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How to stay angry and find the guts to leave (looong)(20 Posts)
I am a regular and have name changed! I have been a long-standing dysfunctional relationship for 20 years. We have two DC, a teen and an 8 year old. Teenage daughter is savagely rude and has been threatening and violent towards me on a number of occasions. She says, and I quote Me and Dad both hate you. I know I can say and do anything I like to you because Dad will always take my side and blame you. And this is the case. Over time, with much challenging, he now attempts to make of show of supporting me, eg DS1 I dont think you should be so rude to your mother please can you stop it?, but always ends up saying it was my fault she was rude/swearing/abusive, and she knows this.
From day one, he has had no concept of reality. The day after an event or argument, he will deny what he said and did, often attributing his own words and actions to me. He repeatedly says I am mad/crazy/a lunatic in front of the children. Teenager repeats this frequently. This has had a massive impact on me over the years. I know now that it is gaslighting and emotionally abusive. Last year he had an EA (he has had others which may have been physical he has never admitted it). The upshot of this was we went to see a very experienced private therapist. In therapy he told constant lies about me. He declined to discuss his EA, saying it was a friendship. I knew he was lying and eventually told him and the therapist I had read their email correspondence. There was still no meaningful discussion of this relationship. As well as telling constant lies about me (I dont mean slightly different interpretations of events I mean whopping LIES), he also disputed everything I said about him and our relationship and said I was lying. I was lying when I said he drank ten or more units every day for the first 17 years of our relationship. I was lying when I said we no longer have a physical relationship because for many years he had had sex only at a time and in a manner of his choosing and on one occasions not for a year because he preferred porn.
After 8 months of therapy, I called a halt to the joke it had become. He was still sleeping with his phone under his pillow and taking it to the toilet, carrying it in his pyjamas etc. He did not do a single piece of the homework we were given if it involved speaking to me. He sat wide eyed and said he could not believe I said he had a drink problem. He was admitted to hospital the previous year with an alcohol related bleed. The therapist clearly felt sorry for him, believed him, blamed me, constantly asked me why I thought he did things. I dont know, I said, why dont you ask him? He literally did not speak to me, other than than pleasantries, except for the hour of therapy per week, for the whole 8 months. I met with her alone at the end and said I felt let down that she had not challenged these behaviours and I felt unsupported. From what I can gather, this is a textbook outcome for therapy in an EA relationship. I would never go again. He was furious when I stopped the therapy.
I have learned tons from reading on MN over the past 6 months, and from reading Lundy. I find this a source of support and comfort. I have a couple of great friends in real life. I have no family support. He has engaged my family and his own family against me, also neighbours. He has tried to do this with my friends, but fortunately they can see through him and will let me know what crap he is saying about me. I have a professional job, where, bizarrely, people respect and like me, and seek my views and judgement.
I have kicked him out twice lately for nonsense centred around our teenager, basically saying support me (which he wont) or go. My younger DC is placid, easy-going and we have a great and close relationship, but this situation impacts horribly and my younger DC often feels very caught in the middle. Things are not horrendous all the time. There can be long periods of calm where we live without any intimacy, but without any aggro. To come to the point, how the hell do people find the guts to see it through and leave? Its fine when Im angry, in the heat of the moment, I can see things absolutely clearly and know what to do. As things have got and stayed worse, I have looked at practical steps I will need to take, and started to plan a single life, with at least one, and possibly both of my kids.
To come to my question sorry this has been such a long time brewing how does a person find the resolve to decide to leave, and see it through? When I have tried to, he acts heartbroken, says I am taking his kids away from him, its all my fault etc. He has also told me he never wanted a relationship with me and did not want kids with me. But hey ho, I try to end it and Im ruining his life. I know people DO leave and are in much tougher circumstances than me. I know he will milk the situation for all its worth and play the victim, to anyone wholl listen, including the kids. I know he will be a nightmare and there will be no cooperation as co parents, as there has been little or none as partners and parents so far. Both children love him very much, though he has not been a proper parent and they both know that he has had fun with them whilst I have done the actually job of parenting. Are there any steps I can take to steel myself and make myself go through with what has to be done? I just mull things over endlessly in my head, but lack the courage to sort things out. I would appreciate any wise words, especially from those have struggled similarly. Were in our 40s, Im a few years older than him. Were not married. Thanks for your staying power if you read all of this. x
I will be reading but can't post often.
Eventually you will realise that you are worth far more than this and the lights will switch on. At that time you will run like the wind.
Didn't want to read and run. My situation was in no way like yours, except that I had to find the strength to leave. It took me a long time, but eventually I found the phrase 'pain now, or pain later' going round and round in my head. I chose pain now, to avoid greater pain in future. You will find your own way though - perhaps think of detailed plan to deal with the first 4-6 weeks of being separated. Good luck
I think you are almost there, thats why you are posting. There are plenty of wise MNer's who will be along shortly who will help strengthen your resolve.
It is alot easier once you have him the other side of the door. He will no longer be your responsibility. You have had how many years of this? What more thinking do you need to do? It isn't about courage, it is about saving yourself. Simple as that. WOuld you jump out of the way of a charging elephant? Or would you mull things over...
You are a sensible grown up woman having her head fucked by an unspeakable arsehole (possibly with mental health issues). The pros of leaving outweigh any cons.
How you chose to phrase your leaving is your option entirely. Like the rest of your life will be. he can fuck off really can't he?
Let him be a nightmare, he will only fuck himself up the arse in the long run.
Freedom is as frightening as staying. Are you going to be your own prison guard?
Every time you feel it ebb, think of how badly he's fucking up your teen dc's view of how to relate to women. Do you want to teach him it's unacceptable, or do you want him to treat his partner with respect?
Apologies if I've been too harsh, but that's what would make me furious in your shoes!
Take some practical steps now so that web you are ready it is straightforward.
Go to see a solicitor/ cab re benefits, arrangements re property, contact with children.
Take copies of financial papers - his salary, bank accounts, mortgage/rental details.
Keep your passport and childrens' safe, maybe at a friends house.
Make a plan of where you're going and write a list of the awful lies he tells so that if you ever feel your resolve failing you can remind yourself why you're taking the steps to leave.
Thanks so much for posting - lots of tears here. lola that's a bit shocking, but yes, very graphic. He does have MH issues, though has never sought help - hasn't needed to, happy just to spill all his crap in my direction. I have written about some of the things, but it's a good idea to do this more regularly. He tells me so often that it's all me, that part of me believes him. But that's what happens, isn't it? Somehow, when I'm at the end of my tether, he seems...bouncy, functional, at his best.
Will be back. Thanks so much x
I actually tried to leave several times over a period of several years but was threatened with never seeing the children again - as my H was from middle east this was enough to scare the living daylights out of me.
I started a divorce, cancelled it; my release however came less than three months later when he suddenly fell ill and died. If he hadn't died I would have to have done something as I had to get away. The balance of feeling awful and guilty for 'ruining his life' which he also told me was tipping into ' he has ruined his own life if he feels that way', I am not responsible for the fact that he treats me so badly.
I have a 14 year old DD who has, since he died nearly three years ago told me she thought that he treated us very badly. I have had to work hard to help her with her aggression which I think is direct consequence of the terrible emotional environment which we lived. I also have a very loving partner now, someone whom I have known for many years beforehand and we demonstrate a commited, calm and rational way of life to my DCs.
If you can be calm and consistant with the DCs in the face of the turmoil of a split, this will help; children are remarkably intuative and you should make a firm stand in front of your DD that you are not prepared to be treated in such a way any longer - this could possibly turn around that she sees you are not weak in the face of aggression and will not tolerate bullying and may become easier to deal with.
I discovered MN after he died but think if I had come here I would have found the support and courage I needed. You can do it....
Leave the bastard
If you can't leave for you, and you should because you are worth so much more than this. Then please consider leaving for the sake of your children, I can't imagine the kind of environment they are growing up in, it might not be you causing damage to your dc but you are the only one who can stop it and protect them
You can do this, really you can. You can build a happier life for yourself and your children it's all within your grasp you just have to take the first step
Consider your teenage dd's behaviour. Now look at your younger dd.
That's all the cause and reason you need to do what needs to be done - and to do it sooner rather than later.
Thanks everyone - it feels like it makes a difference to write it down and be acknowledged. I also feel shocked, because this is been the way things have been for such a long time, that it has become some kind of 'normality'. SirSugar that's a very heavy situation you were in there, and I'm very glad for your loving relationship and calm life now. I feel so bad for my children - I have been so worried about the impact of separation that I have lost sight of the scope of the damage that is happening every day. Have just spent a calm couple of hours with my little one. It's become very easy to withdraw - which is not really me at all. Thanks for your kindness.
I try to end it and Im ruining his life.
But you already know he's an emotional abuser. So why would you believe this was anything other than a continuation of the abuse? He's hardly going to go 'oh, you know what, it's a fair cop. I've been using you as an emotional punchbag for decades but if you want me to stop doing that I'll just quietly exit stage left'. He knows how to push all your buttons and he will do that remorselessly to keep you where he can abuse you. He clearly has no interest in treating you like a rational, equal human being, he has no interest in your emotional wellbeing, he has no interest in what is best for your family. You are trying to project your own personality into his comments - that he is being honestly concerned, not a manipulator and a coward.
And if you needed any further reason, the damage being done to your dd1 is breathtaking. How is she meant to grow into a functional adult when she sees quite clearly that abuse and manipulation are the main routes to power? Your dc2 may be quite desperate in the role of the peacemaker and unable to say anything for fear of upsetting you. If so, that is a horribly stressful situation for an 8 year old.
It seems evident that he will turn people against you if you leave. He is an extremely skilled liar. Fortunately you have identified the set of people you can trust not to be turned by him - your friends. Follow your instincts, do not put yourself in a position where you have to rely on your family or his. But please, please get yourself out of this with as much support as you need, and can count on.
This is how I got the strength to leave (actually he left )
1) I got all emotions about leaving and him....placed them in a metaphorical box and refused to look in, at all, until deed was done.
2) made a list of all the reasons I needed/wanted to go
3) Sorted multiple practical details (bank account, benefits, lawyer, CAB, Women's Aid etc) if you want I can pm or set down here for you my "to do list" with links if it is safe to do so.
4) set a leaving by date and got the DCs out of the way with friends.
5) wrote a letter explaining to "D"H what I was doing and why to give to him after I had
ambushed confronted him with truth.
6) arranged for his friend to be in the house (for my protection) when i explained why he needed to leave and what would happen if he didn't (I would go with the DC).
7)He walked into a scene set for the end...the only thing I felt slightly guilty about was that of necessity several friends knew what was happening before he did. the only time when i had ever been knowingly deceitful in our 14 year marriage. he argued the toss, not very fluently nor very convincingly (I wasn't really listening). he left with my letter in his hand.
8) the letter has been very useful over the last 12 months, it has given my case consistency and rooted him, whenever he has argued that he should come back....he has not changed, despite all sorts of interventions. i am still "his" wife, it is still "his" house, he is still an entitled twat.
we are not out of the woods yet but I like the phrase "pain now or more pain later", we keep putting one foot in front of the other, eventually the pain will stop and the new life that we build will be fully and truly ours and we will be fully and truly free.
Well really, tripbot , I think I am stupidly ALWAYS waiting for some kind of attack of conscience on his part. But what a stupid waste of time that is. Because if I was behaving like him I would feel a twat. And responsible, and think that I should sort my shit out. But he never has and isn't going to, is he?
fool thank you - it's very helpful to think of such practical steps and know about your experience. He has no real friends and no one around at all. I wouldn't feel I could turf him out unexpectedly. That's part of it - because if it's a planned move he will start to be nice and I will crumble after days or weeks. And then he will pull another stunt like the last 48 hours again....I know, I know. He absolutely believes it has nothing to do with him...But the longer I wait, the more of a mess I become. Wishing you freedom and contentment fool x
But the longer I wait, the more of a mess I become
this is why sometimes you just have to go for it. You can go, he could go. You can tell yourself that you need to do this for at least 3 months/6 months/2 years (I went for the 2 year option as most programmes are at least a year long) and will then review. Cut it up into bite sized chunks...opening a bank account won't make it inevitable, transferring the child ben. won't.They are all steps along the way and then it won't seem so impossible.
You need to look after you, he is responsible for himself...it is no gift to infantalise and look after an adult...this could be his chance at a better life too...only he can choose to make it so, you cannot do it for him and he will never willingly give up he behaviour whilst it gets him what he wants, he may never, but that is HIS choice.
You can do this - and I would urge you to get on with it before it ruins your younger DC's life too. It won't be easy, but making that final decision and taking action will give you back the self-respect you have lost, and might go some way to helping you repair your relationship with your eldest.
May I also recommend "A Woman in Your Own Right: Assertiveness and You" by Anne Dickson:
It is a brilliant aid to communication in any situation and gives you a real confidence boost.
And you will find this useful information for the practical side of things:
Relationship Breakdown and Divorce Advice and Links
It is useful if you can get to grips with the language of family law and procedure, and get an understanding of your rights, BEFORE you see a solicitor. If you are well prepared you will save time and money.
If there are children involved, their welfare, needs and interests are paramount. Parents have responsibilities, not rights, in this regard. Shared residence means both parties having an equal interest in the upbringing of the children. It does not mean equal (50/50) parenting time - children are not possessions to be fairly divided between separating parents.
A divorce will not be granted where children are involved unless there are agreed arrangements for finance, and care of the children (Statement of Arrangements for Children). It is obviously quicker and cheaper if this can be agreed but if there is no agreement, the Court will make an Order - Residence and Contact regarding children, Financial Order or Ancillary Relief in the case of Finance. Information and links to these can be found in the Directgov link below. Residence and Contact Orders are likely to be renamed Child Arrangements Orders in future.
Always see a specialist family lawyer!
Get word of mouth recommendations for family lawyers in your area if possible. If you have children at school, ask mums you are friendly with if they know of anyone who can make a recommendation in your area. These days there are few people who dont know of anyone who has been through a divorce or separation theres a lot of knowledge and support out there!
Many family lawyers will offer the first half hour consultation free. Make use of this. Dont just stick with the first lawyer you find shop around and find someone you feel comfortable with. You may be in for a long haul, so it helps if you can find a solicitor youre happy with.
If you cant find any local recommendations, always see a solicitor who specialises in Family Law.
If you take legal action to protect yourself or your family from domestic violence, you may qualify for legal aid without having to meet the normal financial conditions. The income of an abusive partner will not be taken into account when deciding whether you qualify for legal aid.
You can also find out about Legal Aid and get advice on the Community Legal Advice Helpline on 08345 345 4 345
Or search in your area for Community Legal Advisors:
Co-operative Legal Services offer DIY/Self-Help Divorce packages, as well as a Managed Divorce service. Their fee structure is more transparent and they have a telephone advice line as well as offering really good advice on their website:
You can read advice and search by area for a family lawyer here:
You will also read good advice and find a family lawyer here:
Some family law solicitors publish online feedback from clients Google solicitors to see if you can find any recommendations or feedback.
You will be encouraged to attend mediation. This can help by encouraging discussion about arrangements for children and finance in a structured way in a neutral setting. However, it only works if both parties are willing to reach agreement.
If there has been violence or emotional abuse, discuss this with your solicitor first. Always get legal advice, or at the very least make sure you are aware of your legal rights, before you begin mediation. This is important because while a Mediator should have knowledge of family law, and will often explain family law, they are not there to give tailored legal advice to either party - so its important to have that first.
Married or Living Together?
This is a key question, because if you are married, generally speaking you have greater protection when a relationship breaks down.
Legal Issues around marriage/cohabitation and relationship breakdown are explained here:
DirectGov advice on divorce, separation and relationship breakdown:
Legal Rights and issues around contact are further explained here:
I found these guides from law firms quite informative and easy to read there are others of course:
Before you see a family law solicitor, get hold of every single piece of financial information you have access to, and take copies or make notes. Wage slips, P60s, tax returns, employment contracts, pensions and other statements savings, current account and mortgages, deeds, rental leases, utility bills, council tax bills, credit statements. Are there joint assets such as a home, pensions, savings, shares?
If you have no access to financial information, or you are aware that assets are being hidden from you, then obviously you will not be able to reach agreement on finances. If there are children, as you cannot divorce without adequate arrangements being agreed on finance and children, you will have to apply for a financial order anyway. If there are no children, and you are unable to agree on finances, you will also have to apply for a financial order (follow the Direct.gov links below). This seeks financial information from both parties going back 12 months. So it is in your interests to act quickly once you have made the decision to divorce.
If you are married, the main considerations of the Family Courts where parties are unable to agree a settlement are (in no particular order of priority):
1.The welfare of any minor children from the marriage.
2.The value of jointly and individually owned property and other assets and the financial needs, obligation and responsibilities of each party.
3.Any debts or liabilities of the parties.
4.Pension arrangements for each of the parties, including future pension values and any value to each of the parties of any benefit they may lose as a result of the divorce.
5.The earnings and earning potential of each of the parties.
6.Standard of living enjoyed during the marriage.
7.The age of the parties and duration of the marriage.
8.Any physical or mental disability of either of the parties.
9.Contributions that each party may have made to the marriage, either financially or by looking after the house and/or caring for the family.
CSA maintenance calculator:
Handy tax credits calculator:
Handy 5 Minute benefit check, tax and housing benefit calculators:
CAB Benefits Check:
Other Support for Women Children, Housing, Domestic Violence
www.womensaid.org.uk/ and refuge.org.uk/ - Helpline 0808 2000 247
www.ncdv.org.uk/ - Helpline 0844 8044 999
www.gingerbread.org.uk/ - Helpline 0808 802 0925
(Note that there is usually an appropriate link on these websites for England, Wales and Scotland where the law, advice and contact information may differ.
I'm not going. We're not married. Completely joint finances but no joint account, so probably not that much to sort, bar the mortgage and 'arrangements'. And yes, you are very wise, I am doing him no favours at all. What do you mean when you talk about programs? And do you mean you will review the relationship with your H after that time? No, you are right, he will never give it up freely. As things have got worse, I'm sure he resents me more and more, but to be fair, when it was all new and lovely, he was still abusive at times. Should have...ah well, you know.
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