Domestic violence DE-CODED: 5 lies that perpetrators tell

Discover what perpetrators of domestic violence or abuse really mean in this breakdown of the TOP FIVE lies they tell.

1. The lie: “I love you”

The truth: I love what you do for me. I love how powerful I feel when I hurt you. I love that I never have to accept responsibility for my horrific behaviour. I love that despite this, you believe I love you. I feel only contempt for you, but saying ‘I love you’ enables me to maintain control over you.

2. The lie: “I only hurt you because I drink too much / had a terrible childhood / have trust issues”

The truth: I deliberately get tanked up on drink / drugs before I abuse you, because it is a great excuse. In fact, there is no end to the excuses I’ll invent because shifting the blame for my abusive behaviour is important. I do this because you are then more likely to stay. You probably waste energy you could otherwise spend on getting out of this hellish situation on attempts to fix me. I’m able to continue to dodge responsibility for my own actions. You see, it’s not my fault that I’m pathologically unable to feel happy, confident, and strong without making you feel weak and broken.

violence3. The lie: “I will change”

The truth: I’m telling you what you want to hear, so you don’t hit the exit. The false hope I offer works because the trauma bond that I’ve carefully crafted tells you that only I am able to alleviate your pain. No matter how heartfelt my apology, how grand my gesture of remorse, know that I regret nothing. My concern is only for myself. I genuinely don’t want to change – and I never will. Why would I? My abusive behaviour gets me what I want: control over you and fulfillment of my need to feel powerful.

Domestic violence cycle.

Domestic violence cycle.

4. The lie: “If you didn’t do that, I wouldn’t need to hurt you”

The truth: It doesn’t matter what you do, or what you don’t do. The outcome will be the same. If I erupt today because you put two sugars in my coffee instead of one, tomorrow I’ll change the rule without telling you. If you stop speaking to that male friend I don’t like, in a week I will have found someone else to give you hell about. I do this to keep you in a crippling constant state of uncertainty and fear. You will be so busy trying to work out where the goalposts are, you won’t think about why I’m doing this. I will always need to hurt you.

5. The lie: “You couldn’t survive without me”

The truth: You are better than me, stronger than me, more powerful than me. You don’t need me at all. I’m hoping and praying you never realise this, because when you do I’ll be kicked resoundingly to the curb. You’ll be free.

quote1Which of these not-so sweet little lies have you heard? When and how did you stop buying it? SHARE in the comments!

18 responses to “Domestic violence DE-CODED: 5 lies that perpetrators tell

  1. I was told that he had to control because I was irresponsible. I remember feeling a perverse sense of peace ‘during an incident’ because I knew it would be a while before it happened again. I got out about twelve years ago.


    • Hi Pandora, and thanks for sharing.

      The lies, excuses and manipulations of abusive people are truly awful. And they consistently try to get their target to carry the blame for them, as you say!

      I understand completely what you mean about ‘relief’. That’s the moment when we stop waiting for the attack, and know there’ll be a brief respite before the next.

      Much kudos to you on getting out.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree with all I read, I beleive it is relevant and true of the 18year long relationship I had with my ex-partner. The excuses, the lies, the manipulation. I even come to see him as had been (and still tries to be) very dependant on me. Bug I don’t agree with one point. While he needed me, was very dependant and demonstrated time and time again his lack of personal power and inability to function as an independent person, I do beleive he loved me as well. I don’t understand why often I read such statements regarding domestic abuse. Nearly two decades together, three children, many good times as well as terrible, a close bond ect. I beleive he truly loved me and I loved him. I just find it a very nasty and demeaning comment to suggest that every woman living with domestic abuse was never loved. I disagree, even if the abuser has a very immature and fractured personality, they are capable of love.


    • Hi Elli, and thanks for adding your voice here. I’m sorry you went through all you did. I’ve no doubt you loved your ex.

      However, I do not believe those that abuse are capable of real love. They may well believe that they are, they may well think that the twisted, warped version of love they offer is the real deal – certainly, it is the only thing they know how to offer.

      I’ve been through two abusive, long-term relationships. Both men were convinced they truly loved me. When I left the first, he kissed my mother’s feet as he begged her to convince me to go back to him. The second, when I wouldn’t return to the relationship, stabbed himself in the hand to prove how much he cared. In fact, they both used ‘I love you’ as an excuse for their abusive behaviour – and I believed it, because I needed to believe it. It took a long time before I let go of that belief, and realised that the love they offered was a false simulacrum.

      The truth is, you don’t deliberately and systematically hurt and degrade someone you truly love. Someone that abuses you doesn’t love you, even though they may insist they do and believe that to be the case. Lundy Bancroft’s ‘Why Does He Do That?’ does a wonderful job of explaining how coercion / abuse / violence is incompatible with true, healthy love.

      There’s a reason I put ‘I love you’ as the #1 lie. That’s because of all the people I’ve ever spoken to about abusive relationships, the top motivation for staying was overwhelmingly, ‘love’. Suffering isn’t validated or mitigated by love. It would be ‘nasty and demeaning’ for me to pretend that this feeling – the emotion that keeps them stuck in dangerous, destructive relationships – is the only version of love they are worthy of. Because it isn’t.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Awesome post! The one I love best is “I love you.” That is the one every woman wants to hear, and the last one we stop believing, because every one of us wants to believe this one SO BADLY!


  4. I am separated from my abusive husband and still believe he lovez me but in the only way he can. He was abused by his mother and stepfather when he was a child. And until he was old enough to fight back. Its not an excuse for the pain he has caused me but I am sympathetic to him and care for him still. I’m finding I have to start loving myself more. I tried no contact but broke down and rang him. I won’t go back..I have told him this.. but I can’t seem to stop loving him and thinking of him. I think I have to work on my issues to make the final “mental” escape.


  5. Hi Marie, and thank you for sharing your experience here. You’re absolutely right that it is time to put yourself, your needs and your welfare first. I’d like to point you to this article on trauma-bonding, which may shed some light on why the emotional bond to an abuser is so strong and painful to resist – hope it helps you on your journey to freedom:


  6. Hi, I am in such a relationship and cried from relief when I saw your cycle drawn out, as it explains so much. The man i’m with acts very stupid (people think he’s a moron). In fact, he has a 175 IQ and is a retired psychologist who worked as a consultant in the White House for awhile. He knows what he’s doing so well it took me about 18 years to figure it out (it’s all mental and emotional no physical abuse). Which I’m ashamed of. Even the times I could have left financially, I did not. I think one form of abuse you left out is financial control, keeping the other person broke so you can’t leave financially. I agree with the ‘love’ thing you wrote. Anyone who disagrees may have been raised to believe in an abusers form of love by a parent? I know I was, and all he has to do is hit the buttons my parents already put in me.


    • Please don’t feel ashamed. I know why you feel that way (I did too) but I promise you the shame is not yours to bear: it’s his. You deserve SO much better than what he is offering you. I hope you know that.

      And thank you for mentioning financial abuse. It’s a very good point, and many domestic violence perpetrators use this as a tactic.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I left after 6 years of counseling. I needed a smoking gun to finally have the courage to leave. When I refused to be intimate with my abuse he knelt over me, jerked his pants down, and shoved himself in my face and said, “if you won’t do it then I’ll just do it myself.” I could write an entire list of offenses. I have to continually remind myself of it them. The hard part to overcome is the trauma bond – it is deep and strong. It feels wrong inside to leave. It feels wrong to move on and let the bond die. I truly can not wait for the trauma bond to completely die. It is the most confusing experience to still feel love for a man that was so awful to my kids and me.

    My abuser would drive on the wrong side of the road with the kids and me in the car. He would do it because I was nervous and would say something about his driving. Instead of being considerate he would drive more reckless and then blame it on me.

    He would spit on me
    Call me a stupid f’ing bitch for touching him
    In the morning when I would go to hug him he would jerk away and look at me with distain and say “when will you ever learn”
    He would slap me, push me, and puff up his 6 foot chest and push against me
    He would scold me for not making enough money and doing enough house work
    He would purposefully spill cereal on my kids and then make them clean it up
    He would make one of my sons do push-ups because he thought he was fat
    He would call one of my sons a four-eyed freak
    When I would beg him to stop using our money on marijuana and smoking it all day every single day he would yell, “If you don’t shut the “f” up I’m going to punch your teeth down your throat you.”


    Then he would do things like buy me flowers and trees on mothers day
    cook meals
    Give me jewelry for holidays and birthdays

    17 years of marriage to a man that really couldn’t stand me… and i stayed because it was the right thing to do and because I hoped someday he would get better

    The worst part is that I finally left. My church family has decided to believe “well… there are two sides to THAT story….” Somehow justifying or disbelieving what happened. It is the most painful thing to experience… It’s so hard to keep myself strong when rational people believe a man’s lies.

    The other terrible thing about our society is that we have little we can do to protect our children.


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