When an abuser denies an incident immediately after it happens, he can set his partner’s head spinning. Picture a woman who arises in the morning with her stomach still tied in a knot from an ugly blowout the night before. Her partner makes a face at her in the kitchen and says, “Why are you so grumpy today?”
She replies, “Why the hell do you think? You called me ‘loser’ right in front of the children, and then you yanked my towel off so they would laugh at me. Am I supposed to come down the stairs whistling a happy tune?”
"What are you talking about?" he gasps. "You’re a fucking drama junkie. I was clear across the room from you when your towel fell off. You’re going to blame that on me? You’re nuts." And he walks off shaking his head.
A woman can feel that she is losing her mind—or develop actual psychiatric symptoms—if the obvious realities of her life, including abuse, are denied repeatedly by her partner. The certainty and authority in his voice, with his eye twisted up to show how baffled he is, leave her questioning herself. “Did that really happen? Maybe it didn’t. Maybe I do overreact to innocent things.” The more serious the incidents he denies, the more her grip on reality can start to slip. And if outsiders start to notice her instability, the abuser can use their observations to persuade them that her revelations of abuse by him are fantasies."