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.

Does this sound like emotional abuse - the little things...

(63 Posts)
KellyGarcia Wed 01-May-13 11:19:32

I think OH may be abusing me emotionally and it has just kind of dawned on me suddenly after reading very familiar traits on other threads here sad

The fact I am wondering is probably a sign that I personally believe I am being emotionally abused. I think I am just looking for help that I am not just going mad and being "over sensitive"...

Invades my personal space ALL the time and physically moves me out of his way sometimes (but acts like he is going "Scuse me babe" but then other times just barges past me or walks through me eg feel I have to move or would probably be mown down)

Leaves bank statements/credit card statements next to my laptop just lying around when he is running low on money or has just had to pay for something expensive for our family as if to say "Don't ask for anything cos we are skint"

Is always doing stuff like staring at me with a black look or just freezes and stares at something I am doing as if I need to read his mind as to what I am doing "wrong" so I always feel on edge without him saying anything. Example is we were getting ready to go out with the kids and were loading up the car. My phone was left in the changing bag under the pram which was waiting to be folded and put in the boot n I went "Oh... my phone" and went into the bag under the pram to get it at which point he froze on the spot with his hands about to push the pram and just did THE FACE which is a really black expression that no one else seems to be able to see except me as I see it... A Lot...

If we are going anywhere he waits til the last minute then gets ready really fast then sits about waiting for me to go "OK... Are you ready then?" so he can go "YEAH! I am just waiting for you..." or he will say "Right lets get ready to go" if we are doing something so I get myself and the kids ready then stand about waiting for him to get ready. This means I can spend up to 2 hours just waiting for him to be ready to go involving "ready to go?" "Ok let's got then" from me every 10 mins and he goes "Yup... Right now... Just getting my shoes" then sits there watching the footie news/on the ipad or then goes to the toilet for an hour leaving me to wait. If I get fed up waiting for him, take my coat off and go off and do something else with the kids he suddenly gets ready and jumps in the car taking the kids then does the face when I go for a last minute pee and that I don't still have my coat on. He has actually driven down the street a bit before without me. Got to the car and DS was crying. OH said he just did it for a laugh. Shit.

I feel really pathetic about all this and it sounds like I am being so petty. I am starting to notice things every day now. Silly little things. We have had big blow out rows before as well and I can never get my point across. It just seems to have slowly bubbled over the years and now he is proud that "We never really fight like other couples" Yeh because I am too scared or fed up to say anything now. What is the point? I just never get my point across, he talks down anything I try to raise and if I don't back down it turns into a fight that I will never "win".

Oh and he NEVER apologises EVER.

I used to be able to say "But we have such a laugh together" and "We like all the same things" he could be so lovely and seem to be caring but recently I have noticed all of that seems to be gone. I am a shell of the person I was. He says it is because we have 2 kids now and are both exhausted.

APologies that I went on for a bit there...

Sausageeggbacon Wed 01-May-13 11:55:07

Having an XH who was insidious in how he got me to feel like every issue we had was my fault. If a light bulb blew it would somehow be my fault. To everyone else he appeared Mr Wonderful always doing those little extra things like working late to get overtime (or to avoid DDs evening routine).

Keep note of what he does and especially the comments that bring you down. I got out but then I realised I hadn't loved him so it was easier for me once I realised that.

it may be a slippery slope and soon he'll be blaming you for everything (speaking from experience here) so what you'll need to figure out is whether he is doing it for a 'reason' (not sure what I mean by that but I mean something you could talk about or deal with) or whether he has an intrinsically abusive personality. In either case read Lundy Bancroft 'why does he do that?', wish I'd read it 10 years ago!

Fillyjonk75 Wed 01-May-13 11:59:22

If you sat down with him and said "If you do X, it makes me feel like Y" would he consider changing his behaviour? I have had these conversations with DH, and to his credit he really does make the effort. What is important I think is that both people make an effort in a relationship and no-one feels taken for granted. When one person doesn't make the effort, that's when you get the serious issues.

wonderingagain Wed 01-May-13 12:12:00

Leave the bastard. Leave him now before your children absorb this nasty attitude and the atmosphere between you. I have a friend who has put up with something similar but much more subtle than this for 30 years and however much you make excuses or find reasons behind it, it will not change and it will get you in the end.

EternalRose Wed 01-May-13 12:28:54

My ex doesnt think he has done anything wrong, and would never change his behaviour about anything.

I can laugh now at the times when I tried to bring up things I wasnt happy about, and I ended up being the one apologising!

He had an answer for everything, oh and things were always my fault too. Or if I mention something he has done that I am not happy with, obviously it would be because of something I have done to make him do it. 100% mind fuckery. In the past it caused me to go into such a deep depression, as I will filled with so much self loathing...sorry to derail I can just see so much of what you write in my previous situation.

Please don't let it break you down like it did me, get out now.

MumnGran Wed 01-May-13 12:33:34

"a clever abuser can chill.your.blood with a sentence like "I'll take care of that, darling" which can sound lovely to other people"

NicknameTaken ....... so so so true. And so impossible to explain to anyone else. People truly think you are mad. This sentence shot me back a decade ....but thank you, I never want to forget in case I ever make the same error in judgement again!!

Listen with care, Kelly. There is a lot of sound advice here.

MumnGran Wed 01-May-13 12:46:56

TanteRose ...... thank you!
I have just visited the link you posted. I thought I had healed, but have never really researched the matter ...was simply happy not to be in that place anymore.
This is the first time, anywhere, that I have seen my married life (in the early - mid stages, before the abuse became more blatant) written down almost verbatim.
I just closed another hole :-)
x x x

Would also add that toxic parents make you absolutely ripe and ready to assume your place in the wrong, before marital abusive processes even begin.

KellyGarcia Wed 01-May-13 12:51:40

Thank you for all the info. I was just reading the Gaslighting link. Yes, there are more than a few things on that list that he does. It is making me feel so sad that I feel like things are coming to an end. I feel so guilty now for starting a family with him when I can now see there have been things all along but they seem to be worse since we moved in together but it was better for a while when the LO's came along.

I feel sick.

I got a shock - the first piece of advice made me think I AM oversensitive as this is typical guy behaviour but to be honest I don't see other people's husbands acting like this and I would be too embarrassed to mention any of this in RL. Apart from the fact that NO ONE would believe me as he is Mr Wonderful to everyone else. He has had heated discussions with other people over some things that he feels strongly about and sometimes I think "Oh... the facade is coming down" but no one notices - they just think "That must be something he feels strongly about" and just kind of give in to his opinion so it does seem to be deep rooted.

KellyGarcia Wed 01-May-13 13:00:26

but then all the other posts have kind of hit home and made me think that my mind has been trying to make me face up to this for a long time.

There are quite a few other incidents that have happened that are not little things and they are glaringly obvious now. Things over the years.

It seems like things trundle along in the everyday chaos then little comments turn to bitching and then I get so fed up we have a massive fight, awful things are said, the truth probably comes out, I am asked for "Examples" of previous behaviours to "back up" my argument that I can never remember as I obviously try to forgive and forget so can't remember the minute details of every little issue or if I DO remember something it sounds so petty to him. Then after the big fight "I hate this, things just are not working" he is super nice, says we need to calm down and be more considerate of each other (still never apologises as I can't give exact examples of things he should apologise for) and then it's all nice and calm for a while before the vicious circle starts again. Every time I think "Maybe it will be ok this time" and it all just happens again eventually.

Is this something that just can not be mended? Is there ever a chance that we can work things out? Probably not given what I just wrote above...

DionFortune Wed 01-May-13 13:14:17

Hi Kelly, no you are not overreacting, and yes his behaviour is abusive. Abuse isn't about anger, or violence, it's about power and control.

The black look you describe was something my ex did too, along with the doing or saying nasty things and then claiming it was a joke. You don't have to justify leaving to him or anyone, the fact that you are so unhappy is reason enough.

Keep reading and getting information and support and start to detach from him. Get the Lundy book if you can, you will recognise your arguments in there. I had no idea of just what was abuse before I read that. I thought that I was overreacting because he had never hit me and so much of it was down to (accurately) reading his body language and facial expression and learning to walk on eggshells. So much was implied by tone of voice and like you, I learned to just not even try to get my point across as it just wasn't worth it.

THIS IS EMOTIONAL ABUSE.

The thought of leaving is far harder than actually doing it. Once you have left and you are out of the deathly oppressive atmosphere, you will realise just how bad it was.

You can leave though, it will be ok and you are doing the BEST thing for your kids by getting out. Kids pick up on so much that we think we can hide from them. They are learning very damaging lessons about how to have relationships from yours and your H's. Leaving is far, far better and it is not you who has created this and you can't fix it.

You will be ok, you will survive and if you leave him you WILL be happy again.

worldgonecrazy Wed 01-May-13 13:32:26

Kelly it really doesn't matter if every other person in the world thought it was normal bloke behaviour (which I don't btw!). What matters is that his behaviour is making you and your children unhappy.

I stayed with an EA because he was a guy who everyone loved, and I went into a bit of denial about it, somehow convincing myself that it was normal for a man to put you down all the time. It was only after leaving him and realising what it is truly like to live in a relationship entirely free of fear, that I came to realise that he was emotionally abusive. Please don't waste another second of your life trying to "fix" him, the answer is that you can't fix him. Loving him more, being a "better" wife, walking on eggshells to avoid confrontation, none of these things will make him change his behaviour long term.

You will be happy again, it won't be easy, especially with children in tow, but you can do it.

wonderingagain Wed 01-May-13 13:40:22

Please remember also that whether it is deliberate or not on his part (some men with a personality disorder are hard-wired like that), the relationship is stressful, hard work and depressing.

Relationships are hard work, but it should be in a give-take way for example if one person annoys the other with a habit, it may fester for a while, but they get round it somehow whether in a blazing row or a nice chat. But the key is that the problem is solved and they move on.

The key is that they want it to work for both of them.

KellyGarcia Wed 01-May-13 13:41:57

How do you begin to detach? What can I do to start the ball rolling? I will keep a diary (and hide it just in case) so I can see the patterns AND so I can remember exactly how I felt at the time.

Once the DCs are in bed and we sit down on the couch I swear I could just sit there listening to him talk, agree with him now and again and say absolutely nothing of my own and he would think we had the best evening.

Dion I thought that I was overreacting because he had never hit me and so much of it was down to (accurately) reading his body language and facial expression and learning to walk on eggshells. So much was implied by tone of voice and like you, I learned to just not even try to get my point across as it just wasn't worth it

This is EXACTLY what I have been unable to describe - this is exactly what I am feeling right now.

I am going to get the Lundy book (and hide it too) now.

Thank you so much for your help here everyone. I really appreciate it. I am actually worried about him coming home (as usual) but this time it is in case he comes in and is in the best mood and is all sweetness and light (for a while anyway) as it might make me slip back into denial again. I will be coming back and rereading this to keep perspective..

NeoMaxiZoomDweebie Wed 01-May-13 13:46:42

This isn't gaslighting at all! There's a massive overuse of that expression on MN and it winds me up. The man is passive aggressive and a bully. That's all.

Lueji Wed 01-May-13 13:48:11

And that's enough. smile

DontmindifIdo Wed 01-May-13 13:49:42

OP - you can just leave someone and then when asked why say "because we weren't happy together anymore" you don't need to have abuse bad enough to make leaving ok.

You don't need to jump now, but could you make it a more of a long term aim to get yourself into a position where you could leave? Renew the job hunt and put your energies in to being in a strong position.

KellyGarcia Wed 01-May-13 13:50:35

I am also wondering if feeling like years have slipped by as I have been drifting along putting up with this waiting for things to get better or maybe just sticking my head in the sand. It just feels like the last few years have been a blur and I feel so lost.

Also, I have only really spoken to my closest friend about this but not in full detail. She worries about me a bit but she says her divorced sister always tells her how awful it is living on your own and when you do get the guts to go out by yourself at the weekend, you see all these happy families together. I spoke to a good friend at my old work and she literally sat there with her mouth falling open and said "DH would never do that to me... That is awful! I hope you told him to go F himself!" when I was just telling her what I thought was a silly little thing OH said I over reacted to. My response to that was just to cover it up a bit and say "Oh I suppose I am exaggerating a bit.... He's not always like that!" and tehn just never mentioned any of it to her again.

It made me wonder if it was just me and slowly I am realising some women actually do marry or live with their best friend.

KellyGarcia Wed 01-May-13 13:53:20

I am going to start making it my aim to get my life back in order and take some control of my own future and DCs. I just feel like my head is spinning.

NicknameTaken Wed 01-May-13 13:53:23

Glad you have a plan of action, kelly.

I hope you find the diary enlightening. I know ime that after something bad happened, I found it very difficult to retain in my mind. It's a kind of self-protective mechanism, this forgetting. It really was a shock to see it all written down, to see how often things happened and how awful it made me feel. I'd have written it off afterwards as a few bad rows if I didn't have the evidence of my diary to remind me.

NicknameTaken Wed 01-May-13 13:54:49

I've said it on other threads, but I had a moment of truth when I watched the Simpsons and thought that Homer may not be the best husband, but he would never, ever say or do the things to Marge that my ex did to me.

cestlavielife Wed 01-May-13 16:01:55

the getting ready to go out scenario and the tactics is well described as an anecdote in the lundy book - oft repeated by my ex.

some of the book wont apply - but flick thru to the pages/chapters which are relevant... knowledge is power

Just to say good luck. read qickly through, but the awful bit about you having to remember examples to back up your argument, needing to remeber all the details, and then saying "we both need to be more considerate" meaning, you need to change lady...Aaargh. He is nasty. Also fond of his own voice and opinions. I think your feeling is correct, and that you need to rescue yourself.
Even if it was not classed as abuse, which I now would say it is, would you wish this life for your daughter/son? If answer is no, then that is good enough.
This must be really difficult for you.
Listen to your good old friend, because she has a normal reaction, and I'm sure it helped you to see her face fall when you were telling about a smallish incident.

LemonPeculiarJones Wed 01-May-13 22:40:18

Yes, sounds exactly like emotional abuse OP.

Sounds fucking awful. As if you are living with an enemy, and you know you are, but you have to keep it a secret.

Keep coming back to this thread whenever you need to.

missuswife Wed 01-May-13 23:46:54

Just wanted to say you are not over-reacting. I hope you can muster the strength to leave. My father is just like your husband. My mother was such a lovely happy creative woman and has become a bitter, neurotic with severe anorexia and a massive martyr complex. My sister and I both have anxiety problems. I'm in my 30s and still in the back of my mind always waiting for the other shoe to drop. He never hit her but was massively emotionally abusive and controlling.

After 35 years they are still married. My mother is so compulsive about her food, because it is the only thing in her life she has any control over. I doubt she'll survive more than a few more years because of her eating disorder but no one can make her get help. She has raised the idea of leaving him many times but never does. It is horrible to watch.

It's to the point now where I actually get along better with my dad than my mom because she's so messed up. I've come to the point in my life where I mostly feel sorry for him rather than angry at him. I have had relatives tell me they can't believe how normal my sister and I turned out be wise of how fucked up my dad (and therefore dysfunctional home life) was.

For your sake and your children's, get out now. I remember asking my mom to leave him when I was about nine but she has blocked it out. We had a pretty nice middle class home but I would have preferred living on beans in a shack if it meant not being anxious and afraid of upsetting him all the time. I had terrible IBS as a child and I'm sure it was because of his behavior.

Sorry if that's a bit rambling. Your story was just so familiar. I really hope you and your kids escape soon.

EternalRose Wed 01-May-13 23:51:45

'.............am asked for "Examples" of previous behaviours to "back up" my argument that I can never remember as I obviously try to forgive and forget so can't remember the minute details of every little issue or if I DO remember something it sounds so petty to him. Then after the big fight "I hate this, things just are not working" he is super nice, says we need to calm down and be more considerate of each other (still never apologises as I can't give exact examples of things he should apologise for) and then it's all nice and calm for a while before the vicious circle starts again. Every time I think "Maybe it will be ok this time" and it all just happens again eventually.'

I could have wrote this word for word, espcially the bit about the examples. They are abusive men, end of!

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