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Naming Abuse

So I was watching this TED talk recently, of Leslie Morgan Steiner talking about being a victim of domestic abuse. She was the classic “battered wife” and she talks in this video about what was going on in her mind, why she didn’t leave her abusive husband. Well, eventually she did leave — she’s very happily married with kids these days — but she talks about what she told herself that kept her stuck with a man who beat the tar out of her.

I pray her story is irrelevant to your situation. Being cheated on is horror enough, if you’ve suffered physical abuse as well, my heart breaks for you. If you watch the video, you’ll see that what she says pertains to infidelity, as well as physical abuse.

Steiner says what kept her stuck is that she didn’t KNOW it was abuse.

That was not her narrative. Instead she told herself that she was a very strong woman in love with a very troubled man, and only she could save him.

That’s what kept her there.

In that sentence she just summed up the entire Reconciliation Industrial Complex. Isn’t that the unicorn narrative? You are very strong to reconcile, and this person who cheated on you is troubled, in a fog, being terribly difficult. But you can Save This. You are a very strong person in love with a very troubled person.

She maintained that narrative until she couldn’t. Until the risks to her own physical and mental health became too much. Until he nearly killed her. At that point she had to ask herself — what is the cost to myself staying?

How much easier it is to judge someone in a physically abusive relationship. The pain is so obvious, so intended — unlike fucking around on someone. Because that “just happens” and they “didn’t really mean” to hurt you.

Steiner’s abuser apologized and wept and promised to change.

And she clung to her narrative. She tried harder to be there for him. Found identity in being the special person who Really Knew Him. The man who was beating her wasn’t the Real Him.

Until he beat her so hard she had to admit to herself — yes that was the real him. And all his apologies and better qualities didn’t matter. He was a man she could not be safe with — ever.

What do we tell ourselves that keeps us chumps? What was your narrative? She really loves me. This is just a midlife crisis. She’ll come back to her senses. I’m the one he really loves. The affair(s) meant nothing. We have so much shared history. My children must grow up in an intact home.

Until they do it again, and forget their promises. And you ask yourself — at what cost am I staying?

Steiner said she didn’t know it was abuse. I get that. I knew infidelity hurt like a motherfucker, but I didn’t think it was abuse. It took me a long time to realize that it was intentional. Planned. Justified. That if Steiner was of use as a punching bag, I was of use as a chump. The person that must be triangulated against, cheated on, the dupe who makes the sex naughty. The giver of resources. The front of normalcy. I was all those things. I just didn’t wake up with a bloody head on a bathroom floor.

What makes this community powerful, what makes Chump Lady unique in my opinion is that we clearly articulate that infidelity IS ABUSE. They aren’t in a “fog,” cheaters know what they’re doing, they just don’t care. It’s manipulation and mindfuckery. They are gaining advantage, keeping themselves in a one-up position, and the chump subjugated. Cheating is as intentional as a slug to the face. A slug to the face is at least somewhat honest. Infidelity is a sucker punch from behind. The unfairest of fights.

Infidelity is abuse. And when you know that, you can leave.

New column on Tuesday. This post ran previously. Feel free to comment! I’ll announce meh mug winner on Friday. 🙂 

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  • Amen!

    If anyone reading this still doubts that cheating isn’t a planned activity, take a look at the total losers and their self-justifying, totally premeditated posts about how to cheat and not get caught over at https://www.reddit.com/r/adultery/

    Sickening, but a good example about how cheating is mired in s total lack of character, lack of responsibility, and more often than not total resentment of the betrayed spouse.

    • I can’t bear to access that reddit line as it would haunt me, force me to binge-watch Dexter, and buy industrial-sized rolls of plastic wrap. However, I agree infidelity is planned, as is its cover-up. In fact, I found CL by typing in “infidelity emotional abuse.” A psychologist cited one of CL’s HP columns, and off I ran to enlightment.

      I think there may have been some of us who KNEW we were being emotionally abused and stayed anyway. Forgive yourselves. I doubt any of us knew (a) the full extent of the emotional abuse, because we did attribute some of it to the “troubled man/woman” narrative, without realizing the “troubled” is an intrinsic part of them and we cannot change it; (b) we stayed for noble reasons. E.g., I [mistakenly] believed it was best for my children to stay & work at the marriage. And I did fight back, so I thought I was mitigating the effects of the abuse.

      Cheaters and abusers can all fall off a cliff chasing the Pied Piper of power; our real task is to forgive ourselves if we stayed even after we recognized the abuse.

      • Oh, gosh. That thread makes me sick and angry. All those people complaining about not getting their needs met, yet they don’t leave when they’ve exhausted ‘all’ options. They use the kids or financial hardship as an excuse not to divorce. Excuse me, people, but life isn’t always a picnic. Grow a spine and get out if you’re so gosh damn miserable like you claim to be.
        It would have hurt the kids if they just left, but they would have been able to cope better and eventually heal. But nope, you just had to destroy them by leaving them for someone else. Nothing is worse than that kind of rejection, but it’s all for their ‘happiness’, isn’t it?

        • If the selfish fucks on reddit adultery sites are ‘unhappy,’ imagine how their spouses must feel being married to people not doing any of the work in the relationship and probably acting like entitled jackasses.

          • That seems to be the difference, huh? When “needs aren’t being met,” one would do whatever it took to fix it (i.e. counseling, therapy, improving communication), while the other would think it’s okay to screw around and avoid the hard work, or avoid divorce and its consequences.

    • The most stunning thing about the cheaters on Reddit is that they aren’t making immediate plans to divorce. Nope, they are going to stay married, even as they have a laundry list of reasons why they hate their spouse and their marriage. They are USERS. They use everyone. They are sticking around for some reason, even as they run their mouths about how miserable they are and how they hate their spouses. My guess is, for a lot of them, it’s money. Most of them, if caught, will cry like a bitch and beg for a second chance. Basically, they are just big fat pieces of shit. Some of the most disgusting people on the face of the earth. Indeed, leave a cheater. Because that’s no life.

      • Although I knew my ex wanted me around to maintain his image of “happy family man” and for my income, I never really boiled it down to: he’s a user. Thanks for giving me that word, Carol. Suits him to a “T.” Thanks Carol!

        • There’s a poster over there who says he got married a few weeks ago even though he’s madly in love with an affair partner. He basically admits he is using his wife. He says he married her because he doesn’t think his affair partner will leave her husband. WTF?? Those people prove just how utterly sick cheaters are. If you read there, you will not have a single second of regret that you divorced a sick fuck cheater.

          • Asswipe still here but not after end of the year. Under stupid hit they say. This morning I got “sorry not sorry baby but its not easy being king” complete with sad sausage face. Hahahahahahaha! Now that’s a hoot! Seriously?!

    • I do think this article does touch on why there is such a disconnect between chump nation and those who we consider cheater-apologists. We in chump nation believe infidelity is abuse and the RIC, the Perel-ted-talk-commentators etc think infidelity is not abuse, that it is a common, acceptable, natural, understandable action.

      I perhaps would respect the RIC more if they made a valid attempt to address the reality of infidelity. One person searching for intimate connection outside of marriage for personal growth (Perel view) is just one small part of infidelity. The RIC should look at the ENTIRE story of infidelity including the abusive, destructive parts.

      But the RIC will always say, “yes, we believe infidelity is wrong, but…” and go on to list a bunch of reasons of why infidelity is good for a marriage.

      Then the RIC tries to sweep the betrayed’s story under the rug by saying the it is bad manners to itemize why infidelity is abuse, and why healing can not occur until the betrayed agrees to ignore the abusive, destructive aspects of infidelity, and instead focus on why they weren’t meeting the cheater’s needs, because until the betrayed understands how they failed to meet the cheater’s needs, the infidelity could happen again.

      So according to the RIC, the way to rebuild trust is for the cheater to say they are REALLY REALLY REALLY sorry, and then move on to getting the betrayed to meet their needs.

      It bothers me that Perel and the RIC and the Harley rebuilders ignore the destructive and abusive aspects of infidelity. They never seem to discuss the cheater getting pregnant by another man. They ignore the financial resources that was spent on the affair rather than on the kid’s music lessons (Sorry Billy, we still can’t afford piano lessons. Maybe next year). They ignore that not only might I have received an STD, but if I do divorce and remarry, I might give that STD to my new partner. They ignore the mindfuckery and gaslighting manipulative behaviors employed by most cheaters. They automatically assume that it was the betrayed who was emotionally withdrawn and neglectful, painting the cheater as the true victim, because why else would one cheat unless the betrayed was passively aggressively punishing them via emotional withdraw. They automatically assume it is the betrayed who is afraid of vulnerability, because anyone courageous enough to have an intimate connection outside the marriage means they are vulnerable and courageous. There is a pervasive hint of the cheater being more enlightened in matters or love and passion and the erotica, while the betrayed is obviously a shut-down prude. They ignore the power-play dynamics of infidelity. They ignore what we’ve learned about personality disorders, narcissism, entitlement, and borderline sociopathic tendencies . The ignore the impact on the children. They ignore the common dynamic of the betrayed picking up the pieces, working hard trying to raise the children and maintain some financial health, while the cheater continues to undermine those very foundations of a healthy family. I could go on with all the destructive aspects of infidelity, but that would just make me a BLACK and WHITE thinker unable to see that infidelity is never that simple, and there is always more to the gddmt story.

      Because they said they were sorry and it is bad manners to keep shoving all those things in their face, so just suck it up, sweep it under the rug, and get to work figuring out how you didn’t meet their needs.

      How is that an honest approach to rebuilding a marriage?

      • Exactly.

        Affairs aren’t good for marriages. For maybe 0.0001% of affair situations, there true remorse, which opens up a dialogue for true intimacy. That dialog is indeed good for a marriage.
        But SO MANY miss the OBVIOUS point that the positive dialog is IN NO WAY DEPENDENT ON AN AFFAIR.

        Morons.

        • Right on Sephage!

          An affair makes a marriage stronger in the same way getting shot in the head makes you live longer. Just because both of those things might happen in spite of the affair or the bullet; it is not a causal relationship. So many people deeply in the RIC fail to understand that.

          I have had my fill of hearing all the ways a unicorn chasing reconciler’s marriage got so much better after their spouse had an affair. As if an affair was the absolutely the ONLY way that could ever happen. Um hello? Not. Buying. That. Bullshit! Nobody should!!!

      • Wow! We really need like buttons for posts like this. You put into words what I had been thinking, but much more eloquent than I’ve been able to.

    • So many times I think “this is the best post ever” but I really mean it this time, “this is the best post ever!” I had what I thought were very good reasons to stay even in the depths of emotional abuse: it’s better for the kids, I want them to have an intact family, my beautiful home is amazing, he’ll change, he had a rotten childhood, his mother didn’t understand him hence he’s broken; I will glue him back together. And then thoughts of: there were good times, for the most part we were compatible, how will I ever make it on my own? and the justifications go on and on… I will say these reasons caused me great torment because I knew intuitively that I was suffering, that something was very very wrong. But I spackled, in denial, refused to see what was right in front of me. Wow.

      My biggest regret is that I didn’t have the strength to leave years earlier. CL has said this before: cheating is not a mistake, it is a choice. I love that. It’s true. I am daily comforted and validated by this site because CL calls it like it is: infidelity = abuse. Thank you for validating what in my heart I knew but what created a rub with cultural message therefore I lived in doubt for so long. If only I had CL years ago. Rock on CL and CN, we need this validation as there is truly nothing else like it out there. My heart doth swell with gratitude.

    • Reading those posts on that reddit link is a trigger for me. And makes me feel physically ill.
      I can hear that POS ex’s voice.

      And before I forget:

      For any recently chumped chumps who have a SO blaming their shitty behavior on an extraordinarily “high sex drive”, listen for sirens, bells & whistles!
      RUN don’t walk!!!!!

      That is code for multiple instances & more partners than you can stomach.they have been rationalizing it over & over to themselves & don’t even give a flying fart about the AP’s. They even loathe most of those AP’s. They are the biggest of the petri dishes for STDs.

      DUMP THEM.

      • I will always remember my old guy but as I stated he died and an uncaring vicious nasty bastard took his place. Funny how I was perfect til he met the whore. This experience has changed both of us and I look forward to leaving asswipe in my dust! Has alienated both grown kids and his sister with his actions and neglect. Whores problem now her circus…. Her monkeys!

    • OMG!!!! I guess I have been really sheltered in my 62 year old life….no wait! I have character so why would I even think to think of some site like this!!!!!

  • Wow ChumpLady! I think I’ve read the bulk of your posts and then a previously run post, I’ve yet to read! Leaves a sick feeling where abuse is concerned that’s for sure! Yes, it was after dday, divorce, pulling life together etc that I could realize without a doubt infidelity is truly abuse. Then I racked my mind how I got myself into such a mess as I see myself as strong, independent, have common sense, etc, etc. I was not forced to marry the person that I do not know at this point. I just knew I needed to get away, that the ex was someone to be as far away from as possible! Your blog has helped me tremendously…….and of course I might add you stand as an example that in the long run after abuse, you’ve turned your life into an amazing example where major good has come about!!!

    • Nice Mehbound! I just want to add that we need more cultural awareness that infidelity is abuse. Here is a nice example: my 17 y/o is on Planned Parenthood’s teen council in which the kids provide education where the schools leave off (think conservative Utah). It’s a wonderful program that teaches, in addition to sex ed, healthy relationships. It is fully recognized and taught that infidelity is NOT part of a healthy relationship whatsoever. I was so glad to see that.

  • Yeah, the only people “in a Fog” are the people who’ve been traumatized by their cheater, or worse… indoctrinated into one of those “marriage at all costs” enabling forums or similar culture. The cheater knows exactly what is going on. They’re the one with the most relevant information, and they aren’t mentally impaired no matter what hokum some snake oil peddler is trying to sell you.

    And after you’ve read about 500-1000 different peoples’ stories as they evolved, it’s really hard to maintain the caricature of infidelity that most people start out having: that it is something that can be compartmentalized, that it isn’t part of something that leaks over into all sorts of other manipulative weirdness and abuse almost always.

    • Fabulous insights TimeHeals: “And after you’ve read about 500-1000 different peoples’ stories as they evolved, it’s really hard to maintain the caricature of infidelity that most people start out having…”

      We need to change the narrative from “marriage at any cost” to “mental health at any cost.”

  • Wouldn’t it be amazing to have a true, honest and open talk about infidelity, gaslighting and manipulation?
    To give the same voice to what it is really like to survive infidelity.
    I wish I had the ability to give a TED talk about infidelity; I am legally prevented from doing that.
    Tracy, you have been our voice through your blog and books. I hope there might be a TED talk in your future.

  • I sat the ER after I found out my husband was cheating on me. I had followed him and TOWANDA the rear of his car in the Walmart parking lot. The police told me to “commit myself or my huband would and I wouldn’t get out for 72 hours. The horse brought me the phone and a women’s shelter brochure. I spoke to the woman on the phone. Telling her I didn’t need the woman shelter, I wasn’t abused, I had a home, a new house we built. She insisted I read the pamphlet again to her……click….click….click…. my mind, like the tumblers of a lock were hitting the right digits to begin to unlock what my mind had kept locked up…..click….click….open…….
    I felt a hot melting liquid pour from my brain down my spinal cord, it flooded my entire body.
    She was right, that voice on the phone in the pych ward at 3am.
    But he didn’t hit you….but he never laid a hand on you…..but you took that the wrong way when he did XYZ….
    I will never forget that night….I cried just now typing it. The mask was off. I now was about to face the monster I had hidden in the closet for 20 years.
    He has shown his true colors. I don’t have one bloody lip or black eye or crushed rib to prove the abuse. I wish I did to prove the mental and emotional abuse was there. I would have fought back a crushing blow to my head, I would have fought for my life against that…..but….. I didn’t know….I didn’t know I was being beat down, controlled, manipulated. I didn’t know…..he seemed like such a nice guy……and he portrayed me as crazy.
    Now….I know….and I won’t remain silent any longer.

    • so similar to my situation, i read a pamphlet about abuse on line, it took years of reading the same thing over and over then one day as i read it, i started shaking, i shook all the way home and for hours afterwards, all the sudden it sunk in, i was abused, he was not the nice guy he told everyone he was and he tried to make me out to be crazy too, the choice was easy after the mask finally came off, it is like being brain washed, it takes a time to get over it.

    • Jesus. This is just like my situation with my abusive ex.
      I remember going to that Heartless Bitches website with the Red Flag list – and reading it – as I was reading it, I was like ‘So….he does this….and this….and this…..and this too. Can’t forget about this either’. Way, way too much to ignore after that. A short time later I was Googling about this stuff, and up popped CL’s site. The door to hell opened – but holy shit, I feel so much damn better about myself after that. I was so far down the hole I didn’t realise just how bad it was.
      I kinda set up a bit of a ‘test’ though, to see if the knowledge I had gleaned was correct – basically just seeing how my partner would react if I did a certain thing. He did EXACTLY what was suggested would happen, and this made me realise “He won’t change.” and went NC after that.

    • Gosh, I’m so sorry. I totally understand how someone would want to TOWANDA the back of cheaters car….you weren’t the crazy one but we chumps sure end up feeling like we are. . I’m glad you got the help at the exact moment you needed it and it all started to click while you read the brochure.You are mighty and strong and inspirational!

      They do plan things out. They may plan very, very, poorly, but still they do plan.

      During a heated exchange over the phone with stbx back in April. (Months after I told him to move out and he did, and after I filed), he accused ME of accusing HIM of abuse. I had never ever thought he had abused me nor did I ever say any of the things he accused me of. It was a very bizarre phone call during which he accused me of so many things it triggered my PTSD severely. My doctors told me 1. Cheater knew EXACTLY what he was doing and was purposefully gaslighting me trying to trigger my PTSD 2. Gaslighting is abuse and he was going to continue to abuse me every chance he got. They talked me out of trying to get him to a mediator because 1. He probably wouldn’t show 2. I’d end up having to fork out all of the $$, just like I am for the divorce processes 3. Even if he did show up at the Mediator, it wouldn’t change anything for the better. Cheater was going to keep treating me like a piece of shit. I’m glad I listened and didn’t waste any more money.

    • Towanda
      A word used to express extreme excitement while doing something crazy.

      Origin: Used in the movie “Fried Green Tomatoes”
      Evelyn: (while intentionally bashing someone’s car) TOWANDA!!!!!!!!!!

    • I allowed myself to be sucked into the Catholic vow definition of marriage and was determined to do it right. It never occurred to me that when he broke his vow to love, honor and forsake against all others, I no longer had the marriage I wanted.

      I should have run when his mask came off two years into our marriage. I had just given birth to our son and thought our baby’s life in an in-tact family was more important than a happy life. Little did I know that by staying, I helped teach all three of our sons how to treat women like shit.

      I believed that if I could just do better, love him better, forgive him better, X would be warm and loving again. It never occurred to me that he was only warm and loving intermittently; I was always the chump working my ass off for that occasional kibble of affection. It became so rare that I treasured it more.

      Yes, the worst abuse doesn’t always just crack ribs and blacken eyes. The hardest wounds to heal are the ones you can’t see.

  • Haven’t commented for a while- too busy being a happily divorced ex-chump but this post is very much my story. As I’ve told in previous comments, I’m in AA recovery and met my XH early on. Too early on – I missed all the relationship red flags which in hindsight turned out to be a Moscow parade. No, that’s a lie. I didn’t miss them, I overlooked them because, yeah, I thought recovery had turned me into Wonder Woman and I could deal with anything.

    Turned out I couldn’t deal with- his underemployment/financial issues, porn, ‘female friendships’, aggression, depression which came BEFORE the debt, the prostitutes, the relapse and 999 calls to the police for assault. THEN came the final DD day and guess what, I couldn’t deal with that either.

    Time taken to learn this life lesson @ 6 years.

    Like nearly every other women who has been in an abusive relationship I couldn’t see it was happening to me. I was too educated, too smart, blah blah. And of course, he was going to change. Soon.

    In the end infidelity turned out to be my life saver because his betrayal cut through the crap in my head that he was on my side just as I had supported him through all his shit. Really I was a walking poster girl for codependency. And I had been warned at the beginning about putting anything ( especially a man) before recovery. But I ignored those voices, and my own internal one. I wish I’d listened, or someone had shouted louder because it was all bad enough but it could have been worse. As in relapsing and or death-for me.

    But I did get out and I have nothing but gratitude for those who helped save me including everyone on the good ship Chump Lady.

    • One of the many statements which rang true for me was he made me believe I was the one in control. My therapist helped me see I never had any control.
      Im so happy you found your way out Mikky. I was always independent and considered myself to be a strong person. I was WELL aware of abuse as my father raged and both physically and emotionally abused my mother. It’s so important to recognize when a spouse wants to suddenly “move” it’s a major red flag. Whenever, you have to gone something important up to please-it’s not love it’s isolation. Here’s to surviving, x

      • Hi Donna, thanks for reply and that’s a good point that I had never considered- his making me think I was in control. It makes me think of the expression ‘having your strings pulled’- as though he was a puppeteer and me… well obviously not a puppet in the end as I expressed free will and left. But it does illustrate the manipulative nature of XH. x

  • “Cheating is as intentional as a slug to the face. A slug to the face is at least somewhat honest.”

    Amen to this!

    It’s almost verbatim what I kept telling “Dexter” during my 3 year(!) “I’m going to fix this” phase after Dday.

    The pathological lying followed by the slow drip of SOME truths, the gaslighting (he was especially fond of “I never said that” and “that’s not how it happened”), and all of the rest of the emotional abuse that comes along with dealing with a sociopathic narcissist…

    I told him over and over to PLEASE just punch me in the face. That it would be more humane.

    See, years prior to Dexter I HAD been in a physically abusive situation (I can’t even call that one a relationship) and it really was preferable to get physically hit.

    At the very least, you could see the blows coming and maybe, if you were lucky, brace yourself for it to lessen the impact.

    The emotional abuse just blindsides you.

    He’s been out 2 1/2 years now and I’m STILL not “healed” from it.
    A broken bone would’ve mended long ago.

  • I didn’t realize that my daughter’s father was a full blown narc until recently, I was with him for 8 years back in my early twenties. He was undeniably verbally, physically and emotionally abusive and a cheater, of course. He used to love to tell me how “fucked up” I was. The abuse was so obvious with him.

    This time, my recent X-hole was not. I didn’t realize until AFTER it was over that I had been being abused and controlled because he was “nice”. He didn’t hit me and he didn’t say “horrible” things… what he did was control everything and blame, manipulate, neglect, gaslight, cheat, project, and lie his ass off.

    That said, I totally get this… I didn’t realize it was deliberate, and I didn’t realize it was abuse because he WASN’T beating the shit out of me and screaming obscenities at me on a regular basis.

    At least I knew the first one was an abusive asshole, it was obvious. With my last one… coming to terms with how badly I had been duped and mindfucked was heartbreaking.

    Never again.

    • “That said, I totally get this… I didn’t realize it was deliberate, and I didn’t realize it was abuse because he WASN’T beating the shit out of me and screaming obscenities at me on a regular basis.”

      YES! Same with me, NCStevie. To this day, I can’t entirely wrap my head around it all, and I still sometimes think my ex wasn’t really “that bad.” Luckily, it’s been years for me, so I don’t think about him very often anymore, and at this point, untangling the skein is of zero importance to me.

      It’s amazing how hard it can be to recognize mind fuckery when it’s done by a master.

      • “It’s amazing how hard it can be to recognize mind fuckery when it’s done by a master.”

        So true; I will sometimes read past emails & texts from X that he wrote after D-day trying to convince me to reconcile, and he was GOOD. Subtle, just enough feigned remorse-while-still-blameshifting to get past my initial bullshit-detector. But once you’re armed with the knowledge that we acquire here on CL, the subtlety reveals itself to be well-orchestrated and masterful mindfuckery.

        • Amen to that! I would’ve likely fallen for his well crafted reconciliatory bullshit had I not learned what I have here. Thank you forever, Chump Lady!

      • I have to sift through the bullshit every day, I question everything. Fallout ftom the mindfuckery. I still miss the person I thought he was and I hate it. Even though I KNOW what he is I still often find myself wondering what I could have done differently.

        Deep down I know I was the only one invested in our life and family, I know this was inevitable and just a matter of time. I can’t help but wonder about all of the shit I DON’T know, what he was doing all those years when I wasn’t policing.

        Sometimes I swear the silent abuse is worse! How do you fight that shit when you don’t even know what your up against??

        • I know I shouldnt even give the whole event a lick of my time or energy… But it seems that everytime I turn around another little gem pops out. Much to my ignorance I have been introduced to some of his fuck friends. He intentionally took me places where they worked or were going to be so they could see me. There I am all glowing because we are out on a date and he has fucked the waitress… The waitress all chatty engages me and I give her encouragement to complete school… I make sure he tips her well at the end of the dinner. Jokes on me.
          I can only imagine how many times this has played out during our marriage… I am the running joke. A cruel joke.
          You do wonder and wonder some more what you could have seen or felt that would have tipped you off. In the end …. Does it change the fact that they used your life, love and trust like a disposable wet nap?

          • If a smart or well-practiced person sets out to deceive you, they will. And these jackasses get off on the power–they just made you do something you wouldn’t otherwise do (chat to the person who banged your spouse). Evil. There is no other way to explain it.

            But you are far from the joke, TheClip. You are the pinnacle of all that was good and right in his life; this is why you had to be taken down. There’s no challenge in stealing candy from an infant.

          • Clip, I know what you mean about the cheater “showing you off” to their affair partner, unknown to you. And how humiliating it is once you find out how brazenly they chumped you.

            My ex was friends with a married guy, I was also friendly with him and his wife. Ex and this guy used to get together monthly to “smoke cigars” and friendly guy bonding. Turns out “smoking cigars” was a euphemism for something else — I’m sure you can guess what they were actually putting in their mouths. I’d be all friendly and chatty with the guy whenever I’d see him. Disgusting. Bizarrely enough, within the past year I saw a local news article, and that guy went on a crazy stabbing spree, tried to kill someone and is now in prison.

            And I’ve written before about how I was friendly with ex’s main fuck buddy, and how she had us over for dinner several times, acting like she was my good friend while in reality she was fucking my husband. How my ex and her must have been laughing at me and her husband (now her ex) at those dinners. One time ex and I went to play tennis with the fuck buddy and she needed to use the restroom, so ex took her back to our house while I stayed at the courts. I can only imagine what they did back at the house while I innocently kept practicing at the court.

            So many episodes like this. I still feel ashamed at how easily ex fooled me over and over, even though I know the shame is really on him.

            • Sounds literally almost word for word like events with my ex too Glad. And like you I am years past and think less and less about it. But once in a while the realization of yet another play in one of their sick games comes to me and can still make me feel sick to my stomach.

          • TheClip

            You have way too much class and integrity to ever be the running joke. Know this!

            When we laugh it will be with joy because we have the grace and kindness they seek and will never obtain.

          • TheClip–The summer before I discovered STBX was having an affair, we were invited over to Schmoopie’s house for her birthday party. STBX said that it was potluck, and that we were bringing sausages for the barbecue. I remember saying at the time that sausages from the local butcher’s was a pretty damn expensive contribution to the party, but STBX typically makes grand gestures that put him out of pocket more than he can afford. Schmoopie had a second hand gas grill that was having problems, and the sausages weren’t cooking properly. STBX asked me to “help her out.”

            I realized that all sorts of weirdness was going on, and about six weeks later, when I discovered the affair, I understood that STBX was trying to get me and Schmoopie to like each other.

            What a cake eater!

            • Mine did this too. In fact, somewhat successfully.. I used to take classes with the whore and she and her H spent time with our family. Looking back at the “friendship”… there were all sorts of weird things in retrospect I missed. Once she had some minor foot thing and he sent her a gift basket. She thanked us BOTH so that is how I found out about it. I thought it was odd, but I was so busy raising kids and living life and TRUSTING that I didn’t question it. There were all sorts of weird things like that now looking back that I didn’t see.

              Sick… it’s so twisted.

          • Don’t feel bad Clip . . . this shit is so common. It gives the cheaters a boner and ups the danger factor I guess.

            My X wanted us to go to a birthday party a “friend” of his was throwing for her husband. I had no idea he was fucking this “friend” at the time, so I would have blindly went had it not been for the fact I popped him in a hotel room with her the day before the party. But guess what, the next day he went to the party anyway. He met her husband and this guy had no clue that my X was fucking his wife, nor did he know that I had found them in a hotel room together the DAY BEFORE. To make it more wonderful, the day I caught them was this guys birthday. Sweet right?

            It took a day or so and I notified the husband. He actually didn’t believe me at first because my X was at his birthday party and he said, “He was so nice. He acted like we were brothers because we were both Army vets!”

            But that’s the kind of fucked up shit these people too. I’ve said it before, they remind of hyenas. Ravenous fucking hyenas. OK, so you’re cheating on me, but must you bring me to the AP’s house? It’s a good thing I found out before that party, because otherwise, I might have went directly over that bitches house with a baseball bat knowing I had just spend the day with her smiling at me and trying to be my best buddy. I can imagine the conversation: Oh Rumblekitty, I love your blouse! Rumblekitty, OMG you are too funny! WE should go out sometime!

            Parading the spouses around like that? They are both really lucky it didn’t happen because honestly, I might have went nuclear.

            After this happened, I even started to think back about two years prior when he insisted we hang out with a co-worker of his and her husband. We even went bowling with them a few times. And now that I think about it, they were exchanging “knowing” glances the whole night. At the time, I thought maybe I was just being insecure. But now? Nah . . . they were definitely fucking. There’s no doubt in my mind. That’s why now I just will sit back and wait for the cycle to repeat.

            Public service announcement for my X’s new wife: Beware the co-worker or “friends” from the old neighborhood. Odd’s are, she’s fucking your husband. Enjoy.

            • Introducing your spouse to your fuckbuddy is one of the purest forms of evil. Seriously, the cheaters who do that don’t deserve to suck up perfectly good air that the rest of us could use. They are no better than serial killers who torture their victims first. This is exactly why I think of them as subhuman (sorry, Ohana!!–I tried the concept of “A toxic offshoot whose poisonous touch must be avoided at all costs” but after reading today’s posts about their cruelty, I”m back to “subhuman.” You’re a more noble person than me; I just want these losers to suffer for the damage they do.)

              • Ah yes! My Ex insisted I become FaceBook friends with Schmoopie and the Merry band of idiot followers who knew she and my Ex were “in love!” I was duped horribly and Schmoopie was so good at faking me out! OMG! It’s just so unbelievably angering! I’m sure it gave old boy a chubby and that hag got wet over it! This is the crap that just makes me cringe at my stupidity! But it also tells me how sick these Mf’ers are! Wonder who gives him a hard on now? I hope they are miserable! I’m free! Just got to get by this kind of shit for my own good!

              • Hey Tempest, that noble thing is only a part-time gig for me, so you’re free to use sub human as far as I’m concerned. You forgot the “worthless” bit, though. :). That “toxic offshoot” thing is too clunky for regular conversation, anyway.

                And on this particular topic, agreed with everything above. Sick sick behavior. How about having the fuckbuddies invited to your own home (unknown to chump of course)? X had them over when I was away, I had clothes disappear mysteriously, couldn’t figure out why. He also, with the help of some x-friends invited them to parties in our home. That really got my goat. Getting sick kicks over seeing me go out of my way to make these chicks comfortable. There just is no bottom to it. So…good riddance!

              • It still blows me away that my ex got disgusted that I wasn’t performing a dance move to his satisfaction at our son’s wedding and spent the rest of the night dancing with his AP coworker (with her husband and kids looking on). In fact he was also enamored with her young daughter and danced with her too.

                That night was so humiliating, but I refused to get upset and let him ruin my son’s wedding. Later that night i was crying in our room about the way he behaved, but of course didn’t say anything about it. I knew talking about it wouldn’t do any good. He even put his arm around me and acted sympathetic as I told him I thought I was just really tired. It was so f’d up.

                When I look back, I remember several times where he screwed up and I stumbled across something suspicious regarding his AP. He always had a sympathetic look in his eye as he explained it away. His sympathy always disarmed me.

          • TheClip, just wanna add — me too. Here I am 5 years out, and reading YOUR POST suddenly flashed up a memory of xNPh showing me some beach jewelry that he recommended a couple of spa-hotels he consults to should carry. A few months later I stumbled onto his affair with OW#1 (of five then active) — who created a line of designer handbags and this jewelry. Somehow I forgot that I had already seen her crap jewelry, and that she was actually a guest at a super bowl party thrown by old friends of ours whom she did not otherwise know -/ yes I was there with xNPh, still very married and ignorant. But they knew of course. What a thrill it must all be. Or how about that she also had donated jewelry to those friends’ fundraiser auction. All under my nose and at times just within my actual presence. Slavering predators.

        • NC, I dint know what was worse, knowing this nice guy was a sociopath my entire marriage or finally seeing him with the mask off in the end. That cold calculating look on his face. Those cruel heartless cutting abusjve statements let me know just what kind of a monster I lived with. He found an easy target. He had to find someone so needy and vulnerable SHE became his mouthpiece to attemp to further devalue me. They are indeed masters as Tempest stated. It’s all on them, not shame just the consequence of never having power or control over us again.

          • My sister said “he is a fucking sociopath” and I said “no way, he’s a selfish asshole…narcissistic maybe…but sociopath??”

            When he starting getting overboard with the bodybuilding and wanted to start “training” other competitors his first client was a female Physique competitor. I had my suspicions, voiced them and was told I was a jealous asshole. No doubt in my mind he was banging her. Later, after Dday I went back and looked at the old phone bills and sure enough he had been calling her every morning as soon as he left the house and they were calling back and forth all day. It went on for a month or two. I remember her standing in my kitchen one day and talking to him about something “sexual ” she had done with her hubby. I remember thinking HOW inappropriate…they (she and X-hole) didn’t know each other that well….. stupid chumpy me…..I am sure that wretched bitch was referring to something THEY had done. She actually befriended me, dumbass me, and I think once I told her how screwed and irresponsible he was financially she decided to stay with the husband she has. Assholes all of them. I still think about calling her husband. She’s disordered too, I figured that out eventually, she told SO many crazy stories and obvious lies. X-hole always said her husband treated her badly, insulted her… it was the other way around…she was so outright insulting to him. She was projecting, of course… but that was before I knew what projecting was.

            I can’t even put into words how I felt when the mask came off…seeing the hatred and contempt that he had for me was heart wrenching. It was in that moment that I knew, without a doubt, that he had no real love for me. That everything I thought I knew about him, and us, was all a lie. I have a hard time figuring out which was worse too, knowing it was all an act or seeing the real him. The upside to losing the mask is that seeing him for what he really is and what he is capable of makes “meh” possible.

            He is the most selfish and vile man I have ever known, and he does it all while pretending to be “nice”. The shit he has done, and NOT done since he left…I can’t begin to tell the half of it. He has made everything as hard on myself and our son as he possibly could and acts like we are friends. WTF?? That’s okay…I act like we are friends now too, while I’m doing my own plotting. He isn’t the only one who can pretend….fucker.

            • NC

              My therapist told me he was a narcissist and I was shocked. He had to coach and prepare me every step of the way and he was correct. As soon as I filed the rage and hatred came in full force. He wanted to destroy me. Pretend while you plot but watch out for the rage when you disengage. As the divorce proceeded my therapist said he was a sociopath and my lawyer kept asking what was wrong with him. Not only was he abusive to my lawyer, he screamed at his and she withdrew. I believe he thought I would fight to keep him right up to the end.

  • When I worked at the clerks office in our old town, the state began digitizing old files. One of my jobs was to pull the pleadings and all orders from these early 1900s files. I handled at least ten or fifteen files where spouses were jailed for infidelity. One female cheater served 8 years in jail for adultery.

    As societies emerge and evolve, so do the laws. Is cheating emotional abuse? Absolutely. Will it ever be again treated as such? Nope.

    On several occasions, I mentioned to my ex that I wished he would have just smacked me. It would have been easier to make a decision regarding divorce if he would have chosen that route rather than to screw an ex girlfriend. It also would have been an offense punishable in the criminal courts. That also would have helped in the decision making process.

    No easy solution.

    • I think the point is few people would counsel you to remain in a physically abusive situation, and yet many people will do exactly that when it comes to “saving your marriage” in the case of infidelity, and they probably do it thinking of the cheating as if it happens in some sort of vacuum: that the lying, gaslighting, blameshifting, financial and emotional betrayals are not indicative of the general relationship in some way.

      I am highly suspicious of narratives that focus on “the good things about the relationship” when there is an obvious breach of basic honesty and an apparently lack of empathy toward the betrayed spouse.

      For example, there are a couple Tea Party folks in Michigan recently booted from their positions in the legislature for firing staffers and spreading a false story to try to cover up their affair. People have no problem shaking their heads at Courser as he appears unrepentant. His affair partner, Gamrat made a big show of being “sorry” even though it was her spouse who GPSed her car and planted a voice-activated recorder in her car, and then he exposed the whole plot.

      I’m sorry, I have a hard time believing this guy did all that for no good reason given what was going on, and that he wasn’t being gaslighted, lied to constantly, and that there weren’t a host of other behaviors that amount to emotional cruelty going on if he went to all that trouble to “save his marriage”. Unfortunately, I don’t think the whole exposure thing was the way to go. I think divorce was the way to go, and my proof is that both Gamrat and Courser are running for their old seats in the special election and each putting out the narrative that they alone will stand up to the “Powers that Be in Lansing” to protect their constituents from “Common Core” and “Obamacare” and protect their “Freedoms” which are “being lost”.

      Now, I have to think … poor Joe Gamrat: his wife and her affair partner are running for their old jobs after all of that crap that went down. Such contrition.

      That’s just one example that is topical and well-known enough that folks might be somewhat familiar with it, but it seems fairly typical if you ask me.

  • I suffered years of emotional abuse with Little Napoleon. I had never heard one human being saying such horrific thing to another human being in all my life. It was like watching a horrible made for TV movie. Eventually his rages got so bad that there was some physical abuse including a day when he grabbed a knife and dared me to “say it again” (whatever it was). That was when I realized he could kill me and I began to make myself smaller and smaller in order to win time to find a way to get away from him. I was in his country with very little money.

    When we’d make up I’d say to him, “Just stop calling me names. That’s all I ask, stop calling me names.” He’d agree, but then they’d slowly creep back into daily life. In fact it was almost comical how someone else (usually his mom, dad, or kids) would piss him off and he’d turn to me to take it out on.

    When we returned to the states (he would not let me go without him) the abuse began anew. I finally walked out on him and went no contact. During this time I went to the local women’s abuse center and saw very clearly how everything he did to me was abuse, not just the physical stuff. All the manipulation and control was abuse too. It opened my eyes and gave me strength.

    Which is why I hated myself so much when, after three months of him begging me to take him back I went back to him. I went back knowing my life would be hell, that none of my family ever wanted anything to do with him again, and that he’d never change. Within three months of going back, he unceremoniously dumped me when he met Heather Ann and kicked me out of our apartment.

    So yeah, it’s hard not to beat myself up that I allowed myself to be talked into going back only to experience the worst pain of my entire life. That’s the other thing, it’s hard when you somehow feel attraction and desire for the man who has ruined your life because, frankly, it’s simply idiotic.

    Almost two years later I can clearly see how abusive it was. I’m grateful to be out of his web, but still blaming myself for allowing him to ruin me financially and that I gave him that last chance. I suppose I was so beaten down thinking no one else would ever be able to put up with me, that I thought this marriage was better than no marriage.

    Some of us have to hit bottom several times before we can finally face the facts and pick up what’s left of our shattered lives and move forward to a new life.

    • You’re not small anymore, ML, but rather a testament to just how strong and mighty a person can be after hitting rock bottom. You are a kintsugi pot.

      In my early days on CL, when I was very dubious that one could become stronger after such horrific betrayal, someone (I forget who) wisely posted a tale about kintsugi pottery–broken pottery in which the cracks are made stronger and more beautiful by emphasizing them with silver or gold. That is you; that can be all of us:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kintsugi

        • Tempest and moving liquid,you are both prominent voices and advocates on this forum.Ive read many of your posts and directions.For me you both have incredible strength and warmth.strong women build each other up and inspire.you both do this in so many ways.Beautiful cracked pots who refuse to allow the faults in the clay to define you.

      • OMG, Tempest!

        I’ve never heard of this pottery, but I’m so glad I have!

        I think the Chump Lady and Chump Nation are the gold dust in the lacquer. 🙂

          • I am so very glad it has been helpful to you. Someone mentioned it at an event I was at last year, and it was a ray of hope to me too. I wrote down the word and read up some on it and printed out some quotes about the idea that I stuck up to re-read as encouragement that wounds and broken bits can be made beautiful….even more beautiful than the original unbroken object. And it still gives me hope. And it also gives me courage not to attempt to hide the broken cracks that have been healed, but to incorporate them honestly into my new life and trust that time, healing and growth will turn it all into wisdom and beauty. That the good will prevail in the end…

    • “Some of us have to hit bottom several times before we can finally face the facts and pick up what’s left of our shattered lives and move forward to a new life.”

      Yes. But what matters is that eventually, we face the facts, pick up the pieces and move on. Sadly, many people never manage to do that, and stay at rock bottom forever. Moving, you are not one of those people, you are awesome and strong no matter what hell you had to walk through to get here.

      • GIO, how nice to see you, and thank you for your very kind words. xox

        Sometimes I think I’m simply too old to be starting over in every conceivable part of my life, and then I think, well, what is the alternative? There isn’t one, so on I go.

        i think we humans are programed to always think there’s a chance of survival. And it turns out, there is more than a chance!

    • ML

      After all the times I regrettably went back, knowing that it will never happen again brings peace. Enjoy your peace. You are mighty.

  • Yes, I maintained that narrative until I couldn’t. It took me a very very long time – 5 years – to join the dots that he couldn’t give a shit and that I was around because I was of use.
    It was only when I caught him with OW for the second time that the little voice inside of me said ‘if you continue to stay, you are actively participating in your own abuse’.
    That is when I filed. He was pissed.

    • Patsy, this is what got me to leave when I found out about Affair #2; I knew that if I stayed, I was consenting to his continuing to treat me with complete disrespect. And the kicker, the thing that kept me on my path even when I missed him terribly and was tempted to ‘try again’, was that I would also be teaching my kids that it’s ok to behave like that towards someone you supposedly love, and ok to accept that kind of treatment.

  • I was the fluff girl. He needed me to make him look good. And when the fluff girl quit he didnt know how to keep up,performances. He had to go out there alone and he knew he would flounder and be judged. So he turned it around and it was all my fault … His limp dick life was all my fault…insert a thousand reason here_____. When I told everybody what he had been doing He went into full panic mode and did they only thing that he knew would keep me quiet and still sucking his dick… He resorted to violence. He WOULD control the narrative.
    I learned fairly quickly what lengths he was willing to go,to protect his ego and the facade. and when our family and friends learned about his violence they immediately took pity on him. ‘ must be the job for him to snap like that’ ‘ ‘ is he on drugs?’ ‘ its all the stress from the military and the force’ Secondary wounding. Intially I felt I needed to prove to people that he was off his nut… I was then looking crazy and bitter. Would get the’ move on speech’ or it would be minimized….’ It was an isolated incident. He never hit you before right? ‘ ‘ Bob scared me once when he grabbed my arm and I realize I pushed him too far’
    I was never afraid of my husband until I challenged the balance…. The day I asked the question and wasn’t willing to be the fluff girl anymore …everything changed. I know for some here they have lived in years of fear and abuse , others it was only after they challenged the balance and the narrative.
    Doesnt matter if you sufferd a third degree burn 20 years ago, 2 days ago or your hand is held to the flame daily ; the burn still hurts , heals in stages and leaves scars. Some seek treatment. Some lose function. Some lose their lives. Others manage to live with the pain and some hide the scars. It is the brave soul who stands among the perfect ideal of this world and shines. Abuse is the same. The difference is people tend to feel pity or have understanding if you were burned because they can see it. A lot of abuse is never seen.

    • TheClip, that is horrifying that you were blamed for physical abuse on top of everything else. I’m glad you quit your job as fluff girl. Putting that energy into your own life and accomplishments will pay off big whereas catering to him was just a black hole. Again, so sorry to hear about the lack of family support. My mother sometimes asks me how x is doing, she hopes he is ok and tells me she always liked him. What? No need to demonize him, but really? Anyway, I thought that was pretty bad “support” but compared to your story and other stories around CN, it is nothing at all. I hope you are getting support somewhere even if not from them.

  • Absolutely the truth CL. As I’ve posted before, mine admitted to me he was purposely abusing me (without actually using the A word).

    Why did I stay that last horrible year or so? I think it was a combination of things. I was very stressed with caregiving for someone with Alzheimer’s. He was stressed over his job like he said. He’d come out of it. At times he did seem like the old him. Maybe they were “just friends”. I loved him. I was committed for better or worse. Low self esteem. Isolated. I hoped things would get better as I was starting to get outside help with my Dad. Naive.

  • One of the attorneys I met with early after DDay told me I was being emotionally abused. My therapist told me I had symptoms of PTSD early into my healing. My close friends could not believe that MrNiceGuy had done all of these sociopathic fucked up things to me and stolen time and money from his own children in order to entertain fuckbuddies.

    It’s abuse. Our scars are on the inside.

  • I was never physically abused, but I totally understand not grasping the level of emotional abuse and just plain craziness and mind fuckery. I spent three years or so in therapy after splitting with ex, and I’d say at least once a month, I would be telling my therapist about some sort of craziness and then I would have to ask her, “That’s not normal, right? Normal men don’t do that, right?” or “Was that abuse, or is that just how relationships are?” It took me a long time, probably more than a year, to even begin to grasp the abuse. Truthfully, to this day I still have a hard time understanding it, and tend to find myself thinking that my marriage wasn’t that bad, because ex never was physically abusive, never insulted or screamed verbal abuse and often was actually very nice. It’s can be very confusing. I’m so glad it’s been a long time, and all of that shit is fading now.

    • “…and then I would have to ask her, “That’s not normal, right? Normal men don’t do that, right?””
      I have found myself asking this about some of the behaviors and comments of my ex towards me (while were together)….I thought they were normal. I still don’t know if I would personally call my own former situation emotiionally abusive, but I do know now that those things I was (eventually) questioning (little “jokes,” etc.) sure weren’t indicative of an emotionally healthy or mature person…

    • GIO

      After two months of therapy my therapist gave me permission to stop gathering evidence. He gave me the strength to file. X didn’t physically abuse me either. With him it was a slow boil over many years of my taking responsibility for his actions. With no consequences he upped the anti yearly. Forgiveness gave him more power and control.

      Growing up it was not uncommon for my father to flip over the table while we were eating dinner as he raged and stormed out if the room as my mother cried. Or the annual ritual of the christmas tree being thrown out if the house. I believed he was a Good Guy because compared to that he was. I didn’t know about covert narcissusts and how they operate. I learned selflessness from my mother at a young age and became her caretaker for life. SHE told me he was a GOOD GUY after he slept with an AP in my own home.

      I too told myself it wasn’t that bad. It was worse than I ever imagined. In the end it was my mother who gave me strength after she passed. X had been cheating while I was going through the most difficult time in my life. I promised her I would, unlike her, save myself. I did.

    • GIO, I relate to your experience. After we separated and I started describing some of the things my ex did, my girlfriends assured me they’d have been upset too. It was wonderful to hear their validation of my feelings.

  • Papers filed and served. He’s still here. Left and came back the whore is upset he didn’t give up everything for her old life, friends, kids, me, his business. She knows he still loves and wants me and she hates that!! She knows he never even asked for a divorce she hates that! Having a huge fire sale he has till Dec 31 2015 to buy the house if not up for sale it goes. I will disappear about 3 hours from here to never be heard from again. He wants to stay friends I said no I really don’t want friends who stick knives in my back and keep twisting them deeper no sir re Bob! He hates that! Too bad so sad. Shoulda thought before you did what you did! Bye bye. Fucker!

    • You are awesome, Kar Marie!! Perhaps he’ll have to be dragged out of the house in his pajamas after it is sold to the highest bidder.

      • Thanks tempest. Took me three years to get the mad on right hoping he’d move his ass and do the right thing. Hahahahaha! His actions disproved everything his mouth was saying. He sleeps in the buff I hoe he puts pants on before they drag him out. His naked is not a pretty sight! Hee hee!

        • Hope you’ve got all your valuables (and things that have sentimental value) out of the house and someplace safe. Next thing you’ll know, they’ll disappear or he’ll give them to his whore as proceeds for ‘kicking him out’. These bastards will sink to any low.

  • The denial issue resonates with me. I have always thought of myself as a strong, independent woman who thinks logically and who can both see and deal with the painful truth. These characteristics have served me well in all aspects of my life, EXCEPT in my relationships with men. For some reason, it took me a long time to figure it out. I think I had to join the marriage police to collect the evidence to present to the “judge” (ME) so that I could give myself permission to stop carrying the burden. That I was not weak for getting out, but that I was strong, and that it was a righteous thing to do. I had to accept that I was not responsible for what he was doing, that nothing I could say or do would ever change him, and that he somehow enjoyed living this duplicitous life. I had to see and hear the revolting things he did and said to other women, to actually believe he had done those things. I could not make the jump if I had a shred of doubt — I had to exhaust myself and absolutely know that there was no chance he was innocent, had regret, or would ever change. Once I had gathered enough evidence, once I had made my case, I could leave.

    I DO NOT recommend this plan to anyone. I paid a dear price for being so stubborn and so strong — I lost a great deal of my precious time, and a great deal of my ability to trust others because I wallowed in the Valley of Denial for so long. I wish I had run, run, run. I felt the abuse, but I did not recognize it for what it was, until finally, I did.

    Leaving was actually easier for me to do than accepting the truth. That is a testament to the power of thought and idea control exerted by my family of origin and society at large. We all need to stand up and say, “You have it wrong” to the cheater apologists. When we say leave a cheater, we are not saying we were perfect or we had no faults. We are simply saying a cheater has chosen to cheat, and we do not have to live with that choice. We don’t see that choice as being harmless fun. We see that choice as abuse, and we do not have to stay in an abusive relationship. Our lives are too precious to waste.

    • I hear you on the whole problem of confusing my own stubbornness and denial with strength. Been there and did that. I don’t think that is terribly uncommon. I don’t think people who have a history of being strong and independent are any better prepared than anybody else necessarily when it comes to dealing with this kind of thing. You have to go through it (and maybe even go through it again and again) until you finally get it into your head that the only thing you can control is yourself, and you don’t deserve this, and it isn’t “normal” or even acceptable.

    • ‘I had to exhaust myself and absolutely know that there was no chance he was innocent, had regret, or would ever change. Once I had gathered enough evidence, once I had made my case, I could leave’.

      Thanks Portia for putting it in writing that so resonates with my own story. Crazy things (eg Ashley Madison stalking) I did and put myself in danger cos I was stubbornly committed to analyse the fuck out of this crazy making story. Only to finally come to terms with the hard core facts staring me in my face.

    • Portia

      When he coldly told me he had found someone else, wanted a divorce, and didn’t want me to ruin it this time I wasn’t prepared. There was evidence I ignored. X stated he had set it up with our daughter weeks ago to move in with her in five weeks.
      On a Friday night X stated he would be away on Saturday night and not be sleeping here. I couldn’t sleep and by 6am I emptied his closets onto the porch, took his house keys and told him not to come back. I couldn’t live like this any longer.

      Immediately I got medication and found a therapist. It was the best and hardest thing I ever did for myself. By then the strong independent woman I thought I was, was gone. That one impulsive moment when I threw him out was the day I had enough and meant it even though I was crushed and broken.
      Facing the pain and truth saved my life.

      Our lives are too previous to waste. Thank you Portia.

  • GIO, I really relate to what you’ve written. “It’s very confusing.” I hear you on that mind f**k. So many things that I tell my therapist makes her jaw drop. And I’d constantly question myself. “Did he have a point?” “Was it me?”

  • That he wasn’t doing it all INTENTIONALLY. No one could be THAT stupid. Getting divorced would throw him back into the same situation he was in when we met and he would NEVER risk going back to that place intentionally, even if he didn’t love me.

    And then I realized – and am still – that HE didn’t lift HIMSELF out of that; I did it for OUR sakes. He doesn’t fully understand the work and misery and overcoming-ness it took to hoist him up to where I already was and then to push him up even higher. And because I didn’t want him to feel less-than, I made sure to praise him for easy accomplishments I’d already arranged – like invisible training wheels until he got the hang of it – so that confidence would come on its own.

    Only he never really has gotten the hang of it. Nothing is ever enough.

    • Insistinhonesty

      However will they function now without the training wheels? And that pedistal we kept them on. All that propping up takes so much energy. As CL states, unconditional love is reserved for children. Another man child released from fantasy to reality. After all we do for them they move on playing the victim as if we were the ABUSERS. The OW clearly verbally attacked me as if he was this poor mistreated amazing person who needed saving from the horrors what? It’s laughable now when I think of what I really lost. Nothing.

  • I am not sure if this is quite topic related but yesterday I caught up with a friend/acquaintance that I had not seen for about 7 months. The moment I mentioned my ex husband’s name she really got stuck right into me. She told me that instead of having people see me for the wonderful person I am, instead of enhancing the beautiful style and elegance that I have (puke), I am still playing the victim card and trying to be the centre of attention because of what I have been through. Can I say to you that for the very first time in my life I stood up for myself. I told her that I was the least likely attention seeking person she would ever have the priviledge of knowing and that I am a survivor not a victim as she stated. I also told her that only someone who has been through what I have would understand the grief and anger. I then got up and left. I am now no longer going to tolerate being blamed for something I never did. But I am also to the stage where I am now ready to set my thoughts of my ex husband free in order that I will be free also.

    • Oh, Maree. I am so sorry. You did exactly the right thing, and your agency probably felt great. However, the ripple-betrayals of friends who tell you to move on, or stop playing the victim card, or adopt the grace of forgiveness (double puke) can be very painful. Anyone who tries to invalidate our long-term pain or grief does not deserve our friendship. Plus, you spoke up, which means that friend has to overcome what you said in order to victimize another person in the same situation with her words. Well-done. Hugs to you!!

      • Thank you Tempest. This now past friend is a singer by trade. Can you think of anything that says “look at me” more? Another one bites the dust!! I am starting to really feel better about myself and much stronger .. it is called growth!

        • Maree – I really feel for you. I just visited a favorite niece (500 mi away) since she moved to the area and is finally close by. We have been super close since she was born – only 16 yrs younger than I, so relate as adults. She is a serial cheater and, unfortunately, I am a survivor who she didn’t want to hear from. We got in a terrible spat when I brought up how sad I was driving up there and passing by all the spots the X and I used to go to. Suddenly, she stood up and literally, screamed at me to SHUT UP – and get over it all ready. (it’s was my 1 yr D anniversary) I almost turned around and drove back home.

          Thankfully, I found some great help on the forums and I stayed the 5 days there but, I know now that our relationship is forever unbalanced. She hated to hear my hurt (the hurt she caused her children and 2 husbands) and I hated her to see zero empathy for me.

          I smoothed it over with niece and we played nice from then on, but frankly, I want nothing to do with her anymore. Our relationship has been forever altered since I have lost respect for her.

          Hang in there and keep a movin on, Maree – I think you handled that great with your ex-‘friend’, who, btw, sounds like a bitch.

          • Maree, Shechump,
            The screaming part…narcissistic rage…all one can do in response to these people is be as fake as they are, then leave, and don’t look back. Every time I encounter someone with whom I need to “walk on eggshells” this is a warning of rage to come. I gave up my relationship with my sister for similar reasons. I also had a colleague who reported to me who one day in an evaluation meeting that she had “stolen” her husband from his wife. I just silently cancelled any promotion ideas I had for her because I cringed at anyone being at her mercy.

            • Maree, these cheaters simply can’t face the evidence and cold hard truth about what they have done, the lives they have destroyed! You are an enemy in her alternate universe and she is threatened! It would mean she would have to come to grips with the monster that she really is! It isn’t YOU, but it is the only genuine feeling she is trying so hard to IGNOR! Her own guilt and shame! It’s too much for them to handle! And it destroys them in the end! Karma!

    • Good job, Maree.

      The wound runs deep, and stays open for a very long time. You make new friends because of a shared trauma–and, sadly, you lose old acquaintances when you come to realize that they were not friends at all.

      Honestly, I try not to discuss the infidelity in any detail with anyone who hasn’t experienced it–they do not understand. They fear it, and I think one coping mechanism they use to distance themselves from their vulnerability is to blame the survivor. This can be by disparaging our personality or physicality (“That would never happen to me, I’m better at [insert excuse].” Or, “I would never [insert excuse] the way she does, so I know my husband would never leave me.”) Alternatively (or concurrently), they criticize our attempts at coping, which is very inconvenient for them–they are tired of our story. They do not realize that the discovery of infidelity is just the beginning. They do not realize that cheaters continue to abuse and deliver pain and insult. How could they know?

      The thing is, we’ve been traumatized and shattered–and just when you put the pieces back together, sometimes the ex kicks you again before you can really fully heal. (I know in your case and others, the children have been recruited to hurt–the most painful and damaging injury of all.)

      The way I deal with this is that I split my friendships–those who keep me in the present, who will not hear from me about the ex (unless very briefly, generally neutral or even positive reminiscing comments)–and a second group–those who “get it.” I also have fun in the present with the second group–but they understand the ongoing anxiety, sadness, and revelations that repeat after cheating. They rejoice in hearing from me how Karma took a swipe at the ex recently. They’ll never expect me to “just get over it,” because they, themselves, continue to battle the effects of emotional abandonment and abuse. Just knowing that they understand to their core is enough–I can vent in one comment, they can reply with genuine, authentic empathy and sympathy, and THEN I can move on. And I return the favor whenever the need should arise.

      I love both sets of friends. To the first set of folks, I am just me–and they keep me standing straight. It’s good exercise, and they are a respite from pain. The second set help me back up again when I stumble or am hobbled by fear. And, God willing, friends from the first group will never join us in the second group. But if they find themselves stunned and humiliated, my experience and compassion will be here for them.

      • Thank you Stephanie. Can I say to you that I am finding people sway in their loyalties. I know that it comes down to their character and the strength thereof. I will give you one example. I have a nephew who is going through the fires of hell as we speak. However, he cheated on his 1st wife and new born baby (even before she was born and even on the day she was born). My sister supported his wife and baby and they have all moved on in the last 10 years. He married the tramp he cheated with about 2 years ago and guess what? She has done the same thing to him. He is gutted but he supports my ex husband, only his uncle by marriage than he does me, his aunt by blood. Not everyone gets it even when they have been where we have been.

    • Maree–

      For real, one of my co-chump best friends (I met her on line at a RIC site!) found herself accepting a tearful apology from a woman she knows, who had once admonished my friend because she didn’t “get over it.” My friend’s acquaintance had accused my friend of being overly angry and vindictive. My friend was so rightfully deeply insulted and hurt at the time. I was there to listen to her, to reassure her that she was not acting inappropriately, that, in fact, she was conducting herself graciously, but righteously, given the circumstances.

      And then my friends’ accuser recently found herself embroiled in her own custody and alimony battle with a cheater, and she realized that my friend had been strong and blameless. And she had the decency to call and apologize. My friend is a good person and took no pleasure in her friend’s pain and humility. But she sure did marvel at the turn of events.

      Hold your head high and do the right thing. It’s hard being strong, but we have no choice. You never know who will one day be in your shoes (not that we wish this on anyone….)

      It’s funny, isn’t it? Since we now know that infidelity is abuse–and it’s not isolated abuse, but often just the one form that finally unmasks the abuser, that finally gives us hindsight and foresight–we might also understand that there are others who are being abused in their own homes. Perhaps some of our friends are being cheated on, and are not ready to leave. They fear our strength. They react strongly and negatively to our agency, because they don’t know if they themselves have it in them. I do think that someone who is genuinely stable and compassionate won’t react to our pain so negatively and scornfully. I wonder sometimes what is hidden behind their contempt. Perhaps some of them are cheaters themselves, or do they see themselves as victims?

    • “Until you have faced dealing with abuse, dealing with people victim-blaming, choosing the morality of a two dollar whore from a third world country over someone decent and accepting it as normal behaviour, and realise just how much of a mindfuck it is – realise that its not something you can just ‘get over’ with a snap of the fingers. Until then, you can shut the fuck up.”

      I applaud you Maree! That twit sounds like a damn narcissist. Cull the bitch and move on.
      Its better to only have 1 decent friend in the world than 200 self-serving arseholes. And this one is a self-serving arsehole.

    • Maree, I had a similar experience when someone told me not to let what happened to me become the theme of my life. It was only about two months after D-day and I was still reeling. People who haven’t been through it have no idea of the depth of pain and rage you’re dealing with.

      I think you did a great job standing up for yourself, that’s real progress. You are getting stronger every day!

      • Oh, Lyn! I am sorry you had to suffer that further blow. Two months after D-day, I was still doubling over in pain and panic attacks. It would have killed me for someone to have been that insensitive. You are strong to have recognized it for the BS it was.

    • Oh, absoLUTEly!!

      You’re being lied to! You’re being stolen from! Your health is at risk. You are making decisions based on falsehoods. You are loyal to someone who is not loyal to you! You are being humiliated behind your back. Your finances are at risk. Your children are being lied to and neglected by a parent who avoids parenting. Your spouse is being passive-aggressive. You question your sanity. You blame yourself for marital strain, and you may find yourself depressed, not knowing why. You are giving resources and love and nurturance to a facade of a marriage/partnership–all your contributions flushed.

      If you would make different choices knowing the truth than you do being lied to, you ARE being ABUSED.

      • “If you would make different choices knowing the truth than you do being lied to, you ARE being ABUSED.”

        That’s a really good way to put it!

      • I always include that I don’t know that my ex was unfaithful, though the ease with which she discarded me does suggest that she had a soft landing spot set up in advance. I’ll likely never know because I’m too scared to go looking.

        That being said, she had supposedly been evaluating my performance as a partner for about 8 months without giving me a clue. I was living with a secret shopper. For those eight months she didn’t work at all and went to school as a part-time student. She did get child support, but I still contributed quite a bit financially to her son, such as paying for our family health insurance. I would certainly not have continued to drain our savings account had I known what she was plotting. I was good at saving money, she was not. I was always very adamant that any of “my” money was “her” money, and I thought that clearly applied because we were a couple; if we weren’t, that would stop being the case. The solution was clear: drain the account and then leave.

        I struggle with calling it abuse. Not because she acted with any sort of love or integrity, but because it’s just been in the last two years that I’ve come to terms with recognizing and reconciling the dysfunctional nature of my upbringing. Labeling her behavior abuse makes me feel like a helpless victim destined to always be punished. Regardless of what I call it, it sucked. So it goes.

    • If someone is feeding you arsenic a little at a time until it builds up, you’re being poisoned (whether you are cognizant of it or not).

      • My cheater did EXACTLY that to me. Fortunately, as I’ve said here before, I was alerted to his affair and dumped him, in time to pursue blood tests and get treatment. Whether it’s your health, your self esteem, your money, or your security, everything they take constitutes abuse and theft.

  • IT’s hard I am in a “fog” and trying to escape plan. There is no physical abuse but there is a lot of manipulation. Fancy gifts talking about getting older. Planning x-mas vacation. The cheaters doesn’t know that I know. I had a dream that we were in a place and someone got in with a weapon I was able to escape and he did not (I did not cry, since I have been crying a lot already) I guess because I know he is a psyco . I think his plan is to cheat until death put us apart. LIke all of us what sometimes kept us in the shithole is our family. My son loves him to pieces?. But like CL says they will go away and we will get stuck with psyco/cheaters.

    • Keep up your escape plans. Even your unconscious dreams are telling you what you need to know. Collapse later; keep your wits about you now. Hugs to you.

      • Ficochump,
        Make your plan carefully. Make sure you will be financially OK. Don’t let on you know at all! I did this and was able to make much better escape plans than if I’d been all emotional in confronting him. He is now your adversary, be a good actor, but be putting your new life in place as you go along. Consult a lawyer about what your rights are. Be as sneaky as the cheater because it’s your future you are securing.

      • Tempest I had dreams my cheater was cheating on me throughout the years that I did’nt know he was. It was weird how upset I was when I woke up from them. I believe it was my subconscious telling me now, because it all came true, he was back then.

  • I’ve seen this video, a few others like it and have met many when they had that “aha” moment. i wrote about infidelity being considered by many psychiatrists as abuse because the same actions and mind-set applies. We hear mostly about physical abuse which is traumatic in itself, but verbal degradation, cheating and the gaslighting that goes along with it, is enough cause a person to feel like losing one’s mind. It’s emotionally draining, hurtful and often making us take on the blame. Domestic violence in any form is all about the control of the abuser. I’m always thrilled to see when someone has the chance to get back to being who he or she was and finding true love. Maree and Stephanie – you go girls! Chumplady – as always – awesome topic! Hugs..

    .http://intheknowwithro.blogspot.com/2014/11/cheating-is-part-of-domestic-abuse.html

  • “Strong person” in love with a “troubled person” that only I can fix = the story of me, Tired Chump. Even eight months past D-day, I am still here trying to fix things and help him untangle the skein of fucked-upness.

    Not sure how I got here, but CL is helping me line up ducks and get out.

    Need to ask – Why can’t “troubled person” fix themselves? and…”Is it really “strong” to let someone else drag you (and your children) down?

    I had dinner with old friend and laid out events from D-day and following months – She was appalled, but also enraged as she is four years reconciled with a cheater (which she regrets).

    Her core advice; “You are the victim. Don’t become Cheating Husbands’ therapist.” Wise words.

    • ‘Troubled person’ doesn’t fix themselves, most often, because they DON’T BELIEVE THE PROBLEM IS THEM, they don’t believe they should have to change anything!!! It’s the entitlement, all the way. Most of the time they won’t even make an honest attempt to change; might be a little therapy here or reading a book there, treating us better for a little while … This is NOT change, this is ‘let me look like I’m trying to change, until I can suck the chump back in’.

      It is NOT strong to hang on to a relationship that is damaging to ourselves (and our kids when we have them) and that will not change. But we have to realize those two things, before we can get out. Way stronger are those people who know what their dealbreakers are and just GO when they find out there is cheating. Those are the same ones who can just GO when there’s any violence.

      • That’s exactly what I did…GO!!! He knew what my dealbreakers were and he broke them…ALL! GOODBYE CHEATER!! I loved him and I loved him hard and then I left him because I am strong!!! I’m proud of myself. 🙂 I have my dignity. I may cry sometimes but I know I’m better off and did the right thing leaving him behind.

  • I think that people have a hard time with the sheer logic of this comparison. Physical domestic abuse is an intentional action with the known result of hurting another human being. Cheating is the same thing.

    No, I’m NOT saying that cheating is as bad as domestic abuse.

    I AM saying that cheating is similar to domestic abuse in that it’s intentional action with the known result of hurting another human being. The cheater knows it will hurt, and then does it anyway…and hopes she (or he) won’t be found out.

    However, domestic abuse–like every single other anti-social behavior–is rightly blamed on the perpetrator.

    Not cheating, though. Cheating is blamed on the chump, or at best, on “the relationship.”

    I’m with you, CL. Cheating is abuse. My ex-wife abused me for 6 months, and I woke up quickly and filed for divorce. I asked myself how this abusive behavior could be reconciled with her claims that she loved me and wanted to “save our marriage.” And I found no answers, because there were none to be had.

    Abuse is abuse, no matter how it’s administered.

    • Abuse = the sex outside of marriage, the lying, the theft of time from the spouse & children, the misuse of funds for someone outside of the family and the incredible mental torture inflicted on the chump via blameshifting.

  • Despite this “abuse,” husband says he’s sorry (still in contact with AP) and expects me to forgive.
    If I had sex with someone else, was constantly unavailable by phone, lied about where I was, came home late without letting him know my plans, began drinking more, backed out of family vacations due to “work,” shirked my family responsibilities by spending most of my time entertaining myself (movies/shopping/lunches out) , gave our money to people without telling him, and then berated him and told him he was paranoid and controlling for asking questions – would he stay with me?

  • Don’t know if anyone else here mentioned it, but Steiner’s book (memoir) about this, Crazy Love, it absolutely excellent. I made my book club read it

  • I wasn’t physically abused but emotionally is just as bad. I personally think that it’s harder to get through your thick skull…. because you can’t see the bruises…

    • Kimberly, I totally agree with you. Mental abuse is so subtle that you don’t even know how much damage has been done.( He would sometimes add physical abuse to make sure I was put into my place. He would pull my hair and shove and throw me to the floor, but it never left any marks) It has taken me 2 years to finally emerge from my denial. After 23 years of abuse, making excuses become second nature. I weep many nights reading books on narcissism, coming to terms and forgiving myself for not noticing the evil monster in my X. My new found truth is liberating. After a good cry I find my self releasing the horror and replacing it with compassion and love towards my ever growing wisdom and healing. I also owe so much of my healing to this site. Thank you all for your support!!!!

  • Identifying verbal and emotional and psychological abuse was difficult for me all during my marriage. I carried buckets of spackle with me through the years and tons of denial. And coming from a family that runs on verbal abuse, I thought this was how it was supposed to be. My co-dependency was a perfect fit for his narcissism. He had an affair and I finally knew I had to go. His mask slipped, my blinders came off and the spackle crashed down like skyscrapers imploding. I am amazed at the magnitude to which I tolerated what I did and lived without what I needed. For almost three decades. Only after the divorce was final and I moved out did I realize it was ABUSE. The book “the verbally abusive relationship” (by Patricia Evans) helped me get to reality about it. A big lightbulb went on when I was telling a friend how he was only mean to me a small percentage of the time. She said, “uh, yeah, that’s how abusers work. That’s how they keep you hooked in. If they were abusive all the time, you would never have stayed.”

    • If you have not read ” Why does he do that” by Lundy you should and ” gift of Fear” really helped me reclaim my intuition and to understand some of why I allowed my boundaries to crossed, done all so slowly. Jedi hugs!

  • I think another way that clearly shows infidelity to be abuse is when the chump leaves the cheater. In many cases, the cheater either initially promises to remain friends and then turns hostile, or the cheater is hostile from the moment the chump decides to leave. The cheater continues to abuse in whatever way he/she can– fighting the chump for custody, assets, CS/SS; running a smear campaign against the chump; shoving the AP in the chump’s face and/or the children’s lives; and basically trying to remain as painfully central in the chump’s life as possible, whether it’s through court dates or continued attempts at contacting the chump (like through harassing texts), which is why chumps are forced to parallel parent and to go NC with the cheaters.

    If the cheaters were not abusers (and I still think that infidelity is abuse, even if the divorce is fair and peaceful) and had genuinely accepted that they were in the wrong and were remorseful, the divorces and their aftermaths would not be so ugly. However, the cheaters try to dole out abuse in any way that they can so that they can continue to hurt the chumps, so anyone who thinks that cheating is a “mistake” and that the cheater is really a “good person” has no idea what he/she is talking about. Further, that continued abuse also points to the fact that the chump did not “force” the cheater into cheating or turn the previously kind spouse into a mean cheater due to (fill in whatever stupid excuse). The cheater enjoyed being abusive toward the chump, which is evident in the continued abuse.

    Everyone in my circle knows what my ex did and what he continues to do whenever he gets the chance, so I am very lucky in that I didn’t have to hear about “my half” of the blame or get asked what “I did” to cause the cheating. We need to enlighten people about the abuse that continues past the cheating. These abusers need to be exposed.

    • Great points CL and CN, thank you for lifting the fog!

      Gosh Moving On, your comment is like a thunderbolt to my mind. What you wrote is so close to a play by play account of what I am going through in the slow slug of my divorce proceedings, so disturbing to realize once again that so many cheaters use the same playbook.

  • My STBXH was physically abusive as well as a cheater. The pain runs deep but I’m just not the kinda woman who stays in that kind of intolerable not to mention DANGEROUS situation. My husband was a charming, exceptionally intelligent, confident, tall and handsome man on the outside who excelled in making money and was known for his ability to cause people to fear him in our small town. He had a way of speaking and swooning people that other women were jealous of me for and most men envied. We were the perfect couple on the outside…
    But behind closed doors, I hate to say it, the man had a certain evil to his soul that was no doubt sociopathic if not psychopathic. It took me a while to really convince myself that NO this man was not really a broken and wounded person in need of my help and tenderness, he was past the point of no return. And would
    stay there until he died.
    The pain he caused the people in his life and his wives before me left him an abandoned alcoholic. His life is actually very tragic. Yet it is important for victims to recognize…your partner’s character is shown by their actions. Any man who would punch his wife and the mother of his children in the face or throw her into a wall does NOT LOVE. There is no gray for me there. It is my experience and I’ve learned to see him for what he really is and have moved on with my life. All I really have for him is pity.

    • I find the sparklier they are in public – the worse they are behind closed doors.
      Its actually a red flag for me now – that they’re pulling that shit for an agenda of some sort. I don’t trust extremely sparkly types now for that reason.

    • Chumpednomore, in the end it is their own selfishness that consumes them! They truly believe they can just close the door on a relationship or long term marriage and it magically will disappear, but all that crap hidden behind those doors has an ugly way of escaping! Then they have to live in the wreckage and it destroys them! They had a choice and they chose to stuff the crap behind the door, but it NEVER disappears. We chumps do get a form of closure by facing the reality that they are screwed up and we can’t help them. We gave it our best effort in most cases and they rejected our help. And in the end they have to face the fact that they are and we’re really shitty people! Sucks to be them, but they did it to themselves!

        • Lania- I don’t trust sparkly types either! Unless someone earns my trust I don’t give it! I’ve learned the hard way not to give the benefit of the doubt as we are so accustomed to believing we should!

          Wow Roberta you said it right! “Sucks to be them, they did it to themselves”! Indeed. Thanks for the truth! And yes I believe it does destroy them from the inside out in the end. They are consumed by the shittiness they’ve exhibited throughout their lives.

      • Totally agree Roberta. They may be able to shut it behind the door for awhile but I really believe it’s going eat at them one way or another.

  • I never thought I’d say this, but I do think the physical abuse was actually easier to deal with than the emotional and mental abuse of gas lighting and cheating. I was able to take a picture of my bruises and show them to people. That gave me strength because I wasn’t faced with that awful feeling that no one would believe me when I told them about everything else. This was irrefutable. And it gave me he motivation to finally go.

  • And to add to all that what is truly truly sad is that my husband may never have believed me. He probably never knew how much I adored him, how smart I thought he was and how talented. This was a man who was broken when I met him but allowed himself for the first time, to let someone in. I believe I did get to see the best side to him, a side that he could not show anyone else. His fear and inadequacy in his own mind is what killed our dreams. If he knew what I really thought maybe he would have not been so afraid. In the end, the fact that he lives his life not believing in his own worth and thus ending his abusive behaviors is a waste of such a precious gift, and that’s LIFE.

    • Chumpednomore, I think you’re way too nice to your ex. If he’s a long-term or serial cheater, or has been lying to you, gas-lighting, blame-shifting or otherwise treating you in a disrespectful way etc even before cheating, then he’s likely a narcissist (at least). And if he is that, the problem is not that he never believed that you truly loved and cared for him as deeply as you did. It’s that he didn’t believe in YOUR value. Even if he hated himself, if he saw YOUR value, he would have treated you with respect. Even if he was ‘broken’ but recognized YOUR value, he would not have abused you or cheated on you.

      Because most narcs, after a while, DESPISE their partners. (There are several theories about why, but it happens really consistently.) So then even knowing that the partner truly loves and cares for them and sees their value as no healing effect; how could the love of someone worthless and stupid be healing to them?

      • KarenE- I do recognize the guy’s behavior as narcissistic for sure. I guess you just splashed the cold water In my face! Wooh!
        Trust me, this guy wanted to be loved. He would beg me repeatedly to give it to him because he knew I had it! My love may not be healing to him now that I’ve left him for good and exposed him.
        But it is healing to me and that’s enough. He probably does hate and despise me….that’s him! Being a good person that does not carry around the burden of shame that he does is what allows me to be at peace and know I will love again. I have no time to be bitter, its just not what I do.

  • When I was younger and much more foolish, I always thought, “How could women stay with abusive men? I would NEVER stay with a man who hit me, I’d leave immediately.” It was not until more than a year after my marriage fell apart that all of a sudden a light bulb lit up in my mind, and I realized the only difference between me and those women was I never had a visible bruise. That was a turning point for me. I still struggle with the idea of having been in an abusive relationship, perhaps my marriage was more insanity than abusive, but regardless, these days I have a lot more understanding of how confused, beaten down, desperate and scared a person can become, and how deep the fog of chumpdom can be.

  • Yeah, we chumps have figured out that its abuse, but the rest of society doesn’t think that way. Friends, relatives, in-laws, therapists, counselors, clergy, and those in the court system most certainly don’t see it as abuse. Infidelity isn’t even on the radar as abuse.

    • I’ve never been so traumatized in my life in fact I almost took my own life just after D-day I was that destroyed, and you know what, he did’nt even care that I did that. He did’nt show up home until 5 days after. If someone tells me to get over it now, I just get over them right then and there. My cheater ruined my fucking life, I have to start all over at 51 years old. It is abuse that’s equal to physical, the mental anguish is unbelievable. I lost 47 LBS in a couple of months because I couldn’t eat anything or sleep at all, I felt sick to my stomach, so yes it affected me physically. Still does today even after I left, I still wake up in the middle of the night at times hoping it was all a nightmare, but it’s real.

  • I very close friend of cheater and mine said that I was “acting like a victim of (physical) abuse” around a year before Dday, It was a wake up call for me because I could have never imagined I could be that woman since my husband and I had done our PHDs together, he was a supposed “feminist” and we were a model couple in many ways. Like Leslie´ describes her husband in the Ted talk, mine was also brilliant, good looking, and had been emotionally and physically abused by his father until he was 18 when my ex left his home. His mother died of cancer at the age of 46 (which I think was a consequence of living with such her abusive husband. My ex could never remember them being loving to each other).

    But what I realized later, when Dday came about and our common friend took his side, was that she had said “acting” like if I was faking it, trying to be a victim of something that this woman (now ex-friend) thought was my fault, that I was a wimp, She blamed me for his cheating and for the failure of our family, that she considers she was part of. However, the truth is that I wasn´t faking, I was scared of his rages and walked around eggs every day so I wouldn´t upset him. He threatened me not with a gun, but with divorce very frequently, and he did do physical things like pinch my butt or tug my ears (which hurt and I hated, but can´t really be called physical abuse, because they leave no scars). He also withheld physical contact and viewed porn, all of which are ways of emotional abuse, but they have a physical impact. My health was deteriorating so much, I was depressed, I looked ten years older than my actual age, I over-ate and under-slept and was always having problems with my job. etc. So emotional abuse does leave physical consequences, but they are not the ones with darks bruises that we can see.

    This is why most of us chumps go through a makeover during our recovery years after infidelity. We have a healthier life style because we begin loving ourselves again, so we loose weight, do exercise, find a loving community of friends, etc I truly believe if I appreciated myself the way I do now, I would have not accepted the first signs of abuse, the first red flags, such as exaggerating tragic outcomes of ordinary situations, getting upset for things that a “normal ” person would not get upset over, lying about dates and times, isolating us from friends and family, etc….Now, many people on my side tell me how much they disliked the cheater, how they could tell he was not treating me correctly, how abusive he was at work and what a farse he was. I would have never imagined that people could have seen so clearly but did not tell me out of respect for our marriage. So cheating was just another part of the abusive person he already was.. An abuser feels entitled to his abusive actions and can´t understand why anything he does is his fault. Its just something they do, because they grew up experiencing the same treatment in their love relationships.

    The problem I have now is that my Ex wants my daughters to have a good relationship with his father (their grandfather) whose second wife has also lived through decades of emotional abuse. Fortunately, he lives in another city an hour away by plane, and this makes it harder for them to visit him. But our daughters will go have to visit them soon. What I still don´t understand is why my cheater Ex still defends him, as if nothing had happened in so many years of abuse.

    • ChumpNoMore,
      Intentional malevolent actions of a physical nature do not have to leave physical scars to qualify as physical abuse. Some of the things your ex did to you sound very much like physical abuse. Lack of proof does not equate to lack of existence.

      • A lot of people don’t recognize even physical abuse as such; it rarely starts with openly hitting, and sometimes stays limited to pushing, holding you in place, not letting you leave a room or the house, pinching, squeezing, poking you hard ….

        And physical intimidation is also abuse, such as looming over you to scare you, verbally threatening physical harm, throwing things but not at you, hitting or breaking objects, hitting or scaring pets, gesturing like they’re going to hit you or throw something at you but not doing it…

        The point is that if it involves your body and you do not consent to it, it IS abuse. If it hurts at all, even with no mark or scar, it IS abuse. If it scares you and leaves you walking on eggshells. it IS abuse.

        • I never realized that his threatening to hit me, towering over me (he is 6 foot I am 5), shoving, pulling my hair, holding and squeezing was actual physical abuse. He was always so careful not to leave any marks. What was really interesting in the physical confrontations was that my defense always left either a scratch, a torn shirt or button on him, and he actually used that to tell his friends that I was the abuser. So very funny!! (not really)

          • Yes he’d do all those things. He would grab me by the fat under my arms to push me up against the wall. He’d also pull me by my hair and throw me around ( he’s 6’2″ I’m 5’4″). He would push me, hold me in place. Not let me leave the house and threaten to kill me if I divorced him. He would scare me and make me jumpy all the time pretending he was going to attack or come after me. Very scary and unsafe. And yet this is the man I made love to and vowed to commit to. Turned out to be a monster.

        • Mine did that lots, wouldn’t let me go, blocked me, grabbed my arm, wouldn’t let me out of the house, the car, out of a room, almost broke the bathroom door down when I locked myself in there.

          • When I was in middle school I was trying to talk to a girl who was trying to walk away and I blocked her way so that she’d have to listen. A teacher came over and told me to stop and though I don’t remember, may have told me what was wrong with my behavior. I’ll forever be grateful to that teacher for educating me.

            I’m consistently perplexed that adults have trouble understanding the same things that most of us figured out at a much younger age. Maybe some of them never had teachers like mine, but I figure they’ve had to have had plenty of chances of catching on by now.

            I wouldn’t argue with someone who would say I shouldn’t have needed to be told even as a child, but the fact is I did. Thankfully I was.

    • I went to counseling at one point during our marriage because I was so upset over my husband’s relationship with a coworker. At the time I felt that I was too insecure and untrusting, that I was the one with a problem. After a few sessions my husband came to the sessions with me, and I remember the counselor remarking on the differences in our body language. He said my husband was relaxed and in control, while I seemed uptight and nervous. The counselor observed that in our one-to-one sessions I’d been much more confident and relaxed. It was just an observation, and there was no suggestion as to what to do about it. I thought it was just one more thing that was my fault. I wish the counselor had connected the dots and helped me realize I was in an abusive relationship.

      • Same here Lyn, my first therapist totally sucked, wish I’d had a good one before I told Saddam we were divorcing, would have saved me a world of hurt.

    • Chumpnomore, your Chester ex wants to take the kiddies to visit the abuser grandpa so they can together indoctrinate the kiddies in their tale of how you are stupid, evil, probably a cheater, and destroyed your marriage to Cheater.

  • Sadly, a lot of physical abusers are adulterers. I have been abused in various ways over the last several years. This week, in spite of STBX cheating, filing for divorce, winning in court, and without provocation from me), STBX tried to scare me into thinking that he was going to run over me in the street that separates our homes. (Narcissist that he is, he seems upset that, for the last several months, I have not begged him to reconcile with me. H–l hath no fury as a narcissist not worshiped.) STBX set a terrible example for our kids. Not sure what to do as police jump in to protect HIM and judge seems enamored with my STBX, even when evidence of his crimes is presented to her. This judge does not hold him accountable for these crimes, even though they are serious enough that she can assign jail time and fines for their commission.

    A lot of people think that women are automatically protected by the legal system. Women are not. (Neither are men.) A lot of people also think that individuals who get away with falsely accusing spouses of abuse are women. This is not universally true. Nowadays, men can get away with falsely accusing wives of abuse, the abuse these men often exact on their wives. Many people don’t realize that abusers are projecting their behavior and emotions onto their victims.

    • My ex attacked me the night I asked for a divorce, he convinced the cops I had attacked him. I was hysterical and he went from rage to perfect calm the moment I called the cops. The MRA movement is part of this trend, the members instruct abusive men on how to set their wives up to be arrested for abuse. It is a growing trend in divorces too, even if there was never any abuse to begin with, it royally pisses me off how much bullshit is out there about women doing this shit when the data in studies is clear that in fact abused women actually protect their abusers after calling cops because they love them.

  • A timely post for me. Cheating is emotional abuse. Sadly my abuser is my neighbour now (she rented the house behind me when I kicked her out). I just caught her tonight feeding my dogs over the fence. “I didn’t think you were home” she said – smacks of the “I didn’t think you’d ever find out I was cheating” justification I got. Ie if you don’t know it’s ok. I told her again that I didn’t want any contact with her or my dogs and she said – “what have I done wrong now”. The narrative never changes. They will never accept what they really are.

    • Also timely. My DDay was 4 months ago. I’ve worked really hard to work out what had happened and I finally realized that I had been abused in the most awful way. I looked back at our marriage and realized that there had been undercurrents of abuse, dysfunction and resentment for years. My Cheater didn’t express any genuine remorse (in fact not even a little GINR) but re-iterated her “right” to cheat if I failed to meet her needs. Funnily enough I’m divorcing her and any doubts about whether I’m doing the right thing are fading fast.

      • RealMonkeyLove, I am so sorry for the horror you are going through. Even though the pain has lessened, it still creeps back from time to time. You are doing the right thing for divorcing her. good job for not wasting your life on her any more. It has taken me 2 years to file for divorce and the only thing I regret is that I should have done it much sooner.

    • Any chance you could make an anonymous tip to get her evicted? Sounds underhanded – but FUCK those pricks – they wouldn’t think twice about doing the same thing to us, and would go a LOT further to get us removed.
      These bastards don’t listen to anything except being fluent in bribery, corruption and a good arse-kicking (metaphorically of course, but I’m sure most of us would want to do it literally).

    • Wat700–don’t just install a camera; make sure your dogs are never in contact with her!! One of our neighbors had two dogs fatally poisoned by someone who fed them food laced with Coumadin (rat poison).

      • Agreed! The fact that she moved next door is completely weird.

        Be out there with your dogs. Don’t just let them outside while you’re doing other stuff in the house. Instead, once they’ve done their business, tire them out by playing fetch with them (protip–clean up the poop before you play fetch). Try for 5-minute training increments (you will have the best-behaved dogs in the neighborhood). Basically, keep them away from your X.

        Even if your X isn’t trying to poison the dogs, she’s 1) trying to get them to like her more than they like you and 2) feeding them crap. You’ll end up with fat dogs that get excited whenever she is in her yard. She will totally get off on the fact that they run around and bark when she’s there.

        I see something similar in my STBX, who insists on feeding the dogs inappropriate treats for no reason (I have working dogs, and they should always earn their treats), and has reinforces bad behaviors. Thankfully, they do those behaviors only around STBX and not around me.

        • This is C/N for you. I was thinking the exact same thing about what her motive is for feeding YOUR dogs on YOUR side of the fence?? Poison was first to come to mind, then the manipulation of doing this to your dogs. No doubt, they have also been through a very tough time with this divorce (a little like kids with so many adjustments after so many stressful arguments). They have lost her, the other 1/2 of their family.

          If for any other reason – it is simply NOT FAIR to YOUR dogs for her to keep introducing herself into their lives. How confusing is that for them? She must Fuck Off Immediately.
          (Unbelievable she moved right behind you? Can she see your yard? yuck)

          We raised dogs most of our marriage. X was just committed to them as I was. When his switch went to off position – he didn’t care one iota about the dogs anymore. This surprised me the most about his behaviour. When he asked if he could take on for a visit, I totally agreed with one exception. That he could’t have his alley cat with him. I was very afraid she’d pinch my girl without him seeing..or worse, poison her. He couldn’t promise me that (like I could prove it – ha) and that was the last time he never saw the dogs. They are better off this way.

          Not sure what you can do except put up a really good high solid fence.

  • Marci – thanks it does concern me. I’d like to think she’d never but hey, I thought she’d never cheat either… I’m going to see if I can get my posting (we’re both Air Force as was the AP) brought forward and get away from her before the end of the year.

  • Yes! You stay in an abusive relationship because you don’t know it’s abuse! In my case, verbal abuse with some symbolic physical threats. And when I figured out (finally) that it was abuse, I thought I could fix it, because for 12 years I wouldn’t define our relationship as abusive. Now I understand. There was abuse all along, covert abuse. And the overt…it was inevitable.

    • Right there with you nodancing. I had to figure out what was abuse. In my FOO I was trained to accept anything abusive as my due. I literally did not know what was abusive and what was not. It took me a long time to connect the dots. I was much better at protecting my children than protecting myself. Sadly, that ability was taken from me by the court system.

      Now my perceptions are much better because I understand that I matter and have rights too. When we are with abusers, that fundamental truth is either obscured it negated.

      To that I say…..”Never again!”

  • Thank you for the reminder CL.
    I am days away from having my home HasBeen free and every day closer to him having to leave, per the court filed documents, the scarier it gets. (And, no I can’t leave until he leaves without abandoning my children) I now have six friends check in with me every morning and every night to make sure I am OK.
    I think the hardest part is when you do finally name it and others continue to spackle and tell you that it’s not abuse, especially when those people are the ones you are supposed to lean on in the tough situations.

  • I had a gut sense of being abused, but my head couldn’t comprehend it. He never hit me, in fact he often did nice things for me. I’ve often wish he would have hit me because then it would have been clear cut. I’d been brought up to never let a man physically abuse me, even once. But cheating is a sinister form of abuse. It plays with your mind and convinces you not to trust your senses.

    • Yeah, my husband never ever threatened physical abuse either, until he found out that I contacted his girlfriend and asked her to stop seeing him. That’s when I really realized the absurdity of what my life had become and how he was just not the person I knew him to be.

      • My soon ex called to warn me that his howorker girlfriend was going to call the cops on me if I ever called her again, get me on harassment. Yep, she had him call me, his wife.

  • I read something that chilled me to the bone in that Reddit about adultery. One of the posters wrote a story about how his wife almost caught him due to a receipt for a pair of thigh highs he’d left in his gym bag. The chump wife does his laundry and another person said “wow your wife washes your dirty gym clothes from the bag, that’s impressive”

    I was thinking the same and his reply was shocking…”sure she’s great at doing things id be perfectly content to pay a stranger or hired help to do…wash clothes, trips to the airport, child care, errands….but personal (i.e. Sex) stuff, not so much”

    Unbelievable the amount of disdain and lack of appreciation he had for all his wife does. So apparently if you blow a cheater all the time and hire help, you’re golden

    Sick

    • This sounds like the way mine treated/thought about me. Some of the things he was leaving for me to clean up after him towards the end were actually insulting. This attitude also probably explains how he could eat the food I made him and the Valentines candy I gave him while treating me like crap and in the process of kicking me to the curb. Thank you for posting this. It’s despicable but helps me understand the mindf**k better.

  • In classic abuser fashion, my ex chipped away at my self esteem for years and then made sure I was good and powerless — without an income, recently sold my home, in a new community 2K miles from family, with our toddler to care for — before he revealed his affair and told me to leave. He intentionally waited until a week after I closed on the sale of my home for D-day so that I had no resources and zero recourse. Normal people don’t pull that kind of crap; abusers do.

  • I think one of the most telling things is what she says: in the early stages abusers can be smart, funny, charming and they act like they worship you. Then they move on to the isolation phase where they try to get you to break ties with all your friends for their sake. This way when they start to be abusive you literally have no one left to turn to….at a certain point they have become your entire universe…this allows them to be abusive and makes one feel powerless.

  • The other thing that is very characteristic is how abusers cycle….they abuse you until they are convinced they have made you suffer…then they apologize and are really nice….they are so nice that you feel bad about not forgiving them….when a certain amount of time passes they do it again.

    • It’s really about control, they don’t recognize your suffering, only their own. As I said above, the very best info I got on the cycle was from the book “Why Does He Do That” by Lundy. It should be required reading for everyone in HS in my opinion. If you haven’t read it, please do. Jedi hugs Movingforward!

  • It was my wonderful support group of family that helped me really see what a monster he was and it pushed me to end his and Schmoopies reign of terror on me. My Ex isolated me by moving me away from my kids, a great job and a beautiful house I had built because he had a stroke and needed a slower pace! Little did I realize it gave him exclusive day to day access to tearing me down and controlling me! My beautiful daughter-in-law who had been through an awful divorce from her first cheating husband was just fantastic in helping me to really take a fresh look at my entire marriage and ask myself if that’s how I should have been treated? Yes, it was awful at first to admit that I couldn’t find a single time in my 41 years of marriage to the cheater where he had done a damn thing that didn’t, in the end, benefit just him! I was absolutely used and then once I was of no use to him he walked away with a HO he found on FaceBook! I was replaced after his three days in a hotel room with a woman who was cheating on her then husband! WOW! Once I faced that ugly reality it was easy to boot his ass to the curb! Was it hard? Hell yes! Was it the right thing to do? You bet! Will I survive? Yes and I’ll be better for doing it! Do cheaters prosper? Not usually no matter how it may appear! Mine is in debt to his eyeballs now( something I avoided in our marriage as I handled the finances), he’s terminally ill, but insists to our children that Schmoopie is taking “excellent care” of him( yeah, till she finds something better and he’ll die alone!), and he has NO friends, just her’s, or family! Lovely! So glad I’m not in his shoes! But you reap what you sow and I feel he is getting what he deserves!

  • Ugh. Guess what video YouTube queued up for my viewing pleasure after this one – “Why Happy Couples Cheat?” by Esther P.

    My first husband (and first cheater) liked to punch things when he got mad – including me.

    Just wish I had wised up faster. After him, I chose badly over and over. Some were violent. Some cheated.

    In the world of broken pickers, mine must be world class…

    • Aw, NomoreNarcs I’m sure you are learning each time, I highly recommend reading over at Captain Awkward about boundaries and Darth Vader boyfriends. Take care of yourself and be looking out for what you need not for approval from others, I know you can find a good person to care for you when you are ready. Jedi hugs!

  • After my divorce was final, I finally got down to the reason I stayed married to this ass and tried so hard to to stay with him. I realized, AGAIN, it wasn’t for me at all! I was far too worried about what it would do to him, his reputation, his connection to his kids and family, his well-being!! Good God, it had nothing to do with me! I finally had to think about ME! That was my breaking point! I was so conditioned to put him number one that I had nearly killed myself! So folks, think about what is best for YOU! These slime balls will land on their feet and find some fool to take care of them! Just boot the POS out and put yourself in the Number One place!

  • I actually thought to myself after a month before D-day, as I knew I could not stay in an emotionally abusive marriage any more, ‘I wish he had had an affair so that I can leave.” Little did I know how painful that knowledge would be, but in retrospect it saved me years more anguish & depression of staying with X.

  • I haven’t read all the comments, but just want to add one significant thing that kept me stuck: All the people in my life who didn’t seem to notice the craziness, and acted like everything was normal.

    The external-nice-guy persona that he portrayed made it really hard for me to add up why he was so mean and nasty to me. Everyone else’s praise and acceptance of him kept me scratching my head and convincing myself that it really must not be that bad…somehow I must be mistaken about him….just give it time.

    Now I realize that the public persona was on purpose for image management. He saved all the nastiness where he meant to keep it hidden, for me, although he did slip sometimes on that.

    It was the few brave souls who did see glimpses of his real behavior, and who spoke out, who really helped me see clearly.

    So, for me, the moral of the story is to call BS like you see it. You never know, it might help someone out.

    • Liningupducks, yes, yes, yes! These cheaters will always play the “nice” card! My ex’s Ho actually sent me an email about a month ago to tell me that “they are nice, even if I’m not!” I sent her an email to let her know that they are NOT nice! I told her nice people don’t fuck other married people! She’s a total whore so I don’t really care, just wanted to get her pissed off! Point is, she is now his whore and he has to follow her cheating ass around town to make sure she isn’t spreading her ummm…. “Nice” all over every hotel in Jax, Fl! Ha! Ha! Ha! Her Ex got tired of her and divorced her cheating ass and dumped that bag on my dumbass Ex. Hope he likes playing detective, not that she’s subtle about her whoring around! Should be easy for Mr. Gullible to figure out!

  • The funny thing was that I called STBX on some of his bullshit, telling him that what he was doing was abusive. This made him angry, but shut him up.

    STBX never got physically violent with me, but he has a lot of anger control issues, and would say mean and hurtful things to me. Also, he is very passive-aggressive. Yep, he has anger control issues, but is afraid of confrontation. At times, when he’d get angry at the world, he’d complain about our POS house in the middle of the God-forgotten state in which we live, and the worst thing he’d done was move from his home state here. He’d work himself up into a frenzy. I called him on this more than once, and more than once told him it was abusive. He got really angry, but shut up. I’d feel really horrible, but also very angry.

    I spackled, saying to myself that STBX never learned to handle anger, as his parents had separated when he was a boy, so he’d never seen constructive anger management. He’d not apologize. I’d let him know that he needed to do this. It was important to say the words.

    Looking back, I find it really odd that I’d call him out for behavior that was emotionally abusive, but failed to realize that he was an emotionally abusive person.

    Thankfully, Chump Nation has helped me see that cheating is yet another sign that he’s a user.

  • Just gathered up the courage to take a peek at Reddit! OMG! These scumbags are unbelievable! They talk about screwing each other while their kids are on play dates together! They refer to it as “using” their kids! Guys who want to screw their wives cousins and asking for advice! Talk about “making out” in cars and feeling like “teenagers”! Oh, fuck that noise! I am soooo happy to be a grown up! Now I know exactly what my Ex was feeling and doing! It didn’t take me but a minute to figure out these are totally screwed up, remorseless assholes! We are so much better off for having unloaded them on other over grown adolescents! Hopefully, as I accomplished, unloading them sans anything of value other than their useless “charm”! Serves them right! Let the toxic waste deal with their own kind! I’m sorry, but I am way better than that sort of people! Let them use the shit out of each other! The YUCK factor is overwhelming! All they are worried about is getting their genitalia rubbed without strings attached! Sick! Anyone who thinks “it just happened” is kidding themselves! Unyoke yourselves from these swines!

    • I finally got the courage to check it out too. What struck me is how they all talk like it is totally normal, like they are all discussing the weather. Some say they don’t get enough sex at home, some say they don’t get enough affection, others just like the excitement of it all. They are all sad excuses for humans. Why don’t these people just not get married and live a more honest life? I really don’t understand that.

      • Nicole S, that nonchalance they have about cheating was astounding to me also! Giving each other “tips” on how to take advantage of their kids, wives and anyone else, including the “object” of their desire! True predators! I wish now I hadn’t looked! Truly gut wrenching how cold and calculating they really are! The ONLY upside to it is I know I did the right thing by banishing that piece of garbage from my life!

        • Amen to that! I swear you can feel evil coming from the website. It made me feel ill. So glad I got away from my abuser too. I pray my kids will choose to cut him out of their lives quicker than I did.

          • GAD >barf< Glanced at it briefly…became a little more engaged, read a little more, then started getting sick. I cannot believe there is an entire website (well, since AM) that absolutely condones their sick talk between their evil selves. It truly is the pit of humanity there. I would never go back.

  • I don’t have time to read through all the posts today, so forgive me if it’s already been said. But there is a big gaping hole in the mental health industry that needs to be fixed. I guess there are probably many. The one I experienced is where someone can be diagnosed and treated for mental illness for over twenty years without anyone turning to the spouse or family to say, “So how are all of you doing?”

    I knew my husband had problems from before I met him. I just didn’t understand them. So his parents and I worked together to get him help. Then he’d be “better,” sort of. Then he’d stop taking medication. Then we’d find help, and on, and on…

    In seven cities with at least 8 doctors, he received treatment, without ever getting a good diagnosis. Bi-polar, depression, generalized anxiety disorder, it just depended on who you talked to. No one ever asked me what I thought. No one ever looked for signs of abuse. But there were plenty of signs. The closest I came was at a support group for family of people with bi-polar disorder. I was the only spouse there. When my MIL had to skip a meeting one night, they all told me to get out of the marriage.

    But I had psychologist, psychiatrists, marriage counselors, and his parents telling me what my role should be in his care. And I wanted to be a good wife. Who wants to leave a “sick” person to deal with everything on their own when they so clearly can’t (poor, sad sausage, in my case).

    It wasn’t until I learned about personality disorders, found out about the infidelity and lies, and got good help for myself that everything clicked into place. He has been playing with the mental health professionals for years. He’s smart, he’s extremely capable, and he knows exactly what he’s doing most of the time. He functions very well in a high stress environment, and makes oodles of money. He’s not helpless. He’s a user. And he doesn’t want “help.” He’s given up the pretense that he does now that it doesn’t serve him anymore.

    I think we need to treat families, not just individuals. There needs to be more time and care taken with diagnosis and treatment when someone is actually willing to consider getting help. And no one should be guilted in to taking care of someone with a mental illness when there is emotional abuse present. It’s complicated, I know, but it needs to be sorted out. There are plenty of people, myself included, who’ve had a legitimate diagnosis and needed help at times, but we managed not to systematically and consistently torture the people around us. Marriage can be wonderfully supportive in some circumstances. But I wish the professionals would take a little more time to determine when support is appropriate, or if someone is taking advantage of everyone around them.

    • DoneNow, you bring up an important point, I would like the stigma associated with mental illness removed so more people would new willing to seek treatment. But what you are talking about is someone who does not so self care, does not manage their own mental illness, instead they expect the people around them to deal with their issues, they do not legitimately seek help, they only do so when it can be used to manipulate those who love them. My ex did that and broke down many boundaries of mine in that regard. Mental illness is a serious issue the same as physical and one has to take responsibility for ones own treatment and self care. You might want to visit Captain Awkward and look at her advice on this subject, she’s pretty damn awesome on this topic.

    • Someone who has a mental health diagnosis who is high functioning is responsible for their own treatment and going off said treatment should be an instant dealbreaker for everyone concerned. There is no fucking excuse for this. Period.
      Also, its an instant game over if they game the system to further refine abuse.

  • Three STDs and eight weeks of Cipro. How about bringing dozens of strange men into our house while my sons were sleeping in another room. The DNA tests I had to get to make sure my children were mine. Maybe acting like a sister instead of mother to our daughter and talking about her sexapades and men. Nope no abuse here.

    But here’s the kicker I got a charged with Harassment. I threatened to beat the shit out of her boss who she was blowing in front of everyone at her work He pissed himself and called the cops. The charges were dropped by still complete bullshit.

  • No comments other than I’m so sorry this happened to you all and I would like to offer gentle internet hugs to you.

  • I remember telling my girlfriend after the cheater ex’s second affair that I hoped I had the courage to finally leave if he had a third one. I shudder now to think where I was emotionally then. I can totally relate to the video. Not only did I have the courage to leave after the third affair, I executed it flawlessly, and the divorce was final 3 months after I found out about the OW. The difference was seeking IC three years prior. I found CL after I filed but was instrumental in saying no to asshole cheater ex when he wanted to come back AFTER the divorce. Blech.

  • TheFiddler, I so feel for you and your kids! I know the almost faint feeling of having to go to my doctor and get tested not once, but twice for STDs. Thank heavens I was clean! Your wife sounds as if she has totally derailed! I have had that experience also with my cheater! I certainly hope there are brighter days ahead for you. Thanks to CN we all have a support network we can always count on. We got your back!

    • The Fiddler – your post gave me shivers up my spine. 3 STD’s and you’re now on meds for it?
      Wow – and you think you’ve heard it all.
      Sounds like she’s talking inappropriate to your daughter about her ‘wonderful lifestyle’.
      That has to stop, like now. Not sure how old your daughter is – I don’t care if she’s 40, a daughter does NOT want to hear that from her mother if she wants any respect. It’s sick talk. And sick role-model.

      And, to think, she did it with your young little boys sleeping in the next room.
      Would she have known if one of them swallowed a frog in the middle of the night and heard him choking to death? She sounds extremely unfit as a mother.

      I hope you can get all your children away from her immediately and into serious counseling. She’s playing with a roulette wheel having that many men in your marital home. Wonder how many have snuck away to become the real child molesters they could be…
      Sorry, for the 2×8…you weren’t even asking for advice.

      And, please – do not forget to keep a VAR (Voice activated recorder) on you at all times. She may turn this around and try to claim D/V, and you are in handcuffs without that recorder proof on you of the fight.
      Please protect yourself.

      Please keep us posted how you are doing. The Forums are great for this.

      • Thanks

        Our divorce should be finalized by the beginning of October. I have custody of all three of our kids. My soon to be ex is crashing on her friend’s couch while she “reevaluates” her life situation. Which means a new career again. Model, actress, weather girl and her current job radio DJ. Notice a trend?

        She hardly sees the kids anyways and when she does its an awesome meal at In N Out. Our daughter who I’ve raised since she was almost four knows how screwed up her mother is. She’s smart and perceptive beyond her years. She knows who took her to all the swim practices, coached soccer, helped with homework, etc. That I was only four years older than her when I met her mother. She gets it, hell I’ve had to tell her to not be so rude about her mother. Calling her a slut and whore in front of friends and family isn’t what I want.

        • Congratulations (and sorry) about the D being final soon. It’s a great relief and a great sadness at the same time. Please take time to heal during this time of acceptance. It was very hard on me. BUT – you made it THROUGH. That’s actually a great feeling. Not over it, under it, around it, but through all the pain.

          Your daughter knows exactly who her sane and stable parent is – that’s you. You’ve cared for her and shown her respect, a lot more than her mother has shown. I’m sorry she had such a shitty mother and that makes me angry for her.

          But, you must help her with her anger about her mother. It doesn’t do her or any of her friends any benefits (especially the friends who’ve never had a mother abandon them)..and hope she has good therapy right now. She’s very angry, of course. And, that is very natural. I feel so bad for what she must be going through.

          You guys are a team – hold each other up and do positive things together. You both need it. Exercise will help you both eat better too.

          (drooling on the In-N-Out…sorry)

        • Datdamwolf – I really appreciate the question. Nobody has asked me this before. It doesn’t make sense to me and I’m still trying to figure out how the abuse started so suddenly with no history. Well, that’s when the affair started, for sure.

          Anyway, was there abuse of some kind? I guess so. He was always calm, cool and collected..I’ve since learned we call that Passive-Aggressive, and also, very Narc. He was the best in his well-paid sales job and everybody idolized him.

          He controlled absolutely everything in our household, and the one thing I did own a little, was the checkbook. I gave up a career of trading lumber for this new lifestyle he wanted in a big house on the beach. Went to work for him and I thought we were deliriously happy for 18 of our 20 yrs here at the coast. That’s the hardest, when you find out it at the happiest time of your life.

          Then the light switch blackens everything in its past with it’s deadly destruction. (think I could start a book with that sentence?)

          35 yrs went so fast out of my life I think my head is still spinning and I still really don’t know why. Heard a Dr.Laura on my trip home yesterday..and, it was the last thing I wanted to hear at the time. (she has lost my respect totally) and said to a guy that couldn’t get over his wife’s affair but they were trying to R. She screamed at this poor guy and said it was HIS fault she landed in a bed with another man and he needed to forget her Affair. Can you imagine that? This is where I get my faith – Chump Nation! I wanted to call that bitch and challenge her on it but she probably would have screened my call. There is so much bias against this shit – and you never know which direction it will take with new friends, relatives, etc.

          It’s such a learning curve.
          But, back to why I put up with the ‘abuse’ of a total lack of affection (I believe I was a Beard), I still have no idea why other than I loved him and had no interest in changing him. He was getting old, I was getting old..and thought we’d live together the rest of our lives.
          You tell me what went wrong besides the fucking alley cat?

          Blessings.

          • I think you meant to respond to my post down below. The AP doesn’t matter, he betrayed you with the AP and that caused you to stand up for at least one boundary, this seems to happen a lot, abuse happens but we convince ourselves the poor thing is broken, we love them, they ar trying…they aren’t but it’s the narrative they give us and abuse is often covert or infrequent so we forgive it. Fucking around flips the switch enough to realize they do not care about us. You said he controlled pretty much everything in your relationship, examine how that happened. From day one? Doubtful. Everyone is different, if you had few boundaries and it was easy for him to take control over every aspect of your life without harshness then it is not necessary to intimidate you or punish you. my ex used pity or guilt quite often because forbidding me or overt control would not fly. He also isolated me effectively by pretending to protect me from my friends who were “using” me or stressing me out. Examine how it came to be that he controlled everything in your household, journal it, that I think is your answer. And if you don’t have a therapist I highly recommend it, it can be so helpful in your introspection of you and how this happened. Jedi hugs! It will get better

            • Dat – you have been through the worst of the worst, most of us cannot probably relate to the physical threat you felt with this supreme X asshole. I cannot imagine a gun being pointed at me and how that would cause extreme anxiety for everything I loved – your entire life is sitting there looking down a gun barrel and you have no choice? No…most of us haven’t experienced that and I guess that is why your posts are so important for all of us to read. You have so much wisdom to offer from your horrible experiences.
              We all thank you for that and appreciate every post you write..they have personally helped me a lot.

              When a seemingly compatible couple like us, married 35 yrs, you think think things would go amicably during the divorce, especially if you’ve had no physical issues in your past. When the X did a huge 180 on his personality, started collecting guns, being secretive, talking about the world caving in and we had to protect ourselves, stocking up on piles of dried food in case there was an economic war between the have’s and the have-nots – I decided he was crazy. And, when I told him so, I guess he thought the Alley Cat was a better listener. Seriously, the guy was scaring me in more ways than one and I wondered if there there was something wrong with his brain. Btw – this is a very successful business man……whatever..

              The thing is, whether or not you’ve had D/V in your past, it can suddenly erupt at the end like mine did. I was seriously afraid of my husband and his skank (my ex-bff who I knew well to be a schemer) were ready to get me out of the house no matter what it took. I took a lot of what he did during that time as a death threat and so did my attorney. When he stole my gun and admitted it, he made the mistake of saying on email (nice record)…”I have all the guns now and the knowledge to use them”. Let’s just say, his attorney didn’t like that either.

              Anyway, that’s what allowed me to kick him rapidly to the curb, change the locks and keep my 3 guard dogs away from him. I won – and that’s only because of people like you who have posted…the worst of the worst.

              Thanks, Dat. Tessie, and many others. You know who you are. Keeping our spines strong..
              Blessings-

        • Dat – ‘Did he lose his temper at you over the years, shut down uncomfortable discussions with that or other means?’

          Ok – that question took me a few minutes to ask myself.
          He was a real communicator all along about what was wrong, how to fix this or that between us…very sweet that way. This is what is confusing.

          So, when I brought up that we had sexual dysfunction in that he never wanted intercourse, from the day we were married, just b/j’s and h/js. Uncomfortable as hell subject for him. So, I scooted us off to a medical professional/psyciatrist and I told him privately that this man never wants to satisfy me. Then he met with H separately. Then the two of us together. Then came out to announce his verdict. The good doctor said, at the end of 3 meetings that his thoughts were we were going to get divorced because of the lack of sex on his part. Hell, we’d only been married 6 yrs at the time. Then he came home and said he wanted to shoot himself in the head because he was ‘not normal’ in that way. That scared the bajeesus out of me for ever bringing it up again. I loved him dearly, but I loved my new vibrator even better through those years.

          I’m sorry…going off at the mouth here.

          10 yrs later, we had the same discussion about no sex and he said again, he wanted to shoot his head off. Hell, if I had been reading c/n then I would have called 911 on the spot.
          I see that is so manipulative that it’s pathetic.

          Signed, I think I was a beard.. and just can’t believe it was a woman he picked for his next one. Yeah, some sex life they’ll have.

          • Ok, threatening suicide in this way is a huge red flag of an abuser, huge control tactic and common, unfortunately we never get educated about this shit growing up. Cutting you off from sex when he knows that’s very important to you is the same, my ex did this when I finally agreed to marry him. What else did he deny you? No need to answer me here, you need to examine to close this. Read the Lundy book Why does he do that, I think it will help you, there are some others on emotional abuse in CLs list of books that might be good too. Main thing, don’t blame yourself for being screwed over as you untangle yourself

            • Thanks Dat – just ordered the Lundy book – I think it’s overdue and I’m gonna go tuck myself into bed with my dogs and my kindle.

        • TheFiddler, never curb your daughters anger nor the truth. If she calls her mother a slut – well, its the truth isn’t it?
          Telling a child not to express their anger = they drive it inward and it explodes out of them. It also leads to resentment, too.

  • Just saw that Harold Henthorn has been found guilty of pushing his wife off a cliff. I don’t know what else he did, but I’m glad the murdering sunuvabitch is going to prison. I hope they retry him for his first wife’s death, too!

  • It took me a very long time to realize that my Ex’s cheating was a continuation of his other abuse. Then I also discovered that he had been a serial cheater all along (sixteen years). It’s a good thing that I discovered he was cheating because up until that point, I was fully aware that he was abusing me but I was willing to live with it for the rest of my life. Trauma bonding and Stockholm Syndrome kept me controlled by him. So relieved and so very thankful that he is now out of my life. Cheating is abuse.

  • As all my Forensic Files shows seem to point out (that’s my addiction), a great many stories start out with infidelity as the outcome of a murder. Is any of this abuse – you bet it is. When they lose respect, they can damn well kill you. I was never afraid of the X (no abuse, whatsoever) until I caught him after a 2 yr hunt for info. Chump here – couldn’t believe any of it until there was nothing else to believe.

    He got physical with me for the first time towards the end. He’s 5’11 250 #’s. I’m 5’2″ 115. I was in his office demanding the family checkbook to pay bills with. He was furious. I had no idea why he was hiding it. When I started rifling through everything very loudly…is it here?? Is it HEERE? Slamming cupboards and drawers, etc. He said calmly that he was trying to work and to get out of his (home) office, where I also worked.
    When I refused, this ex-wrestler/bodybuilder grabbed me strongly from my back, securing my arms completely and continued to throw me out physically, where I landed on my knees. But, not before my feet took down every computer and thing on his desk on the way out. (Hey – I found strength and have good legs, what can I say?)

    I cudda called the cops. He never explained why he hid the checkbook, never talked about the incident. I guess I was in shock. But – there it goes – it started with that damn checkbook, then I discovered huge accounts he opened in his name only, on his way to hide money, and God knows what else.

    My only point here is: They CAN change in an instant from emotional abuse to physical! On a dime.
    They get desperate at the end and it scared me to death after he stole my gun.
    Stupid of him because then I was legally able to change the locks the minute he walked out the door with his theft.

  • No abuse whatsoever? Did he lose his temper at you over the years, shut down uncomfortable discussions with that or other means? Many abusers do not escalate to the physical if other means work to control you. I truly hate this line that so many draw between emotional and physical abuse. These are tactics for control and some forms that appear to be emotional are in fact physical. The worst part about it is how you damp down your fear, your intuition and do not realize the control exerted by someone who is careful. Saddam raged and it was this issue he had that was his problem but he said he’d never hurt me. Consciously I believed that, unconsciously I did not and the intimidation was effective. When he was losing control of me he took risks going physical enough to set me up for arrest, when even that didn’t stop me he said he’d kill himself and when that didn’t control me he nearly shot me. Only reason he didn’t is he decided he could not get away with it, I watched him decide. Most of the literature focuses on stupid abusers who are incredibly unfearful of consequences, like Ike and Tina Turner or horrific examples like the featured Ted talk survivor. Abuse is often a slow process, getting the victim used to the abuse incrementally. Even the worst abuse is similar. Read example in Gift of Fear when a woman calls for help, she is asked if she is in immediate danger, she says no. Later it turns out her husband was on the other side of the bedroom door cocking his gun, when asked why she thought she wasn’t in immediate danger she said it was because he didn’t have the gun held to her head. Extreme example but illustrative of how humans adjust to continuous threat from a loved one to abate the cognitive dissonance it engenders, in the process we loose our own intuition and fears in abusive situations.

    • Dat – I left a post earlier about this, but don’t see it copied here. Hope it’s not a repeat.
      You asked..”No abuse whatsoever? Did he lose his temper at you over the years, shut down uncomfortable discussions with that or other means?”

      He never lost his temper with me. He was too controlled and quiet for that. Now that I’ve learned more, he was definitely so logical and P/A and Narc that he was very good at how he controlled everything. And yes, it was slow and over the years. And, I did the yelling – not proud of it, but he frustrated me because he ALWAYS won every disagreement. I always seemed to give in.
      After all, ‘he was the one that made the money, he was the one that should spend it’.
      (now, he did NOT say that until the OW came into the picture)

      But, we did go to counseling early on in our marriage; 30 yrs old at the time. To a Psychiatrist (which scared the bejeezus out of him). I went first and said, we’re not having sex. What’s wrong?
      Then he goes in to see the guy by himself. And the guy comes out confused…so we go in together for our 3rd session with this doctor, who declared that we would get divorced some day because my H refused to budge on the sex thing. (best advice I ever heard) Get home, and he says, I’m sorry I’m different. I just want to go shoot my head off.

      Now, that line thrown out at you sends you on head-trip for a few days. Or, actually, for quite a long time. (shudder – would >I< be responsible for his suicide demanding sex?) Definitely manipulation (I've since learned) but I also learned to never pressure him for sex.
      Undoubtable, the subject comes up intensely when we turn 40.
      He repeated, I'm sorry I can't change, I will just shoot my head off..

      Ok, this is good, so I decided to quit bringing up the subject. I found myself a good vibrator and whatnot.
      I loved him enough to stay with him w/o the sex.

      FF to 60 yrs old! Weee….fun in bed … with dogs only..
      He can no longer sleep with me because I wake him up. Separate bedrooms.

      Then – of course, I wake up one day to find her panties in MY bed.

      What a fool I was and I have no idea why I put up with that so long.
      He left and never looked back but I still have a problem thinking he could EVER satisfy another women until I totally missed something here. I really honestly thought I was a Beard at that point.

      I'd call denial of sex a definite act of abuse, in the form of mental control. Physical control. And, goddammit, Emotional control.

      And, by God, if anybody threatens suicide around me again, it's 911 time.

      Thanks again for asking.

  • This post and comments upset me in 2013 and it is doing it again though not as badly. I need to stop letting it run through my head and at the same time I cannot bring myself to write a new response to some of the comments I see here, hope you will forgive my reposting previous comments on this and understand I’m not attacking anyone or trying to minimize your pain. I think it’s important to understand that physical abuse means the person you love isn’t just entitled when he’s perfectly willing to kill you if he thinks he can get away with it. I think it’s important to understand that the reason so many abusers kill themselves after they kill their spouse is because they realize they would suffer. And mainly I can’t freaking sleep Chump Nation! Jedi hugs!

    Post from 2013
    Well, so many triggers with comments that I’m afraid I’m not diplomatic here. Some posts say things like: I wish he had punched me in the face or physically abused me. and I feel the physical scares could have healed faster than emotional and psychological scars of infidelity.

    I was cheated on and I was abused, after I said I was divorcing it escalated to near death. If you think the betrayal of infidelity by the person you trust and love most in the world is worse than that person pointing a gun at your head or hitting you is harder to deal with, or somehow worse, then I can’t be cool about it. That’s a fucked up view. DO you really think there are no emotional and psychological scars from physical abuse? I’m sure you don’t, I’m sure you didn’t mean to imply that fucking someone else is equal to putting someone’s head through a wall. I know you didn’t mean it that way.

    The person I loved and trusted beyond all others cheated on me and that was horrible. I agree, I lost 20 lbs in 3 weeks, I was a wreck. It was bad, it hurt. I decided to leave him because I couldn’t take that pain, guess what happens when the person who does this is abusive? Leaving causes the worst betrayal of all and it is not infidelity.

    The person I loved and trusted beyond all others physically attacked me, he lied to police after I called and got me arrested for what he did. He later pointed a gun at me and considered whether he could get away with killing me. He was undecided, I got away. That was beyond horrible, that was my fucking life he was about to take away. The.person.I.loved.trusted. That person wanted to kill me. That person put me in jail for his offense.

    That is a betrayal far beyond infidelity, I agree cheating is abuse and I believe that many more chumps dealt with much more emotional and physical abuse then they want to admit before the cheating was discovered. But be careful how you equate the two types of abuses. Saying you do not want to minimize physical abuse and then saying you think infidelity is worse DOES minimize the physical abuse.

    Reply
    PAChump says
    December 10, 2013 at 5:05 pm
    Good points, all.

    Reply
    Datdamwuf says
    December 10, 2013 at 5:15 pm
    and it minimizes the emotional abuse that goes with it. I cheer when some chump does the right thing and goes straight for a divorce. I did that pretty quickly, and when I did the full force of his abuse rained down on me. I did that and he manipulated the shit out of the situation, he cut me off from support, he enlisted the good ole boy police, and all the time he told me he loved me and lied about everything. Consider where you would be if your cheater was also a smart and manipulative abuser who would do anything to keep you and continue his cheating. Anything, including punching himself in the face to set you up for arrest, pointing a gun at you, convincing the few friends you have that he was rational and you were completely crazy. Anything, including pointing a gun at you 1 hour after he agreed to divorce mediation. Anything, anything to keep you under control because he is entitled to that. Anything to keep you in his control, anything at all and then you realize he would kill you if he thought he could get away with it. That betrayal after 17 years is so much worse.

    • Datdamwuf – you are an amazing human! I’m honored to be on the same site with you. I did not know you had gone through so much! My you are mighty!!! Much RESPECT!

  • What is chumplady gonna’ do when her third husband cheats on her? It will happen, and I am sure we will hear all about it ad barfeum

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