The Emotionally Abusive Relationship: How to Stop Being Abused and How to Stop Abusing

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PRAISE FOR the emotionally abusive relationship

"A good, solid treatment of an insidious but all-too-common type of relationship in which the weapons are words and moods rather than the fist, but which do just as much damage. Most importantly, Ms. Engel doesn't just describe-she shows us the way out."
-Susan Forward, Ph.D., author of Emotional Blackmail

"In this book, Beverly Engel clearly and with caring offers step-by-step strategies to stop emotional abuse. She explores the dynamics of emotional abuse, helping both victims and abusers to identify the patterns of this painful and traumatic type of abuse. This book is a guide both for individuals and for couples stuck in the tragic patterns of emotional abuse."
-Marti Loring, Ph.D., author of Emotional Abuse and coeditor of The Journal of Emotional Abuse

"This groundbreaking book succeeds in helping people stop emotional abuse by focusing on both the abuser and the abused and showing each party what emotional abuse is, how it affects the relationship, and how to stop it. Its unique focus on the dynamic relationship makes it more likely that each person will grasp the tools for change and really use them."
-Randi Kreger, author of The Stop Walking on Eggshells Workbook and owner of

"This is a must read for anyone who identifies with being emotionally abused or emotionally abusive. Beverly Engel not only offers a detailed description of the components of emotional abuse, she goes on to offer practical suggestions for healing both for individuals and for couples."
-Steven Farmer, Ph.D., author of Adult Children of Abusive Parents and Sacred Ceremony


For The Power of Apology

"Important insights on healing the past with new perspectives on apology."
-Gerald G. Jampolsky, M.D., author of Forgiveness: The Greatest Healer of All and Love Is Letting Go of Fear

For Loving Him without Losing You

"Loving Him without Losing You is a powerful and practical guide to relationships that every woman should read!"
-Barbara De Angelis, Ph.D., author of Secrets About Life
Every Woman Should Know and Are You the One For Me?

Customer Reviews:

  • self help books
    I found this book to be very helpful made me aware of things I have come up against in my life that I took the blame for when it really wasn't my fault. If anyone is struggling in this kind of relationship reading this book will really help....more info
  • this author is off base
    I just got out of an abusive relationship and this women treats the subject as some small problem that can be solved with therapy. Lundy Bancroft understands this author does not. Moreover the information in this book could keep women in abusive relationships by hoping the abuser will get better....more info
  • Save your money for Lundy Bancroft
    This is like a "dummy's" or a "McDonald's" guide to emotional abuse. Doesn't compare to Lundy Bancroft's work. It provided no clarity at all. Because Engle tries so hard to make it balanced, the book left me more confused about my role in an abusive relationship---that's not a good place to be. Abusers are constantly telling the victim "you're the problem" "if only you could fix yourself." It preys right into an abuser's tendency to claim that he is himself is the victim. Save your money for Lundy Bancroft....more info
  • This book is emotionally abusive - RUN AWAY
    Beverly Engel is WAY off-base.

    Reading this book can be extremely damaging to victims of emotional abuse.

    This book has a HUGE "blame the victim" vibe. It encourages the victim to figure out why she "allowed herself to be abused." This kind of attitude makes me sick. It implies that there is something wrong with the victim, whether in her nature or in her past, because no healthy and normal person would ever "allow" herself to be abused.

    This is absolute crap.

    ANYONE can be a victim of emotional abuse, and the covert, insidious nature of the abuse caused many victims to not even realise what's going on. The abuser is already telling them that they're at fault, and if someone picks up this book, that's what this book is telling them too.

    Furthermore, it makes the claim that abusers can change. Perhaps that is true for a small majority, but a large majority of abusers are narcissists and sociopaths. These people can't be changed, nor do they want to. They can, however, be very good at pretending to want to change, and at manipulating other people to believe them.

    The book also encourages empathy for the abuser. That is the last thing a victim needs. She is already having difficulty leaving. She probably loves him. What a victim really needs to see the abuser for the monster he is so that she can get out, be safe, and get on with her life. Abuse of all kinds is extremely dangerous and should not be dealt with. The best thing to do is get away from the abuser and get away from anything from Beverly Engle.
    ...more info
  • The Emotionally Abusive Relationship
    I would like to thank you for publishing the book by Ms. Beverly Engel, entitled "The Emotionally Abusive Relationship" . This book was well worth the time and effort it took to read and, I am convinced that if others had an opportunity to experience what I gained from this reading it would force them to look deep within and possibly gain an understanding of themselves. Ms. Engles book, The Emotionally Abusive Relationship was recommended to me by my wife, who believed that I was emotionally abusive. I was told to underline passages within the book because she felt that they pertained to the way I was treating (mistreating) her. I agreed to read the book and carry out her wishes, well upon reading the book it turned out that she was the cause of hers and our emotional abuse. This book described my wife to a tee, which she still denies. In order for one to understand ones problem one must first admit that there is a problem unfortunately others would rather blame others for their own inner turmoil's.

    Ms. Engles kudos to you and your fabulous work and for the advice you rendered, you're my blessing in disguise.


    Ron Owens...more info

  • Excellent book with tons of practical information and objective checklists
    Well, at least in my experience, identifying emotional abuse can be a challenge; so the most helpful thing for me from this book was the author's checklists--these helped me finally realize that "hey, I'm in an emotionally abusive relationship" and to have the courage to GET OUT. This book probably saved my life....more info
  • Abusive relationship no more
    Beverly Engel is in fact one of my favorite authors. If you really want to stop being abused or understand the meaning of abusive relationships and everything it entails this is the book for you to read. The examples, the questionares and all the exercises the book gives you will help you tremendously. Definitely a book to read. ...more info
  • great book even if the relationship has ended
    I had a very turbulent relationship and it was nothing like I'd every experienced. It left me feeling sad and depleted BUT I wouldn't let it go no matter what friends an family said or even what I knew I should do. We rarely had intimacy and I always felt guilty and like I needed to care for this person often at my own expense. When the relationship finally ended he was verbally abusive and threatened me (though not specifically) and said that I was going to pay for how I treated him.

    I bought this book after the relationship ended in an effort to understand what happened. As I read this book I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I had been emotionally abused. Since the relationship had ended the most helpful aspects for me were reflecting and understanding what happened and learning to let go of the guilt I always felt even about the relationship ending and me not wanting to have this person in my life.

    I recommend this book. I'm not completely healed from it all but it has helped me understand things a lot more and helped me to move in a more positive direction in my life. I also appreciated the signs to spot an abuser so I can avoid that type of a relationship again....more info
  • Narcissists & Borderlines Beware... But Where are the Dependents?
    TEAR (well, -there's- an interesting acronym) is a "good enough" but not "perfect" introduction to the topic for the person who's having difficulty breaking out of their committed victimhood. Those who weren't raised to be victims usually make that break without too much difficulty; those who became habituated to being abused in their families of origin are another story.

    Engle's written several other books on the general topic, and like them, TEAR is well organized, easy to grasp and informative in what has come to be known as the modern "patient education" format of proceeding from denial or lack of awareness through contemplation onto self-identification (or "acceptance of the problem"), commitment to recovery and relapse prevention.

    The author utilizes descriptions of the borderline and narcissistic personality disorders to describe the most typical varieties of abusers (which agrees with my clinical experience over the past 20 years). She provides diagnostic question lists for reader use, which will concern some clinicians, of course. (I agree that diagnosis of self or other by those who are not thoroughly conversant with the DSM, if not Millon and/or the PDM, has plenty of potential for error, but the DSM -is- a cat increasingly out of the bag these days.

    In whatever event, readers new to the paradigm are likely to at least come away with a firmer grip on what they're dealing with... at least in their abusers (see below).

    Engle moves on to provide eight action steps for abusees, seven action steps for abusive partners (few of which can be expected to be willing to use them - especially the narcissists - but there's always a chance), and seven action steps for the married couple. I find myself in agreement with them all.

    But I also recognize that defense mechanisms being what they are in both narcissists and borderlines (as well as the dependent personalities who tend to become their victims, but are not mentioned at all here), movement from contemplation to even identification (let alone commitment) without a lot more prodding than this seems questionable.

    The fact that TEAR moves from cover to cover -without- mention of the dependent personality disorder may strike most professional readers as odd, but doesn't surprise me. Few care to self-identify as victims, and being dragged through the swamp of symptom description might turn many of them so far "off," that they would give up.

    Engle takes up the stay-or-leave question in relatively adroit, CBT style consideration. I think the stay-or-leave issue is much bigger than this, but what is here is better than nothing at all and maybe even better than "too much," at least at this level of (hopefully initial and final) inquiry.

    What bothers me about most of these books is that they are marketed as complete solutions instead of as the introductions or ancillary material that they could, would and should be in the best of circumstances. One would do well, for example, to read several of the other books Engle mentions in the list at the end, as well as some she did not, including many by Melody Beattie, the anonymous authors of the Alanon Family Groups and Co-Dependents Anonymous basic texts, and especially Pia Mellody.

    Finally, TEAR fails (like so many more recent texts) to utilize what I have found to be the single most power tool to understand victimizing and victimhood, as well as to develop a very precise recovery scheme: the sick and healthy versions of Karpman's Drama Triangle. Rescue, persecute or be the victim ("all sick") vs. support, set boundaries and be adaptive ("all well"). Those who understand those positions clearly tend to wear their relationships very comfortably....more info
  • The emotionally abusive relationship
    Fantastic book. I've learned a lot about myself and my relationship with my spouse as well as my relationships with everyone outside my marriage. ...more info
  • A MUST READ!!!!
    This has to be one of the best books I have ever read especially on this topic. I was in a toxic relationship that had reached a breaking point and i found this book to be so eye-opening. It really helped me heal and see mistakes we were both making....more info
  • It saved my soul
    I have been abused again and again - over and over and over by practically everyone in my life - friends, family, teachers, and lovers. I always felt like I was a magnet for hurt and deception. One day I looked at myself in the mirror and I wasn't there - my soul was gone - in hiding. I had to do something - I walked to the bookstore since my husband had taken away the keys to the car - another example of EMOTIONAL ABUSE - and I found this book. I read it cover to cover and changed my life. Now I have the weapons to stop any emtional abuse. now I am the agressor - and my soul is back - and dancing....more info
  • Misguided, potentially harmful book
    I read this book last night and had nightmares about the possibility that someone could be emotionally or even physically harmed by following this author's so-called "program". If you're up for a heaping dose of "blame the victim", a lack of understanding of victim's issues and even some not-so-thinly disguised contempt for them (in one section, the author describes victims as "whining" and "groveling"), this book is for you. But if you truly want to understand what has happened to you, why you are not at fault, and how to deal with it, I suggest "The Verbally Abusive Relationship" by Patricia Evans, "Why Does He Do That" by Lundy Bancroft, or "Emotional Blackmail" by Susan Forward. Another good book with lots of advice on how to manage your life once you've decided to leave an abuser is "When Love Goes Wrong" by Ann Jones and Susan Schechter.

    This book is written by an author who reveals that after 20 years as a practicing therapist AND undergoing therapy, she had an epiphany that she is a narcissistic abuser herself. One thing is clear, she has an agenda: to fight the "demonization" of abusers in popular media and give them a "chance" for recovery. From the beginning of the book, she makes excuses for their behavior and blames it on their bad childhoods. At the same time, she makes sweeping generalizations about victims that are negative and substantially untrue. She wants you to believe that even though she took 20 years, AND therapy, just to gain awareness, this book by itself can pop open the eyes of abusers everywhere to her "breakthrough program". What she doesn't share with you is that the odds of that happening to a true narcissist/abuser are very, very slim.

    The worst part of this book is its potential for guiding victims into dangerous situations without a whole lot of support. Her suggestion to confront your abuser - head-on, alone, with "confidence" and a meager handful of pat phrases - would be laughable if it weren't so hazardous to your emotional and even physical health. This suggestion shows a gross lack of awareness that many abusive people react aggressively and even violently when confronted and no one else is watching. The author also INSISTS that since your parents MUST be either controlling or abusive, you must first confront your parents and then "maintain boundaries despite threats or manipulation".

    You could probably write another book on what is wrong with this is book, but a few of the author's most glaringly wrong-headed points are this:

    - Abusers can change, but first you must do a complete analysis of your life history, and then you must confront them with grace, composure, and a perfectly-worded response, because you just might open their eyes. WRONG: it is not the responsibility of the victim to dance around an abuser's behavior or convince them to change - in fact, the victim is the LEAST LIKELY person to trigger an abuser's change of heart.

    - All victims willfully choose their abuser, put up with the abuse because they don't think they deserve any better, and are repeating abusive patterns started by one or both parents. WRONG: Abusers can hide their true nature for months or years; being moderately accommodating and agreeable is a positive trait as long as you're dealing with "normal" people; most victims grew up in non-abusive households.

    - Poor self-esteem is what causes you to allow yourself to be abused. WRONG: abuse causes a lack of self-esteem, not the other way around. And when the abuser is gone, the self-esteem comes back.

    - People with narcissism and border-line personality disorder (BPD) are good candidates for therapy. WRONG: Even with a competent therapist, the prognosis for recovery from ANY full-blown personality disorder is not good.

    - People with personality disorders such as narcissism can be "helped" by studying this book. WRONG: People with personality disorders, by their nature, have a highly defective self image; they entirely lack the objectivity and self-awareness that is necessary for self-improvement.

    - Narcissism and border-line personality disorder (BPD) are illnesses just like depression and schizophrenia. WRONG: Major depression and schizophrenia are involuntary, biologically-based illnesses which can be controlled with drug therapy and cannot be controlled by changing one's behavior towards other people. Narcissism and BPD are behavioral disorders. There is no drug for narcissists or BPDs to change them into more healthy people. They can change simply by behaving differently, but they overwhelmingly prefer not to.

    The author desperately wants us to believe that abusers are not hopeless. They aren't, but victims need someone to set a realistic expectation about their abuser, and the author has not done that. If someone with a career in the mental health field, who's in therapy, can be oblivious to their own personality disorder for 20 years, what are the chances of John Q. Narcissist latching onto this book and making a life change? The author shares no personal insight with us at all - she never pauses for reflection on her own moment of awareness or thinking processes, and never demonstrates heartfelt empathy for victims (I prefer the term "targets"). For that reason alone, I have a hard time believing this author should be taken seriously. The harsh, ugly truth is that most abusers make a conscious CHOICE to be abusive.

    ...more info
  • Excellent Book for Us!
    My husband and I are not in a physically abusive relationship. We just do not know how to control our anger, and hurt each other with words.
    We do not want to do this. We both read the book and did the lessons. It really opened our eyes! We were able to see things about ourselves we never knew. Our relationship went from night to day! We are kind to each other now. it has given us a very solid foundation to grow a healthy marriage! I am SO glad we found this book! Even if you are not currently in an abusive relationship, this book is a great read! You will still learn about yourself, and how to spot bad behavior before you get in to a bad deal! Just buy it!...more info
  • Finally, Help for the ABUSER!
    When I recently discovered I had some emotionally abusive tendencies, I wanted to do something to STOP. The problem was, every resource I could find on abusive relationships was aimed at helping the VICTIM and painted the abuser as an incorrigible monster beyond redemption. They all just said to the victim: "Get out now! He'll never change." Now, I'm sure in some cases that's true, but I don't believe it's ALWAYS true. I think that, sometimes, an abuser CAN change if he's willing, and I was.

    What *I* needed was a resource for the ABUSER. Something that would help me and my partner work TOGETHER in HELPING me. Something to help us figure out WHY I was acting the way I was acting and to change it. However, as far as I could tell, such a resource didn't seem to exist.

    That was until my partner found this book for me. I was ASTONISHED at what I saw. This was the first book I've ever seen that actually tackles abuse from the perspective, not of dissolving the relationship and allowing the victim to escape, but of trying to REBUILD an abuse-damaged relationship and reestablish a healthy foundation for it to continue.

    This book paints the abuser, not as a horrible monster, but as a Human being who has simply made mistakes. This book tell you, IF you're willing to made an HONEST EFFORT to change, you CAN, and an abuse damaged relationship CAN be saved, provided BOTH parties are willing to WORK towards that goal.

    This book gives hope to BOTH: victim AND abuser.

    It's absolutely AMAZING. I STRONGLY recommend it for ANYONE who is in an abusive relationship, particularly if you'd rather work it out than split up. If your relationship can be saved, this book will tell you how. If it's beyond saving, this book will help you recognize that and give you the tools you need to get out and move on. Either way, it addresses BOTH sides of the relationship in a way no other book or resource I've ever seen does and I feel, on that basis, it's probably the strongest self-help resource I've EVER seen on relationship abuse....more info
  • Comprehensive, serious, deep, yet light reading
    Congratulations to the author. From this one book a whole scenario opened up to me and made me want deepen my knowledge on the subject. Even to me, a foreigner, the reading was pleasant, flowed smoothly and I could appreciate not only the teaching, but the penmanship.
    Thank you for the indication,
    Ana Cunha
    from Brazil ...more info
  • More Gender-Balanced Than Other, Similar Books
    Even though I am a woman recovering from emotional abuse, I appreciate the fact that the author took care to provide a more balanced view of emotional/verbal abuse and not automatically side with or exonerate women, unlike some other authors. Women have proven to be just as capable of abusing as men, even if it doesn't seem to play out in the statistics.

    I also appreciate the fact that there are a lot of exercises within the book that allow you to get proactive in your quest to break certain patterns in your own behavior (whether you are the abused or the abuser), as opposed to books that only "preach" at you. This book enabled me to deconstruct a pattern that started for me in childhood, to see how I was being abused and to see how I was being abusive as well. EXCELLENT read....more info
  • Excellent Guide for Those Suffering The Pain of Abuse
    I could not put this book down. Most "self-help" books lay on my shelf half read, but this one was a real page turner. The author does an excellent job describing the forms of emotional abuse and helps you understand the dynamics behind it. She also provides helpful information in the book for the abuser. The best part of her book is the information she provides at the end of the book for changing your life so you can begin to seek out healthy relationships. She provides concrete, tangible things you can do to help raise your self-esteem and to identify the warning signs in possible abusers!...more info
  • decent text on an important subject
    I think this book has some useful information, both theoretical and practical, for self-help if you find yourself on either end of an emotionally abusive relationship (or if you find yourself in a mutually abusive relationship).
    One piece of advice I'd offer, however, is that if you're uncomfortable with a particular exercise and you it will only serve to re-sensitize you to painful experiences, then perhaps it's best to skip the exercise. I'm sure the author was well intentioned and that the advice for some is quite practical but I'd also say 'don't fret and don't give up on the process entirely' if certain challenges seem unduly painful....more info
  • someone who cares..
    Hi I would like for you to know that this is a very good book. I was emotionally abused by my boy friend for 2 years and I would always have a reason for why he treated me that way. After reading this book it has really helped me to find my self and to love me again. ((Please buy the book))You will see what I am talking about........more info
  • The Book that hit home
    I have gone to therapy and read different books to try to understand what I was going through, and my depression, even my divorce judge said mental and emotional abuse didnt exist, it wasn't domestic violence, but this was the first book that hit home. I was in an emotionally abusive relationship for 20 years, and even tho there was no physical abuse, I thought I was just in a bad relationship. As I began to read the book, I began to cry, because for the first time in my life, (including therapy) I found what I was looking for, the understanding of my life, and how it affected me, and that more important some else understood the dynamics of this unhealthy relationship, I am going to give this book to my 3 daughter who have also been a victim of emotional abuse from their up bringing, I strongly urge a person who has been a victim of emotional abuse, or who is the emotional abuser to read this book it will change your life...more info
  • excellent.......
    I am a family lawyer and this book is one of the best that I have read....more info


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