Home Forums Looking for support? ‘Is it abuse?’ Is it abuse or is it me?

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    I am sure there are many people here who have much worse experiences than me but I just wanted to get some stuff off my chest. I’m in a lesbian relationship. I’m really confused about whether my relationship is abusive or its just me being too sensitive. There’s no physical violence so that is what makes me wonder if it is just me over thinking. One of the main issues is her moods are unpredictable, everything can be OK and then she suddenly is furious about something tiny and just couldn’t see it coming. Once she has calmed down she is nice again but it means I’m always walking on egg shells and trying to keep her in a good mood. When she’s in a bad mood she blames me for everything and on a day to day basis she subtly puts me down eg ‘well you would think that because you’re special like that or ‘is it too much for your little brain?’ I used to have really good relationships with my friends and family but she seems to need my attention all the time – if I’m’ not with her is contacting me on whatapp constantly and checking if I’m online, so I can’t focus on who I am with. If I don’t get back to her quick enough she then punishes me by ignoring me. This can last for days. So I don’t really see my friends or family as much as I would like to. Some of this I think – well maybe this is what it is like in a relationship – you have to make sacrifices and work on your relationships, no ones perfect and she had a hard childhood so it makes sense she is insecure. I’m just so confused – sometimes I think I can’t go on like this and other times I think it will be OK. Has anyone else had this experience?

    AvatarDomestic Abuse Helpline Team

    Hi bishbashbosh, thanks for posting here today. It sounds like you’re feeling pretty confused and worried about your partner’s behaviour and whether your feelings about it are valid. It’s not ok for your partner to blame you for everything or put you down, because when someone blames you for everything on a daily basis, this shows it’s a pattern of controlling behaviour, rather than just a one-off.

    We hear the words ‘walking on eggshells’ all the time from people in abusive relationships. It sounds like you’re having to be really vigilant to stay emotionally safe from verbal attacks and that can be really exhausting.

    From all the things you’ve described, we would consider this to be abusive behaviour and is really harmful. It sounds like it’s really affecting how you feel about yourself, but also your other relationships and how you’re having to live your life. It’s worrying that your partner would expect you to shut down your connections to friends and family, as over time this can leave you really dependent on them.

    Other forum members might share their experiences and I think you’ll hear that you’re not alone and it’s not you that’s to blame here. You’d also be really welcome to call into the helpline (0800 999 5428) and talk this through with one of the team. You’ve done really well in reaching out for help and starting to explore what’s going on in your relationship, it’s a really good first step.

    Elf not on a shelfElf not on a shelf

    Seriously you just described my ex wife. Run and don’t look back.


    Hey elf not on a shelf. How long were you with her for? Was it always like that? I just don’t know if I need to see if things get better or if theres something i should be doing differently 🙁

    Elf not on a shelfElf not on a shelf

    11 years.
    Possibly less than 12 mnths of them good. I walked on egg shells. I spent years trying to please someone who kept changing the goal posts. Until in the end whatever I did was wrong.
    I had to write letters of apology if she deemed I had done something unforgivable. Looking back that could be something not concrete, just she perceived was done intentionally to upset her.
    It’s not you. Pretend your best friend is you and is telling you all about this relationship. What’s Ur advice to that friend….. Take that advice.
    We wouldn’t tell a friend to put up with it, we wouldn’t tell a friend they are reading too much into it. We wouldn’t tell them they are being stupid. So don’t treat yourself that way.
    I was stupid, I didn’t listen to my internal doubts and I listened to her when she begged me to pay her debts off by re mortgaging my house. I didn’t tell family because again I listened to her and put her needs and her embarrassment about the debts before sensible advice.
    I’m paying for all that now
    Worst thing was she works for  (removed by moderator) with survivors of abuse and probably learnt exactly what to say and what not to say in order to get me to trust her with my child. He’s just disclosed emotional abuse, cos he feels safe to talk about it. Now she’s not here. That’s my utter shame, because I let her into his life and believed her excuses and lies.
    Run and don’t look back

    AvatarDomestic Abuse Helpline Team

    Hi Elf not on a shelf,

    Thanks for sharing this, and I would like to say how sorry I am that you experienced this in your marriage. That should never have happened to you or your son. It sounds like you did the best you could to manage her behaviour and be an understanding and caring partner. That says a lot positive things about you, even though the context was very difficult. We know from talking to people on the helpline it can be so difficult to identify what is abuse especially when you may have complicated feelings towards them and love them. It sounds like you were a committed partner.

    The Helpline Team


    Elf…i’m really sorry to hear that.. I guess i’ve got a lot to think about. Might take some walks over the xmas hols to think about things. thanx xx


    Hello to everyone I’m new on the forum.
    First of all I’m so sorry you’re having to go through this.
    Your story sounds identical to my situation. When I was reading your story it was like a mirror held in front of my own relationship. I recognised everything that you described. It is all happening in my relationship to.

    Until recently I didn’t know what was going on exactly in my own relationship.
    I’m a bisexual woman and have lived with my girlfriend for 12 years. Still in a relationship with her now. Now knowing that all those years I’m in an abusive relationship. Still trying to come to terms with it really. Sometimes still wondering if it’s just me as I’m a very sensitive person. I found out through my depression. Getting advice here and there to seek help for my depression and anxiety as it got worse. This is when emotional abuse was brought to the light as I talked about what things were bothering me in life. I actually feel worse now knowing what it is that really brought me down, but I have to face it now and go through it to be able to come out on the other side of the long road. I find it hard to be around my partner atm because her behaviour is so obvious to me now, but I have to hide my tears and frustrations as best I can.
    How blind was I, thinking back. But how COULD I KNOW if I’m in the middle of it. There were some happy and good times to. It is like 50/50% good/bad. No wonder it was so confusing. And confusing it is still for me. And where did it go so wrong? Family and loved ones near me gave me hints time to time that her behaviour wasn’t good. I often came with excuses about her past, because I felt like only I really knew her and I understood why she is the way she is. Partly true maybe. I still wonder if she really really knows what she is doing. She definitely knows when she does me wrong, but does she KNOW exactly WHAT it is she’s doing to me.

    I don’t have many happy memories either. Just fell head over heels for the wrong person. Set myself a goal to break up by the 10th year when times were hard, but in the end unable and maybe things were just getting bit better before getting worse again. Knowing that I’m not the only one being in a long-term damaging relationship gives some sort of unity, but it is very sad to read that so many people are in the same boat.

    I have always wanted to help my girlfriend as she has had a very hard childhood/life and not much love. I was desperate to get her the help she needs. But she was never willing, never ready. I was patient. Trying to figure out myself how to help her and to understand her behaviour. Narcissistic behaviour or just the trauma or 10 different disorders? I wasn’t a professional and soon I became the social worker, the mother. That’s how it felt. I often wondered what was wrong with myself, trying to figure that out as well. How could I be so unhappy, so sensitive, no confidence, no social life. I knew it was a very unbalanced relationship and that knowledge and the comments from the few contacts that I had left made me think if it was worth continuing this relationship.

    I find that in my relationship there is a lot of blaming, ruining special moments, always anger, negativety, I have to jump to her every needs, as soon as she comes home from work I’ll have to drop everything I’m doing and I would just not get a chance to do anything I need to do or hobbies, constantly texting and calling me, stopping me from seeing certain people with all her reasons ready, always knows how to shut me up or make me do what she wants. When my family gave me too much attention or in certain situations there have been big explosions leaving me ashamed and helpless in front of my family. She knows exactly where to hurt me and my weak points. Uses those things to call me names and says ‘I’m only playing’ and promises “on our love” now and then not to do it ever again. What “love” do I think. Soon, if not minutes or hours later the promise is broken again. Always broken promises. Always very manipulative and controlling behaviour. Makes me promise “on our love” a 1001 things. I just say “sorry” and “on our love I won’t do it again” to restore the peace as soon as possible.
    There are also lots of lectures and her talking seems to go on and on and on. I won’t be able to stop it and I have to look at her when she talks to me. She’ll repeat her sentences constantly. (does anyone else recognise this, or is it just a thing that my partner does) If I mention she has already said that and that it is clear, I have to listen to her because “it’s important”.
    I can go on forever (like my girlfriend) but in the meantime I’ve now been reading here and there about abuse and the puzzle pieces are slowly falling into place. It’s going to be a long and difficult road, but I still have a tiny bit of hope. Personally I believe that God will give me the strength to get through this. I pray for all of you in a similar situation that He’ll guide you and pull you through. Whatever you believe in, it’s not too late. With help of others there is hope and a future. Stay strong! Thanks to organisations like Galop that offer help.


    @strong -it sounds really wrong to say I’m glad I’m not alone, but yeah, I know what you mean about knowing it’s not just you. Cause it really feels like its me that’s got the problem here and if I could just fix it things would be better. and when ther’es good times that makes it a lot more confusing, because then maybe it really is my problem and not hers and I’m being the difficult one or the sensitive one. the one that needs to change.

    it’s funny you should say about the going on and on, my girlfirned can get a bit intense when there’s something she HAS to say. and any interruption is this MASSIVE issue even when she’s been talking and talking for ages and I’ve said nothing. like I’m a child or if she repeats herself enough i’ll get it and be what she wants me to be. But its so much work to try to be what she wants all that time.

    she talks a lot about her previous relationships (with men) that were abusive and why that means she could never abuse someone, it would be impossible. i’d never really thought about that before, she just says it in passng.

    stay strong too, strong 🙂


    Thank you bishbashbosh. You know I find (even now I know what is going on) it hard when things are going well and she’s behaving ‘normal’ and is loving and caring, to think about splitting up and letting her down. She is very dependent on me and it feels like she generally needs me. I don’t think she would expect me to ever leave her. I keep telling myself that one day I need to leave her for my own health but in good times I get this overwhelming feeling that I can’t leave her and to see her so upset.
    Even after an argument if she comes to me and we make up, I tend to immediately almost forget the argument when she hugs me and feel relieved that everything is back to normal. Like it never happened and often feel it is me as well. But I think my girlfriend is just really good at bending the facts and causes of the argument. Making me look like the bad one. Using words like “you stupid little [edited by moderator]”, “stop screaming” is a favourite of her when I disagree with her in a calm manner. But the idea of living alone without many friends left and having to move out of our nice flat and end up somewhere miserable is very hard right now. I love it when she is at work and I’m home alone but sometimes I feel kind of lost and waiting for her to come home because I’m so used to everything being about her and her telling me what to do.

    I read somewhere that abusers are not 24/7 abusive and there can often be long periods of relative good times. That reminded me of the first lockdown when yes it was hard but after a little while we really got on. I first dreaded having to stay in with her but we got really close and supportive of each other. I now think this is because she was in full control over me, me with her all the time. Me giving her all the attention she wants. Although as soon as we went outside, she had to be in control again and decided the walking route (often the same boring and too short route) I wasn’t allowed to go for a walk on my own or go to the supermarket alone. Exercising at home was reacted to with a big sigh and constantly interrupted. Those things were really hard.

    My partner never really listens to what I have to say. But I have to listen to her all the time. And most importantly look at her when speaking and drop everything I’m doing. She will constantly ask me questions. But really listening, never. There’s never a nice good old chit chat, a dialogue. She’ll always talk over me when I’m taking.

    Bishbashbosh it’s funny what you say about your partner talking about others being abusive. My partner does similar things. Like “I could never hit you” “I have never layed a hand on you” “if that would happen to me I would leave straight away, would you?” Talking about abuse more than I would. Mostly talking about others. Sometimes even joking about it when being annoying or bullying me (what she calls joking around).
    Almost as if she is trying to talk herself out of her behaviour. Telling herself what she does is OK because it’s not as bad as what other people do. When I get too upset she will just say OK ok I won’t do it again I promise, friends? Until she does it again.
    One day there was something on TV about abuse and when they mentioned things that could be a sign of abuse then at one thing she giggled and said oh I always do that to you hahaha. I replied ‘YES YOU DO and it is not nice, you wouldn’t like it if I did that to you.’ She replied something down the lines of ‘oh come on, I’m not abusing you, I’m just telling you this and that. So now you think I abuse you, pffft’.
    Then I was laughing, now I think I would cry.

    AvatarDomestic Abuse Helpline Team

    Thank you for this wonderful reply, @Strong. I know it’s so helpful for people being harmed by their partners to hear about these experiences and understand their own situations better because of it. I wanted to say that I slightly edited one thing you said your partner said to you, just in case it makes you more identifiable here. But I think what you put really captures how belittling (literally! Your partner tried to make you feel like a small child) is such a core part of emotional abuse. No one should try to make you feel this way. I’m sorry that your partner does this. It’s not ok.

    Thank you as well @bishbashbosh, for sharing your experiences.

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