When does cruelty become pathology?
June 23, 2012 4:47 AM Subscribe
What qualifies as domestic abuse (or who qualifies as a domestic abuser) and what is just shitty relationship behaviour? Trying to come to terms with a long episode of nastiness in my past and failing.
posted by everydayanewday to human relations (39 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
A few years ago I was in a miserable relationship with a shitty boyfriend, "P". This person did awful-but-not-classed-as-abusive things like:
-Trying to get in the pants of one of his female colleagues for the first 6 months of our relationship, which didn't end until she left. I've no idea if he was ever successful or not. I know he lent her some DVDs before she finished so he'd have an excuse to keep in contact. Still don't know the full story. All his work colleagues, who socialised with me, knew about this. Of course I didn't discover till the end.
-Asked me to live with him but was writing love letters to his married ex, the first reply of hers landed on our shared doorstep four days after we'd moved in together, on my birthday. (again, found out later)
- Was at the very least, trying to mess around on me with another ex while I was undergoing treatment for cervical cancer (again, came out later)
-Not having sex with me because of 'erectile dysfunction' but watching 3+ hours of porn a day, sometimes while I was at home, in the same room (one time I was sat right across from him). I don't mind a bit of porn but I am not comfortable with this. Then he either booked off every afternoon for 2 weeks once or called in sick (I don't know) to spend 5+ hours a day watching porn. Obvious, constant leering at girls in the street, sometimes very young. No sex during this time obviously.
-Found viagra under the bed, still don't know if he was using that with me or not. Probably not though.
And then there's the stuff I know is out-and-out DV:
-Smashing up the flat (bookshelves, TV, wardrobe, bed, tried for the couch) after we had an argument. I ran out and cried and cried behind a nearby car, too upset to walk down the street properly. He emerged 10 mins later calm and untroubled, as if nothing had happened. I was shaking and crying for 3 straight days.
-Chasing me into the bathroom and cornering me in the shower because I had his phone in my hand (I shouldn't have picked it up)
-After an extended period of my absence, having rebuilt everything he smashed, got in drunk, had an argument with me and pissed all over the new wardrobe.
-Physically assaulted a teenager in the street who shouted something at him (he knocked him off his bike in the road).
Then just other generally-bad stuff like telling me he thinks consciences are pointless and how I shouldn't eat that chocolate or I'll get fat, and I eat 'council-estate food'. The most upsetting: saying my parents couldn't have abused me because he met them and they were fine. (He did - for 10 minutes).
I could go on and on, but I think this paints a fairly accurate picture.
My problem now is: although it felt extremely abusive, and I feel physically sick even thinking about the stuff he did now, it does not fit the classic pattern of DV. He wasn't jealous or controlling, he didn't try to isolate me, he didn't try to cut off my money. He wasn't jekyll and hyde. He was an extreme lowlife and had some abusive 'episodes'. Do I think of this as domestic violence and get therapy according to that, or do I chalk it up to experience as another arsehole, this one just much worse than the others, that I never have to see again, shit happens?
Please try not to judge me for putting up with some of this (I didn't know about more than half of it until the very end). I was in a very dire financial situation. I also know that overuse of porn and ED go hand in hand, and would explain the viagra. This has been really uncomfortable to write as I feel it exposes my worst weaknesses, not his. The other thing is that this person is someone with a 1st class degree in the arts who works for a national children's charity, who is vegan, who has lots of friends (not very nice ones, OK), who is charming and 'reasonable' and funny in company. Which is making me feel like I am mentally unbalanced and unreasonable and wrong. Please advise (and sorry for the length).