Receive Survivor Success Tips  & Insights and get FREE life-saving, life-enhancing support by email.
First Name:
Last Name: (optional)
Zip Code: (optional)

We respect your privacy.
We do not sell or share
email addresses.

Privacy Policy

Intimate Partner Abuse Screen




Abusive Relationship - Why Does She "Let" Him Talk to Her Like That?


domestic violence consulting expert


By Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D.


What’s wrong with her for “letting” him talk to her like that? This is the first thought of an outsider looking in on an abusive encounter of an abusive relationship.


Dr. Phil was interviewing a couple obviously in an abusive relationship. He asked the woman how she felt about her husband saying that he was only staying in the marriage so he wouldn’t have to give her child support. When asked how she felt about that, she replied, “I didn’t know that.”

So again Dr. Phil asked, by saying now you do know, how do you feel about that? As he is asking, the camera captures a blank look on the woman’s face and audience shots of folks in shock. If words could speak their expression, I’d guess it to be: how can she let him talk to her like this and have no response. 

I would venture to say that this woman has become anesthetized to demeaning commentary—void of honoring, dignity and respect—from her partner. Just like the way we acclimate to the onset of winter. You don’t go from 100 degrees to single digits.

No. Gradually you are exposed to one assault and by the time you have reconciled it in the context of your relationship, another one is delivered. Eventually over the years it becomes the wallpaper of your relationship wherein you expect your partner to think, feel and act in a rude, condescending, overly critical, unappreciative way. 

It is introduced gradually over time. I doubt this woman met her husband and he proposed to her by saying I want to marry you and stay with you so I won’t have to pay child support. Get the picture? 

The real question here is what is wrong with him that he is behaving as such. Moreover, the challenge for intervention is how can both of these people individually awaken to their toxic relationship and the way in which each supports the status-quo both consciously and unconsciously. 

If you recognize yourself in this little vignette, look to the subtle communication patterns of abusive relationships. It will help you shine the light on the mechanics that sustain its ugliness. And from here, you can know how to change the status-quo and break the cycle of verbal emotional abuse.

If you are wondering whether you are in a dangerously abusive relationship and want to know what keeps domestic abuse going and what stops it, take the Intimate Partner Abuse Screen. Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D. helps individuals recognize, end and heal from family violence and the legal abuse syndrome.

This series of eInsights is presented to you by Partners in Prevention, a nonprofit organization. If you find this eInsight article useful, we invite you to contribute to the maintenance and growth of the Survivor Success Tips & eInsights. To make a tax-deductible donation, please visit

©Copyright 2008 Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D.

Dr. Jeanne King is a licensed psychologist and domestic abuse consultant. Feel free to contact us if you need help with physical and/or emotional pain, stress-related illnesses, or relationship abuse issues at home or in court. Contact Us to reach Dr. King.