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Books for abused women?

(17 Posts)
iamacrapmum Tue 26-May-15 12:27:26

Apart from the obvious Lundy Bancroft that gets bandied around, are there any books you would recommend that explain how to find your feet again for severely abused/controlled women? I was VERY controlled for a VERY long time & now I'm free (pending divorce & the ups & downs that brings). I could really use a book that will help me get to grips with the bewildering job of finding out who I am again/how to be an adult. Something that will help me learn to think for myself that understands the abused womans mindset. It's quite embarrassing to admit I'm a grown woman but bits of my head feel like a 10yr old. I need to show leadership & strength to my kids, not wobbly jelly. I feel like every aspect of my life is out of focus but if I can 'get fit & functioning strong' I'll be able to really move on with my life with confidence. Not having dh around to dictate my life has left a massive vacuum. I had euphoria for about the first 5 days but now that's worn off & I'm left with a 'day-to-day' adult role but not really knowing how to step into those shoes. He was a sick man to keep me like a child & I was a sick woman to let him! Time for big change.

For your amusement, a list of stuff I can do now that I couldn't before:

Drive down ANY road I want.
Go out to the pub.
Choose my own food.
Wear what clothes I like.
Wash stuff higher than 40'c
Have friends round.
Spend my pocket money how I see fit.
Buy plants for the garden.
Put more than £15 petrol in the car.
Visit the hairdressers.
Go out to work (God willing)
Have a bloody holiday!
Have a bloody life!

hellsbellsmelons Tue 26-May-15 13:18:17

Wow well done for getting away.
That all sounds very very controlling.
Can you call Womens Aid?
Enrol on their Freedom Programme. It would be better for you to attend in person but you can do it online.
They can help you with local services available in your area for some help.
Also your GP can refer you for counselling.

I'm sure there will be others along soon with some great suggestions.

Again - well done!

tescoyahooMN Tue 26-May-15 13:35:44

I will be watching this with huge interest. I am going through the exact same.

At the moment I am reading "The Sociopath Next Door" - which, interesting as it is (and describes my ex quite well!), isn't very heart warming or helpful in advising how to get on with life now he is gone.

My list:

I can watch what I want on the TV
Eat shit if I want
Go to the gym without being ridiculed
Every morning is a stress free morning / evening / life
Bed to myself
Undisturbed sleep
Not have to hide my MN use

tescoyahooMN Tue 26-May-15 13:37:44

I also read the Bancroft book - it ultimately got me to realise what was going on, and that I could / should leave.

Also have read a book on Boundaries (will try and find a link) - it appears I had none - and has helped me to realise what is and is not acceptable in relationships.

tescoyahooMN Tue 26-May-15 13:39:19

Its called Boundaies: where you end and I begin- by Anne Katherine

Sorry, can't link

BertieBotts Tue 26-May-15 13:55:36

I bought a book ages ago (but haven't read it yet) called Nice Girl No More, which is supposed to help you develop boundaries.

I really like Natalie Lue's blog, Baggage Reclaim. She has a book out about unhealthy relationships, but although she writes a lot about recovery, I don't know if she's done a book on that yet. But follow her blog, and her facebook page.

BertieBotts Tue 26-May-15 13:56:30

Sorry, it's called "The Nice Girl Syndrome", not Nice Girl No More.

hellsbellsmelons Tue 26-May-15 13:58:30

LINK here

tescoyahooMN Tue 26-May-15 14:19:41

Bertie, that sounds interesting, I'll be having a look.

Hells - yes, that's the one. Its the first time I've annotated a book in about 20 years! BUt really helped me to see where I had been going wrong.

tescoyahooMN Tue 26-May-15 22:15:20

Have ordered the book.

Incidentally, I have just read a chapter from The Sociopath Next Door. My word. It perfectly describes my ex, and the relationship we had. It's really weird and scary to read. I've annotated the fuck out of it. I was falling asleep when I started the passage, now I'm wide awake with heart beating fast...

tescoyahooMN Tue 26-May-15 22:18:03

Natalie Lue looks awesome by the way. She's bookmarked for further reading.

HilarysMantelpiece Tue 26-May-15 23:43:52

tesco I googled that book after reading your comment.

This is the quote that stood out for me....

“How can I tell whom not to trust?” the answer I give usually surprises people. The natural expectation is that I will describe some sinister-sounding detail of behavior or snippet of body language or threatening use of language that is the subtle giveaway. Instead, I take people aback by assuring them that the tip-off is none of these things, for none of these things is reliably present. Rather, the best clue is, of all things, the pity play. The most reliable sign, the most universal behavior of unscrupulous people is not directed, as one might imagine, at our fearfulness. It is, perversely, an appeal to our sympathy".

I've read Lundy Bancroft <genuflect> and read The Gift of Fear online.
Always with a sense of guilt that I had not read the signs before getting involved.

But the evocation of pity described here- that was my downfall. And I refuse to feel guilty about pitying someone "weaker" than I.
STBXH took advantage of that- the guilt is all his.

Offred Wed 27-May-15 01:34:17

I'm glad to see this thread. I think I began at the beginning tbh and read toxic parents by susan forward which is pretty good if you were also abused in childhood by your parents. In terms of partner abuse I've read a few - living with the dominator, also the lundy book which is excellent and I read the baggage reclaim site but sometimes don't have the balls for it!

I also keep this - www.care2.com/greenliving/is-it-anger-or-abuse.html printed out and stuck on my wall as a reminder, as my dad is an angry abuser and need to constantly remind myself of the difference between anger and abuse.

Also if you think about therapy have a look at inner child therapy. I did it in my rape counselling along with some other techniques and found it particularly helpful for things like you describe - retaining unhelpful childlike behaviour and thinking in certain situations/after certain triggers.

WellWhoKnew Wed 27-May-15 01:56:32

Women's Aid has to be the first port of call - because you're surrounded by women who have been abused in different, varied, and radicalised ways - but the language women use to describe events/feelings is unanimous. It's that common language and understanding that helps you understand your feelings, even though the 'incidents' are unique to you/them/the person to your right/left.

A book will help you with lots of ideas. Experience tells you everything. Having shared experiences helps you normalise things.

I am now driving a car (again).
I am now managing money again.
I am now able to say "I'm hungry, I want to eat"
I am now able to talk to my best friend openly. Whenever suits.
I am able to make friends of my own choosing.
I am able to say things that are on my mind without being told what my mind must be.

However, it's not a 'quick-fix' a lot of this, it's just gaining experience, confidence and starting new habits. It's about having a group of people around you who cheer you on...because to 'outsiders' little things are 'easy' but when you're 'out of practice' doing those things, they are mammoth.

tescoyahooMN Wed 27-May-15 09:54:39

Lots to think about and thanks for those recommendations.

Yes, the pity thing. Sociopaths above all else want people's pity. This is very true for my ex. There was passage in the book about a "normal" marriage to a sociopath, I can't get over how her story reflects mine.. even down to minute detail. My ex isn't a violent thug, and isn't setting out to rule the world. His aim in life was to live an entitled life through me, without doing anything. At all. Except maybe make me miserable through his manipulative psychological games, to keep me feeling like I'm going mad. And therefore keeping his place and me in mine.

HilarysMantelpiece Wed 27-May-15 10:43:51

I haven't read the book tesco , just read through the quotes on Goodreads.

It sounds as if it's one I may have to invest in though.
My ex is not a physically violent thug either...but he manipulates people's pity... my own (ex) solicitor referred with a pitying voice to "all the stress he is under".
No reference to the stress I was experiencing as the abandoned wife discovering the extent of his financial abuse, shielding our children from his narcissistic rages, handling my child's SN.

Without ever laying a finger on me, he has caused immense damage to me and he has stolen years of my life; it has taken years of therapy to eliminate his lies from my head.

Now, I have to navigate how to rear my children so that they can recognise truth vs lies too... how to teach them that an abuser can be cruel and vindictive and negate my being while they are standing there, smiling and speaking quietly.

Our family motto is that people can lie with their words but they dont lie with their actions. Watch what people do, not what they say.

OP one that I found useful in the beginning was Men who hate women and the women who love them. I felt as if the scales had fallen from my eyes and every book after that has cleared the view a bit more.

Codependent No More has also been really useful.

I haven't disclosed this much for a while. Does anyone else find that talking about the abuse is alienating in RL?

There is a sort of self-protective thing that most women do if I ever bring it up in conversation (though I just don't bother any more).
An attitude of "well, I wouldn't let him treat me like that" (victim blaming).
Or a "there's two sides to every story" mutual blame thing.

Alienation by "other-ing" the person who experienced the abuse...it shouldn't/wouldn't happen to someone like me, domestic abuse - it's all a bit declasse.
I know why people do it- it's self-protection, but it has left me even more isolated.

I'll have to namechange now (ex used to stalk me on-line; I don't think he does so anymore but better safe than sorry).

tescoyahooMN Wed 27-May-15 22:32:34

Hilary, I name change on a regular basis because of the same reason as you sad

I have to say though that I don't feel the same as you when it comes to talking about it to others. I find it cathartic. Thankfully I have close friends I can talk to openly, who although haven't been through it themselves, are able to be understanding and helpful. And I've weirdly found that women I talk to about it have opened up about their own relationships, some of them have recognition in their eyes when I speak about it.

But I was speaking to my mum today (my dad was abusive too) and she said the same as you. That her friends didn't want to know. That they distanced themselves from her and didn't understand the situation. Like it was her fault or they wouldn't have put up with it had it been them . Awful.

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