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Abusive relationship or personal emotional issues?


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Very long post, sorry. I have a lot of pent up things to say.

To begin with, I am aware that I need therapy badly. I can't afford it right now, so I've been trying to deal with things on my own.


A little into my past: I met my real father when I was 10 or so, and he flat out told me that it was because he's paying for me and wants his time. He called me on holidays and saw me once every year/ other year, tried to flee child support, and didn't pay the last month before I turned 18, then he completely cut off contact. (Following a visit that I paid for to see him, in which he made a point to tell me that I wasn't in his will and he was leaving everything to his new son.)


My mother married my stepdad when I was young, but I was raised calling him by his name, never dad. So in my mind, I never actually HAD a father. He molested me regularly for two years through middle school, until I began wearing pants to bed and locking my door to keep him away. My mother found out when yelling at me for liking a boy in HS, and had me take two lie detector tests before she believed me enough to ask him. He immediately admitted it, and she moved us out, then held the threat of "you want to go live with him?" over my head for the next several years.


My mother has always been emotionally and physically abusive to me, from hiding food and telling my little brother that I ate it all because I'm a "selfish fat pig and I want him to starve" to dragging me around the house by my hair, to not allowing me to talk to any therepists because she said that I would tell them too much about our family. She moved in with a new boyfriend and left my brother and I to live with my stepfather. She's pretty heavily into drugs now, is in an abusive relationship herself (she would show up on our doorstep drunk and beat up by him and then would leave again to go home to him) and has little to do with me anymore.


I have had a LOT of trouble dealing with my past, but I am trying to be strong and move on past it, or at least deal with it. I realize how damaged I am from it, but in a way I still feel like I'm being stupid or selfish for "blaming" things on my past. I'm not sure if I'm making a martyr out of myself and just feeling sorry for myself as an excuse, half of the time.


I've been living with my fiance for a little over a year now. He is usually the most caring, supportive, wonderful man I've ever known. I get anything I want, he tells me I'm beautiful and sometimes leaves me little love notes or makes me breakfast in bed.. He's very good to me. Usually.

If we disagree on ANYTHING, though. Anything at all. He blows up at me and always turns any problems around to be my fault. He says that I'm too controlling and that he feels smothered, and that -I ruined- his social life. He's never hit me or pushed me or anything like that, but he breaks my things, tells me that this is all his stuff, tells me to go home, calls me insane and a bitch, almost always gives me the silent treatment and will go to bed in the middle of the day just to be away from me... We can never just talk.

We both had trust issues coming into the relationship, and we're both very posessive. We have basically cut off contact with our old friends to focus on the relationship, as a mutual thing. We don't go out to bars or anything like that, we mostly just stay home and play computer games together or watch movies together. He says all the time that he wants the relationship like this, but then he turns around and says I force him to. He's changed the password on his bank account so I can't get any money, and threatens to break my phone if I say I'm going to call my parents for money when we're fighting.

I don't work, he's navy. My choice, but he is very supportive of it. He had a wife before, and has a four year old daughter with her that he hasn't seen in years, but still pays child support and gets cards and pictures and the like.


I can't tell anymore if I'm causing the troubles in this relationship, or if he is being unreasonable and I'm just too stupid to get out.

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i'm so sorry to hear of your appalling childhood. it is hard to imagine that you could get out of that, and have a healthy relationship as an adult, without therapy. yes, you are right, therapy would be wise.


your life sounds as though it is very socially isolated. this is not healthy. cutting out other people from your life is not healthy. we all need friends and other people in our lives.


focusing too much on each other leads to control, interdependence and the opportunity for verbal and physical abuse to go unchecked. living in isolation doesn't work in the long run. in short, you'll drive each other nuts.


i understand you have trust issues. as a child, you were betrayed by the very people who should have protected you.


your fiance is displaying abusive, controlling behaviour. and you seem almost powerless to do something about it. just as you were powerless to avoid the abuse heaped upon you in childhood. what your stepfather and mother did, was an abuse of power. eventually you did do something about it. now it's time for you to reach out again, and get some help for yourself.


writing about your situation on the forum is a brave first step. now please get some professional help. you may find that your fiance doesn't like this, but please believe me, you need to do it.


and reconnect with other people. that is essential.

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You mentioned you couldn't afford professional help, well try going to women's health centers. Get involved in women's groups, they would definately help with talking about this stuff in a confidential manner, and would also give you insight into relationships outside of your partner. Do not isolate yourself with your fiance. Although you both may feel it is best, it's not! As for him doing what he does to you, it is completely unacceptable! He should not throw your hurtful past in your face only to make you feel worse about it! No one deserves to be verbally abused. There are all forms of abuse, and he's taking the verbal form. Good luck, I hope you find some resources where you live. There should be local health clinics with info as far as therapy or abused women's groups go.

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Thank you for the reply.

My life is very socially isolated, yes. It always has been, though. I've always had an unhealthy.. desire? need? to control friends / relationship partners (not aggressively, but, by being very selective to choose friends who had no other close friends) So it's always worked ok, as far as I saw it. Though, obviously, now I feel horribly selfish. I prevented my best friend of five years from ever getting involved with anyone because I didn't want him taken. I'm trying to "just stop that" and "just get over it." (Hopefully you understand what I'm saying with that. So much easier said than done)

I've really only ever had lasting friendships with people online.. I have problems with group social situations.


"focusing too much on each other leads to control, interdependence and the opportunity for verbal and physical abuse to go unchecked. living in isolation doesn't work in the long run. in short, you'll drive each other nuts"

That is probably true. I was thinking that that was probably a major factor in whats going on. It's just going to be hard to adjust to not being able to lock everyone else out of his life, and still keep my close friends, like I always had before. That's something I can definately see I need to work on.


To be honest, and I know I posted here seeking advice so I really have no ground to say, but I don't THINK he's being abusive... Granted, I asked because I don't know how to tell, but it doesn't seem like he's just lashing out for no reason. He overreacts, I think, but it's generally only over things that have been fought about over and over. (Usually, him talking to people)

Last night, after the episode that got me thinking enough to post here, we finally cooled down and he got me cooled down enough to calmly talk, and we did agree that we need to get in to see a couple's therepist. (It's too expensive for me to go uninsured, but the navy will pay for the couples one) and he's supposed to be making an appointment there today.

[Edit: I will look into women's centers here, I didn't know they existed..]


When things are good in this relationship, it feels REALLY good, and safe, and I really do trust him. I know for a fact that he's NOT going to cheat and he's NOT going to replace me.. But there's still that nagging fear of it?

And, not to be self-degrading, but I know that I can be very hard to live with a lot of the time, and tend to namecall and yell a lot myself. I know I have to learn to stop that immediately, too, because I have trouble talking about important without getting angry/crying.


It's weird, because since I've been with him, I've lost SO much hate and anger, and gained a lot more self respect... but now instead of being so horribly MAD, I get sad about things I used to get aggressive about.

Sigh I feel like a mess!


I probably do need to reconnect with other people, yes.... but that means allowing him to, and that terrifies me.


[edit] In reply to Roxyg: Oh, no! He doesn't throw my past back at me, I didn't mean to say that. I haven't even told him about most of it. (Denial? I don't know, I just don't see any reason to bring it all into the open again, I'd rather it stayed in the past.)



Very sorry if it seems like I'm arguing with advice.. I do appreciate it.

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it's excellent that the navy is providing you with some counselling service. i am relieved to hear it.


please bring up the issue of your social isolation, it is indeed a major factor. and the jealousy you feel when he has contact with other people. do you have the right to lock friends etc out of his life? it is controlling.


the most important question: what are you afraid of?


the name-calling is a result of your abusive past. this can be worked on with the therapist.


god bless and best of luck. therapy will take some time, it's not an instant fix. i hope you can go the distance and both of you can put some much-needed balance into your lives.


i send you a hug :bunny: and my thoughts will be with you.

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I agree with the others. Therapy would be a good thing.


Yes he is verbally and emotionally abusive to you. Maybe it doesn't seem like it to you as that is what you know from your upbringing.


Another thing that is a red flag is that your bf has a child whom he has abandoned.

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BTW, i'm not surprised you've had difficulty in feeling comfortable in group social situations, and friendships have been testing. your childhood abuse has had far-reaching effects.


be brave, and take this opportunity to tell the navy counselling service everything you have written on-line.


it sounds as though you are ready to take a step towards change.

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hi, I had a chaotic childhood as well and had a similar pattern of socially isolating and getting into romantic relationships that mirrored the chaos and abuse that I dealt with as a child. I have been in therapy several years, although I am not currently in therapy (I fought with my last therapist and stormed out), I am in AA and regularly attend support groups because I have a subtance abuse problem.


Many times when we grow up in emotionally chaotic environments where we feel threatened or insecure, we learn skills to survive -- but those skills very often don't help us to thrive.


We tend to seek out patterns of relating to others than may not necessarily be healthy or comfortable, but the dynamic is familiar.


Also, you both seem to have controlling behaviors. That can stem from trust issues and growing up dealing with abuse. You attempt to control your external environment and the people around you, but as you cannot do this, your unconscious attempts are continually frustrated and you can build up a lot of rage, at yourself and others, because your attempt to prevent the chaos that you live in is always thwarted.


It is a long, hard road. But with the proper support you may learn better strategies to cope with the normal every day stressors of life and relationships.


But the thing is, you have established very unhealthy patterns of interacting with your partner. This will be extremely difficult to change.

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Ack! "Another thing that is a red flag is that your bf has a child whom he has abandoned." No, no, no. He fought in court for her and is supposed to have shared custody but the ex conveniently moves/ changes numbers when his time comes up. He did NOT abandon his daughter, he pays child support dedicatedly and tries to see her.. His ex left him. (which I guess should be an indication too...? But people divorce all the time, so can he really be held at fault for that?)



"please bring up the issue of your social isolation, it is indeed a major factor. and the jealousy you feel when he has contact with other people. do you have the right to lock friends etc out of his life? it is controlling.


the most important question: what are you afraid of?"

I never really adknowledged being antisocial as a problem, honestly.. And no, I know I don't have that right, and I know he doesn't. I do realize that I'm controlling... believe me.. I WANT to stop. Just.. When I tell myself I will, it doesn't affect anything. I can sit and rationalize and talk myself out of getting upset, but if someone so much as IMs hi to him, I -feel- upset. I struggle with it and can usually cope, yes, but in the moment, I always feel that jealous stab.

[Edit: Lord, that's probably the biggest issue here, isn't it? I must look absolutely insane to you guys... I do want to be able to not feel that though, I really honestly do. I wish I could be actually ok inside with him havign friends, instead of just masking my discomfort. How do you do that?]


I'm not really sure what I'm afraid of. I guess that if he has other people to talk to, he won't need to talk to me. I know that isn't true, though, so I don't know.


Ok. If he is being verbally abusive (and if I'm willing to be strong enough to accept that and what that means for my future).. Can that be fixed? Could the relationship still survive and become healthy with counselling?

And, could it also be that I'm verbally abusive too? When does yelling become verbal abuse?


I can't help but still think there's a LOT of good here, in the relationship, in him, and in my mental state after meeting him. A lot of bad, too, I guess, but a LOT of good.. He has changed a lot of things since I moved here just as I have, and has always been willing to try to create ways to fix our problems, ways to handle getting upset, etc. He seems to want it to work just as much as me, and he does admit that he is screwed up too, (when he's not throwing a fit,) and I really hope that it's possible to identify and work through our problems. (They can't ALL be his, just like they can't ALL be mine. Right?)


I think what I'm asking is, is it still mild enough to be corrected, or am I just being stupid by not moving on?

(This has been so much more liberating and comforting than I expected, by the way.... it feels good to be able to actually talk about it to people with objective points of view. Even though the more I read back over what I write, the more messed up I feel. Thank you again.. Realizing you're a nut is the first step to healing, right? argh)

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similar stories... and I can see some very very unhealthy patterns in your thought processes... Being damaged as a child leads to damaged adults, no question about it. As much as you are trying to tur your life around it's not really working. You are finding yourself in the same patterns over and over am I right?


Abuse is abuse, sometimes it just takes awhile to finally come to a head. The signs are there, you've already seen them even though you don't want to. Because of your past you are going to have a hard time setting some boundaries... that's a major problem with an abusive childhood. We learn to take responsibility for other peoples actions, and don't always learn to take responsibility for our own. Too bust with everyone else...


Boundaries are also where you will have trouble with friendships as well... you aren't always sure where you end and someone else begins. You need to learn to define your boundaries as well as respecting other peoples. Set some boundaries with yourself, I do not have to put up with X,Y, or Z. Don't waver on those boundaries... If it makes you unhappy you should not have to live that way... I have learned to walk away a lot more, and wait for my husband to come to me when he is ready to talk. I've had to teach him slowly that certain behaviors are not acceptable.


So if it makes you feel any better, you aren't any different than most of us who have been abused as children. These are all learned behaviors, and as such can be UNlearned...


There are lots of books out there on boundaries, and they are a good first step.

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i think you are now asking us questions that can now safely be addressed to the counsellor. the fact that you have written so much down online, so eloquently, tells me you are ready to make changes.


is it mild enough to be corrected? we're not therapists. but your childhood trauma was not mild. you both have issues. take it one step at a time. will your relationship survive? again, i have no idea and no-one on this forum should be silly enough to make any prediction.


the fact that you are going to the counsellor together is a good sign.


yes, you're probably jealous if his attention is diverted by other people. i guess you may fear being abandoned. you suffered emotional abandonment and deprivation as a child. the needy child is still inside you. there is work to be done to understand the emotional drivers that cause this jealousy. professional help will identify the issues clearly.

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Well, what I'm wanting to know, is does this have to be point blank, black and white, "Yes, he is going too far, yes, I have to leave him, no fixing it, no questions." Is it ok to be hopeful, or is it just me being weak?

It is healthy to want to mend the relationship, right?


I will definately address these things when we talk with someone.

Though, to be annoyingly honest.. Even if I was told here that a little is already too much and I need to get out, I would still stay and try to work on it through therapy. That seems so counterproductive to asking for help here, but I know it's true.

I feel almost wrong for saying it, (because of my mom's experiences, and hearing her say she loves her bf only because she's too weak to escape) but I do love him, and I know that he loves me. I am very sure of that. He's only ever mean when we fight, I hope I got that across. He's absolutely perfect and adoring and treats me like gold when we're not fighting. Is that just a typical abusive pattern?

No matter how much I learn about all of this, I still feel so uneducated. :/


"We learn to take responsibility for other peoples actions, and don't always learn to take responsibility for our own. Too busy with everyone else... "

Right on target. Constantly. So much.

And yes, in reply to other posts, I do see the patterns, I just can't seem to stop them. Is it even possible to correct these things on my own?


(as an aside, very good on you, Blind_Otter! Always very happy to hear of people actively taking charge of addictions, as weird and off topic as that is)

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not even possible to stop them on your own. you're still thinking in isolation. time to reach out, there's great resources for help out there.

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He's only ever mean when we fight, I hope I got that across. He's absolutely perfect and adoring and treats me like gold when we're not fighting. Is that just a typical abusive pattern?


The swing between adoring and awful? Yes, that's definitely one of the patterns.

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Thanky kindly....but lemme just say that your perceptions can get really distorted when you are isolated - the only regular interaction that you have is an unhealthy one, and honestly, from the history you've described, would you even know/feel comfortable with an interaction that WAS healthy?


It's possible but not probable that you can correct things on your own. The thing is that you need an objective, outside viewpoint. Someone who can listen to your internal monologue (if you allw them to) and pluck out what is important to focus your concentration on. Someone who can point out your distorted thinking and feeling patterns that were established in your childhood.


It's easy to think in circles if left to your own devices.

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Black and white is not a bad thing for someone in an abusive relationship, but it's also good to have varying degrees of where it will take you... I had to make rules, and I had to stick to those rules to get out of the cycle... but I didn't have to leave him...


Hitting is my absolute end point... he knows this, and because I set other boundaries before it could get to that point and stuck to them he knows I will do it.


Emotional Abuse (name calling, humiliation, intimidation etc) are more like time out offenses, if he can't control himself I will remove myself from the situation until he can...


Picking on me, teasing... they are annoying and will be dealt with on a case by case basis... I'll pick back lol. (I've noticed his reaction to the above clauses was to pick on me instead of be rude to me, but we actually enjoy teasing each other on a friendly level)


That's a pretty boiled down version but you get the idea... I had to decide where my "levels" were and you have to decide on your own... You don't have to leave him, but it helps to have a clear cut line to know when it has been crossed...


Another thing about boundaries that is important to remember is to think of it in terms of property. Your property has definite boundaries and these boundaries are in a rather complicated form. A property description describes them, but you can't actually see them. This is why neighbors often get into property disputes. Once those boundariesare defined you can put a fence in it's proper location and then everyone can see exactly where your boundaries are...


right now even you are unsure where you boundaries are, so your fiance can't possibly know where they are. Get them clearly defined, spend some time figuring out where your lines are and then build a fence... let him know where they are and enforce the boundaries... then if it doesn't work put your foot down.


(PS my husband and I had to seperate twice to get the boundaries through... first hrough court order and domestic violence charges. We stayed apart two weeks, and I let him back in. He still didn't quite understand and starting yelling at me one day over something really stupid... We split up again and stayed apart for over six months... still dating but I refused to start living together until he understood that yelling, violence, etc. were not going to be a part of my life or my childrens lives anymore. He finally got it and he really changed... I mean really, sincerely, and fully...


My family can't believe the changes in him, and neither can I. He still gets grumpy, and sometimes I still can't handle his anger but he keeps it in check more. I often leave the house when he is like that and tell him to call me when he loves me again. I go to my Grandmothers house and wait... no calls, no checking up on him, nothing... usually within an hour he loves me again and is ready to talk... he's amazing now.


So no you don't have to leave him, not forever... just set the boundaries and see where it goes. Being firm was the hardest thing I've ever had to do... but we are both happier now...)

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Thank you so much for that, Boshema, that's what I was hoping to hear.

The counselling is set to begin in febuary, and we've talked calmly about both his anger and my controlling, which he and I admit to needing and wanting to change, so hopefully that's a start.


If it's not prying.. What do you do when you guys do get mad at each other?

Does it not kill you to seperate yourself from the situation? I would be pacing and angry and upset the entire time.. Or do you just overcome that for the greater good of the outcome?

When I moved here, he would go in the other room if we were starting to fight (or even go and drive for ten or fifteen minutes) and I told him to argue back because I thought the silence was unhealthy... Was I wrong in doing that? Because a lot of people here seem to be saying to remove yourself from the situation as a healthy alternative to yelling.


It's been voiced from day one that hitting, pushing, throwing anything at me, threatening to hit me.. etc is an absolute end-all, and that he's not to ever say he wants to break up or doesn't love out of anger, and he doesn't do any of those things.


I guess I do need to set more boundries, for things other than relationship-ending offenses. (Namely, for not breaking my things, even if it is just keyboards and other little replacable things. I suppose it needs to be expressly defined what is mine, too. He's flighty about that one, though, I assume because his ex took most of 'their' things when she left. Unreasonable for me to pay for her actions, though, so I need to find a way to get that openly defined without it looking like an issue of 'I want to know what's mine to take when I leave'. Not really sure how to go about that.)

In all reality, though, I think he should probably be setting more boundries for me as well, and I'm not sure I like the idea of that. (I mean.. if I came to you saying that he didn't allow me to have friends or go anywhere without him, and yelled at me over phone calls and instant messages, I'm fairly certain you'd all be agreeing that that's unhealthy..) Will be glad to get in to talk to a professional, that's for sure.

Thanks for all the replies, everyone.

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