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Think I'm in an emotionally abusive relationship - how the hell to practically get out(66 Posts)
NC for this.
Pretty sure I'm in an EA relationship. Have been in denial for a long time but talking to a friend and looking back I think it's been like this for years.
There have been physical incidents - not many but at least 2 in front of one of the dc. Not serious, not lasting injury, and not hitting in the face but eg. Hitting my arm hard enough to hurt a lot. He threw a chair at me once - not a heavy one. I'm not trying to minimise, just don't want focus on that side. Frequency of incidents is maybe 1-2 per year for 8 yrs.
There have been sexual incidents. Maybe 3 in 8 years. I won't describe, it's hard. But not rape.
There's pretty much constant low level criticism, of my parenting, housekeeping, clothes, outlook on and approach to life etc. Interspersed with diametrically opposite - saying I'm the best parent in the world or I look really nice. But those sound hollow in the background of negative statements.
We hardly have sex now because I don't really want to. But he asks for it as a reward for any active family oriented behaviour - like putting the kids to bed for the first time in 3 years, saying later he deserves a bj. Or saying he will only do some DIY in the house if I put out.
I said we should split last week, and he behaved horribly - including sending me a stream of abusive text messages saying things like he would destroy me, he would never see the kids, he would turn the kids against me - such shocking bile. Then he took my phone and deleted them saying that he regretted sending them and so now they never happened, and I had no evidence. He asked the kids who they would choose to live with one evening. Telling me later we can't split until they are grown up and I wouldn't cope without him (youngest is 2)
I've stopped saying we should split to stop the behaviour - for the kids sake mainly.
Ds1 (8) has had issues and been referred to CAMHS, and we are going to have family therapy. I don't know if I should tell the therapist about the issues (privately obv), or even if family therapy is a good idea. I know it is a good idea for Ds though.
P has mental health issues (diagnosed bipolar). House is mine and were not married (bought with a family inheritance before we met). So technically I know that I could just have him removed, but I want to make things as un-acrimonious as possible for the kids, and not give him any ammunition to make them hate me. He does appear to have a victim complex - always sees himself as the victim in any situation.
Sorry it's so long. Any advice would be welcome. I feel alone and at sea.
Yes you are experiencing EA. It is illegal. Also- really the relationship sounds dead. It sounds more than dead. It sounds harmful to you and your children.
You describe physically and sexually abuse. It may not be rape but it isn't how loving partners act. It will happen again. There is a good chance that it will get worse. I really think for your sake and your children you must leave.
1) Be honest with yourself and others, including therapist about the situation. Don't minimise it. Don't hide it. EA often thrives on abusers behaviour being all most acceptable i.e he says the housework is shoddy, perhaps it is?? (no it isn't it's just another way of bringing you down and making you question yourself)
2) Don't let him make (or you make) excuses for his behaviour i.e. mental health.
3) See a lawyer asap. Or at least citizen's advice. Or both. Your legal situation is not as clear cut as if you were married (it may well be in your advantage). Do with without his knowledge.
4) Make sure you and the children are safe from him. Talking with others in confidence- family, friends, teachers, lawyers...even the police...in case you leaving causes as escalation of his behaviour. Make sure there is somewhere you and children can go in an emergency.
5) Make sure your money/savings are secure. Put money where he can't access it.
6) Keep records of all abuse- including texts etc. Don't let him have your phone.
7) Find and keep important documents safe, i.e. deeds for house, mortgage info, birth certificates, passports
Know that your children will not be happy or healthy caught in this abusive relationship. Staying together for them is probably not the best outcome for them.
I'm sorry- be strong. He sounds truly horribly disgusting. I've been there-
Can you sit him down and make it very clear that it's over and you aren't going to change your mind on this? Then refuse to discuss it or get into an argument with him again. Maybe give him a time limit of 2 or 3 weeks to start getting his stuff together and find somewhere else to live? If he's not gone by then, get the police. All that's assuming he won't become violent if you do that.
You'll be doing your children a massive favour if you get rid. My boyfriend's dad was bipolar and behaved fairly similarly to your partner. My boyfriend is lovely and very determined not to be like his dad, but it's definitely made him quite fragile, growing up in that environment.
Mary, please try not to feel alone, though I know its hard. Many women have been in similar situations and come through the other side (stronger).
First of all I would definitely make plans to get out of this one, absolutely no question. The abusive threats alone, to "destroy" you etc, is the only reason you'll ever need to get away from him and his malign influence on you and your children's lives. I would also be inclined not to take his abuse or threats lightly and to proceed carefully.
So, first of all, I recommend the book Stop Signs: Recognizing, Avoiding and Escaping Abusive Relationships by Lynn Fairweather. This is an absolutely straightforward and fabulous book (the best I've read on the subject). It will give you very good ideas on how to get out of this relationship with your safety and sanity in tact. I would suggest you read this book before you do or say anything. Many women are on the receiving end of the worst behaviour as soon as they mention leaving their partner (or shortly thereafter). Make sure you are prepared in advance. He may be especially angry if it means he is going to be the one to lose the roof over his head.
You are in a fortunate position that you have your own home legally separate from him. At some point you will need legal advice on this too. This is very important, and I urge you to pay whatever is necessary for a good solicitor's advice in the first place. Get a second opinion too, to be absolutely sure.
I believe Women's Aid can also be a very good source of advice and support.
I am so sorry you are going through this but try to keep in mind the positives for the future. Please take your time in thinking it through and getting the support you need. Personally I would not sit down and talk to him about your relationship being over as you may find yourself in a vulnerable or dangerous position. Wait until all your ducks are lined up in a row. Get advice. Get support e.g. from Women's Aid and anyone else who might be able to help you. p.s. Keep copies of all his abusive texts and so forth.
I wish you all the best. Take care.
Your p sounds exactly like mine! I dont have much advise as i left and came back twice! I am now planning on leaving for good, but i need to have job car and house in place first. Your so lucky you own the house, just kick him out, call the police if he threatens you or anything.
National Domestic Violence Helpline Home Warning! Cover your tracks!
24-hour National Domestic Violence
0808 2000 247
These guys were fab for me. Ring them, tell them everything and they'll set you on the right path. You need out. He's not just emotionally abusive, but physically and sexually too. I did it. It was helping but by about day 8 I woke up feeling like a black cloud I hadn't even realised was there has been lifted. Life is too short x
Attend a Freedom Programme - Google it to find your nearest one. It's free of charge and the people running it have loads of advice on how to leave. Good Luck in your future life!
Thank you all. Some great practical advice here. Just trying to work out how I can get hold of the book without leaving a trace on my Amazon account which he has access to. Will maybe ask another friend who is aware of the situation to buy it on my behalf.
I am fortunate that I own the house, although I feel guilty about turfing him out. Whatever way I do it I think that he will use it against me, to make himself the injured party to family, friends and the children.
I have been at this point of feeling ready to leave once before, and come near to it a few times. I've posted on here about it under a few usernames (it's a bit like telling my parents - posting under my regular username would feel like the point of no return and I'm too cowardly to commit fully as yet). Most of the criticism is not that overt - but silly things, like a piece of fruit going mouldy, or some food going past its use by date so it has to be chucked shows what a wasteful person I am. I feel nervous whenever I get home from shopping because I know he will criticise what I've bought. He does do most of the shopping and gets things from certain shops to ensure the best price, so if I get something he wouldn't have bought or from the wrong shop or for the wrong price it will be commented on.
He frequently says 'it's no wonder the children act the way they do' if they're being naughty, because I've made them like it. I always have to have everything my own way. I'm frigid and have hang ups from childhood (?) and that's the problem with our sex life. When he gets depressed it's usually because of something I've said or done, or failed to do (messy house usually), or because of my PMT, or because we haven't had sex.
I am a messy person and he doesn't like mess. When he cleans up in the kitchen it's look how marvellously and efficixiently he's done it, why can't I get so much done in the same time, why do I always stand around stirring or chopping, staring into space while cooking. So much would get done if I didn't spend hours and hours a day playing my game (candy crush - I play while bf 2yo and occasionally while kids watch telly - not hours at all and not even every day)
I've come out to the supermarket this evening in order to type this away from him and he said I must be meeting someone because I had a cold bath and got changed (because of the heat). But then he says that's a joke, but it doesn't feel funny when it's frequently said, and has been seriously meant in the past.
He says I cheated on him because I slept with another guy (ons) before we were together, but after we'd first kissed. He was ignoring my calls at that time.
Ds1 kicked, hit and swore at me at school pick up. He doesn't always do that, but has been increasingly rude and angry to/at me recently which is part of why we had the CAMHS referral. I had to leave him with P while i took the little ones out this afternoon because he would have been hurting them otherwise. (Ds1 has been lovely this evening btw - he is mostly a lovely boy but cannot control his temper). And I wonder how I'll cope when I don't have someone at home to give the option of splitting up the kids in that situation.
The texts last week were a bit of a lightbulb moment for me, but I feel a bit like I'm losing that.
Christ, he's just sent me a location sharing request on my phone because I've been so long out (typing this instead of shopping). I'm almost grateful for each new piece of completely unreasonable behaviour because it makes me see how things really are.
Don't lose the lightbulb! Maybe my experience will help.
My DM is the world expert on making herself the injured party to family, friends and the children
I still have issues with my father because he kept the dysfunctional family together for so long when it desperately needed breaking.
Yes, she made him look like the bad guy when they split. She poured vitriol into everyone's ears, including mine. I am the eldest. I was 18 when they split. I moved countries to get away from them. I avoided them for a long time, what they would call LC on MN.
Over time it became very clear to everyone who is the baddest and maddest of her and my dad. How nice for my dad.
My siblings and I still feel angry with him for putting us all through so many years of EA because he was worried that some people might think badly of him. Yes, he was worried she would turn us against him. In reality, he did that himself by failing to protect us. When we had them as two separate parents, not living together, it became very clear, very quickly who was the biggest baddest person, no matter what vitriol was spewed.
Don't be my dad. He lost his children's love because he was weak. Don't do that.
Thanks for sharing rabbit. It is helpful.
Have sorted a friend to order me the book. She has previously been in an abusive relationship herself and is totally lovely.
P isn't horrible all the time, all day long. But the more I read the more I realise that my normal is quite fucked up, and it shouldn't be this way.
I remember going to a friends wedding when ds1 was 3, and dancing and chatting to others through the evening and feeling really relaxed. And then P and I had a stupid argument over something and I immediately got all tensed up again, and I realised how unusual it was for me to feel relaxed at all. Why the hell have we had 3 more children? He says I've used him to get the kids I wanted. But I really didn't purposefully have a large family with someone who I didn't want to be with. I wanted us to be together, I wanted it to work.
He says to ds1 'you'll see the back of my hand boy' - he doesn't actually hit him, but that's not right is it? Ds1 told him the other day that he didn't want him to call him boy, but he dismissed it. Then DS has been going around saying he'll give people a 'back hand slap', and calling people 'boy'. At 8 years old, that is not normal I don't think?
Ds1 had been having counselling at school for 2 yrs, and we saw his counsellor (P and me - not Ds) last week and I was honest about our relationship difficulties with her, and talked about 'if we split up' he stormed out, and accused me of humiliating him. After the appt he wouldn't talk to me, but sped down a residential 20mph road at about 50mph with 2yo in the back. I didn't say anything because I knew he was doing to to scare me, and didn't want him to know he was or make it go on. It was only down a 100m or so stretch, then he went back to normal driving.
He asked ds1 if he should kill himself once when Ds was around 3. I mentioned it once since but never again because he was angry with me for mentioning it, said something like it was only once (it was) and I shouldn't make him feel bad about it. He often says he can't remember saying awful things, or doing bad stuff when he's been depressed.
It doesn't matter what nice things he says or does in between these things does it? They don't cancel it out do they?
Op it's great that you realise what's going on and have the strength to say that it's wrong. Your dp is abusive, and you need to kick him out. You shouldn't feel any guilt at all about it.
Your ds is picking up this behaviour from his dad. You need to stop it, and the only that that can happen is by splitting with your dp. Please. For your dcs' sake, do it.
Get some legal advice as soon as possible. Give your dp a deadline to leave. If he gets violent, call the police. If he refuses to leave, lock him out.
Please take precautions. Delete your browsing history and any phone calls you make. Your friend sounds like a lovely person.
You need to get rid of this abusive arsehole. Hang in there op, and remember that you need to be strong for your kids and yourself. You can do this.
Thank you Natalie.
I've been looking for possibilities for free legal advice (sadly have no savings or spare money) this morning and found this link which is super helpful
The list of what constitutes various kinds of abuse is quite shocking. But it gives me more confidence that the relationship really is abusive and that I can access services without feeling I'm wasting their time when there are people in much more serious situations (although of course there are)
The lists of effects on children is particularly shocking for the number that resonate
I've considered calling WA before but thought that my situation was not bad enough to warrant it.
He sounds awful, bullying and draining to live with, and I have to think your kids will be better off without this behaviour around them. It seems very much that your DS is responding to his dad's behaviour. Go and get some legal advice at WA or CAB about getting him out of the house.
He's destroying your kids. Please do the right thing for them and leave.
You have to kick this awful man out. He is already teaching your son to be just like him. Good luck OP.
My ex was EA to me. As well as an OW which he wouldn't admit to, I had years of his cruel treatment. I was constantly walking on eggshells and it was so exhausting. I felt constantly judged and never meeting his high expectations. I became totally convinced that the reason he was unhappy was my fault, if only the house was spotless, if only I lost weight, if only I cooked a gourmet dinner, then he would be happy. Anyway, when I finally woke up to all this, I got the help via CAB and a brilliant solicitor and threw him out. He told everyone that I had thrown him out of the family home and played the victim,the BAFTA goes to my ex twunt! Thing is everyone saw straight through him, even his family and friends. He said awful things to our teenage kids, but they had him sussed too. I went no contact, filed for divorce the next day, he stalled every step of the way, whilst living with the OW who he insisted was a figment of my poisoned mind! You can do this, but get a plan together to keep you and kids safe. It might take time to do this, but you need to be safe. Good luck.
Please just ask for help from the services available. If you're worried that you might be taking resources away from families that really need it let the agency make that decision, they will assess and tell you whether they think they can help. But I bet they will offer you support.
It's a big thing to approach an agency as it can feel that it makes the problem "official", a bit like opening Pandora's box.
You do seem to be getting ready to make some changes in your life, I feel you wouldn't be posting on here if you were accepting of the status quo. You seem the kind of person that likes to research and prepare before making changes. So contacting the experts is a sensible thing to do as it will help you prepare for what is to come.
Good luck OP. You're definitely doing the right thing getting away from this relationship. Get some help, as others have suggested. It will be worth it.
I would definitely mention this to therapist, as he might have some very useful feedback for you. I suggest you objectively speak on the matter, because it can help you. Also, reflect on what you really want - another shot at it (after reasonable changes on his side) or an end.
You have had some very good advice on here. You need to leave this man for the sake of yourself and your DC and you need to do it in a way which keeps you safe.
Definitely say nothing to him about your plans. Find out all the information you need and get organised. Find out what benefits you would be entitled to if you lived alone. Do you have room to take in a lodger?
If you can't pay for a solicitor go to your local law centre - they have seen it all before. Make sure you ask about whether you could get a restraining order - this man has form - and about any child access being through a contact centre because of the damage he has inflicted on the DC
When you have all your plans ready made, change the locks on the house, bag his stuff up and put it outside and meet him in a public place with a friend present to tell him. Tell him you want no further contact with him. Then go no contact apart from an email address created especially for this purpose. Put this in writing and email it to him with a copy to a friend so he can see that he can't argue that he didn't understand.
And I'm afraid you will not be able to avoid an acrimonious split by placating him. He's not that sort of person is he? Expect him to weep and wail and claim that he is terribly hard done by, that he is a devoted partner and dad being legged over by a woman who is cheating/ has a drink/drugs habit etc, threaten you that he will stop work and/or go for full custody of the children. All terribly predictable abuser behaviour, but ultimately remind yourself it is irrelevant because YOU DON"T HAVE TO TAKE ANY HEED OF HIS CRAP EVER AGAIN.
Your freedom is beckoning OP.
Ive got the book and read parts, including the escape plan. That part is clearly geared up to escaping a really violent relationship. It says that even if you are the sole owner of the house you should be the one to leave to avoid any danger of retribution and that you should then use legal means to get him out from a distance.
I definitely have to get advice and I will call an advice line as soon as I am free to do so. Also legal advice centres are a great idea, thanks. There are a few where I am.
Thanks again all for the support.
I keep feeling physically panicked (fast breathing, slightly confused thoughts), interspersed with feeling quite happy.
I'm also feeling duplicitous, but I know this is what I've got to do.
hi Mary, glad you've had a chance to look at the book. It is as you say in parts geared to "escaping" a violent relationship rather than getting someone out of your home. And some of the more extreme cases does make it very sobering reading I admit . But there's still some good ideas there to minimise contact and make sure you are as protected and safe and in control as much as possible when leaving any kind of abusive relationship. More than anything I do think you should get legal advice as a priority from a solicitor and/or Women's Aid. Some police forces have a specialist person dealing with domestic abuse and in my experience they can be very clear about the law on residency and how to legally remove people from your home. After a bit of research I am sure you will see things much more clearly. And hopefully, when you feel clearer about all of this you will feel less panicky. It will then be just a question of how to go about things and Womens Aid can also help you there too.
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