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Emotional abuse

(19 Posts)
Stripybag Tue 17-Jan-17 11:20:33


Can I ask what sort of behaviour you'd class as being emotionally abusive? I'm worried I'm in a marriage that I'm becoming uncomfortable with for a few reasons, but I don't know if I'm overreacting about the behaviour towards me, or if there's a bigger problem.

I'm pretty sure that I'm not in any physical danger. It's verbal behaviour really. But not angry verbal behaviour. I think my head's being messed with and I believe my husband doesn't respect me.

AttilaTheMeerkat Tue 17-Jan-17 11:43:52

Emotional and Psychological abuse includes a range of non-physical controlling behaviours that cause emotional damage and undermine a persons sense of well-being.

Emotional and Psychological abuse includes:
· Telling someone they are worthless,
· Telling them no one else wants them,
· Forcing someone to do things at an exact time or in an exact way,
· Undermining a persons actions, thought and beliefs,
· Telling someone they are weak and could not manage to look after themselves on their own,
· Making someone believe they are mad,
· Telling someone that the domestic violence and abuse is their fault.
· Not allowing someone to have visitors,
· Controlling who a person is friends with,
· Not allowing them to go out,
· Not allowing someone to see their family and friends,
· Not allowing someone to be left alone with other people,
· Not allowing someone to use the phone, send letters or emails.
· Locking someone in a room or house,
· Not allowing someone to go out to work, not allowing someone to go to college or evening classes,
· Accompanying someone everywhere that they go in order to keep control over what they do, who they see and what they say.
· Telling someone they are a bad parent,
·Getting children to say and do things to upset someone,
· Encouraging children to get involved in the abuse.
· Abusing someone’s children or pets,
· Damaging possessions,
· Accusing someone of lying when they are not,
· Telling someone they are fat, ugly and useless,
· Making someone believe that no one else likes them.
· Threatening to harm someone, or to harm their children or pets.
· Threatening to havesomeone locked up saying thattheyare mad,
· Threatening to havesomeone deported or withholding care ifsomeone is aged, ill or disabled,
· Telling someone they will find and kill them if they leave,
· Threatening to abuse someone in front of their children, family or friends.

Emotional abuse is often difficult to recognise. It can be very subtle, often being overlooked by a person’s friends and family. The person affected may not even think or feel that abuse is taking place.

Emotional abuse can affect women and children experiencing it in many ways. It can leave deep psychological scars and can seriously damage the self-confidence of the person experiencing the abuse.

The only level of abuse acceptable in a relationship is NONE. If you think your head is being messed with it most likely is.

Womens Aid are well worth talking to; 0808 2000 247 is their number.

hellsbellsmelons Tue 17-Jan-17 11:43:55

Have a read of this thread
It's right at the top of the relationships board.
Also have a google about 'signs of emotional abuse'
There will be questionnaires on line for you to fill out.
If you need to speak with someone who knows what it's all about then you can contact Womens Aid.
Have a look at their website as well as there will be plenty of info on there.
If your head is feeling 'messed up' then chances are he is messing with it in some way.
If you have a kindle or e-reader then 'Why does he do that' by Lundy Bancroft might be a big eye opener for you as well.
You can also tell us about the things he says and does as there are many women on here who have been in EA relationships and can probably advise you.

AttilaTheMeerkat Tue 17-Jan-17 11:45:54

I would also read up on gaslighting; that may be happening in your marriage as well.

Stripybag Tue 17-Jan-17 14:28:12

Attila some of your list is relevant to me. Undermining thoughts, actions and beliefs. Telling someone they are weak and couldn't cope alone. Accusing of lying. Getting children involved. I'm allowed to go out and see whoever I want, but recently I've realised I've been asking permission, so basically by default he decides where and when I go, and who I see.

Gaslighting, I've just had a brief browse and yes, some of that does apply. I'm constantly being told I didn't say something, when I know I did, or I said something differently to the way I know I did. I'm forever walking on eggshells, and there are some subjects I don't talk about because I'm scared it'll cause an argument of some kind. And I'm always the one to end an argument feeling guilty, in the wrong and I'm the only one who apologises.

hells I'll read that thread.

Maybe abuse is too strong a word. Maybe controlled would be better. I feel like somebody else is in charge of my life, and I need permission to do things within my own life. I certainly don't want to compare myself to those in relationships where they have no freedom and are suffering very serious abuse.


AttilaTheMeerkat Tue 17-Jan-17 14:35:06

The only acceptable level of abuse within a relationship is none and your so called H crossed that line a long time ago. Being controlled and being abused are one and the same; it comes from the same places of power and control. He is controlling your life and movements and you are in a gilded cage of his own paranoid making.

He does not have to hit you (as yet; there is no guarantee that he would not) because what he is doing here is working for him. He enjoys seeing you cowering.

Read the boiling frog analogy as well; this is how abuse creeps up on people. Its crept up on you over time and he has also upped the power and control over you over time as well. Its really insidious.

Controlling behaviour like he is showing you (and in turn your children) is abusive behaviour both towards you and them.

What are your children learning about relationships here; you cannot afford for them to potentially have an abusive relationship themselves going forward.

Womens Aid can and will help you here; do reach out to them as well. You can live a life without abuse in it; you and your children deserve a life free from abuse and control.

Hardtokeepgoing Tue 17-Jan-17 16:24:50

Hi there OP.
It was certainly the boiling frog analogy that did it for me - I felt like a started a marriage in perfect balmy waters but after 14 years I realised that it had heated up around me until I was almost boiled alive. If you had put me in that water at the start I would've jumped right out saying you can fck right off, but as it heated over time I didn't realise.
The marriage and my love for him was killed, death by a thousand paper cuts - I finally bled to death.
It was only when I saw my DC's heads and emotions being controlled and messed with that the scales suddenly fell from my eyes and I saw my relationship from the outside.
I divorced him, but it is SOOOOO hard. He resents the lack of influence he now has over me.
It took some family & friends months and months to believe that he was mean - a couple still don't, but I know that those who matter (and mumsnet) know the truth - my truth.
Good luck xx

pudding21 Tue 17-Jan-17 16:55:21

Stripybag: I am suffering and trying to escape emotional abuse. The first realisation is asking "is this emotional abuse" and that question itself usually leads to YES.

For me the abuse comes in: not knowing what mood he will be in (Jekyll and Hyde) which leads to eggshells, shouting and rage at really insignificant things then pretending like nothing has happened. If he knows I am unhappy about something he raises his mood so its all about him, has no empathy when I am feeling unwell, doesn't like my family (or his own to be fair) and makes sure I know that so it makes it uncomfortable to have them around. Compares our roles all the time to make himself feel more important, everything is like a constant competition, seems to suck the joy out of every occasion (including Christmas). Makes me feel like I have no autonomy: we have discussions like this: Him "where should we go for lunch", Me " I quite fancy XXX", Him "No I don't want to go there I prefer here. To which I agree, and he makes it feel like it was my decision. Constant critisism about really small stuff (like loading the dishwasher). I will add in paranoia and trying to make me feel guilty about spending time alone (and when i say alone I mean going to the gym or watching tv in another room). he does this in a very subtle way though, shitty little comments etc. Then tells me " I dont have a problem with you doing your own thing). ETC.......

The final realisation for me is: I am not an authentic version of myself, i am different around him, I am not the mother, friend, daughter, partner I want to be. I modify myself to keep the peace.

Working on leaving, I love him despite the above, but I know I have to make the move and soon before my mental health is affected. Its hasn't always been like this, and we have been together a whopping 21 years.

Stripybag Tue 17-Jan-17 16:56:11

I actually don't want to go home this evening. This morning I (for once) questioned something he'd done. Something that could have been quite important - don't want to go into detail. We had the most awful argument. It was genuinely started by him, I had no intention of arguing, I was just pointing something out. It was something I'd not mortally mention, but only because it's one of the subjects I avoid talking about to avoid provoking him. But it was a safety issue to do with one of our children. His shouting made all three of our children cry, plus me. I then had to get ready for work and my oldest son (4) came to me and told me to apologise to daddy.

I sent a genuine message earlier saying that I wasn't going to apologise for bringing the subject up and I found the way he spoke to me unacceptable, but I apologised if he felt I was getting at him - I genuinely wasn't having a go, just pointing something out. No response, so clearly he's still upset. I f we had no children I'd stay out late. I'd like to think we still have a relationship that can be worked on. I'm certainly not giving up yet. Some of you will think I'm mad, I know. But I'm not ready.

pudding21 Tue 17-Jan-17 17:08:41

Stripybag: I have been on and off like this for years. Its difficult to clear your mind and have a clear view of what is happening when essentially you do get on and still love the person.

I still can't work out how I leave him when I still love him, that is the difficult part. In November I gave him some deal breakers, maybe try that with your husband and see what he says. It helped for a few a while but these last few days its slipped back. Its like a cycle.

Good luck tonight.

MaryMargaret Tue 17-Jan-17 17:11:59

Yikes. He's already controlling your kids as well, OP. He doesn't sound that lovable to me. flowers

Stripybag Tue 17-Jan-17 19:44:27

Well, this evening we're doing the "nothing happened, everything's fine" routine. Tonight I just want to be left alone I think. We can talk tomorrow, but I've moved to the spare room tonight.

He can't think everything's ok can he? Whatever he's doing to me, I honestly don't think he realises. I don't think he's deliberately trying to control me. I think he thinks this is how it should be - subordinate wife, dominant husband.

MaryMargaret Tue 17-Jan-17 20:43:27

Stripy I'm not sure he will respond to an approach to 'talk' very kindly or reasonably. Suspect he will make everything out to be your fault, from the sounds of what you've told us already. Others on here have a lot more experience than I have of this sort of thing, but no way should anyone be shouting at you like that, least of all your own husband. sad

Stripybag Tue 17-Jan-17 22:04:01

I think there are only two ways this can go:

We stay as we are and somehow muddle through. For me though, there would have to be a change, and I'm not sure that's possible, and have us stay together. Or the other option is I end it. I don't believe he would ever end it. Why would he? I'm a good mum and a good wife. He has a nice life.

MaryMargaret Wed 18-Jan-17 07:19:20

Well you clearly don't have a nice life! I have no advice on your way forward though othets will have. However I do know that it would be wrong for things to go on as they are, and that your children are absorbing this as a 'model' for relationships - they deserve better too.

ConfusedMotherOfOne Mon 29-Jan-18 20:40:09

How are you getting on OP? I feel like I am in a very similar situation to you with my OH and I don't know what to do. We keep discussing things then falling back into the "everything is fine" pretend, whilst I sit and think and think. I'm worried where it's taken me over a year to initially say something that, for me, even if he changes I'm done. Hope you're getting on okay x

Shoxfordian Mon 29-Jan-18 21:37:30

How are you op? Don't be in a holding pattern of a relationship like this, be decisive.

Also your husband sounds like a dick.

GreenFingersWouldBeHandy Tue 30-Jan-18 14:13:35

my oldest son (4) came to me and told me to apologise to daddy

Your son is already picking up the message that women are not equal to men. Do you really want that to continue?

Time to make some decisions. Hope you are OK.

5LeafClover Tue 30-Jan-18 15:04:27

Sorry this is happening to you. It sounds horrible. Out of the fog website has a glossary. Sometimes helpful to have a name for stuff while you are thinking...helps to see if its a pattern of behaviors rather than a chain of nasty individual events.

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