Editor’s note: Lovefraud received the following story from a reader in Belgium, whom we’ll call “Enora.”
I had always considered myself to be an intelligent and confident woman. I had the college degrees and the high profile job to prove that. I was making very good money and people looked up to me. I was working in Brussels, at the top of the Belgian political establishment and in my hometown, I was elected as the president of the social welfare department, which was the second most important job in the city, next to the mayor.
I had been single for a year, after leaving a bad relationship with an alcoholic. Working was my way of trying to forget my loneliness and the fact that, at age 31, I had no children. I desperately wanted children and my biological clock was ticking.
I met him in my hometown. He was working as a self-employed hairdresser. He had a past. At the age of 16, he had run away with a 31-year-old woman, who had left her husband and her 3 small children. They had started a life in another part of the country and he had a daughter who was now 12. When I met him he was divorced and was living with another woman who was quite wealthy. She had paid for his hair salon, since he had nothing, only debts. Still he lived in luxury, going out all of the time and closing his hair salon to do so, buying people drinks and acting as a successful businessman.
He was very charismatic: extremely good looking, witty, always in for a joke. He was the life of the party, the centre of attention. But he also had a reputation of being a womanizer.
When he began to pursue me, although being flattered, there were some things that didn’t feel good to me. But he had an answer to everything. He was such a smooth talker (even producing tears to add to the effect) that I believed him. All that had gone wrong in his life was the fault of other people. I even started to feel sorry for him.
It was as if he could read my mind. He knew exactly what my dreams and thoughts were. Of course, his were the same.
I fell madly in love with him. He moved in with me. From day one, it was an emotional rollercoaster. Some days were wonderful and other days were hell. He wore me out emotionally. I never knew what to expect. In a matter of seconds, his mood could change. He eyes would change and he had an evil look on his face. He called me every name in the book, told me that I was a nobody, that no one liked me and that people whom I considered to be friends, badmouthed me. He even said who these people were and told me what they had said in detail. At the time, it didn’t enter my mind that he was making it up. He planted a seed of doubt in my mind and I started to believe he was right.
He was extremely jealous and always accused me of seeing other men. I had no idea that in fact, he was the promiscuous one.
I paid for everything. In my mind, two people who commit to each other share dreams, hopes… and money. He had my credit cards, bought himself a car (which was registered in my name, because people he was indebted to might claim it), a horse, thousands of dollars worth of clothes, while going out alone, spending vast amounts in bars and restaurants.
When I was at work, he called and texted me constantly. Every day, at 5 to 12, he called demanding to know what I was having for lunch. The only right answer was that I had ordered a sandwich. He didn’t want me to have lunch in a restaurant with my colleagues, and anyway, it would have been impossible since I only had spare change in my wallet. He then wanted to know what kind of sandwich I had ordered. I had to answer immediately, because the smallest hesitation would lead him to conclude that I was lying.
My close friends and family were starting to express their concern about the way he treated me and sometimes I felt strong enough to stand up to him.
He “needs to think”
At one time, he decided that he “needed to think” about our future and about what he wanted in life. In his eyes, it would be better to not be living with me during that period. A friend of his had this small house in the country that he could use for free. He would only have to pay for electricity etc. (in the end, I was the one who paid). Now I understand that this had a double advantage for him: he could build up the pressure on me and ….. he could invite other women. Stupid me, I even made sure that he had everything he needed there: a bed and sheets (the house wasn’t furnished), a microwave, etc.
A couple of weeks later, he told me that he had enrolled in a therapy class and that he had to stay there for three days. During that time, he was sending me text messages telling me how much he missed me, how emotional it was and how much he had cried while gaining insight in his personality. Years later, I learned that in fact, he had been to a luxury spa with one of his mistresses.
When he came back, he stated that he was ready to commit to our relationship and our future together.
Not long after that, we decided to start a family. However, before he agreed, he demanded that I ended some important friendships. These were good friends of mine who had criticized his behaviour towards me.
I became pregnant
I became pregnant very soon after that, but that did not bring any change in the way he treated me:
When I was 4 months pregnant, he threw me on the floor in a drunken rage (that was the first time he physically assaulted me)
I had gone to the funeral of a colleague and I was upset when I came home. Instead of sympathizing, he got very angry because “I had not shed a tear of joy for being pregnant and now I was sobbing for some stranger.
Because of the pregnancy, he felt comfortable that I wouldn’t end the relationship. If I would ever try to do that he told me: “You are the intelligent one, but I will always have the upper hand, because I’m devious and streetwise and you’re not.”
He boasted that some people had given him loans and that he had no intention of ever paying them back. He had no property or money, so no one could ever retrieve anything.
He tried to scare me, saying that if he ever were to join a gang of criminals, he would be the worst criminal of them all.
He would change
I kept saying to myself that once the baby was born, he would change into a loving and caring father. In my eyes, I only had to love and support him even more to make sure that the good person underneath his bad boy attitude would surface.
By that time he had already closed his hair salon and he was working nights in a bakery. Now he wanted to be a successful businessman. I helped him set up a business selling Belgian chocolates.
Our son was born and I was happy. I kept looking for the change in his behaviour, but that did not happen. Instead, he lectured me about how I wasn’t a good mother (always pointing his finger). He went out and drank all of the time, leaving me at home with our newborn. The fact that my parents and sister often came to visit annoyed him, even though he wasn’t there most of the time.
One Friday evening, my son was about 4 weeks old, I had a professional obligation. It was very important: I had to deliver a speech for the opening of a factory. The two other speakers were the mayor and the Belgian prime minister.
It was not a plus one invitation, so he was to stay at home to take care of the baby. Before I left, he made sure that I felt terrible. Again, he talked about being a good mom, and that I wasn’t one, he made me promise that I would leave as soon as possible. There was to be no socializing with people who were invited.
By the time I arrived, I felt sad and my heart was pounding. It was like I was an animal being chased and I hoped that everything would be over soon so I could return home. When the speeches were over, I started to make my way to the exit, with a fake smile on my face and apologizing to people who wanted to have a chat. I had to get home!
When I arrived, all the lights were on and there was nobody there. He had gone and taken my son with him. I started to call him on his cell phone, but he didn’t answer. I rang everyone I could think of, getting more and more frantic. When he finally showed up, he was drunk. He had been driving about, with the baby in the car seat.
He told me that he went looking for me and that he saw that I had been chatting up several men. He held my son in front of me, yelling that I had better take a good look, because this was the last time I would ever see him. I begged him to give me back my baby, I even sat on my knees. Eventually, he gave my son back and he left, not telling me where he was going or how long he would be gone.
He came back the next morning. When I confronted him, the discussion started. He told me that in fact, he had overreacted, but that most of it was my fault. He kept on talking and talking, wearing me out, until I finally gave in.
Keep on talking
This was his MO: whenever I didn’t agree with him, he would keep on talking, hours on end, until I would have said anything to make him stop. I felt like a criminal who was being interrogated until I would have confessed to any crime.
Sometimes, he did something wonderful. For mother’s day, he took me and our son out. We went for breakfast and had lunch in a classy restaurant. In the afternoon he took us to a buy a beautiful ring. He said this was his way of expressing how much he loved me.
I became pregnant again. This baby wasn’t planned and he wanted me to “get rid of it.” According to him, this was not a good time. I had to have an abortion and in six months, we would have another baby. I was stunned. I told him that we were talking about a child, not a leaf you pull from a tree. I respect women who decide to have an abortion, but this was my child and I was going to have it.
I had to make plans for the future. Working in Brussels which was a 4 hour commute, and raising two children wasn’t ideal. So I decided to quit my job.
He wanted to “be his own boss.” He told me about this restaurant in our hometown, painting a perfect picture: we would be working together, sharing the same goals and “we” would have more time for the children. I agreed. I also believed that now, instead of spending money in bars and restaurants, he would be earning money. And he would have no time to go out and party. How wrong I was.
Tomorrow: Starting a business with the sociopath