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Divorced ten years and jut now realising xh has an abuser

(22 Posts)
HellesBelles396 Tue 23-Apr-13 16:57:10

and I am grief-stricken about this.

whenever I had thoughts about his behaviour towards me, I put them to one side as bitterness over the financial problems he left me with and the fact he was no longer interested in our son.

yesterday, during a counselling session, we talked about my former husband and the counsellor noticed that I was tempering every negative with a positive. she said he was a cruel man who abused me emotionally, sexually and physically and that I was not to blame.

I feel like I am to blame though. I also feel very stupid not having having seen this for myself and for getting so upset about it now I have realised. I hardly slept last night and spent most of today either sleeping, crying or trying to distract myself from thinking about it.

what do I do now? how do I move on from this or should I dwell for a while and let myself feel the pain instead of hiding from it?

HellesBelles396 Tue 23-Apr-13 16:57:48

just now realising xh was an abuser. sorry - eyes are sore!

Questioning Tue 23-Apr-13 17:04:48

So sorry Helles.
This will be a hard time because you are facing the truth for the first time. It doesn't matter it was 10 years ago, the feelings of guilt, inadequacy will there now just as they would have been 10 years ago if you had realized.

but I have to say, somehow, I think you must have known. You have left a truly awful relationship. That takes strength!

Just stay with it, think about it and let all these feelings out. Talk about it with your counsellor. If she said that to you, she must have thought you are strong enough to cope with it.


CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 23-Apr-13 17:11:00

Please don't feel stupid. People who are emotionally, sexually and physically abusive are usually extremely manipulative and, over a long period of time (I don't know how long you were together), they can warp your perception, have you doubting yourself and pretty much convince you that day is night. You really weren't to blame and what happened was no reflection on your character, personality, intelligence... none of that. If you're not a cruel or manipulative person yourself and if you've never come across it before, then it's really difficult to see it in others.

What to do now? Keep talking to the counsellor and be honest about what happened. The more you bring the events into the open and the more you get someone else's confirmation that you were badly treated, the 'scales will fall from your eyes' to borrow a phrase. It may be painful or surprising but I think it's best to acknowledge that you were abuse and it was someone else's fault than to keep dismissing yourself as 'bitter'.

Good luck

NeverBeenToMe Tue 23-Apr-13 17:12:11

It's taken the wisdom of mn to make me realise how much of an abuser my ex also was. sad

Please keep talking things through and don't allow that awful man to take up more brain cells or emotion that he was worth. <Hugs>

HellesBelles396 Tue 23-Apr-13 17:14:36

thank you for responding so quickly. it really hurts and, though I reached out to a couple of friends this afternoon, it doesn't seem like news to them. even my mum seemed unsurprised at the idea my ex was an abuser.

they don't even know the worst things, the things that happened when it was just us and yet they clearly knew what he was and I knew all the very worst things and saw it as me getting the wrong end of the stick or something I'd caused or something that was normal.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 23-Apr-13 17:25:11

Friends and family will often fight shy of telling you what they really think about a partner. Sometimes the truth comes out after you split up - the old 'I never liked him' routine. However, if he put on a good face for others but was at his worst behind closed doors, and if you never mentioned what was going on, they might had a bad feeling about him but not had enough information to really judge.

Loulybelle Tue 23-Apr-13 17:26:16

Sometimes Helles, we get blind to things as a survival tool or coping mechanism, now your away from him, you arent blind to it, its a good thing to know, because now you can deal with it and move on, dont blame yourself, its not your fault, dont ever think it was.

HellesBelles396 Tue 23-Apr-13 17:34:02

I see the counsellor again on monday - should I allow myself to remember or should I try to ignore the grief I feel?

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 23-Apr-13 17:39:06

Allow yourself to remember. Up to now you've been dismissing your thoughts about his behaviour with various rationales. You excuse each negative with a positive. You think you're a bitter person. You thought it was normal. You 'got the wrong end of the stick' There will be other ways you've been sidestepping the truth down the years and this has probably had some kind of damaging effect on you that maybe you don't appreciate just yet.

Allowing yourself to remember means - even if it is painful - that you can look yourself in the eye and say 'I am NOT bitter, I did NOT get the wrong end of the stick, it was NOT normal behaviour and I did NOT cause this man to abuse me.....' It's a very powerful realisation.

Loulybelle Tue 23-Apr-13 17:39:43

You need to feel it, acknowledge the past and work towards letting it go, you dont want to feel the burden of knowing he was abusive and bottling it up, that will only make you feel worse.

HellesBelles396 Tue 23-Apr-13 17:50:12

I had a self-indulgent hour of crying then sobbing then wailing this afternoon. I feel calmer now.

thank you all for your reassurances and advice.

Hissy Tue 23-Apr-13 21:51:49

I know of someone almost 25 years out of an abusive relationship, she still had to go through what I did, and what you do now.

Please allow yourself to feel, it's so important. I know you feel stupid, that's another thing we all share, but again, it's normal, hurts like hell, but it does pass.

keep talking to the therapist, keep feeling, keep posting, you are safe, you are free, and you just need to process what happened to you.

fengirl1 Tue 23-Apr-13 22:31:36

Helles, it's natural to feel rocked by a revelation like this. Your whole past is now somewhat different to what you thought it was. It will take time to get through, but remember that by going through this you will eventually get the real you back. I had a similar experience to yours and, whilst still affected by it, I'm learning to trust myself, say what I really think and start to like myself as a person again. (I also laugh a lot more too which is lovely! smile)

HellesBelles396 Tue 23-Apr-13 22:45:14

I laugh a lot. the therapist asked why, when I was clearly upset, I was making jokes. I guess I was hiding from the reality or pretending u didn't care or something.

OxfordBags Tue 23-Apr-13 23:37:48

Helles, you have answered your own question about whether you should bottle it back up again - after a good bout of crying and wailing you feel better! And it is not self-indulgent to have a cry like that, it is cathartic and healing. You will not be happy and will be forever at risk from falling into another abuse cycle unless you work through this all with your counsellor and allow yourself to grieve and face up to things.

Do not place too much value on your mum or others being surprised at him being called an abuser; as you yourself say, they have no idea of what went on between the two of you in private. It is classic abuser behaviour to charm others. I would counsel against telling your mum or others too much about what you say in counselling. It is meant to be private and when you are discussing very difficult things that are hard to face up to, like this, you will be very vulnerable to putting your progress back miles by a well-intentioned person giving you their opinions which you then cling onto as truth and use as a crutch to stop yourself believing the hard truth about your ex.

A counsellor is impartial, objective, trained to identify what is abuse and has no personal experience of your ex. If she says he sounds abusive to her, take heed.

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 24-Apr-13 09:00:52

Mum & friends were unsurprised that he might be abusive. I think there is a lot to be gained from talking to a wider circle actually. Why weren't they surprised? What did they notice from that time? Was there anything they were uncomfortable with but couldn't quite put their finger on? Why did they feel they couldn't say anything?

If nothing else, it will make you feel less alone in this OP.

HellesBelles396 Wed 24-Apr-13 09:06:34

one of the friends didn't know me at the time. she said the way I spoke of him showed I was scared of him but also I took too much blame on myself. don't know about mum. she and I don't do deep and meaningfuls.

HellesBelles396 Wed 24-Apr-13 09:07:42

actually I don't think I have any friends left from then. just family. weird.

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 24-Apr-13 09:14:14

Not all that weird when you consider that a fairly common tactic of abusive people is to gradually isolate you from family and friends either socially, geographically, emotionally.

HellesBelles396 Wed 24-Apr-13 09:32:07

that makes sense. well, i am getting out of bed, getting showered and going for a walk. time to move on.

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 24-Apr-13 10:19:18

Enjoy your walk. Good thinking time!

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