Are You A Great Candidate for Brainwashing?

Brainwashing and Abuse in Relationships

Brainwashing occurs in long-term abusive relationships, but begins in the very beginning. I once pictured a brainwash-able person as a prisoner of war. Much later, I understood that brainwashing easily affects people just like me.

I doubt my husband brainwashed me on purpose. He did not have the military’s training for “successful negotiations” until late in our relationship. However, Lifton’s Brainwashing Process and the cycle of abuse are similar, and we definitely experienced the cycle of abuse.

Brainwashing is a process that breaks down the victim’s reality and replaces it with a substitute reality of the abuser’s choosing. Slowly and surely, my husband’s verbal abuse and emotional violence carried my mind to a very dark place.

I believed that I didn’t have a firm grasp on reality. Unfortunately, I relied on the one abusing me to give substance and “proof of life”. I allowed him to define me in many ways. When I left him, I had to concentrate to tell if the voice in my head was his or mine!

brainwashingThe confusion I felt resulted from brainwashing. At first, I thought I must be incredibly weak and confused to “allow” myself to fall so far under his spell. Picturing those prisoners of war, I thought, “You were not starved, beaten daily, or forced to recite nonsense like they were! You have no excuse for allowing yourself to be brainwashed! You are weak!”

Boy, was I hard on myself! But my self-abuse came from misunderstanding how brainwashing works. Women who stay in abusive relationships are not weak-minded! If you think so, then you need to read what’s next.

Brainwashing and Abuse – New Post on

Sandra L. Brown, M.A. says in her book “Women Who Love Psychopaths” that the best victims for brainwashing are women who are:

  • perfectionists, and/or
  • hold themselves to high standards, and/or
  • persistent, and/or
  • resourceful, and/or
  • goal-directed, and/or
  • self-sacrificing, and/or
  • previous victims of abuse or neglect, and/or
  • experience dependence, vulnerability, or incompetency issues.

Are you in an abusive relationship? Do you recognize yourself in the first five or six bullet points? If not, think back to the beginning of your relationship. Do you recognize aspects of who you were?

Read more on Verbal Abuse In Relationships – How Did You Brainwash Me?

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About Kellie Jo Holly

Kellie Jo Holly passionately advocates against domestic violence through her writing and mentoring service. She loves helping women cope with abuse while in the relationship and supporting them as they leave the relationship and begin to heal. You can also find Kellie on Google+, Facebook and Twitter. You can buy her books from Amazon.


  1. everything applies to my situation. He did brainwash me too and I am in a situation where I really don’t know what has really happened, and how are things. I doubt myself, and need so often to see medical reports to believe something did happen and it wasn’t just my imagination. He also succeeded in making me believe I deserve all the bad treatments, but what is worse is that I sometimes believe he is the victim and I am the abuser

  2. I recignited myself in a couple points. I was fortunate to have family support. I kept thinking I could change him.

    He did finally change. But it took jail and counseling.

    Is our relationship perfect? No. But it gets better every day. We’ve been working at it for 20 years.

  3. He really tried to……. and I fit every point above. I seem to be drawn to what appears to be the “wounded” and turns out it is always an act to get into your heart. Once they are in, they turn. For me, there were a few red flags I ignored before marriage….but on the honeymoon……. wow…….what a change and it never stopped. Lies, something that was “Wrong with me” every other day… no matter what I changed to ‘get along with him’ … the bar would raise or change in a few days and it would be something else “wrong with me”. Now I live alone, he lives at his moms but for some reason, even with no contact, he doesn’t want a divorce? Makes no sense to me. I’m just hoping he isnt willing to spend money to contest it when I file in july.

  4. No feelings left for him. says:

    20 years with one. No wedding ring or honeymoon, and a few weeks after the wedding he started locking the door on me when I went to take a walk (by myself). He said I “should have been back 5 minutes ago”. Nowdays he controls the money, even when I have some he wants me to pay of fhis past due bills, taxes, etc. Not out yet due to a young son, I am afraid of the abuse during divorce and how he can very easily make the kids hes pals by taking them to movies, and all that disney dad crap.

  5. yes, He can use the divorce to really get at you and even continue to use the courts to abuse you. you maybe differnt from me, I’m just coming to realize that for 27 years I lived with verbal abuse. I disrupted our whole family. My boys are men now 28 and 22, my daughter 16 . we all still have alot of issues.

  6. Close2Darkness says:

    I recognize myself in all of the bullets. Unfortunately , I didn’t realize it until he left for his current deployment. I always thought he would be a better person. I didn’t realize until recently that how severely abused I am. I saw an attorney yesterday. He is far gone into the abuse now he tell me that I am thinking wrong. I dealt with all of this for years. I am isolated. I have zero support. He is the poster “good guy”. Everyone believes everything he says. I reached out for support he lied on me. They ignored me and took his side. This is about to be a long road of uncertainty.

  7. My abuser is a psychological, manipulative person. Acting good before he starts pulling the leash. He has poisoned my mind, making me believe that certain people would put little pills in my drink, go into my place, steal my correspondence, everything. I realize now my abuser was really referring to himself and has more than likely been doing this either directly or indirectly. As a result, I am paranoid due to his intimidation. I do not know if it is true or not that he has a bunch of people who are keeping a “watch” on me. I know there are at least two others, but not sure if as many as he keeps telling me. I know it is a means to control me and IT IS WORKING! I am in fear of him and am planning to leave the city to escape him.

  8. Gas Lighting is a good example of how the brainwashing is done, and also brainwashing people through isolation and by destroying personal or sentimental belongings.

What do you think? Tell us!