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Controlling abusive partner - thought he was 'on the mend' but showed his true colours again

(28 Posts)
anotherfineday Mon 03-Oct-11 15:51:32

I've been with my husband for more than 20 years and we have two dds (2 and 7). We've had our ups and downs. In the first years together he would regularly binge drink and self-harm but prior to our marriage he quit drinking and everything seemed great. Unfortunately, I maybe didn't have long enough with a sober partner before the wedding to realise that he was capable of being a sober s**t too.

He had some angry moments here and there in the first few years of marriage but it was mostly happy (and we rarely argued) until we had kids. He seems to struggle with how to be a parent (having had a pretty lousy childhood with a very abusive father). He can be great with kids and sees himself as a good father (I thought he'd be a great one) but he has done very little of the day-to-day care of the kids and is increasingly critical of them. He has always had a go at me on occasion, saying how unhappy I make him and threatening divorce (it is his default argument tactic!). I cannot have rational discussions with him.

Yesterday really seems to have been the tipping point for me. About ten weeks ago, he admitted that he was depressed and finally got some treatment (pills) and is on a list for therapy too. However, his prescription ran out a few weeks ago and he felt good enough to stop the pills. I knew that this was a bad idea and I challenged this (as treatment courses are usually longer) but he said that the therapist who had evaluated him had said that he just needed a talking therapy as he had mild depression. The pills really seemed to take an edge off his mood swings and he seemed to be able to have perspective about what was a big issue and what wasn't. Maybe it was my imagination but it seemed to turn him into a normal person!

Anyways, yesterday our older daughter had a time trial at swim club. She'd had a disappointing one last week and my husband had had a real go at her after that, saying she was a quitter and didn't try her best (she's 7 and a great swimmer, ffs, what more does he want). This was when I first challenged him about the pills and said that I'd noticed his mood was shifting again. Yesterday, her times were really poor (we had encouraged that any improvement would have been great but they were all much slower), and when we got home and told him the times he went mental; we had to tell him as we knew the times would get posted online eventually. He calmed down enough to go to a social commitment with all of us but just before bed last night he started a conversation with me and it turned into a rant about my bad parenting skills, how I am too soft etc. How we can't possibly parent effectively as our styles are so opposing, he threw a spectacle case at me (I have a bruise on my chest this morning) and threatened that he wanted to hit me. This morning DD said that he had grabbed her shirt just under her neck and shaken her. I didn't see this but don't doubt her as he is aggressive. He also yelled at her that she was a disappointment, useless etc. The worst thing about this is this is how his dad used to act (and worse) and he hates his dad for it and doesn't want to be like his dad and has fallen out in recent months with most of his other relatives over their failure to act to prevent the abuse by his father (irony, irony).

The ultimate trigger for these mood swings is usually work stress (he drinks when on work trips away and was on a trip last week) and then he turns it around to blame other sources - almost always me and the kids but sometimes his family or my family. Last night he said he wanted a trial separation. I always greet these demands with a shrug and a 'whatever'. He ALWAYS backs down within a week and admits to not wanting to break up. The thing is I really hate him now (there is a lot more - he purposefully fell out with some of our (my) best friends and alienated me from them a few years ago - that was the start of the real downward spiral). I know I am rambling - there is too much to my story but I think the gist is now that the kids are being affected, esp my older DD, I can't stand by and not act.

Like most posters, I think I know what I need to do but just want your thoughts and wanted to vent somewhere anonymous though for the first time I think I am going to talk to friends about this as I think that will make my options more real.

I would love him to disappear from my life forever but unfortunately given the kids that isn't going to happen! He is playing the I'm not interested in my annoying kids card at the moment but if there was a sniff of a possibility that access would be denied he would be on the warpath.

Sorry for the long post!!!

GypsyMoth Mon 03-Oct-11 16:03:42

Yes it's hard. I have been there and I left!

Luckily my ex spiralled behaviour wise, so court ordered zero access. Otherwise I too would have had the access predicament

sunshineandbooks Mon 03-Oct-11 16:18:48

First off, I'm sorry you're going through this. You sound very together, rational and objective, but it's got to hurt like hell. sad

You're right. There is only one thing to do, but I totally understand that knowing that and making it happen are two very different things and that you need time to digest all this and plan your response.

My advice, when you're ready, is to involve social services. I did this when I left my ex and had concerns about his physical mistreatment of my DS. Because I had left and they could see that I was doing my best to protect my DS, they were extremely supportive. They didn't get involved on a day-to-day basis and pretty much left it to me to handle it as I saw best fit, but they kept everything on record and said that should I need to go to court to prevent my XP from having unsupervised access to DC (or even going for residency if anything happened to me) they could step in and do their utmost to prevent it. Their opinion carries significant weight in the family courts so it's worth having them on side.

I also contacted the police and reported the assault. He was cautioned. You don't have to press charges if you don't want to (though I would, as it shows zero tolerance and much reduces the likelihood of him doing anythign similar again). Again, having it on record gives you the upper hand if you have to go to court.

I kept most of this quiet until I had everything in place to get a residency order if I needed to, then when my XP tried to cause trouble, I hit him with it. He crawled under a stone and has meekly accepted whatever rules I have laid down since and, as an even better bonus, because I have used the authorities to stamp my own control on the situation, he has stopped bothering/interfering in my life in other ways too.

Don't rely on appealing to an abuser's better nature. They don't have one (though you undoubtedly see many crocodile tears, contrition and promises of change that will tug at even the most resolute heart-strings).

Good luck.

GypsyMoth Mon 03-Oct-11 16:24:22

Social services actually don't get involved or carry much weight!
Don't go relying on that

Remember, family courts have CAFcASS to assess suitability of contact. They will do a far better job than an overstretched ss dept, who have little experience in this kind of thing. He will also be interviewed by cafcass, so they will get a rounded picture.

anotherfineday Mon 03-Oct-11 16:25:37

sunshine, that's great advice. I have thought about getting 'all my ducks in a row' before. I kept an 'abuse' log a few years ago. I rarely read it now but I am always a bit shocked when I do and when I am reminded of his behaviour - you do block out a lot of it unless you write it down. I can't stand him but I'm not quite there yet.... In my mind I've always thought I'd go when the girls were a little bit older but know that I am being selfish....

sunshineandbooks Mon 03-Oct-11 16:29:03

THe point is that it will all be on record, early on and as part of the reason why she's left.

Whereas if the OP waits until she's in the middle of a residency battle before raising concerns about her XPs abusive behaviour, it could look suspiciously like she's making it up - something which her XP would no doubt claim and, if past examples even here on MN are anything to go by, he could be believed.

As the saying goes, "every little helps" - the more strands of support you can weave for yourself, the better.

GypsyMoth Mon 03-Oct-11 16:31:18

Well obviously any report or call to the police, means ss are informed anyway.

Xales Mon 03-Oct-11 16:38:24

It is a shame that you don't think you deserve better than to be treated like this!

You do. Your girls do to. The last thing you want is for them to end up in a relationship like this I am sure. Yet this is what you are showing them relationships should be like.

He started shouting at your daughter, putting her down, and belittling her accomplishments. She sounds fantastic for a 7 year old swimmer! No one should be anything but proud!! He has moved on from this and he is starting to assault your DD. This is unacceptable and just like he has will you I imagine it will escalate further with both of you sad

If you can't stomach going to the police please go to the Dr and get some photos of the bruises. Also let the Dr know he has stopped taking his meds.

Have you thought about taking your diary to the Dr?

izzywhizzyletsgetbusy Mon 03-Oct-11 16:40:28

You've had 20 years to realise that this man's behaviour is not going to change and you that know that now that the kids are being affected, esp my older DD you can't stand by and not act.

I would urge you to follow sunshine's advice and involve Social Services now.

I would also suggest that you go to your GP and report the bruising you sustained and consider reporting both assualts (on yourself and dd) to the police.

If you have any doubt that what your h is doing to your dd is abuse, phone the NSPCC for confirmation. If you have any doubt that your h is abusing you, or if you need help and advice as to your rights, call the Women's Aid freephone 24/7 helpline on 0808 2000 247.

Talking to friends is all very well but do bear in mind that some, or all of them, may not have the expertise to recognise that you are in an abusive relationship with an unreasonable and irrational man.

The only way you are going bring about any beneficial change for you and your dds is to take the affirmative action needed to negate your h's power over you, and I sincerely hope you won't hesitate for much longer.

cestlavielife Mon 03-Oct-11 16:41:22

give him separation - now.

"This morning DD said that he had grabbed her shirt just under her neck and shaken her. "

this is horrible - act now for her sake - this happened to my dd on a contact visit with her dad (long history up/down MH etc with bouts of depression etc) and she is still traumatised by it a year later.

if he cant stop himself shaking your child he needs to leave, now. trial separation at least. or permanent.

as was said - act on this now. protect your dc.
let him know you will not tolerate this. at all.
for your dc sake.

inform at least his GP, tell his GP he is becoming more agressive.

cestlavielife Mon 03-Oct-11 16:42:32

oh and report him to polcie show them your bruise - report him tody in fact - ask him to leave and report him.

izzywhizzyletsgetbusy Mon 03-Oct-11 16:46:08

In my mind I've always thought I'd go when the girls were a little bit older but know that I am being selfish...

You most definitely will be acting selfishly if you don't take steps to protect your dds now before they are irrevocably damaged by their f's behaviour.

I can't stand him but I'm not quite there yet What's it going to take to get you 'there'? More emotional hurt and pain for your older dd? More bruises for you?

Every day you fail to take action you are condoning his behaviour.

anotherfineday Mon 03-Oct-11 16:57:00

I know it is abuse but it seems quite trivial - it was a small spectacle case and I bruise easily. It just seems like a weird thing to be reporting to the police.

GypsyMoth Mon 03-Oct-11 17:01:56

Yes,sitting around building evidence in case he goes for unsupervised access/residency etc is rubbish!

Please call police now, ss will be automatically alerted

GypsyMoth Mon 03-Oct-11 17:03:23

Well what about your dd?

izzywhizzyletsgetbusy Mon 03-Oct-11 17:13:44

Your 7 year old dd told you this morning that he had grabbed her shirt just under her neck and shaken her. He also yelled at her that she was a disappointment, useless etc

What do you think his behaviour has done to her self-esteem, to her psyche? Do you think treating a small child, or any child, or any adult, in this way is acceptable or that his behaviour can be overlooked just because it is not convenient for you to do anything about it at the present time?

Get over yourself, woman. If you can't be arsed to report what he's done to you, FGS get off your bum, get on your phone, and protect your dd by giving him no further opportunity to turn her into a pale shadow of all that she can be.

CoffeeIsMyFriend Mon 03-Oct-11 17:24:38

oh please leave, contact SS, contact the police and get you and your girls out of there. He threatens to leave, you hear that? HE does!

AnyFucker Mon 03-Oct-11 17:29:18

OP, will you please protect your children from this man even if no-one seems able to convince you that you should also protect yourself ?

I feel tearful for your daughter

Why would anyone stay with a man like this until the children grow up ?

get out now, before he harms them further

What exactly are you waiting for ?

oh, and wrt to your thread title...the vast majority of abusive men always show their true colours again

they can't hide their true nature for very long because they feel entitled to treat you like this

buzzskillington Mon 03-Oct-11 17:33:10

Please, for your dd's sake, get this man out or go yourselves.

He shook your dd. He shouted in her face that she was a disappointment.

Tbh, I don't give a crap about the spectacle case throwing - protect your child.

Redbluegreen Mon 03-Oct-11 17:33:56

He has become like this because he was abused. Your daughter is being abused just like he was - think of what you want her life to be like in the future, an abuser herself or following in your footsteps to marry one? No, neither, of course - so take steps to stop it now, and give her a positive role model to follow that shows her that women do NOT need to be treated like shit. Wishing you lots of strength, because it won't be easy, but you will know you're doing the right thing for your children, and yourself.

izzywhizzyletsgetbusy Mon 03-Oct-11 18:01:17

Why would any woman stay with a man like this for one second longer than they needed to AF, especially when one phone is all it takes to get shot of an abusive h or p?

If I was the OP, the h would be returning home tonight to find the locks changed and the police waiting for him.

For good measure, all of his belongings would be packed ready to be sent to his new address at the earliest opportunity.

If it came to it, I know I could withstand many types of abuse but if anyone laid a hand on, or otherwise maltreated, my dc they would be out the door so fast their feet wouldn't touch the ground - no ifs, no buts, and no second chances.

GypsyMoth Mon 03-Oct-11 18:11:06

Op, what will you do?

threeinmybed Mon 03-Oct-11 18:13:13

OP, I couldn't just read and run. Your post couldve been written by my Mum, years ago. He never left marks on me, but I remember the other stuff; grabbing, shaking, shouting in my face, holding me against the wall... My Mum didn't leave though. I think she thought if he was doing it to me, it was a break for her, you know?

She's still there, and she's a very bitter person, completely unrecognisable as the beautiful woman who brought me up. I'm in therapy now, because I'm grieving for the woman who has gone forever, effectively.

My Dad too, would've fought for contact, even though he had no interest in me unless I was doing something for him to show off about. However, although you can allow for contact, you might find that your DD's don't want it, especially if they are afraid of him. I'm not sure what happens then, but you can't force contact, can you?

Wishing you all the luck in the world OP. Honestly. You know what the right thing is to do. There is an absolute wealth of advice on here, use it when you need to!

garlicScaresVampires Mon 03-Oct-11 18:14:23

My sibs and I all grew up to have serious confidence issues, very poor self-worth and we all underperformed academically, due to our understanding that whatever we achieved was unacceptable. Each of us used drugs more than most in our teens and twenties; we've all had alcohol issues and brushes with the law. We all ended up in highly dysfunctional relationships. When we look back on our childhoods (we only do this at funerals), we share an overwhelming sense of fear and hatred.

The above is all directly attributable to our overbearing father and a mother who deemed it more important to be married than to show us abuse is unacceptable.

Just thought you'd like to know, OP.

AnyFucker Mon 03-Oct-11 18:38:04

OP, please do not run away from this thread (like you did last time)

You are left with no choice

he is harming your children

if you stay with him, you condone it

it is not too late to change your lives

you gave him another chance (one of many I presume)

he wasted it

this is his cannot do any more except one last thing

protect your child

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