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Verbally abusive wife

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You get used to the reality you're in and never realise that things aren't right - you get so sucked into the situation and your mind adapts to it that you just accept it and make do, especially when you become isolated. My relationship with Erica has probably been wrong from the start. I'm going to post a few excerpts of our history here to give you an idea, however this is just the tip of the iceberg.

I'd really appreciate any feedback on this... until recently I'd half-convinced myself that most of this stuff was part of a normal relationship we got together so young I've not got much of a point of comparison, and I've only just relatively recently "woken up" and realised that things are not right, a lot of that realisation from reading this website and “the other one”.

(Names changed ... and sorry, this came out LONG, even though I feel I’ve barely scratched the surface.)

I was bullied at school from the ages of 5 until 13 - and very badly bullied toward the end of that period. I know that's part of the reason I historically had very poor self esteem.

So, when I met Erica in 1991 - I was 18, she 17, it was enough for me that someone seemed interested in me, because I didn't believe that was possible. My school bullies had made me say out loud "No one likes me" and things like that... I guess it had sunk in eventually. We started dating quickly, I went away to University, she was in her final year of school, and we had a long-distance relationship for most of the next year (we split up for part of that time) which mostly went fine.

No real alarm bells so far, except when we got back together after the split her mother waved a kitchen knife in my face and told me "If you ever upset my daughter again, I'll kill you." I thought she was joking.

In 1992 Erica didn't get the grades she needed for her first choice of university and instead took another course in the same city where I was studying - though always said this was because it was the best option for her studies, and she was not following me there. Problems from this period ... I'm naturally quiet and take time to think things over, but when I did so she would continually (and I mean continually... ) pester me to know what I was feeling or what I was thinking about until I gave her some kind of answer. If we went to any kind of social event she would get cross with me if I didn't spend the majority of the time talking to her. (Isn't the idea of a social event to meet new people?).

We got engaged in 1994 - but really I think I never made the decision to marry her, it was clear what she wanted and I just went with the flow. She's always told me that I'm lucky to have her and that no one else would put up with me, and I was afraid to be alone. When we got engaged my mother warned me off and said she was worried about me being with someone who always seemed to be putting me down and making me miserable. (You listened to your mother's advice on relationships at the age of 21? Me neither).

Fast forward to 1995-1998 when we were newlyweds. The same problems with social events kept on - I was in trouble if I spoke to anyone else in more than passing. I lost many older friends with females because she disapproved of them and it wasn't worth the argument. I was close to my ex-girlfriend (strictly as friends) and Erica insisted that "normal people don't stay friends with their ex", and made me so uncomfortable about any contact we made that I eventually gave up trying. (If reminded of this now, Erica insists that I was playing her and my ex-girlfriend off against each other - completely different to the version of events I remember, and my ex-girlfriend when I asked her later was oblivious to me doing anything wrong). I would go out one evening a week to do sport, and she would scream and cry for half an hour before I went telling me it was completely unfair that I left her like this every week, that if I loved her I would stay in with her and not "keep abandoning" her.

When Erica was pregnant with our eldest daughter, she started complaining that I snored and would kick and hit me at night on a VERY regular basis to stop me, to the extent that I frequently had bruises from it. In the morning, even if I showed her the bruises, the answer was always something along the lines of "Don't be silly, I couldn't have done that" and "Are you sure you didn't bump into the furniture." As you might imagine, I gradually started sleeping more and more on the sofa bed in another room.

In 2002 I applied to retrain as a teacher and from the time I began applying to when I started the training she was continually telling me that I would never cope with it, that I didn't have the confidence to do this, that I would never survive in front of a classroom of teenagers.

In 2004 when our son was born she became increasingly critical of every thing I did or didn't do ... housework, how much time I spent with her or the children, how much time I spent on work, how well I did jobs around the house, how much time I spent on the computer. I started suffering from severe and frequent migraines at this time, and she made a point every time of telling me how inconvenient they were for the family, and told me that if I didn't sort them out, she would take the children and leave me.

Over this time, whenever I spoke to friends or family on the phone, she would heckle and make me as uncomfortable as possible and make it impossible to carry on a fluent conversation with them. If I spoke when she was on the phone, I would get shouted at. I hadn't even realised until recently, but as a result I spoke to my friends and family less and less until I was barely in touch with them at all. Similarly, if I was reading or watching television, she would continually talk to me but if I interrupted her reading I could expect an explosion in return.

In 2006-2007 there was a particularly bad period of six months where her criticism was literally continuous, and if I was upset by it was my fault... "Everyone calls people useless, it's not normal to take it to heart like you do" was one phrase (she used the word "useless" about me a lot, and loudly, in that period). Another one was "You must have asperger's or autism, you take criticism so literally". She was also violent in the day time five times around this period, one time pushing me into a door frame so hard I had a long purple bruise up the length of most of my spine (she did this because I'd said I was planning to go out with some friends for a coffee). During this same period, any problem between my son and daughter, my daughter was blamed for and shouted at - whereas my son could do no wrong. Watching her put down my daughter the way she'd done with me, was the first time I gained enough objectivity (!) to realise there was actually a problem.

In Spring 2007 I almost left, but couldn't face splitting my children up or leaving my daughter to be cared for with someone looking after her like that.

From Summer 2007, I decided to put a brave face on things and do whatever it took to make Erica as happy as possible... and she realised that her behaviour had caused a problem and tried to change. The changes seemed to only be temporarily, and I realised how much I was "turning off" most of who I really was in order to get a quiet life... Her criticism diminished for a short while but then increased and I adapted the way I acted more and more to compensate. Fortunately she had started behaving fairly with our children.

In Summer 2009, I lost my job (later receiving payment for unfair dismissal). Erica took control of my job hunt, insisting that I had to do exactly these things, contact these companies, and speak to these people - and bugged me day by day (and sometimes hour by hour) about why I hadn't done what she'd told me to. She transferred my unfair dismissal payment (10,000!) to a bank account only she has access to, saying she wanted it in a savings account but couldn't set one up in both our names by herself. I objected and said it should be somewhere we both had access to, but she waved away my objections each time I raised them.

In Autumn 2009, I was woken up to find her fingernails scratching into my eye socket (I can still see this, it is not a good experience), she said she thought she was "gently massaging my face to stop me snoring" ... I was completely unconvinced by this explanation, it was really nasty.

Over the last few months I've been having another bad bout of migraines and frankly don't have the energy to keep pandering to her manipulation and to pretend that everything's fine. Three weeks ago I told her I wanted a separation.

When things were getting quite heated pre-separation, my mother wrote this to Erica:

"forgive me love but we have all been on the end of your sharp tongue, and the only praise I have heard you dole out is to the children. If you do say something nice it is qualified by a "but" couldn't you have done it this way or something else instead and you end up wondering why you bothered in the first place."

My brother wrote this to me last week:

“I think that the stress of coping with Erica's constant criticism has been at the root of a lot of your illnesses”

and he told me during a recent visit that he’s always noticed that Erica blames everyone else apart from herself when anything goes wrong.

I’d never actually told either of them anything of my point of view of how Erica’s behaviour affected me, and it was very good for my sanity to have it confirmed from outside – she always either denies what happened or justifies it, and that’s messed with my head big time on occasion as I’ve seriously doubted how I remembered things. To most outsiders that don’t spend a lot of time with us as a family, Erica appears a nice, reasonable person.

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:this is abuse:

Welcome to Our Place NewBeginnings, but sorry you have to be here.

I'm glad you have received validation from your family. The self-doubt can be overwhelming and I think most of us can identify with wondering if we are/were over-reacting or not.

You're not over-reacting NewBeginnings. The way you are being treated is wrong and you don't deserve it.

It might be a good idea to post this in the main forum as well. There is a lot more traffic there and many wise, wonderful people who can help.

:welcome to:


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:welcome to: NewBeginnings

It certainly does sound like you are dealing with a very unhealthy situation. Your wife does sound very controlling and is definitely intent on keeping you isolated from any potential support.

It sound like what is going on with the children is also quite unhealthy.

Please join us in the Main Forum so you can explore your options and receive advice and understanding.

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