Is This Emotional Abuse?

I understand now that to even counsel together with him was a HUGE mistake because it revealed my weaknesses to him when I would pour out my heart at these sessions and that was exactly the kind of thing he was after–giving him more ways to attack. He even admitted a few weeks ago that he says things to get an emotional response from me. He quit his job, again, last week–the third one since May. What I am wondering is — is this a new form of emotional abuse.

He knows he will have the police to reckon with if he gets physical and he knows that neither me nor the children will tolerate his verbal rages so this certainly appears to be a new form of “torture”. We now have no income (other than my part time work) and no insurance. . . .

I know that I can no longer live this way and he is getting worse instead of better. What would you say to someone in my position? I just want peace in my house—my anxiety levels have increased tremendously and I truly hate how oppressive the atmosphere is here.


Dear Anxious:

You have given a perfect example why we do not recommend couple’s counseling in cases of domestic violence. Often what has been said in counseling will be used against the victim when she returns home.

Not providing for one’s family by not working is another form of emotional abuse. Sometimes when an abuser knows that he will have to face the police if he physically abuses the victim, he will choose to increase the emotional abuse because there are no physical signs that would cause him to go to jail.

It sounds like you have come to the conclusion that you can no longer live this way. It is time to think of your options.

Your options:

1. Stay and do nothing and nothing will change.
2. Look for a job for yourself in order to become financially independent of him.
3. Set a boundary with appropriate consequences with him giving him a length of time to obtain a job and remain on the job.
4. Find those that will be a support system for you and accountability for him.
5. Consider separation for a period of time to see if he will change.
6. Start doing things that you enjoy doing to help release the stress.

FOCUS Ministries

3 Comments on “Is This Emotional Abuse?

  1. I was so afraid my husband would leave me all alone with our new baby that I agreed to only talk about his issues with our pastor during our sessions. I had postpartum depression and was being emotionally and sexually abused by my husband. During the sessions my pastor and his wife saw me deteriorate to almost 100lbs due to stress and they kept encouraging me to be submissive, patient, and loving. My husband loved the focus on him and continued to mistreat and neglect me at home. One night after he punched a hole through the wall I finally filed a restraining order to protect me and our baby boy. Our pastor saw the hole, and defended my now ex. He disregarded having agreed to only dealing with my ex’s concerns of me and ignored all the abuse he was putting me through. He ended up representing him in court and even writing letters on his behalf. I since lost my job, had to have surgery to correct damage my ex did to my leg, and have been wiped out financially while my ex makes more than 100k per year. I feel betrayed by my pastor and the whole church who looked the other way. My only comfort is that God, my family, and the few friends he did not succeed in isolating me from know what really happened. My son will one day be able to read and see the proof too. Come to find out his retaliation with me was all a cover up for a long time affair he was having with his male best friend who is also in law enforcement. My life now is finally calm, the divorce is almost final, and my son and I are safe, happy, and enjoying God’s blessings more and more each day. My heart goes out to you because I know that that unless you have tons of money for attorneys there is no help for people like us. Be strong and remember to smile, its the only way you can hurt evil men.

  2. My heart goes out to anyone who is being affected by abuse. I live with a man who is an expert at emotional abuse. I wanted to visit my aunt and uncle who live in Florida. He told me we couldn’t afford for me to fly or take a bus, I had to drive. When I arrived here, he called me and told me that we were receiving a large chunk of money for our tax refund. Coincidence? I don’t think so. Things like this have happened too many times. He puts me down in private and when we are with others. He tries to isolate me by saying negative things about me to friends or putting me in a position in which I am forced to break promises I made to them. The only reason I stay is that we live near our daughter and granddaughter, who I watch a couple of times a week. If I left, I would probably lose access to the grandbaby. People would never believe what I say about him, because he is so personable in public. It is a very challenging situation to live in, and I pray for the day when I am able to get out of it.

  3. What if you can’t be financially independent, and he knows he can financially abuse you? My ex is always threatening to leave me with nothing. So I give in to his demands. I have tried to find some part-time income, but trying to juggle that with raising a toddler is hard. When he found out that I managed to get some part-time work, he tried to get access to my money and called me financially abusive for making him pay child support when I was getting some money of my own. The trouble is his child support dropped after he quit his job, and he keeps threatening to lose his job and blame it on me.

    I also know what it’s like when their abuse turns from physical to emotional. People are quick to help when they can see the bruises. But when you suffer emotional abuse, they collude and help with the abuse. I don’t think pastors mean to be partners in crime, but so often they end up rubbing salt to the wound.

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