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Start / warning signs of an abusive relationship?(54 Posts)
I am after some advice because I am not sure if I am being overly sensitive or if I should be genuinely concerned about my situation.
I am currently 8 months pregnant and would say that 99% of the time things are fine between myself & DP. He has been great throughout the
pregnancy, very supportive. And yet...I find myself concerned at what I view as signs of very controlling behaviour.
The main issue is DP's obsession with certain medical issues related to my pregnancy. He is extremely mistrustful of health professionals and this stems from the death of his parents a few years ago who both died after battling various illnesses for a while. He blames the doctors for this and as a result is very 'anti' health authorities, medical treatments etc. I should point out that his parents died abroad in his birth country and not the UK.
He has declared that our baby will not have any vaccinations under any circumstances as they are dangerous and bombards me daily with anti-vac e-mails, videos, blogs etc while I am at work and has also brought home books. He gets absolutely furious if I even suggest that that the baby should be immunized against anything and starts shouting. He has decreed that the baby will not have a Vit K injection (it is poisonous) and had a huge melt-down last month when I had a glucose intolerance test because Lucozade is 'harmful'. He does not like me visiting the mid-wife because, to quote a text he sent me yesterday, 'she might want to do some kind of experiment with you and give you medication that will harm you'. He became agitated when I started discussing pain relief during our NCT class and insists I will not need to take anything.
When I try to talk rationally, try to meet him halfway etc he just becomes even more agitated and starts shouting over me. i cannot take the stress and so end up leaving the room. These arguments (well I say arguments - I no longer talk back so it is just his rants ) occur about once a month. Afterwards I get the silent treatment for a few days but during this time he will continue to cook meals for me, do the housework, shopping, give me massages etc but it is all done with barely concealed anger. He is also complete hypochondriac and over-reacts every time he has a slight illness - e.g. he wanted to call out an ambulance when he had a pain in his foot a couple of months ago.
So this week he has been in a terrible mood since Monday. I had no idea why and kept asking what was wrong. Finally this morning he had a massive outburst and started shouting that I don't listen to him when he gives me advice about the baby and it's health and I am shutting him out. It turned out he was angry that I went to an Aqua Natal class on Monday because I could have gotten a cold after leaving the pool (he didn't mention anything about not wanting me to go) and yesterday I got caught in the rain when coming home from work which is another sign I do not care about him or the baby's health because I should not have been walking about in that weather!!. He aggressively demanded I should not go to work or to my mid-wife's appointment today as it was too cold to leave the house. The shouting went on for 15 mins while I sat on the bed bewildered and in tears as he left for work. I ended up calling in sick and re-arranging my MW appointment as I can't cope with this bullying.
He called mid morning and when he learnt I stayed at home he suddenly became much brighter and sounded more like his old self. This is what worries me. He is now being nice to me because I'm doing what he ordered me to do. I can see this pattern continuing: he gets angry for an unspecified reason and subjects me to silent treatment for days, he finally admits (shouts) what the problem is. The anger continues until I cave and do what he wants. I can only envisage things getting worse once the baby arrives. I found myself day dreaming this morning about having the baby, packing my bags and leaving to go to South America where some of my family live. And yet...I think in so many ways he will be a fantastic dad, he is so affectionate when he is behaving 'normally' and already shows so much love towards the unborn baby. I sit looking at the nursery and the furniture he has painstainkingly put together and consider the fact that in all non-medical matters he completely defers to whatever I want e.g. he had a strong preference for 2 baby names which i over-ruled and he accepted it and said he would be happy with whatever I choose as he just wants me to be happy. He always calls and asks permission before going out with friends in case I want him to come home and need him for anything, turned down an invite to the stag do of a good friend in case I got upset, does more or less everything around the house at the moment on top of this job. I just do not know how to handle these periodic outbursts and worry that the 'nice' behaviour is part of a larger manipulative agenda.
Thanks for reading if you got this far, i just needed to get this off my chest.
It sounds like he is deeply traumatised by the death of his parents and is trying to 'protect' you. However, he is alienating you in the process, which is not good. I think he probably needs professional counselling. Would he be open to that?
Did he agree to seek professional help, though, OP?
I was very anxious about all my babies. I had DS1 at the time when the MMR scare was at its height. It wasn't Dr Wakefield's - now discredited - research that was worrying me, it was the wealth of articles in the press at the time about people's negative experiences of MMR (people blame Wakefield for the whole scare but I had never heard of him till years later). I felt truly terrified.
I remember at one point realising that I was imagining the Doctors and Nurses as being wicked villains stalking my baby with syringes full of poison, rather than educated health professionals trying to help, which is what they are. It came as a shock to me to realise how my anxious mind had distorted reality and was starting to portray these good helpful people as somehow evil.
I fretted over whether to get single vaccines but didn't know where to go to get them, DH was adamant that the whole thing was silly to worry about and in the end DS1 had the MMR and was fine.
The difference here was that although I was terribly anxious, I took my DH's views on board. I recognised that I was over-anxious and welcomed the views of someone who was a bit more rational.
What worries me is your DH is clearly over-anxious but thinks HE is the rational one. I think they say that the difference between neurosis and mental illness is insight. That is: the neurotic knows they are being silly, the person suffering from an actual mental illness thinks they are being perfectly rational. This is the massive warning sign for me in your situation.
And besides "not read it" is crap. He was mad when you were doing things he didn't want you to do and punishing you for it without speaking to you. And you have read a lot of his stuff... He's talking rubbish, saying something to placate you.
And his "health anxiety" is selective; only about you and baby and only in relation to health issues he selects that seem to largely be about you going out of the house and socialising without him or having control over your own body... Scary...
You're afraid to be without him which is worrying.
And you need to be very careful about "natural", stuff labelled this way is often either less (or not) effective or riskier or both.
Why do you "know" you couldn't manage on your own?
What is he going to be like if you end up needing a c section?
Does he realise that all sorts of drugs and technologies will be involved?
What is he going to be like if your baby needs special care for a while?
Before examining vaccinations I'd suggest he needs to be learning about these issues so there are no nasty surprised which are difficult enough to cope with without his pre existing anxiety, suspicion and prejudice.
Health professionals are legally obliged to practice according to the best evidence - does he know anything about how Cochrane reviews and NICE clinical guidelines are actually produced?
He's already abusing you, not all abuse is physical. If it were me I'd be thinking long term and the kind of environment I'd want my child to be brought up in. You and your baby first, everyone else second.
Sorry it has taken me a while to respond. I don't want anyone to think I did not take on board your advice and comments which were all really helpful - the past couple of weeks have just been very hectic as I only finally started Mat Leave this week.
I have read all the replies carefully. One thing I would like to say is that although I agree his behaviour may escalate once baby arrives I can honestly say I have never felt threatened or in any kind of 'danger' when I've been with DP. His shouting/rants tend to be more like ridiculous amateur dramatics, I'm not trying to downplay the seriousness of it because as mentioned I grew up in a house with a lot of shouting/arguing and very occasional bouts of violence but I would like to make it clear that I would NEVER stay with a man if I thought there was the slightest chance he was violent. I have never really forgiven my mum for staying with my dad.
Well when my DP returned home on the day I originally posted we had a very long talk. I said I felt his paranoia was worrying, he needed to seek professional help and also that I would not be dictated to regarding pain relief during labour or post birth medical help for the baby. His arguments were:-
- He is not actually angry about me being pro vaccinations as such, he is upset because I am dismissive of his points of view and have failed to read any of the books or articles he has sent me about the dangers of vacs. He feels that I have labelled him as a 'crackpot' because of his views and so feels belittled.
- He is opposed to the Vitamin K injection because he read about a link with leukemia. Again he was upset because he gave me an article about this and found it discarded under the bed and I had obviously not read it. Apparently 'all' he wants me to do is read the information he sends me so that we can make a reasoned decision but he feels I am blindly trusting the health unprofessionals (as he calls them) without asking any questions and just accepting everything they tell me.
- As we are not married he knows that legally I can make all decisions regarding the baby's vaccinations etc and he cannot prevent this so he feels helpless because I might whisk the baby off to have jabs he is opposed to.
It was a long, draining and exhausting conversation to be honest. We reached a compromise of sorts over the Vit K, apparently there is a version with natural, non-synthetic elements which he is going to research and find out if it can be used as a substitute. We also have an appointment with the HV to discuss the ingredients of the vaccinations.
Since that night he has been very supportive, apologised for this behaviour etc. I accept many of you think I should have told him to leave...I just felt that was too drastic after we'd had the talk. Baby is due in 2 weeks now and I know for sure I cannot manage on my own. I obviously hope and trust I will not be back on here in a few months writing that his behaviour has spiraled and I should have taken all the advice onboard. I'm going with my gut feeling that will not be the case but who knows. Thanks for reading if you got this far!
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
I have only just joined mn and have steered clear of posting on serious issues like this as I'm not qualified or experienced in these ways.
But..... This sounds like a dangerous situation to me. I've not read the entire thread so if I'm wrong forgive me.
If I was in your position I would be out the door seeking professional advice. Your partner may be EA or he may have issues which need addressed. Either way, you need to seek help
I hope you are ok OP.
Even when you know yourself that things are not right, it can be quite daunting to have others (even strangers on MNet) reinforce that, as it makes it harder to minimise and cope with.
I hope if you are not feeling up to reading or posting on here that you have accessed some real life support.
Please call Women's Aid for advice and speak to your midwife.
We will all be here if you need us.
Yes, he needs to go. My ex first began to demonstrate control in the form of health anxiety when our dd was born. He was worried about a "dent" in the side of her head that was her temple, dragged us to the GP and insinuated that I must have dropped dd. Nothing I fed dd was ever good enough. He hovered over me as I tried to learn how to breastfeed, insisting that I was starving dd. Infant acne was my fault for not washing her properly, slight nappy rash was my fault too etc etc. And this is also the time he first started going in rages. He knew that I wouldn't have put up with it before, but with a small baby it was harder to walk away.
I don't want to say he spoiled her babyhood for me, because I don't want to give him that much power, but he did a lot of damage before I finally got rid. It's up to you how much damage you're willing to endure before you finally decide it's enough.
It's too early and I haven't slept enough, but the word obsession rang alarm bells!
Think about how this behaviour is affecting you.
I agree that you should not live with it, at the risk of affecting your mental health and affecting the development of your baby and later your child.
And whatever you decide to do, do not in any way become dependent on this man.
Read the thread about why abusers reveal themselves when women get pregnant.
Please listen to what OxfordBags said OP.
OP, this man sounds not only highly abusive but also dangerously mentally ill. Ask yourself - if you were reading your own posts as someone else, would you not think he sounds insane and frightening? Of course you would. Frankly, if his attitude continues, he will be threatening your life and the life of your child, not only unborn but once he or she is born. It does not matter if he is abusing you because of mental health issues, it is still abuse and it will still make you and your child's life a living hell.
Can you even begin to imagine what living with a father like this would do to a child?! If he is like this to your child, it guarentees a future of lifelong extreme mental health problems for that child, because your DP is so controlling, so fixated, so overpowering that no amount of love and good parenting from you would be able to overcome the huge, huge damage that growing up with such a man would inevitably cause. Growing up with a father like this would be the most extreme form of emotional and mental abuse. You owe it to your unborn child to save them from this freak. You know how you say your chuldhood was ruined by having a father who screamed at your mother? Well, imagine having a father who not only screamed at your mother, but imposed baffling, illogical, contradictory and impossible rules on you, made you scared that conpletely normal things and people would kill you, make you ill, were out to get you, made it impossible for you to live any sort of normal life, isolated and terrified you? That is what currently awaits your unborn child.
And please know that you are very wrong about him not being able to have a mental health problem if he can behave normally in other circs. Being able to compartmentalise (control the MH in most or many situations) is a feature of all but the absolutely most severe or uncontrollable MH illnesses. I guarantee you will have worked or known people with MH issues without realising it, from depression and eating disorders, to bipolar and schizophrenia and beyond. If your DP's MH problems are about health, then of course he will be able to behave okay when not confronted with health matters.
You need to disclose what is going on to your MW as soon as possible. It may well be that he has to be removed from the maternity ward when you give birth. It is best for the MW to be aware of his problems and the abuse you are suffering. They know that most cases of abuse actually start in pregnancy or just after birth, and can advise you. But please, thinknof yourself and this child, and get this dangerous man away from you both. Please do not minimise it; reading your posts has been like a horror story where you can foresee terrible things ahead.
Eastie no matter what the reasons are for his behaviour it is highly probable that when your baby is born things will escalate. I hope this doesn't happen but I know so many situations where this was the case. Tell your midwife and be on the lookout when the baby comes. Having a baby in a relationship with existing diffs is like throwing a grenade into the mix. It happened to me. I tried to be understanding and it backfired spectacularly. My 2 sisters & close friend with loving partners experienced a few wobblers from their husbands when first born arrived. These 3 women, unlike me, told their husbands to go & get fucked with their notions & boy did those men toe the line. Get in charge & make arrangements to get away from him should he continue with this crap when the baby arrives. If it continues get as far away from him as quickly as possible & enjoy the pleasure of having a gorgeous baby on your own. Having a crap father is much worse than an absent one - take it from me. Good luck & focus on enjoying your new baby x
Another one here who's worried for you. Most husbands who are against vaccinations just need a good ten minute talk with a professional - your husband has made up his mind before that happens. To be honest I'd get your child vaccinated without his knowledge - I wouldn't let him stand in the way of my child's safety.
He does sound paranoid. I can't imagine he will agree to see a doctor (of all things!) I wouldn't want him present at the birth and I wouldn't want him making decisions about my child's health.
OP, please do listen to other posters.
I just confess that reading your OP makes me worry for your wellbeing and the safety of your baby. Do speak to your GP and midwife. Speak clearly and loudly. Talk to people in RL.
I have just read your post. This could of been me whilst pregnant a few years a go. My then Dh showed the first signs of controlling behaviour linked to mental health issues.PLEASE get urgent medical help at GP level or higher do not make excuses for his behaviour, this will escalate and very likely become dangerous for you and your baby. I do not mean to frighten you but do not under estimate how serious his mental health problems will impact on you and your baby.My exdh had to be removed from the hospital by the police and sectioned. Please take action now.
the charitable answer is that he is nuts. (not just because he disapproves of vaccines, although that is scientifically illiterate, but because of all the other nonsense with it) Anyway, you and your baby aren't safe with him so find somewhere else to be, ASAP.
if this carries on you will never be able to take the child to the doctor.
with luck this will bring him to the realisation that he needs help. And if it doesn't, you'll be safe at least.
His behaviour seems very worrying to me and I feel it is not good for you to be in such a stressful situation at this stage of pregnancy. Others have given lots of good advice . safeguard yourself and the baby, that is your priority right now. I would just like to say as well that your midwife will be testing for pre eclampsia at your appts and it is crucial that this is picked up early. Mine was disc.
overed at a routine appt at 39 weeks and I was induced immediately.
Yes, very good point Celticcat.
I suspect it's far more to do with control and abuse than genuine and/or uncontrollable anxiety around health issues.
Celticcat I was wondering the same thing. Perhaps it's only other people's medical care he wants to regulate?
OP, what you describe is very worrying behaviour. My worry would be what happens when the baby is born. Will you agree on how the baby is brought up? Methods of discipline? Education?
Worrying. Whatever his problem is, you don't need it near you at present. Who else is around who can help you?
Haven't read all posts but was very alarmed by your initial post OP. This is definitely emotional abuse and it will get worse. He may have issues around health (understatement) but it's not on to make this your problem.
Someone may well have mentioned this
already but were you aware that pregnancy is often a trigger for abusive men to escalate or begin their abuse?
I think he needs to move out. You cannot continue like this, especially not now. Who else can you call on to have with you for the baby's birth?
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