6th December 2023 at 7:58 am #163838
I’ve finally woken up to the fact that I am living with emotional and psychological abuse. My exit plan involves moving into my own home and it will take around six months. In the meantime I have to live with the abuser. I am using my time to become informed, learning about the cycle of abuse, trauma bonding etc but also looking forward in a positive way and developing my skills, learning about self development etc, to be better equipped, as I will need all these skills when I move out and live by myself, which I’ve never done before. Has anyone else experienced this? I would welcome tips on:
1. How to emotionally detach as much as possible while still living with the abuser.
2. How to become an observer of his behaviour rather than a victim. For example when he is hot and cold, giving me the cold treatment, ignoring me, womanising behind my back etc. What narrative can I tell myself that is healthier than being sucked in and feeling hurt.
I feel it is important for me to start preparing to leave internally at least, so that when I physically I have some internal scaffolding to support me through what will be a major transition. I’d welcome any positive suggestions.
6th December 2023 at 10:53 am #163843ChocolatebunnieParticipant
I’m not able to offer any advice really but I’ve been told to just be normal to avoid him realising that you are planning to leave.
Have an escape plan in case things do escalate between now and when you leave.
Write a journal of what you’re thinking and feeling so you can reread the events and see the cycle. So when he’s pulling you back in you can remind yourself of the reason why you’re planning to leave.
Selfcare is important too as this is a truly stressful time.
Take care, stay strong and hugs to you xx
6th December 2023 at 11:12 am #163846
I almost could have written the post above. And CB gave you some great advice, insofar as looking after your safety first.
Get in touch with your local domestic abuse services. In my experience, I have a support worker who receives and logs updates I email in. If you have children, get in touch with school and ask to talk to either pastoral care or the safeguarding lead. Many schools will support children and the abused parent in coordination with local domestic abuse services. In my experience, I also log incidents with school which they keep on record for support. My children will be able to corroborate those.
Other than that, I’ve drastically changed my daily routine so that I avoid him yet still get some ‘me’ time too.
My abuser has moved into another room where the children sleep with me nightly. He seems very keen on avoiding me too.
I’ve spent all of my free time on researching what I need to know for either a quick escape (which school has provided me help and resources with) or the longer term, “more amicable” divide that he keeps saying that he wants, but then his actions say otherwise and I’m having to prepare for that.
Insofar as emotional detachment, in my case, I already detached some time ago. I was willing to keep living and raising our children together where otherwise I already knew and talked to him about living like “roommates”.
Insofar as becoming an observer, follow the advice I gave above. Expect that emotionally, you will backtrack because there’s a cycle involved for when abuse is active, but then that’s followed by reconciliation, maybe even some love bombing. That’s his work on trying to get you to fall back into caring for him, when he’s not giving all the love, safety, and respect that you do deserve consistently.
I tend to get analytical about things too, so I appreciate you coming and posting a lot of that.
7th December 2023 at 10:17 pm #163894
Thank you both for your replies. I’m currently waiting for my local DA case worker appointments to start, as I only rang them 2 weeks ago. There’s no children involved. He already knows I’ll be moving into my own home and he’s keen on us living apart but still staying a couple (probably so he can come and go with his affairs more freely than now and live like a bachelor). Obv I’m planning on ending the relationship once I’m safely settled. I don’t think it will be hard as there’s nothing holding it together. For all I know he could be planning the same thing and not be telling me! It’ll end though either way. Local DA will change the locks and install a Ring video door thingy for me. I just have to survive and stay as well as I can until then. Self care, my interests/things that make me happy and building a support system are high on my daily list. xx
8th December 2023 at 9:16 am #163905
Going back to the original question of how to cope while living with the abuser, I thought it would be handy to get ideas going, to keep this thread going and help people. Here’s what I found so far:
Ideas to emotionally detach:
1. Remembering the nice phase is just that – a phase, in a cycle of abuse. Knowing I deserve to feel loved, safe and respected consistently in a relationship, not just now and then during a nice phase.
2. Reminding myself of the damage the abuse has done, to myself, my mental and physical health, to my relationships, to family members.
3. Seeing how I have become after years of living with an abuser – passive, isolated, and people pleasing.
4. Not being able to give my dreams and goals the attention they deserve, or really do much at all, due to having no headspace from constantly feeling confused and traumatised in a cycle of abuse, and having to spend a lot of time recovering and generally just not feeling good.
5. Remembering that I shouldn’t be in a relationship where I don’t feel safe, loved or respected, and to firmly hold onto that, because even when things are peaceful, I don’t feel safe, loved or respected.
6. Being honest with myself and saying that I don’t even enjoy spending time with him because we have very little in common and pretty much all he talks about is work. Reminding myself that we don’t have any shared interests, he doesn’t ask me about myself, my passions and dreams. Remembering that the things that are important to me are not important to him. We don’t have a shared vision for a real life together, both now and for the future.
7. Noticing that he doesn’t factor me into his future in any way that takes care of me too. He talks about how much he can save each month to put into his pension. He makes no provision for me, or even us, the way a real and healthy relationship would.
8. Imagine my old age (I’m middle-aged now) and how hard it will be when he’s retired. That it means I’ll see him more and therefore will be subject to more abuse, feeling uncomfortable and unhappy more of the time, and have less time and headspace for me, my dreams, passions and goals, which he doesn’t share or encourage.
9. Reminding myself that he is not someone I would ever marry. To continue the relationship means to continue living alone even in my old age, like a girlfriend. This is not something I want for my old age or for my life.
10. He takes up the space for the right person to come along. I need to get out of this relationship as soon as possible, and begin to heal. Then if I do meet someone new I’ll be more of myself again, and a better match for the type of high-quality man I would want to choose in any future relationship. If I stay with him, I will continue to experience abuse and damage to my self-esteem, and this will continue to damage all areas of my life. It takes away the opportunity for a time of healing, to restore myself and my life, focus on my goals and dreams and give THEM the attention they deserve, instead of my attention being focused on him and surviving in an abusive relationship.
These are all ways I can think of to help me begin to emotionally detach, and to remember, so that I don’t get sucked into any nice phase or love bombing. Please keep adding folks if you can think of any other ways to cope and emotionally attached while still living with the abuser. I will add more to if any come to mind. xx
8th December 2023 at 9:20 am #163906ChocolatebunnieParticipant
Thanks for posting it’s always helpful to read things, you either learn something new, reminds you of what you forgot and helps all of us in here to remember we aren’t alone.
I’m really pleased you’re getting things organised, that you have the backing from local DA support.
Thinking of you, keep posting let us know how you get on xx
8th December 2023 at 11:17 am #163908Intr0vertParticipant
That is amazing advice by sporty girl. This is the most difficult part – having them in the same space as you. Just focus on all the reasons why you must leave them. All of the negative things and bad things. Do not fixate on what ifs or the “good” times. If a relationship was good, you wouldn’t have doubts or thoughts about leaving. Avoid any interactions and do not allow any “nice” interactions to confuse you.
9th December 2023 at 5:14 pm #163935
Hi Sungirl, yes I’ve heard of grey rocking – did you use it? What was his response to it? Do you feel better now you’ve moved out? If yes, did you have a support system to help you once you were out?
9th December 2023 at 7:30 pm #163938
While I wasn’t addressed here, I did want to respond.
I learned about ‘grey rocking’ from this forum. It was very effective in early weeks when it seemed like my husband was pitching for a fight to further diminish me. You likely already have a sense for when your partner is in that mood for picking fights. Give it a go, see if that keeps things from escalating, because really its a tool to use for not escalating things further. You’re having to repress your thoughts and feelings at the time, which isn’t great for mental health overall. But its kept me safe, in the moment… which counts for something.
My husband’s response to ‘grey rocking’ was exasperation at me and then he stomped away.
Also, I just wanted to reflect on this thread @Sportygirl … you came asking for help and then you responded on your own thread on great ways to emotionally detach and protect oneself. Good on you! xX
9th December 2023 at 8:40 pm #163948
Browneyedmum – thanks for responding, it’s so great to hear every person’s experience. Re: I’ve posted great ways to emotionally detach – I know something amazing happened – by asking the question and starting the thread it sort of forced/inspired me to read articles and draw on everything I’ve read and learned and it all came out in that long post!
Thanks for posting your experience of grey rocking – I’ve heard of it but never done it yet, so it’s really great to hear others experiences of it. xx
9th December 2023 at 8:46 pm #163950
10th December 2023 at 9:35 am #163963
Strength and healing received with thanks browneyedmum! I mentioned I’ve heard of grey rock but never used it. Can you describe what it looks like – do you just literally just not answer and ignore all their questions when they’re trying to provoke? xx
10th December 2023 at 2:33 pm #163967
Pretty much and then I got a few examples. Largely the strategy is not to engage nor react emotionally… and it does take a toll. Also, I sorta kinda like reacting in a way that’s totally unexpected. Let’s dive in…
First I’ve got a golden rule to keep me safe around doing it.
We usually meet to talk things over in the (detail removed by moderator) under the premise of, “away from children’s hearing” … but then also my neighbours are aware as they’ve witnessed other things and I have them signed on for helping and supporting there. So its mostly done (detail removed by moderator), in case the method backfires and he becomes even more aggressive, where others nearby can hear and possibly assist. Also, we (detail removed by moderator), so … that’s an easy excuse for going (detail removed by moderator) to talk about ‘tough things’.
Second, if I need to bring something up that is potentially explosive, I hit voice record on my phone, close screen, and drop it in my pocket while I’m in a room separate from him, before engaging.
While there’s laws around when you can voice record someone else and getting their permission first, much of that is suspended if you suspect that the interaction will result in harm. So I’ll make recordings, usually deleting most of them… especially since I’m more ‘protected’ outdoors, he is usually much more careful about his volume & tone of voice plus the content of what he actually says. It actually helps me keep my cool, knowing that its being recorded.
On one occasion while we were (detail removed by moderator), he was in my face shouting… I could smell his nasty breath blowing on me while he shouted… I tried to just emotionally disconnect and to not actually ‘hear’ the insults he was hurling at me and being completely still and fighting the urge to move back since he was in my personal space. And I just kind of looked slightly up and to the side above him while he ranted until he decided he was done and he went to stomp indoors.
Its like just having to disconnect from the moment and just take it until he runs out of fuel. And not giving him any new fuel to run off of.
On another occasion… not quite ‘grey rock’ but giving the opposite of the ‘expected’ response.
In this case, we were in the (detail removed by moderator) (NOT a ‘safe zone’ like going outside for discussions) and I had to think quick, but luckily… this occasion was very easy for me to solve and deescalate. My husband had been trying to rile me up for the past couple of days about (detail removed by moderator) — and judging from his reaction and child y’s reaction, that was not the response they were expecting.
Yup, its been more than a month since that incident and guess what… he’s not done it. I didn’t have too much to fear there because my husband has long showed so many traits for becoming that absent dad once the kids and I vacate.
And then referring back to what was my final push for the divorce. This was when he was shouting in my face again, after he threw his phone at me, and he finally shouted, “(detail removed by moderator)” right in front of the kids.
He (detail removed by moderator) and threw it to the ground. I picked up (detail removed by moderator), all while the kids witnessed. <– ps, that was an escalation on my part, tbf.
I did feel guilty about my actions and did a couple of sweeps of the front area of the house to try to recover (detail removed by moderator) without any results.
Next day, my husband is out on a well known online vendor’s website… looking for (detail removed by moderator). He has the ability to buy things online all of the time and he has done so in the past, frequently even. But no, he wanted me to buy it … under the weak excuse that (detail removed by moderator). I saw that from him for what it was… he wanted me to feel shame. He wanted me to feel guilt and to be sorry for tossing his (detail removed by moderator) after he had (detail removed by moderator).
My husband seemed so puffed up when he was telling me to (detail removed by moderator)… and in that moment, I recognised that straight away. “(detail removed by moderator)”, I tell him. I ordered it. It came in. I (detail removed by moderator).
He came out shortly after (detail removed by moderator) It was a great opportunity for me to clue the neighbours in on what had been going on as they witnessed that, and getting their support going forward.
In that case– where I clearly saw where my husband was trying to guilt-trip me, trying to shame me, and then trying humiliate me … instead, I decided that I’d take that on as a ‘badge of honour’ because it was such a ridiculous thing to do and I knew it would attract attention from others who I could otherwise seek future support from.
And my husband really showed his @$$ there, if you don’t mind me saying.
So yeah, some grey stoning and then also… just turning the tables or else giving my husband all of the slack he needs to hang himself.
13th December 2023 at 8:43 pm #164056
browneyedmum – wow well done, you’ve certainly created lots of strategies for coping with your husband, hat’s off! It’s so difficult and we shouldn’t have to spend our precious energy on that, but it’s good we can share here and help each other while we have to xx
15th December 2023 at 9:51 am #164090
Hi everyone, I’m so disappointed. (detail removed by Moderator) I was having a really bad day and very upset about something – one of those days that totally knocks you off your normal way of being and coping with things. It wasn’t about the abuser that I live with, but he could see I was upset and, in my vulnerability, I confided in him like you would a friend.
Five minutes later he brought up something else not related to that and totally kicked off at me, gas lighting and being aggressive. I couldn’t believe it, I just told him how upset I was about something and here he was making me more upset. In this double whammy I totally forgot about grey rocking and tried to defend myself against what he was saying. Of course that made him 10 times worse. He even told me to ‘(detail removed by Moderator)’, like a child (we have (detail removed by Moderator)).
Now he’s stonewalling me and I still have this other problem which is enough to deal with. Any advice folks? I know I don’t have any control over him, but what can I tell myself or do to feel better? What have others done to recover when this has happened? xx
16th December 2023 at 8:02 am #164100nbumblebeeParticipant
I still live with my not so nice husband so i get how hard this is. My counsellor tells me to see him as a child. Whwn he is stone walling you he is the child sulking when arguing he is the child not getting his own way and the only way is to respond is as you woukd a child who is having a tamtrum. You wouldnt try and reason with a child whos having a tantrum or sulking you would calmly tell them that this behaviour isnt right and that you were either walking away go and do something else or that you wont engage in a fight when they are like this and when they are ready to talk calmer you will talk. Its not easy i often forget but when i do it i do feel more in control.
The other thing i do which hurts real bad is that i dont confide in him. I dont tell him when i feel bad or am upset as he will use this against me. So if you have a friend or a family member talk to them or talk to us but he wont care and it will just make you feel worse so dont engage in him. Ive been rather poorly and am awaiting some test results and yes im scared stiff but he thinks im fine i wont show him how worried i am as why bother? He will use it as an excuse to not allow me to work so i keep quiet its miserable i wont lie but I choose to stay so I must do what I can to stay safe and sane.
Its pants and theres no easy way but trying to keep that fire in your belly to leave is whats really important for you.
Stay safe x
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