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When an abusive partner accuses you of being the abusive one

(45 Posts)
gotadifferentnamenow Sat 07-Sep-13 20:48:22

How do you know what's the truth? confused

I mean I suppose it is theoretically possible to be that un self-aware.

I am mulling over a long-gone relationship now, so don't "need" to do anything. I only realised some time after the (v difficult) breakup that he was verbally, emotionally, and occasionally physically abusive, and I've suppressed a lot of memories (eg it was only after I came across some old emails of mine to a friend that I remembered he probably cheated, more than once).

It seems to happen often on here - cheaters accuse their partners of cheating, controlling people accuse their parners of controlling. I suppose the EA is so intangible I'm finding it harder to remember that I didn't abuse him, whereas I can be quite certain I didn't cheat although I was often accused of it. But what if I really was/am EA and I drove him to the rest of it?

DameFanny Sat 07-Sep-13 20:57:19

Nope, just add "gaslighting" to his list of abuses and stick an extra pin in your voodoo doll. Congratulations for getting away.

gotadifferentnamenow Sat 07-Sep-13 20:59:27

That made me smile. Thank you.

Snazzyenjoyingsummer Sat 07-Sep-13 20:59:54

I believe this is quite a common accusation made by abusive partners. It's very effective because their normal partners feel guilty and worried about it, whereas the abuser, who is then off the hook, doesn't. I wouldn't spend another minute worrying about it if I were you.

CharlotteCollinsismovingon Sat 07-Sep-13 21:02:00

Did you want to control him?
Did you think that he needed your help to run his life or he would mess it up?
Did you think you had a right to impose your will on him?
Did you think that it was his job to look after you?
Did you see him as a person in his own right with needs and rights of his own?

It's very easy to be destabilised by someone who believes total rubbish, but believes it utterly.

scallopsrgreat Sat 07-Sep-13 21:03:25

Nope you didn't. You are worried about it for a start. And so what if you were? Do you think you are abusive now? if not, you probably werent abusive then. Abusers tend not to change without a huge wake up call. We can all behave abusively towards someone as isolated incidents and sometimes as a reaction to their abuse. But proper abuse is systematic as Charlotte describes very nicely!

CharlotteCollinsismovingon Sat 07-Sep-13 21:03:34

The important point is that abuse is all about attitudes and beliefs, not really about behaviour. The behaviour is just a result of the beliefs.

CharlotteCollinsismovingon Sat 07-Sep-13 21:04:17

blush Ooh, thanks, scallops!

gotadifferentnamenow Sun 08-Sep-13 06:08:04

Thanks for all the reassurance, and esp thanks Charlotte for the handy checklist. I'll stop fretting!

gotadifferentnamenow Sun 08-Sep-13 09:51:54

No, wait, I have another question: does the abuser really believe their partner to be abusive (and if so, how/why), or is it purely cynical gaslighting?

My ex was one of those who complained of his 'psycho ex' (yep, big red flag) and I'm left wondering whether that was even his genuine perception of her (and later, me) or what.

AttilaTheMeerkat Sun 08-Sep-13 09:55:38

Its projection on their part. Do read "The Loser" written by Dr Joseph Carver. Such men actually hate all women. He likely also poured great scorn on his own mother.

mcmooncup Sun 08-Sep-13 09:56:11

My ex does this all the time.

Gaslights, then if there is even a hint of anger, "ooooo and you say I am the abusive....look at you, out of control"

It's classic text book stuff.

And very yawnsome.

DollyTwat Sun 08-Sep-13 10:11:44

Really interesting thread. Lots of this makes a lot of sense to me with regards to my ex, who is a psychopath in my opinion.

The difficult bit for me is I can't find any books that help you to deal with someone like this after you've split. When children are involved and the family courts insist on contact. I can see the cycles of abuse being played out on my dc now and have to stop it

Hissy Sun 08-Sep-13 11:21:08

You got away and thought that was all there was to it, didn't you?

Many do. Sadly it's not the case.

An abusive relationship leaves it's marks on you, and no matter how long you deny them, won't go away.

I know women who suddenly have to deal with the issues from an abusive relationship over 20 years after she left!

Please book yourself onto the Freedom Programme. It's not a magic bullet, but will help. See if you can get some therapy too.

You really ARE worth investing your time, effort, love and money in.

Have you posted on the Emotional Abuse thread here too?

TerribleTantrums Sun 08-Sep-13 11:28:28

DollyTwat, there is a Lundy Bancroft book about how to help children after a split. I'm not sure whether or not there is a section about dealing with the ongoing relationship with the father, but he's pretty thorough in his other books so I would imagine there is.

something2say Sun 08-Sep-13 12:25:40

It's a very common phenomenon, which we call twist and blame, whereby you challenge him, and he says oh no it was you.

If you are lucky, you will have years of this under your belt, and may lose it wit him one day out of sheer frustration, and god forbid you slap him or shout or call him names...then he will cross his arms and say see, look, you are abusive!!!!!! And you will not be able to say that no did you did not lose your temper and shout.

Secret is to judge it early and not make irrevocable decisions too quickly like moving in or kids, such that you can back out of the relationship if it moves into tricky territory like this....if he twists and blames your life will be smoke and mirrors with no genuine admittance when we are out of line, which we all are...he will always be right and you will always be wrong.

I'd get those stories you are remembering right out into the opens and see with new eyes the dynamic, always he's to give the people a wide berth as the rules of the game are not fair and you can never be equal.

DollyTwat Sun 08-Sep-13 12:27:16

Thank you I'll get that.
Sadly when there are dc involved, abusive men get to ramp it up again, indirectly.

Kernowgal Sun 08-Sep-13 13:24:56

Mine used to refuse to discuss things normally, so it would be a blazing row with him furiously shouting at me, and because it was utterly pointless trying to talk to him, I ended up not wanting to speak to him at all. He took this to be the silent treatment, which it wasn't, I just didn't want to pretend everything was OK when he'd been such a prick, it felt like I was further excusing his shitty behaviour.

When we split he called me cold and selfish. I am neither, and he knew that, but he knew it would really hurt me after all I'd done for him and his kids. He also said his ex was a psycho too. She really wasn't.

FreeAtLastAtLongLast Sun 08-Sep-13 14:04:54

Apparently I'm abusive too. Apparently I'm controlling and I wind him up

shadesofwhite Sun 08-Sep-13 14:32:59

classic EA. What an abusive emotional Vampire he is!! My exH did this and when I got tired of being labelled as the abusive one despite physical marks of abuse and doctors notes of his verbal abuse to professionals...his family and friends believed him. Oh and his ex was a psycho too hmm. Don't worry, you aint alone in this honey. Take heart and always remember it wasn't you its him!! Took me so long to believe this. thanks brew

EnoughOfThis Sun 08-Sep-13 14:48:06

Hey! I started my own thread yesterday re. Ex's dating habits and this is strongly what I suspect he's doing, telling all and sundry that I'm an EA controlling psycho tennis

He wants you to believe you are and maybe you actually were controlling?But why? Mine controlled through emotional and sexual distancing, passive aggression and low level bullying. He is also a binge drinker. My response was to try to control back, something that I am actually shocked about now, but nevertheless it was a response. I wasn't controlling in the first place.

He probably cheated more than once, yet falsely accused you of cheating?! What evidence did you have of his cheating? That's such a tricky one, I had hints and consequential hunches but without proof you just feel like you're loosing it. At the end of the day, if you think he was then he probably was.

Neeliethere Sun 08-Sep-13 14:48:54

I am here to tell you I spent years telling myself and my husband and all my friends that he was the abusive one. Many weeks of self examination, observing other members of my family and thinking about my mum I realise I was the abuser.

Add to that the act of passively aggressively withholding sex. It doesn't feel nice and I'm sure it felt worse for him.

There I've said. It isn't always the man that is to blame.

CharlotteCollinsismovingon Sun 08-Sep-13 14:58:04

To an extent, he probably believes you are abusive, because of his strong belief that you are there to fulfil his needs - anything you do that sticks up for your boundaries, or that puts your needs or your dcs before his, and he'll take that as an attack against how things should be.

CharlotteCollinsismovingon Sun 08-Sep-13 15:00:54

Neelie, that's quite a revelation. Do you have help with moving forward from that?

And in the context of this thread, did your h accuse you of being abusive?

EnoughOfThis Sun 08-Sep-13 15:03:39

Thank goodness you have realised Neeliethere, well done! smile

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