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I left my husband at the beginning of this year after years of verbal abuse, and I'm only 25.

We met when I was 20, and moved in with each other almost a year later. I grew up in a different country but after meeting him, I moved to the UK to study a subject that was not available at my local university. I was very quick to speak the language fluently, and even though I have always been shy and had trouble in social situations, I ended up getting along quite well with most of his friends in spite of my anxieties and insecurities.

I knew he had problems controlling his temper, but that had previously only affected his work (he works for a family company, working very closely with his parents, sister and aunt, who all have lousy tempers) from where he often stormed out, and he occasionally felt depressed and shouted/cried to himself, telling me that he was too messed up for me. He was a great guy, intelligent, witty and kind and I did not want to leave him because of these rare moody moments since I still loved him very much at that point - by then I already depended on him too much to take such a decision lightly anyway, since I had no family and no close friends (just aquaintances and his mates)in the UK.

Over time, he started blaming a "false" arrest (with hindsight I think he more than likely provoked them, albeit verbally and not physically as the police later clamed) and the beating and prosecution that followed it for his problems, and slowly but surely he started acting more aggressive towards me, started telling me off for talking too loud/too quietly when out with his friends, embarassing him, ridiculed me for not *getting* irony and sarcasm and for being shy. I am quite intelligent and have always got good grades, but constantly being called *stupid* was very humiliating, and he
soon started calling me worse names and telling me to "F**k off back to my
own shi**y country".

(I now know that I suffer to some degree from nonverbal and auditory learning/processing issues, so in spite of being quite intelligent I sometimes struggle with things others find logical or straightforward - hence my ex starting to call me stupid)

He also smoked quite a lot of cannabis (which is legal in my country of origin, but not in the UK) which I am sure didn't do him too much good, but he always seemed to see it as self-medication for stress/depression, and it kept him happy and calmer.

After his "blowups" he would usually start crying and apologise, but always refused to even consider counselling to help him with his aggression (even though he started to strive for a PTST diagnosis in order to sue the perpetrators of the attack and false arrest, but again refused to accept counselling for the problem once he had the diagnosis). I have always hated confrontations so I was just there for him, tried not to set him off (although I was often not aware of what/how I did things to set him off) and talked to him when he needed to talk, although he mostly did not want to talk about these issues.

I now know that I was behaving codependently and reinforcing his behaviour by tolerating it and not standing up to him, and by refusing to take in any criticism or doubts that others voiced. Even when some closer friends of his or his parents asked me how I managed to put up with him (they were familiar with his tantrums and verbal abuse) I saw nothing wrong with how he was behaving and continued to put up with it and comfort him, since I also felt that living so closely together (very small flat) was likely to be one of the main reasons for him getting so stressed and aggressive towards me, as he had lived a bachelor lifestyle on his own before that.

I also realise now that I ignored a lot of signals that should have really set off warning lights, in particular his incredible jealousy of my ex, with whom I had split up long before moving to the UK and who was living hundreds of miles away - I hadn't stayed in touch with him and my husband only met him a year later, yet he kept bad-mouthing him and acting very disgusted with this person that he had never even met, threatening to hurt him and "have a good word with him".

We later moved into a bigger house (whcih he bought, although I would have preferred to just rent a larger apartment or a small house) and things calmed down a bit, I was finishing my second year at college and we were very happy for some time. He proposed before my course was finished (since I would have had to leave the country for at least a year otherwise) and I was over the moon - we had a nice house, his temper had improved a lot, he helped out in the house and I was about to successfully complete my course at college.

We got married in 2001 and all was happy for a good while, but once I had completed my course and found a good job, I could not cope with looking after the house as well as I had while still at college. I still organised pretty much everything (he is almost incapable of sorting things out in time, forgets to pay bills, forgets appointments, doesn't pay attention to what people tell him etc.) while being accused of treating him like a child, but I was falling apart inside over the following 1 1/2 years and could not talk to him about it because he tended to ridicule any problems, fears or concerns I had. In addition, he was by now so wrapped up and obsessed about the court proceedings which he had by now begun against the perpetrators of the attack against him that he was unable to even accept that others had problems, too, and now that I was struggling with my own problems and lacked the strength to constantly provide a shoulder to lean on, he also felt that I was ridiculing him and not supportive enough of "his cause". He also accused me of being lazy and not doing enough in the house, said my parents must have been happy to be rid of me because I don't cook often enough and so on, even though he never did anything in the house without a lot of prompting and nagging.

It didn't help that he now demanded to have children (in spite of a barely existing sex life) - I do want children eventually, but felt it was irresponsible to bring a child into this kind of relationship. He blew up spectacularly when I told him he would need to get help with his temper before I was willing to even consider having children with him. After a series of huge blowouts I finally told him I would leave, but once again he broke down and wrapped me around his finger with promises and apologies.

A month later however, after tip-toeing around him trying to get my feelings for him back, and sinking deeper and deeper into depression again, and trying not to set him off, living separate lives as we had for the past year or so (he spent most of his time on his PC and we hardly talked), I finally gave up and left him.

He was devastated, saying he had loved me with all his heart, and when I later got together with my best friend he accused me of having had an affair while I still lived with him, and told all our mates I had dumped him for his best friend - my partner had known my husband before I knew him (ALL my friends and aquaintances here knew him before I moved over here) but they had never been very close, my husband shows too little interest in others' lives and problems/feelings to get very close to anyone.

Soon I will be divorced and hopefully he will not continue to hassle me any more in E-Mails and with phone calls, as he has promised once we had talked everything out and promised each other not to hurt each other any more – so far this has worked OK, thankfully.

All things said and done I am happy, relieved, but am also starting to wonder whether some of what he accused me of is true, whether I really am mean and provoking and manipulative as he claims I am, and whether maybe the things I am accusing him of were never as bad as I perceived them to be - that would after all explain why so many of his mates now seem to regard me as a dirty, despicable person who was only out to hurt my husband and had no right to complain.

I don't regret leaving him and am still in a relationship with a great, understanding and gentle guy whom I love dearly, but while I have always been aware that I too have made mistakes in our marriage, I am beginning to doubt whether the situation had really been as bad as it had seemed to me at the time - this is especially reinforced by his repeated comments (and accusations?) and comments by former friends of ours, who had only heard his side of the story and are staying loyal to him and making me feel like I
should have continued to neglect my own needs and put up with his abuse, making me feel guilty and dirty for leaving this marriage.

I would like to know how accurate my judgement and observations have been so I don't end up hurting my current partner, although he is very much aware of the situation and is understanding and caring, willing to talk about his problems and willing to listen to mine instead of either of us bottling them up – what do I need to change if I want to avoid falling into the same trap again?

My new boyfriend is very gentle, never raises his voice and talks about problems rather than taking them out on others. But I just worry that my marriage has damaged me somehow and I could have become unable to treat a guy with respect, yet at the same time without sacrificing myself and MY needs… Any advice?





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