Lies Abusers Tell Their Victims
Picture credit: J.W. Waterhouse, "Circe"
The following is a long list of lies, threats, and insane
statements that abusers make in order to keep their victims in line, and
in order to keep the blame away from themselves and the abuse cycle going.
Note that many of the following do in fact happen -- threats of violence
are often carried out, sometimes the police do come, and so on. Sometimes,
lies do come true, for victims of abuse.
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- You're just taking it wrong.
- I wouldn't hit you if you weren't so bad.
- We could make this relationship great if only you would work
- You made me lie by not making it easy to tell the truth.
- I only lied to you because I knew you'd be hurt if you found out the
- Your mother/sister won't give me this, and I/men need it.
- If you tell anyone about this, I will stop giving your mother her
child support and you/she will be homeless and starving.
- If you tell, the police will come and take me away.
- This is normal in Europe -- I'm doing this so you can be more
sophisticated than your peers.
- If you don't, I'll do it to your sister/brother.
- You know you like it; what are you trying to get from me by
- You're really tense; I can help you relax.
- This is how you show love to people.
- Children have to do what their parents tell them.
- All [insert your least favorite group here] are going to hell.
- If you can be sexy enough men will like you and you can go far in
- You can make a lot of money as a prostitute.
- All you're interested in is sex. That's all that teen-agers are
- You're not good for anything else anyways so you might as well use
what you are good at.
- You own nothing, not even yourself. In my house, you are mine.
- Your asking not to be touched isn't a good reason for me not to touch
- In my house you will do what I want you to.
- If you tell, I'll kill your cat/child/mother/friend/coworker.
- I bought you X, but you owe me because you didn't earn it.
- You will ruin our lives.
- You're going to be the death of me.
- You're going to grieve the loss after I leave you, but not the loss of
love -- you're going to feel the loss a junkie feels when she can't get a
- I'm finally committed to you. That's why I have to leave you.
- I can't live without you.
- I know you better than you know yourself.
- I was/am the parent/spouse/teacher/authority figure; therefore I know
better than you.
- This is going to kill your mother/father/teacher.
- If you do this, nobody will ever talk to you again.
- Your mother/father/sister/spouse wouldn't understand.
- You're special, and this is our special secret.
- Only true "friends" can be like this.
- This is going to teach you about how to handle those horny teenage
boys/girls who will be after you.
- I have no one else to talk to.
- You're the only one who really loves me.
- You're too sensitive. I'm sick of you being so hypersensitive all the
- Why are you so negative?
- You're not sorry. If you were sorry, you wouldn't have said it.
- You're bad. You're worthless. You're ugly.
- You shouldn't feel that way. You shouldn't think that way.
- I never did that. It never happened. You're just making it up.
- I can't believe how selfish you are.
- You're self-centered, lazy, and irresponsible.
- You shouldn't let it bother you.
- That's just the way your [abuser] is. You shouldn't let them bother
- What are you mad at me for? I stopped drinking/beating you/abusing
drugs, didn't I? What else do I need to do?
- I wouldn't tease you if I didn't love you so much.
- For a smart person, you sure do some dumb things.
- You just remember what you want to remember.
- Don't talk about your experience with my drinking/drug use/abuse
because it will embarrass me. Don't tell anyone about this. It's our
little secret. I'll kill you if you tell.
- You'd be a lot prettier if you wore makeup.
- You'd be a lot nicer if you weren't such a bitch.
- I wouldn't do this to you if you weren't such a dirty, bad little
- I wouldn't do this to you if you didn't like it.
- You're a slut.
- You ought to be ashamed of yourself!! NOTE: This is one of the
most deadly things a person can ever say to a child... to this day, I have
beliefs and habits which stem from being told this very thing as a little
- You only get what you deserve.
- You have to forgive your abuser. You have to forgive me. It'll do you
good if you forgive me. That's really the best thing for you.
- I only have your best interests at heart.
- This hurts me more than it hurts you.
- Why are you so stupid? Why are you so snotty? Why are you so hard to
get along with? Why are you so [insert random meaningless accusation
- That's not what you meant. I know what you really meant.
- You're overdramatic. You're obsessed.
- You made me mad. You provoked me. You made me do it.
- I'm not going to talk to you until you apologize.
- Your feelings aren't important. Your opinions don't matter. I'm the
only one who can be right. I'm the only one who can have feelings and
opinions. I'm the only one who counts.
- I never treated you that way. You imagined it. You had a wonderful
- You shouldn't feel like you were abused, because we gave you
everything. You're so ungrateful. For all I have to put up with...
- You're antagonistic. You're argumentative. You have a way of making
- I can't be nice to you because it wouldn't work.
- I can't ask you politely to do something because you wouldn't do
- You never... You always...
- You're just overreacting. You're just making a big deal out of
- You're rude. You're uncooperative. You're unkind. You're just not a
very nice person.
- Boys don't cry.
- Nice girls don't dress that way/have sex/yell/go anywhere alone.
- Never hurt anyone's feelings. If you do, you're bad.
- Go to therapy as long as you like, but when will you be done?
- If you talk about your feelings, you're just whining. That's all they
do in those support groups, anyway. They just sit around wallowing in
- Friends can't be trusted. Your friends are evil.
- You're not sensible. You don't think things through.
- You're ridiculous. Where did you get that crazy idea?!
- Did [random suspect person] put you up to this?!
- You're the Good Daughter/Wife/Girlfriend.
- You're the Bad Daughter/Wife/Girlfriend.
- You just need to try harder. You just need to stop letting your
feelings get hurt.
- Of course I love you. I wouldn't do this to you if I didn't love
- Just because I have other partners doesn't mean I'm cheating on
- You only like history because you're obsessed with the past. Why can't
you look to the future, like me?
- What's wrong with you?
- You don't deserve to be forgiven. I only treat you like this because
you deserve it. I wouldn't treat you this way if you didn't need
- I wouldn't keep dumping you if I didn't have to. I wouldn't keep
dumping you if you didn't hurt me so much.
- I wouldn't have left you if you weren't so awful.
- I'd treat you better if you just tried harder.
- It hurts me to love you.
- I'm only doing this for your own good.