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Help!emotional abuse or normal rowing? Feel like I'm going crazy..

(66 Posts)
Jessbird1 Fri 01-Apr-16 09:06:28

I have started to notice a pattern to our rows, and I think my DH might be emotionally abusive when it happens. I need help to 'decode' what is going on. This is a typical example of what happens.

We were in the lounge, I was on my phone researching built in wardrobes and was absorbed ( I was on Pinterest!). He said he was taking DS upstairs to play, the tv was on CBeebies, I wasn't watching it. Half an hour later he came back down and the tv was still on CBeebies (I hadn't noticed as I was absorbed in my task). He flipped out at me for not turning it off ( I am suspicious he did it on purpose to catch me out when he came back down so he could have a go at me). He says I am lazy and a liar and that he won't believe me because he 'knows me' and that I am stubborn and am not telling the truth. I feel that the responsibility for the tv was with the person who was watching it ( or the person watching DS who was watching it) so don't feel it was up to me to turn it off. I try to explain I cannot 'lie' to resolve the row and he shouldn't expect me to. Admittedly I do get defensive as I feel my character is being attacked and I feel he is being unfair. I try to make him believe me and see that it's not worth making a huge row over in front of DS. He will not stop going and going on at me being rude, calling me names, discounting everything I say, twisting and turning it to make it my fault and force me to 'apologise'. Even though he comes at me with the issue, and essentially causes the row by having a go at me, it is always me that has caused it because I should have just 'apologised' and 'admitted I was in the wrong'. I feel very strongly that I won't apologise for something I haven't done or that I don't feel warrants an apology. I am always quick to apologise if I am wrong though. He keeps going and going until I can no longer contain myself and flip out in a rage of the injustice and his rudeness to me (he says awful things which I can' never remember). He then uses this 'flip out' against me saying things like 'look at you you're a mess' 'you can't control yourself' 'I'm not the one shouting'. of course he is rude and hurtful and awful to me but he manages to stay calm the whole time he is doing it which then makes me out even more to be the 'bad guy'.

Eventually I will apologise to make it stop thinking if I hold my hands up to 'my part' ( which I still don't believe and therefore feel uncomfortable with apologising) he might see he is at fault and apologise for being the one who caused the row and hurt me so much in the process. No such chance. He will not accept any responsibility, will not apologise, cannot see his part (he has caused me a great deal of mental anguish by now and I have been crying and sobbing pushed to my limits but he is incapable of saying sorry, feeling guilt or reaching out to comfort me for causing me to feel this way).

He then shuts down the row, saying we will discuss it later. When I try to talk about it later he latches on to the fact I lost control and shouted, and in so doing makes himself out to be the victim, instead of focusing on the real issue which I feel is his inability to take responsibility or apologise for his part in the row. The argument can never be resolved as I am left reeling from what has happened, questioning myself, head fucked and emotionally battered, because I have to apologise but he won't. These rows only ever happen when he has started it and seem to be over trivial things, like the tv being left on, the kitchen door being left open, or me not realising that DS hasn't had breakfast yet (when DH usually does it and it's only 8.15am and therefore not a disaster that it's not been done yet).

It's worth mentioning two things. I have a fragile sense of self after an emotionally and physically abusive relationship when I was younger which may or may not be contributing to the way I react. DH had an extremely abusive childhood and ended up cutting off his Dad and half his family. I don't know all of the details but from what I have heard they were awful emotionally and physically abusive people. 90% of the time DH is loving and rational and a brilliant Dad, and I really do want to get to the bottom of it for all of our sakes. Any help in shedding light on this and ways to move forward would be helpful..

treaclesoda Fri 01-Apr-16 09:08:35

When someone starts calling someone they supposedly love names then it's not a 'normal row'.

kittybiscuits Fri 01-Apr-16 09:10:16

He is abusive. The thing you can deal with is why you are putting up with another abusive partner. You can't 'get to the bottom' of his problem of being an abuser. Does he think he is abusive?

Duckdeamon Fri 01-Apr-16 09:11:19

That is clearly emotional abuse.

Morasssassafras Fri 01-Apr-16 09:12:44

Definitely emotional abuse. I'm sure someone will be along soon to explain exactly why.

If you haven't already found the abuser profiles thread then you should definitely have a read of it. I'll try and find it and bump for you.

Duckdeamon Fri 01-Apr-16 09:14:47

His criticism of you for minor domestic things (that aren't even your fault!)
Calling you names
Wearing you down
Goading you until you lose control, then gaslighting
Blaming you for his behaviour because you wouldn't take responsibility for things HE perceived you did wrong (his perception is wrong btw).

Please read some Lundy Bancroft ("Why does he do that?")

Morasssassafras Fri 01-Apr-16 09:15:13

hellsbellsmelons Fri 01-Apr-16 09:19:51

What's the issue with leaving the TV on?
What's the issue with leaving the kitchen door open?

It sounds utterly exhausting.
I know I couldn't live like this.
You've gone from a grade 10 abusive relationship to a grade 5.
It's still abuse and you should not be putting up with it.
The only acceptable amount of abuse in a relationship is... NONE!!!!
Please contact Womens Aid and find out about their Freedom Programme.
If you haven't already done it, it will really help you to see things clearly.
Also get the book 'Why does he do that' by Lundy Bancroft. You'll find your 'D'H in there as well.

For now, while you figure all this out, walk away when he starts with arguments.
Just tell him, you are not prepared to argue over such trivial things and walk away.
Out of the house if necessary.

The fact in your title you say 'Feel like I'm going crazy' says it all.
That is how all abuse victims feel. That is how all abusers leave their victims feeling. It's not OK.

Maybe reach out to your GP and get a referral for some counselling for you.
Do NOT go to joint counselling with this man.
It is absolutely imperative you know that joint counselling with an abuser should never happen.

You posted because you are starting to realise this is not how a relationship should be. Take that and do some research and get your head straight.

Zaphodsotherhead Fri 01-Apr-16 09:21:31

Is it possible to record a row on your phone? When a row starts, record it, and try listening back to yourself after everything has died down. This might help you see exactly where the flashpoints are (it is abuse, by the way, as another poster pointed out, if you love someone you don't call them horrible names and force them to apologise for everything without apologising yourself). It might also help to reassure you that you are not overreacting. You will have absolute proof then, of which way an argument goes.

BrucieTheShark Fri 01-Apr-16 09:23:29


Leaving the tv on, who gives a shit? His behaviour is highly abusive even if you had actually 'done' something. God how awful, you must be constantly on eggshells.

Get out now.

kittybiscuits Fri 01-Apr-16 09:23:30

Everything hellsbells said!

Resilience16 Fri 01-Apr-16 09:24:32

Hi jessbird, I was with someone like this for four years. Huge rages out of nowhere over trivial shit, abusive name calling, belittling,and then if I ever tried to confront him about it or try and discuss it afterwards I was in the wrong for responding or bringing it up.
Took me ages to realise that this is emotionally abusive behaviour, and a form of control. What I also came to realise was if your partner doesn't accept that his behaviour is wrong you can never resolve it. Like your partner mine had a very abusive childhood, but while that may be a reason for his behaviour it can't be used as an excuse.
Have a read of how a seemingly healthy relationship turns abusive posted on the She knows website, it shows you the patterns and red flags.
Also contact Women's aid for more advice. When you come from an unhealthy background yourself (as I do too) it is easier for an abuser to manipulate you . It is uncomfortable to realise you are in an abusive relationship when there are good times as well as bad, but that is also part of the pattern.
The bottom line is he won't change unless he wants to change, so then the decision is yours whether to endure and walk on eggshells or be brave and get out.
Hugs for you. Good luck. You deserve better.

Marchate Fri 01-Apr-16 09:26:52

Water Torturer, it seems to me. They stay relatively calm and sneer through their nastiness

Duckdeamon Fri 01-Apr-16 09:28:17

The water torturer outlined in the post linked above sounds like your P OP.

RhombusRiley Fri 01-Apr-16 09:34:02

I have a DP/right about now becoming xDP who I have had similar endless stupid pointless arguments with involving me being gaslighted and getting incredibly angry. It's not exactly the same in how it starts, but I recognise everything you say about how it leaves you feeling.

The thing is, I am not blaming you – this shit behaviour is coming from him – but it takes two to have these arguments, in that you comply in getting sucked in and getting angry. He knows how to push your buttons so that a row starts and he ends up being "Mr Nice Guy" while you "lose control". It's very, very hard but I have found you just have to disengage, not rise to it, say "I am not arguing about this, it always ends badly" and walk away.

I know how difficult that is and I still slip up (XDP and I are still in the same house until we sort out a plan) but I have managed to reduce the arguments massively by trying to avoid playing his game whenever possible.

Mine is also "really nice" a lot of the time. But this behaviour is not OK and shows his deep disrespect and need to get one over on you. IMO (though I may be shot down for saying so), this behaviour arises out of deep insecurity (your H's upbringing would contribute to that). That's not to excuse this behaviour at all, but I think often they are so selfish and unable to see others' POV, they actually do see themselves as the victim. They set up these rows so as to confirm that to themselves, IYSWIM.

I agree with PPs counselling could really help, for you (and also for him if he'd ever agree to it) but not together.

Twinklestein Fri 01-Apr-16 09:56:17

It's how he behaves during that 10% of the time that defines the relationship. If he's abusive 10% of the time then this is abusive relationship.

However, I don't believe it's 10%, I think if you were honest with yourself it would be more than that, and you probably spend even more time trying to avoid these kind of episodes.

RhombusRiley Fri 01-Apr-16 10:18:20

As someone else on here memorably said recently, if someone gives you a cup of tea with 10% shit stirred in, it's not a nice cup of tea. It's ruined. The trouble is you are always living with the disrespect that is there, and the knowledge it could kick off at any time. That's why I've come to the conclusion that I can't do it.

Spandexpants007 Fri 01-Apr-16 10:22:12

Arguing over leaving the telly on or the door open is just weird. I wouldn't be in a relationship with someone who was so irrational and manipulative 10% of the time

Mishaps Fri 01-Apr-16 10:23:48

Just ditch him - he's not worth the effort. Life is too short.

Spandexpants007 Fri 01-Apr-16 10:24:25

If the telly was left in in my house someone (anyone) would turn it off without comment. If it was turned off half an hour later, it really wouldn't matter

QuiteLikely5 Fri 01-Apr-16 10:31:08

It's not entirely normal to argue about the TV being left on.

I wonder if he resented you for being on your phone whilst he did bedtime but instead of being able to rationalise that in his mind, he decided to row about something else?

PovertyPain Fri 01-Apr-16 10:43:51

I honest think emotional abuse is as bad as physical abuse, in some cases worse. It can leave a person with feelings of failure, confusion, self loathing and feeling like a 'bad person' as they 'can't get anything right'.

He's a nasty piece of work and will only get worse, OP. You need to protect yourself and your baby. What happens when your baby is older and witnesses this? He's repeating the possible abuse he witnessed in his home and if you stay in this relationship, this dysfunctional behaviour will continue through your son.

BlackeyedSusan Fri 01-Apr-16 10:52:39

not telling the truth

^all really bad thigs to say

the worst one would expect for a tv on would be: oh for gods sake you have left the tv on. reply, oh sorry about that I was busy... reply, grr, waste of electricity, mutter mutter... even that is possibly an over reaction

then you would expect an apology from the huffer and mutterer as the tv leaver on-er has already apologised and quite frankly it is not that big a deal.

Jessbird1 Fri 01-Apr-16 12:46:47

I can't believe I am going to say this but it's actually a huge relief to hear this so thank you every one for your comments and suggestions. I am going to do some reading as per the suggestions and also try to follow the advice that was mentioned regarding not rising to it or getting drawn into an argument. I have managed to take this approach before but it's very hard when you are tired and struggling already. It does make sense. Yes I think some counselling for me would be good. I am probably mad to say it but I do feel like

Jessbird1 Fri 01-Apr-16 12:50:56

Oops! I would like DH to get some help and understand for himself what he is doing and why it happens. Ultimately I would like to try this first before walking away. He adores our son and I'm sure if he felt that he may be in danger of causing him emotional distress that it might be a wake up call. It's perfectly reasonable to expect that someone who grew up in an abusuve house may have adopted some of the same approaches. I am convinced that help and therapy is the first port of call, we have worked through things before (like his inability to express his love verbally or in written communication) so I am confident that he could be open to help. Thanks so much everyone for the advice and for reaching out to me when I've called for help.

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