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Am I the abuser or is he? Totally confused by it all...(69 Posts)
I have recently found out that I am being abused by my husband (sounds stupid as really I should have known this before recently when we have been together 15 years, right?) Anyway, two months ago he beat me up badly (had me by the hair and used it to beat my head into the floor while kicking me over and over). At the time I was scared he was going to kill me and I was really, really angry about it. I asked him to leave which he did for about three weeks.
At the time of it happening I posted on another forum as I was just so upset and couldn't believe it had happened. We have a nice life, nice home, two children and I never saw myself as a victim (I'm quite a together person and I can easily fight back if I want to - in fact I have seen my husband and me as equals in our relationship because I am no wall flower and happy to speak my mind). But then it all started unravelling. The patterns, the behaviour and so on (he has hit me before but it has got worse each time but because it was only once a year maybe a bit more I always thought it was nothing and just put it down to one of those things and that's what I thought people would tell me - both calm down and things will be fine - sounds stupid now!)
Anyway, it turns out this violence is the tip of the iceberg. Now I am seeing and realising ALL this other stuff from the beginning of our relationship. It is so hard to know what was reality and what was abuse. It's a big muddle.
I think the thing that gets me are the reason's why he has hit me. On the occasion before the last big beating he hit me (not as badly) and then it settled back down to "normal". Only for us to have an argument a while later and him to tell me "I drove him to it". Even I questioned it with him at the time. Why was I responsible for him hitting me? Apparently it is because I am so difficult to live with (which I do believe). I am stressed all of the time, I get angry over stupid, insignificant things, I give him a hard time (the other week I seriously lost it with him for driving the wrong way to somewhere we were going after I had asked him if he knew where he was going and he said "yes" and then I felt terrible and it ruined the day - I ruined the day), I find taking care of my children very hard work (he has told me I would ruin their lives if I was left alone with them) and generally I just feel like an awful person and nothing is ever good enough. I can't work out what came first though? Me being awful or him being abusive. So it is me that is actually the abusive one or is it him?
To give you a bit of background, I met him when I was 19. We have been together 15 years. He is 11 years older than me. I have always been quite a confident and outgoing person (at least I think I am - in other people's company I put on a bit of a front I think). We moved in together after 6 months of knowing each other. It was a long time ago but when I think back to it there were lots of signs. Telling me I was "embarrassing" after we had been out for the evening with friends (I can be a bit over the top sometimes and I think it made him uncomfortable so again I think he is right and he is doing me a favour telling me this), and over the years gradually chipping away I suppose with words like "high maintenance", "difficult", "highly strung" and even "liability" (which really gutted me at the time). He has forced me to have sex with him - a year after we got together we went on holiday to Thailand and that was the first time it happened. He did it even though I didn't want to and was pushing him off me. He just went ahead and did it anyway and then when I was upset gave me a half hearted apology and expected me to get over it. I was thousands of miles away from home and 20 years old. I had no idea what to do so I got over it quickly and made excuses for him. Not even sure what those excuses were now but I totally minimised the whole thing. Thinking to myself he's an older man and this is what happens in adult relationships?!!! He has done that a few times since over the years. Like he has no self control. Thankfully (well sort of thankfully) he lost his sex drive 4.5 years ago as he went on anti ds and since then hasn't been interested. So I have gone from a man fawning all over to me to lucky to even get a hug. I miss our physical closeness as ridiculous as that sounds. Now I just feel like I am a housekeeper and nothing else. At least before he wanted me
When he asked me to marry him (four years after we met) he did it out of the blue. Before he asked I wasn't thinking about it. I was happy how we were. I had never asked him when he was going to ask or if he was going to ask or expected to be asked. I was never one for dreaming of my big white wedding day. Anyway, after he asked and we were caught up in euphoria for an hour getting excited and he was saying we shall go choose a nice ring tomorrow he then turned round and said "actually I have changed my mind and I think we are being hasty". I was distraught. I was a pathetic wreck for days. I cried ALL that night while he just slept and/or ignored me. He didn't seem to care in the slightest that he had hurt my feelings. I drove around in my car in the dead of night not knowing what to do. I went home and pleaded for him to marry me and that things would be ok! Why did I do that? Why was I so stupid? He never really said sorry about it (at least he never seemed racked with guilt or remorse) and again I made excuses. That he had a difficult childhood and his last girlfriend had cheated on him and that he found it hard to trust people.
Six months after we got married I overheard him on his mobile upstairs just as we were getting ready to go out. He was telling his mate (who we were going to meet) that if I ask about the other night he was with him. I was half way upstairs when I overheard this. I had no idea what to do but I was shocked. We went out and I acted normally all evening. I asked him when I got home and it turned out he had been out with a young girl work colleague and he didn't tell me as he didn't want me to react in a bad way. This seems to be a recurring theme with him during our relationship. He doesn't tell me stuff or he lies about things because apparently I will kick off at him otherwise. What he doesn't realise is if he was just honest and didn't lie all the time then maybe I wouldn't get so upset and angry! Or would I? Anyway, I suppose the point is he is lying and not allowing me to react apart from in a bad way when I find out. It's infuriating and makes me feel like my feelings don't mean anything.
Shortly after this episode we have an argument (mostly with him telling me how horrible I am and that I never take responsibility for stuff etc. - again this is a recurring theme of our arguments). One sentence which sticks out in this argument is him telling me "I can never imagine having kids with you" - this really hurt me at the time and made me think that I was going to be a terrible mother and that I'm not really worthy of having them.
Every time we argue it goes the same way. He tells me that he feels he always has to say sorry to me because I won't take responsibility for things (which ultimately means he is never sorry for anything really), that if I wasn't always stressed our lives would be perfect. That I am mostly perfect but there is a bad/dark side of me. He tells me that I don't listen to how he feels because all I do is get angry with him when he is trying to tell me the truth (mostly the truth involves telling me how awful I am so of course I am going to get hurt but then I worry I am not listening to his feelings properly and that maybe I am giving him a hard time) and then when I fight back and say but you're not taking responsibility for things either and how he makes me feel he just shouts at me that I am making things all about me as usual (he thinks I am incredibly self centred). Usually it ends up with me getting incredibly upset (I have got so angry I slam doors and throw things). He will just sit there ignoring me or watching telly or playing on his phone. I end up thinking I need to try harder not to be such a bitch and then everyone will be happier. Then every so often he hits me because I've driven him over the edge and I think I deserved it for all the door slamming etc. etc. and I probably am driving him mad.
Anyway, this could go ALL day but I am worried. Worried that I am horrible to him and that I am actually the abuser and his responses are justified. I am short tempered, impatient, angry, stressed, never happy it seems (he has said "why can't you just be happy") and thinking no one would want to live with me so no wonder he doesn't!
Thank you for all your replies. I really appreciate it. I am working through this and have been for the last two months. I have been reading the support thread on here over the last few days which has helped hugely.
Is it normal to feel sorry for them? I keep thinking about all the stuff he is going to miss out on. Is that weird?
Also, I am finding it really hard to associate my husband as someone who is capable of murdering me. Despite a bunch of strangers (who have nothing to gain from doing so) telling me otherwise. It just doesn't feel like that on a day to day basis.
That said I am struggling to leave. I want to keep my home and my friends and stay here. I want HIM to leave. Is that even possible in this sort of situation?
At the beginning of this year before he beat me up badly I tried to tell him I felt unhappy and he just rolled his eyes and tutted at me (I can get a mixture of responses if I try to tell him stuff - either he is nice or he tuts or he sighs so it is a bit of a lottery as to how his reaction is going to be). Anyway, this time I snapped. I went ballistic at him. I told him I didn't care what he thought anymore and stormed off. I hated him so, so much. I then spent the next two months being so horrible to him. I called him all sorts of names. Gave him a hard time over EVERYTHING and ANYTHING and all I could think in my head is I wanted him to hurt like he had hurt me and I was sick of it all. I was like a mad dog. Raging from one day to the next. Shouting, screaming, muttering under my breath and so on. I had completely lost it. Then in the middle of one night, when he was snoring and I was still angry I told him to shut the f*ck up. He got up, went to my three year old's bedroom, moved him out of his bed into ours and then went and got into his bed. Basically he swapped beds with the child. I was livid. Seething. I couldn't understand why he didn't just go downstairs and sleep on the sofa if it was that awful. I went after him screaming at him. What the heck was he thinking? He was shouting back at me I was out of control. I was saying I am not out of control (although in my head I thought he does have a point). Then, as I was standing in a narrow part of the bedroom between a chest of drawers and the wall he grabbed me by the hair, pushed me to the ground and then banged my head against the floor while he kicked me and kicked me. I thought at first in a moment this will stop. But it didn't. Then I started crying "stop, just stop" but he kept on going. On and on it went until finally he gave up. I was so shaken I had no idea what to do. I staggered downstairs. I looked at my phone. I thought about calling the police. I felt too stupid and pathetic to do it. (I know I should have done it now!) He went back to bed. Then he came downstairs after about fifteen minutes and said he was sorry he just snapped. I was so angry at this point I told him I didn't want to hear it and said I thought he was going to kill me. He said he wouldn't have killed me (well that's ok then!). I told him he had to leave which he did the next morning without any fuss. When we were in counselling he told them that he thought I was happy he had beaten me up and that I was full of glee about it because it was a way of blaming him for everything. What an arsehole!
After about 2.5 weeks struggling along on my own I finally felt brave enough to tell my mum. She wasn't helpful at all. She said to me this is what happens when couples have kids together (implying it is the stress on the relationship). Our family is still young and the beating stuff started after our first child was born just over 3 years ago. She didn't know how to react I don't think (and I assume this is a result of her own traumatic relationship?) Anyway, she was interested in the detail of the beating, which I still find quite shocking myself and I really had to force myself to tell her. I was visibly upset but she just sat there looking at me as if it wasn't really that big a deal. If my daughter got treated like that I would go ballistic. I would be begging her to leave. The following week I went to her house for a family lunch. She had laid him a place at the table. I didn't really get why apart from she said she thought it was the right thing to do. No wonder I think all this crap is normal if that is her reaction?! So no, I can't ask her for help and I don't want to. I want to stay here in my home with my children with the people I know and the job I have and HIM to leave. Let him start his life again. Not me
I am planning on calling WA again this evening (he is not around tonight) and asking advice on what to do next. I want to leave him (or him to leave) but don't know how.
Just to add I agree with you all when you say about repeating this pattern for my own children and them not having a choice. I whole heartedly agree with you. Please don't think that I don't. x
Can I also just add that for some reason all the anger has now subsided. I feel mostly numb at the moment. Like there isn't anything there. I feel neither upset or hurt or hatered as I am writing all this. Is that how it goes? It's very confusing.
"Is it normal to feel sorry for them? I keep thinking about all the stuff he is going to miss out on. Is that weird?"
Yes it's normal. No it's not weird because you're in a dependent, toxic relationship. He's the jailer to your prisoner... look up 'Stockholm Syndrome'... and you've got to the stage where you're confusing cessation of abuse for kindness.
Your mother's reaction - if that's how you've been brought up - is a big part of why you're tolerating it. At some stage along the way you've learned that it is normal for men to beat up their wives and wives must accept it as 'what happens'. Quite wrong, of course.
Finally, if he left after being asked last time, give it another shot. You need to get him away from you urgently and if he'll go without a fuss, bolt the door behind him and take it from there.
"I feel mostly numb at the moment."
Also normal because you are highly stressed, frightened and traumatised. When your mind is overwhelmed with such a completely stressful situation it can and will just shut down completely. You need to ask him to leave because he may say he's not capable of killing you but, in this state of numbness, you could very easily and calmly kill him...
He has beaten/assaulted you
He has raped you
You sometimes think "it's not that bad"
What would you think when your daughter grows up, if she were to be with someone who did these things to her? Even once? Would you think it's not that bad?
You have followed your mother's pattern.
You don't want your daughter following it too.
I am glad you have decided it is time to put a stop to this damaging pattern of wrongheaded beliefs.
If my daughter got treated like that I would go ballistic. I would be begging her to leave. Don't let her live in an environment where this is normal then.
I'm so sorry for what you have been through, and hope you get him out soon.
It is totally natural to blame yourself, feel numb and 'lose it'. That's what manipulative people do to their partners - they make them so turned around they don't know what to think or how to react. I was married to my ex for 13 years before I left (we didn't have kids so it was physically easier). He tried to come back a few times and every time I agreed he, thankfully, decided it wouldn't work because I was 'unreasonable'. I think he actually wanted to punish me by messing me about. Then, luckily, I was out with a friend when I missed a call from him. By the time I realised my phone was bleeping he'd left six messages. Each one worse than the last. I was, apparently every type of B, C and W you could imagine. My mate said, time to see a solicitor. I saw them the next day. That summer I was lounging about in my living room, window open, birds singing and I thought what a lovely day it was. Then I realised it was lovely because I wasn't half listening for the key in the lock, trying to gauge his mood by the sound of his footsteps. After that I never looked back. Two years later I met my now hubby and five years after that I had our son. My temper hasn't changed - if anything it is sometimes worse as I'm pretty menopause and all over the place some days. Of course DH shouts back when I have a go at him - it's a row. But he's never so much as raised a finger to me or our son. So, whose fault was the violence of my first marriage? My ex, all the way. Just like yours. I had a beautiful poem given to me by my friend, the one I was with when those calls came through. It helped me through a lot of self doubts. If I can find it, I'll post it in the hope that it'll help you stay strong and get out or get him out. There is a lovely world out there. You deserve to be in it and don't ever let anyone tell you different.
Oh my goodness Petals. The way you describe yourself is very similar to how I see myself. I am demanding, difficult to live with, pick fights over inconsequential things. My husband has never hit me. Beating you up is not a normal response to anything you could ever do. You are definitely not the abuser.
That was supposed to read pre menopause but I've got bloody predictive text and don't know how to switch it off yet (new tablet thingy)
you only let him back in that time because you were desperate for him to say something apologetic.
he doesn't care, he's a mad man.
ring the police tell him to go. there are lots of mumsnetters who have some very good advice about this. too many
In an abusive relationship, yes it is normal to feel sorry for them. Feeling sorry for them might be fear of what he might do to you if you go ahead and leave him (emotionally, physically, financially), it could be fear that because you have children together you can't get rid of him 100%, it could be deep mourning for the relationship you were promised and wanted. But the only person's happiness you should think about is your own, because if you are happy, your children will be happy, and you are in no way responsible for another adult. Ever.
It is normal to feel numb and emotionless. It is a coping mechanism. And you may be so used to it, you don't even realise how long you have been using it for. But ask yourself, when was the last time you felt truly free and happy and joyful and just laughed. That might give you an indication. It is normal to laugh and feel happy. When you are suppressing all those feelings, you are causing harm to yourself, and it is a big warning sign to make some changes.
It is absolutely not normal to feel some form of relief in the periods when the emotional/physical abuse is not happening, it is not normal to 'mirror' another person's moods in that way and not have independent emotions. That is a sign that you are so intertwined and controlled that you barely exist as a single person anymore.
Your mother's reaction to all of this is 100% damaged and wrong.
I do not know if you will "hear" what I am going to write. I don´t have a huge amount of time at the moment, but I have logged in as I desperatedly want you to consider something.
Do you really want your DC to grow up feeling that this is way a relationship should be?
Your Mum is talking total garbage (I know that is hard to hear)
Start planning, you have got to leave and never go back. This man will either end up killing you or your soul and having gone through terrible physical abuse for years (along with terrible emotional abuse and yes I did worry about mine I even called the ambulance one night when he tried to jump out of the window and they wouldn´t take him as he was so aggressive) you are NOT the cause or responsible. He has got you very well conditioned to worry about HIM, he has convinced you slowly over the years that you are not worth anything, he is WRONG 1000% you are worth more than 100 of him.
Please talk to someone, a friend, someone at work, the DV unit of the police, WA. this is NOT a normal relationship it has nothing to do with your behaviour TRUST me, I know!
Just read your post back and pretend it is your friend writing it what would you tell her to do, and then do it!
Also meant to add before, please do not go to couples counselling with this man. There is no point in this. You, yourself, could go to counselling - rape crisis offer free, open-ended counselling, but don't go with him.
OP - please be careful of this man, get your plans in place before he even has a whiff of them. If he says he feel suicidal, those are his own emotions, and not yours to deal with. DS1's Dad pulled this routine. 12 years after leaving, my only regret is that I didn't do it sooner. He used to phone me and tell me he was going to hang himself, and it took a very good friend sitting me down and explaining that what he did was no longer my problem, and that other people wouldn't see it as my problem either for me to let go of the guilt. I would worry in case he actually did it. As soon as I stopped reacting to his suicide threats, they stopped. The reaction was what he wanted.
Get help, and get out. It is not safe to stay with him, his violence is escalating. inneedofrain is spot on in the above post.
Thanks for all your replies. At the moment some days it's clear and other days I think "is it really that bad". I started the Freedom Programme and have some questions so think I'll join the support thread to ask questions there. I know and I want to leave. I don't want to spend the rest of my life crying (which happens 6 days out of 7 at the moment) and miserable and I don't want my children to be affected either.
"I don't want my daughter to end up in a relationship like this or my son to think it is ok to do what you want to women."
Just cling on to this thought and it will see you through.
Good for you for doing the Freedom Program. Please do keep us updated as to how it goes and what you decide to do. As you can see, we're all really worried for you...
Petals, I don't post very often but I felt compelled to say that after reading your OP you are most certainly NOT the abuser.
For you and your DCs safety you must leave this awful, hateful excuse for a human.
He will not change.
He thrives on abusing you in any way he can.
The abuse has escalated because he believes you'll take it and won't fight back.
He has raped you.
He has beaten you and shown negligible remorse.
He is responsible for his actions and emotions - not you.
There are many wiser than me MNers who have offered some great support here; keep reading their advice - so much of is evidence based as they have come out the other side of abusive relationships and now have happy, healthy lives and relationships.
Please, please seek RL help (not your mother) and don't let the cycle of abuse continue with your own children.
He hits you.
It is that bad.
Make a plan and leave asap.
There is really nothing else to say. Don't doubt yourself and don't hesitate.
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