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.
Is there such a thing as just a little bit of emotional abuse?(34 Posts)
98% of the time dh is my best friend and we are very happy together. However, he has a history of emotional abuse. Generally, wanting to control things, blaming me for anything and everything and punishing me for normal, everyday 'mistakes'. For a long time I had no idea that it was abuse but a few years ago I eventually worked it out when it came to a head and he grabbed me round the neck during an argument.
I gave him an ultimatum of sorting it or leaving. He took a little bit of time to accept the facts but then he attended a group for a year and things were a million times better.
There have been a few times when he has lapsed but not significantly so. But I have become increasingly worried recently, especially with his behaviour to the dc. He is harsh with dd even though she is a really good kid. Also not allowing me any influence over decisions that involve the children esp discipline related. In fact he often comes up with unreasonable draconian consequences for the dc and then accuses me of undermining him when I don't back him up. When I am not in the room i sometimes hear that ds is being naughty and then I go into the room and ds cries that dh has hurt him. dh doesn't exactly deny it but won't admit it either. If I say that I don't think that any one in our family should hurt anyone else, dh will accuse me of undermining him and get very angry.
I don't get any influence over what we do as a family like going out for the day or holidays. He does occasionally ask my opinion but I have learnt to prevaricate because he has already decided what he wants to do and if I don't give him the right answer he isn't happy.
So, I wrote these grievances down for him and he read them. As usual he tried to distract from the actual issue with a million 'reasons' for the behaviours but I just kept coming back to what I'd written and saying that the 'reasons' could never excuse abusive behaviour. The conversation went on for hours...
Anyway, the next day he went onto my kindle and saw that I was reading Lundy Bancroft's 'should I stay or should I go' and he got very upset. His main point was how did he think that he felt when he saw me reading that? I said it wasn't really relevant and that the only feelings we should be talking about were mine and the children's when he behaved in unreasonable ways. The conversation went on for a long time with him trying to emotionally manipulate me into feeling sorry for him (I have ended up doing that so many times in the past) However, I did tell him that I wasn't planning on leaving him (which I probably shouldn't have done). He asked me how I thought he must feel working so hard to be a good husband and father (and he does absolutely contribute fully to the childcare and housework) and then for me to tell him that he was a worthless piece of shit, I just calmly reminded him that I had not said that. At one point he got a really angry look on his face and just stared and stared. I told him he was scaring me and he stopped.
The next day he did say that he had understood my grievances and was simply going to change his behaviour. The worrying thing is that it took us two days to get to that point. i.e. his response to me calmly and reasonably bringing up the fact that he was engaging in EA again was to engage in two full days of worse EA before he got the message- not good.
As is so often the case, he is a wonderful husband and father for a lot of the time, but of course all that is rendered worthless whenever he breaks our trust. I feel awful for saying it but sometimes I even wonder if all the 'perfect husband and father' is actually an act so he can be admired and bask in the glow of approval from everyone around us. It somehow makes me 'less' by comparison too (or am I just paranoid?)
Basically, I have been super-humanly calm and collected about this and I wonder how I can be? Is it healthy? Does it make him think I am impervious? How big a problem is this? I know that something more 'substantial' needs to be done to formalise an agreement between us to protect me and the dc from EA subtly creeping back in again sooner or later but what?
Sorry this is so long but I've been scared to actually post in case he finds it but then why should I hide?
You have your maths wrong
He is 98% your best friend ? Nah. I would say he is a solid gold, 100% prick
The day he gave "unreasonable, draconian" punishments to my kids would be the day he was metaphorically drop kicked out of my life
What on earth are you thinking ?
Re read your post OP.
What would you say to someone else?
EA subtly creeping back in? What you've written sounds like EA alright. And it doesn't sound subtle.
EA with some physical abuse right around the corner. Especially if he finds out you have been posting about him on MN, right ?
He's a bit "handy" with the kids too, isn't he ?
OP, he's not 98% your best friend. He is not 'just a little bit' emotionally abusive. He is severely abusive, and is doing the same to your children. Please don't wait for it to get any worse, and don't minimize what he is already doing, even to yourself.
Jeez - I read your post and it felt chillingly familiar.
The silent treatment, the draconian authoritarian parenting. Can I ask, is he particular about how tasks are done? Housework, for instance? To the extent that you feel you have to do it his way or you are somehow wrong? I get the appearing to be a model husband and father, making you seem 'less' somehow. Or worrying that you're paranoid.
You know it's not right, and I think you need to make a decision. Marriage counselling, separation, or are you happy to spend the rest of your life being emotionally manipulated to make you feel guilty, scared and inferior?
Get out. He is abusive to you and your kids. It will escalate. He is dangerous. Contact Women's Aid for practical advice on planning your exit safely. Think of your kids wellbeing, if not your own, don't minimise how toxic this relationship is.This man is not your best friend. You don't frighten and abuse someone you love.
98% of the time he's your best friend because of familiarity. You know him and it's reassuring. Doesn't make him a friend at all. I think deep down you know that this is a toxic relationship. Question is: where do you go from here? Wait until the abuse is worse? Keep telling yourself he's mostly OKAY? Wait until the kids are older and are begging you to leave him? The easiest thing to do is sit tight and prened your okay. The brave thing to do is rage a storm to get to that safe happy place. It won't be simple or easy, but the right decisions often involve some degree of risk.
He's angry because you've burst his little bubble of control. Men like him use control as a way to define their role in the world and what you need to do is remain as wonderfully calm, assertive and intelligent in your approach to dealing with him as you currently are. At least, for the short term.
His harshness towards your daughter is a great big red flag for me coupled with the way he treats the other female in his life - you. This is all about his power, his control, his way of doing things, his decisions even his version of reality; all have to be enforced, monitored and anyone deviating from his imposed regime has to be punished - very harshly it appears, if they also happen to be female.
He presents with serious mental or psychological issues from what you've said, which I don't think I could personally cope with. I would be devastated at the thought of the effect it was having on my children, in particular, the little girl. The fact that you are reading books like 'Why does he do that?" frames your situation in a landscape that you know, instinctively, is not normal. Only you can decide what your normal is of course but it sure isn't this is it?
Put your dc front and centre here - it's not about you and him anymore. I could give less of a stuff about your relationship with him. You're actually worried he is hurting them - that's not normal - you need to get them out.
It doesn't matter if it is possible to have just a little bit of abuse - because you don't have just a little bit, you have the full thing - as do your children. Please leave
*When I am not in the room i sometimes hear that ds is being naughty and then i go into the room and ds cries that dh has hurt him
I'm sorry id be fine stair away, no one hurts my kids including their father!
In what way is he ''hurting'' them? Physically? Emotionally? Or both?
It is not a little bit of abuse. You just spend most of your life capitulating to what he wants, this makes him happy, so you don't feel abused. But he is abusing you by never allowing you to make a decision.
As a pp said, reread what you have written. You have had some great advice above.
You will need to be very careful should you exit this relationship, he sounds cold calculating and abusive. Woman's aid can help, as would the police should he escalate his abusive behaviour.
You need to protect the dc, a phone call to ss asking for advice may be prudent, so that his abuse towards the dc is on record.
Op this is not minor ea, this is full blown abuse you and the dc are being subjected to. Make sure you are as safe as you can be. Clear your internet history after each time, change your passwords etc.
Be very careful and stay safe.
Everyone is right, be very careful, things can escalate very quickly, you need to leave , PLEASE do not inform him of any plans whatsoever.
Oh - this is my story to a tee.
My husband went to therapy and declared himself cured (but of course allowed to make mistakes once in a while)
He has moved from me on to our teenage daughter
Not willing to involve me in discipline because I am "too soft"
talk at me for hours on end about my betrayals of him
getting very angry at me reading Lundy because of how it makes him feel like I don't like him (everything always comes back to how it makes him feel)
I could go on.
But I don't have to because after 18 years I am leaving him. I tried everything I could including hours and hours of counselling, couples therapy, doing what he wanted, not doing what he wanted, keeping the kids quiet - it is exhausting and left me with severe anxiety and related illness.
he of course thinks me leaving is becuase of my own issues and how I haven't managed to get over the issues we had which he thinks are firmly in the past. But he accepts it.
The one saving grace is that he is so worried about how he will come across that he wants to stay friends and is willing to be fair and reasonable. I don't know if this is a ruse - but i am playing along for now.
I can't suggest anything more than leaving. Nothing else will work. he is my husband too and i know how impossible your situation is.
OP, you are obviously intelligent, articulate, rational and kind. This is why you have been able to cope with this man for so long. These things won't protect you forever and looks like they already can't protect your kids.
I think you know what you have to do. For everyone's sake. And wouldn't you rather be with someone worthy of you?
Good luck with whatever you decide and please take care.
Rememberthetime, it helps to know other people have had similar experiences.
Fatsowhale, I've always thought that he did love me but I'm beginning to wonder now. Is it just that I am kind and rational (although I can't be if I put up with this) but I certainly am not the sort of person that makes a big fuss about anything, I just get on with it. Does he just enjoy the fact that I am what he wants, a great other half of the perfect couple he wants to present to the world. I rarely demand anything from him, really nothing. I support him as much as I possibly can. He went through a period of depression earlier in the year and I was so kind and caring. When I had an injury a few months later he was just angry with me.
He does more than his fair share of childcare and cooking/housework but the pay off for that is that he decides how to parent the children and what we are going to eat every day. There is no room for discussion at all.
I have learnt to accept what he is willing to give and be grateful for it. He thinks he is showing affection and caring by cooking meals etc but maybe its just control.
The night we'd had the first long conversation I tried to cuddle up to him in bed in the hope that we could bond a little. He lay there limply and then told me that he didn't like cuddles and they made him feel stressed. I feel such a fool for having been affectionate towards him.
Sorry OP but the first time I even suspected that my DH had 'hurt' my DC I (or he) would be gone. He's manipulating you to such a degree that you can't see what is crystal clear to us when reading your post, this isn't a small amount of EA, it's massive and rapidly tipping into physical abuse of both you and DC. They are going to be so damaged by his treatment of them, I'm sorry to be so harsh but you have to wake up and start protecting them.
I think there is such a thing as a 'little bit' of emotional abuse, in that it's a scale with hideous at one end and a normal relationship at the end. Yours doesn't sound like it's near the good end though. If he's like this now, I dread to think what he was like before the improvement
OP, you absolutely should not feel that you can't express an opinion (whether it's regarding the DC's welfare or a simple thing like how to spend the day) and you absolutely should not feel worried that he is hurting the DC. These are both massive, massive issues.
Yes it's control, he is massively controlling and abusive too. He hurts your DC? You need to protect them.
Join the discussion
Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.Register now
Already registered with Mumsnet? Log in to leave your comment or alternatively, sign in with Facebook or Google.
Please login first.