Advanced search

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.

Has anyone ever felt 'guilt' over leaving an unhealthy relationship?

(19 Posts)
Roastturnip Tue 13-Dec-16 16:24:09

I'm in the process of separation at moment. 10 year marriage which has been unhealthy in many ways. He's been controlling and emotionally unavailable and at times pretty nasty. I'm having counseling at the moment and through that I've been reflecting on what a damaged individual he is. His need to control is all rooted in his dysfunctional upbringing and battered self esteem. And although I know it's the right thing for me to leave, part of me feels I'm adding to his problems. Does that make sense? (I'm only 2 sessions in to counselling so maybe I'll make sense of all this in time)

Nabootique Tue 13-Dec-16 16:30:35

I understand. I still feel like this about XH a few years on in fact. What I tell myself is this: if you are a true partnership then you love and support each other. If it doesn't work like that, then you are responsible for yourself and your own happiness, and they theirs. He would never help himself, or admit his part in it. Counselling sounds like a positive flowers

debbs77 Tue 13-Dec-16 16:36:48

Yes, and I feel like I've added to his problems. Especially when I know he isn't moving on in any way. And really, how he is is a result of his upbringing. I still love him, just can't be with him

skyyequake Tue 13-Dec-16 16:48:57

Totally normal. In fact I know a lot of women who've been in abusive/controlling/manipulative relationships and literally every single one of them has felt guilt at some point when leaving.

I think you're counselling will help with this and what you'll come to realise that he is the one responsible for his actions, not you or anyone else. Plenty of people go through rough times and don't become abusive or controlling. Mental illness is also an excuse (in case he tries to pull that one). I suffered emotional abuse as a child, I have depression, anxiety, ptsd (from traumatic birth) and ADHD... I don't abuse people. I have made mistakes that have hurt people, but I take responsibility for my actions and I don't blame anyone else for them.

Have you tried signing up for the Freedom Programme? It's for those who are or have been in abusive relationships. And that doesn't mean violence. Emotional abuse, controlling behaviour, manipulation, verbal abuse... It all counts. I'm on it now and am waiting for counselling but I've been told it's very effective alongside counselling so it sounds as though you're in the perfect position for it.

Hope you feel better about it all soon and well done on walking away flowers

Roastturnip Tue 13-Dec-16 17:45:15

Thank you flowers. It's so hard at the moment as he's refusing to leave and I'm trapped in a mortgage with him confused so I can't go anywhere. I've heard of freedom programme but to be honest it's only recently I've admitted how unhealthy the relationship has been....Will look it up

skyyequake Tue 13-Dec-16 18:29:42

Yeah I know how hard it is to come to terms with. Do you have a local Women's Aid or domestic abuse charity you can call? Or that have drop ins? And don't be scared or feel like you're going to need evidence or turned away... I felt like that when I went but they understand. It's not a police interrogation! They're the best people to give you info on a local Freedom Programme as obviously they don't like to post details of meet ups online in case an abuser found it.

I'm not trying to pressure you btw just giving you some info, you can do with it what you wish!

I found that it really helped me to go along and hear other peoples experiences as it really validated how I was feeling and opened my eyes to things I hadn't even noticed... I know it's done the same for a lot of women in my group and beyond.

Also you don't have to share anything if you don't want to... It's all about education and although it is very interactive there is no pressure to go into specific details or share experiences. Hopefully you'll end up feeling comfortable enough to open up a bit, but it's not a requirement of the programme! I've also made some friends, which after two years of isolation feels amazing!!

Also Women's Aid, the Citizens Advice Bureau, etc, should be able to give you some legal advice about how you can get away...

Roastturnip Tue 13-Dec-16 20:04:57

Thank you, that's really helpful. Yes, I do have a local woman's aid I can call. I've really struggled with the idea that DH has been abusive but I just had a lightbulb moment on the types of abuser thread that came up. DH is definitely a water torturer....It explains why I've struggled so hard to recognise the 'abuse'...

skyyequake Tue 13-Dec-16 20:58:16

It's hard to label it when it's so subtle... I still struggle to say the word. Mostly I say to people it was a "bad relationship" or that he is "not a nice person". I'm trying to make myself say it though so that I don't minimise what he's done anymore. I can put some images up here of the material we work with in the Freedom Programme if you think it might be helpful? It's only a brief outline of different tactics but I found it quite helpful in the beginning when I still wasn't sure.

Roastturnip Tue 13-Dec-16 21:02:49

Yes please skyye, that would be helpful ... Thank you

BertieBotts Tue 13-Dec-16 21:04:49

Absolutely normal and a very common thing to feel. I always think it's the most emotionally manipulative thing... still can't work out if they do it consciously or not.

It's not that you're dependent on them, it's that they make you believe that they are dependent on you, and they know that your heart is big enough that you couldn't abandon somebody who needed you.

It's all an act though. They honestly don't need you anywhere near as much as you think they do. They find their way... usually right into the next person who'll fall for their bullshit's arms.

I still remember the shock turnaround - my ex claimed I'd "ruined his life" and he was going to quit his job and lose his house and it was aaaaall my fault, his mum called me in tears, everything, but two weeks later (literally!) he was loved up with somebody new. It was weird. And suddenly I felt absolutely free. Because I could see that he had never needed me after all and I hadn't done a terrible thing.

skyyequake Tue 13-Dec-16 23:31:53

Here you go Roast, these are the different abuser personas according to the Freedom Programme and they're tactics. Most abusers fit more than one, and almost all of them use at least one tactic from each. The programme goes into more detail about each persona but this is the rough gist of it! Hope it helps!

LittleBooInABox Tue 13-Dec-16 23:45:10


My ex was abusive, so much so one minute we'd be trying to conceive, then every month like clockwork we'd have the talk about how he wasn't ready to be a dad, and this was always in the two week wait to test period. Then when test was negative he'd be so very upset. Rinse, repeat.

I left, two years ago and I still feel guilty now. No idea why but I do. It sucks

BertieBotts Tue 13-Dec-16 23:52:37

The Lundy Bancroft Abuser Profiles are online too. You can google it.

Roastturnip Wed 14-Dec-16 06:40:42

Thanks all. I can definitely tick off some of those things on the profiles skyye, thanks for posting. Bertie, I had a look at the Lundy Bancroft profiles on the thread that was bumped earlier. I can see elements of various types but predominantly the water torturer. My counsellor was saying yesterday how stoic I looked when I was talking about some realty quite sad things. Its like I've been totally numbed to all the bad stuff and have had no idea just how damaging it has all been. Its like I don't feel any emotion any more.

mylifeisamystery Wed 14-Dec-16 10:11:02

I still feel guilty for leaving nearly 2 yrs on, we both have new partners now. He wouldn't accept any demise in the marriage it was all my fault (I did put the final nail in the coffin)
I still miss him even though I really don't want to be with him, I hate that he's cosy with another girlfriend, when he made no effort with me.
It's hard and if I'm it careful I'm going to ruin my own future x

skyyequake Wed 14-Dec-16 10:40:23

Glad it helped Roast! I was in shock as I was talking to the police and citizens advice... I was completely calm save for my leg jumping up and down. We deal with it for so long it simply becomes our life so to us there isn't any point in crying or we'd be crying 24/7!

Greypaw Wed 14-Dec-16 11:04:37

For a long time I felt guilty for leaving my abusive marriage. I believed him when he said that I caused his bad behaviour, and I dunno, maybe if I had toed the line more he wouldn't have behaved the way he did, but after a lot of counselling I've accepted that if he didn't like the way I was or the things I was doing, he had a choice to leave rather than act out towards me. Also it helped ease the guilt when one evening about a year after our split, he told me in no uncertain terms just how awful a human being he thought I was. I mean, with that amount of hate he must have been incredibly relieved to have me out of his life, so I figured I was off the hook for leaving him, guilt-wise.

Hollywood and romantic fiction tell us that we're shallow if we don't stick with a relationship through thick and thin, and that if we're dedicated enough, if we love enough, we will eventually make it work. This, I think, is the root of a lot of guilt when we make the decision to leave someone who behaves badly towards us due to mental health or emotional issues of their own. We think love will conquer all, and we should be more stoic in supporting someone who is troubled.

During my rather steep learning curve, I decided that I am all for helping a loved one and sticking with them through thick and thin... until it starts to have a significantly negative effect on my own wellbeing. I'm aware of how awful and selfish that sounds, but my past experience shows me that I'll bend over backwards and take all kinds of crap in the interests of being loving and loyal, but when if I become the one who needs the support, that person will drop the ball as I'm suddenly too needy or too much hassle.

Sod that. I don't expect anyone not to have issues and I'll support any partner to sort themselves out, but that's the key - adult people have a responsibility to sort themselves out and not dump their toxic crap on others. You don't get to constantly blame your upbringing for a lifetime of adult choices.

BertieBotts Wed 14-Dec-16 13:04:14

Yes I had that lack of emotion. It was weird, I suppose it's a defence mechanism?

Curtains77 Tue 10-Jan-17 20:49:03

Roastturnip - how are you doing ? I just found your post whilst I was looking foradvice and it struck a chord . Hope you are ok and the counselling is going well ..I think you are about a month ahead of me on timescales - I am 1 month into a separation from an abusive husband who has just left my house this evening in tears as I am not acknowledging how much he has changed and how much he cannot literally live without me. He also cannot believe how I am not showing any emotion towards him . This is because I am numb - you mentioned you felt numb and guilty for feeling you added to his torment too. How are you now ? And uou Bertiebots - did you ever get past the numbness ? Xx although I feel safer woth numb, just thought would ask x

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now »

Already registered? Log in with: