Mental Health Issue - or Domestic Abuse?

Having lived with my partner for 7 years, of which the past 2 he has been a nightmare, after signficant issues at home and his rude, controlling and irrational behaviour to myself and my 2 teenage daughters resulting in me being unable to stay in the family home as my daughter was too scared, eventually I made contact with the police, who put me in touch with a domestic abuse team, and, despite there being a formal diagnosis with regards to my partner, he was able to “behave” in front of others but not behind closed doors and there has definitely been an element of ‘control’ with his behaviour.

Has anyone else experienced this? He is now living in our family home and for the past 3 weeks we have been staying with a family member, myself and my 2 teenagers in one room he won’t leave the home (he’s not the kids dad) and refuses to sell sol I am now paying 50% for a house I can’t live in. We went to mediation it didn’t go well he has stated the house sale is ‘last on his list of priorities’ and is already wearing new designer clothes and apparently on a dating site so clearly he is perfectly fine despite saying I have ruined his life…

I am completely stuck as we left the house and I can’t go back as I feel it is a safeguarding issue for the mental health of my 2 teenage children, one who has been uprooted mid GCSEs.

Hello Emma
I don’t think it’s as simple as either MH or Domestic Abuse. The 2 often go hand in hand and are interwoven. As you have had to leave it seems to me that the Domestic abuse route is the one to follow at the moment . Have you found your local domestic abuse support agency - I think that’s usually separate from the police team. They, and or a solicitor are best positioned to help you with this situation. Here we are ok with carers rights but not so good on the issues you face.

We are all here rooting for you, but you need specialist help and advice


Hi Emma,

You might find Women’s Aid can advise further.


Hi Emma
I’ve had a similar experience. I was with my partner for 13 years, of which the last 3, possibly 4, became a nightmare descent into mental illness and abuse. Looking back, there had been the odd, one-off red flag to warn me, but they were so few and far between, that I put them down to drink or stress or any number of other things. On the whole, for ten years he had been a great partner/fiancé. Then he became paranoid, isolated, began drinking much more than he did, then emotionally abusive, then verbally abusive, and finally became physically frightening/abusive.
He said he needed to move out, and I went along with it, but in the period of time he was looking for another place/waiting to move in, the abuse ramped up. Yet, if I asked him to leave during these incidents, he would bluntly refuse, and tell me that he would go when he was ready, and that I should “f*** off out of the house”.
Upon speaking with a counselling service about all of this, they advised me that the mental illness and the abusiveness should be treated separately. They told me that if he was able to control himself with others, hold down a job etc. that the illness wasn’t causing the abuse, and most likely he’d always had abusive tendencies. Lastly, they said that if it was the Mental Illness causing it, then everyone with that illness would be abusive, but that’s simply not the case.
I feel that, although this is good advice, that the mental illness DOES make him abusive. His delusions and paranoia leave him frustrated, and also that he wasn’t abusive per se for 10 years, then his illness kicked in and lead him to believe things which just aren’t true; again, causing his anger.
I would say that your ex is manipulating the scenario by using your fear to get what he wants. If you see him and he becomes abusive, then you have every right to phone the police - even if he’s emotionally or verbally, but not physically abusive, as it’s now an offence. I’d also say that it might be worth asking about having him evicted, as you have children who are suffering, and having a restraining order put on him. You can retro-complain about abuse to the authorities, in order to expedite the process. Have you spoken to Citizen’s advice or a specialist solicitor about what your rights are in terms of who gets the house?
I’m so sorry you’re experiencing such pain from these destructive illnesses. No one should have to live in fear or walk on eggshells. Don’t let his moods push you and your girls into submission, but at the same time, stay safe. xx

Thank you for your comments.

I left the home to safeguard the children, but he continues to ‘control’ the situation with ridiculous demands and hurdles to jump before he will ‘consider selling the house’ impossible requests that are totally ridiculous like “evidence you had a house full of furniture before we were together” yet he has deleted everything off my laptop which he then broken and denies that there is a external hard drive with all our photos (and mine from years gone by of the kids) ever being at the property, I sent a photo and circled it he then says I am harassing him. He won’t consider selling the house until I find his £50 Xmas voucher (I have no clue where it is and have to make an appointment to visit my own home). All delaying / time wasting tactics.

My children and I are all in a small room at my sisters (she’s been completely amazing as have her small children who now share a room). I can’t move on with my life as am supposed to pay for 50% of our mortgage. The mortgage company won’t let me have a holiday or change to interest only. I am tempted to just stop paying to try to force the sale but fear I then won’t get anywhere to rent after.

It’s not domestic abuse we have moved out. The solicitor said that wasn’t the right thing to do I asked how I safe guard my children I moved out to do exactly that. The police, MASH, social services, mediator and domestic abuse line have all generally concluded it is good that I am no longer at the property but as I have left there’s not a lot I can do…

We had mediation last week his son in law represented him and phoned me off the record later to say it was nothing personal but someone now has to help him (as I am not after all this time). He has made accusations about me that are untrue and he can’t evidence. No one seems interested in the fact my kids don’t have their own home. I’m totally disgusted with the system to be honest.

Emma, if you haven’t started one already, keep a diary of who said what, where, and when.
At very least the county council should be protecting the children, and you, and possibly them too, should have an advocate.
That’s assuming you have contacted Social Services Children’s department?

Hi Emma,

I’m really sorry you are going through all this… and thank you to everyone who has replied - because I am in this situation right now and am looking for ways to protect myself long term (e.g. not leaving the house)

I’ve been using a sleep talk recorder to record outbursts which I was hoping to use during his recovery to show him that he is not as in control as he thinks and that he needs to get proper on-going therapeutic support as well as learning to self-care / understand triggers etc before we descend into the abyss - but I realised last night during a particularly scary episode, that I could use it with police, MH services etc to show them that while he is low but behaved in front of them, he is vile, aggressive and unrestrained at home.

I completely agree re it’s not as simple as either MH or abuse… I think some conditions (as well as personalities) lend themselves towards more abusive behaviour whether it is to compound their own feelings/experiences (no one wants to be around me / I’m going to make it impossible for people to be around me) and also in response to their conditions (paranoia, forgetfulness, confusion etc)

I can’t explain how angry I am with services I’ve so far encountered (this is our 3rd psychotic episode, over 6 years) whereby his liberty is prioritised, and worse… that his version of events is completely unchallenged! Not only does this put partners/family/the public directly at risk but it also undermines any attempt to help the person because if they are lying/masking/under selling their issues then they are not being monitored or treated… but then, it is cheaper to do nothing and hope that the family pick up the pieces.
I’ve been told by my own GP, the mental health crisis team, normal mental health team etc that I can’t do anything - except potentially wait until he drinks on meds AGAIN and behaves so scary that I am either fearing for my safety… or worse, actually get attacked.
In previous episodes, the teams (in different locality) were much more supportive because they could see that I was in a better position to tell them how his moods were, if he was taking meds, if mixing with booze/drugs, what his behaviour is like & what influences it etc… and they used that to help him (and indirectly me) through this. Now I feel like I may as well not exist…

I’ve just copied about 5 of my local helplines & refuges into my phone - thank you for the links guys!

Emma - hang in there - I hope things get sorted

If I have any strength in me after this - I am going to try and fight for some actual protection for people going through this so we don’t have to leave our homes or live in fear.

This is a good idea. Have you contacted the local police? Also ring Shelter to ask for advice and also phone civil legal aid or Citizen’s Advice for support. Maybe also use a diary to record all the details. Or the notes function on your phone. Remind them it is better overall to be proactive. If they really care, suggest to them that it is cheaper to intervene now before things spiral out of control. Seriously.
Are you seeing a therapist or not? Can he be sectioned?

I’m really sorry that you are going through this. You have made the right choice to remove your children from him. My opinion is that it doesn’t matter if it’s “the mental illness made me do it” (and given the two-faced behaviour, that’s doubtful), if you are being harmed, then you are being harmed and you don’t need to put up with it. I know how hard it is to make a move in these situations; I don’t want to be the bad person who leaves the sick person. But your partner is clearly just trying to get what he wants out of you and string you along with this house thing. I’m not sure how house ownership things work and how you can get out of it, but so far, you have made the right choices <3

How are things this week?

Perhaps your issue is that you’re trying to validate something you already know deep inside. Whatever you choose to label it after the event, you know it is wrong, and putting your children first is absolutely the right thing to do.

I wish I had a mother who did the same for me when I was in danger as a child. Regardless of what causes his behaviour, you know its wrong and it is unacceptable. It isn’t up to you to fix it, nor is it up to you to give him an excuse to lessen the impact of what he does to people around him.

Your children are above all much safer away from the turmoil and so are you. Take care of yourself, and whatever causes his behaviour isn’t something that can be cured or discounted. Personally, I think you’ve done the right thing by distancing yourself and your kids. Please don’t question yourself or try to analyse it too much. The answer is simple. His behaviour makes him a risk and has a bad impact on your wellbeing and that of your kids. You’ve done what any responsible parent should.