Rita’s Signs of Being Abused
I saw a counsellor and I read many books. Patricia Evans’ book was the most helpful – I felt that she was writing about MY life. It also helped to journal the incidents and my feelings and his responses because when I looked back on it later, I could see things differently.
Rita’s Emotional Signs of Abuse
Confusion, Despair, Self-loathing
Rita’s Story of Abuse
I was primed for spousal abuse by an abusive mother for whom I was never good enough and by a church that cast me as an inherently bad person, a sinner.
The spousal abuse worsened over many years until I thought I was losing my mind – it was, truly, crazy-making. For a long time, I didn’t care whether I lived or died. I looked on a website about posttraumatic stress disorder and came to realise that I had many of the symptoms. PTSD can be caused by chronic, long-term stress such as that caused by a verbally and emotionally abusive relationship.
I used to think that I was the cause of all the problems because he had me so confused and because I couldn’t believe anyone could behave in the way he did. I used to think ‘if only I hadn’t said that’, or ‘if only I had chosen a better time’ or ‘if only I had used a different tone of voice’. I was constantly on the alert, trying to anticipate and so avoid the next outburst. It was like there was a second ‘me’
watching the other one all the time to make sure she didn’t slip up. What kind of a life is that?
I know he had difficulties in his childhood and I tried to make allowances for that, but he is an adult and can make choices about his behaviour. I had difficulties in MY childhood too, but I didn’t choose to visit them on him. Once I woke up to what was happening and set boundaries and refused to respond in the ways he’d come to expect, his behaviour changed. I changed my responses and I reflected his behaviour back to him so he would know how it felt. I felt uncomfortable doing that, but it was effective.
He can still be abusive at times, but much less often and I stay because, for a number of reasons, it would be difficult for me to leave. I feel better now that I know that I am not crazy, I am not the cause of the problems, HE is the one responsible. I have my boundaries intact and my self-esteem which was previously completely absent is now much better. It’s not perfect, it’s not good, but it’s the best I can hope for now.
If ever I doubt myself now I ask myself two questions: would a friend treat me in that way? would I behave in that way to another person? If the answer is no to either then I know that the difficulty is of his making.
Sadly, my adult daughter is emotionally and verbally abusive to me in much the same way as her father was. I am finding this impossible to deal with. She leaves me weeping and emotionally shredded for weeks after a visit. Calls me a drama queen when I get upset, tells me I am not normal, that I don’t know how to behave appropriately.
I would restrict visits, but she is the mother of my grandchildren. I have been researching ways of dealing with this, but have found no resources. I cannot be the only person dealing with this problem.
I have tried setting boundaries like I did with my husband, but it just makes her behaviour worse. After my last visit at Christmas, she told dreadful lies about me to her husband, her father and her brother which has caused me huge problems with all of them because they believed her and not me.
I am shocked at how long it took me to realise that she is abusive. It followed the same pattern as it did with her father – I believed her when she said I was the cause of the difficulties, she tied me in knots just like he had. Wouldn’t you think that I’d not make the same mistake twice?
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