A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

Thursday Thought — Shifting Sands

Your partner has too many rules.  There are all kinds of things that have to be done just so, in the way he considers correct, or he’s going to have a fit. Everything has to be his way.

And as if that weren’t stressful enough, the rules keep changing, so there’s no way to even keep up with what he wants.  One moment he’ll get all bent out of shape because the house isn’t absolutely spotless and perfectly organized, but then at another time he’ll be complaining that you never relax.  He’ll accuse you of cheating on him if you want to get yourself dress up, but then later he’ll criticize you for never wearing anything sexy anymore.  He’ll criticize you after the two of you have been out with other people, saying you weren’t making enough of an effort to be friendly with people, but the next time he’ll say you were talking too much.  He’ll call you “fat” over and over again and harangue you about needing to lose weight, but then he’ll say you’re obsessed with counting calories and analyzing the fat content of what you’re eating.

No wonder you can’t get it right with him; there isn’t any way to get it right.  A guy who is constantly changing the rules like this wants to find fault with you, and he’s going to find a way to do it.

Don’t blame yourself for not being able to please him.  He has created a set of impossible binds for you, and that’s his issue, not yours.

[entry from Lundy Bancroft’s book, Daily Wisdom for Why Does He Do That?* pp152-3]

***IMPORTANT NOTE:  While we endorse Lundy’s writings about the dynamics of domestic abuse, we do not recommend anyone attend the ‘healing retreats’ Lundy Bancroft offers or become involved in his ‘Peak Living Network.’ See our post, ACFJ Does Not Recommend Lundy Bancroft’s Retreats or His New Peak Living Network for more about our concerns. 

*Amazon affiliate link — ACFJ gets a small percentage if you purchase via this link.

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26 Comments

  1. Stronger Now

    My life, before freedom, right there. Every day, multiple times a day, the rules would change. And I was always wrong. Always wrong. Always never enough. Trying to comply, trying to do enough, be enough, try harder, run faster, do more. Running on a treadmill with someone else pushing the control buttons to make it go faster and faster. And then mocking me for falling down and kicking me for getting hurt. And claiming he never said what I JUST heard him say, and the kids were all lying when they heard it, too.

    Is it any wonder I now have PTSD?

    • NutMeg

      I have PTSD too! Sometimes I still hear him screaming at me in my head! I’m so happy you were able to get away from it. And your analogy is so spot on. Being abused like that is like a treadmill that someone else controls. It’s awful!

  2. Brenda R

    Everything has to be his way.

    The man who I thought was going to be my partner was just this way. His rules, his way or the highway. The highway looked far more attractive. It has only been within the past couple of weeks, but I feel at peace with that decision. It wasn’t my fault. He set the bait rather well.

    An old flame from 35 or so years ago came into my families life last weekend. We’ll see. I’m cautiously optimistic, praying and watching what plays out. There are amends to be made, but he is listing what they are and humbly asking for forgiveness.

  3. Amy

    That’s the story of my former marriage. When I finally realized that I was playing a game I couldn’t win because the rules were constantly changing was when I really gave up hope. Today is the seventh anniversary of my divorce trial. So thankful the Lord was there to catch me during that difficult year.

  4. LH

    Sooooooo true!!! For years I took the blame, thinking that if I and the kids could get it right he’d finally be pleased; then one day we took a day off (home)school to reallllly clean the house after he’d complained about how dirty it was, but as soon as he walked thru the door that evening he found something else to criticize, and I finally realized that no matter how hard we tried it would never be good enough for him.

    • Stronger Now

      Yes. The exact same thing happened to me.

  5. Onlymyopinion

    Yes, yes, yes! I can see it on his face when he comes in from work, “What miniscule thing can I find that’s wrong here?” as he scans the house and yard. It always amazes me the ridiculous things he finds to pick on even if I do a million things correctly, he will HAVE to find one thing that he MUST comment on. Crazy-making at its finest.

    • Onlymyopinion, Amen girl…
      My ex abuser loved to do to me what you have described here, until I finally saw it as a form of intentional discouragement.
      After that I became focused and unstoppable.

      During our long divorce proceedings I had been working on our property trying to improve its appearance so that its selling potential would be good- if I could ever manage to get my abuser to agree to list it. (In hindsight I am so glad I did this, because had I not,- the house never would have been in the condition to sell- once the lawyers forced him to sign a realtors contract due to my proof of a looming foreclosure )

      One day after exhausting myself by completing several large yard accomplishments that totally transformed the image of our property, he came home to say, “Its too bad you couldn’t take care of such and such instead” — putting attention on something else, as if it was more important.

      This tactic is called Trivializing one’s accomplishments.

      When I was able to put a word on what he was doing, it helped me understand how to process it.

      By ignoring my accomplishments he was trying to”Trivialize” my successful efforts in fixing up the house to discourage my continuance. (Because if I was going through a divorce with him- he wanted me to end up penniless.)

      But as God would have it with my eyes wide open, it only made me more determined to stay on track with the house fix up, so I continued working hard each day.

      End of story- once he was forced by divorce lawyers to sign the listing aggreement, and the house sold even above the asking price 17 days later..
      And because we were going through a divorce he had to split that profit with me from the house sale,- which really helped me to get re established after the divorce.

      Moral of this story is.. “the Lord will help you if you will Act and Believe in your abilities”.

      • Onlymyopinion

        Thank you for that.

  6. Anewanon

    I actually struggle from the opposite problem which always has me wondering if I was the abuser: my ex was P.A. who was addicted to porn, self-gratification, and on-line gaming. He would always accuse me of needing to have everything perfect. If he were to read this, he would conclude: Yep, that’s me, I was the abused one. When in fact, it wasn’t perfection I desired, it was “connection”. He asserts that I was an unpleaseable moving target. He knew that such accusations would “get me to back off” from trying to connect.
    Did I have abandonment issues? Sure. He just made them worse and pushed me away until I was a crazy lady screaming “uncle”. Then he left (which really sent me over the edge) after all the times he would promise to connect instead.
    I don’t know which one I am sometimes.

    • Moving Forward

      My thoughts, too, as I read through this. Even now, I have to be careful to not point out the one thing missed or done incorrectly when a child shows me something – my eyes just seem to go straight to the mistake (I make a great proofreader – seems impossible to read a book or article without finding a mistake). Then I feel bad for being so negative, and often, so does the child. I fail so often, and appreciate this reminder to be careful with my words. Like for you, my stbx could nail me on this one, and tell me I was always criticizing and he was the one who had to cope with me. It was really frustrating when he claimed he wanted my “honest opinion” on his idea or whatever he wanted to talk about, then said all I ever do is criticize him. Although these articles help me see him and my situation more clearly, it also shows me much about myself that can sometimes confuse me.

  7. Trueworthy

    I relate to this as well. The house was never clean enough. Our home with 4 kids, pets, and a homeschool running out of it needed to look like my friend’s house, even though she lives alone, travels most weeks for work, and has a housekeeper! Our oldest daughter suffered from anorexia, and while I searched to find her treatment without his help or support (“just MAKE her eat!!) I was told her illness was my fault because of my own “body issues” but also told that he “really wished I’d take care of myself and lose weight”. I was told our intimacy issues were my fault when in fact his porn use was ALWAYS the issue. I was also told that his porn use was my fault because I didn’t “hold him accountable”. I could go on and on. Dear God in heaven….you cannot win with that type of person. The only thing to do is refuse to engage. I’m so incredibly thankful to be on the other side of that nonsense.

  8. “Non Validation” is the goal of the abuser.

    Why, he cant let you think that you have accomplished something significant or important– if he can make you believe something else…
    Why, you might start believing in yourself and ultimately see through his game …
    Don’t you know validating your accomplishments would blow the lid off of his plan to keep you second guessing yourself..

    My abusive ex mis-handled quite a few customers from our on line business that we once owned together.
    Many times his corresponding emails or phone calls caused customers to become irate and want a refund.
    ( he had to be right all the time and never admit error.)

    At this point he would then reach out to me to see if I could -“Save the Sale.”

    Time and time again I would preface these phone calls with praying to God to give me the right way to approach the customer to calm them down, and be able to offer a good resolution.
    Each time the customer accepted the the apology about the mishandling of their order, and the offered resolution was accepted.

    Although my abuser was relieved that he didnt have to refund the sale, (and some of them were huge) -he never wanted me to realize my individual ability.

    So I learned by this that we need to validate ourselves when we accomplish tasks, so we will become stronger and build up our self confidence.
    -Knowing that are abilities “are greater” than our abusers want us to realize .

    When the Lord finished his creation in 7 days he saw each day that “It was good.”
    I tell myself the same thing when I know I’ve worked hard and did a good job..
    It is very validating to say the words “It is good.”

    • As well as validating myself for my accomplishments when others haven’t validated them, I have developed a few other habits that give little boosts to my life. I know it sounds silly, but when I key in my PIN number when I’m paying by card at a checkout, and the screen shows “Approved” with a big tick, I drink in that tick. It’s nice to get a message of approval, even if it’s only from an electronic screen!

      And another thing I do is this. My bicycle is my main form of transport, and I often ride over a river or pass near a pond or fountain in a public garden. I make time to stop and just look at the water and watch the little caresses which the wind blows on the surface of the water, or how the wind plays with the droplets as they fall from the fountain… and I notice the wind moving the foliage of the trees. The Bible says the Holy Spirit moves like the wind. I like to think that as the vegetation and water surface is being moved by the wind, it’s like the Spirit caressing and gently influencing. I don’t want to give the impression that I’m worshipping nature like a pagan; but I’m gently attending to God’s moving upon his creation. And thankfully drinking in His peace and love.

  9. Anonymous

    Now nearly 6 months divorced I am no longer living a life of insanity. I think back to the craziness of it all!! But I know without question and beyond ALL doubt I was seeking to be a good wife, focused, committed and dedicated to pleasing my ‘husband.’ I bent over backwards and jumped through all the hoops and over obstacles to please him. He enjoyed watching the ‘show’… watching me ‘perform’ to please his EVERY demand. Took time for me to realize he was demanding I please the inordinate desires of his heart, a never-ending, sickening and wicked dehumanizing task doomed for failure and resulting in a wasted life of misery and anguish.

    I am not the crazy one. I am free and no longer live on shifting sands…

  10. MarkQ

    I listened to a sermon at an old church that was exactly this. It was a laundry list of all the mistakes we can make in prayer. We can be too this or too that, or we can not do this or that enough. Nothing was said about how much God loves us and desires us to be ourselves before Him, nothing was said about how the Spirit intercedes for us and makes even our imperfect prayers perfect before him.

    I completely felt that it was setting people up for spiritual abuse. Gaslighting people to doubt themselves and instead rely on the presumably wiser pastor and elders. I looked around and was wondering why the congregation was tolerating this abuse.

    • Anonymous

      Bravo! MarkQ, well said.

  11. Anonymous

    Reading the post and subsequent comments makes me sigh. So many years spent sifting through the lies to get to the truth. So many years spent trying to fit myself and the children into the mold he had poured for us that day, hour, minute. So many years spent going over in my mind and heart trying to figure out what was wrong and lacking in me that I was always so overwhelmed, sad, mad and unhappy.

    I recently read an article about “5 Things Sociopaths and Narcissists Say to Make You Feel Crazy.”

    1) “You over-analyze everything.”
    “They intentionally do things to make you feel on-edge or paranoid…(and) want you to doubt your intuition by making you feel like a crazy detective, constantly planting hints to make you feel anxious and then blaming you for having that anxiety.”

    2) “I hate drama.”
    “And yet, you’ll soon come to discover there’s more drama surrounding them than anyone you’ve ever known.”

    3) “You’re so sensitive.”
    “Psychopaths manufacture emotions in others—it’s what they do…Within weeks, psychopaths can turn an exceptionally easy-going person into an unrecognizable mess of insecurities and self-doubt.”

    4) “You misunderstood me.”
    ” Sure, healthy couples have misunderstandings and miscommunications all the time. But with psychopaths, they’ll intentionally say things they know will provoke you…Oftentimes, they’ll even deny that they ever said it. This is called gaslighting—blatantly doing or saying something, and then blaming you for misinterpreting it (or denying that it even took place). The fact is, you understood what they said perfectly fine. They’re just trying to make you doubt your sanity.”

    5) “You’re crazy / bipolar / jealous / bitter / in love with me.”
    “The good news is, when a psychopath tries to make you doubt your intuition, it means your intuition was causing them trouble. Psychopaths seek to psychologically destroy anyone who might threaten their illusion of normalcy to the world. So when they begin playing mind games with you, it’s actually a strange indirect tribute to your ability to notice that something was “off” about them.”

    I’ve heard all of these things from my husband and some of my children and really believed they were true about me. I had been raised by and with psychopaths so I had been trained to believe that other people always knew more than me than I did, and that they could see things about me that I was unable to see…..Oh Lord Jesus, why so much EVIL?!

    I’m over a decade out now from the time God tore down all my walls that were built of the many lies I was forced to believe as truth. I now know that God hates these people and he hates what they do to His children. He allows some of us to go ahead of others–be put through the fire earlier–in order to turn around and help His other children so that as He starts to wake them up to the evil of the lie…they can see that they ARE NOT crazy or evil or selfish or alone, and that there is hope and light and happiness on the other side.

    So merry Christmas Gods other little ones–He sees you and hears your prayers and is working in your mind and heart and lives in order to truly set you free….He doesn’t want you to ever feel safe in the lies of this world ever again so as He’s working in you life He is also holding you very tightly in His hand.

  12. NutMeg

    This is so true. My husband did this all the time. Since splitting up with him I’ve kept a list of all of the “rules” I had to follow and I am just starting to look at it and realize how completely insane they were!!!! I wasn’t even allowed to use a certain brand of LIP BALM! Isn’t that crazy? I’m happy to be finally away from this madness!

    • broken not shattered

      Wow, NutMeg….that is truly horrible. I’m happy that you are free now!

  13. broken not shattered

    I have given up. I feel emotionally separated from my husband because of how he has treated me. Over the past few years, I was trying to hang on, to work on it, to do everything I could to make an effort to fix whatever was wrong. I started out following the counsel of the pastor at the church I used to go to…which was to give him sex and cook for him (I also work full time outside the home). I tried that for a while and it didn’t work. I tried more sex, more cooking and never saying anything that could be construed as disrespectful…it only seemed to do the opposite of what it was “supposed to do”.

    When it didn’t work, I was told not to have expectations of my husband, that would only lead to disappointment. I was told that marriage wasn’t for happiness, but for God’s glory, and that I was to respect my husband no matter how he treated me. I knew this was not right, and kept hitting walls no matter who I went to for help. Everyone acted like robots…so then I tried talking to my husband…at first he would pay me lip service, but fail to follow through. He would change for weeks, sometimes even months, and treat me good. Then, he always regressed to being himself. Over time, he separated himself from me more and more….by working late, working weekends, sometimes all day from 5 am to 9pm or later…which brought in money but I just wanted one or two days a month to be together.

    From the beginning of our relationship, even before marriage, I had to beg for his time. He feels that I took him away from his friends. All I wanted was the front seat in his life. But I found myself on the bumper. Unfortunately, I found my worth in being in a relationship. I had the opportunity to do so much good for myself but was always stuck chasing him. I expressed to him that I wanted Friday nights to be together because of him working Saturdays and church on Sundays. So he started playing sports on Friday nights and not coming home until late. I would go and sit for several hours watching him play and when it was time to go, he inevitably made me wait longer and longer until I was furious and would sometimes just leave and not wait for him. Then he would show up a little later and treat me like I was wrong for leaving when he was “almost ready”. I never put my foot down in the beginning, because I was so soft from following what church said I should be – a footstool for my husband. So, he went on, justified, while I sat neglected.

    I cried and begged him to please spend birthdays with me…he would go camping instead…to talk with me…he wouldn’t talk…he puts in headphones so he can zone out…Since we’ve had children, I asked him on several occasions to please spend time with us as a family (….he had other things he would rather do like work, or help someone move into their new house and paint walls on my birthday, or leave at the moment we actually had a chance to have some time together)….he shut me out emotionally…and somehow conditioned me to feel bad for not wanting to have sex all the time…even knowing how exhausted I was and am with little children.

    NOW……everything is always my fault…he gets offended if I say one thing to him…he accuses ME of blaming everything on him…I have learned not to say something unless it is for the safety of our children (for the children’s sake)….anything else will make him feel insulted… because he has repeatedly “changed the rules” on me, and has so brazenly shut me out emotionally, intellectually, …..in every way he has shut me out, except for sexually. Now I find myself so closed off from him, I can’t even bring myself to have sex with him, even just for the simple fact that he’s my husband. I am unable to even imagine doing that because of how hard, callous, mean, rude, and many other things he has been to me.

    He is a good financial provider, a good father to the kids and even cleans and cooks. But he refuses to talk to me, to connect with me, to consider ME or my feelings…it has always been about him…a few times I have actually said I am going to do this or that and you are going to stay with the kids…but I feel so guilty doing that, I always hurry…I’m never gone for longer than a few hours…I’m the backbone of the household (I was told women are the backbone of the house, but if husbands are supposed to be like Christ and He is the cornerstone…then don’t husbands have that ability to set the tone for the entire household?)….. I’m invisible to him. He hates everything about me except for my body, which he has even made mean comments about in the past. He makes comments about wanting to go back home to where he’s from. He has created such an entire uncomfortable environment in the home that I can’t be at ease in my own home. I have to always be wondering if he’s going to get upset because I didn’t put the dirty towel in the washer immediately. Or that he has to wash towels AGAIN because we dirtied them “too quickly”. Or that I don’t cook right or make “real food” (which I do. I love healthy cooking and very rarely do I ever use boxed or frozen food). He’s constantly switching back and forth to what is and is not acceptable.

    He lacks empathy for me but has tons for his mom and sisters. He is concerned about his parents and sisters and brother and can talk to them for hours about how things are going…but for me, he has silence. When I try to talk to him, he stares into space and gives one word answers…”yeh” or “mmhmmm”. When I started to do things to better myself he saw it as a threat…he used to support me…we used to exercise together…cook together (at the beginning of our marriage)..but I guess he could only keep up the charade for so long…and couldn’t handle children coming into the picture because it hurts his pride that children require a lot of attention and nurturing and physical care..and he didn’t get as much “worshipping” from me……I am the kind of person that goes all the way for the person I care about….before we were married I loved fiercely and did anything in my power to make things easy for him…I guess that was my mistake….but I can only take so much before I just “check out”. I’ve “checked out” of HIM. I am there for my children 100% and more…I’m the one who gets up and hasn’t slept a full night in days but still work a full time job. He has me so confused that I have no other option but to just check out from him…trying to reason with him or even communicate with him at all in any way besides sexually proves to be fruitless.

    I am essentially just a sex object for him…he denies that, but does nothing contrary to treating me as a sexual outlet. He is at extreme bliss ONLY during and right after sex. He’s not able to deal with us having a disagreement. For him, that means the night or day is over, he shuts down, and doesn’t want to work on it. It’s his best weapon against me. Silence. I dream of what it’s like for someone to listen. I have a few good friends who do listen. But I’ve lost the church….I’ve had to separate myself from them because they are toxic…the brainwashed women who worship their husbands and wanted me to do so….

    I pray every day for God to get me through this….to show me what to do next…to help me be the best mom for my children in spite of their father’s icy stare and laugh-less presence. In spite of his immaturity and wet blanket-ness. I pray for God to help me know what to do next. I pray even for restoration in our marriage. I know God can do anything….but that is far from my biggest concern. My biggest concern is keeping my children from growing up in a household where they see a weak mother take anything from a man. I want them to know it’s not okay for daddy to treat mommy this way. They are constantly watching. Please pray for me.

    • Dear sister, welcome to the blog and thank you so much for sharing!

      I put paragraph breaks into your comment to make it easier to read. I hope you don’t mind the way I did it; I was hard working out where to put them. And you’re not alone in gushing your story…. many victims do that when they first realise they can talk freely and the hearers will listen and not judge or condemn them. There is always so much pain to tell, so many examples of the abuser’s tactics and mentality…

      You said “I’ve given up.” It sounds to me like you have given up believing that you can change your husband by being nice to him or by doing all the things churchified people suggest you do. That sounds to me like you have given up believing a lie, and are facing the truth … which is very courageous because you may not even know what that truth fully implies and entails yet. 🙂 I honour your courage. I honour your desire and determination to do the best thing for your kids. I honour your resilience in having endured all that abuse for years and years.

      I shall pray for you. I encourage you to follow this blog and to read a lot of the old posts we have. You can comment on any post, no matter how old it is. And pls check out our New Users Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

      Here are a few of our posts that may help you think through what you may want to do re your ‘marriage’. It’s an anti-marriage, actually, because you are married to an anti-husband. He is sexually abusing you, showing determined contempt for you, stonewalling you, and intentionally treating you with cold cruelty.

      Ok, I’m being abused. So what do I do now?

      Snatched from the fire

      Learning to be an Abigail, not Sapphira

      Staying for the kids?

      Leaving Your Abuser: Words From Someone Who Has Been There

      Leaving Abuse: What a Victim Can Expect

      The Erroneous Idea that Leaving is “the easy way out”

      How Do I Tell My Children We are Leaving Daddy?

      Is Silence Golden In Abuse?

      The Dog and the Rabbit: Helping children understand domestic abuse

      • broken not shattered

        Thank you Barbara…you are very kind and understanding. Thank you for all of the articles and for listening to me. Yes you are right. I have given up believing he will change or that I can change him. No matter what I have done, he is unhappy. He has had me running in tired circles for so long that now I am having less and less regard for his comfort or ease as I formerly did. I was raised to be very hospitable and to consider others’ comfort and I pay attention to details; perhaps I was the perfect woman for him when we met because of how I cared for and loved him with everything I had and he just took it all. Thank you for your prayers…I have learned a lot from all of this but I don’t want to live like this forever.

  14. Anonymous

    Broken Not Shattered, I hear and believe you. My husband is a psychopath and he has throughout our marriage displayed a version of what you’ve written in you comment. If they know you want something from them they will find a way to not give it to you–even if they DO what you ask them to, they are always withholding some aspect of it and they never want to please those who love them. Not in ways that matter.

    Barb gave some great links and I pray they help you feel like you are not alone. This quote from Martha Stout would’ve been good advice for all of us if we’d been taught to discern. I wish I’d have know the truth about people without a conscience years ago…but now that I do I never forget that they never change and that they will never love anyone other than themselves.

    When considering a new relationship of any kind, practice the Rule of Threes regarding the claims and promises a person makes, and the responsibilities he or she has. Make the Rule of Threes your personal policy. One lie, one broken promise, or a single neglected responsibility may be a misunderstanding instead. Two may involve a serious mistake. But three lies says you’re dealing with a liar, and deceit is the linchpin of conscienceless behavior. Cut your losses and get out as soon as you can. Leaving, though it may be hard, will be easier now than later, and less costly. Do not give your money, your work, your secrets, or your affection to a three-timer. Your valuable gifts will be wasted.”
    ― Martha Stout,
    The Sociopath Next Door

    If we’d been taught this and followed it, we may have saved ourselves years of misery. Instead many of us are taught to FORGIVE or not to notice if others were lying or deceiving us. God forbid we “judge” another person or discern between good and evil. Churches that promote this way of thinking will be destroyed.

  15. broken not shattered

    Hi Anon.

    even if they DO what you ask them to, they are always withholding some aspect of it and they never want to please those who love them. Not in ways that matter.

    You are so exactly right! Even if we do spend time together, he will sit and not look at me. He will not talk to me, he will give one word answers or just be silent, especially if I’m excited about something. Example, I started getting in the mood to watch Christmas movies. I thought it would be something nice for us to do together. I was so excited about it, but alone, and feeling so dumb because he sat in the kitchen, behind the sofa blocking the entrance, on his phone with his feet up on the couch. He was on his phone the whole time, while I sat in the living room floor with our children watching this Christmas movie. The kids were climbing all over me, pulling my hair (they’re really little) and I could’ve used some help keeping them entertained while we try to watch a movie. But he just sat. And left me alone. Other times, he will be excited and into doing stuff like that. But usually never when I am. He always kills the mood somehow.

    You are right, it would have been good advice. I like that statement because it is a way to establish a boundary with someone. Lie once, you’re forgiven, twice, okay…but 3 times and you are out of my life…. I felt like my husband was different from other guys even though he lied to me. I felt that the things he lied about didn’t affect me or that he would never target me. He made the illusion and still does that he is not hiding anything or lying but sometimes I wonder…if he isn’t hiding something. Or if he secretly talks to other women, in a way that I can’t track, such as in person or by using the excuse that she is extended family or something like that. He comes from a very large family […] But if I have any contact with anyone, old friends or anything, it is a huge deal. There will be lots of questions, or accusations that I’m going with someone else. He even told me before that […]. He was acting especially immature that day and it really made me sad to see who I’m married to. I feel like he’s a 17 year old kid sometimes.

    My parents, especially my mom, raised me to have boundaries…but once I left home, I lost myself and didn’t protect myself because I had never had to, they always did. I’m learning a very hard way of how to protect myself now.

    It feels very weird to say that my husband is abusive. I feel guilty saying that about him because he’s a great dad and provider. I sometimes feel that maybe he’s not so bad. He has even said to me, “You should see what real abuse is” when I have told him he’s being abusive to me. I was fooled for a while when he gets into his “nice” moods and would reciprocate with kindness and sex and opening up to him. He was in a nice mood yesterday, but I didn’t entertain it. I was civil but after putting the baby to sleep just went to bed because no doubt he was grooming me to give him sex. I used to sit awake and feel guilty if I went to bed without paying him attention, fearing his reaction, his strong need to be sexually fulfilled. He won’t sleep in the bed with me because the baby wakes up and he doesn’t like being woken up or having to move so I can feed her. We only nurse laying down and it’s a small inconvenience (for him, not me) for the time being. It won’t be forever. She’s just a baby….. I partly understand not wanting to be woken up. It would be nice, but I’m a mom. I’m on duty 24/7. I also work outside the home full time.. However, one night, he said he would sleep with me until she woke up. He asked if we could cuddle. I told him I just wanted to go to sleep because I was exhausted. But as I felt him get in the bed next to me…I couldn’t go to sleep. I was so on edge…then, I finally calmed down and relaxed… I was almost asleep after about 30 minutes but he intentionally woke me up to have sex. He always did that…waits until I’m half asleep or falling asleep then wakes me up. It’s one of the worst tortures for a mom who barely gets any sleep.
    I’m tired of it all.
    I’m sorry you are going through too.

    • It feels very weird to say that my husband is abusive. I feel guilty saying that about him because he’s a great dad and provider. I sometimes feel that maybe he’s not so bad. He has even said to me, “You should see what real abuse is” when I have told him he’s being abusive to me

      You are not alone! For most of us victims/survivors, it has not been easy for us to say “My husband is abusive.”

      There are many reasons why it is difficult for us to say the word ‘abuse’ about our marriages. Here are some of those reasons, in no particular order:

      1. If I say my husband is abusive, that might invoke judgement or patronising pity from bystanders. “Why did you put up with it?” … “Why didn’t you leave?” …. “I would never put up with abuse from my partner!” … “Oh you poor thing! Take my advice — you should do x, y or z, / you should feel this way / you should not feel this way / you should starting thinking this way / you should stop thinking this way.” (etc.)

      2. If I say my husband is abusive, what does that mean about me?

      3. If I say my husband is abusive, that means I really have some tough decisions to make about this marriage! Yikes!

      4. If I say my husband is abusive, I must be being too harsh, unforgiving, un-Christian, un-loving, unfaithful, etc. I don’t want to go there!

      5. He’s not that bad. It’s not that bad. He’s never beaten me up / broken my bones or my teeth / hit me / injured me so that I needed medical attention / laid a finger on me in anger ….

      6. He’s nice a fair bit of the time, or at least not ‘scary’… and the kids like him… and the kids need their father… and my family won’t believe me if I tell them… and I’m ashamed I got bonded with him in the first place…

      7. And he tells me he’s not the abusive one — he says I am the abusive one!

      8. He doesn’t do what the abusers I hear about in the news stories do: he doesn’t use weapons, he’s never tried to kill me. And he tells that abusive men do stuff he never does….

      9. And he tells me it’s all my fault … and maybe it is? …..
      (the fog descends and thickens, the victim’s tired feet keep treading the mouse-wheel of self-doubt and second-guessing)

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