by Margaret Paul, Ph.D.

Jennifer consulted with me regarding her 18-year marriage.

“I just don’t know what to do. I believe in marriage, and I have tried to believe in my marriage. But Jake’s drinking has been getting worse and worse for most of our marriage, and so are his rages. Occasionally he has hit me, and last week he pushed me down a few stairs and then locked me out of the house – which is what led me to call you. And then he did the same thing to our youngest daughter who is still living at home.

I’m scared of him most of the time now, and I’m scared for my daughter. He gets really nasty and verbally abusive when he has been drinking, which is most of the time. He is always calling me names and blaming me for everything that goes wrong in his life. And he doesn’t think he has a problem! When I have suggested counseling for us, he laughs, saying that there is nothing wrong with him and that I’m the crazy one. I’ve been trying so hard, but nothing is changing. I keep thinking that if I just do things right, then things will get better.”

I hear this over and over from my clients: “If I just do things right, then things will get better.”

But they won’t, because Jennifer is not the cause of Jake’s abusive behavior and has no control over it, and Jake has no intention of changing.

“Jennifer,” I asked, “What would you do if you were 100% certain that you were not the cause of Jake’s abusive behavior and that there was nothing you could do about it? What if this is the way he is and that he has no intention of changing?”

“Then I would leave.”

“So what is stopping you from leaving is that you believe that you can do something about it?”

“Yes. He can be so charming at times. So I think that if I do it right, he will stop drinking and be his charming self.”

“Jennifer, not knowing Jake at all, I cannot diagnose him, but he sounds like he may have a condition known as Borderline Personality Disorder.” I read her the symptoms of BPD and asked her after each one if Jake fit the description. “Yes” she said to almost all of the symptoms. “I suggest that you do some research on the Internet about Borderline Personality Disorder, as well as read a book called ‘Stop Walking on Eggshells’ by Paul Mason and Randi Kreger. This is going to help you decide what is best for you do to.”

By our next session, Jennifer had read the book and done her research.

“There is no doubt about it,” she said, “Jake has BPD. I can also see how I have contributed to the problems all these years by thinking that his behavior was my fault. I told Jake that unless he is willing to receive help, I am going to leave him, and now I am staying at my sister’s house.

He still doesn’t believe me. He thinks that if he is just his charming self, I will come back. But now I know that unless he receives a lot of help, this isn’t going to change. And I also really know that his behavior is not my fault and never was my fault. He still says that he is fine and will not go for help. I know that I have no choice but to leave because my daughter and I are not safe with him.”

“How are you feeling about this decision?”

“I feel sad and relieved. I always wanted to have an intact family, so I feel so sad that I’m not going to have this. And I feel sad for him. I still care about him, but I know that he doesn’t care about himself or me. I feel relieved because I no longer feel scared of him and of his hurting us.”

This was not an easy decision for Jennifer. Yet she realized that even though she still cared a lot about Jake, as long as he was harming himself, harming her and harming her daughter, leaving was her only option.

Margaret Paul, Ph.D. is the best-selling author and co-author of eight books, including “Do I Have To Give Up Me To Be Loved By You?” and Healing Your Aloneness. She is the co-creator of the powerful Inner Bonding healing process. Learn Inner Bonding now! Visit her web site for a FREE Inner Bonding course: or email her at [email protected] Phone sessions available.


  1. loni on May 8, 2011 at 8:18 pm

    i was in an emotionally and psychologically abusive relationship for 6 months. the warning signs were ever so slight but they all added up and realized 2 weeks ago that this man was a narcissist and a manipulator. i left with a safety plan.

    way to go to everyone on here for being your own best friend. nobody is in your relationship but you and therefore YOU must save yourself. confide in people you trust and ask for the support you need when you are planning your exit. safety is paramount…

    My warning signs:

    * within weeks of meeting he was buying me wedding magazines…he’s trying to make you believe he is a good man and wants to marry you. DONT BUY INTO IT… ITS A TRICK.

    * he appeared to be highly romantic, no flaws, his life was perfect and everyone around him was perfect… he wants you to think that he has no emotional problems and that everyone loves him DON’T BUY INTO IT… ITS A TRICK

    * he met my family immediately and was incredibly charming, this behavior he showed to any close friends i introduced him to… he wants to charm your family so that when you come back to them with questions about his behavior and abuse they won’t understand because they have seen the charm he needs to show them in order to keep abusing you…. DON’T BUY INTO IT … IT’S A TRICK.

    * he began to make small requests about people in my life old friends close or not and didn’t want me to keep in contact with them he gave me reasons that he didn’t trust them with me… he is an insecure person, he is obsessed with control and knowing everything about you- especially your vulnerable qualities, he will then manipulate you into believing that he is requesting this for “the safety of the relationship” …. DON’T BUY INTO IT… IT’S A TRICK.

    * he became verbally threatening and used language that nobody close to me who loved me would ever use… once he feels he has you in his grasp things will only get worse. His language and anger would dissipate followed by extreme remorse and romance and fake love… he blames you for the outburst and that all he wants is to make you happy and give you everything… DON’T BUY INTO IT… ITS A TRICK.

    * he wanted us to move in together almost immediately, he began looking for apartments and made it appear as if it was all about making a life together and “us being happy”… living with you is key to his breaking down of you, he can monitor you, try to manipulate you to giving up your finances, show his aggression in a place where he has you in a cage with no where to go… GET OUT !!

    My story is the same as everyone’s ************* these people are predators of the mind****************** You must trust yourself and speak to people you trust early on to check in with “what is normal” take mental notes.

    Keep in mind he is always trying to keep your head fuzzy… you are either up in the clouds with him or he has dragged you into hell and you can’t even figure out what for???????? this is the cycle of abuse. The sooner you recognize it the better chances of getting out early. Once marriage and children are involved he has you trapped ( or so he thinks ) that’s why he will either try to marry you right away or get you pregnant.

    I am incredibly grateful to my family and close friends. When i realized the abuse, which happened when i was away from him for a few days under his belief that i needed to spend some time with my family was when i became very clear that what was happening was ” abuse ” When i revealed the behavior to my family they believed me immediately and helped me exit the relationship safely…

    IT IS VITAL TO LEAVE THE RELATIONSHIP SAFELY. what does this mean? he must not have any inclination you are planning to leave. This will cause him to try to use any manipulation he has, or even violence in order to keep you from leaving. His behaviour will only get worse if he knows you are leaving.

    Steps to leaving safely:

    1. Confide in people closest to you that you trust. Family, close friends… keep in mind that he has manipulated them to some extent so if they do not believe you, find someone who does !! Contact the womens shelter, distress centre, call 911 and tell them you need somewhere to go because you are leaving an abusive relationship. Sometimes in crisis strangers can give you the best advice for help. They have no bias.

    2. Determine a time of day that the abuser isn’t home if you live with them. Once you know he has left and he feels ” all is well with you @ home ” get any personal belongings and get out.

    3. If you are getting help from a friend, ask them to contact a friend of theirs that neither you or your abuser knows. Stay with them until you have made your next plan. Get the police involved immediately. Fill out an information report stating the nature of the abuse and fear for your safety. This will help you start the legal process to protect yourself.


    He will go through every contact he knows trying to locate you. The friend that has helped you can then tell them that they don’t know where you are either… you are safe. He will call you, text you, threaten you or try to charm you back. DON’T BUY INTO IT… IT’S A TRICK.

    His behaviour will not change… you are now in control, this will scare him but you are saving yourself so stay strong and be still in your pride that you got out. Stay away from any of the areas you would go with him, he will begin frequenting them hoping to see you there. Change your routine, let your work know what is going on, quit your job if you have to- this is about your life and safety. Money comes and goes but you don’t !!!

    Find counselling immediately. Google: womens shelters (in your city) and access the support you need to stay out. Abusive people will not change !!! You will go through a process of “de-compression” with counselling. One minute your mind will try to say he’s not a bad guy, the next minute you will feel rage. This is normal, you have left a relationship where your mind was played with. That is abuse.

    To help you see the abuse, write down on a piece of paper… the lowest moment in the relationship. Write down how it made you feel and state that his behaviour was abuse. Any moment where he is trying to call you or has texted you, bring the paper out and read it to yourself. Again, be still and proud of yourself. DO NOT KEEP IN ANY CONTACT WITH HIM.


    Begin to plan your life abuse free. If you have to leave the city for your safety then do it…

    Trust your intutions about how to stay safe, sell your car or change it, change your cell phone number, have a safety plan if you see him out- if he approaches you tell him you will call the police and do it !! He is frightened and insecure, show him you are strong and will protect yourself. Get a restraining order, keep the police aware of your situation so they know how to best protect you. THIS IS NOW ABOUT YOU AND YOUR LIFE FREE FROM ABUSE. You have the power, breathe and trust in yourself that you did the right thing. YOU DID.



  2. wanda on October 3, 2015 at 8:32 pm

    I’ve been with this dude for 14 years. And he treats me so bad . We never go anywhere. We have sex maybe. Once a month. He tells me I’m stupid and I’m not good enough for him. Everything I do is wrong. He said if I lose weight he would buy me something. I mean everyday he finds something to fuss with me about.

Leave a Comment