An “Appreciation” of Verbal and Emotional Abuse and the Dan-O-Gram

When Dan and I were still dating, I arranged a trip to a local tiger/big cat rescue compound which I’d visited before and volunteered at years prior. It’s a wonderful place that rescues abandoned and abused carnivores such as those from circuses, etc. I paid for the tour fees, drove there, made the reservations for this outing.

In “appreciation” of my efforts, I got from Dan a nasty insult -very thinly disguised as a “joke”. A COUPLE of them, in fact, during that outing. (insults disguised as “jokes” are classic abuser behavior)

While we were touring the compound, another visitor on the tour made the comment that the cats ought to be taught to say “thank you” when the keepers give them treats – which they often do on the tours to animate them and keep them interested and so people can see them better. The keeper lamented that “well, they have a fistful of ‘gimme’ and not much of a mouthful of ‘much obliged’!

Dan put his arm around me, smirked and said “That’s just like another kitty I know – YOU!“.

Excuse ME? YES, that was hurtful and of course when I complained later that that was a very hurtful thing to say I got…GUESS:

You’re too sensitive!” AND “Well you’re just humor-impaired!

BOTH of these comments are CLASSIC examples of things an abusive person commonly says to his/her victim. If you hear them – confront your abuser, and set some boundaries. Do not allow them to continue to behave this way towards you. 

During our relationship, Dan had “issues” with me “not showing appreciation” when he “did nice things” for me. Nice things I NEVER asked him to do and often could not reciprocate for ($$). I must have forgotten to say “thank you” a couple times when he paid for dinner or dates.  And, I treated us plenty of times myself – when I could afford it.

He ignored the fact that he neglected to say the same or show much appreciation for this trip, or the sometimes hundred or more dollars per month I spent for entertainment for us in order to win his approval in the “showing appreciation/reciprocation” department. He sometimes forgot to say “thank you” himself and interestingly enough, we NEVER discussed whether HE appreciated ME enough. That just wasn’t relevant to HIM.  Anyway no matter WHAT or HOW MUCH I did, spent, or whether I said “thank you” or NOT, it was NEVER, EVER enough to suit him.  I was still called names and complained to about how I didn’t reciprocate or “show appreciation”.

His favorite thing to call me in regards to this complaint was “spoiled brat with a princess syndrome“. (projection?).  In counseling later during a session where all this was brought up as issues in the relationship, he self-righteously snapped to the counsellor, “well, she IS getting better at showing a little appreciation – but she doles it out like it’s a precious commodity!

WRONG. What WAS getting doled out like a precious commodity was any acknowledgement from him for what I did do – paying for outings, dates, etc. – AND fawning whenever he did something nice for me, whether I asked him to or not.

MY behavior had changed – but HE was still abusing me over his complaints – and no matter how much I did or spent – it was NOT enough.

It was odd how the question of whether he appreciated ME never entered his mind.

SO – this was one of Dan’s verbal jabs/jokes that he hurled at me often, along with a lot of other derogatory, hostile commentary, criticisms, etc., all based on his ugly characterizations of me as a person. I finally saw them as projections and attempts at control.

The problem was, he wasn’t seeing me. He was looking in the mirror at himself, and thought he was seeing me. That’s what abusers DO — because they can’t face themselves. It’s called “projection”, and along with blame and justifying, these are key tactics abusers use to avoid having to recognize and change their OWN abusive behavior. They just blame someone ELSE for it. 

Now continuing on the story of our outing: Later in the tour, we passed an empty cage at the compound. Dan made the very self-satisfied comment that “they ought to put YOU in there naked and take your clothes away and let you growl at people when they go by!

Excuse ME?

YES, that was hurtful, hostile, and of course when I complained later that that was a very hurtful thing to say I got…GUESS:

You’re too sensitive!”  Once again, classic abuser language. If anyone EVER says this to you – RUN LIKE HELL away from that person. 

Um-hm…so there we go again. I must have heard that comment at least weekly.

Speaking of appreciation – this was the type of “appreciation” Dan was showing me for arranging, driving to, and paying for this wonderful trip for us, huh?  He showed HIS appreciation by verbally abusing me during and after the trip.  Odd how that never entered his mind. It never came up – whether he appreciated ME or things I did or efforts I made. That was apparently irrelevant in our relationship.

Dan liked to insult me in this manner all the time – call me names, make me the butt of jokes, make constant little hostile verbal jabs at me. Then, when I became angry with him because his abusive behavior hurt me – he complained that I was an “angry person”.  (thus the nasty remark about putting me in a cage naked so I could growl at people when they go by).

Of course Dan would always claim that he was just a sweet, little innocent bystander in the relationship who never did or said anything wrong or hurtful, and I was this angry, attacking animal who lashed out at him for NO reason.


So he was stabbing me with his verbal knives – then standing there complaining and insulting me because I’m emotionally bleeding.  This was beyond abuse. It’s downright cruelty.  He even tried to blame it on “PMS”. It wasn’t PMS (doesn’t run in my family). It was HIS verbal and emotional abuse and it HURT and made me angry – and that is a normal response to someone intentionally hurting you.

Dr. Irene has some interesting things on her site about the anger of abuse victims, as opposed to the anger of abusers. It’s worth reading.

The following week during our couples counseling session, the comments he’d made to me during our big cat rescue trip were brought up. The counselor stated HERSELF that she did not see how Dan could say things like this to anyone and expect it to NOT be hurtful or meant to hurt. The counselor ALSO said that there seemed to be a lot of “residual anger” and “hostility” in Dan’s jokes and comments toward me and that he appeared to be unable to address his anger directly so it was coming out at me as verbal abuse. Those were HER comments.

Dan’s response to all that? “Well, if SHE wasn’t so HYPERSENSITIVE!!” (blaming ME) And…”well I think you’re twisting things around! We need to use a different example!!!” (blaming the counselor).

By this time, myself and the counselor was ON to his verbal abuse and she confronted him with it directly. The VERY NEXT week, Dan told me and the counselor that we ought to end our relationship. I agreed.  It was a relief to do so!

The bottom line is this:

DAN REFUSED TO FACE up to or acknowledge his abusive behavior. He KNEW we would continue addressing that in upcoming counseling sessions. And he RAN LIKE HELL so that he wouldn’t have to face his nasty behavior — or the real reasons behind it. He blamed me. He blamed the counselor. He whined and justified, manipulated, blamed and projected and made excuses – and when all that didn’t work – then he RAN like hell – away from HIMSELF.

_ _ _ _ _

Now there’s a related story involved here too, about a conversation and an “Dan-O-gram” that got delivered to me via a mutual friend of ours on January 23rd 2007 – well after we’d split in December 2006:

Part of a conversation between Dan and a mutual friend of ours involved the same big cat rescue compound mentioned above. She had mentioned it as a cool place during their conversation at a party the day before she and I got together for a visit. Dan told her that I had been “very involved” with the place, blah blah.

Now, I DO support that organization but I wouldn’t say I was “very involved” with it, as it is at least a 50 minute drive away — so Dan’s claim is *way* overstated. That didn’t stop Dan from trying to use my involvement with the place to try to impress her though. Of course not. It’s the narcissistic thing to do. Narcissists are impeccably wreckless when it comes to impressing someone they want to impress. I should mention the very young GIRL was quite cute and Dan had been eyeing her while we were still dating – and made no secret of it.

Now, Dan’s mentioning me in regards to this big cat rescue place was meant to “get” at me – one last angry jab of abuse and attempted control.  I say that for several reasons, not least of which he knew that I knew he had the “hots” for her.  Also, he knew that this conversation would be relayed to me in the subsequent visit with our mutual friend the next day. He undoubtedly remembered keenly that the big cat place was where he made his LAST nasty, abusive comments to me which he was confronted with in our second-to-last counseling session — and that myself AND the counselor were ON to his abuse at that point.

Dan is in Mensa. Intellectually, he’s very keen so I know he was perfectly in control of the orchestration of this agenda with our cute mutual friend.  So, it’s undoubtable that this behavior on Dan’s part was an attempt at further manipulation and control – one last angry “jab” so-to-speak,  as retribution for having been called out on his abuse, finally.

And to cap all this, he THEN he subsequently made a “tell her I said Hello, she’ll probably make a face“, comment  – using HER as the messenger.

Now, I had explicitly and clearly stated I wanted NO CONTACT with him after we split. The counselor TOLD him he ought to honor that request. He hadn’t – of course – on several occasions. He’s too hostile, controlling, and angry to do that. Our friend, knowing none the better herself, of course delivered this message to me during our visit the next day after they’d spoken at the party.

So – that’s the the rather nasty Dan-O-Gram delivered to me on January 23rd via our mutual friend, and a little about that good old “appreciation” (or lack thereof) that Dan liked to harp on – mostly how little he had for me – something that was never mentioned in the entire four plus years we dated.  When there was talk of appreciation (or lack of it) – it was always about him.

In the interest of NO Contact (highly recommended after ending a relationship with an abuser) – I did not respond to these hostile jabs and attempts at control Dan sent to me via our friend.  I simply laughed and said: “Oh really!” and left it at that.

_ _ _ _ _

There’s a lesson here for all who are finally “out” and away from their abusers


When abusers continue attempting manipulation and control once the relationship has ended – the best response is NO response, or a simply inocuous one like “Oh really?” which gives the chosen messenger nothing to deliver back that can be used against you. 

This isn’t easy to do – but you MUST NOT respond to an abuser’s attempts to “get a rise” out of you or to control you once you are out of his/her arena and out of his/her life.

Do NOT go back there with him/her no matter what (s)he does or what sneaky methods (s)he chooses to manipulate you.  This person is poison! AVOID any interaction with the abuser if you possibly can – whether directly or indirectly.  Don’t give them ANYTHING they can use to further control or manipulate you with – because they will continue if you let them.

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