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Why does abuse escalate after children?(41 Posts)
This has happened to me; severe verbal and emotional abuse.
Looking back it was always simmering but so, so much worse and more frequent since DD(1).
Any ideas why?
because you're more vulnerable and less able to protect yourself and leave?
So the whole time he was waiting for me to be more vulnerable? Sounds odd
Two primary reasons;
1. Your focus is diverted from the abuser and onto yourself/the child more in pregnancy and after birth and this threatens their control/status.
2. You are more likely to be able to be manipulated into greater vulnerability because of emotions and also physical effects of child bearing/rearing.
Plus they stop getting all the attention.
And they are expected to contribute more.
It's not really as if they are waiting, although some might be (those who push for a baby), but that they sense you are less likely to leave.
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
The two main causes are:
a)the man feels that you are now dependent on him and will find it hard to leave the relationship, if he is the sort who wanted a domestic servant/breeding animal and doesn't consider women to be human.
b) Before DC arrived, it was not too much of a problem that the relationship revolved around the man, and he always got his own way, and all his needs were met. Now you have a baby, you prioritize the baby, and the man doesn't like it so will punish you and demand your attention in a variety of ways.
Some men also have very entrenched views about how a wife and mother should behave. Particularly if their parents model an unhealthy marriage. A woman is supposed to obey her husband and all that nonsense.
Well done for LTB.
I think it tends to be jealousy, or, as SGB says, that before the baby comes along your expectations and needs in the relationship are different. You're probably fairly equal in standing, neither of you relies much on the other, when he is demanding of your time, resources or affection you give them willingly because you have plenty to give and also, you love him, so of course you're forthcoming with these things.
When the baby arrives, the relationship is no longer the centre of your world or sole focus of your attention (which is a fairly unhealthy thing for a relationship to be anyway, but society tells us this is normal - see Twilight and other examples of romance in popular culture) - by the way, the abuse/jealousy tends to step up if your focus is diverted from the relationship/abuser in other ways too such as work, an intensive hobby or certain friendships - it's just that if you are blinded enough by the relationship, often we consider these an acceptable sacrifice rather than realising that it's the relationship which is at fault.
So, not only are you very suddenly in a situation where your focus, time and affection are taken away from the relationship in a way you simply can't compromise or sacrifice, you're also in a very vulnerable situation where you're relying on your partner for emotional and practical support. Contrary to the posts above, abusers hate this. They are generally crap at emotional support (because this requires empathy, and if abusers had empathy, they wouldn't abuse) and also they don't like giving away their precious resources to you, not constantly. Maybe occasionally as a display of how much they must really care, deep down (ie, this is what you take from it - they don't really care that much deep down or they'd show it when you needed it most.)
This shows itself too when you are ill - abusers don't cope very well when their partner is ill, they get frustrated, are impatient and basically act as though you've gotten ill on purpose just to inconvenience him.
They don't actually like being relied upon for support when you are vulnerable because, quite simply, it's a lot of work to look after/support someone who is vulnerable! Consciously or not, they are selfish enough to see you in terms of what you are to them, and how you benefit them, rather than seeing it as an equal partnership where you support each other.
Oh and before the child you probably don't notice that he isn't as forthcoming as you are with support because you require very little in the way of support and if you do notice a gap, you put it down to him being busy or just being a man, and then he does one of his shows of caring which "proves" to you that he does care deep down and so forgive him the lapses before or since. Most people are forgiving, it's not a bad quality to have, you just need to be aware of when you're being taken for a mug.
There is insane jealousy and the undeniable fact that the baby takes up your attention.
I think there is also a sense that you have some new power within yourself, even though you may be financially more vulnerable and may need a hand more around the house, with laundry, cooking, etc.
You are now a mother figure and though you may not feel it because you are barraged with attempts to cut you down constantly, motherhood has power to it.
A lot of abusers have a very complicated relationship with their mother figure.
Also the fact that they don't like it that the baby has "replaced" (even thought it hasn't) him in your affections.
Many men see the baby as a threat to their relationship.
I'm guessing one of two reasons. I think that perhaps physically or extremely emotionally abusive men may fall into two categories:
There are the men who are abusive because they crave the the rush they get from the power and the control caused by inducing fear in a woman. The more vulnerable you are (and you are pretty vulnerable when you have young children as it's much tougher to just walk away and start again, for many reasons) the more powerful they feel and they get addicted to the thrill of seeing the fear in your eyes, and the sense of power and control it gives them.
Then there are the men who feel trapped or unhappy/frustrated with their lot, who will blame women for all their perceived problems. If they feel that their lives should have/could have been more interesting, more glamorous, more fun, less stressful etc., without the responsibility of children and a household to pay for then they will use the mother of the children as a scapegoat and blame her for the fact that they feel trapped and disillusioned.
If they are stressed or unhappy in their job, or they feel that they haven't amounted to much in life, they will resent the fact that they have to keep doing that job to pay the bills for the woman and the family, or they resent the fact that they did not become the financially successful providers they always hoped they'd be, so the woman gets used as the scapegoat again. She'll be made out to be the greedy, parasitic nag who is never happy and always wants more and who goes out of her way to make him feel shit about himself. Even if she never says a word about it, his sense of failure will have to be blamed on her to make him feel better about himself. That kind of abuse is about frustration and stress/anger, low self esteem and the inability to deal with it rationally.
ime the man having a complicated relationship with his mother figure, very enmeshed, lots of unresolved childhood issues. Once his partner had children, she "became" his mother in his eyes - cue teenage rebellion-type behaviour and a lot of abuse and controlling behaviour towards his partner, and no empathy.
Also, once children (having them was his idea) arrived "the man couldn't cope with the responsibility/had no time for his varied but previously not known about interests/it was unfair to be expected to do boring things at home/it was not intellectually stimulating enough". Cue -abusive behaviour.
Basically he opted out and turned on his partner, instead of dealing with the situation in any sort of adult manner.
^ That and all the above posts ^.
Also, after centuries of living in a world where men treated women as property, inferior, servants, etc, a lot of men still can't comprehend the idea that in a couple relationship there are times when the man's needs come LAST. OK, plenty of men don't behave badly, blah blah, Not Your Nigel etc, but there are still a lot who expect the relationship and the household to revolve around them eg despite the fact that the woman has a newborn to look after, the house should be immaculate without the man ever having to do more than wash up a token mug or two, and whenever he wants sex, the woman's legs should be open even if she's had no sleep for the past couple of nights and the baby's crying. THe idea that a man should be inconvenienced, or made to wait for something he wants, or have to give up something for the sake of his female partner, is unbearable to certain men.
Agree with mathanxiety MrsTerryPratchett* and redsky. I could not believe the change in the man after children. The sudden change in his attitude to me only seems explainable by the sudden obvious change in my status - that I went from partner to 'mother figure' in an instant. And 'mother figure' for him could only mean Bad.
Like redsky says - lost of abuse and controlling behaviour and no empathy. It was a shocking and bewildering display which started as soon as we came home with the baby. I was in shock from an emergency ceasarian but the emotional madness and confusion made me feel utterly dazed. He seemed to want to obstruct me at every turn, which made me dizzy and disorientated. And it didn't stop.
It is only looking back that I think he must have absolutely hated his mother. He could be vituperative and be very disparaging about her motivations and personality but I thought there had been some vestigial respect. I now think he hated her with a vengeance and when I became a 'mother figure' there was no escape from it.
That sounds like I'm excusing him. I'm not. My Ex is obviously a damaged person, but his behaviour was inexcusable.
Yeah mine certainly confused me with his mother!
He even said I made him decorate every year, when he never raised a paintbrush in our house EVER!!!
My MIL died a year before I had my first DC and he decorated her house every year! (willingly)
Yoni - that's very insightful and helpful. Goodness. I'm in a bad position and I felt it was more power over me once we had a child come into our lives But actually it is that I had more resources and freedom before being a mum and skirted over everything. I didn't notice his lack of empathy before but it was there all the time.
Bloody hell, this resonates.
Also Redsky - again, my dh!Gawd.
Are you both therapists?
madonna/whore syndrome (sorry can't do links) but it's a recognised phenomenon I thought
I'm not a therapist, I've just spent far too long on these boards I might look into it one day though. I'd love to do something which helps raise awareness of abuse, I think awareness is the best way to reduce its power and hence in dome ways prevent it.
Thank you. There is so much here that rings painfully true with me.
What an insightful bunch you are
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