Viewing 8 reply threads
  • Author
    • #122135

      Question: How does one live with an emotional abuser? How does one gird against the mental/emotional attacks? Are there strategies to recover more quickly from them?

      I understand that this is conventionally considered a Very Bad Idea but would like to skip that debate for now. Suffice to say, there are extenuating circumstances. I accept I am very likely being abused (whether consciously or unconsciously) but I don’t feel that I can leave at this time. The abuse is not physical, only verbal/emotional, so I do not feel physically in danger. I am perfectly willing to leave the relationship from an emotional perspective but a) I am currently doing very badly on that front, and b) it would probably be wise to keep up a facade– to him, to the children, and to our mutual social circle.

      Currently, my major problem is that my abuser, whether intentionally or unintentionally, is able to trigger me constantly. I don’t know if it’s a good idea to go into how specifically, but the effect is that I am left an emotional and mental mess. Afterwards, and for several hours, I find myself essentially incapable of interacting with other people, including my toddlers. I am incapable of getting anything productive done. I am left with an intense need to disengage from the world– it typically helps to go to a room, curl up in a ball, and stay there for a few hours. Though it’s a remedy of sorts, it’s obviously not very efficient, and much of the time it isn’t practically possible because of day to day and hour to hour responsibilities.

      For example, being there for the kids (who are toddlers) is a major priority and responsibility– my kids are one of the few things that continue to give me joy but just the same I am unable to respond to them when I’m in this state.

      If this happens during working hours, I’m also unable to do my job. Simultaneous unfortunate consequence and blessing of working from home– I’m home, and no longer protected from a random slap-down by being in a public, professional setting; but, also because I’m not in the office it’s easier for me to find opportunities to curl up in a ball and sob. Nevertheless losing chunks of time in the day is really messing with my ability to do my job, and making up the work later takes away from time with my kids.

      There are also all the things necessary to keep the household going– chores, etc. Things that if I don’t do, don’t get done, and which I have precious limited time to complete, even without being randomly mentally overwhelmed whenever he feels like (verbally/psychologically, not physically) slapping me down a bit.

      The perverse thing is that, when I am unable to spend time with the children, either because I’m actively in this state or because I’ve now got to make up professional/household work that was left undone, he is able to swoop in and has a grand old time with them. So he’s got his cake and is eating it too.

      What can I do to defend myself and minimize the disruptiveness of his attacks? Would anyone have any book suggestions (or other resources) that could be helpful? Maybe it’s not even an abuse-specific; maybe I just need to learn to suppress my emotions better. Functionally, I just need to hold myself together (and hopefully not traumatize the children) for a few years before we can be free.

    • #122136

      I think you just need to take your toddlers and leave him.I can very much relate to what you are describing.I only just managed to leave my abuser recently after (detail removed by Moderator) of being with him and several attempts to get out over the years.
      I’m out now but I deeply regret that I would often be snappy towards my children or not able to engage with them because of the abuse and the stress it has caused me.The same goes for work…I wasn’t able to focus when receiving abusive text messages or calls during my working hours.I held on to a fantasy and you will never be able to find long term coping mechanisms.The abuse will destroy you mentally and physically.I know it is easy said but the only way out is to leave him and then you can be the best mum to your kids once you have healed x*x

    • #122137

      It sounds like you’re suffering from truly debilitating mental injuries caused by your abuser. This is preventing you from thinking straight. Your children are suffering and you are suffering. Abuse always gets worse. My advice is to start counselling with a trauma informed counsellor who specialises in domestic abuse. If you’re not ready to leave then I’d advise you to talk to a professional about what’s stopping you protecting yourself and your children. The mental abuse was far worse than any physical abuse I ever suffered and far longer lasting. There’s nothing in a book that will prevent him from abusing you. He chooses to abuse you, he knows you intimately and knows exactly what to do to hurt you. Zero contact is how you overcome this, which I know you feel you’re not ready for. Educating myself of my abuser helped me. By reading Living with the Dominator by Pat Craven. Why Does He Do That by Lundy Bancroft. Contacting your local women’s aid to discuss things with him. Please know that abusers abuse because they get pleasure from it and their children are collateral damage.

    • #122140

      As you are already aware this is a deeply damaging environment. I often considered staying until my child was an adult which is a very very long time away. Honestly, there are always options, but as you’ve said that’s a debate for another day.
      For me, while still living with my abuser, to try and keep as sane as possible, I did a few different things.
      I stopped organising any family events, days out (even a family walk), people around etc (hard in lockdown anyway). They were always mega stressful and would usually end in him raging about one thing or another.
      I didn’t get into any debates or voice my opinion. It was futile. He didn’t care for my views and if I disagreed he would rage so for me it was easier to disengage and in my head disagree but nod and appease him.
      I journaled when I could which was hugely beneficial. It kept me grounded in reality and minimised his ability to gaslight me. It felt empowering.
      I started to consider how I could leave. Almost like it was a little secret side project. I’d look into options, started to organise my finances etc. These small steps made me feel like I was moving forward even when I felt the most trapped.
      These are only a few things I did and aren’t ideal. I certainly wouldn’t advocate living this way long term. It was damage limitation. You may want to consider seeking counselling and/or speaking to your go. How you are reacting and feeling is totally normal in a very abnormal situation. Hope that helps.

    • #122156

      Hi, I’m sorry to hear about your situation.
      I can see you’ve had some great advice from the other ladies. I agree with Hetty’s suggestions and also agree it’s not a long term solution.
      I’m also still stuck in the relationship (until I can work out how I’m going to leave/build myself up to do it). I’ve just got the book Steps to Freedom: Escaping intimate control by Don Hennessy and am finding it helpful.
      Keep reaching out and posting if you need support or advice. Take care x*x

    • #122160

      Hi, I too am still with mine and my children are all grown up. But the years they were growing up were horrendous with him. My solution was routine. I had one for everything, not regimental but enough so I knew what needed doing when, the kids were fed at set times. Sounds sad but they knew the lunchtime news music meant nap time. But it was a coping mechanism also all his needs were met. I am like a 50’s stepford wife. I wake him every morning with a hot drink, he does nothing around the house and is waited on. I even get him his daily medication. My life was like a military operation but it helped me cope.
      He could and can send me into a meltdown but the routine meant I didn’t have chance to react. I also internalised a lot. I often joke if I unlock the box in my head and chest filled with all the bad stuff I will create a monster.

      I agree with the other ladies though. I didn’t leave him and the damage done to my kids mentally can not be undone easily. I also minimised it as not affecting them but it has. I deeply regret that as seeing them struggling is worse than anything I endured. Mine was never physical after the kids were toddlers but they still see me as an emotional wreck and make excuses for him.
      Take care xx

    • #122162
      [email protected]

      I’m sorry your facing this o can fast forward you 25 years from where you are right now. This is where I was thinking the same just knuckle down I can hide this it’s only emotional abuse. Something will change the kids won’t notice. I wish I had someone to show me my life in fast forward I hope I don’t sound sanctimonious. I could cry hearing ur having to curl into a ball I do know that feeling well. A good book to read is when dad hurts Mom by Lundy Bancroft again. All of his books are so eye opening. Don’t decide your staying till I’ve read them please don’t. I stayed my mental health and even worse my very self got eroded away. He took my self esteem. The kids copy the behaviour it can’t be hidden as kids are like sponges. I know this isn’t easy and your at the first stages of realising your In an abusive relationship. You just want things to be ok I was the same. Emotional abuse is just as bad as physical it’s not life threatening at the moment but it does escalate xx you have to look after yourself to look after your kids and you can’t with an abuser xx

      Love diymum xx 😘

    • #122163
      [email protected]

      Sorry for the typos xx phone playing up

    • #122403

      You have probably heard this but you could try the “gray rock” technique. There are many YouTube videos explaining how to do this. It’s a short term solution to minimize the damage from an abuser when you can’t physically leave. It may also allow you to get stronger as you seek more help to understand and process your situation.

Viewing 8 reply threads
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

© 2015 Women's Aid Federation of England – Women’s Aid is a company limited by guarantee registered in England No: 3171880.

Women’s Aid is a registered charity in England No. 1054154

Terms & conditionsPrivacy & cookie policySite mapProtect yourself onlineMedia │ Jobs


Log in with your credentials


Forgot your details?

Create Account