19/08/2009 07:54 | By Dr Pam Spurr, Sex & Relationships Expert

My husband has destroyed my self-esteem

I'm a wife and mother of four boys but I feel so sad and lonely I just can't believe this is as good as it gets. My husband is so abusive when we have arguments, it has completely destroyed my self-esteem. Please help.

Dr Pam Spurr

MSN Lifestyle agony aunt Dr Pam is well known in the media as a psychologist with strong views about many topics. As well as formerly hosting her own Sony award-winning radio programme, 'Dr. Pam's Heart to Heart' on Heart 106.2 and hosting her own programmes on LBC for four years, she's contributed as a guest/expert to hundreds of television and radio programmes years including GMTV, BBC Breakfast TV, Trisha and The Wright Stuff.

A former sex and relationship expert for the News of the World and The People, Dr Pam's written several books, including her brand new book Fabulous Foreplay: The Sex Doctor's Guide To Teasing & Pleasing Your Lover, as well as The Dating Survival Guide, The Break-up Survival Kit: Emotional Rescue for the Newly Single - and her No. 1 best-sellers Sensational Sex: A Revolutionary Guide to Sexual Pleasure & Fulfilment and Sinful Sex: The Uninhibited Guide To Erotic Pleasure. She writes a weekly magazine column as well as regularly contributing to the glossies.

Dr Pam has herself experienced divorce, but is now happily married for the second time, proving you can survive a break-up and move on with your life! Here on MSN, she will be giving Lifestyle readers unique full analysis and advice that isn't available anywhere else on the internet. Visit her column here every Friday where a new reader's problem will be answered each week.

Dear Dr Pam

Please help. I am so sad and lonely, although I'm married with 4 kids. I feel so unloved and taken for granted. My hubby and I don't argue often but when we do the things he says to me are so soul destroying that I am finding it increasingly more difficult to disregard them. In the past he has told me that:

1. He didn't want to marry me in the first place
2. He has never been happy since he married me
3. He can find another woman who respects him
4. I don't know what is called a "wife"
5. I don't know how to be a "wife"
6. If I go out leaving him with the kids for more than an hour (which I did recently when I went to see my mum who he doesn't like) he will go out and leave them on their own and I will have to answer to the police/social services.
7. If I don't learn to shut my mouth (stop voicing my opinion) I should get out of his house.

I have a 13 month old baby and a 6 week old baby as well as a 10 and 9 year old (all boys and all by him) and I am getting more and more depressed about how he treats me and speaks to me in front of the boys. He really upsets me and it reminds me of when I was younger (I'm 37 now) and was bullied by one or two guys because I was not pretty and slim (or white) like the rest of the girls. I went through hell constantly dodging those guys on nights out and during the school holidays.

Not only was I humiliated but also physically abused by one guy in particular in front of loads of people. I thought I had left all those bad experiences behind me and gained a new adult life with a few qualifications (through college and uni) in addition to falling in love with my husband. Yet I've come to realise that it's all a "fiction". There is no happily ever after.

I try my best to make everyone happy in the household and tread on egg shells around my hubby. I have lent him vast sums of money in the past (to make him happy) yet to get the money back is always a problem as when I ask for it back (because I need it) it causes an argument as he hasn't got it and he's under pressure at work (we have a small business). I am currently on maternity leave from the business (and have been for about 2 years now) yet I see no money from the business. I also get little or no feedback on the state of the business from him but a few customers have said that things are not good since I left and that customers are leaving in their droves.

I am on 24 hour duty with the babies and only go out to the grocery shop or to baby clinic. I have no friends as we all just grew apart and I have no social life. I am fat and depressed and have started drinking again (I had a drink problem before my last 2 pregnancies) and I feel really low. I want to get fit as I have a good 5 stones to lose but I have no motivation. The only reason why I am still living is because of my children but I am worried that sooner or later that will no longer be a good enough reason to live.

I know that having four kids I won't find another man and anyway, what's the point? I used to equate having a relationship as being happy and experiencing trials and tribulations as a couple but it's just not so. I am on my own financially and mentally. I must be mad to think someone would love me and find me attractive like my hubby said last night "it's a favour he's doing for me being around". I just want to crawl under a rock and die. He has no idea how painful his comments are and I am so upset that I have not been able to sleep. Is there a reason why I've been treated in this way?

Dear "is this as good as it gets?",

I am extremely concerned by your letter and I urge you to take the following steps.

Please speak your health visitor (you're entitled to with children under five) about all that you're going through.

Please also go see your local Citizens Advice Bureau and discuss your rights and situation with them. I'm sure they'll reassure you that your husband is trying to keep you prisoner in your own home by telling you he will leave the children and report you to social services.

But most important of all:

I want you to discuss your situation with Refuge. I'm not telling you that you have to leave him at this point but I think you ought to alert people that you're in a very dangerous situation with an emotional bully. You can ring them on 0808-2000-247 or checkout www.refuge.org.uk.

Why am I telling you these things? Because I'm very concerned that your husband has ruthlessly undermined your self esteem. He sounds quite cunning in the way he makes you feel it's a favour that he's staying with you. He's also made you frightened that people will believe him over you and tries to keep you away from others and at home.

In actual fact, he does of this to keep you to himself! He doesn't want to lose you because he's actually a very weak man inside. He wants to bully you into submission so there's someone always by his side.

The fact that you're concerned about your weight is something you should leave for the time being. Once you've started to build your inner strength and self-respect you can tackle things like weight. It's important to be fit and healthy but right now it's even more important to boost your confidence to face up to him and decide what you want in your future - to be with him or not.

To a certain extent the same is also true with your drinking however it's important that you stop drinking to forget about your problems and instead contact Alcoholics Anonymous - either on the Web or through your local Yellow Pages or your GP's. Take one day the time and for each day try not to drink. You know once you solve your problems that it won't help you build your self-respect.

As well as seeing your health visitor it would be an excellent idea to get a health check at your doctor's and share some of your worries with them.

Make a list of all these things and do them one at that time. You can't change your whole life overnight but you can start making little changes every day. And over time those changes amount to a great deal. Good luck!

Dr Pam Spurr is the author of life coaching guide - Sex, Guys And Chocolate - Your Essential Guide To Lust, Love And Life (Robson Books £7.99).

Is something getting you down? Not sure who to turn to for help? Then let Dr Pam guide you. Email us your problem.

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