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I feel suicidal when I try to leave my abusive husband

(17 Posts)
Messedup2020 Sat 18-Jul-20 19:59:57

My husband has cheated on me multiple times, he lies, gambles, controls finances, controls me, is not a good father to our 3 children, puts me down, is emotionally unavailable, the list goes on. I have been with him since I was 16 so 25 years in total. Our youngest is 1, next is 5 and oldest 11. I have wanted to leave him for 5 years. I have attempted about 3 times and each time I have become suicidal and can’t go through with it. I even did councelling this time through my gp, got a full time job, went to view a flat but just could not go through with it. I think I’m scared of change even though I’m miserable. I’m starting to think I will just have to stay as I become overwhelmed if I try to leave. A friend offered me a room today and I thought it was what I wanted but I started feeling suicidal again because I did not want to go through with it. Even though I don’t love my husband anymore. I’m sooo confused why I cannot leave. Has anyone else experienced something like this?

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category12 Sat 18-Jul-20 20:11:54

Traumatic bonding?

Have you spoken to any domestic abuse services, such as Women's Aid? If not, perhaps try getting support from specialised services, doing the Freedom Programme and then trying to make your move with their help.

Messedup2020 Sat 18-Jul-20 20:19:37

I have been advised to do the freedom programme by my GP. Would this help me leave? I know how horrible the marriage is and the cheating and gambling has been practically from day one. The therapist made me realise this is domestic abuse, we made a plan how I would leave, I did well and secured a full time job, but bottled it when applying for a flat. Each time I try to go I know it’s the right thing but become overwhelmed and become suicidal and then feel a relief when I decide to stay. I hate this so much as now I feel this will be my life as I become mentally unstable if I try to leave.

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madcatladyforever Sat 18-Jul-20 20:19:40

You do feel suicidal, it's part of the process. I certainly did with ex and never thought I would recover. In the end I went off and got strong medication from my GP so I could cope through it all.
Now I'm through it and getting on with my new life all that has ended and I'm feeling amazing and am off all of the drugs.
Its natural to need help in these situations - you will get there and you will enjoy an amazing new life but you're going to need medical help to do this, also support. Join a DV group of some kind.
I look back now and absolutely shudder to think of life srtill with my ex. My hair fell out I was so stressed and it's all grown back now.

category12 Sat 18-Jul-20 20:30:09

It might do. Get tons of support around you - the GP & therapist are good starts - the Freedom Programme, if you join a group, will have other women in the same boat who you can give and receive support from, and having domestic abuse services involved will also help.

How you feel will be temporary - your MH will stabilise again - it's a matter of getting through a really painful & scary period and then seeing the light again and learning how to be free.

namechange12a Sat 18-Jul-20 20:36:27

OP what you're going through is completely normal and it would be good if you were a little bit easier on yourself.

Do you still have a job?

It sounds as though you are doing really well. What happens is that when you are in an abusive relationship, you're surviving. You're on survival mode. It's what keeps you going. When you are away from the abuse, you fall apart in much the same way as teachers get a cold during half term.

You need more support than you currently have and you need to be kinder to yourself. Are you on any type of medication?

I suggest you go about it this way:

1. Get in contact with your local domestic abuse organisation and enquire about support available. There may even be a Freedom Programme running online in your area and you can check that by contacting them: 01942 262 270 What we're looking for here is real life support. Make enquires about an IDVA which is an independent domestic violence advocate who can support you through the transition.

2. Prepare as much as you can. Have you found out what's going to happen after you leave? Have you contacted anyone for information and advice regarding money, divorce, child contact etc? It would really help to have that information so you aren't taking a blind leap into the dark but are aware of how you'll manage.

3. Do not let your husband become aware of you making plans to leave.

Making a decision to leave is the most important step and you've made that step. I would also make sure you're using contraception so that you don't have any more children with him. You've wanted to leave him for five years but have a one year old.

OP, you're going to be ok. Everyone is scared of change, people stay in terrible marriages for years because they are frightened of being alone and not being able to cope. You're doing it after having suffered abuse which is doubly hard.

With the right support and advice, you can do this.

Geogaddi Sat 18-Jul-20 20:57:52

Aside from the abuse you've been having to deal with you've also been with this man for such long time you maybe haven't experienced the process of breaking up & leaving a partner. I suppose when you have a lot of relationships you begin to recognise those sad and scared feelings and you learn from previous experiences that things change and you can heal and move on.

What i'm trying to say is that's it's natural to feel overwhelmed with such a big decision but you can do this. If you can reach out to a friend or family member who might be able to give you some advise in real life that might help?

Messedup2020 Sat 18-Jul-20 21:23:26

I’m so glad to hear this is normal I thought there was something wrong with me. Although it doesn’t make it any easier. It just feels easier to stay than endure these awful feelings if that makes sense. But I know my life is miserable.

I will look up trauma bonding thank you category12

madcatladyforever how did you manage to leave did you have somewhere to go?

namechange12a I did still have a job (furloughed) but have been given notice of my redundancy this week sad as a starting point I contacted gp and had a few sessions of therapy which I stopped once I had made the decision to leave mostly because I had run out of money. I also had 6 free sessions on the nhs but that was CBT therapy.

I will try women’s aid as the next step.

I almost feel guilty for wanting to leave him it’s so strange. And I’m petrified of change.

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Messedup2020 Sat 18-Jul-20 21:24:49

geogaddi that is another reason this is so hard, he was my first boyfriend. I’ve never experienced a break up before.

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user1645689876444 Sat 18-Jul-20 22:05:12

What helped me when I felt like the terror and guilt and grief of trying to leave was going to kill me - and I mean on the day I left, as I was leaving and suddenly felt it was too unbearable to go through with it - was to imagine my life if I stayed forever.

And that felt so horrific and made me feel so desperately hopeless and suicidal that I realised I had to leave and that none of my emotions about the temporary experience of leaving were as bad as staying forever would be.

Afterwards it was a case of reminding myself that the difficulty and pain of those early days, weeks and months was a) changing all the time and b) temporary. Whereas staying would feel horrific forever.

You also need to be aware that leaving doesn't bring an immediate sense of relief because you're hurting and you're in an unfamiliar environment. All the things you had to push down to survive the abuse pop up needing to be processed before they can be archived. You'll be a bit battered and bruised from what you've been through, you'll need to grieve the life you'd dreamed you'd have, and you'll need a bit of time to heal.

So there is an adjustment period to get through and part of your planning should be for how you will take care of yourself, how you'll comfort yourself, who can support you when you feel uncertain or wobbling etc etc.

Once you've had a chance to settle the sense of relief arrives and it is worth the heartache and struggle to get there.

Each time I try to go I know it’s the right thing but become overwhelmed and become suicidal and then feel a relief when I decide to stay.

The trouble with that is it becomes self reinforcing. You're effectively training yourself to stay.

I do understand that those feelings are intense and it is a scary leap to take. I know leaving is a process and you're not the first woman to take several attempts, so I'm not judging you.

I do want to highlight to you - in the hopes it will help you cope with these feelings and make it to freedom - that the more times you respond to your tough emotions about leaving by staying and taking that sense of relief in return then the more you reinforce to your brain and body that the feelings are unmanageable and teach your brain that leaving is impossible - whereas you need to have belief it is possible. In a simplistic way, that sense of relief is a chemical process rewarding you for staying and that's going to become difficult to overcome if it gets too embedded. Instead of looking for a way to manage the temporary feelings your brain will be demanding its reward for retreating.

So that's where the knowledge about trauma bonding a pp mentioned, where the knowledge from the Freedom Programme course about how the abuse has affected you, by having tools and strategies to manage your feelings and put them in their temporary context all become important.

You're unlikely to reach a point where it feels a-ok to leave and you can breeze out the door; if you're waiting/hoping for that and retreat every time it's not there then there's a huge risk of getting caught in this cycle of enforcing that the only way to get relief from your feelings is to stay (e.g. if you keep testing the water and retreating because the tough emotions are still there).

I want to emphasise - because you can't hear my tone - I am not criticising you or judging you. I am concerned for you and trying to give you tools and ideas that might help you approach things differently and break free of this.

Leaving an abusive relationship - especially when it's been all you've ever known as an adult - is like being trapped upstairs in a burning building, flames all around you, people on the ground below the windows calling for you to jump to safety.

Except your brain is seeing that you need to run through flames first, which it definitely doesn't approve of, and it really doesn't think jumping out of a window is compatible with its priority of keeping you alive.

But staying in the burning building means being consumed by the fire. So you're in a terrifying, hopeless bind where your brain is assessing all options as a threat to your life.

Leaping through the flames and jumping out the window means overriding your instincts and having faith that this is the only way for life to be possible. It does mean having faith in something you can't see and can't yet imagine either.

And yeh, you'll probably have burns and scrapes and smoke inhalation and a broken bone or two to heal from afterwards. So even once you hit the ground you won't have the immediate sense of relief you hoped for at being safe because actually you need to recover from the experience first before you'll have space for that.

Once you do, then you get the sense of relief. Then things get better. Then you can feel glad you escaped.

Going back to your life, the fact you got as far as you did previously shows how capable, strong and determined you are. You got things in place before, you can do it again. Those weren't failures, they were important steps towards your freedom.

Knowledge is power. Use what you're learning and your past experiences to enable yourself to succeed.

And be kind to yourself. I know it feels crap not having anyone there at times like this to step in and do that, but your body reacts the same way to kindness from yourself as from others. It is effective as a way to soothe your nervous system when you feel overwhelmed and hopeless.

Good luck. I really hope you'll be here one day celebrating your first year of freedom.

PicsInRed Sat 18-Jul-20 23:01:42

Are you afraid of the prospect of home being angry and you losing any perceived "control" over how he treats you?

As in, he's not "your guy" anymore, you become the enemy - and you cant anticipate his moods anymore?

3awake Sun 19-Jul-20 07:33:08

It is so so hard and I understand. I left my abusive ex end of last year. I had to try a few times, as I would go back. Same situation - we had been together since my teens and I knew nothing else.
In my mind it was like entering a dark tunnel. It was scary and I didn’t know where it would lead so Id start going through but kept turning around to go back to him. But the last time I left I kept going forward. I took it day by day. It was dark and scary but I knew there was light at the end. When I had thoughts of going back I would push them aside and think “just wait”. I am now on the other side of that tunnel. It is beautiful - peaceful and loving. I love myself and treat myself kindly. I know each day will be peaceful.

I had a lot more money before. But I wouldn’t go back even for a fortune. Peace and contentment are worth so much more.

Sometimes it does take a few tries to leave as it can be scary and confronting. There is nothing wrong with kind to yourself. Many of us have gone through it and it’s very very usual to have to try a few times xx

madcatladyforever Sun 19-Jul-20 10:02:30

madcatladyforever how did you manage to leave did you have somewhere to go?

First husband who was violent and aggressive, my hand was forced really. My husband turned very violent one night and started smashing the whole house up. Things came to a head. I fled the house in terror with my son and called the police who came and picked me up and took me to a refuge. I started divorce proceedings from there because it wasn't safe to retun home.
It was such a relief. I was awarded most of the equity from the home and was able to buy my own home and leave the refuge. I didn't feel suicidal on this occasion because it was just such a relief to leave.

I was single for 17 years raising my son then met husband number 2. He was low level abusive not like number 1 and a big fan of love bombing so I was permanently confused. We were together for 20 years and I really thought we'd be together for life then one day out of the blue after I'd been very ill he just left. The next day divorce proceedings dropped through the door. I was horrified. I had no job, no money, no car and I was ill. I really thought my best bet was just to commit suicide I was so lonely and desperate. I went to the doctor and he gave me loads of medication to cope with the situation and that was my turn around point, I was able to move forward. I could never have done it without.
I downsized, moved across country, got a new job, got a new life and was finally happy just being me. When I was settled and not in a panic any more I just gradually weaned myself off the dugs and I'm really happy now. Looking back I realised how abusive my 2nd husband was and the constant low level stress I was under.

I'm now having therapy to try and recognise why I've had such bad luck with men before I even think of another relationship but really I'm happy on my own.

The huge relief when you finally leave and are settled is the best thing in the world. But you can't do it alone.

Messedup2020 Sun 19-Jul-20 17:57:39

user1645 that is such a good way of looking at it, the thought of staying makes me feel so depressed. I can’t live in this constant anxiety.

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Messedup2020 Sun 19-Jul-20 17:59:31

picsinred that is one thing that has kept me from leaving! I feel if we split his treatment of me will get worse and I’ll become the enemy, where as if I stay I have him on my side. Even if he doesn’t treat me well, I know it could be a lot worse if I became the enemy.

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Messedup2020 Sun 19-Jul-20 18:00:30

3awake thank you. You are so brave. I hope I can get there too flowers

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Messedup2020 Sun 19-Jul-20 18:02:00

madcatladyforever thank you for sharing your story. And I’m starting to realise that I can’t do it alone, I need to find some help xx

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