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Emotional abuse

(218 Posts)
NosyRosie Mon 09-May-11 20:38:16

I am an educated, fairly intelligent woman but I only recently discovered that I have been living in an emotionally abusive marriage.

I thought it was just the way he was and that I had to be understanding and try to keep him calm and happy in order to live a half normal life.

I never dreamed of telling my friends or family what he was really like because it was important to me that they liked him.

The last straw came on 15th April (his birthday incidentally) when his behaviour was so shocking that it was the last straw. I genuinely thought I was going mad (seeds sown by him) and phoned my HV in a state. She asked me if I was being harmed and mentioned Women's Aid.

In my mind Women's Aid = domestic violence = physical abuse. I have since found out that emotional abuse can be more damaging than physical abuse.

I feel so stupid. How can I have not realised what was going on? Why have I not been aware of the dangers of emotional abuse? So much is said about DV but it always seems to refer to the physical attacks and I always told myself "at least he doesn't hit me".

Does this sound familiar to anyone? I really feel the need to sit down and talk to other people who have been through the same thing and tried to get hold of a local support group but no one got back to me.

How easy would it be to start an awareness campaign? I keep thinking about how many other women could be going through the same thing without realising the damage it's doing.

Thanks if you're still here!

notoriginal Mon 09-May-11 20:46:27

You are certainly not alone. Exact same thing with me. I thought I wasn't being abused because I wasn't being beaten (well apart from a few shoves) took me years to realise too and like you I found it hard to come to terms with the fact I never realised.

He eventually did turn violent on dd.

You have made the most important step.

GypsyMoth Mon 09-May-11 20:49:32

have you left op??

macdoodle Mon 09-May-11 20:51:14

Same here, I am an intelligent educated professional. Hard as nails in work.
Emotionally, financially and sexually abused by my XH for 10 years sad Just thought it was me, that wasnt good enough, didnt try hard enough, needed to help him/fix him/be enough for him.
He did eventually turn violent after keeping me captive in my own house for hours and trying to strangle me, a wonderful policeman pointed out to me what was happening, will be forever grateful.
It did however take me a few years after that to properley break free.
Damage well and truly done though, and though I am happy and free now, I cannot see myself ever having a normal relationship.
Best of luck !

bejeezus Mon 09-May-11 20:54:54

me too- emotional and financial abuse...very very subtle...so lucky really..but has taken me 11 years to work out what is going on <<stupid cow emoticon>>

valiumbandwitch Mon 09-May-11 20:55:35

You're not alone. And you're a step ahead of me because I only realised after I left. I left because I was miserable. I knew THAT much. I had been made miserable for a long, long, long time. But I didn't make the connection between the way was treating me and domestic abuse either!

I think a good awareness campaign might focus on circumstances and then have 'domestic abuse' in smaller writing underneath rather than the other way 'round. A series of of posters each with a different question. eg, Are you a stupid bitch? in big writing with the smaller writing about domestic abuse and you to ring.

Are you walking on eggshells? (details about emotional abuse)

Are you living on a shoestring while your husband drives a nice car and shops in expensive shops? (details about financial abuse)

notoriginal Mon 09-May-11 20:55:59

Your not on your own there either mcd, I'm 4 years alone now, look good for my age, intelligent and would like the idea of meeting someone being happy etc, but don't think I could have a relationship again.

It has more effect than people realise.

bustersmummy Mon 09-May-11 20:56:34

Please if you can get your hands on a copy read "Why does he do that" by Lundy Bancroft.

Good luck.

NosyRosie Mon 09-May-11 20:56:44

Yes I have left.

The final straw was when he was furious that DD had woken up screaming and was finding it hard to calm down. She'd been suffering from tonsilitis and was on antibiotics.

Once she was calm I was giving her her medicine in a yoghurt and it was really important that she had the whole lot. He always insisted on making toast for her breakfast and he put the plate in front of her while I was still feeding her the yoghurt.

I moved the plate away so she wouldn't be distracted by it and refuse what I was giving her. He went mad and hurled the food across the kitchen.

Then later he wanted to hold her while he was still angry. I refused to let him because he was being scary and he said I was messed up in the head.

notoriginal how long ago did you leave and how did you deal with it afterwards?

valiumbandwitch Mon 09-May-11 20:58:47

bejeezus, I think I am 'lucky' in some ways that my x worked up to hitting me. It started out as a shove and a poke, then a rougher shove and a rougher poke and so like the frog being boiled slowly I can not remember the first time he hit me. But being hit is something that we all know is not right. It's black and white. I understood definitely with no doubt that he was wrong to hit me. The emotional stuff is harder to be certain about.

NosyRosie Mon 09-May-11 21:00:14

Lots of x-posts there.

Thank you for your replies. It's good to know I'm not the only one. Financial abuse is starting to sound interesting now as well. Hadn't considered that before but he definitely caused financial chaos.

valium I think that's an excellent idea. How do we get that started? Can MNHQ help?

notoriginal Mon 09-May-11 21:01:40

My ex was removed by ss after he got violent with dd. That was 4 years ago. He harassed me for the next 3 years, when I really could not cope with the continued abuse anymore, I made a complaint to police. He's currently serving time.

Since being free of him I've been slowly recovering and have weekly counselling from a dv counsellor.

valiumbandwitch Mon 09-May-11 21:02:25

NosyRosie, understanding the behaviour helps make it less personal. To begin with shortly after I left x, I felt relief, but I also felt so upset that he had treated me like filth for so long.

Posters on mumsnet are who helped me the most. Mathanxiety and various other incredible posters on the NPD thread helped me SEE things.

When you understand and believe that the behaviour really truly was all about THEM and nothing to do with you it brings you that freedom. You can let it go. I'll never forget it mind you. And it has totally altered what I would be looking for in a potential new relationship, but that is in a good way I think.

BertieBotts Mon 09-May-11 21:02:43

Yes there are lots of us who have been through it on here, please keep posting for as long as you need to. I have found mumsnet incredibly helpful with reflection both during and afterwards.

Valium I totally agree! There's a great poster near here which shows a wine glass smashing against a wall with the caption "Another smashing night in front of the telly?" and in smaller writing "If you are suffering from physical, verbal, emotional, sexual or financial abuse call our hotline on XXXX" I think it's a lot better than other campaigns which although helpful, I think can put people off, thinking "Oh that's not relevant to me. He isn't that bad."

BertieBotts Mon 09-May-11 21:04:16

Actually I was wondering if it was time for a new NPD support thread. I've been wanting to muse over some stuff my ex has been doing - doesn't affect me directly but just interested. Those threads were all fantastic and really eye opening.

bustersmummy Mon 09-May-11 21:04:22

It isn't your fault. It is nothing you've done. It is him. You can't change him. He is what he is.

As my lovely DP/BF says "I know he's a knob. You know he's a knob. Everyone knows he's a knob. The only one who doesn't know he's a knob is him"

bejeezus Mon 09-May-11 21:05:27

whats NPD??

bustersmummy Mon 09-May-11 21:06:38

Narcissistic Personality Disorder

here

notoriginal Mon 09-May-11 21:06:58

Narcisistic personality disorder (don't think I spelled it correctly!)

bejeezus Mon 09-May-11 21:07:52

i think it can be hard to recognise that you are being emotionally/financialy abused because often if you describe 1 incident or something that bothers you...it doesnt sound all that serious and other normal people can relate to it to some degree. Its when you add all the incidents/ behaviours up together. For me anyway.

bustersmummy Mon 09-May-11 21:09:10

Yes bejeezus, I would agree with that.

It's a drip drip drip and these men are very good at putting on a front/making you feel like it's your fault.

I used to think I was going insane, really I thought I was a nutcase.

valiumbandwitch Mon 09-May-11 21:09:10

NosieRosy, I am glad you think it's a good idea!

You wait and take a few years to heal your own wounds though before you start thinking about other women. I'm four years down the line now and there are people who will be able to help you. People helped me with their wise words and their kindness. I hope you understand what I'm saying here, just don't rush into a project to help other people before you have come to terms with what happened to you. There's a lot to process. Why you? The thoughts about wasted years.... guilt that your child's father is this flawed character. Thinking about your own judgment.... wondering why your bar was so low. Becoming clear about where you new bar is going to be!! Letting the pain of it all go, and then getting the spring back in your step! I would advise prioritising this kind of thing first. Althoguh, obviously a project can be a focus.

What can you do now that you couldn't do when you were with your x husband? eat cereal for supper? watch grey's anatomy? invite your friends round? chat to your sister on the phone for two hours? Paint? Read?
Feed your soul a bit before you try to help others. I hope that doesn't sound really dismissive of your idea to change the campaign, because I DO agree with you. There is a huge problem that women in this situation aren't identifying themselves as being in it confused

sundayrose10 Mon 09-May-11 21:09:28

What is financial abuse/your experience of financial abuse. Would a man not paying child support be financial abuse?

NosyRosie Mon 09-May-11 21:11:11

I think one of the hardest things has been how surprised everyone is. He always comes across as the 'gentle giant'. Gentle my arse.

I protected him for so long. I lied for him. I was so fucking loyal I lost friends and distanced myself from my parents. I believed that no one liked me or wanted me in their lives. Now I've been so humbled at how generous people have been since it all came out.

The emotional blackmail since I left has also been really hard. He keeps sending DD (1yo) cards telling her how much he misses her and wishes he could be with her. I don't doubt that he means it but he knows I'm the one who will read them.

I told him my deepest fears and secrets and he used them against me.

I'm so scared that I'll never know that feeling of being truly loved and cared for.

I feel fucking cheated sad

notoriginal Mon 09-May-11 21:12:15

Do agree there's not enough awareness, our pastor had been counselling us prior to the violent outburst, when ss became involved she accompanied me to the case conference as a character reference, she told ss she hadn't thought it was too serious as he wasn't beating me.

It was my dear friend who had come out of a similar relationship that first helped me to see I was being abused.

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