My wife is abusive. The first time you realize it, it's a shock. The realization may help to explain a lot of things that have happened.
But the implications are huge. This woman that you love and you thought was loving you, she was actually taking advantage of you the whole time. You based your life with her on the idea that she loved you. If she is abusing you, maybe she doesn't actually love you?
Other things that come up are 'how did I not see it before?', 'why me?' and 'how the hell did I get caught in an abusive relationship?'
Of course you also want to know what to do about it. But before you can figure that out, you have to understand what is going on. Changing the bulb in a bedside lamp is not going to make it work again if the problem is actually a blown fuse in the main panel or fusebox! You first have to figure out exactly where the problem is and what it is.
When the problem is 'my wife is abusive' the issue is not as simple as a blown bulb or a blown fuse, it's more like the whole electrical system has to be dealt with.
Even if there is physical or sexual abuse, we can assume there is psychological abuse as well. If there was no psychological abuse, the first episode of physical abuse would drive the injured party away. They would not stick around for more. Therefore, the abuser usually has some mental control over the victim that keeps the victim in the bad situation and this psychological control means that the the victim suffers repeated abuse over a period of time, whether that is months or years.
So how does an abusive wife create such control over her husband? Does she control his actions? His emotions? His thoughts? His decisions? Actually, it's all of the above, and more. She also changes his beliefs, his perceptions of the world and even his ideas about himself.
How can she do all this? It's actually the abuse itself that allows her to control all these things. The more abuse, the more control she has. Yep, it sounds twisted. You would think that the more abuse there is, the more it would push the victim away. But the opposite actually happens when the abuse is part of a mind control situation. Let me explain...
Abusers are often very good at reading people. They also know that no-one is going to willingly walk into an obviously abusive relationship. So they put on an act at the start. They pretend to be the perfect partner. The chances are that when you first met your wife, she sized you up, your wants, your needs, your desires, your weaknesses and even your strengths. Then she acted the part of your ideal mate, presenting you with a woman who was offering you exactly what you needed at that time of your life. It was easy for you to start a relationship, fall in love and get married. You felt great with her, you wanted to look after her, she appreciated you and she made you feel special.
Then, at some point, things began to change. She became more demanding, more picky, more argumentative. Instead of making you feel great all the time, she started making you feel bad. She made you feel guilty about lots of things so you began to change to try and make her happy again. She made you feel shame and embarrassment about various things, your past, your family, your job, your hobbies, your friends, even about who you were...
There are more details about this specific process in the article about controlling girlfriends.
Instead of making you feel good for the things you did to look after her, she made you feel bad for the things you didn’t do to look after her.
On top of that were the shouting, the insults, the humiliation, the belittling, the public dressings down, the name calling and the criticisms. You can find a long list of the signs of emotional abuse here.
Initially you probably brushed it off as being out of character, hormones, she was having a bad day and so on. But this treatment persisted. In fact it got worse... and worse.
There were good times, too, of course. During those good times it was a relief for you and you hoped that things were finally back on track. It was easy in moments like this to forget and to forgive the nastiness. Until it all started up again!!
The difficulty here is that all the abuse is aimed directly at you, at who you are. She may be talking about something you did, or some idea or desire that you have, but she is only using that as an excuse to attack your personality.
Instead of saying that what you did was stupid, you are told that you are stupid for doing it. Instead of saying your belief is useless, you are made to feel that you are useless for believing that. Some item that you like may be worthless but you are led to believe that you are worthless for still owning it.
Stupid, lazy, ignorant, worthless, sinner, broken, weak, crazy, wimp, loser and failure are labels that are frequently used by abusive wives. Disappointing and pathetic are two particularly destructive labels that are also applied. By using such terms she is chipping away at your self esteem, changing your beliefs about yourself (if you hear something often enough you begin to believe it) and ultimately changing your personality.
People in abusive situations are 'changed' by the abuser. Friends and family talk about the victim being a shadow of their former selves, no longer recognizing the victim and so on. The victims themselves speak about getting lost in the relationship and not knowing who they are anymore.
But the abuser is not happy with just breaking down or unfreezing your personality. They also make changes and then freeze this new personality in place. This new personality is called a pseudopersonality because it is a false personality that is imposed on you and it dominates and represses your real personality.
The pseudopersonality is basically programmed by the abusive wife to be the kind of person she wants around: someone who is submissive and obedient, who puts her wants and needs before their own, someone who provides whatever she desires and treats her as a superior being.
The pseudopersonality is also programmed to be dependent on the abuser. You can read more about how that occurs in this article about abusive husbands.
With the idea in your head 'my wife is abusive', this idea of the pseudopersonality helps to explain many of the things that may be happening to you. A major thing for victims is the inner conflict that goes on. A part of you wants one thing and another part wants the opposite. For example, many victims of such abuse want to leave the relationship but they are they don't see leaving as an option. Their real personality wants out, it does not want to be treated like this, but the pseudopersonality is programmed to stay and look after the abuser. The real personality would really like the abuser to treat them differently but the pseudopersonality is programmed to think that what the abuser is doing is acceptable.
Oftentimes there are conflicting emotions or thoughts conflict with emotions. The husband may love his wife but hate her for what she does. Here, the pseudopersonality loves the woman, the real personality hates her for the abusive behavior. Or the husband may acknowledge that the woman is very abusive towards him but he feels that he needs to look after her. In this case the thoughts of the real personality clash with the feelings of the pseudopersonality. These conflicts can be very distressing because there is no way to resolve them while the pseudopersonality is in place. This makes many victims think that they are the one with the problem or even that they might be going mad!
Basically, the abusive wife takes control of her husband's thinking, beliefs, emotions and actions. She will also try and control the information available to him by keeping him away from family or friends who will tell him what she is really like. She wants to be his main or only source of information so that she can keep the control going.
I mentioned that it's the abuse itself that establishes control in these situations. The husband is tricked at the start of the relationship into thinking that this woman is marvelous. That first impression sticks. It's part of the pseudopersonality.
He commits to a relationship with her. When the abuse starts, he tries to fix things because he wants to have more happy times as were present at the start of the relationship. As his pseudopersonality gets stronger, the dependency increases, too. He wants her to be nice to him and he wants compliments rather than criticism. When he is criticized, he will often try harder to please her to earn compliments, or at least to avoid more criticism. This augments the dependency. His identity or personality becomes more and more enmeshed with hers. It is very common that the victim needs the abuser to know how they are - if the husband can make the abusive wife happy then he can be comfortable himself. If she is upset, he is upset and he has been led to believe that because he feels bad he is bad.
The husband often ends up needing the abuser to know who he is. At this stage he is just an object to her, to be used and abused in whatever way she fancies.
There are a group of people who do not have emotions, they have a massive sense of entitlement and their relationships are based on manipulation and coercion for their own personal power.
These people are commonly known as psychopaths, sociopaths and narcissists and they all have a personality disorder. Their sense of themselves is distorted which results in their relationships with others being abnormal in many ways.
If you are thinking 'my wife is abusive but she's not a psychopath', that's ok. It's normal. People have an idea of what a psychopath or a narcissist is and their spouse doesn't typically fit that description. You wouldn't have married them if you thought they were! Unless, of course, you are a psychopath yourself!!
Unfortunately, most people's idea of what a psychopath is is not quite right. They are not identifiable at first sight, they are not thinking about murder and rape half the time and they don't all have a terrifying stare.
First, a bit of background. Various studies have shown that up to 80 or 90% of people sent for court ordered therapy for spousal abuse are people with a personality disorder. And that's just the ones where the court recognized spousal abuse. How many times is the abuse of the psychopaths and narcissists not spotted?!? Other studies have shown that sex is not a reliable indicator of psychological aggression. In other words, men do not abuse their spouses more often than women abuse theirs. That means that there are a lot more women out there abusing their husbands than we think.
Why is this important? Because dealing with a psychopath or a narcissist is very different from dealing with an insecure woman, or a jealous wife, or a woman who is afraid of being abandoned. It's a whole different ball park. If you are dealing with a psychopath, you need to know that.
But figuring it out can be very difficult because of the deception you have been living, because the pseudopersonality is programmed to defend your abusive wife and not to listen to any criticism of her and because accepting that you are in a relationship with a sociopath is a major deal. It means that the whole of your relationship has been built on lies, deception and abuse and needs to be reorganized. It's not just a bulb, or a fuse, it's the whole system that is corrupt.
I am not going to go into too much detail here, but if you are dealing with a psychopath, a sociopath or a narcissist, there are things you have to keep in mind at all times.
They will also abuse the children, imposing a pseudopersonality on them, too. As long as you are in a relationship with them, you will lose. There is no way to 'win' with someone like this. Their demands are unreasonable, erratic and constantly changing. There are lots of 'damned if you do and damned if you don't' situations.
They make their own rules and they tear up societies rules. And whoever makes the rules wins. Oh, and they will change the rules without telling you!
The only way to save yourself is not to play. You can't hope to manage people like this. Most of the time the legal system can't even manage them.
Any advice about how to stay in the relationship and manage them, deal with them, not take it personally or ignore them is going to cause you pain and suffering.
You need to get out to stop the abuse. Then you need to undo the pseudopersonality.
If you do nothing about the pseudopersonality, there is a great risk of getting caught in another abusive relationship. I know you think that now that you have seen what your wife is up to, you would recognize other abusers. Unfortunately, it doesn't work like that. There is no stereotypical abusive wife. They are all different characters with different manipulative skills.
When you come across others, they will, however, recognize that you were traumatized already and they will target you. While you still have the pseudopersonality and those beliefs and patterns of behavior in place, you are vulnerable to being caught.
Getting rid of the pseudopersonality and undoing the damage involves learning about what exactly was done to you, what were the stages in the abuse, how she was manipulating your decision making, your emotions and your behaviors. Only by understanding the how can you free yourself of the programming that was imposed on you, year after grueling year during your relationship.
If the words 'my wife is abusive' are rattling around in your head, you need more information. You need to be able to make sense of what was done to you. There is much more information available about abusive relationships, how a controlling wife influences your thinking and decision making, mind control, how to leave abusive relationships and how to divorce a sociopath.
Would you like to talk to someone about your situation?
If you think you are or have been in a cult or a destructive relationship, or a friend or family member might be in a cult and you want to talk to someone, send me a message on the Contact page and we can arrange to talk. All communication will be treated in the strictest confidence.
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