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does emotional abuse need to be delibarate to be abuse?

(59 Posts)
livingonthedge Tue 27-Sep-11 00:37:07

I've looked at various books and websites on emotional abuse but most describe it as behaviour designed to be controling, manipulative etc. (my italics). So does there have to be intent? oh will shout at me, call me a f*cking b*tch, stupid etc if I do something "wrong" (say lose a whel hub) but I do not htink that there is really any thought-out intent. He just "loses it" and gets really angry. So is lack of anger management different? I've tried to talk to him about his behaviour (have tried to get him to see that it is not usual to shout so/be so agressive) but his argument is that I am unreasonable (eg not taking care of the car) and so he gets angry.

I'm not trying to say that I am unreasonable (am confident that most of the time I am not) or that he is justyified in losing his temper - just asking whether there is a differnece between emotional abuse and lack of anger management.

Ie I get (now) that most relationships do not seem to invlve one party swearing directly at the other but with abuse partners are they actually thinking, in a calculated fashion "right I'll do this so that ..." ? or do they just lose it?

AnyFucker Tue 27-Sep-11 15:44:26

have you seen the long running support thread for people living in/trying to escape emotionally abusive relationships, btw ?

I think you would find a lot of affirmation on that thread, sadly

HerHissyness Tue 27-Sep-11 15:50:52

Don't really need to add anything here do I? it's all been said!


A smack in the mouth, whether intentional or not, still hurts like hell.

If it feels like abuse, it probably IS!

livingonthedge Tue 27-Sep-11 15:55:04

AF I don't know what I am going to do - have been looking at the thread and will try to keep reading (am not comfortable with idea that oh will see me readin git or any of these so can only log on when he is not likely to walk by and using inprovate browsing).

I still have not decided whether it really is all him or whether/how much is me. Ie maybe I am blowing it all out of proportion etc. However I suspect that the truth is that he does have a deep seated sense of entitlement of what he shoudl get from me and that this is the problem. So am planing to try to get my RL life back on course (have difficultly with RL friends fo rseveral reasons but am working on sortign that) and will read some of th ebooks on the PC kindle, and will sort house out a bit as it bothers me as well as him. One thing is though that I do not think that things can continue as they are.

HerHissyness Tue 27-Sep-11 15:57:52

Take your time livingontheedge as long as you are safe, your thoughts will clear eventually, you will see what situation you are in and you will see what you need to do.

Let us know when and how we can help you. Use all of the links posted here and don't be afraid to test us out, sound things out or ask questions.

electra Tue 27-Sep-11 15:59:51

True, Itsme. Does anyone know if all emotional abusers have personality disorders or not? I know that pd are very specifically defined within psychiatry. The domestic appliance pet analogy is chilling. I had an experience with only one man who was actually like that but since I have been able to see how the relationship was with more clarity I have found it all the more disturbing as I used to make excuses for it when I was with him.

Anyone else familar with The Drama Triangle where people get stuck having to play certain roles which define abusive behaviour and makes it hard for the abused person to escape?

HerHissyness Tue 27-Sep-11 16:19:08

do emotional abusers have personality disorders?

does it really matter? Are the insults any less cutting, is the abuse any less destructive, is the manipulation, isolation, humiliation any less cos they have a label to pin on a lapel?


Let THEM find out there is something psychologically wrong with them, and let THEM deal with it. WE on the other hand need to LEAVE THEM TO IT.

Looking for a label gives them yet another excuse. Oh I'm so horrid to you, cos I'm stressed, depressed, have a personality disorder...

99% of them, if Narcs wouldn't admit to have a disorder anyway, as they see themselves as clearly all-knowing and superior. Any admission of weakness would be cynical and designed to manipulate you and hurt you more.

They are all on the same script, some of them ad-lib a bit, but the scenario is the same. The only one that can influence the Happy Ending is US, and that is by closing the curtains on them as soon as poss and exiting (at high speed) stage left.

No need for encores here, but if you pull it off, you'll get a standing ovation from all your friends and family, and all of us!


littlegreenalien Tue 27-Sep-11 16:34:25


Thank you so much for starting this thread.

You have reassured me when I thought I was perhaps part of the problem, I have ordered the Patricia Evans book recommended by another poster and will read it a.s.a.p. as I was getting to the end of my very long tether with "d"h.

Knowing too that I am not the only person living the way I have to is encouraging and I'm starting to realise that no matter what the social/financial/short term emotional cost and upheaval I must take some action. I am very scared of admitting what goes on in our house behind closed doors though and afraid I will be a social leper/focus of pity within our family and social outcast amongst our friends as my h puts on a front with most of them and they all think he is so laid back as to be almost horizontal plus he has a reputation for having a heart of gold.

Does your oh slag off friends and family behind closed doors, doe he have a much contact with them ? Do you have dc to consider ?

livingonthedge Tue 27-Sep-11 17:29:50

lga Does your oh slag off friends and family behind closed doors yes - we do not really have many friends and both families live away but he does. He has no friends. I have one really good friend (not local) but struggle to make any locally (am getting there though). Part of the problem is that he does slag them all off - will say "waht happened at school today then" (after pick up) but then focuses in the negative - no one is "good enough" to be my friend, I'm always "better off without them". He also does not like to to text anyone so I end up "out of the loop" and he will not go to anything (school things or meeting friends) and so it is hard. But for all that he is middle class, well educated etc etc.

livingonthedge Tue 27-Sep-11 17:32:22

afraid I will be a social leper/focus of pity within our family and social outcast amongst our friends
I suspect that my family would tell me to put up with it (no bruises so how can it hurt sad ) but I feel the same about people locally - ie the outcast. I think that people do not want to get involved and do not want to know. This sort of thing doesn't go on behind middle class doors hmm.

wicketkeeper Tue 27-Sep-11 18:51:51

This sort of thing doesn't go on behind middle class doors
Sadly it does - and even more sadly not many people are able to believe it. I know my parents didn't, it took them years to accept that I was better without him. They genuinely thought I was letting them down.

Living - you find out who your friends are, they may surprise you yet. Your situation sounds so much like mine - I lost count of how many parties, meetings etc I went to without him (he would make sure he was working, or suddenly feel ill, anything to avoid going). Would you be able to PM me? Might be less obvious than MN?

electra Tue 27-Sep-11 19:00:54

It doesn't matter as such, but I was interested to know what people think. Of course there is no excuse for the behaviour whatever the reason - I don't think I implied that.

Completely agree about narcs. I think my mum is a narc, she is totally messed up and yet thinks she's the most wonderful well balanced being to walk the earth.

LilQueenie Tue 27-Sep-11 19:17:42

If a man says he wont be seen in public with you because you embarass him (because you look at other men supposodly) whyis this? Wouldnt he then want to be with you at the time? Why hide away and avoid people? I dont understand this part. sad

SheCutOffTheirTails Tue 27-Sep-11 19:24:40

I think the notion of it being "deliberate" is often misunderstood here.

Most abusers don't sit down and make plans for how to control.

What makes them abusive is that they think they have the right to control, the right to call you names, the right to repeatedly lose their temper with you.

So no, there is no difference between lack of anger management and abuse. Because a refusal to control their temper is abusive. It might well feel to him as though he has no control over it, but the reality is that he allows himself that loss of control with you, because he thinks you will put up with it and that you should put up with it.

babyhammock Tue 27-Sep-11 19:33:00

I defo agree with all that SCOTT said. Also I felt that mine use to enjoy it too. Other people/situations would piss him off, yet he obviously couldn't get angry about that. So laying into me was almost a pleasurable release for him.

This is tooooo weird..sorry, but I would say that seeing me reduced to a crumpled mess turned him on... he would almost always get a hard on and then try and force me to have sex.

TMI ...sorry!!! Havent thought of that in ages..

notsorted Tue 27-Sep-11 19:47:23

Exactly Scott and BabyH, mine apologised really early on when I started crying and said crying women turned him on.
And perhaps the should put up with it explains why things often turn bad during pregnancy/new baby. They can't cope, they have no way of expressing frustrations except through anger and they realise that you are extra vulnerable. It is a vicious circle.
And it is hard, unless you have very solid boundaries, to say no and because you are vulnerable you put up with more, another vicious circle.
May be that is why it is so hard to leave - you become so familiar with the game that you start in a way making it play out. That is not to blame any victim of abuse. The person who starts it first is the abuser, the person who is pushing buttons that are dangerous is the abuser. I'm stuck on my kinky sex/open relationship analogy - it is fine is both of you want to do either or mud wrestle or have huge rows and great make up sex, but you both have to agree to the game and play by whatever rules you have devised between you. But when you deliberately hurt or when other factors come into play ie DCs then you can't do those things.
I also have an image in my head of an evenly matched couple who just love chucking the dinner plates around the kitchen during a row - a bit messy, noisy for the neighbours, a little expensive after a while but if they agree not to aim for each other, have an equal number of plates and share the cost of replacing them as well as have a code of when it's time to stop and make up then it's their business and while not great is not abusive. If one of them breaks the rules and the DCs are upstairs listening to it all and frightened then it is a no go and abusive. Basically abuse is harming the other person and continuing that harm.
Does that make sense?

solidgoldbrass Tue 27-Sep-11 19:58:09

Oh there are different types of abuse: some people are abusive to partners because they grew up in chaotic, violent families where whoever hit the hardest got to have his/her own way, and never learned different ways to behave. Some abusers are operating with this misogynistic sense of entitlement (I would include in this category the men who do absolutely fuck all round the house and then complain that they are not getting to have enough sex on their exhausted wives - these men might not hit or gaslight or belittle, but they are still operating from the position that their wives exist for the man's benefit). Some take genuine pleasure in causing pain, fear or sorrow in another person. Many are massively inadequate, which is why they have to isolate their partners in order to have total control over them: owning another human being and being able to do whatever they like to that person compensates for their sense of inadequacy in the outside world.

Unfortunately, we live in a society that has not moved on very much from the idea that women are men's property, less than human, exist for men's benefit and that men are entitled to control them and punish them if they are not sufficiently compliant. And there are still plenty of cultures/communities where even the most horrible abuse is seen as the woman's fault for being disobedient or unsatisfactory.

babyhammock Tue 27-Sep-11 19:59:48

Yup harming the other person, knowing you're harming them and carrying on doing it regardless sad

Add to that slowly escalating the harm too

livingonthedge Tue 27-Sep-11 20:05:19

wicket am not sure what PM is??

babyhammock Tue 27-Sep-11 20:12:14

Its a private personal message. Look at the far right hand side along from the poster's name where it says message poster and click on it x

HerHissyness Tue 27-Sep-11 20:13:07

PM is private message, click the link Message Poster to the RHS of the post of the person you want to send a message, and you can send a message to an inbox.

When you get a message, a red envelope will flash at the top of the MN page you are on, and you will get an email telling you there is a PM waiting for you.

CardyMow Wed 28-Sep-11 00:17:51

LesserOfTwoWeevils - OMG! THAT is what I have been trying to articulate - this : 'I was also bewildered because he was so easygoing and laid back about things he didn't care about. Then he was happy for me to have my way/take responsibility.
But if it was something he did care about and I dared to want something different, he would go ballistic immediately—not physically.'

If Ex-P didn't care about something, I could make my own choice (paint colours etc). When it came down to how his time away from work was spent (long story, he wanted to spend 50% of his time off work with his mum, the MIL that HATED me, and I wasn't allowed to go, and had to look after the dc even though he wasn't at work, and wasn't allowed to arrange things for mhyself leaving him with the dc either) - He threatened to pack his bags and leave. DS3 was 9 weeks old at that point.

I just couldn't get the words out like you did!

CardyMow Wed 28-Sep-11 00:20:04

HerHissyness - I have actually said that to Ex-P, the thing about a smack in the mouth still hurts even if it wasn't intentional, when we were still together! (Apparently not - if you don't mean to smack someone in the mouth, then a smack in the mouth isn't allowed to hurt them. hmm )

HerHissyness Wed 28-Sep-11 00:30:52

hunty, oh no of course not... likewise, an 'accidental' swift kick to the bollocks wouldn't hurt either... grin

CardyMow Wed 28-Sep-11 00:42:02

I tried switching it round like that...and he said of course it would hurt ME, you would have meant it, so it would hurt. If I did it to you, and I didn't mean it, then of course it wouldn't hurt, because I didn't MEAN for it to hurt.

<<Tries to get brain around Ex-P's illogical form of logic and fails>>

<<Then realises that's WHY Ex-P is EX-P>>

HerHissyness Wed 28-Sep-11 00:45:51

ha ha... I'd insist on a practical...

H, let me kick you, meaning to do so, and then kick you not meaning to do so...


Brace yourself....

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