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Zedsdead

Setbacks

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Zedsdead

Hello there, new here and have been searching for advice from others that understand the emotions regarding this situation. 

I had been with my ex for 6 years. I met him when my daughter was 4 years old, we were fresh out of a physically abusive relationship. I thought he was my saving grace. After 1 year we were already living together and expecting our first baby together. Things started to go downhill, he started to lie, we went through hard times with money and I felt we were just having bad luck. After 4 years we had 2 children together and he turned into somebody I didn't know. He was constantly verbally vicious. There were moments of physical violence during my last pregnancy but always after I had gotten angry at him spending all of our money, doing drugs or just being plain selfish. It got to the point where he was threatening my life, my kids and I began to feel severely depressed.

I saw a doctor because I couldn't handle the sadness anymore. He put me on anti depressants and got me into therapy. It was there I realized I was in an abusive relationship once again. I learned the terms of the tactics he used, I read books about abusive relationships and also learned I was abused growing up by my parents.

I began to work, save money and after the year i had him removed from our house. Things were great, I felt happier than i had in a long time. Good things began happening to me. I worked with the women shelter, received abuse counselling and life seemed to start. 

He showed up at the house one day, in tears. He begged, pleaded and promised to change. I didn't feel much sympathy and sent him on his way. He began to text, call and show up saying he was going to commit suicide. My guard began to drop and I helped him with money and food. 

Now he is slowly working his way back in, I can see it happening but I don't feel strong enough to say no. He is sending me money, he is being the man I always thought he was and it breaks my heart. He is seeing a counsellor, phsyciatrist and attends aa meetings. He shows me his work during his appointments. In the past 2 months hasn't shown one ounce of aggression.

A Part of me realizes this is all a game. I see the manipulation and the control tactics, but a part of me has softened. Can he change? Is it possible he is changing and this is going to work? 

I feel the sadness creeping back. The procrastination, the out of control feeling I always had is all back. Even though he's being nice, all the horrid feelings he brought by being aggressive, are back.

I need to find the strength to put my foot down, I want to say goodbye for the last time but it's so hard. Nobody else understands the guilt and sadness. So I was hoping to find some advice here.

Thank you in Advance. 

ZedsDed. 

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Over and Out

I think we have all been through the sadness and guilt.  In fact, feelings of Fear, Obligation and Guilt (FOG as it is often called) is a common effect of abusive relationships.  Those of us who have left understand the sadness and mourning for the good bits of the relationship and also for what we wish the relationship could have been.

You might find it useful to read Lundy Bancroft's "Why does he does he do that?"  In it, he discusses how abusive men use manipulation to try to get partners to return, what is required for them to address and change abusive behaviours (specialised abuser programs) and how a partner can tell if there has been real change.  He cautions that only a small percentage of abusers actually change.  Many go to therapy and initially say the right thing, only to abuse again as soon as they get their partner to take them back.

What you are describing sounds too new and quick to be sure.  What would happen if you decided to wait for 12 months to see what happens? I deliberately took a twelve month lease on my new place when I left, so I couldn't weaken and return to my old home.  It was interesting to see the different hoover tactics X tried to try to get me to move back.  He cycled through promises/claims of getting therapy, to anger, to trying to make me jealous, to trying to get pity, to manipulating the kids etc.  

What would happen if you go no contact or low contact/grey rock?  What would happen if you weren't giving him emotional support, attention and validation?  Does he try a different tactic?  That would be a sure sign that he was only hoovering.  

Has his therapist sought your input (clear sign of proper abuser therapy)? If not, he could be telling a very different story in therapy (probably that you are abusive or unreasonable) and getting validated.  Alternatively he could be blaming alcohol and not himself for abusing (research shows abusers often use alcohol to give themselves an excuse to abuse, not that alcohol makes them abusive).

The abuse was escalating. You probably know from your reading that is a bad sign. Escalating abuse almost never returns to being no abuse ever. It almost always either takes a different, often more covert form or simply escalates more.

Whatever is going on, the important question is: do you want to go back to the relationship that you had before? Do you want that risk in a relationship with that man? If the answer is "no" you don't have to go back.  (It sounds from your letter that the answer is "no.")

The thing is, we can love someone and not be good in a relationship with them.  We can love someone and decide the relationship doesn't work or is harming our kids or isn't making us happy.  We can leave for any or no reason if the relationship is not making us happy.  We don't have to be right or justified or hate the person or have to meet some arbitrary standard.  "I don't want to be in the relationship" is enough.  Were you unhappy with your ex?  Were your kids unhappy?  That may be a reason to stay separated, even if you still care.

If you want to stay separated, no contact or grey rock tactics can help.  Don't engage.  You could use scripts like "It's good you are doing therapy, but hat's really a matter for your therapist" when he wants to go over his therapy exercises.  (Substitute "AA" or meetings etc as needed).  Try "I can't be the person you discuss this with."  Try reading books on setting boundaries.

We will be here for you whether you stay separated or get back together.  The people here are lovely and have supported people who make either decision. 

Best of luck.

.

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Zedsdead

Thank you so much for the reply. I am actually half way through Lundy Bancrofts 'why does he do that' and i have found it so intensely accurate. It has explained most if not all of his past behaviour. I feel deep down I don't want to be with him. I definitely feel something for him, but I feel more obligation for him and the kids than anything. 

The abuse was most definitely escalating, it started out him just doing innapropriate things and being upset if I got angry, but it ended up him being horrible to me pretty much 24/7. Our honeymoon period had completely disappeared. 

When I first left, I went no contact. I actually sought out an emergency protection order which was granted. It took him 2 weeks to start showing up at the house crying. Texting that he loved me and apologizing. I reported all the breaches and he was charged and fined. They said if he breached again, that he would go to prison. Of course he did breach again and I couldn' face sending him to jail and that's where the no contact stopped. Whenever I have gone no contact again, he just becomes absolutely insane. Calling excessively, showing up crying and drunk and threatening suicide. 

He can not respect my boundaries, he says that he will never let go and never stop trying. It almost makes me feel very hopeless :(

He has seen the kids for Xmas this weekend with my parents and i have told him we will be going back to no contact this week and no more excuses. I need this man out of my life. I feel he sucks the life out of me!!!

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Over and Out
7 hours ago, Zedsdead said:

...

I feel deep down I don't want to be with him. I definitely feel something for him, but I feel more obligation for him and the kids than anything. 

The abuse was most definitely escalating, it started out him just doing innapropriate things and being upset if I got angry, but it ended up him being horrible to me pretty much 24/7. Our honeymoon period had completely disappeared. 

When I first left, I went no contact. I actually sought out an emergency protection order which was granted. It took him 2 weeks to start showing up at the house crying. Texting that he loved me and apologizing. I reported all the breaches and he was charged and fined. They said if he breached again, that he would go to prison. Of course he did breach again and I couldn' face sending him to jail and that's where the no contact stopped. Whenever I have gone no contact again, he just becomes absolutely insane. Calling excessively, showing up crying and drunk and threatening suicide. 

He can not respect my boundaries, he says that he will never let go and never stop trying. It almost makes me feel very hopeless :(

He has seen the kids for Xmas this weekend with my parents and i have told him we will be going back to no contact this week and no more excuses. I need this man out of my life. I feel he sucks the life out of me!!!

This is actually scary, especially the part I put in bold. He knows that he can get away with breaching orders and has stated his intention to never let go, while having a pattern of escalating abuse.  This is the classic pattern of a man who may escalate to serious, even murderous, violence.

Please take care for your safety and that of your children. 

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Quaddie

Just because he goes wacko trying to get you back under his control when you go no contact, doesn't mean it's the wrong thing to do.

Obligation - to him? This is FOG of abuse - fear, obligation, guilt. He makes you feel guilty because he is abusive. It's not a legitimate, valid obligation. You have no obligation to this person.

Although it's true to be careful for your safety, it also shouldn't keep you "stuck" to him for the rest of your life. Do uphold the protective orders. They're there for a reason. Try to remind yourself that if he goes to jail, it's because of  his own actions.  It's not that "you did it to him." It's not "your fault." It's common for an abused partner to take this guilt on themselves, but it's inappropriate. The blame does not belong on you. Him having consequences for his own actions is appropriate. It's not your job to protect him from the consequences of his own inappropriate and illegal actions. It's not your burden to "protect him" from consequences for abusing you. <-- can you see how skewed that is? He hurts you - then you feel you need protect him from the consequences of his hurting you. That's totally the abuser's conditioning  of you. "I hurt you but if I have to suffer for it, it's your fault."  It doesn't matter whether that's just a feeling you feel inside without him having to say it directly - it is still from the abuse. It's not real. Feeling like you can't allow him to experience consequences isn't a "real" thing that needs to guide you in what you do.

You may need to make life changes to make yourself safer, but they will be worth it in the long run. 

"Why Does He Do That?" is a great book - but it's only half the story. The other half is within you and how to work on yourself to deal with these things. I know he doesn't respect boundaries but that doesn't mean you're helpless. You're not entirely at the mercy of whether he decides to respect boundaries or not. Finding ways to protect yourself even though is tricky, but it can be done. You can drive your own ship, too.

I like "The Nice Girl Syndrome" by Beverly Engel as it speaks to a lot of the pressure we feel to allow things that are actually hazardous to us, and it's a big wake-up call, in my opinion. 

He does suck the life out of you. Abusers are like life-suckers. They take your being, your energy for themselves, and convince you that you owe it to them. It's horrible. :(

By the way, keep documenting everything.  When he says he'll never let go and never stop trying? Document that. Write down what he says, place/method of communication and date and time. If it's a text - save them. This is not just "normal" talk and you need to track and document it so you can use it for a new order if you need one. Now, I'm not sure what happens because you didn't enforce the prior breach - but it doesn't mean you're "stuck" forever, either. Just make sure to document. And you may want to look into the legalities of the prior breach and your role and if you need to re-file or what. 

But remember - if he goes to jail, you are not "sending him to jail." HE is acting in ways to put himself there. Having boundaries means owning what is yours and only yours to own. You don't "own" if he goes to jail. That's his to own. His responsibility. Not your fault, not your burden. (Even if it "feels" like it's yours, that's just guilt he created - not truth, not valid reality.)

If there was a burglar who broke into your house, would you feel guilty for reporting them and their going to jail? Personal boundaries are just as sacred as your home.  You, as a person, are just as important and valid as an entity, as four walls and a roof. Boundary violations are someone breaking-and-entering into your person-ness. And a protective order is designed to protect that. It's there for a reason. So there is no valid reason to feel guilty for someone else experiencing their consequences for violating that law. 

You may want to check into resources for support, maybe the police department has some numbers to call for Domestic Violence resources, and there are probably local agencies or organizations that can steer you toward resources to support and assist you. It's important to not try to face this alone. In some ways, it's like an addiction. It's what you're accustomed to. It feels "normal." It's easy to get sucked back in - he keeps you off-balance on purpose. 

By the way - answers to your original questions - no, he's not changing. No, he won't change. He's not safe - and once there have been protective orders, truly and deeply I can't express how important it is to understand that this is not a relationship that should be continued. Not "because" you got the protective order, but because you needed it. That's not anything like a healthy or hopeful relationship. This isn't a relationship. It's like a hostage situation. He makes you feel like you need to stay with him or allow him in, in order to prevent him from doing other things. That's straight-up manipulation and control.

What you feel for him? Fear and love cannot be intertwined. Almost everyone has "good parts" about them, and abusers can be very convincing. The important thing to understand is that, through all his bluster and claims and tears and what might seem like the drive and energy of "passion" -  he doesn't really love youYou are an object to him - a "thing." A possession. An extension of himself. He's desperate to "keep you" because he "needs" a supply, a thing, an extension, something to reflect himself back to him. But he doesn't see you. He doesn't see and treasure who you are inside. Your inner being, who you are as a person. He only wants you as his thingie - the thingie that serves him. The rest is all window-dressing, playacting to support the illusion so he can manipulate you.

And him seeing counselors, etc etc etc... again... boundaries. None of that is anything to do with you. IF he were in that tiny percentage of the tiny percentage of abusers who were able to change, then he'd be doing this all on his own and would not be trying to pressure and manipulate you with his "see how good I'm being?!?" act to hoover you back into his clutches. IF he weren't abusive, he'd allow you your space. He wouldn't be forcing himself on you. He wouldn't be trying to "prove" what a great guy he's trying to be or what changes he's trying to make. He'd respect you and your boundaries. He'd be doing all the hard work alone, on his own, for himself, to make himself a better person - whether or not you wanted anything to do with him. He shouldn't be showing you his work - like "see what a good boy I'm being?" Nope, that's boundary violation all over the place, and a clear manipulation tactic. And months? Months is nothing in terms of abuser-time. Abusers can keep up illusions for years, sometimes, if they need to. They're very skilled manipulators. Real, genuine change cannot be seen and cannot occur over a matter of a couple of months. So to the original question - nope, he's not changing. All these "appearances of change" only verify that he is being controlling and manipulative. Abuse is about control and manipulation. So, nope.

 

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Quaddie

By the way, coercing you to allow him entry back into your life by threatening suicide (that's what he did, even if he didn't say it directly) is a very egregious boundary violation (*his* feelings about *your* breaking it off with him are not yours to shoulder or"fix") and it is clear manipulation and control that he put that onto you. 

 

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Zedsdead

Thank you for the replies. I agree with everything said here. It all feels like further manipulation. Even the fact that in 2 months there hasn't been a single angry meltdown from him, a single day he hasn' helped immensely and not one time he has talked down to me.. it makes me question why if it was THAT easy why he couldn't have just stopped 3 years ago when I begged him to do so for me and our children. It is so very obviously fake and just another way to try and get me to stay.

Even just his presence when he's nice makes me feel low. I feel unmotivated, hopeless and anxious for no apparent reason. It went from him visiting the children, to him staying over every night to 'help'. Last night I told him that he has to leave this weekend as he had long over stayed his welcome. He pulled the guilt trip, the sad faces and tears but I didn't soften. (Which almost makes me feel like a terrible person) 

I hope the next little while goes okay. My children are 1, 3 and 9. I work fulltime and have no real support from family which makes it all to easy for me to feel like I need him at times. I'm just going to have to be strong and push through. 

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Quaddie

It's difficult but it can be done. That's great that you told him to leave and are re-establishing your boundaries! Of course he pulled the guilt-trip ploy, and it almost worked, but now you have an instinct for it and can keep going in a healthy direction even if you feel the unhealthy responses that you're conditioned to feel.

If you haven't read the "Why Does He Do That?' book yet, it will help you in your resolve, too.

 

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Zedsdead

Thanks again.

He has left, I just finished the book 'why does he do that' this weekend and the chapters about how to tell he is changing really helped. I actually read him the part about clear signs that he isn't changing and he literally had no input at all. Just cried. 

I'm left feeling a lot of doubt and guilt today. This is awful. :(

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Quaddie

To be honest, it's really best if you keep your learning about abuse private, for yourself. Abusers will find ways to turn the information back around onto you. There's really no upside to sharing the information with them because they cannot truly comprehend it AND their nature makes them take anything they can and turn it back around into a manipulative tool. Then they use the terminology and concepts against you and confuse you into thinking maybe you are abusive, too. 

Think about it as being for you. You are educating yourself, for your own growth and health. Not for trying to teach the abuser, or to prove or even what feels like it might help the relationship... it won't. Your education is strictly for your own health and sanity. If you share these concepts with him, he will muddy the waters with it and make it unsafe for you - gaslighting, crazymaking.

Now that he's aware of the book, you can try to identify if he tries to use any of the concepts against you. Some abusers do read it and then twist it back around onto their targets. 

Another dangerous thing about letting him in on this information is, once he's aware of what "change" is "supposed to" look like, he can better act as if he is doing the proper things. And they can be pretty convincing and confusing when they do that. Because it's difficult to separate out, early on, the difference between what a "real" person acts like if they are being authentic - and what an abuser acts like when they are trying to appear as if they are changing. They can be extremely convincing. They can say and do all the right things - not because they are being honest and authentic, but because it's all just another manipulative ploy - to act "as if" - but not to truly be - and they can fool you. So please be careful, now that he knows about this stuff, to be aware yourself that they're not really capable of change, and that anything they do really is just trying to manipulate you into thinking they are changing. Even IF it really seems they, themselves, truly believe they are trying hard. They're not. It's just not "in them" to do it authentically. Their brains are wired differently.

 

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Zedsdead

I never really thought about it that way. He is highly manipulative in that sense and I can definitely see him doing something like that. 

I won't be seeing him or talking to him for a long time now. I feel stronger just in the fact alone that he is gone, I feel I can assert myself honestly and strongly in what I need. I hope that this space away from him will help me clear my head a little and remember why I left in the first place. It is definitely harder this time as there was no aggression from him in the past 2 weeks and he helped more than I could have asked for. Going alone again will feel like I'm struggling more than felt before as when I left last time it was just a HUGE relief. 

I am back to feeling confused and mind boggled about the abuse. Am I doing the right thing? Is it as bad as I thought? Logically, I know the answers to all those questions. I just don't feel it anymore.

I meet with my support worker tomorrow morning so that always helps and I start a new ladies group next week about the effects of abuse. I Am hoping the bad feelings don't last too long. 

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Fluffyflea

Don't tell him what you are learning, they gather information then use it against you in the future.

They don't think like normal people.

 

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AZ-home
On 12/23/2017 at 8:49 AM, Zedsdead said:

A Part of me realizes this is all a game. I see the manipulation and the control tactics, but a part of me has softened. 

I feel the sadness creeping back. The procrastination, the out of control feeling I always had is all back. Even though he's being nice, all the horrid feelings he brought by being aggressive, are back.

I need to find the strength to put my foot down, I want to say goodbye for the last time but it's so hard.

Just listen to yourself. You are giving yourself good advice. You are wise and don't doubt yourself. 

He is GOOOOOOOOD! Abusers always are. They know us well enough to know how to get to us. Mine knew I would do anything for my child so he sent our child to tell me and ask me stuff. I told my therapist I didn't want to call the cops if he showed up against the Order of Protection. She came out of her seat! She said "He NEEDS to learn consequences for his actions! This is his whole problem! He KNOWS he can get away with stuff! LET him go to jail! If he goes to jail, it's his own doing." It woke me up! 

One of my wake up calls when I was in my abusive relationship was when he got put in the hospital for a week and I watched how WELL he treated all the staff there. He was SO polite and patient with them. His manners were out the roof! I realized, ...he KNOWS HOW to act. He is capable of being sweet, patient, and kind. He chooses NOT to with me. AND!...this is how he acted to lure me into a relationship with him. And he used it again to try to hoover me back. And once I came back, I am convinced the abusive man would return. My proof of that is our young adult child. He used our child to tell me that he had CHANGED and why couldn't I see it? He was using our child as a flying monkey to deliver his message since I was no contact with him. I felt horrible telling our child no and holding my ground. Because my (only) child is my weak point and my husband knew it. He convinced our child, who was living on his own at the time, to move back in with him. Now the abusive ways are back, he is treating him the same awful way he treated me, OUR CHILD SEES IT (finally!!!) and has to figure out how to escape just like I did. The child who begged me to "see how his dad is a changed man" is now crying on my shoulder about how awful it is and I can tell by his vocabulary that he has been in counseling (thank you God).

Another thing you said that I experienced and jumped off the page is he showed me his "accountability work book." He was doing a program to repair our relationship (Love Dare) and he wanted me to SEE all his work so he left his book AT my house. We were separated at the time, he was stalking me and wasn't supposed to BE at my house. He asked for it back but I never even gave it back. Asking for it back was an excuse to see me again and get my attention. It was all to get my attention. All he wanted was attention. He would literally call me, have one sided conversation where he talked rapidly about himself for 5-15 min and then hang up. I could have been anybody. I said "Hello........ok bye." This happened about 3 times in a row! And people wanted me to see how he was changing. They just didn't get it. They don't see what I see. He tells them he called me and "we talked" for 15 min. They don't know the truth. They don't know he was narcissistic and talked about himself all that time and NEVER ONCE asked about me, my day, how I felt, or had a deep conversation about anything. I come off looking like the bad guy. 

So take it from someone who is a few steps ahead of you, any change you see now is temporary, an attempt to get you back. And once you're back, he can relax and go back to his old ways because that is way easier for him. This "trying stuff" is hard work for them and they can't keep it up. 

Journal! When I started journaling, things started to come into focus. It was amazing actually. Our minds play tricks on us when we are being abused and we convince ourselves it wasn't so bad or we forget details altogether. Journal and then go back and read what you wrote! It's A.MA.ZING what you will see. You can't deny what you yourself wrote. Start today. And write how bad the thing made you feel. Because that is the part that I needed to read. A couple weeks later I had convinced myself the offense wasn't so bad. But when I went back and read my words, I was pissed! I was hurt badly! I needed to see that! 

AA is good. Tell him you are proud he is doing that and getting help for himself.  But tell him to do it for himself. If he's doing it for YOU, it won't last. He has to do it for HIMself. And even if he does get clean, it's too late for you. People say my ex is a better Christian and a better person. If so, GOOD! But it's too late for me. He needed that. But he can take his new self and try it on someone else. From what our child says, I don't believe it anyway. He's just fooling some people who don't see him a lot. He's got a new character to play to his audience. Some people will never get it. 

I have gotten used to being misunderstood and being the bad guy in some people's eyes. But these people are blind and don't know the truth. I  cant waste my time and energy trying to convince them that I am right. I just...let them go. It's a shame but I will never convince them. My ex has his supporters and I just let them go. They are wrong, they are being fooled by a fool and I feel sorry for them. If they want to get to know me they will see that I'm not all the horrible things he says about me. But they don't try and that's ok. The ones who truly care about me know and support me. It's like a pruning process. I found out who my TRUE FRIENDS are and that has been a good thing to know. I lost some key players in my life but since they weren't FOR me, then it's for the best. 

Learn about boundaries and journal. Stay in therapy, just you. You're doing good. 

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Appletree

Abusers have the mindset that people control each other at all times. If he doesn't control you then you control him, and he cannot allow that. He will not change. 

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