To say dv is often carried out by people who are 'charm personified'

(165 Posts)
notnagging Thu 14-Feb-13 13:52:19

Just got me thinking. I know people who's partners seem lovely to the outside world but are monsters behind closed doors. That's the whole point. When something does happen people don't believe it.

Pandemoniaa Thu 14-Feb-13 14:27:19

From my experience (although thankfully not personally) quite a few emotional and physical abusers rely on the fact that their outwardly pleasant and charming behaviour can make it exceedingly difficult for their partners to be believed when the truth comes out.

notnagging Thu 14-Feb-13 14:29:27

Exactly pandamonia. Another way of making their victim feel helplesssad

gordyslovesheep Thu 14-Feb-13 14:33:01

well yes - if they went around with 'I am an abusive shit' tattooed on their heads it would make life harder for them - of course they tend to hide it!

slatternlymother Thu 14-Feb-13 14:33:28

I think you're right.

DH has always had a bit of a 'sixth sense' for it, as his own father beat him and his mother mercilessly sad

He says there are little things he picks up on which give him shivers down his spine in some people.

AnneNonimous Thu 14-Feb-13 14:35:39

I think you're right yes,

My ex is extremely popular with colleagues and friends, everyone comments how 'charming' he is. Behind closed doors he had me absolutely terrified.

theindecisive Thu 14-Feb-13 14:36:42

I guess it is true of all abusers - paedophiles often actively seek out highly respectable roles.
What things is it your DH picks up on slatternly?

Samu2 Thu 14-Feb-13 14:40:56


My dad is a sociopath. People love him. He is a monster but that man oozes charm and kindness when he needs to.

GingerPCatt Thu 14-Feb-13 14:42:07

In the book psychopath test the author mentions that psychopaths are usually charming at least on the surface.

corlan Thu 14-Feb-13 14:53:16

It was true of my XP.

If I hadn't been on the receiving end of his violence for years, I'd find it hard to believe myself.
Probably part of the reason I stayed so long - he was lovely when he wasn't knocking me around sad

adeucalione Thu 14-Feb-13 14:59:11

I was going to say that same thing about the Jon Ronson book Ginger. I struggled to sleep after reading some of those statistics!

Dahlen Thu 14-Feb-13 15:06:01

I'd say there are two distinct types of abuser.

There are those who tend to throw their abuse round pretty indiscriminately and are known for being violent generally (which they seem to wear as a badge of pride in some cases). These are often the sorts who move in social circles where abuse of women is to some extent normalised because violence itself is normalised. If you haven't had the misfortune to grow up in a family/community where this behaviour is normalised, these types stand out a mile.

At the other end is the charming abuser, like the OP describes and these are far more dangerous - not least because when it comes to leaving them they are very good at playing the victim and painting the abused as unstable. These are the ones who might make a play for residency - usually knowing they won't get it and only with the intention to show that they 'fought hard to see my kids' because for these types their outward image is everything. A woman mad enough to leave them has to be shown to be an irrational bitch who 'plays games with the children'. There are little tell-tale signs with these sorts of abusers, but you have to know what they are and you have to look at them as an overall pattern rather than isolated incidents, all of which can be explained away very easily on their own merits.

There are some people who make my blood run cold. I've never been wrong yet. Even though on the surface they were charming - it's something behind the eyes, some sort of a disconnect I think I sense.

Corygal Thu 14-Feb-13 15:10:09

Well, it would make sense wouldn't it. Charm both lures people in and conceals the damage when dv begins - I'd say it's an essential quality of the successful abuser.

LetsFaceTheMusicAndDance Thu 14-Feb-13 15:21:42

Slatternly My DH is exactly the same. And he is invariably right. It's something in the eyes, he says, and the way they are in space - there seems to be extra space around them, in a warning/predatory way. He can't explain the space thing very well and I don't always like to ask him.

Dahlen Thu 14-Feb-13 15:22:06

All of the following mean nothing by themselves, and some can actually be considered plus points in isolation, but together they suggest a man who thinks he has the right to put his own wants, needs and behaviour before his DPs.

• Mildly sexist, sometimes even chivalrous-sounding, comments about women. The downside of treating women as princesses is that they are less than human. Obviously, full-on sexism speaks for itself.

* Any comments about women who have 'brought it on themselves' or 'six of one and half a dozen of the other' or 'she provoked him' regarding rape or abuse of any sort.

• Strong judgements of other people's failings, quite often compared to what he would do which is so much better.

• No incidences in the past where he has been at fault. It's always someone else's, however, plausible that sounds. No one is ever truly blameless for everything that happens in their life.

• A history of past girlfriends/wives who have treated him badly/ripped him off/had an affair/MH problems/wont' let him see the children/turned his friends on him, etc. Bonus points if he manages to do this without resorting to name-calling as it will make him sound oh, so reasonable in the face of terrible provocation.

• Firm views on the 'right' way to live your life, e.g. traditional married family with male breadwinner. Nothing wrong with this, of course, but unwillingness to accept that alternative models work well for other people show a narrowmindedness and inflexibility that will undoubtedly be applied to his partner should they ever disagree on something.

• Tendency to be dismissive and disdainful, even if polite, towards waitresses, shop staff or anyone perceived to be 'lesser'.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 14-Feb-13 15:26:54

I often point people on the Relationship board towards this article entitled 'Are you dating an abuser'? A lot of your early warning signs Dahlen are in it.

Cherriesarelovely Thu 14-Feb-13 15:33:45

That's what my DP says OP. She tells meoften how her own abusive father was a charming, brilliant, hugely well regarded figure in their community. Noone would have believed the way he behaved behind
closed doors. She also feels she has a sixth sense for others like him.

notnagging Thu 14-Feb-13 15:35:27

There are some things you see people do like lose their temper but regain themselves when in public that you think hmm they wouldn't be composing themselves if no one was looking. It's true the eyes are a big giveaway.

maddening Thu 14-Feb-13 15:37:37

My ex was alcoholic, narcissistic and abusive (prob not the worst but emotionally and physically abusive) but he has tons of charm - probably not only the reason that those outside don't know but also the reason they can talk themselves back in after a dv incident - when you're feeling at your lowest after it's been bad then he is the one charming his way back in.

YANBU at all.

porridgeLover Thu 14-Feb-13 15:41:44

I was reading this old thread this morning.

The article linked on it talks about the differences between 'niceness' and 'goodness'. It's very illuminating IMO.
Street angels, house devils.

RoseGarden123 Thu 14-Feb-13 15:43:13

No not at all!
My ex DP could be as nasty as hell behind closed doors but everyone else thought he was wonderful - half the reason he was able to have 'control' over me for such a period of time, as I just thought maybe I misunderstood him or I caused it when everyone else said how wonderful he was!
funny what others say about 'eyes' my best friend always would say to me he never smiled with his eyes, they were always hard and she was the only one who saw him for his true nature.
I think charm is all part of the manipulation and control elements of the personality od someone who will commit DV!

Merl0t Thu 14-Feb-13 15:45:40

My x was not charming but he was so respectable, confident, normal.... i had to face him in court rrecently an i knew my solicitor doubted that he had been abusive to me. he was suited, booted and chatting to fellow professionals (solicitors). i was the single mother on benefits and was portrayed as grasping and entitled and a liar by his solicitor. my own said he didnt want to put me in front of the judge.....

Merl0t Thu 14-Feb-13 15:51:25

I believe my x has forgotten his abuse. i am so worthless that he'd be as likely to remember stepping on a snail. abusing me was so mundane. he knocked down doors to get ar me, left bruises on my cheek, took a clymp out of my hair, hurt my eye and neck, took a power drill into spare room to take apart spare bed! he also put his hands around my neck and told me i had no idea how badly he wanted to kill me. he threw my phone in the toilet once when i finally tried to ring for help..... but he was courteous to lical shop keepers, neighbours, colleagues....

Adversecamber Thu 14-Feb-13 15:53:24

My ex was not charming he actually came across as a little introverted. He has a very respectable job and travels internationally with work and has plenty of money. Behind closed doors he could be a monster with his fists and emotional cruelty and threats,such as I could kill you now if I wanted to.

I think people assuming an abuser will be some uneducated knuckle dragger is incredibly dangerous.

BertieBotts Thu 14-Feb-13 15:54:34

There are little red flags... you notice them after a while.

Another one is someone who has a very jokey kind of attitude, everything is a laugh, don't take yourself TOO seriously kind of thing, because that enables them to laugh stuff off as "a joke" and claim you have no sense of humour if you question them.

Merl0t Thu 14-Feb-13 15:54:43

I believe i have that 6th sense too. i never worry that i will end up with another man like that.

Merl0t Thu 14-Feb-13 15:57:17

Adverscamber, sounds like my x. i dont know why he was so angry. he was clever, wwell educated, hadva good job. he also came across as being introverted (buut decent and normal so i thought at first).

BertieBotts Thu 14-Feb-13 15:57:28

I worry, or at least I would if I wasn't happy with DP, because although I can spot them I tend to find them very attractive, and I can't say why.

Merl0t Thu 14-Feb-13 16:03:41

Dahlen, now, if i hear someone commit one of those "infractions" i will be on tenterhooks then. one off? am i judging too quickly? too harshly!? and then invariably if my radar is bleeping ill hear another comment that gives me the chill; the confirmation my sixth sense hadnt let me down.

tipp2chicago Thu 14-Feb-13 16:06:11

Wow Dahlen, my boss has every one of the traits you describe. Interesting.

Merl0t Thu 14-Feb-13 16:07:13

Bertie maybe you want to do it again but with a different ending this time.
this time, the abuser listens to reason and sees your pov, and acknowledges he's abused you, says sorry and means it.

i think i play around with that in my head. but it will never happen. i dont speak to my x now. at all. ever.

littlemisssarcastic Thu 14-Feb-13 16:26:52

Oh yes, relate to abusers making everything out to be a joke. Doing horrible things to a woman, then saying it was just a joke.
Makes you feel like you have lost your SOH if you fail to see the joke.

It was only a joke, don't get so upset, haven't you got a sense of humour.

BertieBotts Thu 14-Feb-13 16:29:37

No not at all. I tend to be very aware within a short time of why I wouldn't want to be in a relationship with them, but they're still very sexually attractive to me. Perhaps it's something to do with my ex, I don't know. Maybe I'm just sex-starved at the moment and finding anyone attractive grin I haven't seen DP since Christmas.

Dahlen Thu 14-Feb-13 16:36:58

Bertie, I read somewhere that those feelings of attraction are because your brain has confused the physical symptoms of fear with the physical symptoms of excitement - both of which are very similar. Basically, when you meet another abuser you are picking up on the signals he gives out. That's awakening feelings of fearing your subconscious which your conscious brain is interpreting as sexual attraction. It is possible to break that association through CBT or counselling, but just being aware of what's happening and rationalising it every time it happens can often do the trick as well.

RedHotRudieParts Thu 14-Feb-13 16:40:51

Oh yes, I can spot them a mile off and have never been wrong yet << polishes badge>> My sisters 'salt of the earth, popular, hardworking type ' ex was an abusive bastard behind closed doors, everyone in my family thought he was great and couldn't understand my attitude.......until dsis left that is. Funny thing is they struggle with my dp who is a grumpy bastard but I love him pretty quiet hmm

Ddi is currently banned from her best friends house after I met his nannies new partner ( he lives with his nan ) the man gave me a feeling best described as roaches crawling down my spine........of course he's a lovely man who things her dgs Will no longer have sn if they treat him as a normal kid wants to raise her dgs as his own hmm

He's already isolated one of her dds after he sent her a nasty letter about her kids, of course he was only upset about the effect their bickering had on his future wife hmm

bottleofbeer Thu 14-Feb-13 16:49:04

Yep, my sister's ex. He's Mr happy jolly great fun. Behind closed doors he beat her senseless.

It started as soon as she got pregnant.

His eyes are completely dead though, even when he's playing silly buggers and being fun fun fun! his eyes never match his outward demeanour.

Sunnywithshowers Thu 14-Feb-13 16:51:36

My F emotionally abused my mother and, again, comes across as a lovely bloke. He did a good job of convincing people that he was the rational one. He's now a born again Christian, who apparently sees no dissonance between his treatment of my DM and us, and Christian values.

Definitely. My SF used to beat my mother but was 'good old cheery A' to everyone who knew him. Right now he's being EA to my mother which she doesn't recognise as abuse.

My GF used to beat my mother and siblings, have affairs and was financially abusive. He's incredibly jolly but the mask slips when he's talking about certain things. He is not a nice man.

After a number of dodgy relationships myself I can sometimes sense when a 'seemingly nice' man is a ball of rage underneath. I keep the fuck away.

His eyes are completely dead though, even when he's playing silly buggers and being fun fun fun! his eyes never match his outward demeanour

I know someone like this bottleofbeer. If ever the subject of domestic violence comes up DH and I always mention him. He hasn't been married very long. I do wonder if and when this 'dead' side of him might come out and what it might do sad He is never wrong and knows everything about raising children in the 'correct' manner, dispute having none of his own.

Rooneyisalwaysmoaning Thu 14-Feb-13 17:09:29

I know what you mean OP. I'm sure there are people I'd never suspect but sometimes you just get a hmm feeling about someone.

There was a chap at a school years ago, where ds used to go, and he was a dad of a boy in our class. One time he marched over to our car in the car park to ask if my son had beaten up his son, or something like that - no evidence, just some crossed wires I think (ds hadn't - he]s never hit anyone apart from his brother!) and the way he did it - trailing his tiny wife - 'me and my wife' rt of thing. She did not speak a word.

He always came to school alone or with her and she was always silent when she was there. And he played the happy interested father, staying behind every afternoon to conspiculously play kick around football with his son. So everyone could see what a great dad he was, it was all about him.

I never saw her again. I used to wonder if he forced her to stay at home so he could be in charge of everything. I had no reason to think he was an abusive wanker, I just really couldn't shake that feeling

My friend just took up with a bloke as well, and I had a feeling he would be trouble, no reason really - and then I asked why his last relationship ended and she said he told her his ex had beaten him, locked him in a room and set his house on fire.
Immediately I thought, right you are. And lo and behold he's started being aggressive to her. They are weeks into it, she's pg, I feel like I should have said something.

PretzelTime Thu 14-Feb-13 17:10:31

I have known so many guys like that! It's scary since they're so social and charming people will think of them as good and friendly and will often take their side even if they do/say something obviously bad in front of others. They refuse to see it, because he is such a nice guy! Combine that with a victim who is less charming and social than him. Often extra quiet because the abuse is affecting her.

bottleofbeer Thu 14-Feb-13 17:14:07

Strange isn't it?

For the first couple of years they were together they were happy as Larry (or at least we thought they were, I'm sure there were red flags that were just never picked up on) but they also lives hundreds of miles away. As soon as she got pregnant he started cheating on her and hitting her. I believe it's often a trigger with abusive men.

Her second child was born by emcs at 30 weeks, as my sister lay in recovery alarms started beeping, they'd cut into an artery and she was bleeding out into her abdomen. She was literally dying in front of him and he sat there eating a sandwich. There's calm in a crisis and then there's continuing to eat your lunch while the crash team take the mother of your prem baby back to theatre in a full on life and death emergency. Luckily, after a full blood volume transfusion (and being clinically dead for 11 seconds) she pulled through. He didn't at any point think to phone any of us and tell us. First I knew was next day when I called the hospital to find out how she was and was told "we think she'll make it, dont worry" - what? she only had a section?!

When I started to wake up to what he is the dead eye thing was so obvious I couldn't believe I'd never noticed it before. But them I wasn't looking and we hardly saw them anyway.

PretzelTime Thu 14-Feb-13 17:20:41

Holy shit bottle that's so awful!shock So glad to hear that your sister managed to survive that. And that the man is an ex.

bottleofbeer Thu 14-Feb-13 17:25:19

Her older daughter stayed with me while my sister was in hospital. My daughter is the same age and I remember we were all messing about wearing (unused!) little swimmers nappies on our heads. For some reason that really bothers me, that we were playing while she was fighting for her life and none of us knew anything apart from the baby was obviously early but hey, 30 weeks isn't that prem anymore in terms of survival rates and as far as we knew the baby was doing ok.

Strange times!

KenLeeeeeee Thu 14-Feb-13 17:25:22

Everyone loved my stepdad; he was the life and soul of the party, very charming, very funny. Behind closed doors he was a vicious, violent paedophile and rapist. I was 9 when we managed to escape so I have no idea if he outwardly gave off any red flags.

Darkesteyes Thu 14-Feb-13 17:27:19

Everyone says how nice my DH is and he is in a lot of ways. He doesnt financially abuse or hit me. But they dont see the emotional physical and sexual neglect because that part of life isnt always obvious to the outside world.
My DM was watching the news a while ago when reports of a DV murder of a lady in a salon came on and she said "how can someone do something like that"
But when you try to tell her that it doesnt just happen out of the blue she refuses to see it.
While watching the ridiculous Take Me Out she made very mysogynistic comments about how many of them were seperated and divorced and have children already.
She thinks that they should stay on their own or try harder at their relationships. When i asked if that included putting up with being hit she didnt like it.
I try to point out that domestic abuse murders and serious assault do not normally just happen out of the blue but im really pissing in the wind with this.
Cant belive people can be so thick.

Darkesteyes Thu 14-Feb-13 17:29:11

What i meant was abuse normally starts with smaller things and then escalates. She cant fucking see it though. or doesnt want to.

Darkesteyes Thu 14-Feb-13 17:31:16

bottleofbeer to echo Pretzel Time im happy your sis survived that and that she isnt with him anymore.

Merl0t Thu 14-Feb-13 18:35:52

they have you over a barrel when you're pregnant. my x's lack of respect started when i got pregnant. BUT i still had a job to go back to, and 'only' one child. things got really, really, really, intolerably bad when I had my second child and did not go back to work. (only because my salary wouldn't have covered childcare for two and he basically told me he wouldn't fund my working). I knew I was cornering myself. I still didn't know what else to do at that point. My x tore a clump out of my hair when i was 9 wks prgnant. He stood in front of a judge last week and said there was no domestic violence whatsoever. NOT that the judges care to be honest.

Adversecamber Thu 14-Feb-13 18:58:20

I told no one I was being hit apart from my Mother , her reply was you must have annoyed him.

I know my siblings were shocked when I revealed it last year, considering I have been divorced for almost 18 years.

Merl0t Thu 14-Feb-13 19:00:01

Wow. I can't believe you kept it to yourself all that time. I've told everybody. I regret that sometimes. But, it stopped me from going mad. I think I was incapable of keeping it in.

Merl0t Thu 14-Feb-13 19:00:52

also, because my x acts like it never happened, his family act like i'm a fantasist, i feel like i have to acknowledge it because nobody else does.

everlong Thu 14-Feb-13 19:04:17

Agree. My first H looked like a very pleasant, charming, affable man to the outside world.

He was a jealous, violent, nasty piece of work in reality. It would drive me insane how people would bleat on how ' perfect ' he was.

Thankfully the marriage didn't last.

Merl0t Thu 14-Feb-13 19:07:33

My x's family still think that I must have been mentally ill to leave their son. They don't believe he was abusive, so to leave him? that proves I was mentally ill. Bizarre really because none of my other x's or their family ever deduced that I was mentally ill!

Adversecamber Thu 14-Feb-13 19:13:36

Merl0t I suffer with anxiety and when I broke down and told my lovely Doctor she said no wonder and she was lovely to me. I am having counselling now. One of the problems was I grew up in a very abusive household so kind of accepted being beaten as normal.

I cannot abide aggression, even a raised voice. I am now married to a gentle man who cried when I told him what happened.

Merl0t Thu 14-Feb-13 19:23:43

I would love to be married to a gentle man.... if I EVER end up in a relationship again it'll be with a gentle person. The legacy for me is that I get incredibly upset when people criticise me. It just takes me right back to being criticised endlessly for every little thing.

Dillie Thu 14-Feb-13 19:24:14

I have recently woken up to the fact my stbxh is an ea. He is charming and comes over as a generally nice chap.

Behind closed doors he is manipulative, vindictive ass.

Oddly when I told my boss what was happening he was not surprised as he clocked stbxh when he first saw him and took an instant dislike.

Wish I saw it though!!!!

Merl0t Thu 14-Feb-13 19:49:12

yeh, amazing how many people told me they didn't like my x when I'd left him. tbh, i wish people had said more to be begin with. I cared a lot about "what-people-think" so I would have listened. I might not have ended it immediately but it would have crystalised a few uncertainties I think..

LaQueen Thu 14-Feb-13 20:09:36

Years ago, DH was very good friends with the husband of one of his relatives. He was a really nice bloke, life and soul of the party, very affable. But, when we went out, he'd be charming as anything to the other girls in the group, but barely gave his poor wife the time of day. He openly mocked her, but because he was so jokey about it all, it was hard to put your finger on why it felt wrong.

We even holidayed with them several times, and DH even went into a business partnership with him.

One evening, this bloke engineered to come to our house, when he knew DH was away. I was just on my way out, to visit a friend, so offered to give this bloke a lift home.

In the car, he really came on to me, stroking my hair, and put his hand on my leg - all the while being very affable, and jokey. And, because he was being so jokey, I found it really hard to gauge how to react (and I'm really no wilting wallflower, I promise you).

When he got out of my car, he leaned over to kiss me, but tried to really kiss me, and I froze. He joked it away, but his eyes were absolutely flat and dead, and he slammed the car door so hard behind him, that the whole car shook [shudder]

Years later, I heard from another friend that he'd tried doing the exact same thing to her.

To this day, I am convinced that he was violent to his wife (they're no longer together, I hear, but he left her).

NeedlesCuties Thu 14-Feb-13 21:00:11

I'm a volunteer for a leading DV charity. It really is true that DV happens in all social classes, in all races, and by men who are unemployed right up to men who are at the top of their profession.

The mistaken assumption that it's just dodgy fella from rough parts of housing estates is very dangerous. Lots of our women are afraid to ask for help as they fear their doctor, lawyer, vicar partner will use their job as a 'cloak of respectability'

AnyFucker Thu 14-Feb-13 21:03:42

Beware the Charming Man.

Darkesteyes Thu 14-Feb-13 21:06:15

AdversecamberThu 14-Feb-13 18:58:20

I told no one I was being hit apart from my Mother , her reply was you must have annoyed him.

Adverse this is exactly what my mum would say if i was ever hit by a man.

Im sorry to hear what some of you have been and are still going through. angry sad

Darkesteyes Thu 14-Feb-13 21:07:13

AF i think Marian Keyes wrote a book with that title. Havent read it though.

AnyFucker Thu 14-Feb-13 21:10:21

She did, DE

And that particular Charming Man was an abuser

Wise woman, Marian Keyes

Darkesteyes Thu 14-Feb-13 21:15:27

I think i will be ordering that book very soon.

RedBushedT Thu 14-Feb-13 21:22:00

Not read all replies but Cogito, that link was brilliant (to the Psychology website) so many little things I could tick off there.
And BertieBotts, agreed. My ex was always saying 'it was just a joke! When did you lose your sense of humour' when his comments had me upset.
My ex never hit me, but I had years of emotional & verbal abuse. He is charming, outgoing, life & soul of the party. But when we were alone or with strangers, he could flip
In an instant.
I actually went back to him after managing to finally say enough because my own parents guilt tripped me about how lovely he was & what it would do to our kids if I left!
The veneer or respectability definitely helps this type to carry on abusing.

Ponderingonaquandry Thu 14-Feb-13 21:31:27

I despise charmers simply because I know there is another, nastier, layer to them.

My abusive ex was a charmer

Darkesteyes Thu 14-Feb-13 21:37:54

Red Bushed if something had happened to you it would have been your exes fault but yr parents would have been partly responsible too.

OP thank you for starting this thread, i am 5 months out of an abusive (in all ways) relationship, but i have still been meeting up with my ex, thinking he can change and still wondering if i did play a part in what happened.

When he is nice our relationship is idyllic and to good to be true.

I am "trained" in all aspects of DV, but he has played a clever game for 5 years and i now realise that every relationship of his has come to an end a few years in and i am now being "painted" as he painted his ex's.

He is Mr Popular and according to his mother, who he lives with, "i know what buttons to push, just like all of his ex's, so he won't change.

He is now flirting with a woman who has had DV in her past relationships, childhood included and he is just like he was when we started, charming, funny, considerate (and just needs to meet the right woman), which, if you have had any past issues, makes it think that it was you,that had the "faults".

As well as the pattern in him, i recognise the pattern in all of his ex's, myself included, that lasted more than a year, we all have a vulnerablities.

It took me to be sent on a refresher course in DA and i realised that we were talking about my relationship.

Because he has turned on the full charm for valintines day for the OW, i was feeling like i had lost out on something, until this thread reminded me that he has done me a favour by moving on.

notnagging Thu 14-Feb-13 21:53:27

Birdsgotafly I'm glad it's helped. It was on my mind today when everyone started talking about OP. People are always so shocked because they seem like nice guys. But when you look in their eyes they're always looking to see who's watching them & adjusting themselves accordingly. When you say there's something about them people don't want to know. But they always give little clues where you think something's just not right with them. Very measured very calculated very dh's sister has a husband like this. Very professional & well respected but we just found out he has been emotionally abusing her for years. He's started on his ds now but his dd wants for nothing.

RedBushedT Thu 14-Feb-13 22:02:46

Darkesteyes. I know what you mean. But I hadn't told them the facts about what had been happening as I was embarrassed, ashamed & scared no one would believe me. Thankfully he showed his true colours not too long after & my family have been amazing since. Took a while for me to feel able to talk about what went on. And to be honest, I'm still only just coming to terms with it all myself, let alone talking to others about it all.
That's probably part of why they get away with it, I know I struggle to describe the abuse.

chocolatesolveseverything Thu 14-Feb-13 22:03:56

'This Charming Man' by Marian Keyes is a very interesting eye-opener to the complexities of abuse I thought.

Very fortunately I've never personally experienced domestic violence, and my assumption has always been that I therefore wouldn't spot the telltale signs to start with. But I did have a work meeting with a 'gentleman' recently who absolutely gave me the shivers. No one else in the room felt the same (I asked them about it later) but his manner seemed scarily controlled, his ability to self-reflect was very poor, and I just got this awful sixth sense that I wouldn't want to be anywhere alone with him.

I couldn't say he's definitely an abuser but things I've learnt since about him, his mental health, and his family relationships (wouldn't be appropriate for me to be too specific as I know this stuff in a professional capacity) make me 80-90% sure that my initial insticts were correct.

AnyFucker Thu 14-Feb-13 22:07:01

choc...I would put a lot of money on your being absolutely right

notnagging Thu 14-Feb-13 22:09:39

Funny my sisters always going on about Marian Keyes. I'll get the book. Thanks

Merl0t Thu 14-Feb-13 22:11:55

Darkesteyes I found This Charming Man a bit hard to swallow because he wasn't living with any of the women he was abusing. I found it hard to understand why women with their own homes would keep going back for more. MOST of the time women stay with abusers because they've nowhere to go and no money when they get there.

I found the characterisation of an Emotional Abuser in Last Chance Saloon absolutely brilliant,and in fact that book had a profound affect on me. I must read it again.

re some earlier posts: my first serious boyfriend hit and kicked the crap out of me when I was sixteen. My mother's reaction when I escaped and cycled full pelt to get home? She smirked and said 'you probably deserved it'

Thanks for setting that pattern in motion mother.

Stupid fucking cow.

And on being pregnant when I was 29: 'Get rid of it. You'll never love it. It will look like him'

Thanks again mother.

Unsurprisingly, have been NC for several years now.

notnagging Thu 14-Feb-13 22:24:10

Unlikely your mother sounds lovelyhmm
I'm glad you saw through it

treesntrees Thu 14-Feb-13 23:23:04

Don't forget, not all abusers are male.

EvenBetter Thu 14-Feb-13 23:38:40

Some chilling takes here sad
My 'father' was a violent torturer, rapist and paedophile, we escaped when I was 5 so I don't know how he acted to people he wasn't molesting but apparently he was a 'lovely' man and a 'pillar of the community'.
I'm still scared of grey haired men with moustaches. Especially if they golf, and am (completely irrationally) silently convinced that they're paedophiles!

I work in hospitality so have encountered many many men who treat us like scum and working with the general public means I've also served men who have scared the crap out of me just with their demeanour and their vibe, much scarier than the ones who just come in screaming and trashing the place.

EvenBetter Thu 14-Feb-13 23:40:48

And yes, plenty of creepy women too, but without that 'rapey' vibe, I don't mean that jokingly, I just mean a vibe of just below the surface, this person would murder me if they could, which I haven't got off a woman.

Darkesteyes Thu 14-Feb-13 23:51:52

MerloT my ex OM was emotionally abusive towards the end but i kept going back to his flat to be with him because.
a. DH hasnt so much as held my hand for many years.
b. OM would make love to me and hold and cuddle and stroke me afterwards and i found it so hard to let go of that so i kept going back.
I think i should probably read that Marian Keyes book.

Darkesteyes I found This Charming Man a bit hard to swallow because he wasn't living with any of the women he was abusing. I found it hard to understand why women with their own homes would keep going back for more

I didn't live with my abusive ex, the need was to be loved and to feel as part of a couple again.

I had gone from a abusive childhood to a perfect mariage, until i was widowed.

Then i had fuck buddies, which isn't great unless you've got over your childhood.

Friends warned me about my ex, so then i had something to prove. He was the most abusive in situations that i would have had to make a real fuss in, on holiday/trips away, for example.

When we went camping and only took his car, i had to placate him, or phone my son in law to come and get me, all the time still buying into "my attitude" was the problem.

He drummed it into me that if we spilt, how much i would lose, socially. He had isolated me from my friends and family,but took great delight in telling me how everyone thought that i was a crank.

I found out that i had Lupus and had to switch jobs, so there was a vulnerability in me from a few directions.

That is why DV crosses all income groups, it is only stopable by changing your thinking, otherwise you go into an abusive relationship again and again, the woman who my ex is targeting is doing it now, with him.

He has made sure that i have seen his "jokey" posts to her about how she should take him out for a meal etc on FB (i know,i know). She will find out soon enough that he isn't joking, he thinks his company is enough reward and expects to be paid for, unless he has an audience and then the rounds of drinks flow.

MrRected Fri 15-Feb-13 01:06:42

This is my Dad through and through. He is charm personified to the outside world. Beat the crap out of my mother and I all the way through my childhood.

These days he has forgotten. I haven't.

Darkesteyes Fri 15-Feb-13 01:10:03

Birds said

I didn't live with my abusive ex, the need was to be loved and to feel as part of a couple

Totally agree. I know that feeling. i feel that way now and it eats you up. thanks

Darkesteyes Fri 15-Feb-13 01:15:01

So sorry to hear that you lost your husband Birds.

kickassangel Fri 15-Feb-13 01:34:14

Another fallacy is that they just turn violent. More often there is a slow escalation of events, as they keep pushing to see what they can get away with. Once they are confident that they have the victim suitably vulnerable they become more violent. That's why pregnancy can be a trigger, they have a more vulnerable victim

Darkesteyes Fri 15-Feb-13 01:47:32

Exactly kickass but enablers like my DM think its always the womans fault... until there is a death (murder) and then its too late.

MidnightMasquerader Fri 15-Feb-13 02:25:44

This Charming Man was a real eye-opener for me, as someone who thankfully as no experience of DV at all. The way the story unfolds is really clever - it sort of runs parallel to the real life experience; that you have no idea of the outcome when you embark on a relationship with an abusive man. Then you're drawn into the story still with no suspicions, and then little red flags (which you can never be quite sure about in isolation) start waving...

The Thomas character In Last Chance Saloon was fabulously portrayed as well. And the twist with the insidious Lorchan character.

Spending more time of forums such as this, and reading about DV has helped me understand it a lot more (I used to think I'd leave on the very first punch - oh, the naivety, if only it was that easy)... I know Mumsnet's 'leave the bastard' mentality is often derided, but this is one place women can come and get support, be believed, and be told that they do not have to put up with it.

The flip side is that so many of these charming men do raise suspicions in people close to the absused partner. Hopefully women (and men) aren't more afraid to leave these people for fear of not being believed, because often as not, these 'charmers' aren't as good an actor as they'd hoped...

Sunnywithshowers Fri 15-Feb-13 02:44:31

My first 'proper' boyfriend had a foul temper. No-one was surprised when I said he pushed me around and smashed up my things.

But my XH? Nice guy, would do anything for anybody. But the EA started early. When our friends saw him push me out of a chair he convinced them it was 'all a joke'. It didn't get better. The small things became big things.

daffsarecomingup Fri 15-Feb-13 04:04:22

I had an ex who was charm personified. never any violence, but i had a gut feeling about him, and as someone suggested, nothing in his life was ever 'his fault'.
when we broke up, he began harassing me, and did the usual 'it's her! She's the mad one!" whenever i flagged it. a charming professional, on a board of Governors, volunteered for Victim Support. really really creepy.

and my BF's ex was a narcissitc woman who physically & emotionally abused him. Again, she was charm personified.

scary that these people are out there.

HoldMeCloserTonyDanza Fri 15-Feb-13 04:44:15

The only thing I would say, is that there is a pattern on Relationships threads, where posters are afraid to leave, because they are convinced everybody they know loves their abuser and will never believe them.

Sometimes, a lot of the time, too often, that's true. But. A lot of the time, it isn't. A lot of the time, the woman's friends and family, the other mothers in the playground, her coworkers - they all privately think the "charming" OH is an obnoxious prick and the reason the OP doesn't see much of them is because they can't bear to be around him and hate watching him with her. But they are too polite to say, after all, it's just a "feeling" they have, you can't go bad mouthing someone's husband to their face.

I just wanted to say that because there might be posters reading this feeling like its hopeless and they will be friendless if they left. Sometimes, yes. acquaintances are totally taken in, but often you will be surprised who comes out of the woodwork and has long suspected the abuser of being a total cock.

Lavenderhoney Fri 15-Feb-13 04:51:32

I had a bf when a teen whose parents used to fight - boxing and throwing furniture at each other. My dm told me to get rid of him as it would come out. I ignored her til one day he was angry at my having coffee with a male friend and he out of nowhere kicked me in the stomach( I jumped back)

I never spoke to him again and he engineered a great deal of sympathy for himself as " I broke his heart" , even though I told people what happened. He used to follow me a bit as well, until dm contacted his parents and the police unknown to me.

Adversecamber Fri 15-Feb-13 10:03:39

Darkest eyes I'm sorry you also have an unsupportive Mother.

I agree about escalation, mine was mardy and grumpy but didn't hit me till we were on honeymoon. Punched me on the arm, enough to leave bruises.

The hold over DV victims can go so deep.

Anyway something uplifting from me, I gave my old wedding dress to the charity shop a couple of weeks ago. I married him in 1987 and have hauled it about for years. I didn't sit in it like Miss Haversham but I just couldn't part with it.

BertieBotts Fri 15-Feb-13 10:16:44

I think that the practicalities of leaving an abusive relationship are nowhere near the hardest thing to overcome or the strongest tie to the abuser. Likewise fear isn't usually the defining force stopping someone from leaving.

Of course practicalities and fear do stop people from leaving but it's a fallacy to say that they are the strongest things. I think we would like to believe this is true because they are easier to solve.

notnagging Fri 15-Feb-13 10:22:31

So true holdmecloser

NicknameTaken Fri 15-Feb-13 10:33:09

I didn't like the Marian Keyes book, but there is a non-fiction book called "Why charming men make dangerous lovers". Someone who is consciously charming you is not engaging with you on an authentic level. They want something, even if it's just to be liked.

Another charming and abusive ex here. I was a bit confused about him having so many friends who are good and kind people, because surely like attracts like. But not always - he is very good at playing the noble victim, and ends up with supporters rather than genuine friends.

I wish I could point you to a website where someone is soliciting funds for a project he is doing (obviously it's identifiable so I can't). The person is clearly a good person and very indignant on his behalf. The website talks about how he has been struggling as a single father since losing his wife - it sounds vaguely as if I was killed in some terrible tragedy. The truth is that I took our dd and went to a refuge because of his abuse. Unbelievable spin.

labtest Fri 15-Feb-13 10:47:13

Years ago I was watching Oprah and a retired police chief was on talking about infamous killers such as Ted Bundy. These men could charm the birds out of the trees which is how they convinced women to get into cars with them. He said to always keep in mind that charm isn't something someone possesses its something they do to you. They are using it as a form of control. Since hearing this I have been deeply suspicious of people who ooze charm.

Merl0t Fri 15-Feb-13 10:53:25

sorry, birdsgottafly, this charming man just didn't ring true for me. As a reader (who'd been through something more similar than the majority of other readers) I just couldn't understand it.

The Last Chance Saloon on the other hand, that was genius.

NicknameTaken, i can imagine. My x has re-written history in the same way. Totally delusional.

NicknameTaken Fri 15-Feb-13 12:26:36

I know, Merl0t! I'm really glad I have diaries from the time of my marriage that record things as they happened, because I really would be wondering whether I imagined it or misinterpreted it.

The worse part about my situation is that i am a CP SW, who helps women out of their DV environment and i supervise contacts between abusive adults and their children.

I work with women who have no financial dependancy on the men who abuse them and are in danger of losing their children.

The men ( i have only worked with a few female abusers and it was very different) have a psychological hold over these women.

That is why we always insist (it is written into the child's plan) that the women attend groups and courses.

"Distorted reality" ( as you describe) is a big part of abuse carrying on.

Thisis why i don't like women to be portrayed as victims,or having to flee, as they are most trapped by what is going on in their heads and that should be challenged, rather than agreed with (i am speaking when working one to one).

Pagwatch Fri 15-Feb-13 13:19:51

I hesitate to say this because I genuinely agree with much of what is said on this thread so bear with me.

I am really nervous about the whole 'I can always tell' ' something dead in the eyes' stuff.

If you have a good antenna that's great.
But talking about ways in which you should be able to spot an abusive charmer is not helpful IMO.
Firstly I think it is unlikely tbh.
The majority of people still talk with great fondness about the man who abused me yet I suspect if I told them they would fall into two broad groups of those who don't believe me and those who really knew all along because there was always something dodgy about him - in spite of never speaking of him in anything other than fabulous and affectionate terms for several decades.
Certainly that has been my experience amongst those I have actually told.

Secondly it just piles 'stupid and didn't spot the obvious signs' implications upon the victim.

Thirdly there are probably a chunk of people who would steer clear of everyone in DSs school on the basis that they are probably dodgy because they can't easily make warm genuine eye contact because they have ASD or social/communication difficulties.
Perpetuating the idea that eyes are the give away just feeds the hostility and suspicion they already experience.

I hate to sound like I am disputing the tone of the thread - I really am not- but I think suggesting we can spot abusers by intuitivly sensing cold eyed creepiness from them is not, in my view, helpful.
If you believe you can tell then great. But let's not pretend it is a sixth sense type vibe that anyone can tune into if they just look hard enough.

Women can only keep themself safe, we can only keep our children safe, if we are rigorous in not deceiving ourselves that we can spot abusers. Thinking we can just tell makes us in danger of being complacent.

Thewhingingdefective Fri 15-Feb-13 13:38:53

A good friend of mine, who I first met about ten years ago when she became my new boss, told me about her first husband who physically abused her - he squirted Cif in her eyes, strangled her, locked her in, rang and checked on her all the time - and told me how she put up with it for such a long time because he was so lovely to everyone and so popular that she felt it must be her fault that he became a monster behind closed doors.

I met the guy briefly just once. He was a complete charmer - came over as warm, genuine, down to earth. I didn't pick up on any red flags in his behaviour, I just kept thinking about all the stuff my friend had told me about him and how appearances can really be deceptive.

I agree with Pagwatch and i would like to also add, that i the social conditioning of women has a lot to answer for.

Samu2 Fri 15-Feb-13 14:05:14

My mum got into another abusive relationship after she left my father. I knew after speaking to him for a a while that he was an abusive arse. I think my father taught me what to look out for pretty well and he isn't the only sociopath in my family so I had experience with spotting signs that lots of people don't have. It's not a sixth sense, just experience of growing up with one and knowing a few and researching it.

Thankfully my mum is now settled with a lovely man but it was horrible to have to try to get her to see that her ex was just like my dad. Unfortunately he managed to slowly break down her confidence bit by bit so she didn't even believe in herself. It took a very horrible situation for her to finally realise and I had to just sit back and watch it unfold as I was helpless to do anything else.

I found the book "The Sociopath Next Door" a pretty interesting read.

I carryout out parenting assessments on abusers of all types, sometimes before and ater the removal of children and whilst there are signs and red flags there, you cannot assume what that person is or isn't capable of, tbh.

People often "confess" at the end of the process what was actually going on and how they feel/think, it is surprising how much of an insight some people have into themselves, but still don't want to change.

I work alongside psychologists and CPN's/psychiatrists and they sometimes get it wrong.

On a personal level, choose who you want to mix with, of course, but i don't think that it is fair to say what you think to other, as i have heard school yard gossips do, as sometimes there is smoke without fire.

chocolatesolveseverything Fri 15-Feb-13 14:55:02

Just to say I understand and generally agree with Pagwatch's point about the dangers of the 'sixth sense' approach.

As earlier described, I met one guy when he was in a stressful meeting and the vibes he was giving off were genuinely disturbing to me, though others in the room didn't feel the same.

But statistically I must have met/worked with/socialised with quite a few domestic abusers throughout life, and I can't remember responding in the same way to anyone else.

Sunnywithshowers Fri 15-Feb-13 14:58:09

I also agree with Pagwatch.

Despite my childhood experience of abusers, I still ended up in abusive relationships. I didn't get a bad vibe from any of them before I ended up with them.

maddening Fri 15-Feb-13 15:14:10

I just remembered - when a friend of ex and me actually saw some of his behaviour - as she and another friend had popped round for a cup of tea when it was happening and ez was physically removed by male friend (exmarine so lots of muscles) she said when she first met us he took her to one side and explained that I was a psycho nutcase etc etc and also if he was with mutual friends and I rang one of them (not ex) he would tell them to not let me meet up with them as I was crazy - so he was constantly undermining any existing friendships or new ones by advertising me a crazy - so if I was distressed after he'd been a twat to me and I did reach out to friends for support they were under the impression I was a loon -it is only when they saw him in action (he was a binge drinking alcoholic so sonetimes did do his thing with an audience if he was incredibly drunk) that they understood.


My ex was extremely charming - he charmed everyone around him, women, men, everyone. Me most of all.
Behind closed doors he was violent, rude, arrogant, just a horrible person. His anger was terrifying. He used sex as a weapon, got me hooked on drugs to keep control of me, hated me talking to other men. Locked me out of my own house, accused me of sleeping with another man (funnily enough, that man was gay!), throttled me, pushed me, threw things at me.

But eventually, the people around us got to see his nasty side. Towards the end of the relationship, people often told me 'you can do so much better', 'why are you wasting your time with him' etc.

sadandtiredone Fri 15-Feb-13 15:36:07

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

NicknameTaken Fri 15-Feb-13 15:48:18

sandandtired, don't live like that, don't put your DD through this.

Harm himself? Chance would be a fine thing.

Harm you and your DD? You're right to take that seriously, but it doesn't mean you should stay, it means you need to be very clever about leaving. Contact WA - go to a refuge if you need to.

Honestly, life is so much better when you get free from someone like this. They make you feel they are so all-powerful that they'll always track you down so there's no point trying to run, but they really don't have as much power as all that. You can get away.

Sunnywithshowers Fri 15-Feb-13 16:18:03

sadandtired he sounds like an abuser to me - physically, emotionally and financially abusive. I would suggest contacting Women's Aid.

Merl0t Fri 15-Feb-13 16:19:55

sadandtired that WAS my life. I took it for as long as I could, out of a conservative notion that being a single parent would be worse somehow. Or a fear that I'd change my mind. If he ever sensed I was thinking about leaving he'd make threats like 'burn your bridges and there's no coming back'" and he'd say it so menacingly too. As though he were some dream ticket to an easy life! Life was hard with him. I used to dread his key in the door. I also had to pretend to be delighted wth whatever piece of cheap crap he gave me. I shopped in penney's and he shopped in Paul Smith. He was the meanest godammed fucker. still is.

what are YOUR thoughts sadandtired you're not alone. You see him for the piece of work he is and that's the first step. Do you fear leaving him? my x put up a big fight for about 12 weeks and his drama oscilated between ten day cycle consisting of 'oh come back sweet heart, to your loss, to well fuck you you bitch!!'. We had to go through about 3 or four times before he got it, really, really got it that I wasn't coming back. so funny really as all the times he'd threatened me that if i left him, i couldn't come back! the wonderful prize that he was!

Merl0t Fri 15-Feb-13 16:24:26

pagwatch i can't speak for others but my own 6th sense comes NOT from the eyes, but from comments. A comment which mightn't make anybody else think twice will have my radar out on sticks. After a few comments I'll make up my mind thatt that is a man I want to avoid getting to know any better at all costs. Would you call that a sixth sense? or just closer attention to what people reveal about themselves?

NicknameTaken Fri 15-Feb-13 16:36:19

I think I could pick up on it, but only when the charming abuser is in a particular mood - one where they are angry underneath, but holding onto the public mask. I don't think I could see through a charming person who is actually in a good mood.

TheCountessOlenska Fri 15-Feb-13 16:55:04

I definitely don't have a sixth sense for abusive men but I always remember the "red flag" of being nasty/dismissive towards your perceived inferiors - because I come across it at work. I work in a "nice" department store and on several occasions have been quite gob smacked at the aggressive attitude displayed towards me by some men (not saying I don't have difficult female customers too btw but it's a different vibe) - often the attitude is combined with a kind of jokey/jolly thing (think someone mentioned this up thread) but really making me feel like something they have scraped off their shoe. They invariably have an attractive, well groomed wife with them who stands there in silence. I reckon I've come across about 3 of them.

Pagwatch Fri 15-Feb-13 17:16:20

I don't know. I think if you can spot problematic behaviours then that's great.

I wasn't trying to argue with anyone. I was just trying to express a point of view from having the man that abused me generally regarded as a thoroughly decent man by everyone who didn't know about his abusing.
Many of them were perfectly astute and observant. He didn't go unrecognised because people were just not paying attention but because he was really really good at deceiving them.

I am just suggesting that to imply people can spot a charming abuser if they are attentive enough might not be the most helpful thing to suggest either to victims or potential victims.
If you genuinely have that antenna that's great.

notnagging Fri 15-Feb-13 18:28:49

Get out sadandtired. Easier said then done I know but noone deserves that & your dd needs to have a chance to see that her father is not a normal role model.

Adversecamber Fri 15-Feb-13 18:37:35

Sadandtired, he has pushed you, that is physical violence. No one should live a life walking on egg shells. I made excuses in my head about my ex, you say straight away he hasn't hit you but he treats you terribly. You deserve to feel safe. Please contact women's aid.

AnyFucker Fri 15-Feb-13 18:38:05

sadandtired your daughter is being treated appallingly

you may not care much about yourself....but I don't think for one minute you want her to learn the kinds of damaging lessons she is currently being forced to endure

IfNotNowThenWhen Fri 15-Feb-13 19:07:21

My abusive ex was:

very engaging and interesting
outwardly kind and family oriented
Jealous. (Really jealous. The first time I noticed anything odd was when we were first dating and out for dinner. He got in a strop because I was, apparently flirting with the waiter.)
Never wrong. Ever.
cagey (he had affairs)
financially controlling
Physically intimidating. He used his large size to full effect.

Eventually, once my confidence and self worth had been sufficiently lowered he started the violence. It was things like biting (he bit my arm so hard he drew blood), pushing, scratching.
He would put his hands round my neck.
He once pushed me down in the street after a drunken row about me "making him" leave his 30th birthday celebrations because I was tired. It was 4 am. Everyone had gone home. I had been working all day and gone out to meet him and his friends straight from work.
He then took my bag from me and ran off with it, leaving me sitting outside my house at 5 am with no money, no phone, no keys.
He told his family I had a drink problem.
Eventually he punched me 3 times in the back, unprovoked, and broke my rib.

I know people close to him knew he had a temper, in that he was seen as an alpha male type, fiery etc, but I don't think they had any idea of the truth. Even now I look back and think, why did I stay after the very first warning??

But that is what is so clever. He had removed everything from me. I would make a friend and go out with them. He would find a way to destroy it.
I was totally dependent, emotionally.
What Merlot says about how her ex doesn't even seem to remember; I think that sometimes. My ex added me on linked in. I mean, does he think we are friends?
I guess the fact that I just left and never pressed any charges, maybe he has justified it all to himself.
It took me 2 years after leaving him to actually wake up and realise that NONE of it was my fault. Crazy.
On the plus side a subsequent boyfriend once broke a door panel in my house in a rage. I immediately called the police. He couldn't believe it! He thought I was joking.(until they came and took him away)...
I just thought. "never again".


AnyFucker Fri 15-Feb-13 19:57:10

Ifnot, I am so sorry you had to experience that

Merl0t Fri 15-Feb-13 20:31:15

ifnotnowthenwhen yes, my x had a derogatory name for all my friends. The lesbian (she had short hair). The spinster (she was a few years older than me and also single), Barbie, (the glamorous one you might have expected him to approve of, but still no, there was no pleasing him). My nick name was "too fucking stupid to cook a ready meal". And no, he just can't seem to remember a single incident where he was abusive. In his version, I left on a whim. He does seem to believe this version. I wonder if he would remember trying to strangle me, pull my hair, leaving bruises on my face, roughly poking shoving and pushing me if he were under hypnosis - maybe. I wouldn't put much money on that.

Pagwatch, I think the issue form women in this situation is that we foolishly ignore our "sixth sense", if I can call it that. It's not really a sixth sense. It's more like having the fucking confidence in our own ability to process one or two extremely misogynist comments, and to believe that we are entitled to draw a conclusion, and then believe that we're entitled to ACT on that conclusion.

For various reasons, some spelled out already here, we ignore the red flags/comments because we're already KNOWN to be in a relationship with this person and we would lose face, or have to admit our friends were right, or we would have to tell everybody we were single AGAIN, or we'd be SINGLE AGAIN, or we want to give him another chance, or we want to give him ANOTHER chance, or, we have nowhere to go and no money when we get there. I saw the signs fairly early on. But when I saw the first signs I was already in a relationship with him. Then when we moved in together the signs were louder. When I was pregnant he broke my things in a temper. It just escalated every time I became more dependent.

Darkesteyes Fri 15-Feb-13 20:52:06

IFNot im so sorry that youve been through that. sadandtired please contact WA. and talk to them. You and your lovely DD deserve a peaceful and loving home which it would be if he wasnt there.

IfNotNowThenWhen Fri 15-Feb-13 21:34:24

Thanks guys. I have never actually told any of my close friends all of that. In fact, never written it down. I am glad I am the kickass diva I am today, and when(if) I do settle down it will be with a decent bloke. I thank my lucky stars that this twat was not ds's dad.

sadandtired I hope you know that you need to leave this excuse for a man. Nothing about what he does to you and your poor DD is normal, or excusable.
It's not your fault. It's him. He won't change. He will only get worse.
Please contact women's aid. Help is available, and no-one will blame you. x

IfNotNowThenWhen Fri 15-Feb-13 21:38:35

I think that is the key merlot. Once you become dependent (and that happens because they make it so, not because you are weaker than other people) it is so hard to find your own strength again.

Merl0t Fri 15-Feb-13 22:18:06

yeh, and they guage the extent of the abuse so perfectly to match your level of dependency. At first they just take advantage of the simple things, like that you'd like a boyfriend! then they take advantage of the fact that you don't want to have to tell everybody what your boyfriend is really like, ..... always perfectly measured out isn't it?

PrannyHamster Fri 15-Feb-13 22:26:29

There was a guy I knew years ago, and although I was never in a relationship with him I was unfortunate enough to see a very unpleasant side to him a few times and I still feel anxious thinking about him and any woman he might be with now. He was a "golden boy" type, everyone thought he was perfect. As a teenager,
I couldn't articulate at the time what I found so awful about him, but there were so many small incidents in his behaviour towards women that were always laughed off or ignored by others. I wish I'd known then what I know now, although I don't know what difference it would have made sad

Merl0t Fri 15-Feb-13 22:37:47

Pagwatch, sorry, I'm coming back to this one because i think it's really important that we don't ignore our judgement.

I am not saying that I could walk into an office/gym and randomly spot the abuser out of fifty odd men, 'from his eyes' . Nothing like that, But I am saying that now, after 7 years with an abuser under my belt, I recognise the mindset when I see it, and I recognise the comments that would be typical of that type of man. The behaviours and comments I would have pushed to the back of my mind in that previously relationship (in naive optimism and confusion), now I wouldn't push them to the back of my head, I would go into a state of hyper alert, waiting for a bit more information before I make my conclusion. But I would be in a state of heightened anticipation of the next dodgy comment or behaviour.

So, what might seem like a sixth sense as a result of one dodgy comment is much more than that to me.

MsTakenidentity Sat 16-Feb-13 03:09:14

Street angel, house the saying goes sad

Pagwatch Sat 16-Feb-13 09:57:47

I am not for a moment saying we should ignore our judgement. I don't think I have said that, I don't think I implied it.

If anyone gets a bad vibe/red flags from someone then you keep away.

I am saying let us not extend that into the idea that if you have your wits about you and look hard enough then you can always tell. Because the vast majority of people simply can't.

GinAndT0nic Sat 16-Feb-13 10:29:58

I think we actually agree, confused but just labelled it differently.

Time and time again on these threads I've read posters saying that there were signs they pushed to the back of their heads and forced themselves to ignore. That is a common theme. All the pieces of the jig-saw are there, but most people don't race to put them together. I do. FOr me now it happens like an involuntary response.

I wouldn't imagine and haven't claimed to be able to tell at a glance. But I am still very confident that if I spend enough time in an abusive nark's company (whether he's a colleague, friend's husband) I will see him for what he is. THIS.TIME

GinAndT0nic Sat 16-Feb-13 10:30:53

Plus, in the 6 years since I left my x there have been maybe two men who I've thought, oh hello, you're in that club I see.

HerrenaHarridan Sat 16-Feb-13 10:30:59

Yanbu. hmm

GinAndT0nic Sat 16-Feb-13 10:35:00

sorry, but eureka lightbulb moment for me here, that is what i have labelled 'a sixth sense'. It's that involuntary piecing together of the clues, like breathing, yawning, sneezing! clues which, before (pre nark x) would have remained disconnected and not much help to you in isolation. THAT is "the sixth sense" and it's very common when you've spent a long time with an abuser.

Bunbaker Sat 16-Feb-13 10:42:04

I agree. Bullies are the same. The girl in my daughter's class who has been so mean to her is charismatic and charming, but an utter cow to anyone she doesn't like.

Pagwatch Sat 16-Feb-13 10:54:56

Yes I think we are mostly agreeing smile

I also think we are talking slightly at cross purposes and that that is my fault. I think most people on this thread are talking about spotting a man who will become abusive to them in a relationship.
I am talking about someone who charms their way into a friendship or relationship to abuse their children. My viewpoint is as a child whose family was duped into allowing a paedophile access to me.
I had thought that was clear from my posts but I now think it probably wasn't so apologies if that confused matters

That said - my only point is this
(I will try not to fuck this up)
Whilst we can develop the ability to spot signs and that helping others identify warning signs and then not dismiss them is absolutely right, I just want to flag up that to step further - to imply that one can always tell if you just look hard enough - risks a blind spot.

It's like the down side of the whole Sarah's law debate where a parent armed with detail of local sexual offenders feels as though they know where the risk is when actually an abuser is more likely to be someone they know.

To say 'I always know. I can always tell' is impossible to counter because if an abuser is able to maintain their charming persona then how do you know you have missed them?

I genuinely doubt that anyone would have spotted my abuser. Maybe I am wrong. But he went unpunished and his abuse of me was not revealed.
So it is possible (highly unlikely of course smile) that you met him, thought he was a nice bloke and would never ever know that you were wrong.

Does that make sense?

I am not suggesting that people cannot be incredibly astute and spot potential abusers. I really am not. And getting red flags out there is so important, as is convincing people to heed them.
I am just saying don't assert that it is infallible.

People will get duped.they will get into a relationship with an abuser or they will unwittingly allow an abuser access to their children. Let's not suggest they should have known.

<<hopes that makes some vague sense>

littlemisssarcastic Sat 16-Feb-13 11:13:23

I admit it does annoy me somewhat when people tell me that they knew from day 1 that my ex was a twat.
Every single thing I discovered about him, someone says they could see it a mile off from the moment they laid eyes on him.
The fact that he was driving on a provisional licence, that he had had allegations made against him for crimes before I met him, that he had never been in the forces, things like that.
I find myself mistrusting my own judgement even more. How could they see this the moment they clapped eyes on him yet I didn't know and why, when they are scoffing at me that they knew, it was obvious, didn't I see it?
Must be because I am obviously unbelievably stupid and everyone else is so much more clued up?
Even more annoying when they can't see how nasty their own ex's were or even how awful their own partners are, yet are so not surprised at a single thing my ex did.
I'm sure if I told these people xp was a bloody murderer, they'd still look at me like I was stupid and ask me again. . . how did you not see it? really? sad

Adversecamber Sat 16-Feb-13 11:16:08

I understand what your saying Pag I have a friend who has a new bf, there was nothing obviously wrong with him. He has not done anything really appalling but he is tight and selfish, on a low level. I did mention something regarding specific behaviour and she became incredibly defensive. Maybe it will be okay, who knows. She has turned in to a Stepford Wife though and seems different somehow.

The DV charity I have been having counselling with said that the same men are named as perpetrators by more than one client sometimes.

GinAndT0nic Sat 16-Feb-13 11:50:02

I hear you Pagwatch. And now that I thnk about it, my posts were all about men in abusive relationships with adult women. i think child abusers are a whole different kettle of fish because the acting role they are taking on is bigger, more complicated, more devious.... I woudln't feel confident I could tell if a partner was a child sex offender if he was also simultaneously being respectful and kind to ME. gosh what a scary thought.

GinAndT0nic Sat 16-Feb-13 11:52:57

AdverseCamber, is there a register held informally by a women's charity?. I know it wouldn't be a legal thing. But I feel I would like to give my x's name to some organisation. It is all behind me nwo, but he tried to strangle me, and then offered me a cup of tea five minutes later. I know it's behind me, and I don't want to stir up trouble, but is it right to walk off and not have it down on paper SOMEWHERE that he has 'form'. of course he would say that i'm a bad mother and that that should be recorded. 7 years of treating me like a bad dog, and the next woman would have the SAME uphill battle to be believed. it just doesn't seem right.

GinAndT0nic Sat 16-Feb-13 11:56:06

and, a paedophile doesn't necessarily HATE WOMEN deep down, or in a fairly straight forward overt/"jokey" way like the text book abusive nark does. They are attracted to children but that doesn't mean that they're any more likely to HATE women.

bottleofbeer Sat 16-Feb-13 12:35:41

My sister's ex now has a criminal conviction for assaulting her. There is a lot of SS involvement wrt their kids. He has a new girlfriend now (and for some reason felt the need to point out to my sister how much better looking the new gf is) I was at a core meeting on my sister's behalf last week and his probation officer told him she had to meet with his new gf to inform her of his conviction. He claims she already knows, he slowly sent my sister mental over the last seven years, so he's got his case made. She's mental, forced me to hit her. Sadly the new gf will likely go along with that. I've written about my sister in more detail on other threads.

He's insidiously desroyed any fledgling relationship she's ever had since they split. She meets someone, the ex suddenly can't live without her and promises marriage etc...the kids are on the at risk register and it's always been made very clear they are to have NO contact or legal action will be taken. IE the kid's go to my parents and they lose all custody. His desperate need to control her even now means he will actually risk legally losing his kids but on the outside he's the happiest, jolliest dad.

The comments about his eyes, I'm not saying hey were ever some big, red flag to me - this was just something that was so evident to me when it dawned on me what he is. Couldn't believe I'd missed it and it goes without saying some people might just have flat/lifeless eyes and be good as gold. To clear up any misunderstanding smile

Smudging Sat 16-Feb-13 15:00:02

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Adversecamber Sat 16-Feb-13 15:35:55

Gin this is quite a small charity in a small market town she obviously didn't name anyone just that the same names crop up sometimes. I think you should give womens aid a call and ask them.

I'm sorry you went though what you did, horrible reading in your post how one minute he was a monster and the next doing a regular thing like offering tea. Just shows how they change their behaviour to suit themselves.

Darkesteyes Sat 16-Feb-13 16:02:56

They are not all street angels. Im guessing that the men who yell derogatory comments about my appearance when i sometimes walk past pubs in the town where i live, are the sort who will then go home and do the same and worse to their partners.

kickassangel Sun 17-Feb-13 02:31:54

I really need to start saving articles I read that I want to quote later.

A few weeks back read one that showed date rapes are often perpetrated by a relatively small number of men who deliberately target and isolate women, and that the same pattern is often seen in abusers. So those of you who work in charities in a small town, you probably will see some names recurring in a range of victims as they hone their skills and move on.

On the one hand comforting that there really isn't a vast army of men lurking in the shadows to get us. On te other hand, very worrying that it is so calculated and deliberate. I really think anyone caught committing abuse should be treated harshly, it is a very planned and subversive attack on another human being.

sadandtiredone Sun 17-Feb-13 05:07:45

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

maddening Sun 17-Feb-13 07:55:31

Sadandtired - speak to womens aid now. Can you start a thread in relationships?

If dp kills himself that's his choice but don't let him destroy you and your daughter. His ego probably won't let him. (My ex used the suicide threat he is still alive)

Get help. Get counselling. Get away from him. Keep your dahhter safe.

GinAndT0nic Sun 17-Feb-13 09:06:32

Sadandtired... you have so many stages behind you now. The naive hope that he'll change is behind you. You accept it won't change. This is a big step, so you're not fucked. You have insight to move through this.

My x was drawn to independent strong women and then instantly tried to crush them back down. I believe you that you were very independent before this.

If you walk away from a nightmare you are not "breaking up a family". He didn't nurture what he had and it disolved around him. it is your prerogative to leave a dysfunctional relationship. You are not obliged to stay with him at the expense of your own sanity and happiness just to spare him some inconvenience.

He will probably rage and rant when you leave him. Disconnect. Trying to justify your decision to him will only feed his erroneous belief that you need his permission or approval to end this relationship. You don't.

I can see the state you're in now, and I recognise it. You have a heightened sense of awareness and responsibility for his emotions and pains. When I left my x I cried, for him , ha! the thoughts of it now that I'm out of the fog. I saw it through his eyes, how self-pitying he would be, and i cried for him, the man who'd terrorised me, verbally and financially abused me for years.

You can be Independent again. You can get the old you back. but you have to prioritise YOU and your daughter over him.

moonstorm Sun 17-Feb-13 10:02:04

Instead of the 'dead' eyes, what about the far too intense eyes? There's a man I know (in a position to see often for a little while - think postman/ neighbour's gardener type role), who gives me the creeps, but I can't say why. I am a terrible judge of character, so try not to make my mind up for a long while. He is very, very nice - chatty etc, but he looks very intently when talking (think too much eye contact) and uses my name (and my husband's when speaking to him) far to much (is that even possible?? hmm).

Can't decide whether I'm being silly, or picking something up... I am very bad when someone is being very, very nice not responding nicely and find it hard to keep my distance with them..

My ex sexually, psychologically, emotionally and financially abused me. He emotionally abuses the Dc too and eldest wont see him because she's scared to be alone with him.

He is a school governor, church goer and actively involved in the worship, volunteer at a local amateur theatre and lay visitor at an immigration detention centre.

his latest GF moved in with him recently, I wonder how long it will be before she sees the real him.

GinAndT0nic Sun 17-Feb-13 10:20:33

Things will get easier for your family though, when he has somebody new to control. It's awful but whenever my x has a new gf we breath a sigh of relief because he sticks to arrangements and doesn't pout and sulk and make digs left right and centre.

Jamillalliamilli Sun 17-Feb-13 10:28:52

Sadandtired you are not responsible for your (not so D)P, and the ‘family’ that he treats so badly breaking up will not kill him, trust me, his behaviour is learnt and all about making you feel for him instead of for your child.

As you say What he wants always comes first, any sign that isn’t happening and he uses a range of behaviours to enforce it and you’ve been ground down into accepting them.

You are responsible for her, and I’m sorry but right now you are allowing long term damage to quietly take place. He has successfully (intentionally or not) groomed you to believe that leaving his abusive behaviour is bad and wrong, and your responsibility is to him, and no one else, and that’s the lesson she’s learning too.

Breaking up with him won’t have a terrible effect on DD, it may bring short term unhappiness, because change is stressful, but staying with a man who treats her and her mum like this, while mum backs up the idea that it’s normal and the important thing is to put his wants first, live round his volatile moods and violence, now that will have a terrible effect on her.

Look at your little girl and imagine her in a relationship with someone treating her like this, what would you be saying to her?

We make mistakes, the trick is to forgive ourselves, sort them out and teach our DC’s better skills.

Call WA now. If you can’t do it for you, do it for her.

FreudiansSlipper Sun 17-Feb-13 10:41:28

often yes but not always abusive people come in many different disguises

though a red flag even if it is just a gut feeling will often warn us very early on sadly we often ignore it or justify it as we want to see the good in people and they are good at making us see this

GinAndT0nic Sun 17-Feb-13 12:31:32

Completely nodding along with justgettingonwithit's post, it is an exercise in psychological re-wiring the way these characters can get you to feel that your responsibility is to them. My x did it to me.

IfNotNowThenWhen Sun 17-Feb-13 20:24:47

sadandtired he woun't fucking kill himself! And if he did, well no great loss quite frankly.
He is FAR more likely to kill you.

IfNotNowThenWhen Sun 17-Feb-13 20:26:03

FWIW, my ex used to theaten to kill himself too. I still have a scar on my wrist from when I wrestled the knife off him.
Strangely, he has no scars, and is very much alive...

IfNotNowThenWhen Sun 17-Feb-13 20:28:29

And yy to targeting strong women. I used to think what happened to me happened because I do fight back. I am a lairy, mouthy broad. I didn't initially just "take it".
Abusers see it as a challenge. They want to break you. They will do this by any means necessary.
The ONLY thing to do is walk. And fast.

Moonstorm you are not a terrible judge of character. It sounds like your instincts are operating quite properly but you are second guessing yourself because your creepy acquaintance seems 'so nice'. Try reading Gavin de Becker's The Gift of Fear and learn why you should never do that. Abusers often adopt a very nice and sometimes overly personal style to hide their real motives.

In the first chapter of de Becker's book he tells of a 'very nice and helpful' stranger who offers to carry a woman's shopping up to her apartment - then rapes her. He went on to kill another woman. Nice means nothing.

This guy makes you uncomfortable - focus on that.

moonstorm Sun 17-Feb-13 21:15:37

Thank you, The NorthWitch, I realise it's hard to give an opinion over the Internet, but having someone understand helps! I will be careful not to be alone with him (not possible to avoid totally). And if he's perfectly nice and honest, then he won't care anyway.

BertieBotts Mon 18-Feb-13 02:12:23

I agree Pag - I feel fairly often that I "spot" abusers, but you can't always tell. There was a guy at work who I really got on with when I first started. He seemed to get a bit of stick from the other staff members and I thought they were being a bit harsh, and then one day he had an argument with the owner, I happened to pass him in the staff room and he kicked and punched a wall in anger, it really shocked me, for the rest of the day there was this atmosphere around him which permeated to everyone. I asked one of the other staff on my way home if something was up with him and she shrugged and said "That's just him."

Over the next few months although I continued to get on with him when he was in a good mood (and I even minimised this first example of both violence and everyone walking on eggshells) I started to become aware of why people didn't really seem to like him - he was openly vile to his girlfriend who worked there also, and would quite often go into these moods where everyone had to tiptoe around him. He ended up getting moved to another store because we kept making complaints that he was harrassing her grin and got sacked from there eventually too. She still lives with him, though, and by all accounts he's still the same. Sad. sad

wordyBird Mon 18-Feb-13 19:09:24

moonstorm, I too would say to trust your instincts. I read the book TheNorthWitch mentioned and highly recommend it. As Gavin de Becker says, niceness and charm are tools:

"We must learn and then teach our children that niceness does not equal goodness. Niceness is a decision, a strategy of social interaction; it is not a character trait. People seeking to control others almost always present the image of a nice person in the beginning."

The intense eye contact sounds like 'the predatory stare', no 7 on this list

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