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Those in abusive relationships - have you disclosed to anyone in RL?

(24 Posts)
Bumblequeen Tue 17-Dec-13 12:16:16

I was in an emotionally & physically abusive relationship for four years. He put me down, compared me to others, shouted and swore at me, manipulated me, made me second guess myself, kicked me on many occasions, banned me to another room when I irritated him at least once a week.

I convinced myself that I deserved it because I was a sad, pathetic person who nobody would ever want.

I have only told dh. I feel so ashamed to disclose to dm or dsis or friend. Which is sad as the issues I have now (lack of trust, coldness, unworthiness) are a result of that relationship and bullying at school.

Perhaps if I shared my 'story' the people close to me would understand why I am 'distant', 'cold', 'strange'.

I cannot believe I was 'that woman' that others ask "How did she put up with that"?

This relationship ended 11 years ago. It nearly destroyed me.

HotDAMNlifeisgood Tue 17-Dec-13 12:25:23

I've never hidden it, from anyone. Don't go shouting it from the rooftops either, but if it seems relevant to a given conversation, I'll talk about my experience. I'm not ashamed: the shame is his.

It's helped me connect with plenty of people who are or were themselves in abusive relationships.

However, I don't think I'll be telling any romantic partners until I feel we are in a stable relationship. Again, I will probably bring it up the way I have with most other people: when it seems relevant in context.

About you: would it help you to talk about your experience? Here, or with a therapist? I'm sorry you didn't reach out to those close to you. I really think that speaking to empathetic people can help you heal. And you will be amazed at how many people have also had similar experiences, and kept them quiet.

Bumblequeen Tue 17-Dec-13 13:08:30

Thanks for your advice.

I would not know how to share what I endured. I worry people will judge me and view me differently from then on. I felt so weak and helpless when in that relationship. I did not know I could become that woman who is hit/beaten/ridiculed. I allowed him to do that to me. He did not hold me prisoner. I could have walked away the minute he showed bad signs.

I have seen a counsellor and that helped. Sometimes I just want to talk and talk.

whatdoesittake48 Tue 17-Dec-13 13:27:38

You should absolutely tell close friends and family, but take care with romantic relationships. In my experience, past abuse can be used against you. I have heard those immortal words "No wonder your ex acted like he did" to prove to me what an awful person I was and how incapable I was of having a normal relationship.

Don't let anyone use past abuse against you - so choose those you tell carefully.

HotDAMNlifeisgood Tue 17-Dec-13 13:29:57

It sounds like you could do with talking some more. Are you still seeing your counsellor? If not, would another course of therapy be an option?

And do you have a good, close friend?

A therapist will not judge you. A close friend will only want to give you her love and support.

And please, please stop blaming yourself. He chose to do all those things to you - you had no say in what he chose to do. It's not you that "allowed" it, love. He allowed himself.

HotDAMNlifeisgood Tue 17-Dec-13 13:32:35

That is an exceptionally shit thing for someone to say to you, 48. That is pure victim-blaming, and unacceptable.

I don't think it's because you were open about past abuse, though. It's because you were seeing someone who enjoys saying cruel and cutting things when he is angry. If not that, it would have been some other cruel comment.

ColinButterfly Tue 17-Dec-13 13:39:05

I tell everyone I need to, just as it crops up when talking about life. I very much doubt I will have another relationship but if I did, I don't know whether I would. But it's not a priority for me for the forseeable.

17leftfeet Tue 17-Dec-13 13:49:24

I was in an abusive relationship for 10 years, it ended 4 years ago in march

I've never told anyone the whole truth as their reaction to the tiny little bits I have shared has been 'but your a strong woman, why did you put up with that' and I'd barely even scratched the surface

I did and still do feel humiliated by what happened and I've not been in a relationship since -I have many excuses why but the real one is I don't trust myself to make good choices when it comes to men as my judgement let me down so badly previously

HotDAMNlifeisgood Tue 17-Dec-13 14:24:49

Colin, 17 - I dated a man for a few months who knew I had been in a violent and abusive marriage. He could not have been kinder and more empathetic about it: didn't probe, but was willing to listen if I wanted to talk, and just showed kindness at those times. (The relationship ended, principally because I am still nervous about being in any kind of relationship at all, as you are. But one of the many things I learned in that relationship is that there are kind men out there, and that my past will not be held against me by any kind of decent partner.)

Bumblequeen Tue 17-Dec-13 15:19:23

Whatdoes My dh was very understanding. I had to tell him as when we had disagreements I would flinch and become scared assuming he was going to hit or shout at me as exp did.

Hotdamn Yes I have a few close friends. Naturally I am a private person. I have always been seen as the 'strong' friend! In a way I did not want to break the illusion.

Colin I hope you do have another relationship sad

17left I felt humiliated. Exp had absolutely no regard for my feelings. He used to say spiteful things and watch for my reaction. He took great pleasure in seeing me cry. It got to the stage that he pushed me to a gibbering wreck every time I saw him. We did not live together.

ninilegsintheair Tue 17-Dec-13 16:13:55

Only one of my friends knows - she's not my oldest friend but she knew us before the abuse kicked in, and she has no connections to my family or any of my other friends so it feels safe. But I'm aware that she's my only sounding board so I'm careful not to overburden her with something that isn't her problem. It's a lonely life sometimes.

I've never told any family as they think the world of him, and most of our friends are his.

Joysmum Tue 17-Dec-13 16:17:37

I didn't even tell my hubby until we were well into our relationship and we'd been best friends years before getting together.

I still haven't told anyone else, not because I'm ashamed or trying to hide it, just because it doesn't affect others. If I felt somebody else either needed to know, or would benefit from knowing then I would tell them.

Kernowgal Tue 17-Dec-13 18:12:33

I've told a few people, and they have been shocked that I didn't say anything while it was happening (it finished 18 months ago). If it comes up in conversation I will allude to it but yes, it is humiliating to admit that I let him treat me like that. But I was trying to make it work even though it was like walking up a down escalator (which he made run faster and faster towards the end). Terrible analogy I know wink

Lweji Tue 17-Dec-13 18:21:37

After I decided to call the police and press charges, I have basically told anyone I know about it.

Lweji Tue 17-Dec-13 18:22:42

I don't go out of my way to tell people, but if the subject of ex, separation or dv in general come up, then I often end up telling people.

WasFeelingLousy Tue 17-Dec-13 22:05:53

I was in an emotionally and sexually abusive marriage for many years. Outwardly I am successful, confident, well educated etc, but the marriage was very abusive and had a huge impact on me. He left me late last year, and it's only been since then that I've allowed myself to acknowledge how messed up it was. (It took 6 months for me to admit any of the emotional and sexual abuse.)

Only my sister and one friend irl know that it was abusive at all, and tbh, they have no idea of the extent of the abuse. I've been in therapy a year now and just starting to
open up and talk about it to my therapist. It is seriously
scary to think about the amount of control that he had over
me. The thought of being in another relationship is still too scary. I hope that might change at some point. In the meantime as I say, I've got a great job, great dc, lots of friends so as well as trying to deal with the bad, I'm trying to focus on the good in my life.

Feckthis Tue 17-Dec-13 22:23:00

I told a close relative and she decided I was wrong, based on what she saw. I was and am devastated by this but can't tell her because she thinks I'm being OTT.

Offred Tue 17-Dec-13 22:25:30

It is a tricky balance to get right I think. It has taken me a while, going back in time, to realise and identify various abusive experiences I've had and I have talked about them to varying degrees with many people in the last year or couple of years.

Often I'm unsure whether this is helping or hurting me. I feel very often like I am wading through tar and unable to see even the possibility of having a normal life full of simple love.

I'm 29, first abusive experience I remember happened when I was 11 (peer group abuse). This thread has made me sad precisely because I think I share your confusion about talking/not talking.

I've not had negative experiences of people who know blaming me but I suppose I have been selective, whilst being fairly open.

I do feel however, that once I've shared with an intimate partner I am exposed and vulnerable. Also that I ruin relationships with a combination of virtually impossible high standards and lack of asserting of my own needs.

With partners the issue is negotiating that minefield of the effects of abuse. This is my life which has shaped me and my needs but what is reasonable to expect a partner to cope with/me to put up with?

I'm often flummoxed by this. Have left a marriage over it really.

My rape counsellor however did say something like; 'you do not owe anyone an explanation. You should only tell people you want to tell and for reasons which you feel benefit you. You must be selfish about it, that is ok' I found that very helpful and think it applies to all abuse.

BertieBowtiesAreCool Tue 17-Dec-13 22:27:10

I told people, but I very quickly found that I shouldn't use the word "abusive" because there was no physical abuse and people tended to assume I was overreacting/looking for attention once they heard that word and had ascertained that he didn't hit me.

So I tell people my ex was controlling, or he used to put me down a lot, or specific things that he did, but I don't say "he was abusive" any more unless I know that person is clued up about EA.

Offred Tue 17-Dec-13 22:27:13

Actually I have had negative experiences, with my parents, but I haven't elaborated all the abuse from xp. They took his side against me.

Offred Tue 17-Dec-13 22:30:46

And yy on the occasion I've said 'abusive' rather than 'sexually abusive' people have run away with the idea of physical abuse which maddeningly seems to be more serious to them than me having been repeatedly abused, raped and made pregnant...

Offred Tue 17-Dec-13 22:31:43

And I have been explicit about that being what happened. Somehow if he had slapped me he would have been 'properly abusive' in their minds.

fifi669 Tue 17-Dec-13 22:41:51

I said something to my boss at the time. Ex had just slapped me to the floor and I went into work (we both worked at the same bar). Boss was horrified as her daughter had suffered DV to the point of being stabbed. I minimised the whole thing. A few weeks later as I was working and he was drinking, we had words which lead to him pushing all the glasses off the bar towards me. He then looked at me cold as ice and said 'now clean that up'. I should have left then, I didnt. I was newly pregnant at the time.

He eventually walked out on me at 20 weeks pregnant. I was devastated. With time came clarity. Shoving me about, esp while pregnant was not cool. Blocking doorways so I couldn't escape. Throwing plates. Telling me I looked like a tranvestite if I wore make up. Once I walked naked from the shower, he said I'd make the neighbours sick. Then there's the times I said I was tired, that I wasn't in the mood but he'd have sex with me anyway, apologise after and say he didn't see the tears. I put up with all of it at the time because of the good times. That'll never happen again.

DP knows almost everything. He worked with us at the same bar years ago. I haven't told him about the sex thing though. He let slip to my dad about the make up thing and he was devastated and said he felt he'd failed me as a father. If he feels that from that one small part, there's no way I could let it be known about the rest.

MatildaWhispers Tue 17-Dec-13 23:00:09

I have hidden it as much as possible in rl. I have talked about it with a counsellor, and a couple of other professional people, but very few others and I don't feel I can talk about it more generally as people would not understand. Where I have disclosed to a few people, I haven't really given any details but kept it all very general. At one stage I spoke to the police about my ex and logged some incidents that were sexually abusive, but I actually only told them about what seemed to me to be more 'straightforward' (not sure if that's the right word) sexual abuse, as opposed to some other things that I felt too embarrassed about.

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