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...

JustinBsMum Sat 04-May-13 15:44:11

He sounds nasty. I think it is his demons, his anger and disappointment in himself and rather than admit or face them, people take the anger they feel out on their partner, turning it round so that the partner is the annoyance and that they themselves are fine. Self delusional to deny their own failings.

financialnightmare Sat 04-May-13 14:45:34

I felt like this about my Ex.

I was scared of his anger. I couldn't quite put my finger on why.

But I read a book about it, and it clicked: VERY early in our relationship, he HAD done some violent things - throwing stuff at the wall, just once, and driving off really fast 'because I'd upset him'. Stuff like that, I realise now, is actually what triggers that 'fear of angering him'. He is showing you that he will get violent/agressive. Even if he doesn't do it ever again, he taught you that lesson.

I left. It was the best thing I've ever done for me. Chaos for the children though.

Lweji Fri 03-May-13 19:41:03

It may be an explanation, but good people will take note that they are doing it when told about it and take active steps to change.
The others won't care or do worse.

MumnGran Fri 03-May-13 18:47:38

garlicyoni ... no argument from me smile
I would not excuse my ex for an instant and still believe he should have realised what he was doing, but I have accepted that the behaviour was not necessarily pre-meditated.

Doesn't change a damn thing about living through the experience, but I just find it worth noting. Maybe that's just my need to find reasons ... even after all this time.

garlicyoni Fri 03-May-13 13:12:42

MumnGran, it doesn't matter whether abusive behaviours are deliberate or unconscious. This is a common misconception.

All that matters is, when you say/do something that upsets your partner, and you don't care about their upset, you are cruel. When you do it again, you're abusive.

wonderingagain Fri 03-May-13 09:44:38

Delays are a form of obstruction.

DP did that to me but I put it down to the fact that he likes to be the one to lock the door, check lights off, etc. Then I excused him thinking it was that he didn't have a childhood where we would go off for day trips and didn't feel comfortable with it. Later I realised that regardless of the reason, the best thing to do is go anyway. If he's ready he can come, if not, we go anyway. I found that his ability to get ready suddenly improved and if he wasn't ready it didn't eat into our day.

But what puts me on the back foot here is the lack of willingness to be part of Team Family. Seeing me as one of the children rather than as his team partner. In almost everything he does 'for me' - whether it's shopping, taking dcs to the doctors, tidying up, cooking there is always something that he does wrong - something that makes a fair amount of difference and makes me have to re-check or re-do whatever it is he has done 'for me'.

Then if I point it out he pretty much ignores me and I start to think that I'm the controlling one and need to chill...

(sorry to hijack OP - but after a long time you get used to this behaviour and you've just reminded me about it)

MumnGran Fri 03-May-13 06:34:46

.....also to reduce self esteem to zero, reduce external contact and promote the stance that the woman is neurotic.

There is one point I would make - and please don't think I am putting it forward as a 'defence'! ...... I am not sure that all men with this behaviour do it consciously, and am certain that some are simply repeating patterning from their childhood. Without the ability to reflect on their own behaviour (which many perfectly normal people are incapable of doing) their actions may be instinctive. As I said, this is not a defence, but possibly a handle on the mindset.

garlicyoni Thu 02-May-13 12:17:33

Just for those doubters who may be reading this - standard bloke wind up, fair enough. But every time? To someone you're supposed to love and care about, and your kids? Can you think of a circumstance in which this persistent type of shittiness would be constructive?

Stuff like the delays keeps you always on the back foot. If a visitor was watching, they'd see a bloke mucking around a bit before leaving, right? Nothing to worry about. So, if the woman played her face and drove off without him, she'd look like a right monster, yes?

You have to be in it to realise it's every ... single ... time ... and is part of a pervasive pattern designed to render the woman powerless without looking unreasonable.

cestlavielife Thu 02-May-13 11:36:34

lweji because each time they get you on the back foot - you believe them when they say "oh i just need the toilet" oh i justt need xxx" it all sounds plausible and realistic...classic with my exp -we were driving for a weekend away "oh i really need to get the car cleaned wont take more than ten minutes..." two hours later...

or the "dont hassle me or we wont go at all" type of blackmail..

you give them the benefit of the doubt and each time it backfires...until the day you wake up and realise that next time you will do things differently and follow thru. and deal with the fall out...

kelly it is only by making a plan to get away that you wil find freedom and peace...

Lweji Thu 02-May-13 11:24:40

Actually, regarding the leaving, do you have a driving license?
Because if my partner was playing up like that, I'd set up a time to leave and would take off in the car if he was not ready within at least 5-10 min.

dontyouwantmebaby Thu 02-May-13 11:21:04

OP just wanted to say I could have written parts of your post too. Esp the bits about him not getting ready to leave then rushing to do it in 5 mins then sits with 'the face' making out he's been waiting on you all along when you need to go to the loo & put your coat on etc. I def think its bullying & controlling behaviour, not very nice at all. (I've been on the receiving end of that too, its horrid).

No wonder your head is in a spin with it and you can't think clearly. this is what walking on eggshells reduces you to and stops you from being able to speak up and get your point across sad

All the examples you gave about him is not you being petty, it really isn't. I hope you find the strength to do what you need to do for you, no-one deserves to live like this. Wishing you luck.

NicknameTaken Thu 02-May-13 09:41:05

As if you are living with an enemy, and you know you are, but you have to keep it a secret. Excellent description, LPJ.

missus, that is so sad about your mother. Some people are just incredibly corrosive to live with and they will make it their business to destroy you. The only solution is to get away from them.

BlackeyedSusan Wed 01-May-13 23:58:14

i got to the bit where he barges though you... enough to know he is not nice and you are not sensitive. he is cuel to you and the kids with the going out tricks he plays, especially driving off without you. his ttitiude towards you stinks. nasty, nasty, nasty.

hey and it is fantastic living on you own compared to living with someone who is abusive. yes there are hard bits that would be easier if you had someone,but not this someone.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

And that's enough. smile

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.

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