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    • #128125
      Headspin
      Participant

      Do any of you have to follow crazy rules that your abuser makes? One rule was that I was not allowed to use the words “(removed by moderator)” or “(removed by moderator)” during discussions after an argument. He would shout at me if I did and then get angrier when I cried with frustration. I was also banned from not giving him eye contact when talking, so all conversations had to be literally face to face, no distractions. Another rule was that if he rang me and yelled at me down the phone I had to hear him out otherwise I’d get worse when I got home (I could be in a waiting room or a friend’s house). Another rule was that the house had to be tidied by me before I went to work, he just stayed at home doing nothing. There were so many more rules, governed to make my life nearly impossible.

    • #128131

      I was expected to answer any call or text from him immediately, no matter what I was doing, because his needs were obviously very, very important. Talking of calls, I was once actually screamed at down the phone while I was working in an open plan office. To this day I have no idea how my colleagues didn’t overhear (though they were a few metres away) it was like existing in some sort of parallel universe. Each morning, before I left for work (he was still in bed), I was expected to go (removed by moderator), to take him a cup of tea and give him a kiss good morning. At this point he’d grab and hold me down to try and physically stop me going out to work as a ‘joke’, at which point I’d have to summon all my strength to fight him off me. Each evening it was my job to go outside to call in (removed by moderator)’. The kettle had to be refilled straightaway, because if he picked it up to find it partly empty, he’d go on and on and on at me for not filling it. As my planned day of escape drew nearer, I’d ‘forget’ to refill it…..if he was moaning about the kettle then at least he wasn’t moaning about something else! That’s just a few examples, so I completely understand what you’ve been going through Headspin!

    • #128134
      Stay or leave
      Participant

      I was not allowed to use (removed by moderator) on fast. Not allowed to cook food in a certain way. Not allowed to hoover or put the washing machine or dryer on at certain times.

      • #128213
        Headspin
        Participant

        Am so sorry. I wonder if you’re colleagues did hear the screaming but were too confused to say anything? Only I was in the car recently with my friend. I was driving and he rang, he was on speaker phone but I disconnected it after a second or two. The yelling was enough. My friend didn’t say a word and shame kept me silent.

      • #128214
        Headspin
        Participant

        Replied to the wrong person but stay or leave, your experience is awful too. Controlling how we choose to do housework, so horribly familiar.

    • #128145
      ISOPeace
      Participant

      Have you heard of Biderman’s chart of coercion? It was created to identify the tactics used to brainwash prisoners of war, then people realised the same tactics are used in domestic abuse. It’s really quite interesting. One of the tactics is forcing trivial demands. I think the idea is that it’s part of training you to be more compliant. I imagine there’s also a big power trip in there.

      I don’t remember the specific demands but I know there were definitely demands about using certain words to show I care. Apparently not using those exact words showed that I didn’t really care about what’s important to him. Apparently everything would have been ok if I’d used certain phrases. At the time I felt so awful that I hadn’t managed to do something so simple. But now I see that it wasn’t so simple, and it wouldn’t have made everything ok anyway. xxxx

      • #128149
        Anonymous
        Inactive

        ISOPeace,

        You are a well of knowledge. Thanks for sharing.
        That makes sense. How could people think abusers don’t know what they are doing when it’s so tactful and intentional.
        I remember my ex making weird demands from the beginning. At first I thought, if it was a big deal for him I didn’t mind doing it. But the demands and control got worse. I was so brainwashed at one point. I would jump up when he asked for something and not even question why he didn’t do it.
        I hope you are well xx

      • #128156
        ISOPeace
        Participant

        I am a bit of a nerd. Learning about stuff is my safe place 😊

        I’m actually not convinced that they always know exactly what they’re doing. I certainly think some of it is done to be intentionally controlling. But I’m sure a lot of my ex’s behaviour was instinctive. I think his actions were a natural response to believing he had the right to do what he needed to in order to get and maintain control. I think he grew up learning that you get people to do what you want by force or manipulation and so it was just normal for him. I think it was such an inbuilt way of being for him that he didn’t need to think about it. He would feel bad about something and his automatic response was to try to feel powerful. A bit like automatically comforting a child without needing to think about it, except totally dysfunctional.

        Not sure if I’ve explained that very well. Some things are hard to put into words! I don’t see it as making them any less responsible for their actions. Reasonable people learn how to manage their issues that affect others. The fact that abusers only do it in private shows that on some level they are in control, even if it’s subconscious.

        Having written all that, I wonder whether it starts of being done intentionally, then becomes instinctive because they’ve done it so much…. hmmm….

        I had a similar experience of agreeing to things as they seemed like a big deal to him. I guess that’s another example of how they use our reasonable, empathetic nature against us and how the rules for normal relationships just don’t apply when there’s abuse. What you describe sounds really horrible. I’m glad you got away from it. Hope you’re well too. xxxx

      • #128215
        Headspin
        Participant

        Looked up biderman’s chart and I just completely get it now. Isolation and humiliation is a big one for my husband.

    • #128154
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      This is quite triggering so I will be brief. My life was obeying his rules on everything, no matter how small. So I’ll just give 3 examples. The exact place I stood, the way I sat, the children and I were timed and given deadlines. He would count down when approaching the deadline. I can just recall the total terror of realising I was going to go a few seconds over and I couldn’t get things done in time.

      • #128157
        ISOPeace
        Participant

        Wow marmot, what an extreme way to control someone, it sounds absolutely awful! Thanks for sharing your experience, even though it’s difficult. I remember getting count downs. I don’t think they were quite as strict as yours, but I remember that panic of trying to meet a deadline. It was like he knew I wouldn’t meet the deadline but wanted to see me try, panic and fail. He wanted to prove just how useless I was.

        He would appear to think it completely reasonable to berate/punish me for being 5 minutes late for something that didn’t actually have a set time, like dinner. He thrived on finding things to be angry about. My mum has said that about him for a long time and a finally saw that she’s right. It’s like he feeds on the drama, like a drug addiction. xxxx

    • #128161
      peppa-pig
      Participant

      I was banned from caffeine and could only drink flavoured water, I wasn’t allowed to answer back in an archenemy as it was seen as attitude, I had to be home by certain times and could only have a cigarette when he allowed, I also had to go it with baby what ever the weather so he could have peace and quiet because apparently he was the only one allowed a break,
      Still now all these years later feel guilty about some things it’s mad when I think about how controlling he was x

    • #128166
      Headspin
      Participant

      Ugh these are awful. Isn’t it insane how we get used to it and obey? I will take a look at biderman’s chart.
      I was also banned from using the tumble dryer, neither was I allowed to dry anything in the house. I wasn’t allowed to use a particular bathroom, I wasn’t allowed to sit down for a rest until everything was done.
      Marmot I’m just so sad for you. Actually so many of my stories I can’t share with anyone I know. Who would understand apart from people who have also been through this hideous kind of abuse?
      Even though he’s ill and exhausted nowadays, he is still obnoxious.

      • #128216
        Headspin
        Participant

        Yep they’re the only ones who need a break.

    • #128178
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      Very kind ladies, thank you. I think it’s very sad generally how we all have been treated. In my case, it is now in the hands of the police, there are alerts in place on my home and phone and I (hopefully) will get a support worker so onwards and upwards. Hope that those ladies still stuck obeying those crazy rules find the strength to leave (I know how incredibly hard it is).

    • #128265
      Imagesha
      Participant

      I can find my own rules (well.. actually his rules for me) mentioned in a lot your answers.
      Well I’ll start by saying that he has a mental condition and many of the rules are because of that.
      Strip to my underwear and put my clothes in the washing every time I go out of the house.
      If we are out together, stay away from grass, trees, parks and plants in general. Not lean on or touch surfaces that he considers somehow contaminated. No plants in the house, or even on the balcony.
      No going in the shared garden outside.
      I am allowed and expected to do the dishes, and that’s ok because I’m all for sharing the home chores.
      But I am not allowed to use the washing machine. Or the cooker, because it needs to stay spotless and shiny and he thinks that I’m not able to clean it properly. Or the hoover. He has to be there to check how it’s cleaned.
      I am expected to answer the phone immediately when he calls.
      I am expected to do secretary work for him. I am expected to leave the door of my bedroom/office open all the time. I am expected to look for trivial things on the internet.
      But most of all, I am expected to never say no, even to the trivial things. I can say later if I modulate my voice so that he doesn’t feel “put behind”. But if I just say no, I am nasty, ungrateful, a traitor.
      There’s more, but you get the idea.
      While I feel divided about the rules that are directly linked to his phobias, all the stuff that is on top of that is soul crushing.

      • #128277
        Anonymous
        Inactive

        Imagesha, This sounds so difficult, I feel for you. If he has a mental health condition then this does alter the dynamic to some extent. I really am no expert but does he have mental health support/therapist/psychologist/psychiatric input? If so could you discuss the issues with them to see what they suggest? Even if his issues are medical, there must be some support for you. Are you classed as his carer? If you are unable to discuss anything with his mental health support network, then could you approach your GP and see if they have any suggestions to support you? Living with someone with diagnosed mental health Co ditions is very difficult, but there must be some support networks available. I am so sorry that I cannot help more. The situation sounds awful for you.

      • #128320
        Imagesha
        Participant

        Marmot, thanks for your answer! His mental health problems do not require a carer at all. They can be summarized as (detail removed by moderator). He’s not on any medication or anything. The condition is limiting but it doesn’t affect his ability to take care of himself. In fact, in some circumstances (ex work) he can even put it aside.
        I don’t know and I’m a bit divided, but it feels to me that he is using them as an excuse. Some things he controls are not even related to his phobia…
        He did ask for counseling after pressuring him, but he got thrown out because he was not attending. Second attempt he finally went, did a few sessions but nothing changed. This was with the public care system. He has no intention to go private, even though he could afford it.

    • #128276
      DinkyHorse
      Participant

      Wow Ocean I always just jump up when my partner asks for something too! While always thinking why can’t you do it yourself I’m not your slave but know doing it is easier than saying no.

      These things are so shocking and it’s quite comforting to know that there are others living this way. It’s not just me being a push over!

      These are things that I’m not so much told I have to do but I’m made to feel that way from previous comments to make me feel guilty for not doing them.
      I can’t get out of bed in the morning straight away, I have to hug him for a bit first (even if he’s asleep and totally oblivious).
      I must text him everyday (I’m at work) at some point otherwise he’d be funny with me when I get home.
      I must tell him of plans with friends/family in advance…I feel like I could never last minute decide to go out anywhere especially since pandemic!
      I must discuss any decisions with him first before deciding what to do (work, social etc.) even if it’s not really anything to do with him. And of course all decisions made are usually his way in the end so it’s no longer discussing it but me asking for permission basically.
      I must not work too much (at one point I was only doing 1 day a week, I was miserable as I love working).
      I must not do most things alone…e.g. Go to bed, shower, eat, watch tv. At one point I would go days without showering and be embarrassed at work in case people could smell me because I felt like I couldn’t shower without him but he was too lazy to wash (I’d literally wash my underarms over the sink some days without him knowing).
      I must not eat certain foods because they make my breath smell.

      There’s probably more!

      • #128322
        Imagesha
        Participant

        DinkyHorse, what a horrible situation.
        “These are things that I’m not so much told I have to do but I’m made to feel that way from previous comments to make me feel guilty for not doing them.”
        That. That’s one of his favourite tactics (not the only one).
        I find it particularly stressing and confusing. Like “is it me being weak and not being able to say no or putting boundaries?”
        But I’m regularly reminded that “no” and “boundaries” are out of the question.
        I almost prefer when he throws a tantrum.

      • #128323
        DinkyHorse
        Participant

        Yeah, I suppose some things have improved e.g. showering more regularly but knowing now that it was abuse is just not okay and it can easily happen more and more if I stay with him.
        I also think the same, thinking am I just a push over for not standing up to him and saying I don’t want things to be this way.
        Exactly, we feel like we don’t have the right to say no to things that we should.
        Tantrums would sometimes be better if it means doing what you want. I tend to avoid tantrums whenever possible.
        It really gets me that there were so many red flags at the start of the relationship that I missed. They were so obvious and I feel so stupid.
        I’m sorry for your situation too, it must be so hard when it’s caused by a mental condition. I can kind of understand what you’re going through with the whole pandemic I have certain rules around that I have to abide by too.

      • #128325
        Imagesha
        Participant

        Red flags at the beginning, same here. They where as big as a mountain if I look back, but at the time I brushed them away. Things like “nobody is perfect”, but most of all it was the fact I have problems too. I thought we could come to a compromise, maybe even balance each other in some way.
        I am medicated and I do my best not to let my problems affect him. I compromise. He doesn’t.
        And the rules unfortunately where there way before the pandemic. To be honest, there have only been minor changes related to the pandemic, regarding those rules.
        We are not push overs DinkyHorse. We are just trapped.

      • #128328
        DinkyHorse
        Participant

        Yes same, mountains that should have made us run a mile. Like you I brushed them off as that’s just because it’s a different kind of relationship to my previous one. They never compromise, I have too..and sacrificed so much, he’s sacrificed nothing. Sorry to hear you are medicated for issues. We are trapped. But we can and will escape the trap one day. Feel free to pm me if you ever need a chat. x

    • #128298
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      I have been banned from doing the washing . Apparently Iv ruined his clothes so I was banned from doing any washing or using the drying rack . Eventually I have been able to start washing again but not certain items of his clothing which he doesn’t want ruining again . He has repeatedly put (detail removed by moderator). Apparently I have caused his clothes to smell after leaving them in the washer or dryer for too long . I have looked at the Bidermans chart and can see that he would go through phases of having really high expectations of having to achieve the impossible in the house with two young children a d would feel stressed trying to keep in too if things all time . He would relax for a while so I would be more myself and then he would flare up again going off on one when I had an off day or things wer t as good as normal . He would make out there would be toys on the floor everywhere when there would be hardly any .

    • #128321
      Imagesha
      Participant

      Marmot, thanks for your answer! His mental health problems do not require a carer at all. They can be summarized as (detail removed by moderator). He’s not on any medication or anything. The condition is limiting but it doesn’t affect his ability to take care of himself. In fact, in some circumstances (ex work) he can even put it aside.
      I don’t know and I’m a bit divided, but it feels to me that he is using them as an excuse. Some things he controls are not even related to his phobia…
      He did ask for counseling after pressuring him, but he got thrown out because he was not attending. Second attempt he finally went, did a few sessions but nothing changed. This was with the public care system. He has no intention to go private, even though he could afford it.

    • #128399
      ISOPeace
      Participant

      Having just started a reply to a different post, I realised that part of showing us how powerful they are is not just insisting on trivial things, but also the actual b**w ups. I know not all abusers are overtly aggressive/intimidating, but I think it is common to frighten us with their outbursts, then convince us it wasn’t that bad, and/or that it’s our fault anyway. They want reasons (read ‘excuses’) to b**w up so they create them. We then feel scared of what they’ll do and stupid that we made them do it, which plays perfectly into their plan to make us feel powerless. xxxx

    • #131595
      Was-it-me
      Participant

      I remember him stating very early in the relationship that “We never EVER eat in bed” before I even tried to. I guess I was lucky because I don’t generally do so and he didn’t have to repeat himself.
      I didn’t “love him” if I chose to sleep on the couch when sick. Or if I had my own comforter instead of us sharing one…
      The thing that confuses me is that I broke them all rules and he didn’t get angry. It was the emotional effect of “you don’t listen to me, you don’t love me enough” that made me feel like a bad partner most of the time.

      The general, worst rule was that HE KNEW BEST. And that I had to talk in a very sweet way in order for him to not feel offended or inadequate in any way.

    • #131605
      Eggshells
      Participant

      I wasn’t allowed to interrupt him in an argument. I started recording arguments so that I could listen back to see how he gaslighted and twisted things. I once timed one of his monologues. It went on for more than 4 minutes. It might not sound long but when you’re getting stuff verbally hurled at you, it feels like an eternity. I was allowed just over 20 seconds to defend myself before he interrupted me with his next monologue.

      Everything had to be done his way (like his mother did it). Sometimes he used aggression, sometimes it was teasing or negative comments disguised as banter but there were so many rules about what had to be done and when.

      It was actually a really minor thing – a chore that I was supposed to do for him in a specific way (after he’d spent all day (detail removed by moderator)) that I finally saw the light and began to understand that he was abusive.

    • #131617
      Headspin
      Participant

      Reading back all the rules just makes me realise how impossible the abuser’s expectations are. I wasn’t allowed to choose or buy anything for the house. He chose, he bought, so I live in a house not of my choosing with the garden/decorating/furniture/layout almost entirely of his choice. I never got a say. My life wasn’t worth living if I said anything other than “Thank you” when a piece of furniture would be delivered, or if he chose some wall art. He would bully me into saying how grateful and thankful I was. Once I dared to buy (detail removed by moderator) with some money gifted to me. Big mistake, he ranted and ranted for days about how hideous they were until in anger I threw them on the floor. He just smirked triumphantly, job done.

    • #131621
      Was-it-me
      Participant

      @Headspin it’s crazy how reading your comment made me think that I was the abuser for stating I don’t like some of his furniture… I mean.. it was my opinion, since he wanted me to move with him…
      I guess it’s more the attitude that goes with these rules, and not the small things we all have preferences for. My abuser asked for my opinion, but didn’t take it seriously.
      I didn’t want to move in with him because it was too soon and I didn’t have a job, but he insisted so bad. He said it was our house now, but like you describe, the feeling of “you should appreciate all I do for you and owe me something” was there…

    • #131669
      Flowersandcats
      Participant

      We used to smoke w**d a lot (now I realise because I couldn’t stand him sober) I was expected to pay for it and even when he used to ignore me for hours on end and not tell me why, to roll a spliff and give him some.

      If I didn’t it would be hell. Even though to me it was like rewarding him for treating me like s**t, and I tried to explain that but apparently it was only to get at him and be selfish.

      I wasn’t allowed to talk about any past experience especially my ex’s as this meant I wasn’t over them.

      He never told me I wasn’t allowed to talk to friends boyfriends however said ‘how does x feel when you spend all that time chatting to him and not her?’.

      He never laid down rules very obviously, but there were lots of things I couldn’t do without me feeling the wrath, but then he’d backtrack and act like I’m overthinking it

      I wasn’t allowed to do my own thing, colouring, art, painting, the things I love most because it meant that I didn’t want to spend time with him. Even though he would sit next to me and not talk at all, and expect me to be happy with that.

    • #131772
      Was-it-me
      Participant

      @Flowersandcats oh my lord, I had forgotten about the experiences with exes… My abuser got crazy mad when I tried to tell a story about my crush -wait for it- in kindergarten!!! He said (detail removed by moderator) lol.
      Oh, and once I showed him a photo of my dad, he got really defensive and started talking about how much better goodlooking his dad and mum were…
      I don’t know, maybe the rule was to never be happy and proud about anything other than him.

    • #131831
      Headspin
      Participant

      Another crazy rule. Pre mobile phones, I wasn’t allowed to chat on the landline “for long” because I was a “wife and mother” and there was no time for talking. Outgoing calls were a no no, in fact strictly forbidden unless timed by him, he would be glaring at me and tapping his watch. He would hit the roof if he felt I was talking for too long. This resulted in severe anxiety about answering the phone or making calls.

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