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Melinoe

I....am the abuser?

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Melinoe

This is a heck of a first post....

So, my partner says my behaviour is abusive. But my therapist thinks my partner is actually the abuser, not me. I am really mixed up and feel pretty stuck about what the best course of action is. I'd appreciate some outside insight.

Here's the story:

I am in a long distance relationship. I have long visits (a few weeks at a time) every couple of months. Our goal was for me to immigrate to his country so we can eventually marry. We've been together for almost a year and a half. Until this October, the relationship was great. We were both very happy. I come from an abusive background (victim of sexual, physical, verbal, and emotional abuse), so I do struggle with knowing what is healthy behaviour in a relationship, and this is my first serious relationship, too. I admit that I have a very abusive inner monologue that I fight against constantly. I sometimes have urges to be abusive because some part of me sees domination as "winning" in relationships, but I thought I did a good job not acting on those urges. I have been in regular therapy for the past 6 years and I made a lot of progress with learning to love and trust myself - I know I am not perfect, and will sometimes fall back on listening to that old abusive voice in my head. But I keep trying. It's like learning a new language and requires constant practice.

In October, I quit my job so that I could really give this relationship a chance. I am living off my savings at home with my family again so that I can spent more time with my partner. 

For the past 4 months since I quit my job, my BF and I have been getting into more arguments. I have found myself feeling...not happy. And often nervous to speak my thoughts. My BF has told me that I have exhibited these signs of abuse: 

- Withholding (getting quiet)

- Sarcasm and hurtful jokes (he thinks I laugh at him)

- Countering (where I challenge his opinions and feelings as though they are wrong)

- Lack of empathy and understanding (for his feelings)

- Cycle of abuse (I say I'm so sorry and will never do it again, but I do. I can't change.)

When he first told me my actions were abusive, I was devastated (and I still am). They say abuse is a choice, but if I am being abusive - I don't even realize when I'm choosing it!! I never think "aha, I know how to hurt him" or say/do things just to be cruel.  I grew up in a very violent and abusive environment, but I have devoted nearly my entire adult life to to healing those wounds and ending the cycle of abuse I learned from my family. I went to therapy, made sure my own mental illness was controlled with medication, and attended support groups and workshops. To be told I failed and that I am the abuser I always feared I would become...well, I feel incredibly awful. 

When he said he felt abused, I wanted to end the relationship. Not as a manipulation, but because I didn't think I was a healthy partner or influence, if I made him feel that way. I told him that I still had more work to do on myself. But he said that would be walking out on him. 

So we are still together, but I have not been very happy for the past few months. I am so horrified that I don't even realize when I'm being abusive, so I watch what I say very carefully. I try to always make sure I am kind, understanding, earnest (not sarcastic any more), and that I don't challenge everything he says. I have huge amounts of self doubt now, something that I worked so hard to heal previously. 

My therapist says my boyfriend is actually the abuser, because I exhibit the following signs of being in a verbally abusive relationship:

- self doubt over whether my choices will upset my partner (what I eat, my hobbies, my appearance, what I find funny)

- isolating myself so I can focus more energy on making sure my partner feels that I'm "there for them", and my partner encourages me to keep the relationship problems "private" and not discuss them with friends, family, or therapists.

- walking on egg shells and hesitant to bring up certain topics, my thoughts and feelings in case they upset my partner

- feeling demoralized because my partner points out my flaws and weaknesses 

- feeling trapped in the relationship because my partner says I am the only good thing in his world, that nobody could ever love me the way he does, that he loves me unconditionally (without boundaries) and expects me to do the same, and that leaving him is abandonment.

- turning issues around to be about his feelings and how they impact him or reflect upon him

 

I'm not sure what to believe. Maybe it is a combination? That I do follow abusive patterns I learned growing up, and they are just coming out now because this is my first real relationship? And maybe he has some issues too, and together our issues just equal trouble? I have asked my partner to go to couples therapy together, and he is thinking about it. He says if I can find a good therapist, he will come along.

I hope there is hope for me. I know it might take me my whole life to to overcome my abusive behaviour. I am not sure if I should end my relationship  and focus on changing my behaviour, or if ending the relationship counts as more abuse and manipulation? I feel very stuck and confused. I do not think anyone should be in a relationship where they feel abused - even if the abuser happens to be me. 

Thank you for reading. I hope I will be welcome here as someone who does sincerely want to do better and change   :(

 

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Bennu

He says you are abusive but he doesn't want to end the relationship because that would be you abandoning him. I think that pretty much shows that you are not abusive. He is and he wants to take advantage of you and get his way. He is trying to control your behavior to get his way even more. That you would quit your job to devote more time to him is very telling. Being able to support yourself financially is very important. One thing that abusers do is try to make you dependent on them so that you won't be able to leave them. That's a sure way. They want someone to serve their needs and they think that is a good way to achieve that. They manipulate and gaslight. Funny thing with mine is that if he had only been a decent guy I would have done it voluntarily. All that manipulation and lying is what made me leave. Please listen to your therapist. You sound like you are making good progress getting over the abuse. You abuser just sees it as good victim material. I remember telling my abuser things about my past looking for understanding compassion. Now I realize that he filed it away in his mind to use to manipulate later.

Welcome to the forum. Read posts here and you will see strangely family things everywhere. 

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hoping

I agree with Bennu. She explained it well. I grew up with a emotional and verbal dad. When I married an abuser I also became what I call a part time abuser. What I mean is that I wasn't going to let my husband get by with what he was doing to me. I threw a butter knife close to him to scare him, I ran into his car with my car. I regret these actions now and realize that I was being abusive too. I wanted to scare him into treating me better and show my anger at his actions when I threw the knife. I was angry and hurt when I ran into his car with mine. He acted like he loved that car more than me and he had been treating me bad, so I wanted to hurt him, by hitting his car. This was a lot of years ago. Just because you were abusive before doesn't mean that you are now. It sounds like to me that you had the insight, that a lot of abusers don't to know that you were being abusive. You have worked on yourself and are still concerned about your behavior, this shows you have empathy, a good measure of it. Most abusers don't have that much empathy. I'm with Bennu, I think he knows your past and is using it to manipulate you. Since I grew up in an abusive family, I have also had a difficult time knowing what is normal and acceptable in a relationship. I am still asking these questions, and was worried I was also being abusive, as my husband said after I told him he was being abusive. He likes to call it being mean instead of me being abusive. By talking to the people on here I learned that I have been abusive at times, but I am not an abuser. Please keep posting and try to read, Why Does He Do That? By Lundy Bancroft. It is a good book to help you understand abusers better. Also, when I was younger and acting abusive, I cared about people but did not want anyone abusing me or getting by with it. I wanted love from others, not only to control them.

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lizzibethak

What Hoping and Bennu said.............and one more thing...........ask your current counselor what they think of couples counseling with this person..........that answer will be very revealing.  

So glad you found us in your time of need........we're here to listen and share and support.

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Melinoe

Thank you for the kind responses....I am both relieved to know I'm not as abusive as I feared, but also upset that this is all happening.

I thought my boyfriend and I had such a healthy relationship with good communication before, and I was so proud of that. Proud that I was able to find and keep a healthy relationship despite being a past victim of abuse. But things seem to have changed so much and I don't understand why or how.

I feel like I can't go even a day without getting upset or upsetting him and having another dumb fight...and I am so confused because I usually don't even know why we are fighting. A couple of times I have said to him "I apologise for hurting your feelings, but I am still not sure what I did wrong" because it seemed to me we were just having a normal conversation where I was sharing my feelings, observations, and thoughts - and these things seemed to upset him. Perhaps that's why he thinks I am abusive - I don't seem to think the same way as he does. So he says that my apologies are not sincere. And when it happens again (because I never know when I'm being abusive) he says I am doing it again, laughing at him or jumping all over him like he's a bad guy. I've never before felt so much like I can never say the right thing or express myself correctly. But I used to feel very heard and understood by him. How can things change like that??

I know he is struggling with untreated depression and anxiety. He uses alcohol to make himself feel better and has said that he knows he needs to talk to his doctor to find some other way of dealing with it. But he seems to need me there to do it, he feels very alone and gets overwhelmed with the steps he needs to take, and says things like it doesn't matter anyway, he's a bad person who deserves to feel bad; typical depression stuff. It's impossible for me though, because I am in another country. I have looked up how to datre someone with depression, and to me it almost reads as instructions on how to accept abuse. "Don't take things personally, they are just hurting. Understand that they do take everything personally and will twist your good intentioned words into an attack on themselves. Show him that he deserves love and that his inner unworthy thoughts are not true. Don't tell him that he could choose to behave differently. He will seem like a "different person" who behaves obstinately - be patient and understand this is not the true man you are dating. Don't try to fix him". But it also says "don't excuse the behaviour, and it's ok to leave to protect yourself". ???????????????????????

From my own personal experience I know how hard it is to take those steps to seek help. So I try to be supportive and encouraging, but I also know I can't do it for him.

I simply do not know how to balance supporting someone with depression and protecting myself from abuse :( 

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Quaddie

Welcome Melinoe.

There is a great deal in your posts I would like to respond to,  but unfortunately can't right now because I'm on my mobile.  Hopefully I'll remember my train of thought when I can get to a keyboard;).

First off, I too was struck by the implication from him that if you left him,  it would be "abandonment. " That's straight up manipulative.  You have every right to leave a relationship for any reason you choose. That is a guilt trip he is laying on you.

See, abuse is about control and manipulation.  Abuse can be carried out with "kind," soft tones and subtlety....it's not just about anger. The key to identifying abuse is in identifying the control and manipulation. 

The fact that you are so deeply questioning yourself leads me to believe that you are not "the abuser. " Abusers typically do not look into themselves or try to change. They don't care if they cause pain. They only care about being in control....over you.  Using you and manipulating you into their little "thing. "

It's a giant red flag (pointing to him that you quit your job for the relationship. Abusers don't like their targets to be financially dependent. But many are skilled manipulators...and can even make you feel like it was your own idea to give up pieces of yourself. 

It's not typical in such a young relationship and especially for a long distance one for a partner to give up working for the relationship.  That smacks clearly of "something is not right here." And a caring partner who genuinely loves you would not want you to give up your livelihood, add that is destructive for your own life.  But...it always works to the abusers advantage, to make you more compliant and dependent, and "bond" you more to him. 

I also strongly recommend you read "Why Does He Do That?" - as well as learning more about boundaries.  I personally like the book,  "Boundaries: Where You End and I Begin" by Anne Katherine. It is extremely important for you in life to learn deeply and practice boundaries.  Growing up in abusive environments means you don't get a chance to learn or practice boundaries or even realize your rights.  You often need to start from scratch to build your sense of self and healthy boundaries.  I can't stress enough how important it is. 

That being said,  i think...personally,  my opinion....that you haven't had the opportunity yet in life to establish your own solid ground for sense of self in life.  To practice being healthy and having rights (not focusing so much on your behaviors and whther or not you are abusive).

So i get the sense that really,  you are probably not "ready" to have a healthy relationship or know what one looks like,  cuz you haven't seen or felt it.. and this one is showing alllll sorts of red flags. 

No no no,  it's not abusive or controlling or manipulative to end a relationship that causes pain.  That's something, though,  that abusers try to convince you of... but any time to try to exhibit a healthy boundary he will be bound to trample it,  try to guilt you out of it  etc 

It's really common for abusers to twist it around onto their victims and claim they are the abuser.  It's called projection, and gaslighting.   

Don't do couples counseling with him. It doesn't work in abusive relationships (there's a lot of reasons) - and already he is using your past  against you.  He would use that 1,000 times more in counseling to really confuse you until you didn't know which way was up. 

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Grabforjoy

Hi Melinoe,

I am so glad that you found us.  

Your boyfriend sounds to me to be very manipulative.  I really believe that people like him have radars to scope out people who are kind and generous; who need to be needed; who, as the result of past abuse, don't have the best boundaries and are hypersensitive to NEVER, EVER being like their abusers. 

It's quite common for people like your boyfriend to be in the beginning the perfect partner:   the most loving, the most charming, ...everything you could ever dream of...until they feel that they have you in their clutches.  I would encourage you to take some time to analyze the happy times.  My guess is that, without you even knowing it and when things seemed to be so good, he was sowing the seeds that caused you to decide to give up your job so that you could support him.  Was he playing the victim?  Was he telling you that he needs you so badly because when you aren't around life seems pointless?  Did he somehow elicit in you a very protective instinct that made you feel that your love was what he needed and without it, you feared for his well being?  Did he drop hints about how your job was keeping you from him more than he likes?

I remember feeling, when I was first dating my abuser, like he had the most amazing ability to see right into my soul.  He understood me in a way I had never been understood.  He felt like my soul mate in the truest sense of the word.  What I now know is that he was incredibly skillful at eliciting information about what I wanted in a relationship, and then giving me back just that.  He was a chameleon.  And at the same time he was wooing me, he was also grooming me to become his victim. One time, I was describing a beautiful moment with a mother and baby that I experienced (I was a new RN at the time).  In describing it, I mentioned that the mother and baby were African-American.  My ex said "I know that you don't think this of yourself, but I think you are rather racist."  I was devastated that he thought that about me, because I was raised to deplore racism and bigotry.  But there was just enough truth in what he said to un-nerve me.  It was true, that when describing a mother and child of my own race, I didn't preface the description with the word "white" or "Caucasian", and it made me aware of how my words can create a sense of "us" vs. "them".  But to go from that to "I think you are rather racist" was a leap.  What he was trying to do was two-fold:  1 )  He was trying to undermine my confidence in who I knew myself to be; and 2 ) He was setting the stage for when he told me that he was of mixed race (Caucasian/African American) and he must have been worried that I would reject him.

Likewise, if I had a strong opinion on something, he would call me judgmental.   Again, his goal was to 1 )Undermine my confidence in what I believed in; and 2 ) Make me less likely to pass judgment on his outrageous behavior.  

In our first year of marriage he complained if I used the term "I" instead of "we" when we were in social gatherings.  It didn't matter if I was talking about something specific to me alone.  He felt that using the word "I" was exclusionary of him.  So guess what?  I stopped talking about myself in conversations with others, or if I did, I made sure to make him a key figure in whatever I was talking about.

Now, about you being abusive.  Melinoe, there is something called "reactionary abuse".  Another term for it is something like "extreme response to a stressful situation".  It does not mean that you are abusive.  It means that you are having an extreme reaction to an untenable situation.  I remember times when I pummeled my abuser's chest, or pushed him away from me, or screamed at him at the top of my lungs.  And I remember the emotions I was feeling during those times were of complete and utter helplessness, desperation and desolation.  After all, even the kindest, gentlest animal will bite if backed into a corner and teased, taunted and abused.  I urge you not to take on the abuser label.  My ex claimed that I was the abusive one as well.  In the end, when I was divorcing him and he kept saying this, I finally asked him "If I am so abusive, then why are you working so hard to keep me in this marriage?".  He didn't have an answer for that.  Labeling you as abusive in pure projection and It's a tactic to keep you unbalanced and in his control.

My ex was also depressed.  He had a horrible childhood...the kind that touched the maternal, protective place in my heart.  He was on and off suicidal the first ten years of our marriage and he would often tell me he didn't think he would live past 35.  I now think it was another control tactic. Even if he is depressed, Melinoe, you deserve a relationship with a healthy man.  And the way you get that is you become a healthy woman.  I don't know how old you are, but I sense that you may be in your 20's.  Forgive me if I am wrong.  Anyway, I would encourage you to work on yourself.  Read books on abuse.  "Why Does He Do That?" by Lundy Bancroft is the first one that I recommend you read.  You cannot help his depression.  No amount of your love will cause him to not be depressed.  Nor will it help him to overcome his dependence on alcohol, nor his past.

As for moving to his country, I strongly advise you to put any of that on hold.  You would be further isolated from any support system you now have. 

I gave up 23 years of my life to abuse.  It has affected my health, my finances, and my lovely children have suffered because of it.  I don't want that to happen to you.  You sound like an intelligent, insightful woman.  I think if you sit for awhile with this, and let your inner wisdom speak to you without any input from ANY of your abusers' voices, you will find your answer.  My favorite saying is a Tsoaist one, and it is:  "Stillness is the greatest revelation".

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hoping

Melinoe

It sounds like to me that he may have depression and be an abuser. Depression doesn't always cause abuse, not at least intentionally. I have depression but I am not an abuser. Have you seen him depressed or does he tell you this? If you haven't, he may be saying this to manipulate you.

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Melinoe

Thank you again for such supportive responses. I have started making a list of books to read thanks to all of your great recommendations! 

 

Hoping, you make a good point about how I have never seen him depressed. That is true - he starts talking about depression only when I am in my own country, far away from him. He talks about how my next visit is the only thing keeping him going. He could very well be doing it to manipulate....

Quaddie, thank you so much for the book recommendation. Boundaries are definitely something I need to work on. I feel guilty whenever I try to create a boundary. You are right in that I don't have much practice with them, in a relationship or even in general!

I am also going to really focus on myself and getting back to how I felt when I first met him, before I met him - I finally liked who I was, and celebrated my unique sense of self. I want to be unapologetically myself. I stopped doing a lot of the things I used to love because of the insidious little comments he would make about them. Again Quaddie you are right in that it seems I am compelled to give up pieces of myself willingly, and if I were to say anything he could truthfully say "I never asked you to do that". It's true, he never has. I have never been able to properly explain why I get the sense that he almost...doesn't even like me, as a person, anymore. I once tried to bring this up, saying I felt like we should be excited about and celebrate each other's interests, even the quirky things. He seemed angry about it and said "So what, I should call you every time I see a cupcake?" (because I have a sweet tooth and love to bake - and he makes little comments about how unhealthy sugar is, or if my meals have lots of sugar or carbs in them)....and that reaction made me think, oh, yes perhaps that is ridiculous. But afterwards I was thinking....is it really ridiculous?? To get excited and send me pictures of cupcakes because they remind you of me?? What's so terrible about that, really? His reaction made it sound so preposterous, but if I call him on it, he can honestly say "I never said it was preposterous", and if I say that's how the reaction made me feel, then I am jumping to conclusions and making him the bad guy. And round and round we go. 

Grabforjoy, the way you describe how your abuser would make unnerving statements about you that you felt weren't true but you couldn't deny, that's just how I feel too. Every argument we have ends with me getting so...muddled, where I want to explain myself, but I'm not even sure why I am explaining myself, and I end up just mentally exhausted and apologizing so I can get away from the conversation...

 

Edit: I decided to make my profile picture a cupcake, because it's ok to like cupcakes!!!!!!!!

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percolate

I'm glad you found us, but sorry you needed to find us. There are some very wise people that post here and understand exactly what you're dealing with.

He does sound abusive-any one that that tells you that your apology is not sincere, that gets mad at you for things you share in normal conversation, that feels you are abandoning him if you end the relationship, tells you are abusive and not considerate of his feelings, etc.  There are many red flags here.

Keep going to counseling and keep up your determination to regain your sense of self and self confidence.  It will take hard work, but in some ways you're very fortunate that you have a long-distance relationship.  It's much easier to break up and recover when you're not running into a former partner as you go about your daily life.

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hoping

Melinoe

Something else to consider is that you mentioned you go to see him, does he come to see you? If not, why? Please don't trust or expect him to support you financially. Please consider going back to work. I know this is a lot to take in, but please don't trust him.

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Quaddie

I stopped doing a lot of the things I used to love because of the insidious little comments he would make about them. Again Quaddie you are right in that it seems I am compelled to give up pieces of myself willingly, and if I were to say anything he could truthfully say "I never asked you to do that". It's true, he never has. I have never been able to properly explain why I get the sense that he almost...doesn't even like me, as a person, anymore. I once tried to bring this up, saying I felt like we should be excited about and celebrate each other's interests, even the quirky things. He seemed angry about it and said "So what, I should call you every time I see a cupcake?" (because I have a sweet tooth and love to bake - and he makes little comments about how unhealthy sugar is, or if my meals have lots of sugar or carbs in them)....and that reaction made me think, oh, yes perhaps that is ridiculous. But afterwards I was thinking....is it really ridiculous?? To get excited and send me pictures of cupcakes because they remind you of me?? What's so terrible about that, really?

K so, that was another thing I wanted to ask. Because first you were focusing so much on your own behaviors.....   but see, there is so much more to your story, than just your own behaviors.

What you are describing is a covert abuser. These are some of the most insidious and mind-fvcking (excuse the language) types there are. They really really mess with your head. The longer you're with them, the more they mess with you.

No, there is absolutely nothing wrong with celebrating each other's quirks. And the way he puts down your passion is abusive. Eventually, an abuser like this would whittle away at you so much that you might stop baking or mentioning baked goods entirely, just to try to keep the peace. That's not "love." A loving relationship is a caring partnership that is mutually supportive. It's not suppressive. He is trying to suppress you. 

Now, of course I don't know your physical status or whether sugar or carbs are a huge concern, but it's highly unlikely that the way he's making comments is legitimately "for your own good" (although they'd try to convince you that it is!) Or whether it's a concern for his physical status. But I sense that's not what's going on here.

Maybe you might like to share some of the other things he says and does that bother you? We can help translate them and help give you some perspective, if you'd like.

One of the easiest way to pinpoint "who's the abuser" is to think about this: Who is in the power position?  Whoever is in the power-over position, is usually the one who is the controlling manipulator. Here, he is in the power position. You have given up your job for him, and the relationship goal is your leaving your entire life behind for him. This puts you in the less-than position.

I know I'm repeating myself, but it's really super unusual for a person in a long-distance relationship to give up their own job in order to work on their relationship. This is such a huge red flag (again, waving against him)  that it can't be overstated. 

You know - you have a right to end any relationship, for any reason whatsoever, at any time. Or even if it just "doesn't feel right." You don't need to have clear reasons or a list of proof or evidence. And you don't need to convince the other person that it's the right thing to do, or get their "permission" or buy-in. You get to decide for your very own self. You get to make the choice - you, alone. YOU choose your own life and your own decisions. And your own relationships. He doesn't get to dictate what you do with your own life. You do! It's your call, entirely.

What he has said about it being abandonment is clearly manipulative.

I know you are concerned about your own behaviors being abusive... but even if that's true, you can't heal and grow and get better within an abusive relationship. It's like this: Imagine you are living in a toxic waste site. You're getting symptoms, getting sicker and sicker. So you try to get better by taking vitamins and medications, maybe you try to exercise, but you just can't get better. Because you're still living in the toxic waste site that made you sick in the first place.

I firmly believe there is no way to learn how to have a healthy relationship while being within an abusive relationship. 

And there is no way to "fix" the abuser. They are wired the way they are. And it is not your job or responsibility to "fix" them. Even if he is depressed. It really doesn't matter if he is, or is not. You do have the right to protect yourself. And you have a right to not be subjected to abuse. If he tries to use depression as an excuse for abusive treatment, that is just manipulation. 

Oh, many of them use that guilt-trip of "I need you to do this" blahblahblah. It's more manipulation to keep you "stuck" to them.

This is why it's called the FOG of abuse - Fear, Obligation, Guilt. The primary components of what keeps people stuck in their abusive relationship.

An abuser will try whatever tactics they think might work to keep you stuck to them. Not out of "love" but because they don't want to lose their object-thingie.

Do read "Why Does He Do That?" - I think you'll find it very eye-opening. But whatever you do - do not share your knowledge with him! It will backfire against you. It will not help him, it won't help the relationship, it will only hurt you. So keep your reading and your learning about abuse, a secret from him. That will help keep him from gaslighting you with it by turning it back around onto you and confusing you. 

So anyway, if you'd like to share more of his behaviors or incidents between you, we'd be happy to offer perspective that might help ground you a bit.

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Bennu

Please do read those books. It's really helpful. An important difference between participating in reactive abuse and being an abuser is that you question yourself and feel bad for doing it. An abuser feels totally entitled. In fact, they think that they show great restraint and put up with all sorts of things without reacting. It's all in their heads. They imagine slights that don't exist. Being in the presence of someone who isn't spending all their time taking care of their egos is an affront to them.

Mine was big on controlling me. He would not ask me to stop something, he would insult and but it down to make me abandon it on my own. He would tell me I looked funny in some way at parties or later tell me about people saying mean things about me. It was all to get me to not want to go anymore. He would put down my family members so we wouldn't see them. He would make up things people said and did so that I would think they didn't like me. I figured some of this out years later when he had forgotten which things he hated to do and reasons behind them. Some of those things became his favorite things to do. It wasn't that he didn't like them. It was that I did like them. I contacted people that we had known together who supposedly didn't like me and they were so nice and supportive and happy to hear from me. 

So much of my last more than 2 decades was a lie. It's hard to know how to start reliving my life.

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Melinoe

I feel like I can't help but repeat thank you, thank you, to everyone - but I really do feel such gratitude for all the support I'm getting here! 

 

Hoping, he does come up here to see me, but not for long visits. My last visit in his country was for 2 months, and the longest he's been in my country is 8 days. Because he has a job and I do not. I do prefer to be financially independent, and even though it would complicate our visits further, I do want to find another job. Even something temporary. It would help me feel a lot more secure.

Quaddie, you mention something that is really hitting home for me - which is that I'm allowed to end a relationship for any reason I want. I keep thinking to myself: well, ok, so I don't feel about him or us the way I once did. But is that a good enough reason to end it? Surely this is what people mean when they say "relationships are work" - working through these spells of not-being-in-love? I keep hoping perhaps those old feelings will come back, somehow, and I just have to be patient. I am not sure where the relationship-ending line is. I used to think my limits were so clear - but do I really want to wait until something truly horrible happens to prove to myself that it's ok to leave and I tried my best? 

Ugh, I feel so disappointed in myself for not being stronger and more decisive. 

I will definitely read the books - and keep them to myself, as you suggest. I'm glad you said that, otherwise I probably would have shared what I was learning with him...because he wants me to share everything with him. 

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Quaddie
1 hour ago, Melinoe said:

I will definitely read the books - and keep them to myself, as you suggest. I'm glad you said that, otherwise I probably would have shared what I was learning with him...because he wants me to share everything with him. 

Ding ding ding - another giant red flag, that he wants you to share everything with him.

Privacy is a boundary you have a right to. But abusers are really good at manipulating their partners into thinking it's wrong to have privacy and that it's the partner's responsibility to share every.single.little.thing. That privacy = secrecy. This is a control tactic. It's not respectful. A respectful partner knows you have a right to privacy.

 

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Grabforjoy
On 1/21/2017 at 3:07 PM, Melinoe said:

I keep thinking to myself: well, ok, so I don't feel about him or us the way I once did. But is that a good enough reason to end it? Surely this is what people mean when they say "relationships are work" - working through these spells of not-being-in-love? I keep hoping perhaps those old feelings will come back, somehow, and I just have to be patient.

I remember thinking the exact same thing..."marriages take work and I just have to stick it out".  The thing is that yes, at times all relationships take work.  But work and torture are two separate things.  Work and losing your identity are two separate things.  The happiness and joy of a good relationship outweighs the work.

I am remarried now (3.5 years) :-) and I still pinch myself sometimes because it is so "not-work" in the way that my previous marriage was work.  Sure, there are times that we will get a bit irritated at each other, or one of us is not our best self, but for the vast, vast majority of our time together we enjoy a peaceful, happy, mutually reciprocal relationship that has never once been abusive.  

It's so easy to hear the platitudes about relationships and apply them to a covertly abusive one, and find the reason to work a little harder.  But unfortunately, it is the victim who ends up shouldering all the "work" of the relationship.  The abuser carries less and less of the responsibility.

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hoping

Melonie

On ‎1‎/‎19‎/‎2017 at 11:21 PM, Melinoe said:

In October, I quit my job so that I could really give this relationship a chance. I am living off my savings at home with my family again so that I can spent more time with my partner. 

For the past 4 months since I quit my job, my BF and I have been getting into more arguments. I have found myself feeling...not happy. And often nervous to speak my thoughts. My BF has told me that I have exhibited these signs of abuse: 

I read all of your topics and what I see that you are saying is that you thought he was a good person and wanted to spend more time with him and if it worked out you would be moving to where he lives because you love him and don't feel like you have a good chance at love or a good life where you are. I don't know whether he had anything to do with you quitting your job or not, but I don't believe all abusers want their girlfriends or wives to quit their jobs. The reason I say this is because my husband is an abuser and he wanted me to work fulltime. You said since you quit your job, you and your BF have been arguing more, I think part of that could be because he did not want you to quit your job or it could be that now that you have quit your job, you have been spending more time with him and you are beginning to see what he really is like. Also, abusers will start feeling comfortable to be themselves when we prove that we are emotionally attached to them. When you quit your job, that was a sign to him that you were committed to him. I am not happy either, when I am being abused. I am also nervous to speak my thoughts when I know my husband will get angry or criticize me for them. When I am in one of those situations, I decide by how I feel at that time( strong and ready to leave if he gets too abusive) or if I don't want to deal with him and let it go. I also, judge by his actions and voice tone how serious he is about what he is saying. If he is not to serious, I might say something, if real serious and I don't want to be further abuses then I try to skirt around what he says. I say further abuse because I believe by his actions and past actions I am being abused already by him.

You said you boyfriend told you the signs you have exhibited as abuse. If he doesn't know these terms of abuse, I think it would be better to not educate him in them. Abusers will use knowledge against us. The things he said about you, I believe are him turning what you said about him back at you or the twisted way abusers see things.

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blueskye

How does he know all this abuse lingo? Is it because he has been through this before with someone else (and he is the abuser)? Or did he learn it from you as you were sharing about your past? It's as if he hit you where it hurts the most, to call you an abuser after ALL the work you have done on yourself. That's a low blow if you ask me. And "projection" is real. Whatever it is they are guilty of, they accuse you of it to ease their own guilt. Because in their minds if you're guilty of it too then they are not bad. 

Mine accused me of cheating and told people I had a boyfriend for 3 years prior to our split (totally not true) and it took a while for the truth to shake out but I finally found out he was the one cheating on me. He accused me of being materialistic even tho the ONLY thing I asked for in the divorce was the dog. And I didn't even get her either. He took it ALL including our business we built together and then goes around town telling everyone I have a rich man with a lake house and I'm materialistic!!! That's projection. Maybe he's the abuser, knows it, and it projecting it onto you to ease his guilt. 

I'm not sure what country you would be moving to but many countries, after you marry you could be trapped there and never get back to see your family. Especially if he is controlling/abusive. Proceed with extreme caution. 

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SMB73

I  love  the term "reactionary abusive".  At the end of my relationship,  I wasn't actually mean or something but just  not responding to him and my ex said I wasn't as nice as I used to be.    I was basically checked out.   I also used my outdoor voice in public and interrupted him, but I certainly wasn't proud of it and  not too long after I was starting to be my worst self was when I realized that he was pushing me too far.   I also  suspect if  someone was physically aggressive  if  I  couldn't calm them down, I would do what I had to defend myself.  

Melinoe, I agree with Blueskye .  Think EXTREMELY carefully  before moving for  him.   So grateful I never lived alone with my abuser. 

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Melinoe

I hope it's ok if I keep posting here in this original thread, even though I'm on my second day of No Contact and I know ending the relationship is the right choice. I feel this need to talk everything out because I most of the time I kept it all in and couldn't see it for what it was while it was happening.

 

On 2/15/2017 at 2:27 AM, hoping said:

I read all of your topics and what I see that you are saying is that you thought he was a good person and wanted to spend more time with him and if it worked out you would be moving to where he lives because you love him and don't feel like you have a good chance at love or a good life where you are.

 

Hi Hoping, yeah, the way you described my plan is bang-on. After we had been together a year I thought it was a good idea to have longer visits with him, to see if I should make the big step of getting married and immigrating. He encouraged me to quit my job and even took credit for improving my life because - ironically!- he thought they were abusing me there (and they were). I had thought carefully about this plan and thought I was being so sensible - I was honestly ready to get engaged and move there very fast because it all seemed so perfect. I was actually disappointed that he didn't propose on our one-year anniversary! Some of my friends saw many red flags with his behaviour, and tried to warn me off him. I can totally see them now, but did not then. Such as:

*He said he loved me after only talking with me for 2 weeks. (Back then, I thought: of course he thinks he loves me, I am a great, lovable person! It feels so nice to be appreciated and admired) 

*He started calling me a soulmate and hinting at marriage within a month. (Then, I thought: that's so romantic! And they do say that "you know when you know", maybe this is what "just knowing" looks and feels like - I've never been adored so completely before, so it must be!)

*He wanted to come and visit me 3 weeks after we started chatting, but I made him wait 2 months. (Then, I thought: Well, I go out for coffee dates with local guys after only chatting a few days sometimes, if he wants to spend money to fly here for a date, why not? Spending so much money and effort just to meet me, wow, he must really see how special I am!)

*During our first visit, although I said I didn't want to have sex, he started pulling my clothes off and basically pounced on me, saying he couldn't help it, I was just so perfect and nobody turned him on the way I did. (Then, I thought: I'm super attracted to him too. I wish we could just make out and cuddle first, but it's so flattering that I have such an effect on him. It makes me feel so desirable!)

*He sulked when I asked him to wear a condom, asking why I wanted it after I had already asked him to get sexually tested, which he said was humiliating and proved how much he truly loved me. He said buying condoms was also embarrassing and he wouldn't do that for any other woman, but I was his soulmate and he'd do anything to please me. (Then, I thought: well, he did have the test and even brought the paperwork with him. The fact that he is bashful about buying condoms when other guys love showing off how much sex they have, and yet did it JUST FOR ME - what a sensitive, caring guy)

 *He bombarded me with a constant stream of attention; texts, phone calls, video chats, letters, gifts. (Then, I thought: He's always thinking about me! He really gets how great of a catch I am. He really wants me as part of his life. He makes time for me.)

*He had a friend/ex-lover/mother-figure (a woman in her 50's, much older than him) who was sending me sexually explicit emails about how he was cheating on me with her, how he once promised her love and marriage too and she was his REAL soulmate - he knew about these messages and though he denied her claims, he still continued to be friends with her, forgiving her again and again and feeling guilty for "breaking her heart". He hated to lose any friend, even when they did really awful things. (Then, I thought: this is just more proof of his good, kind, sensitive nature. This woman is clearly unstable and her behaviour is not his fault. I must help him realize that, and once day he'll choose to end the friendship on his own. I mustn't force him to give up a friend, that's wrong. I trust him when he says her claims are lies.)

I was so flattered by all the attention, and I was on my journey of learning to love and appreciate myself (and had just ended two other short relationships where my partners didn't have much time for me), so it never seemed like "too much". I loved it. I never once felt scared; it felt like DESTINY. It was like the perfect storm.

I had been on the lookout for obvious douchebag behaviour only, and had no idea that what he was doing was narcissistic predatory stuff.  Even the "watch out for a former partner who says they are still involved with him and/or tries to warn you about him" thing is apparently common with a narcissist? I literally knew nothing about covert narcissism, emotional abuse or manipulation, or anything like that. My boundaries and deal-breakers were only the most devastating things - sexual or physical assault, proof of infidelity, criminal activities, uncontrolled addictions, stuff like that. I had basically zero boundaries when it came to emotional and mental abuse and more subtle disrespect. I really was "perfect" for him....

On 2/15/2017 at 1:00 PM, blueskye said:

How does he know all this abuse lingo? Is it because he has been through this before with someone else (and he is the abuser)? Or did he learn it from you as you were sharing about your past? It's as if he hit you where it hurts the most, to call you an abuser after ALL the work you have done on yourself. That's a low blow if you ask me. And "projection" is real. Whatever it is they are guilty of, they accuse you of it to ease their own guilt. Because in their minds if you're guilty of it too then they are not bad. 

Blueskye, I don't think he learned it from me. He did appear knowledgeable about "what is healthy" when I first met him, which made me feel so relieved and reassured - like I was one of the lucky people who found a compassionate, self-aware, respectful partner! Which is why I would get so confused when he seemed to withhold empathy and understanding from me, when he was clearly a compassionate person. How could he be so sensitive, crying over sad movies and commercials, forgive and understand others, tell me he respected me and only ever wanted me to be happy, but get so insulted whenever I told him I was sad, scared or hurt and wanted to talk about it? I didn't get it, and thought I must be the one doing something wrong, so I would ask for his patience and help. But he would get frustrated when I wasn't able to change a behaviour immediately after one talking-to, and HATED to revisit any issue.

On 2/15/2017 at 3:16 PM, SMB73 said:

I  love  the term "reactionary abusive".  At the end of my relationship,  I wasn't actually mean or something but just  not responding to him and my ex said I wasn't as nice as I used to be.    I was basically checked out.   I also used my outdoor voice in public and interrupted him, but I certainly wasn't proud of it and  not too long after I was starting to be my worst self was when I realized that he was pushing me too far.   I also  suspect if  someone was physically aggressive  if  I  couldn't calm them down, I would do what I had to defend myself.  

Melinoe, I agree with Blueskye .  Think EXTREMELY carefully  before moving for  him.   So grateful I never lived alone with my abuser. 

SMB73, I'm glad you bring up the term "reactionary abuse". I've never heard it before but I will definitely look more into it. I told him a few times "I don't like who I am in this relationship, I used to like who I was and I used to feel good." He told me all I had to do was stop being mean. I hated being mean, I hated "winning" any fight, it made me feel so gross inside. I wanted us both to win. :( 

I'm glad now that I never filled out any immigration paperwork, or bought a house with him or did any of the things I was once so eager to do. The toxicity of the whole relationship is becoming so painfully obvious now. Uggghhhhhhhhh.

 

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Bennu

You're not the only one to fall for those kinds of things with those interpretations of actions. I did the same thing, and then I stayed married to the guy. You are smart to get out now.

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SMB73
22 hours ago, Melinoe said:

SMB73, I'm glad you bring up the term "reactionary abuse". I've never heard it before but I will definitely look more into it. I told him a few times "I don't like who I am in this relationship, I used to like who I was and I used to feel good." He told me all I had to do was stop being mean. I hated being mean, I hated "winning" any fight, it made me feel so gross inside. I wanted us both to win. :( 

I suspect  if  we did a survey  that  we are all  people  who  want  both people to  "win"  in a relationship  and that  we  would rather  hold  stuff in than to be "mean"    For me,  I was only "mean" in one other relationship  and  I was 19, he was my first  relationship and  I don't think  he was disordered, but more spoiled and young.    I  also ended that relationship as soon as the outdoor voices inside  started going .  

 

With my abusive ex,  I felt like we had made a commitment to each other and  I felt bad for his  childhood.  

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