Please help me leave my abusive fiance. I have a wall of text, of course.
posted by sock puppet mop bucket to Human Relations (191 answers total) 99 users marked this as a favorite
We've been together for two years and while he's always had a violent temper, he'd always apologize afterwards and swear that he'd never actually hurt me or lay a hand on me. But I guess you know where this story is going.
THE RECENT PAST
We were trying to go somewhere in a City CarShare he'd rented for the hour, and he was upset at me for some reason or another and said something along the lines of 'If you can't do/say/act blahblahblah, then I don't want to be around you." So I got fed up and said, "fine," and left the car and went back upstairs to the apartment. I was upset.
He followed me in to our apartment. I was sitting down at the kitchen island reading a textbook. He reached over me and slammed the book out of my hands violently. It scared me; he hadn't gotten violent like that in a long time. I turned around and grabbed his shoulder and said to him furiously, "You can't start doing this again. It's not ok." Then suddenly I found myself slammed up against the front door with his hand around my neck.
I escaped upstairs to the office and locked myself in. He tried to kick the door in and there's a huge dent there now. I don't remember how the fight ended but after he threatened suicide a few times etc and screamed himself tired, the conflict de-escalated.
I told him we had to go into couples counseling immediately or I wouldn't stay. I also said that if he ever laid a hand on me again, our relationship would be over. He agreed. (I thought he agreed? He denies it all now, counseling never materialized, and furthermore now he says that because he didn't actually hurt me and I didn't have bruises, it doesn't count as abuse and I'm being manipulative to say it is abusive.)
Here's a few examples of things I've let slide recently. A few weeks ago he was upset at me and said some rude things to me in front of strangers at a Target. A few weeks before that he got upset at me after our anniversary dinner and flew off the handle, yelling at me outside on the sidewalk in front of people, to the point where I was so humiliated that I just ran away from him and then stayed out on my own for the rest of the evening to give him time to cool off before I came back home. I ended up apologizing to him for my behavior in both situations. It was easier to just let those things go.
He's in the tech sector here in San Francisco and he works all the time. Because I'm in school (my family is paying my tuition and gives me 1000 a month for my expenses), because I take two online computer classes this semester, and my other classes are in the evenings, I'm at home most days studying. He doesn't think this is as important as what he does (he makes six figures and pays most of the rent and expenses, as well as my health insurance) and gets upset when I don't run all the errands and keep a clean house. I gladly do all the cooking because I enjoy it, but I've always hated cleaning house and frankly always been kind of a messy person. He knows that about me but thinks that I owe it to him now because he's the breadwinner, and otherwise I'm taking advantage of him.
The frustrating thing is that before he convinced me to get rid of all my stuff and move across country with him for this great new job, I was financially independent of him. But here in SF, $1000 a month doesn't really cut it any more. Especially when I have to give him $700-$800 of it a month for my portion of rent and expenses. And now he pays for my health insurance, and he pays for my cell phone, and he pays for my food and rent . . .
THE PRESENT CONFLICT
But anyways I've been under my own stress in the past week and I suddenly don't feel like being steamrolled. Last night he decided he wanted to use the jigsaw at midnight and I got upset and said, "Please don't do that, we have neighbors directly below us and on the side, too, and that noise is so loud they will definitely hear it." He ignored me and did another test saw and again it was incredibly loud. I started getting upset and escalated a bit, raising my voice and demanding that he not do that. He said he didn't care about the neighbors. I don't remember exactly what happened next but he says that he tried to "comfort" me by giving me a hug, but he was holding me too hard for me to get out of his arms so I yelled LET ME GO. He let go, and then he . . . well, he pushed me away from him. It was a light push, I wouldn't even call it a shove. But still, I didn't think it was ok.
At this point I started to feel a sort of strength and resolve that is a rare feeling for me these days and I decided that I was going to draw a line against all this shit and I wasn't going to take it anymore. So I told him that his actions were not acceptable and that this was an ultimatum, he was not allowed to push me because it was a violent action, even if he didn't hurt me.
He said that he was just being playful and I was being too sensitive and trying to start shit because I wanted to hurt him. I never raised my voice at this point, I just kept being firm and saying over and over that what he did wasn't ok. I tried to explain to him that I loved him but when he was really violent and physically abusive--like the time with his hand around my throat--I wasn't in a good position to say "this is not ok," so I had to start drawing the line at the small violent behaviors.
He just got increasingly furious at me, screamed that I was being manipulative, that he had to defend himself against me, and that I would probably just hurt myself and then call the cops to blame it on him. He threatened suicide a few times of course. I remained calm and just kept talking to him. I just had this desperate idea that if I said the right thing to him, his defenses would break down and I would finally get through to him. Like maybe he would finally admit to me that his behavior was wrong and he didn't want to hurt me anymore. That didn't happen though. In the end, last night, I was sitting on the couch beside him, holding his side and kissing him, saying that I loved him and I just wanted to get through to him. He told me to get away and then he held up a glass as if to hit me with it. (Now he says he was only threatening to throw it) I left and went to bed.
THE PRESENT CONFLICT CONTINUES
In the morning the conflict continued. He told me he hated me for being so manipulative and for lying and for deliberately ruining our evening when everything was fine. He said he might as well quit his job because I made it so that he couldn't get any work done. I held my ground but I was calm the whole time. At some point his threats and claims got so ridiculous that I actually started laughing. He "dared me to laugh again," and I said, "Are you threatening me?" He just repeated, "I dare you to laugh again." Eventually he shattered one of my glass planters, stormed upstairs, then threw something else that put a huge dent in the fireplace mantel.
At this point, finally his own anger scared him and he came back and started cleaning up the broken glass. He told me to stop helping because "I'd cut myself and then blame it on him."
A HURRICANE'S EYE
Then he went back upstairs for an hour or so. I sat on the couch just sort of stunned and exhausted. He came down again and said, "I can't do this any longer. You've won. Tell me what you want to make me do." I was so emotionally drained. I just gave him a short list. I said, in a small, flat voice, "Pushing is not ok. Any violent action, even if you're joking or it is very small and doesn't hurt me, is not ok. Saying humiliating things to me in public is not ok. You're going to have to accept that I'm not good at housecleaning and I'm not going to do all the chores you expect me to do. And your job has consumed our lives and become your only priority. I want to be a priority in your life again." He said, "Fine," and without saying anything else, decamped again to his office.
Another hour or so later. I'm still just in a stupor on the couch. He said, "I'm going out to the bank to get quarters for laundry and pick up some groceries. Will you come with me? We can get dinner while we're out."
Metafilter, I went with him. At the bank he cashed a small check and gave me the money, about $75, "because he hadn't given me cash for expenses in a while." As I slid the money into my wallet and told him thank you, I felt cold and tired and resigned to my fate.
WHY I'M WRITING THIS
Metafilter, I am too tired and I am prone to forgiveness. I was raised in a Christian cult and when in my early twenties I finally realized I'd been brainwashed and left, I had to cut off most of my ties. I've been briefly homeless and broke and hungry and scared and without options. I don't like losing people. I don't have many friends and I'm not close to anyone in this city yet. I love this beautiful apartment we live in and the sense of security I finally have here. I love having stability and being able to get all the groceries I want and my cat is best friends with his cat.
But I know that nothing is going to change in this relationship. He'll be wary and cautious for a while, on good behavior. He's probably very ashamed of his behavior but he'll never admit it to me and it will never be ok to talk about it, and eventually it will happen again.
I'm 29 years old now and I don't feel strong enough to make another huge transition in my life. How do you prepare yourself for something like this emotionally? Right now I can't imagine another life for myself, so it seems unfathomable to think of leaving. In four months to six months, I'll be finished with a degree program here in San Francisco that has good job options. I'll easily make at least $20/hr and be able to support myself. But until then, I feel helpless, stuck, unable to see past my blinders, and an enormous part of me is screaming that I don't want to leave.
Metafilter, I could use some encouragement.