2nd November 2023 at 9:04 pm #162834
Hi, I am worried that I am being psychologically abused and gaslit, but I have had family members and friends say things like ‘it will all be ok in the end’ and ‘just ignore him’ and I am struggling to admit that it is probably abusive, so I need some straight answers from someone! My husband of many years is a prominent figure in our community, well liked, does lots of social media for our business that we own together. We have children who are early and late teens, one with neurodiversity recently diagnosed and struggling in school, often not going in.
Over the years I have had post natal depression and been on medication for this more than once. We have had premature deaths in our extended family that have caused us stress and moved a lot for both his and my work.
He has always been well liked by my family and my remaining parent thinks the sun shines out of him.
Historically, we have had real incidents that stick in my mind that I am ashamed of and know were unhealthy and wrong. Once, years ago, I forgot to take my door key on a family day out and I was last out the door. When we returned in the dark and ready for tea I realised I did not have my key. My husband was so cross he stopped speaking to me in that moment, and all evening, and stood arms crossed waiting for me to sort the problem. In the end he watched me give myself concussion breaking down the door. I took the kids in, made tea, put them to bed, went to a neighbour’s house and got someone to come to the house and help my husband fix the back door so we could go to bed. He kept saying we didn’t need a spare key because I should have remembered my key – I had said we needed to get one before and he said we shouldn’t. I was so cross with his behaviour, I said it was wrong. I said he needed to apologise to me in front of the girls before bedtime the next day as it was wrong to treat me like that and if he wouldn’t he would have to move out. He did not apologise, and late the following evening he came downstairs really sad saying he’d have to sleep in the car and was so pathetic I let him stay. I told my Mum and mother-in-law about this and they both brushed it aside saying it would be ok, never mind. just ignore it. A while later in an argument I got into the car and said I am going to leave now and he threatened me with saying he would gain custody of the kids as I was on anti-depressants if I drove away he would not let me back into the house. This was in an argument and I am sure I also said some crazy things too but I can’t remember!
There were other more subtle things, him disliking certain friends of mine, and not wanting me to have them round, him being funny about food I’d cooked, being unfairly cross with the kids for minor incidents. Double standards when he’d say the eldest couldn’t have a particular meal when we were out and she was still a child and needed a child’s meal and then ordering himself something massive and loads of sides.
We muddled along in the end and moved a lot of years ago to be nearer to his brother and his family as he wanted to see them more. That’s when I gave up a successful career to move and buy a business in a sector he worked in with him. I did it purely to make him happy, I told him this, he knew this was a move to improve his life no end and hopefully make my life better in the meantime.
It turned out that he didn’t see his brother much once we’d moved, and their family didn’t help me with our kids. I worked all hours and did the school run around them. He rarely took time off, each year I would take the kids away for a summer holiday. the signal was always bad, and we rarely spoke to him while we were away, sometimes for a week but not any longer. He used to be livid when we got back that we hadn’t spoken to him and he hadn’t spoken to the kids. He used to complain he was tired looking after the house and business while I was away having fun with the kids. I felt like a single parent on holiday and realised later it was also a sense of relief to get away from him, how sad.
Business wise he did all the accounts and use to pay us the minimum wage, even when the business was doing well saying the accountant said it was better for us to do this. This meant no matter how hard we earned, we were still bringing home pennies. He complained, and still does, that no-one works as hard or as much as him, and wore his exhaustedness with some sort of pride.
More recently he became really angry and controlling during covid and after raising a hand to us I asked him to leave, feigning that it was best for us all for safety for the business as he was really paranoid that one of us would bring covid home and affect the business. The results were catastrophic and he left and then had a break down. He use to then say he had a break down because I made him leave. My family told me I was wrong to not help him as he had mental health problems, he ended up looking like the victim. I got some help for the kids at school and got support from the Dr. Eventually he moved back in after 4 months away from the family home. He had enrolled on the perpetrator course and done it online. He had counselling and medications for his anxiety.
Fast forward and we have tried counselling both together and on our own with some success to start with but then further down the line, he said he was accused of being coercive and controlling and this was untrue and he could not be sorry for those things for the rest of his life. I then had a hard time because having said ‘yes I have been coercive and controlling for a long time and I am doing something about it’, he started saying ‘both people are to blame for problems in a relationship, you shouldn’t have said that I was coercive and controlling and I could have gone to prison for those things and now the trust in our relationship has gone’. He started saying I needed to also take some responsibility to make our relationship better.
I decided I didn’t love him any more and could see that he was going to constantly be saying I had to work at it not just him. So I said I wanted us to separate for good. This has happened, not that long ago. My eldest late teen kid has gone to live mostly with him in a house locally. My other kids are with me, which was our choice and agreed in the parenting plan we did online. It seemed ok. I am managing, having had to reduce my hours to cater for my youngest’s special needs I am making ends meet but we are selling the family home which I continue to live in at the moment.
The problem now is I am unsure if he was abusive, is this stuff abusive? I am worried as I think it is, and now my eldest has almost replaced me in terms of who carries the brunt of his moods and double standard behaviour. She recently went out with a friend of mine for the day, and that friend has told me today that she is worried about some of her views…. ‘Poor old Dad will have nothing when Mum sells the house’ (not true, we are splitting the money 50/50 but I am planning on buying a house for me and the kids with my money and he is staying in a rental without enough bedrooms for them all to stay over), ‘Dad works all hours, Mum’s lucky to be part-time’ (I had to reduce my hours to do childcare), ‘Mum’s lucky to get time to herself as she works part time and Dad never had time to himself (Dad has 3 nights a week with NO CHILDREN and I have kids with me all the time, I have one extra day off a week and do the food shopping and cleaning etc, but yes I might get coffee now and then!).
I also arrived to collect her today and was stood behind the door waiting for her to come in the porch and he walked in and I was there unexpectedly. He said ‘Caught you!’ in a jokey way, but I was in no mood for jokes and just said ‘what, caught me picking up kid to take out to park?’ and he said, let’s try that again shall we? and closed the door to me and came in and said it again and followed it up telling me I should be using less of the aggressive tones and I was in his house now…. This seemed controlling, he didn’t like my response so he tried again and made out it was my fault??
My family think leaving him was a mistake and I will be unhappy, alone and broke. I thought it was going ok, but I am worried about my eldest and actually all of us…help!
2nd November 2023 at 10:49 pm #162843BananaboatParticipant
Firstly gosh you’ve been through a lot. Secondly, I’d say yes you’ve most likely experienced & continue to experience abuse – there’s so many red flags and common examples in your post to those many of us here have seen. If you haven’t read it, then I found Lundy Bancroft’s book ‘why does he do that’ (can get free pdf versions or buy a copy online) really eye opening and validating. This forum taught me not to worry about what others think about your relationship or break up, because no one knows what you’ve been through. These men don’t show that side of themselves publicly, they will always be in the victim and simply if you’ve not experienced abuse you just can’t understand what it’s like or why we stay. Hope this helps x
3rd November 2023 at 6:51 pm #162870
Bananasboat thank you. Feels validating to have someone say yes there are red flags. In fact I bought the book as saw it recommended a lot on these forums and it prompted me to look deeper and post here for support, so now I feel like I’ve made the first step, hooray! Yes it is helpful to hear words like that, that people can never know how it is for you unless they have experienced it. I think that’s why it feels so lonely so none of my friends so far have the same experiences. Thank you.
3rd November 2023 at 7:50 am #162848
You could have been writing about my husband. And I 2nd the book. I found the free online PDF and it was absolutely eye-opening.
3rd November 2023 at 6:54 pm #162871
Browneyedmum thank you! I got the book and I’ve not read it all, but it prompted me to speak on this thread to ask for help. It’s hard isn’t it? It feels weird as I never thought of myself as abused… but now having read bits of the book and people on here posting and support I am seeing it through other eyes.
4th November 2023 at 11:10 am #162884
For me, it was recognising how entitled he felt for a lot of his coercion.
– Of course it was me causing all of the problems! (Nope, my needs weren’t being met)
– Of course it was me ‘making him’ act those ways! (Nope, he gets to choose how he acts and reacts)
And yes, my husband did threaten to take the kids off of me because I have drinking issues. He tried to scare me there, gaslight me there… however, I’m enrolled into a program around the drinking and our children prefer me. I did let our local domestic abuse services know and they are coordinating and supporting me there, since they recognise that I’ve had to withstand a lot of abuse and neglect through out some very trying circumstances. So while he did try to scare me with that, our kids aren’t going to be taken off of me because I am pursuing getting better. And no one in social services will take children off of a mother who is doing her best under considerable circumstances.
Much like you, I used to work at my husband’s business but had to leave work due to (detail removed by moderator). After that, my husband’s business (detail removed by moderator)… and he did all that without my input.
On top of which, after a huge gap in my career, I did manage to get back into the industry I love working in, completely independent of him.
Much like you, my husband has tried to manipulate the kids into thinking that I’m the bad guy in wanting to leave and poor him, he’s so worried about all of the things he has to deal with now.
He comes off as confident because he is so entitled. I’m so glad for Lundy’s book and perspective.
4th November 2023 at 7:50 pm #162899
Yes browneyedmum, entitled is right. He often told me I was being unreasonable. He has some crazy ideas and double standards. We still own the business but I’m focusing on getting the house we own sold first so I can leave it as I need to get somewhere new and my own. Then I’ll tackle the business! He said he’s had it valued and it’s worth hardly anything, but I think I’ll get that in writing from someone not just his word as he was going to buy me out.
Thank you for sharing your story, I’m nervous that he will try and turn people/children against me and feel nervous telling someone like social services but I’m strengthened by your story that I must tell people because I’m so worried now about my eldest so I’m going to find some services to help us. I am battling now with whether to tell my parent and ask for support, but they don’t live nearby and like I said think my husband is amazing.
5th November 2023 at 6:48 am #162918
Yes get in your own valuator. If you phone around, some estate agents are sensitive to domestic abuse situations and can be very discreet. Sometimes they’ll even value the house for free, but either way getting your own valuator is worth the fee.
My husband tried to pull the same thing with me, so getting my own valuator in is on my to-do list as well as a solicitor. I’ve caught my husband in so many lies about his finances and about my share in the house that I simply cannot trust anything he says.
I think you’ll find social services surprisingly helpful. I’ve heard horror stories, but that’s not been my experience. At worst, we’ve been delegated over to a team, so each time a social worker visits it may not be the same social worker as before. But no, it takes a lot to take children from their mother and they’ll be very reluctant to do so, no matter what your husband says.
I think we’re all here to support you, no matter if you phone your parent or not. Having that emotional support, if nothing else, would be really helpful to you and to the children. Certainly if the children can verify things that they have seen or heard might be helpful. There’s every possibility that your parent already has a sneaky suspicion. But with all things, do that on your time, your terms, your comfort level.
And big hugs xx.
5th November 2023 at 9:24 pm #162946ChasingthelightParticipant
I was saddened to read what you have been through, and I definitely recognise in your stories abusive behaviour I have experienced myself and when your husband is a figure of authority or importance it is especially hard. Everyone will back him up and make excuses for him but it is abusive. The forgotten key story is so similar to what happened to me once and the wages story the same. We read these stories and it’s like we are reading our own. I hope you get help moving forward and knowing you are not alone.
19th November 2023 at 8:05 pm #163363
Thanks chasingthelight, it means a lot to have people like you and everyone here validate what we’re saying. I came back to my post to re-read it, and gosh it sounds like terrible stuff happened reading it back. Yes I’m struggling with him being an authority figure still, but I’m helped knowing it’s not just me, and I am not alone. I’m getting help too. Thank you
19th November 2023 at 8:39 pm #163367swanlakeParticipant
That does sound abusive to me. It’s frustrating when people say things like ‘we’ve all got an ex like that’ and minimise others’ experience. Lots of people are being abused without knowing it.
It’s apparently common to have a different public persona and to use the children, feeding them a sob story.
My abuser has committed a serious crime, tried to blame me for it, (detail removed by moderator), got me to work for free and has run up (detail removed by moderator) debts in joint names.
I haven’t told people other than professionals and close friends what the crime is and of course they still have a prominent place on (detail removed by moderator) etc whilst I no longer go into the town centre to avoid them. And they are still a danger to people as they have no remorse.
I’m going to look for the free PDF book. I also found a book called Living With The Dominator helpful. It’s still useful to read for support and validation.
Thank you for sharing your experience too.
20th November 2023 at 1:10 am #163375CamelParticipant
Have you started divorce proceedings yet? Getting the court to make a financial order is the best way to ensure that you get your fair share of assets. This includes the house, the shared business, pensions (state and private), savings (and debts) and child maintenance payments. It will cost you more in the short term but it’s the only way forward when you don’t have visibility of the finances. You should mention things like the minimum wage you were paid from the business. Your finances are complex and I believe it would be a mistake not to involve professionals. I think you need someone to look at the family finances in their entirety, to make sure you get your share but also to ensure you’re not left liable for loans or debts from the business.
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