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Emotional abuse?(17 Posts)
I wonder if people could give me their views. I have been married 16 years, with my partner a total of 20 years and I have two children. Most of the time things are fine-I have always thought to myself that it is a bit of an 80/20 relationship in that everything is fine 80% of the time and then some of the time it is hellish. Actually it is probably less than 20% of the time. In the 80% of the time he is supportive and normal, and he has supported me through some very bad times. But I know that there is a pattern, and there always has been, that every so often-and it is not very often-say once a year or every 9 months, I get the feeling that he is really angry with me and watching me and I become really anxious. Often he will sink into silence for up to a week or 2 weeks-he will speak to communicate basic things but he won't really speak. When I ask what is wrong he will say 'nothing', and now when it happens and I ask he literally says nothing. When I have been really upset with him -even to the point of asking whether we need to divorce because I cannot make him happy-he has said nothing-literally nothing. He has walked out of the room or rolled over and gone to sleep. In the past this would end, or start with him doing something to provoke me (I did not realise this was happening and would be angry with myself for provoking him) and then there being a big argument. I used to argue with him a lot years ago but I avoid it if I can now. He has never hit me: he once threw keys at my head and they hit me, and he has once or twice shoved me-but the last time he was sorry. He has yelled at me in public places a few times (in 20 years! though the last time was a few months ago) but I have told him I will not tolerate this, it is too humiliating, and he seemed genuinely sorry. He does not like me talking about my work-he will say : 3 minutes and so now I try to avoid that. He has often said in the past as a joke that I am lucky to have him or he will make jokes about how I am difficult to live with. If I object to something he does or if I get impatient or if I do argue with him he will get really angry and yells that I am criticising him or blaming him. I want to stress that the vast majority of the time my husband does not behave this way though it is the case that I have to avoid anything that could be criticism, and though I do not succeed I manage it much more than I did in years past. I have gone to a counsellor and had one session and she seemed quite clear that this was emotional abuse-but, really? I do find that hard to believe given that it is not frequent(though it is patterned) and I wondered what people thought. He is a really nice person the great majority of the time-my friends think he is one of the nicest people they know. The children are fine and do not notice anything-really-they are really happy. This makes me think I am over-reacting. He recently got angry with me and told me he had had enough of the relationship and now he won't speak about it. I don't know what to do.
I'm sorry, but this looks like classic patterns of abuse. You have clearly worked out what his "triggers" are, and are walking on egg-shells to try and maintain the 80% Mr Nice Guy. You are avoiding certain subjects with him, avoiding criticising him, allowing him to throw things at you/shove you, and humiliate you in public. He randomly ignores you and then refuses to engage with you about his behaviour
People who are like this are not a "really nice person the great majority of the time". My ea ex was lovely to his friends, family and work colleagues. I'm sure they never believed he was an utterly controlling bastard to me. Of course at the beginning and some of the time he was charming to me. They have to reel you in somehow, and they can be nice when it suits them.
You are not over-reacting, I would guess you are under-reacting. If you told your counsellor similar to what you have posted , I think she was correct.
What do you plan to do now ?
You have been emotionally abused so expertly, you only notice when it's at its worst. It is not 80% good. It's 100% bad, I'm sorry to say
Please speak to women's aid soon, when you have privacy. They will advise you
You have to watch and moderate your behaviour 100% of the time to try to avoid the 20% bad therefore he controls you with the threat of that 20%, that is most certainly emotional abuse. It's not about how often he shouts and throws things at you (ever is too often btw) it's how much time and energy you spend trying to avoid it happening. It will probably take a while for you to come to terms with what he is, some more counselling is probably a good idea to help you feel confident that what you see is the real him, not the 'nice guy' he shows to everyone else. The Freedom Programme may also be useful for you, google it for a course in your area or how to access it online. You don't have to live on eggshells OP, it's not 'normal' and he is abusive, sorry
Thank you everyone for your advice. I find it very hard to accept what the counsellor said, I am a strong willed ( I thought) woman, and we have raised two very happy secure children. I am successful in my job. I knew somethings were not right but I thought it was the ups and downs of a relationship. The only reason that I have started thinking about this is that I was telling a friend that I thought I was a difficult person to live with and I heard myself say something about treading on egg shells. And I didn't know why I had said it. I have come to realise my self esteem is really very low and I have maybe begun to think I might not be as bad as I think to be with but I don't know: there are 2 sides to every story. I have. changed my behaviour. over time and then understood that it isn't how I behave that really affects things-if he is in a good mood I can be cross about something and get away with it-but if he is in a bad mood it just can happen and no matter how careful I am it will make no difference. Also I fnd it very difficult to cope with the episodes now. I have become a bit more watchful and I can see things I did not see before- little small things. But I don't know what is normal, what is just maybe clumsy and what might be not normal. I am going to counselling until I understand what is going on. I think I can't decide more until I figure that out. Either way I understand things cannot go on like this anymore. If it is just rocky bits in our relationship then we owe it to each other to get it sorted. If it is something else then I don't know, I have only just started to think about where I am at. So, counselling by myself- I have not told him, I can't let him know that I think something is wrong until I know what it is, and in the meantime I will just be careful. Thank you everyone. I find it very hard to talk about
Sirry that went in forever and ever.! Sorry for rambling!
All that you have written are words of a woman who is being abused anf for many years within the relationship. ALL of this from him indicates a sustained and clear pattern of emotional abuse. Such people like your H can be plausible to those in the outside world although I am certain that one or two of them have unspoken mixed feelings about him. The act he shows them cannot be maintained forever.
His actions are about power and control; your so called H wants absolute over you. He may well have had "enough of the relationship" but he will not leave or let go of you at all easily. He would then find some other woman to abuse. Men like him really hate women, all of them because he is inadequate himself. He likely also saw this behaviour in his own childhood and has normalised it in his head; this type of stuff is deeply rooted.
Such men actually like outwardly confident women with good jobs as they see that as a challenge. They want to bring you down to their base level and will stop at nothing to destroy you; the person they really now hate after their own mother. You have simply become conditioned over the years to almost accept this as "normal" from him.
Re your children you write this:-
The children are fine and do not notice anything-really-they are really happy.
You would like to think so but they probably know a lot more than you realise.
They will notice your unspoken reactions to their dad, they have seen a lot and perhaps even wonder of you why you and he are actually still together now (particularly if these are older children). You cannot and have not been able to protect them from his abuse of you over the years. What do you think they are learning about relationships here. Please do not do your bit to show them that yes this is still acceptable to you on some level.
The only acceptable level of abuse within a relationship is NONE; that is correct NONE. Your man failed that the very first time he emotionally abused you.
Keep seeing your counsellor alone and do speak to Womens Aid on 0808 2000 247.
As others have said, this sounds like an abusive relationship to me. He's chipping away at your self esteem and you're moderating your behaviour to stop his 'episodes'. I'm pleased that you're already seeing a counsellor- I think it's a very good idea to look at other means of support that are available to you.
I also suspect that your DC are more aware of this than you think.
You 'get away with it' if he's in a good mood...
Ask yourself if that sounds okay
What a miserable situation, and yes I would say your partner is treating you appallingly, walking on eggshells, wondering what mood he is in?
Sorry but this is not normal relationship stuff, it's severe enough to make you post and from what you describe, he loves to punish you - for nothing!
You are modelling this in front of your children, he clearly doesn't give a stuff but you do and you can decide not to live like this any more OP.
So... someone offers you a cup of runny shit - do you drink it?
Of course not.
So instead they offer you tea but with 20% runny shit in it - do you drink it?
Of course not.
20% shit is still 20% shit which is what your relationship is here.
As others have said, yes it's abuse.
Please seek some advice from Womens Aid.
And definitely do their Freedom Programme.
Hi scope, you know your relationship is on dodgy ground which is why you are posting here. Well done for acknowledging that, and well done for staring counselling fir yourself.Having been in the same situation I know how hard it is to recognize and accept that the person you love is emotionally abusive. Writing it down will help you to get clarity, and then you need to get the courage and support to walk away.
It won't be easy, but you and your kids deserve better. When you look back you will realise the stress you were under trying to avoid antagonizing your partner, and how abusive your relationship actually was.
Good luck x
Thank you everyone. The children are fine- really. What I do know is that they are top priority- there is no issue there. They really don't notice the silent treatment because there is still a lot of talk directed to them. And laughter- really. Also most of the very worst of it is when they are not around: they are with grandparents etc. Also they are on phones etc. As for the anger - actually he directs that at himself as well- he basically throws a tantrum if he himself does something wrong that frustrates him. He is a good dad- he has had faults and he has corrected them( he used to hit my son) in the face- I know, it was awful but I told him I would not tolerate it and he stopped) -- and he genuinely loves the children and worries for them. He is no monster but yes there are things to deal with and yes I do see he has behaved unacceptably to me at times.I do get that whatever I have done does not justify the retaliation. But I think it is possible he might change if he understands the damage- if someone else tells him.
When you express to an abuser how much his words and actions have upset you, you are handing him a victory. It's the gold medal. He won and got the prize
Best say nothing. And, as said above, absolutely No, No, No to joint counselling
Every single relationship I have had is abusive (I'm 40)
I was EA as a child by both my parents.
THIS IS EMOTIONAL ABUSE
An exactly what Marchate said: words from an EA veteran.
"He used to hit my son in the face"......and this is a nice man?
Do you love him? - I mean really love him, rather than feel dependent on him and afraid of what rocking the boat might do.
How old are your children? - I presume early teens. I would be very surprised indeed if they had noticed nothing - children are very astute. I think you do need to consider whether this is a healthy environment for them or a positive role model of a happy relationship.
You went to a counsellor for independent advice and she has given it. You clearly felt concerned enough about the situation to go in the first place.
You have a lot of thinking to do and things to weigh up, but you need to have a proper and realistic assessment of what is really going on in order to make those decisions. I think you probably know what the situation is but do not want to face it - and who can blame you? I send every good wish to you as you deliberate on this problem.
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