Introduction to Kristen Milstead, Author of Verbal Abuse in Relationships
My name is Kristen Milstead and I am thrilled to be a new writer for HealthyPlace on Verbal Abuse in Relationships. I grew up confused about what verbal abuse was. I learned that it was okay for people to say abusive things as long as they also mixed in kind or loving statements, apologized later, or both. Not surprisingly, I started choosing boyfriends who ended up saying and doing abusive things to me. Not all my relationships were that way, but enough of them to call it a pattern.
Protection from Verbal Abuse in Relationships?
Later, as an adult, I thought I had sorted through my confusion about verbal abuse both emotionally and intellectually. I went through several years of therapy. I also went to graduate school, where I studied gender and sexual assault in society. I thought that my general knowledge about predatory behavior protected me from getting into another abusive relationship.
And then I experienced the most painful incidents of verbal abuse in my life. I entered a four-year relationship that was so traumatizing, I found myself in a near-constant state of anxiety and developed panic attacks. My physical and mental health suffered. What the experience taught me is that, under the right conditions, anyone can become a victim, even if great care is taken to avoid abusive situations.
Kristen Milstead Thrives After a Verbally Abusive Relationship
Since the relationship ended, I have recovered through additional therapy, writing, the support of friends and family, self-care, and connecting with others who have been in similar situations. The relationship prompted a sense of advocacy in me, and I became inspired to try to empower other survivors of verbally abusive relationships and to promote awareness about why verbal abuse is so harmful. If you’re reading this and are currently in a verbally abusive relationship, I’d like you to know that it’s not your fault. There is hope, and you can escape. You are not alone.
More About Kristen Milstead and Where She Wants to Take the 'Verbal Abuse in Relationships' Blog
Milstead, K. (2018, November 13). Introduction to Kristen Milstead, Author of Verbal Abuse in Relationships, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2022, August 12 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/verbalabuseinrelationships/2018/11/introduction-to-kristen-milstead-author-of-verbal-abuse-in-relationships
Author: Kristen Milstead
I am a victim of verbal and emotional abuse.
I never knew there was such a thing until recently.
I've read a few of your articles on Healthy Place and they actually made me feel better - no matter how many women have been through this, a victim still feels lonely. It seems like no one truly understands what I'm going through.
I'm really glad Google brought up this site when I searched for help. I don't have any friends left - he sort of drove them away. I mean, he didn't actually tell them to go away, but he so monopolized my time that they sort of stopped trying to spend time with me. He kept trying to get me to be friends with his friends' girlfriends instead, and since I really didn't feel much of a connection with those ladies, I just kind of became accustomed to having no friends.
I am a victim of verbal abuse. It wasn’t something that happened over months, but slowly over years. I was with my high school sweetheart for twenty five years. Married to him the last seventeen of those years. My story is one they could turn into a scary movie. I was an only child, except for my half brother that was seventeen years older than me. Life was beautiful until my seventh year. My brother was killed in an accident . My mother was destroyed by grief and I lost her emotionally. She poured all her love and attention into my niece who was two at the time. She quit speaking to me with her soft loving voice, that was reserved only for my niece. From then on my mother was a very angry person and very negative. My father thru all this kept quiet and started drinking more. As a child I felt more in the way, unwanted. So I spent most of my time at my bestfriend’s home. Her mother would tuck us in at night and kiss our foreheads. The first time made me cry. Oh how I wished my mom would love me again.
Fast forward to my high school years. I had actually met my future husband when I was in the with grade. We were boyfriend and girlfriend for only a little while. Then I started high school we started seeing each other again. He was going into the Military and would finish with a GED. I knew I was going to miss him so much. But I didn’t realize how much. I was physically sick, I missed a lot of school. I had found love only for it to leave me again. I see everything very clearly now. A young girl that needed to feel loved. We broke up two years later when he married a philipino woman 8 years older than him. After crying my heart out for a few days I got angry. Any boy that looked my way I would destroy. It took a year to smile again. Another two years later he was discharged from the service. She did not come with him, she had caught the eye of an officer. I was dropping off his little sister, who also hung out at my best friends, at her parents home. He walked to the door and I was shocked at how thin and pale he was. I heard he had some type of break down, but never heard anything more about it. When I was nineteen we moved in together. He was always “protective” and didn’t want me around certain people. I thought it was because he loved me so much. We did everything together. I could visit my girlfriends for a couple hours but be home before dark. “So he wouldn’t worry”! He’d come into the store I worked at to take me on breaks all the time. He knew when my breaks would be, my lunches, back then he kept me on a short rope. I still didn’t see it. I thought it had everything to do with love. He was in charge of our finances, all of them. His logic to me was, if there was a mistake we’d know who to blame. He did everything, I mean everything except laundry, and dishes. He cooked, grocery shopped every Sunday morning while I slept in. He always got up early. Sounds like I was a princess. There is a dark side to this story. If he was upset over anything I’d become his whipping post. Once I was making a stew just the way mom made it. He got home from work, grabbed the ketchup bottle and squeezed half of it in my stew then tasted it. Through the spoon down and said, “tastes like shit”! Stormed out of our apartment. I was devastated, what did I do? Why would he treat me this way? There were numerous times like this sped out through the seven years we lived together. So it didn’t seem like it was anything bad. Then we got married. I got pregnant six months after the wedding . He pampered me, over fed me, but would still lose his temper from time to time. Usually over something stupid. When Sara was born, he was a very proud dad. As she grew I noticed I was in charge of the diaper changing and he was setting all the rules. He started telling me, “Don’t think honey, it just gets you in trouble”. He had a job where it was flexible enough for him to make it to all her school functions, while mine wasn’t so easy. He just took over. I never knew what was going on. He slowly started talking down to me. Started jokingly, then got meaner and meaner. Our daughter watching all this as she grew up. While she was little she loved her mommy. But after starting school and the older she got the further she drifted from me. Now I know why! We moved out to my mothers property so I could take care of mom. She deeded everything to me so we could get a loan on a new modular. He knew I was paranoid about getting in over our heads and losing the place where I grew up. He reassured me nothing like that would happen, yeah right. Our daughter wouldn’t do the dishes one night when I asked her to so I grounded her, she was 13. When he got home from work he asked why I was doing them and I told him. She came out of her room and was standing there while I told him I grounded her. He started laughing and looked at her and said, “honey you don’t have to listen to your mother.” I never could recover any authority with her after that. I questioned what was my purpose in this life. I had no voice, I had to ask before I did anything. He found something wrong with everything I did. I had no self esteem, or self worth, I was nothing. The doctor put me on two different antidepressants that helped a little. I excelled at my jobs. I only had three during our twenty five years together. I asked him once why he thought I did everything wrong when I was very efficient at work. They kept training me to do more and more . ( I worked for a doctor.). He told me I was one of those people that just wasn’t good at taking care of family and home. He also told me over and over I was lucky to have him because no one else would ever love me. I remember there was a time I stuttered for awhile during one of his long relentless rages that went on for days. He’d be angry when he’d get home from work and inform me I was going to have a bad weekend. I’d just start crying.
Now people say, why didn’t you leave him? Fear, I wasn’t in control, he was the master I the slave. He’d threaten to leave me, and then tell me how I was going to lose everything and be on the streets. Then I’d cry myself to sleep wake up with swollen eyes almost shut. He’d fill a sink with cold water and add ice cubes to it. Talk to me real gently, never apologize, just tell me he changed his mind he wasn’t going to leave me. I know this sounds so crazy, but I thought I loved him and I did. But I thought I couldn’t survive alone without him. He had to be there to tell me what to do.
He decided to take a job in Iraq with a contracting company in the middle of the war zone. He would be spraying for sandflies that carried disease. While he was there it escalated so fast into the worst hell he’d ever put me through. He’d call every night at 7pm. I’d better be there to answer. He’d have me in tears, telling me if he was killed over there it would be my fault. One night I lost my mind and started screaming back, which I never did. I agreed with him on everything he called me, told him he’d be better off without me so I was never going to bother him again or talk to him goodbye. I wouldn’t answer the phone for days. The one of his old co workers stopped by and asked if I was all right. My husband had called him. So we started talking again a little. But he started it again. This time I did quit talking to him. He was due to fly home i just had surgery and when he got there I told him to leave. I was numb. Something inside of me broke. A week later he came home to stay and I noticed he was shaking all over and asked where his gun was at. I told him it was put up and safe. He insisted on seeing it, that’s when I left. I stayed at a friends house. He tried to get me alone one night there at the house on a Saturday. He had our mattresses outside set up and made up with my sheets and blankets doused in lighter fluid then covered with a tarp so it didn’t evaporate before he could light them. He had a plane ticket already bought to fly to Puerto Rico to visit his mom and sister scheduled the next morning for the first flight out. That airport he left from was three hours drive away. I know in my heart I would have died that night. Two weeks later he committed suicide. His suicide notes he left blamed me for everything. Said to save his daughter from me, and that I was buried in debt. Made it sound like I was the bully. I was 44 years old at the time. Never dreamed I’d be a widow at 44. I was so lost for over two years until I slowly, very slowly started to have a clear mind. The things I learned after his death were hard to deal with. Other women, not just one or two. So many lies. I am now 56 and I will never remarry. I still suffer from issues he has scared me with. There is so much more to my story, this is just the tip of the iceberg. He came back from Iraq mentally unstable. Outside of our home everyone thought he was such a wonderful guy, but those that were close to him knew. He used to joke about me being his whipping post, saying, “We always get over it”! We? I never got over it. These wounds go deep. It was a gradual progression into hell over twenty five years. So, yes I do feel I am a victim of emotional verbal abuse.
Thank you for listening. Sorry it is so long.
Barbara, I'm felt so sad reading your story. I could feel so much pain in your words. You have been through so much. I'm sorry for everything you've had to endure. I was glad to read that you are able to begin to have a clear mind. I feel like that's so important, as we start to figure out what was even done to us and put together the pieces. Thank you for sharing your story, because when you share you let people know they aren't alone. Although there are scars, you are a survivor and I admire you for your strength. I wish you well on your continued recovery. -Kristen
Hi Barbara I read your story and I can’t believe what you went through it’s truly devastating. I’m in a verbally emotional at timed& physical relationship as well and have been for decades. I too am lost and wish I could find a way out. I’m 50 and feel like I wasted much of my life with this controlling jealous person. Things start to change and I have a lot of anger and resentment towards him and how he has treated me for over a decade. He pits my two kids against me and doesn’t think he’s doing anything wrong. This guy is just sick I believe he has mental issues refuses to get help. I have barley a friend he’s kept me away from all my friends. It’s the control and wanting to know where I am constantly.... I wish I remained single. I think I would have been a different person.
There are so many things in your story that sound as if I had said them myself!
" If he was upset over anything I’d become his whipping post." "Don’t think honey, it just gets you in trouble" "He just took over. I never knew what was going on. He slowly started talking down to me. Started jokingly, then got meaner and meaner. " "He found something wrong with everything I did. " "He also told me over and over I was lucky to have him because no one else would ever love me. " "I know this sounds so crazy, but I thought I loved him and I did. But I thought I couldn’t survive alone without him. He had to be there to tell me what to do." "One night I lost my mind and started screaming back, which I never did. I agreed with him on everything he called me," "I was numb. Something inside of me broke. " "Outside of our home everyone thought he was such a wonderful guy, but those that were close to him knew. "
I'm so sorry that this happened to you, and for so many years. My husband is alive and well, although he is still convinced he's done nothing wrong. He believes that "any real man does the same thing." Oh, yeah, that's a direct quote. For so many years, I was just sad. My depression meds were changed 3 times, and I'm now on more depression and anxiety medication than I could ever have imagined. Getting away from him didn't "fix" me. It's like his hurtful words and actions are stuck to me. He was always so proud that he never hit me. I mean, EXTREMELY proud that he never hit me, as if I deserved to be hit!
I always put up with it because I loved him. A part of me always will. I pitied him because he was raised in multiple abusive homes until his aunt finally got him when he was 16, and by then it was too late, I guess. He genuinely believes he's done nothing wrong, "and if I am, it's because of my head problems, so you can't even blame me." He does have Bipolar II, PTSD, and was recently diagnosed with Intermittent Explosive Disorder - which I never knew was a thing. These things are supposed to excuse him for years of name-calling and belittling me, making me question my own sanity, and making me believe that all of his friends and family supported his actions. Lies! Years and years of lies!
The day I left, he was angry at my brother for telling my son it was okay for him to stay with my sister for a few days. I was fine with that, but it really wasn't my brother's decision to make. My husband exploded on me and did not even shut up long enough for me to respond - he called me a piece of sh*t and told me to get the f*ck out of his house. Our house.
I had left an emotionally abusive relationship before I met him where the guy had kicked me and my seven-year-old out of our house at 1am - the very first promise my husband ever made to me when we first started dating was that he would never, ever, kick me out.
That day, I went to the emergency room and asked for a psychological exam. I was examined by multiple physicians and psychiatrists for several hours. Afterward, I went to my sister's house. My husband called me the next morning. "I didn't mean you had to leave permanently." Excuse me? "Your brother had no right." I agreed. "So now I have to suffer because your brother thinks he can run my family." Um, no. I'm not coming back because you called me a piece of sh*t and kicked me out of my own house.
The thing that bugs me the most is that in between all the years of abuse, there were some absolutely wonderful, very happy times. There are days I miss the "nice" version of him so much I can't do anything but sit and cry.
I'm currently 40 years old. I've only just learned that I can survive without him.