From Emotional Abuse to Empowerment: Navigating the Path to ‘Happily Even After’

Walking through the fog of an emotionally abusive relationship can leave you questioning your very reality. As your guide, Life Coach Jen, I'm here to share the illuminating truth of my own journey, peeling back the layers on the subtle, yet profound, effects of manipulation and infidelity. Through my eyes, we'll recognize the signs that creep in unnoticed, the gaslighting and isolation that can erode one's sense of self. And with a nod to the chilling narrative of “Dirty John,” we examine how such toxic patterns unfold on screen, offering powerful insights into the harsh realities many face behind closed doors. This episode isn't just about the struggles; it's about igniting the beacon of hope that leads to healing and empowerment.

Then, there comes a moment when the haze lifts, and you see the path to 'happily even after'—not despite the struggles, but because of the growth they foster. This episode is a testament to that journey, as I highlight the pivotal role of professional guidance, from coaches to therapists, in nurturing healthier relationships and personal development. We'll talk about the courage it takes to step out of the shadows and into the light, to seek help and rebuild from a place of self-awareness and strength. Tune in to discover how to navigate the aftermath of emotional abuse and find joy on the other side, because the story doesn't end at struggle—it begins anew with the promise of happiness reclaimed.

Please follow me on instagram and facebook @happilyevenaftercoach and if you want to see what coaching is all about I offer a free 30 min. clarity call via zoom.

Email me: for any comments or questions.

Thanks for listening, please like and review as well as share with your family and friends.

My website is


Speaker 1: 0:10
Hi, friends, welcome to Happily. Even After I’m Life Coach Jen, a certified life coach that specializes in relationships. I’m a mom of four awesome kids and one amazing senora, a home decorator, a remodeler, a shopper, a scrabler and a snuggler. I want to help you with your relationships, mainly the relationship you have with yourself and your family and God. Thanks for listening and letting me share the tools I have learned that can help you live happily even after some of life’s greatest challenges. Hey, friends, today I have an episode that I’m talking about.

Speaker 1: 0:44
I had asked my Instagram followers if they had any suggestions for things that they would like me to discuss and one of them wrote in and said she would like me to talk about emotional abuse. And I know I’ve touched on this subject a little bit and I’ve done a whole episode on gaslighting certain topics, but I’m going to just talk about in general what emotional abuse is and I’m just going to try to shed more light on the topic. It’s interesting because I don’t think and me personally I would have never said I was in an emotionally abusive marriage. Not until the very end did I realize. Oh my gosh, yes, my marriage was very emotionally abusive, and I don’t say that in a way of because I believe, like emotional abuse is a lot more common than we realize and I think each of us as human beings we sometimes say and do things that are abusive. I don’t know if any of us are immune to emotionally abuse or manipulate someone sometime in our lives, like right. But the consistency, and especially when betrayal I’m going to focus on betrayal. There’s lots of other reasons why maybe someone is abusive, but infidelity because of the line causes someone to gaslight or do things that are emotionally abusive, manipulate the situation, lying. Many times I don’t think the person abusing their partner doesn’t fully understand the damage they are doing to their partner and kids. Like yeah, they definitely know their line, they know that they’re trying to prevent them, but I think they’re coming from a space I don’t want to hurt her. But if they understood the hurt or pain, of course is the affair happening, but let’s layer on the lying, the gaslighting, the criticism. You know it gets layered and so that is why it is so damaging, because they’re just focused on the affair. They’re not focused on what they’re doing necessarily to the other person, they’re just trying to cover up their behavior, not saying that’s right or wrong, but I’m just wanting you to think about it in maybe a little bit different way. I don’t want to vilify people, but behaviors it’s not a good behavior, right, abuse is abuse.

Speaker 1: 3:32
So there is a Netflix show that I feel did such a great job of capturing what abuse looks like, sounds like and feels like. And if you’re struggling knowing if you are being abused and wondering if you are the one being emotionally abusive, if you’re thinking like, oh, am I being emotionally abusive, I think it would be so beneficial to watch Now. It may be triggering, so be prepared. But when I watched it, well, I loved it. I love shows like this. I don’t know why, but because I felt so connected and I could relate so well and I liked getting into their brains and thinking and anyways.

Speaker 1: 4:17
But it’s called Dirty John and I know that’s a weird name for a show and there’s two different stories. The first one is about a woman who meets a guy online and she starts dating. Lots of emotional abuse and manipulation in this episode it’s like maybe eight episodes long. Then the next one is this woman and it kind of goes from her before she was married in a very religious family to her getting married with her husband and then ultimately he has an affair. And I mean there’s gaslighting, there’s manipulation, there’s so many examples of abuse and the thing is just to see it. And the very end of this show it shows moments when she was abused. Had she acted differently, what the outcome would be, or if he would have acted differently, what the outcome would be If he would have just told her the truth the first time. She asked are you having an affair with your secretary? How the story could have been so much different.

Speaker 1: 5:29
And I really liked that take on that, because our words matter, what we say matter, how we act matter, and if we don’t know we’re doing something, if we’re not aware of it, we don’t even know it’s wrong. And so that’s why, for me, once I realized like, oh, and you would think I mean I feel like I’m a very smart woman, but this was my marriage, this was my family, and so I didn’t see all of it and no one apparently no one else did, at least they didn’t tell me about it. It wasn’t until I got out of it that I could see how harmful that was for me and my kids, my family, and how unhealthy it was. So I think awareness is key, whether you’re the one, the perpetrator or the one that is experiencing it. And I’m just gonna say we all can say abusive, hurtful things to other people Like we’re not, it’s just our intent behind. It is important because no one is perfect. If you need to get help and work on changing your behavior, that is key. Right, you can change. Once you recognize it, you can change. And knowing that it’s not okay to abuse people, even if you feel like you didn’t abuse them, but they’re telling you they did like that is important to hear and validate them. And because you don’t get to decide what is hurtful and painful to someone else, I feel like emotional abuse is like having broken bones and bruises inside your body that nobody else can see, but you feel them every day. You don’t feel it outward, but you feel it inward, which is why it’s so hard to detect. It’s obvious when someone is physically abusing someone generally, and also sexual abuse is another one that is, you don’t necessarily see. So I’m gonna give you the definition of what they say.

Speaker 1: 7:35
Verbal abuses Using words and body language to inappropriately criticize another person often involves put downs intended to make the victim feel that they are not worthy of love and respect. Some examples of this are belittling a partner’s looks, character or abilities, name calling and I think name calling is tricky because sometimes you might think it’s a cute name, but if it hurts the other person and they don’t like it, then we shouldn’t do it. Just because we think it’s an endearing name doesn’t mean that it is Heavy size. Anytime a partner speaks or acts intentionally embarrassing or shaming a partner, telling a partner they are weak, defective or not worthwhile and we probably all have done some, if not all, of these things. But it’s the consistency, the reasons why, if you’re trying to push your spouse down to build yourself up, this is an example of what it might sound like. I told my wife she was letting herself go and she was no longer attractive. I did this to explain why I was not being sexual with her, but the real reason was that I was having an affair and I’m guessing a lot of people can relate to this like you’re not attractive to me, so I don’t want to have sex with you, but the reality is it’s because I’m having sex with someone else, and that happens a lot and that is not okay.

Speaker 1: 9:19
Psychological abuse, which is just a little different right, it’s emotional abuse, but it’s like more mind games. It’s intended to cause fear, confusion in the victim. Things like controlling or limiting the partner’s use of the phone, ability to see their friends or family, blaming the partner for one’s own mistakes or when things go wrong so it’s always someone else’s fault. They’re never taking ownership. When it is there, they really cause the problem Gaslighting, and I’ve done a whole episode on this. But this is an example.

Speaker 1: 9:57
When someone is accused of cheating, they may deny it and say their partner is misinterpreting, making things up, so you’re over exaggerating, like she just she’s my secretary, so it was secretary’s day and I had to buy her flowers or we just went to an innocent lunch. I mean, there’s many things that Gaslighting is. It’s when you make the person think that they’re crazy and they didn’t see what they saw. I saw, I just saw a reel the other day and literally the guy gets out of his car and answers his phone and on the screen because we have Bluetooth it shows this woman’s phone number and he’s having a conversation and the son and the wife can hear the conversation. And then he gets back in the car and they’re like, oh, who were you talking to? And he’s like, oh, my mom. And they’re like, well, why did it say so and so’s name? And he, like he was not Letting down that he was talking to his mom and the wife and son were just like what and what is going on?

Speaker 1: 11:07
Because he was trying to make them feel like they were crazy. They didn’t know what they saw because he was caught right, controlling the partner with money, not giving enough for groceries and other needs with holding child support, spending lots of money on oneself while putting the partner on a tight budget, treating the partner like a servant or a sex object with no rights, excluding them from decisions, acting as if they are property. So that’s an extreme form of abuse, right? An example of this is I accused my wife of being paranoid about me cheating, even in the face of direct evidence that I was. I Gaslighted her in this way because I wanted to continue cheating without consequences. So I think this happens a lot. My experience is it happens with infidelity. Sure other reasons that it happens, but this is why because they don’t want to get caught, so they’re gonna make you feel like you’re crazy.

Speaker 1: 12:12
I there’s lots of warning signs with emotional abuse, but honestly, like for me, I think I was so naive I was 25, but I was definitely naive and what I think a lot of women and people in general we think I would never do that to someone, so we just assume that our spouse, who we married forever, would never do it to us. But that’s simply a false belief and that is unhelpful, because not everyone is like you, not everyone is like me, and so we all act differently when we get caught in a lie, or some of us are like, well, I don’t even normally lie, but you’re a unique person, just like they’re a unique person. If you are dating or curious, like, oh, am I in an abusive marriage? For me, when I learned about gaslighting, that’s what I figured out by. I’m like, oh my gosh, I have been gaslighted and love bombing, love bombing. Those two really were like in my face blaring. I’m like, oh my gosh, yes, this is my marriage, this is what’s been happening to me, and so those were huge signs that I was like, okay, this is unhelpful.

Speaker 1: 13:35
So if someone’s monitoring and controlling a person’s behavior, such as who they spend time with or who you spend time with and how you spend money, if you feel threatened with your safety, your property or with your loved ones, isolating a person from their family and friends and acquaintances. This can be a sign of abuse if they’re demeaning, shaming or humiliating. Extreme jealousy or accusations and paranoia. Delivering constant criticism that’s huge right. Regular ridicule or teasing, making acceptance or care conditional on a person’s choices, refusing to allow a person to spend time alone, thwarting a person’s professional or personal goals, instilling self-doubt and worthlessness, gaslighting, making a person, question their competence and even their basic perceptual experiences and I mean that’s hard for me to read because I’m like wow, I had lots of signs of lots of those things and I didn’t even realize it.

Speaker 1: 14:51
So awareness, knowledge is power and doesn’t mean your marriage is over, I think. Awareness on both sides that this is what this is doing to me and why are you doing it, and therapy or whatever. I think that is important. Getting help would be my first idea, first thing. But a lot of times, people that are in these situations, they’re not willing to accept ownership of what they’re doing. They just wanna point fingers and say, no, it’s all their fault, they’re the problem, it isn’t me. And so what you really need to do is look inward and say is this the kind of marriage and relationship that I wanna be in. And ultimately, my answer was no, absolutely not, because I had gained the knowledge, empowered myself. I was able to do that, but before I was not, I didn’t even see it.

Speaker 1: 15:53
Some other things that could be abusive, that manipulation, that’s a big one. Triangulation Now, and I’m gonna say, if it’s a one-off situation, but this is constant, right, and if you’re like, hey, babe, I’ve just been recently I heard this podcast or I was reading something about emotional abuse, and these are some ways I feel like I’m really not caring about how you’re actually feeling, or I’m not listening to you, or I’m doing X, y or Z, like having the honest conversation that’s gonna be so powerful and finding out like, is this helpful? Because everyone experiences life and words differently, and I’ve noticed with my kids having to do different repair because they grew up in a home that had this, and so repairing with them and helping them gain the confidence and figuring out what triggers them, what are they more sensitive to? Different topics that they’re more sensitive to than other topics, and not all my kids are the same. Some of my kids are like, oh, mom, that didn’t bother me. Or like, no, that was really hurtful, even things that I did, because I, of course, was showing up in a weird way because my self-esteem was awful, so I wasn’t even showing up as the mom that I wanted to be. So having to repair the things that I did with my children and it’s totally possible.

Speaker 1: 17:30
I totally believe in repair, I believe in change. I believe that you can fix mistakes that you’ve made if you need to, because that’s why we’re here. And so if you’ve been in this situation doesn’t mean you have to be in relationship with this person. That’s really hurt you emotionally, but you can repair that with your children or other people in your life that you might have not showed up with friends. I’ve had many experiences with friends that I thought was one way and then I found out, oh no, that was not. And I’ve been able to repair that friendship that I didn’t necessarily know why it was broken. But now I know and that’s been a beautiful thing, name calling generalizations, love bombing. I think I’ve done a podcast on that.

Speaker 1: 18:27
If not, I think I’m going to people that move the goalposts hey, we’re gonna work at our marriage and you have to do these 10 things. If you do these 10 things, then I’m gonna stay and I’m gonna stop cheating on you. And then you do those 10 things and then they’re like, oh, but I forgot these other five, I wanted you to do those 10, but now I’m gonna change what I want you to do. So that’s kind of what that means. Anyways.

Speaker 1: 18:54
So, emotional abuse in my mind. I Googled about 50% of marriages experience emotional abuse and I’m guessing everyone at one time or another has emotionally abused someone or been emotionally abused, but as a consistent. So that’s a high number of 50%, right. And so becoming aware, is this something in your marriage and if it is changing it, if this is something that you find yourself, I’m a super critical person. Whatever you find yourself doing, and if you’re have experienced infidelity, I’m guessing there is some emotional abuse there, because there had to have been lying for that to happen. And so finding out, is your spouse willing to do that repair with himself as well as with you? That’s really important.

Speaker 1: 19:47
So hopefully this was helpful and helping you understand this topic, and I think there’s lots of movies out there the one I suggested and I know there’s a lot of other ones that kind of, I think, seeing it, at least for me, when I can see it in action, because when it’s with myself it’s almost too close to home and I can’t even see it, but when I can watch it on a TV with someone else it’s like, oh my gosh, yes.

Speaker 1: 20:15
And then, if you can relate to that, then figuring out what you wanna do next and it doesn’t mean your life or marriage or whatever is over, it just means like, okay, we obviously do not know how to interact with each other and we need to fix that. Getting professional help, working with a coach, getting someone that is not your mom, not your ecclesiastical leader, not your neighbor, getting a professional that is unbiased, that can help you see your blind spots, I think is so important and really can be life changing for yourself, as well as your relationship with your kids and with your spouse or your future spouse. Thanks so much for listening. Have a beautiful rest of your day. If you want to learn how to live happily even after, sign up for my email at hello at lifecoachgen with onencom. Follow me on Instagram and Facebook at happily even after coach. Let’s work together to create your happily even after.

It is time to start healing instead of reeling from betrayal

Click on the link below to start taking steps on learning what NOT to do after you discover an affair.
Tablet displaying an article titled "10 things not to do after you discover an affair", featuring an image of a man in a suit with a lipstick mark on his cheek.

Share this

A woman with blonde hair wearing a white turtleneck and plaid jacket smiles at the camera.

Hi, I’m Jennifer

I love helping women and men heal from betrayal. I originally started this podcast with my husband and since my divorce I have taken it solo. I love sharing and talking about the 50/50 of life and providing tools to help you along your path to healing.

Enter your name and email to download the free guide.

Please read my privacy policy to see I take your privacy seriously.