The Emotional Abuse Survivor Behaviours That Never Really Go Away

I’ve been divorced ten years this month: I’m ready to talk

Matt Mason
4 min readMay 18


After another bout of therapy, 2022 was the year I finally admitted to myself that I was in an abusive relationship. Previously I’d described her behaviour as manipulative, controlling, and “borderline abusive.” But I didn’t go far enough.

Photo by Gabriel on Unsplash

Most of her issues concerned her need to be in control of everything. Here are some examples of her behaviour. This is not an exhaustive list:

  • She didn’t like it when I met up with the new friends I made at university
  • She always had an excuse not to spend Christmas with my family
  • After her dad died, she decided to travel home from university every weekend — a round trip of 400 miles. I occasionally stayed behind because I felt I needed breathing space. She would sulk or shout on those rare occasions that I stayed
  • She gave me the cold shoulder for a whole day once because I got back from the pub five minutes after her instructed time (she was invited and refused to go — see above point about university friends)
  • If I invited her to the student bar with friends, that was me forcing her to go. If I said it was up to her whether she came to the student bar, that was me passively aggressively saying I didn’t want her to go
  • She had a tantrum one day for going to the wrong shop to meet her — two branches of the same company one hundred metres apart. She screamed at me on the phone for getting it wrong. Then hung up on me and phoned me again to scream at me all over again
  • She had a tantrum because I shaved off the sideburns that she asked me to grow. I didn’t like them, but that didn’t matter
  • The first time I told her I didn’t want children, she said “I don’t give a shit.” I was too stunned to say anything else
  • After that she never wanted to talk about it. Yet when one of her friends fell pregnant, she had a tantrum, deleted her Facebook and blamed me, stating “you got what you wanted”
  • Eventually she threatened reproductive coercion “I will make sure you get me pregnant” even though she no longer wanted to be…



Matt Mason

Archaeologist by training, freelance writer by choice. General creativity nerd. EIC of "The Ace Space" - a publication for ace and aro voices.