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Do abusers know what they are doing?

(31 Posts)
AugustMoon Fri 08-Jan-16 08:05:57

Just that really. I wonder if belittling your spouse, discrediting their views and opinions, maintaining financial control, isolating the one person they're supposed to love is something that's done consciously ...? Or does it build up to that only when the abused has been sufficiently submissive and lost confidence. I ask because my H gives the impression he is perfect. Everyone else thinks so, obviously i'm not right in the head. IS the abused partly to blame by taking on a dependent role, nagging. Moping around. Losing interest in sex (because of resentment yes, and dislike, hatred even of their spouse after years of EA) which in turn causes feelings of rejection and dented pride perpetuating the cycle of abuse.

OnceAMeerNotAlwaysAMeer Fri 08-Jan-16 08:18:28

I think some do, it's a deliberate strategy. Some are half-conscious of it, they have a pattern in their head from their own upbringing and they replay it. Some are simply not aware of what they are doing, or even that it's abusive.

If they don't realise they're doing it or are only half-aware then there's a faint chance they could change if something shakes them up enough. It's rare though. Some people will say that abusers can never change, but a few can. if they want to and get help.

Mostly the question is, if you're married to someone like this what are you going to do about it? it's a shit way to live.

TheDowagerCuntess Fri 08-Jan-16 08:24:01

Does it matter, really?

If they don't know they're doing, how can they ever hope to stop?

If they do know they're doing it, they're not a nice person.

Either way, when both halves of a couple give every outward appearance of loathing each other, it's time to consider whether it's really worth it for everyone - not least (in fact, especially) - the children.

Perfectlypurple Fri 08-Jan-16 08:29:26

Yes they know. They don't start out like that at the start of a relationship because if they did the other person would run a mile. They wait until further into the relationship and start the belittling then. And of course everything else.

AugustMoon Fri 08-Jan-16 08:36:56

once do you have experience of someone changing?

CwtchMeQuick Fri 08-Jan-16 08:37:26

I think some must know. But I also think some are just unable to see what they're doing.
When I finally left my ex I screeched at him that every time he'd hurt me or belittled me I'd fallen a little bit more out of love with him until I just didn't feel anything anymore. He honestly looked broken, like a deer in headlights. He was devestated. Then he hit me again. And I realised that while he didn't mean to do what he'd done, that was his normal and nothing was going to change that. I couldn't let that become ds's normal so I walked.

The abused is not to blame, ever. If your husband is abusing you thats on him. Do not let him make you think it's your fault. Abusers make a choice, be it a conscious one or a subconscious one, they choose to abuse and they choose to make their victim feel at fault.

AugustMoon Fri 08-Jan-16 08:42:23

TheDC its tricky though isn't it because no abuse is constant. There are moments, days, weeks even when things can tick along nicely and if they both adore their children...
I have three sons and want to take them back to England but he wont let me. I know what I should do. It just feels impossible.

RedMapleLeaf Fri 08-Jan-16 08:42:46

I don't think that many do it a consciously planned course of action. I think that it starts small and on the normal scale of everyday behaviour. They value the response it gets and then it evolves from there. I do wonder why other people don't become abusive. Is it because they don't value the behaviour caused, or something else?

AugustMoon Fri 08-Jan-16 08:47:00

He has told me its impossible. That I would be begging him for pennies and he wont have our kids living in a squat. I remind him I'm actually very employable in the UK (not here, I cant work, or get a bank account) and we have a house. Which he says I cant move back into.

AugustMoon Fri 08-Jan-16 08:47:59

Sorry for drip feeding. It wasn't supposed to be about my situation. I just want to try to understand.

raisin3cookies Fri 08-Jan-16 09:05:47

I am going to open myself up to judgement here.

I used to scream at and smack my children. It was (and is) my deepest shame and I hate myself for it. I was raised with an abusive father until my parents split when I was 12 (and I only saw him at weekends but that was still horrible) and I didn't cope with the abuse in a healthy way. I bottled it up inside and tried to pretend it wasn't there.

When I had children I wanted to be better, but that script came rushing out of me and I would turn into my father. I was despicable. I took full responsibility for my actions and tried to change. I read parenting books, I employed various anger management techniques. Over the years I got better, but it was incremental and I was still abusive when I got angry. Maybe less so but still it was hideously wrong.

My turning point came about four years ago when I learned some specific meditation techniques. I began meditating every day and after about two weeks it was like the monster in my head was gone. I was no longer desperately trying (and often failing) to stop the anger from exploding out of me; there was no anger. I didn't have that ugly voice in my head that secretly enjoyed feeling angry.

I have changed. I am a different person, and a better one. My children, thank God, barely remember my previous self. (The younger ones not at all) They will not grow up damaged the way I did - the chain of abuse has been broken and I am deeply humbled and grateful that I was able to do it.

So yes, I think the abusers are aware of the script on some level, and that change is possible with the right tools.

OnceAMeerNotAlwaysAMeer Fri 08-Jan-16 09:11:20

Yes, august. The individuals received specialist help. It wasn't easy. The problem at the beginning was mostly that it was hard for them to want to change. Being abusive works quite well for most abusers. It's not decent behaviour and unfair, but they get the power kick out of it and things arranged to their liking. Dominance over the other person can be a real kick for some people, and the sense of 'winning" :/

But as time went on, the ones that kept on trying slowly began to see -what- they were doing wrong, which was the first step.

They were also taught more constructive ways of resolving discussions / arguments / conflict. They had to learn that sometimes, it's genuinely okay not to win, not to have the last word and that you can get a lot more reward out of being cooperative.

For instance, someone behaving abusively will find before long that there is not much real affection or trust from their partner, because abusive behaviour drives people away. ... exactly what Cwtch said.

Once they started changing their behaviour, in a few cases the partner responded. Sometimes the abusive person had to find a new partner, the previous one had had enough. There was a chance though of a much better and more real relationship. But it made it all harder for the abuser to change, because they lost their relationship along with having to do some serious hard work on themselves and often the practical stuff like shopping for themselves, cleaning etc.

They were also taught to express their own wishes and needs in a straightforward manner, not trying to manipulate to get what they want. Sometimes it was hard for them to accept that they -wouldnt- always get what they wanted.

A lot of it was reprogramming really from the patterns of childhood. You did see people kind of clicking that their parents had behaved like this. They could slowly build up new ways of behaving, the chance to stop and think in a stressful situation and say "im going to choose this more honest option, instead of fallback on bullying or manipulating"

It did work for some people, but they were the ones who really wanted to do better. Even then, some could not hack it (but perhaps something will have stayed with them for future). The sad thing is that there are very many abusive people out there, male and female, and the numbers who want to change and who can find the right help are small :/

In the end it comes down to the will to change, and then the ability. Not that many have the will to change. Sly manipulation works well, at least for the abuser.

I was told some have gone on to hold down reasonably healthy long term relationships.

Personally I feel very sorry for people in the kind of relationship you describe. It is not their fault, no, but the time comes when there's a turning point. They have to get out, or they get beaten down so far that they can't. Then if kids come along, it's a thousand times harder in so many ways. Then they -have- to get out for the sake of their children and breaking the cycle. Except that for some people, it's too late.

The trouble with the children seeming to 'adore' their abusive parent is that actually, quite a bit of that is based on the kid wanting to please the parent so they don't get the bad side directed at them. Really secure kids have more room to be themselves.

Quite a few people leave abusive relationships where there's no will to change things, and then they find that their children are a lot calmer and happier. It really surprises them.

So yes there is hope IF the abusive person wants to change, but sadly it's a very small minority who want to / can (in my experience)

OnceAMeerNotAlwaysAMeer Fri 08-Jan-16 10:54:19

Im sorry, it took ages writing my essay and I missed the last few posts.

raisincookies I take my hat off to you. Reckon you've done one of the hardest things possible. Changing external circumstances is hard; changing yourself much harder.

august he sounds bloody awful. He wants to keep you a prisoner dependent on him. That = total relationship breakdown.

Can you get advice from an English lawyer? I think that you have to play your cards close to your chest from now on and disengage from him.

AugustMoon Fri 08-Jan-16 11:08:14

raisin thanks for sharing, i shouldn't worry about flaming, nobody is perfect and your story is inspirational.
Once very insightful, thank you, makes a lot of sense. Particularly what you say about children appearing to adore an abusive parent. Light switch moment flowers

AugustMoon Fri 08-Jan-16 11:13:22

Once yes, I know. I'm trying.

SignoraStronza Fri 08-Jan-16 11:16:58

I think they know what they're doing. The difference, once I stopped being upset by my ex's behaviour, was incredible. By that point I no longer cared about him or his 'tantrums' and had started getting my ducks in a row to leave. For a month he managed to behave himself but I never believed it would last and refused to get suckered in.
I made sure I'd quietly filed a police report, got it noted by dc's lovely doctor (who, having seen dc's behaviour, was totally unsurprised) and dropped it into conversation with nursery staff. I banked on ex's main concerns being a) his public image and b) his bank account and then fled to the UK.
For almost two years I did my utmost to get dc settled into the UK so I could 'prove settlement' in case the police turned up on my doorstep, confiscated passports and forced a return to that country. It was a gamble but, in my case, it paid off.
Start logging every incident OP, and make a plan.

AugustMoon Fri 08-Jan-16 11:47:31

Thank you, and well done signora

redexpat Fri 08-Jan-16 12:52:21

My PILs were horrified when they realised that DH hadnt given me a bank card. I had no access to money, no job, not entitled to benefits. I had a card for one chain of petrol station. In the end I took his card from his wallet and sent him to get the takeaway so he would know what its like. I explained when he got home that I needed money to do the shopping, not that I would be gling on shopping sprees. Then he got me a card.

TreesInSpace Fri 08-Jan-16 13:47:52

I think they know, but they can't help their behaviour.

My ex was faultless and charming at the beginning of our relationship. It only took 6 months for the abuse to start and by then I was hopelessly in love with him and everything was too rose-tinted to see clearly.

mum2mum99 Fri 08-Jan-16 14:13:24

They push boundaries and check how you react. It can be conscious or not. Each time you give in they push a bit further.
Early tactics to isolate you might include telling you your friend made a pass at him or said something really odd about you.
Dropping all your plans because he has something better for the 2 of you all the time.
make insulting comment on our appearance that looks like a compliment: you would be so attractive if you...
Persuade us to do something we don't want to do.
Get us to do his washing...
put pressure on us to have sex.
Check the book 'living with the dominator' by the Freedom Programme.

When I was with it I was completely oblivious to it. It took one physical attack to leave and then realise that there was the EA too...

Stormsurfer Fri 08-Jan-16 14:22:00

Signora, please can you expand what you mean about the Dr not being surprised due to the DCs behavior. What were the DCs like before and after you left?

Stormsurfer Fri 08-Jan-16 14:25:00

Also, can anyone explain to me where the line is between being grumpy and having disagreements and different outlooks to actual emotional abuse? Im new here and am finding this all very useful.

Joy69 Fri 08-Jan-16 14:49:09

I think some abusers are so set on what they want that they don't see it as abuse. Although I wasn't in a bad situation, just money control, housework etc my ex seemed to justify his behaviour my compartmentalising his life. At the end of our relationship I told him that he was actually the one that needed counselling not me.
Many of them don't want to change & in my case I no longer want to be with someone who doesn't consider my feelings & work as a team. Having said all this it has taken ne Years to leave.

mum2mum99 Fri 08-Jan-16 14:54:03

No wonder you don't want to have sex with him anymore.
Not having sex should not be a reason for him to put pressure on you or abuse you.
It does happen and sex is about consent.

SignoraStronza Fri 08-Jan-16 18:58:10

With regards to Dc's behaviour, it is difficult to pin it down. Main thing was just the constant anger. Non verbal at 2.5 (when I left), other than nine words. These included 'him', 'door', 'no', 'mine', 'I want', '(go) away' and 'mama'. I did work two jobs though, putting dc in f/t nursery 8-6 in order to pay for anything dc/me related because he ruffed to (despite a managerial position and 50k in his current account). I suppose I wasn't at my sparkling best at weekends, when I'd constantly be on eggshells and awaiting the next bizarre tantrum (from him).

Dc just had such an angry, almost empty look in their eyes. Very, very over attached to me. E.g. In the mornings I'd sneak in a shower while he stayed in bed. Dc would bash on the shower door hysterically while he just did absolutely nothing.

Dc witnessed far too many of his outbursts. These included spitting, throwing things, yelling, beating his head in his hands, bashing the wall, driving like a twat, deliberately breaking stuff, pushing me, biting me, kicking me etc. No wonder they were so angry and frightened.

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