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    • #110996

      Ok, I feel like I’m just never shutting up on here. I’m sorry. I am really desperate, feeling really crazy. I reach out for help – and I get it – I have done web chats and I have spoken on the phone to my local WA (not back doing face to face yet). Every time, I ask myself (and often they ask me) what I want them to say, what I am hoping to achieve, what I think the answer is. And it’s pretty straightforward: I need to leave. But it just isn’t that simple. I have spent half my life with this man and we have three adult children together. I am clear that I could live without him but I would be walking away from SO much.

      So I’ve come on to “over 50’s” board, hoping that I might tap into others who have left their abusers after 20+ years. I have a feeling that the Red Line will come and I will know, and I will go. But I suppose I’m really scared that the Red Line isn’t going to come – or certainly not soon enough. I feel so desperate, genuinely like my sanity is slipping away and I’m scared because I don’t know where my mental health is heading.

      I feel like he’s doing it deliberately and is trying to wear me down. Where do I find the strength to stand up for myself against this bully, who has stolen all my self esteem and sense of self? How am I going to keep going? How am I going to get through this? The alternative scares me and I keep trying to push it away but I am so unhappy…

    • #110997

      But how do you not know you wouldn’t be walking into SO much more?

      • #112140

        I left after (detail removed by moderator). I always felt i was doomed never to have the strength to leave. It was always next time i will leave again and again
        One day i just asked myself what could be worst. Spedding the rest of life with him or taking a chance on my owm. I have never regretted it.
        Now i feel sorry for him. I realise i was the stronger one in the relationship.
        I regret the time i wasted but i cant go back. I love having my own place and my life is now my own.

    • #110998

      I don’t. I would be. I fantasise about life the other side. I don’t know what it is – I know I can’t go on like this, but there’s something in me that says “what if”? What if there’s another way? What if I can sort it? I know I can’t. I know I can’t change him. I know I want to go. I’m just scared I’ll regret it. I’m scared I shouldn’t throw everything away. I’m also really really scared about my sanity and don’t know how to hold onto it. I don’t know how to keep the strength to hold on.

    • #111000

      Hi Lottieblue

      I walked away after *0 years. I left it so long for several reasons, the main one being that I didn’t actually realise that I wasn’t being abused (even though he raped me several times).

      I was afraid of everything that I would loose. My home, my job, my financial security, my marriage and any hope of us ever having a good relationship – I had held onto that hope so tightly.

      I can’t sugarcoat it; I have lost all of those things. It is hard, at the moment and I am homeless and jobless. Having been controlled for so long, making my own decisions was really scarey.

      However, I know this is only temporary. When I think of the family home that I shared with him, I feel really uncomfortable, I wouldn’t go back there even if I could. I’m applying for new jobs and my referees have been contacted and I have money in the bank from my divorce, so if and when I get a permanent job, I can buy a house. I know this is only temporary.

      I’ve moved back to where I grew up and I love it here. It will take some time to get back on my feet but when I do, I have a whole new life to look forward to.

      Going through the divorce was tough. His behaviour throughout was appalling but it only served to justify my decision to leave.

      Before you are ready to leave, there is a process of acceptance that you have to go through. You need to let go bit by bit. You have to disentangle yourself from all the holds he has over you. When you are ready, you will know. xx

    • #111001

      Wow, Eggshells, this is a really heartfelt and comprehensive reply. Thank you so much! We have messaged before, re the kids, so I know that there is more to your reply than you have written.

      So do you have tips about the “disentangling”? Did you have a method or series of steps yourself?
      I think that “Healing from Hidden Abuse” gives some good advice, especially with the Controlled Contact (I think it’s called, it’s the alternative to No Contact and about setting boundaries). I’m on my third listen through at the moment (when I’m able). But it kind of “stops”, and of course is very general, not really tailored to any particular set of circumstances – such as decades-long marriages.

      If you were able to share any of your techniques it would be wonderful.

      Again thank you. I have tears pricking my eyes with the courage you are giving me. I need to hold on, don’t I? And know that the time will come, but also that I must use the intervening time wisely to do that “disentangling”. Xx

    • #111002

      Hi Lottieblue,

      I walked away after ** years. I knew it was coming, like you, but I was clinging on….all those years gone and the thought of being alone was scary. My moment came when my health, both mental and physical got so bad I knew it was either stay and die or walk. I opened up to a nurse. Once I’d admitted the abuse to myself and asked for help I knew that the time had come.
      I also got angry and threw caution to the wind and told him exactly what I thought about the way he had been with me (thankfully he didn’t lash out but I was lucky). He deflected everything so for an easy life I just said it was all me, packed up my stuff and moved a long way from him.

      I too won’t sugar coat it. It is tough, especially when you’ve hit the bottom. BUT it does get better.

      For me the disentanglement has been a process I have gone through after leaving. This did mean that I nearly tried to make the relationship work but thankfully I was read up enough to now spot the red flags and recognise the different cycles.

      I am now in my own home (rented but still my home), I haven’t got a job yet as I’m still healing but that’s my goal. I have friends and I’m forcing myself to get out there and make more. As for being alone, that’s ok, I feel less lonely now than when I was with him.

      It is so much better on the other side.
      I’m happy to PM if you want to know stuff that’s more personal. X

    • #111015

      Hi LB, I sent you a pm. xx

    • #111022
      White Rose

      I left after *0 years. How you describe feeling is how I felt. Would I regret it if I left? I really had no idea at the time. Did I regret it? Not one bit.
      Yes I lost lots – family home, significant amount of my pension, family heirlooms from my grandparents and great grandparents, treasured gifts from my parents, expensive luxury holidays etc etc
      But I gained freedom, safety, life without fear, my self confidence came back, so did friends he’d alienated over the years.
      The divorce was hell, I’ve got to be honest, but it was a finite time of hell, not a lifetime I would have endured with him. My solicitor was good, I came out with enough to start again, I’ve bought a house thanks to a mortgage (small terraced rather than his (detail removed by Moderator) bedroom luxury detached!) but it’s mine and I can lock my door and feel safe.
      It wasn’t easy and I spent a lot of time on here being supported while he continued the abuse from a distance, but it’s done now and a few years on life is good, really good! He still rears his ugly head now and again, usually through emotionally attacking his grown up children who he said “sided with me”, but we all let it wash over us now.
      It sounds as if you’ve made your mind up to leave, but trying to get the timing right. Don’t leave it too long as he will continue to wear you down, it’s what they do. He’ll carry on when you’ve left too, but at least you’ll eventually get an end point by leaving.
      Don’t wait too long, keep safe.

    • #111026

      Such a helpful thread for me too , thank you . He left (detail removed by Moderator) weeks ago. Together ** married (detail removed by Moderator). No mans land. Worried for the security of my home I inherited from my late mother , will he take it. He often threatens to, its a good source of power. When do I apply for the divorce? 4 children 2 still young school age. Lots of detangling to do.

    • #111154

      I feel like I’ve been desperately reading a book and it’s suddenly fallen open at the right page. You are all wonderful, brave, open and so generous with your honesty. The honesty is what really matters. Thank you all. X

    • #111162

      Hi LB and others. I agree about the honesty. I’m so grateful for this forum. Hearing from you all and being so free with advice. It is so valuable. I was in my relationship for a long time and have adult kids. Abuse was a cycle and over the years it completely changed me. I didn’t know about abuse, I just tried harder, to ‘fix’ it all and deny, deny, deny. It was exhausting and demeaning and looking back over the years I can see how eventually I completely disregarded my own wants and needs, covered up for him, ignored the ruined holidays, sad Christmas days, loneliness, fear and sadness. I shoved all that to one side as if ‘me’ didn’t matter. If I didn’t matter to me, how could I expect to matter to anyone else? I had no boundaries and no self-respect. To move on you have to let go of the fantasy about your life together, the denial. I tell myself everyday. ‘My thoughts about this relationship are not facts’. Learning about different abuse helped me enormously even though it was a horrible wake up call. I didn’t know it was his choice to abuse me, his choice to cause me pain and distress, to be in control of me he devalued me using every technique in the abuser’s handbook, then ultimately, he discarded me without remorse. It was awful but during that time, I learned to emotionally detach and see him for who he really was. Hear the lies. See and write down the chaos and manipulation, the gas lighting, smears and hate speech. I got the emotional distance to be able to say to him calmly. “I’m done. No more.” It didn’t go well, police were involved. Yes, it was awful and devastating. You are at the mercy of everything they can throw at you. It will not be easy. When I miss him, I look at my list of things he said and how he behaved to me with such utter hatred and contempt and I know I have done the right thing. I am learning about what is best for me now but it is not easy. This was not a normal relationship where people talk and resolve issues and you feel fulfilled, valued, supported, cherished, and that is what we all deserve, no matter what stage at life we are at.

    • #111165

      Techniques – I have gone no contact because my abuser is so toxic but from past experience I found the following has also been really useful: you can try limiting contact to just being about essentials or arrangements. Detach from your emotions. Watch out for hoovering by false promises, threats, chaotic conversations and apologies. Keep body language steady and calm. Go ‘Grey Rock’ i.e stick to facts and do not engage/react. Notice triggers and when you are being manipulated to force a reaction, breathe and stay calm before responding. Repeat requests calmly and don’t let their chaos divert you from what you need to say. Expect a backlash and if necessary, walk away and try again another day. Do not put yourself at risk, if you are frightened or threatened call the police and seek support.

      Check out Youtube for advice on recovering and communication techniques. There is alot of free and incredibly helpful resource out there.

      When you get out, or are making plans to get out: Don’t try and analyse or predict his behaviour or worry about what you can’t control, it can take alot of energy going through all the ‘why did he do that? What will he do next? If I do this, what will he do?’ etc. Get the facts. That is what is important. Know about your money, debt, property and rights, so you take away the fear and confusion. If you know the facts you are in a more powerful position and you take away his power. Seek professional help if necessary. Keep track of everything. Be in control of you. Don’t try and do everything at once. If you get overwhelmed by emotions, look back at the facts and tell yourself how well you are doing, be kind to yourself – you are recovering from trauma and abuse. Remember, you are not alone. You are brave, wise and strong, hope this helps. We are all on this journey together.

    • #111572

      I know this will sound a bit random but bear with me.

      On the day my dad died I found myself counting the hours that passed. I commented to family that soon it will be a whole day, then a week, a month, a year, two years. And so on. It’s been several years now and I’m still amazed at the passage of time, the way life goes on regardless.

      You could stay in this horrendous situation and time will continue to tick by. Before you know it, another day, a week, a month, a year. A decade.

      Or you could leave. One day. Then another. A week. Now a month…

      None of us can predict the future and the hardships we may face. None of us knows how long we have. But never forget that time doesn’t care. It will continue to tick by regardless.

    • #111820

      How do you build a life when you have been nothing for (detail removed by Moderator) years just used and ab_sed

    • #111822

      you haven’t been nothing. You’ve been everything and everything that he couldn’t be. The problem is, that all that you have been is buried.

      You build a life by letting yourself emerge, bit by bit. You take care of the basics (money, food, shelter) and once you are doing that you start to realise how capable and independent you can be. It’s a real confidence boost. All the energy that went into looking after him and keeping him happy can now be invested in you. You make the initial separation from him feeling terrified and lost. You keep your friends and loved ones close and very quickly the real you starts to emerge. It’s empowering. xx

    • #111824

      Hi everyone,
      My relationship with my ex husband ended (detail removed by Moderator) years ago after spending almost (detail removed by Moderator) years together.
      It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do but also one of the most empowering things ever.
      With all the abuse and control, I knew this man didn’t love me. Sure I’ve walked into the unknown re finances etc but I’m getting my self respect back and I’ve got my grown up kids which means the world to me

    • #111921

      I am also trying to leave my husband after ** years. I waited until the children were university age, but even then I still felt terrified of whether I was doing the right thing. The prospect of loosing my home, which I had contributed the lions share financially over the years due to his frequent unemployment. So My red line eventually came when I began reading about Covert Narcissistic abuse and sociopathy. I read and watched everything I could find. A big light bulb suddenly went on. All the years of trying to understand the nonsense arguments, the years of punishments, silent treatment and violent outbursts when he didn’t get his own way – all dished out to bring me back into line and remind me what would happen the next time I didn’t do what he wanted. Until all the reading & videos, I had not understood that I had actually been abused for a very long time, and that realisation finally ended any lingering doubts I had about staying with him. I joined a Survivors of narcissistic support group and was astonished to discover everybody’s stories were similar to mine. I learned that I had been ‘trained’ or groomed to accept this treatment – drip drip drip – over the years until I believed it was normal and that I deserved it. I also began to understand how my shame of what he was doing made me keep quiet and hide it from friends and family. I never told anyone. He learned he could escalate things without there being any consequences because I always kept it a secret. So that was my red line. There is a free support group run nationally in various towns and cities called ‘The Freedom Programme’. Any woman in a coercive relationship can attend. I haven’t been able to go because they always seem to run on a day I can’t attend. There is a book based on the programme called ‘Living with the Dominator’ by Pat Craven. Very helpful and easy to read with some nice graphic illustrations. (I think this programme should be taught to all girls in secondary schools). Information is empowering. xx

    • #111926

      Take my hand, Dilly. Thank you for joining me in this. Please keep us posted with your progress. X

    • #111953


      Your words could be mine.

      “Abuse was a cycle and over the years it completely changed me. I didn’t know about abuse, I just tried harder, to ‘fix’ it all and deny, deny, deny. It was exhausting and demeaning and looking back over the years I can see how eventually I completely disregarded my own wants and needs, covered up for him, ignored the ruined holidays, sad Christmas days, loneliness, fear and sadness. I shoved all that to one side as if ‘me’ didn’t matter. If I didn’t matter to me, how could I expect to matter to anyone else? I had no boundaries and no self-respect.“

      Everything from the ruined holidays and Christmas days to covering up and working harder to compensate. Every day until so recently I’d go to bed with my heart in my mouth and wake up thinking ‘How can I keep him calm today? How can I stop him losing his s**t. Exhausting.

      Thank you for sharing. I become a grandmother in (detail removed by moderator) and still have younger children at home. Apart from anything else I want to be the parent I can’t be with him causing trouble all the time and blocking and stopping me.


    • #111969

      Thank you for giving me your hand Lottieblue. It is good to know you are there and offering support. X
      And PaleBlueStar – Yes holidays! A subject worthy all on it’s own. It was a gradual process for me, but I remember wondering why I actually dreaded annual family holidays. I didn’t fully understand it at the time. Now I understand it in that he had us all trapped in a confined place for 1 or 2 weeks and was in his sadistic element. I shudder when I think what I allowed myself to put up with. (He never hit me it was all psychological cruelty). I understand what you mean about not being the parent you want to be. I believed if I was the caring parent it would be enough for our children, but I now think I was unwittingly ‘showing’ them how to passively accept and accommodate abuse rather than how NOT to tolerate it. I could have done this by removing us from so many abusive situations in the past – even if that meant going to airport with children and getting the next flight home. I am hoping that my divorcing him will set a better example to the children in that I am showing it is possible to free yourself from an abusive dominator, although I am reconciled to the prospect that my action comes too late.
      As I write this, he has discovered a new way to torment me. He has taken to creeping up quietly outside my door and then banging on it with such ferocity that I nearly die of shock. He then pretends he is knocking to ask me a legitimate question. (detail removed by moderator)  He has (detail removed by moderator) and my heart is thumping out of my chest and I want to cry. (detail removed by moderator) he has done it. Some long deep breaths. I am training myself not to respond. Im so happy to have discovered this supportive forum. xx







    • #111974

      @Dilly, not only am I giving you my hand but you are giving me yours…

      I started another post called “your abuser on vacation”… take a look at that!

      You are having exactly the same agonies as me over your children. The “what ifs” and recriminations. I constantly felt I had to make up for his failings as a parent by being double. At the time I thought that was ok. That they “didn’t notice”. But, like you, I’m now asking myself what that was actually telling them.

      However, I believe firmly, I know, that I did what I believed to be best at the time. It was all I was capable of and the best I could do, given the lack of knowledge or understanding that I possessed. And it is a driver for me now. As they grow up and develop their wings I need to be able to have relationships with them independent of the toxicity of their father and if I stay with him that will never happen. They will not choose to be with us… me. And I am not going to let that happen, not after everything.

      Hold tight to my hand, Dilly, we’re in this together. X

    • #111985

      Hello I left after those many years. I fled and have left and lost many things home work friends. Now I am in rental. Some days feel unmanageable but this is what I have gained safe so far with police and IDVA helping to keep us so. I smile every time I get in my own bed and it is safe my kids are safe and rebuilding. No one is hurting us. The fog is clearing I went swimming in a river on my big birthday – because I could. I believe in me not his lies and manipulation. I don’t regret leaving I should had done it earlier. PS only you can know what to do believe in yourself. We are all braver than we know – baby steps

    • #112008

      @lottieblue @dilly @wiseafter

      Much resonates with me. My husband wants to be the parent and crush/cancel me out. This comes in the form of being a self appointed ‘corrector’ and commenting on everything I do. Long car journeys fill me and my son (whom he really bullies) with fear as he drives and is 100% in charge. His music on loud. Won’t stop. Lots of rules about water bottles etc

      He has created this persona for me. A woman that’s a bit stupid and gets things wrong or breaks them. If we are with anyone else he sides with them to isolate me and make me look stupid. He’s a good cook and on holiday (where we are now) this is his opportunity to get lots of praise.

      He’s life and soul of the party and I spend time alone. He’s always battled me for the kids and because he refuses to work, he’s been head of the Ministry for fun. Even now saying that my natural Instinct is to repeat his words. That I should not deny the children fun because I’m working.

      Of course I don’t but rare is the tone we can have fun together. I creep around and hardly speak.

      I’m partly deaf and that also isolated me. My husband is always monitoring me and listening in and if I’m having a quiet chat with either child he creeps up and suddenly appears and starts screaming about what I’ve said. Probably something along the lines of not upsetting him.

      So when you describe the pounding heart thing. That’s me every day. I can’t relax. I’m on red alert. For him bullying a child or losing his s**t over something very small.

      It’s no way to live.

      I have spent so much time with him

    • #121512

      Hi we have been together for (detail removed by moderator) decades.
      The abuse started early but i didnt know what it was.
      His mother would be nasty to me, i cant put it on here.
      From a different background, he never defended me and it has carried it on.
      I had the letting agent shouting down the phone at me,he said to leave it.
      Now still dealing with it. No more

      • #121526

        Hi @sweet4

        Well, you can see from the number of people who have engaged in this thread that it’s not uncommon to be with your abuser for a long time. And I think what we feel when we suddenly realise what’s been going on is a mixture of shock and despair. And maybe we feel a bit of shame too, which we shouldn’t.

        I started this thread, and I left my marriage (detail removed by moderator) months later. I couldn’t have done it without the wonderful women on this forum, and specifically without their responses to this thread. Get as much support as you can around you – friends, family, your GP, Women’s Aid, a lawyer. Read and understand. If you want to get away, you can and you will. We are all here, willing you on – you are worth more and now is the time to do what’s right for you.

        Keep coming back xx

    • #121545

      Thank you so much that just made me cry.
      Im living in my bedroom, im trying to get them out of this house.
      I have no friends or family.

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