They Do Exist.

How I Ended Up In An Emotionally Abusive Relationship

Editor’s Note: So much thanks to Katie Phillips for having the courage to share her story. She blogs at Lessons The World Has Taught Me. If you are in an emotionally or verbally abusive relationship, please visit our “Abuse & Unhealthy Relationships” section. You aren’t alone, it isn’t your fault, and there is a community of women ready and willing to hear your story and stand next to you as you learn to stand your ground all over again. – Lauren

When I was nineteen, I was kicked out of my mother’s house. At the time, I understood abuse as hitting or raping; I didn’t know that such a thing as emotional abuse occured, or that it could be just as damaging as the physical or sexual varieties. Nor did I know that it could rear its ugly head in so many different ways.

Very soon after I was kicked out, I met a man whom I will call Aaron. He seemed beautiful, in every way. We got very close very fast, and within a matter of weeks, claimed each other as boyfriend and girlfriend. To escape my living situation (I had an apartment with horrible roomates), I spent more and more nights in Aaron’s bed. Soon, I was spending whole weeks there without once going home. After a few months, we decided to get an apartment together, but I had to move between states on a low income. I remained on the lease with my roomates to keep my vehicle legal while I worked to fund the repairs for state inspection, and was unable pay for rent at Aaron’s house during that time.

I should take a minor break and tell you that I believed myself to be a strong woman. I had been abused in my parents’ house, and I thought I knew what abuse was all about. I knew all the facts: abused people abuse others, women who are abused as children are much more likely than their unabused counterparts to be caught in the same cycle. I remember hearing about the incident with Rhianna and Chris Brown, and I remember thinking “That will never happen to me.” I understood that my best friend was caught in a cycle of abuse, but I had no clue that that was exactly what was happening to me.

You see, as time passed, Aaron slowly caught me up in that same vicious abuse cycle. It began with little comments made in a temper fit, easily justifed by his “bad mood.” Those comments got worse, especially when I lost 20 hours a week at my job and lost my car, and had to rely on him completely. He blamed it on stress. He told me I was a loser, he told me that I had a million problems; that I was a workload and a codependent. He told me that I was broken, and that I always had been, and only he could fix me. I never questioned him. I believed him.

In the span of a year, he stole my confidence, my self-esteem, and my self-reliance. He removed me from my position of stability and put me in a position where I had nothing to give to myself, emotionally or economically. I was trapped.

Then, one night, after the only fight in which I held my ground, he did what he had never done before and started carting my possessions down to the street. He said, “you don’t live here, your name is not on the lease, you need to leave or I’m calling the police.” I left, I found myself a one-bedroom apartment, and began with nothing, not even a bed.

I stayed with him for another year, enduring the emotional turmoil because I loved him and because I didn’t believe I was worth a better man. Then, one night, he told me that he had dropped his standards to be with me. I tried to leave him then, but he begged me to stay. A week after that, in a “stressful” situation, he kicked me out of his car on a dark, cold, rainy night, miles from the nearest town. He did swing back around to pick me up, but I demanded to be taken home, and he said “If you ruin this night, I’ll never speak to you again.” I said: “OK.”

Right now, I’m working on a degree in psychology. I plan on taking it all the way up to the Master’s level so that I can practice psychotherapy. I’m still poor, but I have resources and connections now that I never would have considered when Aaron was my entire reality. I know men whose only agenda for their women is to provide for, protect, and love them. I also believe in myself, I discovered the vast potential within me that exists in every human being.

What did I learn about abuse?

Emotional abuse is just as damaging as physical or sexual, albeit in different ways, and is often more dangerous because of its subtlety. It can happen to anybody, even the smartest, most ass-kicking woman on the planet.

Abusers don’t abuse you because there’s something wrong with YOU. Something inside of them is broken, and you can’t fix it. Oh, they may blame you for it all the time, but that does not make it your fault, or your responsibility.

What did I learn about myself and my relationships?

1. NEVER let another person make you believe you are broken and they are the only one who can fix you.  Your flaws are your responsibility. No human can be your savior.

2. NEVER let another person define your mistakes or imperfections for you. What you like about yourself and what you don’t like about yourself are up to you to decide, no other person has that right.

3. KNOW that a man who’s worth that title will provide for you and protect you, that he will never trap you, and that if he does hurt you, he will shake the world to make it better.

4. KNOW that you, yes, little old you, are a gift to the whole world. You are not a workload, a project, a security blanket, or a sidekick, and nobody should ever make you feel that way.

You have it within you to move mountains and boil seas. You are the person who endures immeasurable pain to bring life into the world. You are the person swimming against the socioeconomic tide to make something of yourself. You are the person who will give every little bit of yourself to make another person happy. Love yourself for what you give to the world, and never settle for a man who doesn’t see what you give too.


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24 Responses

  1. Thank you Katie for sharing this amazing story! It hit me to the very core. I have been where you have been! Your blog is now in my google reader, so please post often, I'd love to hear more from you. You are going to do amazing things – I just know it! <3

    February 21, 2012 at 8:45 pm

  2. Sal

    Wow Katie! Thanks so much for sharing your story! I'm so sorry you had to go through that.

    February 21, 2012 at 9:11 pm

  3. I'm crying. Ohmygosh.. having been in an emotionally absuive relationship before.. this just reminded me of the hurt that came with all that. Thank you for writing this. You are very strong. God bless you!

    February 21, 2012 at 9:21 pm

  4. Nduku

    This is soooo true. Thank you for sharing. I always tell my friends if someone is constantly putting you down, the problem is with them and not you…thanks again for sharing

    February 21, 2012 at 11:28 pm

  5. thank you for your bravery and words. I know what it's like to have been in a relationship like that.. and you truly do doubt yourself. Congratulations on getting out of it and knowing that you are amazing and special and no man can put you down. I wish you all the success in the world. Go get that Masters girl. You deserve it! :)

    February 22, 2012 at 12:04 am

  6. sharayah

    Thank you so much for sharing. <3 Blessings to you. I hope girls hear your story and feel like there is still hope.

    February 22, 2012 at 2:05 am

  7. Katie Phillips

    Thank you guys! I'm glad it resonated so strongly :)

    February 22, 2012 at 9:48 am

  8. I really enjoyed this post. It's always a gift to hear other people share their stories of having experienced difficult, seemingly insurmountable circumstances and then overcome them by taking responsibility for their life. Congratulations on having created a vision for your future…

    February 22, 2012 at 10:12 am

  9. Anna Kaye

    Thank you so much for posting this! What an encouragement! I have been in a verbally abusive relationship before so I know the vicious cycle and the toil it can take on you. It's a blessing to know you aren't alone in your struggles and in the end you will come out victorious.

    February 22, 2012 at 11:04 am

  10. "KNOW that a man who’s worth that title will provide for you and protect you, that he will never trap you, and that if he does hurt you, he will shake the world to make it better." Great line, a great reminder for guys trying to be good.

    February 22, 2012 at 5:36 pm

  11. This is an amazing post. Thank you for writing it!

    February 22, 2012 at 7:49 pm

  12. Pardon the brevity. BRAVO!

    February 24, 2012 at 10:57 am

  13. Kelly

    I wish I'd known this before I got married. I didn't think I deserved to be treated any better. Turns out, after you get married, abuse only gets worse. My husband and I are Christians and our church strongly opposes divorce. I've tried to talk with others at church about it, tried to figure out how we can work on it, gone with my husband to a Christian counselor, and while everyone (even my husband) acknowledges that he is emotionally and verbally abusive on a regular basis, no one thinks that makes it ok for me to divorce him. And so it continues.

    It's been 3 long, miserable years now and nothing is changing. When I think about spending the rest of my life like this, I just want to die. I know that's wrong (and I'd never commit suicide or anything), but really…I don't want to live like this and I don't know what to do about it. So I'm just trying to keep going, trying not to provoke him, trying to be the person I think God wants me to be. It could be a lost worse, I suppose.

    Katie, thanks for sharing your wisdom. Hopefully you will save lots of other young women from making the horrible mistake I did.

    April 15, 2012 at 6:04 pm

  14. samariegee

    It was the hardest thing for me to believe I wasn't to blame for my ex's abusive behavior. After almost a year of separation, I've come to terms that he is broken and has his own issues to solve: I couldn't help in that department. It was impossible for me to believe that he was abusing me because he built his entire image around being a family man and a devout Christian. I started to defend him with his resume instead of who he proved to be.

    Anyway, I loved this article! Thanks for reminding us that we're important and worth more than what an abusive man has to offer. Once we start to believe that, it's smooth sailing from here.

    August 27, 2012 at 6:53 pm

  15. cheryl

    i just need help finding a way to get to a safe place he does not hit me but the things he says make me wish i was hit instead of talked to like that.

    October 15, 2012 at 8:24 am

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    February 21, 2014 at 1:02 am

  17. Tanya

    Being independent and confident seems like just wishful thinking at this point in my life. Seeing how you've come from the abuse of a trusted partner and found the strong woman inside of you, gives me a bit of hope for myself. I've been married for a year, and My husband bullies me constantly but I'm just so afraid to leave him, he has me trapped emotionally and financially. This is the first time I've been to a site like this and I'm so happy to have found an outlet, but where do I go from here?

    February 21, 2014 at 10:09 pm

  18. cynthia

    My name is cynthia and my ex-boyfriend dumped me 8 months ago after I caught him of having an affair with someone else and insulting him. I want him back in my life but he refuse to have any contact with me. I was so confuse and don’t know what to do, so I visited the INTERNET for help and I saw a testimony on how a spell caster help them to get their ex back so I contact the spell caster and explain my problems to him….. he cast a spell for me and assure me of 2 days that my ex will return to me and to my greatest surprise the third day my peter came knocking on my door and beg for forgiveness. I am so happy that my love is back again and not only that, we are about to get married. Once again thank you DR.CHECK spell caster, you are truly talented and gifted contact his email:templeoflove1@yahoo.com

    March 3, 2014 at 10:35 am

  19. BRUNELDANATO11

    Probably all this testimony you read about spell casting online are spam right?And yeah some are spam some think all of them are spam which is totally not bad and i also know some believe spell casting really works but have not been able to find the right one. Well i think i found the right spell caster Metodo. I know he is real not cos he helped me but because i was there in his temple i Have seen him and his temple and i tell you it can't get more really that what am writing now. I know you may want to know why and what lead me to contact a spell caster i am a south African woman here in south African as a matter of fact in Africa having a male child is like the most important thing in a marriage and it turned out that i am married to a very traditional man as in a he believes the male child carry the family name on and on but the females get married and change there name which is true. I were married for six years and i had no male child for him. Maybe friends and family filled his head with a lot of things like i don't have a male child for him and as a result he need to get a divorce and get another wife that can bear him a male child. I always thought the people that filled his head with this ideas where is family and friends the people that i smile and dine with. The very people who ought to have advice him rightly. I never found out if they where involved in wanting to ruin life and my marriage. Not because i could not find out but cost i didn't want to develop hatred for them cos i will always get to see them and it is not really healthy seeing the faces of people you hate. At that time, i mean before i knew my husband got himself a lover i was paranoid about him having a lover cos our lives changed a lot he starting coming home late he wouldn't touch me any more and even he started avoiding me in our home making up excuses to stay all day in his study room doing nothing and telling me his need something off to clear his head. We had fights all the time i brought up the matter if he was see someone else. Maybe he got tired of lying i don't know he finally asked for a divorce. A divorce my family saw him through his university and got him a got job i told myself and now he's asking me for a divorce cos i don't a male child yet for him. He was ready to let go of his three beautiful daughters he asked that i take them along. Maybe he was a real f**l and didn't know what he had and maybe he didn't deserve someone like me but one thing was crystal clear to me i was still in love with him and i wanted a complete family for my kid that and the fact that i raised him from the gutter i didn't care about any of his problem when i married him and i forgot to say my father never approved our marriage but still i jumped into it thinking we are going to have each other forever. Though we are still together now but its cos of the spell i had metodo cast on him to make him see how much he needs me in this life. When i contacted metodo he asked that i get the materials for the spell which i did and delivered the materials to him in person that is to say i came in contact with him. I was to return in to his temple in 7 seven day and within those seven day he gave me a blessed a red candle asking that i command and say whatever i wanted every night within those seven days which i did on the seventh day when i returned to metodo temple he gave a harmless powerful substance with instruction on how to use it. This might seem like fiction or lie or what ever you lucky reads may think but deep down you know it true you just looking for a way not to get involved. I ve got my husband back and my family life couldn't be better thanks to the spell though i don't have a male child for him at least his them lover bore him one. contact him with his email if you want his help metodoacamufortress @ yahoo. com

    August 18, 2014 at 9:47 am

  20. The very first emotion that a child experiences and learns is “trust”. A child has an attachment with his mother or his care giver, this attachment develops trust in child. If this attachment will be disturbed or child will feel insecure because of any reason, the trust level of that child will not be as strong as it must be.

    July 2, 2015 at 3:48 am

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