Two years ago, I fled my house and husband to seek solace at the local police station, where a senior constable kindly filed an intervention order on my behalf.
Emotional abuse was my husband’s primary method of control. I had been in an abusive relationship for years, although it wasn’t until the end that I understood that it was more than an inability to communicate.
For many years, the man I loved was laid-back, charming, funny and affectionate. The only problem was, we kept having the same type of fight.
It was invariably sparked by a critical comment (from him), then a defensive reaction (from me). He would say that he did nothing wrong; I would argue the toss. He would start crying, I would start apologising. After I apologised for hours on end, he would finally forgive me. The original cause of the argument was never addressed.
We would move on. There were many happy times. Then he would say something harsh, I would accept the blame… and in doing so, unintentionally set the tone for our relationship.
Controlling and possessive behaviours are abusive acts. Here are some of the signs of an abuser, told through his victim’s phone. Post continues after video.
If I’d accidentally dripped water on the kitchen floorboards, served dinner a few minutes after I promised, or didn’t immediately wash the dishes, he would snap at me, not letting up until I agreed in a sufficiently congenial tone that he was right. When I did these things again, he would demand to know why I was so stupid and, oh, it was on.
He called me a bad mother, a martyr. He said that I had an anger-management problem. Other terms of endearment quickly crept into his vocabulary: ‘sociopath’, ‘psychopath’, ‘liar’, ‘moron’, and that old gem, ‘b*tch’.
When I tried to walk away from impending conflict, he would scream that walking away was the worst thing I could possibly do to him, and how did I not know that by now?
When I tried to deflect, he claimed that I was ignoring him. When I tried to be light and agreeable, he said that I was being flippant.
He shamed me for wearing a black bra under a white singlet top on a steamy summer road trip. He said that the way I sat on the couch while pregnant, wearing leggings and cooing to my toddler daughter was ‘disgusting’.
When he said for the umpteenth time that he shouldn’t have to tell me ‘how to be a woman’, I agreed with him, wondering if my eyes betrayed my slow nod.
“You should do the honourable thing and not say a bad word about me ever again,” he added.
Sometimes, there were two full days when I didn’t retreat to the bedroom, sobbing quietly into my hands, unable to comprehend why he wouldn’t just give me a break.
I started talking about divorce; he started threatening to hit me. It was all about control.
One warm evening, another fight erupted, this time, in front of our daughter. It spun into an insult-studded tit-for-tat about who was getting their daughter changed into her pyjamas, and culminated with him throwing me off the bed.