Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.
Waking up to the realisation - this is emotional abuse...I think(48 Posts)
I have spent the last few days reading and reading so many of the posts here, I can't stop reading because it's the only place I have in the world where I feel like I'm not alone. OK, going to try to be as concise and clear as possible but how do you put 17 years into one post.
H and I met 17 years ago when we were in our mid 20's. He was my first serious relationship and it was a whirlwind. He was so intense and showered me with attention and affection and adoration. Within a few weeks he started talking about marriage and he kept asking until I said yes about 3 months in. We were married a year later. I was a virgin when I met him - I grew up in a born again christian home and took it all very seriously back then, so I don't really have anyone to compare with relationship wise. He knew I was committed to not having sex until I was married and said he respected that about me, but the actual pressure to have sex started on the second date. I would tell him no all the time, that I didn't want to, but he would keep pushing it and I was such a people pleaser and so naive that I would give in and do more than I wanted and then tell him again that I wasn't happy about it and the cycle would begin again. Even to the point that he practically moved into my house - my roommates weren't impressed and he persuaded me to move in together. Anyway, I never felt like things went at my pace, everything happened before I really wanted it to, including the wedding, because I wasn't strong enough to stand up and risk hurting his feelings. I thought I liked him enough so even though there was a voice in my head screaming at me not to do it, it was like I was on an express train that I couldn't get off.
There were some red flags. The first one was when he shouted at me to "Shut the Fuck UP!" when I was telling a funny story to some of his mates that he was not happy about me telling. Humiliating and I felt like I'd been slapped. Nobody in my whole life had ever spoken to me like that before. His temper would flare up against other people in his life, especially his mum and sister who he hates. He would get so angry with his younger brother if he had the nerve not to do what he advised him to do with his life.
Throughout the marriage he has shown himself to be controlling (and not just of me) but the things he does are not to the level of so many others that I've read here. Sometimes I wish he would just do something out and out obviously abusive so I could properly say, there, I can leave. He is Mr Charming and Mr Right, he will bend over backwards to help other people, often to the detriment of me and our two kids. He is the guy who everyone knows, he loves that when he walks down the street he can wave and chat to everybody. He boasts and brags about who he knows and the amazing ideas that he has about saving the environment and what he does for the community. He argues non stop on the internet and in RL about politics and he just bulldozes over people until they back down.
At home, I have become an expert at keeping him happy. As long as he is left to his own devices, allowed to sit and drink a glass of wine while watching tv in quiet. The kids are kept away and are not bothering him. That I don't ask him to help or he's not expected to help with housework or (heaven forbid!) cook. Then he's fine and happy and we have peace. But there's always the threat of a blow up, if things don't go to plan, if he's tired or hungry or the kids get noisy or start fighting, if I ask him to put them to bed or if I need to go out and have him mind them, well then it all comes apart. He has this menacing aggression to him, he's not tall, but he's a big guy and has this horrible thunderous look that he gives me and the kids if we push the buttons. We are all scared of him when he gets like that. In his tempers over the years he has thrown things, broken things, punched walls, broken doors. Not to mention the road rage incidences. He has never hit or been physical with me - I guess he doesn't need to be. But I sometimes wonder if I wasn't so good at appeasing him, if I was more of an assertive personality, would that be true.
Then there's the shouting. He calls it his Big Voice and threatens the kids with it if they aren't immediately obedient. It's very "You made me do it". He has a deep loud roar that just explodes out of him and it's terrifying. He used to roar at me, but I'm good at backing off quickly now but the kids get it pretty much every day when he's around. DD is 11 and he even roared at her in the car once when she was a baby and was crying. Now she gets it for anything and everything and he never lets her explain or talk, just keeps shouting at her to stop talking, Shut UP! Go to your room! DS is 5 and has some social issues that we are looking into and H had left him alone pretty much but now that he's getting older he's getting it too. I hear the roar and I come running to try to calm things down. Often the children are sobbing and I found my DS hiding and sobbing in a corner a couple of weeks ago because H had roared at him to turn off the computer because it was too loud and he was watching TV. When I went into H to try to ask what was going on, he just told me to "Get OUt! Just Fuck Off!" DD will tell me what happened and say it's not right and I agree with her but if I say that out loud H rages that I'm undermining him.
There's so much more, but I don't want to write more of a novel than I already have. The thing is it sounds really bad on paper but there is no financial abuse, he doesn't accuse me of cheating or act jealous, he would never cheat on me, I have my own career which he supports, he doesn't call me names, he's often very sweet and I know he loves me and the children. I feel crazy trying to explain it and make sense of it. I go from being sure that this is abuse to being terrified that I'm over reacting and that I could ruin his life and the family. I do know I feel no romantic love for him and haven't for many years, when he touches me it's all I can do to not cringe away. We don't have sex anymore and I have never enjoyed it so that is a relief. He sleeps on the couch now because he says he feels so sad that I don't want to have sex. He believes (and I have told him) that it's a psychological problem of mine, probably from my religious past because it seems too cruel for me to say that I can't bear him to touch me.
OK, enough for now. I have started a journal to try to get it all out. I just don't really know what to do. How do I figure out if there is really something abusive happening or if I am just in a normal relationships with issues? Thank you for reading this far if you did!
You're not wrong OP, this is definitely emotional abuse and your DC are being damaged by it, I'm sorry. Have you started thinking about a plan to get out?
I think you need to call women's aid and make a plan for you and your children to leave. You need to protect them and get away from this man. I'm so sorry you have to live with this
Time to call it a day. For the sake of your kids and for yourself.
This is dreadful.
You cannot live in fear.
Your children cannot live in fear.
Have you ever challenged him on his bullying ? How did he respond?
There is most certainly massive abuse going on here, in answer to your question.
Either he changes , massively, or you leave him.
He believes (and I have told him) that it's a psychological problem of mine, probably from my religious past because it seems too cruel for me to say that I can't bear him to touch me. this is bollox, it's your brain telling you that you shouldn't be having sex with someone who hates you. He has no respect or love for you and your DC. He doesn't have to be violent (but don't rule that out) because he is controlling you all by fear. He is a nasty controlling bully, he swooped in on you when you were young and vulnerable and has formed you to what he wants. He was sexually abusive then and is guilt tripping you about sex now.
MAKE SURE HE CANT FIND YOUR JOURNAL
Please re read all the good advice on here, make a plan, keep it secret, gather documents abound make today the day you begin your new life.
Sorry, I misread what you said about what he believes about sleeping separately. But I still think he'll try and use it against you if he can.
Don't really care that he hasn't hit you, your life is basically to serve him, you have no choices, he makes them all, it's as abusive as it can get, minus the physical, up to you but this man does not love you or his children, he has damaged them and is continuing to do so, you are showing your children a very warped example of what a healthy loving relationship contains when it should contact two equal adults, loving and caring and being considerate of each other's feelings.
Why do you put up with it?
Woman's Aid you need to leave on the quiet asap for the sake of your DC and you.
Thank you so much for the responses, just to have you all tell me that I'm not imagining things or that I'm being overly dramatic is such a relief. I'm trying to hold it together right now.
iminshock: I've had many talks with him over the years about his temper, he listens and is devastated but he never really says that he agrees. He talks vaguely about us both getting counselling but it will often come back to me not wanting sex with him and that it's a joint relationship thing more than that he is bullying. After the talks he often behaves wonderfully for awhile but there is always a time limit then he will start being nasty about it. If the kids are acting up he will look at me and say that I need to get them in line because he's getting angry so if I want him to stay calm I need to sort them out.
SlinkyVagabond: I've been very very careful that my journal is double password protected and hidden on my personal computer. I'm paranoid that he will find this or the journal so I'm being extra careful. There is a lot of guilt about the sex thing. He considers himself a total martyr to our sexless marriage because he stays with me and doesn't cheat because he loves me so much even though he doesn't get any affection.
adora1: Why do I put up with it? Such a good question. I have always been terrified of confrontation, I have grown up with a belief that I need to make everyone happy. I have always done everything in my power not to rock the boat or cause any unpleasantness. It is a massive problem of my personality that I am determined to break free of. If I don't then I agree, my children are being damaged.
Right now I'm just at the beginning of it all, every time I think about what I would have to do to leave I am overwhelmed by so many questions and fears. Where would we live? Would he not just end up having the children without me there to protect them? How could we afford it? How is he going to react? It's the most terrifying feeling.
'and I know he loves me and the children'
How do you know that? Because I don't see a shred of love in any of his behaviour as you describe it. This is 100% emotional abuse, of you and of the children. He sounds absolutely terrifying to live with. Its part of the legacy of this kind of abuse that you second guess yourself all the time, minimise what you're going through and try to find excuses for the abuser's behaviour. You become conditioned to not trust yourself.
What would you say to a friend who described her partner's behaviour as you have just described his behaviour? Would you tell her that its really not that bad because hey, he's never hit her? Would you think that it all sounds fairly reasonable? Or would you be utterly horrified and terrified for her? We're often a lot kinder and more clear headed with other people than we are with ourselves
The advice to phone Women's Aid is excellent. You do not have to live like this OP
This is definitely abuse. But you also don't need a label to justify leaving him. You don't need any more "proof". You are entitled to end this without those things. He is not making you happy, in fact he is making your life a misery. No one deserves that. Start making plans to leave him and once you have, your life will start to change for the better. You need to be able to find yourself, to find your own voice, your own sexuality, and how can you when he is just dominating you like this?
But very possible to leave, especially if you have knowledge and some support, women are doing it every day, you can still be a people pleaser or however else you prefer to be but you are pleasing a bully, not really somebody that is worthy of your help?
You shouldn't live your life through anyone else and imagine how peaceful and happy your children will be instead of walking on egg shells in case they upset the monster.
You poor thing. He sounds absolutely awful and, you know what, having sex with you against your wishes (as he did when you were young) is rape. Not every rapist is a stranger.
I think the only contact he should have should be in a contact centre. It's not fair on the children that he should see them alone.
It's great you're keeping a journal - I hope you've called it something innocuous like "Christmas presents" or something like that, so that he doesn't guess what you've done.
I wonder whether you could record him when he shouts. Don't do anything to put yourself at risk, though, but it would be good to have some sort of evidence of his behaviour if you want him to only see the children in a contact centre.
I think you should contact Women's Aid. Is there a safe time for you to do that?
Your DC are being seriously abused here.
You can minimise and try to appease as much as you like but it doesn't change the fact that they need you to protect them now.
Get them away and do it fast.
Womens Aid can help you with a safe exit plan.
Do you have family or friends at all you can go to?
Would he think about getting help with his anger? If not then please leave him. For the sake of your kids as well as yourself.
Speaking to Womens Aid definitely needs to be your first step OP, make sure you discuss your concerns about his contact with DC after you've left, they will be able to advise you the best way to get supervised contact only. You can do everything at your own pace, I realise you're right at the beginning of this process so just approach it as getting some advice and checking out your options if that's easier to get your head around for now. I'm sure everyone on here would like to see you leave him today ideally but it's understandable you will need time to come to terms with what you have to do and making a safe plan is more important than how quickly you do it. Talk to WA, keep posting here and thinking things through, you will get there and you will be ok
I don't feel in immediate danger, like I have to flee right away. But at the same time I don't want my dc's to have even one more episode. I know this is crazy, but it's like I think that when I do go he needs to agree with me that he is being abusive rather than me just doing it and screw what he thinks about it.
ImperialBlether I have rolled that word rape around in my head, it's hard to call it that because of our perceptions of what rape is. I've been reading a lot about the whole idea of consent and that was what made me realise what had happened to me back then was wrong and helped me put together that the reason I don't want sex now is because I was coerced back then (coerced sounds more correct than forced to me). I never gave anything freely or because I felt actual desire. I've thought about recording him but it usually happens fast and suddenly. I will keep my phone nearby and try to do this and I have looked up Women's Aid so I can call when I know that I won't be disturbed.
hellsbellsmelons I do have a wonderful family and I know they will help me but I have never let them in on what has been going on. The whole religion thing is in the mix here, I grew up in an environment where divorce was failure and not an option but their love for me would be more important than that, I know that. He has been showing them some of his true colours more and more and goes to fewer family gatherings these days. Says they don't like him and that my mother disapproves of him. I think I wanted it to be a sure thing before I confided in them because if I stayed with him I wanted them to think well of him.
DearMrDilkington If I organised counselling, set the date arranged it all, yes he would go. Whether it would help, I have no idea, he's not much for people telling him how to change or that he even needs to. The thing is I don't want to be with him anymore, so if he did get help it would be good for him and for his relationship with the children but I'm pretty sure I'm done.
See a solicitor, you need to end this farce of a marriage before any more serious damage is done. Your poor children......no child should live like this.
Personally I could not live with the guilt of making my children's childhood a misery, you really need to wake up OP, it's never too late to leave.
You say you wish he would do something downright abusive so you can leave, have you read your OP, Jesus Christ woman, he's already abusing your children.
Oh he hasn't hit you as you are so pleasing, what happens when the kids actually stand up to him, I can guarantee you violence will erupt for him.
Please protect your children, they have suffered enough.
Never get counselling with an abuser - he will use it against you. he won't think he needs to change but will convince you and possibly the therapist that you need to change. It will become a bullying session - i have lived through this.
But do get counselling for yourself. Could you tell him you want to get counselling for your own sexual issues (because it will help your relationship) and then use that time to talk through your own confidence and how to leave.
Tell your parents - it will be so much easier for you if you have their support. I have no family and just one good friend. Leaving my husband is so much harder knowing i have very little support.
You are NOT overreacting
This is abuse
He will not change; because he can not/ will not see that what he is doing is wrong.
Do not go to counselling with him, he will use this as another way to abuse you and your children.
Please tell your family what is happening and get out as soon as it is safe for you to do so.
Be VERY careful. My first "D"H became violent when I told him I was leaving, and he hadn't been violent previously. Also, he wasn't as horrible as your H is! I would line all your ducks up and have someone with you when you leave/throw him out.
Regards money, you are entitled to half his Pension (in cash), child support, perhaps Tax credits, child benefit (always goes to Mum). Work out if you could afford to separate, hopefully you can. Living in a smaller house without this man would be better for you.
If not for you, do it for your poor kids.
Just want to echo what the others have said. Do not doubt for one second longer, this man is abusive.
Having to constantly placate a grown adult, keeping the kids away so he can enjoy tv and wine, the threat of his 'big voice'. Dear God, what an appalling environment for you and your poor kids.
You are so downtrodden lovely, your sense of what's right is so skewed that you are grateful that he doesn't hit you.
Journals a great help, please keep it hidden.
Get in touch with WA, now, right now.
If you haven't done so read the other thread running, about leaving tomorrow, by a very brave lady, who has been helped by WA.
This isn't the life you envisaged for yourself and certainly not your kids.
Keep the status quo whilst you get a plan, then leave this horrible man, and never look back.
Join the discussion
Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.Register now
Already registered with Mumsnet? Log in to leave your comment or alternatively, sign in with Facebook or Google.
Please login first.