The New York Times bestselling memoir of abusive love - available everywhere
26 stay-at-home and career moms face off on their choices, their lives, and their families.
(from Dr. Phil Show)
- History of past battering
- Threats of violence
- Breaking items in anger
- Use of force during arguments
- Unreasonable jealousy
- Controlling behavior
- Over-involvement in the relationship
- Verbal abuse/​blaming others for problems
- Cruelty to children/​animals
- Abrupt mood changes

- Call the police
- Avoid becoming isolated
- Confide in someone
- Fight the shame; no one deserves to make you afraid
- Keep a record (including pictures) in a safe place
- Develop an emergency safety plan -- keep spare keys, money and clothes in a safe place, and know where you can go in the middle of the night
- Consider ending the relationship as soon you can

The Crazy Love Project

Shared Stories of Surviving Domestic Abuse

Emotional Abuse Can Beat You Too

October 27, 2009

Thank you for writing your book 'Crazy Love.' It was such a powerful read for me. I left an emotionally abusive husband last February. I did not endure the physical abuse that you did - he punched me one time and grabbed me and made physical threats when I decided to leave. But the covert emotional abuse is what beat me up over and over.

The parts of your story that I really identify with are the times when you talk about being so relieved when he would show you love again after abusing you. A friend of mine compared this to being a trained dog - the dog gets yelled at or hit and he cowers and backs away into a corner or under a bush waiting for a sign of love. When he gets that sign he is so happy and wagging his tail again and jumping for joy. The dog gives unconditional love even though his owner betrays that love over and over. As abused women we were that trained dog!

I remember thinking over and over - I wish he would hit me so I had a reason to leave. I knew that I was not comfortable with what he did but could not even explain it or justify it to myself as a good reason to leave. How would I explain it to anyone else? So I figured that any successful relationship had hard times like I went through and I just need to deal with it and become a better person from it.

I also had a hard time accepting that I could be an abused wife. I have a master's degree, lived in a nice house, had a great job - my husband was handsome, dressed nicely, had a high-power job, was well-respected in the community. I was not a women who lived in a trailer and had a husband who was unemployed and sat around drinking beer - you know, the type of woman who is abused.

But I am out now and on my way to a better life of loving myself. I vow to never lose myself for love again. And again - I thank you for writing this book. You are an inspiration to many women. I would love to make a difference like you have!



  1. October 29, 2009 3:07 PM EDT
    Wow! The loyal dog analogy really hits home for me! I keep asking myself, "What is wrong with me? Why do I love someone so much inspite of how badly I am treated?" Like you I have not admitted the reality of my situation to myself because that would mean I am one of "those" women! What a farce! Where does that come from? That stereotype? I am well educated, well dressed, beautiful home, beautiful family and all the while carefully dressing my emotional wounds while protecting the reputation of the messed up, hurting little boy of the man I love.

    Unfortunately, I cannot acclaim the freedom of leaving and finding myself again... I find myself stuck in an emotionally, psychologically, and economically abusive marriage.But I have begun to peel away the denial blinders: aka "for better or for worse" and "if I love him enough, he'll eventually come around and change".

    I've been so worried about the effects divorce will have on my three small children, ages 7,4, and 1. But I am constantly haunted by their grim future with this abuse cycle and the ones they choose to love someday.

    I've begun educating myself online and happened across this website. After promptly ordering the book, I have already begun to feel a sense of empowerment and strength like I havn't felt in a long, long time.

    Yes, emotional abuse hurts. It hurts bad. I'm not the only one who's hurting here, either. It's time throw a wrench in this crazy cycle! :)
    - Finding Freedom in the Pacific Northwest
  2. November 18, 2009 8:14 PM EST
    I left a comment about this when the book was published. My first marriage when I was very young was traumatically physically violent, I am now remembering events long buried. My second marriage years later seemed so much better but it was emotionally abusive, After being the victim of beatings I now realize that "As long as he doesn't beat me" was my mantra. It hasn't been that easy to move on and just love myself, I've had go back and learn compassion for that girl who succumbed to psychic black and blue marks. Good luck to you.
    - Micro@midlife
  3. May 13, 2010 11:48 AM EDT
    ". . . I wish he would hit me so I had a reason to leave." I have thought that many times. I have been in verbally/emotionally abusive relationships since I was 7 (I'm 27 now). First it was my stepfather, then a boyfriend, then my husband. I left my husband last year and our divorce was finalized last July. And while I (and my closest friends) felt that I was justified for leaving, it was still really hard to explain to a lot of people. How can you prove how bad the words hurt? Its impossible.

    Luckly I now have a wonderful man in my life, who understands what I went through and has been more than patient with my "recovery." Unfortunatly, I still work with my ex-husband, who wants to remain friends, but I'm a lot better in dealing with him when he starts to slip into his old habits.
    - Ari
  4. May 13, 2010 12:18 PM EDT

    P - You may be the only one I've ever heard to admit having the same thought I did. "I wish he would hit me so I would have a reason to leave." My husband of 30 yrs. controled me and manipulated me. If I disagreed with him, I was "causing trouble", "a difficult wife",not fulfilling the roll of a "Christian wife".

    A very long story short, when I recognized he basically owned my life, who would believe what I was living with was abuse? On top of that, he was a "great guy". I ended up being the "angry woman" but I'm free!!!
    - r
  5. June 9, 2010 8:28 PM EDT
    I just recently read Leslie's book and was so thankful that my relationship wasn't physical too. (til the end, anyway.) I am so relieved to hear that ". . . I wish he would hit me so I had a reason to leave" wasn't just MY thought - that other people have had this thought too. A very good male friend of mine told me last fall that he thought emotional/verbal abuse could be so much worse - I don't think I believe THAT yet, but I am, like some of you, still recovering from the effects of a relationship where you are told you are stupid, can't do anything right, should've asked him first, etc. It goes on, as you all know. I am still astounded by the fact that I am haunted by this relationship - we divorced last summer after 7 years. The "trained dog" theory is right on, I'm sorry to say. It makes me more sad than ever. But there is always hope, right?!
    Thanks Leslie
    - T.
  6. September 30, 2011 11:36 AM EDT
    I can understand where you are coming from, because my ex husband also only attacked me one time, punching me in the head and leaving bruises.....he would push me against walls and threaten me. But the real abuse was the emotional and mental. Telling me I was always a piece of sh*t or garbage, that I was a waste of time and he should have never married me. He controlled everything I did. But to the outside world we were a great looking couple, we were sucessful, we had nice cars, a nice house, dressed nice, both of our parents were still married. How could I justify leaving that if he wasnt punching me. I am physically free from him, but mentally find myself still controlled by him and I am working hard to find my own happiness and understand that I am not those things. I hope you have all found your own happiness again.
    - - tb
  7. October 2, 2012 4:14 PM EDT
    Back before no-fault divorce was common, "mental cruelty" was considered grounds to divorce a spouse. We call it emotional abuse now, but it's the same thing. Someone who abuses you has already broken the marriage vows, even if the abuse isn't physical.
    - dave
  8. January 27, 2013 3:39 PM EST
    Sometimes friends and family admonish me for setting very firm boundaries in dating and are baffled about why I don't like to jump into relationships quickly if som. By the way, an abusive ex has tried to bother me even several years after the relationship ended. It is truly dangerous to leave. People also need to know that abusive relationship patterns can also spill over into work relationships (example: boss/employee) or platonic friendships. I am sadly living proof of how that works.

    As a Christian woman and an abuse survivor, I have asked a prominent Christian organization that promotes marriage and family to educate people on abuse. I'm sorry to say that I haven't seen a single article written about this issue. It seems like churches and maybe other religious institutions believe that domestic violence happens to people who are not in their religion. Anyways, I will get Crazy Love and share it with as many people as I can.
    - Anonymous

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