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A rant about verbal abuse/ collusion

(31 Posts)
MrsMcBoatface Wed 21-Sep-16 21:22:56

I'm trying to figure out the motivation for staying with an abusive man. Or substitute 'a*hole' for abusive man, he's not violent but verbally abusive in many ways...I am tying myself in knots wondering if it's his actions, or my response to his actions, or anything I've done to provoke his actions that is the crux of the issue here, and am wondering if anyone else finds themselves taking responsibility for the actions of an 'abusive' man?

My mother considered herself to be a feminist, in the 70s/early 80s when it was all about assertiveness and her interpretation of being assertive was to be a bit, well, bitchy. As in 'get your own dinner, who do you think I am, the maid?' Etc. And similar with any other housewife-related duties. For some reason I always wanted to be the opposite of her...so ended up with a situation where (as in tonight) I physically find it painful to ask DH to take his own plate into the kitchen. He often treats me like a slave, as if he's 'king of the castle' (thank you Lundy Bancroft) so even when I'm aware that he's treating me badly, am I colluding with his 'abuse' by putting up with it?

It's not an impossible situation and I'm coping by spending most of my time out of the house at a job that I love. But I'm aware of the demands he's putting on me. It's easier for me not to leave which is why I'm still here. But...is it me? Or him? If he truly thinks he's not abusive and that I'm here to serve him, is it my fault for not 'educating' him?

Cocoabutton Wed 21-Sep-16 21:24:58

I think you are enabling it. But that said, what will happen if you ask him to clear the dishes to the kitchen?

MrsMcBoatface Wed 21-Sep-16 21:48:11

Thanks Cocoa! That is a great to clarify the situation. My guess is huffing and puffing or a clear 'no'. He's gone out to the pub now. The argument tonight was about me wanting to go away with my sister in December for an adventure holiday, DH feeling left out (invited him to come along on the trip Dsis had planned but he wanted to change it all to 5*, not appropriate.. He thinks I'm favoring her over him). But at the Base of this, it's his interests always coming above mine. I haven't seen Dsis for ages, why doesn't he just encourage me to go and spend some time with her?

pallasathena Thu 22-Sep-16 07:13:22

Because he's a man and men or to be fair, some at least, have to have their wishes/comforts/needs prioritised. At least, in their heads they do!
But you're not helping matters are you? You've created a role for yourself as head chef/dishwasher/cleaner/slave, blamed your mother for her interpretation of feminism leading you to adopting this role and are now, quite rightly, royally fed up with the scenario created.
My advice? reinvent yourself, seek a new role in this marriage of yours and get assertive.
He feels entitled to get what he wants when he wants it. You need to make it plain that the rules of engagement have changed - radically.
Go away with your sister. If he wants to come then its on your terms not his. I'd be inclined to have a break from him however as he sounds such hard work. You could do with some time out where he's left to look after himself without you being there to run around after him. You could use the break to establish new ground rules on your return.

Cocoabutton Thu 22-Sep-16 07:32:51

I agree it sounds all about him. It is very difficult to be yourself as a person when you have to subsume your needs to someone else.

Assertiveness does not mean being bitchy or passive aggressive- but it does mean recognising your needs are as important as your husband's and acting to protect these. He is not looking out for you, but you are not really looking out for yourself either.

There is a book by someone called Anne Dickson, I think, called A woman in her own right. Worth a read, I think - it has some strategies for starting small and building confidence in asserting your needs.

Though I agree go on holiday with your sister!

Have you done the Freedom Programme?
It's run by Womens Aid.
I would suggest doing that as a matter of urgency.
You are being abused and you seem to know this but continue to let it happen.
Your mum was strong and didn't put up with it.
So why are you doing it?
Maybe find a counsellor who can help you understand why you stay and put up with being treated like a slave!???

adora1 Thu 22-Sep-16 16:50:07

You are with an abusive selfish man yes and are enabling it by going along with his ridiculous demands, he won't stop, he's getting everything his way and you in your place, it's really up to you to break the cycle, I can't imagine how staying is easier than leaving, it sounds awful.

A slave fgs.

MrsMcBoatface Fri 23-Sep-16 19:27:35

Thanks. I do recognise myself in your comments. I've not been assertive in the past. Perhaps I need to signal to him and myself that there's going to be a new status quo going forward. I don't really act like his slave but there are certain issues (ie dishes, cleaning, housework in general) where I opt for the easy life and just do it myself. Which wouldn't of itself be abusive but I know he is because he takes it for granted or what usually happens is he accuses me of being a bad housewife...which he know riles me because of the situation with my mother. I don't think my mother was being strong by not being more 'feminised'... I think she was being a b!tch under the guise of teaching my sister and me that we had to toughen up. She continually told us about what a hard cruel world it was-- she works often say menacingly that one day when we had kids of our own we'd find out how hard it was. I couldn't imagine saying that to my kids. I work in a male dominated profession but my pride can be terribly hurt when my housekeeping ability is criticised! I feel I've detached but I'm pretty sure that I'm colluding in the abuse, as it were.

I've paid a deposit on the holiday anyway smile

MrsMcBoatface Sat 24-Sep-16 09:54:19

I've read the freedom programme book, but it doesn't actually tell you how to deal with the situations-- just to leave! We had another situation last night where I clearly saw he was totally ignoring what I wanted to do and doing what he wanted (ie changing a TV programme I was watching, asking me what I wanted for dinner then when I said I wanted to go out, telling me that no, actually I didn't want that, that we were getting takeaway then got angry when I wasn't enthusiastic about that).

I know he's upset about the trip...I haven't told him I paid my deposit but have been a bit cagey about it, I can always back out later.. He thinks the trip would have been a good idea if it started from somewhere else-- as there are no direct flights to where it starts from and he feels that he should not have to change planes hmm changing planes/long flights don't worry me at all BTW. But I think I should be allowed to be upset if his issues prevent me from having a fabulous trip with my sister!

So, after a big argument last night about the takeaway, he's dissapeared this morning and I don't know where he is....I guess I'm supposed to be worried and call him but perhaps I won't, for a while anyway.

RunRabbitRunRabbit Sat 24-Sep-16 10:18:17

There's a reason the only advice is about leaving.

You think he will have a personality change and accept a totally different type of relationship, if you start behaving differently? He won't. He'll just be cross at you for "changing" and becoming exactly the type of woman he doesn't like.

You want something different? You leave.

Mrs McBoatface,

What do you get out of this relationship now, what needs of yours are being met here?. Why did you also want to be the pole opposite of your mother?. As another respondent pointed out assertiveness is indeed not about being bitchy or passive aggressive (as your mother herself was).

Is it really easier to not leave?. You simply become more inured to his abuses of you and further conditioned into accepting this as your lot.

Detaching is one of your ways of coping but that is not working out either. You have not fully detached from him by leaving him. You are condoning his abuses of you, currently you are showing him that this treatment of you is still acceptable to you on some level. I think you would find it very hard to become more assertive simply because you have never found your own voice.

I am certain your adult children wonder why you have put him first and foremost above you, and them as well.

Leaving them is how abusive men should be dealt with; there is really no other way. However, it is one thing to write that and another totally to actually do. Fear of both their man and the unknown keep women in such relationships as well as worry about finances. You can only cope with him anyway by spending most of your time out of the house working. What does that tell you about the state of your marriage? This is untenable.

Also what would happen if he became seriously ill and you ended up being his carer; would you want to act as such to him?.

Do not back out of your trip to see your sister; why should you keep on kow-towing to this man you have shackled yourself to?. What you have tried i.e. being acquiescent and the opposite of your mother has not worked either because such men always move the goalposts. Nothing you will ever do is good enough for such inadequate men. And where did he learn this from; well look no further than his own parents.

And do not call him either; that is what he wants as well. Do not even think about calling him later on. Leave him to it. What sort of person clears off without letting their partner know where they are going or when they are coming back?. One that does not give a fig that is what, his actions reek of utter contempt for you. His actions are also all about wanting and having power and control.

RunRabbitRunRabbit Sat 24-Sep-16 10:20:47

The storming off this morning is a perfect example of his total unwillingness / inability to change into a normal fair-minded human being. He is the selfish king of the castle. Nothing will change that. Don't call him at all. Demand an apology from him for the takeaway incident and the storming off if he ever calls you.

Mrs McBoatface

I would also read up on co-dependency in relationships and see how much of that relates to your own self. I think you are co-dependent and that in itself is not a healthy state to be in. Who taught you to be co-dependent? Likely one or both of your own parents.

AnyFucker Sat 24-Sep-16 10:26:25

The Freedom Programme is not designed to offer you handy tips to stay with an abusive man

The message it advocates is that people abuse others because they get something out if it and are very unlikely to give that up

Changing yourself should be the priority because you will never change another person unless they want it themselves (and this is predicated on past form not on whatever pretty words he says to get you to stfu)

So there are 2 ways to change yourself 1) become increasingly doormat so you never set him off or 2) stand up for yourself with the expectation that the relationship then becomes untenable

43percentburnt Sat 24-Sep-16 10:29:42

What Attila said.

Would you ever just go out without saying where you were going? He is doing it so you call him, beg for forgiveness and behave next time. He knows it works - that's why he doesn't take his plate away.

Why do you want to be with him? What is attractive about him?

43percentburnt Sat 24-Sep-16 10:32:30

Can I suggest you go out for the day. Anywhere you fancy. Take yourself out for dinner alone or with a friend after your day out. Don't tell him, just go have fun. Do something different. Let him be surprised on his return home.

MrsMcBoatface Sat 24-Sep-16 11:02:12

Codependent-- probably, definitely. And it's probably why I can't leave him because the guilt is crushing, I struggle to see this as an abusive relationship where he needs to be discarded and cut off with no warning, along with all the years of shared lives, friends, etc, financial security all down the toilet. I thought I'd put all this behind me, had weeks and weeks of counselling not long ago, I specifically made it about me and not the relationship, and she encouraged me to practice what I think are coping strategies, boundaries in place. She talked about jumping from the frying pan into another frying pan which is what I'd be doing by leaving him. Which is why I'm looking to change my behaviour and instead of colluding with him, to do exactly what I want and stick to it.

I'm just sure that my relationship with my mother set the template for this. She could, and still can, ruin a nice day in a moment, my sister and I were always aware of her moods and knew we had to be very careful around her. I think it suited her to consider me a bit damaged-- I met DH at a vulnerable time (parents were 'worried' about me, had no confidence in my ability to finish uni, DH helped me get my life together and become fairly successful).

I really think I've done a better job with my kids-- at least we have a laugh about ourselves and they are both confident and doing great.

I think what has brought a lot of these feelings on has been google-streetviewing through my childhood neighbourhood, brought back so many bad memories! Interesting though. My life is so different now and so so much better, my kids had so many more opportunities than I did being from a small town in the middle of nowhere. When I think of this I don't feel so angry towards DH...I couldn't have done it without him. Perhaps codependent for a reason.

MrsMcBoatface Sat 24-Sep-16 11:07:37

Anyfucker-- so true. I'm not looking for tips, but what I hope to be doing is standing up for myself and enjoying my life in a way that's acceptable and if he doesn't like the person I become he can fuck off. That's easier than me leaving him. At least I'm not enabling him.

I'm going to do exactly what I want to do today...not too exciting but get some stuff listed on ebay then go for a walk with friends. I really haven't given him another thought, been sitting in bed enjoying the morning and mainly thinking about myself blush

AnyFucker Sat 24-Sep-16 11:11:55

You will call him won't you ? Chase after him again. He has you right where he wants you. Don't kid yourself that if you made plans to end the relationship it would be "without warning". You seem to think he has no insight and no agency in his behaviour....how patronising. Rest assured he knows exactly what he is doing

However it seems you are a very long way from drawing this to a close, not helped by a "therapist" who has colluded on you staying with someone who manilpulates you. Shame on them.

AnyFucker Sat 24-Sep-16 11:13:14

Yes, you have "given him a thought". You have been discussing him with strangers on the internet.

Mrs McBoatface

You even gave yourself an embarrassed face after your last sentence which still makes me think you have a heck of a long way to go. You really think your own needs are not important at all do you?. You are the very definition of an abused woman.

Re your comments that I have separated:-

"Codependent-- probably, definitely. And it's probably why I can't leave him because the guilt is crushing, I struggle to see this as an abusive relationship where he needs to be discarded and cut off with no warning, along with all the years of shared lives, friends, etc, financial security all down the toilet. I thought I'd put all this behind me, had weeks and weeks of counselling not long ago, I specifically made it about me and not the relationship, and she encouraged me to practice what I think are coping strategies, boundaries in place. She talked about jumping from the frying pan into another frying pan which is what I'd be doing by leaving him. Which is why I'm looking to change my behaviour and instead of colluding with him, to do exactly what I want and stick to it".

I think you are co-dependent most definitely, not probably. Being mired in guilt is also commonplace and now you are going into the "sunken costs fallacy" common in relationships like you describe. What you forget here is that the damage has already been done.

People get bogged down by focusing on their sunk costs as you are now doing. There are two ways to understand this process, both involving avoidance. One is an avoidance of disappointment or loss when something doesn’t work out. When a relationship doesn’t succeed, especially after a long period, especially after many shared experiences and especially after developing a hope that the relationship would be a good one, it is a loss. It is a loss of what might have been and an acknowledgement that a part of one’s life has been devoted to this endeavor.

Another angle to evaluate is that focus on “sunk cost” creates a distraction from one’s inner truth. The sentence often goes like, “I’ve already invested to much, so I can’t notice my thoughts and feelings that are telling me to end or change this relationship.” This is a type of insidious defense against noticing yourself. You enter into a neglectful relationship with yourself which divorces you from your inner thoughts and the quiet feelings that might guide you in your life. In other words, thinking about what already has been may prevent you from deciding what you want your life to be.

Do you think he feels guilty, hell no. He acts like this too Boat because he can. You do facilitate this simply by being there.

You find it difficult to have boundaries mainly because you've never been encouraged to have any, particularly after you met this man. I also think you do need to see another counsellor and one who does not bang on about coping strategies or even worse giving you the notion of jumping from one frying pan into yet another frying pan. It makes me wonder whether she knows anything about abusive relationships at all. There are no coping strategies that work when it comes to an abusive man and you have tried coping for years.

"I'm just sure that my relationship with my mother set the template for this".

Yes it sure did

"She could, and still can, ruin a nice day in a moment, my sister and I were always aware of her moods and knew we had to be very careful around her. I think it suited her to consider me a bit damaged-- I met DH at a vulnerable time (parents were 'worried' about me, had no confidence in my ability to finish uni, DH helped me get my life together and become fairly successful)".

Your mother certainly did her bit to teach you a whole lot of damaging lessons about relationships and I am not at all surprised to see that you met this man at a low point in your life yourself. He targeted you really and used your own self against you to his own ends, he saw someone he could and has readily exploited.

"I really think I've done a better job with my kids-- at least we have a laugh about ourselves and they are both confident and doing great".

This is good but perhaps they also wonder why you and this man are still together at all.

Your H won't leave you readily as he is onto a good thing with you and such men do not let go of their victims (the plural is deliberate) easily. Why should he go to the effort of finding another woman to do his bidding when he already has one of those doing this already. He knows also that you won't leave readily, if at all, because of your own fears and guilt which he also instilled in you.

You were never able to stand up for yourself when it came to your parents "worrying" about you. They also wanted you under their control too.

You will never be able to stand up for your own self as long as you are at all with this man who shackles your very being. Are you ultimately going to end up being his carer?

Iamgettingout Sun 25-Sep-16 00:23:21

I am tying myself in knots wondering if it's his actions, or my response to his actions, or anything I've done to provoke his actions that is the crux of the issue here, and am wondering if anyone else finds themselves taking responsibility for the actions of an 'abusive' man?

This rings so many bells, I thought I was going mad. I ended up treating him in similar ways, mostly silent treatment, walking out mid-argument because it was the only way I had of maintaining my sanity.

I found this article,which goes some way in explaining the strategies women in abusive relationships use to resist being controlled, helped me see what I was doing, speakoutloud.net/institutional-abuse/child-custody/language-of-resistance-in-family-court Hopefully you will recognise that this is what you are doing.

Several years ago I went to counselling and the counsellor kept telling me that the problems in my relationship were due to the way I communicated with my stbxh, however I don't and never have had problems communicating with anyone else. It took me years to work out that he was abusive and the help of lots of lovely MN'ers pointing it out as well and another eighteen months before I plucked up the courage to leave.

It is almost a year since I told him and even though he has fought it every step of the way I am so much happier. I wake up in the morning with a smile on my face whereas for years I just wanted to die. Please listen to what people on here are saying, and take it to heart and leave him. Being on your own is far better than spending your life walking on eggshells. flowers

MrsMcBoatface Sun 25-Sep-16 10:03:13

Thank you Iam, for your story and the link, so glad to hear (and a bit envious) how much better life is for you now. I could have left about 6 months ago,more easily as we were between properties, but I didn't, and now I don't want to leave the house or my job and it just doesn't seem quite bad enough yet. If I lost my job or his abuse escalated it might. If he has a strong reaction to me going away with my sister I might go and not come back grin it is to a paradise spot!

I hear and read these things and think it sounds exactly like what I'm dealing with but the fear of leaping out of this frying pan keeps me from taking any action towards leaving, I am so aware now of abusive behaviour/red flags that I hear a little 'ping' in my head whenever he does something to undermine me-- like suggest that I need to take a day off work every time I ask him to do something in the house, as if I can't handle it.

He did come back yesterday and was very contrite, interestingly--part of the cycle. He said he realised why I'd been upset about the takeaway situation but said he hadn't been feeling well which is why he hadn't wanted to go to a restaurant. Something gave me a deja-vu and it was me remembering that my mother after her 'anger blowouts' would often apologise the next day and say that she was coming down with something, some imaginary illness. I never challenged her on it.

But anyway I told H in no uncertain terms that I was furious, that I really didn't like him very much anymore and I wasn't going to put up with any behaviour I found unacceptable, and that if he wanted out of the relationship he was welcome to go. He doesn't scare me, never been violent, and I was very much in control of the situation.

So it's not so much walking on eggshells right now but more like stomping on eggshells. I told him off this morning for refusing to take some cardboard out to the recycling bin and I made him do it, I felt a bit abusive myself as normally I would just do it. He has gone out for the day (something planned) and I get some time to sort out my thoughts. If I start getting exactly what I want by standing up for myself and not putting up with any abuse of any kind it will be easier to see a way forward, either with or without him.

Cocoabutton Sun 25-Sep-16 12:53:02

Iamgettingout, many thanks for posting that link; it is really empowering to look at things from the point of resistance, and being able to keep hold of that bit of yourself which says you are worth than being someone's control-thing.

Boat, I don't know if you have posted before; this sounds familiar. I left over three years ago, I donned my hard hat and kept walking. A year later, I started to see colour again. Two years later, I realised I could see the sky. Controlling people don't like letting go; being separated does not mean no attempts to control, but it means seeing life as you want it, not as someone else does with no compromise.

You know the situation you are in. You accept it or you leave it, or your energy goes into all those little acts of resistance- which maybe one day get big enough to propel you out the door.

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