Personal account of a man abused and "held hostage" by his girlfriend

Hard facts and research data often cannot replace a true account of what someone has been through personally. We have asked those who have experienced abuse situations to come forward, anonymously, and share their story with us. Through the weeks, we have been focusing on a series of these personal accounts. This story is about a man who spent years being conditioned to allow his girlfriend’s abuse, only to be cut out of his daughter’s life when he finally said enough is enough.

“Crystal had just relocated to Arizona from the East coast. Her brother was on trial for murder and his kids were sent to live with another family member in Arizona. Crystal wanted to help out. She had one daughter, who was a year and a half old at the time. I didn’t know it then but it turned out that she was still married to her daughter’s father at the time and they weren’t separated very long. Crystal came across as a very intense person, a bit quirky and kind of crazy but in a good way. I would’ve described her as honest to a fault. She would tell the truth as though it was a compulsion, she simply had to. I thought she was moral, ethical, and honest. Crystal seemed to be a really good mother and was always polite to people we encountered, even the waiting staff when we went out.

There was about 100 miles of distance between us when we first started dating. We would go out on a date on Saturday, talk on the phone on Sunday, and then by Wednesday we would be having a major fight. I never really knew what it was about. It was always something I did wrong, something she thought was wrong, but I never really understood it. I would usually show up again on Saturday, planning to break it off but it wouldn’t happen. Somehow we would end up talking, things started to make sense, we would click, end up having a nice time….and I would change my mind about breaking up.

Within 3 weeks of dating she decided I was her boyfriend, that I was her committed partner. A couple shouldn’t need therapy after dating for a couple months. In that case, it obviously isn’t a good match and you break it off. I expressed to her that I did not wish to have a relationship where we had one nice day then fought for 3 or more. It wasn’t healthy and it wasn’t the kind of relationship I wanted to be in.

I had ended our relationship and within a couple of days she was outside of my home, 100 miles away, saying that she needed to talk to me. I explained to her that it was not okay for her to be there and that I did not wish to see her. She seemed to think that this was some grand romantic gesture and that I would be impressed. But instead, I saw her as unhinged. We were seeing each other for only a few weeks and it was awful the entire time, we fought nonstop. She simply did not understand that what was happening with us is not healthy.

Crystal tended to romanticize situations. She often said to me straight out that she just didn’t see bad and remembered only the good. Rather than see the practical side, she insisted that I was wrong. That I should close my eyes to all of the negative and see the positives, that if I did, everything would be perfect.

Crystal finally left a few hours later and got in a car accident on her way home. She called and asked if she could stay with me the night and I agreed. She was shaken up and asked me to hold her while she fell asleep. I put my arm around her and tried to sleep. Next thing I know she is asking me if I wanted to have sex with her, I replied no, that I did not, and told her to go to sleep. She never let me forget that night. She would bring this night up even years later.

She made me doubt myself. I started thinking that maybe she was right, maybe I was being commitment-phobic, that maybe I wasn’t trying hard enough. I thought that it was possible that maybe it was fear somehow stopping me from wanting to commit, never mind that I should not be committing to someone like her. Her words somehow resonated with me and I thought I should try again. So I did.

Immediately it was more fighting. She would say that I wasn’t paying enough attention to her when we were talking on the phone together, or that I didn’t care for her in the specific way that she needed, or that I said something a certain way when she wanted me to say it differently. These things would turn into 3 or 4 hour long arguments. I hated it. Within a couple of weeks of getting back together, I was sure that it wasn’t me being afraid of commitment; I just really did not want to do this. However, all of this was going on during the holidays and I did not wish to be the bad guy ruining the events for her, so I thought I would wait until they passed.

I had ended things after the holidays, like I was intending, though we still kept in touch somewhat for the next weeks. One evening she sent me a text message saying that we needed to talk. She was pregnant. We dated for 3 months total when she told me this. This was quite a shock to me at the moment. We met and talked and decided to try to figure out how we were going to have a family.

Crystal wanted to move back to the East coast as she was feeling highly stressed and anxious out in Arizona, away from her family. So she would move out there and we would wait a couple of months until we were in the clear with the pregnancy and then I would move out and join her. This of course did not please her, as she wanted me to move out straight away. Using guilt, once more, she would fight with me about what she considered my obvious disregard for her and our “family”.

We never had a honey-moon phase. We could never look back on how great it was, because things were never great. The arguments we had were never valid, in my opinion. I had to react exactly the way she expected or wanted me to, or else we would have a fight. We would be having a normal talk and suddenly she would be upset and I would have to apologize about something. It could be hours of me trying to resolve it and trying to explain that it wasn’t how she took it. There was always a negative spin on everything I said. For instance, if I said I was tired and wanted to get off the phone to go to bed, she would insist that I didn’t want to talk to her and was trying to avoid her. She often used guilt to try to control the situation, and me.

However, once she was pregnant, she had used this as an excuse to say anything she wanted, blaming it on “pregnancy hormones”. Although, to be honest, it didn’t seem like a whole lot changed in our fighting or her blaming since before the pregnancy and during. Crystal would come up with anything to be upset over.

I finally got out there and it seemed like maybe things would be okay but from the moment I got to her she started again. It was always wrong for her. I was trying, but I am not perfect and she expected me to be exactly as she wanted at all times. We broke up and got back together a few times while she was pregnant.

The baby came and I was bringing both of them home at last. I brought the car around, put them in, and explained to Crystal that the car was low on gas so I had to stop to fill it up. She looked at me, tearing up, and said, “You’re messing up already. It’s the first day and you’re already messing up”. That… that got to me. Around that time is when the abuse started to get even worse.

We were settling in with our new baby. A couple of weeks in, out of nowhere, she started screaming at her older daughter, who was about 3 at the time, to get the hell off of her or she would kill her. Then she turned to me and screamed out, that both of us need to be quieter or she would kill us both. I told her this was not okay, that she shouldn’t be talking that way to a 3 year old, and not to me. She apologized, said it was the hormones and that she was tired, and she went to bed. After that, she would have these sorts of random screaming fits often and she always gave some sort of excuse. The moments became more bizarre.

One day, Crystal convinced herself that her mother did not love her. She said that her mother did not love her because her mother brought her a cake for her birthday. This meant Crystal would have to wash the dish that the cake was on. She insisted that if her mother actually loved her, she wouldn’t be so inconsiderate and bring her work to do. To her, this clearly meant that her mother loved her sister more than her. One time, Crystal put up a decorative towel next to the hand towel in the kitchen and I accidentally used it to wipe my hands. She let me have it. Why would I do such a thing? It would be hours of arguing for something tiny like this.

Crystal started talking about evil spirits around and that there was something dark hovering about the room. She once told me that a ghost pushed our young daughter down the stairs. Her older daughter started having sleeping problems and couldn’t sleep until 2 or 3 in the morning. I had to be up at 5am for work but I would often stay up with our older daughter to try and help her to sleep.

The entire time I felt like I was walking on eggshells with Crystal and anything would set her off. She would call me a screw-up and all kinds of other names. I told her I did not wish to continue the relationship if this is what it would be like. She said it was just post-partum depression and left with the girls to her mother’s house. Her mother came by and explained to me that Crystal was genuinely a nice girl and that there was something wrong with her health right now causing her to behave this way, but that she was not really like this. He father agreed that the way she was treating me was not good but insisted that I stick it out as we now have a child together. They convinced me that it was post-partum depression. I asked her to try and get treatment but she refused, stating that she was worried that the doctors might take her baby away. Instead, she tried home-remedies.

Through the next few years there was a cycle that kept repeating. There would be 3 or 4 months where she would abuse me verbally and emotionally and then I would finally tell her I had enough and she would apologize and make some excuse about her health. She always found something. She would say that certain foods affected her badly so at times she would yell at me for hours because “she ate a French fry that was fried in the wrong oil” or that she had too much vitamin B6 or that there was cheese in her meal that she hadn’t noticed. She always found something, some health reason as the cause of her abuse towards me. Our relationship would be awful for 5 days, nice for 2, awful for 5 and then nice for 2. One time, we had 2 full weeks where things were good and then it went right back to the same.

I later broke things off with her and she kept insisting that we can go back to the 2 week period of things being great. She was sure that if she could do the two weeks that it was proof that she was okay and that if she just found the right combination of vitamins or foods that we could be a happy couple once again. Crystal kept on about this for months, convinced that everything was good with us, because it was for 2 weeks, out of the years that we had been trying.

She convinced me. I trusted that it was some health issue. I saw the changes with her when she ate something that didn’t agree with her. So I gave her another chance. However, soon after starting I told her, once again, that this was not what I wanted. That I was not in love with her, and that I did not wish to be abused because she did or didn’t have oil in her food. I told her this wasn’t right and I did not want to do it anymore.

We split up for a year. I visited the kids every day after work. She accepted a house from a man that had a romantic interest in her, but she was not involved with him, or so she said. At this time, I had a friend stay with me and he opened up my eyes a bit as he saw what happened whenever she came around. He told me that he did not see me doing anything to deserve the kind of treatment she was giving me. My family had come out saying the same thing; that it was as though I could not breathe correctly for her.

Crystal told me that the man that offered her the house was starting to be abusive to her and the girls and that she needed to leave. She was scared and worried for her and our daughters. Crystal wanted to go back to Arizona. She took the car that the man had bought for her, though he had asked for it back, and basically ran away. I did not know the full story until much later. The man had written a letter to her explaining that he saw her verbally abusing our young daughter. I found out that he asked her not to yell at the baby as she was so young, and she told him to stay out of it and soon after she left, with the kids and with the car, that he did not intend for her to keep.

We went back to Arizona to get away from this “abusive” man. While we were out there, my family and friends would come by and often comment about the way she acting with me. She would ask me into the other room and they would hear her screaming at me… while I was silent. We would come back in and I had to act as though everything was fine. Or else there may be more screaming then or later. One day I took her out on a date, while my Mom watched the kids. We basically went outside and she yelled at me in the car for a few hours. My mom said later that she watched her from the window, giving me hell, while I just sat there quietly taking it. I stayed with her because of the kids and because she kept telling me that she was sick and this was not her.

Crystal started drinking a lot. She would call me a piece of garbage, while being unable to get herself up. One evening, her daughter’s father was over and had started doing some dishes. I walked into the room and Crystal was pounding her fists into him and screaming at him while he was doing the dishes. I took her up the stairs away from him. And she punched me. I turned around to walk away but she tried to push me down the stairs. I remembered what she said about the ghost pushing our youngest daughter for a moment.

Later when she was sober I reminded her of what happened, she refused to believe that she had tried to push me. She apologized for the behavior and I started making excuses for her: that it was her health, or her being drunk at the moment and that this was not really her. I gave her all of the excuses she needed. I became conditioned to ignore the abuse that she was giving me. I started convincing myself that all of the good was really her, and all of the bad was not and that I was going to try to have a relationship with all of the good and basically ignore the bad since it wasn’t her.

Our older daughter started calling her “dragon mommy”, and it was obvious to me that there was a distinction between when she was “herself” and when she was being a monster to her daughter. She apparently would yell at her, hit, and call her names… I did not know of a lot of this since I was at work during the day and Crystal stayed home with the girls. She was not abusive with our younger daughter but she was a monster with the older one. I would intervene often when I saw her behave in this way, but I didn’t really know what I was doing.

Towards the end of our relationship, she got very jealous that one of my friends was coming for a visit. She insisted that she wasn’t, but I know she was. I told her that if she was going to tell me who to be friends with, that this was not going to work at all. We fought for days about this and later she started calling this our ultimate breakthrough. Only the “breakthrough” was that I was to go through the relationship with blinders on and ignore everything that bothered me about the way she was treating me or the situation and just accept everything, looking only at the positive. She told me that she only saw the good and not the bad, and that I had to be the same. It is funny because I didn’t see it at the time but it is ironic that she would say that to me while she yelled at me all the time over anything that wasn’t to her liking. You see the error in logic later; hindsight is 20/20.

I felt like I was walking through the world with my hands over my eyes. I started smoking weed and withdrawing from everything. I did not engage and I did not want to engage. I was working 2 jobs, since she was not working, and I generally felt anxious and overwhelmed. One of the evenings I was at work, she had read some book. I had come home and I could tell something wasn’t right. She started at me again and I told her that she was having another flare up and that things are getting louder, that we should take a break and breathe for a moment and come back to the situation when she calmed down. I walked away and she was yelling at me that I was a piece of garbage and hurling various other insults my way. I thought whatever it was it would pass. When I came back she had written a long letter about how sorry she was. In the letter it stated how she thought I was a piece of garbage and bad father and a bad boyfriend etc., and that then she realized how that was not the case. That she thought I was a great dad and a great boyfriend and a great person and that it was just a thing she ate.

This is when I realized it really wasn’t okay. I asked her the next day if she remembered what happened the night before. She said yes, but she’s okay now and everything is better. Crystal just wanted to go back to business as usual, that everything be forgotten and I told her no. That she couldn’t do that. I told her that it did not matter that she was in the middle of a flare up. I told her that what she was saying was real to me and I internalize it. That these things are very hurtful and she refused to see it. She refused to acknowledge it at all. To her, it was just a flare up and everything was to be forgotten. She never acknowledged how traumatic it was, that it didn’t just disappear. She did not want to acknowledge that this was abuse. Crystal would say that it was nothing in the end, but she didn’t want to acknowledge that it was 3 hours of something before it was nothing. She would just have it be done and turn over and go to bed. As if nothing happened. Then she wanted me to hold her close and I would have to comfort HER after she abused ME.

The next day I told her that what has happened is not alright. She disagreed, telling me how I could have done things differently. I told her to shove it and that I was done. Suddenly everything turned around again and she was so apologetic-- just like that. I saw her click. Right when I told her I was done, that is when she would realize and start apologizing. It always took to that point, for me to be leaving, for her to snap out of it. But this time I wasn’t coming back.

Once she realized that I was done for good, she decided to try to cut me out of my daughter’s life. She took out a restraining order, claimed domestic abuse, and kept me apart from my daughter in any way she could. It took months before I was able to finally get shared custody. During the trial she spun a tale of lies about me that I couldn’t believe. She genuinely acted scared of me, though I do not know why. I had a witness claim that she was trying to get full custody and take the girls back to the East coast without me, that she had said this to her directly. It was a nightmare to simply get to see my child, and to this day I am still not allowed near my daughter’s half-sister, whom I raised for 6 years, since she was a year and half old, without a word or explanation to her. She was like my own daughter. Crystal used every method possible to try to prove me as the abuser and incompetent of being a father. I am still struggling with court dates and trials and expensive lawyers to keep my daughter in my life. I would do anything for that little girl. I never thought that someone I believed to be so honest and genuine could turn out to be one of the biggest liars I’ve met.

This entire situation feels like a bad dream. I am dizzy with it all. At this point, I don’t even remember who I am anymore. “

Do women get away with abuse more than men would? Are they allowed to be emotional, difficult, hormonal, etc. while a man behaving in the same way would be called an abusive tyrant? See, society makes it a lot easier for women to let their feelings out, while criticizing a man if they respond to it. Men are not allowed to be hurt or offended by a woman’s words. Society would deem this as weakness. So instead, men basically have to suffer through whatever their partner says alone. This makes manipulation quite easy for female abusers.

There are very few people who would typically come out and say that something wasn’t right. Luckily, in this story, friends and family were able to see that something was wrong and they came out and said so. We may not wish to meddle in other people’s affairs, but those being abused are often so conditioned by the abuser to react and think a certain way, that they cannot tell whether they are wrong or right. If you know someone who you think is being abused, let them know what you are seeing and provide them with local services that might be able to help. There are always domestic abuse hotlines. Here are some signs of a toxic relationship, sometimes it helps to see the behavior listed than to try to organize your own thoughts about the situation. Staying in a relationship where someone makes you feel like you’re a bad person for no real reason is toxic and emotionally abusive. Your partner should make you feel good about yourself, and if they don’t, they may not be the right person for you.


When overcoming an abusive situation, it may be difficult to think clearly and come up with a solution to remedy the abuse, while trying to implement it may feel almost impossible. However, given the right tools and the will power to create change, it most certainly is possible, even more so– it is probable. Many may feel overwhelmed and may not know where to start, but it is important to start somewhere.

Please continue to check in with us each week for a new post about abusive behavior and how it can affect your life and the lives of those around you. There is always that first action to helping someone you care about. Let this be it!


Author Bio - Anna Czarska is a writer and actor who has 15+ years of experience dealing with various situations of abuse. She has pursued business ventures and creative pursuits as well as spending time to study psychology in both formal and personal education. For more information, you may find her Linkedin profile here:

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