Abuse that bruises the Identity- How to Identify Controlling and Emotional Abusers

You think you’ve found the perfect guy to be in a relationship with and marry them. Everything he does is so touching, especially in the initial stages of the marriage. He seems so thoughtful, and goes out of the way to ensure that all of your needs are met. You enjoy your moments together and finally feel loved.  You do everything together as newlyweds, and ignoring the little red flags that pop up, because you do not want to see the hidden signs and want only to believe that this is true love.

There are red flags, tiny ones… but you choose to ignore them, thinking that these are merely your imagination.  They are the little things that eventually escalate to become the French inquisition down the road.  They can be simple things like the glare you receive when you smile at a waiter that smiles at you, a friend you see in public, that may be a male, and you speak cordially and then later your questioned with sarcasm, “so is that one of your boyfriends”.  Then there are the spouses of your girlfriends; that if they even smile and look at you, you must be sleeping with them or they “want” you.  These are the “first” of many signs to come that there is trouble ahead, be aware and take note, YOU ARE IN A CONTROLLING AND EMOTIONALLY ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIP.

The scary thing about a controlling marriage is that a lot of the time, we don’t even realize we’re in one. When you’re in love with someone, it’s sort of like putting on a pair of rose-colored glasses – you see the happy things, the things you want to see. It’s easy to ignore the ugly things – for example, that your spouse might be a little too controlling.  You don’t realize the full impact on how it degrades you and devalues your identity, until it has destroyed you enough to where you feel you cannot survive without the abuser.

Research has shown that the majority of emotionally controlling individuals have also battled addictions currently or in their past.  That is consistent with the cycle of controlling nature.  They cannot control their situations and be abusive so they turn to addictions to numb the need for control.  The controller feels they can control their addictions too.

As the relationship progresses, you find yourself altering your behavior to accommodate him, or to please him. Then, as it moves forward, more warning signs start to appear.  Emotional abuse can take on many faces. It can begin with your partner becoming irritable at the smallest of action, and turning it into your fault. The key word here is “fault”—as in it is always YOU that makes HIM direct the anger to you. When you try to understand this behavior and talk it out, he wants nothing to do with accepting any responsibility for the debate that ensues.   The usual “lines” will be somewhat like this; “You’re not happy with me are you, what is it I am doing to make you unhappy, why do you not like to be around me…”; just to list a few.  Do not answer these questions, walk away.  They are usually questions asked to trigger you to respond by saying, “I am happy dear…” that feed his controlling ego.

Gradually, your communication will deteriorate because anything that you say will force an adult conversation to erupt into him losing his cool and unleashing a tirade of subtle accusations, and blame anything but the true source, himself.

Sometimes we aren’t able to realize the impact of this emotional abuse until we get an outside perspective, that is, when someone recognizes it, or when we leave it and look back. Dealing with a controlling spouse isn’t easy and, unfortunately, it can turn into a mentally and physically abusive relationship way too easily.  It may take a decade or two before physical abuse happens, but eventually if you try to stand up for yourself it will and always does lead to that.  When a controlling individual feels they are about to lose what they abuse, they retaliate with anger and vengeful accusations in an attempt to make you feel that you are the problem. It is their only means of coping because they cannot truly accept responsibility for their behaviors.

There are several signs listed below that indicate your husband is emotionally and mentally abusive and too controlling – and if he is, get yourself out of there before it’s too late. If you can recognize most of them, and are experiencing at least three, you have a serious problem that requires professional help from a psychologist.  However getting a controlling spouse to seek therapy and be able to accept he is the problem, then your best option is to leave the relationship, because if he cannot accept he is the problem, therapy will do no good.

  •  Are you frequently misunderstood, and your intentions looked on as if they were considered dishonorable or manipulative? Do you end up feeling perplexed and frustrated?
  • Do you feel as if there is something wrong with you, you feel bad and can’t figure out why?
  • Does your husband almost always disagree with you, and the smallest of discussions evolve into a heated debate and you just give up in frustration?
  •  Do you feel obligated to “give in” just to keep the peace in the relationship? Are you continually finding yourself fighting back what you’d like to say, being afraid to have an opinion of your own?  This will over time begin to cause you to lose your identity, your personal feeling of self-ownership.
  • Does he seem bothered when you do things without you and subtly show his discontent by repeatedly questioning what you did to try and trip you up to the point even you become confused with what you did, and get frustrated?  (This might be the biggest sign of a controlling husband – that he doesn’t want you to do anything when he’s not involved. Just because you’re married doesn’t mean you guys can’t do stuff on your own sometimes. Your husband shouldn’t be getting suspicious of you for hanging with friends without him, going to party if he’s not around or innocently talking to guys without him there.  That is abusively controlling!  If he can’t let you have any time to yourself, that’s a sign that he wants to be in control of what you’re doing all the time. It’s not fair, and is most likely because he has no true friends he can hang out with and do his own thing, because if he did, he would not be around to control you.
  • Does he show signs of always needing to see your stuff and dig through things to get a sense of what you might be doing that he doesn’t know about?  Does he try to see your text messages?  Does he try to look at your Facebook and see what male friends might like your comments or postings?  It’s a sign that he doesn’t trust you and it’s also a way for him to check up on you – basically to make sure you’re not doing anything he doesn’t approve of.  Your personal stuff is private and not for your husband’s right to go through. Don’t ever feel like you have to share every part of your life with him. That is control.  It has nothing to do with trust, it has to do with his insecurities, and lack of trust in himself based on his past and actions that are questionable.
  • Does he seem to dislike all of your friends and the people they are in relationships with?  A controlling guy will usually hate on everyone else in your life because he wants to be your number one, all the time.  He will make comments about your girlfriends spouses looking at you the wrong way, or start accusing you of being with them, because of the way you “look” at one another.  He will become jealous of your friends and manipulate you to the point you either lose your friends or quit associating with them just to keep the peace.  They will get to the point they become so controlling and hate all of your friends so much that he slowly convinces you to stop talking to every single one of them. That’s not okay. In a relationship, you should both be able to have your own friends.  Most likely he has no true friends himself, because he has no  sense of handling anything he cannot be the controlling person in.
  • Do you often give into sex and your partner’s sexual demands just to keep peace—even if you don’t want to? Most women do.  That is because it is easier to give in to the demand than deal later with the questions and accusations of seeing or being with someone else.  It is a manipulative tool used by controlling and abusive spouses.  Although sometimes you may want intimacy, but a controlling person can only be intimate enough and please you enough to meet their need.  That is why you find yourself left behind in the enjoyment process of intimacy, because it is all about when they will get their jollies, even when they make false attempts to please you on occasion.
  • Does he always want to be with your 24/7? Aw, isn’t it so sweet when your husband wants to hang out every day and text every minute when you’re not together? Um, sort of, I guess? There’s a fine line between this being cute and this being controlling. In the beginning of the marriage, it’s cute. When things get more serious, it’s not always as cute. If a guy insists on being with you or talking to you 24/7, being able to talk to you when apart and repeatedly calling until you answer, and stating it is because they were concerned for your well being, it is bullshit. it means he wants to always know what you’re doing, and in several states is considered stalking. At that point, you need to be like, chill or I am out of this marriage… everyone needs a little space once in a while.

  • Can your partner laugh at his own mistakes, or even admit his own weaknesses and shortcomings…or is he too busy focused on why you make his life miserable?  Most controlling and abusive husbands cannot acknowledge their weaknesses because that requires they recognize they are the root of the marital problem.
  • Does he make comments and basically tell you what you can wear or do?  Your husband should never tell you what you can and cannot do.  A marriage license is not a license of ownership.  He shouldn’t be saying, “you can’t wear that” or “you can’t go there.”   You are an individual, you are not property to be owned or bossed around.

If you can answer yes to at least four of the above, you’re in a controlling, unhealthy abusive relationship.  Sometimes it takes decades to comprehend, but you need to have them get help, or get out, before it destroys your identity and who you are.  It will become like Stockholm syndrome, you will begin to think this is the norm, and lose any sense of individuality.

Continually having someone pointing out your faults, the faults of your family members or others and accusing  you of things that are false about you, and you are jumping through hoop after hoop trying to “fix” yourself to accommodate the relationship is a futile  and wasted effort.  They are never going to change.

You will never be what he wants you to be, even if you do manage to “make things right”—down the road there will be contradictions—and all the things you’ve “made right” will be wrong.

There are serious emotional issues with your partner that stem so far back into his life, and the only way that he is able to validate his life is through the total control and belittling of you through emotional games.    You ask yourself, “Is this love”?  No. But it certainly presents itself as love initially… until the internal monster emerges.

As tough as it may be, if you value you and your own sanity, stop. The only person you can ‘fix” in this relationship is you.

Here are a few good resources in recognizing abusive relationships that explain abuse does not necessarily involve physical abuse, and how widespread this type of abuse is in America, and how rampant it is among spouses of military members as well.

“Not all emotional abuse involves shouting or criticism. More common forms are “disengaging” – the distracted or preoccupied spouse – or “stonewalling” – the spouse who refuses to accept anyone else’s perspective”.

– See more at: http://compassionpower.com/emotional%20abuse%20verbal%20abuse.php#sthash.x2RIGvUs.dpuf

Other Resources:




©Copyright protected 2013: JD NWU Local 1981   

©United Press International,   ©International Association of Press Photographers and Journalists   Press ID # 1007490467

One thought on “Abuse that bruises the Identity- How to Identify Controlling and Emotional Abusers”

  1. I believe the military applauds this behavior. A review board is held, an anger management class is suggested, the spouse goes on welfare, the case stays local and the soldier gets promoted. The command protects the soldier at all costs and says we care about families.

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