Abuse Survivor Bees Willing to Share: Red Flags You Missed Early?

posted 4 months ago in Relationships
Post # 2
Member
31 posts
Newbee
  • Wedding: June 2020

Similarly to you, I also ignored several red flags that ended up spiraling into multiple years of being unhappy and making excuses for their behavior, to the extent that it became embarresing for me to my family and friends. The following list is primarily 2 ex-boyfriends that were a learning moment for me when I was younger and didn’t quite understand what a healthy relationship was, etc. Thankfully they are done and over with.

– Constant phone calls to see where I am, getting upset if I was not available to talk

– Calling leaving angry voicemails about how they have friends who have seen me out and about with other men… AKA not allowed to have male friends

– Slowly alienating me from my friends, but framed that they were “not good for me”

– Giving me his passwords to e-mail, social media, in order to force me to give him mine, which he then used to go yeeeears back into and get upset over past conversations with other boyfriends, etc

– Threatening suicide when things weren’t going well

– Rushing me to commit and move in

– Childish reactions to fights, screaming, throwing things, breaking things, getting into their car and disappearing for hours while calling occasionally to threaten self harm

– Always getting “too drunk” and being the drunkest person at any party, leading to them doing something ridiculous/trashing the place

 

Once typed out all of these behaviors sound terrible and later friends would ask me, “We tried to tell you how come you didn’t know??” but to me they seemed to snowball.

Post # 3
Member
10017 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: September 2012

Yes, I ignored a lot of red flags and signals from the get go, partly because growing up my father was physically abusive so I was “conditioned” to having my boundaries violated.

Ex-husband was extremely jealous and possessive but I took it as a sign of the depth of his love (blech, now that I think about how sick and delusional that was of me).

He rushed our relationship into intimacy and committment very early on and well before I felt comfortable with it.  I ignored my gut and felt flattered instead, or at least talked myself into feeling flattered by that.

His ex-wife hated him and was afraid of him (found that out much later, though, after it was too late so not really a red flag I guess).

He tested my boundaries by doing smaller violent things like throwing objects (TV remote, cell phone, keys, a glass, etc.) in a temper fit but immediately apologizing and promising to never do it again. After we were married his violence escalated into him hitting and shoving ME. 

He even told me once when we were dating that he wasn’t a good person, I should have believed him but instead felt sorry for him and had the need to build up his self-esteem.

He was also abused as a child, by his adoptive parents.

I’m sure there are more things, but I rarely think about him any more.

Post # 4
Member
10017 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: September 2012

sassy411 :  Crazy chemistry and attraction – yep.  

(I have that with my wonderful husband now, too, and he is a wonderful person and I’m very lucky. But the key difference is it’s healthy chemistry and attraction, not the crazy).

But I agree that too much “crazy chemistry” can definitely cause you to ignore your gut because your hormones are raging, that was the case for me.  My abuser was incredibly good-looking, too, and he knew it and knew how to manipulate me that way.

Post # 5
Member
424 posts
Helper bee

Survivor here. I was 18 when I met him and dated him for 2.5 years. I don’t really like going in to detail but I will say it was a pretty classic abusive relationship: I refused to acknowledge the flags, I lost almost all of my friends, he was a serial cheater, etc. I even went back to him after he was arrested and charged, and I refused to testify against him.

When we first started dating, his ex-girlfriend tried to warn me. She showed me a scar from a cigarette burn on her arm. Of course, he said she was crazy and jealous. I was mean to her because I believed him. Funny enough, she’s one of the people who was there to comfort me when I caught him cheating. 

Aside from being extremely physically violent, he was a master manipulator. Every time he’d hurt me, he’d end up crying about how “fucked up” he is and how he needed me to help him. He would accuse me of being unfaithful while in the same breath telling me no one else would ever want me. He would come to my work and make me take all of my breaks in his car, so I didn’t talk to any other men. He’d walk around while I was working to make sure I wasn’t too friendly with any of the customers. He claimed my own actions drove him to cheat and that if I was a better girlfriend, he wouldn’t have to do it. My self-esteem was demolished.

On the flip side, he could be so charming and affectionate. Very handsome. The sex was incredible. The relationship was a total mindfuck. I didn’t see how dysfunctional it truly was until I left him and met my ex-husband. 

Post # 6
Member
347 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: June 2018

Distancing us from my family

Secrecy – I never knew the passcodes for his laptop, phone etc and he maintained seperate bank accounts

Financial unfairness & control – we supposedly contributed proportionately according to income (he earned 4x what I did) but then somehow I always ended up spending more on stuff we did together and never having any spare cash

Lies. So many little white lies to everyone that I was expected to collude with…. took a long time to realise how much he was lying to me too

Belittling my emotional responses, turning things around so they were always my fault

Post # 7
Member
945 posts
Busy bee

fancyllama :  Think you and I might have been married to the same man. 

My story. I was just out of college from a horrible break up. My fiance got my best friend pregnant. I was extremely vulnerable. I was back in my hometown after graduation and I met my now ex husband. I had known him when he was a kid as his parents had been my parents neighbors. 

We reconnected. At first everything was great. Then the questions began.

Why hadnt I taken his phone call. 

Someone saw me out with friends, they must be more important then he was.

Wanted to know about my dating history and then judged me for it constantly. 

If anyone looked at me, it must be because I was doing some flirting. 

Then the guilt started, there was even a suicide attempt in front of me. He slashed his arm and wrist open right in front of me. I blamed myself.

Then I got pregnant. He immediately changed into a wonderful person. He was over the moon. We got married and on our wedding night he was flirting with the waittress at our hotel restaurant. We got back to the room and I told him that was disrespectful. He beat the crap out of me. I couldnt leave the room for 5 days because he had split my cheek open and blacked both my eyes. I was terrifed that I was going to lose the baby.  Thank god I didnt.

After our daughter was born it got worse. He had hidden his drinking before that, but no longer. He would come home drunk and I would try to sooth him so he wouldnt hit me. In 2 years I was pregnant again. He didnt touch me while I was pregnant but he still screamed at me constantly. I shielded our daughter as much as possible. I went to a shelter to get away from him, and he called me and threatened to kill my parents by burning their house down with them in it. 

Our son was born, and he was thrilled. The drinking got heavier. He cheated on me with my best friend, my drug addicted sister. He did try to get sober in the 4th year. We started counseling and church but that was the worst. He would use what I said in counseling against me. Hold it over my head. After church he would criticize my unchristian behavior as a wife. The beatings got worse. 

Finally after 8 years I joined the military. I planned to do it. I knew if I could get him out of our hometown where his family was in law enforcement that I could get away from him. He had been arrested 13 times for domestic violence and they let him go and never charged him even when I pressed charges. A judge once told me, now Ms…you go home and make him a nice dinner and Mr. you go get your wife some flowers and you stop this nonsense.  I would take him back to stop him from killing me.

So I joined the military, got help and got to what I thought was a safe location. He found me and beat me within an inch of my life. He left me for dead. I nearly did die from bleeding out internally. 

The last time I laid eyes on him was when another judge granted him a visitation with our children after he got out of jail for almost killing me. He called me and told me the kids were dead and he was just waiting for me. He held our children hostage. He thankfully didnt injure them to badly. 

He went to jail. Got out, remarried, divorced and then beat his last gf nearly to death. He is in prison for attempted murder now for the next 20 years. 

I began as a volunteer at a Domestic Violence shelter. I then started working intake and then began counseling victims in support groups and through individual counseling. After counseling for myself and my children, I began to heal. For the most part. I have diagnosed PTSD, I still sometimes have nightmares but talking about it helps and it removes the stigma attached to DV. 

Im married to a wonderful man who adores me and who understands. He is completely supportive and he has helped co parent my children in a loving and caring home. 

Post # 8
Member
598 posts
Busy bee

There were SO MANY red flags I ignored..

– Biggest one was losing my virginity to him. I wasn’t ready, we were making out in a car, I told him no and he forced himself on me. I was 17, naive and convinced myself that he just didn’t hear me. Looking back at our relationship I strongly believe that wasnt the case.

– He had serious anger problems. His bedroom at his folks place was riddled with holes in the wall. He broke his hand punching a metal seacan because he had stubbed his toe. I was convinced I could help him

– His relationship with his family was awful. He would regularly yell at his mom calling her things like Fing C*nt, B*tch, you get the idea. At a family dinner he started calling me all sorts of things to the point that his uncle intervened and tried to reason with him. His aunt contacted me, flat out told me this was abuse and she had been in a similiar scenario. She tried to help me, I said something like “He realizes he has some anger issues and he is seeking help for it”. Which was a lie, he wasn’t seeking any help. This aunt also contacted my mom with her concerns since I wasn’t listening; I told my mom that she was a crazy aunt and everything was fine

– We moved in together, I was convinced him living with me and away from his toxic family he would be different. I encouraged him to seek professional help because I couldn’t handle his anger issues. He refused.

– His drinking got worse, with drinking came more abuse. I told him I was leaving so he got sober, proposed and we got married. His sobriety lasted about a year and things were better but there was still the constant anger issues

– He started to become controlling. He wouldn’t allow me to visit certain friends, wouldn’t allow me to go out for drinks, always wanted me home

– He became paranoid that I was cheating on him. He regularly hacked into my phone, my e-mails, my social media accounts

– The final straw was when I found cameras around our house. He was spying on me. I left the next day. I found a new place to live, he somehow tracked it. He stalked me, he sent terrible messages to all of my friends/family. I had to instruct them all to not give him any information, I was afraid for my safety. He showed up to my house one day (drove drunk there), broke in, grabbed a knife, I fled calling 911. I found a new place to live, changed my numbers (again). This was 4 years ago and I still live in fear that i’ll turn around and he’ll be there. That he’ll find out i’m getting married and he’ll show up

Post # 9
Member
742 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: June 2019

Same story here, with all the red flags I justified on my ex’s behalf or ignored completely. Including (though I’m sure there were many more):

  • Possessive/controlling behavior very early on: I remember one night when my ex and I had been seeing each other for maybe a month, at most, and she got unreasonably upset because I couldn’t drive to her house one night due to an issue with my kids. She got angry and we didn’t talk the rest of the night. The next day I learned she got blackout drunk and crashed her car into a parked car. She told me it would have never happened if I’d just come over as planned, effectively blaming me for her stupid choices. I laughed it off and told her she was being ridiculous, but I let it go.
  • Like your ex, the drive was about an hour, and she also insisted I go to her because “I was the one with kids and needed a break anyway.” I wasn’t okay with that,  so her suggestion was that we move in together, since my lease was ending anyway. I did.
  • Her ex (who she was still friends with and way too close for my comfort) literally tried to warn me and I brushed it off as jealous ex-girlfriend crap and accepted allll the justifications my ex gave me over her warning.
  • She took my phone while I was sleeping to go through every one of my texts, and when I woke up unexpectedly and asked if she knew where my phone was (I tried to check the time and couldn’t find it), she lied and said she didn’t know. I went back to sleep and woke to my phone on the night table where it should have been all night. She said I must have just not seen it. I brushed it off, and have no idea how many nights she took my phone to keep tabs on me.
  • She would flip the hell out if I didn’t answer a text or a phone call from her right away, even if it’s because I was working. I got sick of it one day and ignored her on purpose. She showed up at my work demanding to see me and yelling in the lobby about how they were covering for me and I was probably off having an affair with someone. When I finally came out, she laughed it off saying she was just kidding but was “worried about me” when I didn’t answer texts or calls. She swore it wouldn’t happen again, so I moved on. 
  • She literally had me followed on several occasions, even if I was just going to the store. Anytime she felt suspicious, she would have one of her brothers follow me or go where I was going to make sure that’s where I went.
  • She isolated me from ALL of my friends, one by one. Usually it was “I don’t really like so and so” or she’d throw a fit if I ever wanted to go out without her, and she “didn’t like” ANY of my friends, so to keep the peace I never saw them, which effectively caused the friendships to die. I also couldn’t talk them over text or social media, because she’d swear I was “undermining her” or that the friend was “trying to break us up.” By the end, I had zero friends that weren’t her friends. I honestly don’t even know how I justified this one, other than it happened slowly so I didn’t really notice until it was too late.
  • She would get blackout drunk often and become insanely angry over everything. She swung at me one night while we were driving and knocked off my rearview mirror (but missed me). I justified it by telling myself it was the alcohol and she was going to get help for that (she never did).

The final straw and my wakeup call was one night after she’d been drinking (blackout again) and literally tried to strangle me in front of my kids. If her brother hadn’t been there to bust down the door and pull her off me, I have no idea what would have happened. That was the point where I couldn’t justify her crazy abusive BS any longer, and I’m honestly ashamed that it took THAT for me to finally see the light.

But, the thing is, in between those crazy red flags were plenty good days. And I think that’s what really screws with your head in these situations. She would be attentive and loving and I was really happy with her on those days, so it was really confusing when she’d show her true colors. Because, that’s the thing, it’s never ALL BAD, at least in the beginning. If it were, no one would stick around long enough for the abuser to be an abusive piece of shit. It builds up over time, with a lot of happy moments in between. You get worn down little by little, until you’re being strangled in a blackout rage one night in front of your children. 🙁

Post # 10
Member
9743 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: July 2016

Mrs.MilitaryBee :  That’s such a terrifying story.  You’re so strong to survive that.

Post # 12
Member
1707 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: October 2019

I honestly can’t believe how many wonderful people put up with absolute sh*t for so long, myself included. Hindsight is 20/20 as they say. Hopefully we are all surviving, thriving, happy and have a lot of good take aways. 

-he got shit faced at MY house that I owned w/o him living in it, accused me of cheating, called me every name in the book then hung up on me crying on the phone. Why I tolerated that Ill never understand. 

-the next day called me and asked why I didnt feel like hanging out and acted completely different pretending like he didnt know what he said

-his sister and her bf at the time had to come to MY house to take him home because he was shit faced

-he peed in the bed multiple times when he was drunk, ruining my mattress

-coerced me into moving in with him and the week I was moving all my stuff over accussed me of cheating. WHEN was I to have time??

-broke into my phone several times and accused me of cheating

-isolated me from ALL of my friends, made me look bad, lashed out at me in public embarrassed me

-hit me once (that was the last straw by the way)

-gaslighting

-having me get an apartment with him to help him pay for it because he couldnt afford to live on his own but justified it by lying and saying he made 6 figures before BULL SHIT

-lied all the time. Lies lies lies.

-when we met he was still living with his parents. 

-didn’t have a stable job

-cared WAY too much about his appearance (he is hideous by the way, no cologne or nice clothes will cover that up why I EVER thought he was attractive God only knows)

-checked up on me constantly

-after we broke up (I left him finally with NOTHING because he made me sell all my shit), harrassed me through email saying I owed him money (MOTHA F*CKA YOU OWE ME MONEY)

-numerous numerous other things

My first mistake was ever letting him stay over and keep his things over at my house and eventually worming his way up to ‘well I hate living out of a bag living out of a bag sucks’. Yup, go live with mommy and daddy then. I should have ended it LONG before all that. 

Post # 13
Member
945 posts
Busy bee

amanda1988 :  My ex husband was very careful to conceal his behavior til after we were married. Yes he was somewhat jealous while dating, but he chalked it up to insecurity and being cheated on. I actually felt sorry for him. He did move to fast and to be honest I didnt think that was a red flag because I was emotionally not thinking,. My previous fiance had gotten my friend pregnant and I was at a very low point in my life. If I hadnt been in such a bad place, losing a fiance and a friend, I would have realized it was a huge red flag. 

He was always careful to be charming in front of everyone. He literally fooled dozens of people. Even our marriage counselor, was fooled by his behavior. She literally gave me a list of things I could do to improve my relationship with him because he was the one who was the victim. 

 

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