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repeat offenders - women who have serially abusive relationships

(18 Posts)
namechangersad Fri 05-Jun-09 22:28:58

sorry if I am clogging up the board, but this is secondary to my other thread

so, my relationship history is this:

married at 19 for 5 years to someone with ego size of planet with whom I started having major arguments once I was in my 20s and had opinions of my own. He was a "small man syndrome" bully who used to put me down publicly under the guise of "jokes". My mum (unbiased, I know wink) says he damaged my self esteen immeasurably. Split by mutual consent. Vowed never to marry again.

25-27 with man who was married when I met him (fell for the old "we're practically divorced, I only go home at weekends for the kids"). He did split with his wife, but I left him eventually as I wanted something different. Think he genuinely did love me though.

28-30 Torrid affair with man from wrong side of tracks, it was verging on dangerous but we had "fun". Turned nasty and violent. He left me. (said I provoked him to such rage he would keep hitting me) I couldn't cope with it (hime leaving) and kept trying for a year to get him back by shagging him(ashamed now and can't believe I had such low self esteem)

31 met bloke I thought was wonderful (now DH). Sought lots of opinions as was unsure of my own ability to choose nice guy. Everyone said he was great, I renounced my vow and yet now I find myself in situation outlined in earlier thread, facing divorce number 2. sad

Surely I must be the one who is fucking up? Who is intolerable to live with? Who provokes people to such rages that they treat me like this? I don't understand. I don't think I am a bad person, but I know that I am not the easiest to live with. I have mood swings and suffer from dreadful anxiety (whilst appearing confident and outgoing) But I really REALLY try not to make it anyone else's fault - for example, I will say, "I'm just in a mood, its not your fault and I'm not having a go, I just don't feel smiley" But yet, it still seems that (despite me warning them in advance) men I meet and get involved with only ever want the smiley me, and I can't be like that all the time. When I was single it was easy to shut the door on the world and ignore the phone if I was in a bad phase, but you cant do that in a relationship. Maybe that's the problem. Can anyone shed a light?

(for the cod psychology bit, I had a difficult relationship with my alcoholic Dad, who had mood swings (check) and we would tiptoe round trying to make things better if we got home and he was in a mood. First marriage was almost certainly because I did not think he would condone us living together so I was desperately trying to validate it in his eyes)

HerBeatitudeLittleBella Fri 05-Jun-09 22:32:55

Yes you are fucking up, not by provoking rage in others (they are responsible for their own rage, you aren't responsible for it), but by choosing these blokes.

I would urge you to get professional, good counselling because it sounds like you need to get to the root of why you are attracted to abusers, so that you can understand and address the reasons you choose them. And then you'll be able to stop choosing them.

namechangersad Fri 05-Jun-09 22:47:11

so how come even all the other people's opinions I sought on DH didn't flag up that he would turn out like this? How can I be seeking out abusers when no-one else around let alone me, can see that they are? (sorry do not mean to sound combative, but am genuinely puzzled how I have sought out something so well hidden)

hopefull09 Fri 05-Jun-09 22:51:37

I cant really talk as i was married to a vile little bastard for far too long , but no, its not your fault they behave like pricks, but you might need to look at why you allow this, boundarys , asserting yourself ect.

Im divorcing mine, but have been having counselling which has really helped as ive had to look at why i have put up with this shit.I think for me its childhood issues, lack of confidence and a definate lack of boundarys.Im a long way off yet,i still struggle with what behaviours ok, whats not ect.

What helps me measure is to ask myself if i would be happy if someone was treating my dd in that particular way,,, if its a no, its a no for me as well.

Like you op, i think i learned from a young age to " keep people happy " to keep the peace, tiptoe round them while my own needs went unmet.Sadly ive inadvertantly taught my own dcs to do the same .

GlastonburyGoddess Fri 05-Jun-09 22:54:10

I dont think you nescessarily seek them out, more they seek you. men like that prey on your unconcious vunerability.

hopefull09 Fri 05-Jun-09 23:02:19

Abusive behaviour only shows up in intimate relationships so other people dont ever see it.And it starts so slowly and quietly.Even now everyone thinks my ex is the nicest bloke,, but hes not, hes a twat.If you think back to the early days with these losers there was probably clues,, things you felt a bit uncomfortable about but didnt want to create a fuss.

Something ive learned is the early warning signs,,there obvious really, bad with money, tantrums, rages, bad driving, bad attitude to sex , work ect,they dont take responsibilty ect, everythings your fault, but way before they come along there are quieter much more subtle signs that you can learn to spot.

Womans aid run a course called the freedom project which aim is to educate you into spotting these things before your too involved.Aparently by asking the right questions you can spot a potential abuser within a 5 min chat.Might be worth a look on their website,, they have local centres where you can go for counselling, , you dont have to be getting beaten up to use their service.

Im a long way off,, but i will never ever go back there ever again.If theres a degree in spot a twat ill take it.

thumbwitch Fri 05-Jun-09 23:05:55

GlastonburyGoddess is right - some people have a mostly invisible sign on their foreheads that says "I am available to be taken advantage of, please feel free to abuse my trust" and the only people who can read the sign are the ones who will do exactly that.

Your vulnerability shows through to people who are looking for it - the way to switch off the sign is to do "work" on yourself to raise your own feelings of self-worth and your right to be treated properly, like an equal human being. Your experiences with your Dad will have affected you and you need to find some way to overcome the behaviour patterns that you have in place since childhood.

Counselling is one way; NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) or life coaching is another; hypnosis therapy is another; and there are plenty of self-help books (although this is not likely to be the most successful option)

Change your thought and behaviour patterns and the next time an abusive man meets you he will pass on by to the next "vulnerable" person he meets, leaving you to find a proper worthy partner. Good luck!

Snorbs Fri 05-Jun-09 23:13:33

Abusive people are rarely abusive the first time you meet them. If they were, you wouldn't meet them a second time. Instead, what tends to happen is that the first months are a "honeymoon period", where they're attentive, thoughtful, romantic, real sweep-you-off-your-feet stuff. There may well be little warning signs there from the start, but you're so caught up in the romance and everything that you ignore them, or explain them away.

Moreover, it's only in close relationships that many abusers show their true colours; there are any number of abusers out there (my ex being one of them) who put on a fantastically convincing front to their friends and acquaintances. So the fact that your friends didn't spot this person's inner self is not anything to be surprised about.

The way I see it, in my relationship with my abusive ex, the primary responsibility for the abuse rests with my ex. However, the primary responsibility for that abuse going on so long rests with me. I stayed and took it for my own reasons; reasons that, in hindsight, were rubbish. But it is what it is and I can't change it. What I can do is to try not to make the same mistakes in the future.

People who grow up in situations where they walk on eggshells around their parents (and this is very, very common when one of the parents is alcoholic) tend to entirely subconsciously repeat those experiences in their choices of partners. The relationships we see as children can have a very deep influence on us and can affect what we see as "normal".

These kinds of patterns of behaviour has been labelled "co-dependent", but I'm not sure that's necessarily a useful label. Nevertheless, you may find a book called "Co-dependency No More" by Melody Beattie interesting. I've also heard very good things about a book called "Women Who Love Too Much" that touches on many of the same issues.

Finally, I also recommend counselling. It's hard work but it's worth it.

namechangersad Fri 05-Jun-09 23:16:28

I now pronounce you Hopeful PhD (spotatwatology). Will look at freedom course. Thanks all.

Thumbwitch I almost x-posted but just saw your post which seems very insightful. I find myself in a situation which mirrors the behaviour in my parents marriage (a source of difficulty as my dad was the emotional abuser) and couldn't understand how, against all that I held about how awful that was, I had ended up in the same situation myself. Your post makes sense of it.

(Not that I really know what to do with this information, but hey ho - its a start....DHs favourite dig at me is how I am so like my abusive alcoholic dad and he is like my long suffering mum, even though in (my) reality it is the other way around) My Dad died a year ago, but the insults haven't stopped.

hopefull09 Fri 05-Jun-09 23:18:13

Agree glastonbury,, they are predators, most of them come along when we are vulnerable in some way.
Normal healthy men usually sense that a woman is vulnerable and therefore dont push it.
An abuser activeley persues you so it can look like you attract abusers.But we dont notice the quiet polite guys on the sidelines do we,,,were too busy listening to the abusive idiot tell us how wonderfull we are and how much he loves us - after a week !

Since ive kicked my bullys fat arse out , theres been men crawling out of the woodwork.Could look flattering, but what man would be attracted to a weeping woman , whos still married, in debt ,with loads of children and whos obviously really vulnerable??
Twats, thats who.

Op, you should seriously consider counselling.Look on the womans aid website.

namechangersad Fri 05-Jun-09 23:25:27

thanks hopeful, It was suggested on my original thread that I try counselling alone and I think I will.

Portofino Fri 05-Jun-09 23:26:01

namechanger, I read your other OP and but not all the thread....and I am trying to think how to put my thoughts into words.....

My DH can be very much like your dp when he gets wound up. He is always right, I am always the stupid one if something doesn't go to plan. When we argue, it somehow always get twisted round so that I completely lose my temper and scream, and am therefore "mad". We used to argue a lot pre dd. I threw him out on several occasions.

I am still with him. I don't consider him to be an emotional abuser. He can be an arse (superiority complex and all that) and sometimes I consider he can be very selfish, but for the most part we are happy together.

The thing is I don't put up with the behaviour. If he talks to me in a way that i don;t like I tell him. If he's in one of his grumpy moods which involves much moaning about minor things, I say to him that i don't know what has set this off, but he can take it elsewhere - dd and I won't be putting up with it.

He does things like passive-aggressive hoovering when he stressed. It used to wind me up dreadfully! Now i ignore him and ask if he'd like a cup of tea. Things are generally more peaceful.

You sound like you are exhausted, which is completely understandable. You are both working hard, and have got into a cycle of criticism/defensive arguments.

From you other OP, he is being over critical and you are being very defensive. Obviously there might be more to it, but your background has obviously given you self esteem issues. I really think that talking to someone about this might help.

If you are feeling more confident yourself (ie you are NOT a crap mother, you are NOT crap round the house, you can kick DP in to touch) things might improve.....

hopefull09 Fri 05-Jun-09 23:37:10

Hehe namechanger.Another good book is lundy bancroft, why does he do that, inside the minds of angry men, or something like that.
You can get it off amazon for about a fiver , well worth a read.

Theres a chapter in there where they put the abusive idiots into catagorys and explain their techniques, ie The drill sargent, The Hard Man ect. Mines the victim, have never heard such an accurate description of him !

Breifly dated someone since i kicked bully out, and promptly gave him the boot after he commented on a pimple i had and innocently asked if i would make him a roast dinner for the next date as it was his favourite.

Freinds thought i was mad but from my point of veiw,, if he was pointing out minor faults ( pimple) after 2 dates , what would he be saying to me in a year? And how rude anyway !
And why the fuck would i trail round the supermarket buying special food and cooking for him when the idea was that he should be taking me out for a fab fun night!

MaggieBee Fri 05-Jun-09 23:45:10

Stay away from men for a while?? Sorry if that sounds harsh. I came out of one horrible, horrible abusive relationship 2 yrs ago. It took me a while to understand why he acted the way he did, and why I stayed with him even after I first saw the 'signs'. I think it's all as clear as it's ever going to be now, but I will NEVER tolerate being abused or controlled again. I'm improving my life, prioritising my children, just focussing on my female friendships and doing a bit of saving, studying, cracking on with my 5 yr plan! and working on my personal goals (small things that mean a lot to me).

I had a happy childhood and my parents encouraged me to think well of myself, but I ended up bullied, controlled and abused. Not sure I'll ever completely understand that.

A man isn't always the answer, or, certainly isn't the only answer. You don't have to find another one within a timeframe. Being on your own is a perfectly good alternative way of getting it right.

This is not the same as creating barriers up around yourself before anybody suggests that.

MaggieBee Fri 05-Jun-09 23:49:03

hopefull09, that would be me now!! I would be thinking 'why would I spend all day sunday cooking for a man I hardly know who says I have a pimple?', btu 10 yrs ago when I met my x I would have been trying to 'make up for the pimple'. jeeeez I was a sap back then.

hopefull09 Sat 06-Jun-09 01:25:08

Hehe maggiebee not as much as a sap as i was ! Ten years ago i wouldve apologised for not realising and started asking him what else he liked .I wouldve then gone and fed his fat face while he sat in my house gorging on my food and i wouldve felt priveledged to have him here !
Greedy bastard.

Within weeks hed have been bringing his dirty washing here and moved himself in .So my capacity to spot a nob is drasticly improved, 2 dates, 2 stupid comments and pimple boy was old news .

Agree with stay away from men for a while, im happily single and also have a personal plan that im really looking forward to.

AttilaTheMeerkat Sat 06-Jun-09 08:50:47


I don't think any of what you've written is cod pyschology at all - being a child in a household where a parent is alcoholic affects children markedly and in many ways particularly when it comes to them forming relationships as an adult. I am not surprised at all that you have chosen a succession of relationship losers for men. You subconciously learnt a lot of damaging stuff when you were small; stuff that needs to be expunged now otherwise you may continue to repeat the same mistakes. That pattern was learnt in your childhood (the roots of this started back then), we after all learn about relationships first and foremost from our parents. You were damaged emotionally by these people. Children, now adults of alcoholics, often go on to chose alcoholics as partners themselves or see themselves as being super responsible for everybody around them.

My friend is in an emotionally abusive relationship (her second and is now also looking at divorce number 2) and she is closer now than she ever has been in leaving him. Its taken her a long time to get to where she is now and that is partly through friends support, not least of all my own.

My friend was very emotionally vulnerable after the failure of her first marriage and has rebounded onto the second. He saw this as an abuser and took advantage. Her current man shows no remorse for what has happened, thinks that everyone is out to get him, takes and shows no responsibility for his actions. Her child is affected too; she wrote them a letter saying please stop fighting. He was, like many of these people, very plausible to the outside world.

Her self esteem has always been low (these men have just dragged her self esteem down further with them) but her relationship with her parents was also mainly a happy one.

I would pay close heed to of all these written responses as they all speak sense, particularly that of thumbwitch and Maggiebee's (her plan is also what she is striving for now).

MaggieBee Sat 06-Jun-09 11:24:14

good for you hopefull09! I really agree with what a few people have said about their x being so plausible to the rest of the World. That is my x to a T. Only my family know the truth, and even they, to start off with, bought his version because I was too ashamed to tell them how he abused me with his name-calling and bullying and so on. I knew it was wrong and I knew I should leave and I felt so ashamed of myself for not leaving that I colluded in the facade.

He has a degree in biology (caring) and then accountancy exams ACCI (?) and then on top of those business degrees He is successful and wealthy. He is an Alpha Bully, He is tall, handsome, suited, booted and working for a blue chip company or whatever they call them. I on the other hand am the 'crazy, emotional single mother on benefits whose been on anti-depressants twice". I've been 'sacked from every job I've ever had' (I've been made redundant twice) I can't "even pass my driving test" (well I've passed it now buster) and I am a quitter (yes I quit you buddy) I am dirty and disgusting and lazy and I left for an easy life! This is how he has successfully painted the picture to all his colleagues, friends, family, our old neighbours, former mutual acquaintances whom I never see anymore.

It used to bother me so much, but after 2 yrs, i feel like we're in different Worlds now. It no longer bothers me if some neighbour 4 doors down buys his version of events hook line and sinker.

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