Relationships are very fragile things. It is difficult to manage and maintain a healthy relationship, and it requires a lot of vulnerability. Many of those in long term and incipient relationships have had heartbreaks in the past, and might be wary of being mistreated by their partner. After all, even if a person doesn't experience abuse themselves, it's almost certain that they've heard horror stories from the people close to them. But even with so many people out there who mistreat and abuse their partners, very few people worry that they themselves might be the abuser. Find out below how some abusers discovered that they themselves were the bad guys in their relationships, and what they did to try and correct their behavior.
When Self-Destruction Destroys Others
“It started off with the best intentions, as I’m sure most all relationships do. I had been up until this point single and had never lost my v card. After about a month, the rose-colored glasses came off and I realized I wasn’t really all that attracted to her nor did I really agree with some of her core beliefs. So, I broke it off. Then came the jealous thoughts of her being able to easily hook up with other guys while I seemingly couldn’t find anyone else. So, I asked her out again. Things went OK for about a month or two, I guess, but I started to get emotionally manipulative. If I said I was going out and she didn’t want to, I’d then cancel my plans and try to make her feel bad for my own social life. I remember during this time I was constantly googling and looking up Reddit threads on attraction in a partner, bad relationships, etc.
I knew what I was doing was wrong. My own consciousness screamed it. I started to lose sleep. Why did I let this continue? I guess at the root of it, it was my self-destructive habits. I wanted it to blow up in my face. Then finally, after a camping trip that we had been planning for awhile was super awful because I didn’t really even prepare at all for it, we broke up. I brought up that I barely even got to kiss her anymore and that I was frustrated all the time. She wanted to break things off, said she didn’t have time for a relationship with school. This was my golden ticket, my perfect escape for both of us. I could’ve ended the relationship without her knowing I was just a piece of crap that was mostly just using her for her body and intimacy the entire time. But I didn’t. I lashed out in the most toxic, unhealthy way possible after she made it clear she no longer wanted any kind of physical relationship. I accused her of cheating. I blew up her phone with Tinder login codes. I called her vile, poisonous, racist things and made threats for anything and everything I could think of to hurt her. And I know that wasn’t fair, not at all. She deserved absolutely none of what happened.
I wanted to hurt myself and her for my perceived pain and you know what? It worked. That was 7 months ago and I know that after everything I said and did, I can’t ever expect her to want to talk to me again. Unfortunately, I fear I’ll always just be that toxic/pyscho ex to her, her family and friends. I realize now how much she meant to me, as more than just a hook up buddy. And I absolutely burned that bridge. I’d like to know that she’s happy and moving on but I’m not sure I ever will now. If you are reading this, please, I urge and beg you with everything I have, seek therapy even if you think you don’t need it and cherish the friendships and relationships you have now.”
Some Abusers Really Just Don’t Care
“I was diagnosed with Antisocial Personality Disorder and it made me start to look at my previous behavior with a new lens. It’s not really the same, but ASPD is effectively the closest thing to sociopathy that can be diagnosed in a modern context. As it was, though, I really didn’t see any issue with my behaviors up until then.
There was a period of time where I maintained multiple relationships without any of them being aware of one another. I was unemployed, but I lied and said I had work in order to make time to be with the other partners or to just do whatever I wanted. Whenever I wasn’t getting what I wanted out of a relationship, I’d generally bring some new drama to help smooth things along. Mainly I’d just act overworked and like I was trying my best but just wasn’t quite making it, which would generally make them feel a need to show emotional support and to try and make me ‘feel better’ in some respect. Aside from that, though, I’ve told pretty much every lie you can think of. Then whenever it seemed like things were starting to grow strained or to explain why I’d been inattentive, I’d usually escalate the relationship. For example I’d say something like, ‘I love you, and you don’t have to say that back right now. I just wanted to let you know. Those aren’t words I say lightly and I keep wanting to say them to you but stop myself every time. I’m sorry if I’ve been distant I’ve just been thinking about it for days and wanted to finally say it out loud.’
Once the relationship either got to a point where there was no where to push it or it didn’t seem interesting anymore, I’d just leave. I tried to leave options open but even if it had been several years, I’d just end it and move on. For them, it likely came out of the blue but the idea that that mattered honestly didn’t even occur to me. Despite all of that, while I was doing it, I genuinely felt that I was a good person. In my mind, I was putting my own time an effort into the relationship. Even if that effort was being spent manipulating them. Really, I genuinely thought I was not just good but better than average.
I was diagnosed ASPD after a long time of being misdiagnosed with depression and for a time, it felt like every day I’d remember another previous experience through that lens and realize how obvious it was. I didn’t feel remorse over my actions, just a kind of creeping feeling that my self image was wrong. For a while, I really didn’t know what to think about myself but eventually I honestly kind of settled into the sense that I’m just the bad guy. It felt a little like everyone had picked their positions in a hidden role game and I got the traitor card. Where I was just not on the same team as everyone else.
Since I was now more aware of my actions, I mellowed out a lot. I messed with people less, I stopped doing most casually illegal things, and I started trying to avoid the fate of most people with ASPD. Prison or homelessness. Still even today, I think of myself as the bad guy, that’s just my identity without any associated malice or anything like that. The same way you would call a stone a stone. I was the person who was on a different team and just had make sure nobody knew it. Every time I was given new responsibilities or permissions I’d just think everyone was an idiot for trusting me. Every time someone confided in me I was supportive but behind it all it just felt like I’d gotten away with something else.
Now I can’t really say I’m remorseful of how I acted. If I’m honest I see the whole thing more as a difficult learning experience than anything. When I found out I was the abuser though it did have an effect, in that I went from thinking myself a better than average person to being the villain.”
Every Abuser Thinks They’re The Victim
“I was in a relationship that resulted in marriage in my early twenties. We were together for four years, married for three. She absolutely did not deserve anything that I did to her. Both of us were/are addicted to drink (we’ve both gotten sober since divorcing). I’ve had a lot of time to try to figure out how the heck something like that happened. I’ve never been physically violent with a girl before or since. I thought I was incapable of doing something like that. However, when you have had a rage/anger problem since childhood, and you develop a nightly habit of drinking until you black out, you simply have no control over the ire that can take you over. And it’s just aching to flare up.
Her bedroom proclivities included something I wasn’t familiar with and never got used to. Without going into specifics, she liked a certain amount of punishment that was romanticized and relegated to the safety of our bedroom. I tried to comply, but she would push me. It started as a game, but it got more and more troubling. She has a history of being a love addict, and even when I was trying my best to give her what she needed, she would push back and start flirting with other guys in front of me or being disrespectful and/or rude to me in front of others. It was emasculating and humiliating. Like I mentioned, it started off being supposedly playful, but it got legitimately malicious. She stood me up to smoke crack a few times. She would steal my money to go buy coke while I was asleep. I would wake up and (if she happened to be back home), I would find her locked in the bathroom with a needle in her arm, frantically searching for a vein for some momentary rush.
So there were a lot of problems. And I handled it awfully. The day after a night of violence, I’d swear up and down that it would never happen again, and I wished and hoped that that would be true. I said I’d quit drinking. I meant that too, but when you’re trying to abstain and your wife is telling you to go buy her drinks, you’re going to give in. So you roll the dice night after night. Most nights you avoid the really bad fights, but every once in a while, things get dangerously out of hand.
Abusers almost always think they are the victim. This is absolutely true. It’s unfortunate and terrifying, but I guess it’s some state of denial that enables you to live with yourself by rationalizing your actions.
I wanted to die because I just wanted this violent part of me put out of this world, and I was prepared to go with it. When I first got sober, I couldn’t face the reality of what I’d done. I was in rehab, breaking down, feeling like I wanted to run so hard that I would shatter myself and break free out of feeling what I was feeling. I still can’t really talk about the really bad times in much detail. I tried to write about the worst of it, just for myself, but it all came back with such vivid clarity that I became nauseated and dizzy, and I had to stop writing. The difference is that now I’m accepting responsibility for my actions.
I don’t care if a woman is beating my butt. I’m not fighting back. Even responding by trying to subdue the crazy wailing vishnu arm attacks is too close for me. I’ll run away if I have to. I don’t care. I’ve made a promise. If you’re a guy, you keep your hands and feet to self like in kindergarten. So my first rule is to never drink again. That eliminates the loss of control. My second method of dealing with this is to absorb myself in daily meditation. I still feel and experience anger, but it bathes and washes over me, and I can watch it recede. I haven’t found it yet, but I’m finally at a point where I can dedicate my life to pursuing peace. As long as I cultivate compassion and abstain from mind-altering substances, my loved ones and fellow earthly denizens are more or less safe from my harm.
Beatin Up On The Pup
“I used to beat my dog. I got him for my 16th bday. He was an untrained beagle, pit, lab mix that we got from the pound at about a yr old. He was super smart and my best friend but was unruly left unattended. We even had to velcro shut the fridge b/c he could and would open it and eat everything. We couldn’t leave him outside b/c he’d bark. We tried to crate train him too but he always found a way out. I tried to hire a trainer but personal lessons were way too expensive (I was poor and in HS). All of the reasons he acted out were beyond his control and were my bad. I’d come home and the place would be a wreck and I would lose my mind! I had a poor living situation and took it out on my homie. It eventually got better largely b/c I moved in w/friends so he was adequately stimulated. No one knows this about me. I am now known to be a bleeding heart for animals. I’m a vegetarian and even foster two dog currently. Cooper died 3 yr ago. He was still my bestie and held no resentment.
It pains me to think about it.”
Nothing Stays Hidden When The Sauce Is Involved
“I hit my husband once. Pretty bad. I also said horrible things to him.
We have kids. It started because since I could do some of my work at home, I would always leave work on time, get the kids, make dinner, bath every one, clean the house, and then he would come home by bed time. Once the kids were in bed, he would be relaxing watching TV or whatever while I worked. So I had a lot of resentment growing. But we had no time to talk about it.
Then came his company Christmas party. It was pouring rain that day. He did not want to be late, so he expected me to get off of work, drive 25 miles home, get the kids ready and drive them 20 miles to his parents, then drive back to our city where the dinner was held in a matter of 2 hours. I told him I could not make it, he said he really wanted me there because it made him look better since everyone else’s SO’s were there.
After doing the chores, I get a call that his boss is holding up dinner waiting for me to arrive. So I went ahead and went over there, but at this point I was irate. He worked close to home and I did not. He could have picked up the kids and gotten them ready, we could have arrived late together, and been earlier if he had helped me. All my resentment that was growing reached its breaking point.
I show up to the dinner to find that everyone went ahead and ate with out me anyway, and all they saved me was some salad. Then everyone started taking shots. Now normally I am a very happy and fun when I drink. My husband knowing how upset I was thought me getting tipsy would make the night better. But since all I had was a small salad, the drinks got me black out. The only time I have ever been black out.
He said I was giving him a hard time all night, and just embarrassing him, so he decided to take me home. But I was furious at him telling me we needed to leave because I was wasted. He said once we got into the car, it was like I was possessed. I started telling him I hated him, he was a worthless piece of crap, and on and on until I just shut up and started punching him.
We get home and go to our apartment and I guess I started throwing things at him and kept hitting him, so he called the police on me. He said he felt like he was about to hit me back and thought getting the police there would prevent it. I took off. I somehow made it to my sister’s house where I continued to call him and verbally abuse him.
The police tried to get him to file a report, but he did not want to. They accused him of lying, saying it was not the first time, I must have done it before. After the police left, my sister’s husband brought me back home and it took the two of them about another hour to calm me down and get me to stay in bed.
The next morning, we talked through everything and made major changes in our relationship. And I no longer drink like that. I never want to black out again. It was scary.”
It’s Me Or God
“I was agnostic and dating a girl that was Christian. I was always such a condescending grump when it came to religion. To the point where she couldn’t even talk about her views because she knew I wouldn’t take it seriously and would just make jokes of the whole thing. I never really reflected on myself and understood my toxic behavior until after she broke up with me. The break up was because of differences in our religion.
I was a Christian as a child, atheist as a teen, agnostic as a late teen, and now a Christian once again in my early 20s. I think that had a part to play in the way I acted, I wanted to just have a concrete belief but I had been taught and influenced by so many people very contradicting things and I honestly didn’t know what I believed. It’s been a heck of a trip and I’ve looked at a lot of evidence from many different points of view and I’ve come to the conclusion now that I do believe in God.
I think the reason I was so belittling to religion wasn’t because I thought it was stupid or that she was stupid for believing, I truly didn’t care much one way or the other. But I knew it meant a lot to her and I knew that by the way things were going, religion would be the only thing that could keep us from working out. Like I said, we connected so well in every other area. So I think me being condescending was an attempt to make her also believe that religion wasn’t a big deal and that us disagreeing was nothing to worry about.
Looking back on it now, I completely understand why she did what she did. If I was in her position I would have done the same, and if I dated a girl that was a non-Christian I would have the same struggles.
Whether you believe or not, think about it from the Christian perspective. You believe in an afterlife that your significant other won’t get to be a part of. You’ll spend eternity without them. That’s gonna be a lonely eternity.
It definitely sucked because we had so many fun times and we got along so well. We had excellent chemistry. But I made her feel like her beliefs were nothing more than a joke and was separating her from God and she decided that enough was enough.
After I realized my toxic behavior I apologized to her and told her I don’t blame her for breaking up with me. I was honestly surprised she put up with it for so long. Anyway, that whole situation caused me to do some soul searching and figure out myself so I wouldn’t be that toxic person again.”
The Good ‘Ole Days
“I was a teen parent. Got my girlfriend pregnant when she was 15 and I was 16. We were both from dysfunctional homes. Huge shock there, right? We got married – big mistake.
The relationship was terrible. We were pretty awful to each other. It was mostly immature emotional crap, some yelling. It got physical a couple of times. It was her as much as me. Nothing too horrible – some pushing, a couple of smacks. I think she punched me once. I remember one time I poured a pitcher of orange juice on her.
There was never any real damage, no bruises, but it was still assault. I’ve not lifted a hand in anger against anyone since then. When I think back on it I’m ashamed and horrified.
I take some solace in the fact we were young, stupid and had all kinds of baggage. I’m a much healthier, happier person these 18 years later. I’ve had custody of my daughter since she was 2 and she’s healthy and happy as much as a teenage girl can be.
My ex is, unfortunately, still a mess. A string of crappy relationships. She has 2 kids she basically abandoned to their fathers. My daughter doesn’t see her often and when she does she usually comes home upset.
For some of us, the good ol’ days weren’t that good.”
Codependence Is Not Love
“It took him leaving me and cutting me out of his life. I was severely codependent on him and would threaten to take my life whenever he wanted to leave me.
I went to therapy for 2 years afterwards. I stopped dating entirely during that time. I blocked him on any social media that I accidentally found him on. When anyone asked why we broke up, I told them the truth (though a lot of them didn’t believe me). I never blamed him because it was 100% my fault.
I would often not take his advice or help when he offered it (it made him feel as if I did not care about his advice), start arguments/fights over small things, and threaten to commit suicide if he tried to leave me.
For a long time, I beat myself up over it because I claimed to love him. And a lot of the time, I genuinely did. But my therapist was incredibly helpful with helping me figure out the root of my abusive behavior and how to change for the better. My own parents were a large part of it, in a sense. I never grew up with a positive outlook on love. Add to that major depressive disorder (which I was just getting medicated for around the time we were dating, despite having it since I was 16) as well as unresolved anger/temper issues. Absolute recipe for disaster.
I thought he would always be there for me. I genuinely didn’t even know it was even a form of abuse until after he left and I did research on it. He had helped me through a lot (getting kicked out of my childhood house, toxic home life). He was my first love, my longest relationship and I thought I was going to marry him. He was also incredibly stubborn, but kind. I knew that it took a lot to get him to walk away from someone.
When he walked out, it made me realize that I had to have done something terrible because he doesn’t just walk away from people he loves.
I’m doing much better now, though the guilt still haunts me and causes me to turn down potential relationships. I still haven’t fully forgiven myself (even though he forgave me for what I put him through), but I’m hoping I can someday.”
Ah, To Be Young And In Love
“I was with a girl for 6 years, from 16-22, and looking back, I can’t believe it lasted that long. I cheated many times and didn’t get caught, even bragging about it to friends who weren’t impressed and called me an idiot. I stopped keeping fit and put weight on. I would for periods of time just disappear and have no contact with her.
But I was young, overconfident and thought I knew it all. Thought I would never get caught in my lies. Did I even love her? I convinced myself I did but everything about my behavior said otherwise. We had been at university from 18-21 and we were just about to move in together when everything kinda came crashing down. When she finally ended it, I was utterly devastated and the confidence and know-it-all attitude I’d had all my life drained away. I slept around with various people I didn’t care about and got wasted/took pain pills. Basically just blocking everything out. I’m lucky my family interjected fairly early and got me to move back home and get a job etc.
I’m a completely different person now because of what happened. Maybe I needed that devastation to wake me up. But I’m not proud that I severely hurt someone else in the process. I’m just glad we were young and didn’t have kids etc so the damage wasn’t too permanent on either of us.”
Girls Can Be Violent Too
“I’m a female and I used to, like, whack my first boyfriend in the chest when I was mad. Very wrongfully so, he was the sweetest guy. I dated someone after who I hit at one point and he smacked me back, hard. I was enraged but I’ve never done it again. I have no idea what possessed me to act like that. I guess immaturity and a lack of communication skills. I don’t know. I feel awful when I think about it even though I probably never actually hurt him. I’m sorry, Danny.”
Coping With Having Abused
“I was manipulative and I didn’t even know it. It took her going against everything in her living being to tell me she never wants to see me again, and I’m soooo proud of her for that. She has more guts than I ever will. I told her if I lost her, I’d live depressed and alone for the rest of my life, being snarky and sarcastic to ease my daily pain. Like Dr. House. Fast forward about 2 years, and I’ve not only found someone new, but I’m married!
There are still some promises I keep to her, even though null relationship means null promises. I just really hate breaking them. I’ve never risen my voice, and deep down I still love her always. She deserves better than me, and for once I can genuinely say that without it being manipulative and passive aggressive. I am happy knowing that she no longer has me burdening her. I now know what exactly I’ve done to her, and the guilt eats me alive.
I can’t contact her anymore, but I still do something for her birthday. I donate to her favorite charity every year. It’s not directly going to her, but it’s the most I can do to help her in ways that don’t remind her of me. Call me obsessed, say that I just need to get over her, but if it weren’t for her I definitely wouldn’t be anywhere near the person I am today.”