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Emotionally abused becomes an emotional abuser


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Hi friends,


This is my first time writing on enotalone and I would appreciate your advice/insight.


When I was 16, I was in a relationship with a boy who had many difficult, hurtful things happen in his life. He was neglected as a child and had several people whom he subsequently loved and trusted die or leave before and during the time we dated. Throughout and after our relationship he was emotionally abusive. I believe this was a result of all the anger he had built up inside from these hardships in his life. The way he abused me was scarring - forever hurtful. I feel like I'll never be able to completely shake the way he made me feel about myself. Since then I have always had low self-esteem and self-worth. I have dealt with extreme bouts of depression. I find myself unable to trust men. I am 26 years old and feel that ten years later, I should finally be able to get rid of these feelings. I am currently in a very serious relationship with a man who is so much better than what I deserve. He loves me so much, treats me with so much kindness and respect, and is constantly striving to make me happy. Problem is I find myself treating him the same way that abusive boyfriend I had in high school treated me. I find myself manipulating him and saying horrible things that I know I don't mean but can't control. I know this is going to be the demise of our relationship but I can't seem to control myself. I know it's not fair to completely blame my high school boyfriend for this but I feel that my actions were learned and shaped by this relationship. I guess I am just asking for any advice possible. Has anyone ever heard of someone who was abused themselves and then became the abuser? Or better yet, has anyone ever experienced this themselves? I feel so helpless and I don't want to be this way. I just have so much hurt and so much distrust inside of me I feel like I don't know how to love in a healthy way. Please any advice/insight at all would be so helpful!

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First of all, if you treat something like an insurmountable obstacle, then it is an insurmountable obstacle. In other words, if you think that you'll never get over what happened to you, then you never will.


It's the same thing they tell alcoholics, addicts, sex fiends, and psychological anomalies: the first step is admitting you have a problem, the second step is knowing that you can overcome it.


I had an emotionally abusive boyfriend when I was 17/18. He was manipulative and tore me down deliberately so that I would stay with him. Eventually, I figured out that I was better than that, and even though I have some residual insecurities, I remember that I hated being treated that way. I hated being lied to and I hated when he slept with other people to make me feel worthless when he was angry.


So I don't do those things. I don't lie, I don't manipulate, and I don't cheat.


If you keep treating him like crap, then no, you don't deserve him. But if you realize that you don't have to be that person, then you could deserve that. You don't need to put him down or hold him under some spell to validate yourself. Realize that just the fact that a great person loves you and would do anything for you should give you every indication that you are worthy.


It can seem like a long battle. I've been there. It's not necessarily always easy but it is far from impossible. Go see a therapist, talk to friends, empower yourself.


The only thing that's hindering you is the past that you refuse to let go. So, let it go, move on, and you'll be tons happier.

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Your reactions & behavior in your relationship now are learned - and it's good that you have recognized that. Unfortunately, what happens to the abused is sometimes they subconsciously see how much control their abusive/manipulative partner had in the relationship, and the abused begins to abuse in order to maintain control so they're never abused again. That's what I see happening here, as a result of your paranoia of other men, you're resorting to how your ex handled a relationship as a defense. It becomes empowering to see how much control you have over the relationship and it becomes addicting almost.

Not to mention, after being abused, it becomes almost more comfortable to be in another abusive relationship because it's what you've dealt with/lived with for so long that an actually healthy relationship is too uncomfortable. It's counter intuitive but it's incredibly common.


I had this problem too, but I opened it up to my man very soon and he comforted me, then I told him if EVER I get out of hand - he must call me out. It helps keep perspective and it's gotten me out of the bad behavior I had adopted along with the paranoia from my past.


Talk to him, tell him you're aware of this problem and take steps towards anger management and thinking before you speak when your frustrated. Tell him that although he's understanding, that he must not pet you wall over him because the more you are able to, the worse it will get.


Good luck ^_^

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Thank you so much for your post. It made things so much more clear to me. I think what you described is exactly what I'm doing and I've never realized it before--I'm trying to be in control to protect myself from being abused again. However, despite trying to stay in control of the relationship, I end up feeling more out of control because I know what I'm doing is wrong, unhealthy and hurtful. I realize I'm doing the same thing to a person I love so so much that a person that hurt me so much did to me. I am afraid that my current relationship is at a breaking point because of this and will not be able to be salvaged. I will never forgive myself if I lose my current boyfriend. I realize now that I need definite help in overcoming these issues. Thank you so much for the responses.

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Can I say one more thing?


Speaking in absolutes is dangerous.


"I will never forgive myself," isn't a good sentiment, regardless of the situation. You're doing really well by recognizing a problem and reaching out. Try telling your boyfriend how you feel and ask if he'll go through it with you. Regardless of what happens, you should be proud of yourself. Because it's not easy.


Good luck.

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It's not impossible to fix and get better. It takes time and an absolute openness between you and your partner because he needs to know exactly how your brain is working, and you must give him the go-ahead to keep you in check.


The phrase my man would tell me is (what we agreed would be the best thing to say to me personally so I'd snap out of it) "Babe, don't say anything you don't mean. There's no need to panic, we're just having an argument. Express yourself and we'll be fine."

Luckily, he's incredibly patient and understanding.

So you two should come up with things/sentences for him to say that will snap you out of it. It will remind you that it's wrong to try and control the situation and that you need to TAKE A DEEP BREATH and THINK before you speak.


What also helps for you to do on your own is to to remain self-aware at all times of what you're saying and doing. When you start to hear your ex in your own voice (you know what I mean) you STOP immediately. With practice and the openness with your man, you WILL get through this, trust me. I went through it too and as long as you are determined enough, there is NOTHING you cannot do.

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Has anyone ever heard of someone who was abused themselves and then became the abuser? Or better yet, has anyone ever experienced this themselves? I feel so helpless and I don't want to be this way. I just have so much hurt and so much distrust inside of me I feel like I don't know how to love in a healthy way. Please any advice/insight at all would be so helpful!


You might like to look here:


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