was verbally and mentally abusive. She also is trying to make it on her own but is requiring a lot of family support.

The one marriage that really worried me was my second daughters because he was a biker and dangerous. The other two are not as scarry and I can get along with all three to this day but I am glad my daughter are out of there.

It is interesting all the other people who are involved. My middle daughter loved her inlaws but they took their sons part even while admitting he was a problem. She lost control of her son but kept the daughter. He, however, loves his kids with a vengence and his son has turned out a great kid after having looked after his father for years. Funny situation that one.

An interesting thing, there was a couple who lived up the road from us. He was involved in a lot of volunteerism and I knew him well but not so his wife. Well he died suddenly and everyone wondered what she would do, we live in isolated areas. But I cannot believe the difference in her, she is a changed women. Goes to show you really don't know what goes on behind closed doors.

remind remind's picture


Originally posted by Michelle:
[b]..Sometimes I wonder whether there are ANY women who have not been dominated or controlled by men in their lives at some point....[/b]

Michelle this question has prompted tears. Literally, every woman, except 1, who I have met and known in my life has, or had, a male abuse experience. The one woman, who I just met last fall says not her. However, I do not in fact believe it. She has too many characteristics of a woman who has experienced abuse including substance abuse issues. However, her father is a very high official within a religious organization in Canada, and I am sure she would never say a word in case it "affected him". Because at 35, he is still the controller of her life, except when she is out on a binge.


[b]Just wondering - has having these experience with emotional abusers changed the way you deal with it when confronted by a controlling, manipulative, or abusive man in your personal life or at work now? What's changed?[/b]

Instant awareness of what is transpiring, or could transpire, from just 1 or 2 what could be considered "slippable', or perhaps "just overlook" comments.

Full alert has prompted me to be able to forestall and/or eliminate any difficulties or problems before they actually knew what hit them.

Very low tolerance of male authority, or control actions, as I see them for what they are, or could be come, if allowed to flurish. This is work and volunteer situations.

In my personal life, I actually stumbled, drunkenly, across a feminist male 28+ years ago, and that has been that.


My husband beat me because I wasn't white. To him I was a stinky dirty native. He was extremely ashamed of me. I came from a small place where I lived out in the bush with my grandmother, living on the land. He took me to the city. That's when the abuse started. I had no one, I didn't know a soul.

When I finally left, he spent the next 20 years taking me to court, trying to get custody of my children which he never succeeded in doing. He did manage to keep me poor as I was making just enough money so that I could not qualify for legal aid. I spent probably close to $75,000.oo on lawyers.

The only thing that is left from that is sometimes I feel so goddamn bitter about it. I let him have everything because all I wanted was my freedom. I left with the shirt on my back and my kids and nothing else. This was a long time ago so there was nothing available to help me except women's feminist groups who bent over backwards for me and for whom I shall always be grateful for and I give thanks for them everyday.

I know sometimes I lose it on here, but I get better everyday. I refuse to let anyone control me, or tell me what to do. I have a very serious problem with authority and I know why. And you know what? I really don't give a fuck.



I know sometimes I lose it on here, but I get better everyday. I refuse to let anyone control me, or tell me what to do. I have a very serious problem with authority and I know why. And you know what? I really don't give a fuck.

[img]biggrin.gif" border="0[/img] [img]biggrin.gif" border="0[/img]

Thanks for sharing 1-7. I love your guts and your confidence.

rural - Francesca rural - Francesca's picture

I don't know wether to cheer or weep.

I want to cheer the strength that has been written about here, but weep at how commonplace this all is.

Thank you for sharing your stories

remind remind's picture


Originally posted by 1234567:
[b]My husband beat me because I wasn't white. To him I was a stinky dirty native. He was extremely ashamed of me. [/b]

He might have said that, but what he really was was a abusive asshole who wanted to prey on someone he knew he could allienate and victimize.

I have lived in northern BC on and off for the last 3 decades, and have observed abusive white males plenty. Do/did you know what white abusive husbands say to their white wives up here when when trying to control them?

"There is a hwy going south, if you don't like it and there are plenty of native women here who would want me".

The absolute racism, privilege and misogyny contained in that statement has always flabbergasted, angered and disgusted me.

My daughter was going to walk away with nothing, but has since changed her mind. I believe that he felt/feels because she is of FN heritage that she is indeed inferior to him and she should be greatful, and that is in face of her blonde hair and blue eyes, inherited from me. But I think that played into his absolute objectification of her too.


I say we cheer. We are all still here and we all found oursleves again. We should also cheer because as women I think it's very hard not to blame ourselves and punish ourselves for "stupid" mistakes and end the cycle.


It is always a battle for me, well, honestly, I am getting better. I was raised traditionally, so I was taught such things as I should ignore bad behaviour, I shouldn't hate, I should try to always work things out. And I think these are good things to know but it takes wisdom to know when to be wise and when to just tell soomeone to fuck off. So my true rebellious self and my upbringing are constantly battling within me. But it's all okay because I am learning and growing each moment.

Thank you all for your confidence in me, it really does mean alot to me even though I have never met you in person, I feel as though you are my friends.



I say we cheer. We are all still here and we all found oursleves again. We should also cheer because as women I think it's very hard not to blame ourselves and punish ourselves for "stupid" mistakes and end the cycle.

Yes! We are strong for overcoming what can bring us down.

1-7, I feel the same way. I have met many people on here whom I have never met in real life but consider my friends.

I think it is also a great testament to babble that we can share like this.

writer writer's picture

I love you all so much. This thread comes at a very hard point in my life.

Went to a poetry reading Monday night, and experienced flash images of men stabbing me.

At a poetry reading.

Can't really post about it here right now. Just wanted to thank you all so much for sharing.

Thank you all so much for being.

I've got good support and am okay. I count you all as some of my good support.


Writer, you inbox is full.

I hope you are well. I know how horrible and debilitating the flashbacks can be. I hope you are okay. A virtual hug for you.

writer writer's picture

More like a flash-forward. Hard to describe. So much male aggression pinging around. The environment was toxic. There's been an awful blow-out in one layer of the literary world here. Involves my most ex of exes.

Too strange to even try to describe. And likely very unwise. Very triggering, in a year full of triggers.

Thank you, thank you, Stargazer. I've done some almost-spring cleaning, so my in-box is no longer full.

[ 27 February 2008: Message edited by: writer ]


Wow. This is such a great thread. [img]smile.gif" border="0[/img] (Not because I started it, but because you've all contributed to it!) Thanks! I'm feeling much better just reading all of this, even though some of it is heartbreaking.


Brian Vallee has written several books about the abuse of women. His newest is appropiatly I think "The war on women"

Among other things he comments on are "there's been a real backlash in the last few years and you can't even say 'violence against women' anymore. You have to say 'family violence'. in the name of so-called 'gender neutality' our current government is cutting funding to women's organizations, closing their offices, and removing the 'equality portion from the Status of Women's mandate. Well, how can we have 'gender neurtality' when we don't even have gender equality?"

laine lowe laine lowe's picture

Thanks for starting this thread Michele. And thanks for sharing such painful experiences and victories over abuse everyone.

I never thought I would find myself in an abusive relationship because I witnessed my best friend in grade school/high school enter her first serious relationship with a guy who was a psychopath as far as I am concerned. We were both outsiders (along with another friend) in high school and somehow ended up meeting this seemingly nice guy and his friend. My friends hooked up with the two guys and I kind of felt like the loser when I got invited to join them on their outings (which became increasingly rare). I remember her casually joking that he wanted her all to himself and didn't want to just hang out. A few months later, I was invited to join the two couples for a new year's eve get-together and my best friend's new guy made a pass at me (this after months of her telling me how madly in love they were). I broached my friend who didn't seem to react but told her boyfriend and he was furious. I remember him threatening me to stay away from her. My friend didn't break things off with me right away but I could tell that she was afraid to talk to me in any great detail and she never wanted to talk about her boyfriend. Eventually we stopped being friends even though her family stayed in touch with me (we had been like sisters).

But it wasn't just me. Over the next few years, she stopped talking or going out with any mutual friends or acquaintances. This once funny and energetic woman became withdrawn and quiet. Eventually, we both graduated high school and she broke up with the guy and contacted me. We reconnected and soon after shared a place. She told me all the gory details. How he would threaten and scold her if she wore make-up or clothes that might look attractive, how he wouldn't let her out of his sight except to go to work, how he insisted that she give him her pay cheques, how he quizzed her about all the men at work and whether she spoke to any of them, etc. He also threatened to burn her family home to the ground when they were all there if she ever left him. I can't remember what was the final straw, but she left and lived in fear for quite a few months.

I remember taking two things away from her initial relationship with that guy -- never trust a man who professes love and places you on a pedestal way too fast and beware of any tinges of jealousy. And I had two back-to-back long, healthy relationships through high school and university and beyond. I felt immune to abuse and very empowered. And even in crappier, shorter relationships that followed, I always spoke my mind and walked away if I thought someone was being an ass. But I went through an emotional crisis after my mother died and was very disconnected with my self and my world. I was 30 years old, experienced and far from naive but for a brief 6 months period, I was unanchored. I was also far away from home with no structure or responsibilities or support network. I thought I was starting to come out of my shell and I spotted this guy at a night club who was also Canadian and damn physically gorgeous. I decided that I wanted him and deserved to have a fun fling.

I met him and we hit it off and very fast. I was infatuated and needy. I loved being loved. Within a few weeks, it felt like we were a serious couple even though he was secretive and constantly leaving on business trips. I gave up on asking questions since I didn't want to be intrusive. He on the other hand wanted to know everything I did while he was gone. At first, I thought it charming (duh!) and slowly realized that he was keeping me prisoner by telling me that I'd better be home when he called and then changing up the schedule etc. I would go out on errands and run back home in a panic in case he called and caught me out.

I only had a few casual friends around that I really hadn't known much longer than this guy. But despite introducing him to that gang, he never wanted to go out with them or in public once we were well hooked up. And he was relentless on the sexual front. At first I thought that was great but then it became hellish because he would just insist on so much sex that I was aching and bruised and in pain. I came to feel like a caged sex slave. One night he went out for one of his secret rendez-vous and was in a really strange and ugly mood, saying something like "you better not leave..." As soon as he left, I called my casual buddy in a panic and asked if I could go to his place. I couldn't explain my fear but I stayed with them and didn't go back till the next day. I knew FINALLY that I was in too deep with a control freak. Shortly after we said our good byes -- he was all tearful and apologetic -- I just said that I had to go back to Canada and was sorry thing had to end (LIES). He hounded me with phone calls, letters and presents but it was easier to brush off with an ocean between us and close friends at hand.

I had experienced bad shit before that and witnessed my friend's abusive relationship but I never thought I would find myself in that situation.

saga saga's picture

edited to remove peevish comment. sorry.

[ 29 February 2008: Message edited by: saga ]


So glad you managed to get out when you did, laine lowe. It's amazing, isn't it, how we can get involved with abusers even when we think we've guarded against it.

I think popular culture has a lot to do with it. So many warning signs of an abuser, controller or manipulator are considered "romantic". Rushing you into a fast commitment. Wanting to be with you all the time. Wanting to share all your secrets. You're not in love unless you give up all your privacy and share absolutely everything. Flatters you excessively at first. Possessiveness, and declarations of "I'm yours" or "You're mine" or "You're everything to me," or "I want to be your everything".

[url=http://www.turningpointservices.org/Domestic%20Violence%20-%20Emotional%... of these are socially acceptable "romantic behaviour" when done to a certain extent, especially at the beginning of a relationship.[/url]

[url=http://www.hiddenhurt.co.uk/Abuser/signs.htm]Another resource.[/url]

I'm trying to find one I had a few years back, where it listed the warning signs at the beginning of the relationship that you could be getting involved with an abuser or controller, as opposed to lists of behaviour that has escalated to actual abuse.

So, some of the warning signs being excessive flattery, overdisclosure of personal information right away (especially about past relationships where everything is always their partners' fault), "rushing" or trying for an immediate commitment, constant phone calls or "surprise" visits and detailed questions about what you do all day, claims that you are "everything" to them and attention paid only to you and nothing else in their life, etc.

All of this is passed off by popular culture as "romantic". For those of us who have been with men who do this, we recognize it for what it is: a huge red flag!

rural - Francesca rural - Francesca's picture

I fell for all that - the flattery, the instant love, the needing of me...fell hook line and stinker.

Trouble is now I laugh and respond with "yah right" to anyone to professes attraction, I just don't trust anymore.


Well, attraction is one thing. Hyperbole and extreme flattery are another.

I don't need a man to tell me that I'm the most gorgeous woman on the entire planet. I know I'm not, and I don't want someone who values me (or thinks I want him to value me) because of my beauty. I want him to be attracted to me, yes, but not to convince himself that I'm perfect.

Because after a while, when he realizes I'm not perfect and I fall off his pedestal, then what?



So, some of the warning signs being excessive flattery, overdisclosure of personal information right away (especially about past relationships where everything is always their partners' fault), "rushing" or trying for an immediate commitment, constant phone calls or "surprise" visits and detailed questions about what you do all day, claims that you are "everything" to them and attention paid only to you and nothing else in their life, etc.

All of this is passed off by popular culture as "romantic". For those of us who have been with men who do this, we recognize it for what it is: a huge red flag!

Well said Michelle! And like Rural-Franseca I am wary of any compliments from a guy and also will respond with a "yeah, right" and thinking "you just want to control me"

And I really dislike that I am like that but I have had more than one bad experience and the whole thought of going thru something like that again just tires me right out.


There is an excellent book out that is aimed at women.  Women Vs Womaniser by Jc Johnson  explores the tactics men use to manipulate women. This book is a a serious eye-opener, i higly recomend it to any Ladies who are being abused.