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Your abusive ex. Did anyone try to warn you?

(78 Posts)
WonderingHow Mon 01-Apr-13 14:53:12

When you first got together with your abusive ex, did anyone show reservations about him, or try to warn you?

If they did, what were you told - and what did you make of the warning?

If no-one said anything - do you wish they had? What did you need to hear, if anything. Or were you so in love you didn't care?

If this applies to you, I'd welcome any insights.

Sanctimumious Sun 07-Apr-13 19:37:38

wonderinghow Yes, it's a paradox, or an irony (?) no matter how genuinely you really do have somebody's best interests at heart, you can't save them from a controlling person by telling them what what to do / think / tolerate.

That's worrying that her own mother seems pleased. She is not as astute clearly. Or, she is like a modern day mrs Bennett. Her daughter is engaged. Phew. :-(

That pressure from her mother could be a factor in her settling for this relationship. I remember feeling pressure to conform. I was nearly 30 and I felt like I owed it to my mother to do all the normal things like getting married and having children. I wasn't actually lonely when I met my x. I seemed to care more about appearing to be happy than actually being happy. Over time though I realised that my priorities were ass over t1t

WonderingHow Sun 07-Apr-13 17:28:51

Sancti– exactly – the sense of entitlement and lack of self-awareness is there for all to see. There are other situations, but one thing seems consistent: he is 100% selfish and entitled. He doesn't trouble to conceal it much.

And this is an interesting point, which I thoroughly agree with:

" She is entitled to hold her own views about any person, and they are HER views and don't need approval or seconding."
This is, of course, the argument for my own views. I can't stop someone seeing/liking someone, or conversely make them see/like someone: and this applies to me, too!

None of us has to like/not like someone, solely to keep someone else happy. And in a case like this I can't just paint a smile on: because it's not about like or dislike, it's about someone's future, someone I care about.

ConfusedPixie, it's upsetting to realise just how much of a hold these people have over us, even after they've left our lives. sad

Kernowgal it's great you are leaving the lines of communication open to talk to any future girlfriends. I think this is the best anyone can do.

elinor, that's awful for you. Yes, I've seen a change of fashion style too. I expect everyone thinks she's 'grown up', but it's not what comes across to me. It's more like she's disappeared. sad

With all my concerns, it's unfortunately not only about her and this unpleasant individual: her mother is constantly bragging and talking about this 'wonderful man' her daughter has found.

So it's a very unpleasant time as he has taken centre stage in that part of the family, while others have been pushed out: or been on the receiving end of aggression for failing to be sufficiently enthusiastic (not being sarcastic – that really is it).

There have been some difficult times lately.

I will look out for the Marion Keyes book, thank you.

OP, you could be describing a 'friend' of mine who is engaged to a man she has known 3 months, except that she introduced her DD to him within days of meeting him. He raises all kind of red flags to me, including his 'discipline' of her DD, the fact that she has completely changed her fashion style because he has bought her clothes and his hiving her of from her friends.
However, I feel unable to say anything. When she married her first husband I saw the bruises on her legs and her terror of him the night before her wedding and I told her marrying him was a terrible mistake and that it wasn't too late and she ignored me. She will ignore me again and I can't watch her inflict more damage on her DD. All I feel I can do is let her little girl know she has somewhere to go if she needs it.

Kernowgal Sun 07-Apr-13 10:37:47

Horrible isn't it, Matchsticks.

He just had this rage that came out of nowhere, like a volcano going off. He could be in a seemingly great mood just seconds before, then something I'd said or done would prompt this almighty shouting. I'd be left cowering.

For a good month or so after he left I just enjoyed the fact that I had the house to myself and no longer dreaded the sound of his footsteps in the alleyway. I'd forgotten what it felt like to be genuinely relaxed.

I've already told mutual friends that if he gets a new girlfriend and she expresses any concerns, to tell her to contact me for a chat.

For me it was initially excitement, then mixed with a small bit of apprehension, as there had been a couple of occasions where I'd been really looking forward to seeing him and he'd turned up in a foul mood and taken it out on me. Then as time went on it steadily grew to generally apprehensive and then later a feeling of dread - how's he going to be today? What might have happened at work/on the way home that he'll take out on me? I never knew what kind of mood he'd be in and so I just learned to be on my best behaviour and never give him any excuse to have a go at me kernowgal that was the exact way I felt. I have been out 6 months now. Life is so relaxed now.

WafflyVersatile Sat 06-Apr-13 16:11:32

Marian keyes book sounds like a good idea.

WafflyVersatile Sat 06-Apr-13 16:10:05

I think show her websites about signs of abusive rels etc. Help her understand how she deserves to be treated. That sort if thing. Let her decide for herself. The evidence on this thread is she won't listen if you just say you don't like him.

I was warned off of my first proper boyfriend when I was just 17. He was on drugs just before we got together and his best friend told me to stay away, as did other friends of his as he was going through a fucked up time in his life.

I ignored them and stayed with him for 18 months during which time he destroyed all but one of my friendships, took me away from my family, completely destroyed my education and both sexually and emotionally abused me. I still struggle with it a hell of a lot and it was 7 years ago now that I started talking to him and 5 years ago that I last properly bumped into him.
DP and I were talking about him yesterday as we bought a jigsaw puzzle to do together and I got paranoid that he would start shouting at me for doing it wrong. In nearly 8 years of friendship/relationship DP has never shouted at me and only raised his voice once or twice when I have raised mine first! I can't believe how much hold that boyfriend still has on my life.

No, he was divorced but on good terms with ex so no warning received. His current partner knows about his sexual and emotional abuse of me and his emotional abuse of our children and yet she is still with him, go figure.

SanctiMOMious Sat 06-Apr-13 13:54:44

ps, engaged again before he is even divorced! that speaks volumes about his lack of social awareness, self-awareness, lack of sensitivity, lack of common decency, sense of entitlement .....

If you're ever digesting the news that a famous couple has split up, don't analyse the reasons for the split in her presence, just keep repeating cheerily 'she didn't want it'. Not like 'oh well was he supportive enough of her career'. etc. cos those post split analyses used to feed my paranoia that everybody would put me on trial for having left... HE did of course. But everybody ELSE understood that I was entitled to leave JUST because I wanted to. I was the one who didn't understand that. I hope I@m not waffling too much here.

SanctiMOMious Sat 06-Apr-13 13:47:52

wonderinghow yeah, no matter how great he is, (or how great anybody is) no one particular person is obliged to be the one that has to appreciate them or be in a relationship with him. So I'd subtly press that point home. Make her realise that she doesn't need others agree with her realisations about him along the way. She is entitled to hold her own views about any person, and they are HER views and don't need approval or seconding. I say this because bizarrely, after a few years with my x, I felt I needed other people to 'approve' my decision to leave, and to agree with me that it was the right decision. I seemed to have totally lost sight of the (now) patently obvious fact that either person can at any time for no reason at all call time on a relationship. It doesn't need to be justified.

Marion Keyes wrote a book called this charming man which i ddin't like at all but funnily enough, she wrote an earlier book called 'Last Chance Saloon' which made no mention on the back cover of even touching on the subject of emotionally abusive relationshps. Read the book and see if there is a character in there who reminds you of anybody. And if you like it, pass it on to her. I know it's not the most cerebral of books but it struck a chord with me. I don't read trashy books as a rule, but this was good trash.

WonderingHow Sat 06-Apr-13 00:22:00

Jayho not a hijack at all. As you can see, it's something of a tightrope, between issuing some kind of warning, and driving the woman away from you and straight the arms of her abuser. You feel you can't do nothing. But if you do something you may possibly make it worse.

SanctiMOMious, insouciant sincerity does make sense. I need to keep the measured approach whilst offering some kind of, I don't know, get-out clause for her. Because Mr Narc has done a splendid job of isolating her by getting most of her family on his side, singing his praises.

She needs to know, subtly, not everyone thinks he's great: and there's a place he doesn't know and cannot come, but she can.

She knows I care about her. She is indeed a relative. And I'm quite content to be considered a mad, jealous relative for the time being: I don't care what anyone thinks, this has to be done.

There has been no pre-wedding counselling yet because, sad to say, he is still actually married! It wasn't an OW situation, but more like a devalue – discard – oh here's the next one, I'll marry her next type of scenario. shock He was that quick. Children were introduced in less than a month, and not on neutral territory. It's just awful, he has no feelings for anybody.

Nicknametaken they love strong, capable women. It's almost like they get extra points. sad

Peka it's terrible that you were abandoned like that. I can't imagine doing that to a family member. I will indeed be there for her.

Peka Fri 05-Apr-13 13:48:13

Hi there wondering, I would just say you need to make it clear you will be there for her when she needs to get out. I remember splitting up from my abusive ex aged 19 living in a foreign country. I called my parents in tears begging them to come and help me. They said they would but they didn't. I ended up back together with him for 2 more wasted years. There may be a very small window when she is strong enough/broken enough/ lonely enough to seek help. Just try to be there then if you can.

SanctiMOMious Fri 05-Apr-13 13:17:50

I know what you mean nicknametaken. Taht anomoly, between living the life of a strong interesting woman so therefore low self esteem can not possibly be her problem and yet, tolerating such crap from a man in a relationship

I said to Olivia42 on her thread that these guys take pleasure in sapping the life out of a strong intelligent woman with friends. Where's the challenge in sapping the life out of geisha girl!?? It's a bloodier and more enjoyable sport to take down a woman who is 'up herself' (ie) who once had her own independence etc...

And yes, I know exactly what you mean about being disturbed that other people can see that vulnerability in you . I recently decided to cut somebody (luckily only ever peripheral) out of my life, stone dead, and I'm lucky that I can do that, he 's not a relative or a boss. But he was drama baiting me, 90% jokes, and banter, 10% cruelty.

And then repeating back to me what I'd done over the last few years and giving it all the most negative interpretation possible. Leaving me feeling that this person had the wrong impression of me totally, and that I should defend myself!! Now I know that this person is utterly toxic.

But he is charming and pleasant to most people, and most people like him, but you know what, it is that seeing through him that puts me in his line of fire. It's not like it once was, that I am vulnerable. NOW, armed with your insights and your knowledge, just even seeing through these characters is what makes you vulnerable to their nasty streak, not any inherent or residual vulnerability in you. It is seeing through them now that makes you vulnerable. I hope that makes sense.

I have only had one relationship since my x and he was a very kind, decent man who hadn't a shred of badness. So, I congratulated myself on my abiltiy to pick better men now.. But outside of a relationship context, there I was, still engaging with a toxic person. Willingly. Until recently. I have just cut all communcation. Had an email with a shit apology and I ignored it.

We'd been together a few months and there was a piece in the local paper listing 10 signs of emotional abuse (and this was 20 years ago so quite forward thinking!) I read the list and recognised the signs and we both agreed that it was a stupid list and that it could apply to any relationship. Fool that I was. 10 years later I caught sight of myself crying in the bathroom mirror and realised I had to get out for my own sanity.

The good news is that now I know it was emotional abuse and I can recognise why I stayed, etc. My new man is wonderfulness personified, I cannot praise him highly enough, and so far from abusive. So the good men are out there, just hard to find.

NicknameTaken Fri 05-Apr-13 12:15:04

Sancti, I get similar comments from my mother and it's a killer.

If you'd have met me when I first met him, you'd have thought I had high self-esteem - doing interesting work, travelling a lot, well-educated. But part of me did have doubts (still does) about my "feminine charms". Not helped by the fact I'd returned to do a pg degree which was overwhelming female, so I was surrounded by beautiful women a decade younger than I am, and felt I was close to missing the boat. I was flattered and dazzled and sexually enthralled.

In a way, I almost mind less that my ex exploited my vulnerability, and more that this vulnerability thereby became obvious to the people who know me.

aPseudonymToFoolHim Fri 05-Apr-13 11:59:44

No-one really warned me. Not enough, anyway.
A couple of his mates asked me wtf I was doing with him, which I paid little mind to. One said he was only ex's mate as they'd grown up on the same street, otherwise he'd never have spoken to him. I paid no attention to that as I thought he was exaggerating. However, now I have kids, I realise it's probably true. There is a boy on our street that DCs tolerate just because they live near each other, but would never CHOOSE to be friends with him, his behaviour is shocking at times, so I can see now what the friend had meant.

Really, I needed MN 7 years ago, and my life would have been VERY much different, if I'd posted all the things he said and did. I'd have been posting something new EVERY week. And I'd have realised he was an emotionally abusive cocklodger years ago. Sometimes I think of posting things he said and did in retrospect, but actually I don't think I would be believed, there were SO many red flags, one after the other, after the other.

Why was I so blind???

WHERE WERE YOU????? smile

SanctiMOMious Fri 05-Apr-13 11:54:40

nicknametaken, yes it's embarrassing isnt it!? i remember my mum saying with a groan, after another letter from his solicitor, what did u ever see in him?! it was embarrassing. to have had, even so long ago in the past now, to have had such poor judgement/ self worth.... when i met my abusive x i had been getting over having been dumped by sonebody i thought i loved. he had dumped me with a brutal character assassination. then, he cobtinued to socialise with mutual friends. in fact i remember them wanting to know when i would be out so that they could socialuse at my house. my friend flatmare his friend. SO.... with that under my belt, having been made to feel bad, made to feel like it would be more convenient for everybody if i just went out OUT.... at that point i met my x. any other man would have run a mile!!! but not mr demand man/water torturer/mr victim. he thought i was perfect for him :-/

SanctiMOMious Fri 05-Apr-13 11:46:20

nicknametaken, part of my problem was that becauae of a liw self worth, i didnt acknowledge at the time, subconscioysly i felt it was what i was worth. because i am a sociable person, confident in social situations ; i didnt SEE that i had a low self worth. friends did hint at the fact that i could do better. i thought snippily 'well no clearly i cant'. instead of saying 'you can do better' i wish id belueved i was worth more .

NicknameTaken Fri 05-Apr-13 11:32:03

Sancti, great posts.

Family and friends held their tongues about my ex till after I left him. Apparently everyone could see what he was like except me - I was obviously in some kind of oxytocin haze. (Seriously, what was I thinking? Or perhaps - what was I thinking with?)

There are times when I felt betrayed that nobody had voiced their doubts, but if they had, I'm pretty sure my pride would have got in the way and it would have been even harder to admit I was wrong. Even now, several years after leaving my ex, I can't come out and say to my parents "You were right and I was wrong" although they were and I was. Ultimately, it does have to be her discovery.

Aspiemum2 Fri 05-Apr-13 11:17:41

Nobody warned me but I probably wouldn't have listened. That said my df is staunch catholic and was just delighted when we broke up. He said he could see how miserable I was but knew better than to interfere.

Interestingly all our friends are still blinded by him, he's the victim and I'm the bitch confused

His new wife said to me "if I behaved a certain way he would make me miserable too" as a sly dig that I'd brought it on myself. I wasn't even irritated by it, I just feel so bloody sorry for her

SanctiMOMious Fri 05-Apr-13 10:27:11

ps, I said upthread, but are they having pre-wedding counselling? I know that that's just standard here in ireland if you get married in a church, and I don't knwo the procedure in the uk. But I would wonder about approaching the minister to ask for the name of the counsellor, or, casually ask her, with the goal of revealing his true colours at counselling. I think these guys can fool a counsellor quite easily, especially one who is just going through the motions and ticking the box so young couples can go ahead and get married. BUT, if by any chance the counsellor was a good one and had had a tip off.... then possibly issues could errupt at counselling or at their home after counselling. What you want is to pull the wool from her eyes and for that to be done before she says 'i do'.

If she brings up the pre-wedding counselling, just say "oh! it's just to make sure that the marriage will be an equal one, with both parties need met, both parties gving and taking equally, and to make sure that there's love and respect and so on" --fake jauntyness-

SanctiMOMious Fri 05-Apr-13 10:19:34

wonderinghow That's great. Don't let her know that you see the real him. LIke I say, the friends I could have leant on in those hours of need were the ones who had never voiced their doubts and put them OUT THERE (and so consequently made it an issue, that I had to somehow set straight to defend my honour, or to keep up appearances).

But yet, there were people who clearly sensed what was going on and made heartfelt offers, which the perfect mixture of insouciance and sincerity. If that makes sense. insouciance about the fact that I was being abused! and sincerity wrt the offer itself.

Are you in a loving relationship? One of the things that used to penetrate my forcefield of delusion was seeing cards up on the mantel at other people's houses. I remember being at my friend's house and her dh had written her a card on the 7th anniversary of their wedding and in the card he said he knew he'd married the right person and said he'd do it all again, but with a better shoes. It was so appreciative of her, so good humoured, so happy, so normal ...... I read that card and put it down again and thought 'i'm not valued like that'.

Another little girl, friend of my daughter's was telling me her mum's name. And she said it's "dawnie-love". My mummy's name is dawnie-love. That's what she heard. And again of course, I said or did nothing but I thought 'i'm not loved'.

So my advice would be to keep the friendship/relationship with this young woman going. Prioritise that over trying to make her 'see' or trying to convey this or that. Just make sure that she knows that she can lean on you. and, if there's anything she can do for HER, ask, so that she feels more comfortable accepting a favour from you when the time comes. (or maybe that's not necessary if you are a relative)

jayho Fri 05-Apr-13 07:22:35

Mine conned everybody, I was endlessly congratulated on meeting such a kind, gentle person.

Slight hijack, we're now divorced but still having a similar experience to Fleecy. He's seeing someone I know vaguely, should I warn her?

Snowme Fri 05-Apr-13 02:12:11

My Mother said the first time she met him, that he gave her the creeps. And he'd been nothing but 'charming', quiet, polite. She was visibly worried from day one.
If a man makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck (and not in a good way), it's a gut reaction you can trust.

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