Note: Mumsnetters don't necessarily have the qualifications or experience to offer relationships counselling or to provide help in cases of domestic violence. Mumsnet can't be held responsible for any advice given on the site. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.

Red flags I should have heeded - share yours for womenkind

(1000 Posts)

There were various red flags that meant I should have headed for the hills, but I was vulnerable at the time, and he only upped the ante several years and a child down the line. I will share mine, in the hope that someone may take it on board, and hopefully others will share theirs too.
In no particular order: very early on in our relationship, he would throw a strop for no reason that I could discern, and looking back, still didn't know what had triggered it. I just knew I felt bad afterwards.
He was always unaware of personal space, and would frequently invade mine. Eg in the car, he would suddenly lurch accross me to access the glove box, without any warning. His car, his space.
Subtle undermining tactics. I am very particular about the perfume I wear. Anything else is a bit of waste of money really. He knew this, but would always try to 'convert' me to another one.
There were many others, and things got worse, with lots of EA, some dv, but I am just thinking of the things that had my Twat Detector been working, would have encouraged me to get out before I had emotionally invested. Please feel free to add. I'm sure I shall think of lots of other things later.

Dell28 Tue 13-Nov-12 23:36:36

Just want to add my own from my teens. Might help, and will feel good to get it out!

A few very early red flags - I was just 15, he was 18, early declarations of love, extreme over-reaction to me not responding the 'right way'. Ie, he was trying to impress me with some sciencey speak, and I corrected him - he shouted, insulted me, and then even cried, until I backtracked and said I was probably wrong. (I wasn't)

He would always say he was so intelligent and I wasn't. He made me feel so thick, when I really, really wasn't.

He mocked my hobby relentlessly, until in the end I gave it up.

He installed a keytracker type spyware thing on his younger step-sister's pc. I am so so outraged on her behalf now.

He bullied me into eating ridiculous amounts of chocolate. Sounds so stupid now, but he really laid on the threats. I truely felt I had no choice.

There was an incident with his father once. It was awful. His step-sister came running up to his room screaming for help, saying his dad was beating up her mum. She was so so distraght. He (boyfriend) just sat there, on his stupid computer, and told her to mind her own business. She was sobbing and was terrified her mum would be killed. I went downstairs with her and saw her 10 year old brother hitting the dad, who was hitting the mum. They stopped when they saw me and the dad stormed off. Those poor poor children. I was shaking when I went back upstairs to boyfriend's room. He had a big grin on his face and told me he'd just won some computer game. Like nothing had happened.

There was a horrible embarrassing sexual incident where he was pretending something I was doing to him was arousing, (it was a weird thing!) And then he started laughing and it was all 'just a joke'. But I was really humiliated!

He made a website called something like lardyDell28.com. To imply I was fat. It wasn't even secret. He was really proud of it and showed everyone! It had photos of me, and of very overweight women with my face imposed on top.

I got pregnant aged 16. It was 'my problem". He accepted no responsibility. Wouldn't come with me to arrange abortion. The people there would 'judge him unfairly'. I felt very uneasy about having an abortion, but equally uneasy about having his child. In the end I miscarried. Started bleeding about 20 minutes before my GCSE maths exam. He hung up on me when I phoned him crying, not knowing what to do. Should I do exam? Go to hospital? I sat the fucking exam. Got a B. Then I WALKED the 4 miles to the hospital because I had no money for a bus or taxi and he wouldn't give me any. Anyway, there were complcations and I ended up with surgery and a 10 day hospital stay. He didn't visit once. Then on the day after I was discharged, and under strict instruction not to lift anything heavy, he made me carry a large speaker up the stairs.

He videoed us having sex without my knowledge. When I was 15.

He cheated on me a few times.

Physical violence was beginning to appear. Pushes, prods. Flicks. Fucking flicks!! All the time. And they really hurt.

And then, we split up. He actually left me. I cannot believe the escape I had. I would never have dared leave him. So they are my 'red flags'. Writing it down makes it so clear how things escalated. Now for the horrifying behaviour the flags led to...

A few weeks after dumping me he broke into my house, trashed my room, and stole back gifts he had given me.

A few months later we were at the same party. He sexually assaulted me, very violently. He trapped me in the room afterwards and then started talking about how terrible he felt. Not for me, for his new girlfriend. I had made him 'cheat on her' apparently. He took out a knife and began running it over his wrist, saying he would kill himself. I was trying to comfort him, ffs! After what he had just done to me! Then he stopped, laughed, and said "why would I kill myself? It's your fault'. And then he came at me with the knife. I escaped with minor injuries luckily, but was absolutely terrified.

I just can't believe I went through all that aged 15/16. The relationship lasted just over 18 months. I am so so so thankful I miscarried the baby. To be tied to him for life would have been just awful. And I am so thankful he dumped me! Kindest thing he ever did. After the assault I moved to a new city. Literally the next week. I lost pretty much all my friends. I had to start everything again. School, jobs, house. (I was already not living with my parents). Even silly things like a new email, new phone number. I even took my mum's maiden name as my surname. I was terrified he would find me.

Over 10 years later, I'm married, nice husband, nice house, nice kids (one dead kid though - it seems not all my bad karma was spent back then), I don't even think about that horrible boyfriend often. But my God, the thought of what could have been will haunt me for a long time.

I am so thankful he only took 18 months of my life.

gladiolus Wed 14-Nov-12 00:06:53

Only up to page 23 but have a few to offer that have occurred.

Accused me of having an affair with an Italian ON OUR HONEYMOON.

Told me that the Colosseum was boring and implied that I was stupid for getting excited about being there.

After the Colosseum argument, followed me around Rome like a bad smell and, when I wanted to sit and have a rest and an ice-cream, stood OUTSIDE the ice cream parlour on the street with his arms firmly folded while I sat inside eating my ice cream all on my own.

One time in a lift in a shopping centre, there was a little boy about 18 months old kicking his feet in his pushchair. His feet happened to accidentally connect with dh's leg. DH turned on this baby and told him that if he kicked him again, he'd kick HIM. Said little boy's father then had a major go at dh who backed down quick smart, as he was about 6 inches taller and probably 30 lbs heavier, all muscle. I tried to hide my smirk.

When he broke his toe and I had to drive him to all his jobs for two weeks, would tell me where to park, make me move if I parked somewhere that wasn't to his liking, lean over and beep the horn for me if he thought someone else's driving warranted it, and I hadn't beeped the horn, reduce me to tears every day, have a go at me for not knowing where I was going in towns I'd never been to before and relying on a sat nav I wasn't used to, and when his toe recovered enough to do a little driving, threaten to leave me in Scotland one time and I could get the train home.

On said Scotland trip, accused me of using crying as 'blackmail'.

Frequently reduce my children to quivering wrecks who dared do nothing except sit on the sofa and quietly watch TV when he was home. And even then they were subject to his opnions on the 'crap' they watched.

Never doing the morning routine with the kids. Ever. Not once. He would always stay in bed and I had to go and wake him with a cup of coffee shortly before I left to take the kids to school.

I never went out with friends the WHOLE time we were married. Apparently it's not done for a married woman to go to a nightclub. And even if she does, she mustn't stay out after 11pm. And if I came home drunk and was ill the next day, HE certainly wasn't getting up in the morning to look after my kids. I could do it myself. It just wasn't worth it in the end, so I never went anywhere.

Had a MAJOR problem with the fact that I had a number of one night stands. In my 20s. Fifteen years before I ever met him.

Has talked to his exW about me. Apparently I am a bad person for giving up on our marriage after only two years, when 'at least she tried for sixteen years.'

Has no respect or understanding for the fact that I have Aspergers. He says, "You could be normal. You just can't be bothered."

Racist, sexist, fattist - yup!

All those times he would say, "Your problem is that you blah blah blah."

Never acknowledging or appreciating my financial contribution to the household as it was less than his (even though he earned far more than me) yet somehow managing to interpret that as me contributing 'nothing' and not appreciating HIS almighty contribution.

Calling me names. The worst was f***ing c**t. That was shortly before I left him.

tryingsoonflying Wed 14-Nov-12 00:45:33

When angry with an ex friend he talked about raping said friend's sister to "teach him (ex friend) a lesson".

Warning me not to get too involved in life of my wheelchair bound friend because said friend would be getting progressively worse (health wise) and then I would be "stuck" with helping him sad Said friend at later date dying in hospital and STBXH refused to drive me to hospital to visit (before I could drive) (luckily flat mate took me).

Conspiracy theories about "Zionists"

Telling a "joke" about women being like footballs.

Telling me quietly when FiL was in room (ie I felt I couldn't react) about getting BJ from prostitute.

Name calling galore. He's the only person in my life who has called me C***, cow, bitch etc. And he's the one who's meant to love and protect me.

Calling our baby "rubbish" when she wouldn't stop crying one night.

Where is that face in palm emoticon.... Oh God it's so awful written down and that's only some of it..... I wish I'd had MN (and some bloody self esteem)much earlier sad

taxiforme Wed 14-Nov-12 03:03:09

Sleeping with a neighbours 19 yo daughter (he was 32) when I was in hospital having a MC, then blaming me when he lost his job as a result.
Seeing a dog loose on the motorway (which he could have avoided as it just stood there in the middle of the long empty carriageway) and hitting it at 80 mph.
Hating his mother (oh waving that flag good and strong).
leaving me alone in a foreign country to look after his mother while he went back to a "wedding" (ie to shag another woman).
Taking hospitality from my lovely parents whilst on way to shag said woman at none existant wedding.
Years of passive aggressive behaviour.
Years of hardcore porn hidden around the house.
Taking my self esteem.

sad

amarylisnightandday Wed 14-Nov-12 03:23:01

Lou -- yy! Something in me snapped with exp and I started not reacting to his drama. I would go straight to bed or go and sit in the other room or just des alarm straight away somehow. Of course exp fumed over this because making me cry and look like I was being weak/unreasonable. This was the point from which the marriage broke down irretrievably - because I stood up for myself in a kind of passive agressive way.
Split didn't come quickly enough after that! Twit.

unicornshoes Wed 14-Nov-12 08:09:13

Ex moved out 6 weeks ago, didn't realise what was happening until discovering MN and realising I'm not going mad/loosing it.
-Hitting windscreen so hard whilst driving, smashed windscreen, I was heavily pregnant at the time and frightened.
-Trapping me in the bathroom, again heavily pregnant with first DC, apparently hugging me to calm me down, not letting me go and I bit him to escape. So I was of course accused of being abusive.
-Driving too fast, scaring me with the DC's in the car, wouldn't slow down when I asked.
-I fell down the stairs whilst heavily pregnant and he came to see what the bang was but didn't help me up/ask if I was ok.
-Compulsive liar, lied about anything and everything, even convincing himself of his own lies!
-Regular porn use.
-Never did or will take responsibility for his own actions, always someone else's fault.
-Said I was lucky to have a man that didn't cheat/hit me and that I should have been grateful for that.
-Can't go out for a few drinks without getting absolutely trashed and usually ending up snorting coke/not coming home/lying about where he was.
-Would never shout during and argument, always used a calm and quiet voice (even when saying the most insulting things) so that when I did finally snap I would again be accused of being the "crazy" woman.
-Regularly called me mental, mad, crazy because I had PND after first DC, not surprising really.
-Told me that if I ever told anyone about how he treated me that no-one would believe me, which is in fact quite true excluding my friends/family. His family see me as the one who caused the relationship to break down, god knows what lies he has been feeding them.

Just wished I'd left him sooner tbh and hope that I have done it in time before the DC's are old enough to realise what's happening.

There's probably more so I may add them at a later date as I have found it quite therapeutic getting them all out of my head!

Marzipanface Wed 14-Nov-12 11:40:10

This is utterly appalling reading. I am so sorry you have all been treated this way.

What I don't understand is why you tolerated the behaviour. Did these men have any redeeming features at all??

ATourchOfInsanity Wed 14-Nov-12 12:42:07

They can charm so easily Marzipan. Yes to the poster who said about making you feel thick - my ex did this so often and I am really struggling to remember that actually I have a brain. Example - he didn't know what the word dappled meant ffs but got v. aggressive when I explained it to him, politely, and said "how do YOU know that?" as if it was unheard of.

He made me feel rock bottom, slowly and very gradually erasing all self respect, until you just agree for a quiet life and self doubt so much that doing your own thing/having own thoughts seems quite scary and you think you would probably make the wrong choices. It really is all a mind game of power.

blueraincoat Wed 14-Nov-12 12:50:23

Wow, I am actually speechless as to how the same traits crop up again and again. Are we sure there isn't just one man dating all of us here?

Let's see, these are probably already mentioned but here is my two pence worth:

Told me his ex's were evil, he was the victims etc yet strangely fascinated with them would follow them, Facebook stalk etc.

Told me his ex's were prettier, better figure and that is first ex (who dumped him - well done her!) was his perfect woman and that no one could live up to her and sometimes I reminded him of her but not in a way that meant he could love me as much (!)

Told me that none of our friends (and they were OUR friends as we meet from a group of people who knew each other) liked me, that they all bitched about me and that he was the only one who liked me. Made me believe they had said certain things whilst telling them I had said things about them.

Once called him when the heating in my own flat had broken in mid-Jan. He begrudgingly let me stay there but made me sleep on the floor.

Once cried because I went round and spoke to his flatmate (who answered the door!) before I had spoken to him. He cried under the duvet for about an hour.

There is so much more, I could be here for hours.

Strangely my Dad saw right through him, told me he wasn't welcome at our house, tried to get me away. If only I had listened... I now have a wonderful DP who is slowly helping in the rebuilding of my self-esteem and confidence. When I look back I can't believe that person crying on the bathroom floor was me.

And for those asking why for me it started slowly and in the end I was so low I just gave up caring until I found the strength to dump him. He still badgered me for sex for a while put ran a mile when DP sent him a message just saying NO.

ATourchOfInsanity Wed 14-Nov-12 12:50:43

Changing the goal posts too. He is currently trying to make me think that him pretending he was a donor is the truth and he is ignoring nearly 2 years of on/off relationship. He has spent 2 Christmases and NYE with me and my father and our DD, asked me to marry him twice - thankfully I refused and luckily have one email with him saying it to 'prove' I am not going mad. He spent the last 11 months deliberately not mentioning our daughter once or seeing her as his solicitor advised him not to as he was 'only a donor' and now just yesterday asks me for pictures of her, as he 'cares in a donor sense' all of a sudden. Last I heard he wanted me to produce a document signing himself out of her life - he would never ask about her or see her again. I refused to give him this document (he wanted to use it to get out of CSA- which is what his whole donor stance is based on, avoiding financial responsibility). He can't see why I am annoyed that he just pops up with what he thinks is a reasonable request after not even asking about her on her first b.day. He thinks he can just pick us up all of a sudden. It smacks of him loosing his latest g.f to me and being bored. His last msg to me, after I said I would wait for the tribunal he is taking us to, was 'well at least I tried. Clearly you are still being bitter and unreasonable about this whole thing. What a surprise."

That is the type of man we are talking about. He seems to really believe his own lies.

blueraincoat Wed 14-Nov-12 12:53:50

Can we ignore my terrible apostrophe crimes please blush I was just getting it all out. I can't believe how cathartic that was because even now I have little moments of maybe it was me. Now I know, definitely not.

Marzipanface Wed 14-Nov-12 14:06:26

I hope this thread is helpful for everyone posting and also for others reading.

I think I have been lucky enough to avoid these dickheads. They clearly all seem to be of the same personality type or rather the same personality disorder obvious from all recurring themes through this thread.

"What I don't understand is why you tolerated the behaviour. Did these men have any redeeming features at all?? "

Thing is (and I've never been in a relationship like this, thankfully) - it surely shouldn't matter if these men have redeeming features, any one of these nasty traits should be a dealbreaker.

Marzipanface Wed 14-Nov-12 16:48:12

Yes, anyone of these traits SHOULD be a dealbreaker but this is a thread about women who were in abusive relationships and have come out of the fog. There are lots of different reasons that women continue to stay in abusive relationships and tolerate awful behaviour - economic reasons, low self-esteem, being psychologically broken down by the abuser...

For whatever reason they didn't heed the red flags, but can now see them. At least this is my thinking after reading through the thread, I went from 'how on earth did you put up with this?' to 'Why did you put up with this?' to 'There is obviously something I am missing here as I don't have the same experiences in relationships as these women so I will do a bit of reading about it'

Ironically I have spent my life apologising and tolerating awful behaviour from family members.

roooibos Wed 14-Nov-12 17:37:44

Thing is (and I've never been in a relationship like this, thankfully) - it surely shouldn't matter if these men have redeeming features, any one of these nasty traits should be a dealbreaker.

Easy to say from a neutral perspective.

Marzipan I think when you have a toxic family background, it is more difficult to pick up abusive behaviours. Certainly was for me. Things become 'normal' that would not be so for those who have come from a healthy family of origin. These bastards hone in on this.

Ok peeps I have started a new thread. We're nearly full.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

This thread is not accepting new messages.