About My Emotionally Abusive Relationship


For years I have kept this post in the blogging bank section of my brain. I’ve always wanted to write about this experience but have never really thought that I had enough distance from it all to be able to post something like this. After my friend Kate posted something similar, I thought I’d take the leap and finally write this up.

I fell pretty much as soon as I met him. Though we were completely different, in age, looks, background, I found his charm irresistible. He was a person who had done things with his life, who had really interesting interests, who knew things I didn’t know and would tell me with great passion about everything.

Within a few months of us meeting each other, we started dating. We’d skip around parks, giggling to each other, spend hours lazing around telling each other stories. Over Christmas when we were separated, we’d text each other with hilarious innuendo for hours and hours. Those were months in which I was ridiculously happy.

Then in the new year, something changed. The giggles grew less frequent. He was less up for telling me lots of things and was tired of how inexperienced I was in life.

The controlling started slowly. We’d always kept our relationship on the low-down, but he started asking me to do things like use Facebook circles to limit who can see posts about us. Given the circumstances, this was understandable but it turned into him telling me I use Facebook way too much and critisising me for it.

Like Kate, I also had comments about my fashion. Though he was never firm about it, he made it clear that he preferred me in more down-to-earth outfits. I

There were days when I’d wake up and he just wouldn’t look at me. He’d stare at the ceiling and when I tried to talk with him or interact with him, it would be like I wasn’t there. Only when I’d got dressed and put my shoes on to go out the door did he spring to life, say sorry and then be normal again.

Despite our problems, I adored him. For every bad day there were two good days, which was a ratio I was happy with.

Then he broke up with me. He said he just didn’t want to be with me anymore, he’d fallen out of love. I sobbed into my hands, but said that I understand.

The months following this were hell. I had asked for him back, and he had said OK. I spent months trying to be the person he wanted me to be, just so we could go back to how we were before. Looking back, I hate myself for doing this.

A cycle started forming. We would be together for about a week or maybe two. Then I’d do something that would anger him (anything from using facebook too much to not realising that “Köln” is German for Cologne). He’d shout at me, scream at me. Tell me I was stupid. Tell me I had social problems. Tell me I made people feel uncomfortable. Tell me that he felt more like my dad than my boyfriend because I went to him with my problems and expected advice. Knock me down until I was rock bottom. Then dump me.

It would take sometimes days, but he would phone me, crying. Telling me he loves me and that he’s sorry and that he wouldn’t do it again. He’d beg me to go back to him. And every time, I did. He’d be awesome for a week or so, then it would happen again.

This cycle happened over and over for the whole of the summer, into September. Every time we got together, I would try my hardest to not be all the things he said I was, to try and be the person he wanted to date. I told my friends to stop me from going back to him, but then I’d hear him pleading and go back in secret.

Kate used an amazing quote from Lauren Laverne in her post that is exactly how I was feeling at that point:

“…it’s like being put in a box. How you end up in there is the biggest trick…Maybe you think it’s a treasure box at first: you’re in there because you’re special. Soon the box starts to shrink. Every time you touch the edges there is an “argument”. So you try to make yourself fit. You curl up, become smaller, quieter, remove the excessive, offensive parts of your personality – you begin to notice lots of these. You eliminate people and interests, change your behaviour. But still the box gets smaller. You think it’s your fault. The terrible, unforgivable too-muchness of you is to blame. You don’t realise that the box is shrinking, or who is making it smaller. You don’t yet understand that you will never, ever be tiny enough to fit, or silent enough to avoid a row…”

It only occurred to me that it was an emotionally abusive relationship when I was sobbing into the shoulders of my friends (who were absolutely awesome during the whole thing). I was telling them about the latest shouting session and about how rotten I felt as a person when they told me it was abuse and that I needed to get out of there fast.

When people used to complain about Rihanna and Chris Brown, it used to make me so angry. It seemed obvious to people on the outside – he hurts her so she should just leave. But I know that when you love someone like that, and you can see that they have problems, you can’t leave their side. A combination of you not wanting a life without them and you wanting to somehow fix them makes leaving them the hardest thing to do.

During one particularly long breakup during which I had started casually seeing another guy to try and take my mind off of things, my ex came to me with gluten free muffins (that he’d made himself), sat me down by a fountain in town and asked for me back. I told him I couldn’t, that I was seeing someone else because I couldn’t go back to him. When he knew that I had been with another guy, he vomited on the ground then passed out.

After that, I got him to agree to go to the doctors because he really needed help.

To this day, I don’t know what his diagnosed problem(s) was(were). Perhaps depression. Perhaps something else. Perhaps him knowing that I wasn’t the one for him but not wanting to be alone made him like that. Perhaps he loved me all along but had medical problems that blocked him from me. I don’t know.

Being around people with problems such as this is really hard because, first and foremost, you love them. But they’re really shit to you and make you feel like shit. But you need to keep in mind that it may not be them that is bad, it’s the problem they are having that is bad. You want to be there for them, to fix them, but at the same time you need to stay at a distance from them that will keep you safe and happy yourself. For me, this distance was for him to not be in any part of my life. And I slowly built myself back up with amazing friends, a short but life-changing new relationship, and of course, my stand-up comedy, which proved that I don’t make people feel awkward and that I am not socially difficult. I am awesome.

There’s not much of a conclusion to this post, but I’m happy that I could get it off of my chest and share my story, and I want to reach out to anyone out there who has been or is currently in a relationship like this. Just as Kate concluded – talk with someone (I don’t mind if it is me – my email is on the contact page) because it’s important to know that you CAN’T fix them (no really, you can’t) but you can keep yourself healthy and happy. And that we should all talk about this kind of thing more, to help each other.




  1. I’m so glad you did a post about this because I rarely hear about emotionally abusive relationships. I feel like this type of abuse really changes a person for a long time. I was in a relationship like that for 6 years and didn’t recognize it as abuse. Now I’m almost 30 and I’m still recovering and learning to be myself and not who someone wants me to be. I’ve never told anyone about my experience, but maybe someday I will write about it. Thanks!
    Antonia recently posted…It’s Not Always Perfect in ParadiseMy Profile

    • Thank you so much, that means a lot to me. I’ve written this to make it be spoken about more. 6 years is a long time, and learning to be yourself again is surprisingly tough. I know that feel.

  2. Well done for posting this 🙂 I think the most important thing is realising that people like this won’t change unless you leave, and if you go back, everything they promised will go out the window. You have to leave for good for them to get help. It’s harsh, and it’s so hard to leave them when you think you can help them change, but I think it’s the only way.

  3. I read that Lauren Laverne article at the weekend and am really glad it seems that people are using it as an opportunity to start sharing their stories too. Emotional abuse is such an incredibly difficult thing for people with no experience of it to understand, and it’s impossible to really get a handle on how destructive it is, and how difficult it is to extract yourself from it, for someone who hasn’t experienced it themselves.

    7 years on and I’m still dealing with the effects of a two-year friendship with a colleague (and now very much, finally, thank ****, ex-friend) who made my life utter hell. That’s the other thing: people don’t realise emotional abuse exists not just within a couple. “Breaking up” with this (female) friend was by far the most horrific break-up of my life!

    Anyway, hugs for you and good on you for sharing your story 🙂
    Frau Dietz (Eating Wiesbaden) recently posted…The Weekly Shop: a whisky hut, a Weinstube and a lot of wedding wineMy Profile

    • I’ve had toxic relationships with friends, but never abusive. Breaking up with friends is so difficult – I can’t even imagine how hard it must have been for you.

  4. Wow, Charlotte – thank you for telling your story. Big best wishes from the other side of the planet!
    Henry | @fotoeins recently posted…Fotoeins Friday: Scotland’s Referendum – Leave or Stay?My Profile

  5. This was such a brave and moving piece, thank you for writing it.
    Janet recently posted…Good stuff: Links & likesMy Profile

  6. Thank you for sharing this! It’s hard putting something like this out there, but I’m glad you did! I always see stories of celebrities and think that it’s so obvious, but reading this made me realize that it’s not. You’re in it and you can’t see it from the outside. I’m so glad you realized that something was wrong and that you deserve better because you do! We all deserve to be with someone who treats us right! 🙂
    Sara Strauss recently posted…Influenster Vox BoxMy Profile

  7. This was such a touching post. I had a terrible relationship in high school with a controlling guy and then my best friend was in one too, both emotionally and physically abusive and I always stood by her side and tried to pull her out of the rut she had fallen in. It’s really hard, and it’s true that you can’t fix someone. Thanks for writing this and getting your story out there. You’re amazing!
    Jess recently posted…Summer Loving – #SummerBloggerChallengeMy Profile

  8. It’s been really good reading your post because I was in such – although different – relationship for three years and the hardest for me once I dumped him (apart from refusing to get back to him despite his many attempts) was to come to terms with the fact that I felt like I had waited so much time and energy and love in my early 20s. I felt like a fool. It’s like, I don’t really understand yet what happened, like I keep replaying it in my head and think “How could this happen?” It’s refreshing somehow to read about it from your perspective and gives me a bit of grounding, thank you.

    • I totally get that. I replay stuff all the time – like why the hell did I ask for him back? I should have just accepted he wasn’t into me and found someone else.

  9. Excellent post, Charlotte. I’m reluctant to click the old ‘like’ button, because I don’t really like emotional abuse, but you told it very well. Also, the box analogy is really apt, and I may need to use that in the future.
    Steven recently posted…Multicoolty InterviewMy Profile

    • Thanks. This is the post I mentioned to you ages ago that I wanted to write but couldn’t yet. I guess I just got brave enough. I’m glad I’ve done it now though.

  10. I’ve been in an emotionally abusive relationship several times in my teens and when I was 20. In the last one (I was 20/ 21) I tried to change everything about myself, mostly outer appearance (the guy even wanted me to have plastic surgery on my nose but luckily I stopped before that happened) but this shit guy just withdrew further and further. It took me 1 1/2 years to feel whole again and to regain confidence. I am happy it happened when I was so young because I was able to learn from those bad experiences and stay away from abusive people. Sometimes there is a fine line between love and abuse and it takes a moment to realize that.

    • That’s such a hard rule to learn – never change for someone else.
      I’m so glad you came out of it stronger though.

  11. I think i am or was in an emotionally abusive relationship. It felt really great at first. He was my first everything. I’m 26. I thought I’d never find anyone and I was ok with that. He started treating me badly and the emotionally abuse turned physical then back to emotional. He has a wife. But he was separated. A year later and they’re still married. I don’t think he’s being honest with me. I think used me in a period of confusion. But he made me believe we had a future, and he was divorcing his wife. In this short year he’s done nothing but treat me wrong and like a mistres. 🙁 I always believed I was smarter than this. I’m someone I don’t even recognize. This morning I told him to go fuck himself and I blocked him. I don’t know if that was he right thing to do. I don’t know what’s right or wrong anymore. I miss the old him. But that’s now who he is anymore and I’m having a hard time accepting that. I wish I made better decisions.

  12. Bksbrokenhearted says

    OMG. I’m crying right now. That excerpt. Try wasting years of your life getting smaller. Thank you for putting how I felt in words. I’m out of it now but I am still sad.

  13. charisse ouchi says

    i am getting through this now. 🙁

    • Oh no! Are you OK? Are you getting advice and guidance?

      • charisseouchi says

        I havent charlotte. I always read your post everyday to somehow feel that i am not alone, this is exactly what i am going through right now. I am 26 and he is 38, only now i found out that this is a pattern and he did this to his exes. He would dump his exes out of nowhere when he felt out of love. And i just thought ours are different.

        Everything was so perfect for the first 2 months. Then when new year came, thats when i felt everything was changed. He used to complain about my outfits, my hair color, the way i dress, and he even wants to remove all
        My tatoo. Remember him saying that he wont going to marry me unless i have all my tatoo removed. I always want to runaway from him because i know i am in emotionally abused relationship, he never accepted my son, my friends my family, he even deactivated my facebook. problem is i accepted it because i think God gave him to me for purpose, maybe to change him, and i know he needs me. I Remember him crying to me when i was to the point of leaving him, he told me how much he needs me and he is tired of starting all over again with someone else. There was a time when i left him and he passed out too, i took him back after that. He will be great for a week or two, then he will be back to being a controlling monster. I stayed and try to fit in walking on eggshells. I accepted all of this shit. For over a year. There were times too that we are sleeping together then i will wake up crying because i know how miserable i am, i really felt taken for granted and unloved. He was next to me but his heart is like a miles away from me.

        He then become so busy at his bussiness and sports. Thats when i realized i am not one of his priority. He dumped me because he said he is not happy with me anymore, and he is feeling stressed of me being around him mos of the time and he fallen out of love. I ran after him but he just ignored my calls and text for a month and half now. I know its a blessing indisguise that finally we are seperated. But why am i still missing him? He treated me so badly, why am i still in love with him? After our break up, i always pray for him to comeback, for him to realize what i did for him to make him happy. But now, all that i am praying is for ne to forget him and moved on with my life. I feel so lost 🙁

        • At the end of the day, you need to put your son and yourself first. If you go back to him, how will your lives be? It’s really hard when you separate from an abusive partner but in the end, you have to think of the end goal – your health and happiness, and the same for your son.

      • charisseouchi says

        Im not getting advice or guidance. I feel so lost now. I dont know what to do 🙁

  14. Jasmyne Trimble says

    Hi, did you ever find out wjat happened to this guy?


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