The Victim Has Become The Abuser?
I was abused (in all ways except sexually) by my parents. My father was also an alcoholic. My mother has a long history of co-dependency, denial, depression, and anxiety. As I grew up, I displayed all the signs of being a victim...afraid of people yelling at me, afraid to take criticism, being overly emotional, terrified of my father coming home each day, etc.
Due to my mother's issues I attended minimal therapy sessions to address the issues and developed some coping skills which helped me get through school, get a job, and raise a family. My father is dead but my mother is still alive. We have a complicated relationship.
When I was still in high school, I met my husband and we got married four years later. He was everything my father wasn't...not critical, did not frighten me, non-substance abuser.
About six years ago, we started drifting. He started making major financial decisions that impacted both of us without consulting me...like stopped paying on our credit cards and putting our house up on the market. I would speak to him about it and he would cite his superior knowledge of business and finance as the justification for why he could not discuss these things with me.
A year later, we sold the house and took out a loan to cover the difference of the mortgage with the bank. We moved to a rental house...actually HE did the moving. I was so upset about losing my house that it was too painful to pack everything up. He would go do it and bring the boxes home, expecting me to empty them. Five years later, most of those boxes have been unpacked but everything is in chaos.
Three years ago, I cheated on him with an acquaintance of ours. The acquaintance fell in love with me and did romantic gestures which started to confuse me about where things stood with my husband and I. I developed blurred vision and started acting very unlike myself. I would stay away from my husband and family for hours on end; on weekends, I did not come home at all.
Everything was a blur. Through it all, I worked but there was a marked change in my personality. The acquaintance and I knew each other through work so a mutual supervisor allegedly confronted him on my work issues...yet never said a word to me about almost firing me several times.
Meanwhile, the acquaintance and I moved in together (under the guise to help me with the bills) but the situation has gone from bad to worse. I believe that we "trigger" each other and negatively feed off each other. The line of who the "true" abuser and the "true" victim is quite blurred...as I have told many social workers and mental health professionals. He claims that I am "blaming" him for the abuse but I'm not.
I know that over the past three years, I have been acting out of character. I don't like to yell at people, verbally attack (or physically attack) people, or criticize their "flaws". However, according to this person's claim, I am completely judgmental, ridiculing, etc. However, he is the one who calls me horrible names. His ex-wife and family told me he has done the same things to them but, of course, they are all "liars" according to him.
The name calling didn't start until after he moved into the house that my husband and I had been renting but he was able to have his name added to a new lease. The physical abuse started a few months after that. I would ask him to stop calling me names (while crying) and he would taunt me "what are you gonna do, B?" or "go ahead and hit me, you stupid W!". He would get in my face (without actually touching me but enough for me to fear harm) so I would push him out of my way to avoid problems.
The first time, he fell over a metal cart in the kitchen. Since my phone slipped and dialed a friend of mine, they heard the whole fracas and they called the local police. The last time the police were involved was when we were standing by the stairs when he did this, I pushed him down the stairs and he bolted. The police picked him up down the street because he was wearing no shirt, no shoes, jeans only and looked "disoriented" according to the police officer who tracked me down. He claimed to the police that I "stole" a house key that I didn't know even existed. I gave them my key, they drove down the street, gave it to him to open the house, gave it back to me, and the police told me that he asked me to go somewhere for a few hours for him to "cool off".
Later he denied that he ever made that request and that, in fact, he was told by the police that since I live there and neither of us were pressing charges, that I could come back whenever I pleased. He sat there and told the police that I was abusing him and he would say this subsequently each time after they came to the house (at least three more times). They asked me what happened as well and came to the conclusion (each time) that it was self-defense on my part or that nothing happened that would merit arrest of either of us.
They looked at him (now overweight but still obvious that he was someone who could easily hurt someone due to his athletic training; in fact, he had injured my brother and had him hospitalized during an argument they had but somehow he was able to claim to the police that he was innocent and my brother was guilty...at the time I believed it but now...) and me (always have been overweight and unable to do more than push him or scratch him). I'm assuming they wanted SOMEONE to press charges. Each time, he has told me that they wanted him to and each time, I've told him the same.
At one point, I ended up in the psych ward because he called the paramedics and said I was trying to kill myself. They took him at his word and I ended up "voluntarily" in the hospital for two days. He begged forgiveness and said he was lost without me. At the time, I was financially destitute without options as to where to go, so I went back there.
Throughout this whole experience, he has been more without a job than with a job. I do not feel right about helping him financially because he asks me for more money than I'm willing to provide to him (or at certain points, able to provide him). I had months where my only income was an "under the table" support check from my husband for my kids and he was asking me to "pool" that into "family" income yet he had NO job prospects lined up.
Due to the hospitalization, I went to dialectical behavior therapy where my first breakthrough from the therapist was that I was under no obligation to "help" my "boyfriend" since there was no certainty he would ever be able to get out of his financial hole. He presents personal monthly bills of over $1000 per month, has debts into the $60,000 range (student loans, credit cards, personal loans, defaults), can't open a bank account due to a judgement entry, but on average, makes $600-$700 per month (during the school year only). I ask him to help me around the house with chores but he claims ignorance that he doesn't know what to do. I started paying my share of the rent to the landlady and told her to go after him for the rest. A year later, she hasn't evicted me, despite his claims that she is upset with me shorting her. I find this hard to believe because I have emails, text messages, and voice mail messages...all from her, none of which states that I'm short on the rent!
I have been called all sorts of names by him for my not helping. However, since he was the one who was able to get into a local social services agency, he attends support groups (as a victim of domestic violence) and has apparently told that it's "okay" to physically attack me because of the past. While he is trying to choking me or holding my wrists down when I try to escape, he reminds me that he is capable of "killing" me but won't do it "now". He wants to make it look like an "accident" and have an airtight alibi to absolve himself of going to jail.
I am getting closer to leaving him. My husband wants us to reconcile but I'm not sure if we are "healed" from what happened. I need extensive counseling. In addition to the DBT, I am also going to EMDR for my PTSD. Again, most people have given me their unsolicited opinion that the EMDR is helping me more than the antidepressants I was on a year and a half ago but "he" says I'm more of a "B" than I was before the DBT/EMDR. As of now, my financial situation is better but not to where I have the money saved up to move to my own place with my kids.
I guess I'm on this site to find out how to deal with my anger so I can diffuse the situation at home, just long enough to get my wits about me so I can leave. Only with him and I'm in that place is it hard for me to see what I'm going to get off the train. The EMDR is good for those past events but I need help with coping between sessions.
Response from Dr. DeFoore
Hello B, and thanks for telling your story here. I don't have a lot of room, since your story is long...thanks for the good grammar and punctuation, by the way.
These pages will help:
letting go of a relationship
You can do this. Believe in yourself, and follow these guidelines. You will succeed.
My very best to you,