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definition of abuse?

(43 Posts)
desparatelyseekingsomething Fri 26-Oct-12 18:08:06

I cannot work out whether or not I'm in an abusive relationship. I've read posts here, read the books, looked at the websites etc but am still confused.

I started wondering a couple of years ago when we had a row (about something minor) and oh said that he felt like doing something very violent to me. He didn't say that he would, just that he felt like doing so.

Originally I assumed that my relationship was normal. We argued a lot but so do many couples. I did not think that I'd ever consider leaving oh. However after we had the children he seemed to lose all interest in me (other than sexually). It was years before I managed to persuade him to go out for a meal occasionally (despite my saying that no relationship could survive the lack of any couple-type time together). We didn't even have "romantic" meals in - the children were small, slept badly and at least one was always awake. Now we do occasionally eat out but only if I arrange it and we have to be back before 10 as we only have him parents to babysit and he does not to leave them with the children later than this.

The above, I think, sums up how the relationship works. He never says outright that I cannot do something.He will say "yes go out" one day but then bring this up everytime that I ask him to help with the housework ("you had time to go out so..."). He also agrees to help around the house (we both work FT) but then doesn't do what he has agreed to. He does not want to get a cleaner (doesn't like someone else in the house) but then gets cross and aggressive when asked to help clean. He also shouts at me if I do something "wrong" (eg get a ding on my car).

Any suggestions please. We have been together for about 18 years, in our mid 40s, 3 children 7 - 12.

desparatelyseekingsomething Fri 26-Oct-12 18:13:43

Forgot to add - when I met him I had lots of friends, saw than a lot etc. Now I seem to struggle to see anyone except him. He has no friends (doesn't want any) and no hobbies except he cycles for an hour a day to keep fit. He works from home most of the time. I also work primarily from home but have recently started a new job where I travel a fair bit. My being away is enabling us to get on better but he is starting to question how long it takes me to drive back, what time I left, did I stop on the way back etc (I usually do as it is over 200 miles - he even moans about my staying over - ie wants me to drvie 200 miles, work all day and drive back sad ).

I admit that I love going away to work - I just feel so lonely at home sad. I just want someone to talk to sometimes. sad

OldLadyKnowsNothing Fri 26-Oct-12 18:15:15

Mmm, a bit controlling and snide, not sure it's abuse as such. Have a look at the Lundy Bancroft book, Why Does He Do That? and see if you recognise him.

OldLadyKnowsNothing Fri 26-Oct-12 18:16:27

Ah, just saw your second post. He does sound rather unpleasant, tbh. What would you like to do?

OldLadyKnowsNothing Fri 26-Oct-12 18:17:59

You could talk to someone at Women's Aid and get things clearer in your head.

desparatelyseekingsomething Fri 26-Oct-12 18:28:58

I have read "why does he do that" (and others). The problem is that they all seem to be written in a way that puts the behaviour into an almost premeditated context - as if the abuser is actively trying to abuse, control. I do not think that oh thinks "I will put xxx down by saying yyy". But he rarely makes a joke without my being the butt of it, rarely pays me a compliment (if ever) without its being double edged etc. If I ask him not to do something he immediately does it "for a joke" and then says that I'm being controlling by asking him not to do whatever he was doing.

I don't know what I want to do. For ages I wanted to "fix the relationship" but I don't know if I can.

I want to be happy (I'm now very happy at work but rarely happy, if ever, at home unless oh is away and haven't been for several years), I want to have someone that I can talk to about things (oh is simply not interested in anything that I say). I want to not be shouted at everyday.

OldLadyKnowsNothing Fri 26-Oct-12 18:32:09

I think you want to leave him, don't you? What's holding you back? Habit?

desparatelyseekingsomething Fri 26-Oct-12 18:39:25

I think that I may want to leave him. The practicalities and what-to-do-about-the-children (and being sh*t scared of the idea) are holding me back.

It will be more practical in about a years time but at the moment I can't see how it could work unless I gave up my job (which is the only thing keeping me sane) and then I would not be able to support the children and I think that he would fight me for custody and win as he continually buys stuff for the kids, spoils them, lets them do much of what they like and so is preferred rather to me, esp by the boys. He also comes across well, is very articulate, good job, v high earner etc.

I need to be sure of getting at least joint custody.

Offred Fri 26-Oct-12 18:41:07

Why are you so hung up on abuse? Although I think he sounds abusive why do you need to have it confirmed to leave someone who makes you so unhappy?

OldLadyKnowsNothing Fri 26-Oct-12 18:51:42

If it's any reassurance, it would be vanishingly rare for him to become Resident Parent (have residence/custody of dc). Much more likely is he moves out, leaving you and the dc, pays at least CSA rates for the children and something towards your rent/mortgage. And he'd have the dc Every Other Weekend, maybe one night in the week, and half of school holidays. That is by far the most common solution.

Many abusive men threaten to go to Court and that'll they'll get residence. Very few actually do it, and Judges are aware of their type.

Find a family-friendly lawyer and have a chat. Many will do the first half hour free so it's worth thinking about what questions you want to ask.

desparatelyseekingsomething Fri 26-Oct-12 18:52:18

I don't know Offred but it is a really interesting question which I had not considered. I am considering it now. My first thought is that I need "permission" to leave. I also feel that I want my experience somehow validated.

Also I left FT work about 12 years ago (kids) and have just got my first FT job. I was really surprised at my reaction when I got it - I was completely stunned (even though I was confident that I fitted the job description perfectly, had been encouraged in my application by my line manager (already worked for them PT) etc.) When they offered it to me I was actually speechless (odd and rather embarrassing experience blush) and this made me realise how unconfident I had become. So I wonder if I want to know that it is him not me at fault here. I feel that I'm doing everything wrong and that we could get on and be fine if I could do things right. So I guess that I need to know whether I should stay and continue trying to fix things or give up and go.

Life will be (financially) much harder for me and the kids of I left. Also I have always thought that parents have a duty to try to stay together.

Offred Fri 26-Oct-12 18:59:50

Parents have a duty to raise children well and sometimes that means the duty is actually to split up to prevent the children being raised to think a toxic relationship or abusive behaviour is normal.

My heart really goes out to you, I think there are all the hallmarks, in what you say on here, of you suffering from the effects of abuse. I think you are looking at it the wrong way, you don't need to find fault or have permission, you are really unhappy and he is treating you and the children (read about parental alienation within abusive marriages) really badly.

If things will be easier in a year though perhaps biding your time is a viable option but could you actually stand that? How much more damaged will your children be after another year? How much more damaged will you be? Could you maybe speak with women's aid?

Offred Fri 26-Oct-12 19:00:14

Or to think abusive behaviour is normal!!

Offred Fri 26-Oct-12 19:22:06

I also think from my own experience that actually looking for objective confirmation that you are experiencing abuse is a never ending and pointless thing because actually people always tend to have different views on it (and everybody who has an opinion likes to give it). What is important is not what others think but what you feel, rarely people who are not being abused have to ask if they are; think about it, if you weren't but felt you were you could be described as paranoid and mentally ill and i think you know you arent paranoid.

What is massively important for a victim in order to move forward is taking back control over their mind and beliefs. Things like "i need permission to leave" sound suspiciously like the consequences of being forced to seek permission elsewhere in life and could be down to other factors but i doubt it from the controlling behaviour you have described.

I am coming up to 7 years on from my abusive relationship, I still have some ridiculous doubts when dealing with him and his ridiculous behaviour when that happens, because of the children I need to remember who he is and how he behaved in order to keep them from being harmed because actually he has no contact with me other than over contact with them and he does subject them to what i consider to be abuse.

I have found that running through particular events which can be nothing other than abusive objectively speaking helps me to reconnect with the viewpoint he is an abusive abuser.

I've never read the books, I don't believe abusers are deliberate and conniving most of the time so maybe I wouldn't like them either. My xp is not deliberate and conniving (mostly) but he does seek the benefits of being abusive and he is a very broken person who has had some options/support to change but cannot break free from his abusive behaviour because fundamentally he benefits personally from it and his own abusive childhood taught him to live extremely selfishly and in the extreme short term. It doesn't mean he isn't an abuser though!

Also helpful is to look at things as behaviour rather than a person. You can look more objectively then instead of trying to attribute labels to a person who is in your mind and under your skin you can much more easily see something they are doing is abusive. Write the things down somewhere safe - maybe here, and think about the things when you lose belief in yourself and what you know you believe about him.

desparatelyseekingsomething Fri 26-Oct-12 19:23:09

Parents have a duty to raise children well and sometimes that means the duty is actually to split up to prevent the children being raised to think a toxic relationship or abusive behaviour is normal. I agree but I guess that this is a lot of why I want to know if it is abusive - maybe it is me and I'm just wanting my own way too much?

I think that I feel guilty - I think that I do feel that it is my fault. I am afraid that talking to anyone will result in someone telling SS who will take my children into care. (I did try to talk to a couple of people. One, a friend, stopped me by relating a situation where someone had told her that they were in an abusive relationship and said that this meant that they had to tell SS. The other time I was just asked a group of people (teachers at the school) what they would do if they heard of emotional abuse - again they said that they would tell SS and try to get the children removed (and they would try to find some leaflets for the woman but that she could look after herself whereas the children couldn't).)

I think that our society still sees any kind of domestic abuse as being the woman's fault (ie that she should have been a better wife and not driven him to it).

My family (and his) both feel that our problems are all down to the fact that I want to work and am not satisfied with a lovely house and partner who works hard and buys me things etc. (Much like he does for the children I guess) and that I ought to do all the housework etc adn only work outside the home if I have time after looking after my partner and children. I think that this does not help me feel okay about it.

OldLadyKnowsNothing Fri 26-Oct-12 19:32:35

Please, talk to Women's Aid, I can absolutely guarantee they won't talk to SS. No-one will take your dc away in this situation.

desparatelyseekingsomething Fri 26-Oct-12 19:34:44

your post rings so true with me Offred. What made you decide to actually go?

Offred Fri 26-Oct-12 19:36:39

It is hard when your family are part of the abuse (mine were too) but don't worry about ss they would not be interested in this unless he is hitting or sexually abusing you (or them) and they are witnessing it. Speak to women's aid, they don't tell anyone, they won't make you leave. You are not "at fault" for wanting to be your own person and not his little wifey.

If it is anything like things were with me you may unmask a lot of unpalatable things about your own family environment that led you into this relationship in the first place.

It is sounding a lot like these are things that are being programmed into you by your environment and not things you really think.

Even if it is just that he makes you really unhappy that is not a reason to stay. My aunty's husband is the most wonderful man but they stayed together for the children for 22 years (no sex even) and it has harmed my cousins and although they have now split up things are so much harder and more horrible for the children having learned a load weird things about relationships and now feeling like their whole childhood was a lie (which it was). Realistically whether he is abusive or not (and come on he won't let you work which is what that amounts to) you feel miserable with him.

What do you get out of the relationship and how do you feel about him really? Do you want what he is offering forcing on you for your life?

Anniegetyourgun Fri 26-Oct-12 19:38:50

I think... I think if he wants a wife who's happy to stay at home, raise kids and keep the house nice while he does all the earning, he's married to the wrong person. This doesn't necessarily make him abusive but it does mean that one or both of you would need a complete personality transplant for you to be happy together. The onus is not on you to make all the sacrifices - why should it be?

I don't think it especially matters whether what he does fits the label "abusive" (I would call it so, others may not), but it's not a good way to live.

As for the friends who say SS need to get involved, they seem to have a rather dramatic idea of what constitutes abuse, the flying plates and black eyes sort of scenario. SS are unlikely to be all that interested in low-level sniping and nit-picking, even though it does have a negative effect on children. They certainly wouldn't be planning to take children into care because Daddy is rude and unhelpful around the house.

Just to add, XH was the main carer, for a given value of "care" (he was home more than I was and took them to school), but we still got 50-50, mainly because I didn't believe it was right at the time to go for more. I have since ended up with 100% residence because XH just couldn't hack the parent thing on his own.

Anniegetyourgun Fri 26-Oct-12 19:39:44

Or, what Offred said. Exactly.

Offred Fri 26-Oct-12 19:40:50

Well shamefully I didn't exactly go. He pushed me over and I called the police and he never came back (went off with a girl he'd been seeing) and it was the best thing he ever did for me and I'm truly thankful. I found out I was pregnant shortly after (he raped me because I was refusing to sleep with him) and after that I was stronger against him in my mind. Went to a children's centre and they referred me to women's aid.

Feel like a fraud often on here because I feel I didn't really leave, circumstances fortunately split us up and I do think it was a lot to do with him knowing what he'd done to me and not wanting to be confronted with that.

desparatelyseekingsomething Fri 26-Oct-12 19:44:04

What I want out of a relationship (I think) is mainly a companion to go through life with - as a team - and someone to talk to, have fun with, help and be helped by etc.

When I worked PT it was very PT and almost all from home. For the last two months I have worked FT and away a fair bit (partly away as I'm new and needed to go on induction weeks etc). I feel like a completely different person when I am away - like I used to feel I guess - happy most of the time. Coming home to the house feels so oppressive - I think the contrast is part of the problem but I also know that it is very much still the honeymoon period at work, that it is easier (from a practical POV) to be in a hotel rather than trying to get the kids ready for school etc.

The thought of being alone scares me a bit though and I keep thinking of how things were a few years back when it wasn't nearly as bad (it is my going back to work - first PT and now FT) which has caused the problems.

Offred Fri 26-Oct-12 19:51:19

But if you had a supportive companion would you pursuing your own independent life and desires really be causing your marriage to fail? One of the things with abuse is it can be made into, in your mind, reasonable behaviour - ok so your husband doesn't want a wife who works, that is not necessarily abusive in itself (although it is very dodgy to have an opinion on what someone else wants to do with their life), what would not be abusive would be choosing a wife who didn't want to work or if discovering it late on in marriage deciding to compromise (because he has no right to dictate to you) and leave because you have incompatible values (struggle hard with attributing that word to that belief!) but what he's choosing to do is bully, control, punish...

Offred Fri 26-Oct-12 19:52:12

Sorry or leave!

desparatelyseekingsomething Fri 26-Oct-12 19:53:30

Well shamefully I didn't exactly go. He pushed me over and I called the police I do not think that this is shameful. Just how it often happens I suspect - sometimes I think that it is easier to go when something like this happens but that doesn't mean that it is the wrong thing to happen (ie if someone needs that kind of impetus in order to go then that is fine - that is just an example of how trapped you felt - not shameful at all).

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