7th January 2019 at 10:28 pm #70272
I got out of an abusive relationship nearly a decade ago, I have been through the freedom program, had support from the police DV team etc etc. My current partner is beginning to show behaviours which look a lot like the red flags I was taught, but they also look like symptoms of his diagnosed mental health condition. How do I know which it is? I can’t face another abuser, but I can’t be the person who abandons him during a mental health crisis. Is there a way to work this out?
7th January 2019 at 11:35 pm #70281TiffanyParticipant
First question, is he getting treatment/in therapy for his mental health condition? If he doesn’t care enough to get help when his mental health condition is causing you pain and distress then there is nothing you can do to help. You can’t force people to get help. If he won’t and he’s hurting you (emotionally or in any other way) then you have to protect yourself and get out.
Next question. Does he gaslight? Gaslighting is not a symptom of mental illness. It’s clever manipulation and you can’t do it accidentally. If he remembers things differently to you, tells you you promised to do things you never agreed to do etc, etc. then run for the hills.
I agree that it is hard to tell. My partner has mental health problems, and these were the main giveaways that he was also abusive. He dealt with his mental instability by controlling me rather than seeking help, and he was a master of subtle manipulation.
Please remember that although we want to help people we have to absolutely put ourselves first. Stay safe.
8th January 2019 at 10:04 am #70302
Thanks Tiffany. The answer to both questions isn’t entirely straight forward. Firstly, he always seems keen to access help for his condition. He does seem to have medication, and he has a psychiatrist. ( Detail removed by moderator) he often doesn’t go to appointments and when he does show up he won’t speak to them. When it comes to gaslighting, it’s really hard to know because he does remember things differently to me, but doesn’t everyone do that? I have issues myself which mean my memory isn’t totally reliable. I do know there are instances where he has sworn blind he told me something which I have no recollection of, and you can’t discuss that with him logically because he gets so angry when he feels I’m pointing out his flaws (PTSD is brilliant isn’t it?)
8th January 2019 at 10:31 am #70303
Hi Frankfurter, have you started a journal regarding his behaviour. So much erratic behaviour is put down to depression of one type or another, look how many abused new mothers have been diagnosed with PND instead of DA.
My oh convinced me I was going crazy, my memory was so bad. I asked to be referred to a memory clinic it was so bad. It proved I wasn’t crazy and there was nothing wrong with my memory. Apart from switching off when he started his rants, so I suppose I didn’t hear what he was saying. But it was the actions I had no memory of not just the, you promised you’d do such and such.I started writing things down to prove he’d said or done a particular thing or that I had too. It’s exhausting, and it’s amazing how quickly we forget things too.
Yes we do remember things differently and see things differently, that’s why the police need as many witness statements to a crime as peoples perception differs so much.
But look for how he behaves when you call him out, is he aggressive, or passive/aggressive, do you get the silent treatment until you’ve apologised even when you KNOW you’re not in the wrong.
At the end of the day, we have the right to end a relationship for whatever our reason is, we shouldn’t remain in it when it makes us so unhappy, scared, anxious, in order to please and make our oh happy.
That is our right, but by the time we remember/realise it, it’s not as easy as just saying, I no longer want to be in this relationship, else we’d all pack up and move on.
8th January 2019 at 10:35 am #70304JanedoeissadParticipant
To me, the fact you can not discuss anything with him because he “gets so angry” is a massive red flag. I remember that’s how my relationship started with my Ex. He had mental health problems too. For ages I blamed his mental health when it was abuse. You should be able to discuss anything and not be afraid.
You say he remembers things differently. How different are your interpretation of events? If they are subtly different that’s not too bad, however, if he claims nothing happened or entirely different things were said. I’d say that is gasligting.
Like Tiffany said, he should be getting help and he should never use his mental health issue as a way to control you. Walking on eggshells and living by more and more rules is not fun.
I found that my Ex said things which were true signs of how abusive he was but I missed them at the time. Things that are not at all related to mental health issues. Things like how he was stronger than I was. That is why I am scared of him. He never once saw me being scared as a bad thing. Any decent man would be horrified that I was scared of them.
8th January 2019 at 10:56 am #70305
The journal is a really good idea IWMB, I had started logging some things because he claims not to be witholding affection (he is, one hug a year is not normal) but I have struggled to make a habit of it. A daily record might be just the thing.
Jane doe, that’s why I’m concerned. He has never been physical with me, but his response to me being frightened is that he is insulted and basically tells me I have to stop being scared but he shouldn’t have to stop shouting and posturing.
8th January 2019 at 11:40 am #70308
A huge red flag is if he treats you differently to others. Does he single you out for abuse? Can he control himself around others? If yes, then he knows exactly what he is doing which is abusing you.
8th January 2019 at 1:28 pm #70314TiffanyParticipant
Oh, I am seeing so many red flags. Honestly, it sounds like you are dating my ex. Remembering things differently is one thing. Remembering things you have absolutely no recollection of is much more alarming. I have memory lapses due to a chronic illness. In my current relationship he will sometimes mention things I don’t remember. These are generally routine things “Remember those awesome chocolates you bought me a month ago? Where were they from?” And I say “I bought you chocolates a month ago? I am really sorry, I can’t remember them…” And then he describes what he remembers in more detail. (detail removed by moderator) And I won’t necessarily remember all of it, but what he says is enough to remember most of it and I can tell him the chocolates were from (detail removed by moderator). Or he’ll say “Remember that awesome sex…” And I will say “I remember that we had sex, but not really any details. Want to fill me in on what made it awesome?” It’s frustrating that my recall is hazy, but it isn’t scary. He never remembers me saying or doing things that I know categorically didn’t happen. He never remembers big stuff like “remember when I took you on a romantic weekend. And he never remembers stuff to my detriment, like “Remember you promised to”.
Basically the stuff my normal non abusive partner remembers that I forget are details of routine daily stuff. Things we cooked, TV we watched, that kind of thing.
The things my abuser remembered that I forgot were always somehow in his favour. I forgot the nice things he did for me. I forgot the things I had promised to do for him. I forgot that we had already had this argued and he had won it. No amount of added detail would trigger any kind of memory. Because he was lying, and gaslighting, and guilt tripping.
I was horrified when I realised this, but there were giveaways. He was the only person who said my memory was bad apart from me (scarily I trusted him more than I trusted myself). I only forgot big things that happened with my abuser. Away from him I occasionally forgot small things like why I opened this cupboard, or where I had put my shopping list, but not more than the average person. And I was not known at work for being forgetful. I was actually known for being on the ball.
I also think the anger is a red flag. And I am really worried that he isn’t accessing treatment. I honestly think you should leave this guy. It sounds like you are in danger from him and that there isn’t anything you can do to support him. If he doesn’t go to his appointments then there is nothing you can do. I know that PTSD can look like abuse, but there are ladies on here with PTSD due to the abuse they suffered and they would never act as your partner is acting. There is an element of choice, even when you have a mental illness. You see how your actions impact others. And you chose whether to get help or not.
8th January 2019 at 2:12 pm #70315
Hi Tiffany, I was told that my memory loss was due to trauma. I can now understand why. Too much brain power trying to stay safe. Nothing left for retaining memories. Good or bad. It makes me sad when my sisters tell me stories about holidays we all had and things we did and I just can’t remember yet they can. At least I have photos which is nice. And yes PTSD is so very difficult but I would never deliberately hurt another human being. If I ever did I would leave until I was safe to be around x
8th January 2019 at 2:57 pm #70322
I agree KIP. My daughter says about things which happened when they were younger but I have no memory of it at all. I sometimes get scared she’s gaslighting to, but her face gets all lit up with the memory, or she’ll tell me something he did which I also don’t remember and she makes me feel im lying because it was so bad to her and her brother but I look at her and can’t renemver fir the life of me. She’ll say I can’t believe you never knew what was going on, a mum would know. I knew something wasnt right but I didn’t know to what extent and that’s something I have to live with. And I get she’s angry with me because of it and I’m crying as I write this because it hurts so much. But we forget things that hurt us so deeply because we were in a situation outwith our control at that time.
8th January 2019 at 3:02 pm #70324
Oh IWMB, the old “a mother ought to know” stick we use to beat ourselves. The kids never mean it in a bad way but somehow we think we should be mind readers.
8th January 2019 at 3:07 pm #70325
That’s the thing KIP, he has said that he wants to leave to avoid hurting us, but our situation means that leaving can’t be temporary (my issues, my daughter’s autism). I wonder if he would say that if he was testing me because he knows it isn’t possible. I just read that back, and it sounds bonkers, but it’s how I learned to think during the dark years.
8th January 2019 at 3:37 pm #70326maddogParticipant
My ex blamed me for my reaction to his foul moods. He was not taking responsibility for them. Mental health problems do not make people into abusers. You were not there when things started to go wrong for him. How on earth can you be anything to do with his problems.
We all carry baggage. I think you are right in spotting those red flags. He may be saying to you that he wants to leave to avoid hurting you in order to take back control. He may have noticed that you have clocked into his behaviour.
My ex blamed his mh problems on me. He also said he had to leave the family home because he was afraid of me. Er… no. Both of those issues are factually untrue and there is enough evidence to show that what he says is untrue.
Please keep diaries or email yourself. If you are afraid please start again with real life support. You have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.
8th January 2019 at 3:44 pm #70327
Go with your gut on this one @frankfurter.
My oh is always saying if you dont want me here just tell me, I’ll go. The next breath, it’s you don’t love me anymore, or his favourite If you don’t like it there’s the door. The thing is I no longer question myself if I do love him, I don’t even fancy him anymore. I like how he smells and when he’s got nice clothes on, he’s still got IT, but I no longer get than feeling deep inside anymore, not even a flutter. I still like it when he puts his hand on my back, but I think it’s familiarity more than anything else. I want to let my guard down sometimes but know that if I did he’d say or do something to make me feel bad about myself fir letting him in. I no longer crave his touch and hope that feeling will remain when we finish too. I can’t have him and a normal relationship with my family even though he says he doesn’t stop me from seeing them, but we all know he does.
We are not half a person who becomes whole when we find a partner. We always were a whole person, who likes to lean on someone just now and again and not be suffocated in the process.
8th January 2019 at 3:51 pm #70328
What they say and what they do are two completely different things. It’s easy to talk. Talk of changing, talk of leaving. Yet they do nothing.
8th January 2019 at 4:01 pm #70330
Thanks guys, it’s good to know I’m not being unreasonable and crazy (however much I wish it weren’t so). I will be going forward with the diary so I can see it all together, it makes things clearer and is evidence if it turns out to be needed. 😭
8th January 2019 at 5:29 pm #70333maddogParticipant
I’m so sorry that you have found yourself in another abusive relationship. It’s such a shock. I hope you can gather your experiences together and see the wood for the trees. It is a huge credit to you that you are recognising the signs and hopefully in a stronger position to deal with what lies ahead. I raise a glass to you. Well done!
8th January 2019 at 8:05 pm #70348
Thanks Maddog, it is a shock, it was different but now it seems to be the same. Does it ever stop? There is no way I’m letting this get as far as it did before. I will never allow my life to be put in danger again.
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