Symptoms of Domestic Abuse and Depression Are the Same
Domestic abuse and depression share many symptoms. A long time ago, I told my doctor how I felt and he instantly diagnosed me with depression. Unfortunately, way back then, I don't think I had depression yet. I think the symptoms of domestic abuse were my problem. Unfortunately, the doctor didn't ask about domestic abuse, just depression. Maybe now, 20 years later, doctors do ask about domestic abuse and depression during the same visit.
I believe my diagnosis of depression was both a God-send and a curse. On the good side, the diagnosis opened up helpful treatments like medications and counseling. The medicines helped, but I didn't attend counseling. My ex-husband does not "believe in therapy," and I wanted on his good side as much as possible. Maybe the truth of both the domestic abuse and depression would have come out in therapy.
So the curse of the diagnosis was that it hid the domestic abuse, even from me. And doubly unfortunately, receiving the diagnosis caused me to believe that maybe my abusive ex-husband had been right all along. Maybe I was the cause of all our marital problems.
Domestic Abuse and Depression Symptoms Compared
The symptoms for both depression and domestic abuse are eerily similar. Following are several symptoms of depression (D) and then my interpretation as symptoms of domestic abuse.
- difficulty concentrating (D) coincides with the abuser's use of repeated interruptions during conversations and when the victim tries to do something for anyone other than the controller.
- difficulty remembering details (D) coincides with the abuser's continual remaking of history and insistence that their memories are correct and the victim's are wrong.
- difficulty making decisions (D) coincides with the abuse victim's knowledge that nothing they do will be "right" so decision-making becomes tough and anxiety provoking.
- fatigue and decreased energy (D) coincides with the unending stress caused by living with an abusive person.
- feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and/or helplessness (D) are also ideas a controlling person reinforces in the victim so control is easier to maintain.
- feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism (D) are the resulting feelings an abuse victim undergoes due to the abuser's control of them.
- insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping (D) are also signs of stress abuse victims experience.
- irritability, restlessness (D) can evolve after sleep disruption, anxiety, and other symptoms of domestic abuse.
- loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex (D) are usually present in abuse victims because the controller limits their pleasurable activities, and sex with an abusive person is not "fun".
- overeating or appetite loss (D) along with substance abuse or addictions of any kind can become coping mechanisms used by victims.
- persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease with treatment (D) are physical symptoms of anxiety and stress stress caused by abusive relationships.
- persistent sad, anxious, or "empty" feelings (D) are hallmark signs that a victim feels "with no reason" since the abusive partner denies those feelings should exist in the victim because they "have it so good."
- thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts (D) also plague many victims of domestic abuse who are ever-increasingly hopeless as to find a solution to their relationship problems and may hear their abuser say "We'd be better off without you. You're a terrible mother!" or similar statements.
I believe the abuse I suffered at home triggered my depression. The domestic abuse would have happened because of who I married. But maybe the depression didn't have to happen. I probably would have been diagnosed earlier if I didn't go along with my husband's idea that the only thing wrong with me was that I was a spoiled brat.
Treating Depression and Domestic Abuse
Getting out of an abusive relationship was the best way to treat its symptoms. When I lived with someone who exhibited disordered behaviors (abused me), I was destined to fall into his unreal world defined by his control and my confusion. No one can live with the dis-ease abuse causes without developing a disease for his or herself.
To treat depression, I've opted for anti-depressants and therapy when I could get it. I didn't make therapy a priority; I wish I had. I've visited a few therapists at different times, and I've been on and off anti-depressants for many years. I thought that I shouldn't need the medication to be normal, but every time I stopped the meds, I fell into depression. I felt that having this mood disorder was something to hide - a shameful secret that I could overcome if I were stronger, smarter, or a better person (feelings reinforced my my ex-husband who scornfully called my medications "happy pills").
Now I realize that depression and its symptoms are not my fault. Depression is my brain's misguided chemical reaction within the unique confines of my genetics and environment. Try as I might, I can't control what my brain chemicals do (or neglect to do), but I can work with my brain to ease the pain of depression.
Domestic abuse and depression wove a tight knot around my thinking. My abuser's disdain for my "imaginary disease" and refusal to talk about it helped cement the stigma of depression in my thoughts. Now, without the domestic abuse, I feel I can heal from depression like I never would have if I'd stayed in my abusive marriage.
Although I've been on my own for two years, I continue to struggle with depression. I had hoped that the depression would disappear with the abuse, but it seems here to stay. With medication and by taking care of my body, I can ease my depression symptoms. Neither the symptoms of depression nor the symptoms of abuse are enough to keep me down.
Jo, K. (2012, May 16). Symptoms of Domestic Abuse and Depression Are the Same, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, February 3 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/verbalabuseinrelationships/2012/05/domestic-abuse-depression
Author: Kellie Jo Holly
I have been in abusive relationships my whole life.. The first was physical and so I thought since my second one was hitting me, I was not being abused. I thought he was right about me being a waste of skin" and without him "I'd be in the gutter". He was all about controlling me. Cut me off from family ( would disconnect the phone) and friends to maintain control. Had to spend every holiday with his family, never mine. Since I had three children I could not afford to leave. I was stuck for 18 years. Then the third ended up being a covert narcissist. I had no idea I was being manipulated and used as a resource. I didn't know such people exited. I feel like I'm his prisoner to be used at will for whatever he needs. This or the streets?? Now another 20 years have passed I am again financially dependent on an abuser with no way out. I have come to own that it was my codependency, people pleasing nature that caused me to become a victim for 40 years to people. Even my sister, I learned is passive aggressive. I trusted her. The only reason she wanted me to break it off with these men was so I could be her main resource for emotional support again. I found this out when she did not invite me to her son's wedding and made up some excuse why others were. This broke my heart and am now I at the lowest point of my life. I have every symptom above. I have a strong faith in God and try to believe He had a purpose for all this pain. However its time to believe, He's not coming to save me or even show me the way out. I can see no way out. Thank you for this article.. It validates my symptoms are not my fault and gives me hope that maybe someday, I will be free. Letting go... M.A.B.
Hi Maureen: I'm so sorry to read about what you have been through. Thank you for sharing your story. You did not deserve any of this. I'm glad that you found the article so helpful in validating your experiences, and your experiences, I'm sure will also validate someone else out there. Please know that you are not alone.
Thank you so much for this article. I can relate fully. I'm a year out of a 20 year abusive relationship and am now left with barely an identity, past diagnosis of Depression and an ADHD diagnosis that I don't even know is correct because I got it at a point when I was at my most confused and forgetful, which of course could quite possibly be due to the mental and emotional abuse. A bad rash that I had for 20 years has now completely cleared up, it must have been my body screaming out that something was wrong. Also there was a point where I thought I had rheumatoid arthritis as I used to be in so much pain physically but that's all gone now. Be strong those who are trying to get out of these situations, others have got away and are trying to rebuild their lives and sense of self, please find someone to help you. Do not be too proud to ask for help.
This entire website, page after page, has kept me going the past 2 weeks. As a man I can confirm that everything written in here is not gender specific. My wife verbally and emotionally beats me down on a regular basis. The abuse is real.
This site has put into word things that I've known but couldn't say. I live the cycle of abuse perfectly; tension, abuse, honeymoon. The honeymoon period is enough to make the abused person think things are OK, things are better, I mean look how good they are right now.... We quickly want to forget and forgive because this person loves us, right? It's only words. It sounds cruel but true. I've had to reflect on past loves. When that person said 'I love you', I felt it too. It was special. But now, when my wife says 'I love you', I feel nothing because her actions have proven to me otherwise.
I'm not allowed out of the house, except to go to work and get groceries. If I'm a minute 'late' getting home I'm accused of screwed any random number of women she feels like naming. I'm not allowed to work-out because it means that I'm getting in shape for 'someone special'. Meanwhile she runs all over town and all over Facebook. She's friends with all my high school friends, but I'm not allowed to have an account. I've subsequently lost all my friends so now I'm in a deeper hole. No one to help me through this.
Anyone who knew me 20years ago would say I'm not the same. I'm not myself but nobody is here to witness the change, the affects of abuse.
I now suffer from anxiety, depression, and panic attacks which she is aware of but shows no concern for.
My church is no help because no one believes me. No ones has ever heard of a men being abused before. My Christian brothers called me a p**sy and told me to be a man and get control of my wife. I can't and won't treat someone the way I've been treated.
Out of desperation I wrote up a letter out-lining the abuse and read it aloud in our marriage counseling. Our counselor said, 'you are a smart man and making up a story like this in order to make your wife feel bad is exactly what she and I would expect from you.'
Does anyone know how humiliating and heartbreaking it is to finally reach that moment in counseling. Years of hell I've lived. Only to be told that I made it all up!! I was longing for a break-through, something to force a significant change.
My personal counselor is trying to help me re-phrase how I say things in order to not upset my wife. As much as I respect what he's trying to do. I said, I want to be able to speak freely without having to count every word. Rehearse sentences over and over before I speak out of fear. It's not like that many offensive things are flying out of my mouth. I just want to talk.
I'm being to think he doesn't believe that I'm abused either. The anxiety, depression, and panic attacks are the only things that I have to confirm that I'm not making this up. My body is telling me otherwise. Maybe others will believe me once I'm dead.
Maybe the one difference between women and men is that I've snapped out of anger from continual abuse and I've gone off yelled purely in defense of myself and not being heard. Because of this I've been forced to go to Anger Management. My children and I know that my wife is the angriest person that we know. She's a time-bomb that will go off at any time for any thing. NO Anger management for her. Our marriage counselor believes every word out of her mouth. An abuser won't admit to abuse. They are blind to it because it's completely justifiable in their mind.
As some stories have come out her version is COMPLETELY different from mine. Guess what? You guessing it. I'm accused of Gaslighting her. Meaning she's so convinced that I when I went to the restroom in the restaurant that I actually met the waitress for sex. And when I tell her that didn't happen that I'm gaslighting her by trying to make her think something other than what's true.
I'm getting pretty upset writing this. The horrific memories bouncing around my head. The way I've been treat. The lies that have been told against me. Argh.
Sorry for rambling, I could go on forever. Thank you for being here.
JR, please keep trying to find help from outside agencies. Maybe look online for support for men who are being abused? Are you willing to leave your wife? It may be the only course of action you can take. Your Christian brothers don't sound much like Christians to me. Why are they not taking you seriously? Please seek help.
Record if you can, but be careful...my husband projects his bad behavior on me and I know he has told at least 1 person that I am saying the things he’s saying to me....communicate through text and record....I haven’t had the courage to make a break—I feel paralyzed.....I know he’s going to do everything he can to twist it...I’m really too scared to do anything...if I’m not serving him, then he finds ways to punish me—-that’s pretty much how it goes...I’ve talked to a lot of people, but I’m falling apart—I need someone to take over....My prayers for you...
I just got out of a 22 year old marriage that was abusive from the day I got into it. He was just working hard trying to mask the control that he wanted to take from me. Once I got pregnant with our daughter, he then started the process. Whenever my family came around he was happy to see them the first day they came, but on the 2nd day he was not speaking to anyone because they were taking up too much of my time. He would tell me what they were not doing around the house as though they came to work instead of visit. He consistently put me down, no matter what I did it was never enough. I cooked, cleaned, wash, work the farm chicken houses everyday, cut grass every week, grew a garden, picked it and put away veggies and did honey. It wasn't enough. He would put me down, call me witch, bitch, ulgy, stupid, told me no other person would ever want me. He put nair remover in my shampoo and my hair fell out. I could go on, he spit in my face, sexually he said he did not want to touch me anymore. If I was tired I wasn't able to take a nap in my own home. He would hit, put guns to my head and tell me I was nothing, a nobody. He wanted me to do what he wanted, if I found a job, he wanted me to quit it, If I didn't have a job, he would tell me I needed to go get a f____kin job if I need anything. I now have panic attacks, depressed, cry about lots, I finally after a year and a half got a divorce I left my job and my home to get away from him relocated back to Georgia, and am struggling trying to find employment. I don't have health insurance, and I need help getting back on my feet and counseling to get thru all of this. I am staying with a family member who bought my previous home that I have terrible memories in, I do feel blessed that she is allowing me to stay, but I need to get back on my feet to move away from those memories.
Thank you for your comment. I'm so sorry to hear about what you went through, but I'm glad you found a way to leave the marriage. You mentioned seeing a counselor, and I think that's a smart move, though I realize it may not be feasible for you at the moment. Is there an affordable therapy service in your area? Alternatively, could you contact a domestic abuse charity to see if there's any help or support available? There are charities that provide housing and funding to help abused women get back on their feet, so this might be worth exploring. Try contacting The Georgia Coalition of Domestic Violence to see if they can help.
What you've been through is incredibly traumatic and damaging, and it sounds like you're dealing with it boldly and bravely. However, going through this recovery process alone will only prolong the process, so don't be afraid to ask for help. I understand that finding a job and a new home are your number one priorities, and I think the rest will come, so just try and focus on one step at a time -- however small.
Good luck with your journey, and stay strong.
Thank you Katie , I am so depressed . I have lived with my abuser on and off for 13 years to long . Its so hard to leave and build my life over it seems like it's impossible . Like I am to damaged from to much trauma and depression . I don't have alot of friend or family for encouragement. I look at life with such gloom . I just watch my abuser get richer and stronger . Why am sitting here getting angrier and more depressed . This no joke . It's sick and I have no way out of hope it seems..
This article is very helpful, thank you. I am currently experiencing very difficult circumstances and am trying to find the courage to make a doctors appointment.
Katie, Thanks for reaching out! I'm sorry you're going through a tough time. I hope you muster that courage! Reaching out to people that can help you, like a doctor, is usually a great thing to do for yourself. It's a step in the direction toward getting better, and it's an act of self-love. Hang in there, Katie. Thanks again, Emily
I was abused since i was four and now im scarred of most people thats why i dont talk alot because im afraid if i say the wrong thing that someone will hurt me im only eleven and im scared of my mother.
Jazmin, I'm so sorry to hear this. If you feel like you are in danger you need to reach out to someone. Can you talk to someone in your extended family or someone at school? You are so deserving of love and care Jazmin, I am so very sorry you have been through so much. Here's some information on domestic abuse I think you should take a look at: Reporting domestic violence, Seeking help for domestic abuse.
I have been in an abusive relationship with a passive aggressive man. It became very clear to me in January. I have tried very hard, setting limits and boundaries, and also working towards reconciliation. Tonight hit me so very hard as all I have ever wanted is to be the best mother I can. I had to hospitalize myself after husband lost health insurance, job, didn't replace income or insurance, and the hospital actually got us both on Medicaid. His responsibility. Not mine. I am forever carrying his responsibilities, not mine. I need a call to action- my nine year old son is showing signs of depression and trying to protect me. I am so stuck and lost. He is willing to seek therapy but I fear when, on what timeline will he put that off, and do I dare reunify with him if this abuse will continue, stay in place? So torn. So many factors I am not including. But do they matter? At the end of the day, he is abusive. And I know it. Humpty Dumpty had a great fall and I can't put this family together again. My poor son. He is grieving so, with no answers. I feel that way too. But I am 47. He is 9. And has a chance of being scarred, but not broken.
I've been in an emotionally abusive marriage for 29 years. In the past 5-6 months I finally became aware of what was going on. I've been treated for depression for several years. The thinking was that my depression came from the chronic physical pain I suffer. Since I started seeing a therapist and realized the truth of my situation, I now believe the depression is from the abuse, not my physical problems. I am still somewhat depressed at times, but overall, I am doing much better. Now I know what has been wrong in my life for so many years. I was in such despair for so many years and thought about suicide nearly every day. Now it's only occasionally. My physical pain is somewhat less now that I know the truth. I am so angry at him for doing this to me. I am angry at myself for not realizing it was abuse. But, like a lot of people, I thought it had to be physical to be abuse. I'm so much more aware now. If i had only known years ago, my life would be so different now.
I'm in the process of leaving my abuser. My biggest problem is lack of energy to get my stuff packed. My physical problems add to that issue, but truthfully, I am kind of lazy now. I was never that way years ago. I was a "go-getter" type woman who got things done. Now I procrastinate on many things. I wish I could find someone to help me get packed so I could move out. Hopefully, I can hire someone to help me. I need a person to help me clean & pack my stuff. It needs to be over several days or a few weeks because of my physical limitations. Any ideas on how I can find help with this?
Wow! This is so relatable. I was in an abusive marriage and i felt all of this everyday. I was emotionally manipulated every single day. I was also sent out of the house, pushed down, choked. I stayed for 9 months in the hope that he would change. I was also getting help from a therapist who clearly called my state "situational depression". The therapist said i very much needed a break and suggested i visit my family. Just when i was hoping he'd change he and his family threw hurtful words at me. He started telling ppl that i have paranoia and other disorders. That's when i decided never to go back to him. Now am in no contact with him for 7 months and i only regret not leaving him earlier. My so called "depression" went away once i cut off my contact with him. Yes i still have my sad, hopeless days. But this is nothing compared to the hopelessness and depression i had when i was with him. Thankfully i have a very supportive family. They totally understand what i went through and they help me get through it.
I had a love marriage.. yes in India arranged marriage is the traditional way of getting married. I did registered marriage with a guy before but I didn't started living with him and eventually found he had incest relationship and I opted for mutual divorce. I did not hide anything from my present husband and he also had past relationships. I saw few red flags but ignored it because of my feelings for him n as already I told to my parents about my decision of marrying him and the relatives also came to know. Just after the 1st month of marriage he beaten me badly..I tried going to police but my parents didn't let me.. they emotionally black-mailed me.. our society always blame the girl for the divorce. For last one year he beaten me quite a few time..verbally abuse me almost daily.he has taken all my saving and my parents have chosen him. So I am now alone. He splits on me. Calls me names. Torture me mentally every way possible. He even tells me to commit suicide almost every week. I regret everyday of being alive.
Hi Ankhi, Can I talk to you as I am from India too and m going through a similar phase!!!
yes you can but how let me know
Do you have any children? If not you need to pack your stuff and go to a shelter. If no one cares about you and your worth, you don't owe them anything. You owe it to yourself to be happy and it will not happen if you don't take action.
That's terrible and you must get away from him. What country are you in?
Been in severe depression for some time. Recognised I am in emotionally abusive marriage but still coming to terms with accepting that as 90% of time my husband is fun and good with kids. The other 10% he is volatile/bad tempers. I am apparently dysfunctional and my family is dysfunctional. It is really hard to leave with 5 kids and cause I'm so run down I can barely think. How do people do it? I'm an accountant but run down to place of not being able to work and have been a really good mum in the past. Had a suicide attempt early February just knowing life ahead staying or leaving was both TOO hard. Any helpful tips from anyone??!!
Im in an on and off again relationship with my childs father. We have 3 kids. The last time i left he choked me til i almost passed out. I havent been back. Its been 10 months since i have lived with him. He swears he has changed. Im scared to find out.. I been feeling so sad all the time. I dont have confidence anymore and feel so alone.. I dont know who i am anymore.
He senses your vulnerability, Lucy. That's probably why he's after you. That and with 3 children that he's paying child support for (I hope), getting back together with you would save him some money. Abused women who have been choked are 7 times more likely than other abused women to be murdered by the abuser.
This man is not going to give you your confidence back. He's not going to help you find yourself again - he made you hide from yourself in the first place. If you compare being lonely to being torn down every day, mentally and physically, which do you prefer?
You're 10 months clear of him. Stop sleeping with him, stop letting him inside your house. Don't meet him except when he's going to see the children. Sadness is normal during abuse recovery, but you should see your doctor - you could be depressed.
Please Lucy. You've been remarkably strong so far. You aren't alone. Don't go back to him. Instead, visit http://thehotline.org and find some support groups in your area. Run toward support; run far away from him.
I am so glad I have come upon this page. I have been in denial of being a victim of domestic/emotional abuse, which has turned into two episodes now of physical abuse.
I do have some of my own personal issues, so I allowed my abuser to use that against me, convincing me that the problems in our relationship are all my fault. He does have a very giving, emotional, broken side that reaches out for help - but when he 'flips the switch', he become a raging monster of a bully that will often would not yell or scream, but would become frighteningly calm and describe ways he would like to hurt or even kill me. Other times he would yell and call me names, so bad that I can't even type them here. Even our pitbulls cower in a corner with their heads down and tails hidden beneath them in fear while he would verbally attack me. It never failed though that shortly thereafter, as if scolding a child, he would come to me quietly and apologize and say that he would not have to be that way if I would only do what I was told and not defy him. I have desperately tried to help him because I know there is a good man with good intentions inside of him, because I did see that side of him more than the monster, and I have believed that if I stay and continue that someday he would just magically have some epiphany and change his ways. Today after he physically struck me and kicked me out of the house, I now realize that this is MUCH bigger than I am and that I cannot help him at all. When I left, I went to my mother's where I am staying and blocked his calls and texts, even though he swore on his life he was NEVER going to contact me ever again. Sure enough, about 4 hours went by and he began his rant of messages through facebook messenger. Relentless of how everything is still all of my fault because I am a no good, stupid, most pathetic **** ***** on the planet. I simply messaged him back asking him not to message me any further and to let me get my dog because he beats her too and I am not there to protect her. Of course because she is something that I love, as he believes "more than him", he will not allow me to come and get her. I now know that I need to seek abuse counseling to stop this rollercoaster he has me on because clearly I am not strong enough to handle this alone. I have every single symptom listed above, ALL of them. I am already seeking help but now I know that I need to open up about how abusive this relationship has really been and stop covering it up and hiding it from my doctors and family. I just want to thank the author for this post in helping me finally admit to myself that I am a victim and no longer have to be subjected to his cruel and heartless abuse any longer.
Dear Amy, I am so happy you've had your moment of clarity. It's wonderful that you're going to fully open up to the people who really love you. Maybe one of them can go over there and get your dog.
If you haven't already, block him on Facebook and any other social media you use. Keep his emails, keep a record of his texts (for example, if he uses a friend's phone to text you). Write them down with the date and time. If you go to court in the future for a restraining order, for the dog, or for whatever lies he makes up, the court can subpoena your records if they need to, so you don't have to keep them on your phone after you record them.
Counseling and support groups will help you a LOT. Remember that you're already strong - you lasted all those years living in abuse AND you left his sorry butt. You're as strong as we get. In an ideal world, the effects of abuse would disappear as soon as we left. As it is, we need help getting past the effects of the abuse, so get it.
I am very happy for you and proud of you! I don't even know you, but I know what you've been through, and what it took for you to leave. <3 You're awesome!
My name is chey I am 24 and now a mother of three, I was abused since I was a child by my mother and by my children's father. I am now not with my kids father but I struggle day by day with life threatening depression and identity crisis. I tell myself every day that I need to keep pushing for my kids but I sit with a fake smile plastered to the world but in inside I have no feeling I dread every hour that passes that I am still living with myself I feel as if I can't breath... I wish at least my kids don't have to struggle with the memories of the actions there father put me threw and how now they live there lives with a broken mother..
Chey, you aren't broken. The depression that threatens you is a consequence of the abuse, and by not living in the abuse, you are giving yourself room to heal. Depression isn't causing nearly the amount of damage to your children as living in an abusive home would. You're strong. You can keep going.
There will be a day when you've got the depression under control and you know who you are beyond the shadow of a doubt. I know you feel guilty because depression amplifies any feeling of "I should have ..." and turns it into undeserved guilt. And I know you ruminate on the past because depression plays a tape of memories in your head that is difficult to silence. But these thoughts and feelings are due to the depression. They're not real. They're the imaginings of an injured brain, nothing more.
Hang in there with us, Chey. You can get that depression under control. You can feel better. Reach out for help from doctors and a therapist. Speak your truth to people you trust. Your children will come to understand your strength, and they will never consider you broken. You are their mom, and that's enough.
A good reply.
I suffered from depression my whole life, I the the madness was normal. I didn't know any better until I was medicated. The verbal abuse that comes with depression is no reflection on who a person really is. If your spouse gets help and treatment for his depression and he is a totally different person then don't refer to him as your abuser. He clearly was not in control, don't let his depression ruin your marriage or your personal out look on him. Give him a break and learn to forgive
Thanks for this post. I only recently realised that my relationship is abusive because it was always verbal and emotional (just like my father made me used to), never physical so I failed to accept it for what it was. The problem is also that I'm coping with bipolar disorder - and wherever you look all pages are about how the ill person can be/is abusive towards the person they are in relationship in the cases of mania or escalation. I have no anger issues, it's mostly severe depression with hipomania that most people treat as my normal state ("Why can't you always be like that", "I miss normal you", "You makde it all difficult because you don't work on yourself enough", "You're too much to bear when you're depressed" and so on). I must note that I go to therapy and I'm under psychiatrist's supervision and I do try my best. But because I'm ill, I've become a scapegoat. Something in the relationshop goes wrong - it's me and my illness to blame. My partner feels bad - again, it's always the fault of me and my illness. I'm struggling with powerful guilt issues so I really have trouble coping with that. But when I look for help, there is always "oh, abuse in a relationship with a bipolar? Yeah, the loved ones of the ill ones are in so much danger! They are basically saints and those ill ones hurt them all the time, wheter unconsciously or on the contrary". So at one point I believed everything's my fault. Now I refuse to do it. I have no idea what to do and how to cope but realisation is already something, right?
I was just wondering if I was the only woman who still dealt with stress and the resulting depression nearly 2 years after leaving my abusive marriage. The worst thing for me is that my ex sees our teenage children on a regular basis, and tells them that he is the victim because he was arrested and had to leave his home. He also tells them that he "does enough" and its not fair for him to pay child support.
I lost a job that I studied long and hard for because I couldn't perform well with the constant worry. Even with a protection order in place, I don't trust him.
Cat, you are certainly not alone. I've been out longer than you have, and although the stress and depression lingers, it is not nearly as difficult to deal with as it was before. I've seen my doctor and take prescription anti-depressants; if you haven't talked to your doctor yet, I recommend that you do at least try a few medications to see if one will work for you. The protection order only does so much, I know.
It is very tough to live fully day in and day out wondering if today is the day he will snap. The best thing I've found to do to reduce this worry is to follow all of the personal safety rules. Put them in place in your life, make them a habit. Besides, there are other "big and nasties" out there to protect yourself from too - not just the ex. For example, check your backseat before you get into the car - every time, even when you think the car was secure in the garage (this is how you make a habit). However, by all means tailor some of your self-protection habits around your ex. You know him best, what would he be most likely to try with you? In my case, I never let my ex in my house when I was home alone. He is sneaky and crafty enough to do some damage and then say he found me that way or whatever. I didn't LIKE to let him inside past the front door when other people were there because I didn't want him to get the lay of the land, so to speak.
You can't positively protect yourself against your ex anymore than you can against any other big and nasty who wants to do you harm. BUT you can protect yourself and arm yourself against the odds. It goes a long way toward easing the fear.
Whatever he says to your kids doesn't matter. I know it "matters" because its a lie and just plain wrong to say those things (especially to the kids!), but in the big scheme of things, his lies will show themselves as lies if you're patient. If/When your kids report to you what their father says, you can say simply, "Your father and I disagree on many things, and that is one of them," then leave it alone. If he's told them something stupid like "Mom is going to abandon you when she finds a boyfriend," then they are sharing a fear with you (would it happen, mama?). In that case, say something like, "It is wrong of your father to say such a thing. I promise you, Name of Child, I will never, ever leave you. I haven't done it yet, and I'm certainly not going to do it later."
The point of your responses is to NOT badmouth dad like he's doing to you. Agreeing/Disagreeing, pointing out that you wish he wouldn't fill their heads with nonsense, etc. in a calm way that quickly puts the focus back on the REAL struggle (in the case of fears) or dismisses it out of hand (in the case of agreeing/disagreeing), is the key. For a while, you may go back and forth with it in your head, having those internal arguments "with him" - but don't let it come out in your words. Your kids get enough crap from him. Your ability to "leave dad at dad's house" will bring them comfort. In time, when you see how your kids react to your calm, confident answers, you will come to feel that way, too. Your ex says those things hoping to stay in your head. Right now, he's getting his way. Only you can shut him out.
Hang in there, Cat. It will get better.
Thank you so much Kellie!
I think you are right...about his not having control over me when I started working! am so glad that you have a gut feeling he can change. I think he can too, and will read what you recommended.
One factor that may be causing him to get so mean could be the testosterone injections I give him once a week for his low testosterone levels...what do you think??? High levels of that hormone can make men more aggressive I have heard...and he almost doubles the dose!
I wonder if that could be a factor???
I just realized that I really am being verbally abused. At the start of our marriage I was the one who was so insecure that I was mean to my new husband. But I changed and became a loving, caring person. Now, over the last two years (since I started working)it's my husband who has 'turned' on me terribly and is very abusive. I am becomming depressed over this whole situation, but wan't so badly to repair the marriage. Any advice or input would be so very appreciated!
Thank You..and I really feel for all of you...
You mentioned that your husband "changed" after you started working. On the one hand, you working outside the home could be a triggering event for him. Perhaps he feels threatened and does not feel he has the control over you he did before. However, you said that you changed into a loving, caring person. I trust you when you say he is now verbally abusive. Read The Verbally Abusive Man, Can He Change?: A Woman's Guide to Deciding Whether to Stay or Go, and create the "contract" described in it. Talk to your husband, mention his "switch", see if he'll work with you to change. My gut tells me he may be one of the ones who will change. A clue to my feeling is that he became ugly once you became more independent. Typically, abusers become more controlling when you give up your independence in some way. What do you think?
Thank you for posting this. Today I've been diagnosed with Clinical Depression. On telling my wife the news, she turned it completely on me. She asked me if I had been depressed all my life because of my lack of communication since she met me. I find it hard to communicate with her as she is extremely verbally abusive at the flick of a switch. I've been very anxious over the last year because of her mood swings. Following one particular episode where I made the kids lunches wrong I was insulted, ridiculed, hit as well as the usual verbal abuse. On leaving the house I had a mental breakdown and did not want to live my life anymore. I've not always dealt with confrontation very well and I guess I'm not the greatest communicator in the world, but I don't believe I deserve to be abused so consistently. It's no surprise I've been diagnosed the way I have. Thank you again.
Kellie, this is such a wonderful blog, so eye-opening that I read it with my mouth wide open. I've been in a marriage that really became verbally abusive over the last 20 years. Now, at age 65 I chose to stay and cope as divorce and living on my own isn't a good option. There are many older women like us out there.
Your article on depression really is significant because most symptoms of depression aren't specifically related to domestic abuse. This explains it all as I know that I'm depressed, but the reasons made so much sense to me. I am normally a cheerful and social person, getting along with everyone except my husband. It's so true about the constant interruptions, the blurring of memories, the inability to communicate can have detrimental effects on my relations at times. People have told me that I talk too fast, but it's because I'm trying to get a word in with him. The loss of hope comes from not being able to make any decisions with him, be they simple daily ones or the really important ones for the future. I understand why it's hard for me to start projects or to pursue my interests because I can't fully concentrate.
This really hit home because women in abusive relationships are experiencing depression because of their living conditions.
Such a great blog, i wish you all the luck in the future, i hope you get to be happy you deserve it :) xx
thank you very much Kellie. I will check it now <3
Thank you so much for this post, for all your posts about domestic abuse. I speak a lot in my Blog about domestic abuse too, but I only tell my own experience, my living in Hell. Your articles are helping me a lot. I wrote that yesterday:
Nikky44, I read your blog and I've got to tell you that your man sounds DANGEROUS. Please begin making your safety plan if you haven't already. You can find a good one at http://verbalabusejournals.com/pdf/safety-plan.pdf
I was in an abusive marriage for 2 years. It was physical, verbal, and emotional abuse. Through years of therapy, I have found out that this was my Comfort Zone. I had been abused as a child by my 'mother' physically, verbally, and emotionally! It was all I knew. I knew my ex was an abuser prior to marrying him yet I did so anyway. I'm thankful to have lived thru both accounts of abusive living. I am now married to a very respectful loving and caring man that loves me even though I'm #bipolar. I still struggle through every moment of 'Mothers Day'..... Maybe someday that will change. Thank you for sharing your life experience with us and I say try to find the positive in yourself everyday. Make a running list of these great characteristics of yourself, post them on your mirror so to see them every morning and night. Remember the Great You! The one that was brought down by abuse. Rise again! You are worth it and you deserve it!
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