14th September 2020 at 3:20 pm #113658
I have spent a little while reading through some of this forum.
I hope none of you find it insensitive, posting this. I’m just confused as to whether I need to build an armour (and protect our children) from emotional abuse, or whether I am just in a cr*p relationship and need to work things through. I cannot express how much I hope that asking you warriors this isn’t offensive.
After reading on here I have read Lundy Bancroft’s book and am even more confused because it most of it doesn’t sound like my partner.
My partner reacts very inappropriately to things- Other people on the road, other people walking past our house having the audacity to talk to each other! – everything anyone else does he feels like it is a personal attack on him. He never shouts, but speaks about them aggressively. If I try to make him see reason or dare to tell him not to take it personally, he will then verbally attack me by telling me not to speak to him if I’m going to get funny with him or he will – quite aggressively – tell me I’m having a go at him! He will then silently fume about it for an hour or two. Occasionally apologise or, more often, I will just gently act like everything’s fine to diffuse the AWFUL atmosphere and then he carries on as normal.
I have obviously stopped challenging him on this.
I am also called a drama queen A LOT, I am melodramatic for saying I’m tired, or feeling down. If I injure myself or am ill I am putting it on for sympathy.
I have obviously stopped talking about my feelings or saying if I am tired/feeling unwell because I just get upset at the response.
If I try to talk to him about anything he does not want to talk about. I am shut down. Told that he does not want to talk about this now or told to stop talking about it or that he needs time to think.
Now, I am nervous to approach him with ideas about bringing up the children or money or anything.
He does sometimes hide stuff from me or say he didn’t say stuff when he did (innocuous stuff like if he offered to do a bit of housework or something), but he KNOWS I remember correctly really and he does it to tease more than anything.
HOWEVER…he is only like this some of the time. Like, it’s quite infrequent. When he is, it is awful. I am anxious and on high alert around him. I keep my mouth shut as much as possible but not too much for him to focus on me being quiet. Other times, he is totally fine. I can witter on and he’s considerate and listens to me and we joke and tease and it’s just…normal. It is like this a lot. Just normal. He admits his faults and is happy to open up about them.
But I have a knot in my stomach just the same wondering if he is going to shut me down because I’ve been in the same subject a while or something. Worrying someone will upset him and cause that terrible atmosphere.
He would be devastated to think he is being abusive. I know he would. I have started to try not to be worried about causing a bad atmosphere when he is reacting unreasonably to something (it’s usually not me, but someone or something else) and I question him about if he feels his response is reasonable. He always squirms and looks embarrassed, and since I have started doing that he has been much more consistent in his moods. To the point I wonder if I imagined it!
Am I the flipping abuser?
I guess, what are your thoughts on this? I’ve been with him quite some years, I can’t say that his behaviour has escalated that much, maybe a tiny bit with regards to his tolerance for me discussing things but…
I would really appreciate some opinions and I’m very sorry for this being so long!!
14th September 2020 at 6:04 pm #113660CatjamParticipant
Mine doesn’t ‘fit’ the criteria in Lundy Bancroft’s book but some parts. Have you read ‘Living with a dominator’ by Pat Craven?
Walking on eggshells is not normal, nor is being shut down if they don’t like whatever you are talking about.
Hopefully people more qualified than me can help and advice you better than I can.
Read as much as you can but I think you know deep down something isn’t right otherwise you wouldn’t have come looking for help.
I knew things weren’t right but when I started googling questions about his behaviour it brought up emotional abuse and subtle or covert control.
Take care and I hope you find the answers you need.
14th September 2020 at 6:24 pm #113662
Thank you for your reply.
Similar to me catjam…I started googling some of his behaviours ages ago and it lead me to the same thing.
During lockdown we were both working from home and I noticed it more – same as many others I guess. Then I mentioned some examples to a friend and she was horrified, so it’s slowly led me here.
I’m just left wondering if it’s just that he’s not a very nice person, but not actually abusive.
I am walking on eggshells a lot but…oh I don’t know. I guess the long and short of it is I need to leave the relationship. I want to make sure I have as much knowledge as possible so I can prepare myself for any fallout. As I’m writing this, I know that ending our relationship won’t be the usual, upset and hurt fallout. I am anticipating a reaction that actually terrifies me. In some ways, I have answered my own question here. Sigh.
What’s really odd is that since I’ve come on here and lurked in the background and subsequently bought the Lundy Bancroft book, he has been totally and completely fine with me!
Thank you for the book recommendation. I will definitely read it
14th September 2020 at 6:35 pm #113664
Haha saying that, I (detail removed by moderator) asked him to wash the kids hair in the bath (detail removed by moderator) and he was totally condescending, then blocked (detail removed by moderator) so I couldn’t get past. Tried to push him to the side but he didn’t move and stood there like a rock. He was smiling, but still. Ok. I’m still in denial yes, but a little less so each time.
Is this the process?
14th September 2020 at 7:52 pm #113666TinkaBellaParticipant
I am very new on here too so feel in no position to say whether it is abuse, as I too am looking for answers.
However I recognise a lot of similarities in my partner to what you describe…being a drama queen! If I’m tired well how can I be as I don’t work nearly as hard as him! And it is usually my own fault. He has little sympathy and zero empathy. We can never talk about things either, because if my opinion differs slightly from his I am wrong or stupid. We cannot talk or compromise about anything as he completely shuts down…or rather swears at me and storms off. I wonder what I want from all this sometimes, as even if it is abuse I don’t know that I could end the relationship. Similarly to you I actually think he would be devastated if I thought of him as an abuser. So what do I hope to gain? How do you tell the different between abuse and a rubbish relationship?! And is it possible to change an abuser? I’m sorry I haven’t really helped much I don’t think, but I am finding that sharing experiences make me feel less alone and mad!
14th September 2020 at 8:04 pm #113667
Oh my God Tinkabella, I had goosebumps reading that. Everything you said sounds so familiar, sadly.
Have you read the Lundy Bancroft book? As it went on, I didn’t really recognise my relationship- though there were some parts in the beginning that rang a few bells.
What it DID do was give me a knowledge that I didn’t have before and so I guess in some way, some sort of strength?
I have no decent advice to offer you either I’m afraid. Seems we are both starting our journey. It’s just so confusing because he’ll be so considerate of me quite a lot of the time.
When I think about it though, his behaviour is just not quite right. That constant knot in my stomach is just not quite right. I can’t talk to him about anything (unless it is something about which we have the exact same opinion,) without being laughed at or told I was being ridiculous. What makes me feel actually sick is that our children are around this. While his comments are often subtle and the are very young, they are still around it.
If I have to tell him something then I always feel nervous beforehand. The more I write on here the more I think it is starting to dawn on me. It’s really weird and scary.
14th September 2020 at 11:04 pm #113675
Just wanted to confirm yes you are experiencing abuse. Sometimes it’s not obvious to us to begin with. Have you googled the cycle of abuse? These men are never unpleasant to be around all the time otherwise we would never remain in the relationship. I read somewhere that even if 90 percent of the time your husband presents “normally” when with you, loving and caring, but 10 percent of the time is abusive (eg calls you names, puts you down, pretends he hasnt said things you know he has said, goes in moods or gives you the silent treatment) then that is not OK. They are still abusive and you deserve better. Abuse is never acceptable, even if its only present from time to time.
I can relate to what you say about Lundy Bancroft’s book. I have a very psychologically and emotionally abusive husband (but finally told him marriage was over recently). Yet, he doesnt exactly fit the examples/descriptions contained in Lundy Bancroft’s book. During our relationship at times he was a good listener and at times could appear caring or supportive of me. Abusers take many forms and have different personalities. Some are easier to spot from the outset than others. My abusive husband is more what would be described as a “covert” abuser. They are sometimes the most dangerous of all.
For me, the description of feeling a knot in your stomach and walking on eggshells is such a giveaway of an abusive relationship rather than just one that is not good for other reasons. This is a toxic person you are dealing with. Remember Lundy Bancroft says in his book they like to cause mystery and confusion. This is what they do by being horrible to you one minute and “normal” the next. I hope you find clarity on your journey to understanding abuse and you find this forum helps towards that. If you can find a freedom programme to join then I’d highly recommend. There are several running via zoom across the UK currently. I found meeting other woman and sharing our experiences really helped validate what I had been through and confirm I had been abused.
14th September 2020 at 11:08 pm #113676
Id also highly recommend reading any books written by Patricia Evans. Im confident they will resonate with you. Maybe start with “The Verbally Abusive Relationship”
When you mention you cant express any opinions unless they are the same as his, that is typical of an abusive man!
14th September 2020 at 11:13 pm #113677
I also have young children. That was one of thr catalysts for me getting out of the relationship. As well as protecting myself I felt an overwhelming need to protect my children from emotional and psychological harm (though his abuse was always directed at me and never directly towards them I knew it would be highly damaging for them to continue witnessing it)
14th September 2020 at 11:18 pm #113678
Don’t be fooled by his “normal” presentation much of the time. It is part of his “Oscar Winning Performance” to keep you in the relationship. An abuser has a need to keep you where you are, otherwise hes lost his control. It is all about power and control for them. They have a need for power over another person.
14th September 2020 at 11:23 pm #113679
The penny slowly dropped for me after much reading on the subject, but even then I still held on to hope he could change for a long time. I confronted him. He went for counselling. He said he was committed to change but ultimately, after x years I left because he hadnt changed. It is extremely rare for abusive men to change. I hoped and believed my husband was in that tiny percentage of men who change because he did a very good job of persuading me with all the right words. But when it came to it, sadly he wasn’t. The abusive behaviour persisted. So i reluctantly and regrettably had no choice but to leave the marriage.
14th September 2020 at 11:30 pm #113681
Ps Elizabeth Mary you are 100 percent not the flipping abuser! X
15th September 2020 at 12:36 am #113685WiseafterParticipant
Abuse is as much about how you feel, not just the actions of the abuser. Not every abusive man is violent or yells and shouts. Some manipulate you to the point where they control every single aspect of your life without you being aware and slowly drain the life and soul from you, along with your money, hopes and dreams. Even the ‘good’ times are fake. Some are nice to everyone, they have friends, work colleagues and golf on Sundays, they love their mum, they are always there to save the day, help out a buddy – but behind closed doors they will call you vile names, put you down and humiliate you, follow you around the house hissing insults, use private information to shame you and do all this in a calm, condescending tone; some men rule the household by ensuring everyone else’s happiness (or misery) is entirely dependent on whether they are in a good or bad mood (usually choosing Christmas or family holiday for maximum effect); some will punish you with weeks of silent treatment and you won’t even know what you did wrong (probably nothing, maybe you fed the dog before him, or were too friendly to the Tesco guy); some will minimise or ignore any suffering and simply not see us as human beings deserving of love, kindness and compassion when we are unwell, down or sad – even when we are going through our worst times, such as losing a parent. This is a choice they make. All abuse is abuse and it makes you feel ‘less than’, frightened, sad, lonely, scared and confused and that is not a healthy way to live. Especially not long term. I would recommend reading Debra Mirza’s ‘The Covert Passive Aggressive N********t’ which offers a different perspective on abuse in relationships. By the way, if his horrible behaviour is a one-off, he is sorry, shows remorse and changes that behaviour through long term, lasting, positive affirmative action; if he is always there for you when you need him and never, ever makes you feel that you need to be anything other than you true self and his worse misdemeanour is forgetting to buy avocados then it is probably not abuse.
15th September 2020 at 5:32 am #113689WaterspriteParticipant
Trust your gut – believe in your own narrative not theirs. They fill your head with rubbish and Oscar winning performances are pulled off at key moments to add to the confusion which is a deliberate policy. Step back and try to look at their behaviour like a critical observer – even if it’s not abusive is it kind? Mine started like yours promised change so many times just got worse and worse …. We made it out alive 😊 – wish I had left when my children were young 😢😥😥
15th September 2020 at 5:59 am #113690CatjamParticipant
Blocking the door so you can’t get past. Was that so you couldn’t get to your children? Big red flag.
I would reach out to women’s aid as soon as possible or your gp. Start keeping a journal too.
I would also be tempted to have an escape plan. A bag ready for you all so you can leave quickly. Talk to family or friends, you may be surprised to learn they have their worries about him.
15th September 2020 at 8:50 am #113694WiseafterParticipant
Yes Yes Yes. Very good idea as first step is to keep a journal, write down incidents from the past, see if there is a pattern. Record not just what happened, but how you felt and what happened afterwards. Reach out to the DA helpline and your GP to talk to them about how you feel and get some advice or access to counselling or support in your area. There is another post on this forum today which mentions the Freedom Programme which may help.
15th September 2020 at 11:14 am #113698
I am overwhelmed with all your support and clarity. I honestly can’t thank you enough.
Thank you for sharing your stories, for making me feel less alone and less like I am overreacting or focusing on things that aren’t there.
I have contacted my local abuse service by email. They have got back to me offering to call and left a number to call them. I am too scared right now to do it. But it is there, when I am ready.
Thank you all so much for the book recommendations. I will work my way through them on my kindle.
The journal is a good idea and I am going to start that now. It is scary. I have been doing a lot of reflecting and there were lots of moments in the past that caused alarm bells which I ignored. 😢
Just…thank you all. I have forgotten what it feels like to talk openly and be supported! It has left me shaking thinking about the situation I have got myself into here. I really hope I am able to offer others the same soon.
15th September 2020 at 5:52 pm #113714ChasingrainbowsParticipant
ElizabethMary and Tinkerbella, I’m with you. My husband was devastated when I eventually confronted him and said he’d have to leave as he had scared our youngest, hit the dog in a temper and refused to admit he had a problem. He was then diagnosed with anxiety, also now depression. His anxiety makes him VERY egotistical when things are going badly for him, but he can seem hugely kind at other times, hence me and my kids walking on eggshells at home in the end a lot waiting for something to happen. He is perfectly charming at work when he is control as he works for himself so has full control. He can’t deal with loss of control and needs to get it in any way he can. So his mental health problems make his emotionally abusive at home. While a mental health problems explains it, it doesn’t excuse it. I’m on day 2 of asking him to leave. It’s weird but not terrible. I think you both know you need some help. This forum helped me decide I needed to do something, and I WAS right he WAS being unreasonable. Keep reading, love to you both
23rd September 2020 at 8:10 pm #114186CamelParticipant
I hope you don’t mind me saying this but everything that followed you telling your husband to leave is straight out the abuser’s handbook.
He was ‘devastated’ when you confronted him with his abuse. Didn’t he realise the impact of his behaviour? Why ever not?
Afterwards he was ‘diagnosed’ with anxiety. Then depression. Why did he wait til now? Were you there with the doctor when they told him or are you taking his word for it? Has he been given medication or counselling? Does he expect you to care, remind him to take meds, listen to him while he talks about HIS feelings?
Who said that anxiety and depression cause abusive behaviour? Even though you say it’s not an excuse for it, are you possibly minimising?
I’d question whether there’s any link between anxiety and lack of control. It seems you’re suggesting that he gets anxious if he’s not in control. Ask yourself who is truly anxious – you or him? Is it normal or acceptable for anyone to only feel content if they have total control of everyone around them?
It sounds as if you’re having to persuade him to leave. This is a bit of a red flag, in my opinion at least. You sound determined to draw a line under his unreasonable behaviour so it would be terrible if he refused to allow it.
Please don’t read anything I’ve said as critical. It’s not meant that way. I only wish to highlight more underhand and well-worn tactics. I hope it all goes OK.
23rd September 2020 at 9:59 pm #114197iliketeaParticipant
Try listening/reading the Covert Passive Aggressive N********t…its on audible. Mine was like yours. I used to say what you have said, at the start, it escalated after significant things happened but only after many many years…maybe you’ve been lucky so far that there haven’t been any stressors or threats to his power and control, a new baby, a death of a close person, losing a job, who knows, just something significant. Try the book, its an eye opener! xx
25th September 2020 at 7:56 pm #114312WalkingonsunshineParticipant
Just wanted to chip in and say I also recommend the covert n********t Book, like you the Lundy Bancroft didn’t follow suit for my husband, there were things in there that I definitely recognised, but the covert n********t really spoke to me. As you described ‘subtle’ that’s exactly how my abuse was so you are left unsure if it’s real or you’re just over reacting
25th September 2020 at 8:04 pm #114313CamelParticipant
I just wanted to check you’re oK. Also to say that those of us on the forum are not all warriors. We’ve all been where you are. Please don’t feel that your feelings and questions are invalid or that things at home are not as serious. As already said, the question isn’t so much ‘is this abuse?’ but rather ‘am I happy?’
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