Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.

How long does it take to get the courage to leave EA?

(28 Posts)
12hours Tue 09-Aug-16 07:15:02

I posted here at the weekend about my husband chasing a younger woman at work. The bigger issue is that he is EA and gas been for such a long time that it has become so normal that I feel like I am making a fuss over nothing. I get the silent treatment regularly for up to 3 weeks at a time, he will speak to the kids very happily, but treat me as though I don't exist. The atmosphere in our home when that is going on is horrific, it makes me have panic attacks. I gave tried to reason with him over the years (have been known to actually beg him in the past to speak to me, just to take the anxious feelings away. I spend my whole life when he is talking to me walking on eggshells incase I upset him again and get another dose of it. In January, after 3 weeks of this shit, I told him I had had enough, I didn't want to live like this anymore. I hate the person I have become, like a pathetic excuse for a human being. Outside of the home, I have a great job, am financially independent, etc - it's just when I am at home that I feel like crap. We have two DCs who I worry about as they are getting older. I worry that he will transfer his silent treatment to them as they grow up and want to be independent and have opinions of their own. Husband is very short tempered, he goes off about things the average person generally wouldn't, is so horribly derogatory to me in the way he speaks when he is in the moods and then just snaps out of it weeks later and we are all supposed to carry on as normal. I have decided that I no longer want to be married to him or live with him anymore. Have seen a solicitor for advice, counsellor, etc and made up my mind. My problem is that I just DO NOT have the guts to tell him! It's in my head and my heart, it just won't come out of my mouth. I suppose I am just scared of his reaction, but what's the worst he can do? Not speak to me?! He can say one thing to me in a certain way and I am actually paralysed by panic.

Anyway, as I have seen a number of brave threads on here about people having the guts to leave......if you have any advice or experiences to share, I would be so grateful. I really need to know that one day very soon I will get the courage to do this!

Thanks for reading.

HandyWoman Tue 09-Aug-16 07:25:56

OP please try and focus your mind on what your kids are learning about relationships from you two. They are learning that Dads are to be feared and placated, and that Mums are people with no value.

It isn't good enough. It's so far from OK that you shouldn't remain in this relationship a nanosecond longer. Think of your kids and just do it. Get out. At the moment you are in a fog. When you are out the fog will lift. Trust that the fog will lift. You don't have to tell him. Just go.

Can you get a friend or relative to help you leave while he's at work?

MidnightVelvettheSixth Tue 09-Aug-16 07:34:28

It doesn't have to be a face to face confrontation, you can leave on your own terms & you are under no obligation to have a conversation about it. If it makes you feel better then leave a letter.

Actually why not write a letter to him anyway even if he never sees it, it may focus your thoughts & gather together all the reasons that may seem airy fairy on their own but once firmly together with each other they make a complete picture of what's happening. You may also find that you get angry as you write & this will give you the push you need smile

Leaving an EA relationship is hard, don't feel bad about that, many women stay in them, put up & shut up & never find the courage to leave. Its noble to think that you should tell him face to face but he's hardly a knight of chivalry is he, so if you don't want to do it then don't! brew

12hours Tue 09-Aug-16 07:55:26

Over the years he has made me feel as though I am making a big deal about nothing, and then I start second guessing myself. I am on anxiety tablets and I suppose I don't then gave confidence in my own thoughts and opinions. Ideally, I would like to say it to him, mean it and then ask him to move out until the house is sold and we can go our separate ways. My eldest (6) is a real homebody, when he is away from home he wants to be back at home. I also cannot afford to rent a place locally so their school run is not disrupted and continue to lay half the mortgage. He can be so vicious, that he would say he wants custody (even though he wouldn't be able to manage them full time) and not sure how me fleeing the home and disrupting the kids would look in such a custody situation. Thanks for your replies. Handy, as you said, I feel like I am in a fog, it is clearing slowly, just got to face the fear. The fear of it is probably worse than the deed itself. I also worry that he might go the opposite of expected and beg for another try, I tend to feel sorry for him and then I am back at first base. A couple of weeks ago I suggested maybe we spend some time apart as we both seem to have lost interest in the marriage. He just glossed over it, said 'that's a bit extremes, we are obviously both exhausted' and then carried on as though I hadn't said a word. On the plus side, this shouldn't come as a major shock to him. I also worry as my eldest idolises him and he might want to go and live with him. Solicitor says this would not happen, even though we both work full time, I deal with pickups/dropoffs and parties, etc as well as running the home single handedly (he does absolutely nothing in our home, but just walks round saying it looks like a shithole). I know the courage is coming, I don't want to be noble by telling him, I think I might just end up feeling like a victim if I just go, I want to let him know (through my actions and words) that I am not scared of him anymore. Midnight, I think a letter or lost of incidents might be a good idea 😊 I will try that. Xx

Emochild Tue 09-Aug-16 08:06:41

Honestly?

It took 3 years from deciding I couldn't live like that anymore to actually splitting up

I just couldn't justify leaving because I'd always believed that violence and cheating were the deal breakers in a marriage, everything else could be worked through -he had done neither of those things and my views had been so badly twisted by him that I just couldn't take the final step

The last year we were together I spent goading him into leaving me -except by any normal standards I wasn't goading, I just wasn't pandering to him anymore and I stopped putting up with sexual contact that I absolutely did not want from him

For us, the letters and the explanations came after we eventually split -and he nearly won me back with his apologies and explanations
It was recognising the impact on our children that kept me away
I'm so regretful of those years, once I'd realised what was going on and didn't step away from it

I hope you find the strength much faster than I did

kate33 Tue 09-Aug-16 08:11:36

flowers for you op. I am sending you all the strength in the world and hoping that you leave soon. Although really, he should be the one to go. He is really such a coward but he has managed to make you think you're the weak one. In time you will see how strong you are. Imagine how your days will be when this is all sorted, just normal family life for you and your dcs without the eggshells and the panic and the stress. Just keep focusing on that!smile

12hours Tue 09-Aug-16 08:30:09

Emochild, this is EXACTLY how I have been made to feel, cheating and violence being the deal rakers, but now I even have evidence that he is Trying to cheat (not very successfully as the girl doesn't seem interested) but still not quite enough evidence if that makes sense. Plus I found the evidence by going through his phones, I can imagine he would turn that round on me. I almost wish he would just wallop me and then I could be done with him as that is concrete (not wishing to upset anyone who has been hit), but everything I say or do is minimised so I end up feeling like an overreacting nutcase. He even says things like 'you are carrying on as though this is some kind of domestic abuse'.

Emochild Tue 09-Aug-16 08:49:25

I also did the wishing he would hit me thing -he smashed up my laptop once and i said to him it wasnt the laptop he was angry with, half hoping he would come for me. i know that sounds crazy but part of me felt i deserved it and part of me wanted it to happen as i thought it would be an easy way to get him out

My ex accused me of abusing him and being unsupportive because I got annoyed that he sat on his arse all day while I worked full time and either did all the childcare and housework, or paid for the childcare

He accused me of being mentally ill

Told me I was a terrible parent and that he would go for full custody -he's never had them for more than a weekend in the 6 years since we split

It's all about control and if they feel like they are losing control of you then they will up their game and either turn on the charm or go the other way and make you feel helpless so you don't have the strength to leave

FinallyHere Tue 09-Aug-16 09:36:34

So sorry to read you are living like this. Not much to add but wanted to offer a handhold and remind you how much support you will find, from Mumsnet and elsewhere, once you get started. I'd encourage you to do some research and get all your ducks in a row before you tell him.

You will find that gives you a confidence he has destroyed in other areas, by treating you how he does.

All the very, very best.

JellyBean31 Tue 09-Aug-16 09:52:25

I knew I had to get out on a subconscious level for about 10 years. I knew on a conscious level for 15 months. I knew for definite for 4 1/2 months and it took 7 weeks from me telling him to me leaving.

It's such a hard process, he will most likely beg for one more chance, well I'd given so many last chances it was embarrassing.

Best decision I ever made and my only regret is I wasn't stronger earlier. Good luck OP, you sound way more certain than me.

I do often wonder if things would have been different if only I'd discovered the wise folk on Mumsnet sooner. Certainly the advice I received on here was invaluable and the shared stories gave me an insight and clarity that I just could see from within my own relationship.

KittyKrap Tue 09-Aug-16 10:16:21

I left an EA. even afterwards they try to control you, with money, them badmouthing you to the DCs, a lot of text threats and insults (solicitor banned that), how we will 'all be fucked without him and his money' - erm, nope. The list goes on.

Eight years on I'm VERY happily remarried to an amazing guy, XH doesn't know. The DCs want nothing to do with XH. And that suits me fine.

You CAN do this. A lot of people here are scared to, like yourself. And they sometimes wonder during the hard times of leaving whether they were better off before. I never felt like this. He had all his chances, it's time for your life.

12hours Tue 09-Aug-16 10:39:39

I wish I had come to MN before now. It's only when you see the responses, that you realise how shit the situation is. I even know the relief I will feel after doing it, it's just getting through the middle bit of actually saying I don't want to be married to you anymore. I feel strong most days but there is still a tiny bit of me doubting myself and wondering if I am making a mountain out of a molehill, but it doesn't feel like that when I am paralysed with panic because of something he says or the tone of voice he uses. When I have tried to raise the issues in the past, I gave been dismissed, he even said he has got bigger things to worry about. His presence in the house is overwhelming and it just comes out of nowhere. I asked him once to stop driving so fast as I had a bad back and throwing the car over the speed bumps was not helping (the back is another story, I think it was from stress and he treated me like an inconvenience). Anyway, for that comment alone, he shouted at me stop stop speaking to him like a c**t, he was sick of my backchat and proceeded to give me the silence for 3 whole weeks. He is rude to my mum, she helps out a lot with our kids and doesn't interfere (even thou she secretly hates him), and does not hold back on his EA even in front of her. Has no problem making it clear in front of anyone that he is not talking to me and left the house a few weeks ago telling me to get a life in front of my mum and the kids. He is awful, but I for some totally unknown reason, actually feel guilty for even discussing this with anyone. I have kept it to myself for so long and now can't shut up about it. He is currently not speaking to me because he felt I was in a funny mood at the weekend (I was because I found a text to this girl telling her he really likes her, but have not told him I know). Stepping back, I can see just how totally ridiculous this situation is. Until a few months ago, I thought it was quite normal in a relationship for someone to stop talking to their wife for 3 weeks, I was so conditioned. But the knot in the pit of my stomach told me otherwise. Thanks again for all the responses. They are really helping met o see things more clearly and know this is not normal.

hellsbellsmelons Tue 09-Aug-16 12:51:57

You sound intelligent and you are independent.
So you know what your next moves are.
It's just putting them into practice.
Imagine it in your head first.
Then take the first steps then the 2nd etc....
You know you and your DC deserve better.
Tell people in RL. It's gonna be hard but you need to do it.
That will help you follow through on what you need to do.
You've already taken steps so now baby steps and you'll get there.

MillicentKing Tue 09-Aug-16 13:01:28

It took me years and years to have the courage (to accept it myself and to then make it something real IYKWIM) and to know I was in a position to make the leap (age of youngest child).

It will be hard, no two ways about it, but you will not regret it.

I am still not quite out of it and while it has nearly broken me (physically, emotionally and financially) I do not regret it for a minute. A brighter future awaits me.

My biggest piece of advice would be to make sure you have lots and lots of support.

Resilience16 Tue 09-Aug-16 16:08:39

12 hours you have my every sympathy. I was with someone who was EA for 4 years, finally had the courage/sense to leave in Jan.
I know exactly what you mean by not realising/accepting that their behaviour is abusive. It took me a while as he just labelled it as "moodiness" and I just hoped every time would be the last time.
And it does become your normality, or rather your perception of normal becomes that warped that this feels normal to you.
I would say it took me two years to get my head together and leave, and when I finally left it was a lot down to the support I got here on MN. Writing it down makes it all much more real, and when you see it all there in black and white it makes it much harder to minimise it to yourself.
Now looking back I am amazed I put up with his horrible shit for so long. I did try to address it with him over the years, and was pretty much told to shut up and put up.
I knew I deserved better and you know you do too. Get some advice from Women's Aid and also legal advice and start the ball rolling.
You won't regret it. Good luck x

MillicentKing Tue 09-Aug-16 16:21:59

Handy I know what you say about the children is completely true, but I have found those statements (not just from you!) to add to my feelings of weakness ie I was unable to put my children's needs before my own feelings of weakness.

I have talked about what the children have been exposed to. The older one will remember happier times, the younger one knows nothing else but EA between me and his Dad.

Someone wise said to be, that yes, they've been exposed to a terrible model but as long as they have people in their lives with stable and happy relationships their own future relationships needn't be fucked up. Luckily they do have those models and I also come from a large family and there are plenty of good times.

DamaskRose Tue 09-Aug-16 16:38:48

The freedom programme really helps. A lot of women say it feels like coming out brainwashing.

One interesting thing OP is you saying you tend to feel sorry for him. That's really common and reminded me of something that struck a big cord when I read it: don't ever underestimate just how emotionally dependent the abuser actually is on the abused partner.

MillicentKing Tue 09-Aug-16 16:44:12

Damask Is that why the abuse often increases once the abused take action to get away from it?

FuckFaceMagee Tue 09-Aug-16 16:45:51

5 years and counting.

12hours Tue 09-Aug-16 16:58:01

Thanks for all the replies. I did have a look at the freedom programme, I think I will join it. Its interesting what you say about the abuser bring emotionally dependent on the abused, I can see it when I step back but at the time of being abused, you think they wouldn't care if you dropped down dead in front of them! Its shocked me to know that so much of this goes on. What is wrong with these people?! Xx

12hours Tue 09-Aug-16 17:01:02

Actually, thinking a bit more about that, since I have seen the light and fine something about it (even though he doesn't yet know that) he has definitely upped his abusive game, silent treatment the last 3 weekends in a row. Usually I get at least an occasional break from the silence, but its been coming thick and fast. Maybe he senses a change in me.

DamaskRose Tue 09-Aug-16 17:02:46

I think so Millicent. It seems to polarise between begging and apologies and promises or escalation, but both are to make the 'useless' abused partner question if they should leave / fearful to leave the relationship.

For all the worthlessness they've made the other feel and for all the hostility put out, abusers need the relationship far more, or need to control someone for their life to 'work'. Kind of ironic, but the more I think about it I'm sure it's true. Also, so many say how quickly they and the children improved, once out of it, despite feeling so dysfunctional and dependent in the dynamic.

DamaskRose Tue 09-Aug-16 17:10:32

12hours they talk about exactly that in the freedom programme. How acutely tuned their radar is on your behaviour (even during silent treatment!)
and detect changes in you like this - even when nothing has been said about your plans to leave. They just are far more referenced on their partner than is ever let on. And need to be to keep the control.

12hours Tue 09-Aug-16 17:23:23

This is so true, Damask. Clearly I am well past the begging and pleading for him to please speak to me stage. I know I will be fine once I am out. In every other area of my life I am quite strong, actually if I told people at work that this was going on they would be stunned. That's the trouble, we are so good at hiding it and dancing to their tune and covering everything up. I am glad I am now able to talk about it, I am actually telling anyone who will listen, except, unfortunately, the actual bastard I should be telling. I will need to do something about this soon, my kids are only 4 and 6, hopefully young enough to make sure they don't think this is normal in the future. You know when you look back and you can see signs of it before he even moved in with me? It's like a lifetime flashing before me. I either couldn't see it or chose to ignore it. I used to be so much more robust than I am now, the years of shit have just ground me so far down, i suppose it is only normal given that to second guess every decision or thought you have, when the other person has minimised or dismissed your feelings over the years.

DamaskRose Tue 09-Aug-16 18:56:45

Up to 3 weeks of silent treatment at a time is quite something to live through.

That's so true about looking back and seeing early signs. I remember early signs that I clocked but carried on. But far more after pregnancy. The last session of the freedom programme is about red flags but I wasn't there so will catch it in the autumn as they do a rolling programme.

You seem to have the courage to do this and a lot of insight about your situation.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now