I was in a verbally/emotionally abusive relationship for 7 years... I actually wrote an essay about it, which I hope to publish some day.
He had a damaged childhood and insecurity issues that he took out on me. Now that 6 years have passed, I can see why he was doing that to me. He wanted me to feel that I was worthless so that I would always stay with him and not want any better for myself. His behavior stemmed from his insecurities. He didn't think he was good enough and wanted me to feel the same way so that he wouldn't have to be alone.
My aha moment was not the result of a screaming match or a bad fight. It was actually on a pretty happy evening. He had just become a Freemason. He came home, and I had just gotten home myself and we met in the driveway. It was a quiet moment, and somehow, I realized at that very moment that he had come a long way in his career and personal accomplishments. Me, I didn't grow as a person because he didn't allow me to go and experience life. He had jumped light years ahead of me as a person, and I had gone nowhere... just sitting in the shadows, following all his "rules". It was that moment when I realized that we didn't need each other. He could find his own happiness.
I think I always stayed because I felt guilty. He didn't have anyone else, and when we tried to break up numerous times in the past, he would just cry and say he was really sorry, and that he needed me. I left when I realized, even before he did, that he didn't need me to be happy... that path was up to him. And I realized that for myself too.
To anyone in this situation: You need to know that it's not your fault. After years of being beaten down emotionally, it feels scary to be on your own. His behavior made you that way, made you dependent on his abuse because that has become "normal" through the years. And staying with someone out of guilt or fear is no way to live. I wish I could get those 7 unhappy years back but I can't. Get out as soon as possible. Tell yourself that you're worth it and that you deserve to be happy every single day. Hopefully, you'll find the courage to walk out of the situation.