Tagged: What to do now?
16th April 2021 at 10:16 pm #124874
I have been married for over (detail removed by Moderator) years and have (detail removed by Moderator) adult children. I have kept my husband’s awful behaviour a closely guarded secret. There has been financial abuse ie having everything I buy scrutinised, having to buy more and more on my wages. Yet he has 75% more income than I do ie pensions and benefits. I have been bullied, talked over, blamed, shouted at, thrown to the ground when I was pregnant for not tidying up properly, I have been humiliated, mocked, sneered at. Had laundry chucked at me while chatting to friends at home (I should be doing housework) I have been vomiting with a fever and still had to look after the kids when they were little because he’s “not a childminder”. He was aggressive with the kids, the oldest daughter especially. I have had panic attacks while shopping as he scolds me loudly. I just thought, oh that’s him, he’s miserable, I’m unhappy, I made a dreadful mistake but I love my children. I was also terrified of him and his shouting and bullying. He also threatened to tell everyone about an intimate disfigurement I have if I upset him. The other day my oldest daughter came to visit, she got me to talk about my marriage, Idk how she did it, perhaps it was time, but am I wrong to share his treatment of me with her? He was awful to her too, I tried to protect her, she is raging. He didn’t work for years, just lazed around critisising me and sucking the fun out of everything. I had to do everything, work, cook, clean, do the laundry, look after the kids and an elderly relative. I did it all and he did nothing and if I asked him to help I would get abuse. Daughter has shared his treatment of me with another sibling but the other (detail removed by Moderator) have MH issues and need to be protected. One particularly adores his dad. I just don’t know what to think, my daughter kept saying “Mum, this is abuse” and I’m like “is it? is this what it looks like?” But now, he is very ill, I have to look after him, I just feel so empty. I’ve asked my kids not to say a word even though they want to confront him. He’s too ill and easier to live with these days, besides he will deny it and it will traumatise the other two kids who don’t know. But how could I not have seen that this was abuse? How is that possible? My daughter kept saying, but he was so disgusting to you and then when you got angry he would say “your mother has p*s” and I thought I was going mad. I am so confused and don’t know where to start processing all this and I need counselling, I just can’t believe it, I feel so stupid and that I let my kids down.
16th April 2021 at 10:57 pm #124877
I’m so sorry to hear this Headspin. It sounds like you’ve suffered horrible abuse for a very long time. I don’t think it’s wrong to share things with your adult daughter. It sounds like she coaxed it out of you anyway and had already decided she was ready to hear it (if I’ve understood what you said). It also sounds like she’s totally on your side, which is great, because it’s very common for family members to not understand what’s going on and not support your decisions.
You are not stupid and you have not let your kids down. Educating yourself about abuse could really help you see this. I often recommend Why does he do that? By Lundy Bancroft. You can find it free online. This is what I’ve learnt from reading about abuse. Abusers target people who they think they will be able to manipulate. That doesn’t mean they look for “weak” people, they look for things like empathy, because the manipulation will only work if the victim cares about how the abuser feels. They then manipulate over time so that the victims don’t realise it’s abuse and blame themselves for anything that goes wrong. A trauma bond created b the abuse makes the victim feel unable to leave.
How you feel is a completely normal reaction to abuse. Not seeing the abuse is also totally normal. It’s why so many of us have stayed in abusive relationships. The abuser believes they are entitled to do what is necessary to force their partner to do what they want them to do. That involves convincing you that you should do what they want, so they need you to believe that it isn’t abuse and that their behaviour is actually all your fault. Your husband was even manipulating your children to keep the big lie going.
Everyone on here will agree that this is not your fault and you have not let your children down. I can assure you that you will find so much support on here. Well done for reaching out. You are stronger than you know. Sending love xxxx
17th April 2021 at 7:30 am #124881
I don’t know if I am replying in the right place to you but ISOpeace, thank you from the bottom of my heart for your kind words. I read your reply and started to sob, to hear I’m not weak and that I’m not to blame is so encouraging. I will definitely read the book you recommended. Already had a scout on youtube and saw a load of Lundy Bancroft vids which I will view today. Also I feel so relieved that it’s not wrong to share this with my adult daughter, my two oldest daughters have been incredible since I have “come out”. They have sent me money so I can buy essential things just for me. Things I have been deprived of or made to feel guilty about. More importantly though they believe me and they’re support means the world to me. I feel so weird and disloyal after keeping it secret for so long but this is the beginning of my new journey I suppose. Just so worried that they’re perception of their dad has changed, but this is on him I think. He keeps asking why I am so quiet and tense, so I tell him I am worried about his health. Thank you again.
17th April 2021 at 5:07 pm #124890EmpoweredhealingParticipant
Hi there, I’m so sorry that you have suffered so much abuse. It takes a lot of courage to start talking and sharing what has happened to you. Not knowing that it’s abuse is one of the biggest reason that keep many victims trapped. Sometimes, the abuse goes on for such a long time that the survivor is never freed until the abuser dies.
But you can start freeing yourself now, emotionally & intellectually. Start taking care of YOU. Learn healthy boundaries and implement them to protect and nurture you. And yes, you can have boundaries around caretaking for someone who is sick. You do not have to abandon your health and mental welfare to do so.
Keep posting and let us know how we can support you here!
17th April 2021 at 10:45 pm #124892
Welcome to the forum.
I am so saddened and sorry to hear your story.
It is very common not to understand you are in an abusive relationship. There’s are many reasons for this; one of them is that we normalise the behaviour as it is the only way we can survive it. I was also in my relationship for decades before I understood it was abusive. You are not stupid at all. It is the special skill of abusers to build up the abuse so that we hardly notice how bad it has become and women of our generation were brought up in times that were very different from our children.
It is not wrong to share your experiences with your adult daughters if they want to know. You will all have the common experience of him that nobody else will have and you can take this journey of discovery together.
It looks as though you have already discovered some good material that will help shed some light on your experiences. The ladies on the forum are wonderful. They are incredibly supportive and they have a collective wealth of experience that you will not find anywhere else so please do ask questions or just come on here to share. No-one will understand you quite like the ladies on the forum.
Of course, you also have the added complication that your partner is ill and that will raise a whole host of complex and, possibly, conflicting emotions for you.
There is no right or wrong way for you to progress through this journey. You just take each day, each discovery as it comes. We’re right here with you. xx
18th April 2021 at 7:39 am #124895
EmpowerH, thank you so much for replying, I feel so grateful for this forum where I can talk about what I know now is abuse. I feel supported and heard for the first time in decades, I just want to spill and spill about his dreadful behaviour. I am waking up with anxiety though every morning since “coming out” to my daughter and I am hoping this will go. During my marriage I felt as if I was going crazy, his illness has made the abuse subside, he doesn’t have the energy and he relies on me for care. Part of me thinks he is an undeserving piece of whatnot, my thoughts are so challenging. I have started reading the Lundy Bancroft book as recommended and have found it immensely informative. I know I need to start looking after myself, you are right. I started by emailing a friend yesterday to tell her, she is the only person in the world I feel comfortable with sharing this. Her response was wonderful and we are meeting next week. She said she wasn’t surprised and was waiting for me to tell her one day.
18th April 2021 at 7:57 am #124896
Eggshells, what a great username, walking on them has been my life for decades. It is such a relief to me to know that other people are hoodwinked into believing that they are in a loving, caring relationship. “I’m not letting you go out because you’re a wife and mother now”. “You don’t need the children’s allowance, I’m the father and I pay all the bills”. “You wear makeup in order to attract other men, take it off”. “You don’t need a haircut, put a ribbon in it, you’re just being vain”.
“I wish I had got my ex girlfriend pregnant then she wouldn’t have left me”. “Going to visit a friend? What about the housework?”
Grabbing my wrists after an argument “What I want you to say is this….”
Chasing me around the house when I was pregnant “Get an abortion! Your irresponsibility is forcing me to a father again, I will do everything in my power to make you abort!” Screaming at me, terrifying the children.
Calling me a s**g, ineffectual, ditsy, irresponsible, an airhead. Shouting at me when my Mum died that I wasn’t grieving, I was hormonal.
My daughters have sent me the loveliest messages saying that they realise how I kept it altogether, how they hated the way he spoke to me. How during arguments they he forced them to take sides , terrified to take mine.
They are in shock, they feel numb because it cannot be dressed up or excused in any other way, it is abuse. He knows something is up, as I feel so cold towards him. I am not sure how to handle it.
18th April 2021 at 9:22 am #124897
Urgh! It just sounds horrendous and all too familiar and reminiscent of so many posts on the forum. You have experienced some really serious abuse over the years.
Over time and as you work your way through more books and videos, you will begin to understand more and more and you will become more used to the idea that it is abuse. As your new knowledge settles, it will begin to feel less shocking and you’ll start to work out how you want to deal with it all.
Be prepared, it can be a rough ride and it is possible to feel re-traumatised by some of the more horrendous attacks on you. It is good that you have family and friends to talk to and I’m so pleased that you have found your way to the forum. Many women choose to see counsellors who specialise in domestic abuse as this is a much safer way of working through your past. A good counsellor can help you sort out your feelings and help you to work out which path you want to take now.
There is a chat line on the Women’s Aid website and they also carry a list of local domestic violence charities who can support you on a more personal level. I am worried for you. Many women feel trapped in their relationships and I suspect that this may be even more the case for you because of your husband’s condition. Please know that just because he is ill, you do not have to stay if you don’t want to; there are plenty of services available to care for sick people.
18th April 2021 at 1:04 pm #124900
Thank you eggshells, I let rip at him (detail removed by Moderator) actually. I was upstairs (detail removed by Moderator) and he managed to climb the stairs saying “(detail removed by Moderator)” It was said so angrily, so nasty. So I told him that I didn’t have to answer his ridiculous questions and that perhaps he should take a look at the mess in his room and bathroom which I have to clean. His answer was that I had used the word (detail removed by Moderator) and it was becoming repetitive, I’m so tired of him monitoring my use of language, I’ve had his pedantic corrections for years. Afterwards, he asked for a hug and said that all he had done was enquire gently as to (detail removed by Moderator) so why would I be so aggressive to him, he lies. It drives me insane. We have a dependent adult child who lives with us, he loves his father to pieces and stability is vitally important for my son’s complex mental health issues. Another reason, I can’t leave. You are right, I have been retraumatised, it’s like picking at scabs until they’re bleeding and sore.
So much stuff is resurfacing. Would you believe that he was once so angry with me because I look young for my age? He was literally spitting with rage that I was an embarrassment to him because I looked “like a child”. This kind of nonsense would go on for hours until I was a sobbing worn out mess, curled up in a ball. I still cannot get over the fact that I couldn’t see it as abuse. This is the biggest shock of all. Thank you for listening.
18th April 2021 at 4:31 pm #124910
You’re in the right place here, Headspin. You’re so not alone in having lived a life of abuse. It’s not your fault. Please make contact with Women’s Aid and get your own support in place. You may also find Rape Crisis helpful.
Please don’t be afraid of speaking out about your experience. We spend these years blaming ourselves, hoping that maybe it’ll get better, they can’t be that bad…. on and on.
Your daughter is very brave in asking you what happened. You have nothing to fear by beginning to break it down. You don’t have to do it alone.
18th April 2021 at 8:49 pm #124914EmpoweredhealingParticipant
I would definitely recommend getting some support just for you. It’s very difficult to live with or recover from abuse alone. You have done a great job of getting allies in your daughters and friend. If you are able to, getting support from your GP and a therapist specializing in domestic abuse is also very helpful.
By the way, sounds like your husband uses a technique called “induced conversation” to pick fights. Abusers do this a lot when they want to offload negative emotions onto someone else. They’ll pick something small to criticize or rage at until they get emotions out of you. It’s a form of emotional vomiting. They feel better while you feel worse. Try not to argue, explain or defend. Sticks to one word and factual answers. Eventually, they may give up as you’re not an easy target for their anger, rage and shame anymore.
18th April 2021 at 8:56 pm #124915
Thanks maddog, this is the first time in decades of marriage that other people are saying how familiar this is, the hope that it’ll get better etc. I feel I’m with my tribe. My daughters have been amazing, yet I feel so horribly guilty that they were brought up in his madness and insanity. He was so controlling and angry all the time. My oldest adult child is raging, she’s working through it all while trying to support me. Another daughter has also been very supportive, chatting to me for ages today, yet I’m so embarrassed that I let this all happen. I can’t quite believe it. The weirdest thing is that my husband and i were getting along well, for the first time in ages. Then I was blindsided by my daughter’s questioning and then it all went from there. I am going to get counselling, paid for by my daughters because of the financial abuse I wont have the funds for that, the irony.
18th April 2021 at 11:10 pm #124917
“He that all he had done was enquire gently” He’s gaslighting you. I suspected that my ex was doing this so I bought a digital voice recorder and popped it in my pocket. I started to record everything he said so that I could listen back. Not only did it confirm to me that he was gaslighting but I also got him on tape admitting to his abuse. He later denied that he’d admitted to abuse. Thankfully, I have that particular recording backed up in three safe locations. I fully intend to take it to the police when I am ready.
I’d strongly recommend recording him without his knowledge. Listening back to the recordings will be quite enlightening. xx
19th April 2021 at 7:20 am #124919
Yes Eggshells, it is gaslighting and abuse, I have made so many excuses for him and covered up for his disgusting behaviour. My daughter asked me why we had slept in separate bedrooms for years, I want to spare her the gory details, but I explained that since he has got older he had lost interest in a physical relationship and therefore I was no longer needed. Eggshells, so crazy you had to record him for vindication and then he denied his words. This is the type of madness I have lived with for years. EmpowerH mention “induced conversation” and oh my goodness it seems as if his craziness has made some kind of sense to me. Just these bonkers conversations if they can be called that, demanding answers to such trivial things until I thought I was going mad. Interrogations about spilt water, or why there are plastic bottles in the car, or why I had put a cup here instead of there, on and on until I retreat, but then he chases me. He just wants “answers”. My friend has recommended a counsellor, he will have his work cut out that’s for sure.
19th April 2021 at 10:10 am #124922
The physical rejection of you is part of the abuse. My ex did the same. He would skulk off to the spare bedroom for months and even years instead of owning his behaviour. I bet your husband didn’t loose interest is sex. I expect instead, he’d been raping you for years, using you as a sex toy, and when you didn’t like it, he rejected you. Abusers don’t recognise consent. To them, we are no more than objects and no more worthy of seeking consent than they would from a lawnmower.
Sadly we all have ideas about what rape means, and usually it involves staggering drunk down a dark alleyway alone in a miniskirt and being pounced upon by a stranger. Your boundaries have been crushed, like so many of us. Please make contact with Rape Crisis who can help you unpack some of what has happened to you. It’s really hard to accept that we’ve tolerated the most appalling behaviour of another. It’s really worth placing the blame where the blame lies, and that’s with the perpetrator.
Please make sure that any counselling or therapy you get is based around trauma. So many mental health ‘professionals’ don’t recognise how much trauma we have endured and may lead you down a merry path of victim blaming and further false reality.
It’s very frightening to take on board the whole field of domestic abuse. You’re being really brave and you’re doing so well. Keep posting, Headspin! xx
19th April 2021 at 3:10 pm #124934
Thank you Eggshells, so many repressed memories are bubbling to the surface, the whole bedroom thing, I just can’t let my head go there just yet. Yes it has been suggested to me that a trauma counsellor is the best way forward for me. You are right that it’s so hard to accept that we have “tolerated the appalling behaviour” and for such a long time. The strangest thing is that he has been nice lately, for him anyway, I meant quite amicable and pleasant most of the time. I have been in a better place mentally and accepting of my mismatch of a marriage, seeing it through as it were. But the raking up of these dreadful memories have completely blindsided me. My friend, who I have shared this with and is herself a therapist, said that she has seen this happen before, where your mind is in a strong place so it’s ready to deal with all the trauma and mess. She says to see it as positive. I’m finding the morning panic attacks tough to deal with, it’s as if the reality has set in. Anyway, this forum is the best thing ever for me at the moment, I can spill and not be judged about staying with the abuse for half my life.
19th April 2021 at 4:15 pm #124935
It’s not a deliberate act to remain with an abuser. Nobody leaves an abusive relationship. You can’t just walk out. People escape abuse.
Please don’t blame yourself for not leaving. There are often far too many reasons we can’t just up sticks and go. It is also the most dangerous time and many of us need a huge amount of support and planning, just to keep safe.
I hope your GP is supportive.
Please remember that you’re not responsible for the behaviour and actions of anyone else, and that you, like so many, normalised disgusting behaviour, and have been trapped. Fear, Obligation and Guilt are often the things that bind us. I’d add shame to that list.
None of this is your fault. Baby steps. You’re doing so well. You’re not alone.
19th April 2021 at 8:37 pm #124945
thanks maddog, your words mean so much to me. I couldn’t escape I know that now because I was financially unable, I’ve got to stop wanting to get into a time machine and go back to make it all ok. But I know, as you say, baby steps. Yep, shame is a big one.
19th April 2021 at 9:38 pm #124946HawthornParticipant
I just wanted to add my support. You are so brave to be facing this. Feeling shame is so normal, but it is not yours to carry. It is your abusers shame that you have been carrying for him. Abusers use the same brainwashing techniques that have been used in prisoner of war camps very effectively. What hope could we have, entering into a relationship with an open heart, against such nefarious tactics?
It sounds trite but there is no day sooner than today to do anything. Keep educating yourself about what has been happening to you. Understanding is so empowering. Though your experiences are deeply personal to you, what happened was not because of anything you did or didn’t do. Abusers seek out kind women who will put the abusers needs before their own, and groom and manipulate us into the abuse. He would have treated any partner he had the same way. He is the one is acting shamefully, not you.
Be very kind to yourself, none of this was your fault but when we have been conditioned to blame ourselves for everything it is a difficulthabit to shake.
Keep reaching out. Sending love and light xx
20th April 2021 at 7:27 pm #124969
Woooaaahhhh! Just looked up your reference about abusers using the same tactics as used against prisoners of war and found an article with this extract from a book:
“Today, we know that that the techniques common to domestic abuse match those used by practically anyone who trades in captivity: kidnappers, hostage-takers, pimps, cult leaders. What this reveals is that there is nothing uniquely weak, helpless or masochistic about victims of domestic abuse. Faced with the universal methods of coercive control, their responses are no different from those of trained soldiers.”
So to everyone who still feels shame about being caught in the spell of abuse, I hope this is a new way to see that it doesn’t mean you’re weak or stupid or different to most people. You’ve actually responded in a totally normal way. And seeing the spell is the first step to freedom 😊
I’ll do a post with a bit more detail when I have more time, but I thought the comparison to trained soldiers (as in trained to withstand interrogation) was so powerful that I wanted to share it right away. Thank you Hawthorn xxxx
20th April 2021 at 12:34 pm #124955
Hawthorn, thank you so much, all this kindness and understanding. Being heard. It just makes such a huge difference and is so validating. Just the knowledge that I am not going crazy and that it’s not my fault means so much to me. I have been told for years that it is my hormones that make me so crazy, now that I’ve gone through the menopause I am just labelled “unreasonable” and “obsessive”. I am learning not to engage with the nonsensical conversations, arguing with me that I have used a word incorrectly so that the way I’m saying it, not what I’m saying is dismissed. I have so many stories of abuse that I have pushed down and they are coming up to the surface, one after the other until I can’t breathe properly. I know I have to go through this in order to survive and I am getting stronger. I’m still getting the “(detail removed by moderator)” gesture from him when I’m talking and then he walks out of the room, whereas when he is talking I get “(detail removed by moderator) and pay attention while I’m talking” Ugh!!! Now that I know it’s abuse, it goes over my head and I don’t even react. Had a long chat with my friend this morning while (detail removed by moderator), she is so amazing and I’m relieved she knows. She said that the strain of living the lie that everything is “fine” for years is a huge strain. But I still feel that this isn’t me, this is someone else’s life. I know it’ll take a long time to process all that has happened. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart.
20th April 2021 at 7:38 pm #124971
I’m so glad to hear from this post and your others that you’re getting great support from your daughters and your friend. Also not reacting to his abuse is a really good idea. I think it’s called “grey stone walling” or something like that! I was in a similar position before I left in that I was often able to see that reacting was a waste of my emotional energy. Deciding that I wasn’t going to get sucked into his nonsense actually felt good and not at all like when I’ve not reacted due to burying my head in the sand.
You’re doing really well and it’s great that you feel like you’re getting stronger. I think you had the strength all along, but you’ve now been able to find it and I’m sure there’s more in you to find. Sending love xxxx
21st April 2021 at 4:54 pm #125030
Ooo hawthorn and isopeace, just reading your comments about the tactics used against prisoners of war. That’s an eye opener! He broke my spirit but I know I will heal, I’m not bursting into tears or hyperventilating every time I think of the abuse. Someone close to me has booked me in for counselling and will fund it. But the weirdest thing, my husband is being so pleasant and considerate lately. Which makes me feel guilty about what I’m going to reveal to the counsellor. Again it’s that feeling as if I’m going crazy.
21st April 2021 at 6:26 pm #125037
There’s a really good book called “See What You Made Me Do” by Jess Hill. It’s a tremendous insight into the world of domestic abuse, the part we all play in it, and differences that we, as a society could make to lessen the harm.
Gaslighting is meant to make you feel as though you’re going mad. The Mr Nice you’re seeing is a hoovering technique. It’s the False Self. It sounds as though you’ve recognised this.
Abusers are like the Invisible Man in that they need to cover themselves to be seen. They will use anything, and they’ll use a partner as a primary source of ‘clothing’. When you stop supplying the cover, you can see that there’s nobody there; Maybe at best a young, profoundly damaged, helpless child.
Perhaps that small child deserves our pity and support. When their body changes and they become an adult, but they are still that small hurt person, their cowardice in their failure to acknowledge their pain, deserves no pity.
Your husband is being nice because he needs cover to be seen. That’s why he’s looking to you.
It’s not your fault, and it can’t be. You weren’t there.
I too was in a long relationship. It’s a different view being post menopausal than when we were younger, and the world has changed.
The most important thing is that you are starting to recognise what has happened to you and that between us, we can make the world a better and safer place for ourselves and our children. Well done, Headspin.
22nd April 2021 at 2:57 pm #125071
Thanks so much maddog. I will read the book you recommend once I have completed the lundy Bancroft one. I am actually so angry with him because I just can’t cover for him any more. Met a friend, the only one, aside from my daughters,who I feel comfortable discussing the abuse with. Memories just tumbled out and she was in shock. He is worried and keeps asking what the matter is, wants to know why I need counselling and I have to tell him it’s none of his business. I am finding it hard not to explode, but I have to think about my dependent adult child who is an innocent in all this.
I paid for friend’s coffee but was feeling the rising panic as I have so little funds left this week. He would tell me to (detail removed by moderator) but there’s enough money always for his booze. I hate that I always have to count every penny around the supermarket. Drives me insane.
22nd April 2021 at 7:05 pm #125077
Abusers are the pits of the earth. I’m sure you’re furious with him about how he’s treated you for so long. Sadly there’s no point in being angry at him. He’ll turn it round and make it your fault. These people are wrong in the head, and nothing you say or do will make any difference whatsoever.
You’ll find loads of real life support, maybe through your local Women’s Aid. The Domestic Abuse team on 101 can signpost you to your local help and support. They’re not part of the police, though of course, they can put you through to speak to an officer if you want to.
It’s best to try not to communicate with an abuser, much as they hate it. It’s ok to talk about safe things like the weather.
He’s also financially abusing you.
Keep a diary of his behaviour, any interaction you have with him.
The most important thing while you’re going through this is to keep safe.
Understanding and recognising Domestic Abuse is a truly frightening journey, and not one that any of would choose. However, you’ll meet so many people along your path who will stop you falling into the abyss.
Many years ago, I was told that I was being abused. It was my normal and I didn’t understand the danger I was in.
Please reach out for real life support. Nobody is going to tell you what to do.
Well done for starting counselling. As you travel, you may well find that your local support offers specific counselling. It all helps.
23rd April 2021 at 5:17 pm #125140
Thanks Maddog,ah yes he will turn everything on me if I dare to protest at his behaviour. I stopped trying to plead my case a long time ago. I imagine things apparently, or am too sensitive, or exaggerate to put him in the worst possible light. The sarcasm is so subtle sometimes, the nasty little remarks, often pointing out what I haven’t done or how I could do something better. Yep, the abuse becomes our normal.
He’s too unwell for me to be in any physical danger, although I hadn’t realised quite how used I am to living on edge most of the time.
His voice is like a whip to my back.
Fortunately, I am feeling heaps stronger now that I know what’s happened to me. I am exploring more help and am so humbled by the understanding of people. Thank you so much.
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