10th March 2021 at 10:40 pm #123008
I am newish here and have been reading what people have been experiencing.
I was shocked that my situation was emotionally abusive. I have been in the relationship most of my life and thought it was normal.
I have told my husband after the last cycle that I need to leave – he asked that we use relate to help and is currently pulling out all the stops to keep me.
I am worried that he will white wash everything as he does this so superbly well and people believe him. I am fortunate I that this time my sister has helped me and she has said that my voice will be heard during the sessions.
How has any one dealt with this?
Many thanks xx
10th March 2021 at 11:34 pm #123010HawthornParticipant
That’s so great you have your sister to support you, lean on her. Recognizing we are living in abuse is terrible shock. You are very brave to be facing it. Do you have support from womens aid? Please reach out to them if not, you need and deserve support.
Womens aid do not recommend you attend couples counselling with an abuser. As you have identified your abuser is expert at manipulating people and taking them in, a therapist is often no different. Even couples counsellors have often very limited experience of the dynamics of abuse, and couples counselling focuses on both parties playing an equal role in the dysfunction. When your relationship is abusive, rather than dysfunctional, there is no equal share of the blame. There is only perpetrator and victim.
Could you suggest you both attend individual counselling instead if he’s very stuck on the counselling idea? Ideally for you a counsellor experienced in domestic abuse. If you haven’t read it Why Does He Do That by Lundy Bancroft is available to read for free online. He works with abusers and also states they should not attend couples counselling with their partners, and explains why better than I could.
Good luck and keep reaching out here.xx
11th March 2021 at 8:00 am #123020
Many thanks for this, the feeling in the pit of my stomach says no, I have lived for so long with subtle and not so subtle emotional abuse that often I think it must be me.
He is clever at taking away any blame from himself and normalising behaviour.
I feel worthless and of no use to anyone, I am unable to discuss things with him as he says I’m being ridiculous- I’m being sensitive and I must man up.
I am so shocked by what it is. People love him and say how wonderful he is. He is very able and very calculating.
We are sleeping in separate rooms now and doing this has allowed me not to be “living under a veil’ quite so much.
I was like an automaton getting up, doing the housework, cooking, gardening, I work for him too and this is menial amd lonely. All in a place with no one else around and the isolation is hard.
I have leaned on my sister amd now he has decided to talk to her husband as well!
I will get in touch with women’s aid and let my gp know as well.
I feel like he is pulling out every possible stop amd life will be ok for a while. I know it won’t and it gets more abusive each time – this time it was sexual and it’s never been that before.
Thank you x*x
11th March 2021 at 8:57 am #123022HawthornParticipant
That’s good you can identify that your gut is telling you counselling is a bad idea. Trust that feeling, it’s your intuition and it is correct. Abuse cuts us off from out intuitive selves so that’s a really positive sign that you can tune in to it.
We survive in the abuse by minimizing it and dissociating from what’s happening. The confusion about what’s happening is totally normal. Reaching out here and educating yourself about abuse (theres lots of great books and online resources) will help you to get clear of the fog. Journaling is really helpful too.
You are anything but worthless. You are a kind and strong woman, that is why you have survived the abuse for so long; you have had the kindness to forgive and to put another’s needs above your own, and the strength to endure. But life is to be enjoyed, not endured. You need to direct that kindness and strength towards yourself now, he has taken enough from you.
Discussing the abuse with an abuser is, as you have found, pointless. He will not accept any responsibility and will twist things back on you every time. These men are very expert at putting a mask on for the outside world, you know the real him. What is behind the mask. Try not to let others perceptions cloud your lived experience and reality.
Keeping you busy with housework, gardening, work etc is another abuse tactic. It is much easier to abuse and manipulate someone who is exhausted.
Be very careful with what you tell your sister/ what your sister is telling her husband about you. Your abuser will be pumping her husband for info about you and what you’re thinking/planning.
You are correct that yes, sadly abuse always gets worse. I’m so sorry you have experienced sexual abuse too. You are not alone, I also experienced sexual abuse in my relationship as have many more women on here. You could also reach out to the lovely ladies at Rape Crisis if you felt up to it. It’s all a lot to process so be very gentle with yourself.
You are not alone. Sending a big hug xx
11th March 2021 at 5:07 pm #123038
Thank you so much for this.
This afternoon I have emailed my local branch of women’s aid- I think these are unprecedented times and the line was engaged for a long time.
I am so cross with my husband for talking to my brother in law – I have no safe place to discuss this now. My brother in law is very well meaning
I can say to my sister not to pass information along. I used to write things down but last time he found it.
I feel lost and out of balance.
My son says I need to take control and start thinking of myself. This is true but so hard in the situation.
I will continue reading and gaining information.
Many many thanks
11th March 2021 at 5:35 pm #123040maddogParticipant
Well done for reaching out, Nellie. It’s such a shocking and appalling revelation to recognise abuse. The WA helpline is always busy. They are very good at calling back. Can you find a way of keeping a diary of some description. It may help to get a cheap pay as you go burner phone.
I went to Relate for many years with my ex. I didn’t understand that I was in an abusive relationship, although I remember feeling that we were going round and round in circles. Ultimately it was a waste of time. They say that they understand domestic abuse. In my experience, they don’t. You may find the counsellor and your partner ganging up on you. The counsellor may blame you and even gaslight you.
You may well need help of your own. Your local WA may be able to help you with that. Also the Domestic Abuse team on 101 can be a really useful resource.
Abuse is such an awful thing to recognise in a relationship. It’s not your fault, you’re not alone, and there are masses of people and organisations to support you through this.
11th March 2021 at 10:54 pm #123057
Yes – I recognise the circles. I recognise other women’s stories as my own. Thank you Maddog and Hawthorn for reminding me I Am not alone.
Small steps eventually lead somewhere. I am doing that – hugs to you both x*x
14th March 2021 at 4:48 am #123197CamelParticipant
I just wanted to add my experience of couples counselling. It was actually something I insisted on quite early into the relationship. I hoped we could get him to realise his controlling jealousy had no foundation and he could trust me. At the time I believed him when he said he’d been damaged by his cheating ex wife.
We went to the first session which was meant to see what sort of counselling would benefit us. It didn’t feel that way. In no time at all he had the female counsellor on his side. I spent most of the hour defending myself against his baseless attacks. She told me what I’d done wrong in the past and what I should do from then on. At no point did she quiz him on his behaviour, thoughts or experiences.
Despite the rousing support my ex had from the counsellor he refused further sessions. It made him ‘feel bad’ raking up all the things I’d ‘done wrong’. Though he wasted no time in telling me he was in the right, it was all my fault.
My advice? Don’t engage in any kind of counselling. You are not obliged to ‘make it work’ and I wonder why you feel you must go along with it? Your sister may say you will ‘be heard’ but what does she mean? She won’t be there with you, will she?
People do mean well, for sure. But you really need support from people who won’t be pressured into taking sides. And who can advise you of your rights under the law.
14th March 2021 at 7:48 pm #123244Eve1Participant
So sorry you’re experiencing this. I went several times to relate with my abusive husband. The last time was a last ditch attempt as I wanted to leave, was just beginning to find out that this was an abusive relationship but couldn’t quite believe this was happening to me and was finding the thought of leaving terrifying. I can echo the above and say please do not go. As I was beginning to feel strong enough to voice an opnion my husband was furious that I did this in the sessions and afterwards would trap me in a room for hours and rant and harangue me until I gave in to keep the peace again. It was a nightmare. They may be more aware now but at that time I don’t think relate really had that much awareness of domestic abuse and to be honest they are looking at ways to help you stay together. It won’t help and could be very damaging and even dangerous for you. Get your support from Women’s Aid and stay safe.
15th March 2021 at 8:15 pm #123292ISOPeaceParticipant
My experience with Relate was good in the sense that the counsellor did recognise the abuse. But he asked me to have a private session where he explained that counselling would be pointless because my then boyfriend blamed me for everything. For counselling to work you need:
Both parties to take responsibility – 2 problems here. The abuser won’t take responsibility and the abusee should not take responsibility for the abuse so there’s no point being there.
Both parties feel free to talk honestly – if you are honest about how you feel your abuser will most likely use it against you. You will probably also suffer more abuse as punishment for describing abuse or not justifying why it happened.
Both parties are committed to working as a team and supporting each other- the abuser just wants to continue to manipulate you and has no interest in creating a healthy relationship.
There’s probably other things you need for counselling to work as well but just the things above are enough.
I’m sure your sister is trying to help. But even if your voice is heard (and it may not be), it is very unlikely that the counsellor will help your husband see that he’s being abusive and help him want to change. If your voice being heard is important for you you’d be better having counselling on your own. Xxxx
17th March 2021 at 10:05 pm #123439
I am grateful for all of you writing and sharing your experience . Tonight is a bad night, we all know too well what that feels like. So I came here again and I feel not so alone.
ISOpeace I am finding that my husband is blaming me – I am too angry to talk with at the moment and too emotionally charged. I haven’t raised my voice or acted angrily from experience. He has no acceptance of what he has done.
Eve1 you are absolutely right – asserting my rights is not acceptable at all and he had no acknowledgment of the hurt he has caused me.
Camel, I think that my sister doesn’t understand the implications of abuse, she has heard and trusted me and I think she feels a counsellor will do the same. Since all of this happened I have been reading all I can and have just understood the dynamics of abuse and the abuser. I am reeling from it.
I have spoken to women’s aid too and now know that it very unlikely our marriage will continue. I am finding ways of not doing the counselling as I now realise it won’t do any good for the reasons you have all said. But I need a good reason not to do it and just coming out with a bald statement saying you are an abuser would send him over the edge!
I am trying to get help for myself and have talked to my gp as well and she has been helpful.
I am very slowly making progress and I can’t think back but it is difficult to keep moving forward when for such a long time I have been in this situation of no life and no movement and being told what is best for me.
Many thanks to you all x*x
19th March 2021 at 12:40 pm #123534SausagesParticipant
My experience of counselling was similar although it seems such a long time ago, my perfect husband had a personality change on our honeymoon and we ended up in counselling. He just wouldn’t engage at all, it ended up being a massive mistake on my part because it was all about me, he found out loads off deeply emotional stuff that he then used against me years later.
It’s taken (removed by moderator) months for me to feel like my sister even vaguely understands what I’ve been through but we’re getting there. She watched the 1944 film gaslight last week and text me saying she recognised a lot of what my husband had done so this made me feel like she’s coming round. This was just one of his many tactics.
You’re so brave Nellie, it’s really hard realising that your relationship just it’s normal and they way you are being treated isn’t right. The practicalities of leaving can be even harder, you can do this x*x
25th March 2021 at 2:35 pm #123790
I am so sorry that you have gone through this as well.
Gaslighting is so underhand and when it’s done all the time you feel in a parallel universe.
I am so sad that he is making me the villain; our sons are edging towards looking out for him and I know that eventually they will realise it is hard in the meantime.
I am feeling overwhelmed and sometimes dissociated, like I’m wandering through a mist.
I have now told a friend and I feel like the villain again as she can’t believe some of the things I have told her.
I feel like I’m just hanging on. Some days are good days some are bad.
I need to hear how some of you have left and how do you take the first steps at all?
I have been with him all my life
3rd April 2021 at 4:03 pm #124234CamelParticipant
How are you?
Has your husband made any steps towards organising counselling? Or does he only bring it up when you say you want to divorce?
It’s still early days for you. You’re only just realising he’s an abuser. It’s a lot to take in. There’s the temptation to seek validation from others. When you reveal things to your sister and your friend you’re hoping they’ll understand, be horrified, back you up. Unfortunately, when they don’t really get it, you start to doubt yourself.
You ask about first steps. It’s different for everyone. Bottom line is, you want a divorce and he doesn’t. So it’ll be up to you to start proceedings. Start with a confidential consultation with a solicitor. Just to find out your rights – you don’t need to go ahead with anything until you’re ready.
3rd April 2021 at 6:27 pm #124237EggshellsParticipant
I’m so sorry to hear your story. You have quite a journey ahead of you now. Once you understand your relationship as abusive, everything changes – except for the abuse. That continues unfortunately.
Please don’t even consider couples counselling. I did that before I understood that my ex was abusive. It really won’t help. They have no intention of changing a thing and in the rare occasions that you get to say anything about how you feel, he will take it all in, store it away and use it as ammunition against you.
Please walk through thus journey at your own pace. Try and read a little if you can. I found “Living with the Dominator” a real eye opener.
The forum walks along with you all the way. xx
4th April 2021 at 12:21 pm #124271DarcyParticipant
Hi beautiful Angel … Nellie,
I can see that you have been given some great advice already from the ladies above.
I just wanted to share my experience of going to relate.
I went with my abusive ex partner and although the counsellors we saw were very nice they showed no knowledge that they knew what was going on and that I was in an abusive relationship. And of course with my partner in the session with me I still had to act as the ”good girl” and not give anything away, so I couldn’t speak my truth.
What I would say about it though is that it maybe made me realise that the situation I was in was serious and did need dealing with, just that this was not the route to go down to do it.
I know that may not be much help to your situation (sorry) however what I am trying to say is that looking back there is a lesson in everything, in my case it was a respite to go there with him and get some head space, also it smoothed things over for short periods when he was nice so I could get my own thoughts together.
Whatever you decide, I’m sending you continued love and support
4th April 2021 at 11:09 pm #124304
Hello to you all, I am so pleased to have all your thoughts, experience and help.
I have had a relate session on my own as my husband set up the first session for himself. That was a surprise and in retrospect good.
I told relate that I had spoken to women’s aid and that the relationship is abusive and that I had spoken with a support worker and she had completed a risk assessment. Relate said the best thing was for me to carry on with my own counselling that I have found myself. If at some point I feel we can go to relate then we can do this. My own counselling has been very helpful amd this has given me headspace.
The one thing relate said was to ask my husband how he intended to rebuild trust and to reflect on what a healthy relationship is.
I have asked him to do this and we are going to talk about it in a day or two.
I am doubtful about the outcome and I said to him words don’t count actions do. He has accepted responsibility for a lot of his behaviour.
He has already suggested that the sexual abuse was an imagined event due to my poor mental health! I did come straight back and say that my mental health is not in question. He was taken aback by this.
I am biding time and I have alerted my GP to the situation last week as (detail removed by Moderator) years ago I was put on the ‘at risk’ register by a surgeon when my (detail removed by Moderator) by my husband in an accident. I do believe it was an unfortunate accident. I was told if ever I had any concerns to contact a doctor.
I feel safe that a lot of people now know about the situation.
It is indeed a long and hard journey and I am regaining my sense of who I am slowly.
I am more certain about the impact of whats happened and that I have been in a codependent relationship that has been coercive.
Thank you all for your continued input it has been so very much needed and appreciated x*x
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