victory over fear An anonymous reader commented on my Emotional Abuse page this morning. I have provided part of the comment below:

I would like your opinion on abusive/emotional abused relationships (AR) which can also be classified as part of typical chronic stress. I am very curious around the following: IF such circumstances (AR) prevail to such an extent and for a very long period of time (say decades) that the brain functionality within such a victim can shutdown in the form of dementia as some type of inherent protection. I can maybe describe the situation as if the soul of such a person goes into hiding within her/his body? Usually found within a relationship of a very successful driven person, married to someone very supportive, subordinate or “slave” type of relationship. As many studies show and you stated that such a person becomes so used to AR within such a relationship that they seldom realizes the ongoing AR until the mind/brain decides for them?

I initially sensed this person was trying to make excuses for the abuser, trying to make a connection between successful people and their stress levels as a cause/reason for the abuse. Then I thought maybe the reader is talking about her own stress induced by the abuse tucked away subconsciously.

Because I am no therapist or counselor and only have my own experiences and the experiences of other survivors as resources, I worry that my answer (provided below) may be insufficient. Please provide your comments to help add more clarity for the reader.

What you describe is what happens in all situations of abuse regardless of the abuser’s success in business. The abuser could simply have a notion that he/she is successful. People who mentally, emotionally, verbally, spiritually, and physically abuse others are NOT superior humans, not evolved in any way. Somewhere along the line their ability to solve-problems using their cognitive abilities was interrupted/aborted. What they excel at is the primitive abilities to cry, manipulate, and make demands in order to guilt their victims into complying with the abuser’s needs. And their biggest need is to control their victims. It’s the ultimate goal…CONTROL.

A business man who can’t control the changing market or decisions of others WILL seek to control what and who he can control. More often than not, it’s a subservient wife, his children, his pets, or the help, just to name a few. All of these people have become dependent on the abuser financially, and the abuser WILL use that to his advantage. The victims feel helpless to act against the abuser, because the abuser has threatened the victim, made the victim believe she/he can’t survive without him. And the abuser is correct. The victim can’t survive or live as she/he has been living with the luxuries the abuser has provided.

So, the victim shuts down and goes into herself, as you describe. But this is where the lines become blurred. Who is in control and who has simply given up control? We as human beings can’t be controlled unless we allow someone to control us. It’s difficult to come to this realization when you are being beaten up on a daily basis verbally, emotional, physically, spiritually, and sexually.

As soon as we realize we want to take back control, that’s when we stop being the victim. But in shedding the victim robe, we must also be aware of the increased responsibilities associated with being independent. Being independent and responsible is not an easy position for long-time victims to transition. Most victims initially lose many things: money, possessions, friends, jobs, and possibly ties to their community and their church. The victim, not the abuser, must make all of the changes. The abuser is free to continue being just as he has always been.

It’s a frightening prospect to be faced with losing everything and be prepared for your abuser to keep reminding you of this in hopes you’ll change your mind and remain his prisoner/slave. It’s about choice. Really. And it’s about being okay with the pain of emerging from your cocoon and wanting to live with 100% accountability of what and whom you become.

I welcomed the pain, having faith that there was something much more beautiful than the hell I found myself. I hope this makes sense to you. ~Paula

If you would like to comment privately, you may send me a message through my Contact Me page.


abuse, domestic violence, Emotional Abuse, Health, Mental Health, PTSD, Relationships, Self Improvement, Spirituality
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Join the conversation! 10 Comments

  1. I have just gotten out of a 15 year relationship with a person who I now know to be a narcissist. It was a lesbian relationship, which is only important because I have a 4 year old son, but have no legal right to him, like I was promised. She is the bio mom. I just got out on Oct. 1, so although its been a while I feel like it just happened. My situation is unique in some respects because I am unwilling to walk away completely because of my son. He does not like her or believe that she loves him. Before I left, she had another girlfriend who within one month moved in, married her (in another state so I don’t know why), and began seeing a doctor to get pregnant. Now the girlfriend has quit her job to go to school (and be my son’s new mom I guess), I have seen my son a handful of times since I left, and that was when she had no other option.I was a good mom, and I am devastated over not seeing my son ( which she promised). I literally see no avenue to him other than to wait and continue to be nice. She knows how I feel about him and keeps him away from me to hurt me. He wants to see me and I want to see him. Can anyone help me?


    • Oh, I am so sorry. I don’t know much about the legal rights of a guardian/parent in this situation. Would you object to me sharing it with the blog owner of One Mom’s Battle? She has an impressive following of men and women who have experience with custody rights and visitation of minor children in divorce and separations. Someone MUST have a clue as to where you can begin. My biggest question to people like your ex: Why would you deny a child the love of a parent? Even if you aren’t the biological parent, the child was with you and grew to love you and rely on you. You created a mother-child bond in a sense. Let me know if you agree to me sharing your question and concerns. ~Paula


  2. I think I understand what this person is describing, yet I can only view it through my own eyes. I may be way off, as a result.

    I think she is asking, trying to understand what is left of HER. I, too, have experienced and am still experiencing the ‘dementia’ like thing. I have been fighting since the day I realized what I was dealing with, in my abusive relationship, to regain some emotional and psychological freedom. I have been trying to get back to ‘normal’. I still fight the supposed dementia that I’m left with, as it seems to have affected my memory, thought processes and daily interactions with other people. It’s embarrassing and ultimately produces a defeated mindset. Each time, I shake it off (the embarrassment) and continue as though my reactions are normal to others. They might not notice at all, what is so obvious to you. It’s important to understand what you got out of, and put a name on it. It doesn’t mean you will understand fully at all, but it does give some vindication to the survivor.


    • Thank you! What you write, resonates with me, too, and a few others I have connected to through my blog. Many refer to the “dementia” as a state of being engulfed in a fog, unsure of where to look for the light. It’s there. Just keep moving forward. 🙂


  3. Deciphering an abusive relationship is tough. There are relationships out there with one successful out in business and one appearing to be in a subservient, or slave, position at home. There are men who acknowledge and respect that their freedom to succeed in business is a direct result of the support they receive at home. They understand that without this support, things would be different. Both parties know this in these relationships and the “slave” isn’t at all, but a supportive wife who has her own life. She can do volunteer work or go to book clubs and she does this with equal freedom and support.
    Then there are relationships with one successful out in business and one in a subservient, or slave, position at home. In the abusive relationship, the success is a result of individual superiority and whether or not they have support at home is of no consequence. Both parties know this because the abuser will remind his victim that he is better, smarter, and stronger and everyone should be glad to have him on their side. On the odd occasion that the woman at home “supporting” him does go to book club, she will return to a tirade about her selfishness in attempting any independence and that he is so great she should be satisfied at staying by his side and his side alone (except when he goes out with his friends because he is the success and has earned it).
    Looking from the inside in, it’s hard to tell, at first. Looking from the outside in, it’s hard to tell the difference, at first. To know the difference requires some honest observation and a willingness to accept the truth, ugly or not.


  4. I can’t believe how you have nailed it. Stuff that has been whirling through my mind lately. I really need to find someone to walk me out of this.


    • I’m glad I was able to help, Robin. I bet there is someone in your life right now who has been waiting for you to ask for their help. People who are on the outside looking in often know more than we think they know. And they’re the ones who have no judgment, as well. Look around you. There is someone ready to help walk you out… 🙂


  5. Great response to the question. I would add that the person with the question start reading everything they can find on Narcissitic Personality Disorder. Abuse does not equal sucess–and sucess doe not give one the right to abuse. Any many Narc’s act as if they are sucessful but it’s usually an illusion which hides abuse.


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