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Is this abuse?

(22 Posts)
ZeldaLouise Mon 17-Feb-14 23:24:03

First time poster. Genuine post. Anxious to share my friend’s situation with you so that she can hopefully garner some support. She came round last night in tears, and things seem to be going from bad to worse with her emotionally abusive partner (my definition, not hers!).

She has a kind of ‘it could be worse’ attitude when I tell her to seek help or leave him (she is also financially dependent and her self esteem is on the floor). She doesn’t believe his abuse is ‘bad enough’, and seems to dismiss it on many levels.

I am sharing this information with her knowledge and support and will share responses with her. Feel like a bit of a stuck record myself!

The ‘headlines’:

•20 year relationship, two teenage daughters
•‘Charismatic’, ‘charming’ and ‘funny’ partner in public (I know the truth but this is how many view him)
•Capable of making her feel special/sexually desirable
•Has always ‘stuck around’ for his children (her words and her definition of a good partner)
•Constant belittling behaviour – picks on housework, age etc. – nothing is ever good enough for him
•Huge mood swings that have an impact on her everyday life (as in if he’s in a bad mood she has to creep around him)
•Inconsistent with both daughters (‘contact’, emotional, financial), one of whom is now in the fledgling stages of an abusive relationship herself, and one of whom is a self harmer
•Telling their daughters they are fat (they are absolutely not, if that has any bearing at all!)
•Forces her to engage in sexual activity with him regularly
•Negative about any suggestion she might want to pursue her own career (she’s young)
•She works 80 hours a week for his business, as well as all parenting and housework – he doesn’t pay her (!) and she has to ask for money for cigarettes/ new clothes when she needs them (which he can begrudge) – everything she does for the business is also ‘not good enough’ (she does all the donkey work as far as I can see)
• Has withheld money from her and the daughters before when they have ‘upset’ him
•At least six affairs she knows about, and one child from a more recent relationship (miraculously, he pays maintenance). Currently suspects him of seeing a new woman, only two years older than oldest daughter ☹

Am I mad? Or can you help me persuade her she absolutely should not be tolerating this for another twenty years, and that this IS abuse?!

Please be kind – all the above is meant with the best intentions.

scurryfunge Mon 17-Feb-14 23:29:35

No, she should not be tolerating this. The main thing for me is that he forces her to engage in sexual activity. If this is without her consent, then he is a criminal and should be dealt with. The rest is domestic abuse. She needs help.

Offred Mon 17-Feb-14 23:36:00

She is definitely in an abusive relationship. All women in abusive relationships think "it could be worse" "he doesn't hit me" or "he doesn't hit me very hard" or "he's never broken my bones" or "it isn't all that bad and when he's lovely he is lovely".

She isn't alone.

It is tough to get yourself to a place psychologically where you can recognise the abuse.

I feel for you as her friend, that is very tough.

Could you get her to speak to women's aid? They won't force her to leave, they will just support her. 0808 2000 247

If not, perhaps you could call for some support for you as her friend and her on her behalf?

GarlicReverses Mon 17-Feb-14 23:39:38

You have itemised financial abuse, emotional abuse, verbal abuse, sexual abuse and - alcohol abuse. Yes, he is abusive! If the forced sexual activity includes penetrative sex, he is also raping her.

She can google all the terms above, for confirmation that it is 'real' abuse.
Following that, she can ring Women's Aid just for a talk. Then she might consider whether to involve the police (they have DV units these days) and how best to remove his corrosive influence from her life.

Here is the government page on domestic abuse, with information about how the police must treat it.

Offred Mon 17-Feb-14 23:39:54

"It's my fault really,"; "he's so sexually frustrated" "I make him angry" "he works hard" "he's a good dad" etc on and on.

She deserves much, much better. He sounds absolutely awful. Really awful, sexual abuse, financial abuse and emotional abuse there in what you mention. Really really awful way to live like his slave in more ways than one. sad

ThinkIMmad Mon 17-Feb-14 23:43:04

i have no advice for you as such but i just want to say what an awful situation you yourself are in knowing all this. Im in this situation too with my sister and a close friend atm both in denial and its driving me insane. Ive been getting info off these boards to pass on but they arent interested all i can do is be there when they need it

Offred Mon 17-Feb-14 23:46:06

And please reassure her that it isn't because she is weak that she is being treated like this. Abusers often pick on strong people because the satisfaction of knocking them down is greater. She isn't weak for having put up with this for so long either, she must be very, very strong because it sounds like an awful lot to bear without cracking up.

Also there is love and happiness potentially for her on the otherside, what she needs to do is direct some of the strength she is already showing in a different direction to pull her out of this situation and into another one where she doesn't need to be as strong as she is being now.

ZeldaLouise Mon 17-Feb-14 23:49:30

Wow. Thank you so much everybody. Sending her the link to this page right now. Offred - your comments about being strong/weak particularly pertinent as she was saying how weak she was earlier...

Offred Mon 17-Feb-14 23:54:35

How do you think she would feel about speaking to women's aid?

It is very normal to be very apprehensive about that but IME they are a lifeline and won't force her to do anything she isn't ready for.

I often say to people it's ok to be scared of calling and it often takes a while thinking about it and working up to calling and you shouldn't see a failure to call immediately as a failure. Even if what you are doing is thinking about the phone number, dialling and not sending, dialling and hanging up, it is all progress. Baby steps out of the current situation, nothing has to be done that is big an scary necessarily.

ZeldaLouise Mon 17-Feb-14 23:59:26

I tried to get her to call a local women's charity earlier but she was adamant things aren't bad enough...

horsetowater Tue 18-Feb-14 00:00:06

Sexual abuse, child emotional abuse, financial abuse, emotional abuse.

Is this the first time she has talked to you about this OP? How has she coped so far? What do you think he will do if he found out she wanted to leave?

PandaFeet Tue 18-Feb-14 00:01:11

Aside from the potential rape, (and at the very least, sexual assault) the emotional abuse, the financial abuse, and the ridiculous working hours, this part stood out to me

Has always ‘stuck around’ for his children (her words and her definition of a good partner)

No woman or child should ever feel grateful towards a man for "sticking around." He chose this life just as much as you. He fathered those kids and he deserves no pat on the back for bringing them up.

Infact, in this situation it would have been preferable for him to have pissed off and taken his abuse with him.

I hope you are reading this thread and that you can take something from it. You deserve so much better than this. And there is a happy and content life out there for you. I know leaving seems a scary thought, but for me, the scarier thought would be staying and spending another 20 years with this pig of a man.

horsetowater Tue 18-Feb-14 00:01:38

If she does come on here, tell her to delete her history. Does he check up on her?

Offred Tue 18-Feb-14 00:05:50

If it is any comfort to you op she probably knows they are bad enough on some level and is reluctant to call because it is just too much to face on top of mustering the strength to just live the life she has. Also she probably feels she deserves to be hurt and that she doesn't deserve any help. All of that is quite normal. It is the narrative that the abuser places in their victims mind to keep them under control and stop them seeking help.

It is good if she has reached out to you though. She needs to keep making progress like it I think. Women's aid or the charity you mention would not need to offer her help if she explained to them and they thought everything was fine, I think she knows if she talks about it she will have to confront it in some way.

It might take a while to work up to that psychologically.

Offred Tue 18-Feb-14 00:09:40

Probably she will need to start learning how to differentiate the thoughts he has placed in her head to keep her under control from her own thoughts. That is quite normal too.

Offred Tue 18-Feb-14 00:11:43

Sorry if I'm a little overboard. Threads like this always remind me of my excellent friend who patiently stood by, needled and prompted and supported me to take action over my abusive relationship. Without her I don't know where I'd be! I have a lot of respect for you therefore op <gush> <over involved emotionally>

ZeldaLouise Tue 18-Feb-14 00:17:18

Thanks again all. I know she is reading. I hope she's OK. Offred - am glad you are out of your abusive relationship smile

ZeldaLouise Tue 18-Feb-14 00:18:35

horsetowater - he doesn't check up on her a lot but have told her to delete anyway as it wouldn't do either of us any favours if he found out.

Offred Tue 18-Feb-14 00:23:15

She could turn on private browsing. Also the women's aid number won't show on her phone bill if she does call. Children's centres in my area have widened their remit to include all families with children and they can normally offer support (I had counselling and women's aid group therapy there) and often have the local women's aid operating some services within them but if they don't where you are she could maybe call into the local CAB for some confidential support. They'd signpost to women's aid but also help her with practical things like money and housing.

She may be a way off that though?

Offred Tue 18-Feb-14 00:24:02

Must remember to turn it off though and delete the history from pages she has visited without having it turned on.

horsetowater Tue 18-Feb-14 00:32:25

OP you must talk to Womens Aid - they support a course called the Freedom Programme which enables you to get perspective on your life and understand how you ended up in this awful situation.

If you walked out tomorrow and had the evidence, a solicitor would probably be able to get a restriction put on his movements so he can't come near you or your children.

You say you don't think it's that bad, well that's just self-preservation. We can all cope with all kinds of hardship but that doesn't mean it's good for anyone. It's not good for you, your children and it's not good for him either because it just perpetuates his warped idea of what a relationship can be.

If you are unsure of your financial / benefit situation contact Gingerbread, they will give you a very clear breakdown of what you can do financially. Are you married or partners?

I haven't heard of many cases quite like this, it might be best for you to get out straight away because your state of mind will be so messed up when you realise what you have been through, when you truly understand it, I am worried you might feel overwhelmed and not do it. I rarely tell posters to get immediately because it can be quite dangerous but I am telling you this now as I feel if you don't you will drown in this.

When you do go, take your documents and evidence and do it without him knowing, be very careful to make sure he can't find you for a while. Your daughters will thank you for this.

Offred Tue 18-Feb-14 00:41:53

ncdv can help with court orders mentioned by horsetowater btw.

You can also do the freedom programme online. It is always better to have RL support from women's aid IMO though.

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