Angry at

Working with violent women

Editor’s note: This article is also available in Romanian.

Those of us working in the field of domestic violence are confronted daily by the difficult task of working with women in problematic families. In my work with family violence, I have come to recognize that there are women involved in emotionally and /or physically violent relationships that express and enact disturbance beyond the expected (and acceptable) scope of distress.

Such individuals, spurred on by deep feelings of vengefulness, vindictiveness, and animosity, behave in a manner that is singularly destructive; destructive to themselves as well as to some or all of the other family members, making an already bad family situation worse. These women I have found it useful to describe as ‘family terrorists.’  In my experience, men also are capable of behaving as ‘family terrorists’ but male violence tends to be more physical and explosive.

We have had thousands of international studies about male violence but there is very little about why or how women are violent. There seems to be a blanket of silence over the huge figures of violence expressed by women. Because ‘family terrorism’ is a tactic largely used by women and my work in the domestic violence field is largely with women, I address this problem discussing only my work with women.

The potential for terrorism may rest dormant for many years, emerging in its full might only under certain circumstances. I found that in many cases it is the dissolution, or threatened dissolution, of the family that calls to the fore the terrorist’s destructiveness. It is essential to understand that prior to dissolution; the potential terrorist plays a role in the family that is by no means passive.

The terrorist is the family member whose moods reign supreme in the family, whose whims and actions determine the emotional climate of the household. In this setting, the terrorist could be described as the family tyrant, for within the family, this individual maintains the control and power over the other members’ emotions.  The family well may be characterized as violent, incestuous, dysfunctional,  and unhappy, but it is the terrorist or tyrant who is primarily responsible for initiating conflict, imposing histrionic outbursts upon otherwise calm situations, or (more subtly and invisibly) quietly manipulating other family members into uproar through guilt, cunning taunts, and barely perceptive provocations.  (The quiet manipulative terrorist usually is the most undetected terrorist. Through the subtle creation of perpetual turmoil, this terrorist may virtually drive other family members to alcoholism, to drug-addiction, to explosive behavior, to suicide. The other family members, therefore, are often misperceived as the ‘family problem’ and the hidden terrorist as the saintly woman who ‘puts up with it all.’)

While the family remains together, however miserable that ‘togetherness’ might be, the terrorist maintains her power.  However, it is often the separation of the family that promises to rend the terrorist’s domain and consequently to lessen the power.  Family dissolution, therefore, often is the time when the terrorist feels most threatened and most alone, and most dangerous.

In this position of fear, the family terrorist sets out to achieve a specific goal.  There are many possible goals for the terrorist, including:  reuniting the family once again, or ensuring that the children (if there are children in the relationship) remain under the terrorist’s control, or actively destroying the terrorist’s spouse (or ex-spouse) emotionally, physically, and financially.

When it was evident to Adolph Hitler that winning the War as an absolute impossibility, he ordered his remaining troops to destroy Berlin:  If he no longer could rule, then he felt it best for his empire to share in his own personal destruction. Similarly, the family terrorist, losing or having lost supremacy, may endeavor to bring about the ruin (and, in some extreme cases, the death) of other family members.

The family terrorist, like the political terrorist, is motivated by the pursuit of a goal.  In attempting to ‘disarm’ the family terrorist, it is vital that the practitioner begin intervention by trying to recognize and understand the terrorist’s goal.

The source of the terrorist’s goal as in the case of the political terrorist usually can be understood to spring from some ‘legitimate’ grievance.  The grievance’s legitimacy may be regarded in terms of justified feeling of outrage in response to an actual injustice or injury, or the legitimacy may exist solely in the mind of the terrorist. Whether this legitimacy be real or imagined, the grievance starts as the impetus for the terrorist’s motivation.  One hallmark of an emotional terrorist is that this motivation tends to be obsessive by nature.

Whence this obsession? Why this overwhelmingly powerful drive?  In many cases, that which the terrorist believes to be the grievance against the spouse actually has very little to do with the spouse.  Although the terrorist may be consciously aware only of the spouse’s alleged offense, the pain of this offense (real or imagined) is invariably an echo of the past, a mirrored recreation of some painful situation in the terrorist’s childhood.

I will not describe here in any detail the types of childhood that tend to create the subsequent terrorist. I will say, however, that invariably the terrorist’s childhood, once understood, can be seen as violent (emotionally and/or physically).  Also invariably, the terrorist can be regarded as a ‘violence prone’ individual.  I define a ‘violence prone’ woman as a woman who while complaining that she is the innocent victim of the malice and aggression of all other relationships in her life, is in fact, a victim of her own violence and aggression.

A violent and painful childhood tends to create in the child an addiction to violence and to pain (an addiction on all levels:  the emotional, the physical, the intellectual, the neurochemical), an addiction that then compels the individual to recreate situations and relationships characterized by further violence, further violence, further danger, further suffering, further pain.  Thus, it is primarily the residual pain from childhood – and only secondarily the pain of the terrorist’s current familial situation – that serves as the terrorist’s motivating impetus.  There is something pathological about the terrorist’s motivation, for it is based not so much on reality as on a twisting, a distortion, a reshaping of reality.

Because the emotional terrorist is a violence-prone individual, addicted to violence, the terrorist’s actions must be understood as the actions of an addict.  When the family was together, the terrorist found fulfillment for any number of unhealthy appetites and addictions.  When that family then dissolves, the terrorist behaves with all the desperation, all the obsession, all the single-minded determination of any addict facing or suffering withdrawal.

The single-mindedness, the one-sidedness of feeling, is perhaps the most important shibboleth of the emotional terrorist.  Furthermore, the extent of this one-sidedness is, for the practitioner, perhaps the greatest measure and indicator of how extreme the terrorist’s actions are capable of becoming.

Any person suffering an unhappy family situation, or the dissolution of a marriage or relationship, will feel some pain and desperation.  A relatively well-balanced person, however, will be not only aware of their own distress but also sensitive, in some degree, to the suffering of the other family members.  (For example, reasonably well-balanced parents, when facing divorce, will be most concerned with their children’s emotional well-being, even beyond their own grief.)   Not so the emotional terrorist.

To the family terrorist, there is only one wronged, one sufferer, only one person in pain, and this person is the terrorist herself.  The terrorist has no empathy and feels only her own pain.  In this manner, the terrorist’s capacity for feeling is narcissistic, solipsistic, and in fact pathological.

Again, I will not attempt here to detail the factors in childhood that lead to the creation of an emotional terrorist.  What is, however, evident, in the terrorist’s limited or non- existent ability to recognize other people’s feelings, is that the terrorist’s emotions and awareness, at crucial stages of childhood development, were stunted from reaching beyond the boundaries of self, due to a multiplicity of reasons.

Later, the adult terrorist went on to make a relationship that was, on some level, no true relationship, but a re-enactment of childhood pains, scenarios, situations, and ‘scripts.’   Throughout the relationship, the solipsistic terrorist did not behave genuinely in response to the emotions of other family members but self- servingly used them as props for the recreation of the terrorist’s program.

And when that relationship finally faces dissolution, the terrorist is aware only of her own pain and outrage and, feeling no empathy for other family members, will proceed single-mindedly in pursuit of her goal, whether that goal is reunion, ruin, or revenge.  The terrorist’s perspective is tempered by little or objectivity.  Instead the terrorist lives in a self-contained world of purely subjective pain and anger.

Because conscience consists of the awareness of other people’s feelings as well as of one’s own, the emotional terrorist’s behavior often can be described virtually without conscience.  In this lack of conscience lies the dangerous potential of the true terrorist, and again the degree of conscience in evidence is a useful measure in my work to anticipate the terrorist’s destructiveness.

An additional factor, making the terrorist so dangerous, is the fact that the terrorist, while in positively monomaniacal pursuit of her goal, feels fueled by a sense of omnipotence. Perhaps it is true that one imagines oneself omnipotent when, in truth, one is in a position of impotence (as in the case of losing one’s familial control through dissolution).

Whatever the source of the sensation of omnipotence, the terrorist believes herself to be unstoppable, and unbound by the constraints or conscience or empathy, believes that no cost (cost, either to the terrorist or to other family members) is too great to pay toward the achievement of the goal.

The terrorist, and the terrorist’s actions, know no bounds.  (The estimation of the extent of the terrorist’s ‘boundlessness’ presents the greatest challenge to my work). Intent only to achieve the goal (perhaps ‘hell-bent’ is  the most accurate descriptive phrase) the terrorist will take such measures as:  stalking a spouse or ex-spouse, physically assaulting the spouse or the spouse’s new partners, telephoning all mutual friends and business associates of the spouse in an effort to ruin the spouse’s reputation, pressing fabricated criminal charges against the spouse ( including alleged battery and child molestation), staging intentionally unsuccessful  suicide attempts for the purpose of manipulation, snatching children from the spouse’s care and custody, vandalizing the spouse’s property, murdering the spouse and / or the children as an act of revenge.

In my experience both men and women are equally guilty of the above behavior but on the whole, because it is men’s dysfunctional behavior that is studied and reported upon, people do not realize that to the same extent women are equally guilty of this type of violent behavior.

My working definition, then, of a ‘family terrorist’ or an ‘emotional terrorist’ is: a woman or a man (but for the purposes of this work, I refer only to women) who, pathologically motivated (by unresolved tendencies from a problematical childhood), and pathologically insensitive to the feelings of other family members, obsessively seeks through unbounded action to achieve a destructive (and, therefore, pathological) goal with regard to other family members.

Of course, this defining profile pertains to individuals in differing degrees.  Many people, unhappy within a relationship or made unhappy by the dissolution of a relationship, may lapse into periods of ‘irrational’ behavior.  What characterizes the terrorist, however, is that the vindictive and destructive behaviors are consistent; the moments of calm and periods of lucidity are the lapses, temporary lulls in the storm.

Also, there are women who, suffering chagrin and misery during or after the lifespan of a relationship, appear far more  self-destructive than destructive to anyone else. For the other partner, contemplating leaving this kind of individual, the very thought of leaving such a person is made difficult and untenable by such frequently uttered protestations as ‘ I cannot live without you,’ and ‘without you, I might as well be dead.’

To be sure, many women exist, extremely dependent within their relationships, who, probably having suffered severe emotional betrayal during their childhood, genuinely feel that their life outside a relationship would be so lonely as to be unbearable.

It is difficult to leave such a woman, and the man attempting to leave may well feel that, by leaving, he would be responsible for delivering a mortal blow to an already pathetic wretch. Men also, are often kept in  relationships which can only be likened to ‘personal concentration camps,’ by the fact that they feel a genuine feeling of ‘chivalry’ towards their partner. Women tend to put so much more of themselves into their relationships and therefore suffer when these relationships fall apart.

There is a valid question as to whether or not this sort of suicidally-inclined individual may be deemed a terrorist.  (To many minds, this kind of individual, no doubt, would seem to fall more within the category of ‘emotional black-mailer.’)  I believe that sadly, there are people, deeply damaged by their childhoods, who genuinely cannot face life by themselves.

When dealing with such potential cases, however, I try to make the leaving partner understand that the suicidal inclinations predate the relationship by many years, and that, however tragic the situation, one person simply cannot be held responsible for keeping another person alive.  In some individuals, the authentic (though unhealthy) longing for death is a longing planted within them since early childhood, and there is very little a partner can do to alter the apparently inevitable course of that longing.

Among true terrorists, however, threats of suicide can be seen to serve a largely manipulative role.  In short, the terrorist says, ‘If you can’t do as I tell you, I will kill myself.’   Whether suicide remains only a threat or is realized, the true terrorist uses suicide not so much as an expression of desperate grief but as a weapon to be wielded against others.

In working with clients struggling either relationships or with the dissolution of a relationship, I am faced with many questions, all relevant to gauging the woman’s terrorist potential:   ‘Will the woman persevere in her efforts to financially ruin her partner?’   ‘Is she sincere when she promises to kill her partner, or have him killed, should he ever become involved in a new relationship?   Are the threats of suicide genuine or manipulative?’  ‘Will she carry out the promises of using the law to ‘kidnap’ the children in order to hurt the ex-partner?’  ‘Will she brain-wash the children to such an extent that her ex-partner dare not form a new relationship?’

Emotional terrorism is by no means confined to the family context.  I know an extremely successful woman in the world of fine arts.  This woman has been haunted by a former assistant who, vicariously imagining herself to be the writer herself, dresses like her, stalks her, and issues public statements that it was she, not the writer, who created the works of art for which the writer is internationally famous.  If the writer is to ensure her own safety, then very definite steps must be taken.

In situations of emotional and family terrorism, there are two areas of work to be done:  practical measures of protection (‘ strategies for survival’) on the part of family members, and therapeutic work with the terrorist himself or herself. I must reiterate at this stage, that both men and women are capable of terrorist tactics but men tend to behave in a more physically violent manner within the family. Women, as I have shown use far more subtle tactics i.e. that of the terrorist as opposed to outright war.

The first step, on the part of other family members, toward limiting the terrorist’s destructive potential is to understand the terrorist to be a terrorist.  In a recent case, a Mr. Roberts described to me how, during his marriage, he and his children faced a daily onslaught of verbal abuse from his wife.  Mrs. Roberts was also physically violent to the children.  Now that he has asked for a divorce, she is making use of every weapon in her arsenal. In the children’s presence, she has used drugs and drunk alcohol to the point of extreme intoxication.

She has staged several unsuccessful suicide attempts in front of the children, threatened over the telephone to ‘do something stupid,’ promised to kill Mr. Roberts new partner, and assured Mr. Roberts that when she has finished with him he will not have a penny to his name.  To Mr. Roberts, all of this behavior seemed perfectly usual. After all, he had witnessed this sort of commotion for thirteen years of their marriage. When I suggested to him, ‘What you endured is emotional terrorism, he suddenly and for the first time was able to see his situation clearly.

Now, he realized, his wife’s behavior was neither appropriate nor acceptable. No, this was not the treatment that every man should expect from his wife, either in or out of marriage. No, he does not want his children to be subjected to such extreme behavior any longer. The fact of recognizing a terrorist is the essential first step.

Then, because a terrorist is fueled by a feeling of omnipotence and is prepared to behave without bounds, (usually encouraged by feminist therapists who insist that their clients suffer from ‘low self esteem’), pragmatic measures must be taken to define clearly the boundaries of behavior.  It is unfortunate that the legal situation which many divorce agreements mandate is open-ended.

Certainly, when both parties to a divorce are reasonably well-balanced, it is entirely fitting for the settlement to be flexible enough to incorporate changing financial circumstances, child-care capabilities, and visitation rights. When, however, one party to the divorce is an emotional terrorist, then both the confrontational divorce procedure and the resultant open-ended divorce settlement provide infinite opportunity for the courts, lawyers, and the entire battery of psychologists called in for evaluations, to be used the terrorist’s weapons.

In these cases, the court and the divorce procedure provide no boundaries for the terrorist; instead they allow the terrorist to continue to behave boundlessly.

For this reason, when dealing with a terrorist, it is best for the divorce procedure and final decree to be as swift, as final, as absolute, as unequivocal as possible.  Every practitioner or attorney handling divorces is familiar with clients described as ‘litigious.’   Only when ‘litigiousness’ is seen as a manifestation of terrorism can the course to swift and precise legal settlement be steered.

To limit the terrorist’s feelings of omnipotence, there are many effective measures.  The guiding principle, as in the handling of political terrorists, must be ‘There is no negotiating with terrorists.’   Endless telephone calls, conversations, confrontation, trial ‘get-back-togethers,’ correspondence, visitations, gestures of appeasement, and efforts to placate the terrorist’s demands, all serve to reinforce the terrorist’s belief that she is accomplishing something.  Only determined resolution in the face of terrorism shows the terrorist that her power is limited.

Furthermore, for anyone dealing directly with the terrorist, reassurances, ‘ego boosts,’  ‘positive strokes,’ and consolations are lamentably counter- productive. Mrs. Roberts soon found for herself a feminist therapist staunchly supporting the erroneous belief ‘All feelings (and therefore behaviors) are valid.’

Mrs. Roberts is told by this therapist that she has a right to feel and to behave in any manner she chooses, in callous disregard for the devastation inflicted upon the children.  Such reassurances serve only to fortify the terrorist’s already pathological, solipsistic, and eternally self-justifying perspective.

If wishing to undertake the second sphere of disarming a terrorist — personal intervention with the terrorist herself — the therapist must be prepared to be straight, honest and very direct. In my own dealings with women as terrorists, I have found on occasion that one quite simply can point out to the terrorist, ‘You are behaving like a terrorist.  This is what you are doing. This is how you are being destructive. This is the destruction you are heading towards,’ and the terrorist, seeing themselves clearly for the first time, might be encouraged to reconsider their behavior.

More commonly, however, extremely deep therapy is required. For the terrorist’s behavior to change there must first be a solid and fundamental change within the terrorist’s psychological constitution. Usually it is only by an in-depth excavation and resolution of early childhood pain that the terrorist can begin to gain a real, true, and level-headed perception of her own current situation.

Direct intervention with a terrorist – like all forms of therapeutic intervention – can hope to achieve change only if the individual concerned wishes to change and possesses that vital yet ineffable quality:  the will to health.  When the will to health is lacking, there can be no change.  If the terrorist cannot or will not change, one can only help the other family members to be resolute, be strong, and, whenever possible, be distant.

About Erin Pizzey

Erin Pizzey is founder of Chiswick Womens' Aid, the first ever refuge in the world for victims of domestic violence. She is a lecturer and advocate, and has authored books on domestic abuse, including the seminal "Prone to Violence." Her latest effort is her autobiography, titled "This Way to the Revolution." She is also an Editor-at-Large and adviser for A Voice for Men on domestic violence policy.

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  • Near Earth Object

    An incredible article, Erin.
    I am wiser having read it.
    Thank YOU!

    • NobleTry

      “We have had thousands of international studies about male violence but there is very little about why or how women are violent. There seems to be a blanket of silence over the huge figures of violence expressed by women.”



      SUMMARY: This bibliography examines 286 scholarly investigations: 221 empirical studies and 65 reviews and/or analyses, which demonstrate that women are as physically aggressive, or more aggressive, than men in their relationships with their spouses or male partners. The aggregate sample size in the reviewed studies exceeds 371,600.

  • August Løvenskiolds

    Beautiful, Erin. We are fortunate to have you with us, and I hope our gratitude in clear.

    During the Cold war, the antagonism between the USA and the USSR was severe, but the balance of power averted nuclear war.

    Modern marriage has no such balance, and when antagonism begins, the destruction is almost inevitable. Giving men education and emotional tools to deal more successfully with their wives is a necessary step to fix the institution, as is rewriting marriages laws to be gender neutral.

    Teaching women that only women’s anger is valid is a disaster to families and needs to end.

  • Janet Bloomfield (aka JudgyBitch)

    Oh wow. Let no one say my mother wasn’t a high achiever. She was BOTH an emotional terrorist and a wickedly violent woman handy with extension cords, tree switches and leather belts.

    My dad was no saint and he smacked my mother on a good number of occaisions, but not only did she physically fight with him, she used all the tricks of an emotional terrorist, too.

    In a way, I’m kind of lucky. I have literally no memory of NOT knowing she was insane. At no point in my childhood did I ever think “Gee I wonder if Mom is right?”

    Here’s another thing I have no memory of: ANYONE EVER calling out my mother for her violence. Nope. Just my father. She hit him with a cast iron frying pan once and left him on the porch in subzero weather to die. He’s a tough old buzzard though, and he survived. They both tell the story like it’s some kind of joke.


    Thank god for the library. That’s where I found normal families to be part of, even if they were only in stories.

    • Dean Esmay

      “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” –Tolstoy

      I used to like that quote but I’m no longer sure it’s true. It seems that even though every family marred by abuse is different, certain patterns reverberate over and over and over again.

      What still troubles me, regularly, when I read stories like yours, is if this blind spot about violent women is actually encoded in our genes or something. In my darker days I think it is, and only mutant freaks like me can see it any different–even though it’s so obvious it’s blinding to me now, it took me a long, long time to realize it. Realizing that family violence was mostly reciprocal… it hit me like a freight train when it finally hit. Like, I was just fucking blind to it even though I fucking lived it.

      I’m getting flashbacks now. I should think about something else for the rest of the day.

      • Ray

        “Realizing that family violence was mostly reciprocal…”

        …and “In nonreciprocally violent relationships, women were the perpetrators in more than 70% of the cases.” – according to this study funded by the CDC

        • typhonblue

          To be fair, Dean is right.

          Most adult domestic violence is reciprocal between the partners. In proportionately fewer relationships is there nonreciprocal violence and most nonreciprocal violence is perpetrated by women.

          • Ray

            “Most adult domestic violence is reciprocal between the partners.”

            I concede there are a lot of studies floating around out there so it may depend which one your looking at.

            I thought it was about half reciprocal and half non-reciprocal according to the CDC study. Here’s this from that NCFM link above:

            “… a major study funded by the Centers for Disease Control recently examined heterosexual relationships throughout the U.S. and found: “Almost 24% of all relationships had some violence,and half (49.7%) of those were reciprocally violent.”

            Therefore, in the relationships that are violent, 50.3% would be non reciprocal, according to that study.

            The pie chart from that CDC study is still on RADAR’s home page. That first red slice of the pie chart is that 24% of heterosexual intimate partners that are violent. That 24% is then divided into reciprocal and non reciprocal. The next slice shows the 70% of non reciprocal intimate violence that is initiated by females.

    • Kimski

      Sounds just like mine.
      She would extend her terrorism to blaming others for the violence she perpetrated so frequently herself.

      I still don’t think the violence were the worst part, even though I was chased around the dining room table with a hammer for more than an hour when I was 7 y/o.

      The worst part were by far the constant insecurity from not knowing what mood she was in. It was a perpetual walk on egg shells, and I still move around very quietly to this day. Little things, like asking her a simple question, would make her spontaneously combust , and you didn’t want to be within miles of her when that happened.

      No wonder that it eventually ended up costing her 4 husbands and the rest of her close family, and she was buried with noone attending, as far as I know. I wasn’t there myself.

      Luckily for me, that kind of upbringing made me extremely aware of the signs I had to look out for, but I know it also destroyed the possibility of ever having a normal relationsship with a woman to some extend.
      I simply don’t trust most of them.

      Thank you for shining a bright light on this issue, Erin.
      Way too many self described “victims” are getting away with this kind of sociopathic behavior behind closed doors.

    • itry2brational

      “She was BOTH an emotional terrorist and a wickedly violent woman handy with extension cords, tree switches and leather belts.”

      The leather belt was the norm for me. I got switched when at school(a Xtian academy) or around my grandma. The public middle school I went to used paddles. I don’t recall an extension cord, that would be child abuse. The other stuff was perfectly normal…right?

  • http://none universe


    During the read of Erin Pizzey’s exposition of many years of accumulated insights into the emotional ‘terrorist’ (and more) this thought occured “when do we put her (his) clothes back on”?
    Fortunately, this was answered by “Direct intervention with a terrorist…” and/or “help the other family members to be resolute, be strong, and, whenever possible, be distant” ( taken as – physically or psychologically distant from the turmoil).

    The next occuring thought, and it needs little explanation, was that the raising of children is such an important benchmark. For the present and, for the important, future. And, undoubtedly in my mind, with well-adjusted both sexed parents.
    For that I suggest not of child rearing or adult adjustment with further invasive state interference. But with provably and rightly informed decision making toward and within an intra-family structure that balances the distractions and pains of the extra-outside world. Sound so easy to say, doesn’t it?
    Technical culture has moved from a survival based one to rapid recognized splintered social evolvements. The old ways, or some of them however, can still be transposed upon the more newer conditions.
    Communities living within their means, relying on trusted values aside from what is immediate-looking in the greater culture is a step. (What are the causal links for the conditions of creating emotionally damaged children? Or overall unhappiness in general). As for what I can limitly comprehend true consistent recognition of humanity has taken a back seat.
    Being the opinionated lout that I am yesterday was Sunday so I’ll stop here.

    (Dittos in the expressed appreciation of the article, Erin).

  • Keith

    As uncomfortable as it is to address, I lived with one for near twenty years. As a foster care youth myself I chose to be with my children. I should have left sooner and my advice to anyone in similiar circumstance is run hard fast and far.

    I now joke about my frequent “magic criminal carpet rides” I call it a criminal carpet because every issue is swept under the carpet and exchanged for more popular and functional crimes against her nibs. Although the sheer emotional crazy making does contribute to lateral thinking. You tend to apply that thinking to new ways of resolution that never occur.

    Best advice is to leave and at least have a chance at a healthy normal life.

    Walking on egg shells leaves scars in places that others can’t see… the bottom of your feet that some call your sole.

  • Ray

    I read this article some years back and it helped to confirm my understanding of the violent female in my own life, and the vile agenda of the taxpayer funded domestic violence industry.

    I certainly owe Erin Pizzy a big thank you (among others) for helping me to survive that time and have the fortitude to “go on” so “Los Misandry” at Youtube (my first video on d.v.) is something that I (personally) link back to her earlier efforts and inspiration.

  • napocapo69

    Erin, this article reminds me few experiences I lived in person.
    I can only say that you know the matter.

  • Bev

    Thank you is all I can say. You describe in frightning detail my youngest sons defacto (no children thankfully). It cumulated in her going to his place of work and ripping off most of her clothes and causing an awful scene because she felt that he was deserting her by working each day. We moved him out that night and cut off all contact. We were told this was wrong and he should have supported her more and did not understand her problems (phone call from social worker to us, sons phone changed). It seems we did the best thing possible (we were not sure at the time). Even so my son has suffered deep scars which took a long time to heal.

    • Ray

      “We moved him out that night and cut off all contact. “


      “It seems we did the best thing possible (we were not sure at the time).”

      This book reiterates that point, in my lay opinion, i.e. get the heck away from crazy people, and do it totally (if possible) and ASAP. In a nutshell, when that little voice in your head tells you something isn’t right, listen to it. That’s pretty much what I see as “the gift of fear.” Or as I’ve heard some people say, “Just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean somebody’s not out to get you.” – all in my lay opinion.

      • Dopesauce42

        Kurt Cobain said that, and he was right (Courtney Love)

  • scatmaster

    Similarly, the family terrorist, losing or having lost supremacy, may endeavor to bring about the ruin (and, in some extreme cases, the death) of other family members

    This is what scares me. In your article you have described my wife and what could happen if I walked away.

  • Skeptic

    Thank you Erin.
    You describe my ex wife to a T.
    These days I’m MGTOW so feel much safer, although I meet the occasional ET (Emotional Terrorist) in the workplace. In such instances I isolate myself from them as much as possible and find another job ASAP.

    I think there’s another aspect of this whole phenomenon.
    What only encourages many women to be ETs is that the feminist/white knight social systems they operate in facilitate their being able to be that way, so often with impunity.

  • feeriker

    When, however, one party to the divorce is an emotional terrorist, then both the confrontational divorce procedure and the resultant open-ended divorce settlement provide infinite opportunity for the courts, lawyers, and the entire battery of psychologists called in for evaluations, to be used a[s] the terrorist’s weapons.

    That nails it.

    Men are screwed from every direction in this situation. Not only are divorce laws in all western nations systematically hostile to us under even the best of circumstances, but add the ET/mentally ill/needy-and-without-visible-means-of-support aspect to the situation, and it becomes a free-for-all in the woman’s favor. Simply stated, the courts will, in almost all cases, see the ET as the victim and you, the man, as the neglectful partner who failed to come to her aid.

    If you’re unfortunate enough to be shackled to one of these creatures, get used to it. Unless you want to end up broke (and broken), homeless, with your reputation shattered, and living in a squatter’s camp while she enjoy enjoys the unearned fruits of a broken relationship that she destroyed and to which she contributed nothing but pain, you’ll just have to tough it out.

    • Aimee McGee

      If you do decide to go, sometimes integrity can win out.
      Beloved is living the life he feared the most since separating from his CB, and still says the worst day in it is better than the best day of his marriage.
      Oh, and the family court is slowly beginning to realise he has never been the problem…and their patience is running out with her constant erratic behaviour. In the meantime he gets 50:50 to parent his youngest in her best interest

      • feeriker

        Oh, and the family court is slowly beginning to realise he has never been the problem…and their patience is running out with her constant erratic behaviour. In the meantime he gets 50:50 to parent his youngest in her best interest.

        A very lucky man who managed to draw a winning number in the lottery that is the family court system. Unfortunately, the odds of any of us winning said lottery are smaller than those of trapping a live unicorn or finding the Holy Grail.

        • Cousin Dave

          It’s definitely a lot of work, and success is far from guaranteed. I have a friend who has a developmentally disabled daughter, from a Cluster B ex. They divorced ten years ago, and since then the CBX has held the daughter over his head like a sword. Through her teenage years they had shared custody, with him paying child support. After the daughter’s stints with her mother, he often had to pay for extra medical care, therapy, and tutoring because the mother neglected the daughter so badly when she was with her.

          Recently the daughter reached the age of majority. The mother filed for guardianship and lifetime child support. The father decided to fight back; he documented a lot of the mother’s neglect and rounded up a field of chacter witnesses, including me, to testify for him. I was happy to do it. He won full guardianship and discontinuance of child support. The mother no longer has any right to visitation; the daughter is permitted to decide for herself if and when she wants to see the mother, and the father has a permanant restraining order that sharply limits unsolicited contact from the mother.

          So it does happen. Each man has to decide for himself what the most likely path to success is. Sometimes, unfortunately, there is nothing that can be done and the father is better off simply going his own way.

    • Steve_85

      Simple solution: Don’t marry, don’t cohabitate, don’t impregnate.

      If you’ve already done one of those, then yes, you’re fucked.

      • feeriker

        Exactly. Alas, this brings to mind the old Amish proverb: “We grow too soon old and too late smart.”

  • MateNeo

    Thank you so very much Erin. This is a great article.

  • Adam Catalyst

    Thank you so much for this Erin. You’ve touched uncomfortably on some of my childhood. I feel like I have so much to think about, for myself, for my future. I have never read anything with such insight before in my life.

  • Aimee McGee

    Having experienced a rare male emotional terrorist, this article has personal resonance. I lost a lot of mutual acquaintances to his slur campaign.
    However, this was small change compared to the hell my Beloved still deals with daily in trying to parallel parent with his crazy STBX.
    To any man (or woman) who is dealing with one of these monsters, maintaining your personal integrity can pay dividends…as Beloved is finding out in his church and in the family courts. 3.5 years and people are beginning to question ‘who has the problem here?’

  • Steve_85

    There is no such thing as “normal.” Every family has its problems.

  • http://none universe

    It seems I just cannot leave well enough alone.
    However, in this comment I believe I’ve stepped away from the sermonizing of my previous comment above. I’ve not had egregious intentionally abusive parents or similar experiences with ex-spouses, so have a little more freedom to consider other avenues of discussion.
    To start:

    “When it was evident to Adolph Hitler that winning the War as an absolute impossibility, he ordered his remaining troops to destroy Berlin: If he no longer could rule, then he felt it best for his empire to share in his own personal destruction.”
    – Well, how many other times throughout history has ET profiles, combined with similarly minded $$ making shadowy entities on any side foist their possibly inter-related agendas upon an unsuspecting populace at any time? In other words – how many blood crazed ET individuals have ordered the common man and nation into battle (over the controlling of commerce, territory, tariffs, etc, or other similar matters the people are not aware of) ?
    This is, I suppose, something which cannot readily be answered. This is something I definately wish not to judge all war makers into such a category but yet at the same time may shed some light on its possibility in order to facilitate our successful evolution as a species.

    • Dopesauce42

      There is a book out now, War Is Lies, that states

      Wars are always based on lies, and they only stop when people stop believing those lies.

      it makes other assertions, and apparently backs them up convincingly. haven’t read it yet though.

  • Suzanne McCarley

    Great article, Erin. Thank you for your clarity.

  • Mr. J

    I remember the time years ago when my opinion of focus on the family and james dobson changed.
    I was shocked to hear him joke and agree with the statement …….”if mama ain’t happy, no one’s happy”…..

    • http://none universe

      Mr. Dobson would be shocked to read Erin’s article.
      Maybe even challenge her to a duel over it.

  • Falland

    Another hallmark of a Family Terrorist is that they will push away all the functional, decent, and supportive people in their world in an attempt to isolate their victims and hide their actions. If you have a problem with these people, chances are your relatives, friends, and neighbors have a problem with them as well. While able to conceal their behavior from the wider world, those personally close to the FT get a good picture of who they really are and the types of things to expect. So like Stalin, they will kill off (metaphorically speaking) one by one, every person who is either not on their side or is a potential threat / witness to their bad behavior. Eventually, the only people left who can help are far away leaving the abuser either in total control or all alone.

  • MGTOW-man

    When I say (and I often do on this site) “women who live in a state of oblivion”, your article, Erin, is part of what I am talking about. I often use “oblivious” to describe many women who are out of touch and unaware of their wrongs in a variety of ways but it is important to note that the terrorizing of others by abusive women is also included.

    I am fairly sure it is safe to suspect that most of the emotional terrorists (ET) are unaware they are the way they are. That is why they blame others as they hide behind the “victim” card. They haven’t taken a good look at themselves and never will. They do not know how. All they find worthy of doing is criticizing others, always looking for the negative, the villainous, the “problem”. If they could just take a good look at themselves….

    I once knew a woman who fit the ET description. She scared her stepchildren on a daily basis. All those children grew up to be dysfunctional in related ways. However, the kids never blamed their stepmother. Instead they kissed up to her, helped her along (unwittingly), sided with her, and seemed to take the blame for things that the stepmother fostered. She was very self-centered, self-absorbed, spiteful and punitive.

    I am so glad that she wasn’t my mother. If she were, I, true to my nature, would have been too honest with her. She likely would have found a way to get rid of me because, like most feminists in general, truth is their enemy.

  • jimbeaux

    I wish I’d read this 20 years ago. Never have I read something that explains what I went through – and continue to go through – with my ex.

  • Dopesauce42

    Excellent piece. Illuminating. I think of some people I used to associate with and I pray that they can get better.

    It boils down to money, so much of the time doesn’t it? Being poor is hard, and any patterns of abuse are only going to intensified by poverty.

    We need big changes in the world, and it takes big movements to make them happen. AVfM should keep in mind that if we charge the feminists with wasting time on issues that don’t exist while they could be fighting homelessness and other major issues, we cannot fail to shed light on serious problems that affect men and women beyond their relationships to each other.

    Click on my name and see if the site you are linked to (New Democracy doesn’t fit in with your thinking. We need big changes if we are going to solve big problems.

  • Daniel Kulkarni

    Powerful piece. I’d say my mom is an emotional terrorist, all though she’s on the lighter end of the spectrum. She does everything she can to provoke you when she feels that she’s been wronged. It’s why the whole “Real men don’t hit women” thing always struck a nerve with me. It’s denying women their agency, as is typical with feminist dogma. In many cases, women provoke the violence that they receive through emotional blackmail, but no one wants to acknowledge this. There’s a double standard there; the type of violence men gravitate towards is vilified to the harshest degree, but women are free to be as emotionally abusive as they wish without suffering any consequences.