Editor's note: This is part 2 of a 3-part series on controlling and dominating spouses. Today's article discusses how actions of a such a spouse affect the family. To read part 1 (how to identify such a spouse) click here.

She wrote about how her husband’s control and domination affects her:

“I have almost zero self-esteem. I was a straight-A student in high school and graduated college with a 3.64 GPA. However, his constant criticism and questioning causes me to question everything I ever knew. I question my decision-making ability, my knowledge, and the reality of any of my gifts God gave me. I have no confidence in any area. I am constantly walking on eggshells around him. The whole family is afraid of setting off his anger.”

Suddenly, she stopped, “He just came home. Later!”

She was one of several people who responded to an online survey about controlling or dominating spouses. Though we know that women can dominate as well as men, and the survey was open to both genders, only women responded. They provided heart-breaking pictures into their lives.

In part one of this three-part series, we examined ways that one spouse dominates or controls the other. I presented that information with two goals. First, I hoped to demonstrate to those who feel controlled that they are not alone, and that they should not dismiss their frustrations as selfishness or misunderstanding. Second, I hoped to create awareness within the dominating spouse of how his/her actions affect the other.

Continuing with both of those goals, in this article we consider how the actions of the controlling or dominating spouse affect the other.

How Has Your Spouse’s Domination or Control Affected You?

The following is based on answers respondents gave to specific questions about control and domination. Their responses fell into the following categories.

Sense of Worthlessness

The quote that began this article identified this effect eloquently. However, several more spoke about how her spouse’s control destroyed her belief in herself.

One respondent said, “As a result of his controlling me, I have low self-esteem. I feel worthless. I have no value.”

Another wrote, “It’s as if I no longer exist. Therefore, I cannot do anything other than sacrifice my needs for what others want.”

Loss of Confidence

One woman said of her former spouse who had controlled her, “I had lost my self-confidence, my dignity, and my self-respect.”

Another wrote, “I now have an inability to make decisions. I live in fear of failure and being inadequate.”

Yet another said, “He completely squelched any individuality or autonomy I had. He crushed me as a person and as a Christian.”

Depression and Anxiety

One woman wrote about her former spouse’s controlling behavior, “I suffered severe depression. I even contemplated suicide. I became another person, very different from who I was before. I would feel nauseated when he called because of anxiety of knowing he would be yelling about something.”

Another confessed, “I internalized the stress. I think it would have killed me if I hadn’t gotten out. If I had died, my children (one is special needs) would've been stuck with him to raise them. I couldn’t let that happen, so I had to leave him before the tension destroyed me.”

Yet another said, “I am always feeling overwhelmed and depressed. I cry a lot.”