Earn Your Degree in Abuse

June 30, 2011 Kellie Jo Holly

No one can take away your education. I tell that to the cadets where I work all of the time because it is true: I know from my own hard-won education, an ICBS (I Call Bulls*&!) degree, earned via 18 years of mental, emotional and verbal abuse, featuring a well-designed syllabus acted out by my controlling, manipulating, abusive ex. That man was an excellent teacher, but I didn't truly appreciate his lessons until the last years of his course (a.k.a., our marriage).

It was a long course. Four times, out of sheer frustration I'm sure, he attempted to physically knock the stupid out of me, but it took that final laying on of hands to make me see the light.

I graduated from that abusive experience with the ability to sense abusive bulls*&! from a mile away. Thank you, Ex-Husband, for the education.

How to Identify Verbal Abuse

I'll attempt to boil down my teacher's first lessons into a few easy to identify signifiers so you don't have to stay in school as long as I did.

"Oh My Goodness, I'm afraid of you right now!"

The first time the one you love puffs up to block your path, grabs your arm angrily so you can't turn away, or uses your throat as a hammer to bang your head against the wall, you should know mental and verbal abuse are already present in your relationship. You just haven't recognized them yet.

"What did you just say to me, my love?"

When you feel a little confused about what she just said because you're certain you couldn't have heard that right, you've heard verbal abuse.

"Maybe you are right; maybe I am over-emotional."

When you find yourself bawling because your heart is breaking or screaming like banshee 5% or more of the time you're with him (but less than .0005% of the time around anyone else), then its likely you are caught in the abusive cycle. Yes, you're allowing him to push your buttons, but he is pushing them on purpose.

The worst part is you are actually beginning to blame only yourself despite evidence pointing to a relationship issue, not only a personal one.

"I feel small and ashamed."

The only time you probably should feel small and ashamed is when you've done something horrible, terrible, inexcusable...and you would probably recognize those times on your own. However, if you didn't fold her panties in half then in thirds, you probably had a damn good reason (like thinking its stupid to fold little panties) and definitely have no reason to feel less than lovable.

Who wants someone to feel ashamed for not folding her panties anyway? If she cares so much, she should fold her own darn panties!

"LOL! Oh, wait a minute, that wasn't funny at all..."

It is not funny when the one you love turns a serious relationship issue into a public put-down to garner laughs from others, and then seeks to cuddle you and say, "Come on, baby, I was only teasing!"

It is not funny (even if he is smiling) when he says, "If you ever get out of line, I'll run you through a wood chipper and dump you in a hundred lakes across Texas." It is especially not funny when some other guy did run his wife through a wood chipper, dump her body in multiple lakes, but forget to clean the wood chipper ("His one mistake!" my teacher said seriously, in private).

Your Education in Abuse Pays Off

No matter how long you've been wondering what the problem could be, once you see the evidence of abuse in your relationship, there is no going back. You can try to squash evidence of abuse down into a pit in your stomach, or quickly stash it in a dark closet in your mind, but you cannot un-learn the truth.

Once you know you're being abused by the person you want to love and trust more than any other in the world, the pain, anger, shame and fear become so great they cannot be contained. In your effort to feel better, you will learn about depression and its causes, narcissists, domestic violence and abuse, codependency, detachment. boundaries, and the benefit of a group or individual

In time, you will feel better. You will feel stronger. You will be able to make a decision about the relationship you share with the person who abuses you. You may choose to stay, or leave, or walk out and then return 100 times; your decision about how to feel better will be unique to you.

But no one can take away your education.

APA Reference
Jo, K. (2011, June 30). Earn Your Degree in Abuse, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 14 from

Author: Kellie Jo Holly

rae lynn
March, 8 2015 at 6:55 am

Going through a separation and recognition of what was an abusive relationship. I am still in the I can't believe it was me phase, and this blog was so touching. It brought up memories and let me know'again' that leaving isn't as bad as he tells me it will be.

Elise Adams
July, 1 2011 at 8:03 am

LOVE this...thank you for sharing your deeply painful experience. Hugs and love from someone whose been-there!

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