I suppose my story will sound like many other stories.
It was not until I repeatedly experienced several types of covert and
coercive persuasion tactics for which there was never a resolution that I began to ask
myself the question, "Am I being abused?" These tactics were extremely hard to
recognize. Although, don't get me wrong, once I discovered I was being abused, I accepted
my personal responsibility to stop it. I believe that only when one is aware of
the abuse can one allow it to continue - or not - by not doing - or not doing - what one's
self esteem and integrity demands: Get Out, Get Help, Regain.
My husband used very covert and subtle behavior at
first. He gradually became more overt. By the time he was overt damage, had been done to
my self esteem and to my perception of reality. One of the reasons, I believe, he became
overt was because I had started to seek help. By the time I left him he was very obvious
I will give you a few of the hundreds of
examples of his covert tactics:
While reading, if I got up to go do something
else for a minute, he would flip the page of my book backward or forward a page. I just
thought I had not set the book down correctly and would find my rightful page and continue
If I had a drink and I left the room, he would pour out small amounts.
If I placed an item somewhere he would move it when I wasn't looking, most
times it would only be moved by a few inches, just enough to throw me off a bit. (Later he
moved things into completely different rooms.)
He set my alarm clock ahead or backward by a few minutes. (Later this turned
into ten minutes, either way, trying to make me late or early.)
He gradually turned down the hot water tank, as I love to take hot baths.
He would accidentally step on my foot or bump into me. (Later this turned
into poking, pushing, or while I was sleeping rapping my head with his knuckles once very
hard, or quickly pinching my nose once very hard, or by pulling out strands of my hair,
and then just as quickly rolling over and pretending to be asleep.)
While driving he would miss a turn and then take several minutes trying to
turn around, especially if I was anxious and excited about where we were going and what we
were going to do.
He would sneak into a room after I had left and turn back on the light I had
He would procrastinate around issues important to me, or to my children.
He would break a dish or glass in the dishwasher and then say it must of been
because of the way I loaded the dishes.
It was only after I made conscious efforts to make sure and to remember to
double check myself, the lights, the dishes, where I put my keys, where I left off in my
book, check and re-set my clocks, all without telling my husband I had been re-checking
myself, when the page would still be turned, or the light would still be on, etc...the
repeating experiences told me to ask myself, "Am I being abused?"
The answer was a definite YES! The
obvious next step was not to tolerate this by seeking out information to educate myself,
and to leave as quickly as possible. I should mention here as well that I did press
assault charges against him for physical abuse. (Hitting me while I was sleeping, bumping
into me, etc.) The judge said it was my word against his. No conviction could be given,
especially since my husband had no prior record, was stable in the business community, and
his other two wives made no such claims.
Now, you may describe this as me enabling him to abuse me, or call me
co-dependent, or whatever, but I only accept the personal responsibility to NOT TOLERATE
the abuse once I became aware of the abuse!
P.S. The later, more overt tactics of abuse came while I was
aware of what he was doing, but while I was not in a position to
leave him yet. I had no money since I was an illegal immigrant with
children. I only had permission to apply from within Canada, thus
allowing me and my children only to live there. It did not take
me long to prepare to get out and divorce him. For the most part
I found that the effects of his abuse held no power now that I was
aware and took preventive measures. To stop the physical abuse I
slept in another room and locked the door. I did not stand next
to him or place myself within three feet of him.