This section is about and for us.. The people who are so often left with so many unanswered questions, i.e.; how did I get involved with this person..., why was I attracted to this person..., and probably the most important question we ask ourselves is:  What was it about this behavior that caused me to act so crazy, off-balance, and how did I let it rob me of my self-esteem.....  The first section has a list of emotions that we may have felt and some of the possible causes...(as one of the participants once said: "Normal reactions to abnormal behavior.")  Also, view the "Keys" "Red Flags" "Fears" "Rebuilding"  "Relationships" & "The Trap" pages to your left...


would walk away or stare at t.v. when approached with any
problems (relationship or other)


feelings, accomplishments, wants, needs dismissed or not                   acknowledged


emotionally... did not like emotions,  especially anger, so                    "walked around on eggshells"


would not talk to me, but friendly with others, had time to help
others but not me, spent time with others but not with with me,
if others suggested something it was acknowledged, if I suggested
something it was either ignored or frowned upon and treated as
if I were a bother


would not admit to any wrong doing...would make subtle                   ambiguous statements then deny altogether or any hurtful intent.  Would also DO little subtle hurtful things then deny any harmful intent, accusing me of being overly sensitive....


would subtly flirt with others, then deny.. rarely said or acted             as  if he loved me... looked unhappy and miserable most of the          time..  If I asked him if anything was wrong he would tell me "NO"


would ask why I "always" had to analyze everything, or act as if I were overreacting to situations (even those that had nothing to do with him, hence felt very unsupported as well)


would not do day-to-day things, but then do something out of             the ordinary (grandstanding) that would cause me to think I was        wrong about  the things he had/had not previously done....hence... I then felt guilty.


felt as if everything I said and did was always being evaluated...
and scrutinized....

RESPONSIBLE (for all problems)

Because of the denial of any contribution to problems and the ability to turn them back on you - either overtly or covertly.... ultimately assume full responsibility for all problems in the relationship


Dating was like a wonderful miarage in the middle of the desert.  Being married was another story... I went from first on his list to saying  the words, "I DO."


Ignored me for as long as 9 months.   Did not talk to me or spend any free time with me.    Left  alone with a new baby ; the joy that one should feel with a new family was not there.  I felt trapped and suicidal at one point.




This section provides  some possible clues as to the type of individual the passive/aggressive person is  attracted to and vice versa.  Below are Dr. Wetzler's suggestions, and as always, please refer to his book "Living with the Passive-Aggressive Man" for more detail.

**THE VICTIM:  The passive-aggressive man has true power over the woman who lets herself be run by him.  Operating from a poor sense of self-worth and a fragmented self-image, the Victim is an abuse collector.  She may be a sensitive woman but often hesitant about communicating her feelings.  Underneath  she is frightened, fearing loneliness.

**THE MANAGER:  Women who can't take NO for an answer.  Since the suggesion of openess to them is as threatening as an approaching fist, the Manager squelches intimacy and turns to control.  For the manager, getting her way is much more important than hearing what the man has to say...

**THE RESCUER:  Both the manager and the rescuer deal with p/a men from the position of custodian.  As directorial as the manager she is far less strident in her style.. She can appear in the guise of earth mother, the "woman behind the man,"  the fixer, support system... She sees the p/a man on the brink of disaster and her natural impulse is to help someone who is down.  AND, AT FIRST the p/a loves the attention, may have even invited it.

The following is a section from the book entitled "IN SHEEP'S CLOTHING" by  Dr. George K. Simon, jr.   This book  addresses "COVERT-AGGRESSION" which he explains as being different from passive-aggression.  He says P.A. is playing the game of emotional "get-back" with someone by passively resisting any kind of cooperation with them..  Covert-Aggression, in contrast, is the calculating, underhanded behavior involved in manipulation.  When someone is out to win, dominate or control, but is subtle, underhanded, or deceptive enough to hide their true intenions.   He states also that p.a. can be used by c/a personalities...  Please read his book for further details...

"Any manipulator's real leverage is in knowing the character of his victim well enough to know how they will likely respond to the tactics he uses."  Knowing YOURSELF better, he feels, is the key..

**NAIVETE:   You may be one of those who finds it too hard to accept there really are people as cunning, devious, and ruthless as your gut tells you the manipulator in your life is...  You may be prone to "neurotic" denial.

**OVER-CONSCIENTIOUSNESS:  Ask yourself if you're one of those people who is much harder on themselves than anybody else..  You may be too willing to give a would-be manipulator the benefit of the doubt.

**LOW SELF-CONFIDENCE:  You may be one of those persons who is overly self-doubting and chronically unsure of your right to pursue your legitimate wants and needs.

**OVER INTELLECTUALIZATION:  You may be one of those who tries too hard to understand.  You may assume that people only do hurtful things when there is a legitimate, understandable reason.  Thinking that if you uncover and understand the reasons it may make a difference..  You may become so wrapped up in trying to understand someone that you forget that someone is merely fighting to gain advantage over you.

**EMOTIONAL DEPENDENCY:  You may have submissive personality characteristics and harbor deep fears of independence and autonomy.  The more emotionally dependent you are on another, the more vulnerable you are to being exploited and manipulated.



Another question we often ask ourselves is why do we stay in it  long after we should have left... Everyone has their personal reasons, good and valid, i.e. family.... but Dr. Simon (IN SHEEP'S CLOTHING) has a theory and is as follows:

"There's a syndrome that can develop in abusive, manipulative relationships that prompts a victim to stay even when they've often thought about leaving.  Anyone who has played slot machines knows that it's difficult to stop pulling the lever even when you're losing pretty badly.  There are primarily 4 reasons:

1.  There's the appeal of the jackpot; receiving something valuable for a small investment.

2.  Whether or not you will get anything for your efforts depends only on the degree to which you are willing to "respond."  With a slot machine, you have to do a lot of "responding" (investing) to even have a chance of winning.

3.  Every now and then, a "cherry" appears and you "win" a little something.  This reinforces the idea that your investment is not for naught and that "winning" a larger payoff is really possible if you just keep investing.

4.  After you've been worn down by the machine's abuse and are tempted to walk away, you're faced with a most difficult dilemma.  If you leave, you leave behind a substantial investement.  You not only have to walk away from your abuser, but from a huge chunk of yourself.  To disengage with nothing to show for your time and energy but a broken spirit is hard to do.

"If we tolerate abuse on any level out of a fear of abandonment then  ultimately we abandon ourselves"                               k. 11/00
Below, are excerpts from  "THE EMOTIONALLY ABUSED WOMAN" by Beverly Engel, MFCC.  For further detail, and information please refer to her book:

Abuse is any behavior that is designed to control and subjugate another human being through the useof fear, humiliation, and verbal or physical assaults.  Emotional abuse is any kind of abuse that is emotional rather than physical in nature.  It can include anything from verbal abuse and constant criticism to more subtle tactics, such as intimidation, manipulation and refusal to ever be pleased. (see more detail from the link page: "Emotional /Verbal Abuse & BPD")

Although emotional abusers are not always out to destroy those around them, they are out to control them.  What better way to control sometone than to make them doubt their own perceptions???  What better way than to cause someone to have such low self-esteem that she becomes dependent on her abuser?  Emotional-abuse victims become so convinced they are worthless that they believe no one else could possible want them.  Therefore, they stay in abusive situations because they believe they have nowhere else to go.  Their ultimate fear is that of being all alone.  And, the idea of being alone is extremely frightening to someone who doesn't have a good sense of self.

Because emotional abuse tears down your self-esteem and causes you to doubt yourself and your perceptions, you will undoubtedly continue to question whether or not you are actually being emotionally abused.   Not only do we begin tolerating unacceptable and abusive behavior, we begin to convince ourselves that these behaviors are normal or accpetable.  We begin to believe the abuser when he tells us that we deserve these behaviors because of how we act.  It  is important to understand that an emotional abuser will always blame his victim for his abusiveness and will always have an excuse for his behavior.

The longer you allow the abuser to get away with mistreating you the more he will continue to do so.  It has been found that abusers lose more and more respect for the woman who allows the abuse.

Listed below are three additional "types" of individuals that Ms. Engels feels are attracted to  emotional abusers:

THE SELFLESS PERSON:  This is a person with a very shaky sense of identity.  Because of something that happened in her childhood she did not develop a strong identity and sense of self.

THE PLEASER:  The person who is always trying to keep everyone happy.  "Peace at any price" and the price they pay is often damage to their slf-esteem.  By attempting to keep everything smooth they often sacrifice their own happiness in the process.

THE SINNER:  The sinner has many of the same qualities as the pleaser.  However, the sinner also suffers from intense feelings of guilt and shame, which play an important role in her motivation to please.  The sinner always feels responsible, always believes that "it is all my fault."

One of the reasons you have been so attractive to an emotionally abusive person is that it has been clear from the start that you could be manipulated into taking care of him, and furthermore, that you would agree with him that his needs were more important than yours.


"I'm Used To It"    If you grew up in an atmosphere of continual upheaval and emotional outbursts, contstant bikering, inconsistent responses or alcohol or drug abuse you are accustomed to chaos and drama.

"What Role Models?"  Not only do we often become attracted to people who are like our abusive parent was, but because of the role-modeling our parents provided we often repeat the pattern of their marriage, acting out their "scripts."

"I Can't Get Anything Better, Anyway."  Because of low self-esteem many women don't feel they deserve to be treated well.

"This Time I'll Get It Right"  Woman who continually get involved with abusive people may be unconsciously, or consciously attempting to rewrite their childhood.  We will act out the same old tragedies unless awareness and insight intervene.


I'm afraid of being alone....women often have a profound, deep-seated dout in their own competence...

No one else will want me.....because of insidious nature of emotional abuse, women often don't even know the damage it is done to their self-esteem.....

He says he loves me.....many emotional abusers are incapable of really loving anyone... They are so caught up in satisfying their own needs that they are unable to even be aware of the other person's needs, much less to satisfy those needs.

I need him.....If a woman stays long enough in a situation in which she feels she has no control, she loses all hope and stops trying.. Only if the woman begins to disengage from this belief in her own helplessness can she break out of the vicious cycle of dependency and  its  brutal effect on her life.

I love him.....chances are very high that what you identify as love is dependence, fear of being alone, or need.  It is difficult to truly love someone who is contstantly hurting you... Our anger eventually damages and eats away at whatever love we once felt.

It is more my problem than his......typically, an emotionally abused woman attributes the abuser's behavior to some personal inadequacy on her part, or sees it as evidence that she is doing something wrong.

I am going to work harder on this relationship......instead of reacting to abusive criticism with justified anger, emotionally abused women tend to blame themselves for whatever happens, and look to themselves to improve the situation;  "if only I cooked better, lost weight," etc..

I expect too much from him, I'm going to accept him as he is..... chances are that you have been doing this for too long already... lowering your expectations will serve only to lower your self-esteem further.

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Kim Neske
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