Getting Away From Spousal Abuse

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Have you ever let your self-esteem get so low that you tolerate bad treatment from a man?

For me – it was words.  It was clever jabs, humorous remarks – all funny (other people laughed, so I did, too) words.  But those words were about my weight, my double chin, my this, my that – they all cut like knives and hurt like hell.

I got away from that man – but the whole time I was leaving, I was confused, because I WANTED him, too.

And so I thought he was telling the truth – and as the days went on, I believed him.  I thought I was “less than” – which would make HIM my only hope.  If he were gone – there’d never be anyone else to want what he didn’t want.

And as I stepped away from that and slowly began to build my own opinion of myself, I discovered that he was lying.  I discovered that I was much huger a woman – in the important “Energetic” way – than I’d ever imagined. 

And I discovered that what men were seeing in me was only what I was seeing in myself.  The better I felt about myself, the better the man who showed up.

And my husband was the icing on the cake of my own good feelings about myself.  It took me years within our marriage to understand how I was in the business of totally undermining myself – and making him RESPONSIBLE for it – so that I was doing the opposite of what I wanted to happen.

I was pushing him away instead of bringing him close.  Now I had a man who wanted to love ALL of me, and I’d been so conditioned to desire and work to get and TOLERATE  a man who DIDN’T want all of me, or simply couldn’t HANDLE loving all of me – I didn’t know how to BE.

All of my work is about creating inner strength and outer softness – feeling so STRONG and so on our own side on the deep inside that we can completely let go of all need to control what’s happening on the outside.

If you’ve ever experienced allowing a man to treat you as “less than” – here’s a blog post you’ll identify with. Laura is amazingly brave and insightful, and I think you’ll get a lot of help from the post and the comments, too:

Laura’s article at

Let me know how you’re doing with this – I’ve been there, and I want to support you.

Love, Rori



  1.  #1Daria on September 30, 2008 at 12:44 pm


    in regards to Laura’s post and your Toxic Men program:

    does this – he is mean with his words – mean a man is toxic and we should leave him?

    Or is expressing her feelings in the moment enough to transform Laura’s situation?

  2.  #2Laura on September 30, 2008 at 3:52 pm

    Well, here I am–thanks so much for your kind words and mentioning my post.

    Daria, being able to finally formulate those feelings was a step on my path out of my marriage because my ex-husband never once acknowledged the pain he caused me. In fact, when I started fighting back and telling him not to insult me, well, he got nastier. Maybe he was showing how hurt he was, but you know, at a certain point I couldn’t coddle his ego any more and since he was not coddling mine, I realized that the marriage is over.

    Rori, I found your “soft on the outside and strong on the inside” idea interesting. My ex is an Israeli, who are “known” to be tough on the outside and soft of the inside, the opposite of what you are talking about. The formula for me is to discover who I am, and that has been strong and soft all over. (Maybe I am really a roll of toilet paper?)

  3.  #3Rori Raye on September 30, 2008 at 7:56 pm

    Thank you Laura, for commenting, and yes, to me – men are so tough on the outside because they’re so mushy on the inside, and when we women act tough on the outside – like a man, it’s because we believe we’re so mushy on the inside. But – truly we aren’t mushy on the inside at all. We women are steel and tree trunks and power and mystery and we hold the core of life and the Universe inside us. To me, that is the Feminine Nature.

    For me, the toilet paper roll image doesn’t work (I can’t help thinking about it as waste, clean-up, disposable tissue – all the things toxic men use us for) – I like trees and bon-bons and marshmallows and open-hearts – but if it works for you – then, yes – that’s it. Soft is the toilet paper, hard is the cardboard at the center.

    About my Toxic Men program. Sometimes a man, like Laura’s is Toxic, and will not – cannot – change. And you have to leave, as Laura so bravely did.

    And sometimes a man is merely difficult or clueless, and he CAN be transformed – simply by our both standing up to him in a full-feeling, powerful way, and creating safety in the relationship for intense, buried, painful, even rage-filled feelings to surface and be seen. And we do this by being authentic, vulnerable, and utterly transparent. And very brave, and having Tools and Speeches so we’re prepared.

    It’s the HOW of how to do this that Toxic Men is all about.

    Some men are not able to be in a relationship. They are too wounded, too angry, too small, too broken – simply not able.

    And some men just don’t know how. All they’ve ever known is one way to be with a woman, and they may or may not be open to learning a new way.

    My friend, Todd Creager (he’s on my Toxic Men program) says a man has to be able to “catch.” And if he can’t – not a one of us can teach him if he isn’t willing to learn how. Some want to learn, and some want to stay exactly as they are. The trick is for us to KNOW what we’re dealing with – and take it from there. Love, Rori

  4.  #4Daria on September 30, 2008 at 11:23 pm

    Thank you both of you.

  5.  #5Caroline on October 23, 2008 at 8:16 am

    What I have to say, doesn’t have a place here.

    I’ve been my mother’s caretaker for many years because I viewed it as no one else cared enough about her to help her to have and live a better life or existence. My mother is mentally ill and through the years I have battled my own doubts and ignorance and I still do at times. It took me years to come to the conclusion that I am not my mother and I am not mentally ill, as she is. But I have learned that there are traits that I have learned from her that I have to recognize and discard.

    One of the most difficult things for me is recognizing my own feelings. It is frustrating for me to have someone else clearly recognize what I cannot see in myself. My man can clearly see what I feel through the expressions in my eyes. Occasionally, he’ll question me about the feeling but gets irritated when what he says doesn’t line up with what I think. This is becoming a problem in our relationship. I need to step up the face on learning this about myself but I don’t know where to start.

    One of the illnesses my mother has is Parkinson’s and I have seen a reflection of the symptoms within myself. I am currently working with a neurologist to either dispel or diagnose it. One of the symptoms of Parkinson’s is the appearance of wearing a “mask”. I recognize that I do this or have this symptom but I don’t know how to counteract its effect. Sometimes, I even freeze up and feel unable to move for just a few minutes but long enough to feel like I’ve entered the twilight zone. Occasionally, when pressured in conversations, I have these frozen moments when I feel compelled to speak but cannot get a word out of my mouth. It’s like it all backs up in my throat. I have to find a way to push past that. These moments make me feel so inadequate and incompetent that tears begin to fall before I am released from the freeze. I tend to use my mind to shift my focus from the thoughts and create for myself this illusional world within of joy and happiness. I cannot dwell on negative feelings and thoughts for long periods of time. It’s very depressing and causes a severe mental shift in my personality that makes me feel mentally ill.

  6.  #6Rori Raye on October 23, 2008 at 2:16 pm

    Caroline, Thank you. I’ll put up a category on Health Issues for you…

    Also – I want to recommend someone to you. Her name is Emily Van Horn, she’s in Los Angeles but works by phone, and does a technique called Somatic Trauma Resolution. I totally love this technique, and perhaps it will help you understand what your “freeze” is all about and give you some new Tools.

    We’ll talk health and alternative therapies in the Health category – and I’ll talk more about “going numb” and the “frozen defense” and how it relates to trauma and the work we’re doing here – the Power & Self Esteem category (Just go to “Top Posts” and you’ll find the whole series) will help you tremendously.

  7.  #7Cassandra on October 25, 2008 at 1:56 pm

    EVERYTHING that you wrote in the beginning part of your post above is EXACTLY how I am feeling right now…..totallay worthless and that no one else will want me once I move out of our home (see my other 2 posts for the situation). I am terrified to move out of here knowing absolutely no one other than my fiance’ but know that I am totally alone here too even when he is home (he is an over the road truck driver). I have your ebook and started reading that but have not finished it yet and hope to within the next day or so. This is definitely an abusive relationship emotionally and verbally…not yet physically. How do I keep ending up in the same donut shop just eating different donuts? I thought that this last time I was SO CAREFUL to look at the ACTIONS and not just the words yet here I sit, with my heart in pieces, in unbearable pain emotionally and scared of what is going to happen next. I believe that my ‘fiance’ is a narcissist as there is nothing in our life that does not revolve around him…nothing and my feelings do not matter to him at all. I am feeling completely hopeless, worthless and totally overwhelmed so…….where do I even start?

  8.  #8Kirsten on November 21, 2008 at 4:11 pm

    KIrsten says:

    Rori –

    I am not sure where to post re: my issue. Thanks.

    My boyfriend of 2 years recently asked for some space. Which I am giving him. We started drifting a part probably 6 months ago. We did not talk about what was happening just started growing a part emotionally. I have been the one to contact him and ask him to do things and he has always said yes. I know at this point you suggest not initiating any contact with him. But I have a concern. During my marriage of 20 years I was sexually abused by my husband. I went thru 2 years of therapy to get through this and thought I had. But is wasn’t until I became intimate with my boyfriend that I noticed I had not worked thru everything. When he would initiate sex he would tell me to relax and to just enjoy it and that this could just be about me, but I was not comfortable with that. Soon, not really known to me, but I was taking charge, I initiated sex all the time, I never let him. I came to realize that by me laying there not being active in the sexual experience, not being in charge I felt the same feelings as I felt with my ex. I was so uncomfortable and uneasy. I ‘m pretty sure I took control, so I would not feel those feelings again of having no control. I definitely have a trust issue. I told my boyfriend about the abuse, but never told him how sex was making me feel. So, I was wondering if I should say something now. Or just follow your tools and do nothing and just show him I am changing instead of explaining that I want to change and I am trying to understand my feelings and working thru this issue. Please let me know your thoughts.

  9.  #9Tallulah on January 11, 2009 at 12:31 pm

    Hello again. I feel so angry and yuk. I just had a text from the guy I had spent 3 years with. He is an alcoholic (that alone I could’ve handled) but he was also a liar and treated me so badly towards the end. He has being sending me texts Happy Xmas, Happy New Year etc and just sent “Thanks for the Birthday Wishes!” (I should’ve been prepared but I forgot it was his birthday). I have not been in touch since I left and I am feeling so hurt and angry that he keeps sending these messages. I wish he’d leave me alone. I have not replied. I think I know the answer but just wanted to share how I am feeling. It’s like HE is the nasty voice sometimes. I am getting on with my life and putting me first and then bang! There he is bringing up horrid thoughts. I intend to ignore the texts and not respond to him at all, and deal with the feelings they raise but part of me feels like telling him how I feel and that I don’t want him to text, call or bother me ever again. I do not want him in my life anymore, why is he getting in touch when the decent guys have ‘gone quiet’ when I am feeling so much more positive about me and my life? I am willing to work with any ‘yucky’ feelings but I resent doing it at his will.

  10.  #10Anthony Melville on July 16, 2009 at 9:37 am

    I’m being abused by my wife. It’s all verbal except that she throws things (not at me). She’s chonically depressed and refuses treatment because she doesn’t want to rehash her abused past to a therapist.
    Meanwhile I’m with this woman who is getting worse every year. She doesn’t mind yelling or cursing in front of the children. She insults me and criticizes me. Yesterday she called me at work for the express purpose of asking why I refuse to unplug the toaster after I’m done with it. It’s not intentional; I just forget.

    This year I started saying “don’t insult me” but it’s not making a difference. I wonder if it would be more effective to say, “You can make your point without insulting me. Don’t lower yourself; you’re better than that.” She has low self esteem even though everyone loves her, and she has to have control of her every relationship and situation or she becomes angry.
    Honestly I don’t know what to do. I’m not interested in leaving her because a two-percent change would make her a fantastic wife and companion. She’s very talented and great for conversation. I just don’t know whether she understands she’s abusive like her father and step father were while she was growing up. I don’t know whether there’s anything I can do. And I love her and our beautiful kids.
    She won’t be intimate regularly–she has to initiate or she won’t speak to me for a day, which isn’t worth it even if it’s only once a month or less that she’s interested, which is usually when she’s ovulating (hormones, you know). So we have three kids at age 26; believe me, it’s not necessarily a sign of love in marriage. She tells me she hates me more often than she kisses me passionately. She also still yells me down for things I did before we were married, like seeing other people when I was at college, even though we agreed I would and she did the same.
    I’m having a hard time and I think if she could be happy with the 1% of mistakes that I (like every other person) make, life would be okay. Instead if we have to pay the phone bill a month late because I took two weeks’ paternity leave she hates me for that month. I don’t know what to do.
    Please help.

  11.  #11Rori Raye on July 16, 2009 at 10:55 am

    Anthony – I’m so sorry you’re in this frightening situation. When a spouse desperately needs help as yours does, and yet will not seek help, there’s very little you can do by trying to persuede. People have staged ‘inverventions” – and I would tell a woman in your situation to seek help for herself..and yet all I can think of here is the kids. If you are frightened and horrified by your wife’s behavior – they are terrified. If you can, see if you can get ALL of you into therapy – but not “dredge up the past” therapy. You’ll have to look around. You’ll also have to put your foot down about your wife going to a regular Dr. or an alternative Dr. for nutritional and, if need be, prescription depression help. Your wife sounds mentally unbalanced, and it will only get worse if left untended. I wish you luck. Sincerely, Rori

  12.  #12Cindy Lime on February 22, 2010 at 2:48 pm

    Marriage is not worth the paper it is printed on in America. We have become a society of cry babies that never grow up. We prefer adult dating to families. We prefer selfishness to the needs of our children. We prefer to be self center than to meet the needs of our relatives. We prefer to have other people raise our children than the spouses we have chosen. We prefer to have choices than to be tied to our family. We prefer cliches when we want out of a marriage and deny our responsibilities. These real common “I love him but I am not in love with him”, “I was too young”, “now I want to go to college”, the list is on and on. 40% of all children are born out of wedlock. Of the 60% of children born in wedlock, 50% of those marriages will end in divorce. Why waste the time, money, effort on the marriage procedure? Why waste the investment in children
    when we will just destroy them with divorce at some point down the line? IF you are not able to pick
    a spouse that you can not be committed to. DO NOT
    GET MARRIED and DO NOT HAVE CHILDREN. Do not submitted your friends, relatives and children to your immature behavior, inability to make correct choices and the bad results of both. If you are mentally unstable get your parents to get you help. You should be asking your husband to get you help but
    you dumped him.

  13.  #13Rori Raye on February 26, 2010 at 10:32 am

    Wow, Cindy, Welcome – and thank you for your blunt and painful comment. I wonder – do you have a personal story you’d like to share and process through, or is this more a general righteous rant on the statistics of the state of our world? Either way – you’re more than welcome to express your frustration here – and still, what we’re about is the hope that we can, one-by-one, turn this around into a more love-filled society. Love, Rori