CrazyMaking: Domestic Abuse Intended To Cause Self-Doubt

Crazymaking throws you off-balance mentally or emotionally making you easier to control. Abusers carry out crazymaking in many ways. For example, s/he may say one thing and then swear they said the opposite or didn’t say it at all and claim that you are crazy, unbalanced, forgetful, out to get them, etc.

If you’re a victim of a crazymaking, you often feel lost, disconnected, unsure of your standing in the relationship and of yourself. You learn to doubt your perceptions because every time you say “The sky is blue” your abuser says, “The sky is green.” Over time, you become brainwashed enough to accept green skies! Crazymaking makes you feel like you are the crazy one.

crazymaking makes you feel like you're the crazy one

Crazymaking Behavior in Abusive Relationships

Both women and men could be abusers or victims, so please do not take my pronoun choices as an implication that one gender abuses and the other is victimized.

Crazymaking occurs when your partner tells you what he wants, but when you do it,

  • he claims that you didn’t do as he asked, or
  • he asks why you wasted you time doing that (the thing he asked you to do), or
  • pretends he didn’t ask you to do anything at all.

These same reactions apply to relationship requests. Maybe he asks you to meet him at the door after work so he feels welcomed home, but when you do, he tells you that you didn’t do it right or pushes you away mumbling “Get off me! What got into you?” And then, of course, he denies asking you to meet him at the door.

Crazymakers have two sets of rules. One set for you, a second set for him, and both sets of rules change on his whim. No matter what you do, there is no guarantee your abuser will react the same way twice.

Crazymaking people disrupt the peace with physical violence or intimidating behavior designed to scare you to the core. You never know for sure when he’ll erupt so anxiety becomes a big issue. Afterwards, his story does not match yours, but he insists his version is the truth so convincingly that you begin to think the events weren’t as bad as you remember.

Crazymakers use your moments of weakness to enact major relationship changes. After they’ve made the decision, they tell you that it was your idea in the first place so you have no reason to be upset. For example, my abuser went to get a vasectomy during the last of a series of miscarriages I experienced. He said that he thought I wanted him to do it so I wouldn’t have to go through the pain of losing more children.

Along those same lines, crazymaking people will make decisions that completely change your life together without your knowledge, and then pretend like they care about your feelings after the fact. My abuser re-joined the military (uprooting us and throwing us back into the military experience) without asking what I thought until after he’d made up his mind.

Crazymakers secretly collect evidence, eavesdrop and spy on you. They interpret your actions in a way that paints you in the worst possible light. You partly believe them because they’ve got the facts right (i.e. you did talk to the produce guy at the grocery store). You question yourself because the abuser is so convinced of your immorality (i.e. if it looked like I was flirting then I’d better stop acting that way).

Crazymakers point to an event in your personal history and tell you, repeatedly, that it has something to do with your current relationship problems with him. If you were raped when you were younger, your crazymaker may insist you hate men (so the problems in the relationship are your fault).

Crazymakers may twist your family’s past behavior into odd versions of the truth. For example, if your parents divorced and your father remarried the next year, your crazymaker says you’re just like your dad and will cheat on him in the end. It doesn’t matter that your father did not cheat on your mom during their marriage, the crazymaker will put the story together in their own way.

Crazymaking people never give you the straight truth. They run their words through a filter that ensures they can say you misunderstood them when you call them on their bullshit. Excuse me, when you call them on their lies.

In the same way, a crazymaker will behave in one way, but insist they feel another. They may act very angry but smile at you sweetly and say they’re not angry. Or, worse in my opinion, they act happy and carefree but glare at you and make you feel two inches tall without knowing why or receiving acknowledgement that they glared at you.

Crazymaking confuses, causes paranoia and makes you doubt your perceptions. Crazy makers do this on purpose because a weakened victim is easier to control.Crazymakers give you plenty of reasons to be upset, stressed out and angry, but tell you that you imagine drama where there is none and have no excuse to feel angry. The crazymaker may say you make mountains of molehills or are a drama queen, for example.

Crazymakers attempt to define who you are, what you’re doing, what you’re feeling, and what you’re thinking without asking you any questions. They assume to know you when the only person they know is their own selfish selves.

When you attempt to explain what you’re really doing, feeling or thinking, crazymaking people say you’re lying.

Crazymakers flip their mood on a whim. One second they’re sweet and kind, the next second they’re in a boiling rage. They blame you for their ugliness and credit themselves for their good behavior. Crazymaking people insist that you make them feel the way they’re feeling (usually when they’re feeling angry, sad, or another unpleasant emotion).

Crazymakers will rape you and then pretend they didn’t. Because of your intimate sexual relationship, you question your perception and think that maybe you misinterpreted the rape.

Crazymakers blame you for every bad thing in your relationship or their life. They rarely if ever take responsibility for their hurtful actions and words, and if they do take responsibility for something it’s because they’re trying to convince you that they love you.

When a crazymaking person is angry or embarrassed, they want you to be ashamed, cowering or somehow accepting the blame for how they feel.

Crazymakers try to warp your reality so you begin to feel insecure and indecisive. Constant labeling, lying, and intimidating behavior work to bully you into submissiveness.

Crazymaking people will pretend they didn’t agree to something they did. They will change the plans without telling you and then pretend the plans didn’t change. They blame you for items they misplace and say you’re out to get them, sabotage them, make them mad, etc.

Crazymakers use your intimate confessions against you, turning you inward on yourself and making you your own worst enemy. Self-doubt robs you of confidence. You may wonder if you are the abuser and the crazymaker is but a victim.

Crazymakers withdraw emotionally and/or physically from you by refusing to talk and offering no explanation for their abrupt shut-down.

Crazymaking people twist your words, dart from topic to topic during arguments, and use your confusion to wear you down during arguments.

Verbal Abuse And Crazymaking

The types of verbal abuse, taken together or even one or two at a time, constitute not only crazymaking, but the basis for every abusive relationship.

But you can stop the cycle. Abusers rely on you being in the dark about what they’re doing to you. So, if you can recognize abuse as it’s happening to you, you cannot be abused. Your feelings could be hurt (or your body could be hurt), but you’re no longer a victim. You’re a survivor.

Remember, recognizing crazymaking, verbal and domestic abuse is one of the most valuable skills you can develop. If you don’t recognize abuse when it happens, you cannot control your reaction to it. Download this worksheet to help you figure out how abuse happens to you.

crazy making and verbal abuse

See more on verbal abuse and how it causes crazymaking at Types of Verbal Abuse.


Gaslighting is very similar to crazymaking. Check out my article on called Gaslighters Seek To Destroy Your Sanity.


  1. Constance E. Day says:

    Ever so true. Keep up the good work.

  2. Eavesdropping: As I came in half frozen from spending 10 hours at a snow clearing job, I heard my wife say in a very clear voice, “Oh, he (me) is too stupid to know what I am doing to him.” She was on the phone with a life-long friend and her words stopped me in my tracks. I waited a day to cool down, then asked her about it over a Starbucks munchie. She said, “Oh did your hear that? I was only making a conversational joke. She knew I’d heard it – she said it very loud during her conversation that had been conducted in whispers and giggles up to that statement.

    I took many jobs to keep a roof over her head and food on the table while more than once settling for a slice of bread or two day old pizza between travelling from job to job. How is it that she can say I “willfully and with felonious intent set out to establish a pattern of spousal surveillance?”

    My wife has an extremely rare form of cerebral palsy. I run a 20 plow with 10 broken ribs (according to respirologist) and went through 3 bouts of bacterial meningitis, the third survived only with the help of my then pet wolf.

    Who is the abuser? Who is the abused?

    Anyone care to reply?

    • summermoon71 says:

      obviously she is abusing you-sorry for you going through that- no innocent person deserves that crap…no excuses

    • Male abuse by females is far more prevalent than is acknowledged! Us women need to take an honest look at ourselves and how we mentally and emotinally abuse men. Demasculation has become the accepted standard in society and it is wrong!

  3. I bought a football jersey and personalized it with my name and the number of a player I admired. My husband said nobody is going to know ho that person is, and he wouldn’t have done it that way. I said repeatedly I chose it for personal reasons and not because the number was retired, etc. Then when we get home he wants to know how much the jersey costs then it was a random purchase wasn’t it? Wasn’t it? He asked again like a was a kid he was trying to get to agree. I re-explained it wasn’t and that I had thought hard about it. Then he switched to how I would have to explain about it to people and how I was impatient about people “asking me things” I was like, what things? And he couldn’t come up with anything. Then I asked him what was his real concern about the jersey, wasn’t it the cost? Was that it? And he kept saying it was about me. And I told him should be more concerned about his road rage and then he lost it! If this isn’t crazy making, I don’t know what is. I am sick of this shit and I don’t know what to do. We have these kind of arguments all the time and I’m at wits end. He will not go to counseling either.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I think he is crazy n u are not alone but l have a boyfriend and he manipulates me l can’t do nothing right he took me to by a,car with mymoneys down payment and took it back cause l went home n it he wanted it parked n his yard and so he gave me my money back and took da car back n sais l could drive his truck a truck wi th h no heat n no backseat to put da kids in we all n da front but l drove it kept my money nsaid l dont have to worry about a note but see he wasnt even worried about a car he had three already n l.was walking my babies to school so when l said l wanted a car all of a,sudden he said he wanted one too l dont know he makes me doubt myself all the time ?

  5. Anonymous says:

    Why does all literature concerning the subject of abusive relationships remain so one sided? Everything I read is written from the point of view that it is men doing this to women. My ex-wife routinely engaged in this type of behavior and had learned it from her mother. Also, many of my friends are in or have been in the same type of relationship. When a man tries to discuss it, even with counsellors or knowledgeable people, you are automatically thought of as weak and typically invalidated. I am not weak by a long shot. I am a chemist and a scientist and actively try to prove my own opinions wrong- in order to strengthen them or to make sure that I am indeed correct. Just to be clear, I am not trying to invalidate what many women have gone through. What I am trying to do is to get the acknowledgement that this goes both ways.

    • You’re absolutely right, Anon. This subject will remain one-sided until more men report it, talk about it, and bring it to society’s attention. Society already views women as “the weaker sex” so it is easier for us to talk about being abused openly; it is understandable why “the weak” COULD be abused. The position of strength men hold in society makes it harder for their stories to be understood (and believed). I believe you, and I’m sure many women posting to this blog also believe you. It isn’t us women who discriminate against male victims/survivors of intimate partner violence.

    • Yes, a lot of women are abusers too.

      Usually, when the men are the abusers, it can get scarier at times, because they are taller and stronger. Still, being abused by a woman is as painful, unhealthy, damaging,… as when men do it. It might even be more shameful, in some cases, as men are “supposed to be” as per society standards, stronger? Tough in both cases I say.

      • Men who abuse women are more likely to murder them than are women who abuse men. Stronger, testosterone overreaction … whatever it is, men kill women more often than women kill men.

        For abused women, domestic violence is MORE LIKELY to result in death. It isn’t that women never kill the men they abuse, it is simply (extremely) less likely they will do so.

        Physically abused men exist, and the abuse physically hurts them as much as a big ol’ dude punching a little ol’ woman because women often use objects and/or the element of surprise to increase their damage potential.

      • I have been married for 23 years to my high school sweetheart. We had great times and of course very tough times. Over the years my wife’s behavior has changed dramatically. She went from having hyperthyroid to hypothyroid. She has been diagnosed with ADHD and borderline Bi-Polar Disorder. I have been through the spectrum of verbal, emotional and physical abuse. She has kicked me out in the middle of the street and drove off. She has driven towards me to “scare me” three different times, pinning my leg under the tire “accidentally” on one occasion. I cannot count the number of times I have coward while taking the hits or stood and listened to my failures and lack of accomplishments in life. I love my wife with all my heart and have always felt it was my responsibility to help her and to protect her, even from herself. However, I snapped, my tolerance has hit zero and I could not hear another name, insult or put-down without exploding. The light suddenly went on after another insult and I realized it was in the best interest of my children, my health and my relationship to leave the house. I walked out… I offered to help in any way possible, picking kids up etc… as well as financially. I would never abandon my family. So now I have been labeled the husband who abandoned my wife and kids. Everyone at our church, family and friends at football games all look from a distance. I am officially the “bad husband”. I have been gone for 10 month’s now. I have seen three different counselors with and without my wife. We have switched because each one has “taken my side” and “I have pulled the wool over their eyes”… She begs me for a divorce and swears that I don’t love her or want to be with her. I also “don’t ever try or make an effort” I only “do what the counselor says” and I “don’t take initiative to save our marriage”. Did I mention that I bought a thoughtful gift and a card for our Anniversary this year, yet I received nothing… not even a card… My relationship with my children is great and they do not blame me for removing myself from the situation. They have lived it with me and know everything… Through it all I know that I am blessed more than I deserve to be. I can only do what I believe is best for my children and myself. I put my faith and my life in Gods hands and know it will work out however he see’s fit and at this point in my life I can accept that.

    • Anonymous says:

      The author of the article provided a disclaimer regarding the stereotyping of genders and stated that crazymaking does NOT discriminate.

    • If you read the article you would have seen. It was Blatantly pointed out in the beginning. They weren’t pointing fingers at anyone gender and asked you not to get fixated on the pronouns used.

  6. I like the information here about broken promises, or denial of the promises ever being made. I have a spouse that is using every one of these tactics, and more than anything, I am ashamed that I have wasted so much of my time trying to psychoanalyze myself to make sure it wasn’t my flawed thinking. He is a liar, and is most likely a cheater as well. For the last 6 months he has left many hours unaccounted for, has been at places other than where he said he was, come home freshly showered, (and does not EVER go to the gym, so please don’t even suggest it). He has groomed himself in very odd ways, (personal grooming, after years of NEVER CARING ABOUT BEING SHAVED DOWN THERE), acted suddenly over protective of his phone..etc. He has lied about money, hours worked, claiming to have “fallen asleep in his truck when he didn’t come home until 10 pm..(he got out of work that day at 530 pm)…oh gawd, ad nauseum…Now suddenly he is being super attentive, playing with our 5year old son, etc. For months he claimed that he had “e.d.” as in, he can’t keep an erection. Now suddenly (since he “turned a new leaf”, he has erections every night! Amazing, isn’t it,? Lol. How about this: The stupid idiot is so ignorant that he thinks that I’m not smart enough to figure out that his “e.d” was just an overworked penis and that his bimbo just dumped him. Sorry if I sound bitter, people, I’m really not..I’ve just decided to quit trying to question my thinking when he’s the one who has destroyed our family, not me. And I’m not falling for any more of his lies…peace.

    • Same thing here! I wouldn’t let him touch me if I were you. He is getting his erections thinking of his time with another woman. After years together mine left and came back 4 months later. all the years we were together making love we had eye contact. He came back and couldn’t seem to get enough sex, but with eyes closed tight. He never looked at me anymore. It was only when I came up with a nasty infection that I realized he had been with someone else. I would leave him. He did it once, he will do it again. Mine did.

  7. Anonymous says:

    woman are amazing abusers, but just the idea of typing out what I went thru scares the shit out of me. and women are abusers in ways, that even just telling people about it, makes you look like a crazy person. this one woman, just kept telling me to lower my voice, no matter how low it was. I realized, eventually, because of how frustrating it felt, that she tapped into the idea that it both meant a lot to me to be heard, and also to be soft, and not be accused of screaming. I would squirm and squirm, trying to talk lower and lower, till I finally figured it out. the squirming was the point. just trying to make me as uncomfortable as possible. if I kept giving examples, eventually, I would just seem crazy myself. that’s what crazy making / gas lighting does, makes you nuts. but in a way, when people are like this, they need to know you are strong enough to see thru it and handle it. [abusers] are like demons, and they only respect other people who are comfortable with them in hell.

    • Wow, Anonymous. That is a perfect example of an abuser making you “small” while receiving pleasure from knowing you are uncomfortable. That is crazy-making at its best (or worst?). I agree that abusers are like demons. In my older writings I’ve called abuse the “abuse demon” because it seems to take hold of people and never leave. I hope you’re out of that relationship. I’m sorry that it is so difficult for males to receive validation when they talk about a woman who abused them. I believe you. I also believe the desire for manipulation and control is equal across both genders. I believe there are as many female abusers as there are male. However, men don’t talk about it due to society’s stigmas. I’m glad you opened up here.

      • My ex systematically trivialized or pathologized all my interests and attributes – classical music, reading a lot, my social skills and comfort, and finally my apparent happiness/cheerfulness. He almost had me convinced I was really stupid, uncultured and just a show-off wanting attention with my hobbies and interests. No, that was HIM – and his envy because he was so dull he had NO hobbies, interests, skills or talents. He was trying to snuff out my flame so I wouldn’t shine and trun me into a depressed, inert, dull zombie that was no longer a threat to him or show him up or outshine him.

  8. Feels alive says:

    So what do I do if I’m beginning to realize I’ve been manipulative and a crazy maker? I don’t feel as terrible as I know I should. I understand it’s not the way to go and I want to stop and make it right but this article is very accurate and missing something at the same time. It’s not that I act justified its that in the moment I actually feel justified or like I’m living in a desperate reality to make it feel right. My mom is a major crazy maker but I want to be better than who I am, how do I do it? How do I realize I’m making mistakes while I’m making them?

    Thank you!

    • Thank you for responding to the post. When I started to unlearn my abusive and crazymaking behaviors, I had to apologize to the people I hurt OFTEN.

      If you don’t catch yourself DURING the behavior, then apologizing and having a healthy conversation with the other(s) involved will help. Apologizing helps you recognize mistakes sooner, and eventually you’ll learn to recognize what you’re doing when you do it. After that, you can learn to NOT behave that way at all.

  9. Cassandra says:

    I called the hotline. They contacted agencies to have all my children removed from the home. The children who are teens are now not talking to me and are angry with me, because the authorities will not let them see me. My husband stopped all immediate support. I will probably lose my home as a result. I feel betrayed by telling anyone because there is no support out there if you tell. Confidentiality does not exist. The worker clearly told me and the rest the family that she was contacted by the agency I reached out to. They are angry at me as a result.
    It’s best not to get these agencies involved. They mean well BUT cause more harm than good. I am not going to pursue treatment now because I have to concentrate on where I am going to live. 50 years of my life to end up on the street and children gone. There is no good end to reporting to these agencies. They tell you to trust them, then what your husband doesn’t do to hurt you, they finish. You are by yourself in this matter. I have learned my lesson.

  10. no one special says:

    I was locked outside in the middle of the night for 4hrs. While being told he is the only one who loves me and is there for me. We had sex after he let me in ,then told me We needed time apart and I’m always negative and angry. That his life has no drama when I’m not in it.
    He’s letting me use his vehicle and says I’m ungrateful for all he does for me, if I have feelings about him hanging out with another woman until 2 in the morning.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Yes, i was destroyed, time to turn & strengthen the ‘brethren’, your information is uplifting. Thank-you!

  12. My husband is this omg….. :'( i have been telling him for yrs he is making me go crazy he does each one of these things i am on medication and i am becoming extremly violent w him now because i am not crazy. He pushes me to argue and then starts yrlling at me and then when he is sick of yelling je says why where you yelling… why did u start the fight and he will day i was mad about something that i wasnt. The o ly thkng i would be mad about is that i didnt yell… and i wasnt mad. Do i leave him. I do love him but when we fight this is exactly what he does to me everrry time

    • delery brown says:

      At first i thought i was paranoid. Or maybe i make it happen. But maybe i just have a knack for choosing mates who attempt to crumble me.
      This recent relationship of a year with a crazy maker includes misplacement of my eBay sales items. Missing just one boot that magically appears later. How about every right gardening glove. Gobe. For 6mo. Now retirned. Hmm. And just tbis week: every single spoon of regular size!! NONE!! We eat with the large round soup spoon or the tiny desert spoon now. Wtf!! And i know he knoes i know its him.
      What kind of ridiculous elementary game is this?!!! Im not smart enough to leave. Hes squatting here. He wont leave. But im smart enough to SEE.
      How far will he go? I dont really want to live playing tit for tat with an abusive dumba**
      Too bad though. Mr Average/Ugly.. had a beautiful, true hearted woman that loved him. Guess thats not what he really wants. He’d rather destroy something.

  13. You have no idea how helpful and empowering this article has been. I like this specific examples you give because they confirm what’s really happening. There’s much more I could say, but I will end with a Thank you.

  14. Yeah, your right about crazymakers, my boyfriend can go yo hell I’ve been with him for 5 years, & he slowly but surely started doing all almost all of the above, including I’m at fault or that I’m wrong for me being treated wrong before in the past before I even knew him, & that I’m the reason for them. He says he’s wrong for yelling at me & for having tempers & standing over me 1 to 2 inches away from my face, throwing things across the room, acting in a rage & but he still has the audacity to do it every time there’s a disagreement,I’ve been shopping at the mall or store a couple of times & he calls me & says where you at? What you doin?, who you with? I’ll say I’m in dressing room, or shopping, & hell say well if your with a man you better find a place to go to. I’ll be out with my mother shopping spending the day with her & he calls acting a bit of a fool, when I’m with my mother. He states that I’m the reason for why he acts this way. Or I say what is wrong with you, he’ll say “you”…….I say you are you own problem, I don’t make you anything, you (allow) yourself to get angry!

  15. Trapped in Manitoba says:

    I have been involved in a relationship with a Crazy Maker since 2010, and she moved in with me in 2012. At the time, I felt very sorry for her, as she had been on Disability since 2007. She is from a large Mennonite family and claimed extensive abuse. She also claimed abuse from her Ex, and that her two adult kids, a boy and a girl, used her.

    I realized too late – after she moved in of course – that she is suffering from extensive mental health issues. Yes, she is receiving Disability but due to documented mental health issues. Her control started out very subtle, and like a nice guy I immediately gave in because I felt sorry for her.

    The control now involves when I can use the bathroom, I have to ask permission to mow the lawn or wash the car or even vacuum the floors. Her two adult kids refuse to have anything to do with her, the last time they visited they said, right to her face, that she was a “manipulative, evil woman who is abusing her relationship”.

    Quite frankly, I have seriously considered suicide as the only way out. Whenever I express frustration, she calmly reminds me that she gets half the house and smirks. Even in the store, she is paranoid and claims that every woman in sight is “checking me out” and accuses me of looking at other women.

    She will even, in a loud voice in front of others at the store, say “well, I guess you sure don’t love me anymore”. I used to tuck my head down and cower when this behavior started, now I just don’t care anymore.

    I used to have nothing but sympathy and compassion for people who had mental health issues. Now, I feel they should all be locked up in mental health institutions. The damage they do to our society is beyond comprehension.

    It still feels totally surreal to me that I am so thoroughly controlled and trapped.

  16. I found these paragraphs very informing,know I can move foward with stopping his bullshit for real, he’s not siick and I’m not crazy.

  17. You just defined my relationship to a tee!!!

  18. Susan Geter says:

    Thank you I never knew what to call it. I knew what he was doing but gr8 would act like I was a drama queen when I told people what he was doing to me. He is currently in jail for DV.

  19. Susan Geter says:

    Everything finally makes so much sense. I am in shock I have so much to share but need to wrap my head around what I have discovered. As I read everyone’s comments I identify 28th everyone. I don’t feel there is much hope for change. You won’t change what you won’t acknowledge.

    • Super Frustrated says:

      I agree about not changing what you won’t acknowledge. I have been going through this with my now husband for 8 years. Early on he would call me an idiot or stupid and then minimize it by saying “it isn’t anything that I wouldn’t call myself” he stopped for a while but other abusive foul language would be said to me before hanging up in my face or making a scene in an area where I really couldn’t walk away. Every disagreement is my fault…every single one…when I’m normally responding or replying to his rude, mean, or condescending words. He grew up in a verbally abusive household raised by his mother, and says, “well she was verbally abusive to everyone else but me”. It doesn’t matter who it was towards, it shows that as a grown man 2nd marriage (with very similar feedback from the first wife) that you definitely picked up the same abusive ways. Instead of acknowledging the damage and the fact that it is abuse it’s always “what I’m doing or not doing” It’s crazy-making cause at the end of the day nothing ever gets resolved. According to him I’m the “problem maker” “or a person that love to fight” “love disharmony and discord”. What’s even more frustrating is I will tell him my thoughts or feelings or what my intent is, and he tells me “he knows me and that’s not what I was feeling or thinking” I don’t feel like there is hope for change either if its “all me every time”

What do you think? Tell us!