Severe emotional abuse - Would you leave? How?

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Registered: 12-31-1969
Severe emotional abuse - Would you leave? How?
Thu, 08-16-2012 - 9:08pm


I am a 29 year old woman who desperately needs advice.

I came here from another country to study, which is how I met my husband 7 years ago. He is 9 years older than me and has a child with another woman. I always had my doubts regarding him, but found comfort in being around him, since I had no family here.

I constantly made excuses for him and gave him the benefit of the doubt. Unfortunately, I believed all his lies and his false presentation of himself.

After 2 years of dating I became pregnant and we married. It was during my pregnancy that his true colors started to show and he hurt me beyond words both on our wedding day and during our disastrous honeymoon.

He has always been insecure, jealous and controlling, but it wasn't until after the birth of our child that I realized how emotionally abusive he is. He is cold hearted, has no emotions and couldn't care less about me or my feelings. Whenever I feel so sad and hurt that I start crying he won't even look at me. He is mean.

Any of my attempts to connect with him are unsuccessful. They are met with ridicule, undermining, frustration or most often, silence. He is emotionally unavailable. Life with him is one long silent treatment. He refuses to speak to me or say anything to me for most of the day - for no reason at all. When I inquire about his silence it only gets worse. He refuses to have any type of conversation with me - especially ones that involve our marriage or our future. He never has anything to say to me. A couple of times when I've really tried to get a sentence out of him he's said " I have nothing to say to you", "I don't know what you want me to tell you". Questions about everyday issues are met with one word answers at best, such as "yeah". I have tried everything throughout or relationship to no avail. Even when it gets serious he refuses to care and just leaves the room or the house.

I am a great person with a great heart, and have always cared tremendously about his and our child's well being, yet he refuses to acknowledge any of it. To him I am the scum of the earth, the root of all evil. Everything that goes wrong is always mine or someone else's fault, he refuses to take responsibility for anything. He is passive aggressive and is always cursing at and badmouthing other people. He is always in a bad mood and does everything with unwillingness and resistance. He has hurt me physically too, even when I was pregnant, but it is the emotional abuse that has gotten out of control.

I have made efforts to make friends to no avail, partially because he is making it very difficult for me to have any social interaction or network. If I try to do anything after work I am automatically cheating and he is using our child as a weapon to control my whereabouts. He never believes I am where I say I am. He doesn't want me to speak to females either, as he is convinced I would cheat with them too or that they would talk me into bad ideas.

I used to be a happy person but as a result of his mistreatment I have been depressed for over 1 year. I don't have energy to do anything and he makes me feel very unattractive, unloved and unwanted. He might want his needs taken care of about once a month, but other than that he will not give me any physical affection. He won't look at me and never has anything to say to me. He ignores my text messages and phone calls for as long as possible. He is never happy to see me or hear from me. I am always an inconvenience to him. I can accept that he doesn't want me, but I find it very hard to accept that he refuses to have a constructive conversation with me after everything I have given him.

I am constantly trying to start over, trying to connect with him. I often ask him if he wants to do something, anything, but he is not interested and will not make any plans with me. He does not share anything with me and lives a separate life and keeps me in the dark about nearly everything. His only concern in life seems to be image - there is no depth whatsoever. He has no appreciation for me or for family.

I have tried to find explanations for his behavior - is it abuse, melancholia, aspbergers syndrome, narcissism or even all of it, but no matter what it is I find his behavior unbearable.

My only dream in life was to have a family and a loving, supportive husband. Our daughter is almost 4 years old and I would have loved to give her a sibling more than anything, but I can barely imagine myself with him much longer.

Some of the most difficult aspects of his abuse is that he doesn't trust me and doesn't believe anything I say - so he is making it impossible to have a healthy conversation with him - before even trying.

I have asked him many times what he wants and whether he wants me to leave - and eventually he'll say that he doesn't care and that I can do whatever I want, and that I will never be more than a one night stand to someone anyways.

I don't have any friends or family here so I don't have any support and nowhere to go. I do have a full time job but almost nothing in savings.

How do I know if it's time to leave and how do I do it? Will I be able to do it all by myself? Or would it be a bad idea to leave considering I have no one to lean on?

Thank you in advance for any advice.

Avatar for happyasme
iVillage Member
Registered: 01-11-2012
Fri, 08-17-2012 - 8:53am


I wanted to offer you support and big warm (HUG) of encouragement.  I can relate with much of your story.  I will let one of the CLs or those who have been on this board give detailed expert advise.    I will tell you this:

Please call your local women's help line or resource centre.  They will listen and guide you to the services and options available to you. 

Also, do not have another child with this man.  A baby will not solve the problem or even tone down the abuse, it will just make the whole thing bigger and messier and more difficult to get out of.

You can do it 'all by yourself', meaning you can do it with the people and resources available to you.

Avatar for cajunharmony
iVillage Member
Registered: 02-28-2001
Sat, 08-18-2012 - 1:08am
Sarah, just wanted to let you know I've read your post and will respond tomorrow. I've been tied up taking care of a friend who had unexpected surgery. Glad to have you here, but sorry it came to this. I'll post more tomorrow.

Mama Harmony

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-27-2004
Sat, 08-18-2012 - 10:55am

Hi, Sarah!

While you're waiting for other board members to say hello and comment on your situation, why don't you read through the resources on the board's Community Website--  You'll find lots of helpful information there.

Avatar for cajunharmony
iVillage Member
Registered: 02-28-2001
Sat, 08-18-2012 - 12:41pm
Thanks, geo. I appreciate you stepping up while I'm dealing with all that's going on around here. Off to do wound irrigation and debridement, then repacking. NOT a fun job for me or the patient, not to mention exhausting. Also a dear friend of mine's husband died very unexpectedly this week and that's made for a hard week as well. Again, thanks.

Mama Harmony

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-12-2008
Sun, 08-19-2012 - 2:40pm

*Sigh*  Honey, I may not post often (probably been a couple of years) but something in your post was so familiar to me that I needed to sign in so that I could respond to you. 

You said: "Life with him is one long silent treatment. He refuses to speak to me or say anything to me for most of the day - for no reason at all. When I inquire about his silence it only gets worse."  and I had to respond. 

Women especially are trained from a very young age to share their feelings, problems, etc...  and abusive men know this - as a matter of fact they count on it as a means of control.  You see, if we are begging them to tell us "what's wrong" then they keep control.  They maintain control of the information and in so doing keep control of us.  And abuse is all about control - be it information, our bodies, our thoughts, our reactions - it doesn't matter because they are the ones in control.  

I remember (oddly, with some affection) the silent treatment... you see in my case it was, with the exception of the twins being normal toddler twins, quiet for a change and after weeks of nearly constant screaming at me or at the twins the silence was, truly, blessed relief.  I was never so stupid as to provoke the silent treatment but let me tell you I welcomed it in much the same way as the first signs of spring are welcomed after a long, cold winter. 

You ask what *I* would do...  What *I* would do is completely immaterial.  That is not said to be "heartless" though it may appear that way at first glance.  I'm in a different "place" than you are and very likely have different resources readily available than you do at the moment.  That said:  I would suggest contacting the nearest women's resource center - they have a wealth of advice and support readily available which is going to be local to you and a lot more "helpful" than what I could tell you while I am sitting out here in the wilds of Northern Michigan.  On the other hand, if you're out here in the wilds of Northern Michigan this "grouchy auld redhead" will happily hold out her hand and say "c'mon - we're getting you and the baby outta here now!"  secure in the knowledge that every state police officer for 100 miles will back me up until we can get you into a shelter - even if that means someone camping out at my house for days. 

Huge gentle hugs.  


Avatar for cajunharmony
iVillage Member
Registered: 02-28-2001
Sun, 08-26-2012 - 12:13pm

Hi Sarah and welcome to the board. Thank you for your patience in waiting for my response. It's been a long hard week with a lot going on for me.  Everyone who has responded to your post so far have given you excellent input.  Yes, your husband is very emotinally abusive and YES, I would leave.  With that being said, I must qualify my statement.  This board's members operate from a place of personal empowerment, meaning that this is a choice that you must make.  No one can make it for you, because, while our stories are all alike in that they are stories of abuse, all of our stories are also different, because we are all different.  It is my firm belief that getting free of domestic abuse is all about EDUCATION, EDUCATION, EDUCATION.  The more you know about domestic abuse, its dynamics and how abusers work, the more you are able to look at your own situation and make the decisions that are right for YOU.  Unfortunately, the legal system very rarely addresses emotional/mental abuse unless it is a component in a case where physical abuse has also occurred.  Also, unfortunately, very few shelters are able to offer shelter to someone fleeing domestic abuse because there are so many who have suffered physical abuse and are literally running for their lives.  There just isn't enough room.  HOWEVER, your local domestic abuse agency can assist you with advocacy, information, counseling and support group, as well as (and this is VERY IMPORTANT) a safety plan for you and your dd.  Since there is no physical abuse happening right now, with an abuser, there is no telling if/when it will turn physically violent.  Note that I am not saying that physical abuse is worse than emotinal/mental abuse.  It's not.  It's just that "the system" is set up more for dealing with physical abuse than the other components.  The most important things I would suggest for you would to first get with your local dv agency and begin working on a plan to get out.  The first thing would be your safety plan, as survivors are at most risk while leaving their abuser and in the few weeks afterwards.  The second thing I would suggest is to QUIETLY and CAREFULLY plan your leaving.  Begin gathering your documentation and getting copies of it safely stored away from your home so that you will have it already, should you have to suddenly leave.  This documentation includes birth certificates for you and your dd, social secuirty cards, marriage license, financial documents, documents related to home ownership, documentation of his income, and banking records.  Also start documenting his treatment of you and your dd.  I call this building your "Pearl Harbor" file.  The goal isn't to destroy him or his life, but to provide accurate documentation so that you will be awarded what you truly are entitled to should you choose to leave and divorce him. 

Plotting revenge or payback against an abuser is a huge waste of time and energy.  Whether it is in the next week or 20 years from now, he will get his, but concentrating energy and effort on that, or on trying to "make him understand what he is doing" are both, IMO, useless.  The idea is to rebuild YOUR life in a way that will make YOU happy, safe, secure so that you can raise your daughter safely, and with the knowledge that NO ONE "deserves" to live with an abuser, or HAS to stay with them.  Yes, leaving an abuser can lead to a period of mourning, because the loss of a marriage, the "dream", is a very real loss and IS to be mourned.  It's very hard because abusers aren't always, 24 hrs per day, horrible.  If they were, none of us would have stayed with them for the lengths of time that we do.  Abusers are master manipulators and consummate role players.  The face they present to the world is totally different than the one they present to us, and it is a false face that the world sees. 

I don't want to dump a whole lot of stuff on you right off the bat.  The boards website, which I thing Geoteo posted the link to, is an outstanding place for you to begin educating yourself about domestic abuse.  Also, it will lead you to resources available in your area that will be most helpful to you in accessing legal, financial and social services that you will need to get away and stay away from the abuser in your life.  It can be overwhelming, and many times your "conditioned mind" will do its best to keep you right where you are because stepping out of that environment can be scary, uncertain and challenging. Also, be sure to check out the book by Lundy Bancroft called Why Does He Do That?  Inside the minds of angry and controlling men.  Lundy is one of the world's greatest authorities on domestic abuse, having worked in the field for many, many years, mostly with abusers in batterer's programs.  It's a hard book to read sometimes, but so many things in it will resonate with you, and you will realize that you AREN'T all alone in your journey.  Also, getting in touch with the dv support group in your area will provide you with support and perhaps some new friends who will understand EXACTLY what you are going through.  There's nothing lonelier than being stuck in a relationship where you are emotionally and mentally abused, even if you are surrounded by others constantly.  Isolation is one of an abuser's favored tactics.  And it's weird because "they don't want you, but by golly, they don't want anyone else to have access to you either."  This is called isolation, and abusers love to use it.  One of your husbands greatest tools is that you are not native to the American culture and he uses that to keep you isolated and under his control.  He may say he doesn't care and that you are free to do whatever you want, but I'll bet it would be a whole different story if you started to operate under that premise.  I'm not saying to test it, because you know him best, and I want you to stay safe, hence the recommendation for a safety plan, and then quiet, careful planning to make your exit.  Good luck to you and please keep us posted on how you're doing.  We're always here and we care.  Remember, first and foremost is the SAFETY of you and your dd.  If things get out of hand and he refuses to let you leave or tries hurts or threatens to hurt either of you, call the police.  My best to you.

Mama Harmony

Avatar for cajunharmony
iVillage Member
Registered: 02-28-2001

Hi Sarah and welcome back.  One of the things that contacting your local domestic abuse agencies can help you with is accessing social service programs that CAN help you with resources to get out, whether it be accessing the food assistance programs, help with utilities or with finding affordable housing that you can get into without having to have a ton of money saved up.  I am concerned for you both, but especially for your dd.  She's at an age where she can feel the tension and stress of being in an abusive environment.  It confuses her that her dad won't have anything to do with her even though he is present in the home.  It wounds her, and even at her young age, she somehow thinks that it's "her fault" even though it most definitely isn't.  Children at that age are amazingly perceptive and the tension and stress can have profound effects on her.  Many times survivors say, "But the kids don't see or hear it."  While they may not, they are very attuned to the "vibes" coming off their parents.  Again, just more food for thought.  As I've stated before, the choices are yours, and yours alone, to make.  You know what will work best for you.  But please, contact your local resources and talk to them about accessing programs that may be able to help you leave more quickly.  In the meantime, keep posting, reading and learning.  Just because you choose to stay for a while doesn't mean you should stop posting.  We have members that stay for much longer than you plan to.  Support is what this board is all about, regardless of what choice you have made.  My best to you.  We're just waiting for the storm to hit here, our area is expecting tropical storm conditions in the next 24 hours, so if you don't hear from me for the next 2-3 days, it could very well be that we have lost power.

Mama Harmony