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Doubting myself, what made you realise it was emotional abuse?(20 Posts)
After having some counseling, and reading various threads on here, I think my husband may be emotionally abusive and possibly narcissistic.
The trouble is my self esteem and confidence are so low, I'm doubting myself, and turn it back on me. I've spoken to friends and they agree his behavior isn't nice, but some say he doesn't mean to do it, it's not on purpose?
I had individual counseling, then that lead to couples counseling (his idea) and it was awful, he denied things I said, and made out I remembered things incorrectly. He also mentioned things I did, fair enough, but I acknowledged those and did something about it. I did mention something about him doing a certain hobby, and that he can do as he wishes, but it would be nice if he discussed it first. I don't agree with the secrecy of the organization, but wasn't allowed to say anything against them (I wouldn't have stopped him going, but wasn't allowed an opinion at all on it) he then left this organization (his choice, his reasons include it was taking up too much time with his new job, he didn't like that it was a big age gap between him and other members etc). So I said why don't you try another local one, that has less commitment etc, encouraged him without telling him what to do. He then told people he had given it up because of me I certainly didn't say he should give it up, just used it as an example of being considerate, and allowing me to have an opinion that's different to his. I think he wanted to impress the counsellor.
I felt awful after that, and had more individual counseling, but the joint counseling really set me back, and I'm struggling.
Can I ask what made you realize it was emotional abuse, I realise ever situation is different, but I'm just trying to get some perspective.
Emotional abuse is when your partner tries to control you. That's basically it. So look past shouting, arguments, etc and ask yourself whether his goal is ultimately to control what you do or how ypu feel about yourself.
It's called gas lighting OP rewriting history so you doubt yourself & your judgement google it & you'll understand the way it works.
I realised it was emotional abuse when his actions and words hurt me emotionally. That's pretty much it.
The what's and whys are his business. You can choose to not get hurt any more.
I think it was AnyFucker who said yesterday that you never, ever, go for couples counselling with someone who's abusive because the counsellor has to believe there are two sides to every story, so his side is given weight it doesn't deserve.
What's your home situation? Do you rent or do you have a mortgage? Are there children? Do you work?
Don't listen to people who say he doesn't mean it. They wouldn't put up with it and neither should you.
I realised when I was waking up every morning having a panic attack
I was also on edge all the time waiting for him to get angry about something
He also could never take any responsibility- everything was always someone else's fault
I couldn't work out if it was really as bad as I was beginning to think it was so I started writing it down. At some point every day for 10 days there was something. It was there in black and white. At that point I could no longer deny it to myself.
Are you happy in your marriage?
If you're not happy that is enough reason to call time and divorce, you don't need his permission, you don't need a reason.
I too used to wake up having a panic attack. Eventually, I'd wake up feeling suicidal.
We'd tried couple counselling, it sounds exactly like your experience. He used it against me for years.
He had me so convinced I was the problem I regularly googled " Am I an abusive spouse?".
However he ticked all the abusive spouse boxes.
So glad to be out of that relationship, it took me far too long.
This is a good read and relevant to emotional abuse:
Walking on eggshells.
Putting things down to unconvention or ups and downs of marriage but on looking through someone else's eyes knowing in your heart that you're being abused.
Doing things to keep the peace or trying to keep him happy but that bar being raised ever higher.
Focussing on when he's out of the house so you can breathe.
On finally accepting the situation and being honest with yourself you fall apart and feel vulnerable.
That's my story. The abuse has escalated since I initiated divorce proceedings. I am in the hardest part - having to admit to others what it's been like and how it is now, but a happier future awaits me and our children ( and I hope him as well...I don't wish bad on him, just want him out of my life).
Yes, keeping a diary is good. I feel like I'm reading about someone else's life when I read mine.
There are so many things I've just accepted over the years and it's been hard at times when my solicitor has said (nicely) "err no, that's not normal".
I think you should keep a diary for a while. Write down what he says and does to you with no other comment.
I have a troubled relationship with my sister - she has been abusive to me in many ways. We have now resolved into a situation where she knows that I will no longer put up with being bullied and she behaves (usually) and I was thinking recently was she really that bad all along? Then I read a diary I kept where I wrote down what she said verbatim. it was hilarious on one level - and reassuring on another that I hadn't been too sensitive- she was a bitch to me.
I also think you should focus on what a healthy happy relationship looks like. In my experience it means:
You feel he has your back, will support and help you
You know he thinks he is lucky to be married to you - he appreciates you.
You feel that most problems are easier because you are married to him and the ones that aren't are the funny ones (e.g. I can change a tyre faster without the helpful commentary thanks)
You feel like you are in it together - a team
You like being with him and never worry about upsetting him or setting him off
As well as feeling loved you have a deep certainty that he likes you and finds you funny/generous/warm/whatever (this is one of the things I realised with my sis - she actually doesn't like me, although I am not sure she realises that. We do love each other though and so have battled it out because you don't actually need to see your sister that much- if she were my husband I wouldn't have bothered)
When you fight, it is upsetting and awful but you don't really worry deep down about it. you might get angry and have to deal with big issues but you still know the person you admire and love and like is there so you will work it out.
Lots of reading - Google will find you lots of resources. Google emotional abuse, narcissism, gas lighting, emotional blackmail and just get a sense of where he is.
Lots of observing. Writing it down is a good idea because each incident could be nothing by itself - it's the pattern and the outcome that makes it more than "a disagreement". The outcomes can be - his activities/purchases always take priority, you never share an opinion that is different to him, you doing things he wants/giving up what you want. Also write down the way that he says you are unreasonable/mean/hypocritical in these arguments - you will see how he uses your emotions against you so you feel wrong too.
When I was pregnant I went to my doctor to ask for help as I knew something something was very wrong with my home situation but didn't know what that was. I couldn't do anything right, was walking on egg shells, was terrified of upsetting him, he made attempts (which failed) at isolating me from family and friends, I was his constant target for verbal attacks, screaming in my face, slamming doors, spitting at me, throwing things at me etc (but never actually physically hitting me). But Christ could he put on a show the minute we were in the company of anyone else! I did not reach out for help until one night after I had misunderstood an instruction he gave me (a warning sign in itself), he picked up a household object and smashed it against his own head until it broke, then said I was such a terrible wife I caused him to self harm. I went to my doctor the next day and said I didn't know what to do, couldn't cope etc. Because I was 7 months pregnant, I was fast tracked into counselling and it was my counsellor who gently told me I was in an abusive relationship. It took me another 6 months (by which point I had left with my baby) to fully accept that this is indeed what was happening, and two and a half years after leaving I am still coming to terms with the extreme level of physchological abuse I suffered for 9 years. Looking back there were many signs of abuse, which escalated over the years, but it genuinely never occurred to me that I was being abused (I am a teacher, have sat through numerous talks on signs of abuse, child protection etc and it still never occurred to me!!). It got worse when I became pregnant. To be honest, if it wasn't for my little one and the fact that I knew she couldn't grow up in such an environment I may actually still be there. Accepting what has happened has been a slow process - partly to do with my own denial and partly for all of the excuses I made for him - at first I told myself he just had a short temper, then it was because he was stressed, then I thought he was having a breakdown or was bi-polar or Asperger, psychopathic or narcissistic. He may be any (or all) of these things, but what he definitely is is abusive. And by the way, they know. They fucking know what they are doing. He will choose when to be nice and when to be abusive - and that even the nice periods are part of the abusive cycle. That's when they reel you in and make you hope that you can have this nice life all of the time, and if the nice times stop it is because you have done something to ruin it. Stay strong, get support and take care of yourself.x
Yy to walking on eggshells. ! Also having a row where he twists everything to confuse you and suddenly you don't really know what you're arguing about anymore He takes no responsibility for his actions- it's all your fault ( he can't possibly be wrong).
Thank you for all your replies, and I'm sorry you have been through it too
To answer an earlier question, we are married in a mortgaged home, and have 2 children in primary, I only work a few hours a week, but am currently looking for more work.
Writing it down is a great idea, thank you. I think that would be very helpful to look back on. When he denied something in counseling, it was only the fact that I had spoken to 2 friends at the time that clarified in my mind I hadn't made it up.
Yes to walking on eggshells, I always feel like that. The trouble is he is very charming with others, though interestingly a few friends, when I have mentioned things in conversation, seem to be more aware of his behaviour than I thought.
I'm not allowed to have a different opinion, I'm wrong, yet I can have discussions and have different opinions with other people, so it's only with him.
I've always been a people pleaser, as my sister was and still is very manipulative, so I just went along with everything, and learnt she got her own way, so there was no point having an opinion, and I think when I met him he was very charming at first, and then over time things changed, so I don't know any differently if you know what I mean, I've never felt like I could have an opinion.
It's only with recent counselling, and having a voluntary position in which I was chair (did as a favour) that I realise I can have a different opinion and discussions that it became clear I think?
The looking at what a healthy relationship is like is also very useful, as I think that's what is even more confusing, as I haven't really had that, so I don't know what it looks like?
I'm very good at putting things back on me, and get told I am over anxious and over sensitive.
I am an anxious person, but I don't think I get anxious about things others wouldn't, from talking to friends it sounds like I'm reasonable to have anxiety about things, it's how he reacts and dismisses my opinion that escalates my anxiety.
As an example, in my volunteering role, I was asked if someone could do a small talk about who we are etc, at a new parents evening, I was very anxious about this, but the vice chair was very confident. No one else was free to do it, and I said I would do it if no one else could (but I would ask vice chair as she wasn't at meeting) I said why I was anxious at the meeting, and the others understood, and one who also hates standing up in front of people, very kindly said he would stand there with me, to support me, which meant a lot.
My husband just said just do it, dismissed it straight away. When I said at counseling about I don't expect him to agree with me, just understand which he doesn't do, he said no you're right, I can't understand you, and just dismissed all my feelings.
I just feel very confused, and I know only I can do something, but my self esteem and confidence are so low, I just don't believe I can leave, he's ground me down that much.
Yeah he's abusive, you will be much happier without him as millstone around your neck!
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