Scared to Disclose
by Name Undisclosed
I've posted on your site in the past, Darlene, regarding abusive and controlling relationships within my family. At the time of doing this, it was really helpful to me, as I was provided for the first time with a voice, and I was able to let things out that I'd had to keep inside for years.
Sadly, I feel at this point in my life that little has changed - if anything has, it has been for the worse. I am now fully aware that my abusers gained knowledge that I had tried to tell people about my abuse - I know they have tracked me online, through telephone calls (listening in), and through public information (i.e. address books/ housing records, etc.) Worst of all, the abuse and bullying that I experience crossed over from home life into bullying at school; and later on, from home life into work.
I DO NOT FEEL SAFE ANYWHERE. I am PRETTY CERTAIN that I know who is behind the abuse and bullying. I blame myself. I have made the stupid error of attempting to leave abusive parents by marrying into another abusive family. Having never felt supported or validated at my parental home, I was attracted to my husband because he seemed to like me for who I was. Unfortunately, his wider family are NOT AT ALL LIKE THIS.
I DO LOVE MY HUSBAND - that is the frustrating thing. However, I have felt that ever since meeting him, his family have compared me to him, viewing me as a rival and a threat. I am well-qualified, and have always desired a career. My husband's family do NOT appear to accept this - they seem to insist on wives being stay-at home, and subordinate to husbands. I LEFT A FAMILY LIKE THIS! NOW I AM STRAIGHT BACK IN ANOTHER ONE!
I was endlessly told by my husband's parents that my husband "would be able to find a job anywhere", that he would "never struggle for work". This was at a time when I WAS THE ONLY ONE WORKING - hubby was still a student! When he finished his course, he found it IMPOSSIBLE to get work. The one and only job offer he got was MILES AWAY from where I was living and working. All of a sudden, I found myself being bullied at work, and simultaneously being shouted at by hubby's parents, who said things like "if you have worked as hard as our son, then you would deserve what he gets".
THAT truly annoyed me - ESPECIALLY as I HAVE worked to get my qualifications, and AM BETTER QUALIFIED THAN THEIR SON! I suspect THAT is the problem. Jealousy!
From then onwards, it felt as though I was expected to put my needs behind my husband's - only HE could have a career. He never learned to drive, so we ALWAYS had to live near where he worked, I had to commute miles to any job I did! His shift work interfered with normal life - we could not plan nights out, or spend much time together, as I also worked full-time, but 9-5. I felt utterly unable to apply for new jobs elsewhere, or promotions out of area, as I knew that hubby could not drive and would thus find it hard to get to any job that was not close to home. I felt trapped and restricted in what I wished to do. Had I dared to apply for jobs that I wanted - I would have been screamed at and blamed by my husband's family if the job meant moving away from living near them. They treat me as though I have "stolen their son".
To add to this, BOTH sides of the family make huge demands on us. My husband's family all expect him to look after his parents when they are elderly - MY family expect me to do the same for my parents. Hubby and I BOTH have siblings who contribute NOTHING - THEY live their lives free of such expectations, and thus rarely (if ever) get involved in family crises if parents are ill. However, ALL our siblings can be there on family occasions when THEY get something out of it! They NEVER miss Christmas, or their own Birthdays (and always expect cards and presents)! In return - they FORGET OUR BIRTHDAYS!
Recently, I moved to a job closer to home due to pressures of travel, and parental illness). My husband also worked at the same place, and his mother had worked there before him. It was not long at all before I started getting bullied at work! What scared me, was finding out that some of the bullies KNEW MEMBERS OF MY HUSBAND'S FAMILY. The bullying comments they made sometimes MIRRORED COMMENTS MADE ABOUT ME BY MY HUSBAND'S FAMILY. The bullying was VICIOUS, INTENSELY PERSONAL, AND OVER A PROTRACTED PERIOD. It included sarcastic comments about the nature of my own family background. It was INTENSELY HURTFUL, CRUEL - AND DELIBERATE.
I was also going through a lot of health problems at the time - including coming to terms with fertility problems. The bullying just
added to my distress. Rushed off my feet constantly, and feeling unsupported, I became increasingly unwell. I got to a point where the thought of going into work to face more nasty and sarcastic comments, ostracism, and gossip behind my back made me feel physically sick every day.
Trying to talk with my husband about any family problems made things worse. He became aggressive when challenged, or asked about his family's feelings and behaviour towards me. Often, he would storm off in a childish "huff",or give me the "silent treatment". But on a number of occasions, he has become physically violent. One time he stuck his hands around my throat. Another time, he pushed and manhandled me through the kitchen door - he injured me in the process. I had one cut and bleeding toe, and another that came up swollen and badly bruised. I suspect broken. It NEVER got fixed. My husband would NOT allow me to go to Hospital, or to call anyone for help. On the occasions when I have tried to call the Police he ripped the phone out of the socket on the wall! We cannot discuss family without my husband becoming defensive and aggressive.
Thus, I have to live in my own home, with little or no say over how things are. MY parents hardly ever contact us - and they have to telephone first before visiting. Hubby and I were supposed to agree to rules - BOTH families were supposed to phone to arrange to visit. However, only MY family stick to the rule. My husband's mother just drops round as and when. She makes offensive racist comments under my roof. She has stolen from me and refuses to apologize, or return what she stole. She gossips nastily about people who she seems to look down on - people with mental health issues, Asian and Black people, people who are not Christians. She pokes her nose into what hubby and I are doing, and tries to interfere. She gossips about other family members - and compares one to another.
I do not feel in a position to stop her, as I know I would receive little support off my husband. He is apparently terrified of standing up to his mother. Also, he is aggressive if I try to seek outside help - I know that if he was reported for violence to the Police, he would lose his job. THIS is what I think he's really bothered about. He doesn't want anything that will affect him badly, or reveal his bad side. HE doesn't want to take responsibility, or face consequences. Nor do the wider family.
I feel trapped. Living a half-life. I am scared to challenge anyone, or attempt to do anything I want to do. I feel like I have tried so hard to escape one difficult family, and have just ended up in another.
I feel that bullying and abusive people seek out people like me, as they KNOW we come from difficult backgrounds and have little support. They also KNOW we have little self-confidence. They KNOW we have things they can spread nasty gossip about. They spread gossip and breach our trust and confidentiality. They do this to humiliate us, to control us and to make us look bad - like people nobody wants to associate with. This isolates us further, so they can abuse and control us further.
I am not so stupid or so unenlightened as to not know this is happening - BUT I HAVE NO IDEA HOW TO MAKE IT STOP. I am afraid to stay in this relationship. But I feel just as scared to leave - and confused. I love my husband. I feel that if the family issues were NOT present, our relationship would be good. We still share common interests, and have fun together. However, I do not feel supported. I feel I am in part SUPPORTING a man who is afraid to challenge his own family. Just as I used to be afraid to challenge mine. I am not strong enough to help him do this. I am still healing from the wounds left from my own family experiences.
Yet I cannot "grin and bear it" any longer. I am NOT depressed or suicida, or suffering from any mental disorder. I am not using drugs or alcohol to "cope". I do not self-harm. I am NOT the sort of person who would turn to a self-destructive behaviour to try to "cope". I know I am bigger and stronger than that! I am just really struggling to come up with workable solutions and answers for myself - and to see light at the end of the tunnel.
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