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Abusive childhood, abusive marriage, was it inevitable?

(11 Posts)
JustBeingMoi Mon 22-Jun-20 15:05:09

People who have traumatic and abusive childhoods, is going on to have abusive relationships inevitable. I'm beginning to worry it is and I wondered what everyone else's experience of that was.

I'm currently going through counselling, and am currently separated from my husband. I've said that this time apart is for us to work on our own issues, and perhaps come back together if things change. But I'm perhaps coming round to the idea that they might not, and that I am mentally strengthening myself to get to a position where i can separate permanently from this man.

My counselling has raise a whole heap of issues from my past that have impacted on my current attitude to myself and how I behave. I had a traumatic childhood, with alcoholism, domineering and critical father, parents often drunk and at war with each other. I witnessed verbal and physical abuse from a young age. As kids we often hid, we lived in fear of my Dad coming home from work at the weekends, and hated the weekends themselves. I ended up being the shield for my younger sister, putting my mother to bed when she was drunk. I was often at the end of verbal abuse when she was drunk, and we were smacked, and later when we were older, slapped.

My counsellor has identified that I have a submissive character, putting others needs and feelings before my own, a fall out of my childhood. I also lack in self esteem, self confidence, I believe I'm intrinsically destined to be a failure. I struggle to put in boundaries to protect my own needs and feelings, because I worry they will encroach on others'.

I not realise my marriage was abusive and im worried that because of my childhood, this was inevitable. Before our daughter arrived, I was happy to go with the flow, so my husband called the shots. Since my daughter has arrived I have been more inclined to push our needs and wants. My counsellor believes this is what has sparked the issues in our relationship. Since which time my husband has become increasingly angry. Often shouting, swearing, throwing things, name calling etc. I'm beginning to see that he is also controlling and will gaslight. I ran head long into the relationship at 17 and I'm now in my 30s. Was it inevitable I would find myself in an abusive relationship, and how can I make sure I don't make the same mistakes again? Do my own character flaws mean I will attract abusive men? And will they mean I just screw up any other relationship I try to have.

Sorry for the long post but my mind is a mess and I would love some one else's perspective.

OP’s posts: |
pinkyboots1 Mon 22-Jun-20 15:16:32

I had a very traumatic and abusive childhood and also ended up in a horrendous marriage but I eventually plucked up courage to get him out of the house once I realised the impact it was having on our children.
I'm now with a man who is completely different to both my parents and my first husband.. I think you can either carry on 'living it' and make the same mistakes or you can 'learn from it' and move onwards. You don't have to stayed locked in to the label the counsellor gave you x

pawpawpawpaw Mon 22-Jun-20 15:27:09

OP I'm sorry to hear this. Have you had a look at the Freedom Programme?

JustBeingMoi Mon 22-Jun-20 16:03:35

@pawpawpawpaw I have read a book she wrote but not actually done the programme, I know you can do it online but wondered if it would be more effective in person?

OP’s posts: |
AttilaTheMeerkat Mon 22-Jun-20 16:05:06

I would suggest you do the programme in person when it is possible to do so.

JustBeingMoi Mon 22-Jun-20 16:05:35

@pinkyboots1 thank you for that. I am trying to work on myself as best I can. I want to identify my thought patterns and beliefs so I can change them and myself for the better. But sometimes I sit here and feel like this has the feeling of inevitability about it, which terrifies me. Thank you for sharing that you are now in a happy relationship. It gives me hope!

OP’s posts: |
AttilaTheMeerkat Mon 22-Jun-20 16:09:33

The abuse that happened to you was not your fault - that is all on them. They are solely responsible for that and your parents let you down abjectly. We learn about relationships first and foremost from our parents. No-one bothered to show you what a mutually respectful and loving relationship is like and you did not know at 17 years of age either. This man targeted you then, after the horrors of your home life this man probably seemed safe. But he was really a continuation of the familiar to you i.e abuse.

You can break the cycle of abuse that got meted out to you by these people and you can rebuild your life and have a life free from being abused. Keep going with the counselling and please do the Freedom Programme in person.

JustBeingMoi Mon 22-Jun-20 16:13:34

Thank you @AttilaTheMeerkat. I did think it would be better in person, but obviously Lockdown has put paid to that at the moment. I will see where my most local one is.

OP’s posts: |
pawpawpawpaw Mon 22-Jun-20 16:22:20

My father was controlling and abusive. My situation was a bit different as I didn't live with him as a child, so I wasn't as immersed in his behaviour, and in my 20s I learned some family secrets that led to cutting contact entirely. That was helpful, as I could see in real terms the contrast between being in and out of that relationship.

I've been in a happy, healthy relationship for 15yrs. Dh is well-balanced and had a happy, normal childhood, which is funny because I thought I was somehow 'destined' to identify with and be close to people with similarly painful backgrounds.

I think at 17 it's not unusual to be vulnerable to abuse and manipulation, even without a troubled background. Give yourself credit for learning and growing as an adult, you've made healthy choices and should benefit from that hard work flowers

ThePathToHealing Mon 22-Jun-20 16:36:09

I really relate to everything you say. I was 17 too, tried a separation whilst I was in therapy and somehow found a way out. I am also a person who has found a caring and compassionate partner since despite the abuse.

The number one thing you can do is to note what your boundaries are. They can be anything you want, they can be deal breakers or they can be guidelines or somewhere in between.

The biggest thing to happen to me was when I was taught what disgust was. I was in my mid 20s and I had never known that there was a word for how bad it felt when someone crossed a physical or emotional boundary. I cried and cried because it finally had a word. Now I listen to my disgust and anger and let it guide me. Do I need to step away from this person or re-assert myself? Are they fighting me for control of myself?

There may be more abusive relationships in the future, maybe it's a bad friend, a colleague or a dating experience that goes wrong but STAYING in it is absolutely not inevitable. You can cut people out of your life or hold them at arms length. You can let people in or push them away based on your boundaries. It's the hardest thing to do but that's where recovery is.

Babdoc Mon 22-Jun-20 16:41:00

It’s not inevitable OP - you are not doomed to spend your whole life being abused, but it takes time and help to work through the damage, build your self esteem, develop your boundaries and believe in yourself as a person deserving respect.
My sister and I had an abusive childhood. She unfortunately met an abusive alcoholic as her first relationship and married him, followed by a string of other abusive marriages.
I was much luckier in that I met my utterly loving and caring DH when I was 19, and stayed with him until his tragically early death at 36. He singlehandedly rehabilitated me from my damaged childhood and made me feel loved and respected for the first time. This can also be achieved by working with a good counsellor or therapist, or by the Freedom programme as mentioned earlier.
You have made some very important first steps - you have recognised what was going on, you understand what caused your problems, that you were not to blame, and you are now motivated to deal with it. That is hugely positive, and bodes well for a good outcome.
I would advise you to avoid starting any new relationship until you have completed the course and are sure you are confident enough to spot potential abusers, identify gaslighting etc. Abusers can be very manipulative and charming at the outset, knowing which buttons to press to draw you in, playing on your insecurities, and making you dependent on them, before revealing their true colours. You need to be on your guard. My best wishes for a happier future with someone who will genuinely respect and love you as an equal, once you are ready for that.

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