How to Heal From Brainwashing and Regain Control of Your Mind

You can heal from brainwashing. Brainwashing is a kind of science, and healing from brainwashing is too. Read how to begin healing from brainwashing here.Can you heal from brainwashing? Yes. Once you know you’ve experienced it, you can heal from brainwashing and recover from domestic abuse. First, learn how your abuser used brainwashing steps to bring you under control. Then learn self mind-control to undo the brainwashing. It will take less time to recover than it took to become brainwashed. The brainwashing process took some time to take effect because the process was outside your realm of consciousness – you didn’t know it was happening and you couldn’t have guessed. Your abuser may not have known they were doing it either, but whether they knew or not doesn’t matter. They did it, and now you must undo it.

If you’re reading this because you know you’ve experienced brainwashing, then you’ve already conquered the first and hardest step: the awakening.1 If you’re reading this post because you think someone brainwashed your loved one, then you cannot do too much to help them until they experience their awakening and experience “A-HA!” moments of discovery, happiness, and hope (How To Help A Domestic Abuse Victim).

Heal From Brainwashing by Following a Formula

Dr. Michelle Toomey describes the awakening as complete alignment between thought and emotion. When I think of my awakening, I remember feeling that I was on a true path for the first time in years; I clearly heard my inner voice cheering as my brain and emotions worked together to put together the jigsaw puzzle I’d anguished over for two decades. I finally had all the pieces, and boy was I excited. But then, after I completed the jigsaw and the evil nature of my abuser appeared with picture perfect clarity, I couldn’t help but feel afraid. My thoughts (implanted during the brainwashing) that he was all-knowing and all-powerful flooded over me. I thought, How am I going to get out of this mess?!

1. End Your Isolation

The quickest way to overcome any fear you feel is to open up to a therapist, social network, online group, club, friends, or family members about anything. It would be best if you could start by talking about your abuse! But I know not everyone is ready for their first words to anyone to be, “Guess what?! My honey abuses me every fucking day! Want some coffee?” I get it. You can gain some confidence in yourself and your ideas merely by talking about the weather or last night’s game. But don’t put off telling a therapist, domestic violence support group or someone who you trust and can help you for long.

If you put it off, you will come to feel worse and worse from withholding your pain. You may even convince yourself that you don’t need to tell anyone that your partner abuses you at all because talking about the weather makes you feel so much better than you did before. If you start backing down, remind yourself that brainwashing causes you to doubt yourself and your ability to find help. Brainwashing requires isolation just as abuse requires silence. Removing yourself from isolation does not end the brainwashing by itself. You must gather around you people who know you are being abused and who serve as voices of reason in your brainwashed, surreal world. You won’t easily end the abuse if you don’t tell someone else what you’re facing (Attended Domestic Violence Support Groups).

If you would like some practice talking about your abuse before revealing it to your (soon-to-be) support network, you could share your abuse anonymously to a NDVH volunteer over the phone or as a story of abuse on this site or many others across the web. Even better, you could request a mentor from Verbal Abuse Journals and have someone who is on your side to encourage and support you.

2. Educate Yourself About All Types of Abuse

Knowledge is power you can use to rebuff your abuser’s attempts to degrade and humiliate you. You are less likely to feel bad about your abuser’s words and actions when you know that your abuser hurts you to maintain control over you – NOT because the insults are true.

Learn and understand as much about domestic violence and abuse as you can. You will soon be able to identify the types of verbal abuse your partner uses against you as they happen. This will enable you to somewhat detach from hurtful words and behaviors because you will know exactly when your abuser tries to hurt you. Learning about abuse enables you to combat brainwashed thoughts like, “This is normal” and “I did something wrong”.2

Learn what types of abuse are out there, what they look and sound like, and pay attention to how they make you feel. I started by learning about verbal abuse (which includes body language, too!). I feel that abuse of any other kind is nearly impossible without using verbal abuse. Crazy making activities like hiding your keys would be an exception to my rule. Find answers to questions like:

A common question is “Why does s/he abuse me?!” Don’t spend too much time researching answers to this question. Your natural empathy may convince you that your abuser deserves sympathy and that you can love them into mental health. Not so. Remind yourself that brainwashing and abuse distort the meaning of love. Right now (but not for long), you cannot trust “love” because brainwashing warped your perception of it – specifically when it comes to your abusive mate.

3. Accept Painful Thoughts and Anxieties

leave-fear-elliechavezphotographyYou will feel unpleasant emotions at times as you heal from brainwashing, deprogram your mind and exit your abuser’s world (Wilson). The truth hurts, especially after the trauma you’ve experienced during your abuse. You will prove false some of your coping thoughts (i.e. “She doesn’t mean to hurt me” and “He is sweet deep inside”).

As you come to accept that your abuser does intend to hurt you and their sweet face is their mask, you will experience fear – deep, agonizing fear of the person you love(d). If you have not found a therapist at this point, there is no better time than now.

Fear can be one of our most rational and irrational emotions. The fear felt by someone afraid of heights (falling can kill you) and someone afraid of a moth (moths cannot kill you) may be of exactly the same intensity and realness. However, one is more rational than the other. Did your abuser mean it when they said they would kill you? It’s a rational thought to protect yourself in case they did. It’s an irrational thought to plan how to hurt them before they can hurt you. A therapist or good domestic violence advocate can help you to deal with your fears in healthy, productive ways.

The one best stress reliever EVER for victims of abuse is to leave their abuser. You will find more peace than you can imagine without that idiot breathing down your neck. However, I know some of you aren’t ready to leave. Maybe you’ve already decided to stay forever. So, other ways to deal with stress and anxiety include as many possibilities as there are people in the world. Explore deep breathing techniques, proper medical care, good nutrition, meditation, walking, good music/movies, hypnosis for abuse victims and other methods to find what works for you. That last sentence sounds like every other sentence ever written about managing stress, but that’s because it is true.

This post gives you a lot of information on how to control your mind and heal from brainwashing. However, this isn’t the end of the story and we’ll explore how to heal from brainwashing further as time goes on.


1 Toomey, Michelle, PhD. “Breaking Free of Emotional Bondage.” Liberation Psychology, n.d. Web. 16 Jan. 2013.

2 Wilson, Lawrence, MD. “Hypnosis.” Dr. Lawrence Wilson, MD. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Jan. 2013.


  1. Excellent information to help women caught in a domestic abuse relationship.

    • My mom (single mother) was brainwashed 5 years ago by a man she met online. Its the most overwhelmingly sad thing Ive ever experienced.. she left 4 of us (kids) the youngest 17 and the eldest 27.. sold our family home, cut contact with every person she has ever known and moved abroad. Not a day goes by when I dont analyze the ‘what ifs’. The lives of my brothers, sister and I completely crumbled leaving us hugely scarred and deeply hurt. I have recently found out where she is living and I’m wondering if anyone has any experience of being able to help the brainwashed person come out of the midst? Everything Ive read online is really disheartening and if anyone can point me in the right direction to some methods or people who specialize in this area would be hugely appreciated. The man who brainwashed her worked for a mental health service and was forced to retire in 2006 due to major neglect in his hospitals.. this man knows how to manipulate and put the fear in people but i really don’t want him to win this war! I feel strong enough now to do whatever it takes to try get her back to us! Thanks for any help.

      • I cannot help but I wish you the best

      • You are doing the right thing on not giving up on your mother. She doesn’t know she was brainwashed and that she needs help. You are very courageous on opening up your mind on reality.

      • Met my abuser online, I feel brainwashed. Dating 2-3 years. Working my way back. Realizing this happened is first step.

      • Michele Hodges says:

        I did the similar thing, it wasn’t until he died, I thought I was free, then this new coworker reminds me of him and this Flood of hate, anger, fear just arose in me. I just started seeking how to deprogram this horrific trauma I willingly went through. I was ready to transfer or quit my job to avoid this person at work.

      • Anonymous says:

        I see ur post was a while ago but i was brainwashed and am only just now fully realising it. I wish it had been pointed out to me sooner by family or friends. Perhaps people say u should wait for the person to realise it from within but i would disagree. Maybe look up and list ways the brainwashing is happening to show your mother how it is happening as she surely doesnt see it. Use gentle and sensitive words to talk to her and be careful labelling like the word “brainwashing” as its very shameful for the person so they may impulsively run away from the topic. But do mention such words once shes hopefully become more receptive to what u say as the labels give ‘eurika moments’. Good luck and i hope this helped.

      • My father , male parent left me and my brother and mother 45 years ago . I am not aware of your full story . I was 17 brother 15. Mother 50 . Believe me we were left to a narc mother ( no pet name for our mother ) like most have ? . He had good reason to go. But it turns out that both are narc like and they were brought up in a religion that teaches creating problems like this to give thier followers something to do. I have had contact with him the whole time in sporatic like events . But, it only was a corralary to the my parents playing hide and seek with me and with no up front psychological conversational understanding of what’s going on. Leaving me a lifetime of total physical and psychological numb and dumbness incompetence much less competively employable. THIS LEADS ME TO A VERTIC THAT YOU SHOULD PERHAPS END FURTHER CURIOSITY OR FANCIFULL LIKE INTENT TO AIDE AND INDIVIDUAL THAT JUST PLAIN LEFT YOU AND FAMILY OF ORIGIN MEMBERS COLD DEAD AND GONE TO THE SAME . AND DO YOU COME IN CONTACT IT WOULD BE GRAYROCK LIKE AS IT IS SINCE SHE HAS BEEN GONE FOR AS LONG. YOUR LIVES ARE WHAT YOU NEED TO MAKE PRIORITY.

      • Look up Steve Hassan – he specializes in this stuff.

      • Link to his Amazon author profile:

      • Before you do anything, remember or realize that you cannot fix her or make her whole. You do not have the power to make her better. There is only one who has the power to make your mother whole, and that is Jesus Christ.
        I realize many people might be angry with me for saying that, but it is the truth. This is not religious propaganda; it is what I’ve found to be true through applying what He’s taught. He is the only one who has the power to make people whole, and I know He’s real because He has made ME whole.
        When people are abused or bad things happen, it’s easy to blame God and say, “why did this happen to me?” “If He really loves me, why did He allow this to happen? Why didn’t He stop it?” Or “Why didn’t He protect me?” Because God loves us, He has given us the ability to choose. He will not take away someone’s agency, even when they choose to do harm to others. He will not force them to do what is right, even though it makes Him sad when people choose to use their agency to harm others because of their own selfishness. I believe He does protect us more than we realize. Perhaps we’re protected from the full impact; perhaps were protected from something entirely. Whatever He does, He does for a reason, and with wisdom– though the reasons may be unclear. Perhaps He permits someone to be abused because He knows they can overcome it, and then they are able to help others in similar situations. As was the case with me. I’ve been bullied, abused, and sexually assaulted. (The latter was the most difficult to overcome because it left a deep emotional scar upon my soul & distorted my thinking.) All of these I have overcome, but I have not- and COULD NOT have- done it alone. The only way for me to heal, and overcome the past, was to let Him in. I had to let Him help me.

        That being said, there are several things you can do to help your mother.

        1. Make sure you’re a healthy and safe person yourself. Make sure you have firm boundaries in place (not strict, but firm). You cannot help someone else become healthy, if you yourself are not on solid ground. Also, healthy bounderies are a protection for you from your mother who is unhealthy and likely knows how to abuse and/or manipulate (Because of the brainwashing). Your first priority is to keep yourself safe.

        2. Study healthy behaviors, interactions, and how to be a safe person. One of the best ways to teach someone is to show them. If you are living in a healthy manner, you will be able to show her what “normal” really looks like.

        3. Help her connect to the outside world. Be her friend. Locate agencies or places that can help her overcome her abuse. Do not force information on her, or push her past what she is willing to do. Most of this is something she has to make a choice to do/ overcome.

        4. Show your mother you love her.
        This means showing her love the way she needs, gives and receives it (service, touch, time, words of affirmation, or gifts). Again, be her true friend, and make sure she knows you will be there no matter what. Choose to show her love no matter what as well. This means choosing to love her EVEN IF SHE HURTS YOU OR NEVER HEALS. You can protect yourself and still choose to be respectful.
        In order for love to be real, it has to be given with no strings and no conditions. To love her only if she’s going to change or get better has conditions, and is emotionally abusive. In your interactions, make sure you’re kind, gentle, patient, ect. If you’re not that way, work to become that way so it will be real.

        5. Accept where she is at. Remember all true healing takes time. Just as it takes time to heal a broken bone, it takes time to heal a broken spirit or a broken mind.

        6. Ask for help. Don’t try to tackle this on your own. Make sure you have your own support group, and stay connected to society. Bounce ideas off of/ council with friends, local leaders, and other people who are healthy (which you’re already doing). Let others take a turn helping your mother.

        7. Whether you’re religious or not, prayer is powerful. When you pray with real intent (mean it), and you believe your prayer will be answered, MIRACLES CAN HAPPEN. Again, not religious propaganda, but I have found this to really work. If you try it, you will find it’s true too. If you don’t feel comfortable praying, you can ask more religious friends to pray for you & for your mom.

        Best of luck to you (or rather, God bless you)! In helping you, I found what I needed to do to help my friends who’ve also been brainwashed. Funny how things work that way. Thank you for reaching out, so I could have the opportunity to serve you.

  2. Excellent and informative. Thank You

  3. Information about what the heck is going on when you are in an abusive relationship is invaluable…thank you. I suppose, the first step is realizing that as an abused victim, you did nothing to warrant the horrors for which the perpetrator reasons he can inflict. The second step is waking up and starting to read about the subject of domestic violence and/or toxic relationships. I’m sure that what is common to all victims of these types of abuse, is that we wake up, over time, realizing that nothing we do or say will change the abuser. You finally emerge from your isolation, exhausted from riding waves of incredible highs and horrific lows within the text-book cycle of abuse. The next stage, is realizing that if you stay, even if you are financially or otherwise dependent upon the abuser, staying can destroy you–both physically, emotionally, and mentally–it can also inflict irreparable damage to the well-being of your loved ones; i.e., your children. It’s time to get a plan. It is time to determine if you want to survive and if you want to survive, you have to act, one step at a time. Being forewarned is being forearmed and all of us can survive, if we just decide that enough is enough and plan our way out of the mess.

    • Wow I’m crying. ..what your saying is sooooooo true great advice!!!!!!! All I need to do now is put it into action …my abusive husband of 71/2 years asked me what he is to gain from keeping me from my family . Control of me is my answer.

  4. From spring 2000 to February 2004, I endured 3 and a half years of the worst physical, mental, spiritual, sexual, and emotional abuse at the hands of my tormentor. I could not seek medical attention for the many concussions, bruisings, and internal injuries I suffered. Long story short, when I came to the point at the start of another round of bad beatings, I knew somehow that if I stayed this one would be fatal. I got out with just my life. Diagnosed afterward with PTSD. I have low self esteem to this day, but I am a work in progress. There is healing to be found, therapy helps. Thank you for letting me share.

    • I’m so sorry that happened to you Joanna. Thank you for sharing. I want you to know that you’re not alone and it wasn’t your fault. There was nothing you did that caused you to deserve that mistreatment and abuse (nor would there ever be). I’m glad you’re alive. I hope you took legal action, and are doing what you need to to stay safe. I’m glad you’re seeking therapy and working through & overcoming the past. Soon you’ll be able to say you’re a survivor rather than a victim!!

  5. It is very difficult to talk to friends who don’t understand the deep psychological damage and who do not understand the cycle of abuse. “well, you’re not really the victim. He’s done this for years. All you had to do is leave.” It makes you feel misunderstood and stupid. It takes a special counselor who specializes in domestic violence to help you detangle your brain. But not every counselor works for you. I went to several who focused on meds and “daddy issues” and were not versed in sociopathy or gaslighting. Getting into the daddy issues right off the bat creates further damage as it makes the victim continue to feel it is her “fault” rather than focusing on the abuse itself first and treating the brutal PTSD that follows leaving an abusive relationship. Make sure you shop around. Even when you really don’t trust your feelings and your reality anymore after being gaslighted, it is important to trust how you feel about a therapist.

  6. Anonymous says:

    You are fantastic, thank you so much for this post!

  7. Susan Watts says:

    What if the emotional abuse is not from a spouse but from a sibling with whom you don’t live yet have to have contact because of certain situations? I can’t stop the cycle of hate in my mind, even when I try to sleep.

    • Susan, the cycle of hate running through your mind is called “rumination” and it can hurt the way you think – making the bad feelings worse, turning into depression/anxiety over time.

      I really like this article:

      As the hyperlink suggests, rumination is problem-solving gone wrong. If you look at your sibling’s behavior as the problem and plan what to do the next time you experience it, you’ll feel better and do less ruminating. Now, if your plan doesn’t work like you thought it would, don’t beat yourself up. Try something different the next time. Eventually you’ll hit on a solution that works for you.

      • send pics of you all, in happier times. I think it might give her a chance to remember what else is waiting for her and might spur the internal feeling she had then. The downside is she may feel humiliated or guilty of the life she is in. Also he may get mad and take it out on her. If there is a certain quick fix it is dangerous and could backfire but amounts to kidnapping her and taking her to a secluded place with a therapist awaiting. The reality is that if she is not fed up and seeing what is going on then you have no choice but to wait and pray. SO…………If you can make contact and tell her you understand its her life but that your all there and waiting for her to return with no judgement or care what the circumstances, she will have the non guilted acceptance to choose to come home. my prayers are with you.


        a past victim, medical professional, and sister of current victim

  8. Anonymous says:

    I thought it was helpful thanks.

    • Anonymous says:

      How can I leave if they surrounded me everywhere or tracking me always 🙁

      • The idea that they are tracking you always could be true. OR it could be a belief brought on by brainwashing. Either way, as soon as you get to a shelter, it doesn’t matter if they know where you are. You will be safe.

      • Keep looking for options. Something will open up. Dont be afraid. Have courage. Believe that one day you will get out or be rescued. I know it’s difficult to not be afraid, but that is how they have power. Do your best to not be afraid. Find ways to experience love or gratitude instead, even privately. It might seem impossible, at first, to find some way to feel love or be grateful, but if you find one thing everyday to be genuinely grateful for, it will chase away the fear in your heart.
        Also, pray to God for deliverance, if it’s safe (privately & internally if it’s not). He will hear your prayers.

  9. How do I help my daughter? She has been in an abuse relationship for 3yrs. I recently was awarded custody of her child because of domestic violence in the home. She is totally brainwashed. The transformation in her is indescribable. Example of behavior is she called me over 100 times and txt 60 times in a matter of 3 hrs because he needed money for some legal fees. He told her if I get in trouble it will be your fault.

    • Have hope!!! I rescued my daughter a year ago from a boyfriend that was abusive and had brainwashed her. It’s possible. I managed to follow him and get enough information about lies he was telling her. It took 10 close family and friends to help convince her but it
      worked. Don’t give up hope!

      • Hi. My daughter is being brainwashed and my grandaughter who is six. How can i stop and show her what is happening. Ive no contact as he haw got into her head that she doesn’t need us and we are bad people causing them harm. Im heartbroken he has caused so much damage with this and domestic abuse etc etc. Ive no idea of how it will end……..

  10. It feels like i just woke up from a dream of someone elses life after 12 years. I used to write his words down… i knew they were bad but his words became my words. it started with our first Christmas together. i was wrapping presents and doing a terrible job. he started laughing, said i didnt do anything right. i didnt cook right, didnt dress right, didnt wear make up. after that i became the bad welfare mother he would never take parenting advice from. The night he said that, i cried all night and he sat there and watched. The next morning i was exhausted, red eyed and swollen, i took the kids to school and came back and cried some more asking him why he thought so badly of me why he was with me. he told me he never said it. it didnt make sense to me, nothing made sense. i started seeing everything through his eyes. he attacked everyone i got close to and i started seeing them as a threat too. He told me, look at the way people are looking at you and I did. They were looking at me the way he was looking at me. I was sure of it. I stopped talking to people, i stopped talking to them
    mostly because I couldnt explain in my words what he was doing because i had his words in my head. Every time I left him, i was drowning in the misery of his lies. it is only now that I remembered the fear he put in me, how when I started talking to a friend I had isolated myself from, my heart beat out my chest when he found out and I never understood why. At one point i even called a friend to tell him not to post on my status because it would make him mad. I remember now, all of the words other people have said to me, you put up such a fascade… how do you do it? You’re in pain and you dont even act like it. You should be screaming at him, it’s your life… why aren’t you angry? I wasnt angry… i was confused. I was numb with grief. I was silently drowning. I could never understand how my friends could hold me while I cried but he couldn’t. That’s not true, he held me while I cried about the people i felt completely isolated from, asking me ,”Do you want me to beat them up for hurting you?” I literally had flashbacks about the things people would say, “What’s the matter with you?” I told you that you were bad? “why don’t you
    want to sit by me?” is there something wrong with me that you wouldn’t want to sit by me? All of which confirmed everything he said about me, that there was something wrong with me. I remember all of it, all of the nasty things he ever said to me, did to me and I wonder how long it will stay with me? I also wonder after I leave him when the numbness will come and then the pain, the drowning…I remember I used to watch and wait for his lips to thin out, tried to prevent it with everything i had inside of me because I knew what it meant. It meant that those bad words were coming but would it mean that this time he would ridicule me like a child, point his finger in my face like last time, what name would he call me this time. The worst part is that my daughter will grow up and find a man just like him and he’s gonna make her cry and he’s gonna steal her joy and her hope and she’s gonna wonder why she wants to die.
    i just wish he would have just hit me, atleast then I could have found the right words to explain what was happening to me. I tried to tell people but I didnt know
    how… i couldnt explain it… all i ever said was he was mean or he doesnt contribute… he’s bad with money…or he mistreats me financially because I was trying to make sense of it by looking at his actions but i never thought about the words. I remember when i would pray out in pain, I knew in my heart God was trying to tell me something. All I heard was, finish your book, finish it… what you are looking for are in the words.
    I remember when i first move to Texas, God was stronger. i would look at signs find words, put them in my book. And I heard God again. The words are every where.. now that i know and have found the right words… i want to shout it from the roof tops… I’m not crazy.

  11. Someone Who Cares says:

    Thank you all for the feedback/comments! To anyone in this situation – LEAVE. As soon as possible. Your flesh and blood are worth so much more than ANYTHING tangible on this EARTH. It can ALL be replaced! Everything – books, shirts, shoes, hats, EVERYTHING. What cannot be replaced is your life or mental health. I state this first hand, as I am re-triggered with PTSD each and every time the abuser walks into a room. You are strong, and deep down, you lost sight of that. Dig out those BIG girl shoes and hit the road Jack. No turning back. And, leave friends/family behind. Anyone who cannot support you 100% right now is OUT. They’ll talk (even if they say the won’t – they will) and risk your safety. Keep the plan to YOURSELF or a therapist who must abide by law. And, even then, in my case, that is not 100%. The abuser ended up CALLING the therapist and she almost blew it (had no idea into the intricacies of the situation). So be-aware- even legal ‘professionals’ can screw you over – If you take a Greyhound/Amtrak, attend medical appointments, the whole bit. I’ve had HIPPA rights violated by nurses who told the abuser confidential information. Research every website and read about how to cover your tracks. Trust me when I say, I’ve directly spoken to transit reps, as I plan the Escape, and they admit first hand to state you are in a DV situation. Even though, technically, no one is supposed to give out your personal information. Please, do yourself a favor and be as absolutely thorough as possible. You want to only do this ONCE. No repeats – no future offenders. Make this ESCAPE be your very last EVER. The WORLD is YOURS and no one can take that away from you. Keep to yourself, lay low, and enjoy success for your own sake. All the Best!

  12. I like this site, it’s told me everything I’ve told him about himself I just didn’t have a clinical name for the abuse. Thank You

  13. tony mcentire says:

    So true I was in relationship n marriage for over 18yrs n one child .and it has ruined my life n one day I will take my life because of it .so please listen to yourself others get out now while your able

  14. Most abusers are woman. It’s a fact… and I’ve watched an intelligent… fill grown MAN literally turn into a helpless baby over the past 6 years. He’s so far in denial I don’t think he’ll ever break free. His wife has him believing a child, born to her in 1993 is his…. they met in 1987, had one encounter then never saw each other again until 20 years later. The worst part? She actually told the child “oh yeah…..your father isn’t your real father…. this guy is” knowing it’s a lie.
    I spent 2 hours explaining to him that it is physically impossible and he just stared blankly at me the entire time.

    How can one UN brainwash those who are seemingly willful participants?

    • Most abusers, statistically, are not women. There are too many female abusers, just as there are too many male abusers. Abuse sucks all the way around.

      Your friend doesn’t understand what’s happening to him. Direct him to some brainwashing articles. There are great ones at

  15. Very helpfull but i have been brainwashed for 11 yrs… Left 1yr ago but i cant seem to be feeling free. How can i be myself again? I feel like my brain is not cooperating with me

    • It takes time. I’ve found that cognitive behavioral therapy works well for me. You can work with a therapist or purchase a CBT workbook at amazon. CBT works at changing your thoughts (in a way, you’re brainwashing yourself out of the brainwashing, but in a positive way).

  16. Love the information…and as the survivor of a dysfunctional family and an extremely verbally abusive relationship, I would just like to offer everyone out there a further word of extremely wary of and on the lookout for cults!..cults resemble your abuser and use mind control tactics in very subtle ways…you may be vulnerable to them while you are recovering from being brainwashed..

  17. Thank you i will look into that book and will sesrch for that therapy

  18. FLOWERJOY says:

    No one is worth dying for. That is what a friend said to me when I had made up my mind to take my own life because of my Ns degrading cruelty to me. Her words saved my life 5 yrs ago. Each day there is hope. If I didn’t have my trust that God loves me, mine would have finished me long ago.

    He threatened to kill me, put me in a loony asylum, he’s ok one minute and flies off the handle the next. Very scary to our children. Our older children girls 12,14 have guessed he’s lost track of reality and can’t wait to leave home. Our younger children, boys 7, 10, are so hurt by his thoughtfully cruel daggers of words. One life support is that we talk openly each day about what he does that is abnormal and we encourage and love each other through our traumas. They worry for me when they will leave me at home with him when they are older. Thank you for all the posts.

  19. I was brainwashed as a child….I never had a chance. I grew up in a horrible church and when I was a teenager I realized there were some wrong things about them but I had people I loved there so I stayed. Later, as relationships began to break down and I got old enough to realize what this place had been doing to me, I left and joined another church and then full-out converted to another religion that I knew 100% was right. I made that decision with my whole head and heart and I don’t regret it one little bit. But I’ve been out of the old church for at least five years I think, but I still dream that I’m back there (a HORRIBLE) feeling and I struggle with trusting and praying in my true faith even though I know differently. What I know in my head and what this residual whatever-it-is tells me are so different but I’m still paralyzed with fear that I know is wrong. How do I get over this?

    • Remember that I’m not a doctor, so my idea could be wrong. I suggest you talk to your doctor about this. That said, the nightmares and residual fear sounds like PTSD, and there is help for that through therapy and perhaps prescription medication. I highly suggest you mention these symptoms to your doctor.

      Changing faiths, even when it’s needed, is very stressful. That stress adds to your anxiety and fear. I imagine you think “I was in the wrong place the first time. How do I know I’m worshipping in the right place now?” If you do think that at times, just know that doubting yourself and your decisions is a side-effect of the abuse. If the doubt persists, follow your heart. Try a different church if it comes to that. Perhaps you could speak openly to your current religious leader, too.

      There are different ways you can work through fear on your own. One of them is to embolden yourself. My way may help you. Read Overcome Anxiety and Fear: Exorcise The Demon Meditation

      The second way is to take the “what-ifs” that present themselves to you in dreams/flashbacks/panics and answer them to the best of your ability. See Overcome the Effects of Abuse for help.

  20. Jane Spencer says:

    This is really helpful

  21. Anonymous says:

    we have a severe problem with this in west texas..

  22. 23 years ago my brother and his wife cut all ties to our mom and two sisters telling them that they weren’t allowed to see their children anymore. They never cut me off, but she threatened that she could do to me what she did to my mother! 4 years ago she left him, but he still has this “hate” and “anger” towards our mom and sisters that is totally unsubstantiated. And lately , I’ve been learning through talks with him, that he remembers our childhood all wrong. He seems to think that any and all abuse our mother handed out was aimed towards him when the opposite was true. He has always been her favourite son and was spoiled rotten. I’m not looking for pity, I’ve forgiven my mother for what she did, so I’m just clarifying. Kam got everything he wanted. I am a year older, so if anything made sense, I probably should have gotten some of what I wanted. I wanted to play trumpet in band, but mom said “We can’t afford it!” Same went for hockey. But when he wanted to play in the band, she ran out and spent $500 on an instrument. When he wanted to play hockey, she spent $1400 on equipment so he could have the best>
    Now he seems to remember that he was abused and never received anything good from mom. He’s also in total denial that his ex did anything wrong, even after she admitted that she cheated on him their entire marriage. He still thinks she loves him and gives her money after agreeing to let her tell the family court that she had full custody of the kids when she has never had any. Now he’s stuck paying alimony.
    My question is;
    When does it end?

  23. What do we as family members to help break the brainwashing? We recently discovered the man our daughter married was still married to someone else when he married her. We also learned they have been involved in a polyamorous relationship with two other women. We went and showed our daughter the divorce decree and told her we know about the lifestyle they were living. She spent one night in a hotel room with us, after speaking with his exwife and exgirlfriend. He texted her all night. The next day she decided to stay. Now he has convinced her we were lying to break up their marriage, that I have mentally abused her all her life, and they must protect my granddaughter from me. He’s 14 years older than her and she has very low self-esteem.

  24. I’ve been living with my abuser for the last 5 1/2 yrs. I’ve tried leaving several times…but every time I leave I end up homeless and loosing my job…my kids live three and a half hours away ..I really want to leave but I just don’t want to be homeless again.. And I’m not sure I can even do it alone…

  25. Exactly to the point as to what I experience d

  26. Jeanette Britton says:

    How do couples recover together?

  27. All makes sense, all resonates. It’s not a gender issue, the mother of my kids was a horror to me, and i left for the sake of my sanity. So it’s not just men who are control freaks. It’s people and the ideas they have. Entering someone else’s world of love is a dangerous thing but I’m a strong man, and truly I could never love a woman who requires my life and independence to facilitate her every dramatic whim. Because I’m a sincere enough and forgiving person, I hope, I can move on. I don’t think she knew what she was doing or maybe she did, she did study NIP and once commented ‘i’ve put a lot of work into you’ like i was a project or business model! Now I can’t see my kids because she and her family tried to effectively kill me off. I had to leave my home town just to find some peace, but I do feel isolated. In a way it’s good so I can restore my health, after ending up being sectioned 2 years ago. Sectioned! Driven nuts by drama after pointless drama. If anyone would like to talk, id love that, I’m just starting to get my connection with selg back but there’s a host of bs in there too, woven in over years, messing up my instincts. Anyway, thanks for opening up my mind to what I think happened to me, anymore help would be great.


    • Try looking up power and control wheels or visiting
      Also, you could look up articles on setting healthy boundaries, how to be a safe person (the one I found describes this safe and unsafe people do), psychological manipulation, healthy relationships/ friendships, ect. If you look at articles on how to be healthy, then you’ll more easily recognize when someone who is unhealthy (and often abusive) comes along.. and you can avoid them.

  28. hi all. the article was very interesting. I’m not really good at explaining something. But, My head feel dizzy now, to asking am I just brainwashing myself? I keep losing friend for last 3 years and I keep having negative thought after that. I keep having repeated memories and cry over it (even 3 years already passed). And, I found myself to isolate myself from this people and worry with what they will think about me. after that, I losing people trust and I keep suspecting people. I endup doesn’t trust nobody and isolate myself. I’m not fully isolate. I started avoiding people by changing my phone number and remove all my social media apps so I can stop thinking about what people think about me. But, Once I delete it, this mind keep torturing me with many question. As time goes by, my mind start to think that my family doesn’t really care me. especially my brother and sister. they never get in touch with me. I started to make believe they don’t really care at all. I need some advice. Am I just brainwashing myself? Thanks you.

    • I suppose you could be brainwashing yourself if you look at it as if your thoughts are the ‘enemy’ – which you seem to think they are. Negative thinking can become a habit, and we can tell ourselves horrible lies. I suggest you find a counselor, therapist, or at least a trusted doctor for a referral to a therapist. Anxiety can cause those worrisome thoughts as can depression. I can’t diagnose you, but I do suggest you see someone who can offer real help.

    • You could be mentally ill from what happened (and depression does count as a mental illness)… If you haven’t correctly processed through losing your friend, or going through therapy for it, & you keep worrying about it,
      That could make you sick.

      Anyway, I hope things get better soon!
      Try practicing letting go, or see a mental health professional.. they can help you better than I can. If you’re sick physically, you go to a doctor for a diagnoses and a treatment plan to recover; mental illness is the same. There should be no shame in seeking help or trying to understand what’s going on.

  29. I am a very healthy male who escaped from an 19 year, abusive marriage 24 years ago. It was verbally abusive and sexually abusive: at the end,it was physically abusive. We had 4 children, now adults and the first two sons were abused while the next two (one girl, one boy) were not. How can I help the two sons who do not understand or accept that their mother was so abusive to them as children but are now filled with anger, self-doubt, etc.?

  30. I was in an abusive relationship for 20 years, married 18 of them. We had three sons. I “awoke” in 2010 when my mother was dying. It jarred me into realizing life is short and I was not happy. I was miserable. So I divorced him. I tried to be fair in the divorce because I wanted to co-parent well and try to minimize damage to the kids. But what I didn’t realize is that divorce would not stop the abuse. He continued to abuse me using the kids as his weapon of choice. It was the only lever he had left to try to control me. Because they were teenage boys, the courts could not help me. It wasn’t about custody. It was the little nuances of when and where we switched houses. Him inviting them away from time with me with better offers. Him convincing them they should have a say in who they stayed with… and then making sure his house was cooler and had less rules, Etc. I read a book called The Verbally Abusive Relationship that explains abusers do not experience reality the same way as victims. Abusers get a high off the power of being abusive. It’s the only way they know to stay in control. When they feel they are losing control, they abuse to gain the upper hand. Victims operate in a different reality: we don’t want to fight. We try to defend and make amends to make everything better. But the abuser will only twist words and circumstances to keep the fight going. It took me years – even after leaving – to begin the understand this not only intellectually, but also emotionally. I feel I understand it now… but the toll has not only been on me. The boys are also victims. They were 14, 12 and 12 (twins) when we divorced. They are now 20, 18 and 18. From the beginning and ever since, my ex sabotaged their perceptions of me and my time with them. He convinced them he was the victim and I had hurt him. He told them he didn’t want the divorce and I was leaving “them.” He has essentially brainwashed them like he brainwashed me. They stay with him most of time when home from college, which they believe he is paying for when in reality they have student loans despite my relinquishing any spousal support so he’d put the money towards college. They say they love me, but their actions do not match the words. They treat me with disdain and rudeness. So although I escaped my abuser, I now have to live with the fact that he has brainwashed/is abusing my boys, and my boys are modeling abusive behavior too. Was it worth it? Yes. I say this with tears in my eyes. The only other option would have been death. Either via suicide or perhaps manifestation in a disease of some sort. I have to hope and pray my boys will somehow, someday awaken themselves. I know in my heart what a good mom I was and am. I am not an alcoholic, I don’t do drugs. I am well educated and raised my boys with good values and tried to instill in them a good work ethic and outlook on life. I am now engaged to an amazing supportive man who loves me. I am experiencing a healthy romantic love for the first time in my life and I promise you it is a beautiful thing. Of course we argue but it isn’t crazy making arguing and we make up constructively and lovingly. I rebooted my career after being a stay at home mom for 8 years. I was not greedy and did not spend years in court. I used honesty and grace as my North Star. My life is where I want it to be in every way except for with my kids.So I lost a lot. But I did not lose my life or my dignity. I can’t tell anyone else what to do. I can only say that I believe so many people suffer from this “invisible” abuse and perhaps we can find solace in the fact that we are not alone. Thank you for sharing all your stories. I hope mine resonates or helps in some way, even if only in common understanding and sympathy. Please don’t forget JOY. I hang onto the elements of JOY in my life like a life preserver. It’s the only way I can survive the sorrow over my boys. FIND JOY. It’s there I promise.

    • Thank you so much for sharing some of your inspiring story. I can tell that you are a woman of strength. I can only imagine the pain you feel around your sons. I am sorry his brainwashing reached them. Hopefully in time they will see the truth and change their ways like you did. All the best.

      Janet-Verbal Abuse Journals

  31. Thank you Janet. Probably the hardest part besides my kids was the sad fact that so many people do not recognize verbal and emotional abuse as something real or as serious as physical abuse. I lost so many friends because they simply didn’t (and don’t) believe me. They can’t imagine, and don’t want to imagine, that the man they consider their friend is a monster. It’s easier for them to doubt me. Blogs like yours help people like me feel heard and believed. So thank YOU.

    • You are very welcome. Often others do not believe because they do not see the abuse. Abusers will save their violence for an audience of one, the victim. With others doubting your words they, the abuser, are able to continue their abuse. Please know that you are not alone, we are here for you.


  32. Holly Robinson says:

    My story involves being subjected to mental, physical and sexual abuse at the hands of my boyfriend of 6 years. We have an 8-year old son together. He called me one night and asked me to meet him late at night to discuss visitation time. He has primary custody, despite his terrible temper and heavy abuse. That night he offered me a lemonade. I had no idea that he was planning to drug me with it, let alone what was next to come. Him and 67 other people raped me over the next 3.5 hours. I was sold for $20 per person. The local authorities were in his back pocket so most of the police force in both Longview and Kelso WA raped me for the next 5 hours after that. They filmed everything. They tased me, broke my nose, smashed my head on the dashboard of their car, tore me down, disfigured me, and that wasn’t even the worst kf it… They paid off a tremendous amount of people. They held my son and I hostage and sold us to 20-30 people every day. We were heavily brainwashed and deprived of food and water for says and days at a time, only tp be given small doses of food and water, but only after performing horrendously inhumane sexual acts. My story gets worse from here, and there’s no happy ending for me, either. It’s been 2 years since then and because of the corruption in the police department, courts, attorney’s offices, schools and more, there has been no help for us.

  33. Am trying to help my daughter nearly 6 years old recover from brainwashing associated with sexual abuse from her mother’s family. DHS is invol 23rd but has already assumed that I am merely seeking custody and that that no real abuse has taken place. Any resources for helping her to overcome the brainwashing to get her to not discuss the abuse with authorities would be most welcome. Her mother has convinced her that if she tells the authorities then I will not let her see her mother ever again.

  34. Phillip Torres says:

    My mom and dad have been mentally abusing me since the age of 10 I clearly remember them making me think I have something wrong with me and I’m crazy. This is a great article I’m still living with my parents and want to have liberation one day. Please send your prayers to me and my wife amy and my son as we live our lives around these abusers. I’m 25 years of age now and I know I’m worth something. I know they were wrong every time they said ” you can’t do this” well I can. I will. I’m done

  35. Thank you very much for your post i can really relate to it…may i take this opportunity to share my problem and ask for your advce ? My parents were brainwashed for several years even until now.They turned away from their true- faith-doctrines to an occultic faith of a particular cult group in our place .How can I get rid off my parents from that cult group?

    • That is out of my realm of expertise, Rudy. Although very similar to my experience (as abusers tend to make ‘cults’ of the family group), there is much more going on there so far as the number of people who will try to keep them entrenched in the cult. At least with family violence and abuse, once someone speaks up there are many people who can help them.

      Have you tried talking to the police in your area or perhaps inquiring about a support group for family members?

  36. The courts are continually making children live with abusers who are brainwashing children. I was wondering what kind of literature is out there to help our children live in this emotional abuse?

    • I always suggest educating the children about bullies when parents are under orders to say nothing disparaging about the other parent. The children will come to the realization that their parent is a bully, then an abuser. However, you could help your child identify and name the icky feelings that occur in abusive relationships. You can tell them it’s okay to talk about those feelings with you, even if their (mommy or daddy) caused them to feel that way.

      Leave the door open. Keep reminding them that it’s open. Talk about abuse at home.

    • The book titled, “Divorce Poison” helped me understand that while I shouldn’t disparage my ex to my kids, I also needed to defend myself by (a) not giving up ANY time with my boys, and (b) telling a different narrative (the truth) to them than what my ex was feeding them (cloaked insults and accusations). It is a VERY fine line I had to balance along as I raised three teenage boys. All the education about bullies which they had had in school and at home didn’t connect AT ALL because no child wants to see their parent as a bully. Even kids who are beaten by their parents often refuse to consider that parent a bully. This is about BRAINWASHING. The abusive parent is brainwashing the children to believe there is something wrong with you, just as he/she successfully brainwashed YOU into believing there was something wrong with you! You are an adult, and yet he succeeded. Imagine how much easier it must be for him to achieve this goal with young kids/his children? Imagine the abuser’s nefarious points cloaked in seemingly nice things. “You’re mom loves you, it’s not your fault she left us.” I didn’t leave “them.” I left HIM. And I was fighting to hold onto my parenting time, which he consistently chipped away at by inviting them off to more exciting things that conveniently occurred when it was my time with them. Yet by refusing to give that time up I was labeled “dramatic” and seen as the spoil sport. They didn’t have the emotional maturity to question why their dad floated these invites to them without first checking with me. They didn’t recognize the set up. To explain this to them would be to disparage my ex. So what did I do? I just stuck to my guns – usually – and said, “NO. Go do that with Dad on Dad’s time. That’s the agreement dad and I made. He needs to stick to it just like I do.” The kids were/are put in a horrible spot trying to understand who is telling the truth. But the only other option is letting the abuser’s truth become gospel, and then you are alienated, and the kids loose a parent. I figured it was better for them to wrestle with the truth than lose a parent. I opted for inserting my narrative at appropriate moments – to defend myself essentially – and focusing on being the best Mom I could possibly be and showing them tons of love and support.

  37. I just want to cry becouse I have not ever read something like this. I feel I can breath again . I’m a mother of 8 girls. And grandma of one girl. My story is mind blowing. And I’m a alive today and blessed . Me and all my girls r going through so much. And I pray I can wake up or pull my girls though what is happening . I feel like a lot of my anxieties have gone down and I want to learn so much more about this this has helped me more than probably anything I have bread I understand it very clearly it is and was my life..

  38. I think my sister is being abused and is definitely brainwashed; how do I help her? I don’t know what to do to intervene. He displays abusive body language and he makes her speak to people on speaker phone and he curses at her and then says that’s just how we communicate with each other. Please help me save my sister. I need advice…

    • Hi, My name is Janet and I work here at Verbal Abuse Journals. It does sound like your sister is being abused. I encourage you to be there for her, even if it just to listen, she will need that. Remind her who she is, that she is beautiful and smart and does not deserve this. She may be resistant at first to your comments or if you ask her about her relationship. She is probably afraid to admit what is going on. Let her know that you are there for her. When I was trying to leave my abusive marriage, my ex was very controlling over who I talked to as he was trying to isolate me to keep me weak. A friend and I came up with a “code” language where different colours meant different things. We would talk to through fb messenger and if I said, “Oh I am wearing a green shirt today” it meant that things were ok that day, that I was safe. It was a way to communicate, letting her know I was ok or I wasn’t and if my ex read the message he would have no idea so then I was safe. You may need to come up with a “sneaky but safe” way to communicate with her. I hope what I have said helps.

    • Visit

  39. Tawney Raines says:

    I just fled from domestic violence almost 3 months ago from an alcoholic. It started off with verbal abuse. My parents were witnesses to the verbal. Then he started drinking more and started getting more verbally and started getting physical. He has cut me, thrown me against the wall and threatened to kill me 6 times. Even pulled a gun on me.

  40. Taresh Dakhane says:

    I am feeling the same but feels can’t do any thing for this….

  41. I believe these people were changing the screen on my tv while I was watching movie tv shows etc and franklin police said there screens on their cars were changed

  42. I am in a relationship like what is described in what I have read so far. I am scared shitless I am afraid I have no one to talk to, that will listen, or even believe me. I have no job cause he told me to quit. Sometimes I feel my only option is to kill myself because I’m meaningless and worthless, I have had different types of abuse throughout my life and tried to kill myself at 15 I took 10 oxycotton and did not die. I should have taken more. I am 23 now and have been in this relationship for 8 years. I feel the only thing that stops me from killing myself sometimes is a piece of paper in my wallet I got from a fortune cookie that says “life is a gift, don’t waste it.”

    • I’m Brainwash by my husband 29year Whole marriage. I can not speak English before. Painful marriage. Mental harassment I never understood before but I’m now realised. long time my life has been a he’s slave
      Many years of sad experience Keeping in my heart.

      I’m sorry about the abuse you’re going through.
      Also, check into domestic violence shelters

    • @ Samantha Says
      The fact that God created you and loves you gives you worth beyond compare. I have been in an emotionally/psychologically abusive relationship and I understand why you feel the way you do. Believe me when I say that there is no way to think straight or rationally while you are with this abuser. You need to make careful and cautious plans to leave even if that means just going to a shelter. If you have even one family member or friend you can trust then get them involved in your escape. Do not confront your abuser or tell him you are leaving especially if he is physically abusive. The only thing worthless is your relationship with the abuser. Once you get away and can start to think clearer you will be able to live the life you should be living.

  43. Anonymous Al says:

    I am currently recovering from a severe brainwash that has made me question my life countless times. The abuser is stalking me on facebook, and has created a false facebook account in which they post reactions to each of my posts, belittling me. I am a pretty easy going dude, and have my faults, but this person is poking at them, making me believe I am a really bad person, calling me a sociopath, and a narcissist, etc. I’m 20 years old and am going to college and working, but the work has become very hard, because I always fall down a hole of serious self-deprication and doubt, believing what they said is true, and I go from being my funny outgiong laughable true self, to being a depressed, and sad person with anxiety. I had a rough upbringing, but over the past few years I feel that I’ve become a better person and have tried to move on, but at the same time, I was being brainwashed and didn’t know it. Its like the abuser is using my past as a weapon against me. I know I need to stop looking at the page, but its like their voice is in my head, and each post I make, I question every word, because i wonder how they will belittle me, and how they’ll attack me. I feel loke I can’t use my facebook anymore. I’ve tried blocking the page, but then I always find myself going back to it, and unblocking it, and then regretting it. I feel like I am recovering, and have had the “A-Ha” moments, but I still feel fatigue and depression. If anyone has any helpful words or insights to give me that would be awesome. My life is being destroyed because I keep living in a false reality created by this person. I don’t know what to do. Any advice would help. Thankyou.

  44. My husband told me he had an affair. None of it made any sense. He told her no until one day she made him believe that that is what he wanted. She would cry big tears and manipulate until he told her he loved her. She would tell him “you owe me!” Then, leave for months before reappearing. The end was her telling him “I’m your wife.” That was the point in which he told me. I grew up in domestic violence. I’m aware. I made him tell me every last detail. I know everything from how they had sex, when, where, and more. My conclusion was brainwashing and rape. Articles like this are so incredibly helpful in my recovery and his. Thank you.

  45. This is such good info..helped me so much.

  46. I was brainwashed 17 years ago I feel know my kids as Im a sinle mom Im being deprogramned Iwas shot up with drugs having 8 years off 12 clean and sober I never servered in military banch. My children was 13 14 18 as im the mom and dad a have been and still am the only parent they ever had Its very ugly and unhuman. I pray never ever happens to another humanbeen. Anonymous

  47. Anonymous says:

    i was not completely sure that this had happened to me, but over the past dew months i know that the brainwashing was real and it has been a long 2 years to admit and see it for what it really was. i have a few close friends that i talked to about my situation and it may have sounded crazy bit as i distanced myself i feel myself getting stronger, however i have some bad days that the fear comes back

  48. Lisa Smith says:

    I heard the words brain washed right after my abused now 16 years ago. However I was informed that I suffer from Stockholm syndrome a few months ago but don’t want to deal with it because it is my fault. I opened up to my therapist and then became numb up to now inside. I did not tell my therapist that I am now numb inside. Alot of times lately I think about returning to them because things are so hard and maybe it’s my fault. I blamed no one apart from me. I feel like a burden to society and that been abused might not be so bad compare to how my life is now. Sometimes I tell myself who am I fooling I should never have left.

  49. Spot on! This article is perfect. I experienced this from an abusive ex. He was deported back to Guatemala in 2017 after 15 years of this behavior. Even though I realized what he was doing when he was doing it, and it pissed me off, because he was insulting my intelligence, it took an entire year of some therapy, interaction with normal folk, lots of it, finally, true friendship and love from my new man. He weaned me off the resulting problems: pills, alcohol and general malaise, and dealing with day to day realization that although this individual persecuted me terribly, I can love again. Of course, Jesus and Mary, all the angels and saints, reading, healing, I am now a completely different person. I encourage people without a support network, the most vulnerable in society, to find a way out, stay out and LIVE. Life is beautiful, will have challenges, but, you can be happy again.

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