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Your abusive ex. Did anyone try to warn you?

(78 Posts)
WonderingHow Mon 01-Apr-13 14:53:12

When you first got together with your abusive ex, did anyone show reservations about him, or try to warn you?

If they did, what were you told - and what did you make of the warning?

If no-one said anything - do you wish they had? What did you need to hear, if anything. Or were you so in love you didn't care?

If this applies to you, I'd welcome any insights.

NutherChange Mon 01-Apr-13 15:01:21

Yes I was warned by my mother, who could generally see he was no good - I though she was being vindictive (but I was only 19). I was also warned by an older female colleague who knew him and his family, she told me they were all a 'bad lot'. Warned also by a friend who revealed he had a history of stalking his ex (I was pretty shocked), and was seriously considering ending it when, I found out I was pregnant.

ihearsounds Mon 01-Apr-13 15:07:36

No unfortunately. No one realized. He was the nice guy in front of everyone. He had everyone fooled. Looking back, alarm bells should have been ringing. He was 14 years my senior and I was his first, long term relationship. The others were a couple of months, and moved area after splitting up.

MewlingQuim Mon 01-Apr-13 15:12:21

A girl from my class at school said 'your boyfriend raped my sister' she was one of a group who often bullied me so I assumed she was full of shit. Years later I found out my (by then) xp did have a rape conviction before I met him. It did not come as a surprise by then. I often wondered if it was the girls sister he was convicted of raping sad

Yes, about 5 of his ex's. hmm

Apart from them, he had a bit of a crowd of girls (we were teenagers) chasing him at any time. I stupidly assumed they must have been jealous yes, stupid enough to believe that a group of girls who each didn't know each other, made up the same story.

I spent 4 bloody awful years with him and should have listened.

MsNobodyAgain Mon 01-Apr-13 15:27:06

Yep. My mum warned me that my boyfriend was very like my father. I wouldn't accept that as he wasn't a violent alcoholic (yet).

She could see him trying to isolate and control me. Wanting to buy a house away from my friends and family.

On the day of my wedding, she said one thing " it's not too late to back out".

She was treading the fine line between trying to warn me but not alienating me. I just saw a way out of the family home with someone I thought loved me.

God, I was wrong. I wasted 18 years of my life with an absolutely abusive, controlling tosser.

OhLori Mon 01-Apr-13 16:12:18

No. I knew he was dangerous, so I didn't introduce him to anyone in my life hmm.

Sunnywithshowers Mon 01-Apr-13 16:43:57

No. But the day before our wedding my mum did say (like MsNobody) 'it's not too late to back out'.

He was Mr Nice to everyone, at least when he was sober. Apart from me.

kinkyfuckery Mon 01-Apr-13 16:51:45

Nope. He managed (and still does) to pull the wool over everyone's eyes.

RockinD Mon 01-Apr-13 16:56:35

No, no-one, not even his mother or sister who both knew he had been expelled from school for going to the pub at lunchtime and coming back drunk, that he had been in rehab for drink and prescription meds, that he had lost job and his licence for 12 months for drinking.

They both took his side throughout our relationship and after it ended even though they saw him be verbally abusive to me on many occasions and must have known that an otherwise healthy woman in her 30s doesn't have that many accidents.

Would I have listened? Almost certainly not, because I was young and I did not understand about addiction, or narcissism. I was the product of an abusive childhood, so his behaviour towards me was what I was used to anyway. I felt sorry for him and co-dependency came naturally to me.

It took me four years to figure out that this was all wrong, and ten years to get away. 17 years later he is still telling everyone, including our children, that I was having an affair and left him for someone else. Did I heck!

SundaysGirl Mon 01-Apr-13 17:24:42

Not me but I did speak with an exes current girlfriend not long after they had got together when she emailed me to ask me about our relationship. I was honest with her but kept my distance as I suspected she would have been fed a load of BS by my ex. She spoke nicely to me but she felt things were different with them and think she believed she could give him whatever it was he needed to not act like a dick. I respected that and left them to it, not much else I could do really.

Two years down the line and we are in regular contact as she extricates herself from this total wankers grasp. Spoke today actually. We are quite close now and it has helped her I think to be able to have someone who understands what he is like and to confirm she is not the crazy one (he's an accomplished gaslighter). I hope very much that this break she is having from him now becomes permanent, I think it will.

Would I have listened to someone about him? No I don't think so. I might have let a few warning bells sound, but I would have thought I was different, we were different, just like the lady I am in touch with now thought.

ZoeZoolander Mon 01-Apr-13 17:49:44

yes. a few friends didnt like him. but i thoyght angrily "it's ok for you, yoy're younger/more outgoing/prettier". whatever. i was so tired of disappointing everybody by being single. i thought id just take a quick break from being single. didnt realise he wouldnt let me go easily.

slug Mon 01-Apr-13 17:59:31

No. We were both young and he presented a charming face to the world. I met and became friends with a woman during the relationship who had the measure of him fairly quickly. She, for my benefit, ruthlessly exploited his desire to appear the good guy, roping him in for endless babysitting while we both went and played sport or went out together. After we split she took a perverse glee in continuing to wind him up. I luff her

When he met the woman who is now his wife I tried to warn her. He managed to isolate her from friends and family and, last time I heard, was sporting a broken arm.

BoyMeetsWorld Mon 01-Apr-13 18:05:38

Gosh yes, everybody. He had an awful reputation and had left an awful lot of broken hearts.

Sadly I seemed to see that as part of the appeal and excitement - we all like to think we'll be the one to change them don't we. But it didn't go that way at all.

What I DO feel sore about is that a number of those 'friends' who warned me, some of whom had experienced what he was capable of first hand, took his side when he started doing the same to me. That still hurts more than anything else as, thankfully, I stayed strong enough to get myself (& unborn DS) out

ohmyrainydays Mon 01-Apr-13 18:13:19

My boss came to my house and warned me about my ex. She'd heard a lot of bad things about him. I didn't really take much notice. I wish I had of done now though. I would like to warn his current girlfriend but I doubt she'd believe me either.

Toasttoppers Mon 01-Apr-13 18:19:45

From the other side.

I had reservations about a friends newish bf, she told me two things he had said to her. I voiced my dislike, funnily enough she cut contact blaming my failings as a friend as to why she didnt want to see me anymore quite soon after. DH who is the least gossipy person on earth revealed his utter loathing of the man also.

My sister and friend did not like my ex, they said nothing at the time. He was not abusive , just an idiot.

timetofaceit Mon 01-Apr-13 18:20:35

Everyone thought my abusive ex was charming, great with kids 'a good bloke' was the general consensus. My friend even fixed me up with him, now however she's seen some of the things he did and feels terrible she even puersuaded me to go to the police and helped me through alot of shit!

The ony person that said something was his lodger, he told me things about his last relationship, but I just thought he was jealous! How wrong was I, well he may have been a little jealous but the things he told me certainly rang true with me I just put it to one side!!! Quite often they are very charming to the outside world and to us at first thats how they get themselves in with us x

paintyourbox Mon 01-Apr-13 18:22:03

Yes, my parents warned me he was trouble as did my friends. Infact even his ex wife tracked me down on Facebook and told me I was making a bi mistake and that I needed to stay away from him (but I thought she was just bitter about their break up!)

He had a way of twisting things to look like he was the victim (post traumatic stress, the cheating ex, bad childhood, whatever)

It took him threatening me with a knife to eventually wake me up. It took years and I am sad to say I lost many friends in the process. Like many abusive types, he'd turn it round end say everyone was jealous we had such a strong relationship (all of my close friends were single at the time). When that stopped working he started playing the "you're worthless" card. "Noone else will ever want you. You're stupid/ugly/horrible etc"

And finally, the emotional blackmail: "Leave me and I will kill myself. It will be all your fault."

Needless to say he didn't kill himself. I fear for the poor girl he is with now (he moved away so no idea where he is)

As you'll see from what other posters have said, it's almost like a script. Same situation, different people. These men are clever and manipulative and it can take a while to see through them.

nenevomito Mon 01-Apr-13 18:27:58

Yes. I even saw the divorce papers where his ex listed his unreasonable and abusive behaviour, but I believed him when he said she was a lying psycho bitch.

they are almost the exact words he used to describe me to the girlfriend he had after me.

It took me a long time to get over being that stupid.

Frizzbonce Mon 01-Apr-13 18:34:41

Kinky please tell me you're not still with this man?

Kernowgal Mon 01-Apr-13 19:14:52

His workmate said he was prone to moodiness, and that she'd been quite worried about him the year before. But apart from that, no, everyone thought the sun shone out of his arse. He came across as friendly, charming, all of that.

Even in the early days of our relationship, the warning signs were there. In hindsight my instincts were telling me something wasn't right, and as a result I never let myself completely fall for him. So he called me cold and emotionless, despite me being the only one who ever showed any affection in our r'ship.

He used to tell me all the horrid things his "manipulative and nasty" had accused him of. Now I realise she was entirely correct.

I have to thank him though, in a way, because I sure as hell learned to trust my instincts with him.

Kernowgal Mon 01-Apr-13 19:15:30

It's only now that I hear his team members describe him as a moody git and quite unpleasant to deal with. Ha!

I knew my dad didn't like him the more time wore on.

I , like many others, knew it and hid it. He was an accomplished charmer, fooling us all the majority of the time.

I loved him with all my heart, sadly still do. I love the person he was when he was nice, but I know that's not who he really is at all. It's devastating, soul destroying

I left 4 months ago and am no contact.

You've not said the reasons why you're asking OP ?

My only advice to you is be honest with yourself and make the break sooner rather than later if you find yourself in this predicament.

I wish I had. For putting up for much longer the hurt increased, the stress increased, my self worth decreased and I acted like he was a shock when I left he could be that bad. It wasnt, I was just finally letting everyone else into the truth, and the truth will never let you down.

I was left with post traumatic stress disorder and a shaky and uncertain future. None of it was worth it, not one but. Am not sure ill ever be the person I was again.

I just wish I'd kept more dignity

Lavenderhoney Mon 01-Apr-13 19:34:39

Ah, the arrogance of youth, though even if mn had been around, i wouldnt have been on it, not being a mum!

I didnt have a family support system or lots of wise friends, we were all as silly and optimistic as each other. A buddy system for young women and older wise ones would be a good ideasmile is there one at youth clubs? ( old gimmer alert)

Ex who described all his exes as "mental/mad" not mentioning it was him who made them that way. Managed to leave him but not before he alienated me from my friends and nearly lost my job.

Ex who had affair with married woman throughout our LTR. Was warned by his co worker, also married who asked me out to help me through it. Decided he was a liar and it was all lies. He was right. Could have missed a few years of misery and being cheated on. If only he hadn't tried it on with me and muddied the water.

Older man my dm thought was perfect for me at 18. Total creep. No idea why she set me up with him, she worked with him Big row at home when I refused a second date. Total slimeball and weirdo with very good job and rich and single , 20 years older than me. A male friend my age took one look and said no way, whats he doing with you, you are too young, and he was right. So lucky I sidestepped that. Really, who would set their dd up with a loner 20 years older than them, even if they were rich and handsome?

WonderingHow Mon 01-Apr-13 21:29:31

Oh my god. Some heart-wrenching stories posts here. Sorry if this triggered anything for the kind posters who have shared their stories so far.

I'm a regular poster, but name-changed. I'm extremely worried about a young person in my life who has become engaged to a man who has set all the alarm bells ringing.

I may sketch in some details later if I can bear to, but just now don't want to open the floodgates. Some of what's been posted here is very close to the situation I'm looking at now.

The only action I've taken so far is to insist on keeping my distance, and simply say that I can't support or endorse the relationship (and I do have good reason for saying this). I'm not central to the young person's life. So although she's unhappy about this, it's not critical from her point of view.

I can't bear to see her already being controlled by this man (eg, he has already succeeded in depriving her of transport).

It doesn't sound as if there is much to be gained by my trying to say any more.

Thank you very much for offering me your insights.

Wereonourway Mon 01-Apr-13 21:41:27

My mum kind of did.

Said she didn't get a very good feeling about him.

I'm 8 months down the line after leaving him, a really tough time in some ways, but fabulous in others. He has tried to make my life hell, said and done many hurtful things and my mum has been with me every step of the way. I'm getting stronger week by week and, money worries aside, I am extremely happy.

I feel awful for putting onto my family, especially my mum, who I suspect actually feels it the most. My dad is a do-er and very practical, amazingly supportive but my mum is emotional and has no doubt had many sleepless nights because of me.

If like to repay her somehow, her and my dad, and my fabulous aunty and best friends, I'm sure I will one day but have no idea how.

NutherChange Mon 01-Apr-13 21:47:26

All relationships of this nature follow a very similar pattern.

When they end, he moves on to the next victim, making her believe that you were unhinged.

One certain outcome is that, anybody who has been in a relationship like this is left very damaged for a long time, if not permanently.

More often than not, the victim cannot see this for herself no matter how many people tell her. All you can do is be there if needed and hope she sees through him sooner or later.

EggyFucker Mon 01-Apr-13 21:47:36

were I am sure the only "payment" your mum hopes for is for you to find a new life, without him in it

Wereonourway Mon 01-Apr-13 21:51:16

Eggy- I know, and I'm well on the way to showing her. New home, new job, ds is fabulous. I worry about the teary phone calls made to her when ex pisses me about yet again. Thankfully this is petering out and I'm getting tougher.

I'm determined to make my parents proud, and to find that pride in myself too.

SanctiMOMious Mon 01-Apr-13 21:52:09

Wonderinghow I'm not surprised you're worried. If they are having pre-marriage counselling, could you 'tip off' the priest or the minister. I'd have little faith that priests value a woman's right to be an equal in a relationship.

I'm thinking back now to the period just before I felt I was in too deep to walk away. Instead of criticism of her fiance, maybe dig out that list of what a healthy relationship is. What it is reasonable to expect. Funnily enough, it was having my nose pushed in other people's happiness that made me finally leave my x.

I think comments that might have made me think twice would have been comments that weren't criticisms of him, but questions such as "Do you think a girl should look forward to seeing her boyfriend?'" or, " do you feel more confident when you're with him?".

Is there a reason why she would accept being made to feel bad about herself? There was a reason (several reasons) why I accepted this. WHy, although it felt shit, it felt normal too.

EggyFucker Mon 01-Apr-13 21:53:56

Good on you were

You will get there

SanctiMOMious Mon 01-Apr-13 21:56:26

@ lavenderhoney, omg, at your mum setting you up with somebody 20 years older than you, and being annoyed with you that you didn't like him confused With a mum like that who needs enemies

Kernowgal Mon 01-Apr-13 22:07:10

I think the key question for me would have been: how do you feel when you know he'll be home/coming to pick you up soon, or you're on your way to meet him?

For me it was initially excitement, then mixed with a small bit of apprehension, as there had been a couple of occasions where I'd been really looking forward to seeing him and he'd turned up in a foul mood and taken it out on me. Then as time went on it steadily grew to generally apprehensive and then later a feeling of dread - how's he going to be today? What might have happened at work/on the way home that he'll take out on me? I never knew what kind of mood he'd be in and so I just learned to be on my best behaviour and never give him any excuse to have a go at me.

OP I would advise that now you've said you're not keen on him, your best move would to keep out of it but make it known that you're always available to chat, that you won't be judgmental or say "I told you so" (not that I'm saying you would) because when she does finally realise he's no good, she may have pushed everyone else away. Thankfully I split with my ex long before I got to that point.

Lavenderhoney Wed 03-Apr-13 04:34:44

Sanctimom, I have no idea. Certainly not someone to talk to and tell your problems to as teen or an adult. I think she liked him and thought as he had all the trappings of wealth it would be ideal. She was very poor herself and orphaned in a children's home, so I suppose she felt it was an option.

Op, have you had your question answered?

Nishky Wed 03-Apr-13 05:36:05

yes- very drunk on a train- the next day she apologised profusely and said it was none of her business. I wish I had listened.

SanctiMOMious Wed 03-Apr-13 20:48:47

yes, uncertainty and dread. that's what i felt when I knew he was due home. I didn't admit that to anybody else, but I could identify those feelings.

WonderingHow Thu 04-Apr-13 01:02:10

Chaos, this is the kind of man exactly
He was an accomplished charmer, fooling us all the majority of the time. It's only long experience, and the awful experiences of others, that makes me very alert when I see a charmer these days.

Wereonourway, I've got to echo Eggy/AnyF, and say your Mum will be happy that you're safe and OK, in a life without your ex. That's all she'll want..

NutherChange this is so true: anybody who has been in a relationship like this is left very damaged for a long time, if not permanently.

People have said to me, quite rightly, it's her life not mine, she has to decide. And I respect that. But it's awful knowing what she's walking into. I've seen a friend through it and this guy looks much worse than he was.

I will be there for her. But just now I'm not popular at all.

In fairness, the young woman is coping very well with my reservations, because she is a lovely caring girl who sees good in everybody (so an ideal target for an abuser). It's her mother who is furious with my reaction. She is very excited and enthusiastic about this man. He is much closer to her age than her daughter's. Perhaps that plays a part.

SanctiMOMious that's good advice….to keep it circumspect and try to talk about relationships generally. Ask how she feels when she's with him.

Kernowgal I saw her response when he called her to pick him up. She just sagged slightly in front of me. I see her very seldom though, even less now the boyfriend is always with her.

The latest thing I was told is that his last ex wife drinks and he's trying to get custody of her children, by calling out social services (yes, that old chestnut). Oh, and she's mentally unstable and he's tried to have her detained under the MH act. There was more that, again, I can't talk about; it's all too familiar from these boards.

Thank you for your help and insights, everybody. I'll pick my way forward carefully.

newname2007 Thu 04-Apr-13 01:09:12

my grandmother - she saidnshe hoped i was strong enough to be with him. how i wish I had listened,

SirBoobAlot Thu 04-Apr-13 01:14:51

Mumsnet tried to warn me <wry smile> I should have listened.

SanctiMOMious Thu 04-Apr-13 01:18:00

Astute grandmother.

SanctiMOMious Thu 04-Apr-13 01:21:46

and, save this question for later. "what is it you love about him?". I remember somebody (cleverer than I gave them credit for at the time) asked me that when I was very unhappy and would have left if it were easier, but I was still at the point of being defensive. Anyway, somebody said to me with a smile, seemingly without any guile or agenda "what is it you love about him?". And I felt like there was an elephant sitting on my chest. I couldn't breath. I knew in that instant that there was precisely nothing I loved about him. But I still hadn't got the strength to leave him at that point. There was a gap, between acknowledging it, to myself, and to others, where I had to pretend I saw some good in him and man that was hard to fake.

SanctiMOMious Thu 04-Apr-13 01:22:51

when i say 'later' i mean, when it's clear that there is no redeeming feature about him, and clear that she's controlled and all infatuation or excitement has gone.

BrittaPie Thu 04-Apr-13 01:23:28

He did, with the words "my ex tried to say I was abusive! How ridiculous!"

BrittaPie Thu 04-Apr-13 01:24:48

Oh, and Mumsnet also.

I think it was Reality who basically begged me not to marry him. I still did.

SanctiMOMious Thu 04-Apr-13 01:24:49

oh dear, the mtoher of his chidlren is mentally ill chesnut! he's a classic narc.

get 'why does he do that?' by lundy bankcroft and it will help you help this young woman. She is lucky to have you. She may not know it yet.

springyhappychick Thu 04-Apr-13 01:33:40

yes, people warned me. No I didn't listen. Well, I heard them but I didn't understand what they were saying. I thought some of them were jealous.

It stood me in very good stead n years down the line when I was totally off my head and fighting for my life (not literally but mentally/emotionally). I was so grateful they'd had the courage to say it.

If I come up against this sort of thing I gauge who's around for the person. If there are plenty of people then I am generally clear and direct about the type of person they are with. It may stand them in good stead, too, n years down the line. If there aren't many, or no, people around I tread more carefully, though I couldn't possibly pretend entirely. Facial expressions can say more than words sometimes. The implication is clear. I am especially vigilant if the victim has children. I really do tread carefully then - to keep in their orbit if no-one else is around who is concerned about what is going on.

And I pray my head off.

Erebus Thu 04-Apr-13 10:47:04

I am always a bit confused about the use of the term 'jealous'. You see it a lot on MN, usually if someone is sounding off about their DC's private school, and someone else bags the school, then there's a team-cry of 'You're only saying that because you're jealous!'.

We seem to see jealously in everyone who doesn't agree with us, don't we? And we can be eye-wateringly delusional, can't we?! It's because we have strong egos, we assume we know best and that anyone who can see further or challenges our certainty can only be envious, rather that prescient!

ladyjadie Thu 04-Apr-13 13:22:14

A lot of my friends, used to say 'you can do better'.

I just assumed they were jealous sad

My reply was always 'But I don't want to do better!'

Says it all really. And it took ages to get over him but then it was so so great.

SanctiMOMious Thu 04-Apr-13 13:22:21

Is this post on the right thread?

SanctiMOMious Thu 04-Apr-13 13:24:28

that was to erebus. but scrap my comment.

wonderinghow maybe you should keep it breezy but say 'hey, if things get a bit expensive or you need a change of scene, you can always stay with me for as long as you want to'. That offer will be considered SO much more seriously in an hour of need than "if your boyfriend ever threatens you , you can seek refuge with me". dykwim?

WonderingHow Thu 04-Apr-13 13:59:29

Yes! SanctiMOMious that is a great approach re offering a place to stay. I've been wondering how to phrase it without sounding completely crazy (bearing in mind most people think he's wonderful).
I want to reply in more depth ..hope to be back later.

Fleecyslippers Thu 04-Apr-13 14:19:46

On the flip side of the coin, my Ex is an abusive narc. I sent a copy of the divorce petition to OW. She has also spoken social services about Exs assault on DD. Ex has limited contact with the children due to his violence and is engaged in a campaign to ruin me financially. She has still chosen to have a child with him (40+, never been in a long term relationship/had kids, has an alcoholic father) She now enables and encourages his 'abuse' but I truly don't think she sees it as abuse.
I went through a period of feeling sorry for her. Now I'm not so sure what to think. I hate her for her behaviour towards me and the kids but part of me still fears what will happen to her and her child when his mask slips.

WonderingHow Fri 05-Apr-13 01:18:38

Fleecyslippers, what horrible experiences to go through.

FWIW I think many women don't recognise abuse as abuse, until it's too late. And some do imagine they can handle it. I know someone who confided in a friend (not me) about her abusive husband, and guess who his first girlfriend was when the marriage finally ended? sad The friend condescendingly advised the ex wife that he wouldn't be abusive with her, because she was better able to handle him. Very similar to SundaysGirl's story in fact.

I hope you will take care of yourself first. Some people you just cannot help.

SanctiMOMious, you are right, this man is a classic narc. He is almost a stereotype. I have the excellent 'Why does he do that' and others, partly because I was trying to see if I was worrying about nothing. (I'm not, apparently.) Thank you for your kind words,I hope I can help her.....

springy you know me from other threads, and I know you had a most traumatic experience, compounded by family. From what you've said, I must keep offering some kind of warning through the fog – even if it takes time to really reach her .

The one glimmer of hope I have is that I believe she is not as besotted as she was. Maybe the mask is slipping. It's been a year or so and I don't think he can keep his fake persona up for much longer.

Snowme Fri 05-Apr-13 02:12:11

My Mother said the first time she met him, that he gave her the creeps. And he'd been nothing but 'charming', quiet, polite. She was visibly worried from day one.
If a man makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck (and not in a good way), it's a gut reaction you can trust.

jayho Fri 05-Apr-13 07:22:35

Mine conned everybody, I was endlessly congratulated on meeting such a kind, gentle person.

Slight hijack, we're now divorced but still having a similar experience to Fleecy. He's seeing someone I know vaguely, should I warn her?

SanctiMOMious Fri 05-Apr-13 10:19:34

wonderinghow That's great. Don't let her know that you see the real him. LIke I say, the friends I could have leant on in those hours of need were the ones who had never voiced their doubts and put them OUT THERE (and so consequently made it an issue, that I had to somehow set straight to defend my honour, or to keep up appearances).

But yet, there were people who clearly sensed what was going on and made heartfelt offers, which the perfect mixture of insouciance and sincerity. If that makes sense. insouciance about the fact that I was being abused! and sincerity wrt the offer itself.

Are you in a loving relationship? One of the things that used to penetrate my forcefield of delusion was seeing cards up on the mantel at other people's houses. I remember being at my friend's house and her dh had written her a card on the 7th anniversary of their wedding and in the card he said he knew he'd married the right person and said he'd do it all again, but with a better shoes. It was so appreciative of her, so good humoured, so happy, so normal ...... I read that card and put it down again and thought 'i'm not valued like that'.

Another little girl, friend of my daughter's was telling me her mum's name. And she said it's "dawnie-love". My mummy's name is dawnie-love. That's what she heard. And again of course, I said or did nothing but I thought 'i'm not loved'.

So my advice would be to keep the friendship/relationship with this young woman going. Prioritise that over trying to make her 'see' or trying to convey this or that. Just make sure that she knows that she can lean on you. and, if there's anything she can do for HER, ask, so that she feels more comfortable accepting a favour from you when the time comes. (or maybe that's not necessary if you are a relative)

SanctiMOMious Fri 05-Apr-13 10:27:11

ps, I said upthread, but are they having pre-wedding counselling? I know that that's just standard here in ireland if you get married in a church, and I don't knwo the procedure in the uk. But I would wonder about approaching the minister to ask for the name of the counsellor, or, casually ask her, with the goal of revealing his true colours at counselling. I think these guys can fool a counsellor quite easily, especially one who is just going through the motions and ticking the box so young couples can go ahead and get married. BUT, if by any chance the counsellor was a good one and had had a tip off.... then possibly issues could errupt at counselling or at their home after counselling. What you want is to pull the wool from her eyes and for that to be done before she says 'i do'.

If she brings up the pre-wedding counselling, just say "oh! it's just to make sure that the marriage will be an equal one, with both parties need met, both parties gving and taking equally, and to make sure that there's love and respect and so on" --fake jauntyness-

Aspiemum2 Fri 05-Apr-13 11:17:41

Nobody warned me but I probably wouldn't have listened. That said my df is staunch catholic and was just delighted when we broke up. He said he could see how miserable I was but knew better than to interfere.

Interestingly all our friends are still blinded by him, he's the victim and I'm the bitch confused

His new wife said to me "if I behaved a certain way he would make me miserable too" as a sly dig that I'd brought it on myself. I wasn't even irritated by it, I just feel so bloody sorry for her

NicknameTaken Fri 05-Apr-13 11:32:03

Sancti, great posts.

Family and friends held their tongues about my ex till after I left him. Apparently everyone could see what he was like except me - I was obviously in some kind of oxytocin haze. (Seriously, what was I thinking? Or perhaps - what was I thinking with?)

There are times when I felt betrayed that nobody had voiced their doubts, but if they had, I'm pretty sure my pride would have got in the way and it would have been even harder to admit I was wrong. Even now, several years after leaving my ex, I can't come out and say to my parents "You were right and I was wrong" although they were and I was. Ultimately, it does have to be her discovery.

SanctiMOMious Fri 05-Apr-13 11:46:20

nicknametaken, part of my problem was that becauae of a liw self worth, i didnt acknowledge at the time, subconscioysly i felt it was what i was worth. because i am a sociable person, confident in social situations ; i didnt SEE that i had a low self worth. friends did hint at the fact that i could do better. i thought snippily 'well no clearly i cant'. instead of saying 'you can do better' i wish id belueved i was worth more .

SanctiMOMious Fri 05-Apr-13 11:54:40

nicknametaken, yes it's embarrassing isnt it!? i remember my mum saying with a groan, after another letter from his solicitor, what did u ever see in him?! it was embarrassing. to have had, even so long ago in the past now, to have had such poor judgement/ self worth.... when i met my abusive x i had been getting over having been dumped by sonebody i thought i loved. he had dumped me with a brutal character assassination. then, he cobtinued to socialise with mutual friends. in fact i remember them wanting to know when i would be out so that they could socialuse at my house. my friend flatmare his friend. SO.... with that under my belt, having been made to feel bad, made to feel like it would be more convenient for everybody if i just went out OUT.... at that point i met my x. any other man would have run a mile!!! but not mr demand man/water torturer/mr victim. he thought i was perfect for him :-/

aPseudonymToFoolHim Fri 05-Apr-13 11:59:44

No-one really warned me. Not enough, anyway.
A couple of his mates asked me wtf I was doing with him, which I paid little mind to. One said he was only ex's mate as they'd grown up on the same street, otherwise he'd never have spoken to him. I paid no attention to that as I thought he was exaggerating. However, now I have kids, I realise it's probably true. There is a boy on our street that DCs tolerate just because they live near each other, but would never CHOOSE to be friends with him, his behaviour is shocking at times, so I can see now what the friend had meant.

Really, I needed MN 7 years ago, and my life would have been VERY much different, if I'd posted all the things he said and did. I'd have been posting something new EVERY week. And I'd have realised he was an emotionally abusive cocklodger years ago. Sometimes I think of posting things he said and did in retrospect, but actually I don't think I would be believed, there were SO many red flags, one after the other, after the other.

Why was I so blind???

WHERE WERE YOU????? smile

NicknameTaken Fri 05-Apr-13 12:15:04

Sancti, I get similar comments from my mother and it's a killer.

If you'd have met me when I first met him, you'd have thought I had high self-esteem - doing interesting work, travelling a lot, well-educated. But part of me did have doubts (still does) about my "feminine charms". Not helped by the fact I'd returned to do a pg degree which was overwhelming female, so I was surrounded by beautiful women a decade younger than I am, and felt I was close to missing the boat. I was flattered and dazzled and sexually enthralled.

In a way, I almost mind less that my ex exploited my vulnerability, and more that this vulnerability thereby became obvious to the people who know me.

We'd been together a few months and there was a piece in the local paper listing 10 signs of emotional abuse (and this was 20 years ago so quite forward thinking!) I read the list and recognised the signs and we both agreed that it was a stupid list and that it could apply to any relationship. Fool that I was. 10 years later I caught sight of myself crying in the bathroom mirror and realised I had to get out for my own sanity.

The good news is that now I know it was emotional abuse and I can recognise why I stayed, etc. My new man is wonderfulness personified, I cannot praise him highly enough, and so far from abusive. So the good men are out there, just hard to find.

SanctiMOMious Fri 05-Apr-13 13:17:50

I know what you mean nicknametaken. Taht anomoly, between living the life of a strong interesting woman so therefore low self esteem can not possibly be her problem and yet, tolerating such crap from a man in a relationship

I said to Olivia42 on her thread that these guys take pleasure in sapping the life out of a strong intelligent woman with friends. Where's the challenge in sapping the life out of geisha girl!?? It's a bloodier and more enjoyable sport to take down a woman who is 'up herself' (ie) who once had her own independence etc...

And yes, I know exactly what you mean about being disturbed that other people can see that vulnerability in you . I recently decided to cut somebody (luckily only ever peripheral) out of my life, stone dead, and I'm lucky that I can do that, he 's not a relative or a boss. But he was drama baiting me, 90% jokes, and banter, 10% cruelty.

And then repeating back to me what I'd done over the last few years and giving it all the most negative interpretation possible. Leaving me feeling that this person had the wrong impression of me totally, and that I should defend myself!! Now I know that this person is utterly toxic.

But he is charming and pleasant to most people, and most people like him, but you know what, it is that seeing through him that puts me in his line of fire. It's not like it once was, that I am vulnerable. NOW, armed with your insights and your knowledge, just even seeing through these characters is what makes you vulnerable to their nasty streak, not any inherent or residual vulnerability in you. It is seeing through them now that makes you vulnerable. I hope that makes sense.

I have only had one relationship since my x and he was a very kind, decent man who hadn't a shred of badness. So, I congratulated myself on my abiltiy to pick better men now.. But outside of a relationship context, there I was, still engaging with a toxic person. Willingly. Until recently. I have just cut all communcation. Had an email with a shit apology and I ignored it.

Peka Fri 05-Apr-13 13:48:13

Hi there wondering, I would just say you need to make it clear you will be there for her when she needs to get out. I remember splitting up from my abusive ex aged 19 living in a foreign country. I called my parents in tears begging them to come and help me. They said they would but they didn't. I ended up back together with him for 2 more wasted years. There may be a very small window when she is strong enough/broken enough/ lonely enough to seek help. Just try to be there then if you can.

WonderingHow Sat 06-Apr-13 00:22:00

Jayho not a hijack at all. As you can see, it's something of a tightrope, between issuing some kind of warning, and driving the woman away from you and straight the arms of her abuser. You feel you can't do nothing. But if you do something you may possibly make it worse.

SanctiMOMious, insouciant sincerity does make sense. I need to keep the measured approach whilst offering some kind of, I don't know, get-out clause for her. Because Mr Narc has done a splendid job of isolating her by getting most of her family on his side, singing his praises.

She needs to know, subtly, not everyone thinks he's great: and there's a place he doesn't know and cannot come, but she can.

She knows I care about her. She is indeed a relative. And I'm quite content to be considered a mad, jealous relative for the time being: I don't care what anyone thinks, this has to be done.

There has been no pre-wedding counselling yet because, sad to say, he is still actually married! It wasn't an OW situation, but more like a devalue – discard – oh here's the next one, I'll marry her next type of scenario. shock He was that quick. Children were introduced in less than a month, and not on neutral territory. It's just awful, he has no feelings for anybody.

Nicknametaken they love strong, capable women. It's almost like they get extra points. sad

Peka it's terrible that you were abandoned like that. I can't imagine doing that to a family member. I will indeed be there for her.

SanctiMOMious Sat 06-Apr-13 13:47:52

wonderinghow yeah, no matter how great he is, (or how great anybody is) no one particular person is obliged to be the one that has to appreciate them or be in a relationship with him. So I'd subtly press that point home. Make her realise that she doesn't need others agree with her realisations about him along the way. She is entitled to hold her own views about any person, and they are HER views and don't need approval or seconding. I say this because bizarrely, after a few years with my x, I felt I needed other people to 'approve' my decision to leave, and to agree with me that it was the right decision. I seemed to have totally lost sight of the (now) patently obvious fact that either person can at any time for no reason at all call time on a relationship. It doesn't need to be justified.

Marion Keyes wrote a book called this charming man which i ddin't like at all but funnily enough, she wrote an earlier book called 'Last Chance Saloon' which made no mention on the back cover of even touching on the subject of emotionally abusive relationshps. Read the book and see if there is a character in there who reminds you of anybody. And if you like it, pass it on to her. I know it's not the most cerebral of books but it struck a chord with me. I don't read trashy books as a rule, but this was good trash.

SanctiMOMious Sat 06-Apr-13 13:54:44

ps, engaged again before he is even divorced! that speaks volumes about his lack of social awareness, self-awareness, lack of sensitivity, lack of common decency, sense of entitlement .....

If you're ever digesting the news that a famous couple has split up, don't analyse the reasons for the split in her presence, just keep repeating cheerily 'she didn't want it'. Not like 'oh well was he supportive enough of her career'. etc. cos those post split analyses used to feed my paranoia that everybody would put me on trial for having left... HE did of course. But everybody ELSE understood that I was entitled to leave JUST because I wanted to. I was the one who didn't understand that. I hope I@m not waffling too much here.

No, he was divorced but on good terms with ex so no warning received. His current partner knows about his sexual and emotional abuse of me and his emotional abuse of our children and yet she is still with him, go figure.

I was warned off of my first proper boyfriend when I was just 17. He was on drugs just before we got together and his best friend told me to stay away, as did other friends of his as he was going through a fucked up time in his life.

I ignored them and stayed with him for 18 months during which time he destroyed all but one of my friendships, took me away from my family, completely destroyed my education and both sexually and emotionally abused me. I still struggle with it a hell of a lot and it was 7 years ago now that I started talking to him and 5 years ago that I last properly bumped into him.
DP and I were talking about him yesterday as we bought a jigsaw puzzle to do together and I got paranoid that he would start shouting at me for doing it wrong. In nearly 8 years of friendship/relationship DP has never shouted at me and only raised his voice once or twice when I have raised mine first! I can't believe how much hold that boyfriend still has on my life.

WafflyVersatile Sat 06-Apr-13 16:10:05

I think show her websites about signs of abusive rels etc. Help her understand how she deserves to be treated. That sort if thing. Let her decide for herself. The evidence on this thread is she won't listen if you just say you don't like him.

WafflyVersatile Sat 06-Apr-13 16:11:32

Marian keyes book sounds like a good idea.

For me it was initially excitement, then mixed with a small bit of apprehension, as there had been a couple of occasions where I'd been really looking forward to seeing him and he'd turned up in a foul mood and taken it out on me. Then as time went on it steadily grew to generally apprehensive and then later a feeling of dread - how's he going to be today? What might have happened at work/on the way home that he'll take out on me? I never knew what kind of mood he'd be in and so I just learned to be on my best behaviour and never give him any excuse to have a go at me kernowgal that was the exact way I felt. I have been out 6 months now. Life is so relaxed now.

Kernowgal Sun 07-Apr-13 10:37:47

Horrible isn't it, Matchsticks.

He just had this rage that came out of nowhere, like a volcano going off. He could be in a seemingly great mood just seconds before, then something I'd said or done would prompt this almighty shouting. I'd be left cowering.

For a good month or so after he left I just enjoyed the fact that I had the house to myself and no longer dreaded the sound of his footsteps in the alleyway. I'd forgotten what it felt like to be genuinely relaxed.

I've already told mutual friends that if he gets a new girlfriend and she expresses any concerns, to tell her to contact me for a chat.

OP, you could be describing a 'friend' of mine who is engaged to a man she has known 3 months, except that she introduced her DD to him within days of meeting him. He raises all kind of red flags to me, including his 'discipline' of her DD, the fact that she has completely changed her fashion style because he has bought her clothes and his hiving her of from her friends.
However, I feel unable to say anything. When she married her first husband I saw the bruises on her legs and her terror of him the night before her wedding and I told her marrying him was a terrible mistake and that it wasn't too late and she ignored me. She will ignore me again and I can't watch her inflict more damage on her DD. All I feel I can do is let her little girl know she has somewhere to go if she needs it.

WonderingHow Sun 07-Apr-13 17:28:51

Sancti– exactly – the sense of entitlement and lack of self-awareness is there for all to see. There are other situations, but one thing seems consistent: he is 100% selfish and entitled. He doesn't trouble to conceal it much.

And this is an interesting point, which I thoroughly agree with:

" She is entitled to hold her own views about any person, and they are HER views and don't need approval or seconding."
This is, of course, the argument for my own views. I can't stop someone seeing/liking someone, or conversely make them see/like someone: and this applies to me, too!

None of us has to like/not like someone, solely to keep someone else happy. And in a case like this I can't just paint a smile on: because it's not about like or dislike, it's about someone's future, someone I care about.

ConfusedPixie, it's upsetting to realise just how much of a hold these people have over us, even after they've left our lives. sad

Kernowgal it's great you are leaving the lines of communication open to talk to any future girlfriends. I think this is the best anyone can do.

elinor, that's awful for you. Yes, I've seen a change of fashion style too. I expect everyone thinks she's 'grown up', but it's not what comes across to me. It's more like she's disappeared. sad

With all my concerns, it's unfortunately not only about her and this unpleasant individual: her mother is constantly bragging and talking about this 'wonderful man' her daughter has found.

So it's a very unpleasant time as he has taken centre stage in that part of the family, while others have been pushed out: or been on the receiving end of aggression for failing to be sufficiently enthusiastic (not being sarcastic – that really is it).

There have been some difficult times lately.

I will look out for the Marion Keyes book, thank you.

Sanctimumious Sun 07-Apr-13 19:37:38

wonderinghow Yes, it's a paradox, or an irony (?) no matter how genuinely you really do have somebody's best interests at heart, you can't save them from a controlling person by telling them what what to do / think / tolerate.

That's worrying that her own mother seems pleased. She is not as astute clearly. Or, she is like a modern day mrs Bennett. Her daughter is engaged. Phew. :-(

That pressure from her mother could be a factor in her settling for this relationship. I remember feeling pressure to conform. I was nearly 30 and I felt like I owed it to my mother to do all the normal things like getting married and having children. I wasn't actually lonely when I met my x. I seemed to care more about appearing to be happy than actually being happy. Over time though I realised that my priorities were ass over t1t

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