Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.

I'm still scared of him even now, does the fear ever go away

(17 Posts)
Freeyourmind Fri 08-Feb-13 21:05:47

I was married for 13 years, 2 lovely DD's. My exH was an extremely emotionally abusive man and for a long time I just didn't see it and spent my life desperately trying to keep the peace, in lots of ways alienating myself from my family who were always offering support. I finally plucked up the courage to end the marriage 2 years ago. I've had extensive counselling to work out why my self esteem was so completely low and why I stayed for so very long knowing I was so unhappy. I really do feel that I have changed, yet when it comes to exH it's so much harder.

Most of the arguments now are to do with his contact with our DD's. He'll go for a few weeks chopping and changing the plans to accomodate his social life, and then go another few weeks claiming he is father of the year. It's really just like when we were married, I never know quite what to expect and never know how his mood is going to be. As time has gone on I have slowly become stronger and try to be more forward about keeping contact to the agreed plan. He doesn't have any great desire to see the children, I really do think that most of the time it's because he "has rights" as he frequently tells me. He just wants to be able to tell people he gets all the contact he wants but then doesn't actually want to fulfill it. It's now the only way he can still have some control over me.

He's a bully, pure and simple. It's always his way or an argument. I know now that no matter what I do, I can't get him to be reasonable, he never will be, I can only look after my own emotions.

Therein lies the problem. I'm still just scared of him. Not physically, he never hit me, but I'm emotionally scared of him, if you see. Scared of not being able to cope with more of the things he will throw at me because I had the audacity to rebel and divorce him. He has caused a massive amount of upset this week really just for the sake of it. I have barely eaten or slept this week worrying about how things will progress, whether he really will take me to court, whether I'll have enough money for the mediation (I have to pay, he gets legal aid as he doesn't work), whether the children are going to be upset. I just don't want them to be subjected to the abuse that I was, it's ever so subtle at times and it knocks all the confidence from you.

Does the fear, that sick feeling in your stomach ever go away when you're dealing with them when they are having one of their "episodes". I try as much to detach myself from him, keep things to e-mail, he's not allowed to text me as he's so nasty, minimal talk, if any, at handovers yet, I'm still just floored when he starts being nasty. His nastiness can go on for weeks, and then just as quick as it started he'll be fine again.

Sorry it's so long, just needed to get it off my chest really. Fear can be quite a lonely place.

lulubellaboozle Fri 08-Feb-13 21:11:24

freeyourmind my heart goes out to you, you have been incredibly brave. I am in the process of divorcing my emotionally and physically abusive STBXH and I do understand you the feelings you describe. Do you have a local support group? Where i live there is a domestic abuse service and they offer free confidential telephone support and face to face counselling. I have found it incredibly supportive to talk to people who know exactly what you are going through and it gives me strength to know they are there and understand. It helps stop the loneliness.

Freeyourmind Fri 08-Feb-13 21:19:59

Thanks lulu. I am still continuing with my counsellor who is really good, but I think the support group is a good idea. I have lots of really good friends who have been so fantastically supportive, but until you've been there yourself you don't actually know what it's like do you, so talking to people who have been there themselves would be great.

HollaAtMeBaby Fri 08-Feb-13 21:21:58

Have you heard of the Freedom Programme? You might find it helpful. Google it smile

Hissy Fri 08-Feb-13 21:26:11

Please stop the mediation. You don't have to pay for something that he's only going to use to try to hurt you further.

You CAN deal with this. He's no match for you love, that's why he's trying to hard to beat you, cos he knows you're better than him.

Don't ever give up, not until you're healed, until you're stronger, and until you've got all the tools in place to NEVER fall for this kind of BS again.

Freeyourmind Fri 08-Feb-13 21:29:24

Yes Holla, I've seen it mentioned on here before. I've only been doing my counselling, thought that would be enough, but maybe I need something else too. I'll have a look now, thanks smile

Hissy Fri 08-Feb-13 21:30:21

Remember that it took your entire relationship for him to brainwash you into thinking he was normal, and that the evil he did to you and your family was 'ok'.

You have to throw THAT much effort BACK into getting your head free. I did ther freedom programme, attended DV group, AND did counselling.

Exhausting, expensive (the counselling) and infuriating, but 2 years on I'm stronger than I've ever been in my life!

You are worth all this and more.

Freeyourmind Fri 08-Feb-13 21:43:01

Hissy, thank you so much. My friends say that he doesn't see the weakness that I feel, he only sees a new, stronger me and that's why he's pushing a bit harder to try to bring me back in line. I get that, I'd just love to be able to feel it too. Do you ever get to a point where they don't have a hold over you? It just feels like while he can use the children, as he knows they are my weak spot, then he will. I just cannot bear to see them upset, it's horrible sad

Freeyourmind Fri 08-Feb-13 21:57:04

When I look back at some of the things I tolerated to keep the peace, it's like looking back over someone elses life, like I can't quite believe it all happened to me. You live life on a sort of auto pilot so you stop feeling the pain, hence it becomes normal. I guess that is going to take a long time to unravel.

Counselling has been life changing for me, beyond painful at times but so worth it.

I'm going to look at this Freedom programme. That'll be the next step and lulu also suggested a DV group. Its taken me a long time to admit the extent of the abuse, I felt a bit of a fraud at first thinking that because he didn't hit me it wasn't abuse. Now I see just how awful it was.

I love my new life, I just need to find a way to deal with him.

TisILeclerc Fri 08-Feb-13 22:07:48

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Freeyourmind Fri 08-Feb-13 22:23:10

Do you know, I have never thought of it that way but your counsellor is completely right. When he asks me something, anything, doesn't even have to be important, I immediately become anxious as history tells me nothing is ever as it seems with him. There are no limits to the lies he will tell in order to try and get his own way, so yes my gut is telling me to be wary.

Hissy Fri 08-Feb-13 22:37:05

Do as much as you can, all the time, try to fill your life with therapy, group, programme. It really does take that much effort, but boy oh boy does it pay off! smile

Your friends are right, twats of his magnitude do get worse when they thin they are losing you. In time they may give up when they see you're not falling back in line.

At this stage of the game, it's a case of fake it til you make it. Eventually that'll all get easier.

Does the fear of them ever leave? Yes I think so. You just have to establish your boundaries and police them.

Don't allow him to abuse you. Don't reply to crappy texts, end any call he's rude to you on, cancel the mediation, and divert the money into your own therapy. Don't ever reward his bad treatment of you with anything more than icy, calm contempt. If he can't be civil, he doesn't get access to you.

Do the freedom prog, it will help you.

Keep posting here too, we'll always be on hand to help unravel all this, if that helps?

ladybrady22 Fri 08-Feb-13 23:07:18

OP I could have written your post. I finally left my controlling emotionally abusive ex-H a year ago. Since then I've been working really hard to be myself again and remember how happy and confident I used to be. I also have two young dc who are doing so well and relishing the calm atmosphere at home. For the most part, I think come across as confident to most people but as soon as he is in front of me I just feel sick, often physically shaking and just have this overwhelming sense of panic. He spent so long bullying and browbeating me and always ended up getting his own way on everything. He still cannot get his head around the fact that I had the audacity to leave him. Like your relationship, he was never physically abusive but I can honestly say that I am scared of him. I remember the rage he would fly into if his evening meal that I had cooked was not up to his standard so I can't even get my head around how much anger is boiling inside of him that I actually had the gall to divorce him.

I wish I never had to see him again but of course he comes over to pick up the dc and tries to linger for as long as possible and just behave horribly. I don't let him beyond the hallway and try not to engage at all but it's so hard as he cannot seem to resist trying to bully me and be in control of the situation.

Not sure that this is any help to you OP but I just want you to know that you are not alone in this situation and hopefully one day we will be truly free of the fear and anxiety that this situation brings. X

This all sounds so familiar...except my exH has gone a step further and has applied to court for 50% contact, which DC (teens) do not want. He sexually and emotionally abused me for years and I know the fear you describe very well. As I stepped further and further out of reach, he switched his abuse to DD1, who now refuses to see him and is scared to be alone with him. In my response to the court, I had to tick the box that said my DC were at risk of harm and fill in a long form detailing all that I, and they, have suffered. I included copies of emails between DD1 and her dad, with her consent, which support my statement.

One way in which I keep myself safe from him is to have a separate email account. His email is blocked on my normal one. I do not log in to the email account, DP does it and only tells me if there is anything I need to know. As a result, I am spared the venom and ranting. I pick up and sometimes drop off DC at his but never get out of the car or park directly in front of the house. I have not allowed him to come to my home since we moved in August. Can someone else do handovers for you and manage his emails on your behalf?

DP cannot fathom why DD and I are scared of exH, since he cannot physically hurt us...but 3 years on, the fear has not gone away.

As a result of his court application, we now have social services involved as well as CAFCASS. He doesn't even want the kids that much, he just begrudges the child support (over £700 a month).

ladybrady, don't let him in. Have the DC ready to go and post them out of the front door. If they are of school age, have your ex pick them up straight from there if possible. Ideally, have someone else do the handover.

RedBushedT Fri 08-Feb-13 23:58:37

I'm another one who feels the same. I avoid all confrontation with my ex. My family & friends have told me I'm 'too soft on him'.
That I 'should tell him that's not on' etc when he changes plans & expects me to sort out childcare short notice.
But I'm scared of how he will react.
Part of me is just so fucking thankful that we are divorced & he's not in my life day to day, that I'd take any amount of inconvenience just to not have to listen to another of his rants.

I hate that I'm still quite cowed by my fear of him, but the remembrance of what he's like when he's drunk & angry... Well it just paralyses me on a regular basis.
It's still quite early days for me (about a year and a half) so I'm hoping it will get better as my confidence grows.

I just keep telling myself that it no longer matters what he thinks of me, and that helps a little. I don't need his approval!

MisSunshine Sat 09-Feb-13 04:02:37

I too could have written your post OP. I count my blessings every day that I am free but still have a fear in me that it will never go away. My friends and family also say I am too soft, but I don't want to add fuel to his fire by being hard on him. Mostly though I am so grateful that the children and I have a happy and peaceful home. Keep writing, keep talking and it will fade eventually, Im sure of it.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now