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    • #147999

      Wondering if there is anyone out there who has experienced a partner using emotional vulnerability as a control mechanism? To try and explain a little more, my partner has some very extreme emotional reactions to situations which are understandably upsetting but do not seem to merit the level of reaction. This has escalated in recent years from angry outbursts to anxiety, panic attacks and some suicidal episodes. Looking back over the pattern, the situations that merit this response are always related to my past, my close friends, or personal interests that he does not share.

      He is never physically or financially controlling, but over the years I have made so many compromises that have made my world smaller, and I have reached the stage where I am constantly doubting myself and finding it hard too sleep or make decisions.

      I have talked to counsellors – both individually and as a couple – who have both suggested that there is gaslighting and coercive control going on. However, I’m finding that I’m really struggling to believe this in the absence of physical or financial threats.

      My mental health is now starting to suffer and I know that I have to do something; but I’m also worried about his mental health and the impact of a separation on both him and our son.

      I’d be really interested to hear any similar experiences, and/or opinions on whether this may constitute abuse, or if in fact I could be more supportive of his feelings.

    • #148004

      Most of the abuse I have endured is emotional it’s extremely hard to understand when mostly society makes out it’s not serious .i also have never what I would say been abused financially.i say this because even when he didn’t pay what he was supposed I never complained however I think I have now come to the conclusion that it was still abuse he was supposed to help with bills he didn’t he then said I was spending the money I earned ridiculous so that’s why he stopped paying bills so I think it’s abuse.hopefully someone will come along and tell me if this is financial abuse or not .i presumed since I had money and allowed it I wasn’t abused as I wasn’t deprived from it.
      I have left and still doubt that it happened examples of gaslighting are things like ignoring and changing the subject and twisting things even twisting the truth.have you experienced this ?
      When my lightbulb moment went off like you I couldn’t sleep I began to see the abuse and got anxious and nervous feeling in my body!do you have any of these symptoms?
      this does not sound like a good relationship if you are having those feelings.eventually you will make yourself more Ill especially your nervous system and need medication.
      If I was you I’d consider a leaving plan though easier said than done you are not alone!

    • #148006

      Yes, I have. Emotional abuse is so much harder to describe but no less damaging! It’s like a drip drip drip rather than a Big Bang. Lots of people on here can share stories about partners threatening suicide or self harm to control you, like you say these are often around times which are about you/your friends. Mine used to say he wanted to die or urgently needed to go to hospital, get me to react, then literally an hour later be going out to the pub with his mates. It works because we are caring people, but in reality we aren’t responsible for their mental health & wellbeing and if you leave and he threatens harm then there are appropriate support networks you can contact to check on him.

      Lundy Bancroft’s book’why does he do that’ was a real help to me as it opened my eyes to so much more behaviour that was abuse than is realised or had just accepted. Things like having to get up & ready at his timetable or a day out was cancelled, not being able to plan birthdays or what I did for his never being enough – so many more examples which in isolation you think aren’t bad enough to share but when put together paint a picture.

      it’s also very common to struggle with calling your experience ‘abuse’ and that’s ok. It helped me to ask do you want feel like this, live like this in 12 months / 5 years / 10 years time? You know you’re unhappy and only get one life & one chance of a childhood with your son x

    • #148009

      Thanks both for you responses; it’s reassuring to know I’m not the only one to struggle to understand.

      Mellow, to your question, yes there are frequent examples of not acknowleging me or my opinion, changing the subject (particularly when in company) and twisting what actually happened more and more as time goes by. I’m quite prone to jumping topics and missing info myself as I try to juggle everything, so I justify this as part of a busy life – but these are always to his advantage, keeping him as the centre of attention. And the generally twisted to become the fault of myself or my friends – he was being bullied, alienated or ignored.

      Absolutely, feelings of anxiety manifest in my body – I am constatly monitoring what I do and say for fear of triggering his – sometimes my hands shake; often I get stomach pain or headaches. I haven’t been fully healthy for a good couple of years now. However, I did go through a traumatic assault when I was younger and often blame the symptoms on that – but it was a long time ago now and I don’t generally don’t suffer flashbacks or dissociation on a regular basis any more.

      But then he more than contributes financially, is generous with time and gifts and in many ways the perfect partner. It almost feels like living with 2 different people, and it’s the roller coaster of not knowing which one is going to respond at any given moment that is hard work. This split doesn’t manifest with other people though, including my son, and similar to banana boats experience, can seemingly be turned off very quickly for work or his social circle.

      I read Lundy Bancroft and the way he describes impact hit home; but I struggled to empathize with the abusive behaviours (hence posting); great tip around thinking about is this really what I want for the future though – I will try to hold on to that!

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