21st February 2021 at 12:04 am #122087MuddybootsParticipant
Hello, recently my partner pushed me over for the first time after years of being together, and that made me realise that actually there’s been emotional abuse going on for at least half of the time we have been together. I feel like I’ve stepped into a parallel universe where everything I thought was true and most precious turns out to have been imaginary.
I’ve gone through a lot of grieving. And I wanted to say a big thank you to this forum because it’s been v v v helpful in helping to get through the total confusion and turmoil of it all.
But all this has been happening in my head, I feel I e changed, my world has been rocked while in the real world, I’m still with him and I’m not sure what to do now. I was hoping the wisdom of the group could help me figure out a path by answering some/any of my questions:
1) apart from “Why does he do that ?” and “the verbally abusive relationship”, what other books have really helped you and what did you love about them?
2) has anyone found any courses or books for abusive men that has helped either save the relationship or at least let you part civilly, we have kids, so I can’t cut all contact
3) Bancroft and Evans both seem to say men can’t change unless they confront and own their abuse, but they also discourage the wife from accusing the partner of abuse, so how do you get your husband to acknowledge it and seek help?
4) I’ve mainly only experienced emotional abuse, mainly angry outbursts and withholding, and it seems pretty low key compared to what others have described here and what is described in “living with the dominator”. I was wondering about trying to enrol on the freedom programme but I don’t want to take a place that someone else needs more, or I’m not sure if my experience has been serious enough to join – has anyone been on it and would they recommend it for people that have experienced relatively mild abuse?
Thanks so much for reading all the way through and for all the help so far
21st February 2021 at 12:33 am #122088HettyParticipant
Hi muddyboots and welcome,
It’s such a strange place to be while still living in the relationship but really seeing the realities. I remember being in that place and it was so hard. This forum was and is my lifeline.
What I’d say is don’t minimise your experiences to only just being emotional or whatever. All of our experiences are valid. You deserve a place on any programme/course/group you want to access. Sure there are differences in our experiences but no less valid than the next. Don’t underestimate the impact of emotional abuse. Mostly these men are carbon cut outs if one another. You’d probably find that there are some things you overlook or dismiss. Part of educating ourselves and seeking out support is a real eye opener for a lot of the subtle abuse. Abuse is abuse. I found I made excuses of my ex, still do to an extent. He didn’t mean to hurt me when he threw that thing which hit me etc etc. But the truth is the rage he felt ok to inflict on me which then spiralled into me being hurt.
I’d say in terms of confronting our partners it’s important to think safety first. Calling these men out is likely to escalate abuse. You’ll know in your heart what the outcome would likely be even if you were to use the words “you’re abusing me”. For me because of the times I said what you’ve said has hurt me, how you’re treating me isn’t acceptable and he’d come back with excuses, blame, rage I knew actually saying to him this is domestic abuse would have been futile. He knew it, I knew it. If he wanted to change/was capable of change he’d see for himself and take action.
Hope that helps. Stay strong x*x
21st February 2021 at 10:11 am #122099HawthornParticipant
Such painful experience when the scales begin to fall from our eyes are we begin see the reality of our lives. Hetty is right, its important you dont minimize your experience. We all minimise the abuse while we are living in it so we can cope with day to day life. Many abusive behaviours become so normalised we dont even recognize them as abuse anymore. I think most survivors would agree that it is the emotional and psychological abuse that leaves the deepest scars so do please reach out to the Freedom Programme, you need and deserve the support.
Its important that you focus on yourself and building yourself back up. No one can fix another person and sadly you cant fix your husband. No one can fix another person, we can only heal ourselves. Abuse is not a behavioral issue, it is a personality and belief issue with deep roots in childhood. Making changes, if he was even willing to do so, would be a life-long effort for him. It is not your responsibility to sacrifice your life on the very remote possibility he might change. People become more who they are at their core as they get older, not less.
Talking to him about the abuse is something to be done, if at all, from a safe distance when you have left the relationship. It is dangerous and sadly usually completely pointless. He knows how he is behaving is wrong, that’s why he only does it behind closed doors, but he will not admit fault. He will blame you for his behaviour, as he likely blames you for everything else.
I would recommend any of Don Hennessey’s books, particularly How he Gets Inside Her Head. Keep reaching out here, what you are going through is very difficult and you deserve support.
Sending a big hug xx
21st February 2021 at 1:29 pm #122117MuddybootsParticipant
Thank you Hetty and Hawthorne! Do you guys find when people are kind it makes you cry? I wonder why that happens.
If you could turn the clock back, do you wish, once you’d realised it was abuse, that you just gave up and ended the relationship straight away? I still have so much hope we can fix it, but I wonder if that’s actually just fear of being alone in disguise…?
He has a lot of good qualities and I love him. I don’t want to walk away. I have never been in a non abusive relationship, I’m not sure I believe that there is anything better out there. And I am filled with fear and dread and a complete sense of doom at the idea of being a single mum. How do I get my head clear and brace?
21st February 2021 at 1:54 pm #122119HettyParticipant
For years I berated myself for not walking away when that first red flag emerged in our relationship. But it is what it is. We live and learn. I’ve stopped hurting myself about the past. I entered the relationship trusting and with an open heart. He destroyed us so I refuse to carry any guilt.
My ex had some good qualities too. What I realised was that the bad far outweighed the good and the longer I stayed the more the abuse escalated. As my child got older I could see the trajectory for him wasn’t good. He was seeing and hearing things that were unacceptable. I didn’t want him to spend his life recovering from his childhood.
I held on for a long time. I used to tell myself it wasn’t that bad. That all families have problems. My ex tried counselling. It was always the same cycle of abuse though. The thought of spending the rest of my life living this way at filled me with far more dread than anything else.
I’m a single mother. Nothing is harder than raising children with an abusive partner. My life is so much easier without the emotional abuse I experienced. I’m calmer, I can think more clearly and I feel more settled. My son benefits from all of that and more.
I just got to the point where I didn’t care what I had to leave behind.
You’ll find your own path. I spoke with my local domestic abuse service about 18 months ago and they helped me get clear in my mind what was going on and to consider options. At no point did they force me to leave or tell me what I should be doing. Once I’d made that step I knew there was no going back and I had to save myself and my child ❤️
21st February 2021 at 1:57 pm #122120HawthornParticipant
Yes I did cry at the kindness of strangers while I was in the abuse. Strangers showed me more kindness and support than the man I loved, that is a very sad situation, and worthy of tears. I lived in the abuse for years and didn’t realise what was happening. I internalized it all as my fault, my anxiety, my depression, my stressful job. The anxiety, depression and stress I was feeling was because of the abuse, it was situational, not an under-lying mental health problem. I still have some anxiety at times, I’ve been out for months now, but it is nothing like the way it was when I lived with my abuser, more of a hangover as my body gets used to my new, calmer life. I had accepted the ups and downs as normal in my relationship, but it was destroying my mental and physical health.
My husband ultimately erupted into violence, I guess he thought he had broken me down enough that i would tolerate it. In that instant the scales fell from my eyes. I read Why Does He Do That that night, saw my husband and my life described on every page, and left the next day. I knew I would wind up dead or in a psychiatric hospital if I stayed. In the end it was him or me, and i chose me.
My greatest regret is not ending it the first time he shouted at me. He showed me exactly how much respect he had for me then; none. I wouldnt speak to an animal like that. But I stayed and it got worse. And I accepted it. And its difficult to forgive myself for that, but I’m getting there. I still thought I loved him when I left, I know now that it was a trauma bond. There can be no love without mutual respect, and abusers dont respect us. Now the fog has lifted I can see the good times were all part of the abuse, just enough crumbs of affection to keep me trapped, make me think I could fix it.
I also know now I was afraid of his reaction if i broke up with him, he would often threaten suicide and i knew he smear my reputation and financially ruin me. The smear campaign and financial abuse is ongoing but it only serves to show me his true colours and reaffirm my knowledge that he is abusive and leaving him is the best thing i ever done.
There is no darkness like living in abuse. It is so dark you cant even imagine what true peace, happiness and freedom feels like. There is so much better waiting for you beyond this relationship. Untamed by Glennon Doyle is really inspirational. Keep reaching out xx
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