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Subtle EA? Or is it just me? Confused, please help(369 Posts)
I sincerely apologise in advance for the length of this post, feel free to skim bits if it makes it easier.
I have lurked here for sometime, have stumbled across the support thread for those in emotionally abusive relationships, have never thought of DH as abusive as he?s never hit me but I?ve been unhappy for a while and couldn't understand why, he?s not overtly abusive, doesn't call me names or put me down in any obvious way, but over the 15 years we?ve been together has done some pretty shitty things. (We?ve been together 15 years, married for 10 and have ds age 7 and dd age 5)
only months after we got together I discovered I was pregnant, I hoped to sit down & discuss it like adults with him; he burst into tears, wailed, sobbed, put his head in his hands and begged me to have an abortion. I would have done anyway but didn't feel like I had a choice. The very fact that I was considering keeping it seemed to offend him.
He once burned the book i was reading on our BBQ (when drunk) because it was called ?The Satanist? and as a Catholic it offended him, esp as his mum had cancer.
once during a heated argument he got so angry he punched the wall right next to my head so hard it left the imprint of his four knuckles in the plaster; he said that was ok, he was so angry he really wanted to punch me but punched the wall instead.
2-3 years ago he decided to get fit so was having sessions with a PT, he badgered me into going too, even though I wasn't keen; after 6 months when i?d lost 1 1/2 stone, and gone from a size 16 to a 12 (im 6ft) he told me one night as i was getting into bed that ?he didn?t fancy me anymore, my tits were all saggy and I?d ruined my body and he wanted me to have a boob job"
last year bought me some eye-wateringly expensive underwear, and despite me saying repeatedly that it didn't fit has proceeded to buy me another 4 sets of same size stuff. Gets upset when I tell him it doesn't fit (again) and says he is only doing it to spice things up and put the spark back.
once remotley wiped my iphone after an argument, and during same argument threatened to sell the car
demanded/coerced me into sex when I had recurring thrush (every month, over a period of four years), despite me telling him repeatedly how much it burned.
no help with kids - has never bathed kids, could count on fingers of one hand how many times he?s put them to bed, says he cant read bedtime stories because he?s dyslexic but manages to spend 2-3 hours on his ipad every night. I thought that was normal until an exchange student we had staying with us for the summer last year commented on how he did nothing with the kids and I did everything.
went on holiday last year, DS took the class ?holiday bear? & was soooo excited, DH said we couldn?t take bear on days out in case it got lost. I was too scared to say the bear could go in the back pack, DS was visibly crushed & in tears, i felt I had failed DS because i didn't stand up to DH.
a couple of years back he tried to persuade me to have my navel pierced, i said no, then during an argument said he just wanted a sign that I loved him, like - guess what - having my navel pierced. to my eternal shame i did it, hated it but thank god it rejected so i took it out.
says he wants me to wear sexy clothes so that when we go out he can show me off and other blokes will be jealous. i don?t really want to anyones trophy.
he wants me to be completely hairless between my legs, i?ve tried it a couple of times but frankly don't like it, thinks its degrading, don?t think im setting a good example to my dd (or ds for that matter, what will he think when sees a real bush?), (and god does it itch when it grows back in) he says I should do it for him to please him.
Says i should do things to please him even if i don't like doing it, as he would do the same for me. i have tried to explain to him that i don't understand how he can get pleasure from me doing something I clearly don't want to do, and that i wouldn't even ask him to do something that he was unhappy with, but he doesn't get it.
A few weeks ago DS was unhappy at school & with homework, after a discussion with the head teacher I was browsing the web looking at home schooling (something I considered before DS started school, not something I?d rush into but it?s always an option) he caught me looking at HE websites, didn't think to ask my opnion about it, just went straight into a tirade about how he disagreed and he was really upset that I was even thinking about it.
basically every argument turns into how he feels about it and how upset I have made him feel and how i need to change my behavior so that he doesn?t get upset and that he?s only happy when I?m happy.
I?ve stuck it this long because of what we?ve been through with his parents, his mum had cancer for years, with all the entailing chemo, radiotherapy etc, then 3 weeks after she died we found out his Dad had cancer, he died 6 months later (Feb 2009). For a long time I?ve made excuses for DH?s behavior because his parents were ill and then obv he was grieving.
Last year things seemed finally to be good, we had about 6 months where I thought we were finally coming out of the woods, but the last 6 months have been hell. We argue every week, he says its because I don't talk to him. I?ve tried to explain I feel afraid to talk to him because he raises his voice, interrupts me, and doesn't listen. He says its all down to me, only I can change it and I?m not normal.
I could go on but think even i'd lose the will to live reading it all.
In short (and thanks if you?ve stuck with me this far) is any of the above normal? would you have put up with this thus far? Am I over-reacting? And what are the chances of things ever being better? should I just cut my losses now and run?
I?ve just turned 40, have taken a long hard look at the last 15 years and don't want the next 15 to be the same.
Well, it's been an eventful 48 hours.
Friday I was at work when a friend, (who worked for us for a while when we ran the business from home) dropped in. I told her that me & H had separated, she was shocked, then we were chatting I decided to confide in her so told her there had been abuse involved, I didn't go into great detail, just an outline, but knew she would understand as she's a trained counsellor. I started waffling about how hard it is and how I can't really tell anyone because they probably wouldn't believe me.
She looked me straight in the eyes and said "Socks, you're forgetting - I worked in your house, and I saw what went on. He's a big man, he's very loud and very overbearing, and there were times when I was scared of him." We had a really good chat, and I felt a lot better after talking to her.
Then H came in and, in front of my friend, started talking about "my attitude" and how I'm nasty to him and how it's going to affect the children if I can't be civil to him. (Btw I'm not actually being "nasty" to him, I'm just not speaking to him unless I have to, which clearly he doesn't like as he still wants us to be friends ) I could tell he was trying to goad me so was very calm, didn't engage and ended the conversation when I saw where it was going. I was shaking inside, and felt so belittled that he'd done it from of our friend. She took him to one side and spoke to him, then he went off and she talked to me again. She said I'd handled it really well and she could see H was just trying to bully me, and that if hed talked to her like that she'd have been scared too. In a way I'm glad she was there because so often it's just me & H and I'm left wondering who was at fault in the exchange.
To be honest I think I'm doing well just speaking to him calmly. I've never hated anyone so much in my whole life as much as I hate him now. I hate what he's done to me for the last 15 years, I hate what he's done to the kids and I hate him for now trying to wheedle his way into the kids affections by going totally OTT and trying to prove what a good dad he is.
So, we told the kids yesterday that we're separating. God, that was the worst thing I've ever had to do. There were tears, obviously, and lots of questions, dd just wanted to know if she could take her toys to the new house when we move, and I told ds that I knew how important a garden is to him so I would look for a house with a garden. They recovered from the shock remarkably quickly, and I told them that they can ask any question they want, no matter what it is.
So later on the swings, ds asked me "mummy, dyou think you'll remarry" cue much umming and erring from me, "well, I might get married again one day sweetie but probably not for quite a while yet", ds continues "why don't you marry [insert name of girl in his class at school]'s Dad, then we'd be step brother & sister !!!
Time for breakfast, dd wants me to keep her company, may post more later x
You are doing amazingly well. I was stuck under the same roof as Ex for a year while divorce and settlement were going on, but at least mine wasn't trying to be friends, and kids were young adults. I found it helped to think 'this is one of the last conversations like this that I'll have with you'. Also validation from the friend is worth its weight in gold!
Well done well done well done it took me 18 months to get to the point where you are now. You are not only doing the right thing (and I never doubted I was doing the right thing) but you are on the fast track to regaining your sanity and your life and your independence and happiness.
I'm not surprised the children took it in their stride tbh. They may have this new superdad character playing a recent game, but you are their rock. The truth is for all this recent role play, they don't have "two rocks". They have one rock. That's obviously you. And that's why my children coped so well with a separation. Although, I say coped, the word really would be flourished.
Have a nice day
ps, i mean 18 months to get to not being goaded, not defending myself, not responding to the drama baits. (was a bit unclear there)
Good for you.
I suspect most people you know will be like your friend.
These men can't really hide who they are. Just some people all the time. Not from everyone all the time.
Your children's reactions are somewhat expected. They must have realised way back that something was not ok, and it doesn't sound that they are that attached to their dad.
Remember that they will reflect your emotions.
You're doing so well keeping calm!
His attempt at trying to get your friend on side by putting the blame on your 'attitude' seems to have backfired.
Breaking the news to the kids must've been so difficult, but it sounds like you handled it well. They may be upset because of the sense of uncertainty about impending changes etc - but not exactly heartbroken, if ds is already lining up a potential new stepdad and stepsister! Bless him lol. Shows how replaceable they think he is...
I've been lurking on here and have found it really helpful. Socks you are in the place I was in a year ago; handling it so much better than I did though. My dh also very 'poor me', manipulative etc.
Jenny your posts are amazing and something you wrote was a massive eye-opener for me - it was when you said you wanted your dh's approval for leaving him. I did that too. Cue two or three years of the same argument where I tried to get him to take responsibility for screwing up our marriage with his EA... it never worked and he still doesn't see it. I lacked confidence in myself so much it was as if I couldn't permit myself to leave unless I could get him to understand I had no choice. Eventually it didn't matter any more.
FWIW a year on I feel the fog is finally lifting and I am no longer beating myself up all the time or feeling crippled with guilt about the marriage ending. The grieving is coming to an end and I am looking forward, confident I have done the right thing and feeling like my own person for possibly the first time. I am 42 and was with my dh for 15 years too.
Sorry, that all sounds a bit hijacking and I don't mean it to. There are so many of us at various stages of negotiating new lives that aren't dominated by these damaged losers...
Socks you are doing brilliantly. Your anger is understandable, but try not to let it get in the way of the progress you are making; don't let it mess you up. The perfect Dad thing must be particularly irritating. But while your kids might be enjoying the oxygen of some more attention from him for once it can do nothing to reverse the many years of you being the better parent, so don't be anxious about that.
Sending you love and strength, and to all the women who've broken free from one of these dysfunctional, stunted individuals.
Hi everyone, thanks for all the words of support & encouragement
have spent the afternoon at my mums, just lovely and relaxing sitting in the garden in the sunshine with the kids playing & laughing. Ds laughed like a drain when the wind blew so hard my plastic picnic plate flipped over and dumped my sandwich in his lemonade .
tired, I know what you mean about Jenny's posts and needing approval; if I hadn't read that I would probably be trying to explain to everyone, including H, exactly why I was leaving when really, as many people have said here, the fact that "the relationship broke down' is sufficient information in most cases.
Fluffy, you echo my mum's words from yesterday with your observation Shows how replaceable they think he is.... dd drew a couple of pictures of all the family yesterday and said "They're for Daddy for when he leaves. I want daddy to move out and you stay here with us mummy, because we don't do much with daddy do we, except when he takes us to school sometimes". She's 5, and she has him sussed.
He is at the minute systematically working his way through all our friends to "talk" to them about us. I suspect he thinks that if he gets in with his version of events first they will believe him. He obviously hasn't reckoned on my new-found quiet dignity . Whenever he starts talking and trying to get a rise I just repeat in my head "Don't engage. Quiet dignity"
Works a treat!
Anyway, Superdad is taking kids to the beach tomorrow, so will give me time to get everything together that I need for the solicitor on Wed.
Quick question - should I take evidence of the abuse to the solicitor? Not that there is much, but i have a letter from my GP and wondered if i should take the email from H where he admitted punching the wall & burning my book?
Yes yes yes take the evidence of abuse to the solicitor, absolutely.
Yes, take it. You will cover details when you discuss the grounds for divorce anyway. Basically, on the assumption you'll go for the one that is irreconcilable differences, you'll have to write a statement that details the abuse you've suffered. Assuming you're the one to petition. I don't think the solicitor needs to see evidence. It is sent to the respondent for them to object to.
Your friend sounds like a lovely person.
And if it makes you feel better I sometimes hate my ExH. I hate that he doesn't know what he did was wrong. I hate that he made me think it was me all of my 20s so I trod on eggshells when I should have been enjoying being young and having fun. I hate that he created an atmosphere that I didn't enjoy my PFB for the first 18 months and that I was over anxious with him. I hate that he bullied me into 50:50 contact and I gave in. I hate that he stepped up his abuse - to physical and sexual - whilst the two of us lived together for six months after I asked him to leave. I am not his friend. We are not friendly. I am civil to him and will discuss parenting our DS constructively. I don't think I will ever look at him and feel anything other than indifference interspersed with hate.
Having said that he is a better father to my DS than he ever would have been and I can appreciate that the pain I went through was the cost to get my DS a father who, whilst has the emotional depth of a petri dish, is involved and active in his life in a way he wouldn't have been otherwise. So whilst the super-Dad thing irks in the short term, I hope that your H can continue to keep up the act for the DC until they are old enough to judge for themselves, as my DS is now, where his strengths and weaknesses are. The effort will be paid off when one day your DC says to you, I'm glad we all live apart.
I hate that he doesn't know what he did was wrong. I hate that he made me think it was me all of my 20s so I trod on eggshells when I should have been enjoying being young and having fun.
Oh Tea. I could have written this... these losers
Ah well, onwards and upwards
Tea, that is just how I feel. I think it's the fact, as you say, that they will never understand or admit to being in the wrong. If someone hurt you very badly but then admitted they were in the wrong and apologised, you might at least start to be able to forgive them. But when there is no acknowledgement, just more blame, more accusations and more abuse, it's just rubbing salt into an already raw and bloody wound.
And yes, I hope for the kids sake he keeps up the great dad act. My worry is, in the short term that he'll try and turn the kids against me, and in the long term that his abusive behaviour will somehow have a negative influence on them. I guess all I can do is make sure that there are plenty more positive influences in their lives so that they can see that his behaviour, contrary to his delusions, is not normal.
The wasted years are what make me weep. I tried so hard for decades to please him and make it right, now I am53 and trying to do what I should have all those years ago.xx
Wow!just read this thread and I'm so deeply impressed by what you have achieved. You are amazing!
A everything you type reminds me of my first husband and I never realised he wasabusive until I found mumsnet either. But I have a massive back catalogue of quotes and actions that completely echo everything you are saying.
Luckily, the marriage ended 15 years ago and I have since married my fab DH and had wonderful children.
I just wanted you to know that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Keep calm and keep an eye on the end game. for all you are doing and saying. xx
I don't know if they EVER acknowledge their part in it. I couldn't believe it when my mum told me last august (more than five years after i left him) that he told her 'i did nothing wrong'. He was emotionally, verbally and financially abusive. But in his mind he seriously believes that he did nothing wrong.
~Anyway, re time wasted, I have thought about - at what point I should have left. I wish I'd left when I was 9 weeks pregnant with DC2. We had a huge row and he was physically aggressive to me. At that point I was disgusted with him. DISGUSTED. Revolted by him. And yet I stayed for nearly another two years. It makes me ashamed typing that.
I'm sure they don't acknowledge it but tired is right .... onwards and upwards.
Wearing - that's exactly the approach I've taken with my DS. He's now 11 and I feel the approach is starting to pay off. His Dad moaned at me about the presents that DS buys him for Christmas so I had a little exploratory conversation with DS about it - it turned out he has been moaning at DS and calling him tight . In the discussion with my DS I identified three pieces of information that, whilst I hate the situation he's in, give me hope for the future. My DS was able to tell me he felt very angry about it but had told his father how it made him feel. He said that that it wasn't normal to be so rude about presents and he was glad I had taught him about present manners because that was a better thing to do. And he said he was glad we don't live together because he loves his Dad and me but we're really different people.
I am vigilant to the opinions that DS picks up in his other home - and I challenge those that I think are entitled, when he says things in a way that is self centred, and teach him about body language, language patterns and other people's feelings.
So what I'm saying is that, if he remains interested in your DC, your H will continue to be a negative influence, as well as a positive influence in other ways, on them. That there will be times when your heart breaks for them and the situation they're in. But if you give them positive influences and keep open the lines of communication then not only do they grow up understanding what normal is but also are able to talk about it at quite a young age. I really do have the most wonderful, kind, generous, caring boy.
My DS is quite lucky in many respects that his father has remarried and that it seems to be quite rare that he is on the receiving end of the EA behaviour. His poor DSSis though has moved out at 13 to live with her Dad because she can't stand ExH. These fuckers don't change and it seems to me like they need to behave like that with someone to feel good about themselves.
On the bright side, my DS lives normally the majority of the time. I'm sure your DC will too.
Thanks Tea. I'm getting to the place where I feel it won't matter. Quite soon. I'll be 'set up' (secure) and I'll have a job and have peace, and I feel that that point at which it no longer matters that I wasted those years, it's juuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuust there. It's not that I'll forget it, but a few more ts to cross and is to dot and it won't matter any more.
Not too bad, Branching & Jenny, thanks for asking. Obviously I've had better weeks but on the whole it hasn't been too bad. H has been trying the nicey nicey approach, suggesting that I just have some time and space and maybe we could give it another go. I put him straight on that one. "But why won't you give me another chance?" he said. "Because you've had 15 years of chances and you've blown the lot" was the reply.
The kids seem to be okay so far; they've mostly been discussing who is taking which cat and whether we can get a house with a garden big enough to fit a trampoline in!!
Emotionally it has been rather a roller coaster. Some days I have felt almost euphoric - like the day that I bought myself some socks & nightwear all by myself without anyone commenting on it. . And then H will say something knobbish and I'll be overcome with anger . And then by the evening I'll feel so miserable that I've sat and sobbed on my bed . But mostly I've just felt a huge sense of relief that I've made the decision and I can start putting my life back together
STILL haven't seen a solicitor though, went along on Tuesday, with the letter from my GP confirming that I'd suffered abuse so that I could claim legal aid, which the solicitor had asked for. then they said "Oh, but we also need to see personal bank statements and business accounts" I mean, did it not occur to them to let me know that before I went? Yes, I know I could have asked but I kinda figured they tell me what I'd need to take, given that they must be used to doing divorces by now!! So there's a lesson learned. However, as I have now officially joined the ranks of the unemployed and am now claiming JSA that's all academic anyway.
KIds are sleeping at my mum's tonight and are there all day tomorrow. Have spent the evening clearing all the junk out of the spare room where I've been sleeping and turned it into a proper bedroom again, with my pictures on the walls and my clothes in the wardrobe. I may even by a plant to put on the windowsill I haven't been allowed plants, they leave marks, apparently . And candles can drip wax on the carpets and stain, so not allowed those either. I have a vision of the first week in my new home - I'll have 100 candles lit every night, houseplants everywhere and NO television on
anyway, time for tea, and Dr Who - my perfect evening in
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