How a smart person can get sucked into abuse Part III

Part I here. Part II here.

By the time the Narc entered my life I was 32 years old; he was 47. We worked for the same company and he saw the implosion of my marriage from the sidelines. He witnessed the multiple phone calls from Dale, and my reactions to things Dale said. He made understanding noises, said things that led me to believe he was a whole new breed of man; a man who understood women and what they really want.

We worked together for a year before we hooked up. He had been through what he described as a horrific divorce, but over the years I have come to understand that the only person who went through hell in that marriage was his ex wife, but that is neither here nor there.

He love bombed me from the start. He convinced me that I was the most beautiful, intelligent, interesting and unique person on the planet. He listened to me vent about Dale’s bullshit; sympathized with my pain, consoled me, told me that I deserved better, that there was a man out there who was worthy of me. When I moved out of Dale’s apartment, the Narc was right there to slide into my life. And I welcomed him with open arms.

His declarations of love started almost immediately. He “just knew” we were meant to be together; the two of us would do great things. He said that all his life he’s only wanted one thing: to have a “truly intimate relationship.” I wondered aloud what that meant and he told me it was a relationship where both parties knew all the secrets of the other, their deepest thoughts and emotions, really, truly knew and understood each other and shared hobbies and interests, worked as a team in all things, loved unconditionally.

Sounds great, right? No one had ever had any interest in what my true feelings were, much less bothered to ask my opinion on anything important. He asked probing questions about anything and everything and listened raptly as I shared my thoughts, feelings and dreams. He seemed to soak it all up and he even remembered things I said from one conversation to the next. To say I was smitten would be an understatement of monumental proportions.

And then one day about three months in he made a disparaging comment about my favorite hobby: knitting. He said it baldly, firmly, as if it was an irrefutable fact. I did a double-take. He was smiling, so it was a joke, right? Did he say it to see my reaction or start a debate to see how committed I was to this particular hobby; after all, debate is a very sophisticated way of communicating if you’re an adult; he said so all the time. I was confused, a little hurt, and not even sure he said what he said five minutes later. He went on as if he had said nothing at all.

This was a HUGE Red Flag! The Narc was gauging my reaction to his devaluing of something I loved. He was testing me to see if I would fly into a rage and kick him out of my apartment (what a normal person might have done) or accept what he said without question, or a very mild argument at best, showing me to be a ready victim for his games.

He pressured me to marry him. Thank all that’s Holy I said “no.” He pressured me to move in with him way too soon. When he couldn’t get me directly under his thumb, he started setting up situations where I would “owe” him. He insisted that my (paid for and cheap to run and insure) car was dangerous (he had been involved in a couple horrible accidents and had a fear of cars in general, or so he said) and not stylish enough to suit me and he would buy a new one and I could pay him back over time. And so the financial abuse began.

As soon as I owed him money he began to change the way I dressed, buying me clothes  he liked that made me feel uncomfortable. I told him the look he preferred didn’t suit me, but he insisted that I would only be “better” if I took his advice. Since I base my fashion choices on what doesn’t itch, I believed him and let him dress me and dictate how I wore my hair.

He asked me what my ultimate dream would be and I shared it with him: five acres in the country where I could have my horse at home and maybe raise a few sheep away from the Big City. He made me believe it was his dream, too. He put money down on a little farm and we moved into what I thought would be the house I would grow old and die in. That’s where true hell began.

All of a sudden, I was an idiot. Though he had not spent any time around horses he began to lecture me on their care and feeding and exercise needs. He would get angry if I didn’t spend time with the horse; he would get angry if I did spend time with the horse. I was working too many hours; we needed more money. I needed to spend more time in the garden; I needed to spend more time with him. It went on and on and got worse over the two years we spent in that house. I never did enough cleaning, the laundry was never done, my cooking sucked, I was lazy and sloppy and I don’t even remember what else.

Crap like this went on for years, getting worse with every move, but I was also becoming numb and didn’t really notice him amping up the pressure.

Fast forward to 2012. We had lived together and apart and at that time I was living in a house that he bought (without my knowledge or consent) working two part-time minimum wage jobs to give him the $600 per month he claimed we needed to survive in a tourist town at the edge of freezing-cold nowhere. A Tourist Town where I could not find work in my field. He, of course, was “retired” and “disabled” and could not even look for a Real Job. It was (according to him) my turn to take care of him after all the things he did for me. It was my duty and I should be grateful for the opportunity to finally pay him back.

Yeeeaaaaahhhh. He lectured me almost daily about what was wrong with me and how I was the cause of his lecturing and yelling and angry outbursts. These lectures and blow-ups were interspersed with kind words and gifts, leaving me feeling like I was going insane – does he love me or hate me right now? It changed from minute to minute.

And then came the Final Straw, the incident that made me open my eyes and search for a name to put on what our relationship had become: he left for a trip and refused to tell me when he would return so I hacked his e-mail and discovered that he was carrying on a Facebook relationship with a woman in Italy, sending her “love” and “kisses” and wishing she lived closer so he could teach her to build boats while she taught him to speak Italian. On my birthday, while he was telling me that I didn’t deserve a gift because I wasn’t being nice to him, he was telling her that he is “not good with languages – [he] speak[s] from the heart.”

I hacked into all of his e-mail accounts and discovered that he was also carrying on an intimate conversation with his first long-term love.

It was at that point I started my blog, chronicling his abusive ways and my reactions to them. At first I didn’t have a clue that his systematic tearing me down had a name, but I soon came across the term Verbal Abuse and I started tagging my posts with those words. It was then that Paula found me and gave me a giant piece of the puzzle when she said, “Your verbs can’t be abused – but your emotions can!”

OMG. I finally had the words to describe what had been happening to me for years and I could put a label on my abuser (Narcissist) that enabled me to take a step back from his rage and disengage emotionally enough to protect myself against his tirades and begin to look for a way out.

As I became stronger, the Narc escalated his abuse, not even trying to defend his actions any more, just flat out blaming me for everything he did. I found myself angry all the time, shouting back at him on occasion, walking out of the room when he started in on me about some trivial bullshit mind game. I was in a towering rage, a rage I knew I had to keep alive if I wanted to escape from the hell I lived in.

My exit from this toxic relationship wasn’t easy. It wasn’t quick. If I hadn’t had the support of understanding friends IRL and many, many blog readers and commenters, I don’t know if I would have left because he made me feel so weak and helpless, even though I was the one doing all the work (figuratively and literally) in the relationship.

I’ve been free of the Narc for just over 5 months, and No Contact for a couple of weeks. I am still very much affected by his crap every day, but now I can control my reactions and silence his voice in my head for hours at a time. You see, he brainwashed me so thoroughly that by the time I moved out of his house I had very little free will left, I heard his criticisms in my head constantly and was so frozen with indecision that I was incapable of doing anything without his prior approval. He had no need to get physical with me – he had built a very strong cage around me with his abusive words and actions and I was his prisoner.

If you have never been in an abusive relationship (and I pray that all of my posts sound like sick fantasies) you can’t understand the depths to which these monsters will sink in order to control your life so they can feed off your emotions. Without a victim, they are nothing, just hollow shells unable to feel emotions or connect with others in any way.

In my next post I’ll talk about the connections I see between these three men and how I became so tasty an emotional treat that I attracted three of them in a row.

About the Author

Sofia LeoIt’s a textbook case, and I have been a textbook victim. We read our scripts and stayed in character to the very end. I am angry. Between three men, a Psycho, a Socio and a Narc, I have lost 25 years of my life to Domestic Abuse. I refuse to be a victim any longer. I have taken over control my destiny and speak out in the hope that just one victim will see their life in my story and escape their abuser. For the moment I am writing anonymously as I sever all ties with the Narc. I will not give him the satisfaction of breaking me.


  1. Sophia,
    It may have taken you a while to learn, but better late than never. You know what to look for now and know what the signs are. I’m finding out as I go through therapy that there were multiple signs I missed in both of my marriages. Of course, I still wouldn’t go back and change anything because then I wouldn’t have my children, but I’m learning what to look for now and learning to put myself first, which is NOT something I’m accustomed to doing, and frankly, makes me a bit uncomfortable. I guess I’ll get used to it, though.

    I’m glad you’re free and rediscovering who you are. That’s a journey I’m on myself right now. Good luck with it and stay strong.

    1. Very true! I could be 85 years old and just learning about this shit – what a wasted life that would have been. Oh, wait! That’s my maternal Grandma!

      There were many signs that I missed, too, and many more little niggling doubts in my gut that told me I was not paying attention to something important, but there ya go – we get where we end up by beating down who we are in favor of who our abusers want us to be. Getting out is so hard, but so is learning to live again. Good luck to you on your journey 🙂

      Where will we end up? Once we learn to take care of ourselves, protect against the Socio/Psycho/Narc monsters, raise our kids to be kind citizens, and mend our hearts? Where are the Healed Ones? Or is there any such thing? I want a preview of the next chapter in my life…

      1. I wish I could answer ONE of those questions. As it stands…I know nothing. I’m just taking it one day at a time and stumbling through life blind, with my eyes closed, and in the dark.

        1. Knowing that you don’t know it all is a huge step in one’s evolution. If more people were aware that they don’t really know anything, just think of the possibilities! If people actually set out to Learn Stuff, just for the sake of knowledge, it might bring about a new Renaissance 🙂

          1. That would be nice.

  2. babygrl52 · · Reply

    Your journey is one of inspiration. I’m sorry that you had to go through all that you did. Yet at the same time I am amaze at what a completely strong person you are. Perhaps the silver lining?
    On another note. . . I like donkeys. As in the animal. They are some of the most personable creatures I have ever met, and really do have such gentle souls. It’s too bad that we associate them with the negative traits of humans. Oh well. 🙂 Thank you for sharing your story.

    1. I am by nature a person who sees Silver Linings. What will I do with this one? That is the question.

      Donkeys (and all equines, for that matter) are lovely creatures. Somewhere is a post where Melanie tells why she calls her ex “Donkey”…

  3. Wow… thank you for sharing, I’ve had many more revelations from your experiences, in addition to my own. Peace to you and your son strong woman!

    1. Thank you. It’s amazing what we can see when we no longer wear the blinders our abusers put on us.

  4. Thank you, Sophia. No one should have to go through what you have and the fact that you are here on the other side telling the story is a testament to your power. *Hugs*

    1. Thank you so much for your support and kind words.

  5. In so many ways you described my father, ugh it just makes me sick! I’m so glad Paula found you and you are out now and beginning to have the time of your life. Lots of love xo

    1. They all read from the same script, don’t they? And because they do, we should be educating our children about these monsters and what they can do to avoid them. Oh, wait, the new Role Models are narcissistic assholes on TV. Nevermind…

      1. they do! and yes tv is sad these days!

  6. prog4 · · Reply

    It’s a sad story and I have to say that as a man I am ashamed of the way so many men do this sort of thing.
    I wish you all the best in your life and do hope you can break the cycle of being sucked in my men this this.

    1. No need to be ashamed – speak up against DV, say something when you see someone treating their child/wife/husband badly, let people know that it’s not acceptable. There was a time when the villagers could influence abusive behavior, a time when what your neighbors thought was important. I would like to bring back those times. We are too isolated now, allowing DV to flourish in the shadows, and that is so wrong. We can do something about it, and we must!

      1. I do and I will. You are right about the isolation, tha lack of that community spirit where people looked out for each other. It makes it much easier for these cowards to do what they do.

        1. I hate to sound all church-y, but evil can only thrive if it stays in the shadows. Brought out into the sunlight it quickly dies.

          1. I understand what you mean but unfortunately these men tend to then find some other place to lurk. They need help, but most are unlikely to ever acknowledge that let alone get it. I think the best we can hope for is to find ways to protect others from their presence.

            1. I don’t believe that they can be “helped.” I believe that there is something essential inside of them that is broken or missing. I believe that they will not change and they will never know remorse. If victims had more rights, perhaps the abusers would be more hesitant to go hunting. Perhaps they would prey on each other.

              1. Sadly you are probably right.

  7. Sophia,

    It’s a bittersweet thing for me to read these posts. I am sorry for everything you have had to endure, but at the same time, in my heart I am joyful for you that you have left. I wish I was reading these posts with the perspective of an outsider. However, I made my way to my blog on WordPress after leaving my abuser this past December. I was not married to him, and I was only able to force my way through the four longest years of my life before I left everything behind one chilly, sunny December morning… with the clothes on my back and my purse over my shoulder.

    The last time I had any contact with him, except the court date for the “permanent” stay away order, was the morning I left after a ten hour attack that ended only when I left for work. I applied for an emergency order than day, and I was gone.

    I was so afraid he would find me that first weekend, I did not sleep at night. I would pace back and forth across the room and periodically peer out the blinds. There was a cast iron flatiron that I stashed in the room with me in case I needed it. After that, I refused to sleep with the bedroom door unlocked, and all the lights had to be on. It took a few months for that to go away. But to this day I refuse to go to the bathroom with the door unlocked.

    I made my way here at the end of February, because, even though I logically knew I was in “good” company, I felt so alone and needed to search out others like me so I could begin to heal. In the beginning I, too, was incognito.. no names, no photos, no information that could be used to determine it was in fact me if he found my blog. As time passed and I began to heal, however, that changed. It is a necessity to do this in the beginning for your safety. I am sure you know why: 70% of domestic violence related fatalities occur when the victim leaves the relationship.

    Getting re-acquainted with myself has been quite a challenge. It’s so frustrating when someone asks you what you want to do and you can’t answer them! I feel like I am starting over form zero, except a few major things I like about myself that I know were there before him. So much is new, unrecognizable, and I know this is merely a consequence of being entangled with and stripped down by the monster I was with. At first, I felt that by doing simple things like buying makeup and new clothes, and jewelry for the first time in several years, I was breaking a rule, committing a serious transgression that I would inevitably be punished for.

    More than the physical beatings he doled out to me, I hated the nasty, cruel, hateful, mean, demeaning, gut-wrenching words that spewed out his mouth every time he spoke. The damage from his voice still occasionally kicking around in my head will be nearly impossible to heal completely. Once you have been harmed this way, it’s so hard to get away from it.

    Just remember: every time you speak out about what you have gone through, you end the silence. Every time another victim reads your story, your words give them hope and help them heal. Every day brings you further away from the pain. The road is rough, but just keep persevering. It will get smoother, and the darkness will fade.

    You deserve the peace of mind. You deserve the happiness. You deserve the hope.

    Thank you for sharing your strength with the rest of us!

    1. I am so sorry that you can relate to my posts. There are so many of us out here, forever marked by our abusers. I wonder if they realize that? Does it give them a thrill? Why can’t I set my abusers on fire with the power of my hatred? 🙂 Not really. But, yeah. I might if I had that power just to finally silence their voices in my head.

      I wish you peace, too. Thank you for reading.

  8. I’m sorry you went through this, it sounds horrible, and a lot of it reminds me of my relationship with my ex. You (and I) couldn’t see what’s going on when you are that close to it, and so emotionally attached, but I’m so glad you got away from him. You are very brave, thanks for sharing your story. I hope this horrible man stays away from you now xxx

    1. I hope he stays away, too, but he’s still trying to hoover me back in. Sigh. I wish he would find someone else to torture and forget about me like the other two did. Or he could die. That would work for me, too. I say that in jest. Kinda.

      It is hard to see what’s going on when they are so clever at making you doubt yourself. He couldn’t have done what he did if I had been more confident in my own abilities and skills – just planting that little seed of doubt, making me believe that perhaps he was more enlightened than I and that I should listen to him for awhile was all it took to get the boulder rolling down the hill. They are very clever manipulators.

  9. everything you wrote is text book especially the “devaluing” of what was important to you. When one of these guys first meet us, they love everything about us, everything we do, they then quickly turn that around and into hatred towards us…it becomes the opposite. My Sociopath praised me for loving and taking care of animals, that soon turned into his point of contention toward me.

  10. Wow. This is powerful. You’d probably not be surprised how many people suffer emotional abuse.

  11. Sophia, thank God you escaped. Please tell me you’re still knitting? I’ll be praying for you as you get your life back and move forwards.
    Faith xx

    1. I have not given up knitting or my fiber hobbies, but I haven’t been doing them lately. There’s a fiber shop in town that is starting up a Wednesday night knitting group that I will be attending to try to get my butt back in gear. I have a huge stash that needs to be used up and have set the goal date of New Year’s Eve to be done with. Haven’t decided where (or even if) to blog the de-stash.

      1. Knitting is one of my go-to things to do when my mind’s in a whirl. The repetitiveness of it is soothing. Crochet is just as good.

        I’m glad you’ve got a group to go to, it’s a good way of meeting new people, and in your case, I’m guessing it’s also another step to reasserting your independence.

        1. Right on all counts 🙂

  12. […] Part I here. Part II here. Part III here. […]

  13. […] How a smart person can get sucked into abuse Part III ( […]

speak loudly, donkeys are sleeping

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