The things an abusive husband says can be devastating, but in different ways. Being on the receiving end of these messages on a regular basis means that the listener's self-confidence is eroded, their perceptions change, their thinking and decision-making is affected in particular ways, they are constantly on the emotional rollercoaster and the behaviour is altered. What this amounts to is basically a personality change. People who were previously outgoing, sociable, energetic, upbeat and generally happy become beaten down, subservient, introverted and unable to stand up for themselves.
It's not enough to recognise that what somebody is saying to you is abusive. In order to undo the effects, you have to understand why they are doing it, the effects it is having on you and how specifically your thoughts and behaviours are being controlled. With that in mind, let's have a look at some of the things an abusive husband says and analyse what's happening in the background.
This may come as a surprise in an article like this, but it's important to recognise that abusive people will make you feel fantastic at the start of a relationship. This has many effects. First of all, it makes you feel special, it makes you feel wanted, cared for and even loved. Secondly it creates an impression in your mind that this person in front of you is a wonderful partner. The manipulators know that first impressions are very important and they go out of their way to create a great one. Once this impression is firmly in place it can be very difficult to change it, as you know. And thirdly, it very quickly creates a bond between you and the abuser, a bond that is typically stronger than in normal healthy relationships.
The abuser will tell you things such as how special you are, how different from previous partners you are, how they feel special with you and how you bring out the best in them. They will offer you the sun, the moon and the stars. They will make you feel that they can fulfil your dreams and desires. They will talk about destiny, soulmates, the universe leading them to you and so on. This is the phase of love bombing.
This phase only lasts until they know that you have made some kind of firm commitment to the relationship.
The abusers soon begin to impose their terms and conditions on the relationship. I want you to do x, it upsets me when you do y, my ex used to do z and I didn't like it. Because things are so good in the relationship you are quite happy to oblige to keep things nice between you. It doesn't seem like an imposition. You are finding out what he likes and doesn't like and you feel that it's appropriate to compromise, again because you want the good times to continue.
These are usually small things, for example, not cooking certain foods, dressing up nicely to go out with him, not talking about certain subjects and so on. At this stage, you are also allowed to say such things. However, you may notice that he pays no attention to your wants and needs. But you dismiss it, because, hey, things are really great, it's early days, and he will learn.
These small things may not seem very important but the fact is he's getting you used to treating him a certain way. He's training you to pay attention to his wants and desires and to provide them for him.
At some point, his terms and conditions become critical. In other words, he starts to send messages that unless he gets what he wants the relationship is not going to continue. "I don't know if I can go on like this if you continue to do that behaviour," or "this thing is very important to me and if you can't provide it then I will need to get it somewhere else." Sometimes they will be more blunt and and even say that certain things are deal breakers, or that if you want to stay in a relationship with them you have to do or be a certain thing.
Another group of things an abusive husband says has to do with destroying your self esteem, changing your perception of yourself, and basically breaking down your personality. I should say that these groups of things are not necessarily occurring one after the other but rather there is lots of overlap. For example, the criticisms of who you are can start at the same time as they start imposing their rules on you, or even before!
In this group are the usual things about him calling you stupid, worthless, pathetic, crazy, lazy, deluded, not right in the head and so on.
Something to watch out for, though, is when they start calling you the opposite of what you think you actually are. For example, you consider yourself generous and he calls you mean. You consider yourself honest and he calls you a liar. You are known for always considering others and he calls you selfish and self-centred.
This is important because over time it makes you begin to doubt yourself. It makes you question your perception of yourself. This tactic is also used with the tactic of repetition. An abusive husband will repeat these ideas over and over and over again for weeks, months and even years. This repetition is important because studies have shown that if three people tell you something you are likely to believe it. And if one person tells you the same thing three times it has 90% of the effect of three different people giving you the information. So just think about how often your abusive husband has said certain things to you over the years. You will typically end up believing these things even when they're absolutely not true.
All this has the effect of making you not like yourself and drives you to want to change, in order to please your husband. Some people may say to you that if people spoke to them like that they would just leave. But you know that in such a situation walking away is just not an option. I'm not going to explain why here, but you can read more about this idea in this article on why people stay in abusive relationships.
There is another group of things an abusive husband says that actually shuts down your thinking.
What happens here is when you have a problem or a criticism or you want something for yourself, he shuts you down. It becomes difficult for you to think when he says these things. It's almost impossible to continue the conversation. It becomes easier for you to give up and stop trying to get what you want.
These things are said to deliberately make you doubt your perceptions and your reality.
If an abusive husband can make you doubt yourself, well then, who are you going to depend on? On them, of course! In this way, they convince you of all sorts of things and basically build a reality and force you to live in this reality. This reality often has nothing to do with the real world.
One of the typical things an abusive husband says is that it's always your fault. Anything bad that happens you get the blame for. He will even blame you for his own outbursts of temper, bad behaviour and so on. "Look what you made me do! I am only responding to what you did or said!"
He is never in the wrong. Somebody else messed up (usually you!), there were things beyond his control or he was the victim of somebody who is actively working against him.
Another common ploy when things don't work out is for him to say he didn't want that thing anyway, he'd already changed his mind and was aiming for something else.
These things are simply reinforcing the power imbalance in the relationship, putting you in your place.
The idea of threatening divorce is a particularly nasty technique because of the dependency of the victim on the abuser. The victim does not want to lose the abuser and the abuser knows this. The abuser threatens to leave knowing that the victim will jump to do whatever it takes to stay in the relationship. Some abusers will even threaten divorce 2 or 3 times a week to get what they want. This scenario is actually a living hell for the victim.
This tactic is typical of psychopaths and narcissists. When you find yourself on the receiving end of accusations of being lazy, selfish, making a big deal of things, expecting too much, never being satisfied, not caring about the relationship and so on, have a look at your accuser's behaviour. Chances are that outsiders would think that your accuser is guilty of these things himself.
The manipulators can be very creative in taking things you do and distorting them to make you out to be the bad one. For example, you express a desire to do something and the manipulator criticizes you for not discussing it with them first. You are described as selfish and uncaring and not at all considerate. The manipulator then tells you what's actually going to happen. Very often there's been no discussion about it at all and they, in fact, are the ones who are being selfish and inconsiderate. However, they leave you feeling guilty because you believe you were the one acting this way.
These are just a sampling of the nasty things abusive husbands say. Other things include giving you a hard time because you have emotions, criticizing your friends and family with the purpose of turning you against them in order to isolate you from your support networks, and criticizing your personality rather than your behaviors or beliefs. For example, instead of saying "That's a ridiculous idea," they will say "You are ridiculous for even thinking that!" This is part of the destruction of the personality that I mentioned above.
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