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.

Emotional abuse or just normal?

(28 Posts)
BlueJayBear Thu 17-Nov-16 11:11:20

Strange question. I want to leave my OH after 6 and a half years - I've woken up to some of his behaviours and I've had enough of fighting to keep us together.

He's now suggested counselling (given that he's very averse to talking about feelings etc this is an extraordinary turn up) - but I am not keen as I think it will just delay the inevitable.

I've also been reading that if there is any abuse in the relationship, relationship counselling should be avoided at all costs.

Thing is, I don't know if some of his actions are emotional abuse, or they're just normal?

Eg:
- when we got together he stopped me from seeing, texting or meeting up with male friends
- every time we got into an argument, he'd say 'well if you don't like it leave' and 'i'm not going to change, you know where the door is'
- every time i get a message at home, he demands to know who it's from and why they are messaging me
- if i need to work late or want to do some sport etc, he questions me constantly about why i have to do it, who am i meeting there, why do i want to spend time with them etc
- often discourages me going out to play sport (i go once a week)
- because of constantly refusing invites over the years (he also has social anxiety so refuses to come with me or acts in a way that we have to leave early when we do go out), i now have no friends outside of work and never go out
- often implies i'm having an affair when this has never been the case
- i got a 'we missed you' parcel card the other day and he would not let up on me about what it was (it was, on this very rare occasion, personal), and eventually snooped for the parcel
- been generally dismissive of ideas or ambitions of mine, and not congratulated me when i've achieved something eg big promotion
- has always referred to our home as 'my house' or 'my home' [as in his]
- doesn't stop when i ask him to eg whenever i drive the car and he's a passenger, an argument will start (even with DS3 in the car). He will not stop needling and poking despite me asking him to stop - until I lose my temper and end up literally screaming and crying (this is extreme, and I am deeply ashamed of it) - as a result, I now refuse to drive when he's in the car (even though it's my car) as it's just not safe

Is this normal behaviour? Or is it bordering on EA and therefore unwise to pursue counselling? I can't discuss this with people in real life as they have no idea what he's like and comes across very well and is a good dad.

Would really appreciate your perspective. Thanks in advance.

ChuckGravestones Thu 17-Nov-16 11:16:21

It is not bordering on abusive, it is very much abuse. Do not pursue counselling.

Not normal at all.

I suggest you continue with your plan. It is sound. These people often pretend to be nice to the outside world, otherwise they would get lynched by their spouse's friends and family. Get far far away as soon as you can.

diamondofdoom Thu 17-Nov-16 11:21:49

I second that, it's most definitely abuse.
He has controlled who you see to the point of alienating you.
Refuses to give you any amount of privacy.
Picks or prolongs arguments/harassment infront of your DC's.

Get out ASAP. I hope you have people to turn to that can help you with this

horrayforharoldlloyd Thu 17-Nov-16 11:23:11

It isn't bordering on abuse. It IS abuse. Please do not do joint counselling. Leave.

ErrolTheDragon Thu 17-Nov-16 11:23:25

Read that back and imagine a friend having written it... it's not 'bordering' on EA, it is EA. He sounds very controlling. Unfortunately this is so common (to greater or lesser extents) that it may also seem 'normal'.

I don't know about the counselling - would probably depend on whether the counsellor was skilled in detecting EA and handling such people I suppose.

'Controlling' may be a useful word when you do have to discuss this IRL - I think it's one that people may 'get' more when applied to someone who seems like a nice man in public.

flowers Best wishes.

BratFarrarsPony Thu 17-Nov-16 11:25:21

not bordering on abusive, just totally abusive.
And you know it really.
have you made any plans to leave? Do you have anyone on your 'side'?

Ohdearducks Thu 17-Nov-16 11:28:27

He's a controlling abuser, the counselling suggestion is just tricks to get you to stay.
End it, he's trying to mess with your mind to get you to stay. Don't fall for it! You've done great so far to recognise is abnormal behaviour, push through and make the leap to end things, you can do it!

hellsbellsmelons Thu 17-Nov-16 11:28:50

It's not 'bordering' on anything.
It is FULL BLOWN control and abuse.
You've already read that you do NOT go to joint counselling with your abuser so don't go together.
Go on your own once you are away from this vile creature.
Please contact Womens Aid and discuss all this with them.
They can help you see this for what it is - ABUSE.
Have you read THIS THREAD?
Please also get the book - Why does he do that by Lundy Bancroft.
You need out so start making your plans.
Womens Aid can also help you with an exit plan.

BlueJayBear Thu 17-Nov-16 11:46:43

Wow, thanks, I hadn't realised it was that clear. Obviously, it's not all the time, and I know there are times I make things worse (although I recently 'graduated' from extensive therapy of my own).

I told him a few weeks ago I wanted to leave and he said he expected it - then said he could change and has been nice as pie since. So nice it's totally wrong-footed me, hence the out-of-the-blue suggestion to go to counselling together.

I have been looking at houses to take me and DS to - near enough so he can still be involved with DS, but, crucially, apart. Was thinking I should maybe cancel some of my viewings, in light of the counselling plea - but maybe I should push on so I can get things moving.

I don't want to feel trapped anymore, and I don't want DS growing up thinking it's okay to treat women the way OH does. I appreciate your help.

BratFarrarsPony Thu 17-Nov-16 11:48:17

there is no point in going to counselling with an abuser.
Recognise this for what it is...please.

FetchezLaVache Thu 17-Nov-16 11:54:04

Push on, push on.

Needless to say, I quite agree with everyone else that this is full-on EA. He's cut you off from any support and is extremely controlling.

Get your son out of this before it becomes normal to him.

flowers

hellsbellsmelons Thu 17-Nov-16 11:56:14

Don't cancel anything.
Keep going with your plan.
It's a good one that gets you away from an abuser.
The only way he has 'changed' is if he's had intensive counselling, and done a long term abuser programme.
And as you are still there and so is he, he can't have done the abuser programme as you shouldn't be with your 'victim' when you do it!
He'll be nice as pie until you fall back in line then it will all start again.
Right now he's 'hoovering' you back in.
Don't fall for his manipulation.
Sorry but I would never suggest staying and trying with an abuser.
The only amount of abuse acceptable in a relationship is NONE!

BlueJayBear Thu 17-Nov-16 11:56:21

Thanks hellsbellsmelons - a ridiculously common-sense read which shouldn't need to be written, but it needs to be heard. It's scary how quick you justify unacceptable behaviour.

maisiejones Thu 17-Nov-16 11:56:39

Being 'nice' when the 'victim' makes a stand is typical behaviour by an abuser as he sees he is losing control and desperate to regain it. Don't be fooled. He may keep it up for a while but will most definitely revert to his abusive ways once he thinks he's pulled you into line again. Carry on with your plans to leave as he won't change.

hellsbellsmelons Thu 17-Nov-16 11:58:47

It's hard to see when you're in the thick of it and it's your life and your future.
And of course you are coming out of it, but you are still in the FOG to a certain extent.

theansweris42 Thu 17-Nov-16 12:05:06

keep going.
The nice as pie is an act and just demonstrates that he could control his behaviour - he chooses to abuse you.
Lots of support to you flowers

FV45 Thu 17-Nov-16 12:07:23

Yes, it's abusive. Please do get some RL support. You will need RL people to help you through this. I speak from experience. People are kind.

AttilaTheMeerkat Thu 17-Nov-16 12:19:38

This is not bordering on anything, you are in the full throes of an abusive relationship.

No to joint counselling with this man; it is never ever recommended where there is any type of abuse within the relationship. I would also state that he would simply use the sessions as a stick to further beat you up with.

Reading "Why does he do that?" by Lundy Bancroft could help you as well. Do not let him see this book.

He has really controlled you from the very early days; the frog in the boiling water analogy comes to mind when I read your post. Also abuse like he is showing you is insidious in its onset and people really do not notice. He has used his own supposed social anxiety to stop you having a social life of your own.

Its not your fault he is like this, you did not make him this way. I would have a good look at his parents, this is likely to have been learnt behaviour from one or other of them.

I would contact Womens Aid on 0808 2000 247 and plan your exit from this relationship with their help. You need a plan to leave and they can help with formulating same.

Abusers as well can be quite plausible to those in the outside world but the mask can slip even in front of them. You know the full horrid reality of what he is like.

He is NOT a good dad to his children if he treats you like this. Women in abusive relationships as well often write such crap when they can themselves think of nothing positive to write about their man. You have done the same here.

Such men do not let go of their victims easily but you can and must absolutely get away from him before your children really start to absorb damaging lessons on relationships. This is no model for them to be learning from.

AttilaTheMeerkat Thu 17-Nov-16 12:21:16

He targeted you OP and did so deliberately, he saw something in you back then that he could and has truly exploited to his own ends. Were you in a bad place yourself and or otherwise vulnerable when you met him?.

AttilaTheMeerkat Thu 17-Nov-16 12:24:40

"I have been looking at houses to take me and DS to - near enough so he can still be involved with DS, but, crucially, apart. Was thinking I should maybe cancel some of my viewings, in light of the counselling plea - but maybe I should push on so I can get things moving".

Keep on with your plan to move out. This is no relationship for you or your son to be a part of now. Your son could well end up learning otherwise that controlling behaviour is normal. BTW coercive control like your man has also been showing you is now a criminal offence.

I would also think carefully about the amount of involvement you want him to have with his child given his behaviours towards you as his mother. Any arrangements with regards to this going forward should be made via the courts and not done informally.

Bluntness100 Thu 17-Nov-16 12:28:59

I think it's highly controlling and stems from insecurity, paranoia and a lack of trust. I also am unsure about the definitions of emotional abuse so I understand your question, but I do know this is not normal behaviour and is not ok, by a clear mile.

I suspect his own insecurities is leading to this highly controlling behaviour and this is also what's led to the sudden niceness. It's forced to keep uou there. I doubt it will ever change. The issues are fundamentally ingrained in him as it's being going on so long, and as such for me, I'd get the hell out. It's no way to live and it's a very unhealthy relationship,

He's got problems, and uou can't make them yours or ruin your life. He can try to fix himself via therapy, but that's a long road and your life will continue to be hell throughout.

For me, I'd just go.

BlueJayBear Thu 17-Nov-16 12:42:25

Attila when we met, I was not long out of a long-term relationship and had initially seen him as a short-term palate-cleanser (excuse the term) - but was persuaded, somewhat ironically, to give it a proper go by a (male) friend of mine.

I had esteem issues for many many years, and looking back from where I am now to where I was then, I think I was very clearly damaged goods who expected very little out of relationships. Following extensive therapy, I am now in a much better place (although still not perfect, but who is?) and I think it is through this process, and observing other relationships that I realised that I didn't want to be in this unloving relationship and that, maybe I deserved something better, and that an even bigger maybe not all men are like this.

My family used to make comments about how they wished he'd treat me better, or how 'it wouldn't take much for someone to come along and sweep me off my feet' but they steer clear of the subject now, probably realising that I'd come round eventually.

user1479305498 Thu 17-Nov-16 12:43:59

unless you are constantly receiving texts from a particular male and hence he has good reason to be suspicious, its all very controlling and not nice. I am in the position myself of feeling a bit like this because my DH does get texts and whatsapps from 1 person "a lot" to the extent it annoys me hugely and Ive asked him to cut it, but thats a different kettle of fish to you

itsjustamess Thu 17-Nov-16 12:49:56

I have & unfortunately, still am in a similar situation to yours.

My exP used to threaten to commit suicide on twice weekly (never any intention to carry it out).
I eventually moved into my own place & I literally cried with relief & have started to forge a new life for myself. I made the mistake, however, of trying to be civil for the DC's but have found this is just too easy for him to know details of my life. Last night I stayed at a friends house & today I have a phone call with him in 'tears' - he can't cope, he's just going to pack his job in and disappear. He is trying to reel me & control what I do - i.e. don't go out & I'll cope. He now wants me to say I'll come & see you - what can I do to help you cope. I actually feel physically sick at how he is acting.
I would run as far away as I could - I really wish I had done.

VanellopeVonSchweetz99 Thu 17-Nov-16 13:05:56

OP, your original post read like a horror movie to me. He is massively abusive and manipulative. Congratulations for seeing the light and getting out. Stay strong! flowers

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