Can’t Seem to Let Go of an Abuser

Reader’s Question

I have read “Warning Signs You’re Dating a Loser (A Controller)“, by Joseph M. Carver, Ph.D., Psychologist and it was the single most helpful article I have read.

I was involved with a Controller for 3 years and I finally broke away in April 2006. I class myself as a strong and successful woman who has dealt with many traumatic things in life, from divorce to my 21yr old son being diagnosed with brain cancer. I have run a successful business and have been self sufficient for almost all my life.

When I read the article it shocked me to realise that 18 out of the 20 questions were situations I have found myself in. It helped me understand what I had been through. However I still don’t seem to be able to ‘let go’. I have a new partner and he has too. The Controller tells me he still loves me and would like a life with me but when we email or text it always ends with him putting me down in some way. I have no intention of starting a relationship with him again but have an obsessional need to know what he is doing.

From what he tells me, he is treating his new partner in exactly the same way as he treated me. It’s like I can see her walking towards a huge black hole and I so want to warn her, to stop her falling and ending up as psychologically damaged as I feel I have been. His ex wife was treated in the same way and I only wish she had warned me. Even if I thought it was jealousy, I would have listened and realised that what she was telling me was true.

I am desperate to cut the final umbilical cord as I feel this man has a huge hold over me and I need to break free, but can’t. I know that if he contacts me, I am not strong enough to tell him to never contact me again. My last contact was to suggest he deleted me from his life and I would do the same, but the reply came back that he loved me too much to ever delete me from his life.

Also would anonymously sending the above article to his new partner be the right thing to do?

Thank you

Sally

Psychologist’s Reply

Q: Of course his reply comes back that he loves you…he’s a con-artist. As I mention in the article he will keep you on “back burner” for years, always saying “I love you” — basically keeping your life on hold while he searches for other victims. He’s playing to your dreams of what might have been rather than the 18 of 20 indicators of a controller and abuser. In reality, you’re already deleted…but you’re in the “recycle” bin, just in case the current romance doesn’t work out. Keep in mind, he’s more than willing to damage your current relationship if it keeps you on his back burner. It’s always about him.

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The confusion in the situation is very common however. I’ve written an article entitled “Love and Stockholm Syndrome: The Mystery of Loving an Abuser“. It’s available on this website. It explains the emotional/psychological attachment that is often created in an abusive and/or controlling relationship.

Frequent contacts are another important issue. Each contact activates “emotional memory” related to the relationship. It’s like being in the presence of your parents…we become a son or daughter again, despite our on-going life situation. Emotional Memory, if we’re not careful, maintains our state of helplessness, intimidation, and depression from the original relationship. I’ve written an article on Emotional Memory that’s available on this website.

In these situations, NO CONTACT is the treatment and strategy of choice. No Contact allows you to heal up, without the frequent reopening of the emotional wound by Emotional Memory. You must protect yourself as he is not concerned with your emotional health at all. You’ve survived quite a bit. Get through this difficult passage and you’re home free.

Sending the article to his new partner would place you in a difficult situation. He would feel totally justified to retaliate. She may contact you on her own and if that happens, you can tell her the truth. Losers typically turn around such warnings around by telling their new partner (victim) “See, I told you she would do anything to break us up!” You would again be the bad person while he would present himself as the poor victim of an ex’s wrath.

I’d also do a self-check for symptoms of depression. Three years in such a relationship is emotionally draining and exhausting. The presence of depression would complicate your recovery.

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