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How did he convince you to stay at the start? *TRIGGERS*(23 Posts)
If you could talk to your younger self, before you had children with an abuser, how would you change your younger self's thinking about sticking with him?
Maybe you were living in a bubble where normal rules didn't apply? How did you see your reality then?
There was another thread asking a very similar question - was that yours, too? I can't find it now - maybe it has been deleted.
Tbh, the question seems rather confrontational towards women who have stayed in violent relationships.
I'm glad you re-posted cookie. There were some very good points made on your last thread.
YY the other was deleted, this must be the re-worded one.
I don't know that it's helpful to focus on individuals as individual people will have different experiences. Plus, I don't think that anybody could have told my pre-children self anything which would have changed my mind about my ex. In fact a few people did try to warn me about him. I think that a more general question is interesting/relevant, but the thread will go one way or another
Reposting my thoughts from the other thread:
Abusers never appear like abusers at first. The relationship will start off just like any other, and the incidents and/or red flags at first are tiny, so small that 99.9999999% of people would brush off an incident, make excuses, feel that he wasn't at fault. It starts with entirely innocent sounding comments. "I prefer you in the blue shirt to the yellow one." "Do we really have to go and meet your friends tonight? I'm really tired and think I'm coming down with something." "I don't think your mum likes me very much" - the kind of thing which happens in normal, healthy relationships, it's just it's coming from a different place. Then it just kind of escalates, once you are used to a certain level. By the time it gets to a level where it's noticeable by others it's so normal to you that you dismiss any concerns.
The problem with talking about a "victim script" is that it doesn't really work that way - an abuser is going to have an abusive relationship, whoever he (or she) is with. Of course not every one of their relationships will work out but that could be down to many reasons - the potential victim could have left because of entirely unrelated reasons, perhaps they are still emotionally involved with someone else, or a relationship feels like too much hard work at the time, or they did see the red flags, but not always. Whereas if a person who might become a victim is with someone who is kind and reasonable, no abuse can occur. Furthermore it's not accurate to talk/think about "people who may become victims" because although it's true that some abuse victims are playing out roles from childhood or more easily accepting of abusive behaviour because they think it's normal or because of low self esteem, or they're in a vulnerable place at the time of the relationship, etc, the problem with this is that abuse can happen to anyone, if anything, the "victim script" is more the natural reaction to abusive behaviour. It's not as though she, or he, is enabling the abuse, it just is. Self aware, strong, feminist, confident, male people get abused. There isn't a common thread running through the identity of abuse victims. They are just reacting reasonably and compassionately to someone who is not acting reasonably or normally or genuinely towards them. They're acting in exactly the same way they would in a healthy relationship, the difference is that the abuser is not acting in a healthy way towards them.
I absolutely do not intend to be confrontational.
I understand we don't talk about this because there has been a long history of victim blaming.
Yes, I totally failed on that front with my last thread, which I asked to be deleted. But like MNHQ and many posters said, people came up with some interesting points. So I'm trying again.
Everyone also told me I worded my OP there appallingly, which is true .
By Mumsnet standards, my ex was a pain in the backside rather than a full-time ongoing abuser. No, he wasn't. That's me playing it down. I'll stop.
There were signs, but I couldn't have escaped. Family expectations - they wanted me married by 21 and it had to be done. I didn't dare risk letting him slip away and be thrown out on my 21st birthday to a life beyond the pale.
When I left him in the first year, my mum did what her mum had done with her - gave her a small sherry and sent her home.
Until I had evidence of his adultery, nothing would shift opinion to my side - not even his pinning me to the floor and trying to strangle me. That's what husbands did. If you didn't want that, you had to be a better wife.
There was no mn in those days!
Definitely an improvement on the first thread Cookie
And I do think it's a good discussion to have periodically.
By minimising, Its all in my head ect.
Not at all sure younger self would have listened, it took an incident in front of a crowd of friends for the scales to fall off my eyes.
He wasn't abusive until I had a child with him. Which if you'd looked into it, is very common. He was a bit odd and troubled but not actually abusive. Turns out he lied a lot, including about his deeply dysfunctional upbringing but only found that out after we'd split.
Agree with what was said on the other thread about women looking after others and putting themselves last, being understanding etc. Frog in hot water stuff plus by the time you are pregnant, not wanting to give dc broken home, trying to make it work, sticking by him, ashamed to admit you've picked a bad one etc.
Speaking as someone who has observed only, there are some people, actually make that a surprisingly large number of people who are desperate to be loved. And are prepared to lower their standards of what they expect from someone in order to get that "love".
Shame they've merged with the US one, but here's a relationship forum I used to post on a lot. www.ivillage.com/forums/love-sex/love-marriage/relationships
Far more "mainstream" than mumsnet - I find mumsnet relationship forums really, really refreshing and different to most others. This is far more of a standard view and the standard view puts up with an astonishing level of "lower level" ie, not immediately obvious violence/control, abusive behaviour.
Even on here sometimes you get people saying "Well he's hit me twice but all of my family and friends keep saying I need to give him another chance."
Bertie spot on... In retrospect things often look like red flags which at the time could be put down to lack of confidence or the mild jealousy which is sometimes a factor in the early stages of relationships.
I don't think this is about victim blaming and it's an entirely legitimate conversation-- and definitely don't want to minimize that there are some things you should not ignore -- but I sometimes think the red flag thing is a little overplayed. Almost any disagreement or misunderstanding can look like a red flag later you are in that frame of mind.
Yes, and the thing is that these comments or incidents on their own aren't red flags at all. My DH who is lovely, kind, not abusive at all, has said all of those things at some time or other. The difference is that he has been genuinely ill, or preferred a top for a genuine reason rather than that one is "too sexy", or he has actually been worried about my family liking him, none of it has been because he was trying to isolate me from friends and family. And they were one offs - he wasn't avoiding or finding coincidental reasons to clash with every meeting with a friend, 99% of the time he wouldn't have an opinion about what I wore, etc.
To painful for me to go there I'm afraid. I know the mistakes I made, the signs I missed, the things I accepted that I should've challenged but I find it difficult to articulate to others.
I think there are a number of things at play. (just my own thoughts)
The dynamic of your own parents' relationship, what was modelled for you.
Other childhood experiences eg how your parents treated you. Or anything that resulted in you lacking self-esteem when you enter the world of relationships.
But even if you enter the adult world self-confident you can still find yourself in an abusive relationship.
If you lack self-esteem you may be particularly susceptible to whirlwind romances (many of which are very happy) and quick commitments. Or the relationship may start the same as any relationship. There may be no or few red flags. If there are you don't notice them or see them as one offs (everyone has off days or their little quirks) You grow to love this person and plan your future with them. To split up you would not just lose the present you would lose your imagined future. You would also have to admit that your investment for these past months or years have been a lie or wasted. Think of the phrase 'throwing good money after bad' say when pouring personal funds into a business venture rather than give up on that dream. If you can just get through this rough patch the business will be on the up again.
The change may be (or seem) sudden. If sudden it may start after you have got married or got pregnant. Your future is very publicly invested in your partner. You want it to work. You don't want to have to tell people it's over. It feels shameful or humiliating (feels not is). If more gradual it's a one off and another and another. Whether sudden or gradual it is stress because of X or Y. Or maybe you haven't been as lovely as you used to be. DP is lovely so if DP is not being lovely there must be a good reason. You hope that you can get back to where you were when it was all lovely. That's the real DP, the lovely DP. If you can just find that again. And sometimes, teasingly, it is lovely again. If you get it right. If it goes wrong maybe it's because you fucked up. The seeping lack of confidence in yourself is insidious. Maybe you start by sticking up for yourself but the arguments are so confusing and chaotic and you start to doubt yourself.
Does that make sense?
- I think often "strong, competent, a strong sense of duty, feeling one has to prove oneself" women are ripe for abusers?
The whole "working two jobs and studying" me attracted my abusive ex-husband. That sense women are often expected to have of "not being enough, having to work to be respected and lovable, feeling guilty for not achieving enough" is ripe for the predator.
- Sometimes its better to be an "entitled princess" than a "martyr". You get told by other women "oh, you're being high maintenance". Or "you should compromise, it takes two to work".
Trouble with "compromise" is that often its one doing the "compromising", and, little by little, they end up doing all the "compromising".
- It's not a "compliment" that someone wants to marry one and have one as the mother of his children. There's this horrid Bridget Jones shite that states women should be "grateful" to have someone willing to "commit" and start a family. As if not having this makes one an ugly harridan! But if a family is broken from the start, then whats the point? It's not uncommon for men to coerce women into having children, then act all resentful with the family situation THEY created.
- Just because a man comes across as quite submissive in personality, very grateful to have you, "wouldn't say boo to a goose" type. very upset if you're upset with him, it doesn't mean "he'll never treat me badly".
- Someone with a sense of self-respect won't be a doormat, but he won't want his partner to be a doormat either. Extreme passivity can be just as oppressive as any active form of abuse. A man who leaves his wife to manage his difficult mother and make all the tough decisions because he sees himself as too "nice" to do such things, is passive aggressive.
To add some:
- I think often abusers play the vulnerability game at the start? When I first started dating I was attracted to the "underdog/overlooked lacking in self-confidence" guy under the misapprehension they were "nice".
But often this type, has a real resentment of life and of women? And they'll manipulate the woman by putting ALL the big decisions in her hands. Then chip away at her confidence. Men who want to be mothered/led often are the worst abusers.
Like I mentioned above, leading her into saying "she" wants a baby then emotionally checking out, and claiming it was all her idea. Or littler things - asking the woman to pick the restaurant and then complaining about the place. So then she's then thinking "oh dear, its now my JOB to pick somewhere my partner likes..."
I've noticed in all the (good) men I've dated since , they are fairly confident about stating "I" want this or "I" prefer that. But that's better than the guy who won't own his own ideas, but will project them onto his partner.
My EA ex was never abusive until we after we were married and luckily we never had children. But even so, I knew in my heart of hearts beforehand that I shouldn't marry him. Even at the ceremony, as my father walked me down the aisle a little voice was saying 'Turn around and run you are making a BIG mistake. You have nothing in common, you don't believe in the same things'. Even so, I married him. Bottom line, I tried to talk myself out of it but failed. My mother tried to talk me out of it but failed. I don't think any of us could talk our younger selves out of it unless we could bring a crystal ball to show what our future would be.
What I would say to my younger self is this: If you know something is wrong, it is. It won't get better. Someone with the capacity to willfully hurt you deeply, physically or emotionally, will always do so again, eventually. No sweet words in the inbetween will change that, and it is not your fault.
The one thing that stands out about my relationship with my exh (in retrospect) was his haste. To get married, to have children, various things. It was the big clue to the abusive behaviours that followed.
I don't think it is necessarily safe to assume that all relationships that became abusive took the same course, however, and that assumption does seem implicit in your question.
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