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How to repair myself after an abusive relationship?

(70 Posts)
tinz22 Tue 07-Jun-16 16:17:21

Hi everyone, been lurking for over a year ( I think my subconcious was telling me something) but this is the point that I’ve finally had the balls to post. Does anyone have any hints on how to get over the abuse that was doled out by my exBF for the last three years?

Sorry for the upcoming essay but I’ve been holding this in for a long time.
I haven’t read Lundy’s book yet (arrived in the door today) but I get the feeling he’ll fit the Mr Victim abuser profile: he was diabetic, his ex girlfriends cheated on him, he’s get the picture...poor poor him. At the start, any time he did something I found off-putting, he minimized, professed his love and pointed out that he was from a decent family who would never do that.
He drew my attention and compared me to other girls- he liked that I wasn't high maintenance or glamorous like them, every compliment who be followed by an “if only” or a “but”. I was skinny but I had a pot-belly as he called it “lovingly”. If I called him out on shabby behavior, I was made feel crazy, unreasonable and controlling. He routinely made sure to wake me in the middle of the night so at times I was getting less than 3 or 4 unbroken sleep as once I’m woken I’m fully awake.

It upped when I was stupid enough to move in with him. I became responsible for all the housework, organising, doctor appointments etc despite him promising he’d pull his weight, when I asked for him to help out I was made out to be an OCD cleaner (that included asking him to put peelings in the bin not the floor- we got ants, apparently that’s not unusual but it was the first time in 7 years of renting). If I booked holidays, he'd complain about all the things I did wrong. When I told him to book them himself so that he'd get what he wanted, he'd make out that I was too picky and he was worried I wouldn't like his choices (I grew up having caravan holidays, I am not picky at all!)

He left a whirlwind of mess behind him and would never tidy, gave out to me if he couldn’t find something that he’d abandon in the middle of the floor. I am beginning to wonder if he planted things for me to trip over, just so he could call me clumsy. The tidying issues culminated in his grabbing me by the throat when I asked for him nicely if he could tidy his “man-cave” room (which was meant to be a spare guestroom that he gas-lighted me into thinking I had agreed was for his stuff) as he’d booked a few days off to just doss and play a new video game. He made me out as a nag that drove him to it and I shamefully believed him.

Previous to that, I realise now, that there was constant low level physical abuse where he used to pinch my sides/dig his fingers in to the point of bruising. I was told I just bruised easily and I believed him. Even though I told him to stop, he kept doing it because apparently he couldn’t help himself, my sides invited it. Same with the groping in public and the spanking my ass until I squealed in pain.

The sexual abuse I seemed to have tuned out completely - it feels like it happened to a different person but I know that I've lost sight of what a loving sex-life looks like. He used to treat me like an object/porn actress; I had to dress up, do what he wanted, be hairless and if I didn’t I was made feel like crap and he’d sulk. He lied about getting an STI test when we got rid of condoms because he said he couldn’t finish in them- i only found out about that a year later. He kept pressuring me to do anal sex even after I said it upset me to talk about it. I didn't trust him not to do damage, i should have realised that was an indictment on him not me. There was one incident where he came up to bed after being up late gaming with friends, i was asleep when he penetrated and wouldn’t get off me when I said no and it was hurting me, its one of the only times he finished with PIV sex. He apologized but deflected the blame on me as we hadn't had sex in two weeks. He with-held sex as punishment, it was only when he wanted, I was rejected if I initiated and then made out that it was me responsible for our lack of sex.

In February of this year he went to a convention where he met a girl - he came home and told me flirted with him. He said he didn’t tell her he had a LT girlfriend and after I said how much that hurt proceeded to add her on FB, told me there was nothing to worry about I was his "girl". The abuse got worse, he began to completely blank me when I was talking to him, wouldn’t spend any time with me and insulted me outright while before it had been discrete. The little housework he did stopped. This was coming up to the end of my PhD so I assumed I was horrible to be around.

But turns out he had lined this new girl up (I'm not sure if he was cheating) and proceeded to dump me. I had to move out of our rented house back home which was 4 hours away because I couldn’t afford the rent on my own and I was too wigged out to find a new place. He made out I was at fault for everything, that I was toxic, that he was the poor victim of a mean girlfriend (at that point I didn’t know about the OW so I believed him). He said that touching me repulsed him. He kept saying he expected me to be angrier but I was too exhausted to get angry. When I didn’t give him the anger, he got nastier started calling me paranoid for protecting my own interests i.e. I didn’t give him back the key until I had my deposit in my hand.

It happened two and a half months ago now but it’s broken me completely, I'm a shell of the girl who moved down to that city. As I was in the write-up stage of my PhD (which he continuously sabotaged) and couldn't focus on writing, I started seeing a counsellor who has helped me to see I was dating a bonafide sociopath (some of his stories about what he got up to with friends are chilling and I’d be afraid to relate them in case I’d trigger someone).

If you made it this far, I’m wondering have people managed to come out the other side of a relationship like this? I’m only 26 but I feel so very old, hollow and broken - that I’ll never meet a genuine good guy because I don't have that luck. I just feel hollow and like I’m damaged goods. I know I'm lucky to be free of him but I hate that he's not had to suffer any consequences for his behavior. Does anyone have any success stories to share?

summerainbow Tue 07-Jun-16 16:25:51

I have read on here about freedom programme.
But I myself have not done it yet .

hellsbellsmelons Tue 07-Jun-16 16:29:10

First off, have you spoken to Womens Aid?
If not then please do so.
They will put in contact with local support services.
2nd - when you speak to WA ensure you do their Freedom Programme.
This will help you with lots of things. Self Esteem, boundaries, red flag spotting, ending things when you should etc....
3rd - Could rape crisis help you? You mention sexual assault.
They will have highly qualified counsellors who can help you come to terms with these things.
4th - stay single for a good while. Find yourself. Who you are. You are still very young and it can take a while.
5th - keep busy. Join some local clubs or your local gym.
6th - tell everyone you can. Make this really real. Get some RL support from friends and family.
It's a tough time and you will need these people to help you through.

You've had to learn a hard lesson and you've done it young so that's a positive.
Don't allow anyone to treat like this ever again!

ManicPixieDream Tue 07-Jun-16 16:34:25

Definitely the Freedom Programme. Well done for getting out and recognising this for what it was. This is the start of the rest of your life.

tinz22 Tue 07-Jun-16 16:48:52

Thank Hellsbells there's a lot of helpful advice in there!

I can't seem to bring myself to ring Womens Aid I feel like I'd be wasting their time as I'm out of the relationship and I feel there's people more in need of them. Support for DV here is scant on the ground in rural areas (I'm not in the UK) and focuses more on physical abuse.

I think the nearest support groups are moreso for battered women but I'm trying to build myself up to email them to ask. I have an online group for abuse survivors that I'm part of which is helpful.

I have the online freedom programme bookmarked, I just need the time to sit down and do it (Busy is the one thing I'm succeeding at least smile ).

Again the rape crisis, it comes down to being so disconnected from it all. I don't think anyone would believe me. I know now since I can't remember when it happened that it would be his word against mine and the guards wouldn't pursue it. My counselor specialises in sexual trauma but she's letting me get to it in my own time, currently I'm undoing the mental damage he did because the one thing I treasure most is my mind.

I was accused by a (a now former) friend of scapegoating him for not getting my PhD finished on time. That knocked back my confidence further and is contributing to me not talking about it to anyone but my closest friends and my counselor. I can't tell my family about the sexual abuse, they're quite Catholic and they wouldn't be comfortable. I have told my aunt though, she's been so nice to me!

I intend to stay single for a very very long time, forever feels too soon tbh. It's partially trust issues and I also don't want some poor decent guy having to deal with the mess my ex has made me into. i intend to continue counselling for the same reason. I don't think I'm dumb enough to let someone treat me like that again and I hope I'm lucky enough never to come across someone as sociopathic either!

Resilience16 Tue 07-Jun-16 16:56:55

Wow, what a head fuck he was!Well done to you for getting away. Not surprised your head is up your arse. You have suffered ordeal by emotional/physical and mental abuse!
But look at you, you have not only survived it but come out the other side to tell the tale! That is a bloody major achievement. You may feel broken but you just need time to get yourself back together mentally, physically and spiritually. You can and will do it.
All the advice above from old Hellsbells is spot on the money. You can do the Freedom course as part if a group or online, but definitely do it so you can fireproof yourself from going through crap like this again.
Keep busy, exercise will help. Tell people but be prepared for some of them (friends, not professionals)to look at you like a loon when they hear what you have been through. Unless you've lived it I don't think people realise how the most extreme behaviour becomes your normality when you are in an abusive relationship.
Mostly tho be kind to yourself. You were not at fault here, and you are not to blame. You are a survivor, not a victim.Please get some support in RL though to help get you back on track. You can do it.
Massive hugs. Onwards and upwards x

RiceCrispieTreats Tue 07-Jun-16 17:02:54

I'd really recommend a peer support group. Perhaps your local WA has one.

It really helps to share with other women who are also trying to make sense of things. It can bring you validation that the behaviour that seemed off to you really was bad, and also to gain a measure of reassurance that you are perfectly normal, since all these other bright women have been caught in the same insane trap too.

FreeFromHarm Tue 07-Jun-16 17:08:22

Hellsbells has it on the nail, I am an escapee, please do not hesitate to post, it has really helped me just knowing I am certainly not the only one, womensaid saved our lives xx

tinz22 Tue 07-Jun-16 18:35:32

Hi RiceCrispie and FreeFrom,
you've both hit the nail on the head. Its the validation that I'm looking for. My online group is helping but face to face would hold more water.

My best friend is after sending me a link about the Turner case in the States because that story my ex told me of his college days that I alluded to in my OP is pretty similar, only there was a bunch of lads involved. He was sniggering into his phone, I asked him what was so funny and he related that he and his friends were talking about the night they done that to a girl passed out on the couch.

I was horrified that he found it funny and rightly called it rape, he denied it. When I asked him how he would feel if that had happened to me, I was told I wasn't that type of girl...I think that was the point in time I realised what a perverted mind he had.

It scares me that guys can do that and get away with it.

UmbongoUnchained Tue 07-Jun-16 18:40:15

The only thing that worked for me was time really. It's just over a year now and I still feel anxious and bitter but I no longer cry about it. Surround yourself with friends and just talk about it as much as you can. Try and keep yourself busy and plan some things to look forward too to keep you going.

FreeFromHarm Tue 07-Jun-16 18:59:15

Yes Umbongo, I agree as they say time is a great healer, you have us to, it has really helped me as I am new on here for you as your story is similar to mine , when you feel low, hop on here or message us, a different perspective always helps. If it gets to the panicky stage, write down on a piece of paper all the nasty thoughts then free yourself by having a letting go ceremony sounds odd, but it will free you , it will get better over time my love xx

tinz22 Tue 07-Jun-16 19:20:28

Yeah I think its going to take a lot of time. I've got a lot of things going on currently between PhD and finding a new job so that'll keep my mind off things. I'm trying to figure out whether I can afford to take a trip once I'm finished to somewhere to reunite with old friends.

I like the idea of the letting go ceremony, Bonfire night is coming up here though so I might adapt it to a burning ceremony grin.

I think it's only after hitting me after I posted how much crap was pulled on me over the three years- I've been crying at the drop of a hat all day (and I really hate crying). I hope karma eventually gets to him and by the time it does I no longer care! I like the term escapee, unfortunately I don't even have that to hold up, he was the one who dumped me, I hadn't the gumption to dump him.

FreeFromHarm Tue 07-Jun-16 19:43:04

to put in perspective, you will be free, he will always know he has lost the best thing , he will try and replace you, but nothing but Karma will hit him, keep that in mind x stay focused even though it is early stages and give yourself to grieve, remember you are now in control and things can only get better, by all means have a cry, do not bottle it up , soon you will be in fine fettle, not a fantasy world of someone else's making. xx here for you anytime xx
He may have dumped you, try looking at it like this, he is hunting for something that doesn't exist, and you exist to move on to get what your truly deserve as we all do, true contentment and peace, so do not mourn what is not worth mourning xx

Resilience16 Tue 07-Jun-16 20:06:04

Whether you escaped because he dumped you, or because you dug an escape tunnel or were smuggled out in a wooden horse, the main thing is you escaped!
Karma is a bitch and will get him ,guaranteed.
You are the winner here, while he is a sad, sick, twisted little individual.
Crying is allowed.
The burning ceremony is a great idea.
Onwards and upwards x

FreeFromHarm Tue 07-Jun-16 20:17:19

Well said, onwards and Upwards xx

frieda909 Wed 08-Jun-16 09:07:19

Tinz it is scary how much of your post I could have written myself. So many details are exactly the same as my situation, it's kind of spooky! The trail of mess, making me book tickets and organise everything then complaining if I got anything wrong, laying the blame 100% on me for our (dire) sex life yet laughing in my face if I tried to initiate anything, right down to the pestering for anal even though he knew it really hurt (that was always my fault, though - apparently if I just relaxed and stopped being so uptight I'd enjoy it hmm). And in the end, what happened? He met someone else, flirted with her for weeks while forgetting to mention he lived with me, his partner of nine years ('it just never came up', apparently) and, after years of making it impossible for me to leave, suddenly he was done with me. I guess I was the one to make the final decision, but it was all triggered by him meeting this woman, who is now his new girlfriend.

Like you, the worst part for me was knowing that I hadn't even had the guts to get out of there on my own, but had my hand forced by the situation. I didn't even really acknowledge it as an abusive relationship until months later, and some days I still find that a difficult concept to get my head around.

I cried a lot and got angry a lot. I talked to friends about as much as I felt able to, although there are some details I still can't bring myself to reveal to them. I also went on Tinder and hooked up with a few hotties, which I'm sure people will tell you is a terrible idea when you're feeling fragile. It probably was, but the distraction and the ego boost did actually kind of help me.

I'm a year on from it now, and while I'm far from 'over it', I've managed to slowly rebuild my confidence by realising that he was the problem, not me. He was a miserable, angry man who broke me and dragged me down because he wanted me to be as unhappy as him. Since leaving him I have become a whole new person. It's taken time, but I now have a really busy, active social life and I've landed my dream job. Things I would never have achieved if it wasn't for him.

Just keep telling yourself that you are an amazing lady who is worth so much more than this piece of shit. He dragged you down, but you CAN get back up. You have a PhD! Which you managed to pull off in spite of all the crap you were putting up with from him. Just think of what you can achieve now that you're free of him and his crap!

bibliomania Wed 08-Jun-16 10:05:45

Another one chiming in to say time will help a lot. Thank God you don't have dcs with him!

I found reading about it helped a lot - it's great that you have the Lundy book. I also found Men Who Hate Women to be eye-opening.

I don't like to call myself a victim or even a survivor - I prefer, with a John Wayne swagger, to consider myself a veteran. It's all life experience. I say that not to minimise what you've been through, but to say that you can actively choose how to frame this experience. It's certainly been one way to get an intense insight into gender politics and the strategies of coercive control. You've learned a bit more about the world.

I think you're right to concentrate on being single for quite a while. You are so young!

You have to go through the mourning for what you suffered - it is right to have compassion for your younger self and to cry now. If you don't have dcs, you probably won't know the words to "We're going on a Bear Hunt", but it's a good motto - "Can't go under it, can't go over it, have to go through it". But you will come through, and you will come out the other side.

aLeafFalls Wed 08-Jun-16 10:23:42

Hi OP, so much of your experience is similar to mine, but I endured it for nearly 20 years. So well done, you're out of it.
Ex left for good 14 months ago. He's repeatedly asked to come back but I've refused. Only gone nc for just over 4 months - I was trying to "manage" his constant calls, texts, unexpected visits, afraid of what would happen if I cut him off.
When I actually did, my solicitor sending him a warning letter, I started some real recovery. I feel like I sometimes glimpse the woman I was, a long way off, down the wrong end of a telescope. But she's still there! I'm remembering who I was, who he worked so hard to destroy.
Time, looking after yourself and outside support, all help. I see a counsellor who also works for Woman's Aid and that has helped a lot. Really, really nurture yourself, you need it, you've been through a terrible experience.
I have no plans to date. I like being on my own, I'm much older than you too which makes a difference. I've had my children, so that isn't a consideration. Also, I have no headspace for a relationship. I need to heal, that's my priority.
Best wishes to you op. You'll find loads of support on here.

tinz22 Wed 08-Jun-16 12:28:23

I launched into Lundy's book last night, its absolutely terrifying the amount of my ex I see described in there! Thanks Freefrom and Resilience! I ned to hold onto that optimism with both hands, "onwards and upwards" is a phrase I had forgotten about but its so true!

Christ frieda909 I did a sharp intake of breathe when I read your post "apparently if I just relaxed and stopped being so uptight I'd enjoy it ". That was exactly what he said to me too. Along with the it never came up. They are two sides of the same coin! I'm glad you've come along as far as you have! Its funny up until this point I've never had a verbal attack directed at me because I tend to be mediator in the situation so when he was so nasty after breaking up with me I was so unprepared even though I had read of the cheaters script here I actually let him convince me that I was the toxic crazy one...wanker (literally too). I was tempted to Tinder but just as I was building strength back up to get back out there I got a knockback; I lost my uncle last week which seems to dredged up the anger and upset I had thought I put to bed. However in time I intend to return to OLD but I think I'll stay away from POF! (Although I don't know how many hotties are in my vicinity currently!).

Bibliomania Thanks for your kind words. I like the term veteran even more than escapee, it doesn't minimise and conjures up an image of a strong person which is what I hope to return to! I don't have dcs thankfully but my mam is a childminder so I have heard that motto before, just never thought to apply it to myself!

aLeafFalls 20 years, you are amazing to have survived that! Its people like you that I am in awe of. The sheer strength it must have taken you to get out.

Thank you for your advice everyone, I'm taking it all on board. I need to remember that there'll be bad and good days but that it will get better.

I have another question: does anyone have any remedy for the nightmares? I keep meeting my ex in my dreams and although I've tried meditation, binaural, reading steamy chick lit before sleep (thanks free ibooks!), it doesn't seem to get rid of is going to be another time thing?

FreeFromHarm Wed 08-Jun-16 12:43:10

The nightmares, I kept on reliving the sexual assault and rapes, 22 years over and over in my head, I download a meditation programmes off iTunes there are some free ones on there so many to choose from, they have really helped me, settle yourself down to sleep and leave it running until you nod off , and no stimulants after 6 o'clock ( chocolate is ok though :0) )
Let me know how you gets on, this thread is so supportive thank you everyone, xx

aLeafFalls Wed 08-Jun-16 12:58:39

The bloody nightmares. Horrible. I think it is a time thing.
My nightmares are like living in a horror movie, terrifying. Or I'm reliving some of the worst time periods.
They do get less. FreeFrom's ideas are good. All part of self care. I've done lots of meditation which has helped me cope and cleared my mind, during and after the marriage.

tinz22 Wed 08-Jun-16 15:30:08

I must look up those meditations and see if they help the next few nights. I only drink one cup of coffee per day in the afternoon so thankfully its not stimulants and same for chocolate (I'm trying to lose the weight I put on while with my ex- pretty sure the sleep deprivation triggered my hypothyroid). I get so disorientated from the nightmares because he's either really nasty or he's reasonable and when he's reasonable its even more confusing. I feel sorry for his new girl/OW, she's really young (20/21) and he's turning 30 but there's really nothing I could do to save her from him.

FreeFromHarm Wed 08-Jun-16 16:05:52

My xdh is on number 8 since we left, he preys on single parents and vulnerable divorcee's as they are an easy touch because he charms them buys the children's trust or typical to win them over unfortunately just like he did me 22 years ago absolutely have more nightmares about that, because they have know idea as far as they are concerned I left him ... They have no idea, worries me so as they stay in the marital home which is for sale presently . Little do they realise, he needs somewhere to live and is in so much dept.
I try and put it to the back of my mind, the lady he is with presently will find out, they always do, he is not a very good liar , at one time he had three on the go ... Lies always get found out.

FreeFromHarm Wed 08-Jun-16 16:08:35

Being so young, she will lose interest, trust me ok , put it to the back of your mind and try not to dwell , time to move forward and get him out of your head. Xx

frieda909 Wed 08-Jun-16 18:13:35

Gosh, sometimes I swear there must be a lab somewhere where they clone these assholes. When I read people's stories on here I can't believe how similar they always seem to be! It sounds like your ex and mine could be twins.

I never really considered myself sexually abused by my ex, but at the very least it was an extremely unhealthy dynamic. He was actually a virgin before me. I was far from an expert, but I'd had a longish relationship before him with a healthy enough sex life. He, on the other hand, had just watched a tonne of porn confused. I quite enjoy the very occasional bit of porn myself now, but I really wasn't into it back then - I didn't care if he watched it but I just had no desire to watch any myself. Because of this, he considered himself some kind of sex expert and had the most ridiculous expectations of me, basically just wanting to recreate things he'd watched and getting frustrated with me for not living up to his silly fantasies. He'd be so patronising and constantly tell me that I just wasn't a very sexual person and that I just didn't really 'get' what sex was meant to be like. It sounds so ludicrous now, doesn't it? All this coming from a guy who hadn't slept with anyone before me.

He also used to guilt-trip me into it and get into the most awful moods which he blamed on sexual frustration if it had been even a couple of days since we last had sex. Then he'd moan that when we did do it, there'd be a bad atmosphere and that I had a miserable look on my face. Well, what did you expect when I'm being made to do this in order to stop you from sulking at me?

Ugh, sorry. Didn't mean to turn that into a rant all about me, although it was quite therapeutic!

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