Relationship Is this abuse? If so, what do I do?

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Please read Lundy Bancroft. It was such a penny drop for me. It saved my life.

I've actually read half of his book, a while back, trying to make sense of this situation. I got confused because of the mental health element. I don't know that he is calculating about it all. He hasn't really ever broken anything of mine etc. He's more self destructive. I understand that much of what he's done is abusive behavior though, and anyone is only a few degrees of escalation away from a tragedy I guess.

I'm so grateful for all the different perspectives in here. It's helping me to understand. I find it really hard in the calm between the storm to know what to do. I think because I'm just so thankful it's now stormy.

My therapist asked me once how I most wanted to feel in the relationship and all I could come up with was "relaxed". She said "what about loved?" and I had to think a lot because all I could think of was I'd love to feel relaxed for more than a day at a time, I can't even imagine what being loved feels like beyond being relaxed.

I've had a couple of moments of being taken care of since then that felt more like that, I had a string of bad migraines and he took care of me.

I wonder whether those times are good, or just not awful though, as compared to the crises anything feels good...

I'm going to ask around and find out what getting him some treatment might look like, then work up the courage to talk to him about it I guess. I'll try to work up the courage to ask a friend about a place to stay when things get rough too. And let him know once it gets outside partner support he or I'll need to call someone to help. Not sure how I'm going to handle this but I'll have to try.


Lundy is very clear. Abuse is abuse. People can be alcoholics AND abusive. People can have mental health problems AND be abusive. It’s not an excuse or even a reason.
Abusers continue to abuse because it WORKS.
What you choose to do is, of course, up to you. What I want to get across more than anything is that it is not your fault and no matter how hard you try or what you do it won’t change.
I would also recommend you research the term trauma bonding.


And let him know once it gets outside partner support he or I'll need to call someone to help. Not sure how I'm going to handle this but I'll have to try.

Personally, this is a boundary of mine when it comes to my sufferer.

I cannot emotionally or mentally handle suicide watch. I love him too much to live in fear that he’ll hurt himself. I’ve had a close family member commit suicide as well, and I cannot deal with the thought of somebody else I love ending their life. If he is suicidal, I will call for outside help.... be it his therapist, a suicide hotline, or the authorities. I will not hesitate. I will not be held responsible for watching him or keeping him alive. I communicated this to him in these exact words, and I meant exactly what I said. He understands this is a hard line for me. He knows to make sure he communicates clearly when he has suicidal ideation that it is ONLY ideation and not a plan. He also knows that if he is truly suicidal I will get him immediate help.
He didn’t get a say in this, but he accepts it.

It is OK not to tolerate something if you cannot emotionally/mentally/physically handle it... even if he is mentally ill. Even if you’re the “healthy” one. Even if you’re the caretaker. You have to give yourself permission to look out for your mental health. Because you know what’s worse than dealing with a symptomatic partner’s mental health? Dealing with your partner’s mental health while struggling with your own.

Lucy Locket

New Here
“He doesn’t hit me” is not the criterion for determining whether a relationship is abusive.
My ex wouldn’t allow me to sleep, or to eat or shower. He manipulated me into taking out numerous loans in my name to buy things he wanted. I told myself it wasn’t abuse because he didn’t hit me.
Then he smashed plates. But he didn’t hit me. Then he stuck a knife into a table right next to my hand. But he didn’t hit me. Then he shoulder charged me in a hallway. Then he used his forearm to the side of my head, body slamming me into a wall. Then he pointed a loaded rifle at me and took the safety catch off. But, in my mind, he still hadn’t hit me.
Please read Lundy Bancroft. It was such a penny drop for me. It saved my life.
Thank you for the reminder that people do not to need to hit you to be abusive. I totally understand your point. I just feel that when I am describing my husband I have to put it in there that he doesnt hit me because people may assume that he does, or he will soon. That is why I can’t speak to anyone about it because they will judge him in this way. My husband is not threatening towards me. Yes he gets angry, but it is not about me Its about his PTSD and how it makes him feel.
We're at this horrible impasse where we've been on IVF waiting list and have an opportunity to do it. So all I can see is these 2 extreme forks... I suffer through this and we do the IVF, maybe it works out or maybe I live like this for longer, and it's not the life I want for kids. Or I leave now, and possibly miss out on having kids when that's all I want but I don't have much time to spare. Or do I go and knowing I can manage my money a lot better on my own, cut my losses now? But then I feel like I'm taking that possibility away from him

^Just wanted to mention here that whilst I know you're aiming for a loving relationship with this man if it doesn't work out then the options to have children via IVF would almost certainly still be open to you.

There are options when you know you want to have a child. You have choices.

I see you putting yourself under tremendous pressure to stay so that you and he can experience having a family together. If he's not willing to get well, take responsibility for whatever he has to do to manage his mental health and the wonderful prospect of having a family with you isn't sufficient motivation for him then unburden yourself. You can do it without him.

I tried calling the crisis team once a few years ago because I was totally out of my depth. I asked them to come over, but when they did he ran and hid until they left.

^I've never heard of a crisis team leaving when this has happened. That's not the right procedure at all. Never-mind, keep the crisis team number handy and call them again if he becomes too unwell. Also once he's established himself within the public health service - keep his case worker's name and number handy too.

I hear a lot of guilt and obligation in your writing. I'm sorry but you're entitled to be happy and loved too. Never forget that.


Lot of people here with a lot of good advice...

There is also a point where MH literally doesn't make a difference.

It's not MH making him act violently.
And if it were? The same conclusion - you have the right to safety and health and stress free life. If he's that sick it manifests violently, he needs to get help - but other people need be safe from that, first.

And personal? My current partner has one disorder known for tendencies to violence, and confusion / altered perception of reality. Hasn't threatened me a single time. Didn't call me names, ever.

Meanwhile abusive ex husband - diagnosed sociopath - tried to kill me and others I don't count how many times, threatening it days in and out - and only pretended to have deep reality issues - every time, conveniently, when I called him out on his bs or tried to get out.

But he didn't beat me. Like Sighs, I didn't think it's 'domestic violence' at all because. Oh. He choked me and other stuff. There was soo much weapons nastiness involved. But I didn't have everyday black-eyes when physically with him. So I thought I'm good. He's just sick. Poor him.

If you're not safe, better get out, while you still can.

He's not your responsibility...
You are.


I think you know, really deep down, what you need to do for yourself. It is so hard to extricate oneself from such a situation, the heart is often times not logical. The constant threats of self harm tug at the heart strings. Just a thought, but if he continues using this tactic, is it not because you have stayed through it, giving him what he wanted? So the tactic is reused and escalated every time? It seems like a conditioned response on both ends. As most folks have said, regardless of his conscious or subconscious reasons for threatening or actually self harming himself, you truly can’t fix this. You do not have to be destined to be mired in a relationship that is sucking the life out of you. Walking away is not defeatist. Walking away does not mean you do not care. Walking away is for your soul survival, if you do not prioritize yourself, then no one else will. This is an abusive situation. Please do not bring a child into this with him. It will never make things better between you. If and when you do leave, block him. Avoid the reeling back as much as you can by simple steps. It’s about you finding your own oxygen mask in a turbulent airplane. Grab it and hang on. He isn’t unconscious. He can grab his own.


Hi there,

I have just joined as I'm feeling in a bit of a predicament and I really need some outside perspective on what's happening in my relationship. My partner has PTSD and anxiety from childhood trauma and abuse, retraumatised a few years ago from an incident related to an earlier one. In the past 2-3 years we have had these things happen (amongst other htings):

- He was bullied at his work leading to him injuring himself and having to have surgery.
- A massive roof leak that meant for 5 months we had 100-150L of water pouring into the house through ceilings in 5 rooms any time it rained, so we were up all night having to replace buckets/trays etc. - massive source of anxiety for both of us
- My mom was diagnosed with terminal cancer
- He was diagnosed with PTSD, but his therapist wasn't helpful
- He had an anxiety attack and put his fist through a wall breaking his thumb so more surgery
- His mom was diagnosed with terminal cancer
- My mom died
- He was bullied at work again and had to leave his job

I think there is more, but this is all of the stress and trauma we've been going through. We've been together 13 years. Over the past few years things have gotten much worse. I had finally convinced him to see a psychologist, but the two he has been to have not been very effective, one got too friendly, and both decided to space out sessions as he was 'doing ok' despite him still being suicidal and having episodes just as frequent. We're at the point where he struggles to take care of himself, from everything like feeding himself to doing things. He often spends all day on the couch if we don't eat the right thing at the right time. We've had some trouble as with his two injuries in the past while he had about 4 months each time that he couldn't use his other hand at all so had to do all the cooking and cleaning and everything, so we had takeaways a lot. Over the past year I've worked at getting back into cooking but he struggles to even make himself toast.

A typical episode involves a stressor like that, not eating during the day, and will then progress to him lying on the couch. I'll try to check in, try to find a solution to see what he wants to eat, or try to offer some help with deescalating like going for a walk. It will then inevitable drag out for 4-8 hours of me trying to touch base to help, but leaving when he gets angry. Eventually he'll want to talk, but he'll be so escalated by then that it goes through a massive, identical pattern of my help being "too little too late", me being useless, him hating being there, hating everything about our lives. Swearing at me, saying he wants to die and he's done, he's going to hang himself etc. then down into he'll take everyone out with him, kill me etc. etc. often a couple of holes punched into walls, or broken things, or he hits himself and pulls his hair out, spits etc. If I leave the room or house he'll send me dozens and dozens of messages saying the same thing. Then later we'll finally end up talking about something specific that's actually bothering him and I apologise for whatever it was and several hours later I finally go to bed and we try again the next day.

In a good spell these episodes might be 2-3 weeks apart, but more often than not they are at least once a week, and sometimes 2-4 times per week. It's exhausting for me because I will try to reach out to him all day once he's feeling that way, but he will often only engage when I'm about to go to bed. If I get into bed, he will text me relentlessly too. I turn my notifications off and he calls the phone and hangs up when I answer. I turn my phone on silent and he calls the landline which is in our bedroom. I unplug it and he will come and bang on the door or wake me up when I've just gotten to sleep.

He's says he's desperate because he's worried he going to kill himself, but he's just SO antagonistic and says horrible horrible things to me and blames me for everything when it happens so it's so hard to keep myself in the firing line to keep him safe. I am exhausted, and used to going to bed at 9:30pm. When this happens it feels like he's trying to keep me awake as torture. We'll talk until 3am sometimes and then I have to work the next day, luckily from home, but this can be a huge distraction when I am working from home too now that he is not working.

I'm at a loss as to what to do. I know the behaviour isn't healthy, but he has no close friends, and the only family member he is vaguely close to is his mom, who doesn't have long to live and lives in another city. I know he is hurting bad because of everything he's been through, but I just don't think I can handle this much longer. He's not medicated, and does not even want to consider going down that road. I often want to leave but I'm very, very worried he'll kill himself if I do.

I feel responsible for a lot of it because he'd had such a hard life and we were young when we met, I helped him with a lot of things. I helped him with work, with studying for a degree for a new career, with starting a business, coping with PTSD. I really have done too much and enabled him, so now we are stuck in this place where he's dependent on me, but I can't do 2 people's worth of life. Then he gets frustrated that there's not enough time to get anything done, that we're not getting anywhere, but it's because he's unable to use most of the hours of his days because of his illness, but still wants 2 people's worth of progress, but it's burning me out doing everything.

I have seen a psychologist myself to help me to help him, she has helped me with boundaries a bit, but I'm still living in a tinder box. All of the problems I bring to her are related to him and I wouldn't have any if I wasn't here. But I love him a lot and we've been together so long. How can you leave somebody who is suicidal and whose mom is about to die?

I'm so sorry this is long. I guess I just need some outside perspective on what is happening, and how I could deal given his lack of a support network. I don't want him to die, but I don't want to live like this forever either.

Thanks for any help you can give me :(
Hi @spidermonkey123 . It sounds like he's using you as a punchbag. You can't keep on like this. And you are not responsible for someone else's suicide. I think that you have to set up very clear boundaries. You should put yourself first from now on and maybe even think about how to get out of the relationship. Advice and support from a counsellor/therapist should help. I don't know what crisis lines are available to wishes to you S3.
I think you know, really deep down, what you need to do for yourself.

I think this is probably true, I just keep hoping it won't be that way, or that if I get him a better psychologist they'll help and it'll be OK. I think I'm just struggling a lot with telling anybody else about it when I try to find somewhere to go. We have a rabbit on medication 3x a day that I administer and if I leave I don't know if he'll give it to her etc. It feels complicated.

I think I'm having trouble putting it into perspective because this is the only proper relationship I've been in, so I don't really know what 'fights' normally feel like. I know I don't like it, because growing up my mum and I would both just end up crying and saying sorry if either of us got mad at each other so I had a pretty gentle conflict childhood and am probably over sensitive to raised voices and a bit conflict avoidant. But I know swearing at me and threatening things and blaming me for everything without being prepared to find a solution to whatever "I did wrong" isn't healthy in any sphere.

If anybody could help me with some perspective on this, because I'm trying really hard to check myself and work out if/where I am at fault so I can own that and focus on what's not fair towards me.

We are supposed to be driving out of town to visit his mum today. Yesterday afternoon he told me he'd written a draft letter to a NZ music group she loves hoping to get them to send a photo or message to her and wanted my help to check it before he sent it. He wasn't ready to look over it right then though so I said yeah sure, whenever you want. We then spent the afternoon/evening tidying up, having dinner, getting loosely organised to travel etc. I forgot about the email, because it's really hard for me to remember anything since my mum died. I checked in with him several times as he always gets anxious about leaving the house, so I was asking if there was anything specific on his list that he wanted help with or to do to make him feel better about going away. He said no he didn't think so. I tidied the car up and packed some stuff to try to make the morning easier.

This morning (just now), I went out into the kitchen after a shower to get some breakfast, and started talking to him normally, and then he burst out with he didn't want to go anymore, I'm too in my own world and if I can't even be there to help him with things that are really important then I'm no use and just pointless. I was trying to figure out what he was referring to, as he'd asked me to reply to another message for his business, and there were a few things like cleaning out the bunnies that we hadn't ended up doing the day before... But I had still forgotten about checking the email.

I asked if he was talking about any of those and he said "If I have to keep reminding you then it's obvious you don't care about what's actually important to me and you're too wrapped up in your own world". I said I'd tried to check in with him to see if there was anything else on his mind that he wanted to do before we left, but he said "you're only thinking about one thing at a time, just going out of town". I thought going to see his mum was the most important thing, since I couldn't remember about the email.

Eventually he yelled out that it was the email and went to his room... I tried to talk to him some more but he got wound up so I left.

I feel bad that I didn't remember about helping him with the email, but I don't really understand how I can remember something I've forgotten? I forget all kinds of things that are important to me because it's hard to remember anything. I've told him this before, but he says having to remind me all the time of things that matter to him hurts. Should I have just been more like "let's do it now, before we forget", or should he have just brought it up again if he wanted it done?

I feel like I've lost all perspective on what's reasonable because things have been like this for so long. The only thing I know is when things go wrong he'll dig deeper while I'm trying to fix it and that doesn't seem to get us anywhere. Was I in the wrong for forgetting? Is this something a healthy relationship could just have had a 2 second conversation like: "Oh, we forgot to check that email last night." "Oh, I'm sorry I forgot about that let's do it right now before we go see your mum", "Thanks"?

At least I walked away when he started swearing at me I guess...

I just thought I'd add too that we were supposed to travel Saturday but we'd just had a blowout and spent most of the day at opposite ends of the house, when I found this forum. So I've taken today off work so we can travel and now it looks like we won't, or he'll come around and decide to go just late enough for us to go up and get back really late at night so that I'll end up getting little sleep tonight and that'll mess up my work day tomorrow.

Seeing his dying mum is more important than my work, I know, and as he's told me a lot. But I still have to do my job at some point. I feel bad when I end up not working but not doing what I said I would because we can't actually leave town yet. I can work from home but it's hard to concentrate when he's had/having an episode.


You mentioned that this is the first proper relationship you've been in. From what you've said it's very far away from being a 'normal' or proper relationship.
You mentioned that this is the first proper relationship you've been in. From what you've said it's very far away from being a 'normal' or proper relationship.

We've been together for 13 years, since we were 21. We were young at the start, and it wasn't this bad. I think it's just slowly worsened as we've been through more and more things, like having water slowly boiling around a frog in a pot who doesn't notice it's heating up until suddenly it's unbearably hot.

I guess I feel a bit responsible as I've enabled him all this time by taking on too many things to avoid him being exposed to too many stressors etc. He was not very good at managing money so I handle most of that, paying bills etc. I feel a bit bad that if I leave I'd be leaving him without some critical life skills, and I've looked at it the other way around to try to check if I've been too controlling there (like if it was the guy managing all the money and then leaving his partner with no financial skills etc.). That being said, I've given in plently of times to let him buy something even though I thought we needed to save the money, just to stop a meltdown. And I've also asked him several times to be involved with the money so he'd better understand when I try to explain that I don't think we can afford X Y or Z. I let him do what he wants with his money but ask for his half of the weekly expenses, though often he will 'need' something else some time and not cover his expenses first.

I just feel bad that I've enabled this for so long and then it feels like I'm gonna force him out to figure it out alone, pull the rug out from under him. These are hte kinds of things it's hard to put into perspective without any other relationships to compare with etc.


He needs to learn to take more responsibility for himself in my opinion. It sounds like he bullies you and I know it's hard but you need to set your boundaries and tell him that your not putting up with it anymore.
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