Emotional Abuse – Silent Killer of Marriage: An Interview with Austin James

Emotional Abuse

  • Austin, you’ve written a book entitled Emotional Abuse: Silent Killer of Marriage – A 30-Year Abuser Speaks Out; tell my readers a bit about your book.

front cover jpg MARKETING 021813The book chronicles my journey out of the abusive lifestyle I led for 30 years and what I learned along the way.  I hope by sharing my mindset and experiences as a former abuser, other people will see glimpses of their own dysfunctional relationship or marriage and perhaps find a path that leads them to freedom. The book will benefit the abuser as well as the victim of abuse.

The second half of the book details what steps I took to break free from abuse and delves more deeply into the psychology of emotional abuse that I discovered during the past 5 years of my recovery.  I bring the reader into my damaged mind to get answers to the manipulation, control, and angry behavioral questions they may have, including the question most victims of domestic violence want to know – Why?

  • What was your motivation in writing this book?

When I woke up 5 years ago to discover the truth about who and what I was – an abuser – I was a mess. It felt like I woke up from a 30 year nightmare and discovered my ‘real’ world was crumbling all around – my wife planned to divorce me, my relationships with my children were broken, and I had NO idea where to turn to get help for my sickness.  I was alone and I was scared!

As a form of stress relief I began to journal on a blog I created to capture what I was going through. Just as in the book, I was pretty transparent about myself and my journey. Amazingly, I started getting emails from readers, both abusers and the abused, who said my ramblings helped them. It was great therapy for me because even though my world was a mess, my mess was helping others cope with their mess.  After my divorce I tanked emotionally and stopped writing, yet people still kept contacting me, even four years after I stopped updating the blog!

A while ago, with a much healthier mind,  I pondered how I might update people as to all of the things I experienced and learned during the previous 5 years. I thought a blog is okay, but hey, a book is better!  So I wrote one. So far, the response has been very positive for my intended audience.

  • You present yourself as a recovering abuser.  Do you still feel that you have natural tendencies toward abuse?

me - headOh, sure.  Abuse is a deep, dark quagmire that envelops the soul Chuck. Some tendencies left me instantly the moment I became aware I was abusive  – that’s the key by the way, an abuser becoming aware of who they are. Yet, some tendencies still remain.

In the book I talk about how I had to learn to literally rewire my damaged mind. We (people in general), act and react to circumstances based on information stored in our subconscious mind. Every time we act/react the same way to the same circumstance, we reinforce that particular behavior (circuit) wired into our brain. Learning to break those automated reactions and associated behaviors takes a lot of work and a lot of overcoming failure along the way, but it is doable!

I have my ‘buttons’ that trigger responses just like everyone else, but I’ve learned to break the old, abusive patterns of behavior and replace them with positive ones. Ninety-five percent of my old, destructive patterns are gone.  The remaining five percent nag me from time to time, but I look at them as a reminder.  I can’t get too complacent and deem myself “completely healed”, not yet anyway.

  • You speak about how your abuse manifested – please share with my readers some ways emotional abuse manifest and how to recognize it.

Good question, I need about 1,000 words to give a summary answer – hehe.  To help your readers understand abuse a little better, I’ll answer in general terms first and specifically answer your question second.

We abuse because something traumatic happened to us during our past (normally under the age of 13), that froze our ability to develop emotionally. Our childhood trauma can prevent chemicals from being released into our brain that enables us to think abstractly as we mature; so we walk around as an adult on the outside yet a child on the inside.

Emotionally I thought, reasoned and acted as a child.  I was scared to death in my ‘world’ as I progressed through life as an ‘adult’ and took on adult responsibilities. Think how a small child reacts when something doesn’t go according to their expectations, they get angry and throw a temper tantrum, right? That’s exactly what I did when my expectations weren’t met, I threw an adult-sized temper tantrum.

I used anger and manipulation to control my surroundings because I didn’t know how to operate in them as a normal adult would. I scrambled to control whatever portion of my world I could, just to feel safe. I was in a constant survival mode to try to cope with my world and surroundings.

Yet, at the same time, I put on a mask to appear as if I had it all together.  After all, I was in an adult body.  I had to keep everyone at a distance from me emotionally, out of fear they would peer beneath my mask and expose my inner-child. Anger was the tool I used to keep people at a distance from me.

There are a few more important components at work, but your readers will have to buy the book to find out what they are. [shameless book plug complete] Book can be purchased here:  http://bit.ly/UT1myn

How did my abuse manifest? I couldn’t accept responsibility for my actions; I always had an excuse for my behavior and my decisions; I blamed those around me (mostly my wife) for my circumstances.  I had zero conflict resolution skills since I wasn’t capable of thinking abstractly, so I’d either blow up in a rage or shut down and sulk during an argument.

I used anger to control because it was the only tool I learned how to master and yet, it ended up mastering ME after a few years; I was a 5-star ‘Ninja-master’ at the art of manipulation. I was angry about something nearly every day of my life and I had a Jekyll / Hyde personality; I could be the most delightful, charming man you’d ever want to meet one minute (kind of the way I am now), and a raging manic the next if something didn’t go EXACTLY the way I thought it should. And, I walked around with this “Me Tarzan, you Jane” attitude 24/7.

Whew! Well okay, that about covers a single day in my life as an abuser. Seriously, this is just a fraction of the abusive traits I exhibited over a 30 year time frame.  All these behaviors caused my wife and children to walk on eggshells around me.  They never knew when I might become angry and explode. I was a train wreck waiting to happen Chuck and because of it, I psychologically damaged my wife and children.  All the while, I was completely blinded to my affliction. I thought I was a ‘great guy’ and a master communicator.

  • With relationships destroyed…is there a way once you find healing that you can heal the damage done by earlier abuse?

Another excellent question. The short answer is “Yes,” over time wounds can slowly heal and the trust restored. Our mate lost all ability to trust and have confidence in us long ago.  I suppose the answer lies within the humility and repentance level of the former abuser, along with the willingness of the victim to forgive. Keep in mind, the victim’s heart has been mercilessly stomped on and shoved back into their chest without a glimpse of remorse for many years. It takes a tremendous amount of courage, faith and time to heal the wounds.

Speaking about my own situation, following my divorce, I gave everything to the Lord to heal and repair Chuck. I became aware of my abuse and transformed into a new man for the last 7 months of our marriage, but my wife lost trust in the changes she saw in me – she didn’t think they were real.  However, I saw a great capacity in my wife to forgive me during our 24 year marriage.

Only time will tell, but I’m an old-fashioned sort of fella – I hold out great hope in that magical, mystical thing called love.  I do believe it conquers all… we’ll see.

  • You talk about codependency – share how you see codependency manifest and what can someone in a codependent relationship do to awaken to that relationship challenge?

It’s important for your readers to understand as I answer this, I do not buy into the notion that a victim of abuse somehow ‘enables’ the abuse by their behavior. An abuser abuses because they are broken – nothing a victim did “turned on” the abuse and nothing they do will stop it.

In general terms, a codependent is relying on someone else for his or her happiness. Their thinking and focus centers around the other person and they begin to react to that person’s external cues rather than their own internal cues. Normally, a codependent has a hard time with setting personal boundaries. Emotional abuse starts subtly and progresses to full-blown control and manipulation over time. It’s these subtle progressions that a codependent has a hard time recognizing as their boundaries become more and more transparent.

If someone reading this interview or my book notices in their mate any of the patterns of abuse on a consistent basis, an alarm needs to go off. More than likely, they are in or are headed for an abusive relationship.  The mere fact they were unaware of the situation until an external cue (this interview) was presented to them is hopefully a wakeup call to what is going on in their own life.

Here’s a fact – the abuse will NOT go away on its own.  If one mate thinks they need to ‘try harder’, or ‘do more things right’, or ‘love a little more’, they run the risk of slowly being suffocated in the quicksand of abuse at the hands of their soul-sucking mate.

I would suggest this person immediately get professional help if they have the option, or at least get some good books on codependency and setting boundaries. Chances are, something happened in their own childhood that caused codependency roots to grow.  The only way for them to heal is to get at those childhood roots and remove them.

As weird as it sounds Chuck, as time goes on, manipulation, control, and abuse all become ‘normal’ to the abused. That’s the goal of the abuser and they are very good at what they do.

  • You mention soaring to new heights.  What was the catalyst for your “Second Chance” and how is that working for you today?

As a motivational speaker Chuck, I’m sure you’re familiar with the pain-pleasure principle; people will normally do more to avoid pain then they will to gain pleasure. Pain is a great motivator. When I heard my wife say, “I want a divorce,” that was my ‘pain’.  I knew I failed at the one thing I wanted most in life – a great marriage, and it broke me completely as a man, husband, and father. If my wife had not had the courage to say she wanted a divorce 6 years ago, I may still be trapped in abuse today.

Soon after hearing those words, I woke up one day and became aware of my abusive lifestyle.  That was the day I began the rest of my life!

I had many trials during my time in the valley as walked through my healing experience, but I’m sure glad I made the trip. Through the pain of losing my marriage and family relationships, I slowly began to emerge as a new man.  I found out we can’t get to that mountaintop view unless we’re willing to trudge through the valley first. The valley contains the fertile soil needed for growth.

For the first time in my life, at the age of 49 (5 years ago), I was able to say I liked myself as well as the man I was becoming! It’s difficult to express in a few sentences what it was like to live for 33 years under constant fear, while having to manipulate and use anger to control my world. I never had peace nor contentment – it was all a façade.

Today, I live a quiet, abuse-free life. I strive to help other men and women understand emotional abuse as well as ways to overcome it. I am blessed beyond measure because I am FREE!

This truly is my “Second Chance”; I intend to live it to the full!

  • A number of my readers are in the media, so as we conclude this interview – what two things would you want them to know about the uniqueness of your book?

First, my book is written from the perspective of an abuser – that’s unique in the marketplace. Second, my raw and transparent look into my experiences and damaged mind is helpful to the abused, trying to find answers and hope, as well as the abuser trying to break free from their tormented life.

I am here to say there is hope! Hang in there!

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34 Responses to Emotional Abuse – Silent Killer of Marriage: An Interview with Austin James

  1. I’m the author of the book “The Detrimental Effects of Emotional Abuse”, a book which educates everyone on how to identify perpetrators of Emotional Abuse and how to end the cycle of abuse. While Austin F. James and I were exchanging a few tweets on Twitter about his new book and while I was asking some questions and making some observations about his simply unheard of and sudden transformation from 30 year abuser to healer and preacher, I was cut off. I’m being blocked. And he did have his account protected for a short while in a panic. I would like to assume that I became a real threat to Mr. Austin and to the sale of his book. The action he took merely confirms my suspicions about him: Mr. Austin hasn’t reformed at all but has now found a new victim – the public – to prey upon and he doesn’t want anyone to know that.

    Perpetrators of Emotional Abuse pretend affection and sincerity and garner people’s sympathy by playing a victim themselves while they simultaneously go about victimizing innocent, good people – in this case, would-be buyers of his book. It’s a fraud and a scam, just as he is. There is no such thing as a “reformed abuser”. In purchasing the book, you will simply be helping him get rich by paying him to validate your experience with Emotional Abuse that he knows so much about but it won’t lead you anywhere closer to knowing how you can protect yourself from falling victim to one, like Mr. Austin.

    You can find more information about Emotional Abuse by visiting my blog guntakrumins.tumblr.com or you can follow me on Twitter under my name Gunta Krumins.

  2. Austin says:

    While I appreciate Gunta taking the time to comment on my interview, I would like to clarify why I blocked her on my Twitter account.

    Her above comment, “There is no such thing as a “reformed abuser”” shows her closed-mindedness and unwillingness to believe anything she has never heard of before. She simply refuses to accept one can heal from being an emotional abuser.

    Secondly, she claims (in a private Twitter Msg to me) that abuser’s abuse out of ‘choice’. Gunta, despite being a self-proclaimed “expert in the field of Emotional Abuse”, clearly does not understand the deranged mindset of an abuser – take it from someone who used to be one.

    Lastly, she claims to have read “my blogs” and the ‘fact’ that I am claiming to actually be a ‘victim’. I have no public blog on the internet. I have no other website… not yet anyway. I have NEVER claimed to be a victim, and frankly, take offense at such a statement.

    She of course is entitled to her beliefs, but her accusatory method of expressing those beliefs to me were becoming upsetting. She continues to post untruths and attack me personally on Twitter, goodreads.com, this interview, and now my videos on Youtube.

    Frankly, the frequency and veracity of all this are beginning to border on stalking (as well as abuse) in my opinion. So, I exercised my right to block her on my Twitter account. Simple as that.

    I will stand by the book reviews from former victims of abuse, both on goodreads.com and Amazon as to whether I am broken of my abusive behaviors and healing (a lifelong journey I suspect), and therefore sincere in my efforts to help the abused as well as the abuser. Or if I merely found a new victim, “the public”, to prey on.

    I have no problem letting you, “the public”, decide. I state as much in the Introduction of my book.

    I don’t know Gunta’s motives. I don’t know why she is so angry and belligerent against a former abuser who is willing to share his story, in transparent, gory detail, and proclaim – “There is Hope! Abuse CAN be overcome. Healing CAN take place.” I don’t think that’s a bad message to declare in this day and age of epidemic-scale abuse.

    Frankly Gunta, in my opinion, you are doing nothing more than exposing your ignorance on the very subject you claim to “be an expert” on.

    Sorry to drag this into a public forum, but I could not allow someone to post half-truths and occasional lies about me, my motives, or my book, and not defend and attempt to set the record straight.

    Thanks,
    Austin

  3. Mr. James – You don’t sound like a gentleman here at all. In fact, you sound very abusive to me.

    Before you cut me off on Twitter, I tweeted you a statement. I’ve never made any personal attacks against you. I’ve always only asked for your opinion. To get back on track, I’ll repeat the last one I sent you. Would you care to comment on this now?

    “How an Emotional Abuser deflects probing Q’s / threats: They make like victims & then turn bck & take aim at prober again & discredit them.”

    If you want the public to decide what’s what, why don’t you open up Twitter between us again so we can discuss other things? Why would you want to keep your followers in the dark about what we talk about?

  4. Lauren says:

    This is a very touchy subject. I have been on all sides of this coin. I can’t wait to read the book.

  5. Austin James and Gunta Krumins,

    I am taking a moment to comment on the above correspondence between the two of you to state my opinion and a little of past and present daily life challenges.

    I can honestly and truly admit that I am currently in an extremely emotionally and mentally abusive relationship with the man that I have been engaged to for the past 7 years. This relationship began after I divorced my ex-husband of 18 years. The first 2 years that “M” and I were together, I was on cloud-nine and this man made me feel so loved and important! Since he had been a long-time acquaintance of my and myself, he had personally witnessed much of abuse that I had gone through in my previous marriage. To this very moment, I am still in shock over the fact that I actually believed every word that “M” spoke to me!! “M” use to say to me often, “I PROMISE you that I will NEVER hurt you in the ways that your ex-husband hurt you”. I am here to tell you that I currently live in hell and I dread each and every morning as soon as my eyes open, knowing that I am stuck here (hopefully not forever) in this hell with this man that I entrusted my entire heart and soul to. This man can not admit anything that he says or does wrong or incorrectly in even the most minor and unimportant of human mistakes! I know that I absolutely have to leave this hell I live in but it has proven to be an impossible task so far. He is so controlling and manipulative. I have no job, no money, no access to money and no vehicle.

    I am stating the facts of my life here because even though I am living with a very emotionally abusive man, when I read about Austin James book and about his past 30 years of being an abuser, I felt in my heart that he was honest and sincere about his reformation and his ability to admit to the word of his past behaviors and to take the hard road he must have traveled to better himself and become the man that he emits to the world to be today. I highly admire and respect Austin’s courage and humility for taking the steps he needed to take 🙂

    My opinion after reading your above messages back and forth tends to agree with Austin. It does not sound like Gunta has been open to his willingness to change his ways.

    I look forward to reading your book, Austin and I know that with our Lord’s guidance, Strength and Support, one day I will be free from the pain I deal with on a daily basis!

    God Bless the both of you and I pray that you continue the path of true and honest inner spiritual change 🙂

    ~Amy

    • Austin says:

      Amy,

      Thanks so much for the kind words and your willingness to be transparent in your abuse struggles. My heart goes out to you with all that you have had to endure for a very long time.

      Just remember – NONE of this has ANYTHING to do with YOU. You didn’t do anything to cause the abuse and you can’t do anything to stop. Your fiance is broken and he will STAY broken until he reaches a low enough point and he cries out for help. I’m proof it can happen but no one knows exactly what it will take for an abuser to reach that point unfortunately. Emotional pain is the only motivator for him at this point.

      By your closing two paragraphs I see you are a godly woman. First, I’ve started a prayer list with the names and situations of all the people who have reached out to me who are in or recovering from the trauma of abuse.

      I will add your name but more importantly, I WILL pray for you and your situation. Due to some circumstances post-abuse and divorce (not covered in the book) I have turned into quite the prayer warrior. I figure it’s time the enemy pays back what he stole from me and my family all those years!

      Second, there is a book that I highly recommend – “Prison to Praise” (it’s on Amazon) for you and your situation (and faith). It’s a pocket book and a short read, but one of only two books (besides THE BOOK) that I can say changed my walk w/Christ and therefore my life. I am still working on getting it’s principles from my head and into my heart but it WILL happen if I yield and trust.

      I would actually recommend this book ahead of my own if finances are tight.

      If you have ANY questions my email addy is in the front of my book; I will certainly help in any way I can. I’m also on twitter @austinFjames.

      God bless,
      Austin

    • Suzanne Bonham says:

      Amy, I wish you the best. I hope these feeble sounding words help you somehow. This must be horrible for you. I’m sorry. It sounds as if you’re at least recognizing what’s going on, getting perspective and trying to leave. Good luck,

  6. Bronze says:

    In my opinion and experience (22 year marriage with an abuser) abuse is a CHOICE. As soon as you make your other half aware that they are hurting you by screaming obscenities in your face, raging, name calling, pushing, shoving, spitting or silent treatment, ignoring, dismissing etc etc etc and he doesn’t STOP that behaviour then he is CHOOSING the hurt you. He KNOWS it hurts but he CHOOSES to continue. If he doesn’t immediately get help to stop his behaviour when it becomes clear he cannot do it on his own then he doesn’t CARE that he is hurting you either. So in the end you have someone who CHOOSES to hurt you KNOWINGLY and doesn’t CARE that he is doing it.

    Abusers also tend to stay ahead of your radar by switching manipulative and abusive techniques around often so the instability he creates keeps you off centre and confused about whether you are even being abused. He likes you to think you DESERVE him raging upon you and also that you should take it because he ‘doesn’t know how to stop’ or ‘he can’t control himself’. He CAN control himself – if I was a big burly footballer and said the same things that bring his rage or disdain down upon me eg” How did you sleep” or “Are you sure you don’t hate me?”, his reaction would be entirely different. Abusers are bullies and cowards reserving their worst behaviour for those that forgive and are physically weaker then they are. They hide behind closed doors because they KNOW that they are doing something wrong. They would never treat anybody bigger, stronger or more powerful than them the same way.

    Can they change? Who knows. I believe that an abuser who utters the words “I didn’t choose to abuse” even though during a long marriage must have been told how hurtful and scary he was, has not fully admitted to himself the full culpability of his actions and until the admission that despite numerous warnings and a refusal to get help he continued to knowingly hurt someone who loved him and therefore in fact did Choose to abuse, then no, the change will not be permanent.

    • Debby Smith says:

      As far as the abuser “choosing” to abuse, I think what Austin is getting at is not that the abuser CAN’T not abuse, but that because of their wounds, they attack but don’t really know why. I think an abuser is generally not waking up thinking “How can I manipulate and humiliate and hurt this person today?” And yet they do and that’s why they seem so mercurial to us, the abusee. Saying that they “choose” puts a premeditation in the mix that from my 27 yr. abuse experience, I don’t agree with. That doesn’t mean the abuser CAN’T stop, but that they don’t understand enough about why they react in the way they do to even “get” that it is not acceptable. I think that is also why so many times, after he abused me, my husband would hug me and actually cry and say things like “I don’t understand why I act that way!” It was actually sad. I don’t believe he was “faking” that. I think he was sincere in his confusion but so conditioned and afraid, he repeated the same thing the next day. I totally agree with you that if the abuser is still saying “I didn’t choose to abuse” or “I didn’t do it on purpose” they have not fully realized nor are taking full accountability as Austin has clearly done. Healing is a process. I was fortunate enough to have a spouse who is “seeing” it as Austin began to, and my spouse is fortunate enough to have a wife who will show tough love and not waffle in her expectations and yet still encourage him at every step. I have learned to set very stringent and healthy boundaries and my spouse no longer tries to cross them. (Obviously it took me YEARS to get a clue b/c as I mentioned, this had been going on for 27 long, painful years.) So it CAN be done. Healing CAN happen for both abuser and abused.

      • Suzanne Bonham says:

        Hello Debby I would love to know more about this. I started having better boundaries once I finally realized what this is. The first time I saw this described was in one of Patricia Evans’s books. This book which Austin has written – it is a very good one to explain the parts that Patricia didn’t cover, or which I might have missed. My question is: do you think one can remain married to a partner who is doing this, and can wake them up? Without getting a divorce I meant.

    • Suzanne Bonham says:

      This which you wrote: “I believe that an abuser who utters the words “I didn’t choose to abuse” even though during a long marriage must have been told how hurtful and scary he was, has not fully admitted to himself the full culpability of his actions and until the admission that despite numerous warnings and a refusal to get help he continued to knowingly hurt someone who loved him and therefore in fact did Choose to abuse, then no, the change will not be permanent.” is good, well taken. I am wondering about all this. I have one who has been warned, told, hundreds of times, asked, begged to go get help and for God’s sweet sake, when asked to get EMDR therapy for himself, which was HIS IDEA YEARS AGO, refused to get it. The mere request that he get such a treatment triggered an episode. I remember it well. I jumped out of a moving truck and walked myself home because he launched into an attack on my mothering ability.

  7. Blogger says:

    Reblogged this on Bruisedwoman's Blog and commented:
    This is interesting to read & accurately describes my abuser.

  8. Sheila Pringe says:

    I could not believe this book , it is honest and the only book I have come across written by a former abuser in sucha way for the abused to understand, it has given me hope, I dont see that change yet but there is hope, thankyou Austin for writing it, and to the Lady who in my opinion is attacking not only Austin but what God can do is totally out of order and he is right to block her, this book is of God and is much needed.

    • Suzanne Bonham says:

      Hi Sheila, I have a question: how often does the abuse happen, and is that person otherwise a very loving partner? I ask because I see a lot about the abuse written, but I don’t see those other qualities written about too. For instance my husband has done everything in the book except for make fun of my body and control finances, those he has never done, he has always praised my looks and he has never controlled the finances. But all of the other things he’s done, ad nauseum, for years despite me asking him to stop, telling him he’s hurtful, etcetera, he blames me for it, at least for part of what he’s doing he says it’s at least partially my fault. But the other times, when he’s not in an “episode”, that’s what I call them, he’s the most lovely person on the planet, a loving kind human, although in the past few years has been spending very little time at home and doing very little around the house. I mean, he swings seemingly to extremes – either being extremely loving or being in an episode in which he attacks and is hurtful.

      • Sheila Pringe says:

        Hi Suzanne, the abuse goes in cycles this is classical they call it the honeymoon period when things are going better, they seem loving , caring helpful etc but it never lasts,it like looking at a differant person I have learned so much from books, why does he do that by Lundy Bancroft, Many titles by Patricia Evans on verbal abuse. If you look on the internet at cycles of abuse there are many clear diagrams that show a diagram of the pattern of abuse they are nice to keep you hooked in to the relationship then it all builds up again, I am blamed for everything, that is classical of the abuser, I am told I am the abuser. I E Mailed Austin and he said that unless the man comes out of denial he cannot reform . mine is getting deeper and deeper into denial and the abuse is getting worse, he crossed the line from verbal to physical two weeks ago, he is not settling down at all from his rage and foul filthy language towards me .
        Some men do wake up to what they are doing when your leave them but not all, nothing seems to change some and they say that they do get worse if you threaten to leave. There is a very good website for men who are willing to change and look at themselves called MEVAC, men ending verbal abuse it is meant to be for the abuser but I look at it and it does help, Patricia Evans books are very enlightening and is Lundy Bancrofts why does he do that, he is a councelor for abusers and gives a lot of insight on how they work.

  9. Suzanne Bonham says:

    Thank you very much Austin for writing your book. You said during the book that nothing would make you happier than to receive an email knowing that the book was helpful. So here it is! The book was tremendously helpful- A MILLION thanks. A very impactful part was the description of how that person controls to try and “improve” their mate (in my case, he said he had to “steer me to keep me from running amok”, he had to “bring me along”, etcetera, many ways of saying the same, plus insisting I word sentences in the exact way he wants them worded, and interrupting when I am on the phone to tell me what I am to say to the person I’m speaking to). I had read Patricia Evans’s works too and this helped me to see what kind of relationship I was in, and to identify the “defining statements” when they first started so I knew when the $#%& was about to hit the fan and could leave the interaction. I followed Patricia’s advice and created an “agreement” to try and wake him up to this. Trouble was, after I presented the “Agreement”, he eliminated most of the defining statements and substituted other language that seemed just as frustrating and hurtful to me, and what’s more, he accused ME of doing the defining. Your book clearly spells out how this can happen – controlling a conversation — he’s highly intelligent, and got very good at controlling conversations without saying many of those defining statements. What Patricia failed to mention was any kind of timeline for how the behavior ebbed and flowed over time. I understand that there is a honeymoon period after a blowup, as well as a tension building phase. That I was witnessing, definitely. However she did not mention in her book what I was experiencing in this manner: my husband was actually the most wonderful man, in between these episodes. I could tell he loved me; he was kind, loving, considerate, giving, etcetera, seemingly doing what he possibly could to make me happy. And then, of course, there were the episodes – criticizing, interrupting, meanness of all sort. The last one went on for 2 1/2 hours. I had a record of the time. I thought I had successfully recorded the conversation but the computer failed to save the recording. I was doing the best I could to remain as neutral as possible and as non-inflammatory as I could, just asking him open ended questions, what was bothering him, kept just listening. I tried to keep my own anger in check during this whole thing, thinking if I just listen to this he will eventually spew it all out and might have some sort of epiphany, as had been suggested to me while reading about PTSD. I am going to ring off now, as time is short I have already put out a long communication. Anyway, this is tremendously helpful. I am giving up hope of him changing much though. He is still giving me 50% fault for the 2 1/2 hour criticism spree. I am crushed that the computer did not record it. Thanks again. S

  10. Suzanne Bonham says:

    I also wanted to ask you a question, Austin. Do you think it’s necessary to get a divorce in order to wake up that partner who’s engaging in those patterns? Or is there another way. I have tried every which way, and it bounces back to me, I get accused of it or blamed for it. I am wondering if that person has to experience the pain of actually losing the relationship.

  11. Suzanne Bonham says:

    I need to know what to do about someone who can’t seem to hear suggestions that say he’s being hurtful. He immediately bounces this back and says that I’ve been hurtful too. I don’t know what to do anymore. He turns everything around on me.

  12. Sheila Pringe says:

    Sorry Suzanne, I just saw that you have read Patricia Evans books , didn’t notice that before

  13. Austin James says:

    Hi Suzanne, thank you for taking the time to comment on my interview and my book. I read all of you comments and questions in this thread and your pain as well as your sincere desire to see things healed in both you and your husband comes through.

    Do I think divorce is necessary to wake an abusive partner up? I don’t think there’s anything you can do, intentionally, to wake your abusive partner up. And please keep in mind, I’m not an expert in this arena except in my own experience and the experiences of people I have been fortunate enough to communicate with over the past several years.

    I stand by what I said in the book – there’s nothing you did to cause the abuse and there’s nothing you can do to stop it – directly. Abusers abuse because of their own brokenness and sick mental state. Only the Lord knows what, if anything, it will take to allow them to reach their pain point where they finally wake up and are willing to face the truth – that they are an abuser. Some, unfortunately, never do reach that point. They simply move on to another victim.

    If I may be frank (but well meaning); you trying to do something to change your husband is a futile exercise. We cannot change someone else, only ourselves. If in the process of you changing the other person wakes up and realizes they had better change as well, great! But we cannot take ANY action merely in the hopes that it forces someone else to change.

    I am not a big believer in Divorce, but I ALWAYS encourage ANYONE in an abusive relationship to remove themselves from the situation. I encourage you to do the same – perhaps it’s time to get out of the situation for a while. If only to allow yourself the space to self evaluate without the constant threat of belittlement, control, anger and/or manipulation.

    Also, as someone else mentioned in a comment, it may give you time to heal and begin to evaluate setting boundaries. Something that takes serious commitment and fortitude, but is necessary to rebalance the relationship to more healthy levels should your husband “wake up” and sincerely want to change.

    I don’t know you of course and can only respond to what you have written here, but if we were friends and having coffee together I would encourage you to step back and look at the number of times you have tried to change things on your own and whether they have been successful or not. They have not of course.

    I would encourage you to look within and search for the true reasons that you continue to stay together vs. a separation perhaps. Where is your own brokenness that causes you to stay in a relationship while continually beating your head against the wall trying to change someone else by doing the same things you have tried many, many times before? Again, this is said out of a place of caring and not a place of judgment or accusatory statements – I’m trying to help by being totally honest here.

    Sometimes losing a relationship *may* be enough of a wakeup call for an abusive spouse to change. I would venture to guess your husband is fairly confident you won’t take such a drastic measure given the number of times you have tried telling or convincing him that he needs to change, yet have not taken any (drastic) measures yourself when you’ve seen he won’t.

    Abuser’s work hard to tear down their victim so they cannot leave the relationship. You leaving, and him knowing you are serious about it, *may* cause him such pain that he finally wakes up and is willing to face the truth, or it may not. No one knows. And it’s for that reason I cannot encourage you to take such a drastic step only in the hope it will change him. Here’s one practical example of why to back up my beliefs:

    Depending on his level of brokenness he may appear (and announce loudly) following a separation that he has truly changed. But many times it is a total sham to simply get you back under his control. He’s more than likely scared to death you have left and may enter, over a period of time, into the best honeymoon phase you’ve ever witnessed in order to control and manipulate the situation to get you back.

    In my opinion, if you left for your own reasons – to remove yourself from the abuse and to give yourself time to heal and self evaluate – than you can hopefully begin to again trust your own instincts as to whether your husband’s actions are a lie or whether they *might* be the beginning of real repentance and change.

    If on the other hand you left simply to force your husband to change you *may* be tempted to misread his actions because you are wanting to see that change in him and therefore make hasty, emotional decisions.

    I know there are some other great books on the market dealing with abuse. I encourage you to do whatever is necessary, for yourself, to get into a more peaceful place where you can hopefully take some of the recommendations from mine and other’s experiences and apply them to your own situation. That you can for the first time in probably a long time quite the constant ‘noise’ in your head and truly begin to examine your own heart and all that it has been through and endured. That you can start on the long road to healing for yourself.

    I sincerely hope your husband has the courage to allow himself to be broken, change, and join alongside you in the recovery process. You are a wonderful person who deserves that.

    God bless and take care,
    Austin

    • Sheila says:

      I did E Mail you this but got response, when the abuser is in denial, does he really really beleive that it is true that he is not being abusive’

      • Austin James says:

        Hello Sheila. I’m sorry that you emailed and did not get a response. I had issues with my email system early last year and into 2014 but had hoped I was able to reply to everyone eventually. If you emailed recently than I did not get the email. Sorry. I do monitor my email and try to reply back to everyone.

        Speaking from my own experience (and the experiences of other abusers who have contacted me over the years), I did not know I was abusive. I did not know I was tearing down my wife and children’s emotional well being; that I was damaging the core of who they were and inflicting great emotional scars upon them.

        I knew I had anger issues. But I thought they were simply “character flaws” of mine and not the beast that had overtaken me at an early age of my life. I know that sounds impossible to believe for some reading this. For many years into my recovery it sounded impossible to me that I could NOT have known that what I was doing was inflicting great damage upon the very ones I love the most.

        I can remember more than several times being SO angry at Teri, for a week or even longer at times, and saying to myself “Why am I like this? I don’t want to be mad at her.” Yet, it still didn’t register with me the extent of my sickness nor the extent my actions were having on others. Nor could I stop the anger even though I tried and sincerely wanted to.

        Emotionally, I was a young child incapable of controlling my behavior or even reasoning what my behavior was. I was simply reacting to my external cues and trying to survive in my own world. I wasn’t capable of thinking of anyone else’s world, just my own, just like a child.

        I can still to this day remember the EXACT moment when I became aware of my abusive behavior. It was like a lightbulb went on. I could see in my mind’s eye all the hundreds of times I was abusive to Teri and the kids. It was crystal clear in my mind and I no longer could deny who or what I was. It was terrifying and sickening at the same time, and yet it was the exact moment that my healing began. It ALL started with awareness.

        I wish I had an answer as to why. I was so damaged mentally that I was incapable of thinking abstractly to put two and two together. A deceived mind does not know it is being deceived. This is not an excuse to try and deflect the damage my behaviour caused over those 30 years, it’s simply the truth in my own experience. And I can tell you that in the case of the dozen or so emails I have received from other abusers over the years that they too had a lightbulb moment and suddenly their abuse became crystal clear to them.

        However, I can also tell you during the year I took my Lifeskill classes that I saw other men have the truths of their abuse laid out to them by the instructor and other men in the class yet they still stayed in denial as to their abusive behavior. They continually blamed their bad behavior on how their mate treated them; it wasn’t their fault and they never could accept responsibility for their actions nor wake up and become aware of who/what they were – an abuser.

        I hope this helps to clarify some of the confusion. As I said earlier I realize what I’ve said here may be hard to believe. But then again, you are thinking of it with a rational mind of an adult. An abuser is incapable of doing so. They may be of adult age physically, but are still a child in much of their emotional makeup.

        Austin

      • Austin James says:

        Sheila I’d like to clarify something about my previous reply. I think in just about every relationship there are times when one spouse out of anger will lash out and say something that may be hurtful to the other mate. That mate, thinking they have a right to retaliate, may say something back that may very well be much more hurtful than the original comment made to them.

        In those moments, we all choose to be hurtful (and yes, most times the ‘hurt’ is in the form of verbal abuse). I certainly had those times as well in my twenty-four year marriage to Teri. Yes, I was fully cognizant (though I’m sure “out of my mind” at the time) of what I was doing and/or saying. An eye for an eye was the reasoning I, and probably most people, use to justify such bad behavior.

        Those aren’t the situations I’m talking about in my reply to you – of when I say I was unaware I was being abusive. What I’m referring to is the 24/7/365 behavior I exhibited when I was (subtly or not) controlling, manipulating, pouting, being angry, or getting ready to be one or more of the above, in my attempts to constantly keep my world in check; to simply survive in a world that was very scary to me.

        I won’t go further into an explanation because hopefully you get where I’m coming from. I can’t say what the 24/7/365 moments are for you that cause you to walk on eggshells wondering if/when the next blow up will occur, but it’s those moments that I was referring to in my reply.

        Austin

      • Sheila says:

        I,m not sure that you are understanding what i’m asking, the abuse and the worst kind of cruelty I have ever endured has been horrific the last 3 weeks. Everything he is doing he is telling me that its me. I was terrified and in tears last night as he has told the police a lot of lies and twisted stories about me, he cannot seem to gasp that what is happening is him, He is merciless towards me and will it seem stop at nothing to have me as the abuser, is he aware that he is deliberately doing this or does he really not see reality. He said im like a terrorist to him, the Police ( two males ) attitude was evil to me. They ordered me to get out of the room, yet all over him in support of him they twisted what I said, they treated me with contempt. when I was crying and so afraid, he went berserk and said that I looked like a monster and that I was mentally ill, did he really see a monster it is so so irrational there used to be a tiny little bit of some rational in him, now he has none at all.
        Dos he really beleive that his actions are mine, can he not see any logic at all, does his mind really beleive that I m doing what he is doing, it not just denial of eh abuse , his mind seems to have actually doing. He has become so so sick and twisted, he cant even see reality it appears.
        This seems to have gone beyond abuse , it’s got depraved

    • Suzanne Bonham says:

      Ok, Thanks. I have thought about your words very deeply and I’ve been learning more too. Your advice is well received with gratitude. I have read this more than 3 times now and each time I come away with a new understanding. When you ask: “Where is your own brokenness that causes you to stay in a relationship while continually beating your head against the wall trying to change someone else by doing the same things you have tried many, many times before?” the answer I would have given has changed with each time I have read your post. During the times in between each reading I have come across a bit more information here, there. I have started to write a reply and have erased and rewritten this three times over three different days. I would now summarize briefly: I am fearful and reluctant to give up the good in the relationship, the potential good that would come from actualizing our dreams. And also I am overwhelmed with the prospect of separating our business we have together, and with which we have earned our only source of income for 10 years. But I am giving up the last of my hope that any of our dreams can be real. Your suggestion that I remove myself from this is a very good one. And the way you word it, in a very marriage positive sense, is deeply appreciated. I read in one of the books about intermittent reinforcement. This was in a book about manipulation. It says anyone who has observed a laboratory rat knows how powerful a motivator is intermittent positive reinforcement. I’m going to leave off with this. I have already written and deleted so many words. It’s a bit jumbled. Thanks again.
      S

      • Suzanne Bonham says:

        I want to clarify: I said I was reluctant to give up the good: what I mean is that there is definitely “good” in the relationship. Good times, love, caring, empathy, etcetera. This man is NOT a psychopath, not anywhere even close. Controlling? Absolutely YES. But loving as well. In present day times there is good – not just hope for good in the future. There is a lack of mention of this “good” in any of the books I’ve read beyond the mentioning of the “honeymoon” period. I want to know more about this good part. Not because I’m interested in using that to stay in a relationship that’s toxic, but for my further understanding of the phenomenon. Because with all this talk about what is bad, I get lost and confused. I want to know what percentage of the time that person is abusive: does it pervade everyday life or just come around once in a while.
        I’m sure the answer to both would be “yes” but Mr. Hyde only makes an appearance, I’ve estimated, about 1% of the time. This is when I am talking with someone who is treating me as if I am his sworn enemy. The brokenness behind Mr. Hyde’s appearance I am certain ruins the other 99% to a certain extent as well – manifesting in poverty, addictions and generalized less than happy. There have also been changes for the better gradually as well: no longer daily anger at work but we are separated for the most part from each other during workdays. These days, for the most part, working together is smooth and fun with no anger.

      • Sheila says:

        Suzanne, im not sure how long you have been in this relationship, I have been married to mine 40 years and have known him 44. He was appearing to wanting to change last year as I came to the point that I could no longer take his behaviour towardme, I suffer form agoraphobia and monophobia a dreaded terror of being alone , all of which has worsened by his abuse. I am truly trapped. God had ovee the past 4 years slowley revealed to me exactly what is going on as I didnt really realise , crazy as that sounds that it was domestic abuse. It has been and is very very painful to have my eyes open fully to it all, He has gradually chipped away at my self esteem ,my self worth etc as well as covert abuse ranting , yelling, name calling and smashing my possesions. we even celebrated out ruby wedding anniversary last Septemeber as I thougth he ws genuine in wanting to change ( he has ruined every other special one ) he was nice brought me 40 red roses and other gifts, but he had not changed one bit inside, he is in utter denial. His abuse has gradually got worse and worse , much more so because I have stood my ground against it and have begun to tell poeple about it. We have had some good times in between but it always rears its ugly head and if that abuse is in a man it will not get better unless he coms out of denial, see my posts to Austin in this.
        Are you seeing any control in generall that is not blatentley evident, have you got used to his behavuour so you see it as ok, does he belittle your opinions on everything, does he define what you are thinking etc, does he show true compassion towards your feelings and hurts, does he listen if you have issues with him , there are so many factors to the subtle abuse alongside the obvious abuse. Do you walk on egg shells so as not to upset him.
        Mine ash got so bad with no care for my well being, he has contacted the Police to make it look lie I am the abuser, it has been a massive knife twitsted in my already broken state, he is actually getting some support from a male victim association and the Police have treated me with contempt he has lied , twisted etc to them, I am in UK , our Police are an utter disgrace at dealing with Domestic abuse, they dont know the first thing about it.
        Sometimes we are blind to the subtle wearing down of our mind and spirit

  14. Austin James says:

    Hello Sheila. In a word “No,” your husband is incapable of rationalizing his actions as abuse and the damage he is causing you. I believe I did touch on many of the points as to why in my earlier responses to you.

    If you know anything about your husband’s childhood, there was something traumatic that happened to him at an early age – divorce, abandonment, abuse (sexual, verbal, physical or emotional), some type of violence, etc. Perhaps he’s never shared it with you, but I’m confident it happened judging by the level of his abuse. At any rate, at whatever age that traumatic event first happened is the age your husband’s emotional development is locked at.

    Try to look at it from a child’s perspective. Does a child of 4, 5, or 7 years of age have the cognitive ability to reason their actions? Does a toddler stop and think of the consequences of their actions or the fact that they are blaming someone else for all of their problems? Can they take responsibility for their actions. Do they many times outright lie to get what they want or to cover up their mistakes? Do they stand there with a chocolate mess all over their face but tell you with a sincere look in their eyes that they did NOT get into the chocolate?

    Again, it is VERY difficult for a rationally minded adult to understand what I am conveying because we look at an adult as an adult in their emotional makeup. I mean, how could you husband NOT understand what he is doing right?

    What your husband understands is he has to do whatever is necessary to protect himself in his broken world. He cannot accept responsibility for his words or actions – his brain does not know how to do that. He cannot allow you to get close to him for fear you’ll pierce his veil and see him as the child he really is. He cannot control his temper, actions, or words when he throws one of his temper tantrums. He will do whatever it takes to protect himself yet inside is scared to death you will leave (abandon) him so he tears you down in the process in his attempt to keep you.

    He is a little boy (three to ten, maybe twelve years old) in a man’s body.

    There is a book – Broken Children, Grown-Up Pain – that may help you to understand in better detail what I am talking about. It was written by Paul Hegstrom who founded the Lifeskills program. Here’s the Amazon link – http://www.amazon.com/dp/0834122510

    Austin

    • Sheila says:

      Thankyou Austin will look at that

      • Austin James says:

        I wish you well Sheila. Paul also wrote a book about angry men and the women who love them. For some reason the specifics of the book are not coming into my mind right now, but you may want to review it as well.

        My heart goes out to you in your specific situation. It’s not what you signed up for and you may feel trapped. Feel free to email or comment here if I can help in any other way. It’s hard for me to address any specific situation of course, but I can at least shed a bit of light onto how a sick, twisted, abusive mind (doesn’t) think and (cannot) reason. Hopefully in some way that provides help and a bit of relief in an otherwise seemingly impossible situation.

        Take care,
        Austin

      • sheila says:

        Yes I read Pauls book and have read Judy’s, I did tell you last year that I have agoraphobia and monophobia a dread of being alone, so I am very trapped and little support so this thread is good for me, h has reached a level of depravity in his cruelness to me that I could never have envisaged.

  15. trejoyfre says:

    Just one point.

    My abusive husband is an ADULT. No court of law would try him as a child. He is receiving All of the benefits of an adult and to absolve him from the responsibilities that match would be absurd.

    I venture to say not many abusers ever try calling their wives a “CUNT” in front of their own Pastor . . let alone the principle of their children’s school . . nor the bosses wife, etc etc . .

    You see, there Are certain people to whom speaking with that kind of vulgar, inappropriate language would ONLY serve to reflect poorly on the Abuser HimSELF! My abusive husband knew this.

    He was deaft(proficient) at AVOIDING all of those people and circumstances, while (as many others along with me have experienced) behind the walls of our own home which should be a sanctuary . . THat is where the filth flies . . or any place where he Perceives he may establish a sick ‘supporter’ whether it be untrained cops or complacent neighbors.

    As MLK Jr. said, “There comes a time when silence becomes Betrayal.” Let this speak to our own hearts.

    My husbands broken emotional state is neither permission nor `LICENSE’ to Harm ME!

    An abuser’s lack of responsibility for what he does . . regardless of reason . . is Not EXEMPTION !! He is none the less an Adult, and likely, enjoying every Other priveledge given anyone who crosses that threshold . . GOD forbade that we coddle grown men.

    Short-circuiting hypocrisy is often the quickest road to cure.
    Calling a person on their consistancy (or lack thereof) is healthy accountability. To exercise our voice is kindness, it lends opportunity for change rather than silently perpetuating the cancer . . . because, in this case: silence is betrayal to all.

  16. Sara says:

    I am going to read this book. I left my abusive fiancé in January. We have an infant son. I was granted a temporary restraining order due to the abuse, but he is fighting for custody. He claims I’m crazy and made false accusations. I pray for him almost every day. I am still very hurt and confused. I’m very grateful for the no contact though. One reason I am so hurt is he is already in a new relationship. That started just two months after I left. We’re not even young. Both of us are over 35.

  17. Sara says:

    Our son is only 4 months old and is being forced to go to visitation.

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