Reactive Abuse – Abusive Crazy Making Behavior

One of the biggest questions I have always asked is, “Am I crazy?”  When I am dealing with my abusive ex-husband or my abusive father, at times they have both made me feel crazy.  Whenever I allowed myself to lose my temper and react terribly to their behavior has been equally as frustrating.

My personal belief is I am responsible for my own reaction and behavior regardless of what the other person says or does. I have lost my temper on more than one occasion with my ex-husband in the past, and even recently with my father because my patience for manipulative abusive behavior is extremely short.  In some of these situations it is very likely I was exhibiting what is called Reactive Abuse.  Worse, while questioning my own personal sanity, my ex-husband has stated I am the crazy one in his emails, and even my father’s recent email said something on that sort.  They do often refer to this type of exchange as ‘crazy making’ behavior and this is  a guaranteed way to make sure your response is never right.

I remember one-time a friend said this, “You are not dealing with a normal situation, so how could you expect to feel normal?”

Crazy-Making types of behavior:

  • Blocking and Diverting
  • Blame Shifting
  • Gaslighting or Trivializing
  • Twisting the Truth
  • Manipulation
  • Passive Aggressive

This statement is something I have remembered throughout all the years whenever I start asking myself if I am crazy.  Then I remind myself to really look at the sources that are making this false statement.  Oftentimes I have had to contact a rational third party to ask them if the situation was ‘irrational’ and they usually confirm my thoughts.

My abusive ex-husband was emotionally & verbally abusive for more than 15 years.  He was abusive when we were dating, married and even while we have been divorced.  So many of the things he does with our daughter are just attempts to lash out at me.  I think that is what hurts most of all that as a mother I cannot protect my daughter from being a pawn in these sick games.  So many of his actions have been designed to get a reaction from me so he could say, “Look at how you are behaving?”  These are also designed to make sure he can say, “We both said things we didn’t mean.”  This takes the attention off of his behavior.

Some of the statements I remember him saying were the exact same things I would have stated about his behavior.  Then here he was telling me I was doing the same thing.  Then of course my rational mind would start questioning, “Am I doing that?”

  • “You are trying to hurt me but in turn you are hurting our daughter. “
  • “I am trying to be patient here but I am not getting much help from you.”
  • “Of course if we could have flexibility with one another this would not be necessary but you have chosen to go by the decree”

Comments made by my ex-husband to me, typically to make me feel like I am doing something wrong, doing the same thing to him or that I am the one who is unreasonable.  Almost all of his emails contain comments that make me feel defensive and as if I needed to respond to him.  Learning how to read his emails and only respond to facts or questions was really helpful in learning not to engage with him.

Today, I am very grateful I have a good marriage and a very peaceful household.  It is nice to feel safe in my own home.  My life has only been ‘healthy’ for a few years now and it sometimes still feels foreign to me.  It is because of my healthy home-life that I realized how unacceptable my recent work environment was and why I made the decision to resign.


9 thoughts on “Reactive Abuse – Abusive Crazy Making Behavior

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  1. Thank you for everything. The email abuse by ex –wow!, the gaslighting, just reassures me I have been through it. I have survived. Thank you.


  2. I’m pretty lost, I’ve been living with a woman who I believe is abusive. Her behaviour matches that in every description I’ve read about abusive people. I feel abused, yet she will happily sit there and turn it all around towards me, and she’s got me believing it. The line between abuser and abused seems so thin and her claims so plausible.


  3. Wow. That’s exactly what my husband does to me. He refuses to admit that he has and does abuse me. He says “I screwed up” but seriously just said “I’m a d*** due to extenuating circumstances.” It makes me nuts. If I stand down he stands over me and preaches at me for 15 to 30 minutes telling me I hate everything about him and how terrible I am. I don’t “listen to sh**” and I’m “selfish and horrible” but no he’s not abusive in the least. He only feels bad when he has hit me. The rest of his torment is fine. I want to go full on street battle with him and that’s not like me.


  4. I came across your blog and wanted to keep the url so I can connect with you and others continuing education on abuse. Survivor of domestic violence-parental and romantic. I have a M.S. in Psychology and believe in helping people too. Love your blog. I want to liberate people not oppress them. Freedom is king!


    1. Hi Julie,

      Thanks for the question. My reactions are my own responsibility. Often, his responses or lack of responses (ignoring me) were meant to get a reaction from me. Whenever I reacted, he could shift the focus off himself and say “we are both to blame” or “look how you are acting”. It was difficult to learn how not to play into his carefully laid traps. The big difference, is I often felt guilty for my reaction or blowing up. Then I would take on all that guilt and lose sight of the original problems I had with his behavior (lying, cheating, being drunk, broken promises, etc…).


  5. They love this the drama, the poking, the fight, making you uncomfortable or upset. It’s all for their own entertainment. Maybe you’ve seen that it’s like a dopamine thrill for them, especially for psychopaths. They have an extreme need for the dopamine thrill. Watch out for dopamine seekers. Watch out for people who need to do crazy stuff to stimulate their dopamine. They seek out the dopamine spikes. It seems like they feed on getting those thrills by messing with other people. In fact, it seems to be one of their favorite forms of supply.


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