Breaking Free From Abusive Behavior

By Annie Lane

July 7, 2019 4 min read

Dear Annie: My husband and I have been married for 1 1/2 years, though we started going out more than three years ago. We should still be at the honeymoon stage in our relationship, but I am writing because he has changed recently in really bad ways. He calls me names, puts me down, belittles me and makes me feel worthless.

Before this, he begged me to give up my apartment and move into his house. Yet recently, he made it clear that I would never be on the deed. I have a child from my first marriage, and initially my husband welcomed her with open arms. Now he doesn't acknowledge her existence. He tells me that he loves me and can't live without me. Well, he hasn't done one thing to make me feel that way.

We have tried two different marriage therapists, and, of course, he didn't like either one. Now he refuses to go back. He's home everyday after work and doesn't go out with friends or anything. I knew he had a lot of insecurity issues when we met, and he asked for a lot of reassurance, which I had no problem giving.

A few months back, he called my job and questioned my boss, which actually got me fired. I haven't been able to find work because I have a child that I have to get to and from school and I have no help from any family or friends. He has called numbers in my phone and questioned people. (Of course, he didn't find anything.)

He constantly puts me down about not working, tells me he can get better and that I'm not even pretty. I don't know what made him change or if this is who he really was all along but didn't show it. I am completely heartbroken. I love this man so much, yet he really made sure I was trapped with him, and now I am worn down and feel worthless. I don't even like the person I am anymore. — Please Help Guide Me

Dear Please Help Guide Me: You are not even close to the honeymoon stage; in fact, you're at what sounds like a nightmare stage.

I know this can be hard to hear because you say that you love him "so much," but his behavior is abusive. Being cruel to your daughter is one example of this. She did not ask to be related to this man and does not deserve anything but the utmost kindness and respect from him. Getting you fired from your job, and then complaining that you don't have a job, is another example of cruelty. Luring you into his house as his spouse and then announcing that your name will never be on the deed, is yet another example.

Marriage is about love and partnership. It sounds like your husband took that vow to belittle and control you. As others in similar situations can attest, it can be difficult to see the warning signs or to recognize isolating behavior until it can feel like too late to change anything. However, it's never too late. No one is allowed to put you down or tell you that you're worthless. To talk with people trained in understanding your situation, visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline website, at, or call 800-799-7233.

"Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie" is out now! Annie Lane's debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to [email protected]

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