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How to deal with emotionally abusive STBX(17 Posts)
Very recently separated from STBX. Now there’s space for me to breathe, I am starting to see the extent of the emotional abuse that I’ve been subject to for a long time. It’s very hard for me to believe this view is valid at times, as he has repeatedly tried to invalidate any view of mine that is different from his. I’ve also been repeatedly shut down by him getting very angry or pulling the silent treatment. He is also extremely skilled at creating excellently crafted narratives which he pushes very forcefully (though they are often warped). I’m finding every negotiation now a nightmare because of all this. Generally with me, historically, he gets what he wants. I have always tried to put up a fight, but conceded to him in the end. I have a low income only and don’t want to push every communication through the solicitor as I won’t be able to afford it.
Strategies with people like this? I have tried the cracked record approach, or even holding phone away from me for a while and not listening for a bit. In any case he follows up with long text messages invalidating me again. Still struggling...
Today in one exchange I remarked that in the last week before he left he when he was yelling and swearing at me and shaking with anger I was scared. He said ‘I know anger is just frightening for you as you grew up with domestic violence’. Umm, don’t blame me for feeling scared when you were being scary... Even now writing that it’s hard for me to feel it’s a valid view.
So sorry to hear you are going through this. I can sympathise as am in a similar situation. I split with my Stbx last June and we are still trying to negotiate on the financial settlement too. I'm lucky that I can pay for a solicitor to take most of the communications away from me.
I find being blamed for everything and the total rewriting of history is exhausting and upsetting and I spend a lot of time wondering why and how can't he see even after all this time that he was at fault.
What I would say is don't engage. It's taken me ages to have the strength to do this but if he calls and starts ranting put the phone down, if he texts ignore it, if he comes to the house to rant call the police. Unless it is an important conversation that will progress your divorce don't have it!
I know that is so hard and I still struggle. I've spent 18 years putting this persons feeling above my own to try and avoid the rants or sulks but actually realised they have never cared about my feelings and only I can.
Stay strong x
Dear OP I am very sorry that you are going through this. It is really frustrating that even after you found courage to leave this guy he still find a way to upset you. Do not let him. Do not allow him to suck you in b/c this is what he feeds of.
Stop talking to him. Stop listening. Stop engaging with him. He's the ex. Communicate via email or text re: dcs only.
My ex comes to my house sometimes to see ds but if he tries to put me down (he still tries after 10 years) I just walk away. Go shopping, mow the lawn, go for a run, hoover vigorously. He hates it
Agree with pp - the only way is to stop communication except wrt to dc and even then make it completely factual. Do it all by email or text. Don’t speak to him he will win because he is used to manipulating you.
Poor you, that sounds very demoralising.
I second what these good people are saying. He is an ex now, he has no right to your time, you don't have to listen to him anymore.
Find a good solicitor if you need to and explain your income is very low during free advice appointment. This is the rest of your life we are talking about here, so it is important it is done fairly.
Good luck x
Hi OP do you have children with him?
Otherwise you don’t need contact with him.
Some solicitors let you pay something monthly I think.
It sounds horrible and he is continuing to abuse you.
If you have no children then what’s the contact over.
Tell him your phones broke and get him to email you.
Keep all evidence of abusive behaviour.
Call women’s aid for an opinion from them.
Contact the police and have a conversation.
You maybe able to get a restraining order?
These bully’s make me angry.
Have you any siblings/male friends.
Get them to pick up the phone.
Does he turn up unexpected.
Don’t answer - call the police - tell them you feel intimidated by him.
These men tie us in knots with there petty point.
He is abusive. 💐
Op, I'm sorry about my post, it was lacking in empathy. Of course it will take time for you to shake him off. He's no different from any other bad habit. But you will get there, and eventually he'll just be a wart on the moon. A little better every day x
It is a hard shift to stop engaging. You want to be heard and validated. Once you get a few stock phrases it is easier. Just ignore what isn't relevant.
I managed to boil it down to times to collect the kids. And this was only because he was so unreliable that he couldn't be consistent.
Child support through Cms. Although I still don't get any money.
House through the solicitor.
Contact eow. Need to confirm timings the day before.
My ex painted his contact with me as being concerned about my welfare. Told him very clearly it wasn't for him to be part of my life anymore. And he was no more concerned about me than nexts door rabbit. It was about imagine. He wanted to be the big man still 'caring' about the mother of his children.
He wanted to dissect the past. I wouldn't engage as what would that achieve. They eventually get the message. Stay strong.
Those feelings never really go away if you have to communicate for dc I'm afraid but you can minimize it . I split with my ex 4 years ago but even now if I see a message from him and ds is not with him , I think what the hell does he want and get a sinking feeling.
Tips : mute his WhatsApp messages unless your children are with him
Pre empt any necessary communication by emailing him
When you answer the phone be really polite and civil as if you are taking a call from a dentists receptionist. End with thanks and bye .
Don't read or respond to any messages too quickly ( unless it's something to do with the kids while they are with him)
I often try to facilitate handovers through my mum so I don't have to see him and I'm quite friendly with his mum and she's happy to pass any messages on ( eg don't forget ds hayfever meds )
It gets easier but you need to take steps , it doesn't just fade on its own
Thanks all, the communication is over arrangements for the children, and finances.
@mintjulia No worries, some helpful tips there
It is really hard to make the break, it took me several years. What I wish I’d done much sooner was only discuss facts with him. There are three difficulties to doing this
- it’s hard not to want to tell him how miserable/scared/angry he made you or how unreasonable he was, or to defend yourself against his accusations
- refusal to engage in his conversations will make him try even harder for a while so it gets worse before it gets better (xDH tried shouting, longer texts, not responding to legal documents and health/suicide scares/hints before he gave up)
- it feels really rude and odd, especially if you’ve spent years being polite and appeasing.
In the endI took my very good friend’s advice and rehearsed some responses/actions - a sort of set of rules. EG only talk about the future. If you are about to say “I feel” then don’t. Practice saying “hmm” in a vague tone, or responding with silence. If you practice these beforehand they come much easier in the heat of the moment.
I could probably have saved myself 3-4 years of upset if I’d done this from the start. I do know it’s hard when there are kids involved.
These responses are so helpful, thank you. They resonate so much with me. @Purplewithred that’s exactly how it is.
Today is my day with the kids. My DS goes to Sat morning informal football at the park with his Year 1 classmates. STBX turned up to watch. He took DD (age 3) on his lap whole time. I know it’s nice for the kids to have both parents there, so I feel selfish if I say please can you not come when it’s my weekend taking DS there. He’s also suggested residency pattern of 3 nights each, then the 7th day spending the day together with kids. Again I can see benefits for the kids, but I don’t want to have to spend a day with him every week...
Tricky on him turning up at football. I suspect that one is just a case where you'll have to put up and shut up given it's for DS's pleasure/public place etc.
But on the shared day the Mumsnet Classic "that won't work for me" with no further engagement/explanation would be a good one to go for.
The kids do need to understand that things have changed and that you now live separately. You can show good parenting by being respectful and considerate of each other without playing pretend happy families. And you hear plenty of stories on here from people whose parents' happy marriage was a charade and how horrible that was.
I’m really struggling with him trying to conduct arguments with me by text message. It’s so hard not to respond as he writes each one, laden with warped accusations and , as if it’s going to be read out in court. He’s dating a lawyer. It’s very hard not to respond. He invited me for champagne the other night to celebrate my new job and him getting an all clear on health worry front. But this week has reverted to intense rage with me.
I so much wish there was a way of blocking him from texting me but it’s impossible I guess because we need to be in touch about the kids. I get several messages from him a day. Often the first few are practical questions about arrangements (were only recently separated) but then they often build to unprovoked anger...