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Start / warning signs of an abusive relationship?(54 Posts)
I am after some advice because I am not sure if I am being overly sensitive or if I should be genuinely concerned about my situation.
I am currently 8 months pregnant and would say that 99% of the time things are fine between myself & DP. He has been great throughout the
pregnancy, very supportive. And yet...I find myself concerned at what I view as signs of very controlling behaviour.
The main issue is DP's obsession with certain medical issues related to my pregnancy. He is extremely mistrustful of health professionals and this stems from the death of his parents a few years ago who both died after battling various illnesses for a while. He blames the doctors for this and as a result is very 'anti' health authorities, medical treatments etc. I should point out that his parents died abroad in his birth country and not the UK.
He has declared that our baby will not have any vaccinations under any circumstances as they are dangerous and bombards me daily with anti-vac e-mails, videos, blogs etc while I am at work and has also brought home books. He gets absolutely furious if I even suggest that that the baby should be immunized against anything and starts shouting. He has decreed that the baby will not have a Vit K injection (it is poisonous) and had a huge melt-down last month when I had a glucose intolerance test because Lucozade is 'harmful'. He does not like me visiting the mid-wife because, to quote a text he sent me yesterday, 'she might want to do some kind of experiment with you and give you medication that will harm you'. He became agitated when I started discussing pain relief during our NCT class and insists I will not need to take anything.
When I try to talk rationally, try to meet him halfway etc he just becomes even more agitated and starts shouting over me. i cannot take the stress and so end up leaving the room. These arguments (well I say arguments - I no longer talk back so it is just his rants ) occur about once a month. Afterwards I get the silent treatment for a few days but during this time he will continue to cook meals for me, do the housework, shopping, give me massages etc but it is all done with barely concealed anger. He is also complete hypochondriac and over-reacts every time he has a slight illness - e.g. he wanted to call out an ambulance when he had a pain in his foot a couple of months ago.
So this week he has been in a terrible mood since Monday. I had no idea why and kept asking what was wrong. Finally this morning he had a massive outburst and started shouting that I don't listen to him when he gives me advice about the baby and it's health and I am shutting him out. It turned out he was angry that I went to an Aqua Natal class on Monday because I could have gotten a cold after leaving the pool (he didn't mention anything about not wanting me to go) and yesterday I got caught in the rain when coming home from work which is another sign I do not care about him or the baby's health because I should not have been walking about in that weather!!. He aggressively demanded I should not go to work or to my mid-wife's appointment today as it was too cold to leave the house. The shouting went on for 15 mins while I sat on the bed bewildered and in tears as he left for work. I ended up calling in sick and re-arranging my MW appointment as I can't cope with this bullying.
He called mid morning and when he learnt I stayed at home he suddenly became much brighter and sounded more like his old self. This is what worries me. He is now being nice to me because I'm doing what he ordered me to do. I can see this pattern continuing: he gets angry for an unspecified reason and subjects me to silent treatment for days, he finally admits (shouts) what the problem is. The anger continues until I cave and do what he wants. I can only envisage things getting worse once the baby arrives. I found myself day dreaming this morning about having the baby, packing my bags and leaving to go to South America where some of my family live. And yet...I think in so many ways he will be a fantastic dad, he is so affectionate when he is behaving 'normally' and already shows so much love towards the unborn baby. I sit looking at the nursery and the furniture he has painstainkingly put together and consider the fact that in all non-medical matters he completely defers to whatever I want e.g. he had a strong preference for 2 baby names which i over-ruled and he accepted it and said he would be happy with whatever I choose as he just wants me to be happy. He always calls and asks permission before going out with friends in case I want him to come home and need him for anything, turned down an invite to the stag do of a good friend in case I got upset, does more or less everything around the house at the moment on top of this job. I just do not know how to handle these periodic outbursts and worry that the 'nice' behaviour is part of a larger manipulative agenda.
Thanks for reading if you got this far, i just needed to get this off my chest.
Imagine what the "rules" will be like when the baby comes? He is getting between you and proper medical supervision whicch is vital. He is dictating about pain reliefe during labour....!?
Nicer to you when you comply?
This is not going to get better my love. Only worse.
Please think about who you are with. None of this is normal or supportive behaviour for a woman who is pregnant. He sounds paranoid to be honest if he thinks the MW will be doing experiments on you.
I don't want to leave you unanswered but I think you need some expert advice as these are major issues at a time when you are very vulnerable. I would be personally packing my back in secret.
"He is now being nice to me because I'm doing what he ordered me to do. I can see this pattern continuing: he gets angry for an unspecified reason and subjects me to silent treatment for days, he finally admits (shouts) what the problem is. The anger continues until I cave and do what he wants."
This is classic emotionally abusive behaviour - psychological bullying if you prefer - and is utterly unacceptable. Abuse often gets a lot worse with the arrival of a first child so he's following the pattern almost to the letter. I think he possibly has some undiagnosed MH issues surrounding his obsessive and frankly unhinged behaviour regarding medical matters .... but I really wouldn't stick around to find out what they might be.
This is going to be difficult, I'm afraid. I've been on 'the other side of the desk' (as it were) from people with very fixed beliefs about health issues eg vaccination, and there's no reasoning with them - there's plenty of pseudo-science on dodgy websites to maintain their illusion that they speak 'the truth', and if there is disagreement about immunisation/specific child health care issues between parents then the only way to go is through the courts... which usually only happens when parents are separated. Would he consider making a doctors appointment with you to discuss it there? I would add that it is absolutely not for him to dictate pain relief in labour - it's not his pain!!
There's definitely emotional abuse going on...
His views on health etc are extreme. It's all very well to have different opinions on vaccinations etc, but you need to be able to discuss them rationally with him and he can't just dictate what is going to happen. The stuff about aquanatal, going out in the cold etc is frankly bonkers. Personally, I couldn't cope with those attitudes.
In view of his attitude to pain relief in labour, I would also question whether he is a good person to be with you in labour. The last thing you want is somebody underminding you and telling you what (not) to do.
Hmm, I certainly think his behaviour is abusive, but it sounds to me as if he is suffering from Health Anxiety and it is stemming from that, eg how much would you shout at one of your DCs if you found them dangling another DC off the bannisters? If he genuinely believes that all these things are so dangerous he must be in a real panic.
I'd suggest speaking to your Midwife and GP, expressing your very real concern about his behaviour. I'd hope you'd be able to agree that if, say, in labour you wanted pain relief and he started kicking off, that he would be removed from the delivery suite.
I'd better shut up now as I am crap at these threads but having suffered anxiety myself I can't help interpreting this as "he is worried about you and the baby and this has sparked off a breakdown because he thinks he is going to have to leave you in the care of the NHS, which he doesn't trust" rather than "nasty bastard."
I really think he needs help.
What was he like before you were pregnant? Was there the same pattern of him being cross/not talking to you if you didn't do what he wanted and being nice as soon as you complied?
I agree with BallonSlayer that he may well be suffering from health anxiety. Discussing it with your midwife would be good first step!
Could I ask what country his poarents passed away in? The reason I am asking is despite all the headlines compared to some countries we are streets ahead. During labour with our first without any indication beforehand my DH thought he would take charge of.all decisions! I asked him to leave if he was going to carry on like that, apparently he read somewhere than women lose all sense of reason during labour!!
There are some horrible red flags here but I think you know that. Please get some help. A close relative, friend that can support you perhaps?
He obviously does have issues around health and health care professionals, but that doesn't excuse his behaviour towards OP... I've suffered from anxiety, and while it can be very debilitating, it never caused me to shout abuse at my husband for 15 minutes while he sat on the bed bewildered and in tears. Let's not minimise his behaviour please.
Thank you for your replies, it is a relief to get other opinions on this as I haven't discussed this with anyone in RL. To answer some of your points/ questions:-
His behaviour was nothing like this before I fell pregnant. He was (and sometimes still is) the most easy-going person I know. I never saw the hint of a flash of temper. At the beginning of the pregnancy he was fine as well. Then, around 3/4 months in he began making comments about my eating habits and saying I eat too many sweets, chocolates. Nothing major but just little digs. As the pregnancy progressed he became a bit dictatorial about the vitamins I was taking as he insisted vits from high street stores are synthetic and bad for me. He began ordering vitamins, lotions and potions from all kinds of random sites and insisting I take them which I refused to do. I posted a few months ago about this and his insistance that I take a pregnancy complex made by a company I'd never heard of - another poster replied that they are completely safe but still..
Yes he is very paranoid & mistrustful towards doctors etc and I have wondered about mental health issues but he is so completely rational in all other areas and I don't generally think MH problems are confined to one very specific area in this way? Or are they..?
The sites he sends me are almost all US based and most of the articles are written by people who frankly seem completely crazy to me. There have been a couple of UK ones which had reasoned arguments against vaccinations but they are few and far between. He spends hours poring over these sites, watching YouTube videos etc.
My mid-wife said she could not give specific information about the vacs but advised that I make an appt for both of us to meet with a health visitor to discuss this. DP agreed to this but has already said the HV will just 'come out with the usual crap about vaccinations being harmless' so he has already made up his mind.
I worry that I am over sensitive sometimes but I grew up in a house with a dad who shouted/screamed at my mum almost daily and it ruined my childhood. Because of this, the moment he raises his voice I get stomach pains just like I did when I was a child and go into shut down mode. On several occasions he has seemed genuinely shocked when I pulled him up on the shouting and has said that although he raises his voice he never actually shouts at me and he is not angry at me, just concerned for me & baby.
I would say he def has health anxiety issues which I think are linked to his parents death and unfortunately his brother was also diagnosed with cancer a couple of years now (thankfully he recently got the all clear). He has said he wants to talk about this rationally when he gets home tonight, we will see.
Eastie 77 I am not saying it isn't EA or a form of bullying that you are experiencing from your OH. I just wanted to say that he sounds depressed and the loss of his parents seems to have contributed to an obsessive illness that is affecting yours and his lives. Has he spoken to any health professionals about this? Or do you think his distrust of medical personnel will prevent him from going down this route?
Agree with the others, even if he has very strong feelings about vacs, natural birth etc it is the way he is going about it that is so worrying.
You are not going to work or medical appointments because he is bullying you.
And then 'rewarding' you by being nice the rest of the time. My (abusive) ex also used to do the whatever you want thing too, about issues that he wasn't keen to control. It doesn't make the controlling behaviour ok. Women's Aid would take that very seriously. Most abusers aren't bastards 100% of the time or else no-one would fall in love with them.
Please speak to your mw about it and give the concrete examples that you have outlined in your post.
Let's not minimise his behaviour please.
I do agree, AlfalfaMum. Health anxiety or not, his behaviour is unacceptable and worrying, to put it mildly! But the health anxiety, if that is what it is, could explain his change of behaviour. I don't know how treatable it is - or if he is amenable to treatment. In any case, the OP should not be subjected to it.
It's also possible (likely?) that this behaviour will continue or escalate and may spread to issues other than health.
He is either quite ill and needs help and / or he is controlling and abusive.
Either which way you need to think about what is best for you and your baby and whether you can envisage co-parenting with someone like this. best of luck OP.
His parents passed away in Italy. The health care over there is pretty good as far as I am aware but he said the doctors were all to blame etc.
I have told him that he will not make decisions about my pain relief during labour (planning a water birth but have stated that if I can't cope I would like to be removed from pool and given an epi) and he seemed to back down but I agree there are red flags and the signs are ominous so he might end up having to be removed from the birthing suite.
In terms of packing and leaving...we live in my property so if anyone leaves it will not be me
Your other half certainly needs help. His behaviour is not normal.
It certainly sounds like emotional abuse and bullying but chances are there are underlying reasons for it I would think.
For what its worth there are reports etc that suggest that vacs are dangerous but there is a mammoth amount of evidence to show they are harmless. Look at the outbreak of measles in wales due to ppl not getting vacs for their kids.
OP the fact that grew up with a dad who behaved like this is another red flag for the relationship. Without realising it we often pick partners that enable us to create the same dynamic as our parents, even if it was a horrible one. Because it is what we know and relate to even if it is very unhealthy.
Also a lovely seeming man who starts to be controlling once you get pregnant is a common pattern. It is because pregnancy and looking after small children makes us physically, emotionally and financially vulnerable. He also has a core belief that he knows better than you what is good for your body. He believes he is superior to you, not an equal who has equally valid opinions on your dc's health.
Unlike QueenQueenie, I think he needs help and he is controlling/abusive at the same time. You have to lay this on the line, I'm afraid. As it stands, you cannot afford to have him around you when you are just a few weeks from giving birth. There are all kinds of risks in the peri-natal/post-natal stages and the last thing you need is an abusive man making you anxious enough to miss appointments or compromising on your care. He is actually dangerous at the moment.
So I think you need to ask him to leave, get the help he needs and only when you're satisfied that he has conquered whatever it is that is causing him to act the way he is acting will he be allowed back.
Just have one question, OP. If he mistrusts Health Professionals so much on your Account, how come he wanted an ambulance for a pain in his foot? Or is just you that must suffer the inconvenience of not turning to hospitals etc? Xx
He needs therapy. Perhaps he has some odd form of OCD. Or PTSD? Who knows. If I were in your shoes, from what you describe, I would be tempted to insist on a separation until ... well, he changes and stops forcing you to abide by what he decrees. He has no right to dictate that you can't swim, or have an epidural, or that your child can't be vaccinated. Some babies die because they need vitamin K injections. If he continues with his neuroses, what is your child going to pick up on.
I think you have to tell him to go.
I don't see this ever getting any better. He IS trying to control you, and tbh, there is an element of this in the italian culture. If he grew up with a dad like this, he is defaulting to that.
THE ONLY WAY he will put a stop to this, is if he is forced to. You telling him to get out and showing him that you are prepared to go ALL the way when it comes to YOU making decisions for YOUR life and future will be the strongest message he is likely to get.
Men like him will cost you your job (you have already fucked ONE day off due to him) and your health. You are ALREADY physically suffereing as a result of fear of him.
This man is bad news. IF you STAMP on this hard and fast, he may change. If he doesn't and you have got rid of him, job done.
Life with a guy like this is not life, it's a living death.
He is treating you like an incubator. He does not see you as a real person. This is severe emotional abuse.
You should make him leave. Even if some type of anxiety were at play here (and I am sceptical that is really the case here) that does not mean he gets to put your health and the baby's health at risk or make you suffer pain or mess around with your work just to appease his anxiety.
If you don't make him leave, before you know it he will bully you into stopping work permanently and prevent you from seeing any healthcare provider whatsoever. You will then have very few sources of support and he will be all the more able to control you totally. Get him out, NOW.
I'm sorry but this is really scary. His behaviour is extreme and potentially dangerous to you and you unborn child. Antenatal care is the reason many less women die in childbirth or shortly after (now as opposed to even 100 years ago) and his attitude, causing you to miss appointments, is frightening
As for vaccinations ? FFS, will he refuse to allow you child to be vaccinated against tetanus ? which can kill you and the bacterium which cause s it is found everywhere ?
I would get rid pronto. sorry but I would. He sounds unhinged Let him sort out his own weird health beliefs, and get help himself of he wants to. Take care of yourself...
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