Abuse and Mental Illness: Is There a Connection?

what causes domestic violence

Abuse and Mental Illness: Is There a Connection?

Mental-IllnessBy Alexander, a Hotline advocate

A common assumption we hear at The Hotline is that abuse is caused by a partner’s mental health condition, for example: bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), narcissistic personality, borderline personality or antisocial personality. While these are serious mental health conditions, they do not cause abuse. Nothing in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition (DSM 5) states that a mental illness solely causes a partner to be abusive in a relationship; however, there are a select few diagnoses that can increase the risk of abusive patterns to show up in a relationship and in other areas of life. Mental illness tends to impact all areas of a person’s life, such as work, interactions with friends, family engagement and personal relationships. In contrast, abuse primarily impacts personal relationships and typically not the other areas of life. Abusive behavior in an intimate partner relationship and mental illness are two separate entities.

Since abusive behaviors happen primarily in one’s intimate partner relationship, it’s common that an abusive partner will not show their negative or harmful behaviors with friends, co-workers or family members. An abusive partner tends to put on what can be considered a “fake mask” for the rest of the world to see. When it’s just the victim and the abusive partner together, that mask comes off and the victim sees a different side that others aren’t allowed to see. The impact of being the only person to see this behavior is often isolating for the victim, as they may think (or the abusive person may even say) that no one else will believe them since no one else has witnessed the abusive behaviors. This also makes it easier for the abusive person to make their partner feel responsible for their abusive behavior, which reinforces the isolation.

Lundy Bancroft, author of Why Does He Do That? (2002), clarifies that an abusive partner’s “value system is unhealthy, not their psychology” (p. 38). Yes, it can appear like an abusive partner has a mental illness when they get upset and use physical or verbal abuse. If the abuse were caused by mental illness, the partner would also yell at and/or hit their family members, friends and coworkers when upset. With domestic abuse, however, the abuser usually yells at and/or hits only their partner.

Abuse and mental illness can coincide. There are cases of individuals who have mental illness and are also abusive to their partners. There are also many individuals who have a mental illness and are healthy and supportive partners. If your partner does have a mental illness and is abusive towards you, it’s important to keep in mind that the mental illness and abusive behaviors need to be addressed separately by the abusive partner. It is the abusive partner’s responsibility to seek out support and create their own plan for managing their mental illness and be accountable for their abusive behavior. If your partner is not owning up to their actions, is not admitting to how much they’re hurting you, and is not seeking out professional help then that’s a sign that your partner isn’t willing to change. If that’s the case, then the abuse in the relationship tends to continue and escalate over time.

The following questions may help clarify whether what your partner is doing is abuse or abuse with mental illness:

  • Does my partner yell or scream at others (friends, coworkers, family members) outside of our relationship?
  • Does my partner make others check in to see where they’re at and who they’re with?
  • Does my partner hit others outside of our relationship?
  • Does my partner minimize or verbally tear down others?
  • Does my partner pressure others to do things that they aren’t okay with?
  • Does my partner make threats to others when they say something my partner doesn’t agree with?

If you answered no to most of the questions, then most likely your partner is abusive without mental illness. If you answered yes to most of the questions, then it’s possible your partner is abusive and also may be experiencing some form of mental health issue or illness. Lundy Bancroft’s book, Should I Stay or Should I Go?, has a chapter on untangling a partner’s mental health issues from abusive behaviors. Additionally, connecting with a support network, including a domestic violence advocate or counselor who specializes in domestic violence may help support you in determining your options.

Even if your partner does have a mental illness, there is NEVER an excuse for abuse. Abuse is a choice someone makes in order to maintain power and control over a partner. If a partner is abusive towards you, regardless of whether they have a mental illness or not, they have no right to treat you in that manner. You always deserve to have a healthy, loving, supportive, trusting and safe relationship 100% of the time.

If you have any questions or concerns after reading this post, please feel free to reach out to one of our advocates. Call or chat with us 24/7/365. Call us at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) | 1-800-787-3224 (TTY) or chat by selecting the Chat Now button right here on our website. Chat en español 12-6 p.m. Hora Central.

Comment section

58 replies
  1. Thank you for finally bringing an article to the front that addresses mental illness and domestic violence. As you stated “abuse is a choice”, you followed that up with information that helps those in this situation discern what is truly a choice of behavior. Thanks for providing good solid information.

  2. Charlotte,

    I’m glad that you like the new article. The intersections and misconceptions of mental illness and domestic violence are definitely really important, so I’m happy that you find the post helpful. Please share it with anyone you feel may need it!

    Advocate MT

  3. I know there is a connection from experience I’m currently experiencing both from family members and mainly DCFS. Every since my involvement with DCFS I have been mentally, physically, and emotional abused I will remain positive and reunited with my babies I Love Them Too much to ever give up /Stop fighting for them. My God be with me.








  5. Hi Andrea,

    Thank you for contacting us. Navigating an abusive situation can be really complicated especially when DCFS becomes involved. You deserve to have the support you need to move forward and to keep you and your family safe. We are here everyday on chat from 7am to 2am CST and reachable 24/7 at 1-800-799-7233 if you ever need to reach out to an advocate.

    Take care,

    Hotline Advocate LC

  6. Hello Jayne,

    Thank you for reaching out to us. You never deserve to be treated with abuse or to be forced to do something you do not want to do. If you are needing to connect with an advocate to discuss your options please chat us. We are here on chat from 7am to 2am CST and we are also reachable by phone 24/7 at 1-800-799-7233. To contact us through our chat service please click the red chat icon on the upper right section of our site next to our phone number.

    Take care,

    Hotline Advocate LC

  7. My husband is extremely verbally and emotionally abusive and also has several mental illnesses, however he does not admit the abuse or the mental illnesses. I really wanted to get divorced but he says he will fight to keep the kids. I don’t want to run the risk of him keeping my kids.

  8. Tania,

    It sounds like you’re in a really difficult and concerning situation and I’m so glad that you’re reaching out. Unfortunately we do know that threats of taking children can be a really common tactic abusive people use to scare their partner into staying, and I know what a scary thought that must be for you. If you’d like to contact us directly we would be happy to talk with you about some options and put you in touch with a legal advocate who could talk with you about the custody process and help you build your case. This is a lot to go through, and you shouldn’t have to do it alone. You can reach us 24/7 at 1-800-799-7233, or 7am-2am CST on live chat at http://www.thehotline.org.

    We wish you all the best!
    Advocate MT

  9. My daughter has been spewing abuse at me for an hour and a half now, in front of her two boys, 9 and 11. She is 36 and has been doing this same thing, more or less, for over twenty years now. and obviously I have been allowing it. They are visiting now for a month. She is yelling over and over how she hates me. She says I just let her fall out of me and left her which is the opposite of the truth. I gave her a lovely childhood, with good food, playgrounds all the time, good schools, a pretty home, nice clothes, etc. and protected her from ugliness and abuse of any kind. I also gave her freedom.
    At 15 she started telling me how ugly I was and how everyone hated me. Tonight she is saying the same thing! Besides being sickened, I am amazed. She is an intelligent person. How can she fall into such a limited verbal rut and not recognize that something is wrong. Her two boys, who are basically smart and sweet, are starting to be violent to each other. When she is raging they always start too. I truly wonder what the hell is wrong with her. And obviously I don’t know how to protect myself from her. I must add that she has destroyed the order in my apartment completely since she arrived. She always leaves it a hideous mess. I always think it’s going to be different and look forward to them coming.

  10. Hi Pamela,

    I’m so sorry to hear that your daughter has been treating you in such a verbally abusive way. It must be difficult to be on the receiving end of such hurtful comments, especially in front of her children. It’s never a matter of “allowing” abuse to happen — abuse is a behavior choice, and your daughter is 100% responsible for her behavior towards you.

    If you would like to reach out to us, our advocates are available to work with you and talk through some strategies that you might use to maximize your chances of safety and to cope with the stress and upset that abusive behavior can cause. Our advocates can be reached by phone 24/7 at 1-800-799-7233 or by chat from 7AM – 2AM CST at .

    Thank you so much for taking the time to share your story with us and our online community. I wish you the very best of luck.

    Take care,

    Hotline Advocate AC

  11. …… states that a mental illness does not solely cause a partner to be abusive in a relationship.
    I have tried to say that like a million years.
    Mental illnesses and alcoholism and even drugs are NOT a source of abuse.
    Abusers are just abusers.
    Myself i have been very ill with all manner of mental illnesses and even psychotic breakdown
    as a result of severe abuses and cults…. but i have never abused any one.
    I have overdrunk beer and behaved foolishly and banged the door too hard to be opened.
    I thought i was banging it gently!
    But i have never abused anyone because of being drunk.
    I am happy to see this myth of mentally ill or alcoholics being driven to abuse being debunked
    bs makes me very happy indeed.
    I will now make my abusers pay and be held accountable for all their abuses. No mercy.
    I will be glad to make them pay double and where possible triple for their abuses!
    No more mr. nice guy.

  12. Say that again,

    Thank you for sharing you story with us. I am happy that you found our blog helpful and that we were able to validate your feeling that drugs and mental illness do not CAUSE abuse.

    Regardless if a person is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they are ultimately still responsible for any abusive behavior that they committed. If someone chooses to hurt their partner, it is not b/c of the influence of drugs or an illness, it is because they have an underlying lack of respect for them. It is true that if an abusive partner has less inhibitions under the influence, this could escalate the already present abusive behavior. But like you pointed out, there are plenty of people who have mental illnesses or who have been drunk who do NOT abuse their partners. This shows that it is not a cause.

    If you would like to speak with us more about what you went through or would like a local resource for what you experienced, we are always here 24/7 by phone 1-800-799-7233 or online chat from 7am-2amCT at https://www.thehotline.org/. Thanks again for reaching out and I hope that you continue to enjoy our website!

    Best wishes,
    Advocate KB

  13. On the flip side of things, I am being abused and I have severe mental illness. I am disabled and I have not worked in years. I have not worked the seven years needed to collect disability. I am stuck since I haven’t way to support myself.

  14. Alb,

    Thank you so much for reaching out and sharing what you are going through. It sounds like your partner has forced you into a really difficult position and that is very upsetting. It is understandable that you are feeling stuck. You deserve to have lots of support and to feel safe in your home. Our advocates are always available if you would like to talk with us directly. An advocate can assess your situation with you, go over possible options and connect you with resources in your area that may be able to offer support. We are available on chat through this website from 7am-2am CST and 24 hr on the phone at 1-800-799-7233.
    Take good care,
    Hotline Advocate RG

  15. I had my two angels taken from me after my ex-husband rapped me and abused me for over eight years, I went to the hospital not knowing about my depression. When I got out I filed for protection, and asked his family to help me while I got better. They used my depression against me and he filed for divorce and got custody of my babies; he never did used to want to spend time with them, and he was cruel and manipulative and cheated with everything that moved….smh
    This world is so unfair. Lo and behold 13 years later I’m out of the frying pan and in the fire. 13 years with one man who has no kids of his own….I have never been abused by a bible thumper. This one likes to grab my neck and spit in my face; he likes to have rough sex, give me drugs to keep me quiet and timid. I have no job, because he sent me to the hospital last spring, with a broken tooth and a fractured neck and three…herniated disks….I have gotten better but, he wont let me use my own car; he throws fits when I mention using the car, and he works 11-12 hrs a day….trapped in an understatement…more like living in the 9th circle of HELL. No one is around, he made sure of that…this has to stop, but I have done all I can; he said it’s me, every time he walks in or pulls up from work my anxiety goes through the roof-like a heart attack! No one wants to help a single woman with no kids, I know, I tried running before…I’m already dead, and there is no love hardly left in humanity. Thanks for letting me vent hotline.

  16. Hi Luvseeker40,

    I’m sorry to hear you have been through such terrible abuse in your previous and current relationships, and that your two children were taken away from you like that. It’s absolutely not your fault that you are being abused like this, and you do not deserve to have to still be in such a controlling and violent relationship any longer. It sounds like you want to leave, and have tried to in the past, but you weren’t able to. Sometimes it takes several times before a person is able to leave an abusive relationship for good. It’s so important to have the support you need, and if that is not coming from family or friends, to seek it out from local domestic violence organizations and resources.

    It sounds like your situation is really complicated, and he has made you very isolated from your community and family. You should not have to go through this alone, and we’re here for you 24 hours a day/ 7 days a week at 1-800-799-7233 or you can chat with us at our website every day from 7a-2a CST. Please feel free to reach out for support, and to safety plan around ways to keep yourself physically and emotionally safe no matter what choice you make. We can also help you to locate those domestic violence organizations in your area that you can reach out to if that is something that feels like a good option for you.


    Hotline Advocate CC

  17. My husband has been battling cancer for 13 years now and has been receiving chemo treatments during this time. Over the last 8 years he has abused me mostly verbally but lately he has slapped me on several occasions. He talks about divorce but he has no one else but me and I really feel I need to leave but just knowing he has no one to help him and he could die doesn’t sit well with me but I know I shouldn’t deal with the abuse. I really wonder if the chemo has caused a lot of this but what do you do about it.

  18. Hi Denise,

    Thank you for deciding to reach out and share your story with us. It’s unfortunate to hear that your partner has been sick for much of the time you’ve been together, but it is also absolutely NOT a justification for him to become violent or emotionally abusive towards you. While having cancer could contribute to his depression and stress, it does not CAUSE the abusive behavior.

    There are many people who have cancer or depression who do not hurt their partners, which shows that it is a choice, not something that inevitably happens. However, you are right, it is possible that his irritability from treatments could escalate his already present abusive behavior. Abuse is all about power and control, and people control their partners b/c they believe they are entitled to do so. If he has felt entitlement towards you for over 13 years, then it is unlikely that this type of behavior will improve.

    You always deserve to feel safe and respected in your partnership, so maybe taking steps towards ending the relationship like you want could really be beneficial for you and your well-being? It is definitely not an easy decision to make and I can completely understand your hesitation. Maybe contacting us directly could be helpful for deciding what you should do next? If that sounds like something you’d be interested in, we are always here 24/7 by phone at 1-800-799-7233 or 7am-2amCT through our chat at https://www.thehotline.org/

    Stay Safe,
    Advocate KB

  19. A woman in Tulsa, OK is being abused by a man named ——-. He was in tulsa’s most wanted and has been to jail plenty. He hits her and he was hitting her children. I have custody of the children now, but I don’t know how to help her. Her name is ——–. She goes to her mom’s house often after he hits her. Her mom’s name is ——— and lives at ———. Please help her if you can. This is all I can think to do. I’m happy the kids are safe, but I want their mom safe as well so they can see her. Please find her and ——. He is a threat and is known for being armed so be careful. I’m trying to stay anonymous because I have the kids and I know he will come after me too if he finds out. I can’t put myself or them in danger. Please someone see this and do something.

  20. Dear J,

    It sounds like a really unsafe and difficult situation that your friend is in. Unfortunately we do not provide direct services to victims of domestic violence, but she may be able to get help from a local resource. In Tulsa, there is the Domestic Violence Intervention Services and the 24-hr hotline number there is 918-743-5763. They won’t be able to send help for her, but if you are in contact with her you can let her know it may be an option for her if she decides to leave. Leaving an abusive relationship can be dangerous and overwhelming, and there are many reasons why a survivor would choose to stay in that relationship. She has to make that decision to leave, and no one can save her from the situation.

    It’s hopeful to hear that you have the children and they are in a safe place, even if it’s away from their mom right now. It sounds like you are feeling frustrated that you are not able to do more to help her since you want to keep them safe from the abuse. The situation does sound complicated, and if you want to talk more about it, you can reach out to us and talk with one of our advocates. We are here 24/7 by phone at 1-800-799-7233 or from 7am-2am CT through our chat in the top right corner at https://www.thehotline.org/.

    Advocate CC

  21. I’ve finally gotten the courage to leave tho I love him still…I’m afraid to call authority’s because he or his family members may kill me..leaving Tuesday and he doesn’t know. Of course as usual he is being very charming and helpful after all my pay day is Tuesday and he’s always around, I think he suspects something. I’m on always on pins and needles and have been prescribe zanax. I’ve managed to find a place but all the utilities are in my name at our house.. I plan to take nothing w me be but some clothing and my family photos.. How do I get out without confrontation and no police involvement..

  22. Hi Iswa,

    It sounds like you are in a really stressful and dangerous situation, and I’m so glad that you’re deciding to reach out for support! While the police may be the best option if you are in danger, the choice about how to proceed is entirely up to you. You deserve to feel safe and to be in a healthy relationship. It can be incredibly challenging to realize that someone you care about so much is unwilling to treat you with the respect and care you deserve, and that you have taken those steps already is so admirable. Because leaving an abusive relationship can be a dangerous time, developing a Safety Plan for yourself, or with us, may be helpful.

    The best way to explore options may be to reach out to us to talk through your situation further. Our advocates would be more than happy to talk through what you’re experiencing, discuss local resources for support, and provide a safe place to plan your next steps. We are here 24/7 by phone at 1-800-799-7233 or from 7am-2am CST through our chat in the top right corner at https://www.thehotline.org/. You can make it through this, and we are here for you.

    Take care!
    Advocate GR

  23. Thank you soooo much “Brigette” for listening & giving me advice…….
    ” I AM STRONG ”
    God is always with me……

  24. I’m sorry but I would like to comment the chat site doesn’t work on my apple phone because it’s zoomed so close (when looking at the black box that says its confidential and the questions are to help get an advisor) that I can’t hit the “next” button or the “back” button.

  25. Marina,

    Thank you for being a part of our online community and for your feedback on the issue with the mobile chat! I’m sorry to hear that it is not working with your phone! If it is an option for you, the chat also functions with a computer. You can find the red “Chat Now” button in the top right corner at https://www.thehotline.org/ from 7am-2am CST. In addition, our phone lines are available 24/7 at 1-800-799-7233 to offer you a safe place to talk.

    Take care!
    Advocate GR

  26. i am a police mans wife ,i want to tell you brief and concise about my life with a police man … my husband never remit or share me his salary though .he feed me but never give money to me ..bunos pbb etc.. and every time he get mad at me he talk bad about me .. that we wanted me to stay out of his house and live him alone .. and also he cheated me many time.. pls help me what to do and where can i ask help ..pls hel pme ..i am a legal wife ….

  27. Sa,

    Thank you for reaching out and sharing your story with our blog community, I’m so glad you found this site. That sounds like such a tough situation. You definitely deserve to always be respected, and treated as an equal in your relationship. It sounds like there are some really concerning red flags in your relationship for emotional or financial abuse. What we know about abuse is that it is rooted in control, and the situation that you are describing sounds very controlling. We would be happy to talk with you about what has been going on. and some options you might have for safety and support. Please feel free to reach out to us by phone 24/7 at 1 800 799 7233, or by chat between 7am-2am CT by clicking the red chat button in the top right corner of our website.

    Take Care!

    Advocate RF

  28. *This post has been modified to remove identifying information per our community guidelines.

    I am not in danger any more. But internally I am still fighting extreme anxiety over my children. I left my husband after 32 years. There was not hitting.(once he threatened to hit me and raised his hand but when i said I would call police he stopped, The last year of the marriage he leaned me onto the stove with his face on my face and blocked me from using the bathhroom and told me very often for about 7 years to go make myself look younger. He would wake me up inthe middle of the night and give me a check and say do something to make yourself look 20 years younger.

    Nothing was enough. there was sexual addiction and misquoting of scripture.

    What i am struggling with now is the 29 year old daughter called to ask me why i warned her not to leave her 4 year old daughter alone with her grandpa and to keep a good eye on her. I also said I did not like to talk like this and maybe nothing would happen but I had found on our dresser apicture of a 3 year old child—- I t was a cassette cover. I called him immediately at work and said why did you put this picture on the dresser, he said he did not want to hide it. I asked him why he did not throw it away. He kept repeating he did not want to hide it.Somehow i convinced him to come to a sexual addictions counselor who said she thought he was asking for help in an unusual way. She spoke to him very kindkly saying there was a man therapist who could work with him in a supportive and confidental way. He just said . I have Jesus Christ and I do not need any one else. I confess to Him.

    this and two other incidents mad e me wonder if he has ever hurt a child. Now my daughter wants to know what i saw. Somehow this is triggering me much as I do not want to falsely accuse. She thanked me and said she would talk more again. I am feeling probably false guilt as in my family of origin no one will openly admit to the years of abuse or if they do my brother says I am the abuser. —–He thought this is what all kids do, I explained that children before puberty are not thinking about intercourse unless exposed by someone to it. I asked him if Dad taught him this or showed him pornography. He said “no.” Our Dad had taken me to porn shows and movies and told me this is what I would do when i grew up.

    I want to be calmer when I talk to my daughter. Yet I feel so upset that my own healing is taking so long. I have a hard time believing i can be forgiven for not keeping my children safe and always being told i was seeing problems where there were none. His family told me that I needed to grow up and know that porn is good and just relax and accept this. while i am moving slowly forward I am still not healed. I have a counselor and usul;ly can call in a situation like this but her parents are on hospice in her home. I will see her in 9 days. My husband also went out of control beating our son who committed suicide at 22 three years ago. So I am concerned that he did this beating with no warning.He said that i told him to hit Ben. What i had asked him was would he play catch or frisbe with Ben so i could pack his clothes for a 3 day camp, Ben was 7.I am wanting to calm down and trust that my two girls will seek help for all this . One is and the other may be. I did try verru y hard but struggled with alot of depression and it just made me go step by step

  29. Dear Risa,

    It sounds like you have been through a lot in your life, and especially in your previous abusive relationship. I can see how based on those past experiences you would be concerned about letting your grandchildren be alone with him, and sometimes your intuition can be a powerful indicator that something is wrong even when you aren’t certain. It sounds like you have let your daughter know your concerns, and simply stating those out loud to her based on what you saw from him and his behavior is not a false accusation of any kind but simply informing her you had those concerns that he may have hurt a child in the past. She can now make the best decision for herself and for her children as to whether or not she leaves them with him.

    It’s good to hear that you are seeing a counselor at this point to work through processing these emotions. Long-term support from a professional counselor is crucial to finding peace and moving on from abuse. You might also benefit from reaching out to us by phone at 1-800-799-7233 or chat betweeen 7am-2am CT since it’s such a difficult and stressful situation you have been in for so many years.


    Hotline Advocate CC

  30. Wow luvseeker40, while reading ur post I swear I couldve written it! I used to be a happy caring creative acrive fun person…after 5 yrs of severe abuse & isolation i cant even hardly get out of bed anymore, he gets even meaner the weakr i get..i swear im in hell! hes had me locked in a screwed up makeshift “studio” with no windows in the old shed/barn on his family’s rural property for several yrs now…took away my horses, dogs, cats, art supplies, noce clothes, dishes, towels, running water, friends…ive been hemmoraging for 4 months now nonstop from stress, endometriosis & now cervical cancer (every1 knws how u get that frm him!!) and Ive had a bad infection from absessed broken teeth and cheekbones, im in constant severe pain & getting worse & weaker daily..ice got bad back/neck injury now…his family is more viscious, cruel & colder than he is so im TOTALLY ALONE..NEVER a kibd word, NEVER a day “off” from the cruelty, manipulation, lies, control, accusations, …
    THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO HELP OUT THERE & i hace absolutely NO one to talk to and NO WHERE to GO!! ive been thru all of the “resources”… they just end up makin everything worse!! im probably gonna get hurtbad over this post (all activity on my crap prepay phone is recorded..but i just dont care anymore..so tired of living in constant pain, isolation & omg the TENSION is an evil entity that is constantly growing more powerful & theres NO way to escape it’s foul, permeating, suffocating & HEAVY prescence!! I just guess I dont want to die here, lost & forgotton w/o leaving some small proof that I existed & want to tell all women..when every fiber of your being & ur intuition are screaming at u that SOMETHING isnt right…PLEASE STOP ignoring it!!!! Dont talk urself into waiting another day..RUN!!!!!!!!!!!

  31. Hello to every soul who encounters this post….I am not one for labels, never have been. So when my boyfriend’s family warned me of his “illness” after he blew up at me on the day of my baby shower (in front of friends and family), I wanted very much to understand him and to refuse the “bipolar” or “manic” labels.

    Truth be told his abusive, frightening behavior had been going on for some time yet this was the first time the family had seen it. Apparently he had been an untreated “manic” most his life.

    I am 33 years old, my boyfriend and father of our newborn is 34. He has a beautiful intensely passionate loving side however has an incredibly dark destructive side to him. Never depressed, only just cycles through Mania, Euphoric Mania, Manic rage and somewhat normal behaviors.

    When I met him, I knew something was wonderfully different about him, I loved him for his spontaneous ways, his creative talent, his highly intelligent mind and the inexplainable connection that we share. I fell in love with him very quickly, and still love him today 3 years later… However at what cost? I’m now a former shell of who I used to be… I changed in many positive ways but the destruction of his abuse has left me beaten emotionally and physically.

    He over reacts about the smallest things (calling me a stupid b**** and a c*nt) in front of our newborn and before our child arrived, also in public on several occasions or in front of his 12 year old son (to another woman). He has choked me unconscious, beaten me once in a night from hell where I actually thought I was going to die and he was telling me he was really going to kill me, has threatened to kill me several other times, spat in my face multiple times, done thousands of dollars worth of damage to my personal belongings including my car.

    So I know what you are thinking…. LEAVE! Right?! I’m not perfect but I sure do not deserve any of this abuse. Daily he “jokingly” bullies me, mocks me and rough houses me… Which after what I have been through isn’t fun. I have no self esteem left… I know I’m in control of how I let others effect me… But when you love someone so much… How can you not let it effect you without leaving. I never argue back with him, never call him names and walk on eggshells to avoid triggering him. So I have and do continue to want to understand and accept his ways, to love him unconditionally… But at the cost of my life? At the cost of my newborns quality of life??? I have tried communicating with him, he refuses medications, refused treatment & refuses to admit to any label.

    I’m at my whits end, I’m from another country so I have no family or friends here to turn to, I have recently (at his request) quit my job to be a full time Mom, so I have no money. I’m frightened. I love him so much, each time he abuses me verbally it kills me a little more inside. I want the best for my child and hope that he can change but it only gets worse.

    I recently voice recorded one of his explosions, calling me horrible names in front of our baby and saying he didn’t care that he was doing so, then he got right in my face in front of our baby and threatened to “push my eyeballs through my f*cking skull”. Knowing that I was recording I spoke up for the first time, feeling more brave. I spoke up as to how ridiculous he was being over such a small matter. He ended up pushing me over and pushing his head into my face swearing and threatening me. He has threatened to kill me several times but not during this particular episode.

    I want so bad for us to work but I’m so sick and tired of being bullied and abused. I want the best for my daughter. I don’t want her to not have her father in her life but I also don’t want my daughter in his care so he can abuse his next girlfriend in front of her if we break up. He has money and I don’t, that also worries me because I fear he might get custody because of that.

    My heart goes out to those dealing with the neurological imbalance and to those who see the good through it all and love unconditionally… Any advice about support relevant to situations like mine would be greatly appreciated. Also if there are any lawyers reading, what are my rights if I want to move back to my home country with my baby?

    Thank you for taking the time to read this.

  32. Hi DA & DV,

    This sounds like such a terrifying and awful situation! You never deserve to be abused in any way, wether emotionally or physically. From what you described, I am definitely concerned for your safety and for the safety of your child. It is completely not your fault at all that he is choosing to disrespect and hurt you like this, so it is amazing that you have been so resilient and strong through everything.

    Since you have been put down so much, it makes sense that you are scared to leave or scared to do anything at all. When you are in that state of crisis, it can be really hard to safety plan options because your brain is in a constant mode of anxiety and fear. You are not wrong or dumb for staying, it sounds like you are just trying to do what you think is best for the situation that you were given.

    We are not legal advocates so I can’t say for sure what you should do legally, however, we would love to talk to you more directly about your situation and maybe safety plan some options. We would also be happy to help find you a local legal advocate in your area to talk more to you about custody and possibly leaving the country.

    At a time when you feel safe, I would definitely encourage you to reach out to one of our advocates, either by phone 1-800-799-7233 24/7 or from 7am-2amCT through our hotline chat on our homepage.

    Thanks again for having the courage to reach out, and I hope you can continue to stay as safe as possible.

    Keep staying strong,
    Advocate KB

  33. Hi lostgurl,

    Wow, that sounds like an incredibly dangerous and stressful relationship for you to be in! Since your situation is so unsafe and complicated, I would really encourage you to reach out to chat with us or call us at 1-800-799-7233 if you feel like you have the option and it’s ever safe for you to do so. Our chat service is available from 7am-2am CST and our phone hotline is available 24/7.

    Stay safe,

    Hotline Advocate CC

  34. Hi thelastmrsc,

    Although we removed your comment per our Community Guidelines, we want to respond to what you shared and let you know that we are here for you.

    It sounds like you’ve been through so much, and the trauma and pain that you have experienced is not something that anyone should ever have to go through. None of your father’s actions are your fault, that you have already had the self-awareness to reach out for therapy is so brave, and your work to heal is something you can feel very proud of. Your voice deserves to be heard, you deserve support in healing, and you deserve to feel safe.

    Please know that we are always here for you, whether that is talking through your experiences further, exploring other support options, or creating a plan to keep yourself emotionally safe. Our advocates are here 24/7 by phone at 1-800-799-7233 or from 7am-2am CST through our chat in the top right corner at https://www.thehotline.org/.

    Take care!
    Advocate GR

  35. Mental illnesses do cause emotional abuse and can make one sick both physically and emotionally. I have lived with a non diagnosed Asperger’s for 24 years. I just recently realized the reasons of all of his behaviors. I was diagnosed with PTSD, but also realized that there is another syndrome called Ongoing Traumatic Relationship Syndrome, which is the one I should have been diagnosed with. Because of his undiagnosed mental issue, which deprives him of social and emotional understanding, our family has suffered years of distress. A no diagnoses Asperger’s parent can destroy a whole family, drain the life out of them, and make all the others sick.
    Abuse is abuse, whether it is intended or not. The worst thing is that in the Asperger’s syndrome case, they are the ones who feel abused, as they just can’t see the harm they are causing.

  36. Hi Thelma,

    Thank you for sharing your story with our online community. There is nothing that could ever make it ok for someone to be abusive to you. You and your family always deserve to be treated with respect. It can make it even more confusing to navigate abuse when your partner is on the Autism Spectrum. You deserve to have the support you need as you navigate this. We have advocates here 24/7 at 1-800-799-7233 and we have advocates on chat everyday from 7am to 2am CST if you would ever like to reach out. Also, if he is being abusive to your children as well ChildHelp.org is reachable at 1-800-422-4453.

    Take care,

    Advocate LC

  37. Its been 3 years since I fled the home I owned with my husband and child, and of course our cat. I worried more about the cat and my son’s belongings more then my own. I left with what clothes I could fit after I packed their things in the small car my sad and his girlfriend picked me up in. I hid for 3 months til he finally left back to south Africa where he was from.
    I went back to a home that was empty and destroyed. I suffered through many different stages for the last 3 years. At first anger at all men, learning to be assertive, ptsd, relationships weren’t even an option for the first 2 years. And I even started to behave just like him. I would have never dreamed of doing the things he did to me to anyone. But I would become so angry fast and say things to hurt whoever I was angry with. That’s still a work in progress but getting better.
    Most of all I still haven’t recovered from the financial disaster he caused. Using my name and eBay account to commit fraud destroyed my livelihood. I feel so hopeless. Its impossible to undo the amount of money he left the banks in the negative with. And he left me off the deed so I lost my home. We owned our business so he took it with him and is doing business in south Africa to this day. He deleted my websites he left me ruined so much I couldn’t even get a bank account. I’ve never wrote a bad check in my life but he did.
    No one cares no one can help and when you say I was the victim of an abusive marriage. No one acknowledges this. They don’t understand that yes I had 3 cars but no I wasn’t allowed to have the keys to any car. No I couldn’t hold my own debit card or my own money. I didn’t have money he took all of it and controlled all of it. He decided when and where I could go. Most weekends I would hide in my closet in my master bedroom because he would get the bar out and break my things to prove some point he was trying to make that everything was because of me and my fault because I never listen to him.
    I’m numb I’ll never be who I was once before. I feel broken.meanwhile he is enjoying life with a new girlfriend almost immediately and never even looked back at his wreckage. I can’t do anything because he’s in another country. I can’t even afford to divorce him.

    Thank you letting me speak
    K brown

  38. Hi K,

    It sounds like you went through an incredibly abusive and unsafe relationship with your husband. It’s so unfair that you are having to work through not only the emotional trauma of what you went through but also dealing with the financial fallout from his poor financial decisions. You did not deserve any of the abuse you suffered from him during the relationship and you don’t deserve to have to continue to deal with his abuse even now. Gaining back your financial freedom or dealing with bad decisions from your abusive partner can certainly be difficult after abuse but it is possible and reaching out for help and to talk about it is an important first step.

    Your situation is complicated and sometimes talking it through can help with the emotional processing as well as planning for financial and emotional recovery after abuse. There are resources out there that may be able to help in offering services like counseling, support groups, or legal aid to assist you in the divorce process for free or low-cost. We can help you connect with those resources in your area if you are able to reach out to us by phone at 1-800-799-7233 24/7 or by chat on our homepage from 7am-2am CST.

    Take care,

    Advocate CC

  39. HELLO ALWAYS TYPE WITH CAPITOL OR CAPS LOCK ON I HAVE A LIFE OF MEN WHO THINK THEY CAN ABUSE IM WITH senior pity emotional mental health know its a crimmnal charge to men who abuse there lady playing victim trying to upset a lady best thing ingore them they try to blame us its there sick mind i dated this guy truck he drive mental health issue need to talked about men lie play games but jimmy my ex beat me over and over on drugs speed he was lovey dovey and mean as a snake he hurt me i was payed to leave hes house by hes daughter w no notice im suing spousal support how do i get good laywer or legal info please help me the dirty cop did nothing

  40. Hi Maryanne,

    Thank you for reaching out and sharing your story. Having someone you care about treat you with abuse is incredibly painful and you have a right to have the support you need to rebuild your life. There are legal resources out there to support survivors of abuse. Two resources that are helpful in locating legal resources are 211.org and LSC.gov. An advocate would be happy to help you locate your legal resources as well. We are reachable 24/7 at 1-800-799-7233 and we are reachable on chat everyday from 7am to 2am CST.

    Take care,

    Advocate LC

  41. Hello,
    I am currently in the middle of a nasty divorce from a narcissist. My friends have established a go fund me to help pay for the legal costs, specifically a guardian ad litem for our 13 yr old daughter. I would like to donate anything that is raised over what is needed to an organization that specifically helps people dealing with Narcissistic Victim Syndrome, rather than just general “domestic abuse”. Do you know of any that deal with that specifically? It’s SO important to find legal and mental help when getting out of that situation, however it has to be someone that is familiar with narcissistic abuse.

  42. HONEY- you don’t realize, u may have lost everything but, it was worth it, loosing him was the best thing cld happened to u. Be glad he is off w/a new gf. Its time for u to go live your life, u will rebuild your life & you will b even more proud u did it by yourself. After u do you can spend your money let alone hold it. Nobody needs to be hiding in closets they r so scared, sounds more like Vietnam, I know I have been there. Its hell & it’s not living.

    U r tougher than that. I lost everything myself, bad credit, ruined bank accounts, I mean no skills no job, I had to go live with my parents & that was really bad. Its taken me 3 years & i am still working on being normal but, u have to believe in yourself & see different for your future. Don’t look back, Don’t think about what he’s doing, its time to enjoy what u are doing. Get involved in some activities that are free. Or pick up extra part time job, meet new people, socialize even when you don’t want to.

    You are gng to be just fine & will be a lot happier when u have more gng on. Why can’t you get some sort of public assistance until you get on your feet? Lots of funding to rebuild or train educate for school or classes for better job.

    As well as credit repair, I hear you love I’ve been there, but u must push through & stay positive. U can choose to be happy or u can be miserable though these hard times, which one do you think goes faster?

    Control your thoughts, u start telling yourself positive things u have positive life. U can’t get positive reactions or future if u put no positive in. U should practice your faith & U will find how strong you really are & utilize that towards your advantage the positive.

    Turn the page, don’t keep telling the story of the past in writing or verbally. Turn the page & start your new life. U will see love, it will be good now.

    Sometimes it’s helpful to focus on someone else for awhile. U may have no money but, u can be a support system for a child a s mentor or something. U still have your beliefs and wisdom. Money comes & money goes honey, just like these men. The sooner u realize that the better.

    So get a good sense of self, & love her because, u never know what the future holds sometimes yourself is all u have in this world so u better figure out how to rely & get to know her.

    No man is worth lingering his misery around, u already paid price him. What city do you live in? I can try and look for help for you. But, just don’t give up or look up & don’t be negative anymore. Turn into positive.

    U will never let anyone control & run your show & situation like that again to ruin it. We all learn like this. More people than you know had to learn lessons like this too. But, u don’t see them mentioning them. Perhaps because, they don’t want to look back or even think about it. U see.

    Chin up, life is one big test of stregnth and endurance. U wold not be given all this if u couldn’t do it, everything is for a reason.

    Stay in touch, I wold love to hear fabulous things from u. Support groups, helping others,etc..People will be good for you, a busy mind is not an unhappy mind.

    Lot’s of luck love, u r in control of it all so what u create & see you will produce. xo

  43. Hi Karen,

    Thank you so much for reaching out and sharing your story. Experiencing any form of abuse is extremely painful and all survivors of abuse deserve support. Wanting to support other survivors by donating money is wonderful. Although we do not specialize with specific types of abusers or abuse, we do talk to all survivors and our resources are applicable for all survivors. We are always very grateful for any donation or any form of support. If you would like to try to find a more specific resource, reaching out to your state coalition or local domestic abuse center would be useful resources. If you need help locating those resources, our advocates are always here to help. You can contact us 24/7 at 1-800-799-7233 and we are on chat from 7am to 2am CST.

    Take care,

    Advocate LC

  44. It is absolutely true that mental illness and abuse are separate. I used to go to a clubhouse for people with mental illness, and everyone else who went there was so kind and gentle, even if they didn’t always make the best decisions (who does?) and were sometimes a bit weird. Not saying none of them were abusers in their private lives, but the mental illness definitely didn’t make them inherently abusive in any way.

  45. This comment has been edited to remove identifying information as per our community guidelines

    Hi JME MARE,

    Thank you for contributing to our blog community and sharing parts of what your survived. You had to be so strong in navigating the abuse you wen through and you deserve to be able to have support as you continue to move forward. Every situation is different and there is never a set way to feel or to move forward while healing from abuse. What works for one survivor of abuse may not help another. If you would like to talk about your situation and to talk with an advocate, we are always here. We are reachable 24/7 at 1-800-799-7233 and we are reachable on chat from 7am to 2am CST.

    Take care,

    Advocate LC

  46. Hi Etar,

    Thank you for reaching out. You are absolutely right that abuse is separate from mental illness. If you ever need to talk to someone abuse abuse, we are here 24/7 at 1-800-799-7233 and reachable everyday on chat from 7am to 2am CST.

    Take care,

    Advocate LC

  47. I dated a man for a year who did not disclose to me that he had Asperger’s Syndrome. He criticized me constantly and when I told him it hurt me, he’d say he was just very honest. He thought he was always right; there was no way to resolve any problem other than me getting exasperated and giving up. He was extremely self-centered. I tried to hide my feelings from him to avoid starting arguments. If I told him something hoping for some support, he’d only invalidate my feelings with remarks like, “just forget about it” or “what are you, a victim?” He always blamed me, I was always the one who was wrong and he never took one bit of responsibility for the problems. It felt like we were speaking different languages. He always came to the wrong conclusions and we had constant misunderstandings. I was completely emotionally exhausted and severely depressed after what felt like an entire year of beating my head against a wall. I ended up realizing that he didn’t know me at all. I finally found out his diagnosis from his mother! Now I’m trying to put myself into one piece again. Don’t make the same mistake I did by getting involved with an Asperger man. Good luck everybody

  48. I’m sorry to post this here, but I just don’t know where else to go.

    My Dad is a complete and utter jerk, but I don’t know if he’s just a jerk or if he’s actually abusive. Whenever he has a bad day at work, he comes home and takes it out on us. He forces us to listen to all of his problems, but whenever we have problems of our own, he shrugs them off and tells us that they are stupid or petty. He drinks regularly, and sometimes when he does, he starts insulting me and my mom. He tells me that I’m lazy, stupid, brainless etc and then he will start yelling and throwing things. Whenever he doesn’t get his way, he yells and threatens to break and destroy our house and belongings. He also consistently talks down to me, and whenever he asks me to do something and I don’t know how, he acts like I’m the dumbest person ever. These are just examples. I don’t know what this is and I don’t know if this is even anything to get worried over. I might just be overreacting, but it just feels wrong.

  49. Hi Carolyda,

    Thank you for sharing your story with our online community. What you have described is very painful and emotionally abusive. There is nothing that would make it ok for anyone to be abusive. Having a diagnosis on an autism spectrum does not make someone abusive. Even if someone has different ways of communicating, that doesn’t mean that they become abusive. Abuse is a choice that he was making and something you never should have experienced. If you would like to chat with an advocate about your experience and to find support in your healing process, we are always here. We are reachable 24/7 at 1-800-799-7233 and reachable everyday on chat from 7am to 2am CST.

    Take care,

    Advocate LC

  50. Hi Steven,

    Don’t be sorry, it sounds like you’ve been through a lot! You’re right that it’s not ok for him to insult you, put you down, or yell/throw things. It’s not ok for him to do those things to your mom either. Those are abusive behaviors, they are a choice, and they’re not ok. It’s important for you to remember that while alcohol can affect the way we act, drinking does not cause abuse. He is still responsible for his actions. You two don’t deserve to be treated that way.

    While most of our resources are targeted towards intimate or romantic relationships, we’d love to talk more about this with you (or your mom if she is upset by these things as well) and direct you to more resources if you’d be open to chatting or calling! We’re here for you to chat from 7am-2am CST or over the phone 24/7 at 1-800-799-7233.

    Take care,
    Advocate JL

  51. Can u please advise me. Ive been with my husband 13 years. From the beging he hit me and battered me to a pulp. 8 years on from that he doesnt hit me no more but doeas accuse me. He will argue and totally ignore me for 1/2/3 weeks. I also walk on egg shells with him in the times hw argues. I do get scared sometimes. He calls me accuses me all the time I do nothing wrong. He also gets angry and shouts at his workers. He can even shout and get irate if his phone rings. Please advise me please

  52. Im sorry but the DSMV is fraud. Alot ofcthese people are subjwct to electronic abuse by harrassment, sexual abuse, pervers, voyuerism and blackmail, stalking and cyberstalking by friends, family and employers. Its all based on opinion. My room is invaded, weight controled, illness, verbal assault an threats, zero money, slander thats not admittable Iino court. Keyword gang stalking in google.

  53. Hi Carol,

    Thank you for reaching out. Abuse is something that is very painful and you never deserve. For him to be accusing you and to be emotionally hurtful is emotional abuse. His abusive behavior is a choice he is making and not your fault. There is nothing you could ever do to make it ok for him to treat you this way or to make him be abusive. There are options that you can explore moving forward but ever situation is different. You can control your behavior and how you choose to move forward, but it is up to him if he stops being abusive. If you would like to chat with an advocate about your situation, we are always here. You can reach us 24/7 at 1-800-799-7233 and reachable on chat everyday from 7am to 2am CST.

    Take care,

    Advocate LC

  54. Hi Al,

    Thank you for reaching out. No matter what is going on, there is nothing that would make it ok for you or anyone to be the victim of abuse. Having so much happen to you is very painful and it is something you don’t deserve. If you would like to reach out to explore your options for moving forward, we are always here. You can reach an advocate 24/7 at 1-800-799-7233 or by chat everyday from 7am to 2am CST.

    Take care,

    Advocate LC

  55. Your story is so much like mine. I’m so so sorry! I hope you got out safe!! I have one child too and so affraid for his quality of life

  56. Thank you for this article. I have been searching the web for some clarification for myself. I am a stage 4 cancer patient and have been physically and mentally abused by my partner for many years. I keep giving excuses for his abuse but NOT anymore.. I finally called 911. I am going to buy your book.. I am trying to understand him, but looking back over 18 years I just didn’t see or want to admit the signs thou others told me.
    Thank you so much

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