Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.
What's the best way to get XH to stop touching me?!(68 Posts)
I'm normally assertive, and normally this isn't an issue, but a recurring theme with XH is his overstepping boundaries.
When we were together there were issues with sex and abuse. He raped me once (not violently, not that that matters, just ignored the fact that I was saying no), and sexually assaulted me another time. He would always carry on doing whatever it was for a while after being asked or told to stop (even when he did listen and even if the reason was because he was hurting me). Funnily enough it's not the reason I left him. That was due to all the EA that went with it.
Anyway, just wanted to give context (Name changed).
So there have been a few occasions over the past couple of years where he has decided to hug me or put his arm around me during pick ups or drop offs of the dcs. Since we split I have come to terms with what has happened and can see it now as sexual abuse and it disgusts me. I hate myself for not standing up for myself (I would freeze rather than fight), but hate him more, especially since he knew I had been attacked as a young teen and struggled for a long time with my sexual identity.
I now have an amazing new dp, and we're expecting our first dc, getting married, he's so loving and patient and everything XH isn't.
So on Saturday when dropping off the dcs, I'm stood inside the door with dp beside me, and XH asks me to come outside for a private word. He then tells me how thrilled he is about the new baby (?!) and hugs me. I don't hug back. I freeze, say thanks very stuntedly and that it's cold and I go back inside.
I want to tell him to never ever touch me again as long as he lives. Dp then has to deal with me feeling rubbish and weak and like I've let myself down. And I know dp would happily tell XH and stand between us, but I think it's my fight.
Anyone else would say "how lovely that he's so happy for you all" but I know it's all more manipulative lies. It's almost like he's behaving like he'll be an uncle-figure to my baby (if I could I would keep him away from his own dcs, whenever he has them I fear for their safety, he is utterly self absorbed and careless).
Since when it happens I go in to victim-mode and can't stand up for myself, and since I think it's right that dp should be kept out of it, I'm thinking of sending an email or something. But I don't want the fallout and he also has a nasty habit of doing the opposite of what I ask. But if I've stated my case then I think were it to happen again (which it probably will) dp could step in if needed.
Sorry this is long and rambling. Any ideas? I just feel so vulnerable and pathetic.
You have to accept to say and do things that "risk upsetting", and not to care when the offending party puts the blame on you for being too uptight, or whatever.
So if you see him lunging for a hug, extend your arms, palms outstretched, and say "Don't." or "Don't touch me". Say what you mean basically.
If the horse has bolted, then state what the behaviour, that you don't like it, and what you want done differently. Don't accuse, and don't say please, just state the bare facts. So: "Ex-h, you just hugged me. I'm not comfortable with that. Don't touch me in future."
Then ignore, ignore, ignore, when he justifies himself. You are entitled not to want to be touched, and to say so.
I am so sorry that he raped you.
Hot damn, that's very much what I want to do, and what I would do in other situations. I'm no shrinking violet, but the second I realise he's going to touch me, my brain shuts down and I freeze. It's a physical panic response. And I can't trust myself to tell him to back off.
I'm in such a good place now, and I was really surprised on saturday that I still responded like that
So whilst I would like to plan to tell him to back off, I know I can't rely on myself to do it.
Does that make sense?
You can rely on yourself to do it.
Maybe just visualise certain situations, and plan what you would do in response. Taht way, when the moment comes, you will be less likely to shut down, and more likely to launch into your pre-arranged reaction.
This is how athletes prepare themselves, and is also a principle in self-defense courses. Of course it's difficult. Preparation helps. Don't block yourself with "I can'ts" - it's only yourself you're harming if you do.
In counselling I was advised that if someone comes towards you looking like they might hug you, you need to take the initiative by offering a hand for a handshake. Once you have asserted "I want to shake your hand" the other person feels duty bound to go along with that, and thus you have taken control. So maybe this might work.
I would get your new partners help, so the partner is always around at hand overs, so your ex doesn't think he can get away with anything.
Sorry for your troubles.
That sounds awful bastard. He's obviously doing it on purpose.
I suppose the simplest solution would be if you could get someone else to do handovers or even just let the DC open the door and go by themselves? If this is not possible then just having really set boundaries about where he can come (not inside the house at all) and not getting drawn into conversation. The thing is though that this will be really difficult for you because of the history between you, it's not you being weak at all, it's very very common where there is a history of (esp sexual) abuse. The very best solution would be not seeing him at all.
Have you had any counselling /therapy about the abuse at all?
Maybe I can.
Do you think it's too late to say "please don't hug me again" now? God knows when he'll do it next.
I really want to restate a few boundaries.
It is not ok for him to "drop in because I was passing" to my mother's house on a non-contact day when he knows I will be there. He is a part of the dcs' family, but NOT mine. I wish my family weren't so bloody polite and would tell him to fuck off rather than offer him tea.
I'm so sorry for what happened to you
I don't think this man has any right to ask you for 'a private word'. If you know you can't yet rely on yourself to tell him to back off or not to touch you, the simplest thing to do might be to ensure you are never alone with him. I am not surprised at all that you froze and couldn't assert yourself.
Does your DP know about what happened within your marriage? Ask him to help you by not leaving you alone with your exH.
Have you had any therapy for what happened to you as a child and when you were married?
"I want to tell him to never ever touch me again as long as he lives."
Say it. Add threats... swear if you have to. Just tell the slimy bugger to piss off. Not wanting to hurt people's feelings is fine when they deserve it. He doesn't and you're going to have to be unequivocal in your rejection. Courage
Sorry, lots of cross posts!
I haven't had therapy since, but did just as we were splitting. I didn't realise I'd been sexually abused too at that point and didn't discuss it.
Handshake could work, but I don't want that either!
I stand in front of the door so he can't come in (again a history of just walking into my home - even if I'm not there, and this was never a shared home, this is mine)
Dp knows everything and wants to kill him but is polite at my request (coldly polite).
Dp would do the pick ups but feels very uncomfortable since obviously he loathes him for what he did to me. I can ask him not to let me be alone with XH and I know he'd follow through.
Oh and XH is creepily friendly and matey to dp. Dp thinks it's horrible.
This sounds so difficult - I think your reaction is completely to be expected. Freezing is a protective instinct. Could you perhaps phone him, with your partner next to you, and tell him that him touching you is unwelcome and that he should never do it again? That way he's not there so you won't feel as threatened, but you have firmly set a boundary and if he tries to hug you again you know that he is doing it maliciously and might feel more able to restate that he's out of line? But I have no experience of this - someone with more knowledge will have a better idea. Congratulations on your pregnancy and marriage!
When he "drops by", it's also perfectly OK to say : "You are here uninvited. I'm not asking you in. Don't drop by on on non-contact days."
This man sounds like an awful, awful manipulator. Say no to him in any way, whenever he's not doing anything that's completely within contact arrangements. He is going to take a mile for every inch you give him. Feel no qualms about telling him to back off.
As for your question, I don't think it's worth having a talk with him about no hugs, unless he has just actually hugged you or tried to hug you. You would only then be exposing your own vulnerabilities. Catch these things in the act, as much as you are able. (...and don't kick yourself when you fail to react in time! It takes time and practice to catch poor behaviour as it happens. You already are able to identify what you're not comfortable with, and that's great!)
Sorry keep adding more.
XH has convinced himself he was a poor hard done by x who tried his hardest and my demands were too unreasonable. And that's why we split.
He won't admit or recognise his abuse (even though I do still have a letter which reads "sorry I raped you" from when I finally got the balls to confront him)
Rape is always violent. You're downplaying it by saying that it wasn't ... if you can make yourself feel really angry towards him - absolutely furious, as you should be - then telling him not to touch you now should be easier.
Don't let him have a private word. Ever. Whatever he has to say he can say in front of your dp or he can talk to you on the phone about it. Why does he need privacy ? He doesn't deserve anything from you. At all.
How about "if you touch me again, I will kill you"? Not very helpful and i don't suggest you actually say this but this man is vile, how DARE he think he still has the right to touch you. It is like he still thinks you belong to him and you were "his" before your new DP. I would be renegotiating contact arrangements i think, as in he can only pick up the children when your DP is there and maybe he should do the handover - reducing any contact you have with him to a minimum.
And thank you for all the great advice
And the congrats video
I do feel angry. Very angry. He is a vile pustule on the Arse of humanity. He disgusts me and makes my skin crawl.
But even my family say "oh that's just xp, he's not very good socially, bless him". They don't know about the rape. And they never quite understood the EA.
I honestly think that they see it as I left him because we weren't quite right for each other.
Not because he made my life hell.
(And yes you're all responsible for helping me leave the bastard, it may have taken me 4 years to finally kick him out once and for all, but MN has a lot of responsibility when it comes to my happiness )
He sounds just like my ex in every respect, from the not hearing no to being friendly with my OH. Factor into that
sex inappropriate physical contact when I had to ask him for the maintenance money in the early days after we split up.
I think its all to do with them thinking you are still this property, and that they have the right to enter your property etc; boundaries simply do not exist in their mind.
You just have to be one step ahead anticipating what he may do. If he tries to drop in, just don't answer the door. Just don't. He doesnt get to pull the strings anymore. You don't owe him anything.
Congratulations on finding a decent man and your pregnancy.
I think having DP accompany you while you have to see Ex is a good idea. Having DP there could give you the confidence to tell Ex not to touch you - though TBH I don't think Ex would even try.
You might want to think about whether you tell a trusted member of your family the truth about Ex - given that he has proved himself to be violent and abusive, you or the children may need support in protecting yourselves from him in the future.
NeverBeen, thats exactly it. It's that belief that we're still in some way theirs. And we are bloody not!
Inertia, I have been pondering telling my parents about the bits they don't know. I think they can be quite surprised by just how much I hate him.
Dp was standing right behind me as the dcs came in, but XH stood where dp couldn't see him and beckoned me for the 'private word'. Then afterwards told me to pass on his congratulations to dp. So the only private bit was the hug. It was almost like he was implying that I'm complicit in physically touching him just out of sight of dp. Like he was getting a kick out of it; creating an intimacy that only exists in his warped little head.
Why did I not kick him in the nadgers? Why did I not say "you can say anything you need to here"?
Join the discussion
Already registered? Log in with:
Please login first.